Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #185: Stories from a Theme Park Insider by Robert Niles

I'm doing a poor job of planning ahead and picking books for big days in this Book-A-Day run. On the other hand, I don't think I even considered choosing specific books to run on particular days when I've done Book-A-Day before. I may have leveled up without noticing it.

Today is the Fourth of July, the most patriotic holiday of what is arguably the most patriotic country on Earth. [1] So I should have a book about mothers, or apple pie, or bald eagles, or bone-deep rampant hypocrisy, or something else stereotypically American.

Instead, I have a book about Walt Disney World: Stories from a Theme Park Insider.

Hey, wait! You know, I might just have lucked out here....

Robert Niles is a journalist who runs the Theme Park Insider website: he had a traditional working-for-a-newspaper career for a number of years (he's roughly my age), but as newspapers and news organizations in general have been savaged by Internet businesses and bean-counters, he transitioned over to running a small related business connected to something he'd always loved.

And one of the reasons he was so interested in theme parks was because he worked at them during college -- at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, back when the '80s were turning into the '90s. This book is a collection of his stories from those days -- war tales from Tom Sawyer's Island and Pirates of the Caribbean and the Swiss Family Treehouse and the Country Bears Jamboree.

There's also some general memories of the ubiquitous features of WDW in summer: heat, thunderstorms, and parades. But it's mostly "stuff I learned about life while driving a Tom Sawyer barge" or "why I know five random Spanish phrases about keeping your hands in the boat" or "how people can be really stupid and yet totally endearing" and a whole lot of backstage not-quite-secrets and a fair bit of people-on-vacation-are-funny.

If you enjoy theme parks, and particularly if you're interested in both how they operate behind the scenes and amusing stories of what everyday working life is like in them, you will definitely enjoy Stories from a Theme Park Insider. The here-are-my-Disney-war-stories genre is not terribly large to begin with, and Niles is a pro writer.

(He's OK as a book designer -- this is some variety of self-published -- with no obvious mistakes but some elements, like paragraphing and the page headers, looking slightly off. But it's very readable and he clearly has the newspaperman's zeal for clean copy: I didn't notice any typos.)

It is a short book, which is usual for a book like this: no one remembers that many war stories. And it obviously is not for any reader who detests Disney, theme parks, Orlando, crowds, vacationers, and/or the outdoors. But it is fun for those who enjoy some combination of those things.

[1] I don't consider "patriotic" to be a compliment, mind you.

No comments:

Post a Comment