Trip Coach: July 10, 2007

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Liliane Opsomer and Bob Sehlinger, co-authors of 'The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids,' answered your questions on Orlando vacations.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Hi and welcome! Bob and Liliane here to talk about Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and vacationing in Orlando. Two things you need to know: (1) We don't always agree, and (2) English is not our native language. (Liliane is Belgian and does very well in English but can also answer in German, French, or Dutch as you prefer. Bob speaks Southern and y'all know the challenges that presents.) OK, let's rock and roll!

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Carson City, Nev.: I am planning a High School graduation trip for my daughter in June 2008. There will four of us going, myself, my daughter, 17, and two other teenagers, 16 and 15. My question is about the "Disney Dining" option you can select. We want to stay at a Value Property and I thought it would be better to do the dining option as well. Can you tell me your opinion on this subject. Thank you!

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Having a teenager myself (going on 17) I know how much a teenager can eat and it is very important to keep them fed--for your own sanity. So, three teenagers and a food plan is the way to go. Plan ahead though. Research the restaurants and where you will be for the main meals (dinner). Do not use the sit-down points for a breakfast or for restaurants that have just junk food. Go for the big steaks or the buffet places if the teens are more picky eaters. We always look at the menu of the restaurants we are interested in (allearsnet.com) when we start planning our trip and make advance reservations.

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Wickford, R.I.: We are traveling with a large family group (23 people) for Thanksgiving. Kids range in age from 4-16. Any suggestions for group activities we can do together? We are staying outside Disney but close by.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Yikes! 23 people! I'd like a table for 23, please. We've seen touring groups with three times that number touring the parks together but it's not very efficient, particularly over Thanksgiving with its heavy crowds. We'd recommend Cirque du Soleil and maybe one of the Orlando area dinner theaters. Miniature golf is also an option.

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Milwaukee, Wis.: Going to Orlando with my 10-year-old son, October 23-31. Is there a "valid" website for discounted tickets to Disney, SeaWorld and Universal?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Check out mousesavers.com for latest special offers. Very often undercovertourist.com has the best prices. As for Universal and SeaWorld, go directly to their websites for best deals.

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West Milford, N.J.: I am traveling in August with my 7-year-old daughter to Orlando for 3 nights/4 days. We just went to Orlando in April and spent a day in the Magic Kingdom and split a day between Animal Kingdom and Epcot, so we could skip those to do other things in Orlando. I thought I'd like to take her to a water park, but not for a whole day. While she could easily have fun all day at a water park, it is difficult because she has Diabetes and wears an insulin pump. I can detach the pump while she's getting wet, but if it detached for too long, her blood glucose gets too high later in the day. Other considerations I'd like to keep in mind are staying relatively cool, and the availability of food/drink at the attraction. I prefer not to have to carry around a lot of snacks, and drinks get hot. But if she needs a snack because of low blood sugar, I need to be able to get her food or juice pretty fast (I had a problem with some of the lines for food at Disney). Can you make some recommendations for an itinerary that keep those special considerations in mind?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: A visit to the water parks is really not ideal if you are worried about staying relatively cool. On busy days the lines for food and drinks will also be long. If you go to a water park, I suggest you rise early and make it a half day. A cooler & ice packs for food and drinks would give you peace of mind. Also, if you have a line anywhere in the parks, talk to any cast member. Disney is very attentive to guests with special needs.

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Massapequa, N.Y.: What hotels on Disney property can accommodate 2 adults and 4 kids?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Disney Vacation Club properties like Old Key West, Boardwalk Villas, Wilderness Lodge Villas, etc. Also, the rental cabins at Fort Wilderness Campground.

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Belleville, N.J.: I've heard that if you return to an attraction after your Fast Pass window has expired, the park employees will still let you use the Fast Pass line. Is this a hard and fast rule at Disney World, or does it depend on the employee?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Usually they'll let you enter (90% of the time) but it's at the cast member's discretion.

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Greensboro, N.C.: We are taking our children and grandchildren to Disney Oct. 21 through 24. Two little girls are 5 and two are 3. There are a total of 10 of us. We are staying at the Yacht & Beach Club. We have reservations for the Cinderella breakfast at the castle but no other dinner reservations. At this time of year how important is that as trying to determine where we will be at what time and what the little ones would like to eat? We will want some sit down meals so what in your opinion would work best for us?

