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“A Tourist’s Best Friend!”—Chicago Sun-Times“Indispensable”—The New York TimesCover photo ©Gary Bogdon PhotographyWaltDisn...
LakeLakeApopkaApopkaLakeLakeTohopekaligaTohopekaligaLakeLakeGeorgeGeorgeSarasotaSarasotaBradentonBradentonBrooksvilleBrook...
Walt DisneyWorld®2012THEunofficial GUIDE®TO01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd i01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd i 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28...
ALSO AVAILABLE FROM JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC., ANDJOHN WILEY & SONS LTD:Beyond Disney: The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orl...
Walt DisneyWorld 2012THEunofficial GUIDE®TOBOB SEHLINGER and LEN TESTA(Walt Disney World® is officially known as Walt Disn...
Please note that prices fluctuate in the course of time and that travel information changes underthe impact of many factor...
C O N T E N T SList of Maps & Diagrams ixIntroduction 1Why “Unofficial”? 1Walt Disney World: An Overview 14P A R T O N E P...
P A R T S I X Walt Disney World with Kids 295The Ecstasy and the Agony 295Lost Children 314Disney, Kids, and Scary Stuff 3...
Starting the Tour 503Main Street, U.S.A. 504Adventureland 505Frontierland 508Liberty Square 513Fantasyland 516Tomorrowland...
P A R T F I F T E E N Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney World 702Multipark Tours 702Behind the Scenes at the Magic Kingdom ...
L I S T O F M A P S& D I A G R A M SSouth Orlando & Walt Disney WorldArea 18–19Walt Disney World 20–21Deluxe Resorts Room ...
02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd x02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd x 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
I N T R O D U C T I O NWHY “UNOFFICIAL”?DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCET H E AU T H O R S A N D R E S E A RC H E R S of this g...
2 INTRODUCTIONTHE IMPORTANCE OF BEING GOOFYD I S N E Y ’ S H OT E L H O N C H O S are hunched down over a small archi-tect...
WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 3momentous decisions with far-ranging consequences: Will Goofylook swishy in a silver cape? Have we gone...
4 INTRODUCTIONThese comments are representative in that many of you wouldlike more detailed coverage of one thing or anoth...
WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 5and touring tips for a family vacation, along with more than 20 fam-ily touring plans that are exclusiv...
6 INTRODUCTIONdaughter’s hair. Seriously. My 8-year-old never had to brush her hairin the morning (worst case: do her hair...
WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 7I read your book cover to cover and felt you were way too hard onDisney. It’s disappointing when you’re...
8 INTRODUCTIONWhile each person has the right to his or her own opinion, I didn’tpurchase the book for an opinion.For the ...
WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 9money, minimize hassle, and make the most of your time. That’s whatthis guide is about: giving you a he...
10 INTRODUCTIONOther guides are researched and developed by individual authors orcoauthors, usually travel writers. Thus, ...
WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 11Kimberly Knight, Susan Kometz, Andrea Kurczewski, John Kutey, JenLangenberger, Rebeccah Linder-Murray,...
12 INTRODUCTIONMost guidebooks do a reasonably good job with what and where.Unofficial Guides add the how and why. Describ...
WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 13explaining in Part One, Gathering Information, specifically whatreaders can access on our website at n...
14 INTRODUCTIONReader Survey and Restaurant SurveyAt the back of this guide is a questionnaire you can use to express opin...
WALT DISNEY WORLD: AN OVERVIEW 15more than 200 outfits.) Each year, Disney restaurants serve 10 mil-lion burgers, 6 millio...
16 INTRODUCTIONSURVEY: Which author do you prefer to write your guidebooks?(Guess which one you got?)03_9781118012338_intr...
WALT DISNEY WORLD: AN OVERVIEW 17THE PEOPLEH OW YO U ’ R E T R E AT E D B Y T H E C A S T M E M B E R S you encounter atWa...
18 INTRODUCTION271925354171727 9219253545365327274-A74-B7117532686467655862Prime OutletsorlandoOrange CountyConvention Cen...
SOUTH ORLANDO AND WALT DISNEY WORLD AREA MAP 19Lake Okeechobee171792924414414824234175274361792441192443542352844119217131...
20 INTRODUCTIONEpcot CeFloridianWayTHE MAGICTHE MAGICKINGDOMKINGDOMTHE MAGICKINGDOMRichard Petty DrivingRichard Petty Driv...
WALT DISNEY WORLD MAP 21Epcot Center Dr.Epcot Center Dr.Epcot Center Dr.etty DrivingceWildernessLodge &VillasDowntownDownt...
P A R T O N EP L A N N I N Gbefore Y O UL E A V E H O M EVisiting Walt Disney World is a bit like childbirth—you never rea...
GATHERING INFORMATION 23an Internet-enabled phone, you’ll be able to see instantly where theshortest lines are at any time...
24 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEDisney Cruise Line with a stay at Disney World. Disney Cruise Line alsooffers a fr...
GATHERING INFORMATION 25Many individuals maintain elaborate Disney-related sites and chatgroups, but the information they ...
26 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEWalt Disney World Phone NumbersGeneral Information # 407-824-4321 or 407-824-2222G...
WALT DISNEY WORLD PHONE NUMBERS 27Guided-tour Information # 407-WDW-TOUR (939-8687)Guided VIP Solo Tours # 407-560-4033Hou...
28 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEhave to manually undo each of those options every time you changeyour search crite...
GATHERING INFORMATION 29Disney resort TV ads. What makes Mouse World Radio special isthat the tracks match what the Disney...
30 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEtri-circle sightings at hiddenmickeysguide.com. Steve also writes theHassle-Free W...
WHEN TO GO TO WALT DISNEY WORLD 31November through the weekend preceding Thanksgiving, the weekafter Thanksgiving until th...
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  1. 1. “A Tourist’s Best Friend!”—Chicago Sun-Times“Indispensable”—The New York TimesCover photo ©Gary Bogdon PhotographyWaltDisneyWorld®2012PlusUniversal’s®TheWizardingWorldofHarryPotterUnofficialGuide®theThe Serieswith more than4 millioncopies sold!Plan Your Trip Online atU.S. $19.99/CAN $23.99/ U.K. £15.99Six Great Features and Benefitsoffered ONLY by The Unofficial Guide®:• Exclusively patented, field-tested touring plans that save asmuch as four hours of standing in line in a single day• Detailed tips and secrets on Universal’s® The Wizarding World ofHarry Potter from butterbeer to broomsticks• More than 200 hotels rated and ranked for quality and value,including the top non-Disney hotels for families• A complete Dining Guide with ratings and reviews of allWalt Disney World restaurants, plus extensive alternatives fordining deals outside the World• Attractions rated and ranked for each age group; exten-sive, objective, head-to-head comparisons of the Disney andUniversal theme parks• The Unofficial series is completely independent. If a restaurantserves lackluster food or an attraction isn’t worth the wait,we’ll tell youCheck out The Unofficial Guide: The Color Companion toWalt Disney World®, filled with 560 full-color photos:Its the perfect companion to this guide.Walt DisneyWorld®The Color Companion toGuideBob Sehlinger & Len Testa560full-colorphotosBob Sehlinger & Len TestaWalt DisneyWorld®2012• The latest scoop on Universal’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter• How to cut your waits in line by 4 hours a day
  2. 2. LakeLakeApopkaApopkaLakeLakeTohopekaligaTohopekaligaLakeLakeGeorgeGeorgeSarasotaSarasotaBradentonBradentonBrooksvilleBrooksvilleVeniceVeniceDaytonaBeachOrlandoTampaSt. PetersburgTampaSt. PetersburgSarasotaSt. CloudKissimmeeSt. CloudDeLandKissimmeeTreasureIslandTreasureIslandCapeCanaveralCocoaBeachEdgewaterCapeCanaveralCocoaBeachClearwaterClearwaterVeniceOcala EdgewaterTitusvilleBradentonBrooksvilleWauchulaBartowArcadiaLakelandDade CityLand O’LakesDade CityCrossCreekLongboatKeyLongboatKeyLand O’Lakes112719227989898191917172759544757575LakeOkeechobeeLakeOkeechobeePonce deLeon InletLakeIstokpogaLakePlacidLakeApopkaLakeKissimmeeLakeTohopekaligaLakeGeorgeGulf ofMexicoATLANTICOCEANKissimmeeRiverPeaceRiverTampaBayTampaBayGulf IntracoastalWaterwayreviReehcoocalhtiWWALTDISNEYWORLDJOHN F.KENNEDYSPACECENTERJOHN F.KENNEDYSPACECENTERBuschGardensCANAVERALNATIONALSEASHORECHASSAHOWITZKANATIONALWILDLIFE REFUGEWITHLACOOCHEESTATE FORESTMYAKKA RIVERSTATE PARKCANAVERALNATIONALSEASHORECHASSAHOWITZKANATIONALWILDLIFE REFUGEWITHLACOOCHEESTATE FORESTLAKEWOODRUFFN.W.R.St. JohnsN.W.R.AVON PARKBOMBINGRANGEMYAKKA RIVERSTATE PARKOCALANATIONALFORESTOCALANATIONALFORESTHomosassaIslandsHomosassaIslands20 km00 20 miCentral Florida1550505044444144144119219219241752840840842643643640852841741742427179217921792SemoranBlvd.SemoranBlvd.41643843548243943944150527528A551527A52715530535West Irlo Bronson Mem. Hwy.West Irlo Bronson Mem. Hwy.East Irlo Bronson Meem. Hwy.East Irlo Bronson Meem. Hwy.Beachline Expwy.Beachline Expwy.Florida’s TurnpikeFlorida’sTurnpikeFlorida’sTurnpikeOrangeBlossomTrailOrangeBlossomTrailOrangeBlossomTrailOrangeBlossomTrailWorldDr.East–West Expwy.East–West Expwy.InternationalDriveInternationalDriveColonial Dr.WekiwaSpringsState ParkO R L A N D OWALT DISNEYWORLDLAKEBUENAVISTAO R L A N D OOrlandoInternationalAirportWALT DISNEYWORLDLAKEBUENAVISTAINTER-NATIONALDRIVEAREAINTER-NATIONALDRIVEAREASt. CloudKISSIMMEECELEBRATIONKISSIMMEEDavenportDavenportIntercessionCityWINTERPARKCELEBRATIONOcoeeWindermereAltamonteSpringsWindermereWinter GardenApopkaApopkaMount Dora MountPlymouthMount DoraWinterSpringsCasselberryWinterSpringsMaitlandMaitlandCasselberryAltamonteSpringsWINTERPARKConwayConwayMountPlymouthPineCastlePineCastleBelleIsleBelleIsleEpcotDisney’sStudiosMagicKingdomAnimalKingdomEpcotDisney’sHollywoodHollywoodHollywoodStudiosMagicKingdomAnimalKingdom DOWNTOWNDISNEYDOWNTOWNDISNEYGatorlandGatorlandSeaWorld &Discovery CoveSeaWorld &Discovery CoveUniversalOrlandoUniversalOrlandoCitrusBowlCitrusBowlOrlandoMuseum of ArtOrlandoMuseum of ArtLakeApopkaLakeMonroeLakeMonroeLakeJessupEast LakeTohopekaligaLakeButlerLakeTibetLakeButlerLakeTibetLakeConwayLakeConwayLakeTohopekaliga1075954OrlandoOrlandoMiamiMiamiTallahasseeTallahassee5 km00 5 miOrlando &Walt Disney World
  3. 3. Walt DisneyWorld®2012THEunofficial GUIDE®TO01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd i01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd i 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  4. 4. ALSO AVAILABLE FROM JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC., ANDJOHN WILEY & SONS LTD:Beyond Disney: The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, andthe Best of Central FloridaMini-Mickey: The Pocket-Sized Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney WorldThe Unofficial Guide Color Companion to Walt Disney WorldThe Unofficial Guide to Britain’s Best Days Out: Theme Parks and AttractionsThe Unofficial Guide to California with KidsThe Unofficial Guide to CruisesThe Unofficial Guide to DisneylandThe Unofficial Guide to Disneyland ParisThe Unofficial Guide to DubaiThe Unofficial Guide to HawaiiThe Unofficial Guide to Las VegasThe Unofficial Guide to MauiThe Unofficial Guide to Mexico’s Best Beach ResortsThe Unofficial Guide to New York CityThe Unofficial Guide to San FranciscoThe Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with KidsThe Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C.01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd ii01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd ii 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  5. 5. Walt DisneyWorld 2012THEunofficial GUIDE®TOBOB SEHLINGER and LEN TESTA(Walt Disney World® is officially known as Walt Disney World® Resort.)01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd iii01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd iii 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  6. 6. Please note that prices fluctuate in the course of time and that travel information changes underthe impact of many factors that influence the travel industry. We therefore suggest that you writeor call ahead for confirmation when making your travel plans. Every effort has been made toensure the accuracy of information throughout this book, and the contents of this publicationare believed to be correct at the time of printing. Nevertheless, the publishers cannot acceptresponsibility for errors or omissions, for changes in details given in this guide, or for the conse-quences of any reliance on the information provided by the same. Assessments of attractions andso forth are based upon the authors’ own experiences; therefore, descriptions given in this guidenecessarily contain an element of subjective opinion, which may not reflect the publisher’s opin-ion or dictate a reader’s own experience on another occasion. Readers are invited to write thepublisher with ideas, comments, and suggestions for future editions.Published by:John Wiley & Sons, Inc.111 River St.Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774Copyright © 2012 by Robert W. Sehlinger. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may bereproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission ofthe Publisher or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the CopyrightClearance Center, 222 Rosewood Dr., Danvers, MA 01923; 978-750-8400; fax 978-646-8600; or onthe Web at copyright.com. Requests to the publisher for permission should be addressed to the Per-missions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774, 201-748-6011, fax 201-748-6008, or online at wiley.com/go/permissions.Wiley, the Wiley logo, and Unofficial Guide are registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,in the United States and other countries and may not be used without written permission. Usedunder license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. John Wiley &Sons, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.Produced by Menasha Ridge PressCover design by Paul DinovoInterior design by Vertigo DesignFor information on our other products and services or to obtain technical support, please con-tact our Customer Care Department from within the United States at 800-762-2974, from out-side the United States at 317-572-3993, or by fax at 317-572-4002.John Wiley & Sons, Inc., also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some contentthat appears in print may not be available in electronic formats.ISBN 978-1-118-01233-8Manufactured in the United States of America5 4 3 2 101_9781118012338_ffirs.indd iv01_9781118012338_ffirs.indd iv 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  7. 7. C O N T E N T SList of Maps & Diagrams ixIntroduction 1Why “Unofficial”? 1Walt Disney World: An Overview 14P A R T O N E Planning Before You Leave Home 22Gathering Information 22IMPORTANT WALT DISNEY WORLD ADDRESSES 25WALT DISNEY WORLD PHONE NUMBERS 26–27When to Go to Walt Disney World 30P A R T T W O Making the Most of Your Time and Money 44Allocating Money 44Allocating Time 54Understanding Walt Disney World Attractions 83P A R T T H R E E Accommodations 96The Basic Considerations 96The Disney Resorts 100Walt Disney World Hotel Profiles 133How to Evaluate a Walt Disney World Travel Package 204DISNEY LODGING FOR LESS 206–207Hotels outside Walt Disney World 218Hotels and Motels: Rated and Ranked 245THE TOP 30 BEST DEALS 249HOW THE HOTELS COMPARE 251–256HOTEL INFORMATION CHART 257–274P A R T F O U R Serenity Now! A Look at Disney-area Spas 275Spa Profiles 276P A R T F I V E The Disney Cruise Line 281The Mouse at Sea 281The Ships 284Services and Amenities 286Castaway Cay 291Disney Cruise Line and the Economy 292A Few Tips 29402_9781118012338_ftoc.indd v02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd v 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  8. 8. P A R T S I X Walt Disney World with Kids 295The Ecstasy and the Agony 295Lost Children 314Disney, Kids, and Scary Stuff 317SMALL-CHILD FRIGHT-POTENTIAL CHART 318–323ATTRACTION AND RIDE RESTRICTIONS 327Waiting-line Strategies for Adults with Young Children 328The Disney Characters 332Character Dining 338CHARACTER-MEAL HIT PARADE 340Babysitting 345Special Programs for Children 346Birthdays and Special Occasions 348P A R T S E V E N Special Tips for Special People 349Walt Disney World for Singles 349Walt Disney World for Couples 349TIPS FOR GOING SOLO 350–351Walt Disney World “At Large” 352Walt Disney World for Expectant Mothers 353Walt Disney World for Seniors 355Walt Disney World for Guests with Disabilities 357P A R T E I G H T Arriving and Getting Around 363Getting There 363RENT AT THE AIRPORT OR OFF-SITE? 374–375Getting Oriented 376How to Travel around the World (or The Real Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) 377DOOR-TO-DOOR COMMUTING TIMES TO AND FROM THE DISNEY RESORTSAND PARKS 388–389P A R T N I N E Bare Necessities 396Credit Cards and Money 396Problems and Unusual Situations 397Services 402P A R T T E N Dining in and around Walt Disney World 406Dining outside Walt Disney World 406WHERE TO EAT OUTSIDE WALT DISNEY WORLD 408–411Dining in Walt Disney World 414Disney Dining 101 415ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: THE OFFICIAL LINE 416ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: THE UNOFFICIAL SCOOP 417WALT DISNEY WORLD BUFFETS AND FAMILY-STYLE RESTAURANTS 424Disney Dining Suggestions 431Counter-service Restaurant Mini-profiles 442Walt Disney World Restaurants: Rated and Ranked 451Full-service Restaurant Profiles 452WALT DISNEY WORLD RESTAURANTS BY CUISINE 454–457P A R T E L E V E N The Magic Kingdom 499Arriving 499Getting Oriented 502VI CONTENTS02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd vi02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd vi 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  9. 9. Starting the Tour 503Main Street, U.S.A. 504Adventureland 505Frontierland 508Liberty Square 513Fantasyland 516Tomorrowland 524Live Entertainment in the Magic Kingdom 531Parades 534Traffic Patterns in the Magic Kingdom 539Magic Kingdom Touring Plans 541P A R T T W E L V E Epcot 547Arriving 550Getting Oriented 550Future World 551World Showcase 565Live Entertainment in Epcot 575Traffic Patterns in Epcot 580Epcot Touring Plans 581P A R T T H I R T E E N Disney’s Animal Kingdom 584Arriving 589Getting Oriented 590The Oasis 591Discovery Island 591Camp Minnie-Mickey 593Africa 595Asia 599DinoLand U.S.A. 604Live Entertainment in Disney’s Animal Kingdom 609Traffic Patterns in Disney’s Animal Kingdom 610Disney’s Animal Kingdom Touring Plan 611P A R T F O U R T E E N Disney’s Hollywood Studios,Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld 613Disney’s Hollywood Studios versus Universal Studios Florida 613Disney’s Hollywood Studios 618Disney’s Hollywood Studios Attractions 620Live Entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios 640Disney’s Hollywood Studios Touring Plan 641Universal Orlando 642Universal Studios Florida 651Universal Studios Florida Attractions 655Live Entertainment at Universal Studios Florida 669Universal Studios Florida Touring Plan 670Universal’s Islands of Adventure 670Getting Oriented at Universal’s Islands of Adventure 674Universal’s Islands of Adventure Attractions 675Universal’s Islands of Adventure Touring Plan 696SeaWorld 698CONTENTS VII02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd vii02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd vii 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  10. 10. P A R T F I F T E E N Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney World 702Multipark Tours 702Behind the Scenes at the Magic Kingdom 703Behind the Scenes at Epcot 703Behind the Scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom 706P A R T S I X T E E N The Water Parks 707You’re Soaking in It! 707Blizzard Beach 708Typhoon Lagoon 710Wet ’n Wild 714Aquatica by SeaWorld 717Typhoon Lagoon versus Blizzard Beach 719When to Go 720Planning Your Day at Disney Water Parks 721Water-park Touring Plans 725P A R T S E V E N T E E N Beyond the Parks 726Downtown Disney 726ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex 730Walt Disney World Speedway 730Walt Disney World Golf 731Golf beyond Walt Disney World 734Miniature Golf 743P A R T E I G H T E E N Shopping in and out of Walt Disney World 744Hey, Big Spender 744Shopping in Walt Disney World 748Disney Outlet Stores 760Shopping beyond Walt Disney World 760P A R T N I N E T E E N Nightlife in and out of Walt Disney World 764Walt Disney World at Night 764Universal CityWalk 771Appendix, Indexes, Touring Plans, and Reader Surveys 772Readers’ Questions to the Author 772Readers’ Comments 774Accommodations Index 776Restaurant Index 783Subject Index 787Touring Plans 814TYPICAL WDW STANDBY WAIT TIMES 834–835TYPICAL FASTPASS DISTRIBUTION TIMES 836–837TYPICAL UNIVERSAL STANDBY WAIT TIMES 838–839Clip-out Touring Plan Companions 8412012 Unofficial Guide Reader Survey 849Walt Disney World Restaurant Survey 851VIII CONTENTS02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd viii02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd viii 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  11. 11. L I S T O F M A P S& D I A G R A M SSouth Orlando & Walt Disney WorldArea 18–19Walt Disney World 20–21Deluxe Resorts Room Diagrams 115Disney Deluxe Villa ResortsRoom Diagrams 116–117Moderate Resorts RoomDiagrams 117Value Resorts Room Diagrams 118Fort Wilderness Resort CabinDiagram 118Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 135Polynesian Resort 137Wilderness Lodge & Villas 141Contemporary Resort &Bay Lake Tower 144Shades of Green 148Yacht & Beach Club Resorts &Beach Club Villas 151BoardWalk Inn & Villas 156Swan & Dolphin 159Caribbean Beach Resort 163Disney’s Saratoga SpringsResort & Spa 166Treehouse Villas at Disney’s SaratogaSprings Resort & Spa 167Disney’s Old Key West Resort 171Port Orleans French QuarterResort 173Port Orleans Riverside Resort 176Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas 179Coronado Springs Resort 182All-Star Resorts 186Pop Century Resort &Art of Animation Resort 191Fort Wilderness Resort &Campground 200–201Hotel Concentrations aroundWalt Disney World 220International Drive & UniversalAreas 221Lake Buena Vista Resort Area & theI-4 Corridor 222US 192–Kissimmee Resort Area 223Rental-home Developments NearWDW 230–231I-4 & Walt Disney World Area 364Walt Disney World Touring &Hotel Clusters 378–379I-4 Sneak Routes 383International Drive Area Sneak Routes384US 192–Kissimmee Resort AreaSneak Routes 385The Magic Kingdom 500–501Magic Kingdom Parade Route 536Epcot 548–549Where to View IllumiNations 578Disney’s Animal Kingdom 586–587Disney’s Hollywood Studios 614–615Universal Orlando 644–645Universal Studios Florida 652–653Universal’s Islands of Adventure672–673Downtown Disney 746–74702_9781118012338_ftoc.indd ix02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd ix 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  12. 12. 02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd x02_9781118012338_ftoc.indd x 7/28/11 12:38 PM7/28/11 12:38 PM
  13. 13. I N T R O D U C T I O NWHY “UNOFFICIAL”?DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCET H E AU T H O R S A N D R E S E A RC H E R S of this guide specifically andcategorically declare that they are and always have been totally inde-pendent of the Walt Disney Company, Inc.; of Disneyland, Inc.; ofWalt Disney World, Inc.; and of any and all other members of theDisney corporate family not listed.The material in this guide originated with the authors and research-ers and has not been reviewed, edited, or approved by the Walt DisneyCompany, Inc.; Disneyland, Inc.; or Walt Disney World, Inc.This guidebook represents the first comprehensive critical appraisalof Walt Disney World. Its purpose is to provide the reader with theinformation necessary to tour Walt Disney World with the greatestefficiency and economy and with the least hassle.In this guide, we represent and serve you. If a restaurant serves badfood, or a gift item is overpriced, or a ride isn’t worth the wait, wesay so, and in the process we hope to make your visit more fun andrewarding.DANCE TO THE MUSICA DA N C E H A S A B E G I N N I N G and an end. But when you’re dancing,you’re not concerned about getting to the end or where on the dancefloor you might wind up. In other words, you’re totally in the moment.That’s the way you should be on your Walt Disney World vacation.You may feel a bit of pressure concerning your vacation. Vacations,after all, are very special events—and expensive ones to boot. So youwork hard to make your vacation the best that it can be. Planning andorganizing are essential to a successful Walt Disney World vacation,but if they become your focus, you won’t be able to hear the music andenjoy the dance.So think of us as your dancing coaches. We’ll teach you the steps tothe dance in advance so that when you’re on vacation and the musicplays, you’ll dance with effortless grace and ease.03_9781118012338_intro.indd 103_9781118012338_intro.indd 1 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  14. 14. 