The Complete Walt Disney World 2012 Paperback – Dec 15 2011
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It's so well done, I can't tell you. If you are going to Walt Disney World and you don't have this book with you - you are making a mistake. —Rudi Maxa, Rudy Maxa's World" America's #1 radio travel show. The internet is an amazing thing. There are dozens of websites and blogs out there offering a wide variety of advice and information pertaining to the very small niche of a vacation to Walt Disney World. And yet, no one has quite managed to do it as well as "The Complete Walt Disney World 2015: The Definitive Disney Handbook. -- John Frost, The Disney Blog Imagine a veteran Cast Member, with local insider-knowledge, travel-agent and organizing guru in one place-- that's this book. It's a planning guide and handbook that I will recommend to my own family and friends. -- Eve Vanderpool, Monorail Media Seriously thorough. -- Family Circle Magazine Highly recommended. -- New York Daily News Should leave fans of Mickey smiling from ear to ear. -- Chicago Tribune Thorough, with inside tips. -- Boston Globe Going to Disney World? Get this book. Far and away the best guide. Refreshing for its honest opinions. -- St. Louis Post Dispatch A fantastic planning tool. Unusual details that matter to families. -- Orlando Sentinel Highly recommended. Comprehensive, filled with information. Stunning color photos. Useful maps. Immerses you in the magic of Disney World. -- Kirkus Reviews --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
A former Walt Disney World concierge supervisor, Julie Neal has spent more than 2,500 days at Walt Disney World, not counting her time working there. Her husband Mike Neal is an award-winning graphic designer and photographer. Julie and Mike live in Orlando, Florida, United States. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book will not have that honor. If you want pictures and some correct info get this book. However do not believe all you read.
I'm only at page 50 right now and have already read 3 completly false statements that could really affect your WDW planning.
So like I said, get it for the pictures, but not for a planning guide.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you've never been to Disney World, the prospect can be overwhelming when you start to research and plan your trip (we made our first visit in August 2006). Which resort should I stay at? What are the best restaurants? What are the "must see" attractions? What should I pack? How many days do I need to thoroughly see--and enjoy--all the parks?
If you happen to be at this stage of the game, look no further. Julie and Mike Neal's brand new book The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World can provide you with everything you need for a magical vacation! (Mike was the photographer while Julie did the research and writing. Even their 13-old homeschooled daughter, Micaela, contributed to the book.)
But before I go on about what this book has to offer for those who haven't yet visited Walt Disney World, let me just say that this is an equally awesome book for those who have already visited! Every time I read this book or gaze at the HUNDREDS of color photographs, I feel like I'm reliving the experience--and long to go back to WDW! (I didn't realize just how much we actually missed until I began reading this book...)
Did I mention the hundreds of color photos? Unlike other Disney World guides, this 320-page guide has over 400 photos! The authors--a husband-and-wife team--spent five years working on this book...visiting Disney World (get this) OVER 700 times! Their untiring work is evident by the maps, Fun Finds, Fun Facts, historical information, charts, and so much more.
In a minute, I'll get to how this guide differs from the Birnbaum's Walt Disney World 2007 and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2007 (I have them both). But for now, let me share with you some of the fascinating features in The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World:
* A comprehensive overview of Walt and the park--including the resort's "secret" history
*Dozens of bonus articles on topics like fairy tale histories, Disney's Audio Animatronic robots, movie backgrounds (including cast, actors, musical scores, etc.), behind-the-scenes and more. A 3-page article is dedicated to Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba (you HAVE to catch this show!) and there is a FOUR page article just about Main Street U.S.A.!
* Attraction plot lines - Yes, there are actually plots created by Disney Imagineers! If you want to know the "backstory" to, say, Expedition Everest, this is your book!
* Over a thousand Fun Finds - The minutia that they include is EXTRAORDINARY. These Fun Finds highlight everything from animatronic character dialogue to oft-overlooked decor. For example--and I remembered seeing this at WDW!--the two lobby posters inside It's Tough to Be a Bug show "past" theater shows like Beauty and the Bees and Little Shop of Hoppers. Heck, there are 37 Fun Finds JUST for Jim Henson's MuppetVision 3-D!
* Fun Facts - Did you know that WDW is the world's largest consumer of fireworks? Or that the music supervisor for IllumiNations was none other than Hans Zimmer? Or that Tex Ritter provided the voice for Big Al at The Country Bear Jamboree?