Thank you,
Barbara

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Depending which park you visit here are some restaurants that are fun and easy on families with small children:
EPCOT: We recommend the Garden Grill restaurant. Chip & Dale, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy host the family style meal and it is a place very comfortable for children. If you want something more upscale for the grown-ups, try the Coral Reef restaurant where the aquarium surrounding the dining room will get the kids' attention.
MGM: Try Hollywood & Vine, where June and Leo of Little Einstein, JoJo and Goliath will get the kids' attention. Breakfast and lunch only.
Outside the parks: Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge is a lot of fun and very family friendly. In addition, there is lots to see outside when the little ones need a break from sitting down.

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Huntington, W. Va.: We will be traveling to Disney World Nov. 8-12 this year. My husband and I have 2 children (a boy, 6, and a girl, 3) who are somewhat picky eaters and eat small meals. Would we save money by buying the dining pass with our package? In other words, financially what are the pros and cons of this option?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: The dining plan does not work too well for picky/small eaters. Also, the kids must eat from a kids only menu (unless not available in the restaurant you pick).

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Orlando, Fla.: We are a family of 4 with two pre-schoolers, and are premium annual pass holders. We live here in Orlando. What are some off-the-beaten path things that you'd recommend that we haven't done yet? We've been to ride in the front car of the monorail with the pilot, we're taking the Segway tour of Epcot next week. I'm talking REALLY unusual stuff! Thanks!

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Take a swamp buggy ride at the Disney Wilderness Preserve. Call 407/935-0002 for info. Also, take a baot ride on Bonnet Creek from Old Key West Resort to Downtown Disney.

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Lynn, Mass.: We will be traveling with our 10-month-old. Is Disney infant-friendly? Dining? Where not to go?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Disney is all about families with children. Facilities include nursing/caring rooms in all of the theme parks and even the shops inside these rooms, where you can get all you may need for a baby. They are well appointed and very calm places. All restaurants will accommodate families with children, including infants. I would, however, recommend visiting a 'high end' restaurant, such as the California Grill, without an infant. Try a babysitting service for a night out for mom & dad.

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Henry, Ill.: I LOVE DISNEY! I like to stay on property for all the convenience and benefits, but when I want to take grandkids, I have 1 too many to stay at value resorts. The others are out of my price range. Is there anything I can take advantage of? I do not go in the summer.

--Sharon

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Rent a vacation home. You'll be amazed at the value for the money. Almost all have a private pool. Check out allstarvacationhomes.com.

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East Brunswick, N.J.: Hi Liliane and Bob,

My family (Husband, Me, Kids 7 and 11) will be going to Walt Disney World for a return trip next year. We are going back and forth between staying at a monorail resort such as Contemporary (with the great waterfront area and ease to the Magic Kingdom) or the Yacht Club with the great pool area. My children have been several times but never experienced either of these resort destinations. We go back to the resort each afternoon so we don't just crash and go each day. I'd love your advice on where you would stay.

Thanks,
JoAnn

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Our research shows that most kids have the fondest memories of the pool of the hotel they are staying at. I would go for the Yacht Club. Beware! Once they have enjoyed this great property, they WILL remember and know the difference between the Yacht Club and a budget hotel. :) And yes, you will have to come up with some great ideas to get them out of the pool.

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Independence, Minn.: We are traveling 8/4-8/11 to Walt Disney World. We have been once before with a trip package (Animal Kingdom Lodge and meal plan) and now have booked flight and hotel (Shades of Green) separately. We are meeting up with 2 other families. What is the best (economic) way to get from airport to our hotel and where is the most affordable place to rent a car? (We would like to get to the ocean once this trip.)

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: 1) We've confirmed that minivans are almost always less expensive at the airport. (I said "almost" but we never found an off-site minivan cheaper than on-site.)

2) We found an Enterprise location that offers free shuttle service between the airport and its facility 3.5 miles away. This Enterprise location usually has the best deals on economy and mid-size cars, with typical savings around 10%.

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U.K: Hello, we are a family of 4 adults who would like to visit Orlando between December 12th until 7th January. Because of the time available, we would like to spend less on accomodations and more on visiting the sights, but want to be comfortable as well. What can you suggest?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Hello there. A value resort is perfectly fine for grown-ups. I have stayed at quite a few hotels, including the All-Star Sports and Pop Century on my own and I was very comfortable. As matter of fact, I am going back to the Pop Century this year--on my own. If you are worried about noise, ask for a room away from the pools.

