By Len Testa

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The 2014 edition of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World has started shipping! (Get the Unofficial Guide in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon.)

With the Magic Kingdom’s new Fantasyland almost done, changes to Disney’s Fastpass ride reservation system, and Universal’s construction of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley well underway, the 2014 edition is one of the largest updates we’ve made in many years. To put these changes in perspective, we submitted about 300 typed pages of updates for an 850-page book.

Below is a quick look at many of the important changes included in the new Guide. In addition to these new articles, the front half of the book was edited and reorganized to ensure important topics are covered completely in a single section, instead of over several chapters. You’ll find the information you need faster than ever, and all in one place.

We’ll be rolling out these changes to the website over the next couple of weeks. Happy reading!

Part 1 – Planning Before You Leave Home

Coverage of Disney’s new My Disney Experience website, including navigation tips, how to make FastPass+ reservations and dining reservations.

Updates on selecting the time of year for your visit, including recommendations for least-crowded months and specific weeks.

The latest analysis of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours schedule and advice on how to best utilize these perks if you’re staying at a Disney resort.

New strategies for “park-hopping” (visiting more than one park per day).

 An expanded Walt Disney World 2014 Calendar, including how events such as runDisney races, Star Wars Weekends, Food and Wine Festival, and holidays will affect crowds. Specific recommendations on when you’ll find the least-crowded Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party events.

Part 2 – Time and Money

The latest Disney ticket price and what’s included in Disney’s various admission options; tips for where to find savings on theme park admission; how to plan for future price increases.

A new, detailed section on Disney’s new RFID-enabled MagicBand wristbands, used for admission media and payments, including how RFID technology works and the privacy implications of in-park location tracking.

A new, detailed section on FastPass+, the update to Disney’s Fastpass ride reservation system, including what’s the same and what’s going to be different. How FastPass+ will affect your waits in line, and tips on which attractions will most benefit from FastPass+.

Tips for partial days at the theme parks, including how to take advantage of FastPass+.

For users of our touring plans, a new section describes how to use your mobile phone to update your touring plan while you’re in the park, if something unexpected happens and you need to regroup.

The latest on Disney’s park-opening procedures in “What to Expect when You Arrive at the Parks”, including variations for holidays.

Part 3 – Accommodations

Updates to the section describing Disney’s free Magical Express airport-to-hotel bus service.

Tips on how to find discounts at Disney World hotels.

Our new list of the best Disney-specialist travel agents.

A sneak peek at Disney’s new Grand Floridian Villas, including a diagram of the room layouts, amenities, transportation, dining and more.

How to improve the performance of Disney’s free WiFi service at your hotel.

An updated Reader Report Card for the Disney resorts, including surveys asking “Would You Stay Here Again?” and “Would You Recommend This Hotel to a Friend?”

Updates to the review of Disney’s Grand Floridian resort, including pool and water play area construction.

The latest on room refurbishments and potential upcoming construction at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Updates to the Wilderness Lodge, Bay Lake Tower, and Contemporary resort reviews after their 2012 refurbishments.

The latest on how Disney classifies room views at the Yacht Club and BoardWalk resorts.

Insider tips on the differences between Disney’s All-Star Resorts, such as which one has the best food court and bus service. Also, the single best room to ask for at the All-Star Resorts.

An update to our Art of Animation review, now that the resort has been open a year.

Updates to the chart of additional fees charged at the Downtown Disney resorts, which can be $20 to $45 per day.

Complete rewrites of the reviews for Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay and Royal Pacific hotels, plus a look at the Cabana Bay resort scheduled to open in 2014.

A look at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, scheduled to open in 2014.

Updates to more than 60 off-site hotel ratings and rankings.

Part 4 – Spas

A review of the new Senses Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort. (Spoiler Alert: we think it’s the best in Orlando.)

Updates to the review of Mandara Spa at Portofino Bay.

We went back to the Ritz-Carlton Spa for a re-review, and we compare it to Disney’s Grand Floridian.

A preview of the changes coming to the new Senses Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.

