Who is Dave Shute you ask? He is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable experts on Disney World, Disney for first-timers, and on the Disney-owned Hotels. His Website: “Yourfirstvisit.net is one of the best places to visit, whether you’re a Walt Disney World veteran or a First-timer (Which is what the site is geared to!) for any and all information on planning your trip to the World. Crammed full of amazing facts, ideas and solid tips, this site gets right to the point…You get the information you need without searching around or wading through piles of trivial information. All of this priceless information is now in book form…”The easy guide to your first Walt Disney World Visit” See how this book came about, as I sit down with Dave and he gives us the lowdown on this new entry…
MP- I’m here with Dave Shute, author of the newest Disney guide book, ”The easy guide to your first Walt Disney World Visit” However, before we begin, Dave, give us a bit of background on yourself and your relationship with Disney…
DS- I was a navy brat, so my family was stationed all over the US and London. When I was in elementary school, we were stationed in Oakland California. During that time, we made our way to Disneyland a couple of times. This was the time Haunted Mansion was launched, and the whole experience just great.
MP- How old were you at the time?
DS- I was in the Cub Scouts, so probably between eight and eleven years old. We then got stationed in Virginia, and made our way to the Magic Kingdom in ’72. This was kind of my initial exposure, but it didn’t capture me that moment for the rest of my life like it does a lot of people. I went on with my life, went to college, earned a couple of degrees and went into business. My parents continued to go to Disneyworld every couple of years. But I moved to Ohio and at the time couldn’t afford to go. But around the year 2000, I brought my own sons to Walt Disney World for their first visit.
MP- How old were they?
DS- They were eight and eleven. Needless to say, they were entranced, and I was again entranced, seeing it through their eyes. I had read many guidebooks, and I am a strategic planner in my day job, and found the guidebooks almost as interesting as Disneyworld. Around 2005, or 2006, I decided I wanted to write something, publish something, for simple commercial reasons. I’m a consultant so I get paid by the hour. I believed that writing a book is the best was to make money.
MP- So you are not a writer by trade, you are a Strategic Planner.
DS- I’m a consultant who focuses on strategy for large organizations.
MP- What compelled you to write this guide book?
DS- Since I had read many other guide books, I didn’t think they were as helpful for first-time visitors as they could be, so I decided to write a guide book geared to first-time visitors to Walt Disney World. I did a ton of research, collected a bunch of new facts, and then realized it would be better as a website, so I started my site, “yourfirstvisit.net” in 2009. The site became the most successful Disney site aimed at first-timers. Then Bob McLain, owner of the Theme Park Press reached out to me in January a year ago and said that there are no guide books for first-timers, you’ve already written it on your site, why don’t we turn you site into a book for first-timers? My immediate thought was if I can get Josh Humphrey (of easyWDW.com) who is extremely knowledgeable about Walt Disney World on board, I can turn this into something truly special.
MP- You know that there are literally countless guide books on the market. What makes your book different, what makes it stand out from all the others?
DS- It’s different in a couple of ways. One, Josh and myself have more experience between us than most authors. For example, I have stayed in more than a hundred different Disney-owned Hotel rooms, and Josh is in the parks three to four times a week, just checking on the new offerings and plans. Between us, we have a depth of experience that’s pretty unbeatable. Plus the book is shorter than any others out there, and that’s on purpose. We could have gone on for two thousand more pages, but the typical resort review on my site is seven pages long and five thousand words, but in the book, we boiled all the key points down to approximately 800 words per resort. We wanted it short and easy to use.
MP- So the book gets right to the point without all the unnecessary clutter.
DS- And another thing, and we picked this up from the website, we always assume the audience is first-timers wanting to make good. Instead of going on and on about the pros and cons of each Disney hotel, we just say “Stay” at any one of these five hotels, and if you don’t want to stay, then read the reviews and choose where you want to stay. We want to make it as easy as possible for the readers to make key decisions. Trust our recommendations, or read our reviews and decide for yourself—we make it easy either way.
MP- This hotel information, did you obtain it first-hand or through much research?
DS- When I began the site, it was mostly research, but over time it’s been first hand. I’ve stayed in more than a hundred different Disney World-owned rooms, cabins, villas, suites and campsites since I began the site.
MP- Do you and Josh meet up regularly and research together or much of it is on your own so to speak?
DS- We had done much of the research separately before we connected to do the book.
MP- Have you ever read other similar books for comparison reasons?
DS- It seems like I read a million of them before I started working on my own, but I would review other guides books on my site.
MP- Did the Walt Disney Company help or hinder you in any way while writing this book?
DS- No, but we also did not ask.
MP- Since there is such a proliferation of Disney Guide books out there; did you have any problem finding a publisher?
DS- No, the publisher actually came to me. Theme Park Press is our publisher.
MP- What would you say was the biggest hurdle to overcome in writing your book?
DS- I would say two. One was having a co-author who also has a thriving Disney World website. We each had our own style. We each had a sense of what the answers were and we didn’t always agree on everything. Just learning to write with a co-author who is just as an expert as you are, but does not always come to the same conclusion. And two was trying to keep the book the shortest one out there. When writing for the web, you write as long as you think the topic takes, but for the book we had to condense all the most important bits of information in the shortest, easiest form possible.
MP- How long did it take to write the book?
DS- A lot longer than we thought! Bob reached out to me in January 2014 and I contacted Josh. We thought that since we had so much information on our sites, it would not take long. Instead of a couple of months it took about five. We published the 2014 edition in July of 2014, the 2015 edition published in November of 2014.
MP- Did you do any past Disney projects?
DS- Not counting the website, this is the first Disney project I published.
MP- Are there any more projects in the works for the future?
DS- We are planning a 2016 edition. We also published updates for the 2015 edition and just about ready for a second update.
MP- The Disney Company is always in a constant state of flux, it almost changes daily. How do you keep your books updated?
DS- We do it in a couple of different ways…Since Josh lives locally, he is always on top of the changes. And I will come down and stay in the Disney Hotels and see the changes as they are refurbished.
MP- Your book also has something no other book has…Short bits of trivia and history about the parks called “Jims Gems”, penned by none other than Disney Historian Jim Korkis. His knowledge of Disney history, facts and figures are second to none. How did this collaboration come about?
DS- Jim has the same publisher we do. When we were getting ready for the 2015 edition, our editor suggested the idea and we thought it was a great idea. Jim worked directly with the editor to get the material together for the book. Jim also was writing a column for my site, called “Fridays with Jim Korkis”
MP- The Disney Cruise Line is probably the best on the high seas. Do you plan any guide books for that?
DS- We are not. If we do any other guide books, it will be deeper into the topics we already covered.
MP- You have a winning book here and I cannot wait for the new edition. Where can you purchase your book?
DS- The book is available in paperback and as a Kindle book on Amazon.com, e.g. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/194150020X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=194150020X&linkCode=as2&tag=playoufirfamv-20&linkId=X5TGWJFDCSILMQL5 . http://yourfirstvisit.net.
MP- Thank You Dave for your time!