Cover: The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 Yesterland

Book Review
& Interview

The Vault
of Walt
Volume 2:

MORE Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told

Jim Korkis

Lou Mongello

Theme Park Press, 2013

Reviewed by
Werner Weiss
Oct. 4, 2013

Three years ago, I reviewed a book called The Vault of Walt. I began my review with a disclaimer:

Sorry. This is not an unbiased review. But I promise you I’m being honest. I consider myself lucky to have author Jim Korkis as a friend. I have enormous respect for his knowledge and the delightful way in which he shares it with others.

As long as I’m quoting myself, I’ll also repeat what I wrote about the claim on the book’s cover:

The Vault of Walt promises “unofficial, unauthorized and uncensored stories.” It makes for a catchy book cover, and it’s true that The Walt Disney Company was not involved with this book. But there’s nothing scandalous or salacious in the book. And, more importantly, there are no urban legends, unverified nonsense, or dubious interpretations of facts that sometimes tarnish books that promise “untold stories.”

That’s just as true for The Vault of Walt: Volume 2, Jim’s third The Vault of Walt book.


Book covers © Jim Korkis

Three books—Original, Revised, and Volume 2

Let’s sort out why the third book is called Volume 2 and how the three books relate to each other.

The original edition of The Vault of Walt, with a teal cover, was a huge 478-page volume. The well-received collection of 38 stories was published three years ago and has been out-of-print for some time.

Late last year, Jim and a new publisher released The Revised Vault of Walt with a red cover. This slimmer (although still substantial at 264 pages), lower-priced volume contains 24 stories from the original edition and five new stories. You can think of this edition as Volume 1, even though that’s not currently stated on the cover. The red book is still in print.

Now there’s Volume 2 with a yellow cover. It contains 12 stories from the original edition and 16 new stories. There’s no overlap of stories between red book and yellow book. Together, they make a perfect two-volume set—and, we can hope, the first two of an ongoing series. If you already have the teal book, the yellow book will still give you 16 new stories.

In case you’re doing the math, two stories from the original teal book are not accounted for. One was expanded to become part of Jim’s Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories. Material from the other is slated for an academic project.


1954 photo from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Image Archive, MSFC-9132000

Walt Disney with legendary rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun in 1954

Volume 2 offers 28 stories, evenly spread across four categories: “Walt Disney Stories,” “Disney Film Stories,” “Disney Park Stories,” and “Other Disney Stories.”

Most of the book’s stories are from when Walt Disney was alive. For example, there’s “Walt and NASA,” which is about Walt Disney’s role in getting the public excited about space travel and how NASA tried to continue to get Walt to push their projects. Did you know that 63-year-old Walt Disney was allowed to fly a couple of spacecraft simulators in Houston in 1965?

It’s a terrific book—not just the content, but also how it’s presented. Compared to the original teal book, the paper, design, and editing have improved, giving the book a professional quality that small publishers often fail to achieve. Volume 2 even has an index (although I wish the index were more extensive).

You can read the chapters in any order. I began with the book’s theme park chapters, because that’s my major Disney interest. But the other chapters turned out to be just as appealing. Even a chapter about seven women who played Snow White at different times—which I thought would be boring—turned out to be packed with details that I found surprisingly fascinating.

For anyone interested in Walt Disney, his endeavors, and his creative legacy, this is book is a “must have.” It’s more entertaining than a comprehensive biography because Jim has chosen to zero in on specific topics, packing them with details that have never before been available from a single source—if available at all.

Author Interview

I had a conversation with Jim about The Vault of Walt: Volume 2.

Werner Weiss: Congratulations on your new book! I won’t ask you to pick your favorite chapter, but tell me about one that you think readers should enjoy.

Jim Korkis: I love the chapter detailing the battle between Walt and P.L. Travers over the making of Mary Poppins. I think the final film is as great as it is because of this conflict. I think that chapter is especially relevant because of Saving Mr. Banks being released this fall, along with the special Blu-ray Disc version of Mary Poppins. I hope that readers enjoy all the stories.


Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

“Partners,” sculpted by Disney Legend Blaine Gibson, at Disneyland

Werner: One of my favorite chapters is the one about the Partners statue. Maybe that’s because I also love the statue. I enjoyed how your story begins with the sentence, “Walt Disney was adamant that he never wanted a statue of himself.”

