Thursday, December 10, 2015

Secret Stories of Walt Disney World by Jim Korkis

In the introduction to Jim Korkis’s latest book he writes that the book was written to set the story of various Disney World attractions straight. Five years ago he had been working as a writer for Disney putting together the material for tour groups and compiling  facts and stories for the employees to pull from when he was let go and all of the material he had compiled went missing overnight. The result of this was that the stories of Disney attractions was in danger of being lost. This was especially the case since without the real history employees were making things up. Korkis relates talking to one employee recently who told him a completely wrong story of Walt Disney staying in a certain room overlooking main street and watching the crowds in the park, something impossible since Disney died 5 years before the park opened. The employee treated him like a loon when he corrected them. In order to prevent the loss of the real history and prevent lies from taking hold  Korkis put SECRET STORIES... together.

The book is a breezy look at various attractions, existing, long gone and never were via lots of stories stories you probably didn’t know. Each location profile has their story told briefly and to the point, with each piece is no more than 2 pages long. Its the kind of thing that would be perfect to take a long to the park as a kind of deep background guide for the attractions. The reality is that you’ll take the book to the hotel and refer back between trips to the park, its just a bit too big to carry along.

What I love about the book is that you get little tidbits that no may not have known or thought to consider for example the garden train in Epcot had to be magnetized to stay on the tracks because of squirrel attacks. Every morning the tunnels have to be cleared of rabbits who crawl into to them most nights. Some of the “hidden” Mickey’s aren’t real hidden Mickeys, they are simply employees deciding to create them on their own, much to the annoyance of management. I never realized all of the references to THE ROCKETEER, or that the dragon Figment was stole from another ride. I also love the talk of the attractions that never were such as the Muppet restaurant that was going to be run by Gonzo and Pepe, but the deal fell through and the location became something else. Story after story grabs you and they all are just really cool.

If you are a fan of Korkis’s writing, which I am, then you may have read versions of some of these stories before, albeit in longer form in some of his other books. I recently read his VAULT OF WALT 4 and found there is some cross over. Usually a story that ran over a chapter in on of the VAULT books here is told in a few sentences as part of a another story. For me it was a treat since you realize how much everything is interconnected.

If there is any real problem with the book, it’s that unless you’re at or have been to the park odds are some of the information is going to go over your head. I have never been to any Disney theme park so discussions of locations meant nothing to me. I also was lost as to the changes to some of some rides over the decades since I never experienced them. It’s far from a fatal flaw, I mean this is a Jim Korkis book, he’s incapable of producing anything truly flawed, but it keeps the book from being something that a casual reader such as myself will get as much out of as someone who has been to the park. This is a book for people who love Disney, so much so that I've bought copies for friends for Christmas.

Ultimately this is a great read and another must have from Jim Korkis and Theme Park Press.

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