A new review of the Waldorf Astoria Spa.

Part 5 – The Disney Cruise Line

This chapter is almost completely rewritten, expanding to 18 pages in the 2014 edition.

Updates to the list of ports and destinations served by DCL, including the new 2014 itineraries.

A comparison of DCL to Royal Caribbean, its closest competitor, including prices, staterooms, service and amentities.

A new section on cruising with kids, including how Disney is adapting to recent trends in the cruise industry regarding more space per ship for kids’ clubs.

How to choose the right Disney ship, itinerary and shore excursions, including recommendations for first-time cruisers.

Updated overviews of each ship, including our rankings of the best and worst Disney ships (and why!).

A new overview of Disney’s staterooms and amenities, by category, including a description of bathroom configurations, verandah options and more; a list of amenities found in each room.

Our recommendation for which stateroom to choose for your family size, and the pros and cons of the various decks.

A new section on dining, including a detailed description of Disney’s rotational dining system, plus reviews of counter-service, buffet, and sit-down restaurants. Specific advice on which restaurants to try and which restaurants to skip, by ship.

Summary of the changes coming to the Magic after its 2013 dry dock.

Recommendations and reviews for entertainment on the ships, including stage shows, variety acts, movies, and family activities.

Reviews of on-board children’s activities, including the programs for young children, ‘tweens, and teens.

Sports and fitness options on each ship, including a review of the best treatments at each ship’s spa.

An update on Disney’s gratuity policy.

Where to find the best deals on Disney cruises.

Part 6 – Walt Disney World with Kids

Updated hotel recommendations for families traveling with children 12 and younger.

New stroller company recommendations and price comparisons with Disney’s strollers.

Updated “Fright Potential Chart” with new Fantasyland attractions.

Updated “Hail Mary Pass” and “Switching Off/Baby Swap/Rider Swap/Rider Switch” coverage for new and refurbished attractions.

A simplified, comprehensive chart of where to meet characters for free in each of the parks.

Updated advice on character meals, including when to go and which meals are best for meeting characters.

Updates to Disney’s policy regarding unaccompanied children in the parks; child-care center changes.

Part 7 – Special Tips for Special People

Expanded section on weddings, commitment ceremonies and vow renewals.

Where to find the new “standing ECVs” (electric scooters you can stand on) for rent in the parks, and off-site rental places that can save you money.

Updates to the sections on special dietary needs, including allergies, vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, and kosher meal requests.

More locations for Friends of Bill W. meetings.

Part 8 – Arriving and Getting Around

Updated driving directions, including best exits, based on latest construction for I-10, I-75,and I-4.

Updates to taxi, shuttle and towncar rates, and an analysis of how many passengers it takes to reach the break-even points for each.

An updated section on Disney’s free Magical Express bus service from the Orlando airport to your Disney resort, including how bags are handled when going to and coming from your Disney resort. Answers to frequently asked questions about storing medication, strollers, wheelcharis, clothing, etc., for immediate use when you arrive at the resort.

A new section on how to find the best rental car discounts.

Updates to our readers’ rental car agency rankings.

New coverage of Fox Rent A Car and their Fiat 500s.

GPS coordinates and addresses for theme park, water park, and Downtown Disney parking lots.

An updated Disney Transportation System commuting times chart, showing you the average and worst-case travel times between your resort and Disney’s destinations. More than 600 bus trips were times for this update.

Updates to the operating hours of Disney’s transportation systems, including bus, boat and monorail.

Part 9 – Bare Necessities

Updates to the “Medical Matters” section for everything from headache relief to where to find urgent care in and outside the parks.

Updated coverage of Disney’s Photopass and Photopass Plus packages.

Advice on where to find places to charge your cell phone while in the parks, including advice for portable batteries.

An updated comparison of prices at local grocery stores near Disney World, and which grocers to avoid.

Part 10 – Dining

Updates to the dining section for Universal’s CityWalk.

An updated section on how Advance Dining Reservations work, including new advice for speeding through Disney’s online dining reservation system for hard-to-get reservations at Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table.

