A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth Review

Walt Disney World turned 50 on October 1st, 2021. After much anticipation, “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” is finally here. The birthday party just started, but we have 18 months worth of celebrating to look forward to. Walt Disney World 50th merchandise is in high demand as expected with Disney fans in full nostalgia mode for their past visits. One of the must have items to commemorate this special anniversary event is a new Disney Deluxe editions oversized coffee table book titled “A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth”.

The book is written by Kevin M. Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini. Between the three writers, you have a Walt Disney Archivist, a writer / public relations executive / ideation consultant / events producer and a Walt Disney Imagineer. This trio had access to the necessary resources to make sure that you have the perfect book keepsake for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.

Let’s take a look at the contents of A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth:

  • Foreword by Bob Chapek (Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company)
  • Preface by Kevin M. Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini
  • Chapter One Destination Disney – Disney Roots in the Sunshine State
  • Chapter Two Building the Dream – The Making of the “Florida Project”
  • Why Not Florida? The Inspiration and Optimism of Walt Disney – Looking Back with Disney Legend Dick Nunis
  • From Forest City to the Vacation Kingdom – Looking Back with Debby Dane Browne
  • A Grandson’s Appreciation and Memories – Looking Back with Roy Patrick Disney
  • Chapter Three Framing Our Portrait – A Thematic Compass
  • Chapter Four Nostalgia – An Idealized Yeateryear
  • Chapter Five Fantasy – The Art of Make Believe
  • Chapter Six Discovery – Adventure and Exploration
  • Chapter Seven Tomorrow – A Step into the Future
  • Chapter Eight Reflections – Looking Back at the World
  • Chapter Nine The World’s Most Magical Celebration – The Fiftieth Anniversary of Walt Disney World

The book starts off with a deep dive into Disney in Florida. Walt’s grandparents and parents lived on farms in Florida. Walt’s parents were married in Florida and honeymooned in Daytona Beach. Donald Duck Orange Juice was freshly squeezed in Lake Wales. The animated classic, Dumbo, and the Donald Duck animated short, Don’s Fountain of Youth, were set in the sunshine state. We are then treated to the making of the Florida Project. That chapter is comprehensive with the complete story of how Walt Disney World came to Central Florida. The early pictures from when the land was being acquired and developed are impressive/inspirational, and I had not seen a lot of them before. It really makes you question how Walt and Roy pulled the Florida Project off. It seemed like such an impossible task. Walt once said “It is kind of fun to do the impossible.” The impossible is explained in great detail in this book.

There are some really fun look backs with Dick Nunis, Debby Dane Browne, and Roy Patrick Disney. Debby worked at the Walt Disney World Preview Center, and she was the first Walt Disney World Ambassador. I really enjoyed reading more about her early days experiences.

The next few chapters compile a great portrait of the Walt Disney World resort broken up into different themes: Nostalgia, Fantasy, Discovery, and Tomorrow. These chapters highlight all of the major attractions across the entire resort that fit into each of the mentioned categories.

The Reflections chapter is a great snapshot of past Walt Disney World anniversary celebrations and events. This includes that beautiful 25th anniversary birthday cake castle.

Final Thoughts

A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth is a love letter to the Walt Disney Word resort for Disney fans. You can find gorgeous concept art, early maps, and photographs from Walt Disney World’s history throughout the book. I thought I knew everything about my favorite vacation destination, but the book was a great history lesson to my laughing place. This book is definitely the must have essential piece of merchandise for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration”.

Order: A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth

A big thanks to our friends at Disney Books for sending us a copy of A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth for this review.

*By purchasing from Amazon.com through this link above you are supporting DuckTalks at no additional cost to yourself!


  1. Nice looking book, though I was kind of expecting Jeff Kurtti to write it since he did the 25th anniversary book, “Since the World Began”. I guess he didn’t want to repeat himself which I understand.

    Liked by 1 person

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