If You Go

by Cara Goldsbury, Author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer


Getting There

Major airlines servicing Orlando are Delta, United, American, Continental, Southwest, Northwest, America West, Air Canada, and US Airways.

What To Do

Walt Disney World is comprised of four main theme parks: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. Additional offerings include two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, as well as Disney’s Wide World of Sports, six golf courses, and miles of waterways for boating and fishing. Head to Downtown Disney where you’ll find over 70 scene-setting restaurants, shops, and nightclubs as well as Cirque du Soleil, Disney Quest, and an AMC 24-screen movie theatre.

When To Go

Each season at Walt Disney World has its pros and its cons. Busy season brings congested parks, long lines, and higher resort rates but also greatly extended park hours and nightly fireworks and parades at the Magic Kingdom. The slower seasons offer half-filled parks, little waiting in line, and lower hotel rates along with later opening times, earlier closing times, attractions that are closed for rehab, and often the elimination of the nighttime parade and fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. Here is a guideline to avoiding the parks at their worst:

Busiest: President’s Day week ´the last three weeks of March until the week after Easter ´the second week of June until the third week of August ´ Thanksgiving weekend ´ the week of Christmas until just after New Years

Busy: the last two weeks of February until early March ´ the month of October ´ the week after Easter until the second week of June

Least Busy: the second week of January through the first week of February (avoiding the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in January) ´ the third week of August until early October ´the month of November excluding Thanksgiving weekend ´ the week after Thanksgiving until the week of Christmas, a special time when the parks and resorts are festively decorated for the holidays

The Weather

Summer brings uncomfortably muggy and warm days with almost daily afternoon showers while winter offers many days of beautiful sunshine along with the occasional cold snap. Peak hurricane season begins in August and runs through October, so be prepared for a washout. The best months of the year with delightfully mild and humid-free weather, relatively small amounts of rainfall, and no danger of hurricanes are November, April, and most of the time in early May.

Getting Around

Disney’s complimentary transportation system of buses, ferries, and monorails is in most cases extremely efficient. Taxis can be found at every resort and theme park. If you prefer to rent a car, the convenient Central Florida Greeneway toll road from the airport makes for an easy 25-minute drive to the parks. Once inside the Disney World grounds, excellent signage will direct you to all destinations.


Send for a free Disney vacation planning video or CD-ROM (call 800-515-9450 or visit www.disneyworld.com to order) and call the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-551-0181 or 407-363-5871) for maps of the area as well as a visitor’s guide on the many area attractions. Log on to the following Disney-related sites on the Internet where you will find thousands of tips along with photos, menus, and much, much more: www.disneyworld.com, www.luxurydisneyguide.com, www.wdwinfo.com, www.wdwig.com, and www.mousesavers.com.


Call 407-WDISNEY or your travel agent for Disney resort reservations. Dining priority seating can be arranged at 407-WDW-DINE.

Provided the following credit is given, you are welcome to reprint this article for free.
Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer.   Visit her at www.wdwluxuryguide.com.


Vacation Homes – The Hotel Alternative


By Nigel G. Worrall

You’ve finally saved up the money to take that dream family vacation – the one you hope you and your kids will remember for a lifetime. You’ve chosen a destination and researched all the activities in the area. You’ve asked the boss for the time off. Now all you need is a place to stay.

This leads to the usual “accommodation dilemma” families face – unless you just won the lottery and have unlimited funds to spend on your trip. Do you crowd the entire clan into a single hotel or motel room for a week or two, giving up any personal space or privacy and the relaxation that comes with your hard-earned vacation time? Or do you essentially double your costs by putting the kids in a separate room so you can get some peace and quiet? That is, if the adjoining rooms you requested when you made your reservation are actually available.

Believe it or not, there is a way to have your privacy and afford it too. Instead of a hotel or motel, book your stay at a vacation home.

Vacation homes – private homes rented for vacation accommodation – are the hottest new travel trend in America. The homes are primarily located in upscale neighborhoods near popular tourist destinations, and range from clean and comfortable to decadent and luxurious. Even the simplest home is professionally cleaned and prepared to comfortably accommodate guests. It’s bound to have a private bedroom for parents, a separate sleeping area – and possibly more than one – for children or other guests, a full kitchen with dishes and cooking utensils, a deck or yard, at least one bathroom, a living room with a television, and more – far more than you’d ever find in a typical motel or hotel room. And all for about the same price.

When it comes to extras, vacation homes offer the gamut – from game rooms to swimming pools, from spa tubs to plasma TV’s to high speed internet access. There’s something available for every budget and every taste and style – from families on a budget to discerning travelers who demand the very best.

