Monday, February 26, 2024

Between Books - Jungle Cruise (a Little Golden Book)

Book cover for Jungle Cruise a little golden book showing an illustration of Skipper Albert guiding a family in a Jungle Cruise boat through a hippo pool.

I laugh at Jungle Cruise jokes, and so should you…and your kids!

Jungle Cruise a Little Golden Book by Brooke Vitale, illustrated by Paul Conrad and the Disney Storybook Art Team, and designed by Winnie Ho, is a delightful homage and tribute to the world-famous attraction. The book follows a family guided by Skipper Albert on the Amazon Belle through the jungle. Albert spiels as he passes familiar scenes. Conrad and the art team's images are fun and delightful original depictions of show scenes. The book is a true tribute to the ride, with even dock jokes provided to readers.

This book is a delight for Jungle Cruise fans. First and foremost, Vitale adapts traditional Jungle Cruise jokes to a younger audience, and most importantly, the essential jokes are there. And like any good skipper, Vitale makes sure to include the most essential jokes, like the Backside of Water! The team understood the assignment!

The ride featured here is clearly the Magic Kingdom, due to the inclusion of a temple. But the featured boat is Disneyland Park exclusive. In the end, the visuals are definitely Florida, but both coasts are included. Skipper Albert, that can't be important, right? It is if you listen to the radio broadcasts as you travel through the queue.

The book is a time capsule, as the scenes are kid-safe versions of the pre-2021 attraction. Alberta Falls and the Society of Adventurers and Explorers are not present in this edition. But I would argue this is just a good reason to update the Little Golden Book!

Jungle Cruise a Little Golden Book by Brooke Vitale and illustrated by Paul Conrad with the Disney Storybook Art Team, is a delight. When this grown adult says he laughs at Jungle Cruise jokes…well, I chuckled and smiled. I think this is a great introduction to the attraction for the youngster or a way to bring a favorite Disney experience home!


This post contains affiliate links, which means that Between Disney receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site.  


Monday, February 19, 2024

Between Books - MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios


Book cover for MCU The Reign of Marvel Studios showing Iron Man flying over the Hollywood hills with a M C U sign replacing the famous Hollywood sign.

I love superheroes!

I love Marvel movies! I loved them before they were cool like broadcast poorly produced Spider-Man movies from the 70s love! And I remember sitting in a theater watching the end credits scene of Iron Man where I saw Nick Fury enter the frame and blow my mind with promises of what could happen next!

And I love history, hence an entire section of this site that is really just an index of books, mostly history. Clearly, MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios was written literally for me!

MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards is a complete and thorough history of Marvel Studios’ projects before its founding in August 1996 under the guidance of Avi Arad. The book outlines how a scrappy studio with a lot of intellectual property and a mission to sell toys, started mainly by leasing characters to other studios and providing some oversight largely to support toy sales. But with 1996 and the coming of Marvel Studios, Marvel looked to make movies itself. Armed with incomplete ownership of their character roster, leadership with a vision, and taking a big bet on itself, the Studio found near-instant success in 2008’s Iron Man. This movie launched the true beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a massive storytelling endeavor under the watchful eye of Kevin Feige. The book details how Marvel Studios came to be, its sudden successes, the long-form storytelling and, the the more recent critical and financial setbacks that the Studio has seen in the 2020s.

MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios
is deep and wide when it comes to telling the story of Marvel Studios. It is clear writing, despite often detailing complex situations including contracts, legal cases, and personalities. You will not find a more complete one-volume history of Marvel Studios. But that being said, I did often feel like its major accomplishment was bringing together a lot of content in one title and not adding to what fans know about this Disney intellectual properly machine. However, bringing it all together in one read does help refine thoughts on specific themes.

