Posted on Monday, 5th December 2011 by

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They are for kids of all ages!

When I was a youngster, the closest thing to a theme park was the local 4-H fair in northern Indiana.  When I was in Junior High we went to the Indiana State Fair, a huge fairground with rides, animals, shows, tractor pulls, and arcade. It was truly awe inspiring and it seemed endless.  It left quite an impression on me, but that all changed when I went to Disney World in 1978!  Wow, Mickey and all his friends. Those were the days of ride tickets, A through E.  Space Mountain was an E ticket, and I believe Peter Pan was too!  In fact an expression emerged.   If you called something an “E ticket”, that meant it was extra special.  You really had to plan your day back then to make sure you made the most of “A through E”!

But that all changed with the creation of Theme Park Resorts.  Disney has several theme parks at Disney World including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach.  The last two are water parks and the kids will love them.  For those of you that are electronically inclined and have a smart phone or iphone you can download a Disney app that shows guide maps, attractions, where the transportation and shopping is, and you can even book a reservation.

Disney World has something for everyone when it comes to rides.  The park includes educational rides where you learn about the environment, foreign countries, how movies are made, see animals from other parts of the world, and much more. You can take advantage of the fast pass with Your Magic Your Way Tickets to avoid the long lines.

After dark there is something special happening no matter what part of Disney World you find yourself.  Fireworks, light parades and lots of music fill the air.  An exciting way to end a day in which you more than likely walked more in one day than you normally do in a week back home.  During the holiday season the Disney streets are lined with beautiful decorations. Mickey’s not so Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Holidays Around the World are spectacular attractions and family fun for everyone.

Here’s some information and pointers to assist in planning a vacation whether just for yourselves or a family reunion or vacationing with friends that will hopefully make your trip more enjoyable.

Disney World is probably at the top of everyone’s list of Theme Parks, and if you’re planning to go for 3 or more days you should consider staying at a Disney World Resort.  Buying multiday or daily tickets, even without park hopping, is expensive. Staying at a resort hotel can be very reasonable if you do a cost comparison.  With tax you will pay over $90 for a one day pass and a 5 day ticket is over $50 per day ($61 if you want to add park hopper).  If you stay at a Disney value resort hotel in a standard room, a 5 night stay will cost around $200 a night (for 2 adults) and that includes park admission with park hopper for 6 days.  Moderate resorts cost around $300 a night (for 2 adults) for a 5 night stay which includes park admission and park hopper for 6 days.

Disney World offers economy to luxury hotels for you to choose from.  If you are going with small or young children you may want to consider the economy lodging because you probably won’t be spending a lot of time in the hotel.  However, if you are going with your spouse or partner, you may want to review the amenities of their moderate to luxury lodging.  If you want some down time by the pool in the summer months, you’ll find fewer children crowding the pools at the higher end lodging. If you plan to visit only Disney Parks staying at their resort hotels can reduce your overall vacation costs.  In addition, you won’t need that rental car either because the transportation options around the Disney resort hotels are very convenient and timely.  If your vacation plans take you in the summer time you can easily take a break from the afternoon heat at your hotel and return to the parks to take advantage of the late hours.  There’s nothing like relaxing in the pool for a couple of hours to reenergize and return to the park later.

There are many lodging options to choose from. Lake Buena Vista area hotels offer free shuttle service to the parks as well.  Some of these hotels are in walking distance to Downtown Disney which is a beautiful area with plenty to do. This area offers attractions, shopping and many restaurants to choose from.  Sabrina, one of our Travel Forum readers, stayed at the Holiday Inn in Lake Buena Vista and was close to all the amenities that Disney has to offer.  Priceline had good deals on vacation packages to Orlando for this area which included a free shuttle to all the Parks and the park tickets were added separately.  A trip that was 5 nights 6 days at the Holiday Inn in Lake Buena Vista cost her just $775.00 a person this past September which included a room upgrade, 2 Disney magic your way tickets for 5 days, free shuttle to all the parks, round trip flight and transportation to and from the airport.

If you are someone who has difficulty spending an entire day on your feet, don’t let that stop you from having a great theme park vacation.  You can rent a powered scooter from local Orlando vendors by the day or week.  They will deliver it to your hotel and pick it up at the end of your stay.  You don’t have to be handicapped to do this.  Anyone with arthritis can appreciate a Scooter to avoid overdoing it during a full day at the park.  There are other benefits to renting a scooter as well.  As you leave your resort hotel for a day at the park you will be first on the bus to the parks.  In addition you will be able to avoid some lines for rides as several rides have a separate entrance for wheelchairs and scooters.  At the end of your day you won’t be tired from walking all day and standing in line.  Keep this in mind no matter what parks you are visiting, even if you aren’t staying at a theme park resort that provides transportation.  Some scooters are compact enough to fold into your trunk allowing you to use them any place you plan to go in Orlando.

Sign up for Disney email to find out about special offers.  They have been offering their meal package at no additional cost recently.  This will save you big!

Epcot is another fantastic theme park to consider. It has educational rides, interactive movie theaters, rides and visit all the different countries of the world in this unique park.  It has excellent restaurants but make sure you make a reservation ahead of time. Plan to do a lot of walking or make sure you rent a scooter for this day in particular.  Some of the great attractions are Captain Eo, Innoventions, Circle of life, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Spaceship Earth, Mission Space and of course the different Countries to visit.  Experience the many different cultures all in one park which includes, China, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, and the United States.

The Universal Theme Parks in Orlando can be fun but the rides at the Adventures Theme Park are heavy on roller coasters, so if that’s not your favorite there are very few rides you will want to go on.  However, if you are a Harry Potter fan, you do not want to miss a visit to Hogwarts and Hogsmeade at the Adventures Theme Park.  You’ll feel like a Hogwarts student going to find the perfect wand at Olivanders or your favorite treat at Honeydukes.  Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, be sure to try some Butterbeer.  I preferred the frozen variety, complete with the creamy topping.  It’s a sweet frozen treat to cool off on a warm Florida day.

The Universal Theme Park also gives you a chance to experience a Twister or escape Jaws.  You’ll see many of your favorite Universal stars from Lucy to the Professor from Back to the Future.  You can enjoy lunch at Mel’s Diner and have fun looking at the cars from American Graffiti.  The Horror Makeup and stunt shows are also fun and entertaining.

The Animal Kingdom is a great addition to the Disney Theme parks as well. There is 1700 Animals from 250 Species found on 500 acres of beautiful landscapes.  It feels like you are walking through the actual jungle.  The Safari ride was a site to see with African animals including lions, elephants, flamingos, giraffe’s, warthogs, crocodiles, hippos and much more.  This park is beautiful in all respects and the scenery is truly worth seeing.

Scooter Rental sites, starting @ $150 for a week, and $25 a day:

http://www.scootarama.com/
http://www.scootorlando.com/
http://www.buenavistascooters.com/
http://www.scootaround.com/rentals/o/orlando/

Disney World Resorts, including Special Offer link:

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers/

Universal Theme Park Resort Link:

http://www.universalorlando.com/

http://themeparks.universalstudios.com/index.php

SeaWorld Theme Park Link:

http://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-orlando

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The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances. Travel policies and packages are subject to change without notice. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact travel providers and hotels at the time of your bookings to confirm pricing, itinerary, and all costs. The comments and observations are limited to the author’s personal experience and your results may vary significantly. This article and replies to comments are not intended to substitute for professional travel services. Our reply is time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

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