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Earn your Mickey ears with stress-free Disney World vacation planning

A trip to Disney World should be a thing of magic, but can be a pain to plan. Here's how to cut down on the stress.
by Richard Hall Published: December 9, 2012

Few phrases excite more than “We're going to Disney World!” although most things don't quite impact the wallet like a family-sized trip to America's favorite theme park.

The entire point of going to Disney World is to create memories and have a blast. But, the cost of a stay at Disney World for a family, big or small, can be staggering, and the planning process could be stressful. Good thing there are tricks that could greatly reduce the headache the trip could become.

When to go

The first step should be to decide when the trip will be. Disney World, and many of the hotels around the park, operates on a seasonal schedule. This means the higher traffic times, like summertime, will increase your spending.

The perks of going during the busy season are most, if not all, of the rides, attractions and shows will be operational. Disney plans maintenance and downtime for these things during the off season.

Disney World also hosts events. One of the most popular is the Star Wars Weekends that take place during the early summer months. In the fall, there are the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and Halloween celebrations. Around Christmastime, Disney World is decorated for the holidays and nightly Christmas parties are thrown. If early spring is more your preference, there's the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

The downside of going during a busy season is the crowds. Luckily, Disney World enthusiasts have put together crowd calendars, which can help you determine the best time to visit which park during which day. The Undercover Tourist crowd calendar is one of the most popular, and if you have a smartphone, search for their app for a free download.

Admission ticket options

Disney World has four theme parks, two water parks and a plethora or other locales such as golf courses and an ESPN sports complex. However, a general park ticket won't grant access to all of what Disney World has to offer.

There are three different options for admission. The first is a standard park ticket that is good for the duration of your stay but only allows you entrance to one theme park a day, with no access to the water parks or other locations. Another more popular option is the Park Hopper pass, which allows you access to every theme park per day, so you could spend the morning in Animal Kingdom and the evening in Magic Kingdom, but still won't have access to the water parks or other locations. The final option is the Water Park Fun & More Option, which gives access to the water parks and all the other locations.

Where to stay

Staying on-site at Disney World will cost more than staying off-site, but there are bonuses that come with spending the extra dough. One of the biggest is not needing a vehicle to get around. Disney World has its own transportation system complete with buses, boats and the famous monorail. Every resort on Disney property is serviced by at least one of these. Plus, there are more than 20 Disney-owned resorts to choose from on the property, ranging from value-priced options to more deluxe accommodations.

Another reason to stay on-site is because Disney offers resort guests Extra Magic Hours. There are some days when certain parks either open an hour early, or stay open up to three hours later, just for resort guests. This allows more time to check things out, with fewer crowds to battle with.

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by Richard Hall
Digital Media Specialist
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
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