Making Memories: a Review
Take a trip Aronda Parks with a new guidebook
Friday, May 6, 2005
by Mike Scopa, staff writer
Josh Fippen and Dan Hazel are risktakers. When you
take risks sometimes bad things happen and sometimes good things happen.
They took a risk and good things happened.
For their third edition of Making Walt Disney World Memories (The
Original Press: 2005. ISBN: 0966061543), Fippen and
Hazel decided to use the non de plume (bet you didn't know I could speak
French) Aronda Parks as the author of the book.
In previous editions, Aronda was a featured columnist and so it struck
Fippen and Hazel to turn her into a full blown author.
Fippen and Hazel found that by using Aronda as a mouthpiece or their
alterego helped to decide certain issues in which they didn't particularly
You might say they took a page out of the Imagineering book and asked,
What would Aronda think?
I'm here to tell you that whatever Aronda thinks is well worth reading.
Okay let's started. First it's important to note that when you set out
to gather information on a particularly large and complex subject like
Walt Disney World, it certainly helps to have as much help as possible.
For Making Memories that help came in the form of 24member
team who set out to collect, discuss and formulate as much data as possible
to help determine what is the best approach for a Walt Disney World vacation.
Now I know that you're saying, Oh c'mon Mike, not another WDW guidebook.
Well, it's not just another WDW guidebook but a unique perspective on
what a WDW vacation can be without wiping yourself out in the process.
To Fippen and Hazel
Parks' credit, she really appears
to have put quite a lot of thought into helping her readers get the most
out of their vacations.
Among all the wellwritten WDW guidebooks, this one seems to have
adopted the responsibility of providing you the WDW guest with as much
information and guidance to ensure that your vacation does not turn into
I think it speaks of some courage to take this approach, and for many,
it may not be what they are looking for in a WDW guidebook. Unfortunately,
for a good portion of those people it is not only what they should be
looking for but also a must read for them.
When it comes to WDW vacation preparation, this book can stand alone
or serve as a fine compliment to the more wellknown WDW guidebooks.
Aronda has mentioned that she
takes great pains to show readers
how to experience a Walt Disney World vacation without wearing themselves
and worked hard to mention
unique ways to
add components to their vacations that will differentiate their experiences
dramatically from those of friends and relatives.
At least she (psst
it was really Josh and Dan but let's
play along) told me this before I dove into the book. She wasn't kidding.
Like other WDW guidebooks, this one has your basic chapters on planning,
choosing resorts, park touring, dining, and other generic WDW guidebook
That's not what interested me about this book. Between the covers of
this book lie some unique chapters that really provide firsttime
visitors with the perspective and information that they always wanted
to know but was afraid to ask.
Look at the title of chapter 4, Avoiding VABS (Vacation Burnout
Syndrome): The Mellow Vacationer. I can tell you that when I first
scanned the book I was immediately drawn to this chapter and read it before
According to Ms. Parks, VABS is a
you're likely to contract if you don't leave time for a little relaxation
during your exciting Walt Disney World Vacation. This isn't a new
concept that has never been discussed before, but Parks brings it to the
forefront and gives it the attention it needs.
How many firsttime visitors go through the sometimes stressful
debate on whether to stay on or off the property or where to get the best
deal on tickets and how to plan their days to get as much out of their
visit as possible? Quite a few.
However, very few realize that such things can sour their experience.
Parks wants to prevent this from happening.
Bob Sehlinger, author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World,
once mentioned to me that his research has shown that most guests, except
for those rare WDW veterans, will hit the WDW wall somewhere
around 72 hours from the moment they step onto WDW property. If you think
back at your own experience, then you may recall that somewhere around
the third or fourth day your body said, It's rest timenow!
Parks doesn't want your body to get to that point. She's into preventive
maintenance. This chapter helps WDW vacationers
so that their
Disney experience is more of a vacation rather than a tiring pursuit of
one attraction after another.
I won't go into detail on the advice given in this chapter but it's important
to note that some key points are made from guests interviewed by Parks
and her Memories Team. It may very well be the most important chapter
in the book, especially for young families visiting WDW for the first
She's Singing My Song
One of the most important facets in preparing for a WDW vacation is to
seriously think about how to mold the vacation to suit your specific vacation
needs. There's a reason why the Walt Disney World Resort offers so much
in the form of things to do. It's simple: The resort is trying to cater
to as many vacationer needs as possible so that there's something for
I was smiling when I came across one chapter entitled, A Vacation
with Character: Conjuring Your Own Unique Magic. This chapter prepares
the firsttime visitor with the idea that they should not plan their
vacation with the objective of doing what their neighbors across the street
did on theirs.
