Recommended Guidebooks and Books for First Time Visitors to Disney World

By Dave Shute

RECOMMENDED GENERAL WALT DISNEY WORLD GUIDEBOOKS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

Because you have this site, you don’t need any of the books below. But they are affordable luxuries!

If you do buy and read one before the trip, follow this tip: do not read the descriptions of the rides themselves.

Doing so both kills the suspense of a ride and lessens the wonder you otherwise would feel from experiencing a ride without knowing what’s next!

RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDED SPECIALIZED DISNEY WORLD GUIDEBOOKS

For those with special needs, and those looking for accommodations beyond the typical, the following two books can help:

OTHER GREAT DISNEY WORLD BOOKS

From all the other great Disney World related works, I suggest the following:



33 comments

1 Joe { 10.20.11 at 12:34 pm }

Heading to disney 1st week of nov staying at allstar music, we want to do one day at Universal for Harry Potter and would appreciate suggestions as to how to get there and any tix discounts you may be aware of

2 Dave { 10.20.11 at 1:16 pm }

Hi Joe!

To get to Harry Potter see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/01/10/getting-to-harry-potter-from-walt-disney-world/

I don’t track Universal discounts–suggest you check Mousesavers.com

3 Anonymous { 12.28.11 at 5:50 pm }

Should I purchase the trip insurance?

4 Dave { 12.28.11 at 5:57 pm }

I never have. That said, it’s personal, as it depends on your risk tolerance and your next best option. If this were my first visit, I was unlikely to be able to afford to return, and I’d been saving for years, I probably would…especially if I was going during the peak of the hurricane season! (See http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/chance-of-cyclonic-storm-affecting-florida/ ) But if you do be sure to read the fine print…

5 Joan { 01.12.12 at 10:38 am }

Dave, looks as if one of days at wdw next week will be rainy, the day we had planned wild animal kingdom. Should we arrange itinerary? Is there a better park to be in during wet weather?
Thanks,
Joan

6 Dave { 01.12.12 at 11:53 am }

Hi Joan. The general effect of rain is to reduce crowds in all the parks compared to what they would have been. For that reaons I love rainy days! A poncho and an umbrella or hat makes all but heavy or blowing rain manageable. At AK the animals are more active in the rain. Because there’s more walking at AK (and Epcot) you do have more exposure to this weather. So it’s hard to say do this vs do that…

7 Susan { 02.10.12 at 8:39 am }

Hi Dave! What an amazing site you have. I’ve been to Disney World 20+ times and I am very impressed with your details. I do have one question that you can help me with. We are going down to Disney World in late August and I’m not sure if there are any tips on handling the heat. We are towing our trailer and staying in Fort Wilderness. Usually we go the week after Thanksgiving, but our daughter enters high school next year, so we decided to vacation in the summer. I don’t handle heat well and neither does she. Are we crazy?

8 Dave { 02.10.12 at 12:17 pm }

Hi Susan and thanks!

I don’t have any great ideas on beating the heat…Does your trailer have a very reliable and very strong air-conditioning system?

And are you OK that you’re going in the peak of the hurricane season? (see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/chance-of-cyclonic-storm-affecting-florida/ )

I’ve been at Fort Wilderness in August in a tent…but I’m crazier than most…

9 James { 01.28.13 at 7:54 pm }

Hi

I am trying to figure out how to use the FASTPASS in order to maximize time at each park. Here is my scenario: we have 2 adults and 2 kids. 1 child is 3 yeas old and can not ride many rides. I am trying to think of ways to save time using FASTPASS and had an idea….. If my oldest son and I get a FASTPASS for Everest while my wife and younger child go get a FASTPASS for Dumbo, could my wife and younger son then come back with me at Everest, wait in line for
Everest with us, and then when we get up to the front of the Line use the “switch off” so that my wife can wait with my son who can’t go on the ride while my oldest and I get on Everest. Once my son and I are done, I can go and wait with my youngest while my wife goes up to the front of the line with my oldest again. I hope you follow this. I’m basically trying to use a FASTPASS multiple times within the same time frame. Is this possible. The advantage then would be that we can then walk over to the Dumbo ride and already have had time pass on waiting to go on Dumbo.

10 Dave { 01.29.13 at 6:39 am }

Hi James! This sorta won’t work. First, on the example, Dumbo and Everest are in completely different parks, so you’d spend more than an hour–closer to 90 minutes–in getting from one ride to the other. You’d also need a park hopper add-on. And anyway, you can only do the baby switch if both you and your wife have FASTPASSES…

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11 Keith { 03.16.13 at 2:12 am }

Hi Dave,
Thanks for all of your work.
Fastpass question — variation on the “buy two tickets for each person idea.”
Would this work?
Granpda, Grandma go to get FP for Barnstormer
Dad, and Daughter go to get FP for Ariel undersea (or whatever it is called)
Can daughter and Grandpa use FP for Barnstormer?
And then daughter and Grandma use FP for Ariel?
In short, are FP transferable?

thanks!

