Planning Resources

Recommended Disney Vacation Planning Resources

Over the years and with multiple experiences at Walt Disney World, we’ve picked up on some of the best resources to utilize in planning for and while your are in the parks. While many of these suggestions will be planning books that first time and returning guests can use, other items will be “must haves” for any Disney vacation. Each of these products we have used at one point or another and as a result these should be the best of the best vacation resources.

Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World: The Official Guide (Birnbaum Guides)

While the Birnbaum’s guidebooks have been around for years, they’ve always been hard to beat in the world of planning resources for Walt Disney World. The books feature helpful tips and a vast array of information about each of the parks. However, while they are quite successful in helping guests plan their first few vacations, it’s easy to “outgrow” the information contained in the books fairly quickly. After your first few trips they become more fun read to see what’s changed each year, but are not quite as helpful compared to the first time you read them. Also, it is the only official guide licensed by the Disney company and as a result features some unique new information about upcoming lands and conceptual artwork that cannot be found anywhere else from time to time (Pandora artwork in 2017, etc.).

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2018 
If you’re a repeat guest or simply someone who likes to have all of the most helpful information all in one place, this is the book for you. At just over 850 pages, this book contains a little bit about everything in and around the Disney parks. While it isn’t the most interesting book to read straight through, it is a wonderful planning resource that contains a variety of high quality information. Everything from restaurant and resort information to something as unique as rental car company reviews is all included in the Unofficial Guides.

102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World: Bonus! 40 Free Things to Enjoy, Eat, Do and Collect!
Now this is a book for truly everyone. While the author has become a friend of sorts over the last few years, many of you may recognize his name. Lou Mongello is an award winning podcaster and the voice behind WDW Radio on iTunes. While that show is his main entertainment production, he has also written quite a few books along the way. This particular book just happens to be one of my favorites and one that I would recommend to anyone. 

Just as the title states, this is one of the greatest, all encompassing, money saving books for Disney. Everyone is looking to save every dime they can on a vacation and with prices constantly rising in the Disney parks, now, more that ever, this book is extremely relevant. The tips found throughout the title are easy to implement and perfectly described. As a bonus, Lou also runs a weekly livestream on to answer questions, talk with fans (always referred to as friends), and simply interact with the Disney online community.

If you do decide to show up in the comments of the weekly livestream and watch the show, be sure to look for my name (Collin Kendall) mixed in with the rest of the group. Lou has helped me out quite a bit with different projects, and his work is second to none.

If you’re a Disney veteran or just looking for some of the backstory behind much of Magic Kingdom, be sure to check out Lou’s audio tours of the parks as well. The tours truly put you in the parks with sound that surrounds you just as if you were walking through the lands the tours represent. The audio brings a piece of the magic to wherever you are! (here’s one of the multiple tours to check out: Tomorrowland: Walt Disney World Audio Tour)

The Adventurer’s Guide to Walt Disney World
Honestly, I’m a little bias about this recommendation simply because it is my own book. However, I do truly believe that it is a great resource for a variety of theme park guests. Throughout the book I intended to create a guide for first time and returning guests to the parks that would not only be helpful but also somewhat portable in a way that other guidebooks lacked. The book isn’t a massive 800+ page brick to carry with you to the parks but rather a lightweight book that can easily fit inside a backpack.

Again, it is the book on this list that I did in fact write, but it is on the list for another reason as well. Throughout the title I tried to create the simplest possible way to list every resort, every attraction, and every dining location at the Walt Disney World Parks. While it was a monumental task, we managed to include every option currently found in the parks when it was first published in 2016. Along the way, I chose to give subtle tips and tricks that everyone can benefit from, but also a bit of history of the parks that many guests simply overlook during their vacation. While it’s not a history book or simply a guidebook, the goal was to fill the void somewhere in the middle. It won’t overwhelm first time guests and it should have a good amount of history and unique tips to capture the interest of Disney veterans as well. You can read it straight through or simply flip to exactly what you’re looking for. It’s all up to you and provides a variety of options!

Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets
This resource is kind of the odd ball of the group. While it isn’t a guide to the parks per say, it is in fact a critical part of a Disney vacation (at least in my opinion). The book itself is a guide to many of the Hidden Mickey’s Disney Imagineering has become famous for “leaving behind”. For those of you who are new to the parks, Hidden Mickey’s are essentially hidden references to the mouse that started it all. Mickey heads and silhouette are hidden all throughout the four parks and multiple resorts, but you certainly have to look for them to find them. While many are quiet difficult to locate, it creates a sort of large scale scavenger hunt for the whole family throughout your Disney vacation. Finding these hidden surprises all over the parks has been a tradition for our family for years and could very well become one for yours as well!

Small Travel Gifts for Kids 
Just like the Hidden Mickey’s, this is one of the traditions our family started years ago. If you’re planning to drive to the most magical place on earth, especially with kids, it’s good to have some great entertainment for the drive. No matter if it’s a short drive up the road, or a many hour road trip, it’s always great to put a smile on the face of those traveling with you as you begin your journey. For example, when I was much younger, our parents used to create fun little gift bags for us at the start of a road trip to get us excited about the trip (and I’m sure to keep us occupied for a few hours as well). 

While it was never something super expensive, it it was always fun to find a coloring book or some special Disney related snacks for the drive down to the parks. With the popularity of amazon and other retailers, it’s easier now that ever before to find budget friendly Disney merchandise and even theme park exclusive items to purchase for kids and grown ups alike. While it is a simple tip and more of a tradition that a planning resource, it’s amazing how putting a smile on everyone’s face at the beginning of a journey can make it a much simpler drive (or flight). While any Disney items or even non-Disney items will do the trick, it’s cheap and easy to find items such as the one below and get them delivered straight to your house pre-vacation. 

Ready to Plan?
Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE – no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! 

Last but certainly not least, if you’re starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips, 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets, check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections!

So, while this list will never truly be complete (just like the parks themselves) we will continue adding to it as we find new products that may help you throughout your WDW vacation planning process! 

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