Monday, January 30, 2017

Between Books - Going to Disney California Adventure

I am a big fan of Disney California Adventure.  My third favorite domestic park is not Epcot, sorry fan boys! But it is the second California Gate that takes that honor for me.  So when Shannon Willis Laskey's newest book surprisingly appeared in my mail box, and knowing how much I enjoyed her first offering, her latest guide went to the top of my reading pile.

Going to Disney California Adventure: A Guide for Kids & Kids at Heart by Shannon Willis Laskey brings the fun to Disney trip planning.  Laskey hits the basics that every guide book on the park needs.  She provides history and a tour of the park to prepare readers, especially the youngest ones, for their trip to Disney California Adventure.  But along with the expected descriptions of attractions and in park dining, Laskey gives her readers room to plan their trip and to reflect afterwards.  For example with each attraction, readers can rate their experience and leave a one word review.  Additionally, Laskey provides games.  These games include ideas for killing time in lines with word and memory games, coloring pages, in book activities and more.  The book like her last volume, ends with a journal for capturing memories and autographs making the book not just a guide but a souvenir for what could be a once in a lifetime vacation.

I love this book.  It really is much more than a guidebook, but an experience.  The bountiful and fun images on every page help set a tone that makes vacation planning with a child approachable.  And as an adult, the fun design provides a guide book experience that is beyond bland text and descriptions. I do not want to say it...but I'm going to do it.  The super fun imagery and bright colors are enchanting.  As I sit here and consider what park I go to next, which in Betweenland is a big decision,  I really find myself leaning towards California.  After reading through this book,  how could one not be charmed into wanting to visit again or for the first time.

By buying the book directly from the author the experience is extended.  Laskey provides customers a fan club membership card, a bookmark (which really is twirly), and a sticker.  This is while supplies last.  And while they are just little extras, it helps feel like the fun is brought out of the pages.  

I will say that one of the things I monitor when looking at guide books is how the author handles change.  At the time I received my copy the California version of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror had closed forever. Laskey does include over a page about the extinct attraction.  This inclusion is sure to make many happy as Hollywood Land goes through transition.  The Between Tween loved this Tower, and so it is sure to please at least one fan.  But to go along with the extinct Tower, the text of the second page includes a description of what is to come with Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission BREAKOUT.  It provides a nice mix of what was and what will be.  It is a nice way to transition an attraction out and another one into existence.    

Going to Disney California Adventure is simply fun!  Okay, it is far from simple.  Laskey has provided her readers a well-thought out reading experience and interactive production.  I sincerely hope that she can extend her library to the other U.S. Disney parks.  Because her first two book have been delightful.    

Review Copy Provided by Orchard Hill Press

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Between Books - The Customer Rules

The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service by Lee Cockerell presents the former Disney executive's thoughts on providing excellent customer service.  Cockerell provides 39 separate short chapters that are easy to read and digest for those wanting to know more about superior customer service.  Cockerell's chapters generally focus on relationship building, preparation, and going beyond expectations.  In many ways his guidance aligns with his granddaughter's most basic advice, "Be Nice!"  The book's advice ranges from being prompt, understanding new technology, copying the best services of others and relationship relationship relationship.

Honestly, for listeners of Cockrell's podcast, the tone and even some of the advice is far from shocking.  Cockerell's thoughts really match the guidance he gives on a weekly basis with a focus on relationship and thoughtful service.  But the Customer Rules has an advantage that the podcast lacks, you can easily share the book to someone who may not enjoy podcasts or not be open to Cockerell as a "Mickey Mouse" executive.  Cockerell's advice here is not overly focused on Disney, again allowing the non-fan to buy into the book.  And the chapters are short enough one could easily read them on the commute or in the cough cough bathroom.

I do not think of myself as someone who provides customer service.  But as Cockerell points out it is everyone's job.  And in the midst of reading the book I was challenged with a situation that made me ask what would Lee Cockerell do?  How can I give this person something allowing them to move forward when I need to say no?  Because The Customer Rules is a great reminder that we all provide service to others and the foundation of supporting their needs is relationships.  In the end, we probably should just be nice!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cap's Comics - Enchanted Tiki Room #1

But I want a Jungle Cruise comic!  And an Enchanted Tiki Room comic is most definitely not a Jungle Cruise comic.  So I open these pages not even knowing if this is a tropical vacation I want to take!

Jason Grandt Connecting Cover Variant

Enchanted Tiki Room #1 brings us to the home of the Tiki gods and the famous Tiki Room!  Readers meet a number of visitors to this far off land.  Agnes is a barely known older actress who has a unhealthy love for her dog.  The dog may not be returning that adoration!  The Randy family can solve all problems with money.  Poor Wally just wants to get over his bad breakup on this island vacation.  And Chip the volunteer at the world famous Tiki Room, where the birds sing, just wants to be a star.  It seems that the visitors to this island have a lot of problems, but then so do the citizens.  Could there be relationship trouble among the famous singing macaws?  What lessons will our visitors and readers learn on this vacation?

John Tyler Christopher Action Figure Variant Cover

Writer Jon Adams gives a plot that will seem familiar to many middle aged readers.  Enchanted Tiki Room feels like a spiritual predecessor to Fantasy Island with temporary guests who all seem to need to learn lessons.  So it is easy to understand for the older reader.  And really if I had to complain it would be I am not sure how the younger reader will react.  The plot is a formula I know.  And there are plenty of "adult" world situations and even jokes.  Honestly, I laughed a ton.  I just worry that this is a story that is too adult.  Though the Between Kid jumped to have me read it and seemed to stay with it.  Artist Horacio Domingues' artwork fits well with the somewhat corny story presented.

Jody Daily Variant Cover

For the hardcore Disney fan there are Easter Eggs to keep you going.  The boys of the Enchanted Tiki Room, a 50 year hit, are not the only Disney birds seen in the tale.  And along with the birds, a key narrative role is given to a Tiki god.  I am a big believer that many of the early Imagineers like Marc Davis would enjoy the current Pacific themed Disney properties, including Moana, and I feel like this story falls into their traditions.

Jason Grandt Orange Bird Variant Cover

Enchanted Tiki Room #1 is not a Jungle Cruise story.  Though it is really funny!  I could easily see a Skipper point out the back side of water to any of the visitors to this far away island.  I just wonder who the last mystery visitor is!