Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015 ~ A Review of My Favorite Guidebook

I love this year's cover photo!
Through the year, there are many dates we look forward to - birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and for me, the release of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.  This guidebook is by far my favorite reference to have by my side when I am planning our family vacations, which if you have been following my blog for a while, you've read about my love of this book before!  I discovered this gem back in 2008 and have purchased it (and read it cover to cover) every year since.  Upon first glance, this book could seem like an overwhelming amount of information, but once you read it, or pick through the parts that particularly interest you, you will see what a valuable resource this truly is.

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is a yearly publication, with Bob Sehlinger (author) and Len Testa (Coauthor) leading a team of writers, statisticians, data collectors, hotel inspectors and more.  With so many working together to create this amazing resource, they are able to give you not just the where and what of a Disney vacation but also a how and why.  The in-depth review of restaurants, attractions and resorts gives you plenty of information to create a vacation that works for your family.

I am a planner AND a numbers person, so I love The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.  Everything is ranked with numbers or percentages based on historical data, as well as the results of the reader surveys.  For example, not sure if a restaurant is right for you?  No worries, this book includes a profile of every quick service and table service dining spot.  With that profile is included a ranking for quality, value, portion size and reader survey responses, as well as signature items, the atmosphere, recommendations and more.  It makes it quite easy to take a peek at one of the profiles and see if they offer something that would be a good fit for your family.



Are you trying to find a resort that fits your family's needs?  The accommodations chapter is a great resource whether you plan to stay on Disney property or off.  You can find all the information you need about the benefits of staying at a Disney resort and how Disney classifies their resorts.  The on site Disney resort profiles include a map of the resort, the resort's strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for the best rooms at each resort... to name just some of the types of information included for each resort.  Here is where my love of numbers comes in - they include several charts ranking the resorts based on types of criteria from room quality to theme to pool rating and fitness center rating.  Ever wondered about lighting and pillows in the resort rooms?  They have that too!  There really isn't a topic you could question about the resort that isn't covered!

This is a sample rating for one of the Magic Kingdom's attractions from the back cover
of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015

When you get to the theme park sections, again, there isn't an attraction that isn't covered from top to bottom! These too are also ranked by age group (preschool, grade school, teens, young adults, over 30, and seniors) from 0-5 stars.  Every attraction in each park is summarized with the type of attraction it is, how long it lasts, best time of day to experience it, loading speed and touring tips.  When planning your vacation, it is a great resource when you need to know height requirements, FastPass+ options,  and even, if it has a scary factor for children.  In addition there is a great overview of each of the parks and how to "get oriented" with the layout of the theme park.  Plus, they include directions on how to arrive at each park whether by Disney transportation or by car.  One of my most used pages of the book is the "Door-to-Door Commuting Times to and from the Disney Resorts and Parks."  We normally have a car, and this chart lets us know whether it is worth driving our car or using Disney transportation to and from the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney.  This has also helped us determine which resort is best for us based on our plans for each trip.

Not only does this book cover all this information about Walt Disney World, but there is also a section on Universal Studios, Sea World, Wet 'N' Wild and Aquatica.  Again, the book does a great job of breaking down the layout of Universal Studios and its two parks, including profiles of the attractions and entertainment and describes the dining options.  Though the segment about Sea World does not include attraction profiles like the other theme parks included in the book, it does include a chart ranking the attractions on a 0-5 star ranking.

Finally, this book includes a very valuable tool for anyone visiting during the busier times of the year (though useful at any time of the year!). They have Touring Plans for the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.  These touring plans will help guide you through the parks to experience each attraction at its best time throughout the day.  This means less time in line and more time to explore all the parks have to offer.

The Unofficial Guide has
helped us plan many a Disney vacation!
If you are looking for even more information, of course, you can go to my favorite planning site .. Touring Plans.  This site includes updates to the book, as well as many other freebies.  In order to access the crowd calendar (we base our dates solely on the crowd calendar which has never been wrong!), you would need to pay for a subscription.  It is worth every penny for all the extras you get.  Even better, they have a large collection of touring plans for all the parks, as well as the option to customize a touring plan that is just right for your family.  If you own the book, they give you a significant discount for TouringPlans.com.

I personally recommend The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015 to everyone considering a Disney vacation.  This guidebook is just that - a guide.  With 23 Parts and 848 pages, it gives you everything you need to plan and experience your Walt Disney World vacation.  You could ask 20 people what the perfect Disney vacation is, and you would hear 20 different answers, each one as good as the next.  Only you know what is best for your family, and this guidebook gives you just the right tools to plan your vacation before leaving that is just right for you and to experience all that Walt Disney World has to offer once you arrive.

Want to win your very own copy of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015?  Follow this link and enter for your chance to win a copy: The Unofficial Guides or of course, if you can't wait, you can head directly to Amazon and purchase your copy (Kindle or Paperback): The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015 on Amazon

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015 for review.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  

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