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Peek into Walt Disney World with ‘unofficial guide’

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Reading honest-to-goodness travel books about Walt Disney World still makes sense in media-saturated online world.

I raised an eyebrow, Mr. Spock-like, when review copies of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the Unofficial Guide The Color Companion to Walt Disney World appeared on my desk.

It’s the Internet age, after all. Typing “Walt Disney World” in a search engine leads to 83 million results.Color Companion Cover

What could a couple of books on the central Florida attraction possibly add?

Well, quite a lot, as it turns out.

Naturally, the 83 million online results will contain useful information. But as sure as day follows night, the results will include erroneous, outdated and misleading information. The key question is: do you have time to evaluate the content on every Internet site?

The value of these books, it seems to me, is their perspective.

As authors Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa point out, they are totally independent of Disney, and the guidebook represents a critical appraisal of Walt Disney World, which is officially known as Walt Disney World Resort.

Perspective comes from a team of several dozen writers, fact-checkers and statisticians. That team approach lets the guide “provide deeper explanations of Disney’s operations and undertake much more sophisticated and extensive research,” according to the authors. For example, it took four researchers a week to monitor the Disney transportation system, which required riding and timing every bus, boat and monorail route.

I’ve never been to Walt Disney World and usually make brief sojourns to amusement parks. So I thought it helpful when the guide noted park guests can run into cell phone snafus. In addition to signal problems, there’s crowd noise and ambient music played in the parks. “Even if you have a decent signal, it’s an exasperating challenge to find someplace quiet enough to have a conversation,” reads the guide. “When possible, opt for texting.”

Birmingham, Alabama-based Keen Communications publishes the volumes annually for its the Unofficial Guide series.

The books are available in paperback Kindle versions.

Traditionalist that I am, I like reading ink-on-paper books. These guides present a lot of good information about Walt Disney World in a nicely organized way.

But time marches on. The guide has a website at touringplans.com and a mobile app with the appropriate name of Lines

It is, after all, the Internet age.

Visit theunofficialguides.com for more information. 

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About Author

David Hoekman, Managing Editor

David Hoekman is a former newspaperman on a quest to tell the stories of the world’s various places and cultures in compelling ways. He especially enjoys learning and writing about the business of group travel. His favorite destination is wherever he is going next and his travel tip is to always pack an emergency granola bar or two.

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