The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2018

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2018

by Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa

Paperback(2018 Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628090673
Publisher: Unofficial Guides
Publication date: 08/15/2017
Edition description: 2018 Edition
Pages: 864
Sales rank: 35,465
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Bob Sehlinger, a Lowell Thomas Award-winning journalist, is best known as the creator and producer of The Unofficial Guide series. He's the author of 27 books and lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

Len Testa, a lifelong Disney theme park fan, is also coauthor of The Color Companion to Walt Disney World, The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, and The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line. Len leads the team at, the website and research arm of The Unofficial Guides. He lives in Orlando, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

The Disney-character physician is having lunch with the director of park operations when the doc’s phone rings. . . .

“Excuse me,” he says. “It’s the fertility clinic—I’d better take it.”

Getting up, he exits the restaurant and returns a few minutes later looking concerned.

“It’s the darndest thing,” the doctor says. “But there’s not a thing wrong with any of them. . . .”

“Any of whom?” the director asks.

“The Disney princes and princesses. They all checked out fine.”

The director can’t believe his ears. He stares at the doctor. “Wait a minute—are you telling me that you sent the Disney princes and princesses to a fertility clinic?”

“Just the human ones who are married, plus the Beast. I didn’t send Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Lady and the Tramp, and a bunch of others who’ve been coupled up for decades.”

Still stupefied, the director stammers, “Why? I didn’t even know there was a problem.”

“Well, the characters have never complained, but most have been married for years and years, and, um . . . haven’t you noticed that none of them have any children?”

“I’ve never given it any thought, but it’s fewer high-earning characters on my payroll.”

“Well, I’ve given it plenty of thought. We’re locked in a blood-feud competition with Universal, and their characters are having babies right and left. Shrek and Princess Fiona alone have been popping out little ogres and ogreettes like Big Macs.”

The director gives the doctor a hard look. “I could have told you there’s nothing wrong physically with the princes and princesses.”

“If that’s the case, why aren’t they having children? Don’t they know about the birds and the bees?”

“The birds and the bees shall not be spoken of at Disney! But that’s not why they don’t have kids.”

“Then why?”

The director leans across the table to keep from being overheard. “Why do you think princes and princesses live ‘happily ever after’?”

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, too—not 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.


Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas

Jambo House offers fine dining in a casual setting at Jiko—The Cooking Place. Twin wood-burning ovens are the focal point of the restaurant, which serves meals inspired by the myriad cuisines of Africa. Boma—Flavors of Africa, the family restaurant, serves a buffet with food prepared in an exhibition kitchen featuring a wood-burning grill and rotisserie. Tables are under thatched roofs. The Mara, a quick-service restaurant with extended hours, and Victoria Falls, a delightful mezzanine lounge overlooking Boma, round out the hotel’s food-and-beverage service. Other amenities include an elaborate swimming area, a village marketplace, and a 1hour nighttime safari tour exclusively for Lodge guests ages 8 and up. The tour costs $70 per person and takes place nightly at 10 p.m.

Consisting of a separate building shaped like a backwards 3, Kidani Village comprises 324 units, a dedicated savanna, a well-themed pool and splash zone, and Sanaa, a sit-down restaurant combining Indian and African cuisines. Other amenities include a fitness center, an arcade, a gift shop, and tennis, shuffleboard, and basketball courts. Kidani Village is connected to Jambo House by a half-mile

walking trail; DDV guests at either resort can use the facilities at both buildings.

Both Jambo House and Kidani Village have studios and one, two, and three-bedroom

villas. Most rooms at Kidani Village are larger, however, and the difference is anywhere from 50 square feet for a studio to more than 200 square feet for a two-bedroom unit. (The three bedroom Grand Villas at Jambo House, 148 square feet larger than those in Kidani Village, are the exception.) Kidani’s villas also have one more bathroom for one, two, and three-bedroom units. Because of the difference in area, one-bedroom units in Kidani Village can accommodate up to five people, and two-bedroom units can hold up to nine via a sleeper chair in the living room. At Jambo House, one-bedroom “value” rooms sleep four; standard, savanna, and Club Level rooms sleep five.

