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The Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  20 reviews
The Thinking Fan's Guide is a different kind of guidebook that leaves out the usual ephemera on trip planning, ticket prices, restaurants, and shopping to concentrate on what visitors to Magic Kingdom come to see--the rides and attractions. Wallace provides a lighthearted but scholarly look at each one in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fan ...more
Paperback, 2nd Edition, 272 pages
Published September 7th 2015 by The Intrepid Traveler (first published December 8th 2011)
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Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disney, nonfiction, travel
I read a lot of Disney World guides. A lot. So I think I can say, with some authority, that The Thinking Fan's Guide is not your average travel guide. You won't find information about local hotels, or how to best use your money. Instead, Wallace has filled this book with analyses of virtually every attraction in the Magic Kingdom. You'll get a complete history of the attraction (including prior attractions that filled the same space), how the attraction fits into the overall park, and essentiall ...more
What I was expecting (and wanting) from this book was history of the attractions at the Magic Kingdom. Although Aaron Wallace touched upon some of the history what he gave was more of a sense of being on the ride. He gave the five senses of what you see, what you will feel, and what you will hear. He gave a more in depth description of what it will be like being in line, around, and near the rides. I felt his reviews were very biased based on his opinions of the attractions. If he didn't like th ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really a travel guide, this book is more of an exploration of the how, what, and why behind each of the attractions at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. As an obsessed fan of all things Disney, I enjoyed it a lot, but I did notice the author’s occasional drift into opinion rather than fact; take that with a grain of salt. My edition is also somewhat dated, as it was written before the Fantasyland expansion (so no Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, etc); I don’t know if there has been an update. ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit out of date now that there's a second (and possibly an upcoming third) edition, but still enjoyable after having just been to the park. I thought the Epcot one was better, but there just may be slightly more to say about Epcot. If you're looking for a critical eye, though, look elsewhere. Both the Tiki Room and the Country Bears get a much more glowing review than they deserve, in my opinion, although the Country Bear section may be the most interesting one as far as history of the attract ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read for any major Disney fan. It made even my least favorite rides seem to deserve a second chance based on their history and cultural significance. Plus, the Wishes tribute at the end made me tear up (RIP Wishes). Really a 3 1/2 stars, I had to dock a couple for some weird wording and sentence structure throughout and a failure to consider some of the tricker social failings of a few rides (like Splash Mountain).
Jul 28, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of interesting thoughts on the stories and storytelling behind the rides/attractions at WDW Magic Kingdom... occasionally a bit wordy but still filled with intriguing ideas. The endnotes have a lot of great content as well.

Not recommended as a travel guide for first-time guests... but worth your time if you are a Disney parks aficionado.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: disney, non-fic, travel
While this book has "guide" in the title, don't mistake it for a travel guide. The only thing covered in the book is the attractions, but it goes more in depth here than the dozens of WDW travel books already on the market. This is more of a background look on the "why" of each ride or show, referencing Disney history, the films, and so on.

If you like this book and are open to less pixie dusted accounts, you may also enjoy David Koenig's Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation and Theme
Beth Gordon
Interesting backstory on all of the rides. Informative footnotes. Would have been nice to have a map included.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Outdated, but kind of fun if you are going or just got back from a WDW trip.
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I like the idea of the book: a ride-by-ride philosophical debate on the ride's impact on the rider. You can ponder with the author whether the Carousel or Progress is sexist or not, if the 7 Dwarves Mine Train is the land's first storycoaster as Disney advertised, why the Tiki Room's Under New Management was a disaster, and why fans of the park wax eloquent about a slow moving boat ride whose only purpose is to stare
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As advertised, The Thinking Fan's Guide is not your typical guidebook, but then again, Walt Disney World is not your typical theme park. You get some of the "typical" information about attractions like wait times, best time to visit, and "fear factor", but there is so much more as well. Playing on the fact that Disney is more about the story than the spectacle and thrill, Wallace gives you more of the back story and notes on the theme and development of the attractions in Walt Disney World as we ...more
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This guidebook is what most guidebooks are not: unique. I waited so long to finish this because I couldn't bear for it to end. I'm still sad it's over, though I'm buoyed by the hope that it is part of a continuing series (The Thinking Fan's Guide to Epcot, etc.). Having been released this year, I figured this book would have covered the new Fantasyland expansion rides as well. The only complaint I have with this book is that the majority of these new rides were left out - though Wallace's Fantas ...more
Full Review at That Dis Family

The Thinking Fan’s Guide puts the Magic Kingdom in a different context for a visitor who is merely interested in Disney, rather than sort of obsessed with it. As an examination of the myriad factors, stories, and personalities that went into the design and building of the Magic Kingdom Park and its attractions old and new, it’s a fascinating journey for the uninitiated.

As a guide-book, The Thinking Fan’s Guide is fairly useful: a listing before each attraction descr
Louis Prosperi
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting guide book that shows a different side of the Magic Kingdom.

This book is part "standard" guide book in that it provides basic information about many of the attractions in the Magic Kingdom (location, typical wait time, brief description of the attraction, etc.), but it also includes information that you will not find in many other guide books.

Beyond the basic information, this book also provides other sorts of information about each attraction, such as the history of the attractio
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-reads
I thought this was excellent as well! I don't like Magic Kingdom as much as EPCOT just out of personal taste and nostalgia. But, any tidbit of fun information that can be sprinkled into a trip to annoy the people traveling with me is a win in my book. Also, the "Enchanted Tales with Belle" chapter breaks down so humorously and succinctly why I think that attraction is fundamentally weird. 4/5 ...more
Peter Wright
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is so much more than a mere guidebook. First and foremost, it's a love letter to Walt Disney World's first park from an adoring fan. It's also a detailed look, not just at their experiences, but at their creations and, in many cases, their evolution over time. As a bonus, the author suggests movies that thematically tie in with each attraction, often in ways you wouldn't expect.

This is a Disney park guidebook unlike any other, and that is a very good thing!
Kristen Mohr
A very well put together book, though I had to knock the author down a bit for his pedantic tone that came out at times, as well as his strange insistence upon the "masculinity" of certain rides. He seemed to discount certain rides because he didn't like/understand the film properties behind them. This was most obvious with his discussion of the rides Mad Tea Party and Buzz Lightyear. Still, this book was full of interesting facts and I mostly enjoyed my reading experience. ...more
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of Disney history and guide books. This one was pretty well written but I didn't learn anything that I hadn't already known, hence the three star review. The book covers all of the attractions in the Magic Kingdom sans new Fantasyland. There are promises of future coverage of other parks and I would certainly pick them up. ...more
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disney, reference, a-own
Some of the information in this book was fascinating, especially when the author discusses the evolution of a ride. But sometimes it seems that he really has to reach to make his point, and a lot of his connections seem purely fantasy. But Disney is Disney.
Chelsea Parrish
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has a lot of cool history and tips about the Magic Kingdom. It's definitely for the Disney fanatic who appreciates the company and the parks in an intellectual way. ...more
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Aaron Wallace is a writer, podcaster, and attorney who studies movies, music, television, theatre, theme parks, the 1980s and ’90s, and why we love them. He is the author of three bestselling books about Disney, travel, and entertainment, available now at and in bookstores around the world:

• The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom
• The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt D

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