The city has more than doubled in population since 2000! Boy, are you in for a change. I still love it though, and I hope you will, too.
(Last time you were in the city there's a good chance I could've waved at you without any tents in the way!)
Re: your friends . . . tell 'em they need to read the Survival Guide a few times (linked below in my sig). If they haven't, it's a great place to start, and will even help them start their packing list, because it has a list of basics upon which to build. They can't have fun unless they're surviving well and are capable of doing okay if you disappear with a Belgian for 48 hours.
You're absolutely right, it's good not to push your idea of a perfect Burn onto them. Beyond the Survival Guide itself, I would say: encourage them to explore the First Timer's Guide, the 10 Principles, etc . . . and encourage "no expectations", because every Burn is different from person to person, even within the same year, or the same camp. It's an adventure, but no one can tell you what kind.
If you tell us a little about your friends--nothing too private, since they can't speak for themselves (heh)--we might be able to throw out more specific suggestions.