Monday, November 25, 2013

Between Books - The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Trivia

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World continues to be a sentimental favorite for me.  It is as I have said before the first Disney book that my wife gave me as a gift.  And the Between Book installment reviewing that first book continues to be the most viewed post at! So any book that Susan Veness offers, is something that I must read.

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Trivia is a tour of the four parks of the Walt Disney World Resort.  But along with a tour, it is a game.  For each attraction there are two trivia questions.  One question is multiple choice.  The second is an open ended question.  The answers for both questions are found in the back of the book.  Along with the trivia questions, Veness provides a scavenger hunt for each park.  And as bonuses a kids and a die-hard scavenger hunt is provided towards the end of the book.  And since this is a hidden history book, Veness provides a fascinating fact and something to look for each attraction along with the questions. 

As a game, the book is lightweight and could fit in most backpacks.  The book would probably experience some wear in a pack, but should not add much weight to carry around the park.  The questions could easily help fill time in lines within the parks.  I have not even considered the eBook version of the book, which would not take up any weight since many guests would have a phone with a book app.  I just wonder how quickly one can jump from question to answer.  If anyone reads the book on a eReader, I would love the answer to that question.  And for added usability, the scavenger hunts can be cut out to go into a pocket our pouch.

Most of all I was worried that they would be too easy.  They are not, there are plenty of questions that I did not know the answers for.  During the week I read this book I kept it on my desk at work.  I told everyone who needed something that they needed to start with a question that I could answer, to put me in a good mood.  Not everyone started on a good footing!  So the questions are definitely challenging and not the same reused facts that we typically find in a Between Book.  

There is also plenty of new facts that I at least have not run across.  For example I did not know the secret of the floating bubbles at Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  The quality of facts is beyond what one can generally think to Google.  And as someone who has read many books with fun facts, I was satisfied that many of the facts were fresh to me.

The book is updated and in fact looks into the future.  For example, Veness discusses the very recent addition of mermaids to Pirates of the Caribbean.  And of course, the recent Fantasyland additions are all mentioned.  But she also has facts for an attraction that is not open with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  The only announced addition she does not provide content for is Avatarland, but who can blame her!

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Trivia is a great extension of the Hidden Magic series.  It provides Hidden Magic in a new format, with the trivia providing a twist.  The book is interactive by providing a game that the whole family (or office) can play.  And the book does not just restate facts that can be found elsewhere (unlike many books I have been reading lately).  Fans of Veness' prior works will be pleased and families looking to add bonus fun to their trips should consider this book as a fun option.

Review Copy Provided by Author 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mousey Movie Preview - Muppets Most Wanted Trailer

Movie poster featuring a M which appears to be made out of the same felt as Kermit the Frog.

Since The Muppets came out two years ago, most Disney fans have been awaiting a sequel.  This week a two-minute trailer was released that shows what we can expect in March from Muppets Most Wanted:

What did you think.  We see plently of stars, I do admit I enjoy Ty Burrell and Tina Fey in most of their performances.  And even in this two minutes watching Burrell face off with Sam the Eagle made me snicker.  Did I see Loki, why yes I did!

But sadly, I do not feel as excited as I was two years ago when the Muppets were huge.  So I am hopeful for another great movie.  But I am also scared it may be difficult to capture what the Muppets had in 2011 with their return to the big screen.

My fingers are crossed. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Between Books - Walt Disney: 84 Fascinating Facts for Kids About Walt Disney

The first thing to remember is that Walt Disney: 84 Fascinating Facts for Kids about Walt Disney is a kids book.  So though many Between Books readers may read the book with a historical focus, it is important to remember who the audience is.  And with that in mind, despite some issues, it may help young readers know more about Walt Disney and his life.

Walt Disney: 84 Fascinating Facts for Kids about Walt Disney by Colin Mitchell is exactly as advertised.  There are 84 facts organized by theme in short sentences.  The facts are numbered and range from the early life of Walt Disney, his animation years, the building of his theme park and death.  They are all short and vary by the amount of detail provided.

Let us start with what I did not like.  First, like many Kindle books (I downloaded this book for free) the margins at times are off.  Some lines are indented deeper than others.  Second, some of the facts caught my attention and I wanted more.  For example, why did Ub Iwerks leave Disney employment?  Yes I know, but a child might also like to know Iwerks' next steps.  Third, there are additional editing concerns like not putting film titles in italics, putting them in quotes like they were shorts.  Fourth, there is a lack of balance in the facts.  For example the animation strike receives eight facts for an event that was relatively short but Disneyland only gets six.  And finally there are factual inaccuracies.  For example Mitchell states that Walt Disney had hired Lillian Bounds (the future Mrs. Disney) to ink his sketches.  Actually, Bounds was working on animated films and never sketched anything specifically drawn by Walt.  And the entire chapter titled Kansas provides facts about Walt Disney in Kansas City.  The Kansas City metro straddles both Missouri and Kansas with Disney having lived on the Missouri side of the metropolitan area.

