This is not the book review you are looking for!
I have heard endless praise of Foxx Nolte’s Boundless Realm:Deep Explorations Inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion. That praise was coming from voices that I know and trust especially for Disney history topics. I was really looking forward to a deep dive into the history of the Haunted Mansion. But I do not know if I got the book I was hoping for read.
Boundless Realm is an exploration into the Haunted Mansion by a former Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion cast member. The connection is telling as this book is really one written with love and care. And the book provides us all with what we expect from a Haunted Mansion history. Nolte tells us of her personal background to the attraction. Then Nolte dives into the history of haunted attractions especially in the 20 century. Finally the author leads us through a series of essays that is also a guided tour of the Magic Kingdom’s house with connections to the Disneyland and other global houses. Along with history, Nolte provides thoughts and additional insights to the Haunted Mansion, including nothing architecture of the attraction that only cast members can see.
I think I am probably the least enthusiastic reviewer of this book. I think it is expectations. Reviewers who like history books like me love this book. So I assumed this was a just the facts type of history. This is not what the text is to be. To me this book is informed speculation. Nolte has a deep and rich background with the Mansion. I would love Nolte to take me on a tour of the attraction. And Nolte makes inferences that I am simply not informed enough to make or back. So on several occasions, Nolte makes a statement that is logical and perhaps correct but may not be backed by documentation or interviews. And as a reader at times I feel positioned to question the speculation. And perhaps that is the intent and provides some great natural tension. But is it not a text I would go to argue a fact but instead to show possible positions on the history of the Haunted Mansion.
For me Boundless Realm was not the book I expected or hoped for. But it did teach me a very important point. Sometimes the best things are not fully planned, because in the end we may never have a definite and complete history of some of our favorite attractions due to the numerous and often unknown contributors to their construction.
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