Birnbaum’s is a name that is synonomous with Disney, it is the official guide book of the company and a Birnbaum family member (Alexandra Mayes Birnbaum) is still a consulting editor. I was sent several of the Birnbaum’s books to review, this one is for Birnbaum’s 2017 Disneyland Resort: The Official Guide. I generally don’t buy guidebooks for Disney as we go to Walt Disney World several times per week and Disneyland pretty often as well – over a month of the last year and a half we were in Anaheim. So it makes it easy to review guidebooks since I’m so familiar with the parks and resorts.
Birnbaum’s are pretty slender guidebooks, as they always has been. There are a few coupons in the back, like for Build-A-Bear and Arribas Brothers that will be of interest to some readers. But it’s the information that most will seek from “The Official Guide” as it is noted on the cover.
I mentioned the size of the book – it is sized for a backpack, a large purse – but it isn’t pocket-sized. If I was needing a guide book, it is about as large as I’d feel comfortable toting around all day. Think iPad.
For the size of the book, there is a lot of information – including making a budget and planning ahead. This official guide does not only suggest staying onsite at Disneyland, but at nearby Good Neighbor Hotels. For those who haven’t been to Disneyland, there are many hotels very close to the park. It isn’t like Walt Disney World, with miles and miles of property surrounding the parks and resorts. The last couple of years have been one of immense growth in new hotels near the Disneyland Resort, and that is continuing.
Birmbaum’s won’t give you as much information as some websites and books will. For example, the ticket options they mention are only to purchase from Disney itself. While caution has to be taken (you *never* want to buy tickets from unauthorized sources), there are some other good options as well. But, most guests will buy from Disney and that is what is mentioned here.
Attractions are listed through the book, with information on each. There are “Hot Tip” borders on some tips, but they aren’t always fleshed out. Like, the book says to get a Fastpass early for Radiator Springs Racers since it is still very popular. I’d add to that, to secure it first thing and then head to the Racers and enjoy a ride or two through Single Rider (or at least once through the main queue). We usually get in a few rides before it gets crowded, and then have a Fastpass for later. It also mentions how World of Color operates uniquely from other Fastpasses, you can have a concurrent Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers (and/or any other attraction) and World of Color. But it doesn’t mention that Frozen: Live at the Hyperion works the same way. That is because of the newness of the attraction, so it is always good to supplement the book (or any guidebook) with the newest information.
If I was a Disneyland first-time visitor, I’d likely buy Birnbaum’s for Disneyland as a reference guide that I could highlight and dog-ear through the parks as I do with guidebooks to other destinations. However, I would keep up to date with official Disney information online as well. For example – Disneyland Forever Fireworks Spectacular is a “Birnbaum’s Best”. That show has now ended. “Paint the Night” parade is a Birnbaum’s Best. That is now ended, except for seasonally (Main Street Electrical Parade is going to be at Disneyland for a while next year). And Tower of Terror? Another Birnbaum’s Best, will be turned into a Guardians of the Galaxy themed attraction (Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout) next year and the building will be closed for part of the year. So again, take the book as a guide but not as 100% accurate – because things do change at Disneyland as they do at other Disney parks and publishing a book means the information is current up until the moment the book is sent to be printed.
For anyone heading to Disneyland for the first time – or for the first time in a long time – Birnbaum’s 2017 Disneyland Resort: The Official Guide will help you plan, and will guide you through information on hotels, attractions, and restaurants. It is a nice souvenir guide with photos of the parks.
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