As a long veteran of Disney World (since there was only the Magic Kingdom), I was pleasantly surprised by this Small World Ninja – Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World. It is the most complete, up-to-date guidebook on the land of the Mouse that I have seen. Our opinions vary on some things, but the overall guide is good.
Mr. Hackney covers the complete experience from when to go, length of stay, detailed lodging choices, individual park information, dining options and reviews, and even the competition (detailed information on Universal Studios is included).
The book is well organized starting with all the necessary pre-trip planning information-including dining packages and reservations- then the insightful individual park information later. Bonus material includes character guide, specialized guide for kids, the competition (Universal Studios) and getting into shape. The only topic not covered was disabled guests.
The detailed information on when to go and the length of stay is good. Logical busy times are mentioned: school vacation seasons (Christmas/New Year, Summer) and most weekends. Also, he mentions the other festivals more for adults than children – marathons, Epcot International Flower and Garden festival, Halloween, and Food and Wine experience. His suggestions on the length of stay are reasonable.
Detailed lodging information on nearly every Disney resort is mostly accurate. Based upon his comments on the Disney campground, Fort Wilderness, he does not camp. Disney facilities are better than most campgrounds in this country and provide campers with service equal to resort guests.
Park information on all lands (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Studies, and the Animal Kingdom) is extremely accurate and current. It includes the new major renovations Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. For each park, he breaks down each section, ride, the events within the parks (shows, and parades), and the casual/snacking dining options. The sit-down restaurants were previously discussed in the planning stage. Some opinions vary on the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electrical Parade and dining options. I am not able to verify the information on the water parks or the clubs within Pleasure Island.
Dining critiques can be subject to personal tastes. The author recommends many buffets which are good for families. Also, some highlights are recommended for alcohol only. I disagree with the recommendations for Epcot’s Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada (overpriced, overdone steaks, and bland food). Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge and Narcosee in the Grand Floridian Hotel both suffer from high prices and ordinary food. If you are in the mood for a traditional Irish Pub experience, Ragland Road in Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island is an option. Various beverage options, tasty versions of pub grub along with the nightly shows (starting at 6pm) of river dancing and old folk sing-a-longs provide a nice change of pace.
One of the most complete and informative guides to the Magic Kingdom I have come across.