Walt Disney World Vacation – Best Time to Go?

Walt Disney World VacationThe first step to an enjoyable Walt Disney World vacation is to know which attractions and activities best suit your kid’s ages and development stages, then take in just enough to leave your family enchanted and not on the verge of collapse!

I believe kids between 5-12 years of age get the most bang for the buck but all ages will find it enjoyable with proper planning. The Disney site has some great information with an outline of which Disney Attractions, Disney Entertainment, Disney Dining and Disney Recreation is most suitable for various age groups including Preschoolers, and Big Kids and Teens.

I cannot stress the importance of planning ahead of time to which Theme Parks you want to visit on what days and what attractions you want to take in while there.


When is the best time to Go on a Walt Disney World Vacation?

“The best time to go to Disney World, if you want to avoid huge crowds, is 1962.” – Dave Barry

The second step to a perfect Disney Vacation is to decide on the best time travel to Disney World.

The time of year that you go can make or break a visit to Disney World Vacation. Let’s face it; if your kids are off on a school break like summer holidays or spring week, chances are, everyone else’s kids are too. The time of year will affect the price that you will pay for the accommodation. It will also make a difference to the lengths of the line-ups!

If at all possible, take your kids out of school and travel in off peak times. As a general rule, the peak times are when schools have their breaks, and there are varying opinions about off peak times.

According to Disney, the lowest attendance periods are:

  • January (except New Year’s Day) until just prior to Presidents’ Week in February
  • The week following Labor Day until the week prior to Thanksgiving
  •  The week following Thanksgiving until mid-December.

 Peak Attendance is during:

  • Presidents’ week in February
  • Mid March through Late April (“Spring Break”)
  • Memorial Day weekend
  • Mid June through Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day and weekend
  • Christmas week through New Year’s Day.

Any times not mentioned here would have moderate attendance. Another thing to consider when planning your Disney Vacation is that special events and promotions going on at Disney World can also influence attendance so be sure to find out if any special is planned during the time you plan to go.

The next step in planning your Walt Disney World vacation is figuring out which Walt Disney World Hotels to stay at.

Best Resort Orlando – The Best Orlando Has to Offer

Best Resort Orlando

So you’re headed to Orlando and looking for the best resort Orlando has to offer… but where to start? You’ll find such a wealth of fantastic resorts and restaurants it can be difficult to choose exactly what you wish to indulge in.

How best can you plan a visit in which each day comes with the finest this marvelous vacation spot has to offer? In order to help you in making the overwhelming decisions of where to stay and what places to dine, here are what I believe to be Orlando’s best offerings:

Best Resort Orlando – Best Deluxe Resort

On Disney property it’s the Grand Floridian with its upscale Victorian atmosphere and lagoonside setting facing the Magic Kingdom. Off-property, hands-down, it’s the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes where you may never even feel the need to leave the property. At Universal, go for the Portofino Bay Hotel with its unsurpassed ambience of an Italian seaside resort.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Resort Pool

  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club’s Stormalong Bay, a 3-acre mini water park
  • The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin’s lush grotto-style lagoon pool * The Volcano Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Resort with its luxuriant waterfall, smoking peak, and perfect view of Cinderella’s Castle
  • The boulder-strewn wonderland at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge with its very own erupting geyser
  • The lush fantasyland pool at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress cooled by twelve waterfalls

Best Resort Orlando – Best Home-Away-From-Home Property

The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge with its Bay Lake frontage and national park character or Disney’s Beach Club Villas conveniently located next door to Epcot.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Resort Atmosphere

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge where hundreds of animals roam the savanna and the air is pulsating to the beat of African drums. Running a close second is Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel where guests are transported to a romantic, seaside Italian village.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Resort Lobby How to choose?

