It's not a big secret amongst those that know me that I am pretty much addicted to heading to central Florida to visit Walt Disney World. We enjoy every trip there...and no we don't wait in long lines or spend tens of thousands of dollars every time we're there.
So, like any good undertaking where you're dropping a few hundred dollars, a little planning is in order. For Disney, that could mean a fair amount of planning if you're making your first trip down.
"But I hate planning! I want to go with the flow! Enjoy myself! Plan...pffft."
If you have never been to the Walt Disney World Resort, and that is your stance then I can promise you a few things: You will be in line a lot, not sitting down at table service restaurants for dinner, sun burned, burned out, and likely vowing never to return because it was a huge waste of time and money.
So, lets get our planning under way with some resources to help make things easier rather than miserable.
First, in print form I'd head straight for The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Yes, this book is a little daunting at over 850 pages, but it has everything you need to know about Disney World. (And, it serves as a nice doorstop when your trip is over.) They are most notable for the touring plans they provide in the book, but the book has information on all the on-site hotels, many off-site hotels, bus times, attraction ratings and reviews, restaurant reviews, and much more.
Online, the list of resources is huge, so I'll list a few that I use.
- allears.net - In my opinion, this is probably the most complete resource for Disney World online. They cover the whole resort, have news as it comes out, and do a good job with the parks and hotels. However, the big plus to this site is they list the menu of each restaurant on property. When your wife is a picky eater, this comes in handy each time you plan a trip.
- touringplans.com - This is the online site for the Unofficial Guide. It has more touring plans, a crowd calendar, and some simple planning tools. It's well worth the $8.95 subscription fee to get all the goodies here.
- disboards.com - This is a forum based fan site that's fairly popular. There is a wealth of information here, but sometimes it can take some sifting to find it. Either way, it's a good place to browse and join in when you feel the urge.
Lastly, a few podcasts that are worth adding to the line up.
- WDW Today - Again with the Unofficial Guide, one of the authors is a member of the crew that podcasts here. However, it's more than just reading of the book on your iPod. The normal cast of characters has a wealth of knowledge, and they've produced over 500 shows so far.
- The WDW Radio Show - Lou puts on a well produced, choc full of information podcast. Lou is the author of two trivia books on Walt Disney World, and he carries it further on this podcast with news, rumors, and some great interviews.
- Inside The Magic - Another well produced, and long running podcast dedicated to Disney World. Ricky was the first Orlando based podcast, and he's done a great job with it over the last few years. He delivers news weekly, and has a list of regular contributors that provide a different, but fun look at the parks.
- Netcot - I didn't discover Van's podcast until recently compared to the first three I listed. But, this one might be my favorite. It's typically 20 minutes or less, has guests, top 7 lists, attraction reviews, and all the other stuff Disney based podcasts deliver. However, Van is a realist when it comes to vacationing with The Mouse, and if he thinks something stinks, he doesn't sugar coat it.
That's enough reading and listening to keep you occupied for a while. I'll have some more planning posts in the future, because if I'm not at Disney I'm at least planning to be there.