2 INTRODUCTIONTHE IMPORTANCE OF BEING GOOFYD I S N E Y ’ S H OT E L H O N C H O S are hunched down over a small archi-tectural model of the Pop Century Resort. The smell of stale pizzaand flat soda hangs in the air. The first rays of daylight begin to fil-ter into the room, turning a cloud of all-night cigarette smoke into ablue haze. A heated discussion is taking place, one that will choosethe themes for the unfinished half of the resort’s buildings, coveringthe years 1900–1949.Helena Handbasket, Disney’s Magical Head of Marketing Magic,stands up from the table. “Okay,” she says, “Tell me again what thesedecades had going for them.”“Well, ma’am,” says Wally the intern, “It’s pretty bleak. The firsthalf of the 20th century is a litany of war, disease, and financialcatastrophe.”“That’s not Disney thinking!” shouts Handbasket. “It’s all a mat-ter of perspective. What were the headlines from the 1910s?”“An influenza epidemic and World War I,” says Herbert P. Quattle-baum, an outside consultant brought in to tune Disney’s message tothe masses. “We’ll hang princess-themed gas masks in the room andhave the Seven Dwarfs digging trenches between the buildings. It’ll befaaabulous,” he adds, rolling his eyes.“The trenches would fill with water during rainy season,” says Wally,“and mosquitoes would spread malaria. That’s more 1940s Egypt.”Handbasket flings a lit Marlboro Red at young Wally. “How aboutthe 1920s?” she asks, “You know, the Charleston, Babe Ruth?”“Prohibition? The rise of organized crime? The stock-marketcrash?” queries Quattlebaum. “Tough message.”“Nonsense!” says Handbasket. “We’ll put up words like flapper onthe outside of the buildings, along with . . . with . . . someone helpme out here!”“How about bathtub gin? With in-room moonshine stills thatserve soda pop?” says Wally, his voice fading faster than his careerprospects.Handbasket sighs. “The 1930s? Anyone?”“The Great Depression. The Hindenburg. Hitler,” Quattlebaumsays dryly. Hope was not forthcoming.“The ’40s?” Handbasket asks before answering her own questionwith another question. “Oh, for the love of—can’t anyone here find aperky, upbeat side to World War II?”Quattlebaum, exhausted and ready to wrap things up, rubs hiseyes and says, “Why not just bag the idea entirely, throw some over-sized characters on the buildings, and call it done? If anyone thinksit’s not inventive enough, tell them it’s our tribute to Walt’s cartoonlegacy. It’s our history. It’s . . . it’s . . .”“It’s the Art of Animation!” exclaims Handbasket, coming upwith the name of Disney’s newest resort.And so it goes. . . .What really makes writing about Walt Disney World fun is thatthe Disney people take everything so seriously. Day to day, they debate03_9781118012338_intro.indd 203_9781118012338_intro.indd 2 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  15. 15. WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 3momentous decisions with far-ranging consequences: Will Goofylook swishy in a silver cape? Have we gone too far with the LittleMermaid’s cleavage? At a time when the nation is concerned aboutthe drug problem, should we have a dwarf named Dopey?Unofficially, we think having a sense of humor is important. Thisguidebook has one, and it’s probably necessary that you do, too—not to use this book, but to have the most fun possible at Walt DisneyWorld. Think of the Unofficial Guide as a private trainer to help getyour sense of humor in shape. It will help you understand the impor-tance of being Goofy.HONEY, I BLEW UP THE BOOK!T H E F I R S T E D I T I O N O F The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney Worldwas fewer than 200 pages, a mere shadow of its current size. Sincethat edition, Disney World has grown tremendously. The UnofficialGuide has grown to match this expansion. (Truth be told, Bob hasput on a little weight himself. Len’s rate of metabolism, on the otherhand, is so high that his body is incapable of producing fat.)A mom from Streator, Illinois, was amazed by the size of theUnofficial Guide, writing not unsympathetically:It had been 10 years since we have been to WDW, and I was shockedby how the size of your book grew. After going, I’m surprised thatit’s so small.We have no idea where it will all end. In 30 years we may be sell-ing an alphabetized, 26-volume edition, handsomely packaged in animitation-oak bookcase. In the meantime, we offer a qualified apologyfor the bulk of this edition. We know it may be too heavy to carry com-fortablywithouttheassistanceof ahandcartorSherpa,butwedefendtheinclusion of all the information presented. Not every diner uses ketchup,A.1. sauce, or Tabasco, but it’s nice to have all three on the table.Concerning Unofficial Guide content, a mom from Vallejo, Cali-fornia, requests that we include a map of the Orlando airport. Otherreader ideas for new content included these suggestions:• I think your guide should have a list of attractions that provide (1)seats, (2) air-conditioning, and (3) at least 15 minutes off your feet.• I feel your Unofficial Guide should include a claustrophobiarating for each attraction.• I wish you’d discuss restrooms more in the next edition. I foundmyself constantly searching for one.• We think you need a rating system regarding water [i.e., how wetyou can expect to get on specific attractions]. EW = ExtremeWater; SW = Some Water; M = Mist.• A touring plan for wimpy teens would be helpful.• I’d like to see a more adult version of the one-day touring planfor the Magic Kingdom—one that doesn’t include Fantasyland,the Country Bears, or Tom Sawyer Island. Title this plan “I hatethose damn bears!”03_9781118012338_intro.indd 303_9781118012338_intro.indd 3 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  16. 16. 4 INTRODUCTIONThese comments are representative in that many of you wouldlike more detailed coverage of one thing or another. Believe me, we’vedebated adding an airport map, as well as hundreds of other things,but haven’t done so. Why? Because we don’t have an infinite numberof pages with which to work, and we felt other information was moreimportant. You’d be amazed by the wealth of worthwhile material thatdoesn’t make the cut. What if we put it all in? Well, the book would lookmore at home in your hayloft than on your bookshelf.YOUR UNOFFICIALWALT DISNEY WORLD TOOLBOXYO U N E E D D I F F E R E N T TO O L S to work on your car than you do tofix your DVD player or trim your azaleas. It’s much the same with aWalt Disney World vacation. If we think of information as tools, a cou-ple with two toddlers in diapers will need different tools than a partyof seniors going to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.Likewise, adults touring without children, families with kids of varyingages, and honeymooners all require their own special tools.To meet the varying needs of our readers, we’ve created the verycomprehensive guide before you. We call The Unofficial Guide to Walt Dis-ney World, at about 850 pages, the “Big Book.” It contains the detailedinformation that anyone traveling to Walt Disney World needs to havea super vacation. It’s our cornerstone.But as thorough as we try to make the main guide, there still isn’tsufficient space for all the tips and resources that may be useful tocertain readers. Therefore, we’ve developed four additional guides,each designed to work in conjunction with the Big Book and provideinformation tailored to specific visitors. Although some advice fromthe Big Book, such as arriving early at the theme parks, is echoed inthese guides, most of the information is unique. You might think ofthe Big Book as a vacuum cleaner and the other guides as specializedattachments that certain users might need for a particular job (backto tools, you see).Here’s what’s in the toolbox:The Unofficial Guide Color Companion to Walt Disney World, by BobSehlinger and Len Testa, is a visual feast that proves a picture is worth1,000 words. In the Big Book, for instance, you can learn about thebest guest rooms to request at the Wilderness Lodge, but in the ColorCompanion you can see the rooms, along with the pool and the mag-nificent lobby. For the first time, full-color photos illustrate how longthe lines get at different times of day, how drenched riders get onSplash Mountain, and how the parks are decked out for various hol-idays. The Color Companion will whet your appetite for Disney fun,picture all the attractions, serve as a keepsake, and, as always, helpmake your vacation more enjoyable. Most of all, the Color Com-panion is for fun. For the first time, we’re able to use photographyto express our zany Unofficial sense of humor. Think of it as MontyPython meets Walt Disney in Technicolor.The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids, by Bob Sehlingerand Liliane J. Opsomer with Len Testa, presents detailed planning03_9781118012338_intro.indd 403_9781118012338_intro.indd 4 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  17. 17. WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 5and touring tips for a family vacation, along with more than 20 fam-ily touring plans that are exclusive to this book.Mini-Mickey: The Pocket-Sized Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, byBob Sehlinger and Len Testa, is a portable CliffsNotes-style versionof The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It distills informationfrom the Big Book to help short-stay or last-minute visitors decidequickly how to plan their limited hours at Disney World.Beyond Disney: The Unofficial Guide to Universal, SeaWorld, and the Bestof Central Florida, by Bob Sehlinger and Robert N. Jenkins, is a guide tonon-Disney attractions, restaurants, outdoor recreation, and nightlifein Orlando and Central Florida.THE DEATH OF SPONTANEITYO N E O F O U R A L L - T I M E FAVO R I T E L E T T E R S came from a man inChapel Hill, North Carolina:Your book reads like the operations plan for an amphibious landing:Go here, do this, proceed to Step 15. You must think that everyone isa hyperactive, type-A theme park commando. What happened to thesatisfaction of self-discovery or the joy of spontaneity? Next you’llbe telling us when to empty our bladders.As it happens, Unofficial Guide researchers are a pretty existen-tial crew. We’re big on self-discovery, if the activity is walking in thewoods or watching birds. Some of us are able to improvise jazz, andothers can whip up a mean pot of chili without a recipe. When itcomes to Disney World, however, we all agree that you need eithera good plan or a frontal lobotomy. The operational definition ofself-discovery and spontaneity at Walt Disney World is the “pleasure”of heat prostration and the “joy” of standing in line.Let’sfaceit:WaltDisneyWorldisnotaveryexistentialplace.Inmanyways it’s the quintessential system, the ultimate in mass-produced enter-tainment, the most planned and programmed environment anywhere.We aren’t saying that you can’t have a great time at Walt DisneyWorld. What we’re saying is that you need a plan. You don’t have to becompulsive or inflexible; just think about what you want to do beforeyou go. Don’t delude yourself by rationalizing that the information inthis guide is only for the pathological and the superorganized. Ask notfor whom the tome tells, Bubba—it tells for thee.DON’T LET THE TAIL WAG THE DOGS O M E F O L K S B E C O M E S O I N V E S T E D in their plan that it becomesthe centerpiece of the vacation. A Columbia, Missouri, mom, obvi-ously intent on making every second count, offers time-saving advicethat makes Unofficial strategies look flat-out amateurish:Getting to the park when it opens is the key to beating the lines.To make that happen: (1) Pack breakfast on the go—you can eatyour Pop-Tarts once you’re on the shuttle bus, then drink your juicewhile you wait in line for Dumbo. (2) Send the fastest runner in yourparty to jump on the bus or boat; the driver will wait if he sees youcoming and one of your kids is already hanging on. (3) Showeringwastes precious park and rest time; the pool will do. (4) Braid your03_9781118012338_intro.indd 503_9781118012338_intro.indd 5 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  18. 18. 6 INTRODUCTIONdaughter’s hair. Seriously. My 8-year-old never had to brush her hairin the morning (worst case: do her hair on the shuttle bus—don’twaste time in your room). (5) Ball caps for boys also avoid hairbrushing and help with the sun.It’s hard to imagine keeping up with this woman, but she appar-ently derived great satisfaction from creating and executing her plan.For most, however, the stress and doggedness of this approach wouldpush them over the edge. Remember the basics: know thyself, noth-ing to excess, and concentrate on having fun.CORRECTIONS, UPDATES, AND BREAKING NEWSC O R R E C T I O N S A N D U P DAT E S can be found online at the Unoffi-cial Guide website, touringplans.com. Also available on the site arethe WDW Crowd Calendar; more than 140 touring plans; our mobileapplication, Lines; trip-planning and -organizing tools; a Ticket Cal-culator; research reports; and breaking Walt Disney World news.WE’VE GOT ATTITUDES O M E R E A D E R S D I S AG R E E about our attitude toward Disney. Awoman from Golden, Colorado, lambasts us:03_9781118012338_intro.indd 603_9781118012338_intro.indd 6 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  19. 19. WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 7I read your book cover to cover and felt you were way too hard onDisney. It’s disappointing when you’re all enthused about going toWalt Disney World to be slammed with all these criticisms.A reader from Little Rock, Arkansas, takes us to task for the oppo-site prejudice:Your book was quite complimentary of Disney, perhaps too compli-mentary. Maybe the free trips you travel writers get at Disney Worldare chipping away at your objectivity.And from a Williamsport, Pennsylvania, mother of three:Reading your book irritated me before we went to Disney Worldbecause of all the warnings and cautions. I guess I’m used to hav-ing guidebooks pump me up about where I’mgoing. But once I arrived, I found I was fully pre-pared and we had a great time. In retrospect, Ihave to admit you were right on the money. WhatI regarded as you being negative was just a gooddose of reality.Finally, a reader from Phoenixville, Pennsylva-nia, prefers no opinions at all, writing:unofficial TIPCheck out experiencedDisney World visitors’opinions of the parksin this book, and applythem to your own travelcircumstances.03_9781118012338_intro.indd 703_9781118012338_intro.indd 7 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  20. 20. 8 INTRODUCTIONWhile each person has the right to his or her own opinion, I didn’tpurchase the book for an opinion.For the record, we’ve always paid our own way at Walt Disney World:hotels, admissions, meals, the works. We don’t dislike Disney, and wedon’t have an ax to grind. We’re positive by nature and much prefer topraise than to criticize. Personally, we have enjoyed the Disney parksimmensely over the years, both experiencing them and writing aboutthem. Disney, however, as with all corporations (and all people), is bet-ter at some things than others. Because our readers shell out big bucksto go to Walt Disney World, we believe they have the right to know inadvance what’s good and what’s not. For those who think we’re overlypositive, please understand that the Unofficial Guide is a guidebook,not an exposé. Our aim is for you to enjoy your visit. To that end, wereport fairly and objectively. When readers disagree with our opinions,we, in the interest of fairness, publish their viewpoints alongside ours.To the best of our knowledge, the Unofficial Guides are the only travelguides in print that do this.THE SUM OF ALL FEARSE V E RY W R I T E R W H O E X P R E S S E S an opinion is accustomed toreaders who strongly agree or disagree: it comes with the territory.Extremely troubling, however, is the possibility that our efforts to beobjective have frightened some readers away from Walt Disney Worldor made others apprehensive.A mom from Avon, Ohio, was just such a person, writing:After reading parts of the Unofficial Guide, I seriously reconsideredgoing to WDW at all. We’ve been to other theme parks before, and Ifelt that WDW required too much planning. It actually stressed meout to read your guide (at first), because it seemed that WDW hadtoo many pitfalls—too many things to plan for that could go wrong,too many horrible outcomes (like waiting for hours in scorching heatwith kids), etc. My friend convinced me it wouldn’t be that bad,however, so I kept on with planning the trip.We certainly understand the reader’s feelings, but the key pointwas that, though apprehensive, she stayed the course. Here’s what shesaid after returning home:Let me tell you, your guide and touring plans were DEAD-ON accu-rate! We didn’t wait more than 10 or 15 minutes for almost everyattraction in two days!For the record, if you enjoy theme parks, Disney World is as good asit gets, absolute nirvana. If you arrive without knowing a thing aboutthe place and make every possible mistake, chances are about 90% thatyou’ll have a wonderful vacation anyway. In the end, guidebooks don’tmake or break great destinations. Rather, they’re simply tools to helpyou enhance your experience and get the most for your money.AswonderfulasWaltDisneyWorldis,however,it’sacomplexdestina-tion. Even so, it isn’t nearly as challenging or difficult as, say, New York,San Francisco, or Paris. And, happily, there are numerous ways to save03_9781118012338_intro.indd 803_9781118012338_intro.indd 8 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  21. 21. WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 9money, minimize hassle, and make the most of your time. That’s whatthis guide is about: giving you a heads-up regarding potential problemsand opportunities. Unfortunately, some Unofficial Guide readers add upthe warnings and critical advice and conclude that Walt Disney World istoointimidating,tooexpensive,ortoomuchwork.Theylosetrackof thewonder of Disney World and focus instead on what might go wrong.Our philosophy is that knowledge is power (and time and money,too). You’re free to follow our advice or not at your discretion. Butyou can’t exercise that discretion if we fail to present the issues.With or without a guidebook, you’ll have a great time at Walt Dis-ney World. If you let us, we’ll help you smooth the potential bumps.We’re certain we can help you turn a great vacation into an absolutelysuperb one. Either way, once there, you’ll get the feel of the place andquickly reach a comfort level that will allay your apprehensions andallow you to have a great experience.TOO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN?W E R E C E I V E D T H I S QU E RY from a Manchester, Vermont, reader andfeel it deserves a serious response:I read a review on the Internet criticizing the Unofficial Guide because itwas “written by a team of researchers.” The reviewer doesn’t say why hethinks the team approach is inferior, but the inference is along the linesof “too many cooks spoil the soup.” Why do you use this approach?There are several reasons. Foremost is thatthe team approach enables us to undertake muchmore sophisticated and extensive research. Col-lecting waiting-time data for our touring plansoftware (see page 64), for example, requires thatmore than a dozen researchers visit the Disneyparks for several days at four or more differenttimes of year. Another project, monitoring the Disney transporta-tion system, requires riding and timing every bus, boat, and monorailroute, a task that takes four researchers almost a week to complete. Incovering lodging, the Unofficial Guide reviews, rates, and ranks about250 Disney World–area hotels, more than four times as many as otherguidebooks. On any research trip, we have one or two teams of hotelinspectors checking hotels all day long.No other guides do this, nor can they, because the scope of theresearch and processing of data require time, experience, and resourcesbeyond the capabilities of a single author or even several coauthors. Anentire organization collects and compiles the information for the Unof-ficial Guide, an organization guided by individuals with extensive train-ing and experience in research design, as well as data collection andanalysis. Known and respected in both the travel industry and academe,Unofficial Guide research has been recognized by USA Today, the BBC,the New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, the Travel Channel,and CNN, as well as by numerous academic journals.Not all Unofficial Guide research relates to the parks and resorts.We also conduct extensive research on you, the reader. From the con-cept up, you see, Unofficial Guides are different from other guidebooks.unofficial TIPResearching and writingthis book as a teamresults in a more objectiveguidebook for you.03_9781118012338_intro.indd 903_9781118012338_intro.indd 9 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  22. 22. 10 INTRODUCTIONOther guides are researched and developed by individual authors orcoauthors, usually travel writers. Thus, everything is filtered throughthe lens of those authors’ tastes, preferences, and opinions. Publish-ers of these guides hope the information the author presents is com-patible with the needs of the reader, but if it is, the compatibility islargely accidental. In Unofficial Guides, by contrast, it’s your tastes,preferences, and opinions that dictate the content of the guides. Inother words, we start with the needs of our readers, identified throughexhaustive research, and build a book that meets those needs.Another reason for using a team approach is to minimize author bias.As discussed earlier, a single author incorporates his or her own tastesand opinions in his work. Our researchers, by contrast, include individu-als ranging in age from 12 to 70 and sometimes, for special assignments,children as young as 8. Thus the opinions and advice in the UnofficialGuide are informed by the perspectives of a diverse group of researchers,a process that, we believe, achieves the highest level of objectivity.A final reason for the team approach is the need for expertise inspecific areas. No individual author can possibly be qualified to writeabout every topic in the vast range of important subjects that make upa good guide to Walt Disney World. Thus, our chapter on Walt Dis-ney World with Kids (Part Six) was developed in consultation withthree nationally respected child psychologists and an advisory groupof parents. Similarly, we have professional culinary experts dedicatedto the task of rating restaurants. Our golf coverage, likewise, is han-dled by pro-golf writer Larry Olmsted, and our database and tour-ing plan program are developed and managed by programmer andsoftware developer Len Testa. When you cover shopping, you want alocal who lives to shop and knows where to find every back-counterdeal within 50 miles. Guess what? We’ve got her! In a nutshell, thereare more of us so that we can do more for you. We (Bob and Len) putthe fruits of our research into words, but behind us is an organizationunequaled in travel publishing.THE UNOFFICIAL TEAMS O W H O A R E T H E S E F O L K S ? Allow us to introduce them all, exceptfor our dining critic, who shall remain anonymous:Thanks to Joe Meyer at investOmatics for his dependable pro-gramming assistance with the touring plan software. Geoff Allen sup-plied the brainpower behind our online hotel-rate analysis. Muchasgracias to Bill O. and the folks at Kayak (kayak.com) for walking usthrough their fabulous search interface.Finally, we’d like to thank the following folks for their proofread-ing and fact-checking assistance: Patricia Arnold, Caroline Baggerly,Brandon Baker, Johnny Bean, Jennifer Bearden, Scott Berry, ShirazBiggie, Isabelle Boivin, Chris Bowers, Jennifer Bowles, Annette Broskie,Steven Cantafio, Gerald Carpenter, Ann Caugh, Karen Chappell, Scottand JC Chupack, Robyne Clement, Mary Jo Collins, Tanya Conklin,Jennifer B. Davis, Diana Drummond, Ann Dunnington, AnnetteForde, Rich Gairing, James Garfield, Ashley Graham, Shane Grizzard,Mary Hagedorn, Jamie Hagel, Jacquelyn M. Howard, Lisa Johnson,03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1003_9781118012338_intro.indd 10 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  23. 23. WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 11Kimberly Knight, Susan Kometz, Andrea Kurczewski, John Kutey, JenLangenberger, Rebeccah Linder-Murray, Amy Morell Lucas, CarolLyons, Sarah Maisel, Christa Martin, Mary Martin, Tanya Mathis,Shari Matz, Chris G. Maxwell, Patti McCumber, Rebecca NounMcDermott, Graeme “OzGuff” McGufficke, Gretchen McKinley,Robert McKinnon, Heather Melito-Dezan, Richard Mercer, MarvinMiller, Michelle E. Miller, Kim Mullins, Sue Motroni, Jill Odice,Kimberly Oehrlein, Jason Osinski, Jennifer Paolino, Jeff Pincus, Ericand Tracy Raymond, Jennifer Reall, Dan Record, Ashley A. Reeve,Chris W. Ridgeway, Trina Rowe, Dr. Roger T. Sauer, Saundra Schmidt,Andy and Joi Scott, Anna Scott, Kelly Bryant Seymore, Jol Silversmith,Betsy Silvestri, Teri Sizemore, Glenn Sonoda, Kristen Sprague, PaigeSteel, Raymie Summey, Kurt Sutton, Bob Thomas, Erin Vick, IngridVinson, Susan K. Van Vleet, Rich Vosburgh, Kevin Wallace, TracyWentz, George Robert White, Katina Williams, and Connie Wolosyk.THE HOW AND THE WHY OF ITA DAY TO N, O H I O, R E A D E R offers the following comment:I used several guides preparing for our Disney World trip. One ofthem dumped on the Unofficial Guide for referring to Dumbo as a“cycle ride.” Though my kids are totally infatuated with Dumbo, Ifound your section about how the various types of rides work tobe both interesting and useful. Dumbo’s charm and appeal doesn’tchange the fact that it’s a cycle ride. Get a life!DATA COLLECTORSRob Sutton SupervisorChantale BrazeauKai Br¨uckerhoffKenny CottrellGuy GarguiloScarlett LittonLillian MackoRichard MackoMegan ParksCliff MyersRobert PedersonJulie SaundersLinda SuttonChristine TestaMais TestaDarcie VanceRich VosburghKelly WhitmanCONTRIBUTING WRITERSRich BernatoJ. L. KnoppSue PisaturoLaurel StewartDarcie VanceMary WaringDeb WillsHOTEL INSPECTORSSarah BiggsJoshua CarverJenn GormanRitchey HalphenKristen HelmstetterLillian MackoRichard MackoMyra E. MerkleDarcie VanceINDEXERAnn CassarBOB SEHLINGER Author and executivepublisherLEN TESTA Coauthor, touringplans.comsoftware developer, data-collectiondirectorRITCHEY HALPHEN Managing editorFRED HAZELTON StatisticianHENRY WORK touringplans.comWebmaster, Lines developerKRISTEN HELMSTETTER Survey collatorKAREN TURNBOW, PHD Child psychologistJIM HILL Disney historianPAM BRANDON Shopping guruLARRY OLMSTED Golf expertANNIE LONG Typesetter-layoutSTEVE JONES, SCOTT MCGREW CartographersTAMI KNIGHT CartoonistDARCIE VANCE Research editor03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1103_9781118012338_intro.indd 11 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  24. 24. 12 INTRODUCTIONMost guidebooks do a reasonably good job with what and where.Unofficial Guides add the how and why. Describing attractions orhotels or restaurants (the what) at a given destination (the where)is the foundation of other travel guidebooks. We know from ourresearch, however, that our readers like to know how things work.Take hotels, for example. In the Unofficial Guide, we not only pro-vide hotel choices (rated and ranked, of course) but also explain theeconomic and operational logic of the lodging industry (the why) andoffer instructions (the how) that enable the reader to take advantageof opportunities for hotel discounts, room upgrades, and the like. Inthis and all our Unofficial Guides, whether we’re discussing cruiseships, theme parks, ski resorts, casinos, or golf courses, we reveal thetravel industry’s inner workings and demonstrate how to use suchinsight in selecting and purchasing travel and for planning itineraries.For the reader, knowledge is power, which translates into informeddecisions and confidence.THIS IS NOT A NOVEL!T H O U G H T H I S G U I D E I S F U L L O F C H A R AC T E R S —and was createdby a few more—it is at heart a reference work, and many readers donot read it cover-to-cover, as they would a piece of fiction. For somethis causes problems—witness this angry reader who identified him/herself as “None of Your Business”:This e-mail is in regards to The Unofficial Guide to Walt DisneyWorld, which I purchased last year for our trip to Disney World thisyear. I am very disappointed that the book doesn’t mention that anadditional fee is required to access the touring plans and crowd-levelinformation on your website. Here is an excerpt from the book:If you decide to splurge and burn a pass on a half day or less, refer toour Unofficial Guide Crowd-level Calendar at touringplans.com.The book refers to this website in other sections as well but doesnot mention that a fee is involved! I don’t mind paying, but I am dis-gusted that you would not mention it in your book.You are hypocrites, and I will not purchase another UnofficialGuide. Shame on me for assuming this information would be free,even though I shelled out $23.99 [Canadian] for the book.Print this in your guide, Len and Bob.Don’t you hate it when people hide their true feelings just tobe polite? In any event, None of Your Business’s complaint illus-trates how readers use the guide in different ways. Here’s our replyto NOYB:Dear None,Thanks for your letter. Here’s the thing:The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is used by many read-ers as a reference work as opposed to a cover-to-cover read. Conse-quently, a reader might miss something, say, at the beginning of theguide, that provides information necessary for understanding refer-ences to the same subject elsewhere. For several editions, we’ve been03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1203_9781118012338_intro.indd 12 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  25. 25. WHY “UNOFFICIAL”? 13explaining in Part One, Gathering Information, specifically whatreaders can access on our website at no cost and what they can accessonly with a paid subscription.In the last edition, this information read as follows:Much of our Web content, including the online trip planner, theresort photos and video, and the Ticket Calculator, is completely freefor anyone to use. Access to part of the site, most notably the CrowdCalendar, additional touring plans, and in-park wait times, requires asmall subscription fee (current-book owners get a substantial dis-count). This nominal charge helps keep us online and costs less than asandwich at Flame Tree Barbecue in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Plus,touringplans.com offers a 45-day money-back guarantee—somethingwe don’t think the Flame Tree can match.In an 850-page book, it’s unrealistic for us to think everyone willread every word. On the other hand, when it comes to somethingthat’s mentioned a number of times throughout the book, it’s totallyimpractical to explain it again and again each time it’s referenced. Sowe don’t blame you for being angry—you probably were using theguide as a reference and just missed the explanation.All the best,Bob and LenTo sum up: If you use the guide like an encyclopedia or diction-ary—for example, you look something up in one of the indexes, thengo to the cited page—you may overlook information presented in pre-vious sections that is vital to understanding the subject. Likewise, ifyou skip or skim over explanatory material in the introductory chap-ters, that might lead to a misunderstanding later on.THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE PUBLISHING YEARW E R E C E I V E M A N Y QU E R I E S asking when the next edition of theUnofficial Guide will be available. Usually our new editions are instores by late August or early September. Thus, the 2013 edition willbe on the shelves in August or September 2012.LETTERS AND COMMENTS FROM READERSM A N Y W H O U S E The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World write usto comment or share their own strategies for visiting Disney World.We appreciate all such input, both positive andcritical, and encourage our readers to continuewriting. Their comments and observations arefrequently incorporated into revised editionsof the Unofficial Guide and have contributedimmeasurably to its improvement. If you writeus or return our reader-survey form, rest assuredthat we won’t release your name and address to any mailing-listcompanies, direct-mail advertisers, or other third party. Unless youinstruct us otherwise, we’ll assume that you don’t object to beingquoted in the Unofficial Guide.unofficial TIPIf you’re up for having yourcomments quoted in theguide, please be sure to tellus your hometown.03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1303_9781118012338_intro.indd 13 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  26. 26. 14 INTRODUCTIONReader Survey and Restaurant SurveyAt the back of this guide is a questionnaire you can use to express opin-ions about your Walt Disney World visit. The questionnaire allowsevery member of your party, regardless of age, to tell us what he orshe thinks. Use the separate restaurant survey to describe your DisneyWorld dining experiences. Clip the questionnaire and restaurant sur-vey and mail them to: Reader Survey, The Unofficial Guide Series, P.O.Box 43673, Birmingham, AL 35243. For your convenience, an electronicversion of both surveys can be found online at touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/survey.How to Contact the AuthorsBob Sehlinger and Len TestaThe Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney WorldP.O. Box 43673Birmingham, AL 35243unofficialguides@menasharidge.comWhen you write, put your address on both your letter and enve-lope; the two sometimes get separated. It’s also a good idea to includeyour phone number. If you e-mail us, please tell us where you’re from.Remember, as travel writers, we’re often out of the office for longperiods of time, so forgive us if our response is slow. Unofficial Guidee-mail isn’t forwarded to us when we’re traveling, but we’ll respondas soon as possible after we return.WALT DISNEY WORLD:An OVERVIEWI F YO U’R E C H O O S I N G A U.S. TO U R I S T D E S T I NAT I O N, the ques-tion is not whether to visit Walt Disney World, but how to see its bestofferings with some economy of time, effort, and finances.WHAT WALT DISNEY WORLD ENCOMPASSESWA LT D I S N E Y WO R L D C O M P R I S E S 43 square miles, an area twiceas large as Manhattan. Situated strategically in this vast expanse arethe Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’sAnimal Kingdom theme parks; two swimming theme parks; twonighttime-entertainment areas; a sports complex; five golf courses, 34hotels, and a campground; more than 100 restaurants; four intercon-nected lakes; a shopping complex; eight convention venues; a naturepreserve; and a transportation system consisting of four-lane high-ways, elevated monorails, and a network of canals.Walt Disney World has around 62,000 employees, or “cast mem-bers,” making it the largest single-site employer in the UnitedStates. Keeping the costumes of those cast members clean requiresthe equivalent of 16,000 loads of laundry a day and the dry clean-ing of 30,000 garments daily. Mickey Mouse alone has 290 differentsets of duds, ranging from a scuba wet suit to a tux; Minnie boasts03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1403_9781118012338_intro.indd 14 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  27. 27. WALT DISNEY WORLD: AN OVERVIEW 15more than 200 outfits.) Each year, Disney restaurants serve 10 mil-lion burgers, 6 million hot dogs, 75 million Cokes, 9 million poundsof French fries, and 150 tons of popcorn. In the state of Florida,only Miami and Jacksonville have bus systems larger than DisneyWorld’s. The Disney monorail trains have logged mileage equal tomore than 30 round-trips to the moon.DISNEY-SPEAK POCKET TRANSLATOR ANDGUIDE TO COMMON ABBREVIATIONSI T M AY C O M E A S A S U R P R I S E to many, but Walt Disney World hasits own somewhat peculiar language. See the charts above and follow-ing for some terms and abbreviations you’re likely to bump into, bothin this guide and in the larger Disney (and Universal) community.DISNEY-SPEAK ENGLISH DEFINITIONAdventure RideAttraction Ride or theater showAttraction host Ride operatorAudience CrowdBackstage Behind the scenes, out of view of customersBull pen Queuing areaCast member EmployeeCharacter Disney character impersonated by an employeeCostume Work attire or uniformDark ride Indoor rideDay guest Any customer not staying at a Disney resortFace character A character who doesn’t wear a head-covering costume(Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, and the like)General public Same as day guestGreeter Employee positioned at an attraction entranceGuest CustomerHidden Mickeys Frontal silhouette of Mickey’s head worked subtly into thedesign of buildings, railings, vehicles, golf greens, attractions, and just aboutanything elseIn rehearsal Operating, though not officially openLead Foreman or manager, the person in charge of an attractionOn stage In full view of customersPreshow Entertainment at an attraction before the feature presentationResort guest A customer staying at a Disney resortRole An employee’s jobSecurity host Security guardSoft opening Opening a park or attraction before its stated opening dateTransitional experience An element of the queuing area and/or preshow thatprovides a storyline or information essential to understanding the attraction03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1503_9781118012338_intro.indd 15 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  28. 28. 16 INTRODUCTIONSURVEY: Which author do you prefer to write your guidebooks?(Guess which one you got?)03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1603_9781118012338_intro.indd 16 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  29. 