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Orlando Do's and Don'ts | T+L Family

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Photo: The Walt Disney Company

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Do

Go easy on the extras when purchasing Walt Disney World tickets (407/934-7639; waltdisneyworld.com; one-day, one-park pass for adults $71, kids $60). There are four Disney theme parks to tackle: Magic Kingdom (kiddie rides and the iconic castle), Epcot (World’s Fair fare), Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Tinseltown celebrated), and Animal Kingdom (lions and tigers and mice, oh my!). Many folks have had their fill after a long weekend—which means you shouldn’t let the reservations agent talk you into add-ons you won’t have time for. Water-park passes?If you only have a few days, fuhgetaboutit.

Don’t

Bother chasing after discounted tickets. Advance purchases from Disney or third-party wholesalers knock off only a few bucks. (However, Universal Orlando, 10 minutes from Disney World, regularly posts excellent deals at universalorlando.com.)

Do

Spring for one of Disney’s eight "deluxe" resorts, such as The Polynesian (407/934-7639; waltdisneyworld.com; doubles from $465), if you’re after convenience and comfort. They’re fancifully designed, well-situated, and, like all on-campus hotels, offer guests early entrée to a different park each day, free parking, and free airport shuttles. Less expensive, if a bit less thrilling: Sheraton’s Dolphin, Westin’s Swan, and a ­Hilton—three of the better non-Disney-owned hotels that have sprouted right on Disney’s turf.

Don’t

Pay more for that room with a view. You likely won’t be there enough to enjoy it.

Do

Consider renting as a way to curb lodging costs. There are literally hundreds of available houses, many with their own pools, just a mile or two from Disney World. Web sites with rental listings: vacationwithconfidence.com, tropicalpalms.com, and allstarvacationhomes.com. Nightly rates start as low as $88 for a pastel cottage; a two-bedroom condo can be had for $588 for a week—not much more than the price for a night at one of the nicer Disney properties.

Don’t

Opt for Disney’s budget digs—the Pop Century and three All Star hotels—especially during school breaks. Yes, they’re on park premises, which has its pluses, but they’re crowded and as far from the action as scores of cheaper hotels on U.S. 192 and International Drive.

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