Children’s Books: Disney Opposites and Shapes

I found these little block books for $1 in Target and thought I would share about them. They are perfect for families with small children who love Disney characters and are beginning these basic skills.

The first book has Disney movie characters and uses the pictures to show and describe opposites, such as front and back, up and down and above and below.  The second book features the Fab Five and talks all about shapes, giving examples of each shape on the pages and then asks to find them all on the last page. Both books are for ages 2 to 4.

They are only a couple inches big and have 5 pages, but it is still a book and your child can learn from them! Plus, they are Disney!

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Cookbook – Cooking with Mickey: Volume II

Cooking With Mickey: Volume 2

I received this book just recently from my sisters’ boyfriends’ mother.  She said she rarely used it and thought I would be able to get some use of it.  Boy oh boy do I ever plan on getting use out of this!!

This nearly 300 page book is filled with recipes from all over Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort.  Printed around the year 2000, there are recipes for restaurants that no longer exist, including Chef Mickey’s Village Restaurant, Farmers Market, and Garden Gallery at the Disney Inn. There are even a couple of Walt Disney’s personal recipes in here!

There are 12 categories in the book; Beverages, Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Breads, Eggs and Cheese, Seafood, Poultry, Meats, Vegetables, Desserts, and Sauces. Each recipe has the name and the restaurant and location it is from.  The servings are listed as well as the ingredients and instructions. In the back of the book is the index with the list of restaurants and where in the book their recipes are located.

Interested in trying out some recipes from your favorite restaurant, definitely give this book a glance! It can be found on Amazon.com for a pretty good rate!

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AutoBiography: Spinning Disney’s World

Spinning Disney’s World: Memories of a Magic Kingdom Press Agent
By Charles Ridgway

With a love of Disney history and a want to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of Disney, I was very enthusiastic about picking up Charles Ridgway’s book.  Ridgway, who I am lucky enough to write alongside for the Disney Dispatch (Click to see his articles), worked for several decades in the Public Relations department for the Disney Company and wow does he have stories to share!

He first tells about his time as a reporter for newspapers in California and his experience covering the opening of Disneyland.  Readers then find out how Charlie went about getting his position within Disney’s public relations office and all of the challenges faced within the business.  We follow him from his early days in Disneyland, through his Florida move and work at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, all the way up to his Media Guide writing for Tokyo Disneyland and his retirement.

The layout of this book is really casual and almost conversational in tone, which at times can make you feel like Charlie is jumping from topic to topic, but he has a knack for bringing it around full circle by the end of the chapter.  The book is broken up into chapters, but each chapter just flows so well that, before you know it, you have read four chapters without even realizing it!

The historical details in this book are seen from a perspective not usually witnessed by everyday people, which brings out the uniqueness of this book even more.  Witness the opening day of Disneyland from the perspective of an optimistic journalist, walk down Main Street of construction-heavy Walt Disney World without getting your shoes muddy (like Charlie did) and learn about the opening of EuroDisney from the perspective of the media.

When Charlie talks about his times working with Walt Disney, the reader almost feels like they are in the moment with them.  Reading this book, I felt like I knew Walt personally and was sitting down, reminiscing with Charlie about working with him, even though I was not even thought of during the lifetime of Walt.  I just love the way that Charlie can grab your attention and relive moments in time with you, making you feel like you were there. The amount of detail given helps the reader to paint a vivid picture of the events.

This book not only entertained and informed me, but it even made me change my way of thinking.  No longer will I refer to Disney parks as “theme parks” after a comment that Charlie made in his book that really hit home for me.  There are even some well-known names and ideas in the parks that were created, sometimes out of the blue, by Charlie himself, which may surprise readers. Charlie is not only a Disney employee, but he is a Disney fan, and that is what makes all of the difference.

This book was an absolute joy to read, I loved it from cover to cover and would suggest it to anyone who has a passion for Disney and a love of learning.  To purchase this book, you can visit amazon.com or the publisher’s site, Intrepid Traveler.

I would like to close this post out with a thank you, a thank you to Charlie.  Thank you for sharing your passion, knowledge and general love of Disney with all of us fans, we are forever grateful for what you have shared!

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Children’s Books: The Rescuers Down Under

Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under
Disney’s Wonderful World of Reading

Another from the Movie-to-book collection, The Rescuers Down Under was a nice read for me recently.  I have not seen this movie in a long time and it was nice to get a reminder of the plot.

Just as in the similar books, there is actual dialogue from the movie intermingled with the paragraphs and the images are very accurate.  There are two parts of the movie that were not completely represented in this book though; the scene with Wilbur in the doctor and the jealously felt by Bernard because of the way Jake was acting to Bianca.  I can understand the part of the doctor would be hard to put into the book, but the jealously could have had a better representation.  These two missing elements do not spoil the plot in the book though, it flows well and for those who have never seen the movie, they will fully understand the plot.

