Frommer’s EasyGuide to Disney World, Universal Studios, and Orlando begins with the author’s suggestions for some of the best theme park experiences, restaurants, hotels, and other exciting things to do in the Orlando area. Many of us know the main attractions, but there are some hidden gems around the city that you may want to visit while in the area. There are also suggested itineraries in the book to help you plan your vacation.
After a brief overview of the Orlando area, the book jumps right into the theme parks, beginning with Walt Disney World, followed by Universal Studios and SeaWorld. Everything you need to know about parking, how FastPasses work, ticket options, MagicBands, and eating at the parks is included. There is also information on vacation packages vs. planning your vacation a-la-carte. A lot of this can be confusing, especially for first time visitors, so the detailed descriptions about how packages work helps break down the planning process.
Since food can be a big expense on vacation, there are lots of great tips to help you save money. One big decision for a lot of families is whether or not to use the Disney Dining Plan. While the author doesn’t really seem to be in favor of the Dining Plan, after evaluating the pros and cons, you can decide if it is right for you.
Great tips on how to save on snacks and meals
Each ride, attraction, and restaurant has a detailed description as well as a 1 to 3 star rating in this section. The descriptions are great for giving you an idea of what to expect and when reservations or FastPasses are highly recommended. I agreed with most of the ratings, but there were a few things I would have rated a little differently. (I like Test Track at Epcot and personally felt it deserved more than one star, but that is merely my opinion) Once you have decided on your must do attractions, you can use some of the sample itineraries to start a plan for your days.
The only thing I didn’t particularly like about this section is that it had a little bit of a negative tone, especially in the beginning. There is a lot of “don’t do this and don’t do that” advice, but overall, the information is very helpful even if you have visited these parks before. Once the author moved into descriptions of the attractions, the suggestions did seem a little more positive.
Not sure where to go once you arrive? This guide can help you plan your visit.
There is a lot going on in the Orlando area outside of the theme parks. Chances are that your schedule is pretty packed visiting the parks on your vacation, but if you want to plan a non-theme park day, you can find some great suggestions for things to do in the fifth chapter. Everything from nightlife to museums are described in the same detail as the theme park attractions. There are also several maps included to help you orient yourself with the area beforehand.
The final chapters focus on hotels and planning your vacation from beginning to end. There are so many hotels in the area that choosing a place to stay can be very overwhelming. The author breaks down your choices and describes the advantages of staying on the Disney or Universal property vs. staying off site. Average temperatures and yearly events are listed so that you can choose the time of year that you want to visit. There is also advice on how to travel within the area once you arrive.
You will accomplish more on your Orlando vacation with some planning ahead of time and this book gives some great advice on how to tackle the planning process. I found the book pretty up-to-date, but things change in the theme park world very quickly. For example, the book talks about the closing of the Maelstrom ride at Epcot’s Norway pavilion, but then suggests the best time to ride it in one of the itineraries. I found a few little details such as this one that have changed, so you may just want to cross reference things with online information since new things have opened and some things have closed since the book was published. You will find the most updated information on ride closings or refurbishments on the theme park websites like The Mouse For Less, so check before you go.
Overall, I found this book to be a good planning resource. It is set up in such a way that you don’t have to read it cover to cover to benefit from it. It is easy to flip around and read the sections that you need for planning your family’s vacation. I think the advice found in here can be very beneficial especially if you used in conjunction with other sources. Happy planning!