Friday, December 3, 2010

A Review of "Fodor's Walt Disney World 2011" [86]

Fodor's Walt Disney World 2011
Fodor's; Pap/Map edition, ISBN 978-1400004614
November 16, 2010, 608 pages

You know, there are all sorts of vacations. There is, is order of complexity, sitting on a beach with a tropical drink in your hand, there is a road trip covering several states, with stops at points of interest and oddities, there is a month long tour of Europe...and then there is a trip to Disney World and the Greater Orlando Theme Park Megalopolis. 
Make no mistake, a trip to Disney is perhaps most akin to planning a military invasion.
Now, that is a bad thing.
So long as you are aware of what you are getting into.
And many people, as I can personally attest to from my latest trip, are not.

A day did not go by on my most recent trip when I did not have to assist my fellow travelers, mostly correcting misinformation. It is a complicated topic and we can not all be experts. But take the example of a Canadian women, and then her whole family, with whom I had a conversation at Sea World. They had no idea about the Disney or Sea World water parks, they had no idea about the various Disney Parks. When someone says to me "What is Epcot", my heart sinks. They had never heard of a FastPass! People, I do not do lines, and in most cases neither do you have to. I try to be helpful and guide the lost and confused...but I am only one person! :-)

I have been to Disney many times. I love Disney and regardless of what one family member, who will remain unnamed, recently said, I totally get The Magic. But the thing is, in the whole central Florida area, there are a huge number of things to do and unless you has unlimited time and unlimited money (and if you do, can I go with you next time?) you need A PLAN.
And many visitor do not have a clue, yet alone a plan.
Without one, you will waste money and time, not get the most out of your trip and end up being one of those families you see on Main Street at the end of the day, as the park is closing, the mother exhausted, the father red-faced and angry and the kids crying. Folks, this is suppose to be fun!

So please, please, before going to see the Mouse...or Harry if you swing that and read a book. A comprehensive travel guide like this very good guide. There are many, many decisions to be made and you need help. You need help just knowing how many decisions you need to make. How are you getting there? Where are you staying? In park..out of park? What will it cost? How are you going to get around? Do you want to rent a car? Where do you want to eat..and what about the Disney food plan? What do you have to see, because know, you will not see it all. Decisions must be made and this is a very fine book to assist you in doing that.

There is a huge amount of material to be covered and Fodor does about as good a job as is possible in presenting all that material without overwhelming the reader. From the very beginning of your planning, through your arrival at the parks, to how to spend your days, all the topics are covered. Whether you are traveling with little kids, or teenagers, are an older couple or even alone, the various unique issues each situation presents are covered. A huge list of hotels, in and out of WDW are covered, as are many, many restaurants, again both in the parks and resorts and outside the Mouse Empire. Each park and the must see attractions at each are discussed. A great deal of helpful information, all presented in a very clear and logical way, is at the heart of this book. And it is also presented in a very attractive format, with a very large number of very nice, full-color photographs and many helpful maps and graphics and a very nice pull out map.

About 1/2 the book is devoted to WDW, about 1/4 to Universal and Sea World, and the remaining 1/4 to the greater Central Florida region, from Tampa to the Kennedy Space Center. Yes, even my beloved Gatorland is discussed.
It is a very comprehensive book...but, like any guide, it is not perfect. The hotel I stayed at on my most recent visit, an out-of-park hotel, was not included, and at least two in-park restaurants I ate it were not there either. Understandable and not an issue really, since any one book can not contain everything. But take the fact that the very popular restaurant at Canada in Epcot, Le Cellier, was not mentioned. Things like that were a bit odd maybe.

The book is very up to date, which is refreshing. Theme parks are always changing a bit, adding and subtracting  attractions and this book is on top of what is going on in the parks. For example, the fact that Toontown is disappearing, being folded into a bigger Fantasyland is discussed, as is the changed made to the Shamu show at Sea World since the killing of a trainer by one of the whales. But that also pointed out another small issue I had with the book and that is some of the ratings. The greatly reduced Shamu show is still a Fodor Pick, whereas I think it is clear that the best show at Sea World is now the dolphin show, into which the park has poured all their best. Platform divers, acrobats, swooping tropical birds, and a large amount of trainer/animal interaction, make this, not Shamu the must see show. All ratings are subjective and while I found myself disagreeing with some one them and some of the opinions offered, for most visitors that would be a very minor issue.

For someone planning a first trip, this is a great book. For others, who have made trips, even many trips, in the past, this is still a very useful and very enjoyable book. Full of fun facts, countless things I am sure you don't know and tons of helpful information.
Strongly recommended.

Now, let me just say, as much as I like this book and recommend it, I would not let it be the only book I would read if planning a trip to Disney, especially if you are a first timer. Although I have not looked at a recent edition, [author or publisher, please note I would be happy to check out and review the 2011 editions if you would like :-) ], I have also found  The Unofficial Disney Guide by Bob Sehlinger very helpful in the past. Lets say it gives a slightly different, but no less helpful or interesting, perspective on WDW. The fact that every review on Amazon is a five star review gives you an idea of how good this book is.
Together they would make a great team to help you make you trip to Walt Disney World the funnest trip ever...A Magical Trip to a Magical Place.

My Thanks to Amazon Vine for my review copy of this book.


  1. Well, first of all, the reason the Canadian steakhouse is probably not mentioned on there is because IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET IN BECAUSE OF THE DAMNED MEAL PLAN!!!! Sorry. I have "connections" Caite, and I can't get into the steakhouse. The meal plan has made it virtually impossible to eat anywhere at a sit down restaurant in the park unless you plan way, way ahead. I can see where that would totally ruin a vacation! People need to know these things. Anyway I will get off my soapbox. It is amazing how much info a visitor needs to know to make a successful trip work down here. I have about 50 tips for Universal alone, for anyone that wants them! (Gatorland rocks)

  2. a little passion about all things Disney is a good thing!
    I was at le cellier years ago, before it got all popular, and before the meal plan. funny, at the time it was not that popular which is why we could get last minute reservations. it was good, but not all that.

    and I have never done the meal plan. to tell the truth, I do not want to waste that much time figuring out where to eat and eating.
    I ate lunch at two sit down restaurants, just walking up, and I prefer that.
    but then I don't go at peak times either.

  3. I'll be honest with you ... we're not a Disney family. But I think it is a major undertaking to go there ... and to just waltz in there without a game plan is just plain foolish.

  4. Not a Disney family?!
    Oh, you poor things.
    Don't you know it is a MAGICAL PLACE?

  5. Disney World-Disney world offer special packages for special Seasons and also offers discount on tickets and different package plane to stay and travel.


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