Keith

12 Dave { 03.16.13 at 7:28 am }

Hi Keith and thanks!

Yes the fastpasses are transferable! I do this all the time–including, if I’m leaving the parks for the day before I’ve used up my fastpasses, giving them away to a beat-looking family…

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13 Jared WEtmore { 04.05.13 at 12:03 pm }

What do you think the chances of free meal dining in Dec will be.
looking to be at Disnet Dec 3-9/10 . trying to save and free meal plan would help alot !
thought s ?>

14 Dave { 04.06.13 at 8:55 am }

Hey Jared, I’m pessimistic on free dining in 2013 for other than the late August-September period. See this for why: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/02/07/2013-free-dining-mymagic-implications-disneys-q1-2013-earnings-call/

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15 Sarah { 06.29.13 at 8:40 am }

Hi. I have never been to Disney and we are planning our first trip in April 2014 for my oldest son’s 5th birthday. I will also have a 2 year old to. I need a lot of advice on where to stay, dining plan, park tickets etc. I was thinking of April 27-May 3 , is that a good time to go next yea??? Would you recommend a guide book to purchase? Should we book through Disney or a Travel Agent? It is very overwhelming!

16 Dave { 06.29.13 at 10:23 am }

Sarah, this site is designed for you! Start on the home page and work your way through its topics–http://yourfirstvisit.net/ You’ve alresdy decided when to go (the first topic there) and that is in fact a good week–I rank it the 12th best of 2014 (see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/10/15/2014-weeks-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-order/ )

Your kids, tho, are much younger than most of what I have is designed for. Because of that, a guidebook will help you in picking appropriate rides to target…

A travel agent can help execute, but you still need to make the basic decisions yourself…

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17 Sheila { 01.15.14 at 10:03 am }

Hello there! I was wondering, do you have any information about Disneyland California? Universal Studios Hollywood? Or can you suggest any website?
Tks a lot!

18 Dave { 01.16.14 at 7:19 am }

Hi Sheila!

Sorry, I don’t have anything that’s good and up to date. For Disneyland, try this: http://touringplans.com/disneyland-resort I don;t know of any Universal-CA sites–I’m sure they are out there, I just don’t know enuf to recommend any…

19 Marie S. { 08.12.14 at 10:42 pm }

We may have to cancel our December 2014 Disney vacation. I have purchased 4 adult 10 day park hoppers. Can I use those tickets in 2015 if we have to reschedule our trip or do they have to be used the year they are purchased? Thanks.

20 Michelle { 08.13.14 at 4:23 am }

Hi Dave,
Just love your site and have now done all my Disney planning following religiously your kindle and website.
I have a question though re Universal. My kids are recently turned 9 year old boy, 7 1/2 year old girl and 5 year old boy. I was only going to give ourselves a day at Universal as always was of the view it was more for older kids. However, not sure what to do with all the Harry Potter hype now seems you can’t get through much in a day. My oldest has read the first two books and my other two watched the first movie (it gave my daughter nightmares!) Anyway, it seems that they are not hugely into the whole Harry Potter thing however my 9 year old is a little bit into it and his friends do talk about it. What do you think? Can we do it in one day or do we need to allocate 2 days to Universal?
Thanks so much!
Michelle

21 Dave { 08.13.14 at 9:19 am }

Marie, your tix are good forever until you start to use them in the parks–then they expire 14 days after first use.

22 Dave { 08.13.14 at 9:20 am }
23 Michelle { 08.13.14 at 7:09 pm }

Thanks Dave. You talk about two mornings (this is just for Harry Potter I assume) not for the rest of Universal. To do all the other things at Universal like Despicable Me, Simpsons ride, ET, Dr Seuss…etc should we allow one full day and one morning or do we need two full days?
Do you think we should give priority to Harry Potter world and Universal over doing Typhoon lagoon and blizzard beach as we have both those water parks in the itinerary?
Also if we go through your recommended agents Destinations Florida says they have a free shuttle with their tickets. Do you know if that would just pick us up though or others too (as obviously will need to get there super early!)
I see you are at the WL at the moment. Hope you have a fab time! Would so love to have met you on your signing day if we were there – would have been top of our priorities to meet you as you have become very famous in our house. We always say lets check what Dave says and then we look up our question on your website or in your book!

24 Michelle { 08.13.14 at 7:24 pm }

Oh and one more thing our plan was to do Universal on Monday, 6 Oct just need to find another morning or day too then. At that time of year do you think we should turn up 60 mins before opening at wizarding world. And I did read on your site that the other option is to do Wizarding world in the evening. Maybe we could do full day of all things other than Harry Potter and try in evening to get in and if not as you say come back next morning. I realise you can’t use the extra pass you can buy to jump queues for Harry Potter world but would it be worth us buying it for the other stuff at Universal in October – or do you think queues won’t be that bad?
Just got my head around all the Disney stuff (after reading all and everything Dave Shute related) and now trying to work this Universal thing all out – aaaaarrrgh!

