March-April 2015 Updates Available! Your Kindle update includes important changes to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot monorail schedules through July 2015; ticket prices, dates, and times for the Magic Kingdom's Night of Joy celebration in September; and updates to Fastpass+ locations for the Magic Kingdom's parades.
Compiled and written by a team of experienced researchers whose work has been cited by such diverse sources as USA Today and Operations Research Forum, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World digs deeper and offers more than any other guide.
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About the Author
He is credited with being the first to apply research techniques from the fields of operations research and statistics to travel guides. Among other projects, he was able to develop mathematical models that could save theme park patrons more than three hours of standing in line in a single day.
He is the founder and co-owner of Keen Communications, a book publishing company that includes Menasha Ridge Press, Clerisy Press, and Wilderness Press. The author of 27 books, Sehlinger is a past president of the Publishers Association of the South, and he has served at the invitation of the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Information Service on educational missions for publishers in Hungary, Romania, and Russia. He lives in Birmingham, AL.
A lifelong Disney theme park fan, Len Testa co-authors The Unofficial Guides to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Britain's Best Days Out. In grad school, Len's master's thesis described new computer techniques for generating efficient theme park touring plans, for which Len was awarded a U.S. patent.
These days, Len leads the team at TouringPlans.com, the website and research arm of The Unofficial Guides. Len has stayed at every Disney hotel, experienced every Disney ride, and eaten at every Disney restaurant and food cart in the U.S. When he's not at a Disney theme park, Len lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, in a mid-century modern house whose kitchen was custom-built after one of Space Mountain's post-show scenes.
Read an Excerpt
From the Introduction
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING GOOFY
EGBERT HOOFNAGEL, who coordinates the calendar for all Walt Disney World parks and venues, sits puzzling over an event to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. . . .
“MacDermott, can you come here for a minute?”
“There’s a, ahem, ‘ferret-legging’ contest scheduled next month at the Wide World of Sports. Is this something that involves the Disney characters?”
MacDermott looks surprised. “Nae, sir, it doesn’t. But as far as characters go, it will draw some of the strangest you’ll ever see.”
“So what is ferret-legging?” Hoofnagel inquires, more confused than ever.
“It’s sort of a test of endurance where you stuff a live ferret down your trousers. The ferrets are quite, um, lively when they get in there. Whoever can suffer the beast the longest is the winner.”
“Good grief! Have you ever tried ferret-legging?”
“Nae, sir, ferret-legging is for girlie-men in England and Wales. In Scotland we use the noble wolverine. Tuck it right up under our kilts, we do.”
Hoofnagel’s eyebrows take the elevator to the top floor and stick there, afraid to descend. “Well, do you have anything on under therelike, you know, underpants?” he stammers.
“You’ll hafta ask the wolverine. That’s a Scottish national secret.”
“This doesn’t sound very Disney-like,” Hoofnagel says. “Do you think it’s appropriate for the Wide World of Sports?”
After mulling it over a bit, MacDermott responds, “Well, it depends, but my honest opinion is that Americans are too soft for this sport. Then there are those great, baggy britches yer lads wear. The seat of the pants hangs down around the knees, it does. A proper ferret could get lost in there for a fortnight.”
Hoofnagel demurs. “Americans can’t stand to watch a sport where they don’t win. I think we should cancel.”
“Either that or start small for the Yanks, maybe mouse-legging. Works well with our corporate symbol, it does. We could call it ‘Mickey’s in Yer Knickies.’ ”
“That’s appalling! I’d be fired on the spot!”
“How about ‘Parrots in Yer Pants’? ‘Weasels in Yer Y-Fronts’?”
Enter Vilmos Paprikash, a recent immigrant who’s heard the whole conversation while changing the air-conditioner filter. “In East Vovodyodo, ve put chicken in pants and keep her there until she lay egg. You could try, perhaps?”
Hoofnagel groans. “You’re both giving me a migraine. I won’t sign off on anything that involves putting live animals in your clothing!”
