Richard Klune/Corbis

Family-friendly fun at the world’s most famous theme park.

April 04, 2012

Yes, you can enjoy an affordable jaunt to Disney World—and the magic’s still there. It’s wise to grab an express pass to skip the lines at some of the most popular rides. Also be sure to check DisneyWorld.Disney.Go.com—the Mickey Mouse empire often offers package deals and sweetens the deal for Florida residents.

World of Disney Store

Part of the Downtown Disney Marketplace, this 50,000-square-foot landmark is the largest Disney character store in the world. Inside, 12 rooms radiate from a two-story central atrium, which contains life-size character statues, a huge screen showing classic Disney films, and an illuminated castle surrounding by more than 15,000 licensed Disney souvenirs. Complimentary maps guide shoppers through the maze of rooms, which contain everything from T-shirts and charm bracelets to plush toys, coffee mugs, beach towels, and Mickey Mouse—shaped candies. The store also houses the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which provides princess makeovers for girls and “cool dude” makeovers for boys.

Backstage Magic Tour

Behind-the-scenes Disney secrets are divulged on this daylong walking tour (lunch included), which takes in some dauntingly complex operations at work in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Visits include machine shops where audio-animatronic figures are repaired, costuming studios where characters are outfitted, and the well-oiled inner workings of an attraction or two.

 

Tip: A slate of less expensive, more specialized tours includes the $40 Magic Behind Our Steam Trains for close-up inspections of the Magic Kingdom’s vintage locomotives and the $115 Epcot Seas Aqua Tour, a tank swim with tropical fish.

Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park

Magic Kingdom

Chef Mickey's

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort features buffet dining for breakfast and dinner enhanced by a little Disney magic in the form of appearances by Mickey Mouse and his friends. Breakfast offerings include assorted cereals, pancakes, and restaurant’s signature Mickey-shaped waffles, while dinner typically includes American favorites like chicken, carved roast beef, and macaroni and cheese. Photo opportunities are plentiful as an assortment of Disney characters circulates the room, visiting and entertaining the wide-eyed children. Seats fill up quickly, so reservations are essential.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

The hotel has the advantages of a Disney property (i.e., early entry to a different park each day) but more flexible pricing.

Walt Disney World Swan

The hotel has the advantages of a Disney property (i.e., early entry to a different park each day) but more flexible pricing.

Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort

The hotel has the advantages of a Disney property (i.e., early entry to a different park each day) but more flexible pricing.

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