We’re at a point in our lives where any Walt Disney World resort Orlando vacation includes prep work.
For instance, we make the plans, book the trip and the kids immediately go into Disney mode.
But as the kids have gotten older, their interest has grown beyond prep work. Disney cookbooks, Disney biographies, Disney history and more are all part of the game now.
Disney is a part of the cultural fabric of our family and so we celebrate and revel in it even when a Disney vacation is not on the immediate horizon.
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What are the best books about Disney World?
Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.
Hardcover, Disney Editions Deluxe, by Rebecca Cline and Steven Clark
This celebration of Disney Studios’ history wit behind-the-scenes photographs and artwork goes back through the studio’s near century of productions. It was published in 2019.
I’m crazy about this kind of stuff. In fact, show me pictures of old Hollywood, New York or London and I’m captivated. I love trying to imagine what it was like to live in those times.
This book celebrates the very essence of what was Walt Disney’s first dream – before he cast his gaze on bigger operations. On Amazon, it’s listed for $86 and up.
Hardcover by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Marc Sumerak
I’m a sucker for Star Wars and also for cookbooks, so this is right up my alley. This story follows the intergalactic gourmet Strono “Cookie” Tuggs – a real character they created for Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge – as he chases down the best recipes in the galaxy.
I’ve got to say how impressed I am at the foodie geniuses at Disney who take a world like Galaxy’s Edge or Pandora and create an entirely new culinary tradition that seems sufficiently foreign but also familiar and tasty.
This book offers 70 recipes for menu items such as Braised Shaak Roast, Nerf Kebabs, Mustafarian Lava Buns, Huttese Slime Pods and Spicy Mandalorian Stew. It’s currently $19.25 on Amazon.
Unabridged Audible Audiobook by Aaron H. Goldberg with Narrator Susan L. Crawford
When planning a Disney vacation, part of the plan is entertainment for the trip down. When the kids were small, it was the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” on the DVD player in the van.
Later, it was playlists of our favorite Disney songs. Now? They’re getting old enough that audiobooks are a decent option.
This audiobook is great for the trip because it’s part guidebook, part secret stories and part informative history. You might even find a thing or two to add to your Disney itinerary. The paperback version is less than $14 on Amazon.
Paperback by Birnbaum Guides
I am loathe to recommend the competition. Why do you need a guidebook when you have us?
But Birnbaum’s been in the game a long time and has some valuable information including money-saving strategies and fold-out property maps of the Disney parks.
Remember kids, paper maps do not run down your phone’s battery. Additionally, there are some nice coupons inside.
This edition came out in October of 2022, so you may want to wait for the 2024 edition unless your trip doesn’t allow for it. The paperback version is $14.99 on Amazon.
20. The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook: From Delicious Dole Whip to Tasty Mickey Pretzels, 100 Magical Disney-Inspired Recipes
Hardcover by Ashley Craft
The second of several cookbooks on our list, this unofficial guide still serves as a welcome introduction to the Wonderful World of Disney food.
It’s a Wall Street Journal and a USA Today bestseller that features 100 recipes inspired by iconic food offerings at Disney.
Disney foodies might prefer the official book – but don’t worry. We’ve got more entries on our list. The hardcover is $11.99 on Amazon.
19. The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book: From LeFou’s Brew to the Jedi Mind Trick, 100+ Magical Disney-Inspired Drinks
Hardcover by Ashley Craft
Ashley Craft is back with the companion book to the previous item, this time focused on recipes for some of the most popular drinks in the Disney parks.
Is Dole Whip included? You bet your Sweet Bippy it is. The hardcover is $11 on Amazon.
Illustrated hardcover, Disney Editions Deluxe, by Bruce C. Steele
I’m especially fascinated by the logistical effort it takes to make Disney Magic happen each day. From the supply chain to customer service, this book helps you understand what it’s like to report to work every day for The Walt Disney Company.
The impressively named Bruce Steele organized a small army of photographers and videographers to go behind the scenes on an ordinary day – a Thursday in 2019 – in Disney parks all over the world to see what goes on behind the “Cast Members Only” doors.
All the photos in this book were taken on that single Thursday, beginning early in Tokyo and following the sun around the world through Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris, Madrid, the Bahamas, Costa Rica and dozens of places throughout the United States.
More than 40 hours after it began, the day ended as the sunset on the Aulani resort in Hawaii. The hardcover is currently $16.99 on Amazon.