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West Los Angeles, Calif.: We have a 9-year-old and we've planned our trip to Disney World from 12/12-12/19/07. Is there anything age appropriate for our daughter outside of the main theme parks? We're staying at the Contemporary Resort, have park hopper tickets for 7 days and have bought the meals your way plan.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Cirque du Soleil, DisneyQuest (virtual theme park at Downtown Disney), and miniature golf are a few that come to mind.

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Markham, Ontario Canada: Our family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids) plans to travel to Orlando to see Disney and Universal Studios in January 2008. We think the best accomodations would be a rental condo or home, but we're not sure how to arrange one. Do you recommend using a travel agent or do you feel it is safe to make arrangements with vacation home rental companies directly? We don't want to arrive in Florida to a shabby accomodation, or worse, to no accomodation at all. Thanks very much. By the way, we have your 2006 copy of your book and found it to be an excellent resource.

--Elaine

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Check out allstarvacationhomes.com and you'll be on your way.

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Pompton Plains, N.J.: We are trying to plan a family Disney World trip for either October 2007 or November 2007. 2 adults, 3 children. Leaving Newark, N.J. airport to Orlando. What are our best values? We would like to stay in the park, yet stay on a budget! Thank you.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Try the new family suites at Disney's All-Star Resorts.

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Seattle, Wash.: In our traveling party we have a teen, pre-schooler and senior citizen. Which touring plan do you recommend? Should we split up?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: In our book, we identify attractions that are good for the whole family. Do those first and then split up, or use switching off to experience attractions not suitable for the 4-year-old.

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Crystal Lake, Ill.: We plan to stay a week at a Disney World Resort and would like to take a day trip from Disney World to Cape Kennedy. Can we rent a car from Disney World or what do you suggest?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Rental cars are available to rent at several WDW hotels or, alternatively, Enterprise will deliver a car to you.

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Paris, Mo.: We are planning a trip to Walt Disney World the week after Thanksgiving 2007. Our kids will be ages 11 and 4, and this is our first trip to Disney. With such a difference in age, I'm concerned about making sure each child gets the most out of our time there. What suggestions do you have for parents with both a toddler and a 'pre-teen' on their first vacation to WDW? Thank you for your time.

--Tammy

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Hi Tammy. It will be tricky and compromises will have to be made. I would ask my 11-year-old to suggest some toddler rides for his 4-year-old sibling and make him feel 'in charge' of showing her/him around--with your guidance of course (but stick to his/her suggestions as much as you can). Plan this before you leave and set a time aside for it. Plan a day that you do things together and absolutely plan separate time for you or your husband to go and do the rides your 11-year-old really wants to do. Remember the height restrictions will prevent your 4-year-old from doing some stuff. Shows are great activities for the entire family. Have a look at the icons in the book that describe the rides 'for the entire family'. You also should consider putting the 4-year-old in a special toddlers program for a few hours. They are fun and would free you up to do things with your 11-year-old.

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Manchester, Tenn.: Leaving the Magic Kingdom at closing can be a nightmare. I've heard that you can park your car at the Contemporary if you've booked dinner reservations, leave your car at the Contemporary parking lot, return to the Magic Kingdom for more fun, then WALK back to your car at the Contemporary at closing to avoid the mass crowds when the park closes. Is this true, and if it is, how long is it considered "safe" to leave your car without it being towed? Specifically our reservations are at 7:40 for Chef Mickey's on a night when there are Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom. Thanks!

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: It's safe and your car won't be towed.

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Fort Worth, Tex.: My husband and I, who have never been to Walt Disney World, would like to take our 6-year-old son there next year. We are trying to decide the best time to take him for the best Disney experience, the week of January 21 or the second week in June.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Both dates are fine as far as crowd levels are concerned. January is better if you or your six-year-old have a hard time taking the heat. If heat is not an issue, I would go for June, as in January you could have some cold weather.

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Pembroke Pines, Fla.: What Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort is the best place for a family with 2 small kids, 5- and 7-years-old? Our plans would include amusement parks, water parks and character dining. Thanks!