29. WALT DISNEY WORLD: AN OVERVIEW 17THE PEOPLEH OW YO U ’ R E T R E AT E D B Y T H E C A S T M E M B E R S you encounter atWalt Disney World can make or break a vacation. Fortunately, Dis-ney staff often go the extra mile to make your visit special, as the fol-lowing three readers report. First, from a multigenerational Barrie,Ontario, family:We returned home from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Partyvia Downtown Disney. This turned out to be a great way to go—weavoided the post-fireworks crowds, and we were lucky enough tohave a fantastic cast member driving our bus who, after loading mymother’s wheelchair, asked where we were going and got permissionto switch her route so my mother didn’t have to get off that bus andtransfer to another one.A family from St. Joseph, Michigan, has this to relate:We had a very unexpected and wonderful surprise waiting in ourstroller after the Country Bear Jamboree. Out of nearly 30 strollers,ours had been visited by Santa Mickey while we were in the show.We came out to a stroller decorated with silly bands, Christmas orna-ments, and a snowman Mickey plush toy. Our 5-year-old son wasdelighted, not to mention the rest of our party. Just another way thatWDW goes one more step to make a magical experience.Finally, from a suburban Philadelphia family:At Expedition Everest, I witnessed expert handling of a group ofteenage line-jumpers by Disney staff. Once they reached the loadingarea, cast members ushered them aside in a very calm and friendlyfashion, causing no apparent disruption. I didn’t see where they wereushered or what happened next, but I did not see them board theride. It was as if they were never there.ABBREVIATION WHAT IT STANDS FORCM Cast memberCRS Central Reservations SystemDCL Disney Cruise LineDDRA Downtown Disney Resort AreaDDV Disney Deluxe VillasDHS Disney’s Hollywood StudiosDTS Disney Transportation SystemDVC Disney Vacation ClubEMH Extra Magic HoursI-Drive International Drive (major Orlando thoroughfare)IOA Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme parkOTA Online travel agencyTTC Ticket and Transportation CenterWDTC Walt Disney Travel CompanyWDW Walt Disney WorldWWOHP The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (at IOA)03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1703_9781118012338_intro.indd 17 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  30. 30. 18 INTRODUCTION271925354171727 9219253545365327274-A74-B7117532686467655862Prime OutletsorlandoOrange CountyConvention CenterFMESPN Wide Worldof Sports ComplexFort WildernessCampgroundDiscoveryCoveThe WaltDisney WorldResortCypressIslandFlorida’s TurnpikeOrangeBlossomTrl.KirkmanRd.UniversalBlvd.JohnYoungPkwy.OsceolaPkwy.S.Apopka–VinelandRd.PoincianaBlvd.International Dr.Epcot CenterDr.WorldDr.Vista Dr.BuenaOsceola Pkwy.Vine St.Sand LakeRd.WindermereCampbellCelebrationOrlandoKissimSLLake BuenaVistaTangeloParkLakeButlerGatMagicKingdomDisney’sAnimalKingdomEpcotSeaWorldOrlandoDowntownDisneyUniversal’sIslands ofAdventureUniversal StudiosFloridaWet ’n WildToBusch Gardens& TampaToDavenport’’Orange CountyConvention CenterESPN Wide Worldof Sports ComplexFort WildernessCampgroundDiscoveryCoveThe WaltDisney WorldResortFlorida’s TurnpikeKikRdUniversalBlvd.CentralFloridaGreeneWayFloFloS.Apopka–VinelandRd.PoincianaBlvd.International Dr.Epcot CenterDr.WorldDr.Vista Dr.BuenaOsceola Pkwy.VinelandRd.VinelandRd.Winter Garden–VinelandRd.Winter Garden–VinelandRd.WindermereCelebrationOrlandoLake BuenaVistaLaTohopeLakeButlerMagicKingdomDisney’sAnimalKingdomEpcotSeaWorldOrlandoDowntownDisneyUniversal’sIslands ofAdventureUniversal StudiosFloridaWet ’n WildToBusch Gardens& TampaToDavenport’’To& OcalaTo& Ocala’’’W. Irlo BronsonW. Irlo BronsonMemorial Hwy.Memorial Hwy.W. Irlo BronsonMemorial Hwy.WesternWayWesternBeltway(tollroad)WesternBeltway(tollroad)WesternBeltway(tollroad)WesternBeltwayDisney’s HollywoodStudiosDisney’s HollywoodStudios429429(tollroad)AquaticaAquatica4South Orlando & Walt Disney World Area03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1803_9781118012338_intro.indd 18 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  31. 31. SOUTH ORLANDO AND WALT DISNEY WORLD AREA MAP 19Lake Okeechobee1717929244144148242341752743617924411924435423528441192171311221410348 9117779 80827825925424924424275Prime OutletsorlandoOrange CountyConvention CenterFloridaMallOrlandoInternationalAirportDiscoveryCoveCypressIslandda’s Turnpike OrangeBlossomTrl.KirkmanRd.UniversalBlvd.Beachline Expwy.(toll road)JohnYoungPkwy.Florida’sTurnpike(tollroad)OsceolaPkwy.OrangeAve.SemoranBlvd.Beachline Expwy.NarcoosseeRd.E. IrloBronsonMemorialHwy.S.Apopka–VinelandRd.PoincianaBlvd.International Dr.Florida’sTurnpikeVine St.Sand LakeRd.ereSt. CloudCampbellOrlandoKissimmeeBelleIslePineCastleSkyLakeake BuenaVistaTangeloParkMeadowWoodsBuenaventuraLakesEast LakeTohopekaligaGatorlandSeaWorldOrlandonUniversal’sIslands ofAdventureUniversal StudiosFloridaWet ’n WildToWest Palm Beach& MiamiTo Melbourne &’’Prime OutletsOrlandoFloridaMallOrlandoInternationalAirportCypressIslandOrangeBlossomTrl.KirkmanRd.Beachline Expwy.(toll road)JohnYoungPkwy.Florida’sTurnpike(tollroad)CentralFloridaGreeneWayCentralFloridaGreeneWayCentralFloridaGreeneWayOsceolaPkwy.OrangeAve.SemoranBlvd.Beachline Expwy.E. IrloBronsonMemorialHwy.Florida’sTurnpikeVine St.VinelandRd.dd.Sand LakeRd.St. CloudCampbellKissimmeeBelleIslePineCastleSkyLakeTangeloParkMeadowWoodsBuenaventuraLakesEast LakeTohopekaligaLakeLakeTohopekaligaTohopekaligaLakeTohopekaligaGatorlandToWest Palm Beach& MiamiTo Melbourne &Lake Okeechobee’’CentralFloridaGreeneWayToDaytonaToDaytona’’(toll road)Aquatica03_9781118012338_intro.indd 1903_9781118012338_intro.indd 19 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  32. 32. 20 INTRODUCTIONEpcot CeFloridianWayTHE MAGICTHE MAGICKINGDOMKINGDOMTHE MAGICKINGDOMRichard Petty DrivingRichard Petty DrivingExperienceExperienceRichard Petty DrivingExperiencePolynesianPolynesianResortResortPolynesianResortShades ofShades ofGreenGreenShades ofGreenWildernessWildernessLodge &Lodge &VillasVillasWildernessLodge &VillasWalt DisneyWalt DisneyWorld DolphinWorld DolphinSwanSwanSwanDolphinDolphinDolphinAll–StarResortsBoardWalkBoardWalkInn & VillasInn & VillasESPN WideWorld of SportsComplexDISNEY’SDISNEY’SANIMALANIMALKINGDOMKINGDOMDISNEY’SANIMALKINGDOMDISNEY’SDISNEY’SHOLLYWOODHOLLYWOODSTUDIOSSTUDIOSDISNEY’SHOLLYWOODSTUDIOSPopCenturyResortDisney’s Artof AnimationResortEPCOTBayBayLakeLakeBayLakeReedyLakeSouthLakeSeven SeasSeven SeasLagoonLagoonSeven SeasLagoonBayLakeVista Blvd.Epcot Center Dr.Epcot Center Dr.WorldDr.WorrlddDDr..WorldDr.WorldDr.Memorial Hwy.W. Irlo BronsonMemorial Hwy.W. Irlo BronsonMemorial Hwy.W. Irlo BronsonMemorial Hwy.tollllrroaadW. Irlo BronsonBuBonnetCreekPkwy.WesternExpy.(tollroad)Western WayWestern WayWestern WayWestern WayOsceola Pkwy.Funie Steed Rd.Funie Steed Rd.Formosa GardensBlvd.Formosa GardensBlvd.tolllrooaaddFloridianWayFloridianWayViAnimal KingdomAnimal KingdomLodge & VillasLodge & VillasAnimal KingdomLodge & VillasCoronadoCoronadoSpringsSpringsResortResortCoronadoSpringsResortBuenaVistaDr.BuenaVistaDr.7 Seas Dr.7 Seas Dr.W.SavannahCir.W.SavannahCir.E.SavannahCir.E.SavannahCir.LVista GDisney’s OlKey West ResoTreePort OrleanResort–FreQuarterPort OrleResort–RiOsprey RidgeGolf CourseMagnoliaGolf CoursePalm GolfCourseOak TrailOak TrailGolf CourseGolf CourseOak TrailGolf CourseContemporaryContemporaryResortResortContemporaryResortBay Lake TowerBay Lake TowerBay Lake TowerFort WildernessFort WildernessResort &Resort &CampgroundCampgroundYacht & BeachYacht & BeachClub ResortsClub ResortsYacht & BeachClub ResortsBlizzard Beach &Blizzard Beach &Winter SummerlandWinter SummerlandBlizzard Beach &Winter SummerlandBonnetCreek Res(non-DisnCaribbeanBeach ResortGrand FloridianGrand FloridianResort & SpaResort & SpaGrand FloridianResort & SpaSherberthSherberthRd.Rd.SherberthRd.FantasiaFantasiaGardensGardensFantasiaGardensFort WildernessResort &CampgroundOsceola Pkwy.tollroadWesternExpy.(tollroad)BoardWalkInn & Villastollroad5355305355305355354295354294192192Walt Disney World03_9781118012338_intro.indd 2003_9781118012338_intro.indd 20 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  33. 33. WALT DISNEY WORLD MAP 21Epcot Center Dr.Epcot Center Dr.Epcot Center Dr.etty DrivingceWildernessLodge &VillasDowntownDowntownDisneyDisneyDowntownDisneyOrlandoOrlandoPremiumPremiumOutletsOutletsOrlandoPremiumOutletsSwanDolphinBoardWalkInn & VillasMarriottMarriottWorld CenterWorld CenterResort OrlandoResort OrlandoOrlandoWorld CenterMarriott ResortThe CrossroadsThe CrossroadsShopping Ctr.Shopping Ctr.The CrossroadsShopping Ctr.DoubletreeDoubletreeGuest SuitesGuest SuitesDISNEY’SHOLLYWOODSTUDIOSPopPopCenturyCenturyResortResortPopCenturyResortDisney’s ArtDisney’s Artof Animationof AnimationResortResortDisney’s Artof AnimationResortEPCOTEPCOTEPCOTBayLakeSouthSouthLakeLakeLakeBryanEpcot Center Dr.Memorial Hwy.W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy.W. Irlo BronsonMemorial Hwy.W. Irlo BronsonOsceola Pkwy.Osceola Pkwy.Osceola Pkwy.Central Florida GreeneWay (toll road)Central Florida GreeneWay (toll road)World Center Dr.World Center Dr.InternationalDr.S.Apopka–VinelandRd.Buena Vista Dr.Buena Vista Dr.BonnetCreekPkwy.BonnetCreekPkwy.WinterGardenVinelandRd.S.Apopka–VinelandRd.PalmPkwy.PalmPkwy.PalmPkwy.PalmPkwy.VictoryWayInternational Dr. S.HotelPlazaBlvd.HotelPlazaBlvd.WyndhamWyndhamLake BuenaLake BuenaVista ResortVista ResortWyndhamLake BuenaVista ResortLake BuenaLake BuenaVista Golf CourseVista Golf CourseLake BuenaVista Golf CourseDisney’s OldDisney’s OldKey West ResortKey West ResortDisney’s OldKey West ResortTreehouseTreehouseVillasVillasTreehouseVillasDisney’sDisney’sSaratogaSaratogaSpringsSpringsResortResort& Spa& SpaBuenaBuenaVistaVistaPalacePalaceHotelHotel& Spa& SpaBuenaVistaPalaceHotel& SpaHilton WDWHilton WDWHilton WDWPort OrleansPort OrleansResort–FrenchResort–FrenchQuarterQuarterPort OrleansPort OrleansResort–RiversideResort–RiversideHoliday InnHoliday InnHoliday InnRoyal PlazaRoyal PlazaRoyal PlazaOsprey RidgeOsprey RidgeGolf CourseGolf CourseOsprey RidgeGolf CourseBest WesternBest WesternLake BuenaLake BuenaVista ResortVista ResortHotelHotelBest WesternLake BuenaVista ResortHotelmporaryke TowerFort WildernessResort &CampgroundYacht & BeachClub Resortsach &merlandTyphoon LagoonTyphoon LagoonTyphoon LagoonBonnetBonnetCreek ResortsCreek Resorts(non-Disney)(non-Disney)BonnetCreek Resorts(non-Disney)CaribbeanCaribbeanBeach ResortBeach ResortCaribbeanBeach ResortFantasiaGardensS.Apopka–VinelandRd.Port OrleansResort–FrenchQuarterPort OrleansResort–RiversideWinterGarden–VinelandRd.S.Apopka–VinelandRd.BuenaVistaDr.BuenaVistaDr.Disney’sSaratogaSpringsResort& SpaDoubletreeGuest Suites5355305355365355355354005354004444192192535 43503_9781118012338_intro.indd 2103_9781118012338_intro.indd 21 7/28/11 12:37 PM7/28/11 12:37 PM
