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Disney World is one of the most magical places on earth. Even the most cynical adult will lose their inhibitions and dawns on the famed mouse ears while there. Taking a family vacation to Disney can prove to be wonderful and exciting. It can also be stressful, especially with children involved. To survive the trip and have lots of fun along the way, here are some tips that you should follow. Family vacations are a time to reconnect with our kids and escape our everyday lives. What better way than to vacation in Disney. Let the kids pack Let the kids help pack their suitcase and carry-on. This will let them become part of the vacation planning. They need to understand what is going on. By all means pack the things you know they will need, but let them have a little say in what goes into the luggage. Let them pack their favorite sleep item for night time and plane travel if young. Talk to them about it. Ask your travel agent for a Disney brochure, or order the Disney video and watch it with them. Have them pick rides they think they will want to ride,talk about the characters. Plan ahead of time Disney Is not the kind of family vacation that you can go on without prior planning. Avoid long lines at the ticket booths by preordering your ticket or buying them at your local Disney Store or triple A office. Make sure you know how crowded it will be. Do not go in July and expect 15 minute lines. The Summer months and school holidays are among the busiest months of the year and lines can be upward of 60 minutes or more. End of August the lines and crowds start to diminish as schools around the country start going back. One July 3rd we walked by Toy Story Mania that had a 160 minute wait! If you must go in the summer go at the end of Aug if possible. If you are going to do character meals, Holiday party or event (pirates cruise or Bippidy boppity boutique etc...) book those early to make sure you get dates and times you want. Learn about fastpass, and early and late hours for those staying at Disney World Hotels. Take regular breaks Disney World is huge. There is no way you can see the whole 127,000 acres of the theme park in a couple of days. If you are taking a short trip, plan to return another time, or make a list of must do rides. Do not try to see it all in under 7 days. You need at least a week or two to see most of what Disney World has to offer. This is why, taking breaks is extremely important. Especially in the summer when it gets very hot and very crowded around mid-day. Even though you want to see the rides and attractions of Disney World, you have to get occasional rest so that you can recharge and rejuvenate. Return to your resort and take a plunge in the pool. Go to Downtown Disney, or a water park for a few hours. If you rush yourself into seeing everything, you will easily get drained

and it will become more difficult for you and the kids to enjoy the trip. The more tired and drained you are the more frustrated and grabby everyone gets. Make sure that you take a few-minute break every hour to recharge. Drink plenty of water to keep you and the kids hydrated. Pack your snacks, drinks and essentials Pack ample amount of drinks so that you don't have to look for a drinking station whenever one of the kids gets hungry or thirsty. The same thing goes or the snacks. Bringing your own snacks will save you time because you won't have to look for snack, and save you a great deal of money (which can go to $3 for a bag of Disney chips). If you have a fridge in your room freeze water bottles and put them in your backpack each day. Individualized chips, fruit snacks, crackers, can also be packed and stored in the back pack. As you know, food and drinks are expensive in the parks. Many hotels and resorts have services that deliver water, juices and other items to your hotel room. Many airport services to Orlando offer you a 30 minute grocery stop for free. Even at some Disney resorts you will find some convenient types stores to buy water, snacks and incidentals. Save tons of money by buying Walmart disposable raincoats for under $2. Bring sunblock from home as well as Tylenol, band-aids and essentials. Bring strollers If you have young kids with you, bring your own stroller. An umbrella stroller has it's advantages because it can be folded and is very light weight. Bringing your own umbrella stroller will also save you money because renting at the park. The park strollers are bulky and can get very hot from the sun. Your own stroller will enable you to move around the park with ease. Your toddler will thank you and be less agitated if he has a place to rest when needed. It also helps with the items no one wants to carry. This means that the stroller will not only be beneficial for the kids but for you as well. If you do not want to bring your own stroller, then consider renting one from the small companies popping up that rent very nice, affordable, comfortable strollers at a fraction of the Disney World rental price. Remember that a family vacation is for everyone, not just the kids. Three hours with a sleeping toddler on your shoulder while the older kids have fun is not my idea of a fun family vacation. On-site vs. Off-site If you are staying off site look for a kid friendly Orlando hotel or resort. Look for a kid-friendly Orlando hotel that would allow your kids to sleep comfortably. Many hotels now have kids quarters with bunk beds or small rooms near the regular bedroom for the kids. Hotels off- property will save you money, but you must offset that with the cost of renting a car, tolls and gasoline. Also, there are special park times only available to guest staying on Disney property. If you want to stay inside the park, look for a Disney hotel that fits your budget. Disney has many discounts and sales and the value resorts on property are very reasonable. You save in transportation costs, as Disney picks you up at the airport and returns you there for free at the end of your vacation. Transportation to the different parts and venues is free with a park tickets for all. If you have little ones it is so much easier to return to your resort when inside the park and you only hop a bus to get there. Overwhelmed Yet?

There is still other Orlando attractions worth looking into to. Sea World, soon a new LegoLand and Universal Studios and Island of Adventures are great parks in their own right. If this has your head spinning use a travel agent to help you sort out prices and compare resorts to find what best suites your family. You do not pay them, the supplier you book through does, and they often have special others don't. Last minute things, bring extra socks, plastic baggies to put wet items in. Flip flops for pools and something to carry your water, food and essential into the parks. Don't forget your camera, you won't want to miss a minute of it.

Gloria Caruso is the owner and an agent at Second Star Travel. She is also a teacher and a mother to three beautiful girls. She loves to travel and plan vacations for families. Visit to get started on panning your next vacation. Book now and receive a $25 gift certificate. Visit us at Facebook at

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A Parent's Survival Guide to a Disney World Family Vacation  

==== ==== ==== ==== Take regular breaks Plan ahead of time Let the kids pack and it will become more difficult for you and the kids to enjoy...

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