I like the Passporter, the spiral bound edition. It has places you can store tickets and notes etc. I have a couple Birnbaum books but they are pretty basic but good for beginners. (still waiting for Mickey)
Personally I like the Birnbaum books. They are helpful and if you buy the book for the year you are traveling they have coupons in the back.
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Passporter is my fav. But of course I have a few other guides for good measure and loan out to friends but PP goes only with me!
Birnbaum is they way to go.
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We've been very happy with Birnbaum's and the Unofficial Guide. Since Birnbaum's is the "official" Disney guide it will really help you get into the magic when planning your trip, plus it's very comprehensive. The Unofficial Guide tended to give a more honest take on things because it takes opinion polls of previous park guests, so you're not just getting the author's opinion. In some ways I thought it was more exhaustive than Birnbaum's since you'll get far more practical suggestions for your trip.
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As you've seen there are tons of books. And each of them has their own unique spin. Something I haven't seen mentioned on here is the Guide to the Magic with Kids. But the best advice I can offer in terms of books is to go spend the afternoon in your local book store. Leaf through the books and see which one(s) appeal to you the most. You may want to get a couple as they do each have their own unique spin.
But definitely don't forget the trivia books -- they can be a lot of fun while waiting in line. And I'd also pick up the Hidden Mickeys Field Guide. It's a LOT of fun.
Both the Unofficial Guide and the Passporter's guide are great. I would also recommend "The Complete Walt Disney World" by Julie and Mike Neal.
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If you have kids, I would throw in my recommendation for "Walt Disney World For Kids, By Kids." My kids LOVE this book and use it to plan every trip. It has kid ride reviews, a kid-friendly coding system for the rides (scary, dark, rough, wet, loud), plus a countdown calendar in the back and a place for autographs if you want to use it. It goes park by park and land by land and includes resorts, food, etc. It's not too expensive and an update comes out every year.
Mike from Rochester. Yes that Mike from Rochester.
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I have found the unofficial guide very helpful, but I will also buy a passporter as I have only heard good things about them. Of course we also have the Disney Trivia books, for those long queues!!!!
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I agree with the above suggestions however our public library stocks most of these and we can keep them for 3 weeks and then renew them also. We checked a new one out every few weeks and then the 2008's came out in November. You can then purchase your favorite if you need to take one with you.
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