“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Who said this? Was it Olaf in Frozen, Dory in Finding Nemo or Thumper in Bambi? (Spoiler alert! It is Thumper in Bambi.) Just one of the 500 questions in Disney He Said – She Said, Celebrating 80 Years of Disney Animation from Theme Park Press. The idea for the book comes from Kevin and Susan Neary and their family where Disney trivia is not just a game, it is a passion.
The catalyst behind Disney He Said – She Said was a family vacation to Disneyland in 2014. Kevin recalls as they drove from Arizona to California it became quickly apparent that he and his wife needed to come up with some type of car-centric activity to keep their three children from asking that dreaded parental question.
“After hearing for the 18,00-th time ‘are we there yet,’ we wondered how are we going to keep the kids occupied, and that is when we started to recite some famous lines from Disney films,” Neary remembers.
Dad and Mom Neary quickly realized they were onto something. After quoting lines as best they could, the parents asked the kids in the backseat to identify the character who spoke the phrase. From that question and answer session in the cross-country trek, the idea was ignited for a new trivia book and travel companion.
The book is a tribute to eight-decades of Disney animation from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Disney Pixar’s Coco. The 500 questions inside are another fitting tribute to the Disney corporate offices located at 500 Buena Vista Street in Burbank, California.
After all, if anyone knows Disney trivia it is Kevin and his family. Kevin has authored four Ultimate Disney Trivia books with Disney historian Dave Smith. While working as a cast member in 1991 at a Disney Store in suburban Philadelphia, Kevin participated in the company’s Disney Trivia Showdown, a national and international competition which pitted castmates in the stores against each other in a store, district, and national contest with the top 8 scorers facing off in California.
In order to compete, Kevin prepared in a unique way. He proceeded to study, read and watch everything and anything Disney-related in a pre-Internet world. That meant no Google search engine, no disney.com or even related Disney trivia books or games. “I’d read as much as I could, digging deep into movies, VHS tapes, cassette tapes and books and learning as much as I could about the company,” recounts Neary. Knowing that he could best retain information by writing it down, he drafted his own trivia questions and answers trying to anticipate some of the queries that might come up during the competition. The result was a 3500-question manuscript that served as his trivia bible, which he treasured as a “great resource.”
Upon clinching the trivia prize Neary reflects, “I remember they asked what was your secret and I said I wrote the book.” Armed with this massive Disney question-and-answer collection he was approached three months later by the recently formed Disney Publishing unit who asked him if he was interested in writing a Disney trivia book. Is Mickey a mouse? “I said I sure do,” Neary adds and that led to a collaboration with Disney archivist Smith who Neary credits with adding credibility and authenticity to the project. That forged a 14-year partnership with Smith that resulted in four Ultimate Disney Trivia books.
Disney He Said – She Said is broken down into categories such as Princesses, Trusty Sidekicks, Dear Old Dad and Mother Knows Best, just to name a few. All the answers are included by chapter at the back of the book. And while not a Disney animated character you will find a few questions in the book featuring Captain Jack Sparrow as a possible hint to Neary’s next Disney He Said – She Said installment, live action movies.
The first Disney He Said – She Said took about a year to finish. Armed with many of the scripts for the Disney animated films, the Neary’s realized the scripts don’t always tell the whole story because in some cases voice-actors like to ad-lib their lines, most notably Robin Williams who provided the voice of the Genie in Aladdin. While the scripts outline what the writers wanted the actors to say, in some cases, voice artists interject a bit of their own dialogue into the character. So according to Kevin it was important for him and his family to “listen to every film, and watch every film, and that is how we came up with the questions.”
“The project was a labor of love for us,” Kevin admits. “It was inspired by our own travels,” Kevin observes, and it can be used as a travel companion or as a game at the beach or family barbeque.