You can have a magical time at Walt Disney World without really knowing anything about Walt Disney World. But the true magic is in the stories, the backstories, of everything around you, and they're all here, in this definitive guide.
You've packed your travel book and your trivia book, and you've loaded your phone with apps—ready for Disney World! But why miss out on half the fun? There's so much more to discover.
In this second book of a multi-volume set, Christopher Smith shares in comprehensive detail the intricate, enriching, and sometimes humorous backstories of Walt Disney World, including storytelling elements, queues, and the “real histories” behind each ride, show, and building.
Exploring the rich history of your favorite Disney World attractions will give you fresh insight into the genius of the Disney Imagineers and the multi-layered magnificence of their theme parks.
In this volume: Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland.
Part One: Adventureland
Chapter 1: Adventureland
Chapter 2: Pirates of the Caribbean
Chapter 3: Swiss Family Treehouse
Chapter 4: Jungle Cruise / Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen
Part Two: Tomorrowland
Chapter 5: Tomorrowland
Chapter 6: Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Chapter 7: Space Mountain
Part Three: Fantasyland
Chapter 8: Fantasyland
Chapter 9: Peter Pan's Flight
Chapter 10: Sir Mickey's
Chapter 11: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
My primary goal in starting the Backstories series was to help Disney fans “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy” by revealing the backstories, magical secrets, and true historical accounts behind their favorite lands, attractions, restaurants and shops in Walt Disney World. In other words, I wanted to help Disney fans enjoy the Most Magical Place on Earth in the way that Walt Disney himself intended: by allowing them to leave the stress and worry of the real world behind by literally stepping inside a series of stories told by Imagineers throughout the parks. I suppose it’s natural to worry about how such a book will be received by the public (especially when it is the first volume in a multi-volume series). I was very happy to discover that there are thousands of people out there who, like me, love the hidden history and details of Walt Disney World. The overwhelmingly positive response I received from readers is directly responsible for the continuation of the Backstories series in this second volume.
As I explained in Volume 1, everything at Walt Disney World tells a story. EVERYTHING. Every land, every attraction, every restaurant, and every shop. From the minute that guests walk through the turnstiles of a Disney park they are immersed in a series of magnificent stories told on a grand stage. This immersion is weaved into everything that guests see, hear, smell, and touch inside the Disney World theme parks. Imagineers use a multitude of tools to help immerse guests into these fantastic stories, including the architecture of the structures located in the parks, intricate props, immersive backstories, enticing (and some not-so-enticing) smells, music, carefully crafted and maintained vegetation, costumes, and both cutting-edge and age-old special effects. Unfortunately, many guests are completely unaware of the immersive storytelling elements, backstories, and details that Disney’s creative experts have intricately weaved into the parks.
In Volume 1, I discussed the backstories, magical secrets, and true histories behind Main Street, U.S.A., Liberty Square, and Frontierland, and many of the attractions, restaurants and shops found within those lands. Volume 2 continues that journey through the Magic Kingdom and its three remaining lands: Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland. While Main Street, U.S.A., Liberty Square, and Frontierland all trace their thematic roots to specific United States historical eras and geographic regions, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland grow more from imagination, fantasy and, in many cases, international sources of inspiration.
Notwithstanding these thematic differences, the storytelling emphasis utilized by Imagineers in creating Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland is no less thoughtful and impactful. In fact, some of the Magic Kingdom’s most thematically detailed and beloved attractions are found in these lands, including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and Space Mountain. While the backstories and magical secrets of those headliner attractions are most certainly discussed in this book, some of the best storytelling details in the Magic Kingdom can be found in more hidden areas of these lands. For example, did you know that one Magic Kingdom restaurant includes a dining room that was once the secret meeting location for a clandestine group known as the Society of Explorers and Adventurers? Have you ever heard a page for “Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow,” regarding a certain flight to the moon during a grand circle tour of Tomorrowland? Have you ever had an otherwise calm day of shopping interrupted by a giant lifting the roof of a quaint retail establishment in search of a “Brave Little Tailor”? If the answer to those questions is no, then you don’t know the whole story behind the Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen in Adventureland, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover in Tomorrowland, or Sir Mickey’s in Fantasyland.
