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The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World

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Table of Contents

List of Maps & Diagrams xvi Introduction 1 Why "Unofficial"? 1 Declaration of Independence 1 Dance to the Music 1 The Importance of Being Goofy 2 Honey, I Blew Up the Book! 3 Your Unofficial Walt Disney World Toolbox 4 The Death of Spontaneity 5 Don't Let the Tail Wag the Dog 5 Corrections, Updates, and Breaking News 6 We've Got Attitude 6 The Sum of All Fears 8 Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen? 9 The Unofficial Team 10 The How and the Why of It 11 This Is Not a Novel! 12 The Unofficial Guide Publishing Year 13 Letters and Comments from Readers 13 Walt Disney World: An Overview 14 What Walt Disney World Encompasses 14 DISNEY-SPEAK POCKET TRANSLATOR AND GUIDE TO COMMON ABBREVIATIONS 15 The Major Theme Parks 15 The Water Parks 18 Other Walt Disney World Venues 18 The People 20 PART ONE Planning Before You Leave Home 26 Gathering Information 26 Walt Disney World on the Web 29 IMPORTANT WALT DISNEY WORLD ADDRESSES 29 When to Go to Walt Disney World 33 Selecting the Time of Year for Your Visit 33 Extra Magic Hours 39 Early Entry (a.k.a. Morning Extra Magic Hours) 41 Summer and Holidays 43 The Walt Disney World Calendar 45 PART TWO Making the Most of Your Time and Money 48 Allocating Money 48 Disney and the Economy 48 Walt Disney World Admission Options 49 Help Is on the Way! 49 Magic Your Way! 50 Base-Ticket Add-Ons 52 A Cloud Is Just a Cloud 53 Big Brother Is Watching 54 How to Get the Most from Magic Your Way 54 Gotcha! 55 Where to Purchase Magic Your Way Tickets 55 For Additional Information on Passes 56 Where the Real Deals Are 56 The British Are Coming! 57 More Discounts on Admissions 57 How Much Does It Cost Per Day? 57 Allocating Time 58 Which Park to See First? 59 Operating Hours 59 Official Opening versus Real Opening 59 The Vacation That Fights Back 60 The Practicality of Returning to Your Hotel for Rest 61 Arrival- and Departure-Day Blues: What to Do When You Have Only Half a Day 62 The Cardinal Rules for Successful Touring 64 What's a Queue? 67 Of Utmost Importance: Read This! 67 Touring Plans: What They Are and How They Work 68 Overview of the Touring Plans 72 Extra Magic Hours and the Touring Plans 79 Fastpass 80 Understanding Walt Disney World Attractions 87 Cutting Your Time in Line by Understanding the Rides 88 Cutting Your Time in Line by Understanding the Shows 91 A Word about Disney Thrill Rides 92 Attraction-Breakdown Rates 93 Central Florida Roller Coasters 94 PART T H R E E Accommodations 100 The Basic Considerations 100 The Tax Man Cometh 100 About Hotel Renovations 101 Benefits of Staying in the World 101 Staying in or out of the World: Weighing the Pros and Cons 102 The Disney Resorts 104 Disney Resorts 101 104 How to Get Discounts on Lodging 107 Choosing a Walt Disney World Hotel 112 Researching Walt Disney World Hotels 127 Unofficial Guide Readers Speak Out 133 Readers' 2012 Disney Resort Report Card 133 Walt Disney World Hotel Profiles 136 The Magic Kingdom Resorts 136 The Epcot Resorts 153 The Bonnet Creek Resorts 168 Independent Hotels of the Walt Disney World Resort Area 196 Camping at Walt Disney World 201 How to Evaluate a Walt Disney World Travel Package 206 Cut to the Chase 207 Walt Disney World Travel Company Magic Your Way Packages 208 DISNEY LODGING FOR LESS 210--211 Number Crunching 217 Throw Me a Line! 218 Packages from a Different Perspective 218 Hotels outside Walt Disney World 219 Selecting and Booking a Hotel outside Walt Disney World 219 Driving Time to the Parks for Visitors Lodging outside Walt Disney World 225 Good Neighbor Hotels 226 Hotel Shopping on the Internet: Welcome to the Wild West 226 Condominiums and Vacation Homes 230 The Best Hotels for Families outside Walt Disney World 239 Hotels