Top 10 Disney Guide Books

By Cassie

Whether you want to study an exhaustive guide when planning your trip, or pick up a bring-along book to carry with you in the parks, or a book that reads like a story, you will find that in our list of the top 10 Walt Disney World Guide Books.

10. The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, by Susan Veness. Publish date: June 18, 2009.  256 pages, (ISMN-13: 978-1605500638) this paperback is written in a casual conversation style and is not your typical guide book. Instead the author seeks to reveal some of the meaning behind things we tend to not notice. There are interesting details and storylines behind attractions and park layouts that are fun to read as “something different” about the Walt Disney World resort. There are some problems since the book was written in 2009, some things she may send you to look at may not be there anymore. But I did enjoy reading the book and learning a few new things that are still very relevant to touring the parks today.  This should not be the only book you read in preparation for a WDW vacation because you do not get the information you need to cover all that. It is more or less a nice read for those of us who have read many other Disney guidebooks and understand the resort pretty well. She includes a scavenger hunt, which should be fun if all the items are still in place when you do it.  Amazon sells a paperback version from $9.14. I would not recommend investing in the hardback book.

9. Fodor’s Walt Disney World 2015: with Universal, SeaWorld & the Best of Central Florida (Full-color Travel Guide) by Fodor’s. Publish date of October 14, 2014, 576 pages, (ISBN-13: 978-0804142670) Fodor’s guides are written by locals to give you the best information on what is in the area. This guide is huge and has lots of great photographs and a pull-out map you can carry with you. It covers everything in central Florida, not just Walt Disney World. There are magazine-type articles within the book and some really great tips. This is an exhaustive guide that gives you details that will help you to plan your vacation and be confident in your choices for your itinerary. This is a comprehensive look at the popular theme parks in the Orlando area and Busch Gardens Tampa. Amazon pre-order price is $15.47.

8. The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom, by Aaron Wallace, published April 16, 2013, 256 pages. (ISBN-13: 978-1937011246) this is not your typical guide book, although it does contain some important details. Aaron walks us through the Magic Kingdom, sharing details about the attractions and park as a whole. His emphasis is on the “story” behind the attractions and their placement within the park. Disney fans will appreciate knowing why some things are the way they are, and finding out the purpose behind them. The author’s writing style is engaging and easy to read. I love exploring more details about the attractions in my favorite Walt Disney World park. I also enjoyed the biographical information on some of the Imagineers that played a part in creating the attractions. This is a very good read. Amazon’s current price for paperback is $10.73, and the Kindle version is $6.59.

7. 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World, by Lou Mongello, published March 11, 2014, 198 pages. (ISBN-13: 978-0991498802) This book will probably save you money and it has a money-back guarantee. This author shows a passion for Disney and for helping families save money in every phase of their Walt Disney World vacation. Save in the planning stages and when you get here! These tips are good for first time visitors and for frequent visitors as well. It has great photographs and it is well written. The author has great credentials and speaks with authority about what he knows. He gave up his “real life” and moved to Florida so he could communicate to others the magic he sees at Walt Disney World and how to afford that magic on a basic income. Amazon price is $9.99 for Kindle version, $13.47 for new paperback.

6. The Easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit 2014 by Dave Shute, Josh Humphrey, published June 7, 2014, 290 pages. (ISBN-13:978-1941500064) This new guide in the world of Walt Disney World vacation books gives a wealth of information not only for your first visit, but it is applicable to any subsequent visits as well. Once you have been to Disney you read these things and they are much clearer to you, such as how to use the information better each time you visit. This guide offers a valuable crowd calendar to help you choose the timing of your visit, and information on how to cut down on your time waiting in queues, maximizing your FastPass+ capabilities. Their reviews will help you make a decision on where to stay and where to eat. These authors head up two popular websites, which you will be directed to in the book, and they are on top of the newest information all year long. They can keep you current with any changes and tips to help make your first visit to Walt Disney World the experience you hope it will be. I like their approach and the fact that they have their pulse on what is going on at Walt Disney World every week. Amazon current price from $16.16. Kindle version is $9.99.

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5. The Imagineers Field Guide series…to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom by Alex Wright and The Imagineers. Magic Kingdom updated version published Dec. 8, 2009. 128 pages, (ISBN-13: 978-1423124689) current Amazon price starts at $34.95; Epcot updated version published April 6, 2010. 128 pages, (ISBN-13: 978-1423124672) Amazon price from $7.39 used, $49.00 new. Disney’s Hollywood Studios published July 27, 2010, 128 pages, (ISBN-13: 978-1423115939) current Amazon price $7.99; Animal Kingdom published May 22, 2007. 128 pages, (ISBN-13: 978-1423103202) current Amazon price from $6.84.  Why are these guides so good? Because they are written by Imagineers who walk you through the park, sharing delightful background stories, details graphics, concept art and final versions, colorful photographs, inside information you can’t find anywhere else. They are not boring in any way. Disney fans will love soaking up all the information shared in these handy guides. A great way to use these, if you don’t have time to read them before leaving on your vacation, read them on the plane, they are small enough to carry with you. Since they are a smaller size you can also take them into the park with you and read the info on the attraction you are standing in line for. If you are eating outside, read about the attractions you can see around you. These are interesting and makes the creation of these amazing attractions understandable. I have not read more enjoyable books about the parks than these guides! They will not give you information you need on resorts, or park tickets, or dining, those kinds of details you will need a different guide book for. As you will notice from the prices, these are also a good investment. They each retailed at $11.95 /12.95 and some of their values have increased as the demand is much higher than the supply.

