Having read “The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando Resort” several times and had a successful trip to UOR, I decided it was time to see what advice they had for a trip to Walt Disney World. I wasn’t disappointed. This book is quite thick considering there’s four parks that comprise WDW as well as an abriged section on UOR (apparently a lot of people make UOR a part of their WDW trip). The first quarter of the book was focused on the systems and lingo of WDW and what it takes, in advance of arriving at the parks, in order to have a successful vacation. The succeeding sections are on the transportation, accommodations, each theme park, the water parks, Disney Springs, and Disney activities outside of the parks.
The advice they give about what to do in advance of arriving at the parks is stress-inducing. I’ve heard about how crazy people get when they plan their trips and I think that Disney feeds in to this. For example, guests staying at a Disney resort get to make their FastPass+ reservations something like 60 days in advance and their dining reservations 100+ days in advance. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what I want to eat 100 in advance of anything. So what happens is that people get up a 4am on the 100th day of their reservations and try and snap up the reservations and FP+. I’m sorry, no theme park ride or restaurant is worth that. And this is from someone who thrives off planning theme park vacations.
A lot of people seem to put a lot of expectations on a Disney vacation, and for the amount of money they pay, they should, but there has to come a limit to what you can actually expect. One, don’t start a trip already stressed because you didn’t get a restaurant or FP+. Two, you can’t control the weather or the crowds. Three, you won’t be able to ride every ride, see every parade, or experience all the facets of your resort. It’s all designed to make you want to come back and enjoy more. The only way I think you can do it ALL is to spend a week or more there, which I’m sure some do.
For me, 4-5 days seems sufficient to have a good time while not going broke on the vacation. I would also sacrifice a little and not experience the full-service restaurants. It was very helpful to have them rank and rate all restaurants with in their categories. I like getting the best quality for my buck.
As far as planning rides during busy times, the Touring Plans the Unofficial Guides design have always come through for us. Sometimes you do have to wait, but sometimes the waiting is a great time to visit and reconnect with the people you’re traveling with. Plus many queues are so well designed its nice to take them in. Even if you do have to wait while using a Touring Plan it’s going to be so much better than without the plan.
I would highly recommend this book if you’re thinking of going to WDW. Also get the Lines app to help you be aware of the crowds and wait times while in the park.