To get a copy of this book, just click the following link: Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under (Disney’s Wonderful World of Reading)

 

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Touring Guides: Birnbaum Guides Walt Disney World 2011

Birnbaum Guides Walt Disney World 2011
Editor – Jill Safro

Being the Official Guide for Walt Disney World, the Birnbaum Guide is the one that first time Disney travelers grab for first.  Just because it has the word “Official” on it does not mean that it is the best….or does it?  Let’s dive into the book and find out!

As I have said before, I have an order that I look at the books in and certain things I look for.  The first is the Table of Contents and Index. The index is very detailed, but there isn’t the typical Table of Contents.  There are color-coated sections and each section has a mini ToC.  I will go into detail about each section later in the review.

Next, I look at the pictures, as I am a very visual person. The entire book is very colorful, with colored tabs and boxes, which is appealing.  The pictures are a mix of animated pictures and photographs, with at least one on just about every page and all in full color.  A lot of the photographs show pieces of the park, giving the reader ideas of what part of an attraction may look like, which is great, especially for new travelers who have not experienced the parks.

A map is next on my list of must-haves for a guide and there are plenty to choose from in this book!  Throughout the book, there are maps of each park and of Downtown Disney and, in the back flap, there is a large colored map of the entire property.

Now onto the nitty-gritty of the book: the layout. After a word from editor Jill Safro, there is the first section titled Getting Ready to Go.  In this section, they really have listed everything you would need for your first or any trip to WDW.  They give crowd patterns, special events, weather patterns, travel, packing pointers, ticket information, dining plan information, money-saving tips, making a budget and a timeline for planning your vacation, which is a feature I really enjoy.  There is a group of sample schedules that give planners an idea how to go through their days in the park and what to do on rainy days. This section also has a tip area with tips for traveling with children, as a couple, alone, International travelers and travelers with Disabilities. And as if this wasn’t enough, there is also information on wedding and honeymoon planning, a timeline of Disney Milestones and a reference guide with several great snippets of info on everything from barber shops and camera needs to mail services, pets, tipping and religious services. This section is HUGE and packed with great information!

Before we continue, I just have to point out a little feature that goes throughout this book that I just love! It’s these little green boxes labeled “HOT TIP!”, where there is great bits of information, some of which even I, a relatively seasoned Disney veteran, did not know! My tip on the green tip boxes; Read Them!!

After the Getting Ready to Go section comes the Transportation and Accommodations section. Transporation was covered a bit in the first section, so the part here is rather small and just covers transportation to and on property.  The Accommodations section talks about the resorts in three ways; on a basics chart, rates chart and a detailed write-up on each resort.  The basics and rates charts are color coated and gives short and sweet snippets of info, which I am all about, but I know there are those who like long, detailed bits of information, which is provided as well by the kind Birnbaum people. Best of both worlds in this sense.  There is at least one picture for each resort as well; I could use more, but at least there is something. The large write-ups cover rooms, restaurants and bars, shopping, transportation and activities on the resort property. There are a few pages at the end of this section with write-ups on the Disney Cruise Line and on each of the resorts on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, which are not owned by Disney but are on Disney property.

Finally, after all of that and over 100 pages into the book, we get to the theme park sections, covering Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.  The beginning of each section has a map of the park,  a “Getting Oriented” section with information about parking and park hours and a “Park Primer” with everything from money information, baby facilities, first aid and more.  Each section of the park is then looked at, along with every attraction in that area.  There are paragraphs on the lands and the attractions describing them and giving information about FastPass options and restrictions. In the Magic Kingdom section, they do not include information on Mickey’s Toontown as it is no longer available and there is a small paragraph that talks about the Fantasyland Expansion, making new Disney travelers aware of the situation. There is also a red stamp next to some attractions that say “Birnbaum’s Best”; these attractions are some of the most popular among guests and the editors of the guide. After the attractions comes information on shopping and entertainment, including fireworks, parades and holiday specials.  Tips are sprinkled throughout all of these sections and a list is included at the end of each section, so make sure to read closely!

The next section, Everything Else in the World, covers just that! This section goes over Downtown Disney information, the Boardwalk resort scene, the two water parks, recreation activities, spas, tours and information for exclusive kid activities.  Looking for sports? The section after this covers all the sports options available to guests, from golf to tennis and water sports.

