Archive for the ‘The Complete Walt Disney World’ Category

The BlakeOnline Buzz, Summer 2009

June 4, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 1

By Blake

Originally posted June 4, 2009.

Dear BlakeOnline readers,

Welcome to the premiere issue of the BlakeOnline Buzz, a post that will (hopefully) become a quarterly addition to BlakeOnline. In the Buzz, an overview of new features to the site will be addressed, as well as reader mail (depending on if there is any) and a preview of what’s yet to come.

I would first off like to thank all of BlakeOnline’s readers for making spring 2009 one of the website’s biggest seasons ever. There was a significant (unintentional) focus on theme parks throughout the season, including the beginning of the Budgeting Disney series, a special multi-part look at planning a Walt Disney World vacation on a budget. So far I’ve delved into looking for deals and deciding when to visit. There are more volumes of Budgeting Disney on the way, so stay tuned! Additionally, there were also several articles posted throughout the spring celebrating Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which had its 20th anniversary on May 1, 2009. BlakeOnline joined in the festivities by posting a recap of the park’s birthday events, a history of the park, and a countdown of my personal favorite Hollywood Studios attractions.

On March 10, Disney announced the kickoff of D23, a new official Disney fan club. With the new club also came Disney twenty-three magazine, an all-new official Disney publication that’s just plain awesome. D23 has been the talk of the town all over the Disney community and around unofficial, fan-based Disney websites, including BlakeOnline. When D23 was first announced, I posted my thoughts concerning all of the hubbub, and in May the question of joining was revisited.

Disney answered the “Are you 23?” mystery on March 10 with the kickoff of D23.

With the transition into springtime also came the conclusion of another amazing American Idol season. Kris Allen, age 23, is the new winner and celebrated his win at Walt Disney World on May 29.

Kris Allen was named the winner of 2009’s American Idol season. Here he is with is wife, Katy Allen, minutes after his win was announced.

Just yesterday, BlakeOnline joined the Twitter community! You can follow BlakeOnline here to receive updates about when new articles are posted, as well as other occasional points of interest.

I’m slowly but surely adding the “missing” BlakeOnline articles into the archives. When the site was changed to its current format in October 2008, all of the pre-existing articles had to be posted again, and it’s taking a while. So far, you can check out articles from June 2006 – December 2007, and from November 2008 – present. The in-between articles from most of 2008 have still yet to be posted, but hopefully throughout the summer the gap of articles will grow thinner.

Although it may be subtle hints here and there, BlakeOnline is beginning to be recognized by some real-deal authors and speakers. Back in February, I posted a positive review of The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal. To my very pleasant surprise, the BlakeOnline review of the book has been posted by Julie Neal herself on the author’s blog! I was elated when I saw this! A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thank-you goes out to Julie Neal for taking the time to recognize BlakeOnline and for giving the site an appreciated link on Amazon.

Lastly, the Easter letter I posted in April took a little break from BlakeOnline’s usual subject of Disney to address what it means to be a Christian. The Easter post soon became one of BlakeOnline’s most impactful messages ever, generating 13 comments – a record for the site. It may be a small amount for some, but that’s a big number here. 🙂 Additionally, Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker Amy Carroll kindly used the Easter post in an event of hers to much success. I’d like to give big thank-you to Amy Carroll for not only spreading BlakeOnline, but also for spreading the Word of God.

It’s been an eventful spring for BlakeOnline, and I can’t wait to gear up for a great summer. Be sure to check back to the site often, because there are plenty of surprises headed your way. Stay tuned!

June 4, 2009

By Blake; posted June 4, 2009. Image of Buzz Lightyear belongs to Blake’s family; text in Buzz Lightyear image courtesy of; “Are you 23?” D23 image © Disney; American Idol image of Kris and Katy Allen © Fox; The Complete Walt Disney World image © Coconut Press.


Book Review – "The Complete Walt Disney World 2009"

February 4, 2009

The best Disney guidebook just got even better.

By Blake

Originally posted February 4, 2009.

I really didn’t want to. I didn’t want to give in to purchasing the new book The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal. The very informative guidebook with a hoopla of great photos and packed with tips and little-known facts was introduced in 2007 and amazed me. In 2008 the book was updated to include new dining and accommodations chapters and had even more helpful information than the first edition, so I went ahead and purchased the book a second time. I remember telling myself that this was it: I didn’t want to buy a newer edition if it was published in the future. Now here I am contemplating the situation again.

I saw the 2009 version of the book in Barnes & Noble last week and couldn’t believe that that authors Julie and Mike Neal had once again created another brilliant compilation of well-researched information and photos. Outdoing themselves again, the 2009 edition of the book no longer has a dining chapter, but instead divides up the restaurants of Walt Disney World into their respective locations throughout the book as part of new overviews for each of the four theme parks. Also in the new overview sections are outlines for each of the parks, as well as a guide of what characters guests will find and where to find them. Additionally, a “What’s New” section includes information on what’s newly opened, as well as what’s recently closed and what’s coming in the future, including the addition of Barack Obama into the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom. There’s even a chart of Fastpass return times for every Fastpass attraction, as well as what the expected wait times are for each attraction throughout the day. Lastly, new photos have been added to several of the already-there attraction guides of the book and the look of the book has a sleeker feel.

If you already own a past edition of the book, you might want to consider upgrading, especially if you plan on taking a Disney vacation in the not-so-distant future. I haven’t bought the new 2009 version yet, though I probably will end up doing so, even though I initially hadn’t planned on it.

If you’re a first-time visitor to Walt Disney World and are currently planning your first trip there, I’d suggest picking up a different guidebook. Although The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 is filled with great info, it may seem overwhelming for first-time guests and it often runs through entire attractions, giving away most of the attractions’ surprises. If you are indeed planning your first Disney vacation, I’d suggest purchasing a guidebook that offers step-by-step information without becoming too overwhelming like Birnbaum’s Official Guide to Walt Disney World or contact a travel agent. Or just give me a buzz and I’ll be more than happy to help. However, if you’ve already been to Walt Disney World or are a Disney fan that just wants to learn more about WDW, I’d recommend The Complete Walt Disney World 2009. It won’t ruin the surprises that Walt Disney World has in store for you because you’ve already visited, but will rather enhance your knowledge.

Filled with fantastic information and plenty of great pictures, The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal is excellent for Disney fans and those who are planning returning trips to Walt Disney World. However, if you’re a first-time guest, you should sit this one out and instead pick up a more basic guidebook.

How do I rank The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal will most likely please: Disney Fans – Returning guests to Walt Disney World – Kids (the pictures) – Adults

By Blake; posted February 4, 2009. All images (C) Coconut Press.