Wednesday 3 July 2013

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Florida Theme Parks - A Guide by Alex Miller

Disney World Universal Orlando Sea World BuschDo you know why I like guide books? It's because I plan a lot of trips. I mean a LOT of trips. If I took even a quarter of the trips that I planned I'm pretty sure I'd lose my Canadian citizenship for never being in the country. It's not that I'm indecisive. I just like planning trips and exploring new destinations that I'd like to get to one day. Besides, having a basic game plan in place just in case a smoking deal comes along helps me to pull the trigger when time is of the essence. If there's a fare mistake to Foz do Iguacu you need to know if booking a flight is going to make you a hero with your family or leave you divorced and alone (Hint: If your wife is anything like Lori, this is NOT a flight you want to be booking).

So it might come as a surprise to you that when Alex Miller offered to send me a free copy of his Florida Theme Park Guide to see what I thought of it, I almost turned him down. Theme parks are definitely my thing and, as I said before, I thrive on guide books, but I'm the only one in the family who actually reads them and I've already done my Florida research. We've spent each of the last two summers in the Sunshine State and I was already pretty familiar with all of Disney and Universal's offerings, but it occurred to me that Alex might have some different insights considering he works for Disney. At the very least it would make a great reference book to have, so I agreed to review the book. Fortunately, this is a very easy book to review. In fact, I've gotten my review down to just three words:


Now if you're sitting there wondering just how fast paced a book about theme parks could be, I understand your confusion but you've got it wrong. This book literally moves. Do not put it down because it will not be there when you come back for it. I'm not entirely sure how it happens but this book has found itself in pretty much every room in our house and I promise you I'm not putting it there. I feel like I should notify some sort of government agency, but I'm not sure there is a Department of Self-Moving Books.

I first noticed it on the day the book arrived. I'd spent about 15 minutes flipping through the book, realizing that perhaps I'd overlooked some of the lesser known theme parks in Florida like Fun Spot America with it's multi-level go-cart tracks or Silver Springs, birthplace of the glass bottom boat. I decided to pour myself a Diet Coke to enjoy while I read, so I put the book down on my desk and went to the kitchen. When I came back two minutes later, the book was gone. Hearing my mother's voice over and over again in my head saying "Well it didn't just walk away!" I retraced my steps from the office to the kitchen a few times but I couldn't find the book anywhere. Eventually I expanded my search and finally found the my daughter's room. She was flipping through the pictures from Sea World Orlando and was not very enthused with my request to give the book back. 

Fun Spot America Legoland Florida
It's easier to take back when they're sleeping...
Since then, I've had to go in search of the book multiple times. I've found it in my son's room, laid out over top of his keyboard. I discovered it on my wife's side of the bed, sitting on top of the latest Charlene Harris novel. I even found it in my youngest daughter's backpack along with a pack of Pop-tarts, two stuffed animals and a note that was supposed to be signed and returned to school before the last day two weeks ago. The book has seen more places in our house than anybody outside our family, and considering I found it in the laundry room once it might even be one up on my son.

Silver Springs Sam's Fun City

That's my favorite part about this book though. Sure it's a pain to have to find it every time I want to check something, but seeing my kids enthused about the "planning" part of a vacation is fantastic. Normally my children don't get excited about a destination until we arrive, so I love to see them flipping through the pictures in the book and discussing which theme parks they've visited already and which ones should be next on the list. It's the "dreaming" part of travel, and it's really something that I can't teach them myself. If looking though a guidebook gets my kids excited about traveling then I'm grateful to Mr. Miller for putting together such a visually inspiring book. Perhaps in the future however he would consider including a beeper or a GPS tracker with each copy. My kids are getting better and better at hiding the book from me. 

Alex Miller is based out of Glendale, California where he works for the Walt Disney Company. In addition to his Florida Theme Parks Guide he has also written a guide to California Theme Parks. Both are available at, however if you'd like a two book discount as well as getting your copies signed, visit Alex Miller Media for direct ordering. You might also want to follow him on Facebook like I do. It's the perfect place to complain to him every time my kids steal my book from me.

Written by Steve Pratt