The Unofficial Guide: The Color Companion to Walt Disney World


More than 600 full-color images prove that a picture is worth 1,000 words

A unique visual guide that lets you see how wet you?ll get on Splash Mountain?, what the crowd conditions are at different times of day in Fantasyland?, and how the parks are decked out for various holidays.

Pictures of all the attractions, making the book a perfect ...

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More than 600 full-color images prove that a picture is worth 1,000 words

A unique visual guide that lets you see how wet you’ll get on Splash Mountain®, what the crowd conditions are at different times of day in Fantasyland®, and how the parks are decked out for various holidays.

Pictures of all the attractions, making the book a perfect keepsake.

Reviews of all the Walt Disney World® resorts, including pictures of the guest rooms, swimming
pools, and resort themes.

Attractions and resorts rated based on surveys of thousands of Walt Disney World® guests.

Proven, firsthand advice on how to plan and save money on your Walt Disney World® vacation.

The Unofficial series is completely independent. If a restaurant serves lackluster food or an attraction is not worth the wait, we’ll tell you.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"If you're looking for a reliable guidebook, the leader is the Unofficial series."
—The Mail (London)

"A Tourist's Best Friend!"
—Chicago Sun-Times

—The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781628090284
  • Publisher: Unofficial Guides
  • Publication date: 12/2/2014
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 378,143

Meet the Author

Bob Sehlinger, a Lowell Thomas Award–winning journalist, is best known as the creator and producer of The Unofficial Guide series. He lives in Birmingham, AL.

Len Testa is the coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, and Britain’s Best Days Out. He lives in Greensboro, NC.

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Read an Excerpt


Walt Disney World for Couples
Quiet, Romantic Places to Eat
Restaurants with good food and a couple-friendly ambience are rare in the theme parks. Only a handful of dining locales satisfy both requirements: Coral Reef Restaurant, an alfresco table at Tutto Italia, the terrace at the Rose & Crown, and the upstairs tables at the France Pavilion’s Bistro de Paris, all in Epcot; and the corner booths at The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Waterfront dining (though not necessarily quiet or romantic) is available at Fulton’s Crab House, Paradiso 37, and Portobello at Downtown Disney and Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian.

Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian is the World’s showcase gourmet restaurant; expect to pay big bucks. Other good choices for couples include Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge, Cítricos at the Grand Floridian, Shula’s Steak House at the Dolphin, Jiko—The Cooking Place at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Flying Fish Cafe at the BoardWalk.

Eating later in the evening and choosing a restaurant we’ve mentioned will improve your chances for intimate dining; nevertheless, children—well behaved or otherwise—are everywhere at Walt Disney World, and there’s no way to escape them.

Although its roots are in the haunted houses of small amusement parks everywhere, Disney’s is done on a scale big enough to justify use of the word “mansion.” The Haunted Mansion is a masterpiece of detail, starting with the gravestones lining the lawn next to the exterior waiting area, and extending into the wallpaper and paintings in pre-show areas. Even the Castmembers get into the act as they gravely announce “Your time has come” to enter the ride, and exhort you to move to the “dead center” of the foyer to begin the show.

The Mansion is filled with room after room of visual effects, most of which are no more threatening than a whoopee cushion. Only the graveyard scene, which features a handful of skulls popping up from behind tombstones, might be considered mildly scary. Other rooms include a room with stairs running every which way, and a ballroom dancing scene that ranks among Disney’s best (and oldest) effects. As with Disney’s other classic attractions, the Haunted Mansion also features a catchy soundtrack (“Grim Grinning Ghosts”) that will keep you humming on your way to the next attraction.

The waiting queue for Mansion was refurbished in 2011, adding interactive elements that make noise and music when touched. To do this, the queue was split into two separate paths. Stay to the left if you’ve got time and inclination to see the interactive elements. Take the rightmost path for less waiting in line.

Fantasmic! is a mixed-media show presented twice weekly when the park is open late. Located off Sunset Boulevard behind the Tower of Terror, Fantasmic! is staged on an island opposite a 6,900-seat amphitheater. By far the largest theater facility ever created by Disney, the amphitheater can accommodate an additional 3,000 standing guests for an audience of nearly 10,000. During the last recession, Fantasmic! went from nightly performances to a packed house, down to two shows per week evenings a week. As you might imagine, trying to cram seven nights of capacity crowds into two nights did not work very well, as a reader from Sandwich, Illinois, reported:

The reduction in Fantasmic! shows per week is ridiculous to me. The Studios is an absolute ghost town on nights it doesn’t show, and packed to capacity on nights when it does! There has to be a happy medium.

As we went to press, Fantasmic! had resumed nightly performances, but Disney hasn’t said which schedule it will use going forward.

Nonetheless, Fantasmic! is far and away the most innovative outdoor spectacle ever attempted at any theme park. Starring Mickey Mouse in his role as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia, the production uses lasers, images projected on a shroud of mist, fireworks, lighting effects, and music in combinations so stunning you can scarcely believe what you are seeing. The plot is simple: good versus evil. The story gets lost in all the special effects at times, but no matter; it’s the spectacle, not the story line, that is so overpowering. While beautiful, stunning, and powerful are words that immediately come to mind, they fail to convey the uniqueness of this presentation.

Though we do not receive many reports of young children being terrified by Fantasmic! ,we suggest you spend a little time preparing your younger children for what they will see. Also, make sure to hang on to your children after Fantasmic! and to give them explicit instructions for regrouping in the event you are separated. Also, you can mitigate the fright factor somewhat by sitting back a bit.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part One Practical Stuff 20

Part Two Walt Disney World Resorts 57

Part Three Walt Disney World with Kids 90

Part Four Dining in Walt Disney World 120

Part Five The Magic Kingdom 148

Part Six Epcot 200

Part Seven Animal Kingdom 246

Part Eight Disney’s Hollywood Studios 282

Part Nine The Water Parks 320

Part Ten Downtown Disney and Disney’s Boardwalk 334

Part Eleven Recreation 345

Index 356

Photo Credits 365

Unofficial Guide Reader Survey 366

List of Maps

South Orlando and Walt Disney World Area iv–v

Walt Disney World vi–vii

Magic Kingdom 150–151

Epcot 202–203

Animal Kingdom 248–249

Disney’s Hollywood Studios 284–285

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