Thursday, January 10, 2008

Daily Figment 142 - Book Review: The unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

I bought a copy of the 2008 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World way back in September. I didn't tear through the book like usual, but I read it cover-to-cover, in increments, to soak in all of the details. Honestly, I read it in between other books and whenever I had a spare moment. That is why it took me almost three months. I did skim the sections on Universal--I will go to that park once they build Harry Potter's Wizarding World and I won't do much of anything else there (I know, I am such a Disney snob!).

I haven't read a copy of the Unofficial Guide, cover-to-cover, since around 1997. I have used it, but always for research purposes. The 2008 Unofficial Guide clocks in at 848 pages , which is over a 550% increase in pages since the first edition in 1986 (the '86 version to the right runs at 174 pages). Wow. Bob Sehlinger has been producing the Unofficial Guide since 1986. He knows what he is talking about! Len Testa joined the team after developing his infamous crowd calendar. Len first appeared as a co-author on the 2006 edition.

If you are planning to visit Walt Disney World, or the surrounding area, within the next 6 months, you need this guide right now!

I am a theme park junkie and I can swear on a stack of Imagineering Field Guides that I learned quite a bit from reading the Unofficial Guide. I won't go into a lot of detail about what is covered (admission, hotels, vacation homes, eateries and the parks) because it is all there. What I can tell you is that we used small bits of the Unofficial Guide during down times at MouseFest (when Andy forced me to ride and not socialize) and it made a huge difference in how much we were able to do and what we were able to see.

To say the Unofficial Guide is comprehensive is an understatement. The authors have visited, stood in line, eaten, walked, driven, ridden, slept and swam everywhere possible at Walt Disney World and at the other Orlando attractions. If you follow their simple (and sometimes rigorous) touring plans, you will get so much more done--but it will be what you want to do. We preach slowing down and taking in the details at Imaginerding and we wholeheartedly and passionately endorse the Unofficial Guide. Following even just a few of the tips outlined in the guide will make your trip more enjoyable and relaxed.

Relaxed?

Yeah. If you can spend a half day, or so, following the touring plans and knocking out your favorite, must-do attractions, you will have more time to slow down and enjoy your time at the parks.

The very best reason to buy the book?

If you purchase the current version, you get a one-year subscription to Touring Plans, the companion web-site to the book. A normal one-year subscription to the site costs $7.95, but if you purchase the book and follow the directions, you can get a one-year subscription for free! The Crowd Calendar is the most amazing section of the site. Based on Len's computer magic, they provide a crowd prediction level for every single day of the year. It is much faster than waiting for them to answer your e-mail on the WDW Today podcast. They also provide additional and personalized touring plans for each of the parks.

So head to your favorite retailer and pick up a copy today. You will be very happy you did. Smart, intelligent recommendations based on over 20 continuous years of writing the book and the crowd calculator. What a winning combination!




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