First, I found it incredibly easy to follow. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of planning and executing a Walt Disney World vacation. Lou Mongello covers everything from travel logistics, purchasing tickets, and eating in the parks. And it all adds up to, you guessed it, 102 ways you can save money. With how the information is broken up, you can jump around between topics, searching for the advice that you need, rather than scouring through a miscellaneous list. So it’s pretty user-friendly in that aspect.
I also liked that Mongello included an approximate amount of money that a family of four might save using each tip. For example, he notes that booking a hotel for a weekday can be anywhere from $10-$200 cheaper per night than on a weekend. Obviously, these numbers will fluctuate based on time of year and your hotel choice. But having some real numbers attached to the tip keeps it grounded in reality, rather than an arbitrary tip about saving money.
The third thing I liked about 102 Ways is the list of 40 free things to do at Walt Disney World. Most of the free things are located at the various resort hotels on property. The great part is you don’t have to be staying at that resort to enjoy these activities.
Now on to the parts that I didn’t really like. And it’s not even a knock against the book itself. But I didn’t really learn anything. That’s not the book’s fault, I just already knew this stuff.
Brad and I first got obsessive about Disney when we were still undergrads. Being the poor college students we were (still are!) I went full force into researching how we could make Disney vacations cheaper, without sacrificing the magic. We started saving for our own vacation (our very first vacation with just the two of us, no family!), and managed to convince Brad’s family that another Walt Disney World vacation was totally in the cards for them too. You know how in old sitcoms, the teenaged daughter would sit her parents down and give them a presentation on why she deserved her own phone line? Well, we did that, with a powerpoint slideshow and everything, on why we should have a big vacation at Disney. It totally worked by the way.
My point is that I did all that research already. And if you’re like me and you love Disney, researching, and saving money, then you probably already know this stuff too.
Of course, I realize that I’m not exactly the target demographic for Lou’s book. He’s targeting the casual Disney guest, the one who can actually learn something from his book. Being the researcher and vacation planner in the family, I’m not a casual guest. But I bet if Brad’s family read 102 Ways, they would learn quite a bit. Even though they travel to Walt Disney World a lot, I’m the planner, not them.
The funny thing is though, since I’m the researcher, I already know this information. But I’m also more likely to read a book about stuff I already know, because I’m a researcher by nature. It’s a weird paradox.
Next time a friend asks me for advice on planning a Walt Disney World vacation, I’ll just recommend this book to them. And if you’re like me and you have already done countless hours of research about saving money on your Disney vacation, read 102 Ways anyway. We can never know too much about something we love. And recommend it to your friends travelling there, since it’s really meant for them anyway!