Before you book your next trip to
Walt Disney World
, we have insider tips to get you through the theme parks stress-free.
A Liverpool man recently wrote a book called "
The Busy Family's Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2013
." In it, he shares the tips and secrets he's learned over the years to help make your next vacation a breeze.
Jeff Merola and his family go to Disney World every year. "Last year may have been a bit excessive," he said. "We were there four times last year." Merola first went to Disney World when he was five-years-old. It's a place he fell in love with and now considers his second home. He's been there 165 days in his life. His daughter Megan and son Merino have been there a combined 27 times.
A self-professed Disney expert, Merola has plenty to share when it comes to spending time at the theme parks. He reveals his tips and tricks in his new book. It's 165 pages packed with insider secrets to get you through the park hassle-free. "I actually walk around with a little notebook in my pocket and I write little things down, anything I haven't noticed before. Any little tricks," he said.
Here's what he's learned over the years: Make sure you get a Fastpass. It's free and included with your theme park admission. The Fastpass allows you to reserve a place in line at your favorite attractions while you enjoy other parts of the theme park so you don't get stuck standing in line for an eternity. Also, make sure you get the Magic Kingdom 30 minutes before it opens to see the opening ceremony with Mickey and his friends. You'll be there before the throngs of people start packing into the theme park.
Enter Disney's Animal Kingdom when it first opens and walk over to Asia to get your Fastpass to Expedition Everest and then go in the standby line to ride it. The Fastpass will be ready soon after to ride a second time with no wait.
Instead of buying bottled water, ask for water in a cup. It may not seem like much of a money saver, but a family of four could spend around $70 a week on bottled water.
Make sure to watch for specials like Disney-free dining. Several times a year, Disney offers free dining if you book a vacation package in Walt Disney World. It's typically during slow months of the year.
Make dinner reservations ahead of time at places like Cinderella's Royal Table and Chef Mickey's. You can book up to 180 days in advance. Also, consider staying at a value resort. They often cater to school groups, but can be cheaper.
It's a place where memories are made that will last a lifetime. A magical land where kids can be kids and adults can be too.
Below are a few of the questions you asked Jeff during Tuesday evening's live web chat. Visit Jeff's website here.
Where can I buy your book?
You can get the book at Amazon.com. It is a paperback and a Kindle ebook. It is titled "The Busy Family's Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2013."
If you are going for the first time [with] three teens and preteen age kids, how many days would you suggest to stay?
I would say to stay for a week. You still won't be able to see everything, but you will see enough.
Any disabled vets discounts available for parks? Slowest time to go?
There is a discount available for park tickets. Call Disney directly to ask. 407-WDISNEY. The slowest time of the year is during September or January.
How do we use the fast lane to cut wait times?
My book describes how to use FASTPASS. You obtain a ticket at the attraction and it will give you a time to return to the attraction. You will enter the FASTPASS return line then. This is free.
We are planning a trip for 45 people from the same family. We do not know where to start. Do you have suggestions?
Start by calling Disney 407-WDISNEY. I would say to stay in the resort you can afford. I would also recommend making shirts that are the same so everyone is easy to find. Disney can help you plan the entire trip and my book can help get everyone through the theme parks stress free. The book can also help with planning the trip!
Do you think a 2 year old is too young to really enjoy Disney? What age would you recommend to start going?
We started taking our kids at age 8 months and 16 months. They will enjoy the shows and slow moving rides.
What attractions would you recommend for the 2 year old? Can we switch off supervising him and going through an attraction with her?
There are many slow moving attractions for him and shows. My book has a section devoted to what attractions to see with different age groups. One in the Magic Kingdom is Mickey's PhilharMagic! You can switch off using child swap. My book also discusses this topic.
What are some of the must do things?
Make sure to go on Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom and ride the Tower of Terror in the Hollywood Studios. There are numerous others!
Are park hoppers worth the money? Where is the best/least expensive place to buy hoppers?
They are! That way you can get take the tickets to any park and then go to a different park at night. The best place is through Disney, AAA, or a travel agent.
Are there any air plans or transport plans to the resort from the airport?
Yes you can book Disney's Magical Express. It is a free service.
I want to run the Disney World Half Marathon next January, how soon can I make reservations?
Check rundisney.com. I would start to check the website in about a month or so.Is there a cheaper price for seniors that don't do rides? Also, what is there for seniors age 80 and 67.The tickets are the same price for all adults. Disney World has amazing shows for everyone. Some are Broadway style shows. You see Belle live on stage and ride the Great Movie Ride in the Hollywood Studios. There are so many attractions for everyone!