Magic musts

STEVE TILLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:26 PM ET

In these turbulent economic times, a trip to Walt Disney World is probably the first luxury to get chopped from the family budget. The Disney folks know this, and while they haven't cited the global recession as a catalyst, they're currently offering some unprecedented deals on vacations.

Guests who book a four-day Walt Disney World package for stays between March 17 and April 4, or April 19 and Aug. 15, of this year get three extra nights of hotel accommodations for free, along with three additional days of theme park passes.

As an extra perk, vacationers who travel between March 17 and March 29 will get a free $200 US Disney Gift Card, good for most shops and restaurants in the parks and resorts.

It's a sweet deal to be sure -- a one-week Walt Disney World visit can be had for as little as $1,271 US for a family of four -- but the offer's only good until March 29. Check out disneyworld.ca/3free for more details.

Seven days might sound like a lot of time at Walt Disney World, but you absolutely need to spend at least a day in each theme park to hit all the must-see rides, shows and shopping. Here are my personal can't-miss picks for each park:

Magic Kingdom -- You can't visit Magic Kingdom without doing the trifecta of mountain rides -- Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Each is a classic.

Disney's Animal Kingdom -- The Expedition Everest roller coaster is always a guaranteed thrill. If you ask nicely, they'll let you sit at the front. And for this one, you really do want to.

Epcot -- Mission: SPACE is awesome, but the world pavilions remain my fave. The massive store in the Japanese pavilion has a bigger selection of Hello Kitty merchandise than just about anywhere in Tokyo.

Disney's Hollywood Studios -- With all due respect to the Rock N' Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania is a stupendously fun 3-D take on carnival games.


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