Castle at Disney World

How Book Expo of America (BEA) is Just Like DisneyWorld (Sort Of)

Castle at Disney World
Not where BEA is held, but a close cousin.

By Jen Malone

This past week, I joined the rest of the publishing world (or so it felt) at the Javitz Center in New York City for the Book Expo of America, one of the industry’s largest annual trade shows. Now, I once spent a summer doing a marketing internship at Disney World (which involved a one-hour marketing lecture per week and twenty-seven hours of driving a fourteen-foot double-decker bus around Epcot Center trying not to run over any small humans or Mickey Mouse and was still the greatest summer ever), so I know my Disney. And lemme tell you, in a lot of ways BEA and Disney share some essential DNA.

Here are just a few:

You need a plan of attack

There are Disney experts. Actual people who devote their lives and careers to mastering the perfect four-day itinerary and discovering the deep meanings behind each and every Hidden Mickey. Alas, there is no such guidebook for BEA, but the mobile app is a decent starting place. It allows you to create a custom event list of the panels, in-booth events, and scheduled autographing sessions you simply can’t miss. Use it wisely because, just like on a trip to Disney…

You won’t see everything

You can’t see everything. For one thing, the Javitz Center is enormous and takes time to criss-cross but, for another, many of the signings and events happen at the same time, forcing you to choose between grabbing signed copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid for your kids or seeing editors present their favorite upcoming YA titles at a  buzz panel (I went for Jeff Kinney and scored big Mommy Points!)

There is such a thing as a FastPass

I don’t know how or why, but every so often, someone gets escorted to the front of the line. I need to find out how to get THAT badge for next year! Speaking of lines…

You will spend most of your day in a line

At the end of the line (not unlike Disney) there might be screams. However, in the BEA versus Disney “plus” column, at no point will your stomach plummet a thousand feet or roll upside down and you will walk away clutching a much-desired and possibly-signed book few people in the world can get their hands on.

Your feet will hurt

A lot. A lot, a lot. And unless you’ve been to this rodeo before (or done your diligent research) and know enough to bring a rolling suitcase and then leave it in bag check and then visit it periodically to unload your haul, then so will your shoulders, back, and (inexplicably) your left ear. Hurt, that is.

You’ll pay $4.65 for a bottle of water

clear bottle of water
…but so worth it

Say it with me: Captive. Audience.

You’ll meet your favorite character

In BEA’s case, think less Cinderella and more Grumpy Cat.

So yes, Disney and BEA have much in common. Of course, in my completely biased opinion, BEA might have the edge here. After all, no one is leaving Disney with a suitcase full of souvenirs they didn’t have to shell out a dime for (and which are all books, book, BOOKS!!!) Epcot Center might offer up the world, but you can’t live in those worlds the way you can with all those books, books, BOOKS. Then of course, there’s the big one: you won’t spend the next three weeks trying to get It’s A Small World off the constant loop in your head!

Image credits: Water bottle, Clipart; Disney World castle, Sascha Zenner on Pixabay


  1. I love it! Your enthusiasm is contagious. Thank you for sharing your guide to BEA. I didn’t even have wait for the book at the library. ( I’ve done that for a Disney World guide.)


  2. A Disney World of books! I love it! But…did I read that correctly? You signed up for a summer MARKETING internship at Disney World, moved down there for the summer, and they assigned you to drive a bus? I interned at our local TV station and, yes, interns get the grunt work, but at least it was related to learning the job we’d be doing someday! They should hire bus drivers to drive buses and let the marketing interns learn their craft.


    1. Yeah, you read right. What better way to learn the Disney philosophy than by working in the parks (or at least that’s how they spun it). Weirdly, I actually did learn a ton about marketing and how to engage with a customer/guest that summer. And to this day, I never ever point directions with just one fingers. Always two. It was ingrained in me. Bit of odd Disney trivia: the #1 question that gets asked at DisneyWorld: “What time is the 3:00 parade?” Not even kidding.


      1. And…I was just thinking (I’m reading your book while on my treadmill and actually got off to tell you this!) that you HAVE to use what you learned in a book someday. Even if you have to disguise all of it…behind the scenes at an amusement park for a whole summer–what better research for a children’s author?! But when I worked at the movie theater, people always asked “What time is the 7:00 movie?” Sadly, it was usually at 7:10 or 7:20, but my boss liked to make fun of that question anyway… At least you guys could make fun of it legitimately!


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