Book Review: Beyond the Castle

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Meet a Real Disney Veteran

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall of a meeting of Disney executives? (Ok, so maybe not a fly on the wall…but a mouse under the table, perhaps?) Wouldn’t it be amazing to actually know what goes on behind the scenes of the magic? Beyond the castle, so to speak?

In the pages of Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After, Jody Dreyer, cast member extraordinaire, gives a glimpse into the every day Disney magic she experienced during her 30 years with the company. I say a glimpse, because Jody’s real purpose isn’t to pull back the curtain and expose Disney secrets, but to help readers discover their own happily ever after as she shares the little things, the “pixie dust,” that makes working at Disney so different from working anywhere else.

1971 began a new era for the Disney company…(drumroll, please!)…Walt Disney World opened its gates to thousands of guests! 1971 began a new era for 10-year old Jody, as well. Her family packed up their station wagon and headed to Orlando, Florida for Jody’s first Disney vacation. That 10-year old girl captured a little bit of dust…pixie dust! She would never be the same!

During Jody’s freshman year of college, she headed to Disney once again, this time with a group of friends. The girls were hopeful the Mouse would hire them for the summer. “He” did and that was just the beginning. Thirty years and 22 positions later, Jody would finally retire from a career that included opening Euro Disneyland, being selected to serve as a Disney ambassador, and working as head of Corporate Synergy under Michael Eisner.

Now, that’s what I call a happily ever after!

One thing becomes clear in the reading though…the magic emerged not from a problem-free work environment, but from choosing to live the “happily ever after” every day. Jody writes, “My experiences have been shaped by the intersection of three themes in my life: my Midwest sensibilities, a predisposition to organization, and a love of (planned) spontaneity and celebration.” Jody’s ability to celebrate life explodes like fireworks as you turn the pages!

I picked up the book because I saw the familiar castle on the cover, and, of course, anything Disney—but especially a Disney book—captures my attention. Secrets of Disney? I’m all ears! But it wasn’t corporate secrets that kept me reading. (And as an aside, I’ll make it clear that Jody is highly respectful of both the company and her co-workers—she does not tell tales out of school, so if you’re looking for that kind of book, this isn’t it).

What kept me reading? Jody herself! I wanted to know her, to be her friend! I loved her honesty and transparency, her enthusiasm that jumps right out of the book, and her smile. No, I didn’t actually see that (other than in the family vacation snapshots), but I could picture it on every page.

And isn’t that the very essence of Disney magic? The people!

In my opinion, that’s the real magic of this book. It’s not the little known facts and the anecdotes Jody shares about working for Disney—as much fun as those are. (I mean, really, who could not love going behind the scenes of the “Princess Summit” or laughing about “Eau de Pooh”?!)

But it’s having this person who embodies all I love about Disney come alongside me for 12 whole chapters!

If you love Disney magic and would like to spend a few chapters walking alongside a person who shares that love, then I encourage you to meet Jody in Beyond the Castle.

(By the way, if it sounds like Jody and I are on a first name basis, that’s only because it’s a bit of “Disney culture” I picked up from the book. She and I have never met, and I’m hoping she won’t take offense!)

Beyond the Castle

Dreyer, J. (2017). Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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