Three of Disney’s resorts make the cut: the Wilderness Lodge, the Grand Floridian, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge, all eye-popping in their grandeur.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Access To The Parks

The Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian with monorail access to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the Ticket and Transportation Center. At Universal, the Hard Rock Hotel is just a 5-minute walk or boat ride away to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Resort For Romance Disney’s

Polynesian Resort whose lush tiki torch-lit grounds and white-sand beaches with views of Cinderella’s Castle are simply dreamy or Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel where an evening stroll along the bay with Italian arias playing in the distance can’t be beat.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Resort For Nature-Lovers

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, a nature-lover’s dream of rushing waterfalls, spouting geysers, and bubbly creeks, all surrounded by stately pine trees and beautiful Bay Lake.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Resort Lounges

  • California Grill Lounge found on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort with unrivaled views of the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon, great for cocktails, sushi, and a view of the Wishes fireworks display.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian’s lobby. Pick up a cocktail at Mizner’s, then head down to this magnificent oasis to relax in the cushy seating while listening to the sounds of a big band orchestra or live piano music.
  • Tambu Lounge at Disney’s Polynesian Resort’s Great Ceremonial House. Sip on tropical drinks amid lush foliage and views of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
  • Territory Lounge, a rustic retreat in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
  • Bluezoo’s bar at the Walt Disney World Dolphin, the coolest place around.
  • Velvet, the ultra-hip cocktail lounge at Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel.
  • Bar America, Portofino Bay Hotel’s sophisticated lounge overlooking the romantic piazza.
  • Top of the Palace Lounge, a sophisticated bar with the best views around high atop the Wyndham Palace Resort near Downtown Disney.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Italian Palio

At the Walt Disney World Swan where the Tortellini con Aragosta topped with enormous amounts of lobster is amazing, or Portobello Yacht Club at Downtown Disney for a fantastic, thin-crusted pizza followed by the Rigatoni with Italian Sausage, crimini mushrooms, plum tomatoes, black olives, and escarole.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Seafood

Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk for Potato Wrapped Red Snapper with creamy leek fondue and red wine reduction, or the newcomer on the block, Todd English’s bluezoo at the Walt Disney World Dolphin, where seafood is taken to new heights. Off Disney property it’s got to be Roy’s on Sand Lake Road near Universal for Roy Yamaguchi’s remarkable Hawaiian Fusion cuisine.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Steaks

Shula’s at the Walt Disney World Dolphin, a standout for sensational Angus beef steaks cooked to perfection, or Vito’s Chop House on International Drive for the filet mignon stuffed with gorgonzola.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Restaurant For Romance

Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian, the only AAA 5-Diamond restaurant in Central Florida. Here you’ll savor a sumptuous six-course meal served on elegant fine china to the accompaniment of enchanting harp music. Or try Delfino Riviera at Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel whose breeze-swept terrace overlooks the resort’s picturesque bay and piazza. And I can’t forget Norman’s at the Ritz Carlton for fine dining in plush surroundings all enveloped in the grandeur of an amazing resort.

Best Resort Orlando – Best Restaurant For Kids

Children love the Rainforest Café at the Animal Kingdom or Downtown Disney where they’re bombarded with thunderstorms and noisy audio-animatronic wildlife. A close runner up is Whispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge; come prepared for plenty of hoopin’ and hollerin’ and please, whatever you do, don’t ask for the ketchup unless, that is, you like a lot of attention.

Best Character Meal

Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom, a chance to feast in a fairytale castle with Cinderella, Jasmine, Aladdin, Belle, and Snow White. Or try the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom for a tasty, bountiful buffet hosted by Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Best Hip Atmosphere

Todd English’s bluezoo at the Dolphin, the coolest spot this side of South Beach, or Tchoup Chop at Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort, a knock-em-dead, Asian-inspired beauty.

Best Disney View

Arthur’s 27 at the Wyndham Palace whose drop-dead setting is only topped by its creative cuisine, or California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort with its picture-perfect views of the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, and the Wishes fireworks presentation.

Best Disney Resort Restaurant

Tough call. My favorites are the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort (just about anything on their exceptional menu is fantastic), Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian (particularly the Chef’s Table where Chef Scott Hunnel oversees an 11-course meal designed especially for you), and Todd English’s bluezoo at the Dolphin (try the miso glazed Chilean sea bass with warm sesame spinach).

