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Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World Hardcover – October, 2007


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Bonaventure Pr; Later Printing edition (October 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964060523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964060524
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the fourth of his books about the Disney empire, Koenig (Mouse Tales: A Behind-The-Ears Look at Disneyland) takes an even-handed approach to chronicling the ups and downs of an American institution. Based on nearly a decade of research and 100 interviews with past and present employees ("cast members" in Disney-speak), Koenig explores the genesis of Walt Disney's east coast outpost. It began as Disney's dream for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT: a multilevel, glass encased, climate-controlled city. Part of that dream died with Walt in 1966-less than a year before construction began on Disney World-and it would be two decades before his severely altered plans would become reality. In erudite and fluid prose, Koenig takes readers on Walt's clandestine land acquisition exploits in central Florida, through the chaotic construction and frantic early years of the Magic Kingdom and into Disney's disastrous entry into the hotel business. He also recounts the company's struggle to develop a scaled-down EPCOT Center and overcome tumultuous leadership changes. When the author does editorialize, it's subtle, and the book chips away at the Disney fantasy just enough to reveal that nothing-not even "the happiest place on earth"-is perfect.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Koenig drags every skeleton out of the Mouse s closet and makes them dance. After reading Realityland, you'll probably never experience Disney with child-like wonder again, but the insider info is well worth a little lost innocence. --Seth Kubersky, Orlando Weekly

Koenig, the author of two highly respected, behind-the-scenes books on Disneyland, now sheds light on the beginnings of Walt Disney World. Interview-ing almost 100 people and incorporating almost a decade of research, Koenig has written his best book to date. Perfect for Disney fans and history buffs. --Jeff Ayers, Library Journal

In the fourth of his books about the Disney empire, Koenig (Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland) takes an even-handed approach to chronicling the ups and downs of an American institution. Based on nearly a decade of research and 100 interviews with past and present employees (cast members, in Disney-speak), Koenig explores the genesis of Walt Disney's east coast outpost. It began as Disney's dream for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT: a multilevel, glass encased, climate-controlled city. Part of that dream died with Walt in 1966-less than a year before construction began on Disney World-and it would be two decades before his severely altered plans would become reality. In erudite and fluid prose, Koenig takes readers on Walt's clandestine land acquisition exploits in central Florida, through the chaotic construction and frantic early years of the Magic Kingdom and into Disney's disastrous entry into the hotel business. He also recounts the company's struggle to develop a scaled-down EPCOT Center and overcome tumultuous leadership changes. When the author does editorialize, it's subtle, and the book chips away at the Disney fantasy just enough to reveal that nothing-not even the happiest place on earth-is perfect. --Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Interesting reading; I recommend the book.
SB-9
Disney fans, you will know if this book is for you only if you can stomach a telling with a negative lean... scraping away that pixie dust.
GLENN WHELAN
Well written, well researched, and entertaining to read.
Matthew Gutberlet Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By GLENN WHELAN on January 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Recently, I had read and reviewed Charlie Ridgway's book "Spinning Disney's World". That book examined many Disney experiences and explored how the situation was resolved through Public Relations. That book seemed to hop around, sometimes decades as Ridgway `remembered' items of interest.

I have just finished reading David Koenig's ambitious book REALITYLAND. It too explores experiences and stories, but this time it's well organized, and thoroughly chronological. And most importantly for the "spin" on this book... devoid of Disney's Public Relations spin.

I enjoyed the book in very much the same way as Koenig's earlier offerings MouseTales and More MouseTales. All are unauthorized and live up to it. The read is fun, especially if you are into the sort of back alley stories that Koenig slyly relates.

There is plenty of behind the scenes gossip and dirty dealings. After reading some chapters, I actually felt dirty. The worst is reserved for former CEO Michael Eisner and here is where I felt Koenig gave in to a lot of the anti-hype. At no other time in the book did the information delivery become emotional. Statements along the lines of "Eisner arrogantly dismissed" or that Eisner was an "egotistical bully" that are not quoted to someone else seem out of place in a book so thorough in researched material. Especially after giving a pass to previous administrations whose issues were even more flagrant.

