The best Walt Disney World and Orlando guidebook on the planet (yes, this one) covers almost everything most travelers need and want to know. But there are a few areas where I bow to the expertise of less-than-mainstream or special-interest books. Interests and intent vary -- some may want to discover the secret behind Disney's business strategy, others may find the region's historical timeline more to their liking, and still others may simply want to prepare their toddler for an upcoming trip. So here are a few additional books that may be available in your local library or bookstore.
- Florida's Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore (2005, Pineapple Press) contains strange tales of the supernatural, revealing Florida's slightly spookier side. Move over, Haunted Mansion; this is the real deal. Ghost stories, legends, and accounts of strange occurrences may make you think twice about turning out the lights.
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida (1998, Knopf) is a handy back-pocket guide that delivers a wonderful education on the state's flora and fauna, parks and preserves, land, weather, natural phenomena, and much more. Plus, it's dripping with pictures to help newcomers and natives alike tell a yellow-bellied slider from a cooter.
- A Photo Journey to Central Florida (1992, AAA Publications), though somewhat hard to find, features some rather nice photos of the area's architecture, historical sites, and scenic spots, along with pictures of the parks and attractions. It offers a brief glimpse into Florida and its natural beauty alongside the more commercial aspects of Orlando.
- Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando, 2nd Edition (2003, Vegetarian World Guides), is the most comprehensive and enterprising guide around for vegetarians, vegans, or mainstream diners looking for a break from carnivorous menus. Susan Shumaker and Than Saffel review 275 restaurants and hotels, more than half of which are on Disney soil. They also give tips about what to eat going to and from Orlando, as well as the dos and don'ts of ethnic dining in Central Florida. There's also a section on kids' dining.
- Cooking with Mickey (2000, Walt Disney Company) is a collection of the Mouse's most requested recipes. Do note that another way to take home some of the flavor of WDW is to simply ask for the recipe of a dish that you enjoyed. In some (but not all) cases, Disney will be happy to e-mail the instructions and a list of ingredients to you at home.
- Delicious Disney Just for Kids (2011, Disney Editions) is filled cover to cover with contributions from Disney chefs (from Disney World, Disneyland, and the Disney Cruise Line). The kid-friendly cookbook has recipes that kids will enjoy making as much as they will eating -- including macaroni and cheese (from Jiko) and BLT tomato soup (from the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater).
- Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook (1994, Disney Editions) is full of some of the most popular recipes from the House of Mouse -- a few culinary secrets that Disney is willing to share. You can keep your vacation going even after you get home -- provided you can cook.
- Hidden Mickeys, 3rd Edition: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets (2007, Intrepid Traveler) is filled with trivia and, of course, those Hidden Mickeys -- including tips on where and how to look for them.
- Kingdom Keepers (2005-11, Disney Hyperion) is a seven-book series that takes young readers on a fantastic adventure, pitting the main characters against a familiar assortment of Disney villains as they try to take over the park. The books highlight actual attractions and locations throughout the Walt Disney World resort.
- Popping Up Around Walt Disney World (2004, Disney Editions) is fun for kids (and even adults). This colorful and detailed pop-up book offers a tour through the world of Disney. It takes readers through the parks, details some of the attractions, and tosses in a bit of trivia, too.
- Weird Florida: Your Travel Guide to Florida's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets (2009, Sterling) is a mix of historical accounts, wacky rumors, myths, and urban legends -- a showcase of Florida's more unusual side.
- Be Our Guest (2004, Disney Editions) is a how-to guide to the hospitality industry that business gurus will appreciate.
- Designing Disney (2009, Disney Editions) highlights the tremendous contributions made by John Hench, one of Disney's original and most influential Imagineers whose legendary concepts were key in designing Disney's theme parks.
- Since the World Began: Walt Disney World: The First 25 Years (1996, Disney Editions) is a must for Disney fanatics. The title was originally intended to celebrate Disney World's 25th anniversary, and readers will find page after page filled with drawings and photos, along with a detailed history of the park's creation.
- Spinning Disney's World (2007, Intrepid Traveler) looks back at the career of a Disney original: Charles Ridgeway, one of Disney's first and foremost PR personalities. He fondly recollects his years at Disney, from his days working directly with Walt to the present.
- Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (2007, Vintage) recounts in great detail the life of Walt Disney himself, from his early childhood to his years at Disney Studios and beyond.
- Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real (2010, Disney Editions), a sequel to Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real, introduces readers to Disney's creative dream team as the Imagineers themselves reveal who they are, what they do, and how they do it. Highlights include sketches and concept art of Disney's newest attractions, as well as a hint at future projects.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.