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In this week's feature, Mark and Mike talked with Jennifer & Dave Marx about the PassPorter series of guidebooks.
What really makes PassPorter different from other guidebooks is the PassPockets at the back of the book, which gives you a place to store all of your loose paperwork and other stuff. Jennifer came up with the idea of the PassPockets about 11 years ago when she was struggling with the large pocket folder that she was using to plan and document her trip.
There are many different versions of the book, and the three major versions of books come in two editions. There are the standard and deluxe versions of the Walt Disney World guide, currently on the 2008 edition (buy standard, deluxe or deluxe refill), the Disney Cruise Line guide, currently on the 2008 edition (buy standard, deluxe or deluxe refill) and the Disneyland and Southern California Resort guide, currently on the premiere edition, with the 2009 edition due out this summer (buy standard or deluxe).
There are two other hard-copy guide books. PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line (buy) is an guide to touring the parks and resorts or cruising with Disney for any one who may have any sort of health or access issue, from mobility or sensory problems to asthma to food allergies, from elderly folks to pregnant women and more. The book was written by Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma of AllEars.Net, who we hope to have on a future show to talk about this book in more depth. The other book is PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World (buy) by Jennifer and Jeff Carter, edited by Jennifer Marx and Kim Larner, which gives you puzzles to solve throughout Walt Disney World and the ships of the Disney Cruise Line.
PassPorter also publishes a series of e-books (seven are currently available, with one more on the way), which can be purchased individually or through membership in the PassPorter's Club. Club membership allows free download of all e-books, as well as a series of customizable e-worksheets, special discounts on the printed guidebooks and more benefits. Mike is a Club member, and was able to commission a personalized e-worksheet, which worked out really well for him.
PassPorter goes to press much later than all of the other guidebooks, which lets them include information that is announced later in the year. For example, the announcement of the renaming of the (now) Disney's Hollywood Studios, the release of the new resort rates and changes to the 2008 dining plan announced last summer all happened in the two weeks before the book went to press last summer, which was after the other guidebooks were already finished with editing.
Mike asked Dave to walk us through an entry in the book, randomly selecting the Festival of the Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom. (Yeah, random. That's what it was.) Dave walked us through the entry in great detail, and we discussed the various details of what is included in the book.
Here's a sample image from an attractions page in the PassPorter Walt Disney World book. Mike wasn't able to scan in the actual Festival of the Lion King page in time. Image courtesy of PassPorter Travel Press.
All PassPorter books go through a rigorous peer review process before publication, and the various PassPorter books have won at least a dozen national book awards, beating some major travel guides. The main guide books have color photos and color fold-out maps.
Next year, PassPorter Travel Press will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the delivery of the first book with PassPorter's Decade of Dreams Tour, a year-long celebration with events on land and at sea, as well as online. There will be group events at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and a Disney cruise, as well as a California Adventures by Disney trip and special appearances in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The book has gone through many changes since the first version in 1999, mostly at the request of the book's readers, from format to content to the inclusion of their children's opinions in the attraction reviews.
What do you think about PassPorter guides? Do you use them, prefer another guidebook, or not use any books? Let us know by sending an email or calling our toll-free feedback line (1-866-939-2278) and let us know what your favorites are!
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The MouseStation crew (@MouseStation) currently consists of Mark Goldhaber (@MPMark) and Mike Demopoulos (@MPMike).