One example that emerges to readers really early is the belief of Marvel Chief Executive Officer Ike Pearlmutter that the purpose of Marvel Studios was to sell toys. Therefore, decisions about the movies supported this belief. This does make sense when you consider that Pearlmutter came from the toy background, not the comics or publishing industries. Therefore, the guidance or interference from Pearlmutter and the Marvel Creative Committee, largely under his influence, looked to support his thoughts on toy sales. And the belief was when you wanted to sell a lot of toys, white male characters sold, not diverse heroes and villains. This drama can seen played out in the characters of Black Widow and Gamora, often hidden in the associated toy lines. This belief would be opposed by Fiege and Disney’s CEO Bob Iger who supported diversity and larger storytelling. While it’s clear that Fiege and Iger found Pearlmutter to be a difficult personality, you can also see how the creative and business beliefs only further pushed this split wider. It is also interesting to watch as the Creative Committee, largely built to act like a Pixar Brain Trust failed to support creativity despite having some talented storytellers included. In the end, the call for toys may have drowned out their voices.

Another emerging theme is how Marvel Studios has strayed from its roots. I don’t mean plausibility, a quality that Jon Favreau sought in the production of Iron Man. Instead they have lost the jazz, the inability for directors, writers, and actors to improv and creatively flex their muscles as productions were in progress. This supported a Fiege principle that the movie mattered more than the whole. But with decades of movies completed and years more in production, the role of Fiege to channel movies and TV to movie together has increased, and play by creative forces now must be limited. Fiege’s role in holding it all together is essential to this endeavor. But it also has the price of limiting creative freedom. Additionally, expensive special effects while visually stunning has blocked the ability to run with a discovered story angle. 

You like superheroes and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Then MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards is for you. The book is a complete history with many themes for readers to dive into, with me just skimming a few. The book ends in the recent past, with the future of the MCU at a potential crossroads as real-life legal events have led to a requirement to change story plans, economics have changed the movie and television business, and the MCU has had creative missteps, (I found Secret Invasion to be a giant meh). Maybe someday an expanded or revised volume will detail what comes next. But for now, MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios provides fans with a handbook of creative achievement and a record of how we got to this enormous financial and creative success…despite itself! 


This post contains affiliate links, which means that Between Disney receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site.  


Monday, February 12, 2024

Between Books - Figment


Here it comes again, Between Disney to bully a children’s book!

And to make it even more likely, it’s about Figment. And Between Disney has only experienced the current and least beloved versions of his attraction! What could go wrong?

Figment written by Jason Grandt and illustrated by Scott Tilley, Nick Balian, and Jason Grandt is the latest Little Golden Book to catch the interest of Disney fans. The basic plot is that Dreamfinder introduces readers to his newest creation Figment. The two heroes then explore the pages of the book to collect ideas to inspire imagination. The two explore art, science, sound, and more to fill the idea bag. The book ends with the gift of an idea from Figment to Dreamfinder, the type of gift that every parent can understand!

I don’t dislike Figment. I don’t love Figment. I do like the idea of Figment and his boostering of imagination. I do love imagination! But I also was never the right age or saw the right version of the attraction to go deep into Figment fandom.

I do like the book. It’s colorful. The illustrations are delightful. And Jason Grandt, being an Imagineer knows how to give Dreamfinder and Figment all the homages they need with references to the Dream Moblie, Dreamport, and other Disney attractions. I am convinced that future readings will uncover new Easter eggs.

Storywise it’s pretty simple. And the team does use Sherman Brother’s lyrics which eliminates my only real worry. And for a kiddo, it does support the idea to be curious and that inspiration for imagination can come from anywhere…and no one can complain about that!

Figment by Jason Grandt and illustrated by Scotty Tilley, Nick Balian, and Jason Grandt completes the assignment. It introduces kids to Dreamfinder and Figment or keeps them connected if the child met them in the park. The Little Golden Book captures the spirit of the attraction with a call to imagine.

Don’t we all need a little imagination? 


This post contains affiliate links, which means that Between Disney receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site.  