* Comprehensive view of the Water Parks
* Information on all the latest additions to WDW, including Finding Nemo: The Musical (Animal Kingdom) and The Laugh Floor Comedy Club featuring Mike Wazowski and friends from Monsters, Inc. (Magic Kingdom).
* "A Magical Day" sidebars that are simple, direct shortcuts for seeing the best of each park in a 12-hour period. For Animal Kingdom, TWO plans are given!
* A Shopping Guide for each park organized by theme (art, apparel, toys, etc.)
* A Restaurant Guide for every single place in every park (including table restaurants and snack stands!).
* Holidays at WDW, including Halloween and Christmas (I actually believed that the annual Christmas parade starring Reege and Kelly was live...until I read this book. D'oh!)
* Park Resources - An invaluable guide to locations of ATMs, First Aid Centers, Guest Relations, Cameras/Accessories, Package Pick-ups and more--for every park!
* Park Puzzler multiple choice quizzes for testing your knowledge of WDW
* An educational 10-page guide to 65 exotic creatures at Animal Kingdom
* Easy-to-read Park Maps
* Phone Directory
* Six pages of Hidden Mickeys (334 examples!)
* A chapter on "Diversions", including golf, miniature golf, stock car driving, surfing lessons and 15 other recreational activities
* A "Where to Stay" Chapter that includes "A Kid's Guide to Disney Pools" (includes hotels not on Disney property, as well as Downtown Disney hotels which are ON Disney property...but not OWNED by them--like The Grosvenor, where we stayed on *our* visit).
Whew! And this isn't even ALL that's in The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World, if you can believe it! This book is super-easy to navigate, too, because the tops of the pages are color-coded (Red=Magic Kingdom, Orange=Disney-MGM, Dark Orange=Epcot, Green=Animal Kingdom, Blue=Waterparks, Dark Purple=Downtown Disney and Violet=Diversions). So if you want to find out something about a particular park, you don't even have to consult the Table of Contents--just use colors visible from the top of the book.
Now, I didn't have the benefit of this guide when my family and I visited the parks last year since the book was just published a few months ago. My only reservation about this book--and it's ONLY a theory--is that it *may* overwhelm those who have never been to the park before because of the sheer amount of information provided. But you know, this can be said of the Unofficial Guide, too.
What makes this book different from the Unofficial Guide and the Birnbaum Guide is:
* This book has hundreds of color photos on glossy pages. While the Official Birnbaum guide has color photos, they are staged--and minimal compared to this book. There are NO color photos in the Unofficial Guide.
* The hurried, sometimes jaded tone of the Unofficial Guide reads like a "geurilla warfare" manual to save time and cram as much as you can in a day. However, one thing I really like about the Unofficial Guide is that it's filled with dozens of mini-reviews from everyday folks--and also includes a star system according to age group (e.g. grade school kids vs. young adults vs. those over 30 yrs. old).
Birnbaum, because it's an official WDW guide, is super-optimistic about EVERYTHING. But the Complete Guide to WDW is a nice medium that presents the best--and most fascinating (if, at times, obscure) elements of WDW--without being super-sugary. (My husband felt the book pandered a bit to WDW because of all the positivity--and I see his point.)
* The Unofficial Guide includes park traffic charts for the hyper-vigilant, as well as temperature averages. This book doesn't include those kind of specifics...BUT it has other specifics that the others don't (for example, an actual PICTURE of a Fast Pass--explaining how they work).
Because this book is so thorough, it is *possible*, I think, that it could "spoil" some surprises for those who haven't yet been to WDW. However, you could always skip over the detailed descriptions, I suppose, if you want it ALL to be a surprise.
One other very minor drawback is that few of the pictures are unnecessary, I feel. Kids licking lollipops don't really add to our knowledge of WDW; it may as well be a kid at any *other* park. I'd rather the non-essential pictures replaced by MORE photos of entertainers, cast members, attractions, characters from the movies and so on--rather than Joe Schmoes at WDW.
However--and anyone who's ever visited WDW will tell you this--it's good to have *some* type of plan, even if it's a general plan as to what day to go to what park (Julie wisely advises to stay away from parks that have Extra Magic Hours if you're not staying at one of the WDW resorts).