Hardcover, Disney Editions Deluxe, by Imagineers with a foreword by Ginger Zee
Again, I find the stories of the people behind the scenes who worked to make the magic happen fascinating. This book makes room for a dozen female Imagineers to recount their trailblazing careers.
The stories are taken from their decades of designing and building the Disney worldwide empire of theme parks.
It’s illustrated with the women’s personal drawings and photos in addition to archival Imagineering images.
This book represents a broad swath of Imagineering’s creative disciplines during a time of unprecedented expansion and is intertwined with memories of Disney legends are glimpses of what it takes behind the scenes to create a theme park.
The hardcover is $18.39 on Amazon.
Hardcover by the Imagineers
In this book, more Imagineers tell their own stories, as well as how they got there, what they do on a daily basis, what they show their friends in the parks, and also how you can learn what it takes to become an Imagineer.
The hardcover is $33.49 on Amazon.
Audible Audiobook by Robert Iger
This is a story of Bob Iger, in his own words. Considering Iger’s ongoing battles with the governor of the state of Florida, this No. 1 New York Times bestseller from 2019 is an especially informative look inside Iger’s method of leadership and outlook for the company.
I’m sure a 2023 update would be fascinating, but this memoir of leadership and success is a good view into the ideas and values he embraced during his first 15-year stint as CEO.
I’m sure there will be a forthcoming book once he retires for the second time, but until then, we’ll have to wait. It’s $16.59 on Amazon for the paperback.
Unabridged Audible Audiobook by Aaron Goldberg
This is the story of how Walt Disney purchased enough of Central Florida to build his own kingdom without the sellers knowing who they were selling to or why.
It is quite intriguing.
In 1965, there was speculation regarding a mystery industry purchasing large plots of land in Central Florida.
In fact, for 18 months prior to Walt’s inevitable announcement of his plans, he had entrusted a small group of men to covertly make the land purchases. They also drafted a legislative act to submit to Florida allowing Disney to have legal control over the property.
But, did you know that Disney’s key contact was William “Wild Bill” Donovan who was referred to as the Father of the C.I.A?
Donovan’s attorneys provided fake identities for Disney agents and even set up a secret communications center. There was an entire disinformation campaign in order to maintain “control over the overall development.”
Tell me that’s not a hook. The hardcover is $25.99 on Amazon.
13. The Fearsome Foursome and Midnight at Madame Leota’s: Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volumes I & II
Unabridged Audible Audiobook by John Esposito and Amicus Arcane with Narrator Malcolm Hillgartner
Another audiobook for your car ride down – which is particularly relevant if you’re going in the fall for Mickey’s special festivities for Halloween.
This two-volume set tells the scary tales of some of the Haunted Mansion’s 999 ghosts. It’s available on CD or as an audiobook on Amazon.
Unabridged Audible Audiobook by Whitney Stewart with Narrator Dan Woren
This is perfect for young readers. A few years ago, I was hoping to encourage my middle child – our boy – to step up his reading and stumbled across the Who Was … ? series.
As a result, he ended up with Babe Ruth, Walt Disney and George Washington and some others. They’re good books, and they’re informative and entertaining for young readers.
My son especially enjoyed the focus on young Disney whose family was poor, and that the happiest time of his childhood was spent living on a farm in Missouri.
He liked connecting that Disney’s affection for small-town life is reflected in Disney Main Streets around the world. The paperback is $5.69 on Amazon.
Hardcover by Pam Brandon
Here is a holistic look at the Florida resort’s culinary past, present and future, all organically woven around diverse recipes from Disney chefs.
The recipes are also suitable for home chefs of varying skill levels. The hardcover is $13.98 on Amazon.
Unabridged Audible Audiobook by Susan Veness with Narrator Andrea Emmes
This impressive tome was last updated in 2020 as part of the successful Hidden Magic series. It features information on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and other attractions as well.
Fun facts include information about hidden characters, such as Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse.
Also, the book talks about how Imagineers hide symbols of themselves around the park to “sign” their work. The paperback is $14.69 on Amazon.
Hardcover by Kevin M. Kern, Tim O’Day and Steven Vagnini
This coffee table book paints a robust portrait of the Florida resort, using rare Disney theme park concept art, photographs and ephemera.
Also, it’s an absolute treasure trove for pop culture enthusiasts, students of hospitality, artists, art collectors and Disney fans. It’s $35.99 on Amazon.
