A money-back guarantee! Just five pages in to Lou Mongello’s new book, 102 Ways to Save For and At Walt Disney World, you’ll see it in black and white. As soon as I realized just how confident Mongello is in his most recent venture into the world of all things related to well, the World, I knew I was in for a treat!
Full of stunning color photographs from photographer Cory Disbrow, 102 pulls you in right away.
With a quick look at the table of contents, I was immediately impressed with the way everything was laid out. This book can easily be read cover to cover, but with the makes-sense-to-me chapter categories, you can pick and choose based on your specific needs or interests. Topics like planning before your trip, figuring out where you’re staying, not spending your life’s savings on souvenirs and finding ways to relax and enjoy yourself a little more are all covered.
The first chapter gives readers a great look into the personal side of why Lou loves Disney so much. For anyone that listens to his podcast (which you should if you don’t already, by the way), you can almost hear him speaking as you read. His writing style is so conversational, you feel like an old friend is just giving you some great advice.
Some of the wisdom sprinkled throughout the book makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it before. As a seasoned Walt Disney World Guest, a DIVA (DIsney Vacation Account), as Lou calls it, is an obvious must-have. Obvious as it may be, however, I’d never thought to start one before. I mean, what’s more fun than getting to the world’s favorite vacation destination and telling little Timmy he can’t buy that cool T-Shirt he saw after Splash Mountain? That’s the beauty of this book, Lou does all the hard work (like thinking things through ahead of time and planning, planning, planning) so you can relax a bit and enjoy your vacation.
For anyone who doesn’t enjoy throngs of people, armies of cheerleaders or hundreds of high school students, there’s some great information for you too! Lou provides the most easy to understand breakdown of crowd levels I’ve seen in all my years spent searching the web (and the bookstore, and Disney vacation DVDs…) for Disney vacation tips. This knowledge alone could save you big. It’s the difference between waiting two hours for it’s a small world or walking right on like the Disney champ you know you are! As Lou reminds you a couple of times throughout the book, time is money, so saving time saves you money too!
Another great feature to keep an eye out for while reading are the little blue boxes you’ll find within the chapters. Each one is like an extra scoop of vacation planning pixie dust with cool bits of trivia à la the Walt Disney World Trivia Bo0ks. They’re fun reminders of the reason we all love the place so much. It’s steeped in history and full of stories and magic that you just never tire of.
Something else you’ll notice, if you purchase the digital version of the book, are links on each page that guide you straight to what Lou is talking about. Links to specific hotels, travel planners, ticketing info and much more are all included. This really comes in handy when you see something you want to know more about and don’t want to forget about it.
I really enjoyed the section on where to stay. The choices for lodging on Disney property alone are overwhelming. Add in the hundreds of other hotels, vacation homes and campgrounds in the surrounding area, and you may never be able to decide. Lou makes it easy to find savings regardless of where you choose to rest your head. He provides readers with a fair helping of pros and cons for the various choices and makes what is often a difficult task, a bit simpler. While reading, I never felt that he was trying to convince me to stay on property, either. While the benefits of a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel are many, sometimes, as Lou will tell you, the savings of staying outside the gates are even greater. Now you have the power to know for sure!
If you’ve ever found yourself a bit lost when it comes to the Disney Dining Plans (and haven’t we all?), a fantastic chapter on dining is included as well. Lou covers the Dining Plan options, Tables in Wonderland, Annual Pass savings and much more. Not only do you get an easy to understand summary of all your choices, Lou also gives readers a fun Top 10 list of his favorite snack credit treats. Carrot cake cookies anyone?
For those of you that have found yourself realizing you’ve forgotten that one thing you just couldn’t forget…there’s hope for you too! Lou covers packing, shipping your things to the hotel ahead of time (did you know you can do that?) and preparing for a day in the parks. Once again, helpful links abound right in the digital text.
Be sure to check out all the ways you can save money by “shopping before you shop”. Things like ibuprofen, sunscreen, lip balm and ponchos are all mentioned and they really do add up! As you’ll see throughout the book, Lou highlights the amount of potential savings in store for you in the section you’re reading. I did my homework and looked through some local ads. Compared to prices I’ve personally seen in the parks for everything from basic toiletries to souvenirs, his totals are usually right on the money!
In the last chapter, you’ll find a list of 40 totally free things to “do, get, see, eat and collect” throughout the Resort. This section covers some things that are familiar to most of us like the free Walt Disney World planning DVD or the pool parties at the resorts, but did you know about all there is to do at Fort Wilderness? What about the fun you can find over at the Boardwalk? I guarantee that you will be able to find something within this section alone that is brand new to you and will offer some free fun during your stay!
I found this book to be a gold mine of useful information and clever tips. It is all presented in such a way that it’s not overwhelming or confusing, just really helpful! Is it worth the money to buy it? Absolutely! You’ll save so much while you’re on vacation, it will pay for itself before you even get there.