Despite me finding fault in Walt Disney: 84 Fascinating Facts for Kids About Walt Disney, I do think that the book could make a child more interested in Walt Disney the man.  I do wish that the factual errors were corrected, so I do not know if I would pay for this title.  But for free, it could make one curious. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mousey Movie Preview - Maleficent Teaser Trailer

The teaser trailer for the much anticipated Maleficent has been released.  Have a quick look at this May 2014 release.

What did you think?

I do some some crossover with the classic Sleeping Beauty.  But my only other impression at the moment is dark.

From a production side, Don Hahn returns to fiction for Disney.  I think that is a plus in this feature's favor.  And writer Paul Dini I know from comic book and superhero animation, and I know the man can write a good story.

But overall at the moment, I just do not have a full sense of what to expect.  Well, expect other than dark. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Between Books - Walt Disney: The Creation of Walt Disney Co.

Between Books - Walt Disney: The Creation of Walt Disney Co.

Usually when you match free with Walt Disney you catch my attention.  So when I saw Walt Disney: The Creation of Walt Disney Co. by Sal Galvan as free on a Kindle site I follow, well I grabbed it.  What I hoped for was an interesting and likely brief discussion on Walt Disney.  But what I got was something very different.

Walt Disney: The Creation of Walt Disney Co. starts with a very brief discussion of the life of Walt Disney and the establishment of his studio.  This is followed by a more lengthy discussion on state of the company today.  Special focus is given to Marvel and Lucasfilm and fan reactions to the Disney acquisition of these media companies. 

Okay, I do not want to sound harsh.  There is an interesting premise here, it is just not one about Walt Disney the man.  It is mostly observations to the company today as seen through the eyes of Marvel and Lucasfilm fans.  And there is plenty of merit to covering that topic.  I just wish it was not in a paper under a cover with Walt Disney on it.  Walt had nothing to do with those two companies and their purchase.  So I really wish this book was retitled.

This really is a paper.  The fact that the second page states "Research Paper" and "History of Broadcasting" makes me think it was written for a class.  I have read enough research papers and journal articles to understand that small in length does not mean nothing to say.  But some readers may have issues with purchasing through Amazon someone's homework.

I think for me the real issues are in the errors and sources.  For the life of Walt Disney no major biographies are referenced, though Wikipedia is!  The section on Walt's life makes it feel like the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio opened with Mortimer, soon to be Mickey Mouse, as their first character.  And even today's facts are jumbled with Lucasfilm referred as Lucas Film and Bob Iger as Roger Iger.  I can understand these mistakes in a mid-term paper, but better editing and fact checking should have been applied when reaching to a deeper audience.  And honestly, it should be retitled.

In the end Walt Disney: The Creation of Walt Disney Co. fell flat for me.  But much of this was based on expectations!  And I would look elsewhere for information about the life of Walt Disney. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Between Books - The Best of Walt Disney

Between Books - The Best of Walt Disney

The Best of Walt Disney: Life Lessons from the Creator of Disneyland & Mickey Mouse by Timothy Bauer distills the life of Walt Disney into lessons that anyone can apply in their real life.  The book starts with a very brief biography of Walt Disney.  This is followed by a history of the company he created. The histories are followed by a timeline and a discussion of the current Walt Disney Company''s  units like Disney Parks and LucasFilm.  This is followed by discussions on success and life based on Walt Disney's life.

I got this a a free Kindle book, and it is only estimated to be around 23 pages long.  When you look at the history presented in the text, it is easy to see there a lot of things that will be left out.  For example, in the biography on Disney the fact that he started a company is just assumed and left out.  And there are gaps.  For example the discussion of Disney units mentions Disneyland, but no other parks such as Walt Disney World.  And the timeline has as much to do with the Walt Disney Company then it does Walt Disney, for example Michael Eisner is mentioned on the timeline.  At a certain point the lessons become as much about the company than the man.  Additionally, the lessons could be made stronger to me.  I really wish that instead of telling Walt Disney was courageous, that it would be shown to me through a historical example.

Currently this book is listed on Amazon at $2.99.  I really is a steep price for this book.  As a free book it helps me to think about Walt Disney.  But as a paid offering it is short and not deep in content.  I would pass on The Best of Walt Disney until it comes along for free again. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dreaming Disney - The Small Worlds of Walt

The Carolwood Foundation has done a fantastic job of preserving Walt Disney artifacts.  In fact visiting Walt's Barn in in my bucket list.

They are now in progress in restoring the "French Village" part of the original Storybook Village.  And in return for donations you can pick up some interesting incentives, like an orginal DesignerLand t-shirt.

You can find information about donating online and more information about the project including restoration updates at The Small World's of Walt.