Local author shares Disney World expertise in new book

An Athens resident is hoping to bring some guidance to the “fanciful” — and often “overwhelming” — world of Disney theme parks in her new book.

Sarah Hina, a tried-and-true Walt Disney World fanatic and author of two novels, used her understanding of the literary industry with a topic she’s passionate about in her new book, “Walt Disney World Step by Step 2019: A Common-Sense Planning Guide.”

Her family has visited Disney World in Orlando annually for more than a decade, giving her a plethora of knowledge on the parks and how to plan a trip to what is known as the “happiest place on Earth.” After giving tips to family members and friends about saving money and time at Disney World, Hina decided to share her knowledge with a wider audience.

Hina’s expertise landed her a gig with Mickey Travels, a Disney vacation planning agency. As a travel agent, she is responsible for scheduling a family’s visit, ordering “FastPasses” (for quicker ride waits) and setting up dining reservations.

“The place is absolutely massive,” the 47-year-old mother of two said. “The first time we went it was so overwhelming, but if you’re familiar, you can have an amazing vacation. If you walk in there and expect to eat where you want and ride where you want, you’re going to be disappointed if you don’t plan.”

Disney World is divided into four parks: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Each offer unique attractions including rides, character visits and dining facilities. Between all the FastPass ride schedules, castle dinner reservations and more, Hina hopes to bring clarity to a planning process that can take months for some families.

“Disney has done a great job of branding their parks as the quintessential American family vacation,” she said. “Because of that, many people want to go so you’ve got to understand how it works.”

As a biology graduate from Case Western University, Hina said she never envisioned such a unique career change. Now an expert of all things Disney World, Hina described being encouraged by her publisher to write a yearly edition of the guide.

“People love being immersed in that Disney bubble and escaping reality,” she said. “I never expected to turn it into a career. I genuinely enjoy seeing other families experience the kind of happiness and togetherness we’ve experienced.”

Originally published on A1 of The Athens Messenger on Feb. 10, 2019.

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