Customer Reviews: Birnbaum's Walt Disney World: Expert Advice from the Inside Source (2002)
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on March 29, 2002
Having just returned from WDW last night I am writing this with a well-beaten copy of the Birnbaum's guide in front of me. It is worth every dime I paid and I highly recommend getting one prior to going to WDW. It is "Pro-Disney" as the official guide but we never found anything untrue or over optimistic. In fact, in many cases, they "undersold" the advice. We quickly found ourselves leafing through to the "Hot Tips" since they really are good ideas. The guide helped us plan prior to leaving and adjust our plan once we got there. The ability to read ride descriptions before walking across the park and finding something was inappropriate for younger/shorter/easily scared children was worth the cost alone. We looked at some of the "unofficial" guides and have no regrets about the Birnbaum's. We are already planning our next trip and putting more wear on our guide doing it. Some things we will do for next time:
Stagger early rise and late to bed days. If you stayed up for fireworks don't try to be the first family at Epcot the next day!
Whatever the price difference for staying on Disney property is, I will gladly pay. My time is worth way more than $20-$50 an hour when I am on vacation and the traffic on I-4 the day we left convinced me that I didn't want to drive in from an off Disney location ever!! That $50 a day extra for a room on Disney might be money well spent.
Best advice we got from one of the unofficial guides was to drive to the parks other than the Magic Kingdom from Ft Wilderness where we were staying. Parking is free for WDW resort guests and it saved us the bus to TTC to park to TTC to cabin cycle. Since we were already on Disney property, it never took us more than 20 minutes from our cabin to the parking lot.
Get your Fast Passes early and often. Since you can get a new Fast Pass as soon as your window opens on your last one, you can spend most of your wait on a ride if you plan carefully. Having the guide let me know the length of a ride or show and I could adjust Fast Pass pickup.
The guide is great but the free Disney supplements are essential for the most up to date information about park openings and show times. Finally, get the propaganda video tape from Disney (free). We watched the tape, checked the guide and then went to the park and it was great. Put them together and you will have a much more enjoyable time at Disney.
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on March 24, 2002
The key to planning a good Disney Vacation is understanding the source of your information. Birnbaum is writing what Disney wants people to perceive Disney to be, perfect. While this book gives you good planning information, take it with a grain of salt and understand that you have just paid good money for a travel brochure that, in effect, should be free from Disney.
This is the only place that you will find all the pretty pictures of WDW, and is the PERFECT book if you are planning with kids for that reason alone.
Birnbaum's books are the "insider" information, which would make you think that you are getting information that you would not get anywhere else, but that is far from being true. There are a number of planning guides that share the same information that you will find here. I have not been a big fan of Birnbaum's books in the past, yet they have been getting better.
If you plan to buy this book, fine, but also get the opinions from another independent source such as a Disney fan in your family, the Internet, or the "Unofficial" guide to WDW. Balance out your information with a dose of reality and you will feel good about the investment in this magical journey.
The key to planning a good Disney Vacation? Balance of information - get it from more than one source.
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on January 31, 2002
I purchased this book for my first trip with the kids. His sugesstions were right on the money. Staying in disney with small children was a VERY smart idea. When they were hot and tired we went to the pool to cool off. Then back to the parks we went. I felt sorry for the other parents when their children were crying, and tired , no place to rest even for an hour. My only suggestion would be to take a case of bottled water for the entire trip. I felt water was very expensive to buy at the parks. We stayed at a place that offered free soda refills after you purchased the mug. HUGE saving for a family of four, but we didn't want to carry them to the parks. We spent at least one hour at the hotel during the peak heat hours to rest , then back to the parks.
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on October 28, 2001
I feel that this book is the best for information about Walt Disney World. Though it does not rate restaurants or resorts, or give an opinion about which is better, this book gives excellent information about the Walt Disney World Resort. This book is designed for the person who is definately planning a trip to Walt Disney World, not simply considering it. If you are doing your entire vacation within WDW property, then this is the guide to get. If you want opinions, then search for them on the internet. Any book will be biased. For a completely unbiased opinion then look for personal websites about people's vacation to Walt Disney World. For a comprehensive and informative giude to Walt Disney World, choose this book.
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on November 19, 2001
This is a really good book for planning a offers tips on traveling with kids, itineraries, descriptions of amenities and rides, and lots of pictures. I originally thought, "Why would I need this when I've been there before"?...but things are always changing and now this is the first time I will be able to take my daughter who is four there and it was very helpful. It gave me a good idea for which hotel would be good for us and which rides to hit first, etc. It also includes approximate weather charts and restaurants, etc. There are also coupons included as well...definitely buy it!
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on February 25, 2002
If you think you can travel the 'World' without some expert advice you'll be wrong. This is a MUST have. You will enjoy your trip so much more if you read this book. There is so much to see and do at Disney it is truly overwhelming for the novice Mouseketeer. This book will save you time and money and a lot of stress.
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on October 1, 2002
We just got the book a few days ago, and my husband and I can't put it down! We were already excited about our anticipated trip to Disney World next year, but this book is heightening the excitement! Lots of information on lodging, food and the parks, what more could you want?
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on April 16, 2002
This book has everything you need to know about Walt Disney World. So, if you plan to go there take this book, or even better: read it before you go, so you won't wait in lines for anything, and you are gonna have a time of your life.
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on July 21, 2002
I was very impressed with this book. It was very informative and covered every subject concerning a Disney vacation, from what to pack and how to get there, to planning your itinerary and figuring your budget. It also gives info on the different resorts and restaraunts in the Disney park and their price ranges. There are illustrations on every page, my kids can't put it down. It describes every attraction and gives it's location as each park is divided into sections. It covers transportation needs, including the surrounding areas like Downtown Disney,Pleasure Island, Boardwalk, and downtown Disney West Side, and what they entail. Several water parks are also discribed. It even breaks down the Florida weather for each month so you can choose when to go. The book offers tips on saving money, avoiding crowds, and etc. It gives schedules for character meals and labels her "Birnbaum's Best" for best family restaraunts, best dinner shows, best fireworks view, and many more. There are even money saving coupons in the back of the book that are good through December of this year. I plan on taking this book with me on my trip this year to use as a guide.
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on October 1, 2001
... you should not go to Walt Disney World without reading this book. Especially for first timers. As a travel agent, I know many people are not aware of how large Disney World is, and how many things there are to do. You can not do all of Disney World in a three of four day vacation, and you will be sorry if you try. But you can have some real fun, on either a three day or a seven day vacation, and that is where this book comes in.
There are also a lot of misconceptions about "The World" that this book clears up. For instance, Universal Studios is not part of Disney World. It is a seperate company, with its own theme parks completely seperate of Disney World.
Disney World has four theme parks, three water parks, a sports complex, and a dining/shopping/nightlife district, not to mention about 20 plus official themed hotels and resorts. This book will be your best way of finding out what hotel, parks, and attractions you want for your vacation. I suggest even for returning guests, because Disney is ever changing.
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