  34. 34. P A R T O N EP L A N N I N Gbefore Y O UL E A V E H O M EVisiting Walt Disney World is a bit like childbirth—you never reallybelieve what people tell you, but once you have been through it your-self, you know exactly what they were saying!—Hilary Wolfe, a mother andUnofficial Guide reader from Swansea, WalesGATHERING INFORMATIONI N A D D I T I O N TO U S I N G T H I S G U I D E , we recommend that you firstvisit our website, touringplans.com, which offers essential tools forplanning your trip and saving you time and money.One of the most popular parts of touringplans.com is our CrowdCalendar, which shows crowd projections for each Disney and Univer-sal theme park for every day of the year. Look up the dates of yourvisit, and the calendar will not only show the projected wait times foreach day but will also indicate for each day which theme park will bethe least crowded.We’ve also written more than 140 Disney-theme-park touringplans in addition to those in this book, featuring variations for holi-days, seniors, Extra Magic Hours, and those who like to sleep in. Ifour plans aren’t quite what you’re looking for, touringplans.com letsyou create your own, either from scratch or by using one of ours asa template, and share them with family and friends. And to helpyou select the best resort for your family, we’ve provided thousandsof photos and dozens of online videos covering every inch of everyDisney resort, plus many off-site accommodations.Our most popular new feature for subscribers is Lines, a mobileapplication that provides continuous real-time updates on wait timesat Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Using a combination of ourin-park research and updates sent in by readers, this new tool allowsyou to see all current wait and Fastpass-distribution times at everyattraction in every park, as well as our estimated wait times forthese attractions for the rest of today and tomorrow. If you’ve got04_9781118012338_p01.indd 2204_9781118012338_p01.indd 22 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  35. 35. GATHERING INFORMATION 23an Internet-enabled phone, you’ll be able to see instantly where theshortest lines are at any time of day. Touring plans are also avail-able in Lines, providing step-by-step directions to the most popularattractions with minimal waiting in line. The app is available free totouringplans.com subscribers for the Apple iPhone and iPad at theiTunes Store (search for “TouringPlans”; requires iOS 3.0 or later)and for Android OS–based phones at Android Market; owners ofother phones can use the Web-based version at m.touringplans.com.As long as you’ve got that smart phone handy while visiting theWorld, we and your fellow Unofficial Guide readers would love it ifyou could report on the wait times you see while you’re there. Run theLines application, log in to your user account, and click “+Time” inthe upper right corner to help everyone out.The Lines app has been extremely well received—so well, in fact,that some users can’t wean themselves off of it when they returnhome. A Deerfield, New Hampshire, wife writes:We absolutely LOVED the mobile site with the ride times. We’ve beenhome from vacation for several days now, and my husband is stillchecking the wait times and loving the fact that we got out of therebefore the Thanksgiving rush.From a Northern Virginia family:We made HUGE use of Lines, and I got a bit obsessed with it (but in agood way)! The app itself and the great uses for it were amazing, help-ing me with everything from big-picture planning to learning how towork those tricky luggage tags! In short, thank you, thank you!A big money-saving feature of the website is our Disney TicketCalculator (see page 45), which tells you the most economical combi-nation of tickets to buy (and where to buy them) to see everything youwant in the theme parks and water parks.Much of our Web content, including the resort photos and video,the Ticket Calculator, and updates and changes to this guide, iscompletely free for anyone to use. Access to part of the site, mostnotably the Crowd Calendar, additional touring plans, and in-parkwait times, requires a small subscription fee (current-book owners geta substantial discount). This nominal charge helps keep us online andcosts less than a sandwich at Flame Tree Barbecue in Disney’s Ani-mal Kingdom. Plus, touringplans.com offers a 45-day money-backguarantee—something we don’t think Flame Tree can match.Next, we recommend that you obtain the following:1. THE WALT DISNEY TRAVEL COMPANY FLORIDA VACATIONSBROCHURE AND DVD These cover Walt Disney World in its entirety, listrates for all Disney resort hotels and campgrounds, and describe DisneyWorld package vacations. They’re available from most travel agents, bycalling the Walt Disney Travel Company at # 407-828-8101 or 407-934-7639, or by visiting disneyworld.com. Be prepared to hold. Whenyou get a representative, ask for the DVD vacation planner.2. THE DISNEY CRUISE LINE BROCHURE AND DVD This brochureprovides details on vacation packages that combine a cruise on the04_9781118012338_p01.indd 2304_9781118012338_p01.indd 23 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  36. 36. 24 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEDisney Cruise Line with a stay at Disney World. Disney Cruise Line alsooffers a free DVD that tells you all you need to know about Disneycruises and then some. To obtain a copy, call # 800-951-3532 ororder at disneycruise.com.3. ORLANDO MAGICARD If you’re considering lodging outside DisneyWorld or if you think you might patronize out-of-the-World attractionsand restaurants, obtain an Orlando Magicard, a Vacation Planner, and theOrlando Official Vacation Guide (all free) from the Orlando OfficialVisitor Center. The Magicard entitles you to discounts for hotels,restaurants, ground transportation, shopping malls, dinner theaters, andnon-Disney theme parks and attractions. The Orlando Magicard can beconveniently downloaded for printing at orlandoinfo.com/magicard.To order the accommodations guide, call # 800-643-9492. For moreinformation and materials, call # 407-363-5872 weekdays duringbusiness hours and 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Eastern time weekends, or go tovisitorlando.com.4. FLORIDA ROOMSAVER GUIDE Another good source of discounts onlodging, restaurants, and attractions statewide is Florida RoomSaver,published by Trader Publishing Company. You can sign-up at roomsaver.com to have a free monthly guide sent to you by e-mail, or you canview the guide online. If you prefer a hard copy over a digital version, youcan request one by calling # 800-222-3948 Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Eastern time. To order by mail, write to 13709 Progress Blvd.,Box 14, Alachua, FL 32615. The guide is free, but you pay $3 for handling($5 if shipped to Canada).5. KISSIMMEE VISITOR’S GUIDE This full-color guide is one of the mostcomplete resources available and is of particular interest to those whointend to lodge outside of Disney World, featuring ads for hotels,rental houses, time-shares, and condominiums, as well as a directory ofattractions, restaurants, special events, and other useful info. For a copy,call the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau at # 800-327-9159 or 407-944-2400, or view it online at floridakiss.com.6. GUIDEBOOK FOR GUESTS WITH DISABILITIES Available at GuestRelations when entering the theme/water parks, at resort front desks, andwheelchair-rental areas (listed in each theme park chapter). More-limitedinformation is available at disneyworld.disney.go.com/plain-text.PASSPORTER GUIDESA S U P E R R E S O U RC E for anyone with specialneeds is PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt DisneyWorld and the Disney Cruise Line ($22.95), by DebWills and Debra Martin Koma. The 448-pagebook covers everything from ADHD to asthma.It’s available from PassPorter Travel Press by call-ing # 877-929-3273 or visiting passporter.com.WALT DISNEY WORLD ON THE WEBS E A RC H I N G T H E I N T E R N E T for Disney information is like navigat-ing an immense maze for a very small piece of cheese: there’s a lot ofinformation available, but you may have to wade through list after listuntil you find the Internet addresses you want and need.unofficial TIPRequest information asfar in advance as possible,and allow four weeks fordelivery. Follow up if youhaven’t received yourmaterials within six weeks.04_9781118012338_p01.indd 2404_9781118012338_p01.indd 24 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  37. 37. GATHERING INFORMATION 25Many individuals maintain elaborate Disney-related sites and chatgroups, but the information they provide isn’t always accurate.Recommended Web SitesUnofficial Guide coauthor Len Testa has combed the Web looking forthe best Disney sites. His picks follow.BEST OFFICIAL THEME PARK SITE While it still has room for improve-ment, the official Walt Disney World website (disneyworld.com or disneyworld.disney.go.com) is slightly more useful than the official sites forUniversal Studios (universalorlando.com) and SeaWorld (seaworld.com). All three websites contain information on ticket options, parkhours, height requirements for attractions, disabled-guest access, andthe like. Disney’s site also allows you to make dining reservationsonline, which is really useful when you don’t have enough time to doso by phone. As an added bonus, you can make online reservationsstarting at 6 a.m. Eastern, an hour before the phone lines open. Onthe minus side, however, the site uses so many high-tech gimmicksthat it sometimes just doesn’t work. If you get an error message whiletrying to make a hotel or dining reservation, just restart your browserand try again. Also be aware that when making hotel reservations,Disney’s website will automatically select the more expensive options,such as a water-view room instead of a standard view or Park Hopperand Water Park Fun and More admission instead of a base ticket. YouImportant Walt Disney World AddressesCompliments, Complaints, and SuggestionsWalt Disney World Guest CommunicationsP.O. Box 10040Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040Convention and Banquet InformationWalt Disney World Resort SouthP.O. Box 10000Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000Merchandise Mail Order (Guest Service Mail Order)P.O. Box 10070Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0070Walt Disney World Central ReservationsP.O. Box 10100Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0100Walt Disney World Educational ProgramsP.O. Box 10000Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000Walt Disney World Info/Guest Letters/Letters to Mickey MouseP.O. Box 10040Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040Walt Disney World Ticket Mail OrderP.O. Box 10140Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-014004_9781118012338_p01.indd 2504_9781118012338_p01.indd 25 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  38. 38. 26 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEWalt Disney World Phone NumbersGeneral Information # 407-824-4321 or 407-824-2222General Information for the Hearing-Impaired (TTY) # 407-827-5141Accommodations/Reservations # 407-W-DISNEY (934-7639)All-Star Movies Resort # 407-939-7000All-Star Music Resort # 407-939-6000All-Star Sports Resort # 407-939-5000AMC Downtown Disney 24 Theatres # 888-262-4386Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas # 407-938-3000(Jambo House & Kidani Village)Beach Club Resort # 407-934-8000Blizzard Beach Information # 407-560-3400BoardWalk Inn # 407-939-5100Caribbean Beach Resort # 407-934-3400Celebration Realty Office # 407-361-2555Centra Care # 407-200-2273Formosa Gardens # 407-397-7032Kissimmee # 407-390-1888Lake Buena Vista # 407-934-2273Universal–Dr. Phillips # 407-291-9960Cirque du Soleil # 407-939-7600Contemporary Resort–Bay Lake Tower # 407-824-1000Convention Information # 407-828-3200Coronado Springs Resort # 407-939-1000Dining Advance Reservations # 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463)Disabled Guests Special Requests # 407-939-7807Disney Institute # 407-824-7997 or 321-939-4600DisneyQuest # 407-828-4600Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Treehouse Villas # 407-827-1100Disney’s Old Key West Resort # 407-827-7700Downtown Disney Information # 407-827-2281ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex # 407-939-GAME (4263)Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf # 407-560-4753Fort Wilderness Campground # 407-824-2900Golf Reservations and Information # 407-WDW-GOLF (939-4653)Grand Floridian Resort & Spa # 407-824-3000Group Camping # 407-939-7807 (press 4)04_9781118012338_p01.indd 2604_9781118012338_p01.indd 26 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  39. 39. WALT DISNEY WORLD PHONE NUMBERS 27Guided-tour Information # 407-WDW-TOUR (939-8687)Guided VIP Solo Tours # 407-560-4033House of Blues Tickets & Information # 407-934-2583Lost and Found for articles lost:Today at Disney’s Animal Kingdom # 407-938-2785Today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios # 407-560-4668Today at Epcot # 407-560-7500Today at the Magic Kingdom # 407-824-4521Today at Universal Orlando # 407-224-4233(Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk)Yesterday or before (at all Disney parks) # 407-824-4245Merchandise Guest Services # 407-363-6200Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce # 352-629-8051Outdoor Recreation # 407-WDW-PLAYReservations & Information (939-7529)Polynesian Resort # 407-824-2000Pop Century Resort # 407-938-4000Port Orleans French Quarter Resort # 407-934-5000Port Orleans Riverside Resort # 407-934-6000Resort Dining # 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463)Security:Routine # 407-560-7959Urgent # 407-560-1990Shades of Green Resort # 407-824-3400Telecommunication for the Deaf Reservations # 407-939-7670Tennis Reservations & Lessons # 407-621-1991Walt Disney Travel Company # 407-939-6244Walt Disney World Dolphin # 407-934-4000Walt Disney World Speedway # 407-939-0130Walt Disney World Swan # 407-934-3000Walt Disney World Ticket Inquiries # 407-566-4985Weather Information # 407-827-4545Wilderness Lodge & Villas Resort # 407-824-3200Winter Summerland Miniature Golf # 407-560-3000Wrecker Service # 407-824-0976 (if closed, call Security, above)Yacht Club Resort # 407-934-700004_9781118012338_p01.indd 2704_9781118012338_p01.indd 27 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  40. 