Disney World Guidebook Round Up

By Melissa L.

With such a huge costumer base, it is no wonder that there are entire shelves in bookstores dedicated to Disney World Travel Guides as well as website companions that offer online subscriptions to the company’s best planning tools.  How do you make your way through the stack in order to find which is best for you? Use the guide below to find what resources you are looking for in order to make the perfect pre-trip purchase for you!

Books

Most fun and personalized: Passporter

What makes the Passporter guide book my go to choice is the fun I have filling it up with personal information.  The moment after I book my next Disney World trip the first thing I do is order the most current Passporter! I pour over the pages for hours before planning trips, going over ever detail, adding every last minute that I have planned to my pass pockets and updating all of our personal trip information.  I am a Passporter addict! I even used leftover pockets on my honeymoon!

This innovative guide has excellent descriptions of the hotels, attractions, and restaurants at Walt Disney World, as well as, ratings and worksheets that help make your trip planning fun.  What I love about Passporter is that I can hold onto my guidebook as a memento after our trips and flipping through it feels reminiscent of flipping through a scrapbook or photo album.  The deluxe version is fabulous and they offer updated refills each year as well as Disneyland Resort refills.

Most comprehensive: The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

To use the singular of Unofficial Guide does not do this line of books justice.  Not only is the original namesake filled with a plethora of Disney Planning information for planning your vacation from beginning to end, but there are multiple companions which include a color companion, guide specifically for traveling with kids, one for traveling without kids, one for traveling around other parks in Orlando, and editions for Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

Best quick look for Disney pros: Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World

I have found myself with a small collection of Birnbaum guides over the years.  Planning a Disney trip is exciting and for some reason I usually find myself with a copy of this at some point in my planning.  It’s usually under $10, and I find it great as a guide when I am planning out where to eat or what new attractions to look forward to.  I carried it in my work bag for two months before our last trip.  It is slim and had lots of quick descriptions which are great for skimming through on a lunch break or when I have a few minutes here or there.

Best pictures: The Complete Walt Disney World

Like the other guides featured here, this has great descriptions and reviews of the parks, restaurants, hotels, and attractions to be found at Walt Disney World.  Unlike the other guides here this is so chock full of photos you may find yourself lost in a day dream before you make it through the first 20 pages.  There is so much not just to read, but to see in this book that its hard to resist once you take a peek inside!   There is also a really neat section that is a Disney encyclopedia of sorts called “Disney A to Z”!

Online Subscriptions

This is the digital age, so while there are plenty of books out there on the topic of Walt Disney World, there are also tons of websites out there  filled with Disney planning information.  There are also a small handful of online SUBSCRIPTIONS where you pay for a span of time to use a website’s own planning tools.  The Passporter guidebook has a company website which offers monthly access to their Passporter’s Club in which you can view any of their many available e-books for free.  This is great for getting companion information to their guide book.

Most fun, personalized, and comprehensive: Tour Guide Mike

Tour Guide Mike is a personal favorite as far as planning tools.  You begin by filling out a survey about your trip plans and aver a few minutes your Automated Vacation Planner is prepared for you with personalized trip planning information to fit you and your family’s needs.  It is amazing how spot-on the tour and dining recommendations can be! Furthermore, you can add reminders for making Advanced Dining Reservations, later on add your confirmation numbers, and are privy to being able to access the loads and loads of vacation planning articles on the website.  My very favorite feature: The Least Crowded Park Charts! They rock and are incredibly accurate! I plan my park days based around these recommendations and they are constantly updated if changes come from Disney!

Best quick look for Disney pros: Touring PlansDisney Wishes, disney photography, Picasa, Disney, Magic Kingdom photos, fireworks, Photoshop, photo editing

From the makers of the Unofficial Guides, Touring Plans is a site focused mainly on, well, Touring Plans! Here you can find comprehensive plans for touring all Disney parks as well as another super-accurate park chart.  The Touring Plans Crowd Calendar not only makes suggestions as to which parks to visit or avoid each and every day (for up to a year in advance) but you are also giving estimates on how crowded Disney will be!   Whatsmore, your Touring Plans subscription (available for Walt Disney World, Disneyland or both) allows you the ability to login to the smartphone app which gives you up to date and accurate ride lines and wait times!

What is your favorite guide? Did it make the roundup? Let me know in the comments below!!

When Melissa isn’t teaching, snapping pictures to post on Picturing Disney on Facebook, updating her photoblog Picturing Disney, or prancing around Disney Parks like a kid, she is lives her life filled with love, laughter, and happily ever after in New York with her husband and their adorable dog.

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Comments

  1. I love the Unofficial Guide and Touring Plans, and I get the every year. There is a shelf on my bookcase dedicated to it! I have never gotten the Passporter, but perhaps for our trip next year I’ll give it a try thanks to your review.

  2. I love the Unofficial Guide and Touring Plans, and I get it every year. There is a shelf on my bookcase dedicated to it! I have never gotten the Passporter, but perhaps for our trip next year I’ll give it a try thanks to your review.

  3. Nancy Monica says:

    My all time favorite is Birmbaum! I own almost every different guide made, but Birnbaum is the one I like to buy every year and use pretty much exclusively for planning our WDAw trips!

  4. Nancy Monica says:

    I purchase the new Birnbaum guides every year! They are my favorites and the ones I always recommend to newbies! I like all the great pictures that show me not just tell me about each attraction and the planning tips are very helpful for unexperienced visitors! Some of the other guides have more info , but Birbaum is my go to guide for WDW every time!

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