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Frugal, unplugged gifts for the theme-park fiend in your life

Live Active Cultures

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Finally, if you enjoy putting the cruelty into Christmas, I recommend teasing your less-fortunate theme park fan friends with guidebooks to the attractions they can’t afford to visit. Obviously, it would be completely unethical for me to promote either of the two new books I co-authored this year (The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2014 and Intrepid Traveler’s Universal Orlando 2014: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure, both available online), so I won’t do that. But I can encourage you to check out Sam Gennawey’s The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream, a companion to my Disneyland book that I have no involvement with. Gennawey’s Walt and the Promise of Progress City is the best introduction available to urban planning in themed entertainment, and his newest title is an in-depth biography of the first, best example of the art form. Closer to home, Robert Niles’ Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014 is a succinct primer to all the major Orlando parks, with crowd-sourced ratings and backstage stories. And for the most surreal, satirical theme park trip this season, try the decidedly unauthorized first issue of Ward Dizzley’s True Life Action Adventure Comics Digest, starring Hoot Gibson and Chief, the former Disney employees infamous for YouTube videos “exploring” Epcot’s much-missed Horizons ride. This is the perfect gift for anyone who’s had the urge to jump off the Jungle Cruise and see the view from the back of a plastic pachyderm.

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