We have not been in a while since our daughter is now 13 but from ages 2-10 we went every 2 yrs. I realize some things may have changed.
I always booked everything on the WDW phone number. We always flew in on the earliest flight and floew home on one of the later afternoon flights.
If you fly: You can either take the shuttle which is shared with others and you may or may not be the first stop off the shuttle to your hotel. Name of Shuttle service is Mears. We preferred AND IT WAS FAR WORTH IT....to take a cab directly to our hotel. The cost was less than $75, straight shot to and from hotel. You really don't need a car there, especially if you are on the property.
Hotels: Our preferred hotel is the Polynesian right on the monorail line. SO EASY if you have little ones to run back to your room from Magic Kingdom. Polynesian and the Grand Floridian have a boat taxi to and from Magic Kingdom which is faster than the monorail sometimes...
I usually booked our rooms about a year in advance. We like the beach, pool, and everything about the Polynesian. I could stay there and never go to any park! A lot of people balk at the Conceirge Rooms at the Poly but it was worth it to us. They had light foods which covered breakfast, fruits and drinks always out, lite lunch type foods, appetizers and happy hour late afternoon and coffee dessert at night. YES, you pay more but think about the food bills you are NOT paying for in the park or wherever because you had food at your hotel suite available to you. Depending on the location of your room, you can overlook the beach AND see the nightly MK fireworks.
We loved the traditional luau and the character breakfast at O'Hana at the Polynesian.
We also like Chef Mickey at the Contemporary. Nice buffet and children see a lot of characters.
We did a breakfast inside MK with Pooh.
Take autograph books for the children.
Go to the parades at MK.
Tickets: Upon checkin we bought tickets that were good from checkin until midnight on the day of checkout for any park any time. Also, when we were there, one of the parks opened early every morning for the guests at Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary. I understand that some other properties may be involed in the early promo now. REMEMBER: on checkout day, even if you are checked out, you can still visit the parks until midnight. The Valet staff will store your luggage and belongings until you leave.
I checked everything out on the Disney website as far as what to do, etc. We always had a blast and we are actually thinking of going back in March to the property at Animal Kingdom where you can go on an early morning safari ride and see the animals from your room! Exciting!
I apologize for being too long winded. After 5 trips there, you have a lot of info to share. If you wnt more info, just ask me.
ENJOY! It is a wonderful place, TAKE A LOT OF $$$, the smiles on children's faces is just wonderful.