Fodor’s author and mom Kim Wright Wiley has been researching and writing about Walt Disney World for over a decade. This year, Walt Disney World with Kids, 2007 marks her 17th annual edition. Her latest book has even more time- and money-saving strategies than ever. Here are a few of Kim’s quick tips for planning the perfect Disney vacation:
Plan Ahead, Save Money
More for less. The more days you buy, the less your per-day cost. An adult buying a seven-day basic ticket ends up paying around $29 per day, a significant savings over the one-day ticket price of $63.
Airline package deals. Check airline special offers, which include airfare, theme park tickets, and lodging. Be aware that airlines control a limited number of onsite hotel rooms, so call at least six months in advance if you’re set on a particular Disney resort.
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Souvenir shopping. Save this for the final days of your trip to avoid impulse buys. After shopping, you can stow your booty at Package Pickups near the front gates or, if you’re a guest at a Disney resort, have them delivered to your hotel (both free of charge).
Magic Kingdom Tips
Get in early. Be through the gates 30 minutes earlier than the stated opening time. Get strollers and pick up a map and entertainment schedule, which gives you exact show times and character meeting times.
Don’t Miss. Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a 3-D show projected onto a mammoth screen. This is Fantasyland’s newest attraction and one of the best in Walt Disney World. A Fastpass is offered but the wait is minimal, so you won’t need one unless it’s high-season. Save your Fastpass for rides that typically have lines, like Peter Pan and Pooh.
Better bites. Break from the crowds and find better food at Magic Kingdom resorts (you don’t have to be a guest to dine). Be sure to have your hand stamped for reentry, then jump on the “Resorts” monorail to arrive at Contemporary’s Concourse Steak House, the Polynesian’s Kona Café, or the Grand Floridian Café.
Dining with Princesses. Closed out of the princess character meals at Cinderella Castle? Try the Belle, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty princess meals at Restaurant Akershus in the Norway Pavilion for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make reservations (407/WDW-DINE) months in advance for any character dining.
International Food and Wine Festival. Dining your way around the World Showcase gets even better from mid-October to mid-November. Open-air booths serve food and beverages from 26 countries and host demonstrations by renowned chefs who cook up delectable adventures.
New in 2007! The Seas with Nemo and Friends opens in early 2007 and is bound to become a favorite for preschoolers, who will be able to board “clamobiles” to travel through a coral reef looking for Nemo or play at the Sea Base with interactive exhibits like the Turtle Talk with Crush.
The Water Parks and Animal Kingdom
Two parks in a day. Start your weekday morning at the water parks (avoid weekends when they’re extra packed with locals). Then, just five minutes by car from Blizzard Beach, zip to Animal Kingdom, where it’s better to arrive after lunch when the morning crowds begin to clear.
Saving Money. The “Water Parks and More” option ($50) includes entrance to Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach for multiple days depending on your base ticket. Otherwise, admission is $34 for adults and $28 for children 3 to 9 (1 day, 1 park).
Proper attire. Women and girls should wear one-piece swimsuits to avoid losing their tops on Humunga Kowabunga! And, bring rubber beach shoes with nonskid bottoms to protect your soles from the hot sidewalks.
For hundreds more planning tips and to determine what parks and rides are best for your children, pick up a copy of Walt Disney World with Kids, 2007. The ultimate family guide to Orlando’s theme parks provides easy-to-use guides to key attractions in every park — charting age-appropriateness, height requirements, scare-factors, average speed of line, and duration of shows.