by Disney Magic Diva
My husband and I first visited the Walt Disney World Resort in 1980, when there was just the one park (Magic Kingdom), and we were young and carefree. Not much planning was done for that trip, beyond guessing how much money to bring.
Fast forward to 1999: married with three kids and traveling to Walt Disney World for the 1999 New Year’s Eve celebration – planning had to be done. The Internet was still young and developing, so we turned to a traditional travel aid, the printed guidebook. There were numerous Walt Disney World guidebooks from which to choose, but we settled on one with the curious name of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. The amount of information contained in that book boggled our minds. This was the beginning of what has become a twenty-year reliance on the various versions of the Unofficial Guide series
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2020 by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa has just been released and is already the #1 Best Seller on Amazon. It contains almost 800 pages of facts, ratings, suggestions, reader comments, and otherwise valuable information for travelers to the Walt Disney World Resort. As we approach our next trip to Walt Disney World, it is worthwhile to take a look at this latest incarnation of the venerable guide.
The guide consists of 19 chapters (referred to in the book as “parts”), but before that there is an introduction which includes a section on “How to Use This Book.” Anyone reading this guide for the first time should absolutely read this short section, and it is useful for those who haven’t read an Unofficial Guidefor a while. This section lays out just what is coming in the remainder of the book, and how to obtain the best results from it. Let’s be clear that a successful trip to Walt Disney World Resort requires planning and knowledge, no matter how many times you have visited, and this guide provides valuable information for everyone from a first-timer to a veteran traveler.
The parts that follow include an overview of Walt Disney World, what planning should be done before leaving home (lots!), and making the most of your time and money. These topics are then followed by more than 180 pages on accommodations, and over 110 pages on dining while on a Walt Disney World vacation. Both of these parts look at what is available outside of the Walt Disney World Resort as well as inside the Walt Disney World bubble.
The profiles of hotels and restaurants are in-depth, including reader ratings and comments. And please be aware that not all of the reader comments are positive; The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2020 takes great pains to include the good and the bad when it is appropriate, even when it does not align with the authors’ point of view.
Not everyone visiting Walt Disney World has the same needs, and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2020 includes a part that addresses items for those traveling with kids. (The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020 will be available in September! You can preorder on Amazon now, and watch for our review coming soon!) There is also a part that looks at tips for people who fall into a number of special needs categories, such as Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS), designed to assist guests who are unable to wait in the regular standby lines. Information about how Disney works with service animals, wheelchairs and electric mobility vehicles, dietary restrictions and allergies, medications, and guests with hearing or vision impairment, as well as guests with non-apparent disabilities can also be found in this part. In addition, this section contains tips for guests who fall into several other categories, such as people of size, seniors, expectant mothers, international visitors, singles, and couples.
Part Nine looks at the arrival process and how to get around once you have arrived. With all of the available transportation options, and the many misconceptions some guests bring to Walt Disney World (the monorail doesn’t connect to every park? I can’t take a boat from Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Magic Kingdom?), this chapter is mandatory reading. It discusses the pros and cons of the Disney Magical Express service between the airport and Walt Disney World resorts and contains thorough information about ride-sharing services and the Minnie-Van service. There is extensive data about travel times on the Disney Transportation System as compared to driving your own car between parks and resorts. Again, both the positives and negatives of all methods of transportation are presented here.
The part on “Bare Necessities” covers such topics as how money works in Walt Disney World (Magic Bands can eliminate the need to carry cash or credit cards!), cell phone service in the parks, what to do if it is raining, what if someone in your party needs medical attention, how to register a complaint with Disney, the PhotoPass/Memory Maker options, where to find pet care, religious services, and grocery delivery.
The next 200-plus pages goes into great detail on each of the parks in Walt Disney World, including the water parks and the parks of Universal Orlando (Yes, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2020 includes material about Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay. If you are interested in more detailed information about Universal Orlando, The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2020 is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released in December. We’ll have a review in the coming months!) In these pages you will find details about getting to the park, allattractions, entertainment, FastPass+, and more. Ratings for each attraction are listed broken down by age group, and reader comments are included to help guests decide what are the must-do rides and must-see entertainment.
Remember that the goal of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2020 is to help guests maximize their experience at Walt Disney World, finding ways to see and do what they want in the time they have allotted to the visit. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2020 wraps up with “touring plans” that can be clipped from the book. Each plan shows the best order in which to visit individual attractions in one park, and there are multiple plans for most of the Walt Disney World parks. These are differentiated by such indicators as “one-day plan for adults,” “one-day plan with kids,” “two-day plan for early risers,” etc. There are also clip-out touring plan “companions” that list each attraction and its ratings, dining options for each park, and good rest areas.
If you are the owner of a previous edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, you may be wondering if there is anything new in the 2020 Guide – and there is! Here are some of the additions to this year’s version:
- All you need to know about Galaxy’s Edge, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Train, and
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
- Tips on getting the best deals from Walt Disney World’s new ticket pricing system
- Comparisons of the Disney Dining Plans and finding the best dining options
- A review of Coronado Springs new Gran Destino Tower
- Up-to-date info on everything new at Disney Springs
- Details on the newest DVC property, the Riviera Resort
- A review of Storybook Dining at Artist Point in Wilderness Lodge
- The latest on the Skyliner, Walt Disney World’s new gondola transportation system connecting Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot with Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Riveria Resorts
There is no reason not to buy The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2020; whether you are a seasoned veteran or a rookie traveler, it has valuable information for everyone.
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 Walt Disney World 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, August 31. GOOD LUCK!
Disclaimer: Liliane Opsomer from The Unofficial Guide series provided me with a complimentary copy of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 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.
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