Instead, Parks says, approach the trip as a time that will give you a
chance to enjoy Disney magic and create an experience that works to suit
you. I've been trying to sell that philosophy for years and Parks is tossing
the same sales pitch to her readers.
Love, Belief, and More
As I pored through this book I can across several interesting chapters.
There's a chapter entitled Falling in Love at Walt Disney World
and it discusses all the romantic things you can do there, including attractions,
restaurants, special events, and those unique places for romantics. And
then there are some very special romantic things you can do at WDW that
are not that obvious, which Parks brings to your attention.
One muchunexpected chapter was entitled, When the Mouse is
Just a Rodent: Turning the Disney Skeptic on to the Magic. It focuses
on something many WDW fans discuss but never find any guidebook addressing,
This chapter talks about the Disney skeptic and how some people just
don't get what Disney magic is all about. I'm not sure if there are any
answers provided by Parks but it sure made for good reading.
This chapter is pretty entertaining as the Making Memories teammade
up of people from about 20 different statesdiscuss the magic and
the value their family receives on their special trips to Orlando. Parks'
team also talks about some friends, relatives, and neighbors who seem
never touched by the Disney magic.
The placement of the chapter seemed odd. I think I would have planned
for that discussion to be either in the preface or as the first chapter
so as to help set the tone of the book.
You know, something like, Well these people just don't understand
how to do it right but read on and we'll help you find the magic!
If you're looking for some pointers on making your vacation a bit special
then you'll like the chapter Enough Is Enough IsNot Enough!
Expanding your Disney Vacation in which Parks points out the different
tours offered to guests, as well as those special events that occur throughout
the year. I found this to be an excellent way of providing such information,
without muddying up the other chapters that focus on parks, resorts, and
It is definitely written for not just the firsttime visitor but
perhaps the second or thirdtime visitor who is looking to
do something a bit different this time around.
One chapter near and dear to my heart is Casting Their Spell,
which focuses on the all important cast members and the importance of
their roles in creating that special vacation filled with magical memories.
Here, the Memories Team members share their stories of moments during
their vacations when cast members made a special effort to make a positive
difference in their vacation experience.
The obvious purpose is to point out what many WDW veterans already know;
cast members play an important part in making the vacation special and
that WDW guests should take the time to thank them whenever possible.
The book comes with some pullout maps. These may intimidate the
firsttime visitor and probably aren't necessary, as the guide maps
found in each of the theme parks should be more than enough direction
for the first time visitor.
Now, the CD is another story. Yes, there is a CD that comes with the
The CD is a companion to the book and contains some excellent worksheets
to help plan a vacation. Some of these worksheets include:
¥ A ticket planning worksheet to help you decide the type of media you
need for your vacation ¥ A planning worksheet for each park to help devise
a touring approach for each park. ¥ A hotel worksheet to help budget for
your hotel stay ¥ Shopping, mealplanning, and recreation worksheets
to help with other facets of your trip. ¥ There is also an overall budgetplanning
worksheet that encompasses information from the other worksheets.
The CD also contains several scavenger hunt games and a match game for
the kids, photos from around the WDW Resort, coloring pages, a trivia
challenge, and a packing checklist.
The CD certainly provides some tools to help not just the firsttimer,
but also any WDW veteran in planning of their next trip.
The Aronda Parks' Cheat Sheet
For a slight cost you can order Aronda's Walt Disney World Vacation
Prep Pad. This pad serves as a vacationplanning workbook and
is small enough to take into the parks. The pad contains information on
how to make best use of it as well as containing important WDW phone numbers.
The pad also contains pages for such information as Priority Seating,
expenses, touring and shopping plans, as well as general notes.
There are even several pages with pockets to hold receipts, tickets,
and perhaps Fastpass tickets.
The pad can hold up to about 10 days' worth of vacation plans, and helps,
as Parks says,
in a way that prevents anything from slipping
through the cracks.
Fippen and Hazel have definitely taken a leap with this book and have
tried to give it a different twist than the betterknown WDW guidebooks.
They have brought to the table some important aspects of a WDW vacation
and have truly captured all the essential elements that make for creating
those special WDW memories.
Whether you are visiting WDW for the first time or the one hundred and
first time, there is something in this book for you. I know
there was something for me.
For further information from Ms. Aronda Parks you can visit her at (
www.arondaparks.com ) where she can help you even more to
Remember the Magic!
A special milestone is on the horizon; my 100th Mouseplanet column. I'll
share my thoughts on my favorite articles, pay tribute and thanks to 100
special people, and more.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.