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Currently, Walt Disney World is in the middle of celebrating its 50th anniversary. The celebration kicked off on Oct. 1, 2021, and will last approximately 18 months long so as many guests as possible can experience the new magic in the making. That includes the updated 50th-anniversary look for Cinderella’s castle in Magic Kingdom, new nighttime fireworks shows, and so much more.
And as a companion to this most wonderful celebration, Disney also released a new history book about the park called A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth. We were sent a review copy courtesy of Disney to check out this history-lesson-in-a-book — written by Disney creatives Kevin M. Kern, Tim O’Day and Steven Vagnini — and it’s absolutely a must-have for diehard fans of the parks.
If you’re anything like me, then you probably have spent your time watching video essays on YouTube about the history of the parks. You might have tuned into specials like The Imagineering Story or Behind the Attraction on Disney+. And, of course, you’ve visited the parks or even stayed on property to witness that history first hand. Well, even if you think you’ve heard it all or seen it all when it comes to the legacy of Walt Disney World, A Portrait of Walt Disney World offers so much more.
The first thing that will probably stick out to you in this huge, massive book (and it is heavy) is all of the beautiful photos that are included on the sleek pages. You’ll get everything from never-before-seen concept art to costume and uniform designs, to beautiful shots of the park new and old, and even a few historical photos of the Disney family themselves.
This book is the ultimate coffee table book for Disney fans. And there is just so much packed into this that it’ll keep you hooked for quite a long time. Even for the more casual fans, it’s a beautiful page-turner that piques interest, and it might even have some of your friends and family members converting to Disney die-hards as well.
But, in between the photos, the pages are packed with some remarkable stories and history. You’ll start with the Disney family pre-Walt’s birth, discovering their origins in Florida, and how it eventually came full circle with the man himself choosing the Orlando area to host his highly elusive “Florida Project.” In it are stories from those WED workers, Imagineers, Disney legends and so many more people who have seen the growth of this park first-hand.
For the most part, after the introduction of the creation of Disney World, the book then diverts from its linear path to talk about the entire resort in different themes — such as nostalgia, fantasy, and tomorrow. There, you see just how massive all of Walt Disney World Resort is: World Showcase; Disney Springs; It’s a Small World; The Grand Floridian; the Galactic Starcruiser; Muppet Vision 3D; Disney’s Boardwalk, etc., etc. It’s all Disney World, and there are many stories to tell about each part’s history.
Lastly, the book closes by looking back on some of Disney World’s past celebrations (remember the 25th-anniversary castle?). And, unfortunately, it only spends a few pages discussing the event that it’s honoring, the 50th-anniversary celebration. Of course, seeing as the book had to be written and published in time for the 50th anniversary, we know there isn’t much they can include aside from the concept art. But perhaps an expanded page on that is something to look forward to when the 60th roles around.
Walt Disney World cookbook
I’d also like to give an honorable mention to Delicious Disney: Walt Disney World: Recipes & Stories from The Most Magical Place on Earth, written by Pam Brandon, Marcy Smothers, and the Disney Chefs. This was sent to us to review as well, and this is definitely the ultimate cookbook for all the Disney foodies out there. And I’m not just talking about the Disney Parks fans who call themselves foodies, but the Disney Park fans who call themselves foodies because of the food, snacks and drinks offered at the park.
In the pages of this book, you get recipes to create actual dishes and drinks from around the parks. Love stopping by Pineapple Lanai or Aloha Isle for Dole Whip? Now you’ll have the chance to make some from the comfort of your own home. Never had the chance to make it to Cinderella’s Royal Table? Then prepare to transform your own kitchen into Cinderella’s castle, as the book includes a few recipes from their menu. And for the Star Wars fans, you’ll even learn how to prepare your own Ronto Wrap from Ronto Roasters.
So, if you’re an aspiring Disney chef or chef-at-heart, you’ll want to have this cookbook in your inventory to spark some of that yummy Disney joy when you can’t make it to the parks.
A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth is out now wherever books are sold. Delicious Disney: Walt Disney World: Recipes & Stories from The Most Magical Place on Earth will be out on April 5, 2022, but is available for pre-order now.