Best Universal Resort Restaurant

Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort. Wonderful Asian and Polynesian-influenced cuisine in a stunning setting of bamboo, waterfalls, and a lotus-filled reflecting pool. Share the Crunchy Shrimp with butter lettuce leaves and hot & sour chili glaze, move on to the Firecracker Fresh Fish served with papaya-serrano salsa, Asian pesto drizzle, and coconut-lemongrass sauce, and finish with a slice of Banana Cream Pie topped with caramel sauce and chocolate shavings.

Best Downtown Disney Restaurant

Wolfgang Puck’s Upstairs Dining Room for dishes like Szechuan marinated “Chinois” lamb rack served with a spicy cilantro-mint sauce or the restaurant’s exceptionally great Wienerschnitzel.

Best Epcot Illuminations

View Rose and Crown in World Showcase’s United Kingdom. Set your priority seating for about one hour prior to show time and pray for a table with a good view.

Best Milkshake

Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort serves oh-so-delicious thick shakes and malts in a frosty fountain glass with the extras on the side in the stainless steel shaker.

Best Pizza

You can’t beat the pizzas at Downtown Disney’s Wolfgang Puck Cafe (choose the BLTA with applewood-smoked bacon, mozzarella, roma and sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, and chopped romaine), Downtown Disney’s Portobello Yacht Club (thin-crusted and smokey flavored), or Mama Melrose’s at Disney-MGM Studios (don’t miss the grilled chicken pizza with sun-dried tomato pesto, pancetta, and asiago cheese).

Best Breakfast

Spoodles at Disney’s Boardwalk. I love the Egg Rotollo, scrambled eggs with chorizo, onions, peppers, and cheddar cheese rolled in Lavosh (flatbread) and served with breakfast potatoes and marinated tomatoes.

I could go on and on but I’ll restrain myself and stop here. There’s a world of resorts and restaurants just waiting to be explored. And you’ll never even have to leave Orlando to find it!

About the author: Cara Goldsbury is the author of “The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer” available at 800-247-6553, www.luxurydisneyguide.com, Amazon.com, or your local bookstore.


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Going to Orlando? Advice for the Orlando Theme Park Weary

Orlando Theme park weary

Orlando theme park weary – when you just can’t take another day at the theme parks on your Orlando vacation consider these suggestions:

Book a Spa Treatment

What better way to soothe fragile nerves and sore feet than a session at one of Orlando’s resort spas.

On Disney property there’s the Grand Floridian as well as the Saratoga Springs Spa where one of their luxurious treatments are a perfect addition to your vacation.

Off property you can’t do any better than the ultra luxurious Ritz-Carlton Spa or the Gaylord Palms Canyon Ranch Spa. Those staying at a Universal Resort should consider an exotic Javanese treatment at the Mandara Spa at Portofino Bay Hotel.

Relax At Your Resort’s Pool

Orlando’s resort pools are justifiably renowned for their spectacular theming. Disney offers some of the best, particularly Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club, a 3-acre mini waterpark, or the boulder lined beauty at the Wilderness Lodge featuring waterfalls and its very own geyser.

Off property, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress’ fantasyland pool is cooled by twelve waterfalls and at the JW Marriott’s “Lazy River” you can float to your heart’s content.

And at Universal Orlando’s Hard Rock Hotel is the coolest (and I don’t just mean the water temperature) pool around with an underwater sound system, sand beach, and poolside cabanas.

Orlando Theme Park Weary? Spend Time On Disney’s Waterways

Disney has miles of lakes and lagoons to explore. You’ll find that most Disney resorts have a marina where many types of watercraft are available for hire. Sailboats, pontoon and canopy boats, Sea Raycers, even a 48-foot yacht. Take your pick.

Perhaps the biggest bang for your buck is to be had at the Contemporary Resort where in addition to the above you’ll also find parasailing, waterskiing, tubing, and wakeboarding on beautiful Bay Lake.

