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The Walt Disney World That Never Was: Stories Behind the Amazing Imagineering Dreams That Never Came True Paperback – November 6, 2016
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As thankful as we are for the WDW we have, it is exciting (and at times frustrating or disappointing) to learn what could have been.
The stories are well-researched, well-told and, although at times brutally honest, they brim with warmth and reverence for all things Disney.
The book is replete with stories of attractions that simply never made it off of the drawing board. Many of these projects, like the Western River Expedition, have become the stuff of legend and lore within Disney fan circles. But here, Smith has compiled all of the major attractions and placed them in one book.
David Copperfield’s Magic Underground, Muppets Studio, Mt. Fuji Coaster, Villains Mountain, Enchanted Snow Palace and so many more are featured in the book.
The Walt Disney World That Never Was covers the entire Walt Disney World resort, with each chapter focusing on a major attraction. Smith covers all of the lost attractions at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, the Disney Studios, Animal Kingdom and the never-built resort hotels.
The strength of the book lies in the fact that all the stories have been compiled in one place; Smith does a great job of relating those stories to us. He does mention a few of the sources that he pulls information from but that is where my negative thoughts on the book come in.
The book really does read anecdotally but there’s no way to track down where Smith got the information. When he quotes directly from a book, Smith at least relates the title of the book but there’s no pagination. In other cases he’ll he’ll mention that the information came from an annual report or a company newsletter, but there’s no direct reference to what it was. The same goes for most of the information that Smith presents.
Having been a Disney fan for many decades, I can corroborate most of the stories in The Walt Disney World That Never Was. I know that Smith really has done his research and I was always aware of what he was talking about. But this book simply doesn’t help future researchers or historians. With no end notes, footnotes or a practical bibliography, there’s really no use of this book for the future. It did remind me of a Jim Korkis book with the fact we just have to trust what he is saying instead of being able to see for yourself.
All negativity aside, I still really enjoyed the book and I do recommend it. Fans of Walt Disney World are going to love this title because there are things that they are not going to be familiar with. There were even a few surprises that I ran across.
Smith’s style is very relaxed and it’s obvious that he’s a fan of Imagineering and is passionate about these lost projects. Walt Disney World fans are going to tear through The Walt Disney World That Never Was and dream wistfully of these long-lost Imagineering projects.
Covering such well known and sadly missed places such as Beastly Kingdom and Thunder Mesa, Chris also hits less well known plans, such as other resorts (one was to be a full out old time Western town! With gunfights, etc!) and also other national pavilions at Epcot. Israel,Spain and others were considered.
Chris also shows where there might be remnants of these planned wonders so we can all see hints of what might have been.
Fascinating, a real page turner.
The main flaw in the book is that it has absolutely no photos, drawings, or other visuals of any of these rides. Concept art exists for many of these rides and, in fact, spends quite a lot time giving the reader descriptions of the art. But those description are no substitute for actually seeing it. I assume that book's budget or permission issues with Disney kept the book from having any visuals.
The book could also have used a good editor to rein in some of Smith's overly exuberant prose.
But, hey, this is a fan's book. It was by a fan for other fans and on that basis, I very much enjoyed it.
Most recent customer reviews
I am just a casual Disney fan, but this book made me want to find out more.Read more