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Friday, January 18, 2019

the 4 walt disney world planning resources i use

I take a special kind of pride in receiving a special kind of text message every so often: "I have a question about Disney World."  Being the resident Walt Disney World Resort guru isn't an easy job, but someone has to do it!

As much as I hate to admit it, I wasn't born knowing where the Starbucks locations were in each of the four parks.  My journey towards learning as much about Walt Disney World as possible started in 2010, when my mom asked me to pick out a few restaurants to make reservations for as we prepared for our first family vacation to the mouse house.  While disneyworld.disney.go.com was obviously the first place I went at my tender age of 13, I found out quickly that the official Disney sources didn't have the one thing that I was looking for.  Getting chicken nuggets for my sister was a priority at every restaurant we went to, and in 2010, Disney's websites lacked full, comprehensive menus.

The first time I googled "Disney World Menus" lead me to my first favorite Disney fan-generated resource: AllEars.Net.  AllEars would become the first of many, many fan-generated resources I would come to depend on to aid me in the planning of my Disney trips.


Best resource for: Any type of quantitative information you might be looking for.

When I first found AllEars, I was both excited and overwhelmed at the encyclopedia of knowledge I now had at my finger tips.  Here, I found every menu-- and I mean every menu, from Victoria & Alberts to all the small, pre-packed snacks for sale at a little cart outside of Space Mountain.  Even after we had our first ever ADRs booked, I kept coming back to AllEars to see what else there was to learn about Disney World.  I remember rushing home from seventh grade every day to log onto the family computer and desperately try to find a web page on this website that I hadn't already uncovered.  By the time we arrived at the Contemporary Resort, I already knew where all of the restaurants and shops were thanks to AllEears!

AllEars truly was, and still is, one of the most comprehensive Walt Disney World fan websites online.  If you're a first-timer, you absolutely need to check out AllEars.  I don't think we could have done our first trip without it.  Any time of information you're looking for can be found here, whether you need menus, resort maps/room tours, or information about attraction closures.  If you spend enough time on AllEars before your first vacation, you'll be ready to go.  Even if you're not first-timers, AllEars is kept up-to-date about all of the many changes Walt Disney World goes through ever week, so there's always something new to learn.

I, admittedly, do not use AllEars as much as I did nearly a decade ago.  As time (and vacations) passed, I needed less quantitative information and more consistent Disney news sources.  Don't get me wrong, I will still check AllEars for menus before our trip, because Grace will still want to order chicken nuggets at every restaurant we visit, but this resources is mostly good for people who are only interested in getting specific questions answered with one click.

The DIS/WDW Info

Best resource for: News & Opinions

My affinity for AllEars in 2010 preceded my affinity for the DISboards.  DISboards, as the name may suggest, is an old-school message board forum for fans of the Disney Theme Parks.  I've been a member on the DIS since 2013, and I've been sharing my Trip Reports/Pre-Trip Report planning threads there ever since.  This is your place to go if you have specific questions-- if you'd like a critique of your tour plan, or want to know when the best time to do your favorite attraction without a FP+ would be, head to DISboards first.  You'll get a myriad of opinions from a multitude of park frequenters.

The DISboards is tied to WDW Info, the DIS' news source.  WDW Info lauds itself as "The Largest Unofficial Guide to Disney World," and they're not wrong.  While the first page is often times cluttered with opinion pieces or reviews, WDW Info is one of the true Disney news sources I follow.  WDW Info covers trending stories as they unfold at Walt Disney World Resort 24/7.  I check DISboards multiple times a day, and the sidebar on the forum ties to WDW Info's leading stories, which means I'm never out of the loop!

the disney food blog

Best resource for: Anything that has to do with Disney food, news and reviews.

Story time: When I was a junior in high school, they distributed iPads to all of us.  With these iPads, the school board hoped we would be able to engage in more productive collaborative work, utilize the internet to produce faster, stronger research projects, and to ensure that every student would have a device capable of producing typed work, even when they weren't at school.  Instead of directing my efforts to these tasks, I used my iPad to read the disney food blog in class.  In my math class that year, I read it like the morning paper.  I couldn't get enough dfb, and I still read it every morning.

disney food blog is run by AJ, who has devoted her spare time to reporting on the Disney World dining scene for 10 years now.  She is the first to know when a new snack is introduced to the parks, and she has a lot to say about the Disney Dining Plan.  More importantly, she's one of the most renowned & reliable Disney news sources ever.  With a decade of Disney food reviewing under her belt, several books written (two of which I own!), and accolades from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and many more, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who won't recommend disney food blog as a realiable source of Walt Disney World news.

While the name "disney food blog" suggests that all you'll find on dfb is food, food, and more food, dfb is surprisingly well-rounded.  In fact, it seems like we see less and less food coverage every year.  While you won't find news about how Disney's quarterly earnings compare to last quarter, AJ is on the scene whenever a ride closure is announced, a hard-ticket event item goes on sale, or a new store opens up, making her a great go-to when you want to find out what fresh experiences are waiting for you during your trip.  Still... her food coverage is pretty great.  She always has the best photos of the newest cupcakes!

For those of you who aren't in the market to opt-in to another email listserv, dfb is now a YouTube channel as well!  I love AJ's videos and I promise you will, too.


Best resource for: Touring plans, brutally honest reviews, and sarcasm.

Josh at easyWDW is a sharp contrast to other Disney sources I use.  He's not on Disney's elusive "media list," and with nothing to lose, he makes no bones about new menu items that are downright gross.  Using biting humor to combat the overwhelming and frequently-changing QSFB scene at Walt Disney World, there is no new dish that Josh will leave uneaten (often times to his dismay).  With no ties to Disney's influencer list, I trust Josh's reviews more than anyone else.  He's also a terrific writer-- I aspire to write about anything, ever, at all, with as much gusto as Josh writes about Flame Tree BBQ.  True to his name, his touring plans are easy to follow, so first-timers won't have to worry about getting wrapped up in paragraphs of personal anecdotes while trying to figure out which selection they should pin their Tier 1 DHS FP+ on.

These are the four resources that have made me a Walt Disney World Resort planning expert-- seriously!  Whenever I have a question, I'll consult one of these four first.  All four of these websites are full of FREE information, gathered and organized by people with a passion for the parks.  Thanks to the labor of love from these four teams, I'm able to answer the "I have a question about Disney World" text with confidence today.

Do you have a favored planning resource that wasn't featured on the list?  Maybe you get your touring plans from one website, or swear by someone else's crowd calendar?  Let me know in the comments below-- I'd love to feature you here next week!


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