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You don’t have to be a kid to love Disney World. When you’ve decided that it’s time to visit Disney, the better you plan, the better your Disney World vacation will be. The theme parks are immense, so you’ll need to do your research to spend your time and money wisely. Staying on-site in a hotel, condo or resort is a popular choice, because this adds to the overall impact of the vacation, but renting a condo in nearby Four Corners or a vacation house in Kissimmee gives you the space to settle in, wind down and really feel at home.

Here’s how to get the most out of Disney World.

  1. Choose Your Dates and Duration
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    There are better times to visit Disney than others. The best times to go are mid-November through mid-December, excluding Thanksgiving week; mid-January through mid-February; early May and all of September. If you’re hoping the park will be quieter, avoid going between Christmas and New Year’s Day, during spring break, during the middle of the summer and on other holidays. The duration of your vacation depends on your budget and what you want to do there. If you want to spend a good amount of time at all four theme parks, the minimum stay is five days. Most people who want to do everything consider a week to be just about the right duration.

  2. Plan Your Itinerary
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    The theme parks include Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are also two water parks, four golf courses, two miniature golf courses, two dinner shows, a boardwalk, more than 20 resorts and assorted lakes with options for watersports and fishing.

  3. Explore Ticket Options
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    You know this vacation is going to require some budgeting. It’s common to spend more on the theme parks than lodging, but there are some ways to save money. Purchasing tickets in advance online or by phone can save you money versus buying tickets at the gate. You’ll need one ticket for everyone in your party for each day. It’s possible to buy a base ticket to enter one theme park. Then you can add more features like park hopping, visiting water parks and enjoying other activities. If you add the park hopper option, you can visit all of the four theme parks on the same day. Annual passes are also available.

  4. Lodging
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    You can choose to stay at a Disney resort or off the property. The off-property lodgings aren’t owned by Disney, but they are often very close to the theme parks. You can get better value if you stay off the property in a vacation rental. But, many people like the experience of staying at an official Disney resort. You can get other perks like more extra magic hours, access to Disney monorails and buses, and access to some on-site recreation such as pools.

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When you’re planning a Disney World vacation, do your homework and make the big decisions that will fit your budget but also allow you to have the time of your life. You’ll be making amazing memories when you hit Orlando.