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: I'd go with the Polynesian because it has monorail connections to the MK and to Epcot, making it easy to return to your hotel for swimming, naps, and meals. The pool at the Poly is crowded, however.

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Charleston, W.V.: How easy or hard is it to "do" Walt Disney World when the age of the children in your group varies tremendously? There will be two toddlers and two 13-year-olds. We are very concerned about this situation and how to plan activities.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Well, it is not going to be easy. I suggested just a few minutes ago to ask your teens to plan some activities for the toddlers and set a time aside to do just that and make them feel 'in charge'. Do this before you leave on vacation. Things you can do together are limited to shows and yet some 2-year-olds might get frightened by the noise of some of the shows. It is most important to set aside time to go with the teens and do rides they love to do. Also, at night consider a babysitter for the little ones and go out together with the teens. The other good news is that Disney is a very safe place and you could let the teenagers explore some parks on their own. Arm them with cell phones and ask them to get in touch with you regularly. They will love it and you can take care of the little ones. It might also save you from some very wild rides. :)

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Derry, N.H.: How early (or last minute) should I book my trip to Disney (Oct 31-Nov 6) in order to get the best deals? Thanks!

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: It's a slower time of year so I'd be looking for specials until late August and then book.

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Platte City, Mo.: The last time my husband and I were in Orlando was in '89 and we only visited Epcot. Now we are coming down 8/25-8/27 and need to know the best places to take a 9- & 11-year-old with the short amount of time we have available. We are bypassing Magic Kingdom and maybe Epcot because we feel they will get bored. They love fast moving cars, water, and XBox games. Any suggestions? P.S. We are actually spending the rest of our time in Daytona (8-27/9-2) because of free hotel accommodations through my husband's employer. Would there be any reason to come back to Orlando during this time?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: EPCOT offers the 'fast car' experience with the Test Track ride and quite a few new rides have been added since 1989 (Soarin', The Seas with Nemo & Friends, and Mission:Space). If water is a big thrill, try one of the Water Parks and for the XBox game addict, there is always DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney, an indoor interactive theme park. Most of all, do not pack too much in a few days. It is going to be hot.

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Paducah, Ky.: We are traveling with our 5-year-old twins in September and were wondering if strollers are available for purchase at any of the parks or resorts (we're staying at the Polynesian). We do not want to rent strollers, because we want to be able to use them from the resort. I heard they had some a couple of years ago for $40. Any info on this?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Strollers are not for sale at the parks or resorts (rental only). We suggest you buy an inexpensive stroller at a big store or online and ship it to your hotel IN TIME for your arrival. If you don't want to keep it at the end of your visit, just toss it. If you come by car, though, bring your own. Personally, I always brough my stroller along when my son was a baby. I flew in always and was very happy to have the stroller at the airports. Airlines will allow you to check the stroller(s) at the door and if the kids are not in the strollers, they are pretty handy for all the stuff that seems to multiply while waiting for a flight.

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Portland, Maine: We are planning a trip to Disney World in November. We wish to stay on Disney property. We need accomodations for 4 adults and 2 children, ages 6 and 13. Two rooms or a 2 bedroom suite would work if we could get the right bed combinations. All 6 of us need our own beds--we are going to be there 6 days before going on the cruise. We really want to be in the moderate price bracket. Thanks for any help you can give me. Vicki

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: You'll need three hotel rooms to get six beds. If it were me, I'd rent a vacation home outside of WDW.

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Chicago, Ill.: How is the bus system to the parks from non-Disney hotels located near Downtown Disney?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: OK, but not great. You can walk to Downtown Disney and catch a bus there but there are a number of stops at Downtown Disney so it can take a Disney bus over 20 minutes to clear the complex and get on the road. If it were me, I'd rent a car.

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Houston, Tex.: We are going to be at Disney World during the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Is this worth the money for the extra hours with a 4-year-old? Also, what goes on in the park during these hours?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: I do not know how 'active' your four-year-old is in the evening, but it is a lot of money if he/she falls asleep in the stroller around 9 PM. I would suggest going on a regular day and dress up in a costume as many parents do with their young children. The activities in the park are somewhat the same as during the day, add to this trick-or-treat stations and dance parties in several locations. There are special Halloween shows and the parade, but both can be seen during regular days at the Magic Kingdom during that time of the year. The atmosphere is great, though, and many kids and adults dress up. I have done this visit with even with a 15-year-old (both of us in costume) and we had lots of fun. It would certainly work well for 6 years and up. If you go for it, I suggest you do only relaxing activities (pool day) during the day and that your four-year-old takes that famous nap.

