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Among the outrageously numerous travel guide-books out there the “Unofficial Guide” series is definitely among the very best! In the case of the Walt Disney World “toolbox”, this is a virtual under-statement. The “toolbox” includes not just the main book (or “big book”) it includes four additional titles that all have their own special place in the system! You might get away with not reading all of them. But in many cases, since they work in conjunction with one another you may, in fact, have use for all five.
By all accounts it does in fact, take several different books to adequately describe all that Disney has to offer, and when you add the fact that the “big book” includes nearby central Florida attractions of Universal Studios and Sea World AND includes information on the Disney Cruise Line, you simply can not fit it all in to one book – even if one of those books is over 800 pages! There are also the Beyond Disney version, the Color version, the kid’s version, and the all-important pocket guide.
Notwithstanding the myriad details of when, where, how, and why to visit Disney World, these books delve into specifics like when and how to start planning your trip in advance; yes, with Disney you need to do a lot of advance planning to get the most out of your trip. You get details not only from the authors but from real people who send in comments as well as rate everything from lodging accommodations to restaurants. There are detailed descriptions on the attractions with details relating to various demographics (like do take the kids on this one, but seniors might prefer to check out this one). And in the Color Companion there are high quality photos of everything from specific rooms to pools and restaurants, to how the Main Street crowds typically look at different times of the day!
I enjoyed the humor throughout the books and it made the immense amount of details a lot more entertaining. The Color Companion even has a cute clip-art of Pinocchio when they try and throw in some particularly well thought out fibs along the way. But don’t let the levity fool you… these books are researched to the nth degree and the details are only enhanced by the humor, not overshadowed or minimized by it.
When referring to these books there are complaints out there ranging from too much detail to scaring people away from Disney World due to the vast amounts of pre-planning suggested, to not having enough information on where the best bathrooms are. Needless to say no matter how many pages you read or write you will never satisfy every person’s needs or wants, and these books don’t especially try. They have carefully chosen what they determine, after years of experience, to be the things that you need to know to make the very best of your, maybe once-in-a-lifetime trip. If you don’t want to take the advice of the authors, you will still certainly have a wonderful trip to Disney World – you really can’t help it! – but you may end up spending more time than you need to in lines, missing your favorite characters, or getting way too little sleep.
All-in-all I highly recommend all the Disney World books. If you only choose one of the five, pick up the “big book” – The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. I have been a travel agent for years and have been to the parks many times, but I refer to these books often when consulting with my clients and they have proven to be invaluable! Don’t let the size and scope intimidate you… just pay attention to the things you are most interested in first – the rest of the book will reveal itself and its gems as needed and I guarantee you will refer to them often no matter how many times you visit Florida!
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was given to Carrie with the expectation that a fair and honest review would be written of it.