You may be thinking, “All this is good and detailed, but what about the restaurants and eating suggestions?” Well, never fear, Birnbaum’s has you covered there too! I will admit, this section is not as thorough as I would like and there are not many photos, but they do cover all of the basics needed to plan your dining options.  They go over what each restaurant and snack venue sell along with prices, if it is on the dining plan and when it is open and serving food. All restaurants have a brief paragraph, including the park restaurants, those in Downtown Disney and the ones at the resorts.  After this is a colorful chart naming each restaurant with a character meal option and what they serve along with tips, style, location and pricing.  Another few, colorful pages called the “Restaurant Roundup” go over “The Best” in many categories, such as “Best Fireworks View”, “Best Vegetarian Meal”, “Best Fixin’s Bar”, and many more! The end of this sections has pages that talk about Dinner shows, Bars and Lounges on property, and how to make reservations.

That takes us to the end of the book and, as if this book has not given you enough information, they have a couple pages for notes, 3 pages of amazing coupons to be used on Disney properties AND a trip planner page to help write down your vacation information and give you numbers you may need for planning.

And there you have it, the guide cover to cover! Here is my summary:

Table of Contents and Index: Yes, though Table of Contents is chapter by chapter instead of all at the beginning
Photos: Yes, along with TONS of color on every page
Maps: Yes, of each park, Downtown Disney and one of the whole property, all in color
Resort Details: Very Detailed and displayed in several formats
Dining Details: A whole chapter devoted to it with a good amount of detail
Attraction Details: A write up on each and a picture for many
Downtown Disney Details: Moderately Detailed
Water Park Details: Detailed with about 2 pages on each park
Other Information: Packing Suggestions, Tickets and pricing, weather, special event details, tips for traveling with children, solo and with disabilities, suggested schedules, tips sprinkled throughout the book, coupons

So, does this official guide meet up to its official standards? For the most part, YES! It has a great deal of information for planning a vacation, especially for those first time travelers.  If you are a visual person like me, you may be wishing for more photos, but that should not stop anyone from purchasing this book for the plethora of information found in it’s pages.

And if you needed any more reason to buy, how about it is only $10.33 new on Amazon.com?? Purchase today and start planning your Walt Disney World vacation!

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Children’s Book: The Emperor’s New Groove

Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove
Disney’s Wonderful World of Reading

This is one of my newer books and comes from the lovely Disney collection, Disney’s Wonderful World of Reading.  I am a fan of this collection of books because it takes the movies that the children love and puts them into book form, allowing them to practice their reading while envisioning their favorite films.

This version of The Emperor’s New Groove follows the film very closely, as expected.  Many of the details are in the story, including some of the actual movie dialogue! If your child is anything like my sister, they will read the dialogue in the same tone as the character in the movie, which can be quite comical.  The illustrations are taken right out of the film, so naturally the quality and accuracy are prominent. If this is a favorite movie of your child, this is a great book to add to their collection.  They can re-live the movie over and over again without wearing out the DVD.

This is only the first of many Wonderful World of Reading books I plan on reviewing.  If you have a favorite one of these books, please let me know and I will look through my collection of books to find and review it. And, if by some chance, I do not have that book, I will find where to get it!

To get Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove, click the link and buy it very cheaply on Amazon.

 

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From Walt’s Shelf: Peter Pan

Peter Pan
By J.M. Barrie

A book that would have been seen on Walt’s shelf in the 1950’s, Peter Pan is surprisingly different from the movie with the same name.

The book starts out with a great amount of detail about the beginnings of the Darling family and the nature of Mr. and Mrs. Darling.  After that detail, the book takes much the same course as the movie, going through the nursery shenanigans and how Peter Pan enters the picture.

There is another big difference right there, Peter Pan.  In the film, he is what I would refer to as a bratty little boy.  He pouts when he doesn’t get his way and thinks of himself a lot, but otherwise, he is overall a likeable character.  Not in the book! In fact, at times I found Peter to be almost annoying! He is much cockier in the book and can act quite badly at times.  One characteristic of Peter does stay the same and that is how naïve he can be.

You learn very interesting things about the island itself and how the lost boys get along on the island with Peter.  The reader also learns where Peter and the lost boys came from and how they ended up on the island.  Even information about Tinker Bell is revealed, showing a much darker and almost vulgar side of Tink and her foul temper. When Captain Hook is described, he seems almost like an old, bitter man and a bit crazy as well.  His characteristics in the book are very much like that of the movie, even some of his dialogue is the same.

In the movie, the length of the Darling children’s stay is relatively short and is not really noticed by the parents.  In the book, the parents are well aware that their children are gone and are quite remorseful about it.  Mr. Darling himself does something quite drastic that…well, I will leave you in suspense on that one, you will have to read the book to find out what the family goes through!  You will also have to read to find out what happens in the end that is different from the movie and how the stories continue.