and Motels: Rated and Ranked 249 What's in a Room? 249 Room Ratings 249 THE TOP 30 BEST DEALS 252 A Word about Toll-Free Telephone Numbers 253 The 30 Best Hotel Values 253 HOW THE HOTELS COMPARE 254--260 HOTEL INFORMATION CHART 261--279 PART FOUR Serenity Now! A Look at Disney-Area Spas 280 Spa Profiles 281 PART F I V E The Disney Cruise Line 286 The Mouse at Sea 286 The Future Is Now 289 The Ships 289 Cabins 290 Services and Amenities 291 Dining 292 Facilities and Entertainment 294 Children's Programs 296 Sports, Fitness, and Beauty 296 Castaway Cay 297 Disney Cruise Line and the Economy 298 Cruise--WDW Packages 298 Advance Reservations for Shore Excursions, Spa, Palo, Remy, and Children's Programs 299 A Few Tips 299 PART S I X Walt Disney World with Kids 300 The Ecstasy and the Agony 300 Reality Testing: Whose Dream Is It? 301 Recommendations for Making the Dream Come True 301 About the Unofficial Guide Touring Plans 312 Stuff to Think About 313 Strollers 315 Lost Children 320 How Kids Get Lost 321 Disney, Kids, and Scary Stuff 322 SMALL-CHILD FRIGHT-POTENTIAL CHART 324--328 The Fright Factor 328 A Bit of Preparation 329 Attractions That Eat Adults 330 A Word about Height Requirements 330 ATTRACTION AND RIDE RESTRICTIONS 331 Waiting-Line Strategies for Adults with Young Children 332 The Disney Characters 337 Meeting Characters for Free 340 Character Dining 342 What to Expect 343 When to Go 344 How to Choose a Character Meal 344 CHARACTER-MEAL HIT PARADE 346--347 Getting an Advance Reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table 349 Other Character Events 350 Babysitting 350 Special Programs for Children 352 Birthdays and Special Occasions 353 PART SEVEN Special Tips for Special People 354 Walt Disney World for Singles 354 Walt Disney World for Couples 354 Weddings 354 Honeymoons and Vows Renewals 355 Romantic Getaways 355 TIPS FOR GOING SOLO 356--357 Walt Disney World "At Large" 357 Walt Disney World for Expectant Mothers 358 More Tips for Moms-to-Be 360 Walt Disney World for Seniors 360 Getting Around 361 Timing Your Visit 361 Lodging 361 Transportation 362 Senior Dining 362 Walt Disney World for Guests with Special Needs 362 Visitors with Disabilities 364 Friends of Bill W. 367 Guests Who Don't Speak English 367 PART E I G H T Arriving and Getting Around 368 Getting There 368 Directions 368 The I-4 Blues 371 Sanford International Airport 371 Security at Orlando International Airport 371 Getting to Walt Disney World from the Airport 372 Disney's Magical Express 373 Renting a Car 377 RENT AT THE AIRPORT OR OFF-SITE? 378--379 Getting Oriented 382 A Good Map 382 Finding Your Way Around 382 How to Travel around the World (or, The Real Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) 383 Transportation Trade-Offs for Guests Lodging outside Walt Disney World 383 All You Need to Know about Driving to the Theme Parks 383 Good Fuzz, Bad Fuzz 387 Sneak Routes 387 Taking a Shuttle Bus from Your Out-of-the-World Hotel 392 The Disney Transportation System 393 DOOR-TO-DOOR COMMUTING TIMES TO AND FROM THE DISNEY RESORTS AND PARKS 394--395 PART N I N E Bare Necessities 401 Money, Etc. 401 Credit Cards 401 Banking Services 401 Currency Exchange 401 A License to Print Money 401 Visiting More Than One Park in a Single Day 402 Problems and Unusual Situations 402 Attractions Closed for Repairs 402 Car Trouble 402 Gasoline 402 Lost and Found 402 Medical Matters 403 Sergeant Blisterblaster's Guide to Happy Feet 404 Rain 405 How to Lodge a Complaint with Disney 406 Services 407 Messages 407 Pet Care 407 PhotoPass 407 Excuse Me, but Where Can I Find ... 