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With four huge theme parks and a host of other attractions, Disney World is the trip of a lifetime for many kids and families. But for precisely the same reason, it's important to plan ahead, make travel plans, and know what to expect from such vacations. A poorly planned trip can ruin the entire vacation for you and your family. Here are some things to remember when visiting Disney World:

Buy tickets in advance

Getting your tickets ahead of time can save you a lot of time and frustration. There are always long lines at the entrance gates, and lining up for an hour isn't the best way to start your vacation. When you buy online, your tickets will be mailed to you and you can go right in when you arrive at Disney World. For some of the packages, you will also get your Disney vouchers along with your travel documents. Just remember to buy from Disney or authorized dealers.

If you're getting the Magic Your Way Premium Package, you will also need to make reservations for the event of your choice. Check out the available events for the months you're planning to visit.

Mind the weather

Summer is usually the busiest time at Disney World, as school-age kids will be on vacation. Make sure you can handle the heat, especially since you'll be doing a lot of walking. If this is your first visit, remember that it takes the whole day to tour just one of the theme parks, and it's important to dress comfortably.

Expect a few rain showers in the late afternoons. Don't schedule activities that may be affected by bad weather, such as rides and walking tours. Summer is also hurricane season, but most families don't let this get in the way of their vacations. Although the threat is low, it won't hurt to get travel insurance for your family just in case.

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What to pack

Summer clothes should make up most of your wardrobe, but throw in some formal clothes as some restaurants have dress codes. Bring your own rain clothes and umbrellas. You can buy Disney themed raincoats for your kids at the shops. Other essentials include water bottles, IDs (for checking in and redeeming vouchers), and cell phones to help you keep track of your group.

Keep cool

Swimming is major part of summer vacations. Spend a day or two at the Water Parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Typhoon Lagoon features water slides, tube rides, a wave pool, and a swimming-with-sharks adventure. The winter-themed Blizzard Beach has the famous (or infamous) Summit Plummet, said to be the fastest and highest free-fall slide in the world. Riders start at 120 feet high at the peak of Mount Gushmore and plummet at up to 70 miles per hour.

If you're not the adventurous type, you can also swim a few laps in your hotel pool. Most Disney resorts have on-site pool areas, which include kids' pools, family pools, hot tubs, and pool bars.

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