Taking a vacation to the Walt Disney World resort is anything but simple: it’s an expensive endeavor that requires a lot of planning. Just as with any other major purchase, it really makes sense to do your research beforehand. And the best, most comprehensive planning tool for Disney that I’ve ever seen has got to be the Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2019. Weighing in at an incredible 828 pages, this guide is full of useful information on everything from tickets to resorts to restaurants and attractions.
The book is authored by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. These are some of the same minds behind the brilliant Touring Plans website and the Walt Disney World Lines application, and they bring some of the similar data-science type approach to the book along with a healthy dose of humor. I particularly liked how they “scienced” a way to measure noise and pillow softness at the various resorts.
The book is divided into 17 sections with an appendix and several convenient, portable touring plans that are meant to be torn out of the back. Most of the book is dedicated to the Walt Disney Resort, but they also include some information on Universal Studios and Sea World.
The sections are:
Part One – Planning Before You Leave Home Everything from best times of year to visit to a detailed calendar of what you need to plan for and when you need to do it.
Part Two – Making the Most of Your Time and Money Breaks down all the different tickets types and costs, provides sample vacation budgets and talks about using a touring plan to maximize one of the most valuable resources: time.
Part Three – Accommodations I love that they discuss both on-property and off-property hotels here. The authors rate rooms based on comfort and amenities, give detailed resort and area maps, and provide a list I’ve never seen before of all the direct numbers to Disney resort hotels. They also discuss off-property vacation homes.
Part Four – Dining In and Around Walt Disney World Discusses restaurants both inside and outside the parks. Rates and gives information about both counter service and table service venues.
Part Five – Walt Disney World with Kids Covers strategies for dealing with tantrums and waiting in lines, stroller rentals, meeting characters, and special programs for children. I especially like the “Small-Child Fright Potential Chart.”
Part Six – Special Tips for Special People A guide for traveling with guests with special needs. Includes tips for visitors with disabilities, seniors, expectant moms, international visitors, etc. Includes a list of equipment, services and facilities available at the resort as well as a detailed explanation of Disney’s Disability Access Service.
Part Seven – Arriving and Getting Around This chapter is super handy! Not only do they explain how to get to the resort complex, they also discuss different modes of transportation, list door to door commute times for the resorts, and have maps of ingenious “sneak routes” that will get you to your destination more quickly.
Part Eight – Bare Necessities Dealing with problems and unusual situations, including medical emergencies, ride closures, lost and found, car troubles, and rain.
Part Nine – The Magic Kingdom
Part Ten – Epcot
Part Eleven – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Part Twelve – Disney’s Hollywood Studios Detailed information on the brand new Toy Story Land as well as a look ahead at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Part Thirteen – Universal Orlando and SeaWorld
Part Fourteen – The Water Parks
Part Fifteen – Behind-the-Scenes and VIP Tours at Walt Disney World
Part Sixteen – Disney Springs, Universal CityWalk, Shopping, and Nightlife
Part Seventeen – Recreation, Sports, and Spas Everything from spa treatments to miniature golf to runDisney events
While the guide is so large that it could be a bit overwhelming, the authors assure readers that “this is not a novel” – it’s not meant to be read from front to back, all the way through; rather readers should skim through it and gather the information they need and are interested in.
The authors compare themselves to dance coaches – they teach you the steps and prepare you for the performance, so that when you’re on vacation, you can “move with effortless grace and ease.” They emphasize that while it’s important to be organized and prepared, it’s also essential that you live in the moment and enjoy yourself on your Disney vacation.
I love the humor, the incredible level of detail, and all the charts and other graphic aids that the authors provide. The only very small quibble I had with the book was I wish it provided even more detail on counter service restaurants and mobile ordering. I also thought they should have highlighted how great their very own tool for finding hard-to-get dining reservations is.
This guide is great as a standalone resource, but it works even better if used in conjunction with their website, TouringPlans.com, and the Lines app, which I find invaluable even as a seasoned annual passholder. I’m a self-confessed data nerd, and have visited Disney World more than fifty times, and yet I found myself reaching for this book over and over to read more about my favorite travel destination.
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 2019. First, you will need to sign up for the Unofficial Guide newsletter here. Then use the Rafflecopter link below to confirm your entries. 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 Friday, September 7. GOOD LUCK!
*Disclaimer: Liliane Opsomer from The Unofficial Guide series provided me with a complimentary copy of The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2019 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.
*All of the copyrights for the photographs used in this article belong to Liliane Opsomer and are being used with her permission.
Planning a Disney vacation? In addition to a great guidebook, you could use the help of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Get a FREE quote today from Patricia at All For Dreams Travel.