40. 28 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEhave to manually undo each of those options every time you changeyour search criteria, too.BEST OFFICIAL MOM’S SITE Who knew? Walt Disney World has aMom’s Panel composed of more than a dozen moms and a few red her-rings—er, dads—all chosen from among 10,000-plus applicants. Thepanelists have a website, disneyworldmoms.com, where they offer tips,discuss how to plan a Disney World vacation, and answer questionsabout how those guys got into the henhouse. The parents are unpaidand are free to speak their minds. One mom actually went from fan tocast member when Disney recruited her to head the panel.BEST GENERAL UNOFFICIAL WALT DISNEY WORLD WEB SITE Besidestouringplans.com, Deb Wills’s allears.net is the first website we recom-mend to friends who are interested in making a trip to Disney World. Itcontains information on virtually every hotel, restaurant, and activityin the World. Want to know what a room at a Disney resort looks likebefore you book one? This site has photos—sometimes for each floor ofa resort. The site is updated several times per week and includes menusfrom Disney restaurants, ticketing information, maps, and more.BEST MONEY-SAVING SITE Mary Waring’s MouseSavers (mousesavers.com) is the kind of site for which the Web was invented. It keepsan updated list of discounts and reservation codes for use at Disneyresorts. The codes are separated into categories such as “For the generalpublic” and “For residents of certain states.” Anyone who calls the Dis-ney Reservation Center at # 407-W-DISNEY (934-7639) can use a cur-rent code and get the discounted rate. Savings can be considerable—upto 40% in many cases. Two often-overlooked site features are the dis-count codes for rental cars and non-Disney hotels in the area.BEST WALT DISNEY WORLD PREVIEW SITE If you want to see what aparticular attraction is like, visit YouTube (youtube.com). Enter thename of the desired attraction in the search bar at the top of the page,and several videos should come up. Videos of indoor (“dark”) ridesare usually inferior to those of outdoor rides due to poor lighting, buteven the videos of indoor rides generally provide a good sense of whatthe attraction is about.OTHER SITES Facebook and Twitter are popular places for Disney fansto gather online and share comments, tips, and photos. Following fel-low Disneyphiles as they share their in-park experiences can makeyou feel like you’re there, even as you’re stuck in a cubicle at work.BEST DISNEY DISCUSSION BOARDS The best online discussions of allthings Disney can be found at disboards.com. With tens of thousandsof members and millions of posts, these discussion boards are themost active and popular on the Web. Disney visitors from the UnitedKingdom can say “cheerio” to one another whilst online at the DisneyInformation Bulletin Board (thedibb.co.uk).BEST INTERNET RADIO STATION We thought our couple-hundred-hourcollection of theme park digital audio was complete until we foundmouseworldradio.com. Several different radio stations are available(some free, others for a small fee), playing everything from attrac-tion ride scores and hotel background music to old sound clips from04_9781118012338_p01.indd 2804_9781118012338_p01.indd 28 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  41. 41. GATHERING INFORMATION 29Disney resort TV ads. What makes Mouse World Radio special isthat the tracks match what the Disney parks are playing at the timeof day you’re listening. So every morning at 8 a.m., you’ll hear essen-tially the same music that’s currently playing at the Magic Kingdombefore it opens, and every night at 9 p.m. you’ll hear IllumiNationsjust as if you were at Epcot.BEST MOBILE APPLICATION FOR WDW As far as all-purpose apps go,E-Ticket (iPhone; $6) has the most going for it, using the vast resourcesof wdwinfo.com to assist you in organizing the myriad details neces-sary for a successful trip. It contains satellite maps; locator buttons;information and reviews of all resorts, parks, attractions, and dining;and features for itinerary planning.BEST DISNEY PLANNING PODCAST Unofficial Guide coauthor LenTesta cohosts a thrice-weekly podcast (on Monday, Wednesday, andFriday) on all things related to Disney World. Free subscriptions areavailable through iTunes. These shows consistently rank among thetop iTunes travel podcasts, drawing almost 40,000 listeners per show.Noted for its spontaneity (read: lack of preparation) and what Dis-ney geeks consider humor, the show assumes that everyone listeningmust be doing so as part of some court-mandated community service.Drop the hosts a line and they’ll put in a good word with your paroleofficer. Visit wdwtoday.com for more details.BEST DISNEY BLOG John Frost’s unofficial Disney blog (thedisneyblog.com) is witty, concise, and updated continually. Topics cover every-thing in the Disney universe, from theme parks and movies to the lat-est rumors. Best of all, you’ll find links to other Disney-related siteson the Web to continue your addiction, er, planning.BEST SITE FOR BREAKING NEWS AND RUMORS Wetrytocheckwdwmagic.com every few days for the latest news and gossip on Disney World.The site also features pages dedicated to major rides, parades, andshows in each park, including audio and video. The calendar ofevents has traditionally been a good place to check park hours, ExtraMagic Hours, and the like; some readers, however, report that main-tenance and accuracy have taken a slight hit recently.BEST THEME-PARK-INSIDER SITE If The E! True Hollywood Story everdid an episode on theme park development, the result would be some-thing like jimhillmedia.com. Well researched and supplied with limit-less insider information, Jim Hill’s columns guide you through theinternal squabbles, shareholder revolts, and outside competition thathave made (and that still make) Walt Disney World what it is.BEST TRIVIA SITES Lou Mongello’s excellent Walt Disney WorldTrivia Book has an equally good online companion; check it out oniTunes and at wdwradio.com. You’ll find message boards, Disney-theme-park news, and more. Lou hosts live Net chats at his site, usu-ally on Wednesdays. Lou also hosts the WDW Radio Show podcast,where his name functions as an all-purpose greeting (“Mongello,everyone!”) and invective (“Oh, Mongello!”) to his fans.Fans of Steve Barrett’s Hidden Mickeys book now have anonline destination where they can keep updated on the latest04_9781118012338_p01.indd 2904_9781118012338_p01.indd 29 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  42. 42. 30 PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOMEtri-circle sightings at hiddenmickeysguide.com. Steve also writes theHassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation guidebook, chock-full oftouring plans and Disney advice that he’s developed for family andfriends over the years. Aside from the Unofficial Guide, Steve’s prob-ably got the most thorough and thoughtful touring advice around.BEST ONLINE TOUR Disney has teamed up with Google to present a 3-Dvirtual walk-through of the Orlando theme parks and resorts via GoogleEarth. Visit disneyworld.com/3dparks and hope for the day they’re ableto pipe the smell of the Main Street Bakery to your desktop.BEST ORLANDO WEATHER INFORMATION Printable 15-day forecastsfor the Orlando area are available from accuweather.com. The site isespecially useful in winter and spring, when temperatures can varydramatically. During summer, the ultraviolet-index forecasts will helpyou choose between a tube of sunscreen and a keg of it.BEST SAFETY SITE All children younger than age 6 must be properlyrestrained when traveling by car in Florida. Check flhsmv.gov/fhp/cpsto learn about state child-restraint requirements.BEST WEB SITE FOR ORLANDO TRAFFIC, ROADWORK, AND CONSTRUC-TION INFORMATION Visit expresswayauthority.com for the latest infor-mation on roadwork in the Orlando and Orange County areas. Thesite also contains detailed maps, directions, and toll-rate informationfor the most popular tourist destinations.BEST DRIVING DIRECTIONS The printable directions available at mapquest.com are accurate and efficient. We especially like the featurethat allows you to get driving directions for the return drive with theclick of a button.WHEN to GO toWALT DISNEY WORLDWhy do they call it tourist season if we can’t shoot them?—Palatka, Florida, outdoorsmanSELECTING THE TIME OF YEAR FOR YOUR VISITWA LT D I S N E Y WO R L D I S BU S I E S T Christmas Day through NewYear’s Day. Also extremely busy are Thanksgiving weekend, the weekof Presidents Day, the first full week of Novem-ber, spring break for colleges, and late Marchthrough the third week of April. On just a sin-gle day in these peak times, as many as 92,000people have toured the Magic Kingdom! Thislevel of attendance isn’t typical—only thosewho simply cannot go at any other time shouldtackle the parks at their peak.The least busy time is from Labor Day in September through thebeginning of October. Next slowest are the second full week ofunofficial TIPYou can’t pick a lesscrowded time to visitWalt Disney World thanthe period betweenLabor Day and October 1.04_9781118012338_p01.indd 3004_9781118012338_p01.indd 30 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  43. 43. WHEN TO GO TO WALT DISNEY WORLD 31November through the weekend preceding Thanksgiving, the weekafter Thanksgiving until the week before Christmas, January 4through the first week of February (except the Martin Luther King Jr.holiday weekend and the weekend of the Disney World Marathon),and the last week of April through early June. Late February, March,and early April are dicey. Crowds ebb and flow according to spring-break schedules and the timing of Presidents Day weekend. Thoughcrowds have grown in September and October as a result of promo-tions aimed at locals and the international market, these months con-tinue to be good for weekday touring at the Magic Kingdom, Disney’sHollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and for weekendvisits to Epcot.The Downside of Off-season TouringThough we strongly recommend going to Dis-ney World in the fall, winter, or spring, thereare a few trade-offs. The parks often open lateand close early during the off-season. When theyopen as late as 9 a.m., everyone arrives at aboutthe same time. A late opening coupled with anearly closing drastically reduces touring hours. Even when crowdsare small, it’s difficult to see big parks such as the Magic Kingdombetween 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Early closing (before 8 p.m.) also usuallymeans no evening parades or fireworks. And because these are slowtimes, some rides and attractions may be closed. Finally, Central Flor-ida temperatures fluctuate wildly during late fall, winter, and earlyspring; daytime highs in the 40s and 50s aren’t uncommon.Given the choice, however, smaller crowds, bargain prices, andstress-free touring are worth risking cold weather or closed attrac-tions. Touring in fall and other “off” periods is so much easier thatour research team, at the risk of being blasphemous, would advisetaking children out of school for a Disney World visit.Most readers who’ve tried Disney World at various times agree. Afather of two from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, writes:Taking your kids out of school—is it worth it? Yes! It used to be truethat missing a week of school would place your child so far behindit could take months for him or her to regain that lost week. Not sotoday. With advance preparation, this was no problem. With less thanan hour of homework after dinner, our kids went back to school withassignments completed and no makeup work. But it was all thoseother hours with no lines and no heat that were the real payoff.There’s another side to this story, and we’ve received some well-considered letters from parents and teachers who don’t think taking kidsout of school is such a hot idea. From a father in Fairfax, Virginia:My wife and I are disappointed that you seem to be encouragingfamilies to take their children out of school to avoid the crowds atWDW during the summer months. My wife is an eighth-grade teacherof chemistry and physics. She has parents pull their children, somehonor-roll students, out of school for vacations, only to discover whenunofficial TIPIn our opinion, the riskof encountering colderweather and closedattractions during anoff-season visit to WaltDisney World is worth it.04_9781118012338_p01.indd 3104_9781118012338_p01.indd 31 7/28/11 12:47 PM7/28/11 12:47 PM
  1. A particular slide catching your eye?

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