Updates to Disney’s policies on reservation cancelation and seasonal dining surcharges.

Updated list of sample prices for counter-service food, helpful for creating a food budget.

Recommendations on the best restaurants for kids; for romantic couples; for coffee.

New reviews of the Magic Kingdom’s counter-service lunch and sit-down dinner at Be Our Guest.

New “Author’s Favorite Counter-Service Restaurants” for the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

New review of Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie at Epcot’s France pavilion.

New review of L’Artisan des Glaces Artisan Ice Cream & Sorbet at Epcot’s France pavilion.

Updated review of Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar at Epcot’s Italy pavilion.

New review of Gaston’s Tavern at the Magic Kingdom.

A preview of Morocco’s Spice Road Table restaurant set to open in late 2013.

Updated reader ratings for more than 150 counter-service and sit-down restaurants in Walt Disney World.

A preview of changes we’re likely to see at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill, including new menu items and décor.

A new review of the food at the Splitsville bowling alley in Downtown Disney.

A new review of Monsieur Paul at Epcot’s France pavilion.

Dozens of menu updates throughout the chapter.

Part 11 – The Magic Kingdom

Information on the new Heroes/Villains parking lot system at the Magic Kingdom.

Updates to the Magic Kingdom’s park opening procedures.

An update on the Fantasyland expansion construction, including the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening in 2014.

A description of Fastpass loopholes found at the Magic Kingdom, including which attractions participate and how to take advantage of them.

New review of A Pirates Adventure interactive game in Adventureland.

A description of the new queue effects at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

A new description of Fantasyland’s updated layout, including theming, restroom and phone charging locations.

New review for Ariel’s Grotto.

New review for the Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station.

New review for Enchanted Tales with Belle, including how to avoid long lines.

New review of Pete’s Silly Sideshow character greetings, including the best times to go.

The latest on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction, including scenes, theming and when to go to avoid long waits in line.

New review of Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, including when to go.

Minor updates to most Tomorrowland attraction descriptions and touring tips.

Coverage of Disney’s new nighttime Celebrate the Magic show.

Where to find information for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

A preview of the new Festival of Fantasy afternoon parade in the Magic Kingdom, scheduled to debut in 2014.

An updated “Traffic Patterns in the Magic Kingdom” section showing the effect of the new Fantasyland attractions on guests’ touring habits.

Updates to most Magic Kingdom touring plans.

A summary of how FastPass+ may change the best viewing locations for parades and fireworks.

Updates on most attractions’ “When to Go” times, including which attractions need Fastpass/FastPass+.

Many new Jim Hill anecdotes.

Part 12 – Epcot

Tips on where to find Epcot’s alternate security checkpoint, in case the primary one is too crowded.

New review of Chevrolet’s Test Track ride and pavilion, including best times to visit.

A re-review of Captain EO.

Updates to many attractions’ “When to Go” times and touring tips including when to use Fastpass.

Many new Jim Hill stories.

Part 13 – Animal Kingdom

Updates to the description of the park’s opening procedures.

News on Festival of the Lion King’s move from Camp Minnie-Mickey to Africa.

New review of Adventurer’s Outpost character greeting.

New review of Wilderness Explorers interactive scavenger hunt.

Updates on Animal Kingdom’s Extra Magic Hours schedule.

Updates on Avatar construction and how it may affect what’s left of Camp Minnie-Mickey.

Updates to many attractions’ “When to Go” times and touring tips including when to use Fastpass.

Updates to the Animal Kingdom’s traffic patterns, considering the likely effects of the closing of Camp Minnie-Mickey and the newest information on the afternoon parade route.

Many new Jim Hill stories.

Part 14 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Updates to Fantasmic! schedule, seating capacity and preferred viewing spots for the Fantasmic dinner package.

Updates to many attractions’ “When to Go” times and touring tips including when to use Fastpass.

Tips on how to get your children signed up for the popular Jedi Training Academy shows.