“Easily solve!” Paprikash announces cheerily. “Ve have other game vhere you run 1-mile race vith dead sturgeon strapped to calf. That vould be perfect, yes?”
And so it goes. . . .
What really makes writing about Walt Disney World fun is that the Disney people take everything so seriously. Day to day, they debate momentous decisions with far-ranging consequences: Will Pluto look silly in a silver cape? Have we gone too far with the Little Mermaid’s cleavage? With the nation’s drug problem a constant concern, should we have a dwarf named Dopey?
Unofficially, we think having a sense of humor is important. This guidebook has one, and it’s probably necessary that you do, toonot to use this book, but to have the most fun possible at Walt Disney World. Think of the Unofficial Guide as a private trainer to help get your sense of humor in shape. It will help you understand the importance of being Goofy.
THE HOW AND THE WHY OF IT
MOST GUIDEBOOKS do a reasonably good job with what and where. Unofficial Guides add the how and why. Describing attractions or hotels or restaurants (the what) at a given destination (the where) is the foundation of other travel guidebooks. We know from our research, however, that our readers like to know how things work. Take hotels, for example. In the Unofficial Guide, we not only provide hotel choices (rated and ranked, of course) but also explain the economic and operational logic of the lodging industry (the why) and offer instructions (the how) that enable the reader to take advantage of opportunities for hotel discounts, room upgrades, and the like. In this and all our Unofficial Guides, whether we’re discussing cruise ships, theme parks, ski resorts, casinos, or golf courses, we reveal the travel industry’s inner workings and demonstrate how to use such insight in selecting and purchasing travel and for planning itineraries. For the reader, knowledge is power, which translates into informed decisions and confidence.
[Attraction profile from Magic Kingdom chapter]
Space Mountain (Fastpass) 4 stars
Appeal by Age
Preschool 2.5 stars† Grade School 4.5 stars Teens 4.5 stars
Young Adults 4.5 stars Over 30 4.5 stars Seniors 3 stars
†Some preschoolers love Space Mountain; others are frightened by it.
What it is Roller coaster in the dark. Scope and scale Super-headliner. When to go When the park opens, between 6 and 7 p.m., or during the hour before closing; or use Fastpass. Special comments Great fun and action; much wilder than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. 44" minimum height requirement; children younger than age 7 must be accompanied by an adult. Switching-off option provided (see page 334). Authors’ rating An unusual roller coaster with excellent special effects; not to be missed; 4 stars. Duration of ride Almost 3 minutes. Average wait in line per 100 people ahead of you 3 minutes; assumes 2 tracks, with 1 dedicated to Fastpass riders, dispatching at 21-second intervals. Loading speed Moderatefast.
DESCRIPTION AND COMMENTS Totally enclosed in a mammoth futuristic structure, Space Mountain has always been the Magic Kingdom’s most popular attraction. The theme is a space flight through dark recesses of the galaxy. Effects are superb, and the ride is the fastest and wildest in the Magic Kingdom. As a roller coaster, Space Mountain is much zippier than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but much tamer than the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Refurbished in 2009, Space Mountain got larger ride vehicles, new lighting and effects, an improved sound system, and a completely redesigned queuing area with interactive games to help pass the time in line. The track was replaced as well but retains the same paths as the old. Then in 2010, a soundtrack was added to the ride that accented high-octane music with sounds of speeding rockets ships and other intergalactic occurrences. It is difficult to know if it’s just because of hearing asteroids whiz past your vehicle, but we think the new ride is slightly faster than it was. Roller-coaster aficionados will tell you (correctly) that Space Mountain is a designer version of the Wild Mouse, a midway ride that’s been around for at least 50 years. There are no long drops or swooping hills as there are on a traditional roller coasteronly quick, unexpected turns and small drops. Disney’s contribution essentially was to add a space theme to the Wild Mouse and put it in the dark. And this does indeed make the Mouse seem wilder.
A family of five from Laramie, Wyoming, has this to say:
The refurbished Space Mountain is fantastic! The cars are much more comfortable, and they’ve added video-game entertainment near the end of the tunnel portion of the wait.
