Book Review: The Walt Disney World That Never Was by Christopher E. Smith

Author: Christopher E. Smith
Title: The Walt Disney World That Never Was
Publication Info: Theme Park Press, 2016

Have you been to World Disney World?  Do you remember riding the classic Western River Expedition ride in the Magic Kingdom?  How about scaling Fire Mountain and Villains Mountain? What’s you’re favorite memories of visiting the Epcot World Showcase pavilions of Israel, Iran, Spain, and Equatorial Africa?  Do you remember immersing yourself into the movie parody land of Muppet Studios?  How about visiting the Beastly Kingdom, the part of Animal Kingdom themed around mythical creatures like unicorns and dragons?

Of course, none of these things exist.  Drawing on a wealth of historical resources, Christopher E. Smith details the plans for these and many other Walt Disney World experiences that never came to pass.  He tells the story of why these visions of Imagineers failed to come to fruition and how their influence has played out elsewhere in the parks.  It’s a fun history of possibility for Disney Parks fans.

Recommended books:

Rating: ***

Book Review: Designing Disney by John Hench

Author: John Hench
Title: Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show 
Publication Info: Disney Editions (2009)

John Hench joined the Walt Disney Studios animation department in 1939, became an Imagineer in 1954, and continued working up until a few days before his death in 2004.  So there’s no one better to write about how Disney Parks are designed with an emphasis on detail and drawing the viewer in as an active participant.  I particularly like how he talked about a three-dimensional cross-disolve, using a film term to describe the ways in Disney Imagineers design transitions between different lands and attractions.  Hench also goes into great detail about how different colors are used, and how he gave a lot of thought to the color of the sky in Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong.  This is a nice, richly illustrated dive into the world of imagineering, although I admit I’m still looking for the book that will really get into the nitty-gritty.

Recommended books: Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real by The Imagineers and The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey
Rating: ***1/2