walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

WDW Trip Report: Part 4, a Few Comments about the Unofficial Guide

My issues with the Unofficial Guide

Wow. I had no idea I'd wind up so unimpressed with this thing.

I had read an earlier edition (probably 2009, but possibly 2008) and previously paid for a 12 month subscription to the Touring Plans website to look at the crowd calendar in more detail. That had expired before I finally got around to looking at it for this particular trip, so I re-upped for another 12 months. Obviously, the crowd calendar said 10 for all of the days of our MK touring -- no surprises there. I reviewed their touring plans both in the book and on the site and with a particular trip and particular children in mind, it was already obvious that the touring plans had no relevance in detail for us. Duh, obviously: you're going to go on Dumbo first, then you'll do the other rides you care about in Fantasyland (in this case, equally obviously, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh). No way in hell was I risking a 3D music animated show with my two kids, so that was out. None of the kid-oriented touring plans was all that helpful for figuring out what to do after that. They tended to send people haring all over the park to collect FastPasses, included shows that made no sense at all for my group and attempted to do everything in one day or two. Sure, they included a nap break, but they went way later at night than I had any chance of surviving with my kids. They also proposed that people taking advantage of the early hours (which they are way down on for a variety of reasons) should get up and to the park and lined up well in advance of park open.

In the event, our group was really only good for about 2 hours in the park anyway, and we had four days to do what we wanted to do. Our strategy was simple: do Dumbo, or Dumbo equivalent first, then other stuff nearby, then go to ToonTown (well, have T. go to ToonTown) to ride BarnStormer, hit Pirates (or maybe Haunted Mansion) and when you get bored or the hordes arrive, leave. We got everyone on basically every ride they really wanted to do, at least once -- usually we rode anything we liked two or three times in a row, or until the line got boringly long. The biggest screwup was the day I headed to Adventureland planning on doing Magic Carpets (Dumbo equivalent) first thing, forgetting that only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are opened for the early hour. Ooops.

The Unofficial Guide isn't a bad book. But it has some limitations in terms of assumptions. They say they get requests for detailed adaptations of touring plans for every conceivable situation and I believe them. But there's no need to ask them for one. You don't need a Touring Plan, unless you are seriously interested in doing everything in 1-2 days, and are prepared to criss-cross the park repeatedly in order to collect FastPasses. You really don't want to mess with Touring Plans with very small children, especially if you can't put them in a stroller.

The Unofficial Guide _does_ have a lot of information in it other than Touring Plans, some of which is probably useful to a wider group of people than the Touring Plans. In particular, there are some amazing maps in here, like of Downtown Disney, which I. and I visited with T. to check out Legos and buy Still More Disney crap at the Disney Store. The line in the legos store was shockingly long, so I didn't buy anything there, but T. was sure interested in the place. I wish I'd brought the map with me; it would have helped me park on the right end of Downtown Disney. As it was, we had to walk through everything twice, which I suppose was interesting but mostly just made my feet hurt still more.
Tags: disney, trip report
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