Having stayed at Kidani Village almost a dozen times, we think it’s quiet and relaxed. The lobby and rooms have a smaller, more personal feel than Jambo House’s. The exterior isn’t anything special—essentially a set of green rectangles with oversize African-themed decorations attached. Kidani’s distance from Jambo House makes it feel especially remote. The bus stops are a fair distance from the main building, too, and it’s easy to head in the wrong direction when you’re coming back from the parks at night.

Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas is connected to the rest of Disney World by bus, but because of the resort’s remote location, you should seriously consider having a car if you stay there.

A family of four from Lincoln, England, gives Animal Kingdom Lodge a mixed, though mostly positive, review:

We had a fab holiday, but we wouldn’t recommend people paying the extra money to have a savanna room. The animals are scarce, and you don’t really spend much time in your room. The pool and the kids’ club were fantastic and the hotel stunning. The food court was fine, although we wished they’d change the menu, as after two weeks you’re fed up of the same choices.

Good (and not-so-good) rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas

(See for photos.) A glance at the resort map tells you where the best rooms and villas are. Kudu Trail and Zebra Trail, two wings branching from the rear of Jambo House, form a semicircle around the central wildlife savanna. Along each wing are seven five story buildings, with accommodations on floors two through five. Five buildings on each wing form the semicircle, while the remaining two buildings jut away from the center. The best rooms—on floors three and four, facing into the circle—are high enough to survey the entire savanna yet low enough to let you appreciate the groundlevel

detail of this amazing wildlife exhibit; plus, these rooms offer the easiest access to the lobby and restaurants. Second-floor rooms really can’t take in the

panorama, and fifth-floor rooms are a little too high for intimate views of the animals. Most of the fourth-floor rooms in Jambo House are reserved for concierge guests, and the fifth and sixth floors house the DDV units.

Most rooms in the outward-jutting buildings, as well as rooms facing away from the interior, also survey a savanna, but one not as compelling as that of the inner circle. On the Zebra Trail, the first two buildings plus the first jutting building provide savanna views on one side and look onto the swimming complex on the other.

Less attractive still are two smaller wings, Ostrich Trail and Giraffe Trail, branching from either side of the lodge near the main entrance. Some rooms on the left side of Ostrich Trail (see map on page 196) overlook a small savanna. Rooms on the opposite side of the same buildings overlook the front entrance. Least desirable is Giraffe Trail, extending from the right side of the lobby: Its rooms overlook either the pool (water view) or the resort entrance (standard view). A Portage, Indiana, family begs to differ with our assessment, however:

We stayed in a pool-view room in Giraffe Trail and loved it. The view was beautiful, even without the animals (which you can see elsewhere). The proximity to the pool, lobby, and restaurants was great, and we saved about $500 over what we would’ve spent on a savanna view.

The best views in Kidani Village are the north-facing rooms near the bottom and middle of the backwards 3. Try rooms 7X38–7X44, 7X46–7X52, 7X06–7X11, 7X68–7X82, and 7X61–7X67 (X = numbers 0–9). These overlook the savanna next to Jambo House’s Kudu Trail rooms and beyond into undeveloped woods. Westand south-facing rooms in the bottom half of Kidani Village overlook the parking lot; west-facing rooms in the top half have either pool or savanna views. (See

for photos.)


Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (FastPass+) ****

What it is Indoor/outdoor roller coaster. Scope and scale Major attraction. When to go As soon as the park opens, or use FastPass+. Special comments 38" minimum height requirement. Authors’ rating Great family coaster; not to be missed; **** Duration of ride About 2 minutes. Average wait in line per 100 people ahead of you About 4½ minutes. Loading speed Fast.

Description and comments In the pantheon of Disney coasters, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fits somewhere between The Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad—that is, it’s geared to older grade-school kids who’ve been on amusement park rides before. There are no loops, inversions, or rolls in the track, and no massive hills or steep drops; rather, the Mine Train’s trick is that your ride vehicle’s seats swing side-to-side as you go through turns. And—what a coincidence!—Disney has designed a curvy track with steep turns. There’s also an elaborate indoor section showing the Seven Dwarfs’ underground operation.

