The original park guide, Birnbaum’s 2022 WDW edition includes everything you could want and then some.
Birnbaum and park guide are virtually synonymous and it is the only official guide to both Walt Disney World and its sister park, Disneyland. Known by the name of the original author, famed travel writer Stephen Birnbaum, today it’s written by a team of people who work in conjunction with the theme parks to make it happen. However, very refreshingly, the guide is honest about what’s worthwhile and what isn’t. It tries to approach its task with an honest evaluation of each attraction, hotel, and place to eat. There are highlights and tips and new things all the time and each version is painstakingly updated with as much current information as possible.
The Birnbaum guide is a collector’s item all by itself. Because they have partnered with the Disney company, they have access to photos, maps, and behind the scene details most other guides don’t have access to. With Disney art peppered throughout the book, this full-color work is both fun to read and fun to look at. It’s divided into logical sections from “Getting Ready to Go” to “Transportation and Accomodations” and of course each park is broken down into its own mini-sections: Getting Oriented, Park Primer, Attractions, Shopping, Entertainment, and Hot Tips. There’s even a section on the Disney Cruise Line and for the 2022 WDW edition a small section at the end on the 50th anniversary celebration.
But what I love the most about this guide are the parts that go above and beyond what you might expect in a guide. The “resort finder” makes it easy to compare the different resorts, what makes them special where they are located in relation to the rest of the World, who you might find there, and more. There’s a character dining guide that makes it easy to find your favorite princesses or Mickey and friends so you know in advance where you need to book that special meal. Everyone loves “Hidden Mickeys” and each park has a section on where you might find some of these elusive treasures. The Peak Ticket Price guide makes it easy to anticipate just how much all of this is going to cost you. And that is only a few of the ways the Birnbaum guide looks to enhance your experience.
The kids guide is a slightly smaller and definitely shorter version of the adult guide, but perfect for kids. No need for price guides or resort cost information, but instead a fun guide to every attraction in each park along with a “Reader Review” which are brutally honest reviews from real kids who share a snippet about their experience with that particular ride. I was sad to find out that kids felt Country Bear Jamboree was a little boring. Personally, I love it.
But even a guide as thorough as Birnbaum can’t quite get everything. The most current 2022 edition came out just a few weeks ago and already some information is outdated. Fastpass+ locations are still identified but Genie and Genie+ are about to be rolled out and the Fastpass program is permanently shelved. New Lightning Lanes are popping up and the program received a major overhaul. Still, the guide is more than worth it and as with any living document will be sure to change again next year. If you’re a long time fan, you’ll enjoy spending time pouring through the different lands, reading about the different attractions and imagining you are right there in all the fun. If you’re a first time visitor, this is a must-have resource for you! And of course, reading this website. :)
- Thanks to Disney Editions and Disney Publishing for a review copy of each book
Title: Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World: The Official Vacation Guide 2022 and Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2022 The Official Guide for Kids
Author: Jill Safro, Editor;
Cost: $19.99 and $12.99
Age: 18+; 8-12
Publisher: Disney Editions
Genre: Travel Guide