Every once in a while, I’m asked about how to plan a vacation to Walt Disney World. I’m clearly not an expert, so I rely on books, guides, and videos made by those who ARE experts. At the top of my list of exhaustive guides on WDW is the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids.
Let me begin by stating, up front, that this is an EXHAUSTIVE guide. EXHAUSTIVE in all caps because it gives you more information than you realistically need and because it was likely never intended to be read through, cover to cover. Which I did for the purposes of this review. (Well… I skipped over the small section on Universal Orlando because, with the exception of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, why would you leave Walt Disney World to go and see another park during the precious few hours you have in Orlando? Wes and I love Harry Potter, but even we can’t rationalize spending Disney hours at Hogwarts, y’all.)
The detail of this book is its strength, giving readers everything from budget information, hotel descriptions, attraction rankings, and restaurant lists. As the “unofficial” guide, the writers don’t hesitate to include exhaustive information about services outside the Walt Disney World property, offering estimates for different hotels in Orlando, restaurants near the parks, and (practically) beseeching readers to just rent a car so that they don’t have to stay on campus all the time. Their main reason for including this information? As they show with extensive number-crunching and budget analysis, WDW is expensive, is only getting more expensive, and doesn’t offer much of any discounts. Unless you’re an idiot, though, you probably already concluded this and have STILL decided to go to Walt Disney World because, as even the authors begrudgingly conclude, there is no other place quite like it. (Which is why they themselves have been there more times than they can count, outrageous prices and all.)
Perhaps the finest point of the entire book is nestled away in the back — the touring plans. The authors have crafted several itineraries for each of the parks that are guaranteed to get you to as many of the attractions as possible during your visit, fitting your various circumstances (traveling with tots, sleep-in days, etc) with slight changes and modifications. While they seem a bit overkill to those of us who only have recent experience with visiting during the low attendance seasons, I’m sure they’re VERY helpful in the height of the summer season when the lines are long.
All in all, this is a great resource for any Disney traveller, especially those who will be traveling with children…