As far as the general composition of the book, I found the dialogue to be rather confusing.  Barrie’s style of writing can be hard to follow at times.  The narrator that tells most of the story tends to jump around a bit and also has conversations with the reader about what could or did happen.  These parts can sometimes make the book hard to follow, I had to go back and re-read a few places.  Do not let this discourage you from reading though, because the stories themselves, in between the narration, can be quite intriguing.

I really did enjoy reading Peter Pan and glad to Walt for capturing the magic found in this book and giving us a great visual to go with it! Whether on your free book applications or just getting a copy at your local bookstore, I suggest this book for those of you who would like a different and original look into Neverland. Thank you also to the Disney Driven Life Book Club for making this one of our reads! Purchase Peter Pan on Amazon by clicking the title link.

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Childrens book: Disney’s Storybook Collection

Disney’s Storybook Collection
Edited by Nancy Parent

When my little cousins are over, I love pulling this book out because it has all of the stories they enjoy and it can keep them busy for a while!  If you are one of those families who do the nightly bedtime story, this is a great collection to add to your bookshelf.

This book has 23 stories in it, all well-known Disney stories based on the movies that the children love and the illustrations are images from these well-known movies. I say these stories are prefect bedtime story lengths because each story is about 13 pages. This sounds like a lot, but almost every page has a picture and the text is on the larger side.  Don’t be fooled by the shortness of the story though.  Each story is crammed with details, even some dialogue from the actual movie!

Some of the stories in this collection include Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Mickey and the Beanstalk.

To get this book, you can order it on Amazon, along with the second volume of the book! The first book has a different cover than the one that I own but seems to be the same book.  The second volume, though I do not own it, I am sure will not disappoint!

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An Epic Epcot Encyclopedia Review

I recently read a book review on a book that has officially made it to my “Must Read” list.  A friend of mine, Mark, runs the website IlluminatingEpcot.com and had an excellent review of The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia by R.A. Pedersen.  His review moved me so much that I had to share it on this site since this site is all about getting the word out about awesome Disney books in any way! Click here to read Mark’s review and check out these Amazon links to buy The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia book or to get it for The Kindle.  Look for a review of this book in the future as well from me once I can get my hands on it!

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The Imagineering Field Guide Series – Magic Kingdom

The Imagineering Field Guide to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World: An Imagineer’s-Eye Tour
By The Imagineers

Well, its true, the Imagineers did it again. Not that I doubted them or anything, they have an amazing book series going and there is no way they could spoil a good thing by adding the Magic Kingdom do it.  This book is one that brings the magic of the Magic Kingdom to life! The Imagineers walk you around the park and point out so many of the little details that would be otherwise missed.

This book starts out just as the other books in this series have (See my write ups on the Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom books), with the history, WDW disciplines and Lingo.  The first section after all this talks a lot about Disneyland and how Disneyland was the inspiration for “Disneyland East” or “The Florida Project”.  The writers even warn you in this section that there will be many references to Disneyland in this book because of the similarities between the two parks. After this section comes the meat and potatoes of the book, the lands.

This books covers the seven lands, or what were the seven lands of the Magic Kingdom; Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown Fair and Tomorrowland.  Yes, Toontown Fair is included in this book, which makes it even more precious now that this land is no more.  Each section goes into detail about the attractions and themeing.  And in the end, as always, is a nicely detailed map of the park and a bibliography.

When you are reading this book, for instance, in the Main Street U.S.A. section, you feel as though you are walking down the street on a private tour.  Details are pointed out and it almost makes you feel like you are there.  The pictures and concept art sprinkled throughout the pages are great too at helping to illustrate the points being made.  That is something that I have lacked in mentioning in previous posts about this series; the Imagineers do an incredible job at providing pictures or illustrations when they are needed to explain something.  They even have actual concept art that is thrown into the pages so that we can get a glimpse into their world of creation.

What I learned from this book:

  • Those who get windows on Main Street get mini versions of them in a special ceremony on Main Street
  • Jungle Cruise is on the Amazon, Nile, Congo and Mekong rivers
  • Bricks from old buildings in Downtown Orlando were used in Liberty Square
  • The Haunted Mansion is in a different land in every park around the world
  • The Fantasyland Carrousel was from a company in Philadelphia
  • Wow is it hard to build a cartoon-looking building!
  • The Astro Orbiter spins at 11 RPM and travels about 600,000 miles per year!

I absolutely enjoyed reading about this classic park and all of the similarities to its California counterpart.  It not only makes me appreciate more about Florida’s Magic Kingdom, but it makes me want to plan a trip to Cali right now!

Find out for yourself the wonders of the Magic Kingdom by getting your copy of The Imagineering Field Guide to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World–Updated! today on Amazon.

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