Disney Do's and Don'ts

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The Walt Disney Company

For all their magical family fun, brazen marketing efforts, and unabashed dream-making, the parks (Magic Kingdom; Epcot; Disney's Hollywood Studios; and Animal Kingdom) do present challenges, even for the smartest travelers. To this end, we have consulted with experts and culled the best tips to help ensure a memorable trip to Disney World.
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Disney Dos and Donts

Walt Disney World is, hands-down, the most popular destination in the world; almost 50 million people visit the Orlando parks each year -- a number that the original "imagineer" never would have foreseen when he created the ground-breaking "Walt Disney Imagineering" company in 1932 to create his first mouse-themed park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney World, the biggest and most famous of the parks, didn't open until 1971, five years after his death.

But for all their magical family fun, brazen marketing efforts, and unabashed dream-making, the parks (Magic Kingdom; Epcot; Disney's Hollywood Studios; and Animal Kingdom) do present challenges, even for the smartest travelers. To this end, we have consulted with experts and culled the best tips to help ensure a memorable trip to Disney World.

Disney Dos and Donts

Disney has eight "deluxe" resorts, such as Disney's Polynesian Resort, if you're after convenience and comfort. They're fancifully designed, well-situated, and, like all on-campus hotels, offer guests early entrée to a different park each day, free parking, and sometimes free airport shuttles. Less expensive, if a bit less thrilling: Starwood's Dolphin, Westin's Swan, and a Hilton -- three of the better non-Disney-owned hotels that have sprouted right on Disney's turf.
--Jason Cochran

Disney Dos and Donts

Disney's Pop Century Resort and three Disney All Star hotels -- which all offer "value" category accommodations, the lowest price point of the lodging options -- are a great bet, especially during school breaks. Yes, they're on park premises, which has its pluses, but they're crowded and as far from the action as scores of cheaper hotels on U.S. 192 and International Drive.
--Jason Cochran

Disney Dos and Donts

Advance purchases from Disney or third-party wholesalers knock off only a few bucks. (However,
Universal Orlando, 10 minutes from Disney World, regularly posts excellent deals at www.universalorlando.com).
--Jason Cochran

Disney Dos and Donts

It's a good way to curb lodging costs. There are literally hundreds of available houses, many with their own pools, just a mile or two from Disney World. Web sites with rental listings: vacationwithconfidence.com, tropicalpalms.com, and allstarvacationhomes.com. Nightly rates start as low as $95 for a pastel cottage (through tropicalpalms.com); a two-bedroom condo can be had for $774 for a week (through allstarvacationhomes.com).
--Jason Cochran

Disney Dos and Donts

No one skips the lines at Disney, but with an official VIP leader you leave the crucial strategizing, reserving, and fast-pass punching to someone else. Prices start at $175 per hour with a minimum of 6 hours, for up to 10 people.
--Margot Guralnick

Disney Dos and Donts

Prevailing wisdom says that age five is about right for that first mega-park outing, but whenever you go, make sure you have a detailed plan of attack. Former Disney World VIP host Michael Hewell of Tour Guide Mike charges families $21.95 to map out custom itineraries based on answers to a pre-trip online questionnaire.
--Meg Lukens Noonan

Disney Dos and Donts

The most popular rides at Disney World offer a free "Fastpass" reservation option. Swipe your park ticket at any of the machines outside the ride, and retrieve a ticket with a time stamped on it. Come back during the one-hour window shown on your pass, jump on the Fastpass line (you'll know it from the regular line because it'll be moving!) and get on the ride. Hit the FastPass rides early in your visit -- on busy days, the park stops issuing FastPasses when the slots run out.
--Ann Shields

Disney Dos and Donts

Choose carefully when purchasing Walt Disney World tickets, which in autumn 2009 are a whopping $79 for ages 10 and older, $68 for ages 3-9, per day for one park. There are four Disney theme parks to tackle: The Magic Kingdom (kiddie rides and the iconic castle), Epcot (World's Fair fare), Disney's Hollywood Studios (Tinseltown celebrated), and Animal Kingdom (lions and tigers and mice, oh my!). Many folks have had their fill after a long weekend -- which means you shouldn't let the reservations agent talk you into add-ons you won't have time for. Water-park passes? If you only have a few days, fuhgetaboutit.
--Jason Cochran

Disney Dos and Donts

If a room with a view at one of these "deluxe" resorts is going to cost you more, don't bother. You likely won't be there enough to enjoy it.
--Jason Cochran

Disney Dos and Donts

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