The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2005

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Overview

The Disney World bible-our #1 travel bestseller, year after year
* Based on interviews and surveys of 19,500 patrons, this evergreen bestseller ranks and rates all attractions by age group-and shows visitors how to make the most of their time
* Features objective ratings of each ride, field-tested itineraries to help save time and beat the lines, in-depth rankings and reviews of hotels and restaurants inside and outside the World, and special tips for families with children, honeymooners, and seniors
* Now updated to cover the latest Orlando-area developments, including a new resort and rides
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…Indispensable…” (Leicester Mercury, 18 June 2005)

“….the unofficial guide to the mother of all theme parks tells it exactly as it is…” (Economist, 5 March 2005)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764559723
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Series: Unofficial Guides Series, #96
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 816
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 1.53 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps.

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

Part One: Planning before You Leave Home.

Part Two: Making the Most of Your Time and Money.

Part Three: Selecting Your Hotel.

Part Four: The Disney Cruise Line.

Part Five: Walt Disney World with Kids.

Part Six: Special Tips for Special People.

Part Seven: Arriving and Getting Around.

Part Eight: B a re Necessities.

Part Nine: Dining in and around Walt Disney World.

Part Ten: The Magic Kingdom.

Part Eleven: Epcot.

Part Twelve: Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Part Thirteen: Disney-MGM Studios, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld.

Part Fourteen: The Water Parks.

Part Fifteen: Beyond the Parks.

Part Sixteen: Shopping in and out of Walt Disney World.

Part Seventeen: Nightlife in and out of Walt Disney World.

Indexes.

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First Chapter

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2005


By Bob Sehlinger

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-5972-9


Chapter One

Walt Disney World with Kids

The Ecstasy and the Agony

So overwhelming is the Disney media and advertising presence that any child who watches TV or shops with Mom is likely to get revved up about going to Walt Disney World. Parents, if anything, are even more susceptible. Almost every parent brightens at the prospect of guiding their children through this special place. But the reality of taking a young child (particularly in summer) can be closer to the agony than to the ecstasy.

A Dayton, Ohio, mother took her five-year-old to Disney World in July:

I felt so happy and excited before we went. I guess it was all worth it, but when I look back I think I should have had my head examined. The first day we went to [the Magic Kingdom] it was packed. By 11 in the morning we had walked so far and stood in so many lines that we were all exhausted. Kristy cried about going on anything that looked or even sounded scary and was frightened by all of the Disney characters (they are so big!) except Minnie and Snow White.

We got hungry about the same time as everyone else, but the lines for food were too long and my husband said we would have to wait. By one in the afternoon we were just plugging along, not seeing anything we were really interested in, but picking rides because the lines were short, or because whatever it was air-conditioned.... At around 2:30 we finally got something to eat, but by then we were so hot and tired that it felt like we had worked in the yard all day. Kristy insisted on being carried, and we had 50 fights about not going on rides where the lines were too long. At the end, we were so P.O.'d and uncomfortable that we weren't having any fun. Mostly by this time we were just trying to get our money's worth.

Before you stiffen in denial, let me assure you that this family's experience is not unusual. Most young children are as picky about rides as they are about what they eat, and more than half of preschoolers are intimidated by the Disney characters. Few humans (of any age) are mentally or physically equipped to march all day in a throng of 50,000 people in the hot Florida sun. And would you be surprised to learn that almost 60% of preschoolers said the thing they liked best about their Disney vacation was the hotel swimming pool?

Reality Testing: Whose Dream Is It?

Remember when you were little and you got that nifty electric train for Christmas, the one Dad wouldn't let you play with? Did you wonder who the train was really for? Ask yourself that question about your vacation to Disney World. Whose dream are you trying to make come true: yours or your child's?

Young children read their parents' emotions. When you ask, "Honey, how would you like to go to Disney World?" your child will respond more to your smile and enthusiasm than to any notion of what Disney World is all about. The younger the child, the more this is true. From many preschoolers, you could elicit the same excitement by asking, "Honey, how would you like to go to Cambodia on a dogsled?"

So, is your happy fantasy of introducing your child to Disney magic a pipe dream? Not necessarily, but you have to be practical and open to reality testing. For example, would you increase the probability of a successful visit by waiting a couple of years? Is your child adventuresome enough to sample the variety of Disney World? Will your child have sufficient endurance and patience to cope with long lines and large crowds?

Recommendations for Making the Dream Come True

When planning a Disney World vacation with young children, consider:

Age Although Disney World's color and festivity excite all children, and specific attractions delight toddlers and preschoolers, Disney entertainment is generally oriented to older children and adults. Children should be a fairly mature seven years old to appreciate the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom, and a year or two older to get much out of Epcot or Disney-MGM Studios.

Our readers have an ongoing debate on how old a child should be or the ideal age to go to Disney World. A Waldwick, New Jersey, mother reports:

My kids, not in the least shy or clingy, were frightened of many attractions. I thought my six-year-old was the "perfect age" but quickly realized this was not the case. Disney makes even the most simple, child-friendly story into a major theatrical production, to the point where my kids couldn't associate their beloved movies to the attraction in front of them.

