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Walt Disney World

cakes - mickey - © Disney

One of the biggest assets that set Disney World apart from its competitors is the level of service the company delivers to guests. It’s no secret that the iconic resorts offers exclusive hours and transportation, but here are 10 lesser known services offered by the House of Mouse.

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Flickr Anthony Quintano AulaniWalt Disney World and Disneyland are clearly the top places to visit to get your Disney fix. But if you’re not craving a trip to either California or Florida — or you’ve already been — there are other places to have a top-notch Disnified experience — besides your local Disney store.

From three stand-alone resorts, where the company’s legendary service and hospitality are at the forefront, to a museum dedicated to all things Disney, here are four destinations where you can get your Disney fix.

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Flickr Joe Turco2

Want the ultimate Disney vacation? There’s a way you can enjoy Mickey and friends on both land and sea: by combining a stay at a Walt Disney World hotel with a trip aboard Disney Cruise Line that embarks from Port Canaveral.

The easiest way to do this is to first book the cruise, then make your stay at Disney World an add-on with a Land and Sea Vacation package. But there are some caveats with this method of booking — here’s the dish on what you should know.

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Flickr Sam Howzit 2

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that vacations to the “most magical place on Earth” aren’t exactly cheap. Sticker shock can be a common result of tallying up prices for  basics like hotel rooms, park tickets, and dining — and that’s before adding in extras like tours and special events.

But if you think that there are never savings to be had when it comes to Disney vacations, we’re letting you in on a secret: You’re just looking at the wrong times. During the low season, not only do hotel rates drop, but Disney itself releases special offers for is biggest fans. Promotions include room-only discounts, packages, and even a free dining plan — over which guests unsurprisingly go completely bonkers. And that’s not to mention significantly shorter wait times for attractions. As you might guess, this is definitely the time of the year that we recommend visiting.

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DugJax

Disney World is for guests of all ages, despite what some folks might say. Little ones and kids-at-heart can both have a great time at the Orlando resort. Of course, for older guests, it might take a little tweaking, since a trip to the House of Mouse isn’t the senior’s textbook vacation. Here, 10 tips for making it work.

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Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort Florida 2

It’s no secret that hotel room rates are rising – prices shot up five percent in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. The good news is that there are still a few tried-and-true ways to lower the costs.

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Flickr Henry Mestre

It looks like our fascination with drones is here to stay. We’ve already talked about ways to armchair travel with drones, and a new sharing platform called Dronestagram has since joined the scene. But what’s really caught our attention today is the recent drone-related patent application that the Walt Disney Company has filed.

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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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620x400_Flickrhyku_DisneyWorldCastleToss aside the notion that Walt Disney World is just for kids. The Orlando resort is a popular vacation destination for adult singles and couples alike; it’s even become a hotspot for weddings and honeymoons. But even without kids, the price of accommodation, park tickets, and dining adds up fast in the House of Mouse. Fortunately, Walt Disney World actually offers plenty of activities that are free or reasonably inexpensive, and fully geared toward adults. Here are just a few…

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BahamasBelieve it or not, summer is right around the corner. You may be sniffling from spring allergies now, but Memorial Day will be here before you know it, bringing warm temperatures, shortened work days, and summer vacations. Don’t let the season sneak up on you; take advantage of the many early bird specials out there and book your summer travel now. Read more

Healthy Kids MenusOffering healthier items on children’s menus will be a priority this year for restaurants nationwide, according to the National Restaurant Association, which begs the question, why now? Why are restaurants suddenly waking up to the nutritional needs of kids?

The answer, quite simply, is that enough parents are finally demanding it, suggests syndicated family travel columnist and TakingtheKids.com creator, Eileen Ogintz. Read more

Prince Eric Walt Disney World Castle

Cue the talking wardrobe. Prepare the grey stuff (it’s delicious). Pump up the steel-drum, nautical-themed music. Guests will be showing up in droves for the grand opening of the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, which makes its debut on Thursday. [Update: It's open and awesome!] This portion of Walt Disney World has nearly doubled in size, going from 11 to 21 acres, making it the largest expansion in the park’s 41-year history. So, it’s no surprise that there is plenty to see. We’ve done some of the leg work for you, though, so you’ll know exactly what to target.

1. Down a Brewski
Well, a LeFou’s Brew, that is. This frozen apple juice concoction has a hint of toasted marshmallow and is topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. It’s served up at Gaston’s Tavern (and, yes, he really does use antlers in all of his decorating).

2. Dine Inside Beast’s Castle
Disney has really outdone itself with the Be Our Guest Restaurant, a gourmet, French-themed eatery. Its massive chandeliers, gorgeous terrazzo floors and snowflakes falling among the fictional French countryside all stay true to the Beauty and the Beast movie. Choose from quick-service meals for lunch or fancy table service for dinner. Read more

Explore Orlando’s theme parks for less this summer with a stay at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. The new 4-star resort is slashing seasonal rates by 40 percent so you can enjoy your stay for as little as $125 a night. Travel July 29 through August 30 to take advantage of this great deal.

In addition, the resort’s award-winning signature restaurant, deep blu seafood grille, is offering a $40 three-course tasting menu for the month of August. Advanced reservations are required to enjoy the restaurant’s contemporary fusion fare, which focuses on fresh seafood dishes.

The family-friendly Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek is located in picturesque Bonnet Creek inside the Walt Disney World complex and offers a complimentary shuttle service to the Disney parks.  When you’re not discovering the parks, relax at the resort’s lagoon pool (complete with a lazy river), try one of the five dining outlets, or splurge with a treatment at Blue Harmony Spa.

To book this deal, visit www.wyndhamgrandorlando.com or call 407-390-2300 and ask for the 40 percent off customer appreciation advanced purchase deal.

See our Orlando destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights.

Walt Disney World alcoholWhen I visited Walt Disney World as a kid with my family – and even during a school trip to the parks in high school – I never noticed anyone drinking alcohol. Maybe the hard stuff is just more pervasive now than back in 1989, but these days you can buy booze pretty much anywhere at Disneyland and Disney World (except the Magic Kingdom – the teetotalers won out there).

Epcot is by far the booziest of the Orlando parks – the annual Food and Wine Festival (September 28-November 12 in 2012) comes highly recommended – while your best bets in Anaheim can be found in Downtown Disney. Here are a few of the top places to tipple at the Happiest Places on Earth.

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Disney's Art of Animation ResortDisneyland may have Cars Land but only at Walt Disney World can you stay in a Cars-themed room. Or Finding Nemo. Or The Little Mermaid. Or The Lion King.

OK, technically you have to wait until June 18 for the Cars rooms, but the first section of the new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – the Nemo suites – opens today. These family-friendly rooms sleep up to six and include three sleeping areas, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette. And of course the entire room is decked out in characters from the Disney-Pixar film, from sea turtle wall hangings to a shark attack bathroom.

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