Koenig knows his stuff and knows how to deliver it. Capitalizing on a pre-ordained villain helps bring just enough of a soap opera to keep cynics grumbling for another decade. He's also a bright enough individual to end the book on an equalizing tone, validating both the cynical and optimistic point of view of the Disney Corporation.

Disney fans, you will know if this book is for you only if you can stomach a telling with a negative lean... scraping away that pixie dust.
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53 of 63 people found the following review helpful By RonAnnArbor on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a provocative and entertaining look at the way Disney intruded on Central Florida, created its own government, and exerted its will on a quiet sleepy Florida town. Did everything happen the way the book says? WHo knows...Koenig has plenty of direct sources. More than likely more accurate than the "disney authorized" books out there that spout only the Disney partyline. In particular there are volumes of union records and complaints that are a goldmine for this type of material, since Disney hid all these things from the public, but they are all available as public record.

The chapter on injuries and deaths in the land of WDW is especially interesting -- using primary police records and EMS logs, it clearly catalogs Disney's years and years of paying off casualties and their familes, and points its way directly to the terrible relationship Disney currently has with the Orlando media.

This is a great and fast read for those who aren't necessarily Disney Fanboys...i.e. if you think that everything at Disney is covered in pixie dust, then by all means avoid this book. Like Disney Wars a few years back, this is a no-holds barred look at the disfunction that often runs rampant in large corporations. The chapter on the building of the first series of hotels in itself demonstrates the countless hirings, firings, and shady business relationships that WDW's creators encountered. All of it public record for those who care to look.

Filled with plenty of trivia, it will appeal to those fascinated by Disney, but not necessarily blinded to exploring corporate greed and commercialism. Not for everyone.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Eric Cohen on November 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After the Mouse Tales books, I was left wanting more and David Koenig has taken care of that with Realityland. The book takes a look at EPCOT and what did or did not ever see the light of day at Walt Disney World. The book is filled with tales from Cast Members and an excellent behind the scenes account of how WDW came to be. From workers running off worksites to the delay in the opening of the Contemporary, it's all in there.

The book is very solid (until the last chapter) and it's a very easy read. The noticable flaw in the book is towards the end. Koenig has a very long narrative from pre-WDW to the building of EPCOT. He then just throws in a compressed chapter plus about Disney from the Eisner era to today. It seems that he should have ended the title after his core subjects were tackled and saved it for a future book.

Additionally, the last chapter becomes incredibly opinion based. Koenig goes into the now Iger age. It's clear that the the text was wrapped up before John Lassiter and the Pixar team became so integrated into the company, noticably the theme parks. Koenig goes on about declining quality of the parks, but his opinions seem dated with so many quality changes that have been appearing the past year within the company. With some of his sources including web based gossip mavens including Jim Hill and Al Lutz, it just read like an extended complaint column in the last chapter. The last chapter might have seemed on-target had recent changes not been made.

Overall, it's interesting to read and you'll enjoy the little behind the scenes stories that line the book.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Brad K on December 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The cover should give it away. This isn't the story of Walt Disney World, this is the story of Epcot and everything that attempted to personify the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow as relayed by Walt. It seems, in fact, that Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom, neither portrayed in a very favorable light, are mentioned only out of courtesy.

Another issue I take up with this book is Koenig (and having read both Mouse Tales and Mouse Under Glass, I can say I'm a fan of his work) has a really difficult time being objective. The re-occurring theme in this book is how 'big-egoed' Michael Eisner virtually destroyed all that was good about the company with his bottom-line thinking, despite having spent many pages prior to Eisner's introduction talking about how the company as a whole was hemmoraging money left and right. Koening seems to have issue that Eisner took the only profitable division of the company (and yet not profitable enough to keep the company alive) and managed to yield more profits from it. At what cost? Enough to keep the Disney company around. Koenig inexplicably leaves out various items that wouldn't support his findings. How is it possible that a company bent on cutting costs everywhere would constantly be spending more money to revamp attractions, either favorably or not (Koenig harps on the Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management, but doesn't explain why it wasn't changed at Disneyland - in fact, under Eisner's reign, Disneyland's went under a major refurbishment to restore the original attraction).
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