Reviews of Disney Planning Resources
Disney Planning Books/e-Books
The Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide e-Book. The best thing about running Military Disney Tips is the great people that I've met through the web site. So many of you have contacted me with questions and comments. I've enjoyed hearing about what great things you or your spouse are doing for our country, and I'm glad I can help you get ready for some well deserved time off.
I've also been able to get to know others whose goal is to help the military community as well. The cool thing is that many of these people are part of a military family too and also have a loved one serving. I just met Beth Haworth who is a military wife and best selling travel author. Beth is the author of the Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide a fantastic e-book which I've just finished reading.
Beth like me is a former Disney Castmember. She's decided to put all of the money saving tips and tricks she learned while working there into this guide. It really is packed with info on how to save on your Disney vacation. Her suggestions could save you hundreds of dollars, or more! In the 138 pages she covers everything from rooms and tickets to airport transportation. This e-book is packed with saving ideas, literally hundreds of tips. Not every savings secret and strategy she shows you will apply of course, but when you add up the ones you can use in each section, the savings will multiply.
Beth even has a section on military discounts, which you can combine with her other money saving strategies to really save big. The best feature of Beth's guide is that it's updated several times a month with the latest info. You buy the guide once but have access to constant updates available through download on her website.
If you are interested in saving a bunch on your next Disney vacation, I highly recommend getting Beth's Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide
The Best Guide Book For Disney World Planning - If you buy only one guidebook to plan your Walt Disney World vacation it should be the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, it's by far the best Disney planning book there is. It's full of everything you could possibly want to know about Walt Disney World. I've got to warn you though, it's very thick book. But that's good because there's so much to learn about Disney World. There were other guidebooks that I used it rely on before I discovered the Unofficial Guide, and I do still get them because of all of the research I do, but the Unofficial Guide has become my primary resource.
There is of course lots of detailed information on the Disney Theme Parks. And when I say detail, I mean it's very detailed, even to the point of providing touring plans of the Theme Parks for many different circumstances, which will save you lots of time during your day in the parks. There's lots of information on pre planning, how to make the most of your time and money, and a very extensive section on accommodations. All the hotels have great descriptions given, even down to what are the best rooms to ask for when making your reservation. There's another great section on dining in and around Walt Disney World. There's a section on the Disney Cruise line. Information on what to do outside of the theme parks like Disney's water parks and other activities at Disney World such as shopping and Disney nightlife.
The unofficial guide is really great for two reasons. Each year they send their team of researchers to Disney World to gather extensive information. These teams check all the hotels and restaurants, check wait times for the rides and they test their touring plans to make sure that they're still valid. The other reason this book is so great is that the readers send in comments suggestions and reviews many of which are posted in the book.
There is a website associated with the Unofficial Guide: touringplans.com there is some free information available on the site, but the best information is for members only. Once you purchase a membership you'll have access to their crowd calendars. These calendars are based on their extensive research in the parks and they predict how heavy or light crowds will be in the theme parks each day. You can look at prospective dates for your trip to see what attendance will be like and decide which park to visit on what day. Members can also check wait times on all the rides, real time from their phone with a free app called Lines . A year's membership is $10.95 but you will get a discount for already owning the Unofficial Guide. The discount was 50% off when I joined earlier this year.
A Great Book For Disney World Planning - The Official Guide to Walt Disney World by Birnbaum's Guides. The first ever Disney World guide book I bought way back in the day was the Official Guide and I still get it every year. It's filled with all the information you'll need in order to effectively plan a great Disney vacation. From pre-planning to park, resort, and dining info this book covers it all.
One advantage this guide book has over all the others is that it's the "Official Guide" by a group of authors who are partnered with Disney. Written with the cooperation of the Walt Disney World Company, if there is any new information or inside scoop this book will have it first. Plus there's lots of great Disney images and characters throughout the book.
Disney iPod/iPad Planning Apps
Disney World Dining App for your iPhone or iPod - We got an iPad soon after they came out and have really enjoyed it. Naturally one of the first things I did was look to see what Disney Apps were available. One neat one that I've found is: WDW Dining. When we're getting ready to go to WDW I do a lot of planning: park hours, fireworks times, closed attractions, etc. One of the things we enjoy most at Disney is the great food at the many restaurants on property. I used to sit at my computer and look online for menus and prices to decide what we'd try this time. Sometimes the menus weren't too current. Well now I sit on my couch with my trusty iPad and check out all the latest menus at Disney World with WDW Dining.
This App has a nice interface which is easy to use. It's really easy to browse through the Parks or Resorts checking out each restaurant. For example: tap on Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas. It brings up the four restaurants located there: Boma, Jinko, The Mara, and Sanaa. Each of these has dollar signs next to it to indicate the relative cost, also whether it is a table service or quick service restaurant is indicated. Clicking on the restaurant name brings up links to all of its various menus, in the case of Jinko: Dinner, Vegetarian, and Kids menus (other restaurants might have breakfast or lunch menus). Tapping each of these displays that menu with descriptions and prices. There is also a section which displays other useful info for that restaurant like: how many Disney Dining Credits a meal costs, whether there is a Tables in Wonderland discount, type of cuisine, dress code (in this case) and the Disney Dining reservation number. There is also a small picture of the restaurant.
