Review: The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2014


The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World With Kids 2014 by Bob Sehlinger & Liliane J. Opsomer with Len Testa. Keen Communications. 434 pp.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I’ve got exciting news: I recently booked a trip to Disney World!!! It’ll be my fourth trip but my husband’s first. It’s also the first time we’ll vacation with our 21-month-old, and I wanted to be sure to plan a trip that would include age-appropriate activities. I figured there had to be a book about traveling to Disney World with kids, and I was right. In fact, there were several. This one seemed most suited to my needs, and it had a bunch of favorable reviews on Amazon, so I went with it (which, in case you were wondering, was an excellent decision).

This guide provides some useful preliminary information, like whether or not Disney World is the right fit for your family and whether you might benefit more from staying at a Walt Disney World property or off-site. There are sections about hotel selection, dining plans, and park ticket options. The writers give suggestions for discipline away from home as well as packing and scheduling tips. (They’re big on the afternoon nap, for instance, which is key with a toddler.) There’s also a chapter for each park, complete with a map and brief summary of all the rides.

Since I gave up a second income to be a stay at home mom, I’m reluctant to spend money on unnecessary things. So why a guidebook when I have Google? Sometimes I don’t even know what questions to ask or where to start. That’s when I turn to a book for information. (This is rare, as you will see from a quick browse through my “Nonfiction” reviews.) You’ll find Disney’s website to be an excellent overview to all that Disney has to offer, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll have follow-up questions. And while you can always call Disney and ask them your questions (their phone representatives are some of the most pleasant I’ve encountered in recent years), this book covered almost everything I needed to know — and I could read it at my own pace. Sitting down with a list of questions, waiting on hold, and giving a customer service rep 100% of my attention would require at least as much time as nap time provides, if not more. It was far easier for me to read five minutes’ worth of information here and there amid the day’s spilled milk and coloring sessions. Then I made a brief list of remaining questions and got them taken care of in a phone call to Disney that lasted less than ten minutes.

This book is as detailed as they come. It was extremely helpful to have almost all of my questions answered in one place and in great detail. If you’re looking for an overview, though, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information this book contains: there are also multiple charts that simplify things and provide the more need-to-know stuff.

Highlights of this book:

  • strengths and weaknesses of every Disney hotel
  • chart of rides that have the potential to frighten small children
  • resort-wide list of character meals
  • ride ratings for every age group
  • multiple touring plans for each park, depending on the ages of the party’s members
  • sense of humor!

The only downfall to this book is that it’s already outdated in some aspects. Disney is in the process of switching from their quick-ride system of Fastpass to Fastpass+. The authors are shockingly well-versed in Fastpass rules and loopholes, but since Fastpass+ wasn’t up and running at the time of publication there is very little information about how it works. Disney’s doing a trial run of Fastpass+ right now (in which we’ll be taking part), but since it’s in the early experimental stages, I don’t have a good understanding of the system.

All in all: Well worth the money. I’d recommend it to anyone traveling to Disney World with kids.