Upon hearing the title of Aaron Wallace's new book series The Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World my interest was instantly piqued. Here is a book that recognizes from the onset that there are indeed theme park fans who actually have a thought in their brain. The title alone was enough of a lure, which is good, because I don't love the design of the cover. But you know what they say about that...
The Thinking Fan's Guide has a very simple, no nonsense layout. Wallace takes you on clockwise tour of The Magic Kingdom focusing one "land" at a time. A general overview of the land is given, plus detailed descriptions of each attraction. There are no pictures, and no silly cartoons mucking up the layout of the page.
As an already immersed Disney fan, who has been "drinking the kool-aid" for some time now, I am usually quite skeptical of these types of books. What could they possibly have to say that I don't already know? Is there even a speck of information I haven't absorbed? While I did know a great deal of the information provided, there was plenty of new insight to keep me turning the page. And thats the thing here, The Thinking Fan's Guide is insanely readable. Through personal experiences and opinions Wallace is able to keep the reader grounded in the real world, while still taking time to look back at the history of the attraction. Opinion doesn't shape the dynamic of the text, but does add a nice fluidity to it.
As a fan of Disney history I really appreciate the compare and contrast of the WDW attractions to their west coast cousins in Disneyland. This is where a lot of the "a-ha" moments come from. Without Disneyland, clearly there would be no Magic Kingdom, so it makes sense to use that park as a jumping off point when appropriate.
One small quibble I have with the book is the inclusion of movie recommendations after each attraction. These are meant to set the stage and help build a context for the attractions. While a lot of them absolutely succeed in this, others are quite a stretch. (to his credit, Wallace I think realizes this...) Maybe including a "definitive" movie that defines the land as a whole would work. For instance, the inclusion of Meet Me In St. Louis for Main Street USA is inspired, and truly does help guest appreciation for the area.
I had a lot of fun reading this book. Despite minor flaws it works as a whole, and I was happy to find information that isn't provided in other WDW guide books. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment. (crossing fingers for Epcot...obviously.)