When you think of "theme" parks, you automatically think of Walt Disney. The Disney company have taken theme park design to a new level which all the other park operators aspire to.
Disney coined the phrase "Imagineering", a combination of the word imagination and engineering to describe the process behind the design and construction of the modern day theme park resort.
All the way from the original ideas, through conceptual artwork, drawings, blueprints and scale models, to the actual building, assembly and decoration.
If you are looking for those details and snippets of information behind the attractions at Walt Disney World then the regular Disney guide books probably are not going to cut it, this is where the "Disney Imagineering" and "Secrets of Disney" style of guide book will help.
If you want to know which rides and shows are suitable for children, touring plans, wait times and ride height restrictions then stick with a regular Walt Disney World guide book like those from Birnbaum or the Unofficial Guide Book series. The Disney Imagineering books are for the Disney "geeks" and those who want to know more of the history of the ongoing development of Walt Disney World.
Disney themselves have brought out a series of four pocket sized paperback "Imagineering Field Guides" to the four main theme parks at Walt Disney World:
- The Imagineering Field Guide to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
- The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot at Walt Disney World
- The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World
- The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios
Each guide covers one of the four parks and gives you background information into the creation of the park and it's attractions. They are designed to be carried around with you when visiting the parks to help point out and illustrate some of the ideas that went into the various rides, buildings and attractions.
At the other end of the scale are two lavishly illustrated Disney "coffee table" books, Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real and the sequel, Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.
Both these Disney Imagineering books look at the whole process, from conception to fruition starting with the very first Disney park in California. They give you insight into not just what is at the Disney theme parks and why but also what might have been and what it takes to be a Disney Imagineer.
As well as Disney's own offerings there are also several books from independent publishers which cover some of the trivia and secrets of the Walt Disney World parks.
Two of the best known examples are Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets by Steven M. Barrett and The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom by Susan Veness.