Disney history fans owe much to Dave Smith, the Chief Archivist Emeritus and founder of the Walt Disney Archives. Thanks to Smith’s efforts much of Disney corporate history has been preserved. He has over the years also interacted with fans, using the resources of the Archives to answer fan questions in magazines and newsletters. Smith takes this a step further in the book Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered, providing 260 pages of questions and answers.
The format will be familiar to anyone who has read any of Smith’s “Ask Dave” columns. Fans submit questions and Smith uses his knowledge and resources to respond. The book is organized into chapters based on theme; Animated Features, Animated Shorts, Disneyland, Live-Action Films, Publications, Television, Walt Disney World and Walt Disney. Each chapter includes numerous questions with a typical page having at least 3 to 5 questions and responses.
The content will be very familiar to anyone who has read the “Ask Dave” columns. Smith’s responses are factual, straight to the point and typically have no commentary. Though I sometimes feel I sense a dry humor being injected, but that could be strictly due to my own internal monologue as I read the book. Some topics do repeat themselves, typically separated by a few pages. When this occurs the answer is something new, not just copied and pasted from the earlier response. I am not sure if this is due to editing or was intentional. If I have to criticize, it really is me getting nitpicky, wondering if a editor understood that It’s a Small World should really be it’s a small world and other similar small errors.
I found myself trying to answer the questions before reading the responses. Typically I could not, though there are a few I did know. There is a great amount of good information in this volume. I found myself seriously contemplating the Disneyland Park golden marker and how Disney represents it elsewhere. And the book really serves as a great reminder how big the live action catalog for Disney really is, with Smith being asked questions of many a film that I have never heard of. I think the best use of this would be as a bathroom book, because it would be easy to pick it up and put it down a few minutes later. The content within it makes me wish it could be a useful research resource, but the lack of an index makes it difficult to use as a reliable tool.
Honestly Disney Trivia from the Vault surprised me. It was about twice the size of what I expected for the price. And the content is good, though some editing would improve its usability as a research tool. The volume would probably serve as a nice gift for a Disney fan, who could use it as an enjoyable distraction read.