30 December 2013

2013 Best in Perspective - The Journey Begins

I started the Main Street Gazette when I felt I had a lot to say about Walt Disney World, a younger man with more opinions than common sense perhaps. As time went by the natural educator in me was always looking for a way to give the occasional guest a better park going experience. In that vein, I always love when I am able to recommend a good book, or two or three, to give readers the tools they need to succeed. With Disney's Animal Kingdom turning fifteen this past spring, I was certainly not letting the chance pass to recommend some of my favorite wild reads!

We’re going to be focusing a lot of Disney’s Animal Kingdom this month. Not only is the park celebrating its fifteenth anniversary later this month, but the park itself is at a major turning point with massive changes coming to the park in the next few years. Everything makes this the perfect time to stop, take a look back, and look around at the state of the park as it currently stands. Today, however, is a get to know Disney’s Animal Kingdom piece. What better way to find out more about the park than to dig into the library of books dedicated to the youngest of the Vacation Kingdom’s theme parks, and pick out a few choice pieces to help you enhance your own Disney book collection?

For anyone just starting out their Walt Disney World education I always recommend the Imagineering Field Guides. The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom is penned by Alex Wright and weighs in at slim 128 pages. The pocket-sized pages, albeit taller than the average pants pocket, make this volume easy to take into the park so you can learn as you go. A mix of history and detail gazing, the guide is the perfect blend of basic information with break out sections that give a look at some of the more intricate details and historical facts of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is also the one volume on this list that is still readily available.

For those interested in continuing on to the advance level of park history, The Making of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park by Melody Malmberg is required reading. The 160 page, hardbound book would seem like a coffee table book from the outside, but is really more of a historical text. From the idea of an animal park to the creation of an advisory board, from exploratory safaris straight through to construction, and into what would come next after Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened, this work leave no stone unturned. The documentation in written form is reason enough to pick up this behind the scenes volume, add to that copious amounts of concept art and photography, and you have a solid base from which to begin any true study of the fourth gate.

Perhaps your interest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom doesn’t reside in architecture, Imagineering, art forms, or cultural identities. It is incredibly likely that you really want to know more about the actual inhabitants of the park. You’re in luck; the Field Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is right up your alley. The slender, tall, 152 page guidebook is not to be confused with the Imagineering book it shares so many traits with. The focus of this text is to provide visual and zoological information about the animals and vegetation that reside in every corner of the park.

The shortest, yet most advanced, text we’re including here is Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain – The Journey Begins. Topping out at a whopping 24 pages and penned by Joe Rohde and other Imagineers. The text takes you through the development of the last big expansion to come to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and along through a journal type entry of what it is like to move through the Expedition Everest attraction. Like The Making of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, this text provides a ton of concept and research information, but with the added blessing of size, as the entire volume is dedicated to a single attraction.

Some of these may take a little time to track down, but they are all excellent editions to add to your home library if you are at all interested in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If you aren’t particularly intrigued by the park, pick up one or two of these texts, you may be surprised by just what the Disney’s Animal Kingdom has to offer.

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