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Walt Disney World can be one of the most expensive destinations on Earth. But it needn't be. In fact, many Disney experiences don't cost a cent!
To youngsters, the thrill of Disney is the same in a theme park or the free areas. And as a parent, seeing your child's excitement will be the priceless vacation moment. In that spirit, we've compiled a family itinerary for two full days at Walt Disney World that's inexpensive enough to satisfy your inner penny-pincher without skimping a bit on Disney magic.
Visit Downtown Disney. Check out World of Disney, the world's largest Disney Store. Watch the magic shows at the Magic Masters Shop. Play with the interactive Mr. Potato Head and My Little Pony displays in Once Upon a Toy.
Bring the kids' swimsuits so they can play in the fountains. Let them build and play at the Lego Imagination Center. Take a walk and absorb the Disney theming. Eat lunch at the on-premises McDonalds, or bring your own and eat at a table along the dock.
Stop at a Disney Vacation Club Property to make a tour appointment for tomorrow. You can also make reservations at the DVC cart in Downtown Disney, or call 800-633-5139.
Then, visit Fort Wilderness Resort. (Ask for a free parking pass at Guest Relations.) Tour the Blacksmith Shop and Petting Farm. See the draft horses that pull the trolley in the Magic Kingdom. Take a hike. There are trails throughout the resort. Bring a cooler for a dinner picnic in the park. Optional: Ride the ponies for $3.
Did you know you can catch the Magic Kingdom fireworks for free? Go to the Transportation and Ticket Center to watch the fireworks across the lake. The music is piped in and the view is spectacular!
Return to Fort Wilderness Campground. Starting at 8PM, you can participate in Chip 'n Dale's Campfire Sing-a-long. Join Chip, Dale and other characters around the campfire for singing and roasting marshmallows. Buy marshmallows there, or bring your own. Then, stay for a free Disney movie, shown nightly at 8:40.
Notice: Depending on the season, you may have to choose between the fireworks and the movie. Call ahead for schedules (Fort Wilderness Campground: 407-824-2900).
Tour a Disney Vacation Club property. These are timeshares, but they're really fun to see and they're not too high pressure. Besides, most morning tours come with free breakfast. There is a supervised facility where kids can play while you get the tour.
Afterward, drive around the park and get a feel for what else Walt Disney World Resort offers. Check out the All Star Movies or All Star Sports resorts to see a 30-foot Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Dalmatians. NASCAR fans can get a free tour of the Walt Disney World Speedway, located outside Magic Kingdom.
After lunch, head to the Transportation and Ticket Center to board the famous monorail. Take the monorail to the Deluxe Resorts around Magic Kingdom. Stop and tour the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary Resorts. If it isn't too tempting, stop at Magic Kingdom and walk around outside.
Return to the TTC via the boat ferry. Get on the Epcot loop and ride the monorail to Epcot and back. The monorail track will actually take you into the park as it loops around its geodesic icon, Spaceship Earth. You'll get a great view of the park. Stay on the monorail to return to the TTC.
After an early dinner, drive to the BoardWalk. Walk up and down and take in the atmosphere. Enjoy street performers, shops, and free admission to the Atlantic Dance Hall. Watch a game in the ESPN Club, or just relax. Ride the Friendship Boats that service Epcot, the BoardWalk, numerous resorts, and DisneyMGM Studios.
Watch the Epcot fireworks (IllumiNations) at 9PM. You can see them from the International Gateway entrance, or the second-story patio of the Boardwalk Inn. Afterward, you can enter Epcot from the International Gateway. The rides will be closed, but most of the shops will be open and you can walk around for 30 minutes to an hour.
These affordable activities will let you and your family enjoy Disney's magic and extend your vacation without the hefty price tag. So go ahead and treat your family without going broke. Now that's really magical.
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