And, she recommends not wearing flip-flops at the parks--oh so true! I bought Nike Women's Shox sneakers--as did my husband and son. We would have been in WORSE shape without them...
If you've already BEEN to WDW--or just love all-things-Disney--I think you'll be thrilled with this informative, engaging book. I get excited every time I read it--and learn somethine new every time, too! If you get only ONE book about WDW before your trip, get this one. If you want to get two, get the The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2007 as well. (You won't need Birnbaum if you have the Neals' book, in my opinion.)
It's obvious that the Neal family put a LOT of time, energy and love into this book. It's an excellent contribution to the WDW guides and a wonderful tribute to the magical world that Walt & company have built for all of us to enjoy. Kudos, Neal family!
Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)
Our first and only visit to Walt Disney World was in 2006, and oh, how I wish I had Julie and Mike Neal's annual guide for that trip! The good news, however, is that since 2007, the Neal's have published their fantastic annual guide not only for those who've never been to WDW and need to know what to expect, but also for those who want to revisit the wonders of the WDW.
A colorful smorgasbord of 550 color photographs, insider information, fun facts, event overviews, show snapshots, ride debuts/retirements, restaurants, hidden Mickeys, parades and so much more, The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 is the only guidebook to the parks and surrounding area you really *need* to have in your possession (although you may *want* more).
Right of the bat, the Neals tells us everything that's new at Walt Disney World, which is especially helpful for those who've been to the parks before. For example, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from Disney's The Princess and the Frog make their debut in the Magic Kingdom, as does Barack Obama in the all-new Hall of Presidents (he even has a speaking part!).
In addition to the gorgeous photos and fascinating facts, The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 includes:
* A quick, accessible overview on how to plan your trip
* Comprehensive information on Magic Your Way ticketing and Disney Dining Plan, including prices for various time frames
* The five biggest mistakes WDW newbies make (and how to avoid them)
* 31 practical ways to save money (including free stuff at the parks, discounts and where to get coupons and saving codes)
* Navigating the parks with special circumstances (e.g. disabilities and children)
* Hour-by-Hour wait times for every ride and event
* Park Resources and prices (e.g. parking, lockers, ATM locations, etc.)
* Attractions at-a-glance including symbols for price range, fun factor, ride description, average wait time, length of ride/event, character meet-and-greets, etc., as well as mini-reviews (the Neals aren't afraid to say when something is cheesy, irritating or undesirable--but not in a mean-spirited way like in another WDW guide).
* Colorful, easy-to-read maps for each park
* Hundreds of Fun Finds, Fun Facts and Hidden Mickeys (for example, The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios fills 95,000 square feet with more than 60 Audio-Animatronic characters. The James Cagney robot wears one of the star's actual tuxedos, donated by his family.)
* Complete list of characters and where they'll be for photo ops and autographs
* Planned days in half-hour increments for those who want an organized day planner
* Fastpass information and return times
* In-depth overviews for each park (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), as well as Downtown Disney and other recreational areas
* Restaurant descriptions, recommended fare, pricing and advice (for example, find out which restaurants are kid-friendly, which are noisy, which are pricey, etc.)
* Accommodations, including hotel descriptions, location, and pricing
* Special and seasonal events
* WDW telephone directory
At 352-pages, The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 is the finest guidebook to the parks and surrounding areas (I've bought all the popular ones, including the ones published by Disney). I have every edition of The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 (since 2007) and this outstanding guide by the Neals just gets better and better every year. After all, they've visited WDW over 1,000 times and go there at least once a week--experts, indeed!
So if you're wanting to visit Walt Disney World for the very first time (just you wait--it's an indescribable experience) and you're not sure which book will be the most helpful, accessible and informative, look no further: you want The Complete Walt Disney World 2010. It's not only good for those who want (nay, need!) the inside scoop on the parks, but also entertaining for the whole family with its eye-popping color photos, insider information, behind the scenes peeks and intriguing facts.
-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot
I recently took this book along with me to Walt Disney World and found it not only informative but entertaining. In fact, this is something I'd read just to pass the time. Granted I'm a Disney nut, but there are plenty of other Disney World guides that I never want to see again. Not this one though. Practically every page has a beautiful full color picture. I could easily recommend buying the book on the strength of the artful and colorful photos alone. But I don't have to since the text is informative and takes time to point out small details that you may otherwise look over. For example did you know that the James Cagney audioanimatronic in The Great Movie Ride wears one of the star's actual tuxedos? How about the half page discussion on the history of the Yetti in relation to Expedition Everest? This is a book that covers all bases and lives up the word definitive in the title.
