Book Review: Birnbaum’s Disneyland Resort – The Official Vacation Guide 2020

Birnbaum's Disneyland Resort Guide 2020Birnbaum’s Disneyland Resort – The Official Vacation Guide 2020 edition is now available.  The first edition of this guide was published in the 80s (1988 I believe).  It has been several years since I last reviewed the guide so I was curious to see what they say about Galaxy’s Edge and other changes at the parks.    I always have a tough time evaluating Disneyland guidebooks because I do not visit the park like a typical tourist. I rarely stay in Anaheim and even when I visit with infrequent guests or first timers I tend to tailor the touring plan around their tastes.

Traditional guidebooks like this can still play a role in vacation planning for people.  Yes you can find almost everything in this book (and more up to date in several cases) online on various sites including ours or the official Disneyland.com site but having something printed out that you can mark up and flip through gives a different experience.  I also tend to look at these guides as time capsules to collect.  You can look back on a trip and see what the prices were, what was new, or what was coming soon.

If you are unfamiliar with these books the format of the guide is an overview of the Disneyland Resort. They offer some touring plans, tips and orientation information.  Also descriptions of hotel choices, both Disney and Good Neighbor Hotels.   Then launch into in depth chapters detailing the attractions, entertainment, dining, and shopping in both Disneyland & Disney California Adventure as well as Downtown Disney.  I found the overall level of detail and information provided to be sufficient to get a sense of the offerings and some tips to make the most of your experience at Disneyland.

The book includes two pages, twelve coupons, for Downtown Disney merchants including a couple buy one get one free and 10% coupons.   Using these may help to offset the cost of the book for you.

Like many print publications it succumbs to the common problem of early print deadlines.  The guide is for 2020 but was released in September which means final edits were done months earlier.  So information was already out of date in some cases.  For example they talk about Mickey’s Soundsational Parade which had its final run months ago and will not be back for 2020.

I would l have liked to have seen more sections written in an “ever green” style. Such as Fireworks and Projection shows and then talk about the current one when the book went to print.  Or Parades.    Also more on some of the seasonal celebrations and how those impact the parks or may impact when you want to visit or not visit.

Being a 2020 guide I was expecting more than a mention of changes for the parks in the coming year.  There was a call out box for the Marvel Project at Disney California Adventure but the book went to print too early to get the name or details beyond it will be opening in 2020.  Same goes for no mention of the new parade coming to Disneyland nor other changes for 2020.

I was surprised to see the book not devote more time to talking about the Disneyland App. They do mention the app and FastPass but there are no tips on using it.  I was really expecting to see more on Mobile Order since that is a big push with Disney and can be a big time saver.  Or they could have talked about using it for wait times, maps or schedule information.  I did not see any mention of the Play Disney Parks App either.

Being the geek that I am I do read through guides like this looking for errors or things that seem odd.  There are quite a few as you would expect.  Most are not a big deal but they still jump out to me.  For example when talking about the Pixar Pal-A-Round they say a few of the cars do not swing and to ask a cast member.  Instead of saying 1/3 of them do not and follow the signs to the non-swinging queue.  Also think they should warn guests that the swinging ones are a little more than most think.   Or the map on the inside cover is so old it is before the DCA 2.0 renovation work.  The Golden Gate Bridge and Sun icons are still on the map.  Or the map in the DCA section still features a Bug’s Land.

Birnbaum’s Disneyland Resort – The Official Vacation Guide 2020 is a good guide if you are looking for an overview/introduction to the Disneyland Resort and want a hard copy to read, flip through or reference.   If you are looking for up to date or detailed information tailored to your preferences the Internet may be a better reference for you.


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