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Taking a family trip to Disney World

Use these tips to keep your next trip running smoothly.

Taking the family to Disney can be one of the happiest times you spend with your children but it can also be the hardest. The same fun which creates smiles also provokes over stimulation, exhaustion and general crankiness in both child and parent. And as with many things, big fun can also mean a big price tag. Admission into the Magic Kingdom for a family of four costs almost $200 for one day without any discounts or special rates. Add on sodas, snacks, souvenirs, hotel and travel to and from Orlando and your Disney World vacation can leave you wishing upon a star.

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Seasoned parents will tell you that there are secrets to maximizing the magic of your Disney World vacation. Here are just a few.

Stay at one of the Disney hotels located on the Monorail
Although the transportation system within Disney is easy to navigate, accommodations located on the monorail system allow you to get back to your room quickly and with few stops. Nap time is easy to fit into the schedule when you are only one monorail stop away. For family with older children, the close proximity of your room provides a level of comfort when the family decides to split up or when a teenager wants to stay in the park long after you've gone back to shower. Disney offers three properties with direct access to the monorail: Contemporary Hotels, The Polynesian Hotel and The Floridian.

Gain early access to the park by staying at a Disney hotel
Staying at a Disney hotel comes with Guest privileges. Each day, Disney offers early admission into Guests who stay at a Disney property. This privilege allows you to get the most popular rides out of the way prior to the park opening to the public. For early risers, try booking a breakfast with the Characters in the park at The Crystal Palace or Cinderella's Castle.

Begin at the back of the park
It's a known fact that people will stop at the first attraction they reach so start at the back and work forward. For parents with young children it's wise to ride Dumbo's ride as early as possible. The line is always long later in the day. Leave the shows and indoor attractions for the hottest part of the day when you'll appreciate the cool air conditioning.

Discover Disney fun outside of the park
This is easiest to do with younger children. There are plenty of fun things to do outside of the parks. Take the bus over to Fort Wilderness Campground for some free fun. There is a general store, over-sized petting zoo and several well designed playgrounds. In the evening, try the Mickey character dinner at the Contemporary hotel. Book your reservations so that dinner will be over at 8:45pm and then take a walk outside to the parking lot. From the Valet stand you will have the best and least crowded view of the Magic Kingdom's Fireworks. (Make sure to confirm the days and times of fireworks.)

Take a break
A full day at Epcot, The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom or MGM Studios can take a great deal of energy. You'll find that the day will be more enjoyable if you leave the park at midday to recharge your batteries with a short nap or dip in the hotel pool. Re-enter the park late afternoon when others are leaving or having dinner. You'll find the lines will be shorter and you'll be more tolerant too.

Purchase multiple day passes
Disney admission passes never expire and it's always cheaper to purchase multiple day park passes. Use what you need on this visit and save the card for future trips. Florida residents have the opportunity to save on tickets in the off-seasons. Visit for complete pricing on admissions and vacation packages.

Buy your Disney t-shirts prior to arriving at the park
Visit your local Wal-Mart, Target or K-Mart prior to leaving for the land of Mickey. You are certain to find a t-shirt of your child's favorite character on a sale rack. Surprise your kids with a new shirt while unpacking. They'll feel like they've received a souvenir and you'll be pleased with your frugal accomplishment.

Also see:
Traveling with children


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