Here's my 2 cents worth if you are planning a trip to see Mickey any time soon.
1. We've done it many ways, but this is my favorite...stay on Disney property and purchase at least some part of the meal plan they offer. "Are you staying on property?" Is the first question you will hear when talking to a cast member. They are super nice to everyone, but "yes, we're staying on property" seem to be the magic words.
By staying on property, Disney will drive you to and from the airport and bus or monorail you to and from every park. There is no need to rent a car or hire a shuttle.
At Disney anyone age 10 and older is considered an adult. Fast food type meals in the park were around $50-60 per meal for our family of 5. Any other type of meal where you are served by a waiter ran about $25 a plate for adults. A character meal is about $35 per adult.
Disney allows you to bring in your own food and bottled drinks, but unless you are staying somewhere that offers a mini fridge or something, I think that would be hard.
All of that to say... when you are on the Disney website pricing different packages with/without the meal plan, it seems like sticker shock, but when you add it all up, you will probably spend that much money anyway.
2. Make reservations for any meal you want to eat other than fast food. We usually travel with 8 when we go with my family and reservations are the only way to get a party of that size in to a restaurant. But my parents have been when it was just the two of them and had a hard time getting in to eat without reservations.
They will take reservations 6 months in advance. The Disney website has descriptions of the dinning options at each park. We like Mexico and Japan in Epcot, but I bet Italy is really good, too, and Hollywood & Vine Buffet and The Sci-fi Drive In at Hollywood Studios.
3. The day you are at Magic Kingdom is a great day to do a character meal. There aren't many memorable sit down places to eat in Magic Kingdom accept the places that offer character dinning. This year we went to Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort. My kids are almost past the character dinning stage. The princesses, Pooh, and Chip and Dale didn't really interest them, so we hopped on the monorail and went over to see Mickey.
3. Pay a little extra for the Park Hopper Tickets. You can go in, out, up, down, and all around and then leave and do it all again at one of the other parks on the same day. Your trips may go as you perfectly planned them, but ours never do. We love having the option to go in and out of any of the parks any time we choose.
4. It's gonna' rain. It doesn't matter what time of year you go or what the weather forecast says, it will rain at some point during your trip. Just go with it. Find a covered spot and take an ice cream break. Visit some of the shops. Pack a poncho and just keep going. We've done any and all of these and loved every minute of it.
5. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios all have a light/fireworks show at the end of the day. They are SO worth hanging around and watching. This year, I bought a couple of apps for my phone: Disney World by Undercover Tourist and Magic Guide. Between the two apps we had park hours, maps, ride wait times, and parade and show times. The wait times were pretty accurate and we loved not having to fold and unfold the paper map every time we needed to use it.