Whew. There is a lot to know about Disney! Are you going to Disneyworld or Disneyland? I have only been to the World. I know there are a few chat boards dedicated to all things Disney. One is called disboards -not sure of the exact web address. It is nice to stay on the property for ease of transportation but some off site places provide it as well. If you go during a holiday, consider the park party which is after hours and requires a separate ticket. It is a great way to avoid the crowds and get all your rides in. I bought the Hopper passes online and had them shipped to me but that has been a few years ago already. A good book to check out is the Unofficial Guide to Disneyworld.