In my previous Keeping Up with the World post, I mentioned that I love to hide in “the Disney bubble” when I’m on vacation, pretending that the outside world does not exist. However, there are times when you may want, or need, to be informed or entertained by the universe beyond the Disney gates. In many cases, this outside information will come in the form of print. For all you whippersnappers out there with your newfangled devices, print is words that come not on a glowing screen, but rather in the form of a newspaper, magazine, or book.
First let’s think about some Disney situations where having a printed source of information with you could be a better choice than using your phone, tablet, or eReader.
- Water is involved. You want to read in the sauna or hot tub. You’re at a water park and don’t want to go back to your locker to secure your iPad between runs down the slides. You’re camped out at the pool with greasy sunscreen hands and sweaty kids. All of these situations pose potential danger to your electronic gear.
- Sand in involved. Similarly, there are sandy spots at several of Disney’s resorts where you may want to do your reading. Sand is the enemy of the smartphone.
- You have no iDevice, or you have many users and access to only one iDevice. Your family has but one iPad, but more than one family member wants to relax by reading the latest edition of your favorite magazine.
- You don’t have an electronic subscription to the publication you want to read.
- You’ll be flying out. You can’t use your gizmos during take off and landing; other entertainment is called for then.
- You’re a New Yorker. We’re contractually obligated to physically hold a New York Times or Post at least once every three days or they take away our bagel-buying ability.
Whew! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. Let’s figure out what you can get to read in printed form at Walt Disney World.
Every WDW resort has a gift shop that stocks a limited supply of newspapers, magazines, and books. The newspapers always include the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Orlando Sentinel, and USA Today. Occasionally, I have seen a UK paper or an industry trade paper also for sale in a resort gift shop. My experience is that this only happens rarely in the resorts with attached convention centers.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, you can count on USA Today and the Orlando Sentinel being available throughout the day. However, because an individual resort may get fewer than a dozen copies of the Times and the Journal, if you want to purchase those in the afternoon or evening, you may find that they are sold out. This has happened to my family several times. My husband’s solution to this problem is that he’ll buy copies of the papers he wants as we’re headed out to the parks in the morning. He doesn’t want to carry them around the Magic Kingdom all day, so he then checks the bag with the papers in it at Bell Services. They hold it for him until we return to the resort for naps and swimming in the afternoon.
At a recent stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort, I noticed vending machines at the smaller pools stocked with USA Today. On one hand, this is a welcome development. Guests in the far-flung islands don’t have to trek all the way to the Centertown main building for their morning papers. On the other hand, guests who are expecting to escape reality on their vacation will be confronted with headlines and big metal box while they’re lounging.
The resort gift shops typically carry a selection of 10-20 current publications. These are predominantly titles aimed at the female and teen markets, with a few general interest or men’s titles for balance. Selections may vary but typically include: People, InStyle, OK, Glamour, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Pop Star, Seventeen, inTouch, Reader’s Digest, Men’s Health and Golf Digest.
Obviously this list is light on specialty, esoteric, and intellectual challenge, and that’s fine with me. The latest news on nail polish colors and the Kardashians are really all I want when I’m attempting to nap by the pool.
If a book is more your speed, the resort gift shops have you covered here as well. Usually on the same spinning rack as the magazine display, you’ll find one to two dozen mass paperback titles. The selection varies, but generally includes stereotypically male and female versions of the “beach read” genre. Think James Patterson or Nora Roberts.
You can also find books for sale in several locations within the theme parks. The large Disney merchandise shops (Main Street Emporium, Mouse Gear, etc.) always carry a few titles about Disney for both children and adults, as well as books tied to Disney movie or television productions. If you’re looking for non-Disney reading material, you can find this in several of the countries at Epcot’s World Showcase. For example, the American Adventure pavilion stocks titles covering the presidency and American History and the Japan pavilion carries books about Japanese culture and cooking, as well as a supply of anime and Japanese fiction. You may also encounter titles about space near the Mission Space attraction and titles about transportation near Test Track.
The Animal Kingdom also stocks books about zoology, environmentalism and animal care, particularly in the Conservation Station area, and books about Asia and Africa in those “lands.”
One of my favorite in-park places to buy books is the Writer’s Stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In addition to Disney-centric titles and titles published by Disney-owned imprints such as Hyperion, you’ll also find a small selection of “regular” books. During one recent visit, I found Steven Hawking’s Brief History of Time, biographies Ronald Regan and William Shakespeare, one of the Twilight series, a Scrabble tutorial guide, and overviews of basketball, motorcycling, and archeology. Another major plus is the comfy couches at the Writer’s Stop. You can sit there and read in air-conditioned comfort while the rest of the family takes in the American Idol Experience finale.
So folks, do you ever have time to read while you’re at Walt Disney World? Do you like sitting with your People by the pool? Is your day not complete without a little newsprint on your paws? Have you found any good books to buy while visiting the World? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.