For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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easy Guide March Update


Amazon has released the updated version of my and Josh’s The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the latest edition of the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook in history.

We first published the 2018 edition in late August 2017, updated it in November, and updated it again with almost 50 pages of changes in early March 2018.

If you bought the 2018 edition you get this update (as a PDF) for free! If you’ve already sent in your email, we’ll start sending instructions on how to get the updated PDF this week.

If you bought the 2018 edition but have not yet forwarded your Amazon confirmation, then quit fooling around and get it to us! Here’s the instructions:

And if you haven’t bought it yet, what are you waiting for?

We’ve had almost 300 reviews of this Disney World guidebook series on Amazon, and more than 90% are five stars. You won’t find more informed, more thoughtful, more experienced, more judicious or more silly companions to the Disney World parks, resorts, or dining venues than me and co-author Josh. Ours is the most accurate and most up-to-date Disney World guidebook you can find.

“Even though I live in Florida and used to work in Guest Services at Disney, I truly enjoyed the read! As a Disney Cast Member, I would follow their blogs, and the very thorough overviews and photos that they provide of events, resort properties, new dining, etc., were hugely helpful to me in my role interacting with Guests and answering their questions. Dave and Josh are pros at finding ways to maximize the efficiency (and therefore the fun and stress-free enjoyment) of a Disney vacation. The book is serves as a great resource for anyone who will be visiting the parks and resorts. They provide fantastic overviews of all the resorts and restaurants, and their suggestions about when to visit and what to do are spot-on.” –Jean

Here’s the key changes in the March update:

Chapter 1: How to Use This Book

Chapter 1 has three purposes: introduce the rest of the book, summarize our recommendations for first-timers, and indicate what’s new for returning visitors.

Pursuing the third purpose, the big news of the rest of the update to the book is also noted here:

  • The opening date of June 30 for Toy Story Land
  • Seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets to come “later in 2018,” and
  • The addition of FastPass+ at 60 days for Shades of Green, Extra Magic Hours for the Four Seasons, and both for the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels

Chapter 2: Why Age and Height Matter

The only material change here was the upcoming closure of the Children’s Activity Centers. We went to press before the Pixar thingy at the Contemporary was announced.

Chapter 3: How Long to Stay

The prices in this chapter are updated to reflect the ticket prices that came out in February. In some cases, the cost of adding a day actually went down.

Chapter 4: When to Go

Little changed in this chapter—we went to press after the start date for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (August 30) was announced.

Chapter 5: Where to Stay

  • We updated the hotel advice and reviews of this chapter based on the additions of FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours to the various hotels noted above
  • We also updated the refurb status of various hotels–e.g. the Dolphin, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter
  • The announcement that the Disney resorts would charge for overnight parking for trips booked March 21 or later came out after we went to press

Chapter 6: How to Spend Your Time

We made dozens of changes to this chapter, our most important. Most were minor—but not all. A few worth noting

  • A new entry on UP! A Great Bird Adventure, to debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on April 22
  • Multiple revisions to the Hollywood Studios material related to challenges you’ll find seeing Toy Story Mania between now and when Toy Story Land opens on June 30, including a recommended touring plan for dates when FastPass+ for it can’t be booked
  • Changes to FastPass+ priority at Magic Kingdom

Chapter 7: Where to Eat

“Where to Eat” always sees a ton of changes when we update because of Disney World’s constant pricing and menu changes. In addition

  • We note that Dining Plan users can now use the plan to pay for Mobile Orders
  • We introduce the dining options to come in Toy Story Land
  • We note the coming two-credit prix fixe dinner menu coming July 27 to Be Our Guest
  • We revise the entry on The Edison, and add new entries for Ale & Compass, Enzo’s Hideaway and Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante

Chapter 8: Which Tickets to Buy and What to Budget

We’ve revised all the material in this chapter to reflect

  • The new ticket prices announced in February
  • The move of Disney later this year to seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets

Chapter 9: How to Set Everything Up and Get Everything Done

We revised the To-Do lists in this chapter to reflect the addition of more hotels to 60 day FastPass+ eligibility.

Chapter 10: Where to Go Next

We made no significant changes to this chapter, as the places to go next remain and!

We pride ourselves on having the most accurate and up-to-date guidebook available, and updates like this are what make that come to life! Already have yours?  Then write us a five star review on Amazon!

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March 14, 2018   1 Comment

Buy Your DIsney World Tickets Now?

Tom Corless at WDW News Today is forecasting that Disney World ticket prices will go up on Sunday February 11.

He’s also published his expected new prices, which for his examples represent increases of 5-15%.

