If you've ever visited the travel section of your local bookstore or library, you'll know that most of the books written about theme parks fall into one main category: guidebooks. As a result, it would seem the genre is ripe for spoofing. That's what the new book Disneyland for Vampires, Zombies, and Others with Very Special Needs by Dominick Cancilla does, offering travel advice to the super-powered, supernatural, and otherwise non-human among us. With appreciation for the clever premise, I jumped at the chance to review the book, which was provided to me for this honest review.
Before cracking the spine of Disneyland for Vampires, I'll admit that I was trepidatious about its ability to sustain the bit for nearly 200 pages. However, for the most part, it does so rather well. Contributing to its success in that area is how each entry varies in length, with some creatures receiving a mere sentence or two of advice (one of my favorites being for Ogres: "Don't ask about or reference the Shrek franchise. Wrong company.") Had Cancilla been forced to fill out the same template for every category being addressed in the book — of which there are more than 150 — I feel it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as the final product actually is.
This isn't to say that Disneyland for Vampires isn't without some standard sections for its longer entries. Among these recurring themes, the Possible Offensive Stereotypes coverage consistently made me laugh the hardest. For example, the book notes that any fallen angels visiting the parks might take issue with the "not even slightly realistic 'Hell' scene at the end of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." While this type of humor was something I expected from the book, one aspect I found surprising was how many in-park details it mentions that I had really considered. Ironically, sprinkled throughout this send-up of theme park guidebooks, there's actually quite a bit of knowledge that we humans can learn from as well. This is a credit to Cancilla, who clearly put a lot of time and research into the project (a mind-boggling accomplishment considering a Walt Disney World version of the book debuted just a few months ago).
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Disneyland for Vampires, Zombies, and Others with Very Special Needs. Furthermore, I suspect that those with a greater knowledge of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy canon than me would appreciate it even more as, sadly, some of the jokes and references went over my head. If there's such thing as a "Halloween gift," I'd say Disneyland for Vampires makes the perfect one for any theme park fan.