Photos: Disney around the World

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  1. Feast for a Beast

    The Beast welcomes guests to his castle in the Magic Kingdom, where Be Our Guest Restaurant will serve French-inspired cuisine for quick-service lunch and table-service dinner. Part of the newly-revamped Fantasyland, the stylish restaurant will have its grand opening on Dec. 6, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Matt Stroshane / Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Dumbo's pre-flight deck

    Waiting in line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant is as much of an event as the ride itself. As guests arrive, they'll receive a circus ticket pager that will virtually hold their place in line and notify them when it's their turn to board the attraction, leaving them free to explore the interactive wonders inside the big top while they wait to take to the skies. Dumbo the Flying Elephant is part of the expansion project which nearly doubles the size of Fantasyland, a multiyear project that will have its grand opening on Dec. 6, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Ali Nasser / Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Luxurious cuisine

    French-inspired cuisine will be highlighted when Be Our Guest Restaurant opens in the New Fantasyland. Furthermore, select wines and beers will be offered to complement the elegantly-themed meals. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Fit for a princess

    Visitors to Disneyland can walk through Sleeping Beauty Castle and see 3-D scenes from the classic film, originally released in 1959. (Paul Hiffmeyer / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Birthday girl

    Singer Miley Cyrus performs at the "Miley's Sweet 16 Share the Celebration" party at Disneyland in October 2008. (Mario Anzuoni / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Boo!

    The Haunted Mansion, a New Orleans Square attraction, opened Aug. 9, 1969, and is the home of 999 happy haunts. As Disney's website suggests, "Enter...if you dare!" (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Time for supper

    Ghosts dine inside Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Disney classifies the ride as gentle but warns that younger children could be frightened by its special effects. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 50 and fabulous

    Fireworks explode over The Sleeping Beauty Castle as part of "Remember ... Dreams Come True," the biggest fireworks display in Disneyland's history. The display took place during the Disneyland 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2005. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Shiver me timbers!

    Villainous pirate Barbossa is hot on the trail of the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow in Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The classic attraction re-opened following an extensive three-month enhancement and featuring new characters and elements from Walt Disney Pictures' "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. (Scott Brinegar / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Around the world

    Walt Disney World's It's a Small World ride is a great option for youngsters. Visitors can sing along to the famous tune while visiting countries around the world. Hong Kong Disneyland opened the classic boat ride in 2008 in an attempt to boost sluggish attendance at the theme park. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. My, what big ears you have

    Dumbo the Flying Elephant takes riders over Fantasyland, and lever controls let them fly at their desired altitude. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Eating under the sea

    Larger-than-life replicas of prehistoric sea creatures combine with giant aquariums of exotic fish in the lounge area of T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure, at the Downtown Disney area in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 600-seat restaurant, operated by Landry's Restaurants, combines table-service dining and retail in an interactive prehistoric environment built around water, fire and ice. (Gene Duncan / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mickey hops the pond

    Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, poses with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, in front of the Sleeping Beauty castle during a press preview of Euro Disneyland, now called Disneyland Paris, in Marne La Vallee, France. The site opened in 1992. (Eric Feferberg / AFP - Getty Images file) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Dive! Dive!

    The original submarines from the Disneyland Submarine Voyage, a popular attraction for many years at the California theme park, have been extensively refitted for the 21st Century adventure of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. The attraction now takes explorers on an undersea voyage where they'll have close encounters with the fish characters from the Disney-Pixar movie, "Finding Nemo." (Paul Hiffmeyer / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Fun after dark

    Downtown Disney is a promenade that offers shopping, dining and other activities. The avenue shown here leads to both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Should've seen it in color

    Crowds are seen walking around the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, Calif., circa 1955. (Archive Photos / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A visionary's vision

    Walt Disney unveils his plans for Disneyland to a national television audience during the premiere of "Disneyland," the television show, on October 27, 1954. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Blank canvas

    Walt Disney purchased 160 acres in Anaheim, originally covered with orange groves, to build his dream of a place where parents and children could have fun -- together. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
updated 10/14/2009 2:42:27 PM ET 2009-10-14T18:42:27

Mary Waring had just quit her marketing job in San Diego in 2001, so saving money on her upcoming trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., was a high priority. She found lots of resources online and posted links to coupons on a Web site.

Her brother, a Microsoft employee, told his colleagues about her savings tips — and within six weeks, her little online scratch pad had amassed 23,000 page views. That’s when Waring realized the country’s insatiable appetite for Disney savings gossip.

“I often say Americans think it’s their God-given right to take the kids to Disney World,” she says. “For a lot of people it’s part of childhood.”

Waring’s site has evolved into MouseSavers.com, a clearinghouse for scrimping Mouseheads, and it’s her full-time job. Without assistance from Disney, she finds and posts more than 300 pages’ worth of coupon codes and money-saving ideas, and her site typically attracts at least 60,000 page views a day (more than four times as many as SixFlags.com).

The attention shouldn’t be a surprise. An estimated 17 million people visited Disney’s flagship Florida property, the Magic Kingdom, in 2008, and even in the depths of this recession, Disney Parks has unfailingly turned a tidy profit.

Whereas Disneyland, in southern California, is often visited casually by people who live within driving distance, Walt Disney World in Orlando— 47 square miles containing four theme parks, two waterslide parks and nearly two dozen company-owned hotels — is a destination unto itself. Trips can require planning akin to military invasions.

And with one-day adult ticket prices at $84, lots of money.

Until the economic downturn, Disney rarely publicized discounts. Disney phone operators will rarely share savings secrets unless vacationers are savvy enough to ask directly, and all too often, the temptation to give in to the seductive “Disney magic” — booking a $600 room to be beside the parks, or staying a week instead of three days — drags parents deeper into debt than they had originally planned.

“It’s wildly expensive,” says Waring. “It can cost you as much to go to Disney World for a week as it does to go to France. People have no choice but to find deals.”

People are indeed looking harder for those deals, and with a little digging, deals can be found. For instance, the longer you stay, the less a theme park ticket costs per day; while that $84 charge covers a single day, a seven-day pass averages out to $35.60 a day. Another way to save is by avoiding the peak season. Disney’s “Value” rooms start at $82 a night in low season, which is typically late August, September, and January.

Saving money in a world designed to make you spend it can seem like a fantasy in its own right. But these tips are a solid start to turning a Disney rite of passage into a positive family memory.

Copyright © 2012 American Express Publishing Corporation

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