Magic Kingdom: Imagineering the Magic provides a history of the development of the Magic Kingdom Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort from an Imagineering eye. Host Diego Parras, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Media & Broadcast Production Manager, takes viewers on a historical tour of the park using the voices and recollections of the Imagineers that helped build the park. Prominent Imagineers that contribute to the story of the park through interviews include John Hench, Marc Davis, Harriet Burns, Rolly Crump, and many more. The story is told through a mixture of period pictures with narration, videos from the parks and interviews. The story of the park is told through a land by land tour of the park.
I really did enjoy the windows this presentation provides on the history of the Magic Kingdom Park. Highlights for me of course included stories about the work of Marc Davis. There is a deep discussion about the Haunted Mansion and the roll taken by X Atencio to balance the multiple creative geniuses who contributed to the attraction. Atencio had to combine the work of Davis (funny), Claude Coates (creepy), Crump (strange) while using the visual creations of Yale Gracey. And I enjoyed hearing about Davis’ plans for the Western River Expedition, cancelled for the Florida version of Pirates of the Caribbean. They show how despite the project was cancelled that it still influenced other attractions like Big Thunder Mountain. Another enjoyable moment is Tony Baxter talking about working with painters at the Jungle Cruise, a story that I had never heard before. But it is not just the superstars like Davis and Baxter that are discussed, as another legend Bill Evans and his work with landscaping is also highlighting.
There is some oddity to the presentation. Some of the video is black and white segments that are clearly Disneyland. This is especially true with Tomorrowland video, and is typically included as quick flashes within montages. I am pretty sure that Imagineers like Tony Baxter realize that the jetpack demonstration was in Disneyland during the 1960s. And images of the Monsanto House of the Future are also clearly from the West Coast park. We should assume that the segments probably relied heavily on stock footage from the Disney library, but it would have improved my experience if they had the images all match the park being discussed.
The special features section is one that will catch the interest of most Disney history fans. There is an excerpt of the Cherry Plaza Hotel news conference from November 1965 announcing Disney’s entry to Florida. The excerpt shows Roy O. Disney’s enthusiasm for this new project. Also viewers can see Walt Disney speak of what he dreamt for this new projects especially a city of tomorrow concept. Somewhat disappointing is “Roy Disney’s Dedication Speech.” The disappointment is the lack of video as the feature is primarily Disney’s speech over stills. I would have really loved video, which perhaps does not exist. Other special features include a segment on the Cinderella Dream Suite, “Project Florida” which discusses the building of Walt Disney World, “Mickey’s Trivia Tour” and an art gallery. The Between Tween got 12 of the 14 trivia questions correct, though admittedly the Tween probably knows more Disney trivia then the typical Tween.
I have to admit a moment of pride while watching Magic Kingdom: Imagineering the Magic. One Imagineer called the Walt Disney World Resort by the name Disneyworld. The Between Tween yelled out, “That’s Walt Disney World.” Yeah, I’m proud! Yet for someone, like me, who has heard many of these stories before I still could feel the hair standing on the back of my neck in excitement as Imagineers told their stories. For someone who is a WDI fan, Magic Kingdom: Imagineering the Magic is a must own. But for someone who just wants an overview of the park, the free vacation planning video may be a better investment.