Volume 2 of The Backstories and Magical Secrets of Walt Disney World continues your definitive guide to Walt Disney World backstories. In the pages that follow, you will find:
Backstories. A description of the backstories behind the lands, attractions, shops, and restaurants in the Magic Kingdom. In many cases, these backstories are “official,” in that Disney has disclosed them in some form to the public. In other cases, the backstories are wholly fan created or pieced together through different hints and storytelling props used in the particular experience.
Queues. A full description and walkthrough of the queues of some of the most popular attractions in the Magic Kingdom. For the uninitiated and for those who tend to skip the “definitions” sections of books (including this one), a “queue” is the area where guests wait in line for an attraction. The queues for many attractions in Walt Disney World are crucial to the immersive storytelling effect. They are extremely detailed and help convey to guests, perhaps better than any other aspect of an attraction, the storytelling elements for that attraction. In fact, many queues are so entertaining that guests should take the time to experience them even if they are not interested in the actual attraction (Pirates of the Caribbean is a good example).
Storytelling Elements. A description of the numerous details, props, set pieces, and storytelling elements found inside the attractions, shops, restaurants, and lands that are painstakingly created and chosen by Imagineers to help convey a particular story (including where you can find them). Note: Disney is constantly adding, removing, and updating various storytelling props throughout the parks. The information contained herein is accurate as of the date of publishing, but certainly things can and will change over time. Of course, this is part of what makes exploring the Disney World parks so exciting, as there is always something new to discover.
The True-Life History. I originally intended for this series of books to only include the above categories. However, during the research phase for my first book, The Walt Disney World That Never Was, Stories Behind the Amazing Imagineering Dreams That Never Came True, I discovered something very interesting. In some cases, the only thing more interesting than the fictional story for a particular attraction, land, restaurant or shop was the real history behind how it came to be found in the parks in the first place. For example, I think that any story about Pirates of the Caribbean, one of the most popular attractions in all of Walt Disney World, must begin with the fact that Disney executives did not intend to include it in the Magic Kingdom in the first place! Instead, Disney planned on creating what it thought would be the greatest attraction ever, a “Wild West” version of Pirates known as the Western River Expedition. In other words, I believe that a true understanding and appreciation for any experience in Disney World must include the story of how it actually came to be in the first place.
In short, this is your guidebook to the whole story (both real and fictional) behind your favorite lands, attractions, restaurants, and shops in Walt Disney World.
Christopher E. Smith is a lucky husband, a proud father, and a blessed son. He is also a Disney historian, author, and corporate attorney practicing law in Huntsville, Alabama. Theme Park Press published his first book, The Walt Disney World That Never Was: Stories Behind the Amazing Imagineering Dreams That Never Came True, in 2016, and his second book, The Backstories and Magical Secrets of Walt Disney World: Volume 1, in 2017.
Chris graduated from the University of Alabama in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2004 where he was awarded the M. Leigh Harrison Award, the law school’s highest academic honor.
Chris first visited Walt Disney World in 1984 at the age of 7. That inaugural trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth forever shaped his outlook on life. As a child growing up in rural Speake, Alabama, Chris was accustomed to seeing cow pastures, barns, and cornfields. He certainly did not know what to make of the “magic” of Cinderella Castle, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But that Disney magic did put a smile on his face that has been there ever since. Chris has visited Walt Disney World countless times with his family and friends over the course of the roughly 34 years since that initial trip. During that time, he has realized what so many other Disney fans already know, that Walt Disney World is so much more than bricks and mortar, attractions and shows, and hamburgers and hotdogs. Disney World is truly a magical place where dreams really can come true.
Chris lives with his wife Alexis, his sons Dakota and Samuel, and his daughters Scarlett and Alice Anne in historic Mooresville, Alabama, the oldest incorporated town in the State of Alabama and the primary filming location for the Disney live-action film Tom and Huck (1995). In his spare time, Chris enjoys going on dates with Alexis, watching movies with Dakota, going fishing with Samuel, getting kisses on the cheek from Scarlett, sharing a cupcake with Alice Anne, watching his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide with his father Edmon, running much farther than he should, eating cheeseburgers and his wife’s world-famous carrot cake, and occasionally sipping bourbon on his front porch.