The Complete Walt Disney World 2018: The Definitive Disney Handbook is written by husband and wife team, Julie and Mike Neal and the first edition was published way back in April 2007 as The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World. The latest edition was published on October 3, 2017.
The 2018 edition has been revised with a new layout making it easier to find what you are looking for and includes hundreds of new photos.
Over the years the Neals (who now live in Celebration right next door to Walt Disney World) have visited Walt Disney World an incredible 1,500 times to produce this beautiful guide book. Though this is not an official guide book, like the Birnbaum series, they have clearly been given access to many areas of Disney.
Julie has researched and written the text whilst Mike has taken the sumptuous colour photographs used to illustrate the book.
You would not think you needed another Walt Disney World book but the new Complete Walt Disney World is well worth a look.
The whole book has a glossy magazine feel with lots of double page spreads, lavishly illustrated throughout with over 440 photographs.
There is a full colour map of the whole Walt Disney World area showing all the major highways, locations of all the theme parks and water parks, golf courses, resorts hotels, gas stations and kennels.
Each theme park and water park has its own colour coded chapter so it is easy to find the right section, similar to the style of the Dorling Kindersley guides. Each chapter starts with a double page photo spread and colour map with every attraction, restaurant, ATM machine, character greeting location and parade route clearly marked and an at-a-glance summary.
Every single attraction is described in detail, some over several pages with hour-by-hour wait times plus details of each restaurant and shop. There are loads of background stories which help set the scene as to how some rides came about and connections to movies and shows.
There is also information about the various events that take place each year, such as Halloween and Christmas plus a simple touring plan for each park.
For Disney’s Animal Kingdom there is an all new wildlife guide describing some of the animals you are likely to see with habitat maps.
Dotted throughout the book are hundreds of Fun Finds and Fun Facts, including things like snippets of dialogue used by the cast members and animatronic characters. There is also details of the story-lines behind each of the rides, park puzzles, useful tips and details of where to find over 300 Hidden Mickeys.
There is also a chapter on other things to do within the Walt Disney World like golf and various water sports. All of the Walt Disney World resort hotels and restaurants get a mention plus many other nearby hotels. There are now over 100 photographs of the hotels showing the landscape, facilities and the actual rooms.
Finally there is a Walt Disney World telephone directory with over 90 essential telephone numbers for all occasions.
There are many guide books to Walt Disney World but few of them are as well written and illustrated as The Complete Walt Disney World. It has won many awards including Disney’s iParenting Media Award for Outstanding Family Product, Travel Guide of the Year and Non-fiction Book of the Year.
Alternatives include the 800 plus page Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World which tells you just about everything you could ever want to know, but it can be a bit dry at times. Then of course there is the official Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Guide and books from other mainstream publishers like Fodor and Frommer.
The Neals have also written another Florida book, Sanibel & Captiva: A Guide to the Islands.
Note that most guide books are re-published annually so you can often pick up a bargain if you don’t mind last year’s edition.