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The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom Paperback – June 18, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 226 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Susan Veness (Orlando, FL) is a travel writer, researcher and itinerary planner specializing in Florida, Disney, and the theme parks. A former online travel agent, she became principal research assistant for the UK's bestselling Brit's Guide travel series in 2002. She also writes for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and other media. She has been visiting Walt Disney World since it opened in 1971 and, with a home just minutes from The Mouse, she continues to tour the parks on a regular basis.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media; Original edition (June 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605500631
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605500638
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoy books about Disney and normally don't judge them harshly.

But people should be warned about this one. In just the first couple dozen pages, there are numerous items that are out of date. It's kind of sad that families will go searching for the old-fashioned phone in the General Store, will go to awaken Tinker Bell in the Fantasyland shop, will go to see Tink in the keyhole of the sewing table there, the wooden leg on the lost and found shelf at the Frontierland station -- when all of these features have been removed over a year ago. In addition to being outdated, the information is sometimes just wrong. For instance, it isn't true that "WDW imagineers could not dig a basement in Orlando as they did at Disneyland in California ..." There are no utilidors in Disneyland. (Walt was frustrated to see a cowboy walking through Tomorrowland on his way to work in Frontierland in Disneyland -- since there was no other way to cross the park. And the idea for the WDW ultidors was born!)

If I can spot things that are wrong, I wonder what a real Disney expert would find. The editing was skethcy, too. For instance, the red and green faces of Cinderella's evil stepsisters are "belying" their anger and jealousy. "Belying" means hiding or contracting. What the author meant was "revealing."

Unfortunately, this book is a regurgitation of all the "WDW Secrets" lists on the Internet. Some of the items on those list aren't legitimate. For instance, the three-circled cut-out shapes in the stone wall that curves along the walkways to the front of the castle - at no time of day do they cast a Mickey-shaped shadow on the ground. I read about this online a couple of years ago and went on many occasions to the castle to see the shadows. I kept coming back to check. I asked castmembers. It doesn't happen.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a long time Disney fan, I've devoted a lot of time to my Disney obsession, both on vacation and at home (so much so, that I met my wife on a Walt Disney World fan site). I've read so many Walt Disney World guide books that they all look alike to me anymore. The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World is not a Disney World guide book intended to teach you how to get around the parks and when the best time to ride Dumbo is. What this book does is point out a lot of the overlooked and hidden details about the park. Many of the details that the average guest may look right at, failing to understand what they're looking at or why it's there, and failing to appreciate the meaning of it as a result. This book points out the painstaking detail the imagineers design into the park in an attempt to maintain an authentic atmosphere, or to ensure you truly *feel* the emotions they want you to feel at that moment, thus, allowing you to truly experience the magic. This book is for those who have reached the point where they wander through the parks, no longer paying close attention to their surroundings as a result of a mistaken belief that they've seen all there is to see in the parks. It will elevate their appreciation to another level and is a must have addition to any Walt Disney World fan's bookshelf!
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Format: Paperback
Whether from shoddy research or a misguided attempt to preserve that Disney magic, a few too many of these so-called secrets amount to nothing more than vague instructions to listen or pay attention, often phrased with coy, cutesy questions like "get it?" "give up?" or "how many can you find?". Perhaps the appendix of answers in the back of the book could keep things spoiler-free; too bad only nine seemingly arbitrary clues (out of "over 600") were treated thus. The trivia and behind-the-scenes info might have been a saving grace, but are presented as random paragraphs and snippets buried randomly in the middle of chapters, sometimes interrupting pages that have little to do with the trivia provided. However, formatting errors and the increasingly grating chirpy writing style are the least of this book's problems.

The sorry state of this book can be summed up and nicely bookended by just two examples: the first, not thirty pages in, when the reader is provided with a secret from Haunted Mansion in a most unhelpful way. An example is given of how an illusion works, but the reveal is not stated outright, nor in the hint appendix - instead, the mid-page snippet concludes: "Can't stand not knowing? Do an Internet search on Pepper's Ghost when you get back home." If you're going to be shooed off to the Internet for additional research, you may as well substitute it for the rest of the book; it'd certainly be more helpful! More accurate, too, as proven on page 165, which refers to "Windsor Mackay, a vaudevillian actor". Not would only would the barest minimum of research attest to Winsor McCay having been a well-known cartoonist and animator, the author actually manages to misspell his name in every way possible.

Useless fluff at best, and inaccurate at worst.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Even the most basic facts of the park's history are incorrect in this book.

Reading the foreword and introduction, I went into this with high hopes, and happily shelled out the $7.00 for the book. It was a mistake. Despite the author's insistence, this was not written by a fan, and certainly not by an expert. The "big park secrets" revealed in this book's chapters are inevitably either obvious, outdated, or provably false. For the sake of brevity, I will only bring up two in this review.

In the section of the text detailing the "secrets" of 'It's a Small World' (Secrets including the fact that mixing primary colors will give you white light!), the author forgets for a few pages that she is writing about Disney World, not Disneyland. She goes on to describe the history of the wrong theme park for several paragraphs before moving on to fascinating Disney trivia like the amount of stars on a one-dollar bill.

A few short chapters later, the author stumbles through a nonsensical description of the Haunted Mansion. While she was ripping off the internet's oldest Disney blogs, she somehow missed the depth of research available on this attraction's history. She mislabels characters and attraction features, dismisses the opinions of actual Disney imagineers in favor of her own, and mocks one of the most cherished features of the ride's history; the bride's ring.

All of this would be forgivable if the book was actually entertaining. Unfortunately, it is anything but. The book is plodding, juvenile, and written like an elementary school text book. The flow of the text is frequently interrupted with sidebar factoids that have literally no possible relation to Disney World. My above examples, the dollar bill and the primary colors?
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