A Texas mother of two advises working up to Space Mountain:
You might want to start all children off on The Barnstormer, then work up to Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. We tried Space Mountain first because there was no line, and it ruined the boys for the rest of the trip.
And an Elburn, Illinois, reader recommends special equipment:
They should require you to wear a neck brace on Space Mountain. That ride is painful.
TOURING TIPS People who can handle a fairly wild roller-coaster ride will take Space Mountain in stride. What sets Space Mountain apart is that cars plummet through darkness, with only occasional lighting. Half the fun of Space Mountain is not knowing where the car will go next.
Space Mountain is a favorite of many Magic Kingdom visitors ages 760. Each morning before opening, particularly during summer and holiday periods, several hundred Space Mountain “junkies” crowd the rope barriers at the Central Plaza, awaiting the signal to head to the ride’s entrance. To get ahead of the competition, be one of the first in the park. Proceed to the end of Main Street and wait at the entrance to Tomorrowland.
Couples touring with children too small to ride Space Mountain can both ride without waiting twice in line by taking advantage of “switching off.” Here’s how it works: When you enter the Space Mountain line, tell the first Disney attendant (Greeter One) that you want to switch off. The attendant will allow you, your spouse, and your small child (or children) to continue together, phoning ahead to tell Greeter Two to expect you. When you reach Greeter Two (at the turnstile near the boarding area), you’ll be given specific directions. One of you will proceed to ride, while the other stays with the kids. Whoever rides will be admitted by the unloading attendant to stairs leading back up to the boarding area. Here you switch off. The second parent rides, and the first parent takes the kids down the stairs to the unloading area where everybody is reunited and exits together. Switching off is also available at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, and for Fastpass users.
Seats are one behind another, as opposed to side by side. Parents whose children meet the height and age requirements for Space Mountain can’t sit next to their kids.
If you don’t catch Space Mountain first in the morning, use Fastpass or try again during the hour before closing. Often, would-be riders are held in line outside the entrance until all those previously in line have ridden, thus emptying the attraction. The appearance from the outside is that the line is enormous when, in fact, the only people waiting are those visible. This crowd-control technique, known as “stacking,” discourages visitors from getting in line. Stacking is used at several Disney rides and attractions during the hour before closing to ensure that the ride will be able to close on schedule. It is also used to keep the number of people who are waiting inside from overwhelming the air-conditioning. Despite the apparently long line, the wait is usually no longer than if you had been allowed to queue inside.
Table of Contents
Walt Disney World: An Overview
PART ONE Planning Before You Leave Home
When to Go to Walt Disney World
PART TWO Making the Most of Your Time and Money
Understanding Walt Disney World Attractions
PART THREE Accommodations
The Basic Considerations
The Disney Resorts
Walt Disney World Hotel Profiles
How to Evaluate a Walt Disney World Travel Package
Hotels outside Walt Disney World
Hotels and Motels: Rated and Ranked
How the Hotels Compare
Hotel Information Chart
PART FOUR Serenity Now! A Look at Disney-Area Spas
PART FIVE The Disney Cruise Line
The Mouse at Sea
Services and Amenities
Disney Cruise Line and the Economy
A Few Tips
PART SIX Walt Disney World with Kids
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Disney, Kids, and Scary Stuff
Small Child Fright Potential Chart
Attraction and Ride Restrictions
Waiting-Line Strategies for Adults with Young Children
The Disney Characters
Character Meal Hit Parade
Special Programs for Children
Birthdays and Special Occasions
PART SEVEN Special Tips for Special People
Walt Disney World for Singles
Walt Disney World for Couples
Tips for Going Solo
Walt Disney World for Expectant Mothers
Walt Disney World for Seniors
Walt Disney World for Guests with Special Needs
PART EIGHT Arriving and Getting Around
Rent at the Airport or Off-site?
