Planning a Walt Disney World vacation is no small task – if you want to do it right and get the most out of your trip you will need to do some planning and research. Many turn to the internet (and sites like Chip and Co!) to assist with their Disney planning, and others prefer hard copy – and there are PLENTY of Disney guidebooks out there that can help you figure out which restaurants, hotels, rides and more are right for you and your party.
So you’re standing at your local bookstore in front of the vast array of Disney books available, and you wonder – which one should I use? Here’s a simple braekdown of which book might be the best for you:
Most Detailed – “The Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World 2013″ By Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa is a thick 864 page guide to anything and everything WDW – some great things about it are the in depth Resort and ride descriptions, and there are plenty of user reviews too, to give you an idea what people really think of everything. If you want to know it all, this is the book for you. But be warned – with this many details comes information overload, and the reviews are not always an accurate representation of any given Resort/Restaurant/Ride, so keep that in mind too. They also have “With Kids”, “Beyond Disney”, and “Color Companion” versions of this guidebook available too.
Best Pictures - “Fodor’s Walt Disney World 2013: With Universal, Sea World, and the Best of Central Florida” has a magazine style layout with glossy pages and tons of pictures in vibrant full color. Aesthetically, this book is hands down the best, and it’s great for those first time visitors to Orlando who want to get an overview of not only WDW, but of what is available in the surrounding areas as well, as it has a section devoted to Orlando vacation planning. Another plus is the portable pullout map that can help you navigate the area with ease
Best Value - “Frommer’s Walt Disney World And Orlando” By Laura Lea Miller costs $18.99, and with many guidebooks costing $20 or more, this book definitely wins the prize for best monetary value. But it’s not just a low price that makes this one a value, it’s the wealth of accurate information found between the covers, like insider advice on all major Orlando theme parks, helpful reviews, and exact price listings for all attractions, dining, and accomodation options. Frommer’s has been well known for many years as a publisher of well written, informative guidebooks, and this one is no exception, it’s easy to read and will give you a great overview of what to expect on your Walt Disney World vacation
Best To Bring Along – “PassPorter’s Walt Disney World 2013: The Unique Travel Guide, Planner, Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake!” By Jennifer, Dave and Allison Marx is really a unique, interactive book that allows you to learn about Walt Disney World and also plan your vacation at the same time! It’s almost more of a workbook, with pages that help you plan and track your budget/trip spending, pick your meals, plan your days at the Parks, and stash your goods (it has built in folders to store tickets, passes, etc). It’s a great way to plan, stay organized, and even to have a sort of scrapbook keepsake of your trip
**Note – This actually won’t be released until February 26, 2013, but is available for pre order online via amazon or the passporter website
Best Overall – “Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2013” is the only “Official Disney Guidebook”, which means it has the most accurate information on updates and prices available from Disney itself. This year’s guide includes updates on Disney’s new Art of Animation Resort as well as The New Fantasyland. It is not as long or descriptive as other guidebooks, but it does include descriptions of all Resorts, attractions, and Dining options available at Walt Disney World. It incorporates some pictures as well, and gives a great overview of everything Walt Disney World
Honorable mention – “The Complete Walt Disney World 2012” By Julie and Mike Neal combines some great color photographs with candid reviews and in depth descriptions of rides and attractions. It has a great index and is overall easy to use, and the main reason it didn’t fall into one of the “Best” categories is that it’s a little outdated, being a 2012 edition, plus the pictures, while great, are not as vivid as those found in Fodor’s. Still, its a good reference and has some useful information worth reading
These can all be purchased at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com (where you can often find used copies at great prices!). I personally prefer purchasing online, as it gives you access not only to those cheaper used copies, but also to hundreds of reviews from those who have actually purchased the books which can be very useful in choosing which guidebook to buy
What about you - Have you used any Disney Guidebooks or Disney Park apps to help you plan your Walt Disney World vacation? What did you think of them?
- The Art of Disney Store – A Disney Must Do! (chipandco.com)
- Coming to Disney Summer 2013 (chipandco.com)