I’m very comfortable at Walt Disney World – I’ve been there so many times, I have actually lost count. But I’m a bit lost when it comes to Disneyland in California. I don’t know how to plan, what I should see, or what order I should see it in. Enter the Unofficial Guide Disneyland 2020 by Seth Kubersky, Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and Guy Selga, Jr. This book is packed with insider tips and tricks, clip-out touring plans, and, most importantly, a lot of humor.
This book is chock full of useful information. Co-author Len Testa is the owner at Touring Plans, one of my all-time favorite Disney planning sites, and the Unofficial Guide includes some of that sites’ touring plans at the end. I wish I had used this book prior to my last trip to Disneyland, as it would have been extremely helpful during the planning stages of that trip.
The book is divided into seven parts, and newcomers will find the first two sections, Planning Before You Leave Home and Essentials, extremely useful.
Tip: Don’t want to be weighed down with a book? You can clip out the various touring plans at the back of the book and take them to the parks with you!
The Planning Before You Leave Home section covers gathering information, best times to visit, where to stay, finding discounts, making the most of your time, and more.
Unlike Disney World, Disneyland is smack in the middle of the city of Anaheim. Staying off property there is the norm rather than the exception. While the Unofficial Guide does review the three Disney resorts, it also devotes quite a few pages to the off-property hotels, rating them and providing the walking distance to the parks.
You’ll also find information on what to expect in the parks as far as FastPass and MaxPass go, how to allocate time between parks and attractions, and, most importantly, the best way to use touring plans.
The Essentials section is brief and deals with basic concerns like finding cash/using credit cards, accommodating special needs and dietary restrictions, finding medical help, what to do when it rains, and so on.
Tip: Download the official Disneyland app to be able to buy tickets, see maps, purchase MaxPass, and make dining plans. It also allows you to browse menus and use mobile ordering, a real time saver!
The third section of the book talks about Disneyland with Kids, and emphasizes physical preparation, logistical planning, and mental readiness. When I say “mental readiness” I mean prepping both yourself and your kids for things like long waits, lost kids, scary rides, overstimulation, and character encounters. I love the Small Child Fright-Potential Chart the authors include in this portion.
Dining and Shopping In and Around Disneyland comes next, and this is perhaps one of the few areas where I wish more detail had been included. I do like that restaurants outside the parks are discussed (one of the great things about Disneyland is that it is totally possible to spend all day at the parks, walk across the street for dinner at, say, Tony Roma’s, and then return to watch the fireworks), and there are pretty good descriptions and ratings for all of the Table Service restaurants in the parks and at Downtown Disney, but the counter service restaurant descriptions are, in my opinion, a bit too brief.
Part 5, Disneyland Park, and Part 6, Disney California Adventure, are the two most important sections of the book. This is where you will find out details about all the attractions and the shows in the park.
Tip: Download Touring Plans’ Disneyland Lines app before you get to the parks so you can have up to date information on the “real” wait times for attractions.
The book separates out attractions geographically and rates them on a scale from one to 5 stars. I like that reviews also feature small graphics that show whether an attraction is dark, loud, scary, queasy, or thumbs up for the whole family. And they are also rated on scales for each demographic: preschool, grade school, teens, over 30, seniors, etc.
There is an in-depth description of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, including attractions, shops, dining, and interactivity.
One thing that I think would be helpful here would be a table with all the attraction ratings in one place. That way, it would make it easier if someone wanted to plan their day not to miss any of the “5 star” attractions. The way it stands, you need to know something about the layout of each park and its internal “lands” to know where to look for the attractions.
I also wish that the attraction descriptions included more details on the single rider lines. When my daughters and I traveled to Disneyland last summer, we found that the single rider lines were invaluable, but were sometimes well-hidden.
The last section of the book is an overview of Universal Studios Hollywood and a few other local attractions.
This line of guide books are all exhaustively researched, vetted, and very well-written. Whether you are a perennial planner or a seat of the pants kind of tourist, you will find useful information in the Unofficial Guide: Disneyland 2020 book. I highly recommend this book and the Touring Plans site!
GIVEAWAY: Would you like to win a copy of this Unofficial Guide for yourself?? Great news, we’ve partnered with the Unofficial Guides to offer one lucky Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos reader a copy of their own Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2020
First, you will need to sign up for the Unofficial Guide newsletter here.
Second, you will need to like Tips from the Disney Diva on Facebook
You will use the Rafflecopter link below to confirm your entries – additional entries are available, but the two mentioned above are mandatory to enter.
You will need to “LIKE” each of the Facebook entries for those to count. All entries will be verified. The winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond. The contest ends on Saturday, September 28. GOOD LUCK!
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? You’ll want to look into The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World or The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020.
Disclaimer: Liliane Opsomer from The Unofficial Guide series provided me with a complimentary copy of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2020 to review. She also generously has allowed Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos to give away a copy of another Unofficial Guide book to our readers. I received no other compensation for my review, and my opinions are completely my own.
*Copyrights for the photographs used in this article belong to Liliane Opsomer as noted and are being used with her permission.
Want even more help planning your vacation? Email Trish at All For Dreams Travel for a FREE quote and help making all your Disney travel plans.