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Boston, Mass.: What is a reasonable price to pay for 6 nights at an All-Star resort, a 5-day park hopper, and the Disney dining plan for 2 adults? I need a basis of comparison to figure out if I'm getting a good deal! Thank you!

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: You need to price each item separately for the specific days of your visit. Resort prices vary according to season and day.

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Portland, Ore.: I want to take my 23-year-old daughter and her boyfriend along with my wife and I to Disney World. I see ads for homes for rent, which looks attractive for the privacy of two couples. How do I know which are reputable? Is there an alternative Disney property that would provide the same value and privacy? Thank you for your help.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Take a look at allstarvacationhomes.com. We've used them ourselves. On Disney property check, out a 2-BR villa at Old Key West.

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Cincinanti, Ohio: Everyone going to Walt Disney World is suggesting the meal plan. Is it worth the money? How convenient is it? Is it hard to schedule meals? Can you pack lunches and bring them into the parks?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: If you are big eaters, the meal plan is worth it. It is not difficult to schedule meals, just call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463). Check out the restaurants and their menus online before you make your reservations and see what kind of food/restaurant you would like. Do not use the sit-down points for breakfast or restaurants serving only 'fast food'. My teenage son likes steaks and we always find some great places to eat and the bill in some of the restaurants quickly gets way higher than the meal plan price. Yes, you can pack lunches and bring them in the parks. The official Disney line is no, but I have never seen anybody stop me or other guests for that matter. Make sure, though, that your cooler fits into the lockers.

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Murfreesboro, Tenn.: Going to Disney World in October...some recent promotions for dates before our visit have expired. I've been looking for new promos for an early October visit but don't see any yet. Might they come out soon or is it likely there won't be any since it's a lower volume time for the parks? I also have not found any good prices on flights, but hope to see better pricing later this summer. What do you think will happen?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Nothing's for sure, but October is a slower time and usually there are some some good deals posted at the end of the summer.

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Laval, Quebec: This is our first time at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I want to reserve a spot on the Pirate Adventure for my seven- and four-year-old. I would like to know if I pay for it, is it refundable on the same day if my 4-year-old son refuses to go without his parents. (Parents are not allowed on the 2-hour adventure boat.)

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: If your son changes his mind at the dock, Disney is not going to refund your money. You know your child best and if he/she is comfortable with kids that he/she does not know, I see no problem, especially since your seven-year-old will be going on the trip, too. If your four-year-old is quickly intimidated, I would not go for it and maybe use that time to do something just with her/him while your seven-year-old goes on the big adventure.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: We are going to Disney World the second week of December and we wanted to stay in the park. What do you recommend for us to do to get the best rate?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Wait until September and then call (407) W-DISNEY and ask if there are any specials available for the dates of your visit.

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Woodstock, Ga. : If I purchase a 10-day basic pass and want to visit more than one park on a particular day, can I use 2 days of my pass to go to 2 different parks without purchasing the Park Hopper option? Thank you for your help.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Yes, you can use up 2 passes out of the 10. Do this only if you do not plan on using all of your 10 days on other days, of course.

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Ontario, Canada: Can you offer any advice for large families traveling? We have 5 kids and would appreciate any savings we can get! Thanks

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Rent a vacation home outside WDW. Eat breakfast in your room out of a cooler. Take bumpacks with snacks to the park. Eat restaurant meals outside WDW.

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Santa Clarita, Calif.: We plan on visiting Walt Disney World on January 13 through January 20. When should we contact Small World vacations to get the best rate on a package?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Early planning is what I do. I book my visits usually at least six months in advance. Ask the agent who contacts you with the price if 'best rate available' at time of visit is offered.

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Lafayette, La.: Will we see or get a picture with Cinderella at the Cinderella Castle dinner meal? Most guidebooks say no. Disney says we will get the picture but she won't be at the table. We are doing Disney for the first time in November 2007. My daughter prefers Ariel, Jasmine and Belle so we booked Akershur's in Norway already, but are doing the castle to use up meals on the dining plan and to say we ate a meal there.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: At all Cinderella Castle meals you get a photo whether you want one or not--and you'll pay out the nose, but at dinner you won't be in it. Dinner is hosted by the Fairy Godmother, and it's not guaranteed that Cinderella will be there.

