Okay, that description may apply to some people, but it surely doesn’t apply to Elyssa and I (unless a “runner’s high” means lots of wheezing and wanting to collapse). People who knows us, however, know that this time of year and this upcoming race are very important to us. (See also our Mickey Miles Podcast appearance, Part 1 and Part 2.)
So, if you want to follow us as we head down to Disney World to attempt the Glass Slipper Challenge (a 10K on Saturday morning, followed by a half marathon on Sunday), you can follow us on:
And, if you’re looking for some good Disney-related posts to read over the next couple of days, here are a few that you might want to check out:
Len Testa Tests Budget Hotels Around Disney World – This is Len doing hero’s work. I can’t imagine staying at some of these places (and, apparently, Len couldn’t either), but it’s pretty impressive to see the lengths TouringPlans goes to in order to show people all the options available for a Disney World vacation.
Tom Bricker shares some tips for using Uber at Disney World – Uber has greatly improved the way that Elyssa and I go between certain places, and Tom has one of the best articles about how to best utilize it at Disney World. While you’re at his site reading about Uber, you might also want to check out his review of L’Artisan des Glaces (including some nice pictures of my favorite treat: the Croque Glace.)
Though have I have been fans of both Josh’s work at easyWDW and Dave’s work at yourfirstvisit.net for some time, I initially avoided a book that (by its title) appeared targeted to people who were not Disney World veterans. After getting getting asked “I’m going to Disney World, what should I know?” for the thirty-eighth time, however, I decided I should check and see if the easy guide might be my default answer to that question going forward.
Structure and Organization
NOTE: If you want a complete, super-detailed breakdown of the book, I will refer you to this post by Josh. If you’ve ever read his work on easyWDW you can probably guess what level of detail he goes into.
The easy guide is set up to walk a first time Disney World Vistor through the key decisions that any Disney World Vistor (first time or otherwise) would have to make when planning a Disney vacations, including: when to go, how long to visit, where to stay, how to tour, etc… Each one of those decisions is receives a dedicated chapter that contains a combination of reviews, recommendations, and tips on how to make the decision, and how to execute on that decision once it has been made. For example, Chapter 5, “Where to Stay”, starts by giving criteria you may wish to evaluate when making a decision about which restort to stay in, follows that up with recommendations by Josh and Dave on where they think you should stay, and then provides detailed reviews of all of the Disney World resorts. This structure means the book can be used in two different ways: as a step-by-step “how-to” for first time or inexperienced Disney World guests, or as reference for more experienced people who just want to look up certain information.
The easy guide as a Tool for First Time or Inexperienced Disney World Guests
The easy guide excels as a step-by-step guide for how to visit Disney World. It walks potential guests through the entire sequence of decisions that they will have to make as they are planning their trip, including key decisions such as when to visit Disney World and how long they should stay. The format of the book is great for first time visitors, since each chapter starts with either specific recommendations from authors Dave and Josh about their preferred choices and why they made those choices, or with an explanation of how one should evaluate various options in order to make her own decisions. (For example, Chapter 5, “Where to Stay” features a section entitled “How to Pick Your Disney Resort Hotel” that walks you through how to evaluate the various hotel options against your available budget.) Basically, it allows a first time Disney World guest to start a chapter, make the decision that chapter discusses, and then move on to the next chapter / decision, all in the order that Josh and Dave recommend.
Though first time Disney World visitors might not need to read all of the reference material available near the end of each chapter, the “cheat sheets” found in Chapter 6, “How to Spend Your Time”, are a must read. Anyone who’s ever used Josh’s easyWDW cheat sheets knows that they offer high quality advice on how to plan your day at a given Disney World park. By providing them in a book designed for first time Disney World guests, Dave and Josh have put their readers in a great position to efficiently and enjoyably see all the attractions and other entertainment available at Disney World, even if it’s their first visit.
