What’s New in the 2013 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

by on August 23, 2012 51 Comments

Filed under: Unofficial Guide News, Walt Disney World (FL)

The first printing of the 2013 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is available on Amazon and other fine bookstores. (Kindle edition here.)

I’m surprised that the print edition is out this early, since we were making changes to the text as late as July 20 (to cover the new 2-hour Evening Extra Magic Hours). That’s amazing considering the book is 848 pages. Between Bob, me and the other contributors, we submitted close to 200 pages of updates and new content for this printing. And that excludes corrections for things such as typos, prices, hours, and phone number changes. Speaking of corrections, we’d like to thank the dozens of proofreaders and fact-checkers who helped update this edition – you folks are teh best. (Ha!) Thanks also to everyone else who sent in updates. Finally, while we’ve made every effort toward accuracy, there are bound to be some things we’ll need to correct. Drop us an email if you notice anything, please.

Below is a quick summary of the major changes for the most popular chapters of the book. I’m sure I’ve missed some sections, so drop us a line if you have questions.

Part 1 – Planning Before You Leave Home Updated details on changes to Extra Magic Hours schedules, including AK dropping evening EMH entirely; Disney’s switch to 2-hour evening EMHs at the other parks; the addition of a second morning EMH at the AK most mornings; an expanded “Walt Disney World Calendar” covering more special events each month, and their impacts on crowds.

Part 2 – Making the Most of Your Time and Money A new overview of Disney’s current discounting strategy; updated ticket prices; updates on Disney’s new FASTPASS enforcement; an updated section on FASTPASS guidelines; a completely new section on the upcoming “FASTPASS Plus” program; a new section on how to use our mobile app, Lines, to update your touring plan while you’re in the parks, in the event something unexpected just happened; a new section on ride break-down rates, useful for contingency planning when in the parks.

Part 3 – Accomodations Updated reader perspectives on the efficiency of Disney’s transportation system (in the section on benefits of staying in WDW); Updated economics on renting DVC points; New recommendations on the best Disney-specialist travel agents; updates on which Disney resort to choose depending on the kind of hotel you stay at outside of WDW; a new review of Disney’s just-opened Art of Animation Resort, including room diagrams and pool ratings; updates on Disney’s converting from wired Internet to WiFi; tips on where to find the best bars and lounges at the Disney resorts; the 2012 Readers’ Disney Resort Report Card, with ratings on every Disney hotel; new coverage of the Grand Floridian DVC resort; a substantial change in our coverage of the Downtown Disney Resort Area (we think many resorts here are not good choices), and a chart showing the additional charges you’re likely to pay if you book at these resorts; updated reviews for several DDRA hotels; several pages of new or updated reader comments on the Disney Dining Plan; a new section describing the various resort fees and expenses you’re likely to find at the Swan and Dolphin that are not shown at the time you book; the addition of more than 20 new resorts; updated ratings on dozens of others; a section on new websites to find deals on boutique hotels and on how to use “bidding” sites such as tingo.com, guestmob.com and others; and a new section on specific hotels to avoid in Orlando and Kissimmee.

Part 6 – Walt Disney World with Kids A new section reviewing outside stroller-rental companies in Orlando, including how we tested each stroller and stroller company, and how much you may save by using these.

Part 8 – Arriving and Getting Around An update to the section detailing where to find the best airport and off-site rental cars; a discussion of the new SixT.com rental company; updates to the Readers’ rental car report card; new advice on how to avoid the traffic at Downtown Disney; an updated chart showing the travel times times between the Disney resorts and theme parks when driving and when using the Disney transportation network.

Part 9 – Bare Necessities Updates to the price comparison chart between two Publix stores, Goodings, Garden Grocer, and Winn-Dixie; updates to the Garden Grocer section.

Part 10 – Dining in and Around Walt Disney World An updated section which restaurants are most likely to have last-minute Advance Dining Reservations, including new charts showing restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner; updated details on Disney’s new $10 cancelation fee for certain restaurants and how this affects your ability to get a reservation; a new section on drinking at Epcot’s bars; updated menus for all counter-service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom; updated menus, reader ratings and Unofficial Guide reviews for around 100 sit-down restaurants.

Part 11 – The Magic Kingdom A new review of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom; updates on the Fantasyland construction, including the new “double Dumbo” and addition of FASTPASS at Dumbo; 12 new Jim Hill anecdotes; and 6 new Magic Kingdom touring plans for adults and parents of small children, including 1- and 2-day plans.

Part 12 – Epcot An update on Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure; new Jim Hill anecdotes; new Epcot 1-Day touring plans; a new Selective touring plan; a brand-new Epcot plan for Parents with Small Children.

Part 13 – Animal Kingdom Updates on the new EMH schedule; details on the new parade route; new Jim Hill anecdotes.

