Thursday, July 28, 2011

‘The Key to the Kingdom’ by Jeff Dixon – Book Review

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I have been a fan of anything Disney-related for as long as I can remember. So when I read about a book called ‘The Key to the Kingdom’ by Jeff Dixon, I knew I had to read it!

Here is the synopsis of this interesting novel:

In this world, Disney trivia is no game…and the ancient key is the only way out.
Grayson Hawkes learns how imaginative and elaborate Walt Disney World is when he accepts an invitation that lands him in a world he never knew existed. Suddenly unraveling a perplexing puzzle and trying to solve a mysterious disappearance, Hawkes navigates through the kingdom where knowledge of seemingly unimportant Disney facts, and some divine help, are the only way he can discover the answers and get out.
Some of the lines between right and wrong begin to blur, and telling the difference between real and unreal becomes nearly impossible. Loyalty to faith, family, and friends are stretched to the extreme in a pulse quickening adventure through a magical place where dreams really do come true.

Here is the biography of this author:

Jeff Dixon was raised in Florida and has always been fascinated with the man Walt Disney and the theme park he created. Dixon feels that any guest who would take the time to look would discover a story that will never be completed. It is against this canvas that Dixon paints this mystery, adventure, and thriller. The epic drama carries the reader across the state of Florida to discover details that most people have missed. Each discovery and revelation will have the reader wondering if they are reading fact or fiction. In a quickening pace, the characters find themselves on a collision course with an unthinkable outcome! Fans of Walt Disney will love the history and tourists will find a travel guide that takes them on a trip most guests never get to take.
Jeff s a storyteller. Each week he researches ancient manuscripts and examines them for content, meaning, and understanding and describes his findings, using illustrations, to a crowd of listeners at Covenant Community Church in Central Florida. Some people might call this preaching (but that can sound so boring!).
Jeff brings an intensity and passion to communicating that incorporates his early years in Orlando, working at Disney World; his educational trek that landed him at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and the latitudinal and longitudinal journey ministering in churches trying to impact the world. Jeff loves living in the heart of Florida with his family, his friends, and his annual pass to Walt Disney World.

Here is the book trailer for this adventurous tome:

Key To The Kingdom Trailer from Marc Percy on Vimeo.

And here is Jeff answering some questions about his book:

Key to the Kingdom: Questions Received About the Story from Marc Percy on Vimeo.

The main character in this book, Dr. Grayson Hawkes, who is a pastor, has a long history of Disney love. Here we learn some background information, as well as a peek at the magical kingdom created by Walt Disney:

Growing up in Orlando and taking more trips to the Walt Disney World Resort than he could remember gave Hawk a familiarity with Disney property that would rival any expert’s. The Key to the Kingdom tour was meeting at the City Hall on Main Street, USA. In order to get there as fast as possible, Hawk decided to park at the Contemporary Hotel and walk across to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. Pulling past the security stand at the Contemporary and heading toward the parking area, Hawk took a moment and looked at the futuristic building rising up in front of him. When the Magic Kingdom resort opened, the Contemporary was one of the two hotels that were part of the grand opening celebration. The monorail track that stretch from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Main Gate passed through the Polynesian Resort Hotel and the Grand Floridian on one side of Bay Lake and through the interior of the Contemporary Resort on the other. Each time Hawk remembered the first time he rode on the monorail as a child it brought a smile to his face. It has almost taken his breath away as he looked out the window when the monorail moved from the outside of the hotel to the interior. It was a childhood memory that was burned into his young mind forever. (p. 29)

That passage transported me back to my first visit to Walt Disney World, when I was about ten years old. Riding on the monorail through the Contemporary Hotel and staying at the Polynesian Resort Hotel are two incredible childhood memories.

One thing I learned about Disney World that I found to be extremely intriguing was Pal Mickey; I had heretofore been unfamiliar with this incredible invention:

…The design of Pal Mickey began in the year 2000 as Imagineers began to flirt with ways that wireless devices could be used to enhance the guest experience in the theme parks. This technology would allow the guest to receive practical and helpful information but also allow the Imagineers to communicate some of the rich stories and details that were such an important part of the design of each unique park. Throughout the Walt Disney World Resort hundreds of hidden infrared transmitters emit information to the toy. The end result is a transponder network designed to keep the Pal Mickey constantly receiving and able to dispense information. The computer system that runs the emitters as well as the computing power inside the doll itself is one that builds and stacks the information so it becomes a genuine interactive experience. (p. 69)

Unfortunately, this technology is no longer active inside the Resort, although Pal Mickey does figure prominently in this book.

Fortunately, Dr. Hawkes shares his faith in the midst of his great adventure. Here is a conversation between him and tour guide Kiran:

“I believe I have been called to follow Jesus. So I live my life based on trying my best to be a God follower. If I am serious about doing that, I have to trust the things that happen fit into God’s plan.”
“And that leaves no room for luck?”
“I guess not. Whatever happens good or bad, I remind myself God is in charge, and because He is in charge, I don’t spend a lot of time asking why. Instead I focus on what I should do or how I should react.” (p. 180)

This book makes me want to book a trip back to Walt Disney World TODAY! The last time I was down there was in January, 2009, when my husband Fred and I participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon (we passed through Epcot, the Animal Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom, and the Disney-MGM Studios). Unfortunately, after crossing the finish line, I had an extreme case of blisters on my heels (picture the skin of a shar pei pup; that’s what my heels looked like!), so wasn’t able to enjoy the Magic Kingdom after we completed the marathon. I greatly look forward to my next visit there!

'The Key to the Kingdom' is a natural for Disney fans! Mr. Dixon takes us behind the scenes, including a peek at the Utilidors, the nine acre network of tunnels underneath Disney World, where Disney characters can travel to their destinations, unseen by the general public, thereby keeping the magical mystique intact. I had heard about this secret aspect of Disney World, but had never ‘seen’ it the way I did in ‘The Key to the Kingdom.’

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Deep River Books and provided by Bring It On! Communications for review purposes. 

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