Every year there is one guidebook in the Walt Disney World universe that outstrips all the others for its quality and completeness. The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World, by Mike and Julie Neil, is an annual publication that not only takes readers through the rides, shows, and attractions, but also provides stunning photographs of parks in the process. In fact, it’s the photographs that will draw your eye at first, and keep you flipping through the book.
Even more to their credit, the authors treat each new annual publication as an opportunity to craft an entirely new work of art. You don’t see photos reused from year-to-year, and the layout is new each time as well. It must be a massive amount of work, and the quality certainly shows on the page.
Even though every ride, show, and attraction is discussed at length and in detail, the authors do not dwell on negative reviews or un-productive commentary. They certainly do aim for honesty in their reviews, but the honesty is always couched with some manner of positivity and never fully veers into editorial type of content, such as you might see on many blogs. That keeps the publication at a certain professional level, though it does have the downside that people completely unfamiliar with the parks may not recognize mild disappointments on the page when they encounter it. If you’re looking for a guidebook that tells you exactly how to steer clear of the things which are too similar to rides you might already know from home, this is not that guidebook. There are plenty of others on the market which can do that for you.
This one, however, will give you excitement for visiting the park. Partly this comes from the gorgeous pictures and professional layout, but also it comes from the sense of professionalism when it comes to reviewing the rides. If you’re from an outside state, and a trip to Florida is a big deal in your family, then this book will go along way toward generating excitement for your visit.
The book, frankly, is a brick. It’s heavy. There are 400+ pages, all of them with color photos and a thick, glossy feel. I’m not sure if the primary audience of this book – those traveling from out of state – would feel the need to buy any other souvenir from this trip. This book itself is enough. It’s both useful for planning and great to keep around afterward as the souvenir of the trip.
Mike and Julie have been making this book for ten years – this is an anniversary edition. It shows. The love, the dedication, and frankly the artistry shine through. I’m delighted each time I pick up this souvenir, as it provides a capsule of WDW, and reminds us why we love this place.