Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lots to Do in Line (book) - WDW Edition: Review

Meredith Lyn Pierce wrote a book about the queues in Disneyland and the things you could do to stay occupied there. As a California local, this made sense. She was there all the time anyway. She's back with another book, this one about the Florida parks (Amazon; $8.20), and the recipe is pretty similar.

As its heart, the book is like one of those pamphlets I recall from my childhood that challenged you to find scavenger hunt items. I think I saw them on paper restaurant menus given to kids: can you find a blue tiger in the wallpaper? Can you spot a yellow monkey? The hunts were a harmless lark, by and large. They probably helped fill the time just a little bit, but there was no "deeper" meaning to them.

The same is true of these Lots to Do in Line books. They certainly do no harm, but they do not gel into more than the sum of their parts. There are tons of hunts here - over 300 pages worth - but there is little additive to the experience of reading all of it. The book is in long/thin format, designed to be slipped into a pocket, and it's clearly meant to be carried around the park, probably by a young child. How young? Maybe six or seven years old, I guess? One of the central conundrums is that a child old enough to read may not care to simply hunt for a quote where a 6th grade girl compares the environment to something (your choices are a quilt, chess, a river, or a child). The hunts are "throwaway" questions that don't amount to anything; they don't reveal a deeper story about the attraction, its history, or its designers... they are just there to provide a diversion and a distraction for anyone using the book. For young kids, I expect they will have the hunts read out loud to them by the parents.

Because it's all about diversions, a child who needs that level of distraction would find this useful. I can't picture my own kids wanting to do this beyond an attraction or two, but then again, my kids grew up in the parks, so that's hardly a fair test. A visiting child who doesn't know the parks may fare better. Of course, I would normally assume that a visiting child is struck with wonder at the parks and the theming and doesn't NEED the stimulus of empty hunts, but I may be assuming too much about today's kids. Would my own kids like a book such as this for their first visit to Dollywood or King's Island? Actually, in that context they probably would.

Discloure: I was sent a review copy by the publisher.

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.