A look back at what led to the first Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World
By Bob Sehlinger
It seems impossible that we are celebrating the 30th edition of The Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World. And it’s all because I was mightily pissed about taking my kids to WDW and only experiencing six rides due to the stupid lines being so long. After spending all that money to get in, I took it as a personal affront to get so little out of it. Fortunately my skill set included some research skills, and I made it my personal mission to see everything without much waiting in line. In the end I got ‘er done and the fruit of my labor provided a much happier experience for my family and became the cornerstone of the Unofficial Guide.
To celebrate our 30th anniversary, we will release an ebook of the very first, 1985 edition. That guide was 174 pages compared to almost 1,000 pages of the 31st (2016) edition, now at the printer. Back then there was only the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center (its original name), and River Country water park. So much less to keep track of! EPCOT Center was only in its third year. Everything was new and full of promise. At the Magic Kingdom there was no Splash Mountain, and attractions included Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, Mike Fink Keelboats, the Skyway from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, If You Had Wings, American Journeys, and Mission to Mars, all long gone.
As I look forward to the 31st (2016) edition, Disney World has changed. The quality of the attractions and entertainment remains excellent, but Disney has priced many families out of the market. Admission prices (over $100 a day for the Magic Kingdom), hotel rates, and restaurant prices (including surcharges just for the privilege of stepping through the door), have skyrocketed. Fastpass+ and Advance Dining Reservations now force families to plan every day and every meal months in advance. It’s a different World. The 2016 edition has a new section detailing just how much Disney fun you can buy at WDW for various amounts ranging from $500 to $2,500. To say the least, it’s sobering .
About the author: Bob Sehlinger, a Lowell Thomas Award-winning journalist, is best known as the creator and producer of The Unofficial Guide series. He is founder and co-owner of Keen Communications, a book publishing company that includes Menasha Ridge Press, Clerisy Press, The Unofficial Guide, and Wilderness Press. He lives in Birmingham, AL.
The 2016 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is available as of TODAY where all good books are sold.