Jim: Everybody loves the Partners statue, but very few understand why and how it was created. I had an official Walt Disney World tour guide tell me and the rest of the guests that the reason Walt is pointing down Main Street is that he is pointing to the train station because trains were the real birth of the Disney theme parks. That’s a lovely story and I can see why people might believe that, but it certainly doesn’t explain why that same statue at the Burbank Disney Studios is pointing to nothing that resembles a train. It is important to get the true story in print, not only for today’s Disney fans but for future researchers. That guide also told me that it was Jefferson’s step from his Monticello home that was in Liberty Square and a lot of other amazing things that are not true.

Werner: There are a lot of dubious Disney stories in circulation. How can readers of your book be assured that you’re sharing the truth?

Jim: Great question, Werner, especially since I don’t include end notes like many scholarly books, but put the references in the actual text. In the case of the Partners statue, I got a chance to talk to the sculptor, Blaine Gibson, when the original statue was first installed at Disneyland and later when the Roy O. Disney statue, “Sharing the Magic,” was installed at Walt Disney World. I also talked with others involved with the project, checked newspapers, news television broadcasts, and magazines. While it is nice getting the information directly from Walt’s “original cast,” you can’t always trust those memories to be accurate. Basically, I want to be able to use these books for my own future reference.

Werner: It seems you’re getting it right.

Jim: In all the years that The Vault of Walt stories have been in print, no one, not even the snarkiest of reviewers, has been able to identify a factual error. However, new things are being discovered every day. For decades, all true Disney historians debunked that Walt Disney wore a Barry Goldwater pin when he went to the White House to receive an award from President Lyndon Johnson. It would have been disrespectful since Goldwater was running against Johnson. Yet, Disney historian Michael Barrier did some digging and discovered that is exactly what happened. It was a very small gold pin and Walt didn’t mean any disrespect. He was being playful and naughty, but in the way of a child.

Werner: There are various kinds of Disney fans interested in various aspects of Walt Disney and the creative work of the company he founded. You’ve chosen to take a general approach rather than authoring a book that specializes in one area.

Jim: That’s the thing. I think you are probably more interested in the theme park stories, but other readers may be more interested in animation or some personal moment about Walt. We’ve talked about this before where you feel the book might be more successful devoted to just one category, and I’ll be interested to see what your readers think about that as a format. So I’ll make sure to read the posted comments. I feel by having a variety that the book appeals to a larger group of readers and allows them to sample other areas that they might find they enjoy.


Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s twin plays the lute on Spaceship Earth

Werner: Anything that might surprise readers?

Jim: I always try to put in interesting things on every page. I share the name of Walt’s first official girlfriend and how she broke his heart. I tell how, in the days before CGI, Walt did special effects in the movie The Shaggy Dog. I think it was fun to reveal which Audio-Animatronics that were originally used to represent U.S. Presidents got transformed into other characters in Spaceship Earth. There were things that surprised me even after decades of being involved with Disney history so I think there is a good chance that others will be surprised as well.

Werner: Can we expect Volume 3—perhaps with a purple cover this time?

Jim: It all depends on how well Volume 2 sells. My publisher is interested in a series of Vault of Walt books and I certainly have plenty of stories that haven’t been shared in other books. In fact, I have a file folder labeled “Vault of Walt: Volume 3” with a couple of stories in it already that I couldn’t fit into the previous two volumes. I have used up all the stories from the original edition of The Vault of Walt so Volume 3 will have stories that have never been in a book before. I appreciate your suggestion that it be a purple cover, but I already have other plans. So, you can use that purple cover on the first Yesterland book that I have been waiting for all these years.

Werner: I’m not working on a Yesterland book. It’s hard enough for me to have something online every Friday.

Jim: Your fans are waiting.

Werner: What reaction have you gotten to your books?

Jim: I am pleased that they have been enjoyed both by the casual Disney enthusiast and the self-proclaimed Disney experts. I was at an out-of-state event and someone came up to tell me they loved one of my books and the thing that really surprised them was that they didn’t know that Walt had brothers and a sister. I think some of us—who “live” Disney history and browse all the websites and read all the books and more—often forget that there are so many Disney fans out there who only have the most basic of knowledge. I write so the material is accessible to those folks.

Werner: What about the experts?

