RoadTrip America

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Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic, by Louis A. Mongello


This new book by Louis Mongello, The Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic, manages to overcome two very significant challenges to securing a favorable response from this reviewer. First, I have never been drawn to book collections of any kind of trivia, and second, I am not, in any shape or form, a fan of any of the Walt Disney World theme parks. A visit more than once a decade would be a "stop-the-presses" event for me. All that said, I found the author's treatment of the Walt Disney World (WDW) phenomena to be quite fascinating and certainly entertaining.

Mostly in question-and-answer format, this book is great for keeping road trip companions entertained while sitting in traffic jams or perking everyone up if travel fatigue sets in. The book is organized into six chapters with multiple-choice questions probing the reader's knowledge of a huge array of WDW facts about the Disney resorts in Florida, California, and around the world. The level of research required to even ask some of these questions is truly impressive, not to mention the sleuthing required to determine what the correct answers are. For instance, do you know what the song is that the musical notes behind the registration desk at Disney's Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter spell out (When the Saints Go Marching In) or the number of logs that are running when the "Splash Mountain" ride is operating at full capacity (50-54)? Or the number of ghosts that "live" at the Haunted Mansion? If you read this book, you will.

One thing I have always enjoyed about the WDW theme parks is the attention to detail in the sets and costumes. This book does a masterful job of highlighting and illuminating many of these often unappreciated details. For instance, graffiti on the walls surrounding the "Kali River Rapids" waiting line in Disney's Animal Kingdom targets the fictional logging company portrayed in the ride as being guilty of despoiling the rainforests. The author reports that in order to obtain the authentic thatched roofs for the Harambe Village Marketplace, Disney hired Zulu craftsman Kwa-Zulu-Natal from Kenya to recreate the look. One of the special things about WDW is the performances of cast members who show up at certain locations without much fanfare - the book does a good job of revealing how to have of these "chance" encounters. Belle from "Beauty and the Beast," for example, shows up in the Fairytale Garden (behind the Cinderella Castle in Fantasyland) to tell stories to guests who happen to be there.

It is even possible that Louis Mongello's literary effort will be responsible for scheduling my own visit to WDW one day in the near future so I can locate and appreciate some of the hidden gems he has made me aware of. In the meantime, this book offers interesting revelations about the history and magic of Walt Disney theme parks.

Mark
10/3/04

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