So our good friends Simon & Susan Veness of Veness Travel Media are on the final countdown to the 2020 edition of their best selling Brit Guide to Orlando. Hopefully they’ll reach the finishing line at the end of October if they’re able to stay on production schedule.
Believe it or not it’s twenty-five years ago that they did this for the very first time – and what a quarter century it’s been!
Here’s how Orlando’s best selling travel writers remember that somewhat chaotic & crazy time and reflect on all that’s happened since….
“I (Simon) was frantically working to finish off the very first edition after publishers Foulsham picked up the proposal (Virgin Publishing was one of those to turn it down – we’ve sold almost 450,000 copies since!). It was published for the first time in December 1995 and, while it was initially a hard sell with the book trade, it quickly established a niche for itself and has since gone on to become the best-selling travel guide of any kind in the UK for the past 20-plus years.
From the original 186 pages, we now typically run to 354, which is indicative of how much the destination has grown over the years, as well as becoming more complex. It is a tall order staying on top of all the new development here, let alone trying to fit it all into a 2 or 3-week holiday – which underlines just why it has been so relevant all this time!
But we continue to have great fun with each edition, and have built a lasting rapport with many readers over the years. We’re frequently told the Brit Guide is their ‘Bible’ for visiting Orlando and, over time, we have also expanded its scope to include other parts of Florida, as we know many people now use Orlando as their starting point and then head out to visit other parts of the Sunshine State (which we whole-heartedly encourage).
We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, with the recession in 2008/09 causing us many headaches, while the loss of various tour operators – most notably Travel City Direct in 2008 and, this year, Thomas Cook – has been really sad to see and a cause of genuine anguish for the local tourist community.
Most of the time, though, researching, writing and updating the book each year has been a joy, and we have been really blessed to build such a lasting and meaningful relationship with so many people over the years, not least many readers we now call friends.
It’s amazing to look back and see so much change and evolution in our quarter-century of Brit Guide existence, but equally, we are grateful to many, many people for helping us out with each edition, and to those who continue to buy the book every year (sometimes whether they’re going or not!).
I certainly never imagined such a humble little pet project would develop in the way it did, but here we sit, in Orlando, with the fun and excitement of this truly astounding destination all around us, and doing this for a full-time living. We have to admit it gets exhausting at times (pounding the parks on a regular basis for what’s new and what’s next can be ridiculously hard work, especially in this climate!), but we cherish every new edition and every new highlight in this extraordinary place.
With that in mind, we’d like to send out a heartfelt ‘Thanks!’ – to everyone at Foulsham who has helped to build the book from its very early days into the highly polished product it is today, especially our long-time editorial collaborators Wendy and Jane, who have worked on just about every edition; to all the attraction PR folks who keep us up to date with events and put up with our constant requests for more info; to the ever-patient people at Visit Orlando, Visit Florida and Experience Kissimmee who also help to keep us firmly in the picture; to the production staff who turn our words into slick pages, all beautifully wrapped in that now-familiar Brit Guide package; and, especially, to our readers, who have really made our work come alive year after year, ensuring we know how much it means to them and how much they enjoy our favourite place on earth. “