25 Dave { 08.14.14 at 4:59 pm }

Michelle, Universal needs more than two full days to do everything. If you are a fan of thrill rides, I’d prioritize it over any days at water parks. And I believe that the shuttle picks up multiple guests at several hotels…

26 Dave { 08.14.14 at 5:02 pm }

Michelle, the evening option is from before the second half of HP opened, so I don’t know if it works any more. You shouldn’t need the Universal Express Pass, as HP will be so popular that the other rides should have OK lines. I would do 60 minutes early your first day, and decide based on how that goes how early to get there the second day.

27 Michelle { 08.15.14 at 6:05 am }

Thanks so much Dave, fantastic advice. Now thinking I will change the sea world hotel we are staying in for first 5 nights before we move to WDW to a Universal hotel to reap the amazing benefits of the early hour. There still is availability for our dates and tis is US$141 per night for Cabana Bay or US$174 per night for the Royal Pacific. Given not much in it should we stay at the Royal Pacific? (This is some special deal they are doing where you stay 5 nights get 20% off). There is also another different package deal which included 3 days of tickets and breakfast at Leaky Cauldron one day and breakfast at Three Broomsticks another day. Would we have time for breakfast though – as isn’t this when you want to spend your time touring in the morning? And we would only be able to use 2 days of tickets (don’t think we have time to fit the third day in with Discovery Cove and Seaworld). Can I please get your advice on this?
Saw you of Facebook at Anna and Elsa parade – lucky you!!! Can’t wait to get there.

28 Dave { 08.16.14 at 10:27 am }

Michelle, I’d do RP becasue you also get a front of the line pass for the rest of Universal (but not any HP) by staying there–at Cabana Bay you only get the early hour. And yes do skip the breakfasts!! I think two days at Universal with the front of line and early hours will be just fine!!

29 Michelle { 08.17.14 at 5:22 am }

Hi Dave,
I have just done some reading on the early hour for guests as am about to book RP. However this is what I read on one site – what do you make of this? And is it still worth booking at RP because of this?

Finally, starting September 2, Universal will only offer Early Park Admission at USF for Diagon Alley. Guests with Early Park Admission who wish to visit IOA and ride the Hogwarts Express will need to wait until 9:00am when both USF and IOA open for general admission.

UPDATE: We wanted to clarify that, since the beginning of this summer, Universal has only ever “guaranteed” that one park would be open during Early Park Admission. Here’s the language: Requires theme park admission. Early Park Admission begins one (1) hour prior to regular scheduled park opening to one (1) Universal Orlando theme park as determined by Universal Orlando. Valid at select attractions at each park. Universal Orlando Resort reserves the right to open alternative attractions in the event that a technical problem arises or an attraction opening is delayed.

To see this yourself, visit this page on UniversalOrlandoVacations.com and click the small, blue Disclaimer link toward the bottom. Keep in mind, everything is subject to change, and the September 2nd change is still unofficial info.

30 Michelle { 08.17.14 at 6:41 pm }

Hi Dave
I rang Universal today and they confirmed that as of Sept, 2 Universal will only offer Early Park Admission at USF for Diagon Alley as stated above. He said that they will continue it with Diagon Valley so that the guests can enjoy this area and the new rides of Simpsons and Transformers before others arrive. The Guest Services person told me that when we are there between 24 – 27 September it will be very quiet and we won’t have any problems getting into HP world in IoA and said all the locals go at that time. He also said that the waits for Diagon Alley will probably only be 1 hour long at peak time (around noon). He also felt that we would not need the express passes at all at this time of year. I am now confused as to whether we even need to pay the prices of the Universal hotels? We were originally stating at Springhill Suits at Seaworld to do Seaworld, Disovery Cove and Universal and it only US$88 a night. To upgrade to a Universal hotel is a big jump in price and am wondering if it is worth it for only Diagon Valley being open early?
Appreciate your advice.

31 Dave { 08.18.14 at 12:49 pm }

Michelle thanks for your research and detailed posts! Me, I’d still stay in RP for at least a night–giving you two early entries to Diagon Alley…

32 Michelle { 08.19.14 at 1:02 am }

Thanks Dave, we will stay at RP then! Just not sure how to do the two day touring now. On the second day of early entry to Diagon Alley do we somehow use it to our advantage perhaps by catching the train over to IoA for the WWHP? Or on our second day instead of doing early entry to Diagon Alley are we best to get in line before park opening for I0A to see WWHP?
Cheers!!!!!!

33 Dave { 08.20.14 at 6:49 am }

Frankly, Michelle, I think you will end up wanting to spend both at DA!

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