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Orlando

Disney World Monorail, Contemporary Resort, OrlandoClearly, Disney World offers a travel experience that you can’t exactly replicate anywhere else. From its signature rides to its extravagant parades and fireworks, no other amusement park does it quite like Disney. Its unique offerings go well beyond that, however. Here are some unique things that you never thought you’d find at an amusement park.

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Disney's Frozen-Themed Parade in OrlandoUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Disney’s animated film Frozen has become a global sensation since its release last year. It’s currently the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the demand for film merchandise at Disney Stores led to the implementation of a limit of two items per guest. Guests hoping to meet the film’s animated stars, Anna and Elsa, in the Magic Kingdom have reported wait times of three to five hours.

Cashing in on the movie’s success, Disney is bringing more Frozen offerings to its parks this year, and even to its Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney vacation company in 2015. Here’s what’s brewing…

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620x400_FlickrJeffrey Zeldan_DisneyPresidentsDisney World clearly covers all the bases when it comes to creating a whimsical atmosphere, from naming the rides, to piping the scent of freshly baked cookies out onto Main Street, USA.

So it’s no surprise that the Disney Imagineers have come up with some Disney-specific terms for even the most basic concepts, such as what they call their park employees and extended hours.

Here are 10 of the most common Disney terms to remember.

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Southwest Southwest Airlines have been a major player in the U.S. market over the past few decades, but today it takes its first step into the big, wide world. As of July 1, Southwest has begun service to Aruba and Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando. In the coming months flights to the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic from other gateways will follow.

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Universal Orlando ResortGet ready to apparate over to Universal Orlando this summer as the theme park resort officially opens its highly-anticipated Harry Potter addition, Diagon Alley.The new section is an expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which first opened in 2010 with the Hogsmeade section.

Now Muggles, wizards, and witches of all ages can walk the streets of London, pick up Hogwarts supplies, and do some banking at Gringotts. Before it officially opens to the public on July 8, here’s a list of five fun things you’ll be able to do in Diagon Alley.

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Disney's Blizzard BeachLike most visitors to Walt Disney World in Orlando, you’ve probably spent a lot of time planning your vacation. Your full days are booked with park-hopping, but your arrival and departure dates can leave you with awkward amounts of time to fill. This can get especially tricky if you’re tired from a flight, or feeling overwhelmed from a week of non-stop theme parks.

Many guests opt to spend these first and last days in the park, soaking up every precious minute with rides and attractions, but here are some other options:

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With Memorial Weekend approaching, we decided to tackle a classic debate holiday travel debate: For your next getaway, should you drive or fly?

The convenience of flying outweighs the stress of driving for some travelers, especially if they have to spend more than an hour or two on the road. Then again, we all know how pricey flying can be, and that’s before you even consider the hassle of security lines and getting to the airport. Beyond this, it’s also important to consider whether you’ll need (or want) to use a car when you reach your destination.

Here, we take a few of the most popular vacation routes and weigh the pros and cons of driving or flying.

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Disneyland/It's a Small WorldThere is often confusion when it comes to Walt Disney World and Disneyland. If you’ve ever been to one of these two Disney resorts in the U.S., you might think the other is exactly the same, but that’s definitely not true. Disneyland on the West Coast and Walt Disney World in the Orlando have plenty in common, but have just as many differences.

Read on to learn about out 10 major differences between these two famous theme parks.

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620x400_FlickrBrian Hart_DisneyRulesIf you’re headed to Disney World, it’s easy to get caught up in a frenzy of booking hotels, buying park tickets, making dining reservations, and picking your FastPass+ ride selections. So we understand if you’re overlooking a few details. In fact, we’re pretty sure park policies are far from your mind during the booking process. Here are a few things you should know before you sprint through the park gates.

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cedar point 1With summer rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about weekend getaways – those holiday weekends, after all, tend to creep up sooner than you think. While hiking a beautiful national park is always an option, adrenaline seekers might be craving something a littler more, shall we say, stomach-turning? Each year, a collective 290 million people visit America’s 400+ amusement parks, a clear testament to Americans’ love of fast rides; planning the right time to go, however, can be tricky. Below, we help you strategize how best to time your visit.  Read more

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Forget plastic hotel key cards and paper tickets. The Walt Disney World Resort has forged full speed ahead into the 21st century with a snazzy new tech-based system called MyMagic+. The star feature of the program is a customizable plastic bracelet, dubbed MagicBand, with which you can seamlessly access every aspect of your next Disney vacation. Here, a look at how it works and what it means for your wallet.

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Disney World EntranceWhether it’s your first trip or your twentieth, a trip to Walt Disney World should always feel exciting. You’ve researched the rides and shows, picked out where you’re going to eat, and know the hotels like the back of your hand. Once you get there, though, it’s easy to hit a wall.

Here are 10 ways you can avoid Disney burnout – so that you won’t have to take another vacation just to recover from this one.

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orlandoHiltonFor Harry Potter fans, this summer’s most anticipated event is the opening of the Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Express expansion at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The latest news is that opening day is going to be late June, so fans had better start planning their trips now.

Helping to keep costs down, the upscale, resort-style Hilton Orlando (a 10-minute drive for the park) is offering reduced nightly rates to coincide with the big expansion. The hotel is offering $99 rates on select dates from June 13 to August 31. Note that the lowest rate of $99 is only available on Saturdays and Sundays, but that’s quite a savings on regular June rates, which start at $219. Weekday rates start at $149.

You can book through the website or by calling. Note that these rates are based on availability, and that blackout dates apply. There’s also a daily resort fee of $20.

Flickr_MickeyCookie_jfer21.jpgOK, you’re shouting it from the rooftops: you’re going to Disney World. But the decision to go may be the easiest one of the trip. From booking your perfect hotel, to choosing your park tickets, there’s a lot to think about.

And you can’t forget about food. First-time guests and even seasoned visitors have to ask themselves whether they should purchase a Disney Dining Plan. These pre-set meal plans don’t come cheap, but can save you lots of headache and even money – if you choose the right one.

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Grand Floridian, Orlando, FloridaIf you’ve ever stayed at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels, or even just researched them, you know that the 20-plus properties are all different. Each has its own theme, dining options, recreation, and level of service. Plus, the properties are broken down into four categories (Deluxe, Villas, Moderate, Value, and Campgrounds) to accommodate guests’ different budgets, needs, and preferences.

If you’re on the fence about which Disney hotel to choose, we’re here to help. Just match yourself up with the type of traveler you identify with most to find your ideal hotel.

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