If you buy your 2018 tickets now, you will avoid these increases unless you later add something to them (e.g. a day or a hopper) or combine them into a newly-purchased package.

For a family of four buying  longer tickets savings could exceed $200, if the higher increases remain at these forecast levels.

If prices do not go up Sunday, they likely will go up later this month. So it can’t hurt to buy them now.

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February 9, 2018   No Comments

The Pools at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, click here.


Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort has two pools and a kids splash area.

The principal pool at the Grand Floridian, the Courtyard Pool, is among the accomodations buildings.

It’s the only principal pool at Disney World not aimed at kids, and is marketed by Disney as “tranquil.”

The Courtyard Pool at night.

There’s also a hot tub here…

…and a pool bar…

Pool Bar Menu Disney's Grand Floridian Resort from

…with an extensive menu. See the current menu here.

On the far east side of the resort is a more kid-friendly pool/water play area. There’s an Alice in Wonderland-themed water play area here.

The play area at night…

…and also a second pool, the more kid-friendly the Beach Pool…

…with a slide…

…and another bar. The menu for the Beach Pool bar is here. I particularly recommend the Crab Cake Sandwich.

The Beach Pool in the evening.

The actual beach here.

A fire pit in the beach area is used for making S’mores in the evening.

Movies on the Beach at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort from

Movies are shown on the nearby beach most evenings.

Most of the deluxe resorts have a better suite of pools than these, but they function perfectly adequately for a visit.





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January 22, 2018   No Comments

Dining at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, click here.


Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort has the best adult dining of any single Disney resort, some fun options for kids, and easy access to even more great dining via the monrial at the Polynesian Village and Contemporary Resort.

All but one of the table service options is in the main building.

Cinderella and Her Court 1900 Park Fare from

On the first floor is 1900 Park Fare, where at breakfast you can find Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh, and at dinner Cinderella and her homies–Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, Drizella, and the Fairy Godmother.

From our book, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019:

More on 1900 Park Fare is here.

Between breakfast and dinner, 1900 Park Fare hosts the Wonderland Tea Party.

This event, only for children 4-12 (parents leave after drop-off), includes fun with Alice in Wonderland characters, decorating cupcakes and such.

Around the corner is another of the resort’s five table service restaurants, the Grand Floridian Cafe. Alone among the Grand Floridian table service offerings, there’s nothing special here, so it can be a quite easy reservation to get.

From our book, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019:

Tea Room Menu at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort from

Centered at the back of the lobby is the Garden View Tea Room with its Perfectly Princess Tea Party, which is I suppose a steal at $333 for a parent and a princess–or more specifically (there’s more fine print to this offer than any other Disney World thingy) one guest 10 or older, and one guest 3-9 years old:

I will have to borrow a princess (and $333) and do this someday.

At the back center of the second floor is the bar Mizner’s Lounge. On the lobby side of Mizner’s you’ll commonly find a band in the evenings.

Victoria and Alberts Disney's Grand Floridian Resort from

On the left is the stunning Victoria and Albert’s–some of the best dining you’ll ever enjoy.

From our book, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019:

(Find even more details in this review)…

…and further back, Citricos, a two-credit signature dining venue. From our book, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019:

Downstairs, outside, and around the corner you’ll find one of the best counter-service venues in a deluxe resort, the Gasparilla Island Grill. (Menu here.)

Gasparilla Grill has both indoor and outdoor seating, and the outdoor seating is popular during the Magic Kingdom fireworks.

Narcoossees from

Near the boat dock is the remaining table service restaurant, the two-credit Narcoossee’s.

Narcoossee Menu from

Among the three top dining options at the Grand Floridian–Narcoossee’s, Citricos, and Victoria and Albert’s–Narcoossee’s has the most familiar menu and the hardest name to spell. From our book, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019:

There’s more dining at each of the pools.


This review continues here.





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January 22, 2018   No Comments

New FastPass+ Opportunities at Disney World “Club Level” Accommodations

Word emerged last week that those staying at the “Disney Signature Services Level”—basically, Club Level, suites, and deluxe rooms at the deluxes, and the Bungalows at the Polynesian Village and the Cascade Cabins at the Wilderness Lodge—will have the opportunity, for trips beginning March 13 and after, to pay extra to book three additional FastPass+ per day, starting 90 days before their check-out date.

These additional FastPass+ can be at any tier, and—if you have a Park Hopper ticket—in any park. Besides requiring the Signature Services price level (which can be spectacular compared to the least expensive options in these resorts), in addition folks using this deal will need to pay an extra $50/person/day for at least three days of their Signature Services level stay.