Hardcover by Pam Brandon
Now we’re cookin’! For a quarter century, Brandon has worked closely with Disney chefs to take the best dishes from Disney theme parks and resorts and serve up official recipes that are just right for prepping on a smaller scale in home kitchens. In fact, the recipes are first tested by real home chefs.
This book includes comfy classics, festival favorites and international cuisines that are whisked together and presented in this bright collection from the Disney recipe vault. It’s $13.98 on Amazon.
Paperback by Kathryn M. Price
I find the Sherman Brothers – the geniuses behind most of Disney’s iconic songs – especially fascinating.
This book traces the lives of the Shermans, from their unsettled childhood as the sons of a Tin Pan Alley songwriter and their early failure to replicate his success, to their chart-topping but surprisingly short collaboration with Walt Disney and the long coda to their careers after Walt’s passing.
These guys wrote a handful of the most iconic songs in the history of music and are mostly forgotten – except by Disney fans. Their late-in-life, somewhat inexplicable estrangement is a heartbreaking story. The book is $17.95 on Amazon.
6. Art of Coloring: Walt Disney World: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity from The Most Magical Place on Earth
Paperback by Kevin M. Kern
This coloring book is perfect for the trip to Disney World, that is if you don’t get car sick. It’s also handy to pass any downtime at the hotel.
This must-have adult coloring book offers a fun and familiar look at the Florida resort’s enchanting past, present and also the future. It’s $14.39 on Amazon.
Hardcover, Disney Editions Deluxe by Jeff Kurtti, Vanessa Hunt and Paul Wolski
I’ve been intrigued with the monorail for more than 40 years, back when it seemed really futuristic and not a relic of some unexplored alternate timeline of nostalgic futurism.
In this book, readers will discover the parallel stories of the development of a new form of transportation and the evolution of Walt Disney’s creative mind, which together resulted in the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere.
Since June 1959, this mid-century modern marvel has captured the hearts and imaginations of theme parks and Disney fans everywhere. The book is $26.80 on Amazon.
Illustrated hardcover by Cole Horton
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is great. It’s immersive, and it feels lived in and familiar, despite the fact that much of the back story and day-to-day life are actually relatively new Star Wars creations.
With Full-color photos, illustrations and maps as well as original content from Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Imagineering, this book fills in the backstories of characters and locations found in Black Spire Outpost and helps create more of a connection to the world beyond the Millennium Falcon and a handful of familiar characters.
It’s currently $19.63 on Amazon.
Unabridged Audible Audiobook by Bob Thomas with authors and narrators Christopher Miller, Jeff Kurtti, Marcy Carriker Smothers and Rebecca Cline and narrators Jason Cult and Xe Sands
This is a must-have tribute to Walt Disney for any true Disney fan.
After years of research, respected Hollywood biographer Bob Thomas produced a definitive biography of the man behind the legend of Disney – the unschooled cartoonist from Kansas City who went bankrupt on his first movie venture and developed into a genius who later produced unmatched works of animation.
Ultimately, he was the creative spirit of an international entertainment empire that has enchanted generations. Disney has surely been an important factor in American culture.
This Commemorative Edition includes new introductions from Jeff Kurtti and Marcy Carriker Smothers and endnotes to add further context and connect Walt’s story to today. The hardcover is $21.60 on Amazon.
Hardcover by John Baxter and Bruce E. Steele
As the Walt Disney Company celebrated its 100-year anniversary, this coffee table book showcased the company’s history and rich legacy – past, present and future.
Also, it’s the official companion to the touring exhibition by Walt Disney Archives. The hardcover is $38.20 on Amazon.
Illustrated hardcover, Disney Editions Deluxe, by Steven Vagnini snd Dave Smith
This is currently a pre-order to be published on Sept. 26, 2023.
This book is a must for serious Disney fans. It’s filled with significant achievements, short biographies, historic dates and tons of trivia-worthy tidbits and anecdotes.
The sixth edition covers all things Disney from A to Z through more than nine thousand entries and two hundred images across more than a thousand pages.
It includes all the major Disney theme park attractions, restaurants and shows. And it also summarizes ABC and Disney television shows and Disney+ series, rundowns on all major films and characters, the latest and greatest from Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, key actors, songs and animators from Disney films and shows and more.
Do you have a favorite Disney book to share? If so, let us know in the comments!