Compare that to a hotel room, where you get a bed (or two), a chest of drawers with a TV in it, maybe a small table and a couple of chairs, and a bathroom. If you want to eat, you have to go to a restaurant. If you don’t feel like going out, there’s a small selection of overpriced snacks and drinks in the mini-bar. If you’re hungry for something more elaborate, you’ll have to call room service – and that means a 20 minute wait (at least!), an extra charge just for bringing already expensive hotel food, and of course you’re limited to what’s on the menu. If you want to lay by the pool, you have to compete with all the other guests for a lounge and towels – and then share the water with a bunch of strangers. You may even have to pay to park your car. And if you want privacy and time away from your kids, you have to pay for another room!

When you compare vacation homes with typical hotel and motel rooms, there really is no comparison. If you’re looking for a vacation that offers true privacy, comfort and relaxation for your entire family, don’t settle for another overpriced, overcrowded hotel. Book your stay at a vacation home – you may never want to leave.


Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival - Cities in Wonderland

September 26, 2008 – November 9, 2008

Embark on an epicurean adventure as the 13th Annual Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival showcases the flavors of the world. Explore marketplaces featuring regional foods, wines, and beers. Learn from renowned chefs and winemakers at special programs and demonstrations, and sample the finest cuisine from around the globe. Savor the sizzling sounds of the Eat to the Beat concert series, presenting a stellar line-up of popular musical acts.

For more information, visit the hub at the Festival Welcome Center, where you'll also find the Festival Wine Shop, the Wonders Bar for champagne and wine, and the official book-signing location for celebrity chefs and authors. Venture inside the Stockpot shop and check out its marvelous merchandise, including the marketplace cookbook and a special festival edition of the Disney Gift Card, which provides a handy way to pay for so much fun at the Festival!

International Marketplaces
Sample the authentic flavors of over 25 countries and regions as you take a tasty trip through World Showcase.

Special Exhibits
Explore fascinating cultural exhibits that feature fabulous cuisine, wine walkabouts, artisans and instructive culinary demonstrations from countries and regions throughout the world.

Eat to the Beat Concert Series
Give your taste buds a rest and groove to the sounds of your favorite musical acts live on stage at this nightly concert series.

Special Wine & Culinary Programs
Satisfy the gourmet within you at these exceptional dining experiences complete with delicious food, fine wine and great company.

Festival Dining Experiences
Indulge in sumptuous premium dining events prepared by some of the finest chefs in the world.

Fun for Families
Bring epicureans of all ages to these activities and exhibits that offer great fun and flavors for the entire family.


T-Rex Cafe @ Downtown Disney

T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover is scheduled to open at Downtown Disney on October 14, 2008. T-Rex, developed by Schussler Creative, Inc., and operated by Landry's Restaurants, Inc., features dining and retail in a 30,000-square-foot, 600-seat interactive prehistoric environment. The concept is built around water, fire and ice: Guests will be greeted with life-size animatronic dinosaurs that live among cascading waterfalls, bubbling geysers, a fossil dig site and much more. There will be a meteorite shower every 20 minutes and an aqua bar complete with a 6,000-gallon shark tank and a large octopus with mechanical tentacles. A full-size skeleton replica of Argentinosaurus, one of the largest of the dinosaurs and copied from a museum specimen about 125 feet in length, looms over the entrance, joined by a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

The theme carries over to the menu, which features items with names such as Caesarsaurus (Caesar salad), Raptor Ribs (Asian BBQ ribs), Pterodactyl Wings (Buffalo chicken wings), Triassic Tortellini (tri-colored cheese tortellini) and Gigantosaurus Burger (think really big hamburger). You will be able to make reservations by calling 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463).


Windsor Hills Resort Map

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Live Webcams

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Kids Friendly

The Windsor Hills Resort has a amazing playground for your kids to enjoy!