Part 14 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios We separated DHS out from the Universal and Sea World parks here; the 2013 edition is the first time that each park gets its own chapter. Most of the updates here involve tweaking the text describing how lines develop at the various attractions and how to avoid them, and the amount of actual movie-making that happens at the park (none); updates to the strategy for getting your children into Jedi Training Academy; updates to the Live Entertainment section for the addition of Mulch, Sweat and Shears; a new one-day touring plan and an updated “Not-A-Touring-Plan” touring plan.

Part 15 – Universal Studios Updates to Universal Express; updates to our coverage of Universal’s child-swap process; updated touring tips and touring strategies for several attractions.

Part 16 – Islands of Adventure Updates to the Spiderman review; updates on how to getting a wand at Ollivanders; updates on the procedure for seating guests of different body types at Harry Potter; a new tip on how to tour Hogwarts without riding the attraction.

Parts 19 through 23 cover behind-the-scenes tours, shopping, the Disney water parks, golf, nightlife, and more. Most of these updates include additions or deletions to stores, tours, bars, etc., and updates to their prices.

I’m also happy to report that a photo of DinoLand does not appear on the cover. (How the cover art is chosen is a mystery to me.)

Finally, the next printing of the 2013 edition should be out in February 2013. Happy reading!

Posted on August 23, 2012

51 Responses to “What’s New in the 2013 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World”

  • I got my copy on Tuesday and love it! Thank you so much for the hard work you put into your guide. We are taking our kids to Disney for the first time in October and your book and website have really helped with all of the planning. Thanks again!

  • Is there any reason the Kindle edition won’t come out until late October? I try to get all books in eBook form now–especially touring guides that are a lot easier to carry around on my iPhone!

    • I think it’ll be available before then. I have the epub version already, and I don’t think it’ll take Amazon two months to get that updated in their store.

      • Please pass along another complaint to the publisher about the delay in making the e-edition available–two months after the paper edition, when most books now come out simultaneously, is a big disappointment. I’ll probably be with the others who pass on the 2013 Guide for this reason, as I view the Guide as a resource for during my trip and won’t haul the paper copy. Either a library copy or my aged 2008 edition will have to suffice for pre-trip planning, and I’ll live with online resources for during.

  • Mine arrived from Amazon last night. I immediately gave myself a nice pour of Don Julio 1942 into a lovely snifter before sitting down to read the introduction and select sections about roller coasters, hotels, and restaurants. Congratulations on finally getting a cover from a park other than Animal Kingdom!

  • I received my copy on Tuesday! I love this book. Thank you for all the hard work (and play) you put in to make my vacation better! I can’t wait to go back!

  • I was quite disappointed with the IBooks Store version of the Guide not coming out until end of October as well.

    Great book that is a yearly purchase for me.

  • by Kevin Crossman on August 23, 2012, at 12:27 pm EST

    >Is there any reason the Kindle edition won’t come out until late October?
    Because publishers are trying to protect their dead-tree business.

  • Is it available in Canada yet?

  • Len,

    Will you be publishing the Color Companion digitally?

  • by Andrew Drummond on August 23, 2012, at 1:35 pm EST

    Loved the podcasts detailing the Jim Hill anecdotes. Can’t wait to buy a copy of the book.

    Is there any way to purchase the book that earns touring plans more money (i.e. a particular link on Amazon?)

  • The problem with holding a touring guide in e-book form to give the print version legs is that the people who want the e-book and plan to go before it is released may well opt not to buy the new edition at all. The Kindle version comes out a few days before we leave. I was ready to buy it today. I’ll probably skip it entirely since we won’t be going back for at least two years…

    • I’m in the same boat. We leave 10/28, and it is our last WDW visit for a while. It’s not just publisher fiat, though; the Disneyland UG is in the iBooks store ~2wks after the dead-tree version ships. (We are planning DLR for February ’13).

      • Thakns folks. I understand that there will be timing issues with some visits regardless of the date we choose to publish. And I’ll forward your comments on to the publishers.

  • We’re not planning our next trip to WDW until 2014, and still my first thought on seeing that the new edition is out was “I have to have it!” Your book is, hands-down, my favorite Disney resource. I still thumb through my 2009 version with embarrassing regularity.

  • When is the UK Amazon site likely to have them in stock please? Also would love to see an updated colour companion. Thanks guys 🙂

  • Will there be a Nook version released?

  • Len, stop channeling Hochberg. You always said the picture is supposed to show guests having fun, and Dinoland is fun! Clearly this year the philosophy has changed.

  • Yea!!!! It is just like Christmas!!! Can’t wait to read it cover to cover!!! Thanks for all your hard work. I really appreciate the honest information this books provides. It is informative, realistic and a “must have” for even the most seasoned Disney vets!

