Unofficial Walt Disney World ‘Earbook 2011: One Fan’s Review in Pictures, Kevin Yee, Ultimate Orlando Press, 2011, 164 pp.
I have to remember to ask Kevin Yee whether he ever served on his high school’s Yearbook Committee. It’s a pity if he didn’t because it is clear he not only understands, but has mastered the genre. In a much broader sense, Yee simply gets Disney. The more I read his Disney-related work, the more I am impressed by his objective passion. Yee’s love of, and belief in, Disney is apparent. Yet his studied approach gives his work validity and a weight not often found in writing about Disney. He isn’t merely a fan or tour guide, but rather an observer and historian.
Yee is a former Disneyland cast member, current University of Central Florida professor and prolific author of several Disney-related books including the meticulously researched, Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes, which I reviewed here a little more than a year ago.
Thinking that someone should document the many changes that occur each year at Walt Disney World, Yee came up with the idea of a yearbook. It is a strikingly simple idea, and one that many Disney authors surely regret they didn’t think of first.
With more than 600 color photos and Yee’s distinctively clear narrative, ‘Earbook 2011 is a thorough, month by month review of each major (and most minor) alteration, modification and, using Yee’s term, “evolution,” occurring within “The World” in 2011.
The book begins with a detailed timeline from November, 2010 through the first part of December, 2011 when it was actually published. Then, starting in the Magic Kingdom, Yee examines each area of Walt Disney World, in turn.
I found myself gawking at the first few pages which contained vibrant descriptions and vivid photos of Disney’s “Let the Memories Begin” campaign and “The Magic, The Memories and You!” castle projection show. If you’ve seen the show but, like me, live too far away for frequent visits, Yee’s photos of “The Magic, The Memories and You!” will keep it fresh until you see it again. If you’ve never seen the show, the photos will convince you that you must.
But, to be perfectly honest, that is the takeaway from each and every page of the book. Just as we use our own high school yearbooks to relive the “glory years,” so too will Yee’s ‘Earbook 2011 provide us with a way to remember the significant events at Walt Disney World in 2011: the last year of Mickey’s Toontown Fair, Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary celebration, Haunted Mansion’s new interactive queue and significant and identifiable progress in the Fantasyland expansion construction, to name but a few.
That Yee has included a chapter on attractions, events, restaurants and entertainment offerings that met their demise in 2011 is further evidence of his intent to provide a complete and objective historical account of the year. But one of my favorite inclusions is a section detailing prices found on property in 2011. In addition to providing the cost of a one-day park admission ($85 for an adult), theme park parking ($14 per day) and a weekend, garden view room at Polynesian Resort during peak season ($470 per night), we will forever know the cost of a bacon double cheeseburger at the Electric Umbrella in 2011($8.09).
Now if Yee could just find a way to retouch my old high school yearbook photos, he’d really have something special.