A new review for The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Updates on the cancellation of the Studios’ afternoon parade.

A new section on the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

Where to meet characters for free.

Many new Jim Hill stories.

Part 15 – Universal Orlando

If you’re looking for more coverage of Universal Orlando, our upcoming Beyond Disney: Universal Orlando title includes loads of new and updated attraction, restaurant, and hotel reviews from around the Universal Orlando resort. The book also includes SeaWorld and other Central Florida attractions.

Updates to Universal’s ticket options and prices; comparison of value with Disney’s theme parks.

Our Beyond Disney title has more expansive coverage of Universal Orlando.

New section on lodging at UOR.

Updates on how Universal Express operates for resort guests and day guests

Updates to the Universal’s free locker rentals inside the parks.

A brief overview of Universal’s new Q-Bot ride reservation system.

Part 16 – Islands of Adventure

Expanded coverage of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including traffic patterns and new construction including Hogwarts Express.

Best times to visit The Wizarding World for Universal Orlando resort guests and day guests.

Updates to IOA’s dining recommendations.

A new “Two Parks in One Day” touring plan featuring the best of IOA and Universal Studios Florida.

Part 17 – Universal Studios Florida

Coverage of the new Springfield USA area, home of The Simpsons Ride and Kang and Kodos’ Twirl and Hurl spinner ride.

Lots of detail around the new Diagon Alley section of the park opening in 2014, including new information on the Gringott’s Wizarding Bank coaster, King’s Cross railroad station, Grimmauld Place, the new Ollivanders wand shop, and more. We also include touring strategies for seeing these new attractions when they open, while avoiding crowds as much as possible.

Updated review of Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue.

Updated review of The Blues Brothers show.

Review of Transformers: The Ride 3-D.

An updated section in dining at Universal Studios Florida.

Updated touring plans for 2014, including all of the new attractions.

Part 18 – SeaWorld

Coverage of the new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin ride, the largest expansion in SeaWorld history, and new TurtleTrek 3-D theater show.

Part 19 – Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney World

Updates to the list of behind-the-scenes tours, prices and hours.

Part 20 – The Water Parks

Updates to park hours, prices, and Extra Magic Hours policy.

Part 21 to 23 – Beyond the Parks, Shopping and Nightlife

Coverage of the new Disney Springs construction, which will merge together Downtown Disney, the West Side, and Pleasure Island.

Updates to the shops found in Downtown Disney, as well as where to find the best souvenirs in each of the theme parks.

Updated golf course reviews, prices and hours.

Touring Plans

The book’s detailed touring plans now contain advice for how to use FastPass+ in conjunction with the plans. For each step in which we suggest FastPass, we’ll tell you the approximate time at which the Fastpass return window should start, in order to fit in the plan. This allows you to request the correct return time from Disney’s FastPass+ system.If Disney limits the number of Fastpasses you can obtain, each touring plan also contains a prioritized list, from most important to less important, showing you which FastPass+ attractions to get first. Here’s an example for the Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan for Parents with Young Children:

Start times for FastPass+: Peter Pan’s Flight 10:15 a.m.; Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin 3:50 p.m.; Jungle Cruise 5 p.m.; The Many Adventure of Winnie Pooh 7:35 p.m.; The Barnstormer and Dumbo the Flying Elephant 7:25 p.m.; Under the Sea 8:10 p.m. Prioritize Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Under the Sea if needed.

A new Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan for Adults.

A new Magic Kingdom Selective One-Day Touring Plan for Adults.

A new Magic Kingdom One-Day Plan for Parents with Small Children.

A new Magic Kingdom Two-Day Touring Plan.

A new Dumbo-or-Die in a Day touring plan.

A new Animal Kingdom one-day touring plan, taking in to account new attractions and attraction changes.

Updates to the Studios’ one-day touring plan to include updated information on Tower of Terror’s Fastpass distribution.

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What’s New In the 2014 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is a post from the TouringPlans.com Blog. Signup for a premium subscription today! Or get news via Email, Twitter, & Facebook.

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