You have the option to save your favorite restaurants to a favorites list, and a super feature that I love is you can save your reservation information for your upcoming trip, really handy if you have this app on your iPhone. From a restaurant's menu just tap the clock icon and a popup opens where you can set the date and time of your reservation as well as the number of people you've reserved for and your reservation number! From the main screen you can bring up your whole schedule. The best feature is if you have it on your phone while you are at Disney World it will bring up all the restaurants sorted by distance from your location and you can then browse their menus. A great resource if you are not sure what's available nearby. I just now used this function and unfortunately it's telling me the nearest Walt Disney World Restaurant is 226 miles away...
Give it a try, I think you'll enjoy it. Available in the apple iTunes store
Disney World Planning App for your iPhone or iPod - I just got this new iPhone App that I've been trying, it's called Mouse Memo. It's for storing all of your Disney vacation planning info, like travel, hotel, and dining reservation info. I've been using it for a few days and it seems quite handy.
The first time my family went on a multi-day WDW vacation I brought along the three-ring binder I'd placed all of the reservation and research info into.
The main screen of the Mouse Memo App has three sections: Reservations, Travel, and Information.
The Reservation section is divided into Dining and Entertainment. In each of these areas you can pick from from an alphabetical list of restaurants or activities/events respectively and enter your reservation details. Some information is entered for you based upon your selection, such as location of events.
The Travel section is divided into Flight Information, Ground Transportation, and Hotels. in these sections you can enter all of your flight and rental car details as well as your Disney Resort info.
The section I like the most is the Information section which has one sub category: Restaurants. In the Restaurants section you can search for restaurants by many different variables: location, as in a specific theme park or resort; price; type, table or counter service; whether the restaurant accepts the Disney dining plan; cuisine; meals served; and if they accept reservations. Once you've found a restaurant you can view their menu on allears.net with one click, as well as enter your advanced dinner reservation info.
All in all a nice little app to keep your planning and info handy on your iPhone (works on iPads too). Available from the Apple App Store.
Disney World In Park Planning App for your iPhone or iPod or Droid - On our recent trip to Epcot we used the free Lines app from touringplans.com and it came in very handy. We didn't ride a whole lot of rides as we were there mostly for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival but it did come in quite handy for checking real time wait times for the few attractions that we did want to visit. The version we used was on my wife's Evo phone
While the app is free you need a membership to touringplans.com to sign in. I think it's worthwhile Touring Plans is a great resource to plan the best time to visit Disney World based on the crowds. the cost for a years membership is 10.95, But you can get half off if you purchase the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World first. This book is my favorite Disney planning book and also another outstanding resource.
Free Swan and Dolphin Resort Planning Apps for your iPhone or iPod- I found these free apps on the apple app store for your iPhone or iPad which are all about the Swan and Dolphin. They are official Swan and Dolphin apps that have fantastic pictures of the resorts including room tours and lots of dining and recreation info including menus. Check them out.
iphone Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin - Tishman Hotel Corporation
Ears of Experience a Fee Free Travel Agent - I first met Amy through her blog over a year ago, Amy runs Ears of Experience which specializes in booking only Disney vacations. Amy can book anything that has to do with Disney: Walt Disney World Resort ®, Disney Cruise Line ®, Disneyland Resort ®, and Adventures by Disney ® Vacations. You'll pay more than booking direct with Disney! Plus they're a military family owned business.
If you'd like Amy to make your next Disney reservations just click here to fill out an information request form. Or if you'd rather call, her number is 1-877-80MOUSE, and don't forget to mention that you heard about her from Steve at Military Disney Tips!
TouringPlans.com is the Official Website of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World…
Their tagline is: Do More. Wait Less. Save up to 4 hours a day in line.
I've been buying the Unofficial Guide every year since I first discovered it in 2002, I've found it to be an invaluable resource in planning my Disney vacations. The amount of detail in the book is amazing. One of the best features is the throughly researched touring plans, recommendations on how to tour the Disney Theme Parks to save the most time.
A couple of years ago I became aware that they also had the Touring Plans website which is a companion to the book. The site helps even more with your Disney Planning.
The area that I use most on the site is the crowd calendar. When I'm deciding what would be the best time for my next Disney vacation I always consult the crowd calendar. It ranks each day (overall and by each theme park) as to how busy it will be i.e. the size of the crowds, on a 1-10 scale. I always shoot for low number days. The upcoming month is available free and a 365 day calendar is available to subscribers.
Another great function is the touring plans themselves. You can view and print touring plans which are proven to save time in the theme parks based on many variables such as party make-up and number of days. Subscribers can personalize and tailor the plans even more.
Their latest innovation is the Lines App which provides you real time wait times for all Disney theme park rides. So while you are in the theme parks you can check to see which attractions have shorter waits. The app is available for iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, Smartphone, and as a web version for other web capable phones. (subscription required)
Touringplans.com is both a free and a membership site, there is lots of great information available for free, but of course the best stuff requires a subscription. The cost is very reasonable, $10.95 per year for Disney World info and $6.95 for Disneyland. They offer discounts for multi-year subscriptions AND for those who have purchased the Unofficial Guide Book they offer a very large discount. There is a 45-day money back guarantee.