The three “extra” FastPass+ are booked directly through the Disney Signature Services staff, beginning 90 days before check-out. The additional regular three FastPass+ are available at 60 days before check-in via My Disney Experience, just as usual. The three extras need to be for three different rides, but it is unclear, so far, whether you can then double up on these with your three regular FastPass+. Stay tuned to this thread (and especially this post) on DisBoards for further clarity as this trial program unfolds.

In addition, your $50/person/night (and Club-level premium) gets you reserved space (one per night) at special viewing areas at Happily Ever After, Rivers of Light, IllumiNations, and Fantasmic.

I’ve stayed club level at the Beach Club and Contemporary multiple times each, and also at the club levels at the Polynesian Village and the Wilderness Lodge. In all cases but one, this was not by design—rather, I either had to get into a room at one of these hotels for a review and had put my booking off until only club level was available, or was upgraded into such a room.

I’ve always been skeptical about the value of these offerings, especially since I typically otherwise book lowest-cost-view rooms (except at the Animal Kingdom Lodge). Essentially, their distinctive offer is free drinks and free food, and I don’t drink enough—no, really—to get much value from the alcohol, and find the food too hit-or-miss to be able to count on it as a meal substitute. So I don’t commonly pay the premium, which can be over 60%, nor have I historically much recommended it.

For example, in most of May 2018 the lowest cost view room at the Wilderness Lodge is between $442 and $487 per night. A club room there the same dates is $704 to $807—about a 65% premium.

At the Grand Floridian, the main building club offering these same dates has the same 60% premium over its lowest priced rooms (outer building club rooms in Sugar Loaf Key are less expensive than the main building rooms, and show “only” an average 30% premium then). You can figure out the difference yourself for your dates on by following the links here.

But for those already paying for club level—or for a standard room at one of the higher theme park-view price points who are willing to shift to club level instead—the upgrade to this offering may be well worth it.

Judicious use of the extra FastPass+ could both save you a day or two of your visit (especially at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios), and/or save you from having to get up early, and make accessing the hottest FastPass+ at Flight of Passage and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train much more likely. The value of these extra 90 day FastPass+ will only increase after Toy Story Land opens, and even more after, god help us, Star Wars Land opens.

There’s also real value to the reserved viewing area at Happily Ever After in particular, and for some at the other three evening shows.

Tom Corless has posted on that, according to internal Disney documents, “this pilot program will not affect FastPass+ availability for Resort Guests booking at their normal 60-day window.”

If true, this means that the “extra” FastPass+ will come out of stand-by capacity, not previously established FastPass+ capacity.

But not, perhaps, as much capacity as you might think—at least for now.

For example, about 90 club level rooms, deluxe rooms, and suites at the Beach Club will be eligible, about 68 at the Contemporary, and about 130 at the Polynesian Village (including the Bungalows).

Conveniently, these three average about 100 eligible rooms, so spreading that across the other deluxe resorts, we get 800 rooms eligible for this offer—about 3% of the total number of rooms at Disney World eligible for 60 day FastPass+…

…unless the number of Disney Signature Services rooms expands.

The Disney Signature services rooms, right now, are of three types. First, there are the club level rooms, typically on their own floor and with a lounge on that same floor; second are the suites and deluxe rooms, which can be anywhere (there’s 20 of them at the Beach Club that are not on the fifth floor where the club rooms are); and third, at Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian Village, there’s the Bungalow and Cascade Cabins, out away from everything else along the water.

Given that Signature Services already extend off the dedicated club floors, and that most of the club level rooms themselves are no different than standard rooms at their respective deluxe, I can think of no logical reason why Disney can’t simply make a room on a different floor a Signature Services room. So room 3024 at the Wilderness Lodge, most of the time a mild-mannered third floor woods view room, could be booked either as such at its regular rate, or for an extra 60% plus $50/person/day, put on its superhero outfit as a Club-eligible room with six FastPass+.

I’m not saying this will happen. But I am saying that it can. As Disney continues to scheme ways to monetize the popularity of Star Wars and other rides it will be opening in 2019 and beyond, without necessarily plunking down the capital (and timelines) required for a lot of new hotels, I would not at all be surprised to find many more rooms to be bookable as Signature Services a couple of years from now than can be booked today.

If you are interested in this trial, and your visit is March 13 or later, Kelly B can book it for you. You can reach Kelly at or 980-429-4499, or use the quote form below.

Request a Quote

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January 14, 2018   3 Comments

Get $5 Off The easy Guide!

As my co-author Josh notes here, Amazon is running a sale that lets you get $5 off The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018–the best reviewed Disney World guide book, ever.

To get the deal, order the book via this link, and then at check-out use the coupon code BOOKGIFT17.

As we understand it, the deal is only through 12/18, but Amazon has already extended it once, so who knows?

December 17, 2017   No Comments