4. Birnbaum’s 2015 Walt Disney World by Birnbaum Guides, publish date September 23, 2014. 368 pages, (ISBN-13: 978-1423194101) This book is known as the “official” guide book as it is approved by Disney and receive the latest information from Disney on prices, changes or any new information coming out. This is probably the easiest WDW guide book to get into and read. There are a lot of nice color photographs and includes more charts and maps in this edition. They claim to have the newest information and the “scoop” on new rides, shows and character greetings in the new Star Wars area coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The former editions carry good information on the Dining, Resorts, Cruise line, attractions, and now offers a place to record your trip information. They point out their favorite Hidden Mickey’s around the resort. Birnbaum’s Guides are famous for having about the only coupons that are useable at Walt Disney World that helps you to recoup some of the purchase price of the guide itself. Their tips can help you save money on the vacation budget overall. We can expect a reliable picture of Downtown Disney in this guide, explaining the changes and letting us in on some of the completed work and what to expect next. Amazon has a pre-order price of $12.19 for a new paperback.

3. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015, by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. Publish date: August 19, 2014. 864 pages, (ISMN-13: 978-1628090208) this is a big guide and very much worth reading. This could save you time and money and actually make your vacation more enjoyable by following the recommendations written in this book. They not only give you a vast amount of information on resorts, restaurants, attractions, rental cars, when to go, park ticket options, understanding FastPass+, touring plans, visiting with your children, recommendations for couples, seniors, singles, pregnant moms, special needs guests, tours, waterparks, even Disney Cruise vacation information. They also cover, to a lesser degree, Sea World and Universal Orlando. If you purchase the e-book version you can get updates monthly on any changes occurring at WDW to keep you current. Amazon sells a Kindle version for $9.99 and new paperback copies can be purchased from $11.99.

2. The Complete Walt Disney World 2015-The Definitive Disney Handbook, by Julie Neal and Mike Neal, publish date October 21, 2014, 7th Edition. 384 pages (ISBN-13: 978-0990371601). This is a monster-sized book with some 555 photos inside. As a former WDW concierge supervisor, Julie brings some great insight into planning your vacation at WDW.  Mike is an award-winning photographer which is evident in the beautiful photos included in this edition. If you are looking for insider tips, comprehensive information on the resort, a planning tool, and something you won’t mind looking at after your vacation is over, this is the book for you. Not only do readers love it, so does Disney. But don’t worry they give their honest opinions about everything. This guide has won over 23 national and international book awards. It is outstanding in its content and your kids will even enjoy looking through it to pick out attractions they would like to experience.  Current pre-order price on Amazon is 37% off at $15.78.

1. PassPorter’s Walt Disney World 2015: The Unique Travel Guide, Planner, Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake by Alexander Marx, author, Jennifer and Dave Marx, photographers. Publish date: Dec. 16, 2014 (17th edition). 362 pages, spiral bound, (ISBN-13: 978-1587711411) this is one of 28 PassPorter Guides written by PassPorter Travel Press. This is the first one they have listed Alexander Marx as the sole author for, previously they have all been listed as authors. I selected this as the number one guide because I find it extremely easy to use and therefore more likely to be used. It is colorful and the spiral binding makes it handy. You can create your own custom itineraries based on your interests, budget, time available, etc. This book has a unique set of pockets in the back where you can keep that paperwork vacations require such as your reservation guarantee, flight information, rental car documents, etc.  You can also place your receipts in there for each day, helping to keep track of your expenses as well as keeping some items that can be used in a scrapbook or photo album when you get back home. You can use these pockets to write down your reservation time, place, and confirmation numbers and your daily itinerary. The workbook aspect of this helps you to get a good idea about the costs you will incur. Each resort gets great coverage with photos and details, and recommendations. They even have floor plans for the resort rooms! You will see how to travel between resorts and parks, and Downtown Disney. There are easy to read, colorful, maps to open out when considering each park. Every attraction is covered in detail and carries both adult and kid recommendations for them. The way this guide is laid out is just so easy to locate the information quickly that you are looking for. The information is complete and very well organized.  You will find every aspect of a Walt Disney World vacation in this guide. When you purchase this book you will be given information on how to connect with their online version and how you can print any updated pages that you can add to your book. They keep you current through using the online world of PassPorter. Amazon sells this edition for $19.23 and ships immediately following publishing date.


About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.