How to Travel around the World (or, The Real Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride)
Door-todoor Commuting Times to and from the Disney Resorts and Parks
PART NINE Bare Necessities
Problems and Unusual Situations
PART TEN Dining in and around Walt Disney World
Dining outside Walt Disney World
Where to Eat Outside Walt Disney World
Dining in Walt Disney World
Disney Dining 101
Advance Reservations: The Official Line
Advance Reservations: The Unofficial Scoop
Walt Disney World Buffets and Family-Style Restaurants
Disney Dining Suggestions
Counter-Service Restaurant Mini-Profiles
Walt Disney World Restaurants: Rated and Ranked
Full-Service Restaurant Profiles
Walt Disney World Restaurants by Cuisine
PART ELEVEN The Magic Kingdom
Starting the Tour
Main Street, U.S.A.
Live Entertainment in the Magic Kingdom
Traffic Patterns in the Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom Touring Plans
PART TWELVE Epcot
Live Entertainment in Epcot
Traffic Patterns in Epcot
Epcot Touring Plans
PART THIRTEEN Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Live Entertainment in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Traffic Patterns in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Touring Plan
PART FOURTEEN Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The End of the MGM Connection
What’s Offered at the Studios Today
How Much Time to Allocate
Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Evening
Arriving at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Getting Oriented at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Dining in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Attractions
Live Entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Touring Plan
PART FIFTEEN Universal Orlando
A Universal Primer
Universal on the Web
A Word about Crowds
How Much Time to Allocate
Lodging at Universal Orlando
Arriving at Universal Orlando
Universal, Kids, and Scary Stuff
Impact Wrestling and Blue Man Group
PART SIXTEEN Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida Attractions
Live Entertainment at Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida Touring Plan
Buying Admission to Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida One-Day Touring Plan
PART SEVENTEEN Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Getting Oriented at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Universal’s Islands of Adventure Attractions
Universal’s Islands of Adventure Touring Plan
PART EIGHTEEN SeaWorld Orlando
PART NINETEEN Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney World
Behind the Scenes at the Magic Kingdom
Behind the Scenes at Epcot
Behind the Scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
PART TWENTY The Water Parks
You’re Soaking in It!
Typhoon Lagoon versus Blizzard Beach
When to Go
Planning Your Day at Disney Water Parks
Water-Park Touring Plans
Wet ’n Wild
Aquatica by SeaWorld
PART TWENTY-ONE Beyond the Parks
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
The Disney Wilderness Preserve
Walt Disney World Speedway
Walt Disney World Recreation
Walt Disney World Golf
Golf beyond Walt Disney World
PART TWENTY-TWO Shopping in and out of Walt Disney World
Hey, Big Spender
Shopping in Walt Disney World
Disney Outlet Stores
Shopping beyond Walt Disney World
PART TWENTY-THREE Nightlife in and out of Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World at Night
In the Theme Parks
At the Hotels
At Downtown Disney
Walt Disney World Dinner Theaters
Appendix, Indexes, Touring Plans, and Reader Surveys
Readers’ Questions to the Author
Clip-Out Touring Plan Companions
Unofficial Guide Reader Survey
Walt Disney World Restaurant Survey
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this book....has the most info of any of the Disney travel books out there.
I buy the most current edition of this book for my mom every time we are planning a trip to Disney World. For this particular trip, it just so happened that I bought her two editions. At the onset of planning, the 2014 was the most current edition in print but because our trip would be taking place in December and the 2015 would be out by then, my mom insisted she needed the 2015 edition as well - that is how much we love this book! It's the perfect "what you're willing to put in is what you'll get out" guide book. You can be as serious and as stringent in your planning as you want. We are such Disney fanatics that we like to get the absolute most out of our time there as possible so we follow the schedules almost to a T! I will continue to buy this book for as long as it is in print.
I just got the sample!I have the 2005 edition which is still a good way to get info.
I REALLY wanted this book. I sampled it, I liked it, I bought it. TEN dollar for the sample...where the heck are the other pages?! I am mega sad.This is the first problem I have EVER encountered with BN nook. I reccomend the ACTUAL book, don't buy the nook version.