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Roebling, N.J.: We are traving to Disney on Sept 1-Sept 8 and have taken advantage of the free dining plan. My question is this: Should we make advanced dinner reservations for every night of the trip? We won't always know where we are going to be or what we will be in the mood for. I was hoping we could see a place we would like to eat at and be able to make reseravations for later in the week. We have booked a few special meals so far (including Cinderella's Castle, Chef Mickey and California Grill). Thank you.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: I am big on planning and always book my dining reservations before I go. Yet, I have re-booked, dropped and changed often and never had a problem doing so, except of course for the biggies such as Cinderella's Castle but you seemed to have taken care of these already. So have a look at the menu of restaurants that interest you and make a reservation--at least you know you have a reservation somewhere--and if you see something that you are more in the mood for, go for it if they can accommodate your party and cancel the reservation you are holding. Only exception here is restaurants that require a credit card to hold the reservation. These you MUST cancel within the time you are given when you make the initial reservation. Otherwise your card is charged with a no-show fee (an example would be the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue show). Hope this helps!

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Amite, La.: Should we consider purchasing Disney Vacation Club points? I keep thinking my family will outgrow Disney and it doesn't look like that is going to happen. My family of four includes myself, Tamara, Ronnie, my husband, my oldest Sierah is 19-years-old, and my youngest, Emma who is 14. We have been to Disney every two or three years since Sierah was 5. We are going again the first week of August for Emma's Birthday. The last time we went we thought about joining the Vacation Club, but didn't. Now we are going back and the thought has crossed our mind again. We heard they are building new Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Contemporary, which seems appealing to us. We usually stay on property, this time at the Wilderness Lodge. We are very excited and have the maxed out tickets with Dining (first time). We would love any tips for fun with two teenagers who know the parks like the back of their hand and if you think the DVC is worth the outlay of money.

Thanks,
Tamara

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: If you're interested in DVC, check out the after-market. See DVCByResale.com.

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Salisbury, N.C.: Hi. I will be visiting Walt Disney World for the first time with my kids on Sept. 2-6, which is the free dining time. Will we need to follow touring plans b/c of the lines?

Thank you,
Amber

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: We always recommend following the touring plan, always. If you are done early, you can relax and ride your favorites again or take a nice break in the park or at the hotel.

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Montgomery, Ala.: In your book, you stated that you could not recommend the Polynesian hotel at this time due to inconsistent service. We have a trip planned this September, and I was wondering if feedback has been more positive since you published this. Thanks. We are debating between the Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: You can't go wrong at either. The main problem at the Poly is the front desk. Just be resigned to taking longer than usual to check in.

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College Station, Tex.: My husband & I and our 3-year-old son will be traveling December 1-8, 2007 to Disney World, which coincides with the Pop Warner Super Bowl week. Additionally, in past years, the televised Christmas parade that is aired on Christmas Day has been taped during this week as well. Will these events have a significant effect on park crowds and wait times? We are staying off-property, so I don't anticipate the hotel being a problem.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Yes, but not to the extent that I would avoid those dates.

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Lantana, Fla.: Is Fort Wilderness in Walt Disney World safe for a single mom and a young child to tent camp? We have heard there has been some incidents at a couple of the hotels and Disney has "kept it quiet". Your opinion would be valued.

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: I am a single mom and would feel safe to stay in a tent at Fort Wilderness. I would, like everywhere, pitch the tent (or ask for a place) where I would be surrounded by families with lots of kids and near the center of all the action. I do not know how young your child is and when you intend to travel, and my concern would be if your child is very small and you go during the summer, staying in a tent will be very uncomfortable due to the heat.

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Rochester, N.Y.: I read from your book that the month of May is a pretty good time to visit Walt Disney World, which is when my husband and I are going down in 2008. Is that still true? Also, we wanted to stay at the Swan/Dolphin hotel but decided not to because you have to pay to borrow a refrigerator for $12, and we need one for medical reasons. Is that true as well?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Except for DVC resorts, the Contemporary, and the Polynesian, most other hotels charge for refrigerators. I wouldn't let an extra 12 bucks a day keep me from staying at the hotel of my choice.