A Rockaway, New Jersey, mom writes:

You were absolutely right about young kids-I found myself re-reading your section "The Ecstasy and the Agony." Unfortunately, our experience was pure agony, with the exception of our hotel pool. It was the one and only thing our kids wanted to do. I planned this trip and saved for over a year and cried all week at the disappointment that our kids just wanted to swim.

A Dallas, Texas, dad says:

I must echo the thoughts of readers about parents who bring infants and toddlers to WDW. Are these people nuts? They should find a better way to waste their hard-earned vacation dollars. These children (and therefore their parents) cannot ride any of the best rides and won't remember the ones they do ride five minutes after they get off. It is tough enough walking these huge parks without pushing around one or more children in a stroller. My advice to these parents is to go to a nice beach, rest, let the kids play in the sand, spend less money, and come back in a few years. Disney World will still be there.

A Lexington, Kentucky, couple agrees:

To the folks with kids in strollers ... Six years ago we carried an infant in a Snugli, pushed another child in a stroller, and carried the diaper bag from hell. This year, all were on their own foot power. What a difference. Those of you with preschoolers, please wait until they are older. The kids will have just as much fun and may even remember it when they are older. You will actually enjoy the trip instead of being a Grand Canyon pack mule.

But a Cleveland, Ohio, mother takes exception:

The best advice for parents with young kids is to remember for whom you are there and if possible accommodate the kids' need to do things again and again. I think you underestimate Disney's appeal to young children. Since we've gotten home my four-year-old has said "I don't want to live in Cleveland. I want to live at Disney World" at least five times a day.

Mental preparation is key, says a New York mother of two:

I disagree with what you say about toddlers being too young. My two-year-old had a great time! He loved the Animal Kingdom, the characters, and many of the rides. Even my seven-month-old enjoyed Disney World. He had a good time just looking at the colors and lights. As long as you understand that going with babies will take a little extra work, you can have a good time.... If one of my children was cranky, we just left.

A Lawrenceville, Georgia, mother of two toddlers advises maintaining the children's normal schedule:

The first day, we tried your suggestion about an early start, so we woke the children (ages four and two) and hurried them to get going. BAD IDEA with toddlers. This put them off schedule for naps and meals the rest of the day. It is best to let young ones stay on their regular schedule and see Disney at their own pace.

Finally, an Alabama woman encourages parents to be more open-minded about taking toddlers to Disney World:

Parents of toddlers, don't be afraid to bring your little ones! Ours absolutely loved it, and we have priceless photos and videos of our little ones and their grandparents with Mickey and the gang. For all those people in your book who complained about our little sweethearts crying, sorry, but we found your character-hogging, cursing, ill-mannered, cutting-in-line, screaming-in-our-ears-on-the-roller-coasters teens and preteens much more obnoxious.

When to Visit Avoid the hot, crowded summer months, especially if you have preschoolers. Go in October, November (except Thanksgiving), early December, January, February, or May. If you have children of varied ages and they're good students, take the older ones out of school and visit during the cooler, less congested off-season. Arrange special assignments relating to educational aspects of Disney World. If your children can't afford to miss school, take your vacation as soon as the school year ends. Alternatively, try late August before school starts.

Build Naps and Rest into Your Itinerary The parks are huge; don't try to see everything in one day. Tour in early morning and return to your hotel around 11:30 a.m. for lunch, a swim, and a nap. Even during off-season when crowds are smaller and the temperature more pleasant, the major parks' size will exhaust most children younger than eight by lunchtime. Return to the park in late afternoon or early evening and continue touring. A family from Texas underlines the importance of naps and rest:

Despite not following any of your "tours," we did follow the theme of visiting a specific park in the morning, leaving midafternoon for either a nap back at the room or a trip to the [hotel] pool, and then returning to one of the parks in the evening. On the few occasions when we skipped your advice, I was muttering to myself by dinner. I can't tell you what I was muttering ...

Regarding naps, this mom doesn't mince words:

For parents of small kids: take the book's advice and get out of the park and take the nap, take the nap, TAKE THE NAP! Never in my life have I seen so many parents screaming at, ridiculing, or slapping their kids. (What a vacation!) WDW is overwhelming for kids and adults. Even though the rental strollers recline for sleeping, we noticed that most of the toddlers and preschoolers didn't give up and sleep until 5 p.m., several hours after the fun had worn off, and right about the time their parents wanted them to be awake and polite in a restaurant.

A Rochester, New York, mom was adamant:

[You] absolutely must rest during the day. Kids went from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Magic Kingdom. Kids did great that day, but we were all completely worthless the next day. Definitely must pace yourself. Don't ever try to do two full days of park sight-seeing in a row. Rest during the day. Go to a water park or sleep in every other day.

If you plan to return to your hotel at midday and want your room made up, let housekeeping know.

