Touring Guides: Details of the Hassle-Free WDW

The Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation 2011
By Steven M. Barrett

When you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, it is very hard to choose a planning book from all of the different books out there.  There are ones with countless words in them, ones with tons of pictures, books specifically focusing on Dining or going with children…with all of these choices, who knows which is the best one! One thing I hope to do with Walt’s Writers it to go over each of the touring books that I find and give you details about the content and layout, hopefully making the choice an easier task.

A well known author and a dear friend of mine, Steve Barrett has shared his love of Walt Disney World and especially Hidden Mickeys for years through his books.  We will talk about Dr. Barret’s Hidden Mickeys Guide another time; this post is all about his Hassle-Free guide to planning a Walt Disney World vacation!

The first thing I do when I look in a travel planning book is look for a Table of Contents and an index – having these makes planning specifics so much easier.  The Hassle-Free guides passes this test, having both a detailed Contents and index.

I next flip through the book and glance at the number and type of pictures in the book.  I am a very visual person and when I read about something I am not sure of or a place I haven’t been, I like having pictures to help me get a better idea of what is being described. When I flip through Steve’s book, I do notice black and white pictures on about 50 percent of the pages, which isn’t so bad, but there could always be more.  There is also a section near the front of the book that has colored pictures, which catches your eye as you flip through it.  This section is a picture game, asking the question “How well do you know Walt Disney World?”.  There are different images and you have to guess where you would find them in WDW. Not only does this little section add photos to the book, but it adds an element of fun, which is always a plus!

Before getting down to the nitty gritty of the book, I always look for some kind of map in the book.  When I am reading or planning, I like to flip back to the map so that I can get a feel for where a certain place I am reading about is.  Not only does the Hassle-Free guide have a map of each part in front of the chapters for it, but it also has a map of the whole Walt Disney World Resort with street names listed.  A very good touch for the first time traveler.

Now, lets get down to the layout.  The first section is all about planning the trip; Where to stay with descriptions, prices of resorts and tickets, Airline phone numbers, and package deals. Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are explained in this section as well as child care services, character meals, FASTPASS systems, disabilities information, parking and more! He even has sections explaining when it makes sense to use the No expiration option or to get an annual pass and gives a list of websites that are useful for planning and the list of Disney phone numbers.

There is a section in the book that talks about dining in the parks.  This is my first warning about this book: If you are looking for thorough information on dining in the parks, this is not the book for you.  Steve has pages on recommendations, a list of characters and what restaurants to find them in and a full alphabetical list of restaurants with their location, type of cuisine, rating and price range, but that is it. If you are looking for a more detailed write up about each restaurant, just sit tight, there are plenty more touring books to come.

Now we get to the core of the book: the park details and touring plans! For each park, Steve has a very brief history on each area, then he goes into a small write up about each attraction in the park.  This write up includes a rating (out of so many mickey heads; rating scale described in the book), type of attraction, time it takes for the attraction itself (not including waiting in the queue) and some notes and tips on the attraction.  After explaining all of the attractions, he lists the Attractions with Minimal Wait, Attractions That May Frighten Children, Least Crowded Restrooms, Resting Places, Attractions Especially Attractive at Night, and some Hidden Mickeys (I mean, he is the Hidden Mickey Guy). There are questions answered about specifics in each park and then there are Touring Plans broken up into these categories: Touring Plans for Adults and Teens, Touring Plans for Families with Young Children, and Touring Plans for Seniors.  Within each category there are touring plans built for EMH Early Entry days and non EMH days.  There are also one day plans and two day plans for all except Animal Kingdom. The Touring Plans are merely suggestions on how to go about your day within the park for those who may feel better about having a specific schedule written out for their vacation. This whole section may seem confusing, but it is very clearly labeled and written out within the book itself.

There is a brief chapter giving basic details on the water parks and Downtown Disney (again, if you want more than a few brief paragraphs of information on these sections, this may not be the book for you) and then it gets to probably my favorite part of the book; A chapter called Lots More To Do at WDW.  This chapter consists of almost all bullet points with suggestions of extra things to see and do within and out of the parks.  It talks about street performers, tours, sport options, and tons of other neat activities to see and do! If you are not a first-timer to the parks, this portion of this book is just for you! I read it and found tours and free activities that I did not even know existed in the parks and are now on my to do list for my next vacation!

Enough details for you? Here is the basic breakdown of what this book has:

Table of Contents and Index: Yes
Photos: Yes; mostly black and white
Maps: Yes; parks and whole property
Resort Details: Some detail on type of resort and pricing
Dining Details: Minimal details
Attraction Details: Very in depth
Downtown Disney Details: Minimal
Water Park Details: Minimal
Other Information: Packing suggestions, Ticket and Pricing details, Extra activities lists, detailed Touring Plans for each park

I hope this detailed run-down of Steve Barrett’s Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation 2011 has been helpful for you! Let me know if this book has been helpful to you in your Disney planning. You can purchase this guide from this link.
If you have a specific suggestion of a touring book you would like me to review next, just send me an email at!

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