OK, I'm officially jealous. Slap that "jealous person" sticker on my forehead because I am just green with envy over the Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook by Kimberly Button (Infinity Publishing: 2006. ISBN: 0741432684).
I wish I had written that book. Oh sure. You're saying, "Mike, it's not that good is it?" You're right... it's not that good. It's better mainly because it's different.
In this session, let me introduce you to a very different kind of WDW guidebook that stands alone among the others that line the travel shelves of your local bookstore.
The roots of any book begin with the author, and this one is no exception. Kim Button is a former theme park and Disney Cruise Line cast member who has a lot of insight into what goes into the theming of a Walt Disney World theme park attraction.
In her cast member life, Kim had some very interesting positions. As a matter of fact, take a look at some of your Walt Disney World photos from one of your vacations in the late 1990s, because you may actually have a photo of Kim in your scrapbook.
Yes that's Kim with your Aunt Amy. She's having a great time and has a big smile as she stands next to Kim. I'm pretty sure Kim is smiling too, although it's hard to see her pearly whites behind that fur. Do you get my drift? Let's say that Kim was feeling mighty "Chip-per" that day.
Another of Kim's cast member jobs found her at Disney-MGM Studios theme park, as one of those cast member greeters who was given the task of strolling the queue at the Great Movie Ride.
Button's job was to walk the extended queue (as in outside the lobby and long) and interact with park visitors. We've all been there. The line is long, we are just standing there with nothing to do, and the kids (and adults) get bored and cranky. Does this sound familiar? Button would strike up a conversation with them and help keep the stress and boredom from getting intolerable. It helps.
It's not an easy job. Imagine you are saddled with the task of approaching a cranky, angry mob and your job is to cheer them up. It's a little intimidating, but Button soon realized that guests welcomed the interaction. And somewhere in that train of thought was a tiny voice that said, "Hmmm, gee a book that gives guests something to do while in line may be just what the doctor ordered here."
More importantly, it struck Button that the key would be that such a book could get family members to start talking and interacting with one anotherand even other guestswhile standing in line. It was simple. Do whatever it takes to get your mind off the fact that you are standing in line.
Could that have been the moment when Button realized that maybe she would be the person to write that book?
Maybe it was during her stint with the Disney Cruise Line. Button recalls how one of her fellow workers gave her a "palm reading," telling her, "Someday you will write a book."
However, the notion of writing a book never hit Button more than the time she visited the Magic Kingdom as a former cast member. Now as a guest and standing in the Space Mountain queue, she thought, "This is pretty boring!" She then realized just how difficult it can be for guests to wait in a long line. As a guest she felt that it would be nice to be entertained while waiting to enjoy the attraction.
Perhaps that more than any other time was the moment when Button was convinced that a certain type of book was in order. Make that a "different" type book.
Well before she wrote the first word, however, Button had to visualize and target her audience. The challenge of any writer is to identify the target audience and cater to that specific readership. Should a book that entertains those waiting in line for an attraction target the first-time visitor or the veteran Disney Vacation Club member? Should it target families with young children or teenagers, or young couples and empty nesters? How about "all of the above"? Button decided to aim for a large spectrum of readers.
Button recognized that visitors to Walt Disney World came in all shapes, sizes, ages, and groups, and decided to meet the needs of every possible demographic. The easy way out was to focus on just the first-timers, but Button understood that WDW veterans sometimes come back and look for that something new that they hadn't experienced before. She also knew that there would be first-timers who may not understand that a spin on Space Mountain can involve waiting in a longer-than-expected queue. Button was well aware that parents would be challenged to entertain their children who would learn to repeat "How much longer?" over and over again.
Buttons says she wanted to reach adults as much as children and wanted to make sure that the book came out kid-friendly. The book does this in the way it is put together.
When I first scanned the book I thought it looked pretty simple. It's not overwhelming, and to be honest, I wasn't sure if this simple structure would do the trick for me. But then I started reading the book, and I liked what I read.
Sure, being a crusty old WDW veteran made it a challenge for me to look at this book with an objective eye. What could it possibly offer me?
First, Button gives us some general hints and tips regarding how to survive those long queues. This information is somewhat helpful for me, but moreso for the first-time visitor. Then she focuses on each park. For each attraction in each park the book offers the following:
An overview of the attraction This especially serves the first-time visitor to WDW who needs just enough information before stepping into line.
The length of the attraction in time I don't know why I would want to know this unless of course part of my traveling party wanted to sit it out and wanted to know how long I'd take.
Specific warnings about the attraction This helps those who do not want unwelcomed surprises, especially those with small children
Helpful insight and hints regarding each attraction Cool.
Information on attraction accessibility This is very much a plus. Button suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and saw a need to include accessibility information for those who cannot use the main queues.
Fastpass availability Actually, first-time guests are under the impression that all attractions offer Fastpass. Not so.
A hidden Mickey section This helps pass the time in the queue and the attraction
A scavenger hunt/trivia section Button stood in many lines for countless hours looking for anything that might be out of the ordinary yet easy to find.
In addition, there is a section in the back of the book that I think is very valuable. Entitled "Character Meet and Greets," it has invaluable information on character meet protocol. Having been on the other side of such occasions, Button's insight is sure to bring help guests when they interact with the characters. This section is most helpful to those parents who are bringing their children to their first character encounter.
Button is a self-proclaimed Disney fan and it shows in her book. She describes her mind as being a sponge that over the years "soaked up" bits and pieces of information in training and work during her time in On-Property Sales and Marketing, marketing Disney's products to cast members. Knowing a lot of Disney history helped.
Button is also a fan of having fun herself, and enjoys being able to share this with her readers. She said her readers,"...have fun looking at the trivia questions and you don't have to be in the parks to enjoy it. It's fun for everyone."
"I'm proud that people really enjoy it and it is a really a tool that Disney guests have needed for a long time," she said.
She's proud (and rightly so)... and I'm jealous. Just when you thought there was no other formula for putting together yet another Walt Disney World guidebook, Kim Button conjures up a winning recipe with the Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook.
With apologies to Kermit the Frog, let's just say, "It's not easy being green."
I'm always a big fan of books that have companion Web sites, especially when the sites include updates to said book. The companion site to the book is DisneySurvivalGuide.com, which launched just a few months ago. The Web site includes information about Button, some excerpts from the book, and a few other goodies.
I had a vision the other day. It was Christmas morning and I was opening up all my presents. Next time I'll share with you what was waiting for me.
(Send an email to Mike Scopa)
Mike Scopa first visited Walt Disney World almost 30 years ago. Planning a trip was simple back in the 1970s, with only the Magic Kingdom and a few Disney-owned resorts in Orlando.
Over the past 11 years, Mike has been perfecting his WDW trip-planning skills as he has hosted chats and bulletin boards about Disney for a Fortune 100 company.