There are more books out on the subject of Walt Disney and his Legacy than there is pixie dust in all the Disney Parks combined. They run the gamut from excellent to mediocre and all in between. They cover all aspects of everything Disney, and each has its core group of readers. I myself am a Disney nuts and bolts kind of guy. I want to know how, when, why, how much, how little, how big, how small, well you get the picture. I love the numbers about everything Disney. Gimme the cold, hard facts, no opinions, evaluations or personnel thoughts! Well, if you are that type of Disney aficionado for the facts, a new book, “Disney by the Numbers” by Anthony M. Caselnova, webmaster of the site of the same name is just your “Magical” ticket into the fact-filled world of Disney. I sat down with Tony and he gave me the lowdown on this fascinating and absorbing new read…
TMIP- Before we get into the book, tell us a bit about yourself and your website…
AC- I was born in Brooklyn NY, moved to Long Island for a bit and then to New Jersey, where I grew up for the next 17 years.
TMIP- Do you remember when you first got the Disney bug, so to speak?
AC- Our first family trip was an Amtrak trip from Jersey to Orlando. My mom packed this cooler with food and drinks, and the trip took about 23 hours. This was in August of 1976. We never stayed at a Disney resort, because at that time my dad worked for a hotel company, running the restaurants insides the hotels. As an employee, he got an amazing nightly rate at the Ramada Inn, right on route #192.
TMIP- So this trip was the catalyst that began your “Love Affair” with Disney?
TMIP- How long was that trip?
AC- It was seven days, and I was thirteen at that time.
TMIP- So when you returned home, did you begin the “Disney Lifestyle” so to speak?
AC- That did spark my fascination with Disney, but I was so interested in the “How did they do this?” How did they get this many people here, how did they feed them, where did the trash go? I wanted to know how the “Backstage” stuff happened.
TMIP- So you were interested in the logistics of running the parks, and not necessarily the history of Disney at the time?
AC- Yes, at that time, I wanted to know “How does this whole thing run?” Who was running things, how did everyone get around, how did the monorails and trains run?
TMIP- Where in New Jersey did you grow up?
AC- In a town called Wyckoff NJ.
MN- So growing up so far away in NJ, you continued your love of Disney. Did your parents and family support you?
AC- Oh yeah. My Father was a big fan of Disney. And that was probably the reason I got the bug. The park opened in 1971 and my father said…”We gotta go see this place, Walt Disney World.
TMIP- As you were growing up, did you see any of the classic Disney Movies, or cartoon shorts?
AC- Yes. Saturday afternoons. Big thing with my mom, because my dad was working, she would take us kids to the movie theater. We would probably stay half a day there. By the time you saw a couple of cartoon shorts, a live action Disney movie, that’s where the time went.
TMIP- What about the Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts, or the Silly Symphonies, did you enjoy these also?
AC- That came later really. We saw all the features and the live action. There were even double features.
TMIP- What was your favorite Disney Movie?
AC- Jungle Book, as a kid, and even as an adult, still the Jungle Book, oh and Toy Story.
TMIP- What about a favorite Disney cartoon?
AC- I would have to say, “Mickey and the Beanstalk”
TMIP- Let’s talk about your website, “Disney by the Numbers” a site comprised of facts and figures. When did you start the site?
AC- It was January, 2007.
TMIP- When did you decide to construct a Website?
AC- Good question! A culmination of several things. First I moved to Orlando when my father got transferred down there. I started working for Disney as a security host at EPCOT IN 1995. Disney gave out a book called “Do You Know” to each cast member, and it contained tons of facts and figures to help guests with any questions they might have. I say “wow” this is fascinating, and I would keep these books when given to me. A few years later, shows on the History Channel with the specials on Walt Disney World. I recorded all the shows and started writing down all these facts and figures, keeping a book about them. Finally, I saw this show called “Tech TV” hosted by Leo Laporte. He was showing software called Rapidweaver, which all you did was type the information you wanted on the internet, hit publish, and it would publish a website automatically, on your host server. So I created the site, and this was the start of my webpage.
TMIP- When your first published your site how was the feedback, the hits on the site?
AC- At that time, I was not that web-site savvy, so I didn’t know how to get that information. I did it just for fun.
TMIP- So the site is a place for anyone who wants the facts and numbers about Disney, right at their fingertips?
TMIP- How is the site doing in 2015?
AC- We are doing very well. We get over 15 thousand hits a week, not super stellar, but I am happy with the results. I do get email from College and High School students who say they use the site for research.
TMIP- Concerning the research. How much time and effort is it to amass this data and to keep it current?
AC- Well, the internet is one major source. The problem with the internet is veracity. Anything off the internet has to be double, triple or even quadrupled checked. Once we have enough sources with the same result, we are usually good. Disney also has a press site with facts and information.
TMIP- How often do you have to update and keep things current?
AC- That’s a tough one. When creating the book, we had to go back a bit, many attractions have closed and we don’t put that information in the book on shuttered venues. We may do a different version of the book, like on closed attractions and shows. The updating is an ongoing endeavor. It does entail a lot of work and research.
TMIP- With all of the books covering Disney out there, what made you decide to write this one, and how is it different?
AC- It’s different in the fact it’s really not a book in that sense. There is no story of course, and like a book it can be read from end to end. But you will find out many things about Walt Disney World you never knew before. This is a book about facts, no opinions or reviews. You can take the book to the parks and see first-hand how the facts relate to the real McCoy.
TMIP- When did you begin the book?
AC- Probably not long after the start of the site. I saw another show Leo was doing, about software enabling you to write a book called Scrivener. It sets up a format, making it very easy to keep things in in a nice logical order. When you hit publish, it will send it to a publisher in any format you want. About two years ago, I contacted Jim Korkis’ publisher, Bob from Theme Park press. He was first a bit hesitant, because the book is basically facts and not a story, but decided that it would be a very interesting read.
TMIP- Was the Disney Company a help or hindrance in any way? Did you contact Disney about the book?
AC- No, we didn’t contact Disney at all. We did have Disney’s copyright guidelines which Theme Park press applied to the book.
TMIP- What was the hardest part about putting this book together?
AC- Biggest part was checking the veracity of the facts. Certain facts, like how much water in Bay Lake changes with every rainfall!
TMIP- Are you planning any sequels or additions to the book, like when Star Wars or Avatar is completed?
AC- A sequel maybe. We have all the numbers on Disneyland, so the next logical step would be a book on Disneyland.
TMIP- Where can you purchase the book?
AC- Two Places. Amazon.com. If you want a signed copy, go To WWW.DISNEYBYTHENUMBERS.COM. You can order a signed copy by me, and all books are numbered. There is a book tracker, when you get your copy, you will get a link and you can see what book number you have. You’ll see people like Bob Iger and John Lasseter who I have their signed copies. The book is $14.95 on Amazon and $19.00 from me because I have to ship it to you. From Amazon, you can get it also for Kindle.
TMIP- Any other books being planned?
AC- Yes, Walt Disney the person and his family. On my site I have something called “Dateline Disney” It’s a timeline of events in Disney History.
TMIP- So there you have it, you hardcore Disney fanatics! A book with the cold, hard facts and figures about the most Magical place on earth. It’s a fascinating read, and I found myself hating to put it down, I could not wait for the next tidbit of information. We will be looking forward to more entries from Mr. Caselnova about our favorite place in the world.