As I've said in the past, the best way to measure the legacy of a film is to see how many times it is referenced in our daily lives and other forms of media. No company does this better than the Disney Corporation. They are aware that they have created some of the most influential movies of all time, and they capitalize on this greatly through merchandise, special events, cross-promotions and of course, theme park attractions. But what happens when you visit one of the theme parks and you spot a reference that isn't familiar to you, or you recognize it but don't quite have the right idea? This is where “From Screen to Theme” comes in.
Penned by Disney fanatic Brent Dodge, “From Screen to Theme” has captured many animated film references in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, cataloging nearly every animated film the company has released in the last few decades.
In the event that you don't know about the film being referenced each chapter starts with a three paragraph description, giving the reader the opportunity to learn more about it before discovering the references at the parks. Brent Dodge doesn't discriminate and features every kind of film, from the very popular and beloved like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Beauty and the Beast to the less appreciated films like Dinosaur and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Pixar films have also been included.
There are some animated films that are missing, however, but this isn't the author's fault. Some movies didn't catch on with the movie going audience, so often Disney ignores them in favor of films that have created a lasting impact due to popular demand.
The book is exceptionally organized in chronological order, starting from the oldest film available to the newest, and goes through each park such as the Magic Kingdom and Epcot as well as restaurants, stores and special places within the parks. It also alerts you as to where you can meet the characters and if you need to book a reservation before attending a special dinner or event. Such details are important when planning a Disney World vacation, so the extra effort put into each film reference is very appreciated.
Since it's likely you'll be reading the book at home it can be hard to picture the reference at the park. Luckily, Brent Dodge describes in a very detailed manner what the reference is and where you can find it at the park, with the acknowledgment that references can disappear or change according to what the Imagineers decide to do at Disney. While I can't tell if he got them all, Brent Dodge tries to include as much references as possible, from the very noticeable to the very hard to find. It's an incredible thing for a Disney fan to do, and Brent Dodge accomplished it.
Best of all, the book isn't a bore to read. This is a common problem in fact/trivia books where all you keep reading is information that you likely already knew without any sense of fun or charm. But the author wrote it all with such casual and fun flare that it becomes an engaging read, especially when he tackles the movies you know and love by heart.
Some might say that a book about film references might be superfluous and silly, and that if you are a Disney nerd already some might say that a book about references isn't helpful, but think about it for a second. The reason people go to the Disney theme parks, especially children, is because they want to relive the magic seen in the films. So small stuff like hidden Mickeys to big stuff like rides can add to the presentation of the theme park, and the book does a really good job of showcasing the talents of the designers, the imagineers, and the cast members . And even die-hard nerds can miss some of the more cleverly disguised references, which Brent Dodge makes sure to point out.
Overall, “From Screen to Theme” is a must own for Disney fanatics, especially theme park enthusiasts. It provides a lot of information that emphasizes the hard word that often goes into maintaining the quality many fans demand. It's in-depth, but never manages to lose its sense of fun while being a loving tribute to a great American institution.
“From Screen to Theme” can be purchased at the official website here, and you can request a personalized copy by the author.