A Portrait of Walt Disney World – Must Have Book for Theme Park Fans

A look into the past, present, and future of this magical world!

A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth is more than just a “coffee table” book featuring the four Orlando theme parks. It’s a deep dive into the history of the most popular resort destination in the world, expanding on the magic and helping to develop an even deeper appreciation of everything that’s gone into it for the past 50 years. But as is true to Disney, it is also a look into the future – especially the near future – and all the exciting things fans can look forward to. Space 220, the futuristic restaurant at Epcot; Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure; Tron Lightcycle / Run in Magic Kingdom; and even the new The Princess and the Frog makeover of Splash Mountain is included.

Concept art from imagining Splash Mountain with The Princess and The Frog

Inside the book you’ll find original concept art, early maps and storyboards of the parks and attractions, promotional material, and stunning photography laced throughout its many pages spanning the entire history of the resort. This is a big book and at over 300 oversized pages, you’ll find there are quite a few treasures on its pages. But what I enjoyed most about it were the stories of how each of these parks, lands, and attractions came to be.

Authors Kevin Kern, Tim O’day, and Steven Vagnani have curated stories in a surprising but fluid way. Most “coffee table” books read like a docuseries, but this one flows from one story to the next. A different author might have arranged the stories by park or chronologically, but here they arranged it mostly by theme which lends to a much smoother tone. To be sure, it’s chock full of information but it unfolds more like a tale told between friends than a narrative on National Geographic (nothing wrong with National Geographic mind you). I found myself floating between images and stories all throughout and learned some amazing things about the parks I hadn’t known before. It was as much a delight to read as it was to look at all the images.

As Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary, this huge showcase is a great way to delve headlong into its past while waiting to see what comes next. A must for any theme park fan.

  • Thanks to Disney Publishing for providing a review copy of this book.

Title: A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth
Author: Kevin M. Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini
Cost: $60
Age: 18+
Publisher: Disney Editions
Genre: Theme Park History

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