The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 by Julie and Mike Neal
Celia was the one to introduce me to NetGalley, which I was a bit hesitant about joining at first. However, a little poking around soon convinced me it was a good idea–queer historical fiction, a book I’ve wanted to read since I encountered it a year ago in England, and a travel guide to Walt Disney World. As you might know, I’m a huge Disney fan. (Tangled is going to be awesome.) I’ve always wanted to go to Walt Disney World, so whenever I see a travel guide for it, I compulsively grab it and read it, trying to plan out a visit. Naturally, my first galley from NetGalley was The Complete Walt Disney World 2010.
The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 is written by a husband and wife team, Mike and Julie Neal, a couple with a young daughter whose visits to Walt Disney World number in the thousands and who even live in Celebration, Florida, a planned community developed by Disney itself. With these overwhelming qualifications (and several awards for their travel guides) under their belts, the Neals strive to provide a complete picture of the massive complex that is known as Walt Disney World.
While I read a digital version of this book, it’s clear that this a book designed to catch someone’s eye in a bookstore–every page is in full color, the book is described as a “photo-driven guide to Walt Disney World” on the third page, and the Amazon product description boasts the ability to “See Your Room Before You Book It”. While it’s certainly bright, colorful, and rife with pictures, I wouldn’t call it photo-driven and it certainly doesn’t live up to the claim on Amazon–pictures are nonexistent for several Disney resorts and hotels, particularly Shades of Green, a resort reserved for active and retired military. (To be fair, it sticks out to me because I’m from a military family.) A couple of pictures are photo illustrations, which, I assume, are mockups of how a ride should feel and look–and are also dated and look out of place with the wonderful photography found throughout. I did, however, quite like the full-color maps. But this is a guide accessible to the casual traveler, just the sort of person who needs advice when encountering something as overwhelming as Walt Disney World.
The problem with travel guides are that they date very, very quickly, so the Neals, naturally, open the book with a chapter on what’s new around Walt Disney World. The practical advice starts soon after, as the meat of the travel guide starts with telling you the best times to visit Walt Disney World–the first two weeks of December, for inquiring minds–and how to deal with the often confusing systems of Disney’s “Magic Your Way” ticketing system and the Disney Dining Plan. After that, the book delves, with equal depth, into the five theme parks that comprise Walt Disney World–The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the water parks. Each section provides a cheat sheet of important information (ATM locations, transportation, and first aid) and provides an overview of attractions and food before describing them in-depth, telling you if a ride is too scary for the little ones, how to get your children selected as a volunteer, or which seat is the best for watching a particular show. Accommodations and special events are covered in their own sections at the end. While I would have put accommodations first, as The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2009 does, it’s a well structured guide that covers everything you need.
But that coverage comes from a single family’s perspective, and it’s quite evident. The Neals are almost universally chirpy about Walt Disney World (one would hope, given their apparent devotion to Disney), and only frown on a few rides–they’re a bit more ruthless when it comes to dining. They’re a little uncomfortable about anything remotely queer–the guide titters over the fact that Tinkerbell is occasionally portrayed by a man in some of her more demanding and less intimate routines and awkwardly points out that only a few “flamboyant” guests visit during the Gay Days. This is also a guide written firmly from the perspective of a family with a young child, often assuming that the reader is the same. (While I was reading it, I idly wondered if there’s any guides to Walt Disney World written for single people?) Perhaps it’s because I read The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2009 first, but that guide solves that perspective problem by providing comments by their readers that often conflict with each other, allowing for a fuller picture of what’s going on. While both guides provide the necessary information, I found The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2009 to be a better guide–while it’s not as pretty, it provides a much more comprehensive view and a much more inclusive perspective.
Bottom line: A pretty, eye-catching guide to Walt Disney World written firmly from the perspective of a Disney-loving family with a young child, it certainly does its job well if you’re of the same demographic. If you’re not? You might want to pick up The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2010.
I read this digital galley for free on NetGalley.