Monday, February 5, 2024

Between Books - Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort that Never Was

Book cover for Disneyland on the Mountain displaying Walt Disney and Califronia officials looking at plans for Mineral King outside in the natural setting

Mineral King is a project mentioned in every complete Walt Disney biography. It’s also one mentioned throughout books on the development of the Disney parks. But generally, these mentions are glancing, a paragraph or, a few pages. But now we have a complete look at the history of Disney’s failed outdoor recreation area. As one delves deeper, it becomes clear that this story is about more than Walt Disney and his hopes for the Mineral King Valley.

Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort that Never Was by Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer provides a detailed history of the Walt Disney Company’s hopes and failed vision for the Mineral King Valley. In 1966, Walt Disney, after extensive research, announced his intention to develop Mineral King as a skiing and outdoor recreation area. Disney, inspired by European ski villages hoped to bring visitors to the valley’s natural beauty through a ski resort that would bring visitors all year long. But others saw his vision as destroying the valley's splendor by bringing in a cheap Disneyland aesthetic to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The book chronicles the regulatory, legal, and public relations challenges that kept the Walt Disney Company from moving forward on its ambitious plans. Immediately creating obstacles was Walt Disney’s death soon after the announcement, and leadership changes within the corporate structure. Mineral King would be added to the Sequoia National Park in the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978, ending any options for extensive land development and putting an end to a project that had fatigued many in the company. The book ends with a discussion of the legacy of the fight over Mineral King, both inside and outside of Disney's corporate history.

Disneyland on the Mountain feels complete and is super dense. This is a true serious well well-researched study of the park. The language used is formal and is more than a fan-written history. The 180 pages are misleading, as each page is packed with facts and reports of the action. Glasgow and Mayer also ensure that their writing goes beyond the perspectives of Walt Disney, Card Walker, and other Disney executives. Instead, they look at the issue from the perspective of Walt Disney employees, Sierra Club officials, Mineral King homeowners, a Supreme Court Justice, and many more. The story is made even more complex through all these perspectives making the tale one much more than a Disney story and infused with unexpected drama. For example, some parties in this tale, saw their opinions change as developments moved forward. The authors are fair to all involved voices, leaving room for readers to make their own conclusions about the benefits of the outcome.

This story does what I love about history, using one story to point out greater societal changes within history. Glasgow and Mayer use this incident to point out the growing voice of women in politics, as key members of the movement against Mineral King development were women who were freed by the standards of the day to not only add their voices but also use their voices in leading this movement. Also, it is a good case study, as the authors show, for the growth of the environmental movement. Mineral King serves as one incident in the growth of advocacy groups, lobbying, and legislation that increased environmental protections.

While this book’s beautiful cover features a picture of Walt Disney at Mineral King, due to his death his memory was more active than the man himself. Readers, much like the participants in the story, are often left asking what was Walt’s intent. So while Walt is not always present, you do ask yourself like those who lived the story, what would Walt do?

For Card Walker, leading Walt Disney Productions, he was left with a charge and moral obligation to honor Walt Disney’s hopes for Mineral King. As a reader, we find that Walker was very concerned with the impact of the struggle on the company’s public image which placed the company as the villain looking to destroy natural wonder. The incident strained the company's image with the state and federal government along with California citizens. And one wonders how the story will be reflected in more recent legal struggles with the state of Florida. I will say one lesson that I took from the story was that for the company this incident passed and is now very much today mostly locked away in the Disney Archives.  

Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort that Never Was by Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer expands the story that many Disney fans just see as a paragraph or rare failure in Disney history. However the book goes beyond just telling the story of Mineral King by presenting a case study that demonstrates changing societal norms in American society. 


Review Copy Provided by Rowan & Littlefield.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that Between Disney receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site.  


Thursday, February 1, 2024

Introducing Between Pints


A pint of dark Sow Select Dunkle

There have been a lot of changes in Betweenland recently. And it has given me more opportunities to explore theme parks and the beers of Central Florida on a regular basis.  New opportunities is allowing me to launch a new blog, Between Pints, where I will review and catalog beers found near and in Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resorts.


You can find the new blog at

And you can follow new posts on Facebook