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Florence, Ala.: I am planning a trip to Walt Disney World on January 2-8, 2008. I have a family of 5, with children ages 10, 9 and 5. I am stumped as to where to stay. What are my best options? We love the Wilderness Lodge, but two rooms would blow our budget, as would a 2-bedroom villa. We are considering Port Orleans Resort with the trundle bed or the Contemporary with a fold-out. We would like to stay at least at a Moderate Hotel, as we like to have one down day where we explore our resort. Do you have any advice for us? Why does Disney have such few and REASONABLE options for larger families?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Try the cabins at Fort Wilderness Campground or consider a rental vacation home off-property. Port Orleans Riverside with the trundle bed would also work.

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Tinley Park, Ill.: Hello, Bob and Liliane. Our trip is planned for 9-26 to 10-3, 2007. We will be traveling with kids ages 5 and 9. My question is whether or not we are able to bring WAGONS into the parks, such as strollers. We will be traveling by air. Weight and dimensional guidelines by the airline are applicable to this wagon and can be checked as a piece of luggage. P.S. Any idea where I can find a canvas bag, of sorts, to accommodate this large item (such as stroller bags)? No one seems to know about this and would be greatly helpful to us. Thank you.

-- Gabby

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: As far as I know, there are no restrictions to what kind of stroller you bring into the parks. The question is more if the airline indeed will let you ship without extra charge for a stroller/wagon. If the wagon you mention is more like a wagon you use to pull kids while pumpkin picking for example, I do not think that they are a great idea for the parks. They are heavy and offer no shade or back seat for the kids to take a nap. As for stroller bags, that is indeed a problem. Most bags I have seen come with the stroller and are definitively not going to keep the stroller protected during transport. I would go and see if a camping/outdoor supply store has something more study that would offer good padding.

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Houston, Tex.: In the next three to six years, what looks like the next new rides or attractions? Will they ever copy any rides from Disneyland or Disneyland Paris? Will they ever add to World Showcase?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Disney's California Adventure will be the home of most of the new attractions to come on line in the next few years, though some, like Toy Story Mania, will debut in both Florida and California. At WDW, the Animal Kingdom will be the focus for growth. Epcot has been trying, with little succcess, to recruit a new country for the World Showcase for years. Soarin' at Epcot originated at DCA and the now-closed Timekeeper attraction at the Magic Kingdom was imported from Paris Disneyland.

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Norwalk, Conn.: Why was the Skyway closed in 1999 at Walt Disney World?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Low carrying capacity. Competing needs for the Tomorrowland terminus real estate during the renovation of Tomorrowland. Wind and maintenance problems.

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Fountain Inn, S.C.: My husband and I are planning a trip for October for the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party. This is my children's first time at Disney World, so they are pretty excited. My question involves concierge stays vs. platinum plan stays. With small children (ages 1, 3 and 5), we want to have as little to worry about as possible. Which one would be money better spent in terms of children enjoyment?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Having traveled with a child many times on my own, I understand your concern traveling with 3 young ones. The services you mention, however, are really more for families with older kids because they offer SO MUCH. I wonder if you will use most of them. I would rather book a few toddler programs so you can get a break and definitely a babysitting service at night so mom and dad can go out. But if I had to pick, I would go for concierge stay to have special attention as opposed to many things included in my package, because that is really what you need.

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Tribune, Kans.: Now that Disney Resorts have gone "smoke-less," is smoking allowed at all at the resorts? We're planning on going to Walt Disney World next summer (we're newbies) and would love to stay at one of the value resorts, but since my husband smokes is this going to put a real damper on our plans?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: The parks have designated smoking areas like airports, and the resorts are smoke-free, though guests are not disturbed if they smoke outside and away from other people.

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Tallahassee, Fla.: What is a good, relatively inexpensive hotel near Disney World that has separate bedrooms/suites and also provides shuttle service to the parks?

Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Check out if special rates are available at Nickelodeon Family Suites or the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. Also, look into rental homes. They often are a good value for a family and will offset the price of renting a car.

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Liliane Opsomer/Bob Sehlinger: Thanks for all of your greeat questions! Best wishes for a great WDW trip. When your plans call for travel to other destinations, check out our whole Unofficial Guide travel series at theunofficialguides.com.

All the best,
Bob & Liliane

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