A WORD FROM THE EDITOR
For many of us, a visit to Walt Disney World is more than a vacation. It’s an escape into fantasy and adventure; a chance to bond with loved ones, make new friends, and experience unabashed optimism and human kindness. It makes us laugh. It inspires us. It encourages us to believe in magic and hope for that “great big beautiful tomorrow.” And while dreaming about WDW helped sustain us during the real-world challenges of the recent past, we are beyond thrilled to be planning actual visits to our collective happy place. We’re honored to help you do that, too. In fact, Birnbaum has been helping folks navigate Walt Disney World since 1982!
Never before has there been so much incentive to visit (and revisit) the memory-making capital of the world. Magic Kingdom wows guests with its charming mix of classic and contemporary shows and attractions, from Peter Pan’s Flight to the thrilling new TRON Lightcycle/Run, plus the return of the rousing pyrotechnic/projection production dubbed Happily Ever After. At the revitalized EPCOT, guests of all ages marvel at the new Journey of Water, inspired by Moana, daredevils spin through space on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Soarin’ Around the World continues to send guests to happy heights. Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park can control the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and be shrunk to the size of a toy in the park’s Toy Story Land. And Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway transports giddy guests to a wild and wacky cartoon realm. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to the wildly popular Avatar Flight of Passage, a thriller that lets guests fly on the back of a mountain banshee. The park also boasts the ever-popular Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. And the always dynamic Disney Springs is bursting with eclectic dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities—including Summer House on the Lake and Drawn to Life, presented by Cirque du Soleil® and Disney.
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as so much of Walt Disney World (not to mention the real world) has grown and evolved since our last edition. We are privileged and proud to provide readers with our extensively researched, insider look at some of the most cherished attractions, resorts, and eateries on Earth.
When Steve Birnbaum launched this guide, he made it clear what was expected of anyone who worked on it. The book would be meticulously revised each year, leaving no attraction untested, no snack or meal untasted, no hotel untried. First-hand experiences like these, accumulated over the years, make this book the most authoritative guide to the World. Our expertise, however, is not achieved by being escorted through back doors of attractions (although we would enjoy that). Instead, we wait in lines with everyone else, always hoping to have a Disney experience like that of any other guest. We also take advantage of WDW’s Genie+/Lightning Lane attraction reservation service when budget allows. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on it and other aspects of the Disney vacation-planning universe—homework we’re happy to do for readers like you.
After 52 fun-filled years, Walt’s World has vastly expanded—and so has our knowledge of it. On some occasions we’ve encountered sweltering weather and swelling crowds—times when even the happiest of travelers can turn into Grumpy for a moment or two. Had we known then what we know now, we could have spared ourselves some trying experiences. In one case, a staffer waited more than an hour to take a tour at the Studios. Standing in line with a notebook, she was asked by another guest if there was a quiz at the end. When she explained what she was doing, he expressed surprise to learn that she was waiting with the masses. But that’s always been our strategy. We believe the best way to gather useful advice for a Walt Disney World guest is to be one. Over and over again! TAKE OUR ADVICE
We have done our best to keep you from making any tactical mistakes. We realize that even the most meticulous vacation planner needs detailed, accurate, and objective information to prepare a successful itinerary. To achieve that goal, we encourage the sharing of insight and information from Walt Disney World staffers—however, the decision of whether or not to include such information is entirely up to the discretion of this book’s editor.
To that end, we have packaged handy bits of advice in the form of sample itineraries and “hot tips” throughout the book. This advice comes directly from the copious notes we’ve taken during our thousands of days spent in Walt Disney World. We have also used our “Birnbaum’s Best” stamp of approval wherever we deemed it appropriate, highlighting favorite attractions and restaurants—the crowd-pleasers we believe stand head, shoulders, and ears above the rest.
You, the reader, benefit from the combination of our many years of experience that, together with our access to insider information, makes this guide unique. We like to think it’s indispensable, but we’ll let you be the judge of that a few hundred pages from now. THE LAST WORD
Finally, it’s important to remember that every worthwhile travel guide is a living enterprise; the book you hold in your hands is our best effort at explaining how to enjoy Walt Disney World at this moment. But its text is in no way etched in stone. Details change often— especially these days! Disney is constantly changing and growing, and in each edition we refine and expand our material to serve your needs even better. For this year’s edition, though, this must be the final word.
Have a great visit! —Jill Safro, Editor
Copyright © 2023 by Disney. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.