408 PART T E N Dining in and around Walt Disney World 411 Dining outside Walt Disney World 411 Room Service Orlando 411 Dining at Universal CityWalk 412 Buffets and Meal Deals outside Walt Disney World 413 WHERE TO EAT OUTSIDE WALT DISNEY WORLD 414--416 Dining in Walt Disney World 418 Getting It Right 418 Disney Dining 101 419 Disney Dining Plans 419 It's the Economy, Pluto 419 Behind the Scenes at Advance Reservations 420 Getting Advance Reservations at Popular Restaurants 421 ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: THE OFFICIAL LINE 422 ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: THE UNOFFICIAL SCOOP 423 Dress 427 Food Allergies and Special Requests 427 A Few Caveats 428 Walt Disney World Restaurant Categories 428 WALT DISNEY WORLD BUFFETS AND FAMILY-STYLE RESTAURANTS 429 Hard Choices 432 Full-Service Dining for Families with Young Children 432 Quiet, Romantic Places to Eat 433 Fast Food in the Theme Parks 434 Disney Dining Suggestions 436 The Magic Kingdom 436 Epcot 438 Disney's Animal Kingdom 442 Disney's Hollywood Studios 443 More Reader Comments about Walt Disney World Dining 444 Counter-Service Restaurant Mini-Profiles 448 Walt Disney World Restaurants: Rated and Ranked 456 Readers' Restaurant-Survey Responses 456 Full-Service Restaurant Profiles 457 WALT DISNEY WORLD RESTAURANTS BY CUISINE 458--461 PART E L E V E N The Magic Kingdom 502 Arriving 502 Getting Oriented 503 Fantasyland Expansion 506 Dining in the Magic Kingdom 506 Starting the Tour 506 Main Street, U.S.A. 507 Adventureland 510 Frontierland 513 Liberty Square 517 Fantasyland 520 Tomorrowland 528 Live Entertainment in the Magic Kingdom 535 Parades 537 Afternoon Parade 538 Evening Parade(s) 539 Parade Route and Vantage Points 539 Vantage Points for Fireworks 540 Leaving the Park after Evening Parades and Fireworks 540 Traffic Patterns in the Magic Kingdom 542 Magic Kingdom Touring Plans 544 Choosing the Appropriate Touring Plan 544 Magic Kingdom Touring-Plan Companion 546 The Single-Day Touring Conundrum 546 Preliminary Instructions for All Magic Kingdom Touring Plans 546 Park-Opening Procedures 547 Before You Go 547 Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan for Adults 547 Magic Kingdom Authors' Selective One-Day Touring Plan for Adults 548 Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan for Parents with Small Children 548 Magic Kingdom Two-Day Touring Plan 549 Magic Kingdom Dumbo-or-Die-in-a-Day One-Day Touring Plan for Parents with Small Children 549 PART TWELVE Epcot 550 The Epcot Acronym 550 Operating Hours 550 Dining in Epcot 551 Arriving 551 Getting Oriented 554 Future World 555 Test Track Pavilion 560 Imagination! Pavilion 561 The Land Pavilion 564 The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion 566 World Showcase 568 Mexico Pavilion 571 Norway Pavilion 572 China Pavilion 572 Germany Pavilion 573 Italy Pavilion 574 United States Pavilion 574 Japan Pavilion 575 Morocco Pavilion 575 France Pavilion 576 United Kingdom Pavilion 576 Canada Pavilion 576 Live Entertainment in Epcot 577 IllumiNations 579 IllumiNations Cruise 583 Traffic Patterns in Epcot 583 Epcot Touring Plans 584 Before You Go 585 Epcot One-Day Touring Plan 585 Epcot Authors' Selective One-Day Touring Plan 585 Epcot One-Day Touring Plan for Parents with Small Children 586 Epcot Two-Day Early-Riser Touring Plan 586 PART T H I RTEEN Disney's Animal Kingdom 587 Arriving 589 Operating Hours 589 Getting Oriented 593 Dining in Disney's Animal Kingdom 593 The Oasis 593 Discovery Island 594 Camp Minnie-Mickey 596 Africa 597 Asia 601 DinoLand U.S.A. 606 Live Entertainment in Disney's Animal Kingdom 610 Traffic Patterns in Disney's Animal Kingdom 612 Disney's Animal Kingdom Touring Plan 612 Before You Go 613 Disney's Animal Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan 613 PART FOURTEEN Disney's Hollywood Studios 614 The End of the MGM Connection 614 What's Offered at the Studios Today 614 How Much Time to Allocate 615 Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Evening 618 Arriving at Disney's Hollywood Studios 619 Getting Oriented at Disney's Hollywood Studios 619 Dining in Disney's Hollywood Studios 619 Disney's Hollywood Studios