The exterior design includes waterfalls, forests, and landscaping and is meant to join together all of the

surrounding Fantasyland’s various locations, including France and Germany. The swinging effect is more

noticeable the farther back you’re seated in the train.

New Disney attractions always generate a lot of reader comments, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is no

exception. First, from a Rhode Island couple:

As far as new rides go, we give high marks to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It’s faster than it looks in videos, and the animatronics are topnotch. It broke down during our FastPass+ window, so we were given an additional pass. On our next day in the Magic Kingdom, we rode it at night. Much like Big Thunder and Splash Mountain, this ride is even better at night!

From an Aurora, Illinois, woman:

It’s a pretty easy coaster, somewhere between Big Thunder and The Barnstormer in intensity, and I’d ride it just to see the mine scene over and over again!

A Chester, Virginia, mom offers a little cost–benefit analysis:

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a great ride, but not worth a 90minute wait.

A mom from Horsham, Pennsylvania, felt let down:

Our family’s rating of the 7 D Mine Train is two stars at most. The detail and activities in line were great, and I thought that the animation of the characters’ faces was amazing. But we were all sadly disappointed in the ride—it’s over so quickly, it really isn’t worth your time. Realistically, if we only had to wait 15–20 minutes, we still would only give it two and a half stars at best.

Finally, from a Hesston, Kansas, dad:

The Mine Train was fairly forgettable to my wife and I, but my 5year old loved it. The middle dark-ride section was amazing, but the rest was over very fast. It’s a perfect step between The Barnstormer and the bigger Mountains, but without FastPass+ or being there first, it can be skipped.

Touring tips If you have only a day to see the Magic Kingdom, make FastPass+

reservations in advance for around 9:30 a.m. at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and around 3:30 p.m. at Space Mountain. On the day of your visit, ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as soon as the park opens, then hotfoot it to Splash Mountain to ride immediately. Your FastPass+ reservation for Big Thunder Mountain will be valid by the time you’re done, and you’ll have experienced three of the park’s four headliners in about an hour.

If you have two mornings, do the Fantasyland and Frontierland attractions—Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad—on one day and Space Mountain the next. Spreading your visits over two mornings eliminates a lot of walking.

Other FastPass+ strategies combining the park’s “mountains” with other headliners have been incorporated into our Magic Kingdom touring plans (see pages 806–811).



Walt Disney World staged its first long-distance road race—a 26.2mile marathon—in January 1994. By hosting this one-day event, Disney hoped to attract a couple thousand people to Orlando during what would otherwise be the middle of a slow winter season. It was an immediate hit, drawing more than 7,000 runners and their families, most staying in a Disney hotel for longer than the one or two nights needed to run the race.

Disney added a Saturday half-marathon race to the event in 1998, just in time to catch the wave of popularity that distance running started enjoying around the turn of the millennium.

Today the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is a four-day affair, with a 5K on Thursday and a 10K on Friday. It’s not uncommon to see 25,000 runners in the big races, and a few thousand hearty souls run all four events (you get a special medal for doing so; it’s appropriately of Dopey, one of Snow White’s dwarfs).

Disney’s race schedule has also expanded throughout the calendar and country, with no fewer than eight major races held in Disney World and Disneyland; a complete schedule and summary of events is below. Disney even has a fulltime,

staffed organization, runDisney, to coordinate and promote their events. Visit for

the latest details. Prices are comparable to the big races in New York, Boston, and Chicago, but you don’t get to run through Epcot in those.

As noted in Part One, Unofficial Guide staff and friends have run dozens of Disney races over the past decade, from simple 5Ks to the two-day, 39.3mile half-marathon/full-marathon combo (dubbed “The Goofy” for obvious reasons). If you’ve never run a distance race, Disney is the perfect first event for many reasons.

Table of Contents


Why "Unofficial,"

Walt Disney World: An Overview

What's NEW at Walt Disney World since your last visit?

