Ever since the World began (in 1971), a family vacation to Walt Disney World has become part of the American dream. For many, it's a once in a lifetime trip that requires years of saving and planning. For that reason, any first-time visitor is strongly encouraged to do a considerable amount of research, whether it's exhausting online forums or reading through the numerous guide books available, including Birnbaum's and Passporter's. One more guide book gets added to that long list from young first-time author Collin Kendall, who has taken on the daunting task of attempting an all-encompassing guide called The Adventurer's Guide to Walt Disney World.
The introduction explains that it is meant to be a portable resource that you can bring with you to the parks, however the book is too tall and wide to fit in a pocket or small bag (8x10 inches). Instead, I would recommend it more as a vacation planning resource before you arrive. Kendall is so confident in his abilities to answer any question you could possibly have that he has included his email address inside for any purchaser to contact him directly for assistance.
The book is broken up into sections, the first giving an overview of each resort. Kendall offers his opinions on each, weighing pros and cons to help each vacation planner choose the resort that is right for them. He admittedly hasn't stayed at all of them (there are over 20 resorts owned and operated by Disney), but has logged enough hours on Disney forums to be able to provide an aggregated consensus.
The bulk of the guide is spent exploring the theme parks, further split out by land. He lists attractions and restaurants together as one would encounter them while following a specific path throughout the parks. Without any photos or maps to help a first time visitor, the content quickly becomes overwhelming and disorienting. The descriptions also reference content previously stated, making it difficult if you were searching for information on one particular item.
In terms of the layout of the parks section, I greatly prefer the way Birnbaum's breaks it up. Attractions are separate from food which is separate from shopping and those pages are color coded for quick and easy reference. This helps to not only determine which attractions you will try to experience, but also which restaurants you may want to make reservations for. This guide is all text, whereas other guides will also break down a quick list such as age or height requirements and physical conditions that may prevent a visitor from enjoying that experience.
The trouble with any guide to Walt Disney World is that the minute it's published, it's out of date. Having been published in May 2016, The Adventurer's Guide was made somewhat inaccurate almost a month later with some new attractions, food and shopping options that recently opened across property (Frozen Ever After, Disney Springs, new Star Wars fireworks show, etc...). However, it is the newest and therefore most current guide on the market at the time of this review.
If you're looking for one guide to rule them all, I would not say that The Adventurer's Guide is the right choice. But if you're picking up several to aide in your vacation planning, this would be a nice addition. I hope future revisions will strengthen this guide and Kendall offers a nice, unbiased point of view (Birnbaum's is in fact published by Disney, although I've found it to be the best-structured guide in existence).
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