Walt Disney World’s Best Summertime Activities

  • Take a break from the theme parks and spend a day by one of Disney’s fantastic resort pools. What better way to cool off in the summer heat.
  • Shop till you drop in the air conditioned shops and restaurants at Downtown Disney. Pick up all your souvenirs at the newly remodeled World of Disney, the largest Disney store anywhere.
  • Splish splash the day away at one of Disney’s unique water parks. Typhoon Lagoon is a beauty with a pool boasting some of the tallest simulated waves in the world. Or if you’re a daredevil at heart head to Blizzard Beach with its wild, rushing water and death-defying slides.
  • Snag a bass on a fishing excursion. Pontoon boats with experienced guides depart from the resort marinas to fish the waters of Bay Lake, the Seven Seas Lagoon, Lake Buena Vista, and the Sassagoula River. No fishing license is required and it’s strictly catch and release.
  • Hit the water at the Contemporary Resort where Sammy Duval Water Sports offers parasailing, water-ski, tubing, and personal watercraft action. It’s the kick of a lifetime!
  • Catch a wave at Typhoon Lagoon with Cocoa Beach Surfing School. Learn to surf in the super wave pool before park opening hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • Take a spin on one of Disney’s waterways. With 850 acres of lakes, 130 feet of shoreline, 66 miles of canals, and over 500 watercraft, boating is a major pastime at Walt Disney World. Most resorts as well as Downtown Disney have their own marina with a variety of boats available for hire including Boston Whaler Montauks, pontoon boats, sailboats, Sea Raycers, even a luxury yacht.
  • Cool off in the mountains of the Himalayans. Expedition Everest, the Animal Kingdom’s newest attraction, involves out-of-control railcars that race forward and backward, sending Disney's Animal Kingdom guests swooping into the unknown to brave twists, turns and drops inside and outside a mighty mountain. It all leads to an unforgettable encounter with the yeti.

    Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World Resort. For more information visit her online at


Yakitori House

Resembling the teahouse of the Imperial Summer Palace, this small eatery offers a menu of teriyaki chicken and beef, and a handful of other beef, chicken, and seafood items. The food is reasonably good though a little on the blah side, and portions are smaller than at many other Disney restaurants. There's seating both indoors and out, but no matter where you dine, you'll be overlooking tranquil Japanese gardens and a gentle waterfall

Cuisine: Japanese
Hours: 11am-park closing
Location: Japan Pavilion, World Showcase, In Epcot
Reservations: No Advance Reservations
Phone: 407/939-3463


Kid Friendly Restaurants At Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is, naturally, a very child-friendly place and you
will find that children are welcome at most of the restaurants at
the resort, particularly if they are well behaved.

There are, however, some restaurants which are particularly good
choices for families with children. This list is for parents with
children of any age is geared towards kids under 10. You know your
own children best so use this list as a guideline when planning your
WDW vacation.

*A Note For Parents of Picky Eaters*: Most WDW restaurants can
accommodate even the fussiest eaters. Meals can be prepared without
sauces if your child prefers them that way and spaghetti and peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches, while not on the menu, are often
available if you just ask. Buffet-style restaurants are also good
bets for picky eaters as they are able to take just the things they
like in amounts as large as they would like. A number of the buffets
have special "kids" buffets, too.

MAGIC KINGDOM- Magic Kingdom Restaurants

Casey's Corner - The main draw here is hot dogs. They come in a
variety of styles (chili, cheese, foot long, etc.) and desserts and
beverages are also offered.

The Crystal Palace - Located at the castle, end of Main Street, on
your left, just off the pathway to Adventureland, this restaurant
offers three buffet-style character meals per day. The Characters-In-
Residence are Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore.

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe - This large fast-food spot is
located in Frontierland, very close to Splash Mountain. It offers
Burgers, hot dogs and other standard fast-food fare.

Liberty Tree Tavern - A character dinner featuring assorted
characters in Revolutionary War-era dress is offered here every
evening. Dinner is served family style and special kid-friendly
items like macaroni and cheese are offered.

Cinderella's Royal Table - is located on the second floor of
Cinderella Castle. Cinderella, herself, is usually on hand to greet
guests. The Once-Upon-A-Breakfast is offered every morning. Food is
pre-plated but is all-you-care-to-eat. Characters on hand usually
include Cinderella, Snow White and others.

Pinocchio's Village Haus - Another fast-food spot, this restaurant
is located in Fantasyland to the right of the entrance to It's A
Small World.

Lumiere's Kitchen - This fast-food spot operates seasonally. It is
good bet for "Kid's Meals" and also offers selections for adults. It
is located between Pooh's Adventure's and Snow White's Scary
Adventures in Fantasyland.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe - One of the largest fast-food spots at
the Magic Kingdom Cosmic Ray's offers spit-roasted chicken, burgers,
salads, soups and more. It is located across the path from the Grand
Prix Raceway in Tomorrowland.



When Disney’s Magic Kingdom opened its doors on October 1, 1971, adult admission cost just $3.50, a seven-ride attraction ticket book cost $4.75 and an 11-ride attraction ticket book cost only $5.75.

Approximately 10,000 guests attended the grand opening of Disney’s Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971.

At 189 feet tall, Cinderella Castle is Disney's Magic Kingdom's tallest structure. Space Mountain is the Magic Kingdom's second tallest structure at 183 feet tall.

It’s A Small World and the Carousel of Progress both debuted at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

From 1971 to 1982, Disney's Magic Kingdom offered ticket books that categorized attractions based on an "A" to "E" scale. E tickets were used for the eight most popular Magic Kingdom attractions: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.

