Author Reads Magic Kingdom Like A Book


TFG2coverThe Thinking Fan’s Guide To Walt Disney World:
Magic Kingdom, 2nd edition
by Aaron Wallace
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 918-1-937011-50-5
269 pages   6″ x 9″
Footnotes   Index
Trade paperback original
Printed in the U.S.A.
List Price $15.95

Aaron Wallace Tracks a Revolution in Disney Storytelling Style

Creates a Different Kind of Guidebook for a Different Kind of Theme Park Experience

ORLANDO, FL (September 2015) – Disney expert Aaron Wallace, author of The Thinking Fan’s Guide To Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom, 2nd edition (The Intrepid Traveler, $15.95), has detected a shift in Disney Imagineers’ approach to storytelling in the latest additions to Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.

“The last few years have seen a shift in storytelling at the Mouse House,” Wallace says. “From Maleficent to ‘Once Upon a Time,’ Disney has been revisiting and revising their classic fairy tales. The interesting thing about Magic Kingdom is that New Fantasyland has essentially done the same thing with its theme park rides.”

The traditional template of a Disney park ride or attraction based on a beloved film involved retelling those stories in faithful, linear narrative.

But the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Enchanted Tales With Belle, and Under The Sea — the latest attractions in “New” Fantasyland — take some interesting liberties with that formula. It’s a bit like the “fan fiction” inspired by popular story worlds.

“There are curious little wrinkles in these new attractions,” Wallace notes. “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train adds dark twists to the Snow White story. There’s an altered ending for The Little Mermaid in Under the Sea. There’s even time travel in Beauty and the Beast thanks to Enchanted Tales with Belle.”

Wallace points to similar revisionism elsewhere in Magic Kingdom. “On Main Street, the Festival of Fantasy parade puts the whole Disney World experience in fascinating context — context that helps inform my reading of Main Street’s venerable Electrical Parade, too,” he says.

Wallace has marked the arrival of New Fantasyland — the largest single expansion in Magic Kingdom history — with a revised and expanded second edition of The Thinking Fan’s Guide, to be published in September of 2015.

The new edition is longer, more comprehensive, and more in-depth than the first, offering some surprising takes on Magic Kingdom’s newest additions. The footnotes section, popular with Disney aficionados, has also been expanded.

“Magic Kingdom is far more than a collection of fun rides and entertaining attractions,” Wallace notes. “That’s what amusement parks are, and that was what Walt Disney was reacting against when he created Disneyland.

“Walt wanted to create a total world in which every element of every attraction, even the smallest and seemingly insignificant details, played a role in telling a wonderful story. He literally invented the concept of the theme park,” Wallace maintains.

Wallace may be the first to write a guidebook to Walt Disney World that treats the parks as a work of art or literature rather than a diversion to keep children and their parents amused for a day. In fact, “guidebook” may be a misleading term.

“If you want to know about ticket prices, or how to get the best deal on lodging, or where to eat, I’m not your man,” he cheerfully admits.

“My goal is to open people’s eyes to the wonder and richness that underpins virtually everything at Magic Kingdom and the other parks,” Wallace says. “Just like in a great novel, nothing at Disney World ‘just happens.’ Every detail has a purpose. Everything ties together to form a cohesive and coherent narrative.”

“Sure you can come to Magic Kingdom and have a terrific time without knowing a thing about all the artistry and imagination that went into its creation or the rich literary traditions behind the backstories of the rides,” explains Wallace. “You don’t have to give a second thought to what the parks tell us about ourselves, our culture, and our shared ideals. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

But Wallace hopes we will pause and think a bit. “Yes, there’s joy to be had at Disney World just by being there and letting it all happen to you. But there’s also joy in discovering why something is as great as it is.

The Thinking Fan’s Guide To Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom is the first in a series of books on the Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks in which Wallace will look beneath the surface to examine the historical and literary sources that inspired Disney’s “Imagineers.”

About the Author: A resident of Orlando, Florida, Aaron Wallace is passionate about Disney.  He is a writer and attorney, having earned a Juris Doctor degree from Wake Forest University. He is also a professional film and media critic with more than 200 movie, television, and music reviews to his credit. Since 2004, he’s been a part of the writing staff at, one of the Internet’s most accessed sites for entertainment journalism. He also hosts Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Pod, the web’s second longest running non-commercial podcast dedicated to Disney.

To request a review copy of The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom 2nd edition, to arrange an interview with Aaron Wallace or for any additional information, please contact Sally Bahner at:
The Intrepid Traveler  •  203-469-0214  •  sallyb [at]

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