PassPorter’s ‘Special Needs’ Guide to Walt Disney World

PassPorter Special Needs book

Time was when, if you were lucky enough to find a travel guide that addressed the needs of the “disabled,” it was all about wheelchair access. Boy, how times have changed.

The new PassPorter’s Walt Disney World for your Special Needs covers seemingly every possible situation, from ADHD to Vision, with 18 others in between, including some that aren’t really disabilities at all (religion and senior citizenship, for instance), but which can raise very genuine concerns for some vacationers.

Written by Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma, this massive compendium represents an enormous amount of research (they cite nearly three dozen “peer reviewers”) and all the hard work has clearly paid off. Their book is the de facto encyclopedia on special needs at Disney World and it is unlikely that their achievement will ever be duplicated, let alone surpassed. As with any PassPorter publication the exhaustive attention to detail leaves no cleverly themed stone unturned and no question unanswered.
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“Celebration, U.S.A.” A Book Review

What do you get when you take two journalists, one of them an ace investigative reporter for The New York Times, and plunk them down for a year or two in Celebration, Florida, Disney’s much-ballyhooed planned community, where they and their two kids get to observe, participate in, and (of course) report on the behind-the-scenes comings and goings of the citizenry of this carefully groomed suburban Utopia?

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“A Year in the Merde”, A Book Review

A Rauncy Riposte to “A Year in Provence”

Stephen Clarke’s A Year in the Merde chronicles the misadventures of a young British marketing man hired to help a French company launch a chain of Brit-themed tea shops. He experiences French charm, French inefficiency, sublime French food, slimy French corruption and political intrigue, a seemingly endless series of strikes, and more sex than he can shake his weakened British stick at.

At first blush it seems to be yet another of those memoirs (Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, preeminent among them) that allow the reader the vicarious pleasure of living among the unfailingly charming, but inevitably infuriating French. In fact, the cover makes a subtle design nod to the cover of Mayle’s megahit.

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“Gringos In Paradise”, A Book Review

Gringos In Paradise

When I was young, “The People’s Guide To Mexico” was my favorite book about Mexico. Now that I am (ahem) older, Barry Golson’s engaging memoir “Gringos in Paradise” is pushing it aside on my shelf of favorites.

This is a supremely engaging account that succeeds on two levels. First, it will satisfy the armchair traveler’s desire for vicarious pleasure. I was reminded more than once of “A Year in Provence” and, indeed, Golson’s book has some of the same sure-fire elements — “colorful” locals and quirky tradesmen, shrewdly observed and nicely evoked takes on the local folkways and manners, and an engaging cast of supporting expats.

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“Drive I-95”, A Book Review

Periodically, I load up my car and head South on an 1,100-mile trip to Orlando, where I write guidebooks. I explain this odd behavior to myself in a number of ways: It’s a welcome break from the constant onslaught of the phone and email. It’s cheaper than flying and getting a rental car. It affords me a chance to be alone with my thoughts and mull things over. It gives me yet another chance to indulge myself at the Summerton Diner. But the real reason is probably that I’m just plain nuts.

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