Sometimes you judge a book by its cover. When I saw the cover of The Ride Delegate I thought it would be a sweet little memoir. But I was not sure if it was something I really wanted to read. The fact that it would be discussing VIP tours would something new. But really I thought it would be a typical and predictable self-reflection. Instead I found myself frustrated. I was frustrated that I had to put the book down to work. I was frustrated that Annie's guests were not on time. I was frustrated with guests who thought just because they paid a high fee they could be rude! I guess somewhere along the way, I found myself pulled into The Ride Delegate and I did not want to put it down.
The Ride Delegate: Memoir of a Walt Disney World VIP Tour Guide by Annie Salisbury details Salisbury's years as a Walt Disney World Resort guide. She outlines why she chose employment at Walt Disney World and how she worked to be a VIP Tour Guide. Then she explains what guests can and cannot get in the different types of tour experiences. Needless to say, it pays to be both rich and famous. And most importantly Salisbury takes you on her tours both good and bad but generally all memorable. These tales include the families that treated Salisbury as their oldest child, the sports star who believed he was at Universal, and the possible foreign princess with her enormous entourage. As any good memoir should, Annie outlines her last day of work and how special guests made her feel royal.
The Ride Delegate is clear and easy to read. I found it enjoyable and as noted I found myself unexpectedly pulled into the story. I said that I was at times frustrated, this is a lie. I was downright angry. There were a few guest stories that I wanted to look over at the unnamed guest and simply say, "what makes you think you can act this way? Annie has been nothing but gracious to you and she only wants you to have a memorable vacation. You are rude and have lost the right to have a tour guide." With at least one story at the conclusion I wanted to reach out and give Salisbury a high five and a serving of her favorite corn dog nuggets for how she was able to walk with dignity at the end of the tour. Now I typically do not get this way about people that I have never met. So I am going to say this is a huge success since I found myself becoming highly sympathetic to her tales. Seriously, I felt like a good tour was a victory for me and I was not even there.
It is interesting to read of the benefits of a VIP Tour. For example, to Salisbury's parking dismay at times, you get a ride to the park of your choice. And you are not limited to any one park. Your guide can drive you throughout the resort. So if you want to ride Space Mountain but have dinner at Epcot, no problem. Your guide can drive you there. Additionally, for some rides you do not need to wait because if there is a convenient entrance that does not disturb other guests you probably get to skip part of the line. But if there is no alternative entrance, like it's a small world, you are waiting it out with everyone else unless you are a celebrity. Tours are limited to ten. If you add an eleventh you are going to be paying for an additional guide. Guides can if they chose eat with their guests. But if either party does not want the guide to join them they can eat tour free. And Disney pays for the meals of guides, so many corn dog nuggets! Generally these rules feed into Salisbury's stories. And once you learn the rules you begin to see the problems that can be coming her way. And then there is the whole issue of stickers, and I am not talking Mickey Mouses.
The Ride Delegate by Ann Salisbury is a really enjoyable read. I highly recommend it, if all else fails you should consider the highly affordable Kindle copy. It is a memoir that keep your attention, gives Disney fans a look into a service we probably will never enjoy, and might even make you consider getting (or not getting) a tour guide during your next Walt Disney World vacation.
Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press