Saturday, November 14, 2015

Disney World Part One: Gathering Information

Before this year I'd never been to a Disney park, but for some reason I got a bee in my bonnet and when my husband and I were talking about where we might go on vacation for 2015, Disney was the winner.

This conversation happened in February and being the person I am, I started doing my research right away. I made a Pinterest board and got to work, and of course the first thing I realized is how much information is available on the internet. Blog posts, discussion boards- you name it. I read so many, about dining, about rides, about hotels, about planning. I pinned a bunch of sites and then I went to the bookstore and came home with two books, Birnbaum's 2015 Walt Disney World, The Complete Walt Disney World 2015 and got a detailed look at a third in the bookstore,The Unofficial Guide.

The Birnbaum book is the official guide- meaning the guide that Disney publishes about Disney, and as such it contains virtually no opinions about the parks besides "everything is awesome." It does have good information on Orlando hotels and attractions that are not Disney-related though, but for us, the wholly uncritical point of view was not helpful. If you want more opinions, I recommend two books, The Complete Walt Disney World and The Unofficial Guide.

The Complete Walt Disney World 2015 helped me a lot in planning FastPasses and picking attractions to make a priority. And it helped me a lot to just get to know what to expect overall. The opinions in this book are those of the authors, an Orlando-area couple who spend enough time at Disney to write books about it. The presentation included lots of photos and the book was easy to use. After the fact I found that my take on things wasn't always the same as theirs, but their opinions and commentary were still really helpful. I couldn't have done my planning without this book.

The Unofficial Guide is like the encyclopedia of Disney World. I didn't buy this book because I had already bought the other two, but I wish I had and if I go again I will. Not only does it have lots of opinions from its readers (maybe too many?) but it has some really helpful workbook pages to assist you in planning the nuts and bolts of your trip. It also has extensive coverage of non-Disney attractions and hotels in the Orlando area.

For our next trip I would also purchase a book on Hidden Mickeys, those images of the mouse scattered throughout the park that are fun to hunt down and find. I thought that was too much detail for the first trip, and I'm glad I didn't get hung up on it this time. I do think looking for the Hidden Mickeys would be fun next time, though!

Other great places to get information include Pinterest and the Disney discussion boards. The Disboard Disney Discussion Forums in particular are amazing and comprehensive, and you can get real-time tips and tricks from folks who have extensive Disney experience- and may be in the parks right now. If you have specific questions that the books don't cover, the Disboard is a great place to get answers.

Come back next week for part two of planning- ADRs!