A trip to Disney is kind of a big deal. Planning it with the assistance of a great guide book, a smart idea. Disney vacations are investments. To maximize your fun and enjoyment, doing some research up front will more than pay off.
Unofficial Guides to Disney can offer extremely valuable advice to help plan your trip. They feature topics such as:
- Selecting your trip dates
- Learning about Disney economics, and Disney trip packages
- Receiving guidance on where to stay
- Deciding on character or theme dining you’d like to experience (this is a big one at Disney World where you definitely need ADRs, “Advance Dining Reservations”)
- Getting a feel for how best to spend your days, so you minimize time spent waiting in line
- Discovering which attractions appeal to you and your family most, and what you absolutely don’t want to miss
… and much, much more. Plus, how about just plain building anticipation for that trip?
The Unofficial Guide to Disney ~ Overview
It’s worth noting that The Unofficial Guides are written by parties completely unaffiliated with Disney. They truly are honest, useful, and at times even critical. Written by Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and a number of other contributors – I thoroughly enjoy the conversational, humorous writing style. Now granted, I’m a Disney fanatic. But although they are intended as reference works… I just plain think these guides are a good read!
I do confess that I’m partial to The Unofficial Guide to Disney somewhat because of their affiliation with one of my absolute favorite sites and must-use Disney planning tools: TouringPlans.com
Because of this, you’ll receive some of their best, clip-out recommended touring plans in the back of each Unofficial Guide to Disney. These are pretty slick and can save you a great deal of time waiting in line, allowing you to pack in the maximum number of attractions. Even if you don’t follow them exactly to the letter… they give you a good feel for how to optimize your day in the Disney Parks.
While my family doesn’t follow a touring plan precisely, I also greatly appreciate the Unofficial Guide to Disney’s discussion of traffic flow patterns. Heeding this advice can make a huge difference! We have benefited greatly by taking this guidance into consideration on busy days in the parks.
One of my (and my 3rd grader’s) favorite sections is the attraction ratings. Every Disney attraction and restaurant is given a star rating, along with an appeal by age, a description, and the best time to visit. (We get a kick out of reviewing these ratings in light of our own opinions, and either applauding, or boo-ing the ranking. Although they are based on family surveys, and we generally feel they are spot on!)
Last, but not least, it is always a good idea to select an annually dated travel guide. And this is even more crucial when either Disney World or Disneyland is your destination. Disney changes things up all the time, in recent years more than ever. Getting a “2014” guide [or future years] assures you will be receiving the most up to date information.
So much good advice to be had from these fantastic guide books! (Can you tell I love Disney trip planning?)
Now let’s take a look at some of your Unoffical Guide to Disney options.
Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2014
First up, the fatty: Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2014.
The claim to fame? “Cut your waits in line by 4 hours a day“. They’ve taken a fairly scientific approach to researching this, and honestly – I believe it. That’s not to say that I can get my jet lagged, vacationing family from the West to follow it (*ahem* Hello, rope drop!). But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it. Nothing sucks the fun out of Disney more than long lines. This is advice worth following, at least to the extent that works for your family.
At 848 pages, there’s never been a Disney World trip planning topic I need to research that I didn’t find addressed in a helpful and thorough manner in this guide.
And for those of you who also work Universal Studios and Sea World into your Orlando visits – there are sections on those as well. That’s triple bang for your buck!
Note this guide does include a 49 page section on “Walt Disney World with Kids“, but if you want a thorough coverage on this topic you may wish to consider the next guide up.
Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World With Kids 2014
Heading to Disney World with little ones can be daunting. For our family, we feel this is a fantastic time to experience it with your kids! But preparing yourself and knowing what to expect ahead of time will definitely pay off.
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World With Kids 2014 is 478 pages chock full of helpful guidance, even helping you to assess whether a Disney World vacation is a good idea for you and your family at this particular time.
Again, I appreciate the forthrightness with which these guides are written. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book, found in an early section:
“We’ve observed many thousands of parents and grandparents trying – some successfully, others less so – to have a good time at Walt Disney World…. This guide will forewarn and forearm you…. it will provide the confidence that comes with good planning and realistic expectations.”
I think that says it all.
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World With Kids 2014 contains many excellent Disney World trip planning topics, geared specifically towards a “family with kids” in mind, such as how to pick the right restaurants for your needs, etc.
The guide includes tips written by kids, for kids.
Also discussed is the fright-potential warnings for rides that are scary, rough, or will get you wet. Not to be underestimated, that. We had a bad experience with our terrified 4 year old (from “Bug’s Life” at Animal Kingdom) that we wish we could have avoided altogether, as it had long lasting effects.
All good stuff. If this all sounds beneficial to you, you may wish to grab a copy of this guide.
Next up… California, anyone?
The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2014
Being a seasoned Disney World visitor, but a Disneyland rookie… this is actually the guidebook of the three that I combed through the most. We are considering a switch in venues soon, and our kids may be headed towards their first Disneyland trip. Exciting!
Seriously. Cars Land!? How much more awesome can it get?
Because the layout and Disney resort options are so much more limited at Disneyland (and frankly much, much more expensive), the pages I have worn out in my trusty The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2014 are the ones covering lodging.
I don’t really care about “off property” hotels at Disney World. I definitely care about them at Disneyland! Behold, some of the simply *magical* information found in this guide:
- Map of Disneyland, with all nearby hotel properties clearly marked
- Chart of hotels, with walking time to the park entrance & swimming pool ratings (So helpful – my favorite!)
- A 3-page chart of how the hotels compare in value
If this was the only information the The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2014 contained, my personal opinion is that makes it well worth the price right there!
I’m going to tease you with one other Golden Tidbit I gleaned from this book. I recently got to visit Disneyland, during a work trip. There is a piece of advice I found in this guide regarding which rides have “single rider” lanes, and how to find them (they are quite obscure) that worked amazingly well! Let’s just say it was a packed Spring Break day, and this particular ride had a 2 hour wait time. Using the information from The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2014… I got on the ride within 5 minutes. 5 MINUTES! TRUE STORY!
Yeah. I’m a fan of the The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2014.
The Unofficial Guide to Disney Giveaway
One of my winning readers will receive a free “The Unofficial Guide to Disney” book – your choice from those featured here.
Happy Disney trip planning!
Open to US, ages 18+.
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I received the guide books described here at no cost, for the purposes of performing this review. All opinions are my own.