My biggest complaint with the easy guide as a complete, go-to resource for first time Disney World guests is the sparse explanation on how to setup and use the various functionality found in Disney’s websites and mobile apps. For example, the section on making ADRs (Chapter 7, Where to Eat – Advance Dining Reservations) is only about a page and half of explanation, and does not fully convey the stressful, 6am, mad rush that takes place when trying to secure reservations at certain restaurants. Instead, that information is relegated to a “Disney World To-Do List” at the end of the book (where it could easily be missed by the book’s readers.) Relatedly, the second-to-last chapter of the book (Chapter 9, “How to Setup Everything Up and Get Everything Done”) dedicates only 3 pages to setting up a My Disney Experience account and booking Fastpass+ in advance of a trip. Though there are some very detailed descriptions of how to complete that process, some more in-depth discussion of how to use these systems (e.g., explaining that your My Disney Experience account needs to have reservations and tickets added in order to make Fastpass+ reservations) might be necessary for Disney World novices.
In summary, the easy guide is almost the perfect book to hand to someone who says “I’m thinking about going to Disney World, what should I know?” It will walk her through all the of the decisions she has to make in order to plan and enjoy her vacation. That said, if you are recommending this book to a first time Disney World vistor, you still might want to point out the importance of certain 180-day and 60-day deadlines, and don’t be surprised if you get a call or two asking for a little help when it comes time to the setup and use some of the My Disney Experience-related stuff.
The easy guide for Experienced Disney Veterans
I made a joke once when friend of the site Dutch Lombrowski was on the WDW 4 Families podcast: “Too much discussion about how various attractions matter to families, 1 star.” If you listen to a podcast named “WDW 4 Families,” you can’t really knock it when it focuses on planning a vacation for families. Here, we have a book entitled the easy guide to your first visit to Walt Disney World. You can’t really knock the book if it’s strength is in helping people plan their first Disney World vacation.
Still, I assume people who visit a site dedicated to Disney World might have some experience visiting the resort, and I want to assure those readers that they will still probably find value in the easy guide. First, as mentioned above, this book makes a great resource to hand to people who ask you what they should know when planning their first Disney World vacation, and, if you’re a Disney World veteran, you probably get that question every so often. Second, the book provides a nice collection of reviews of resorts and dining that you can reference when you need to make decisions in your trip planning. If you like Dave’s and Josh’s work on their respective sites, it’s pretty likely that you are going to like their work in the book. (You might also like the little insights from Disney historian Jim Korkis that are sprinkled throughout the book.)
Lastly, even the most veteran Disney World guest may benefit from seeing how two experts in Disney World vacations recommend planning a trip. After years and years of Disney World visits, us veteran guests might be so set in our ways that we never stop to see if someone has come up with a better way to do certain things. For example, take a look at Dave’s recommendations about which weeks to visit Disney World, or at Josh’s most recent theme park cheat sheets, and see if there’s something new you might want to integrate into your next Disney World trip.
The 864-Page Gorilla
Any review of a Disney World guide book must deal (at least to some degree) with how that book compares to the massive Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. As readers of this site are probably aware, the Unofficial Guide is an almost 900 page (three times the size of the easy guide) book that gives its readers a ton of information about Disney World and its surrounding area. Much like the easy guide, it contains reviews of hotels, restaurants, and strategies for touring the Disney World theme parks. It also adds in tons of information about off-site options, transportation (including airport and rental car information), and other Orlando area theme parks (e.g., Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld, etc…) that you will not find in the easy guide.
After spending time with both books, I think there is room on a Disney Fan’s bookshelf (on in her Kindle) for both of them. They both contain valuable information (though Josh might have an opinion as to which set of touring tips is better) and I have used both of them as a reference at various points since I purchased them. That said, the easy guide is much more focused on presenting the author’s recommendations than providing the huge dump of information that the Unofficial Guide does. Depending on how knowledgable about Disney World you are, you might see that as a benefit or a negative.
If I was picking a book to give to someone who has never visited Disney World before, I’d probably pick the easy guide. If I was picking a book for a Disney veteran, I’d have to know a little bit more about what kind of Disney guest the person was before making a recommendation.
Don’t These Guys Already Have Websites with this Information?
Yes. Dave runs yourfirstvisit.net, and Josh runs easyWDW.com You could almost certainly get all of the information in the book by digging through these sites and putting together your own “guide to a first Disney World visit.” My question is: Why would you? Dave and Josh have put together the information from both of their sites in a convenient, easy to follow structure, that allows first time Disney World guests to walk through all the important decisions necessary to plan their vacations. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?
For people like me who read Dave’s and Josh’s sites on a regular basis, I partially look at my purchase of the book as a way to support people who do good work that I find helpful. I’m not saying I would have bought the book if it was literally cow feces, but knowing that I’m supporting these guys doesn’t hurt.
