One of the favorite pastimes for Disney fans is ranking our favorite attractions and arguing about them. There can be only one correct opinion! Beyond proving our knowledge, it’s also a way to connect with other fans in times between vacations. Podcasts, blogs, and especially Twitter include constant banter about what constitutes the best of Disney theme parks. That landscape provides the background for Arielle Tuan’s new book Totally Biased Ride Reviews: Adventures and Advice from a Former Disney World Cast Member. It’s a laid-back look at how each Florida attraction (and some in California) works for a particular fan.
I reviewed Tuan’s first book Arielle in the Animal Kingdom back in September, and she uses a similar style with this release. She offers a personal take at how the parks connect to her work and relationships, including that with her husband Eric. That title focused on her time as a cast member in the Animal Kingdom as part of the Professional Internship program. Stories from that experience come up frequently in the new book, though they aren’t the focus. Organized in chapters for each park, Totally Biased Ride Reviews does exactly what the title suggests.
Tuan provides tips and background on the attractions within each entry, but that isn’t the main draw. Most are known by fans or easily located online. The difference here is how she incorporates personal stories. For example, the section on the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration focuses on a rift between Tuan’s mom and her friend Heather during their trip. This approach may not work for everyone because it’s specific to Tuan’s experiences. She isn’t diving too far into the critical side of the reviews and keeps it pretty light.
Clocking in at just shy of 150 pages, this book is an easy read. Most reviews are just a page or two and speak more to Tuan’s personal rides. I’m not criticizing this approach; there are plenty of other good resources for star ratings and data. Eric’s marriage proposal on Soarin’ is a heart-warming and unique story and not just the usual praise. Tuan is also not a huge fan of thrill rides, and her trepidation on riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is shared by many guests.
One downside of the laid-back approach is the chance for a few errors to slide into the mix. Tuan mentions that Pinocchio’s Daring Journey is only at Disneyland, which might surprise readers familiar with that attraction at the Paris and Tokyo resorts. There are also small miscues like referring to Aerosmith’s song “Walk This Way” as “Rock This Way”. It isn’t a major issue but does signal the need for one more fact checker (I’m available!). It also surprised me that Tuan has yet to experience classics like the Country Bear Jamboree and Hall of Presidents. Get on this, Arielle!
What I enjoy about Tuan’s books is the way they remind us how personal our visits are to the Disney parks. Splash Mountain is my favorite attraction at Disney World, but I can understand why some guests don’t share that view because of the drenching factor. Tuan looks at the Animal Kingdom quite differently than most guests, especially the walking trails. As a dad, I view attractions through the lens of my daughters’ experiences, not just my own. It’s enjoyable to spend a short time in another person’s shoes. That broader perspective can only enhance our Disney World visits — and our lives in general.