Okay. It's confession time. I know that the following statement may be hard for Disney hardcores to hear. But when you make your living as I do -- writing about The Walt Disney Company five days a week, 52 weeks a year, year in, year out -- there really is such a thing as too much Mouse.
So when I start to feel Bibbidi-Bobbidi-burned out ... Well, I just reach for my copy of "Mousejunkies!: Tips, Tales, and Tricks for a Disney World Fix: All You Need to Know for a Perfect Vacation" (Travelers' Tales, June 2009). And as I page through this paperback, I then recall what it was exactly that made me fall in love with Walt Disney World in the first place.
Copyright 2008 Travelers' Tales. All rights reserved
Now it's important to understand here that "Mousejunkies!" is not your typical WDW guidebook. By that I mean: You could read Birnbaum's Walt Disney World 2010 from cover-to-cover and never once come across a meal description like the one that this book's author cooked up for the food served at Epcot's San Angel Inn:
... the beef was bone dry, the tortillas tasted stale, the chips were slow to refill, and the presentation looked as if a hose filled with a mix of mud and beans was being fired at the plates from across the kitchen.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Which (I'll admit) doesn't make dining at World Showcase's Mexico pavilion sound all that appetizing. But you have to admit that the above excerpt does feature some funny, flavorful writing.
That's because "Mousejunkies!" is written by Bill Burke. Who's this somewhat crusty New Hampshirite who has very little tolerance for pretense. Having spent the past 12 years writing for the infamously feisty Boston Herald, Burke calls them the way he sees them. Which is why - when Bill was asked if the Imagineers had created an authentic looking Cape Cod-style resort when they designed & then built Disney's Beach Club Resort - he replied:
No, not really. There aren't any scratch ticket stores on site. If they could staff the entire place with cast members named Sully or Fitzie and tuck a Dunkin' Donuts between the guard shack and the lobby, I'd say it came close though.
Which - I know - makes Burke sound like something of a smartass. But Bill and his fellow Mousejunkies do have their Mouse-shaped hearts in the right place. Which is why -- when they finally get around to talking about what it is exactly about the Walt Disney World Resort that gets them to come back again & again & again ... Well, that's when this 288-page paperback will really strike a chord with Mouse House fans.
Take - for instance - this particularly evocative passage that Bill threw together:
The sun was setting over Epcot as the park was just coming to life.
The sky was painted a vivid orange color over a cooling breeze that wafted in from the lagoon, carrying on it the sound of swelling music. This was punctuated only by the staccato blasts of the Friendship horns as they ferried guests from one side of the World Showcase to another. A festive atmosphere filled the air and all around us families laughed, held hands and enjoyed the evening.
And yet I was miserable.
It was the final night of my first Walt Disney World vacation as an adult. I had just spent a week in a place where every one of my expectations was exceeded, and within twenty-four hours I'd be very far away from it all. I had no idea when (my wife and I would) be returning, and like a petulant five-year-old, I wanted to stomp my feet and refuse to leave.
Instead, like a petulant thirty-one-year-old, I opted to keep my mouth shut, take a few final pictures, and exert every ounce of energy I had not to explode with envy at every happy face that I saw.
I had no way of knowing at the time that I had just taken the first step toward complete addiction, and that I'd be back standing in that very spot dozens of times in the next few years. All I knew was that I had been swept up in something very tangible, and it was about to go away.
(The Walt Disney World Resort) has a way of sneaking up on the unsuspecting and ensnaring them in subtle yet enduring ways. There are a lot of arguments about why it works. I can only attest that it does work.
Maybe it's the carefully planned way you're plucked from reality and slowly immersed in a world with no cares. Maybe it's the music - how it slowly fills the background as you move from your everyday existence into a fantasyland come to life. It could be the architecture - recalling the romantic past or predicting a too perfect, exciting future full of hope.
At this point (in "Mousejunkies!") I know there are people who will scoff. Disney, to them, is a multinational conglomerate that only cares about separating mouth-breathing yokels from their vacation dollars. Call me naïve. Slow on the uptake. Blinded by commercialism. I'll cop to it. All I know is I bought into it and I'd glad I did.
It's writing like this that helps me get through those days when all I seem to hear from Disney insiders is talk of tentpoles and/or how the Studio doesn't make movies anymore (i.e. "The Walt Disney Company creates branded content which is then leveraged across multiple delivery platforms").
Is "Mousejunkies!" a perfect book? Well, I could have done without Burke's story about that exploding diaper. Or Mousejunkie Jenna's way-too-graphic description of the bathrooms next to 'Ohana (i.e. "[They're] way too small for the area [that restaurant] serves and [this bathroom] tends to get messy and soggy fast").
Mousejunkies! author Bill Burke and his daughter Katie
But those minor quibbles aside, this not-really-a-guidebook is great fun to read. "Mousejunkies! Tips, Tales and Tricks for a DISNEY WORLD - All You Need to Know for a Perfect Vacation" is an affectionate yet irreverent look at what makes the WDW Resort so appealing to so many folks. Which is why I can't wait to get my hands on the "Mousejunkies" sequel that Bill Burke and his cohorts reportedly already have in the works.
went 2 wdw in sept. sooo feeling what u and your friends r saying. im hooked! look 4ward 2 your next book!