The easy guide is a great book for first time (or inexperienced) Disney World guests, since it walks those guests through all of the important decisions they will have to make as they plan their Disney World vacation. Disney World veterans, though not explicitly targeted by the book, will probably also benefit from the information found in the easy guide. In the end, if you’re looking for a Disney World guide book, I recommend giving the the easy guide to your first Walt Disney World Visit a shot.
Before we get into the nuggets, two items of note: First, the Disney Podcast Directory has been up on the site for about a week now. I haven’t heard anything in the past few days about missing shows, so I think the list is looking pretty solid. Please feel free to check it out if you have an interest in listening to Disney podcasts.
1900 Park Fare holiday brunch It’s a non-character meal from 12:45pm to 3pm on November 22 – 28 2015 and December 20 2015 – January 2 2016. The cost is $24 per adult, $13 per person, “[m]enu items include Carved Herb-roasted New York Strip Loin, Made-to-Order Omelets and Eggs, Carved Floribbean Jerk Turkey Breast, Breakfast Burrito Bar, Vanilla French Toast, Peel-n-Eat Shrimp, Mickey Waffles, Bread Pudding.”
Earlier this year, Elyssa and I agreed that we would not visit the Osborne Lights until we ran through them during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Since I’ve extended that “moratorium” to also include reading coverage of the event, I can’t point you to the “best” coverage of this year’s spectacle. Instead, I’ll finish this post with all the coverage I have found: WDW Magic – “What’s new?”;
* The Disney Blog – An early preview;
* All Ears – 2015 Photos;
* The DIS – Why you need to see the Osborne Lights this year;
* Inside the Magic – Write-up and videos; and
* DaMouse – A 4K video of this year’s spectacle.
For those of us who like to plan far, far in advance, Dave Shute of Your First Visit has posted his projections for Disney World’s 2017 pricing “seasons”. If you’ve been following Walt Disney World pricing for any length of time, you know that Disney World’s seasons don’t really parallel the traditional “spring, summer, fall, winter” calendar. Thankfully, Dave’s post gives us some early indications about when prices at Disney World might be at their highest and lowest.
This information might be especially interesting if there is a Mighty Men of Mouse Listener Vacation in October 2017. According to Dave’s analysis, the end of October (starting with October 15th) might end up having Deluxe Resort prices only 6% higher than the lowest prices of the year.
I attended my first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this past Sunday night and I had an amazing time. I saw the Boo to You Parade twice and I was very impressed with all of the performers and I really liked the parade music. My favorites include the grave diggers and ballroom dancers from the Haunted Mansion and the portion that had characters from Splash Mountain and the Country Bears Jamboree. I was also very impressed by Hallowishes. I caught the very last Hocus Pocus Villains stage show at midnight and I was thoroughly entertained. It was funny, creative, and included lots of very talented performers. The villains in the show were a lot more impressive than the standard villains you see in parades and meet and greets. I was thrilled to see Oogie Boogie with an articulated face that included a moving mouth and moving eyes.
I also really liked the overall atmosphere of the party, especially considering that it was only late September. If you plan on going to a Halloween party, I highly recommend you wear a costume! One of the real highlights of the night was seeing all of the different costumes that everyone was wearing. I think the people who were wearing costumes were definitely having more fun than those who were not. One last bit of advice: if you are planning on trick or treating, ask around about which locations are giving out the most candy and the best type of candy. Some of the locations were only giving out 2 or 3 pieces of candy per person, while others were giving out 2 large handfuls of candy per person.
As you might expect, Josh practices what he preaches and put together amazing Hipster Minnie and Mickey costumes with his lovely wife, Carye:
If you want even more information and reviews on this year’s party, this review by Dave at YourFirstVisit.net is probably the best place to start. He provides a nice level of detail about the party, as well as gives some general touring tips and information about some of the schedule changes they made to this year’s show. On the audio side of things, the gang from DIS Unplugged provides a pretty good recap of their experiences at the party in their most recent episode.
Trick or Treating is for Everyone – Adults and children can trick-or-treat! Make sure to pick up a bag when entering the park. (And as Josh said, make sure you ask to see where they are giving out the best candy.)
Meet “Talking Mickey” in his Halloween costume at Town Square Theater