Orlando Theme Park Weary? Shop Till You Drop in The Mall at Millenia

For one of Orlando’s best shopping experiences head to this fabulous new mall just minutes from Universal Orlando. Here you’ll find only the best with stores such as Neiman Marcus, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany. But fair warning: this trip could end up costing a pretty penny.

Those with great taste but thriftier intentions will love the Orlando Premium Outlets Mall located just across I-4 from Downtown Disney where designer outlet stores such as Hugo Boss, Armani, Escada, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Burberry won’t break the bank.

Orlando Theme Park Weary? Head to Downtown Disney

For a change of pace there’s Downtown Disney. Here you’ll find over 70 shops, restaurants, and nightclubs plus a 24-screen theater, Disney Quest with five floors of virtual games and adventures, even a Cirque du Soleil.

Adults will want to pick a great restaurant for dinner like Wolfgang Puck or Portofino Yacht Club and then head to Pleasure Island to party down until the wee hours of the morning.

Orlando Theme Park Weary? Swim With a Dolphin

Spend a few hours ogling at Disney’s wonderfully themed resorts. And best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing. Board the monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center and hop off at each of the three Magic Kingdom resorts.

First the Polynesian, a tropical wonderland, then the Grand Floridian, Disney’s flagship resort, and lastly the Contemporary where you’ll enjoy the Grand Concourse with the monorail silently gliding overhead.

Out back you can catch a boat to the Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s most beautiful resort modeled after an early 1900s national park lodge.

Then catch a boat to the Magic Kingdom and a ferry to the TTC where you started. It’s a grand circle that can’t be beat.

About the author: Cara Goldsbury is the author of “The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer” , www.luxurydisneyguide.com

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Why book a Disneyland Vacation Package for Your Family Vacation?

Disneyland Vacation PackageIf you are familiar with Walt Disney World, you might wonder why anyone book a Disneyland vacation package in Anaheim, California? After all, Disneyland is much smaller. It covers fewer than 300 acres while Walt Disney World is over 30,000 acres. Walt Disney World has a Magic Kingdom park which is “just like” Disneyland in California.

Disneyland vacation package

The resorts in Florida are all themed. In contrast, only the newest Disneyland resort hotel (the Grand Californian) is themed. So why would anyone want a Disneyland vacation package when they can go to Walt Disney World instead?

The answer is really very simple, Disneyland was the first theme park and it all began in Anaheim, California. The very ideas, concepts, and inspirations that eventually resulted in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, the Disney / MGM Studios, the water parks, and the themed resorts of Walt Disney World originated at Disneyland.

Smaller scale and more intimate than Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (although actually boasting more attractions), there is a certain magic in the air. Maybe it has to do with Walt Disney’s hands-on role in shaping the park and actually walking its grounds.

Disneyland was built during Walt Disney’s life. He personally was involved in the design and development of many of the attractions in the Disneyland park. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World were dreams of Walt Disney, which is true.

But only Disneyland has the charm of being Walt’s little family park and makes it ideal to find a Disneyland vacation package best suited for your family.

A Disneyland Vacation  Also Has Some Great Attractions That Can’t Be Found in Florida

It also has unique qualities not found in Walt Disney World such as New Orleans Square, Fantasyland, and Mickey’s Toontown. New Orleans Square and Mickey’s Toontown don’t even exist in the Florida park, and the designs of the two Fantasylands are really quite different.

A must see on your Disneyland vacation package, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” is one. “Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin” and “Pinocchio’s Daring Journey” are others. “Fantasmic!”, the Walt Disney Company’s most spectacular night time show can be seen in it’s original form only at Disneyland.

Disney’s California Adventure and the new West coast Downtown Disney have added another day and a half of Disney vacation package content here in Anaheim so there is plenty to keep you busy when you pick your Disneyland vacation package.

The best way to keep it in perspective is if you only have a few days, a Disneyland vacation package is do-able.

If you have a full week at Disneyland versus a week at Walt Disney World, pick Walt Disney World due to the immensity of the resort.

