Stay at the Walt Disney World resorts. You can take advantage of the parks extra magic hours (early opening or late closing hours). The Disney Art of Animation Resort is a fun pick for families. Located near Animal Kingdom and the Pop Century Resort, this resort features four themed and decorated sections based on Finding Nemo, Cars, Lion King and The Little Mermaid. The first three offer good-sized family suites with two rooms, two baths, one queen bed and one double bed, a pullout couch and a kitchen area with microwave and mini-fridge. The main pool at Finding Nemo is the largest of all the Disney resorts and includes a big splash pad play area. Two smaller pools are also on site: Little Mermaid- and Cars-themed to match. On-site dining is available cafeteria style at Landscape of Flavors. Go during “Value Season” for the best deals. More information at disneyworld.disney.go.com

Divide and conquer. Toddlers and younger children will find more to do at the Magic Kingdom, with attractions and rides including Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and The Little Mermaid. This age group also likely will enjoy a tour of the world in Epcot as well as the animals and a couple of the rides at Animal Kingdom. Most of the rides in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are geared to older children. That’s where grandparents, family or friends can help out. When toddlers travel with older siblings, family or friends can help the family split up and let the older kids enjoy rides at their age level.

Get your FastPass first, as soon as you enter the park. The FastPass helps reduce long waits at the most popular rides and lets you enjoy other rides that have shorter lines while you wait for your ride window to open. Some popular rides might “sell out” of FastPasses on a busy day.

Wear good walking shoes. To feel better about eating those iconic Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, consider wearing a pedometer and counting your steps.

Be prepared to wait. Bring board books, a smartphone with child friendly apps, and plenty of snacks. Snacks can be expensive at Disney World, so plan ahead. If you are flying and do not rent a car, GardenGrocer.com offers grocery delivery services. Many of the resort cafes also offer power kids packs with yogurt, fruit, cheese, and goldfish to help keep the little ones full.

Consider making time for a treat as a couple. Splurge for a sitter and make reservations at one of the sit-down restaurants at Epcot and take in the evening fireworks. Remember to make reservations well in advance of your trip, as the most popular dining establishments can fill up months in advance. We used Kid’s Nite Out (407-828-0920) to book a sitter for our toddler. They were prompt, professional, and offered the flexibility to be back when you are done. ($16-$18 per an hour per 1 child).

-Laura Powell

Tips for First Timers at Disney World
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