The Omnimover vehicles used for The Haunted Mansion are nicknamed “Doom Buggies.”

"Chief Nammie ” is the headhunter who shows up near the end of the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland.

At 199.5 feet tall, Expedition Everest is the tallest artificial mountain at Walt Disney World Resort.

William Windsor Jr. was the first guest to enter Disney's Magic KIngom when the theme park first opened its doors on October 1, 1971.

The cover of Life magazine's October 15, 1971, cover depicts approximately 1,500 Disney characters and employees posing in front of Cinderella Castle.

Epcot's Spaceship Earth rises 180 feet and weighs approximately 16 million pounds.

The 14-story Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom boasts approximately 300 animal carvings.

Cinderella's Golden Carrousel was originally built in 1917 and once stood at Olympic Park in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Disney's Hollywood Studios features a replica of world-famous Mann's Chinese Theater.

Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland weighs 200 tons and rises 60 feet.

The six trains at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are named I.B. Hearty, I.M. Brave, I.M. Fearless, U.B. Bold, U.R. Daring and U.R. Courageous.

The Walt Disney World Railroad is an authentic 1928 steam-powered train.

Each space capsule at Mission: Space is equipped with motion sickness bags.

At 30,500 acres, Walt Disney World Resort is approximately the same size as San Francisco, California.

Disney's Magic Kingdom draws an estimated 16.2 million guests annually, followed by Epcot (9.9 million), Disney's Hollywood Studios (8.6 million) and Disney's Animal Kingdom (8.2 million).

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster - Starring Aerosmith at Disney's Hollywood Studios launches you at a speed of 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds.

Intergalactic lounge singer Sonny Eclipse entertains diners daily at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus captured the first championship at the inaugural 1971 Walt Disney World Open Invitational.

The Atlanta Braves spend Spring Training at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, which features a 7,500-seat, state-of-the-art ballpark.

Before Disney closed its Central Florida animation studio at Disney-MGM Studios in 2003, several animated films were worked on there such as Mulan (1998), Lilo & Stitch (2002) and Brother Bear (2003), among others.

Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney World's largest theme park, opened on Earth Day - April 22, 1998.

The now-defunct River Country opened at Fort Wilderness in 1976 as Disney World's first water park.

Epcot is the only Disney World theme park that boasts two entrances (one being accessible via Disney's Boardwalk).

Mickey's PhilharMagic in Fantasyland boasts the world's largest seamless projection screen.

The theme and characters for Splash Mountain were inspired by the 1946 Disney movie, Song of the South.

President Richard Nixon gave his famous "I am not a crook" speech during at convention at Disney's Contemporary Resort in 1973.

According to legend, a total of 999 ghosts inhabit the Haunted Mansion.

WEDway People Mover was the original name for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Surfing instruction can be arranged at the Surf Pool at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.

Despite an intense "Save the Toad" campaign, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in 1998.

One of the Magic Kingdom's original attractions, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea closed in 1994 and has been partially replaced by a Winnie the Pooh playground and Ariel's Grotto, a Disney character meet and greet area.

The fountain at Epcot Innoventions Plaza can reputedly shoot water up to 150 feet in the air.

The 5.7-million-gallon tank at The Seas with Nemo & Friends is home to approximately 3,000 fish and other sea creatures.

Epcot's France Pavilion contains a 103-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower.

The Earth Globe that provides the centerpiece for Epcot's "Illuminations: Reflections of Earth," weighs 350,000 pounds.


Disney creates Google Earth map of Disney World

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) - Tourists overwhelmed by the mind-boggling size of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., will now be able to plan their tour with the help of a 3D Google Earth map created by The Walt Disney Co.

The map of the four theme parks and 22 hotels at Disney World shows souvenir shacks, merry-go-round horses and even benches for resting.

Google Earth, an interactive 3D mapping program, allows to create travelogues by embedding photos, videos and commentary about locations they highlight.

Disney called its entry the largest corporate initiative on Google Earth.

About 100,000 shots from eight photographers went into 1,500 three-dimensional images of a variety of structures at Disney World, the company said Thursday.

Disney's Google Earth entry also contains links to blogs and YouTube videos and information on everything from the minimum rider height for certain attractions to menus at different restaurants.

Nearly nine in 10 park guests plan their vacations online, Disney said.

"Guests and travel planners can now explore our world with just a few clicks of a mouse, and they can book vacations while being immersed in what the destination has to offer," resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo said in a statement.


On the Net:

Walt Disney World Resort in 3D, http://www.disneyworld.com/3dparks


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