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Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World Hardcover

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Frequently Bought Together

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World + Project Future: The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World + Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Bonaventure Pr (October 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964060523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964060524
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,348 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.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting reading; I recommend the book.
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.
I have read other books by this author and found them to be very entertaining and informative.
John Demakas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 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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51 of 61 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alan D. Cranford VINE VOICE on July 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
David Koenig wrote Mouse Tales. Realityland continues his detailed `behind the ears look,' but this time he looks at Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida rather than at the original Disneyland in California. David's introduction surprised me: `I thought I knew most of the `secrets' of the Disney theme park," he wrote. I was surprised because Disneyland and WDW are radically different from each other. David wrote that before WDW came to town, central Florida was considerably more rural than Anaheim had been before 160 acres of orange groves became Disneyland. For example, on page 55 Realityland says that some of the 14 original cast members staffing the Preview Center during WDW construction were normally barefoot prior to being hired by Disney. Today Disneyland in Anaheim remained the most provincial of the two parks. I had thought it was obvious--Disneyland is small-town America and WDW is the big city. I am prejudiced by visiting both as a regular guest--and by taking the guided tours of both places. Mr. Koenig was able to overcome his original impression--one he earned while interviewing 250 Disneyland cast members over seven years and while researching records and libraries for Mouse Tales. In 1995 David Koenig got his `I don't think we're in Kansas anymore' moment when he began interviewing WDW cast members at the Big Bamboo Lounge in Kissimmee, Florida.
From there this enjoyable history of Walt Disney World delves right into Project X days. There is a connection between the CIA and WDW--see page 24: William Donovan (World War Two OSS chief--the forerunner of today's CIA) was a partner in the New York law firm used by Walt Disney for his Florida project.
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