Attractions 619 Hollywood Boulevard 619 Sunset Boulevard 621 Echo Lake 627 Streets of America 629 Pixar Place 632 Mickey Avenue 634 Animation Courtyard 634 Live Entertainment at Disney's Hollywood Studios 636 Disney's Hollywood Studios Touring Plan 638 Disney's Hollywood Studios One-Day Touring Plan 638 PART F I F T E E N Universal Orlando 640 A Universal Primer 640 Universal on the Web 640 Cost 641 A Word about Crowds 644 How Much Time to Allocate 644 Lodging at Universal Orlando 645 Arriving at Universal Orlando 645 Universal Express 646 Singles Lines 648 Lockers 649 Universal, Kids, and Scary Stuff 649 Quitting Time 650 Impact Wrestling and Blue Man Group 650 PART S I X T E E N Universal Studios Florida 652 Universal Studios Florida Attractions 653 Live Entertainment at Universal Studios Florida 668 Universal Studios Florida Touring Plan 669 Buying Admission to Universal Studios Florida 669 Universal Studios Florida One-Day Touring Plan 669 PART SEVENTEEN Universal's Islands of Adventure 670 Beware of the Wet and the Wild 671 Getting Oriented at Universal's Islands of Adventure 671 Decisions, Decisions 671 Universal's Islands of Adventure Attractions 674 Marvel Super Hero Island 674 Toon Lagoon 676 Jurassic Park 678 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 680 The Lost Continent 693 Seuss Landing 694 Universal's Islands of Adventure Touring Plan 696 Rolling the Dice with Harry Potter 696 Universal's Islands of Adventure One-Day Touring Plan 696 PART E I G H T E E N SeaWorld Orlando 697 Discovery Cove 700 PART N I N E T E E N Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney World 701 Multipark Tours 701 Behind the Scenes at the Magic Kingdom 701 Behind the Scenes at Epcot 703 Epcot DiveQuest 704 Dolphins in Depth 704 Seas Aqua Tour 704 Behind the Scenes at Disney's Animal Kingdom 705 PART TWENTY The Water Parks 706 You're Soaking in It! 706 Watch the Weather 706 Extra Magic Hours 707 Blizzard Beach 707 Typhoon Lagoon 709 Shark Reef 711 Surf Pool 712 Typhoon Lagoon versus Blizzard Beach 713 When to Go 713 Planning Your Day at Disney Water Parks 714 Water-Park Touring Plans 718 Wet 'n Wild 719 Body and Mat Slides 720 Raft and Tube Rides 720 Other Attractions 721 Wake Zone 721 Aquatica by SeaWorld 722 PART TWENTY-ONE Beyond the Parks 725 Downtown Disney 725 Downtown Disney Marketplace 725 Whither Pleasure Island? 725 Downtown Disney West Side 726 DisneyQuest 726 ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex 729 The Disney Wilderness Preserve 729 Walt Disney World Speedway 730 Walt Disney World Recreation 731 Walt Disney World Golf 731 Golf beyond Walt Disney World 734 Grand Cypress Golf Club 734 Other Standout Courses in Orlando 736 The Best of the Rest 741 Miniature Golf 742 PART TWENTY-TWO Shopping in and out of Walt Disney World 744 Hey, Big Spender 744 Pin Mania 745 Vinylmation 746 Shopping in Walt Disney World 746 Tips for Disney Shopping 746 Downtown Disney 748 The Magic Kingdom 754 Epcot 756 Disney's Animal Kingdom 758 Disney's Hollywood Studios 759 Disney Outlet Stores 760 Shopping beyond Walt Disney World 760 Celebration 760 Universal CityWalk 760 International Drive 761 Outlets 761 Traditional Shopping 762 PART TWENTY- T H R E E Nightlife in and out of Walt Disney World 763 Walt Disney World at Night 763 In the Theme Parks 763 At the Hotels 763 At Downtown Disney 764 Walt Disney World Dinner Theaters 767 Universal CityWalk 770 Appendix, Indexes, Touring Plans, and Reader Surveys 771 Readers' Questions to the Author 771 Readers' Comments 773 Accommodations Index 777 Restaurant Index 784 Subject Index 788 Touring Plans 816 Clip-Out Touring Plan Companions 835 2013 Unofficial Guide Reader Survey 843 Walt Disney World Restaurant Survey 845


'If you're looking for a reliable guidebook, the leader is the unofficial series.' (The Mail on Sunday, October 2012)

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