Jim: Well, I heard from a person who was involved in Disney animation during the Golden Age and is 92 years young—but whom I never had the opportunity to meet—who searched me down to have his granddaughter send me an email about how much he enjoyed the information about The Song of the South and wondered how I discovered some facts that were only known to the people who worked on the film. Then, he shared two things about a Disney animated feature that I have never heard of before, so after I check them out and confirm them, I will include them in another project.

Werner: What have you enjoyed about doing the books?

Jim: First and foremost, I am pleased that this information is in print for others. Second, I love meeting other people who love Disney as much as I do and hearing them share their Disney stories. Finally, I am grateful that the books sell well enough—and open the doors to speaking presentations—that I am able to pay most of my bills.

Werner: What’s it like being a freelance writer?

Jim: It is tough. My brother thinks I sleep until noon and then run around the house in my underwear eating chocolate and then, before watching my favorite shows on primetime, I sit down and, off the top of my head, I write stuff and send off the first draft and get a check in the return mail. That would be a wonderful world. Even with the advantage of the Internet, there is still a lot of legwork I have to do—visiting places, digging through libraries, interviewing people, etc. The first draft is never good enough. Good writing is rewriting. I sometimes go through a dozen drafts and my publisher knows that every step of the way, I am always adding and eliminating material.

Werner: What are you working on now?

Jim: Besides all the Disney history columns I write for different places and the ghostwriting I do for some folks, I have finished a project that has literally taken me years to research and something I desperately wanted in my own collection but nobody else was doing. It should be available in four weeks. I know the fact that I was finishing up The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 to be ready for this fall took you by surprise. I guarantee this new mystery project will knock your socks off—and others’ socks as well. There is nothing else like it.

Werner: Well, you’ve certainly sparked my curiosity. I know you have been involved in a lot of different things, including some that can’t be announced yet.

Jim: All I can say is that Yesterland readers should come back in about a month and all will be revealed. Until that time, they should pick up a copy of The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 for themselves and another as a holiday gift for a friend. Some pretty impressive folks have written some nice praise for the book and I always feel I have to work hard to live up to those kind and generous words.

The Stories of The Vault of Walt: Volume 2


Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Canal boat about to be “swallowed” by Monstro the Whale at Disneyland’s Storybook Land

Part 1: Walt Disney Stories

  • Santa Walt
  • Walt and DeMolay
  • Return to Marceline 1956
  • Chicago Walt
  • Flying High with Walt
  • Walt an NASA
  • Cute Disney Story That Never Was

Part 2: Disney Film Stories

  • Toby Tyler
  • Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.
  • Blackbeard’s Ghost
  • The Shaggy Dog Story
  • Mary Poppins: Walt vs P.L. Travers
  • Secrets of the Santa Cartoons
  • When Walt Laid a Golden Egg

Part 3: Disney Park Stories

  • The Partners Statue
  • The Story of Storybook Land
  • Inside Sleeping Beauty Castle
  • Secrets of Spaceship Earth 1982
  • EPCOT Fountain
  • Captain EO
  • The Birth of the Disneyland Jungle Cruise

Part 4: Other Disney Stories

  • Disneylandia
  • Disney Goes to Macy’s
  • Why Frank Lloyd Wright Hated Fantasia
  • Golden Oak Ranch
  • The Seven Snow Whites
  • The Friz and the Diz
  • Roy O. Disney: The Forgotten Brother Who Built a Magic Kingdom

About the Author

Author Jim Korkis at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

Author Jim Korkis at Magic Kingdom Park

Jim Korkis is a well-known, respected Disney historian who has been researching and writing about Disney history for over thirty years. His research has garnered international acclaim for recording previously unexplored areas of Disney history, and his extensive expertise and knowledge is used often by The Walt Disney Company itself for special projects.

Where to Buy the Book

Three books by Jim Korkis are available from Amazon:

Please use the links below.

The Vault
of Walt:
Volume 2


The Vault
of Walt:
Volume 2


The Revised
Vault of Walt


The Revised
Vault of Walt


Who’s Afraid
of the Song
of the South?


Who’s Afraid
of the Song
of the South?



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Book: Disneyland Story
Book: Kind of a Cute Story

© 2013 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated November 15, 2013.

Disclosure per FTC guidelines: Instead of waiting for a review copy from the publisher, Werner Weiss bought a copy of the book The Vault of Walt: Volume 2: MORE Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told for review. Mr. Weiss does not receive any financial consideration from Jim Korkis or Theme Park Press.