I received Birnbaum’s 2020 Disneyland Resort: The Official Vacation Guide to review. Birnbaum’s guidebooks have been around since the 1980s, and are nice souvenir guides that give decent information (and often coupons) as well. As someone who enters Disney parks a few times or so per week, I wouldn’t always do everything the book says – for example, on page 29 it says upon entering the park not to shop. But in my opinion, mornings are the best time to shop – stores can get crowded later in the day at any Disney park. I’d use Maxpass to book a ride at that time too. But I also agree with other advice, and a few of the coupons will be helpful on our next trip. Here is my review!
Early on in Birnbaum’s 2020 Disneyland Resort, there is a “Planning Your Itinerary” page that recommends 6 months+ to plan a Disneyland trip. We usually plan a couple of months ahead, and that almost always works well for us. But earlier is great too, to make sure to get the best deals on hotels. I like that the guidebook talks about Good Neighbor hotels along with their own three resorts – staying offsite can save a lot of money and the hotels are often very close to the parks.
The book suggests a schedule of “Disneyland Delights” to make a quintessential Disneyland experience. I would remove Buzz Lightyear and Winnie the Pooh, and then add in the Casey Jr. Circus Train and Storybook Land Canal Boats. I would also add Alice in Wonderland. Those are several of my favorite attractions that opened in the 1950s and feel very “Disneyland” to me. I don’t think one day at Disneyland should skip any of them. But most attractions listed are must-do experiences, including The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones.
The Disneyland book is much smaller than the Walt Disney World book for good reason, there are just 2 parks, no water parks and way fewer resorts and restaurants. The three Disneyland resort hotels are featured prominently in the hotel section, which then lists a number of the Good Neighbor Hotels. We often stay at the Best Western Stovall’s, it is a 15 minute or so walk to Downtown Disney – and it is also close to the Anaheim Convention Center. Candy Cane Inn and Howard Johnson Anaheim are both very popular, I’ve stayed at the former many years ago.
The next section of the book runs through attractions, and the “Birnbaum’s Best” stamp is shown on a variety of mostly E-Ticket attractions like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is also a “Birnbaum’s Best”, though it isn’t yet open – expect that attraction, which does promise to be a solid E-Ticket experience, on January 17th, 2020 (December 5th, 2019 for Walt Disney World). Shops and entertainment are in the next section. Some of the entertainment is not currently available, including the fantastic Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, which ended it’s current run in summer 2019 – I don’t know if it will be coming back.
Disney California Adventure follows the Disneyland section, and one of the first Hot Tip boxes says to get a Fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers or get in the single riders line. You could also double up and do both – Radiator Springs Racers always seems to be the busiest attraction and I do recommend getting there early. If you want to ride together with your party, it would be the first Fastpass I recommend for the park.
The Red Car Trolley is currently not running and the Red Car Trolley Newsboys show ended a couple of months ago. In Hollywood Land, I consider Frozen – Live at the Hyperion one of the best attractions and Guardians of the Galaxy (one of Birnbaum’s Best) is as well. Under Entertainment, the Pixarmonic Orchestra is not playing anymore either.
The coupons in the back of the book are fewer than the Walt Disney World version, but include a 15% off Jamba Juice coupon and a buy one get one pretzel at Wetzel’s Pretzels.
I consider the Birnbaum’s guides to be terrific souvenir books, a snapshot in time of the parks and resorts and what was available at that time. The guides give information on attractions, shops and restaurants that were available at press time. The Disneyland guidebook is easy to put into a backpack, the Walt Disney World version is getting too big for that now. I would recommend utilizing any guidebook in conjunction with official and unofficial park websites to get the most complete information. But I do enjoy a hard copy book that I can mark up and fold pages down on, and look back on years later to see what has changed. Also, Birnbaum’s guides receive the official photos and artwork, which is nice as well.
Birnbaum’s 2020 Disneyland Resort: The Official Vacation Guide is going to be of most benefit to new and occasional visitors of the Disneyland Resort.
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