Autographs: Many children and older guests enjoy collecting autographs of the Disney characters. The characters may be anywhere: at the character breakfasts, around the parks, in your hotel lobby, or by the pool. You never know when you might see one. Buy a Disney autograph book at the hotel gift shop when you arrive. Because most of the characters wear gloves, buy a fat pen for them to use. Young children probably need a few pointers:

Mickey and Mary


Open the autograph book to a blank page before you approach the character

turn around and smile for a picture
say thank you and move away quickly - others are waiting

Whether you are young or just young at heart, collecting autographs is part of the Disney fun.

Crowd Alert: Can you picture the scene at the start of the Boston Marathon? That scene is repeated daily when the Disney World parks open. Parents should hold children firmly by the hand and go with the flow - do not try to push ahead. As a precaution, all groups should pick a meeting place, in case they become separated. There is also a large crowd after the parades and at closing time.

Fanny Packs: These zipper bags that you wear on your hips are a great idea. Everybody should have one to carry the odds and ends that accumulate during the day. For more capacity, consider a backpack.

Your Feet: Walking is about the only way to get around, but most of us don't walk nearly as much as we will at Disney World. Everyone should wear comfortable walking shoes (not sandals). If you buy new shoes, buy them early enough to try them before you begin your trip. You should also carry Band-Aids in your fanny pack to cushion a possible blister.

Getting Around: The Disney transportation system does a pretty good job of getting on-site guests from their hotels to the parks. During peak hours, busses seem to come about every ten minutes. At other times, it can be thirty minutes or more between busses. Transportation between hotels or to other destinations is not nearly as effective. Trips that should take about ten minutes can take more than an hour. If you drive to Disney World, you always have the option of using your car, but you are better off with the Disney transportation system for getting to and from the major parks. Driving to the water parks or to Downtown Disney is a great idea. If you have a verifiable reservation for a character breakfast or dinner, you could also drive to another hotel, but without a reservation, you won't be able to park there. It seems they have had a problem with guests driving to some of the hotels for a quicker access into the parks - not a bad idea, but you can't do it any more.  

Taxis are another option. They are readily available at all hotels and parks, and the fares are quite reasonable. In fact, it is more economical to use taxis than to rent a car for the duration of your trip. You can use taxis anywhere, but during peak hours of the day, you should call ahead to request one. A good tip would be to take a taxi to the Beach Club Resort in the evening; from there you can walk into Epcot to see Illuminations. After the show, most of the crowd will exit through the main entrance into the park, but you can bypass the crowd by walking back to the Beach Club and taking a taxi back to your hotel.

If you plan to visit other attractions in the Orlando area, a rental car is your best option. Their cost cannot be justified, however, if you are only visiting Walt Disney World.

Good Health: The hot Florida sun spoils more vacations than Jaws. Parents should use sunscreen to protect themselves and their children. You should also consider a hat for everyone to keep a cool head - stow it in your fanny pack when you are on a ride. Finally, drink plenty of water; dehydration can be a serious problem, especially for children.

Parents should notice in their Disney maps that clean restrooms are plentiful, and frequent stops should be planned to avoid any "emergencies". Most restrooms for men and women provide an infant changing shelf, and each park has a facility offering additional baby supplies and services.

Hidden Mickeys: The designers (Imagineers) of Disney World have included countless inside jokes that most guests never notice. We like the hidden images of Mickey, Donald, and other characters and attractions. The images may be as simple as the three circles of a Mickey face or as complex as Cinderella Castle. They are so popular that we now point out a few of them in our guides.

Information Hot Line: For the latest information about park hours, shows, and attractions, call Walt Disney World Information at (407) 824-4321. For restaurant reservations, call (407) WDW-DINE.

Lines: For each park the advice is the same: arrive early and enjoy the most popular attractions first. Either have a restaurant reservation for lunch or avoid the fast food lines by snacking at 11:00 AM and eating lunch after 2:00 PM. In the afternoon, go back to your hotel and take a break; the lines are too long for even the most patient visitor. Return to the parks in the evening to enjoy a few rides and to see a fireworks show.

During parades and fireworks shows, the lines for attractions might be somewhat shorter - that is not to say that they are short. If your stamina is holding up and you desperately want to enjoy one more attraction, consider this option.

Map: The best map is the Disney Transportation Guide. It clearly shows you the location of the parks, hotels, and other attractions. It also includes a chart that explains the Disney transportation network. The free map is available at valet stands and guest relations at each hotel.

Monorails: There are two monorail systems at Disney World: one of them runs in a continuous loop to connect the Contemporary, Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian resort hotels with the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation Center; the other runs point-to-point between Epcot and the Transportation Center. The monorails are one of Disney's most popular attractions, and many visitors come to the Transportation Center to ride them.

If you are lucky, you may get a chance to ride up front. When you arrive at the monorail station, ask the attendant if your family can ride up front. If no one else is waiting for these seats, the attendant will try to accommodate your request. When the monorail arrives, the attendant will see if anyone else is already sitting there. If not, enjoy the ride!

Photography: You should certainly bring a camera and use it often; after all, photos may be your cheapest vacation expense. Take pictures anywhere and everywhere, at character breakfasts, at the shows, and with any of the characters that you encounter. There are two caveats, however: first, the camera should fit in your fanny pack, and second, flash photography is not permitted inside many of the attractions.

There is a Kodak shop in each park, and you can seek advice on such matters as determining the right settings for taking pictures of the fireworks. Photo printing is also available, and you can have the pictures delivered to your Disney hotel. We suggest printing your pictures there because it gives you a second chance to take an important picture.

Start Early: There is always a crowd at Disney World, but if you start early, you can avoid the longer afternoon lines. Try to arrive at the park at least thirty minutes before it officially opens.

Take A Break: By midday, every park is jammed with visitors. Lines for everything, including lunch, become interminably long. Don't fight the crowd; it's not worth it. Following lunch, return to your hotel and take a break. With young children this advice could be the best tip in the guide!

Video Cameras: Some video cameras are bulky and heavy. You will be at the park for many hours, walking more than usual, and you may need to carry an exhausted child. In addition, video photography is not permitted inside most attractions. We suggest that you plan accordingly.

Weather: In the summer, there are occasional showers. Mickey ponchos are available, but consider packing a lightweight poncho when rain is expected. You should also pack an extra pair of walking shoes in case you get caught in a gully-washer. On one trip, we had to walk through water that was a foot deep; our shoes were soaked for days. If it rains, there is a silver lining: the lines are much shorter.