Where to Stay The time and hassle involved in commuting to and from the theme parks will be less if your hotel is close by. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to lodge inside Disney World. Because the World is so geographically dispersed, many off-property hotels are closer to the parks than some Disney resorts (see our chart on pages 210-233 showing commuting times from Disney and non-Disney hotels). Regardless where you stay, it's imperative that you take young children out of the parks each day for a few hours of rest. Neglecting to relax will get the whole family in a snit and ruin the day (or the vacation).

If you have young children, book a hotel within 20 minutes of the theme parks. It's true you can revive somewhat by retreating to a Disney hotel for lunch or by finding a quiet restaurant in the parks, but there's no substitute for returning to the comfort of your hotel. Regardless of what you've heard, children too large to sleep in a stroller won't relax unless you take them back to your hotel. If it takes renting a car to make returning to your hotel practicable, rent the car.

Thousands of new rooms have been built in and near Disney World, many of them affordable. With planning, you should have no difficulty finding lodging to meet your requirements.

If you're traveling with children 12 and younger and want to stay in the World, we recommend the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or Wilderness Lodge and Villas Resorts (in that order) if they fit your budget. For less expensive rooms, try the Port Orleans Resort. Bargain lodging is available at the All-Star and Pop Century resorts. Log cabins at Fort Wilderness Campground are also economical. Outside the World, check our top hotels for families on pages 197-205.

Be in Touch with Your Feelings When you or your children get tired and irritable, call time-out. Trust your instincts. What would feel best? Another ride, an ice-cream break, or going back to the room for a nap?

The way to protect your considerable investment in your Disney vacation is to stay happy and have a good time. You don't have to meet a quota for experiencing attractions. Do what you want.

Least Common Denominators Somebody is going to run out of steam first, and when they do, the whole family will be affected. Sometimes a snack break will revive the flagging member. Sometimes, however, it's better to return to your hotel. Pushing the tired or discontented beyond their capacity will spoil the day for them-and you. Energy levels vary. Be prepared to respond to members of your group who poop out. Hint: "We've driven a thousand miles to take you to Walt Disney World and now you're ruining everything!" is not an appropriate response.

Building Endurance Though most children are active, their normal play usually doesn't condition them for the exertion required to tour a Disney park. Start family walks four to six weeks before your trip to get in shape. A mother from Wesconsville, Pennsylvania, reports:

We had our six-year-old begin walking with us a bit every day one month before leaving-when we arrived [at Walt Disney World], her little legs could carry her, and she had a lot of stamina.

Setting Limits and Making Plans Avoid arguments and disappointment by establishing guidelines for each day, and get everybody committed. Include:

1. Wake-up time and breakfast plans.

2. When to depart for the park.

3. What to take with you.

4. A policy for splitting the group or for staying together.

5. What to do if the group gets separated or someone is lost.

6. How long you intend to tour in the morning and what you want to see, including plans in the event an attraction is closed or too crowded.

7. A policy on what you can afford for snacks.

8. A time for returning to the hotel to rest.

9. When you will return to the park and how late you will stay.

10. Dinner plans.

11. A policy for buying souvenirs, including who pays: Mom and Dad or the kids.

12.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2005 by Bob Sehlinger Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2007

    A must have for your Disney World vacation!

    Worth the purchase. A fantastic reference book. Covers each Disney Theme park Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and MGM Studios, even other popular places in the Orlando area....Universal, Sea World etc. This book rates resturants, rides and shows. Covers prices, reservatons and many others. I've been to the Disney World area 8 times in the last 10 years and this book covered many things that I found useful. Worth the purchase!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2005

    Realistic Tips & Advice

    This book seems to be right on most of the time. I have been to the parks five times in the last seven years, and I tend to agree with most things that the author says...Both positive and negative. If you want a tour book that was written by Disney, or sure reads like it was, don't buy this book, buy the official guide. If you read this book, you will really have a good idea of what to expect before you get there. Everytime we go, I buy this book, and I always find something new and helpfull in it. We are going again in October, and yes, I will buy the 2006 book in August.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    DON'T TRUST THE ATTENDANCE CHART

    According to this book I planned to go to WDW at one of the Least crowded times of the year. I used their 'what parks to avoid' to plan where we would go each day and made our meal reservations well in advance. Now shortly before we are to leave I visit this books website and all the information has changed regarding crowd levels and which parks to avoid. Don't let my bad luck be yours. Save your money!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    Disappointing

    There is some useful information in this book, but the tone seems far too negative for me. Had I never been to WDW, this book would make me want to skip it. I get the impression that Walt Disney World is too expensive, too crowded and too much to hassle with. If you are looking for a guide for your first trip to WDW, I do not recommend this guide...it will make you want to stay at home.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    Really like this one!!

    We use the UnOfficial Guide to WDW for just about every trip. While it can be wordy and daunting to read, it is very informative. There is no sugar coating in this book. After visiting WDW myself almost 10 times, I have to say that there is little that I can find to disagree with in this book. It gives you the info you'll need in order to plan that special family vacation. Even when it is negative, and it can be, it is doing so for a reason. It gives you the right overview of Walt Disney World. So, read a little bit at a time...too much, at one time, can be overwhelming. There is an immense amount of info here.

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