The second edition of 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 was published on May 1, 2015.
The second edition has been updated to include the new Fantasyland and Storybook Circus expansion.
As well as The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, Susan Veness is co-author of the annual “Brit Guide to Orlando” and the new “The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner: A Complete Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake for Your Unforgettable Vacation”.
The idea behind the book is to help you see the parks differently, appreciate the subtle touches applied by the Imagineers and point out things that most people simply do not see.
In the introduction there are basic monochrome park maps with numbered attractions. For each attraction there is a hint to a piece of information, a hidden item or something to look out for.
The main part of the book is divided into four main chapters, one for each of the Walt Disney World theme parks; Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“Allow it to slow you down long enough for the magic to catch up. It’s all there - and now you know where to find it!…”
Each chapter in turn is divided into the appropriate “lands” outlining details on how the Imagineers designed the rides, shows and attractions to create the illusion of a particular theme or place and how things have evolved over time.
Susan Veness takes you on a guided tour with a detailed walkthrough of the park pointing out little details along the way as to why things are as they are. This is a book you need to carry with you as you walk along but it is not a touring guide with details for example on how to avoid the queues and which rides are suitable for children, see the companion “The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner” for that.
For example “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” ride is located where the former “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” used to be. Inside Owl’s house is a picture showing Mr. Toad handing over the deeds to Owl giving a sense of continuity from one ride to its replacement. There is also another picture of Pooh with Mole.
Have you also noticed how the architecture, scenery and even the ambient music changes as you transition between “lands”.
Each chapter concludes with a timeline which year by year, details the opening and closing of various attractions, shows and parades.
Finally there are a few references and solutions to a number of questions posed in the book.
Sideboxes with “Imagine That!” and “Fascinating Fact” commentaries help bring the attractions to life.
The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World is not a substitute for the more traditional theme park guides like the Birnbaum or Unofficial guides, but through backstories and history, Susan Veness helps to bring the parks to life and to make you appreciate the amazing thought and attention to detail that Disney put into their theme parks.
The title is a little misleading as many of the “secrets” are not that secret but throughout the book there are interesting facts, trivia and history plus a few tips from the Imagineers themselves.
One downside is that the book does not touch on Downtown Disney, the water parks or the resort hotels unlike say Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets.
Note that most guide books are re-published annually so you can often pick up a bargain if you don’t mind last year’s edition of The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.