  • Darnit Len! I can’t carry that tome round! I’m getting old and can’t remember what I read, so, how about using your influence and get the Kindle date moved forward? I can’t even remember how many of UG books I’ve purchased over the years (see what I mean about my memory?)and every time a new one comes out, I swear I don’t need to buy it. But I usually do. I never know what gem you & Bob have hidden in those 800+ pages and even after 40 years and 30+ visits to Disney World, I find stuff that happens to be informative and useful. If someone asks me a question about WDW, assuming I should have that answer available based on my attendance record, and I don’t, I just go straight to “the” book. Sure makes me look like a Disney expert.
    Thanks for all the hard work. Keep it up.
    Your long time fan, Patti

  • Did you run out of Animal Kingdom photos for the cover? 🙂

  • Really looking forward to getting my hands on this years (or next years I guess technically) Unofficial Guide (ding!). I guess Amazon will soon be sending another shipment to NZ :-).
    A little sad I have to wait so long for the Kindle version though… (Brought both versions last year and found it handy to have a copy for those long flights).
    Thanks for all your work Len and Bob. Not only is it the most comprehensive guide to WDW but also a laugh out loud read (Didn’t Walt say the entertainment is the best form of Education?).

  • Will the updated touring plans be available on the website too, for those of us who still have the 2012 edition?

  • Darn… I own the 2012 version and we’re leaving on Tuesday and we don’t know the tips on how to get picked for a wand at Ollivanders. Can you tell us, pretty please! 🙂

  • I’m going to WDW in mid-December this year. Would you recommend the 2012 tour book or the 2013?

  • I was so happy to get this latest edition! This site and the book have inspired me to take Disney planning to a whole new level! http://wdwdork.blogspot.com/2012/08/planning-for-disney.html

  • I am very excited to get this in anticipation of an April 2013 trip! I’ve been waiting for several months for the 2013 update, counting down the days, but now waiting until October for the iBooks version. But I now see that you mention a second print in February, which implies that it will be updated (presumably with New Fantasyland info). If I buy the iBooks ePub version, will the February 2013 update automatically on the ePub or will I need to buy it a second time to get the updates? Thanks for all of the work that you and your team continue to do.

  • I love my latest edition of the UG (it’s my 3rd). You were right on with your prediction of the upcoming Fastpass+. Disney invited me to be part of the test in September and I can’t wait to see what it’s like! If you’re interested in the FastPass+ test, check out my latest blog post. http://wdwdork.blogspot.com/2012/09/dreams-really-do-come-true-fastpass.html

  • I just picked up the 2012 edition in June for my last trip…but seeing as I’m going in January, I pretty much need the 2013 guide! (That’s the rationale that’s caused me to own each year from 2007-2012!) This year I will be picking up the digital edition for my iPad…whenever ibooks gets around to releasing it!

  • Any word on whether the WDW with Kids 2013 guide will be published via Kindle? I’ll wait and buy the regular version in October, if need be, but I’m really hoping for the kids version and have been disappointed that, so far, it seems Amazon has no plans to have it available this year.

  • When will the NOOK version be released?

  • Can you please advise if the kid version includes touring plans for Universal Studios, IoA and the waterparks?

  • Does the second printing in Feb include more of the New Fantasy Land? Will the second printing be available on the Kindle AT THE SAME TIME?

  • by Joshua Raymond on March 11, 2013, at 11:34 am EST

    Phenomenal book! One item that would be helpful would be a drive-time map showing concentric areas and approximately how long it takes to get the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, etc. at various times such as line drop, mid-afternoon, and local rush hours. For those of us staying off site, this would allow us to better plan for traffic and commute times. Perhaps this would be better suited for the website. Thanks!

  • We are going in mid September. Any idea which parks are the least crowded on the weekend? Does the 2013 have the chart showing which parks to go to and which ones to avoid like the 2005 book did?

  • When will 2014 be released?

  • We have had to move our 2014 trip up to 2013. Should we go ahead and get the 2013 guide? Or would it make more sense to wait for the 2014 edition, due in August? Our trip is now scheduled for Novemeber if that makes a difference.


    • Most of the 2013 Guide should be good through November, so I’d go with that. We’ll have updates on the site for anything that’s changed.

    • Lara, if it helps at all, we went last year in November, and I was in the same boat. I did most of my big planning using our library’s 2012 guides, then bought the 2013 guide as soon as it was available on Kindle, so it would be easier to bring into the parks and because I wanted as much info on New Fantasyland as I could get in a book. I was sweating it a little, waiting for the Kindle version of the kids guide to become available (I think that one didn’t come out until October), but it was worth it for me. It probably depends on your access to a 2013 guide, what you want to carry with you on property, and what sort of information you hope to have in the 2014 guide. Hope that helps!

  • Is there a possibility to buy the book in Europe? I wanted to buy via Amazon, but it gets pretty expensive with shipping rates to Europe…