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Disney World

Do Some Planning Before You Say, "I'm Going to Disney World!"

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DisneyWorld Florida
lehaneb/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

It's been a number of years since Disney World's 1971 opening, but some people still refer to the Magic Kingdom, the east coast version of the original Disneyland, as "Disney World" -- as if the one park was pretty much the whole deal. Sure, the Magic Kingdom, with its Cinderella Castle, Dumbo ride, and other icons, is the heart and soul of the Florida resort.

But it comprises a mere few dozen acres among WDW's 35,000 acres. That's 47 square miles, roughly the size of two Manhattan islands, filled with four theme parks, two waterparks, 30 resort hotels, six golf courses, two shopping-dining-entertainment complexes and--are you still with me?--enough other diversions to keep tens of thousands of "cast members" (Disney-speak for employees) busy catering to tens of millions of guests annually.

Disney World is a phenomenon that has made an indelible mark on travel and tourism and changed the very notion of what it means to take a vacation and be entertained. It can be a wonderful source of pleasure and a great way to gather with friends and family for treasured, shared moments. But it is so enormous that, without proper planning, it can also be a powerful source of frustration and disappointment.

Before you proudly proclaim to anyone within shouting distance, "I'm going to Disney World!" take the time to learn all you can about the resort's incredible palette of options so that you can take full advantage of them. Gather your vacation mates for planning meetings well before you leave. Develop a rough itinerary, make restaurant reservations where practical, and do consider some of the other parks and attractions outside the Disney complex.

Whatever you do, don't try to do everything. Disney World is much too big now for vacationers to do it all. Save your energy and patience for the parks and attractions you can reasonably accommodate, and save the parks and attractions you miss for your next vacation. After all, half the fun is in the planning and getting to tell people, "I'm going to Disney World!"

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