Review: “3500”, a sweet Disney love story

"3500: An Autistic Boy's Ten-Year Romance With Snow White"

“3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance With Snow White” image (c) Ron Miles and Michael Montoure, used without permission here but I hope since this is a review it will be OK.

At the end of last year I had amassed some $50 in Barnes and Noble gift cards, and I figured I should do something I don’t often do, to wit: buy some books.  Why don’t I normally do this?  Two reasons, and neither one is because I don’t like reading.  The first is because I have so many books, I feel guilty buying more; and the second is, I have no idea where to start. I actually tend to read the books I own over and over. No joke.

 

Anyway, in this case I decided I’d look up some Disney books. I got some recommendations from friends of various kinds of Disney-related reading, and made my order on the website. They came one at a time.  One of the first to arrive was “3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance with Snow White”, by Ron Miles.

 

I had read about this book when it came out, a few months earlier (now a year or so ago – it was published in 2013), and was very intrigued by it. A simple version of the story is that Ron’s son, Benjamin, fell in love with Walt Disney World, fell DEEPLY in love with Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and rode it over and over…3,500 times, in fact.  This is a very, very simple and actually almost misleading version of the story, as there is so much more to it.  You get an in depth picture of Benjamin, of the challenges of raising a boy with autism but also the huge rewards, and the whole story is glowing with the love that Ron feels for his son, the pride he takes in the accomplishments that Benjamin makes, and the joy he receives from not only Benjamin’s love of Snow White, but also the way the folks at Disney World treat Benjamin.

 

The story is a very easy read, personal but  not the kind of personal telling that shuts readers out (you know… the ones that are SO personal they feel like a journal, written for folks who already know the writer, and those stories leave you feeling like you’ve missed something somewhere).  This also is not an easy, level story being told.  Benjamin and his parents go through a lot on this ten-year journey; Ron, and Benjamin’s mother as well, make lots of changes to their lives, not the least of which is the decision to move to Orlando just to be close to Disney World so that they can pursue it as a therapeutic option for Benjamin’s development.  There are health struggles, personal struggles, and as we know, Snow White’s Scary Adventures meets an untimely end.  Benjamin, however, keeps going and the whole book leaves the reader with a sense of the growth that Benjamin has undergone and a strong affection for him.

 

I really highly recommend this book, as a memoir, as a Disney World love story, and as a story of meeting the challenges life has handed you with love and determination, and how that can pay off.  I hope Benjamin’s continuing story stays on the same path.  (And I have to wonder if he’s been on the Mine Train yet, and what he thinks!)

 

You can buy “3500” here on Amazon; this is a link to the Kindle edition, but I bought it in print, and like having it available in a hard copy. I am old-fashioned that way. 🙂 The Kindle price is $2.99, paperback price is $11.66.  You can also buy it from Barnes And Noble here; prices are about the same, but the eBook is Nook format instead of Kindle.

Review: The Imagineering Field Guides to Walt Disney World

Coincidentally, a shot of the two books I own! This came from www.imaginerding.com and not me.

Coincidentally, a shot of the two books I own! This came from http://www.imaginerding.com and not me.

I don’t own a whole lot of Disney books, believe it or not. I only own one copy of “The Unofficial Guide to WDW” for instance (the 2013 edition); prior to that I’d just take them out from the library periodically. For fun, actually. 😀

Anyway, in spite of my tendency to not buy myself Disney books, my husband knows to look for WDW themed items for gifts for me, and sometimes he has to get creative b/c I don’t look for them myself and have no idea what to ask for.  A few years ago he picked out two books I ended up loving: The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot and to Magic Kingdom.

If you take a look inside the two books on the Amazon links above you can get a vague idea of what they’re about, but it’s not really going to show you just why they’re so interesting.  What the books do is they talk about the design of the parks from the Imagineers’ perspective – yes, that’s obvious – and then give you a lot of little insights into the designs.

Like the fact that everything in Future World East is angular and hard-sculpted, and everything in Future World West is free-flowing and rounded.  Or that there is a “geographical and chronological transition” between The Haunted Mansion to Big Thunder Mountain, as the design of the areas flow from the Hudson River Valley in the early 1700s (Haunted Mansion) to a journey west across the United States, stretching up to the late 19th century.

The books are laid out section-by-section of each park with stories, concepts, details, histories… just everything.  There’s a lot that hardcore Disney fans will probably know but there is so much that there may be things even they *don’t* know.  I’m not going to suggest facts that people might not know yet because I think it would vary person-by-person and I don’t want to sound stupid. “Bet you didn’t know that John Hench suggested that Spaceship Earth be made in two pieces with the bottom part hanging from the top!”  “Uh, DUH.”

The interior of the Epcot book, again not my picture; displayed in a post here: http://waltswriters.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-imagineering-field-guide-series-epcot/

The interior of the Epcot book, again not my picture; displayed in a review post (with more detail than mine) here: http://waltswriters.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-imagineering-field-guide-series-epcot/

Another feature of the books that I really like is at the beginning, the same in all titles.  The first few pages of each book comprise a section called “Imagineering 101” and it just covers the history of Imagineering, Imagineering Lingo (very informative), and my favourite, WDI Disciplines.  If you are interested in working as an Imagineer, this basically gives you a list of your job options.  I’m not looking for a career as an Imagineer and yet I STILL love this part. It just gives such an amazing description of all the things that the Imagineers do.  All this stuff you’d never realize.  Like “Character Paint”.  Guess what that is?  “Character Paint creates the reproductions of various materials, finishes, and states of aging whenever we need to make something new look old.”

Also included are plenty of pictures, concept art, designs, blueprints, and quotes and quick facts.  The whole thing is illustrated in a variety of ways, not only by visual images but with brief presentations.  You know, I’m suddenly remembering how long it’s been since I read these…

So honestly – these are a great, great buy. I have no attention span whatsoever so the fact that these can be read bit by bit is a huge plus. Actually I read some of them aloud in the car once on the way to the beach! (I promise I was not driving at the time.)  Of course, with recent park updates, they are not the most up-to-date information available but just for historical info and trivia, these books are top-notch.

Animal Kingdom and MGM/Hollywood Studios are also available. I haven’t read them but I can only imagine they’d be just as good. The cover price on my copies is $9.95 and on Amazon it looks like they’re around a dollar less than that!