PART ONE Planning Before You Leave Home

Gathering Information

When to Go to Walt Disney World

PART TWO Making the Most of Your Time and Money

Allocating Money

Allocating Time

Understanding Walt Disney World Attractions

Central Florida Roller Coasters

What you Get and What you Pay at WDW

PART THREE Accommodations

The Basic Considerations

The Disney Resorts

Walt Disney World Hotel Profiles

How to Evaluate a Walt Disney World Travel Package

Disney Lodging for Less

Hotels outside Walt Disney World

Hotels and Motels: Rated and Ranked

The top 20 deals

How the Hotels Compare

Hotel Information Chart

How the Hotels Compare

Hotel Information Chart

PART FOUR 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


Disney Dining Suggestions

Counter-Service Restaurant Mini-Profiles

Full-Service Restaurant Rated and Ranked

Walt Disney World Restaurants by Cuisine

PART FIVE Walt Disney World with Kids

The Ecstasy and the Agony

Lost Children

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 Dining

Character Meal Hit Parade


Special Programs for Children

Birthdays and Special Occasions

PART SIX Special Tips for Special People

Walt Disney World for Singles

Tips for Going Solo

Walt Disney World for Couples

Walt Disney World "At Large"

Walt Disney World for Expectant Mothers

Walt Disney World for Seniors

Walt Disney World for Guests with Special Needs

PART SEVEN Arriving and Getting Around

Getting There

Getting Oriented

How to Travel around the World (or, The Real Mr. Toad's Wild Ride)

Door-to-Door Commuting Times to and from the Disney Resorts and Parks

PART EIGHT Bare Necessities

Money, Etc.

Problems and Unusual Situations


PART NINE The Magic Kingdom


Getting Oriented

Main Street, U.S.A.



Liberty Square



Live Entertainment in the Magic Kingdom

Mickey's Halloween and Christmas Parties and 23-Hour-Events


Traffic Patterns in the Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Touring Plans



Getting Oriented

Future World

World Showcase

Live Entertainment in Epcot

Traffic Patterns in Epcot

Epcot Touring Plans

PART ELEVEN Disney's Animal Kingdom


Getting Oriented

The Oasis

Discovery Island



DinoLand U.S.A.

Live Entertainment in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Traffic Patterns in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom Touring Plan

PART TWELVE Disney's Hollywood Studios

DHS: A Brief History

The Studios in Perspective

DHS at a Glance

Disney's Hollywood Studios Attractions

Live Entertainment at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios Touring Plan

PART THIRTEEN 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 Express

Singles Lines



Universal, Kids, and Scary Stuff

Blue Man Group

Universal Orlando Dining Plan

New and Upcoming at Universal Orlando

PART FOURTEEN Universal's Islands of Adventure

Getting Oriented at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Universal's Islands of Adventure Attractions

Dining at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Universal's Islands of Adventure Touring Plan

PART FIFTEEN Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida Attractions

Live Entertainment at Universal Studios Florida

Dining at Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida Touring Plan

PART SIXTEEN SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld at a Glance

Discovery Cove


You're Soaking in It!

Blizzard Beach

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon versus Blizzard Beach

When to Go

Planning Your Day at Disney Water Parks

Water-Park Touring Plans

Aquatica by SeaWorld

PART EIGHTEEN Behind-the-Scenes and VIP Tours at Walt Disney World

Multi-park Tours

Behind the Scenes at the Magic Kingdom

Behind the Scenes at Epcot

Behind the Scenes at Disney's Animal Kingdom

VIP Tours

PART NINETEEN Disney Springs, Universal City Walk, Shopping, and Nightlife

Disney Springs

Universal CityWalk


Shopping in the Theme Parks and Orlando

Tips for Avoiding Buyer's Remorse

Walt Disney World Shopping at a Glance

Shopping at Universal Orlando

Shopping Outside the Theme Parks

Entertainment and Nightlife

Nightlife at Walt Disney World Resorts

Nightlife at Disney Springs

Nightlife at Universal Orlando Resorts

Nightlife at Universal CityWalk

Live Music at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando

Walt Disney World Dinner Theaters

PART TWENTY Recreation, Sports, and Spas

Walt Disney World Recreation

Run, Disney, Run

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Walt Disney World Golf

Miniature Golf

Serenity Now! A Look at Disney-Area



Readers' Questions to the Author

Readers' Comments

Accommodations Index

Restaurant Index

Subject Index

Touring Plans

Clip-Out Touring Plan Companions

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

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