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Survivor’s guide to Walt Disney World: Intro

Mickey's Sorcerer Hat at WDW (photo by Sheila Scarborough)Over the next few days, I plan to post a short series on travel with kids to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

I’ve been resisting this because I’d much rather focus on more unusual destinations, but the fact is that theme parks are a big part of family travel, at least in the U.S. This includes my own two kids, even though I’m amazed that they don’t want to see more, I dunno, Civil War battlefields or art museums or interesting ethnic neighborhoods. 🙂

Nope, they want the Mouse and a lot of it.

Even savvy travelers may not have a clue about how to get the most out of a visit to the parks. I recently read a series of posts by the flabbergasted Will Allen, who freely confesses during a lessons-learned series on his blog that he was not up to speed on planning his recent WDW trip. His specialty is air travel and business travel, and the Mouse ate his lunch.

His commenters raked him over the coals for not prepping enough, and I have to somewhat agree. If you’re really into creating a “magical experience” (and would also like to avoid spending a fortune) this is the trip when you do your homework. It’s not that hard — there’s a lot of good guidance out there, and the payback is less aggravation for you and more fun for everyone.

I will run separate posts on each park in WDW: Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and the Magic Kingdom. For those who are saying right now, “Wow, you mean there’s more than one park?,” this series is definitely for you! As always, comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated.

There will be one post on Blizzard Beach, one of the two Orlando Disney water parks, but it will all be feedback from my daughter’s school trip there; I did not actually go myself. Heck, a teenager’s perspective is probably better, anyway.

Done right, the parks can be a blast.

Done poorly, they are expensive misery.

Let’s ensure that you’re one of the visitors who creates a dream vacation and not a nightmare.

Here’s the first park we’ll visit: Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Update 4 May 2007: The Washington Post blog Travel Log notes that Zagat has published a “Walt Disney World Insider’s Guide,” just in case you didn’t already have enough research to do. It’s not just restaurants, either; they have reader opinions on parks as a whole, rides and lodging. Reviewer John Deiner throws in his own point of view as well.

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