Great collection of tips. Here's my add-on suggestion: with the way air travel is becoming increasingly hectic and crowded, when I am booking flights (such as when I made reservations last weekend for this year's CoasterCon at CP), I also go to http://seatguru.com/ to help me figure out which airplane seat to reserve. Yes, it sounds trivial, but for over two hours I'm going to once again be wedged into one of those uncomfortable Canadair Regional Jets both directions for my Colorado Springs - Chicago O'Hare leg, and having a good seat can make a significant difference.
One other really useful tool is the Amusement Park Guide by Tim O'Brien. It is invalueble for park information, including rides, crowd paterns, and costs. It is also a great way to discover the little gem parks that you may not have otherwise known about.
Dave - I had biddingfortravel.com on the list but I didn't know about betterbidding.com. I'll add it.
FlyInBlack - each hotel has its own policy on under-age guests. You'd be better off checking hotel's websites or calling them directly.
BrianW - good point. According to the buzz I hear at the office sites like Hotels.com, Orbitz, etc., are on the "outs" with hotel chain, which are taking back their inventory so they can control their own rooms. It's a good idea to always doublecheck the hotel's website, too.
I know the point about double checking a hotel's website has already been made, but just as further evidence of how this can payoff...
I found an Amerihost Inn for Spring Fling weekend on Expedia for $42/night, and when I double checked the hotel's site, the rate was much higher, BUT, they offered a price matching promise, and I submitted the expedia rate and they gave me the room at $38/night. :)
You might want to also check with the hotel by internet AND by phone. I booked a room in Orlando across the road from Universal for $49.00 a night via the internet. I had called the hotel directly a few minutes earlier and they quoted me the price per night as $109.00. I mentioned the internet rate to them when I called back and I was told to reserve it over the internet in order to get that rate. It pays to check the same hotels rates using different means.
Agreed about the phone. Calling them, you'd be surprised at how often you can negotiate a lower rate, especially as you get closer to your stay time and they aren't that booked up. You wouldn't get that scenario near PKI in July of course, but you better believe you would in Orlando in the winter.
Moosh... one weather site that I use that I didn't see mentioned is www.weatherunderground.com . Pretty much the same as the other sites, but it has a lot of really cool maps and graphs if you are into that sort of thing.
I'm well aware of issues regarding car rental for under-25s, but I can't say I've ever heard of a hotel having a restriction of the kind, with the obvious caveat of those under 18 wishing to check in alone
Can someone point me to a few example hotels that have a no-under-25s policy?
Richard Bannister, as far as I have seen, most hotels have a under 21 policy, not 25. This is just my personal observation though. Most hotels around Cedar Point do require someone on the room to be over 21 years of age.
A few years back my friend and I were under 21 (she was 20 and I was 19) and we couldn't get a room. We had planned on just driving back home but we were dead tired after a full day at the park and wanted to stay up there. We drove a couple of miles (probably 15) from the park and still couldn't get a room. We ended up driving the whole way home, but it was dangerous because we were both so tired.