Thursday, November 10, 2011

Between Books - The Dark Side of Disney

“Any descriptions of illegal activities in the book are intended purely for educational or entertainment purposes.” states the copyright page of Leonard Kinsey’s The Dark Side of Disney: The Anarchist Cookbook of Disney Travel Guides before you even reach the introduction.  Kinsey then proceeds to give his readers a mix of travel tips ranging from the traditional suggestions on where to stay on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation, to finding good music to nontraditional tips on using drugs while in the parks.  The tips and scams are followed by three tales of unauthorized adventures within the parks and what the adventurers saw and learned about what they explored. 
First and foremost this is a Walt Disney World Resort guidebook.  And there is a lot of advice you may not read elsewhere.  Kinsey’s arguments for not renting a car (let Disney do the driving for you) and staying on property in many aspects sound like advice that I have given.  If it’s not on Disney transportation I’m probably not going there.  He covers the basics on how to get there, where to stay and what you are likely to find in the parks. If you could cover up the book cover (which fits the mood of the book) and took out several pages, I would feel very comfortable handing the book to my mother in law under the cover of good vacation advice.  
But there is content in the Dark Side of Disney that I will not need for my next visit to the Walt Disney World Resort.  There are activities in this book that I simply cannot do with kids.  I don’t need information about narcotics for example.  Some readers may find this content offensive, and I believe that Kinsey would argue if you are easily offended, don’t read his book.  No really, there are other guide books that you are likely to enjoy instead like The Unofficial Guide to the Walt Disney World or Mousejunkies!  But even if you are not planning on participating in some of the activities Kinsey discusses you can still find much of it useful.  For example, I found his discussion on ticket resells and legality one of the best summaries of this issue I have seen.  The information he presented would have been really useful to me recently for friends who asked about “cheap tickets.”  And many of his scams, are less scams but how message boards and eBay can be your friend for saving on your vacation.  And Kinsey’s anecdotes about some of the unauthorized activities in the Walt Disney World Resort are as much warnings as to the natural consequences of those activities and not specifically advocating those activities.  Let’s just say I will not ignore “Do Not Swim” signs after reading about naegleria fowleri.  Another topic I have only seen addressed fully in this guidebook.  Leonard, can I call you Leonard, you have me terrified!  And as a dad I’m glad you have!   Kids….no swimming in that lake!  Kinsey also provides information about nontraditional activities in the parks but constantly reminds his readers to not ruin the experience for other guests.  As the disclaimer says, much of this content is for entertainment purposes and it is entertaining.      
For me what I looked forward to most was stories, stories of young people doing things they really should not do and the outcome of those adventures.  Kinsey uses some of these stories to reinforce his tips and information around unauthorized scams and activities.  His use of a story detailing the outcomes of gate jumping for example was very convincing.  I have no plans to jump the gate.  Most of these tales come in the last third of the book where Kinsey documents three sets of unauthorized adventures, one his and two from others.  Kinsey’s story details his adventures through the Magic Kingdom Park’s Utilidors.  The documented adventures help lift the mystery of the contents of these hidden subterranean corridors.  And they also reinforce that the security at your own job site at the time of his wanderings was probably better than Disney’s.   I found myself applauding his guts; it really does seem if you act like you should be there no one will question you.  The adventures of others to Discovery Island and behind the scenes in the extinct Horizons are also enjoyable.  
Overall, I was highly entertained by The Dark Side of Disney even if I do not plan to participate in all the described activities.  I have talked to two buddies already who attempted to guess the Kinsey’s top five rides to get high on and those not to, they do much better with the no list!  Some however may be easily offended by the content and if you find the cover questionable you would probably do best to walk away from this book.  However, if you want to dip your toes into this guide without being daring enough to purchase this paperback there is a very affordable E-Book version that you may want to consider.  Be it an electronic version or the traditional book even if you never take any of Kinsey’s instruction you’re going to laugh.  

Review Copy Provided by Bamboo Forest Publishing

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