Due to its size, this guide is best suited for planning rather than reference at the parks. We kept ours in the hotel room and planned the next days events in the evenings. Also each night we'd read through the Fun Facts and Fun Finds for attractions we had visited that day. It helped to give us further appreciation and expand our knowledge. Of course we had a lot of doing it too.
Simply put this book is a fantastic resource and great fun for the entire family. I can't imagine needing another Walt Disney World guide until the inevitable second edition comes out. I can hardly wait!
"The Complete Walt Disney World" has everything that the Unnofficial Guide lacks - amazing full color photos that are better than what you will find on Disney's own site, interesting facts about your favorite rides, a very extensive discussion of the water parks, tons of historical information about the parks, and "fun finds" to look for on your next visit. At 320 pages it's much leaner, but don't let that fool you - it's packed with useful information and the "geeky" bits (historical info and trivia) are printed in smaller text. The day planning section is anemic - one half page for each park, and doesn't include a plan to get on every ride. But most park veterans will tell you that the most important thing is to simply know when a particular ride is least busy. This book has that reasonably covered (for instance, the Pirates of the Caribbean description says the average wait time is 10 minutes early morning, and 60 minutes in the afternoon). Knowing the bottom line for the rides lets you figure out what is realistic. For me, the best part of the book was the pictures and interesting tidbits that I have already decided to look for on my next visit. Truly, the pictures are absolutely amazing, and are worth the price of the book alone.
Together, both of these guides make an unbeatable combination. So what if you're on a budget? Simple: buy "The Complete Guide" new, and buy a 2006 or 2005 "Unofficial Guide" used. There are currently five used 2006 editions and over a dozen 2005 editions for UNDER $1. You won't be missing out on anything by getting the older Unofficial Guide. All of their Day Plans are just as relevant (except that for Animal Kingdom, you need to get a FastPass for Expedition Everest first thing upon entering the park). There - I just brought you up to date with the 2007 edition.
I look forward to the release date of this book. I had this one in hand two days after Amazon released it. Just in time for our next trip at the end of October 2014. There hasn't been a new edition in some time. Very grateful the Neals were able to make one available. (Bless the Neal family)
I enjoyThe Complete Walt Disney World books more than any other guides, and I have purchased many over the years, Birnbaums is too proDisney, Granted, we are huge fans, but not everything is perfectly delightful to every person that passes through the gates. The Unofficial Guide has good information for a military march with the objective of get in, do as much as possible in the least amount of time and get out unscathed. The Complete Walt Disney series is much more balanced, not motivated by kickbacks, or with any other agenda than having a great time. It is obvious the Neals actually enjoy their time at the resort. They aren't afraid to be honest about everything they review, good, bad or indifferent. The books are made up of so much more than just reviews. Tips, phone numbers, address and so on abound.
The photos in the book are excellent. The shots are unique and not always taken from the typical picture spots located everywhere throughout WDW. They are clear, beautifully composed and give a real taste of the variety and detail found in the parks and surrounding areas.
Walt Disney World is huge and complex with millions upon millions of things going on, anywhere from updates to landscape, food to fireworks, entertainment to accommodations. What an informative resource to touch on all of it with clear, concise reviews. There are so many tips and treasures to be found on the pages, I read it from cover to cover each and every time I purchase one. The cost of the book is well worth the payoff. It has given us so much insight. We take it with us and review the activities we have planned, just so we don't forget any tidbits we want to check into. Do we agree with everything? No. Everyone has different tastes. But the information here has opinion attached to it but by no means is so stringent in their way that it doesn't leave room for your own take. It does tell things in a neutral voice often enough.
I DO refer all of our friends and anyone who asks to these books, even Disney Travel Company agents. The information about how to score higher at the games in Toy Story Midway Mania alone is so worth it. Reading keeps me in touch and makes us look forward to our next trip all the more.
Buy it, read it love it. Even if you aren't ready to make plans for a visit, it's such an interesting read. But if you are hoping to venture to the big WDW in the future, this book is the absolute best place to start.