First-time visitors will be able to take in the Disneyland Resort with a three- or four-day visit, as opposed to the full week or more a first-timer would need to see Disney World. That leaves a visitor with a few extra days to visit some of Southern California’s other attractions, including Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, Legoland and the beaches.

Top Things to Do and See In Disneyland

Main Street USA

Fire Station – In the upstairs window over the firehouse entrance, there is a light that is always lit in honor of the parks founder, Walt Disney. The upper floor of the firehouse was Walt’s private apartment when he stayed at the park while it was under construction. Windows above Main Street businesses you will see names painted on the windows.

These names are of animators and park officials back from the early days of the Walt Disney Studios and during the conception of the park. If you look carefully, you’ll see Walt’s brother Roy immortalized. Plaza Inn Not only is this a great place to eat, but it was Walt’s favorite eatery.


Innoventions – Hidden Mickeys abound in this attraction.

Disneyland vacation

Here is a clue to start you out. Look between the 3rd and 5th rows on the computer keyboards in the Frontier of Tomorrow section. You find Mickeys name spelled out.

Star Tours Intercom – announcements have clues to George Lucas early career and a robot drone has many tales of woe to tell.

Space Mountain

It is said that Space Mountain has a resident ghost. He is said to hang out at the top of the third lift just before you start on the downward part of this wild coaster journey. Be sure, yell out your hello, and don’t forget to look up at the large asteroid projected above you. It began life as a picture of a chocolate cookie.


Snow Whites Secret Grotto – Be sure to visit the wonderful space of quiet solitude next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. Here you can listen to Snow White sing, hear the waterfall as it tinkles a merry tune and make a wish in the wishing well.

Sword in the Stone Ceremony Several times a day a child is crowned as ruler of the Magic Kingdom and presented a very nice medallion and scroll. This takes place in front of King Arthur’s Carousel and the guidebook will tell you the times.

Peter Pans Flight- As you enter the attraction, the children’s playroom comes into view, and the letter blocks spell out Disney from bottom to top.

Matterhorn Bobsleds – the only mountain in the world that contains a half court size basketball floor.


Indiana Jones Attraction – As you walk the path to the load area, the walls are strewn with symbols and hieroglyphics. These are the names of the attraction designers and also some cute messages, if you can decode them.

Jungle Cruise – the best thing about this ride is the corny jokes the tour guide tells!

New Orleans Square

Haunted Mansion – Tradition dictates you must say hello to the floating candlestick, affectionately known as Lumiere.

Disneyland Vacation Package

Also of interest is the organ in the Grand Ballroom this was the organ that featured in the Disney Classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the voice of Madame Leota is that of the wicked stepmother in the Cinderella.

Club 33 the very exclusive and private club that Walt created for park sponsors sits above Pirates of the Caribbean and the shops of New Orleans Squares. If you look carefully you can see a very discreet brass plaque set in a doorway near the entrance of the Blue Orleans restaurant.

Critter Country

Splash Mountain – Most of the cast of Audio-Animatronics characters were recycled from the old America Sings attraction in Tomorrowland, which closed in 1988.


Mark Twain Paddleboat – This is the best-kept secret at Disneyland. If you ask a crewmember, they will speak to the ships captain and he will let you sail the ship! You get to sit up in the pilothouse with a great view of the Rivers of America and at the end of the voyage; you get a great certificate showing you piloted the Mark Twain. A must for any true Disney fan.

Mickey’s Toontown

Everywhere in Toontown there are things to delight the senses. This is the most interactive place in the Magic Kingdom. Touch, open, pull, pound, and look at everything. Manhole cover talks to you, post office boxes tell jokes, and characters abound! You never know what is going to pop out at you! One great hint is to check out the fountain and listen to what it is saying!


Disneyland Vacation Package Planning Tips

ChecmarkChoose a guidebook or books to help you get acquainted with the parks, hotels and surrounding Anaheim area before you go and to decide what you want include in your Disneyland vacation package.

ChecmarkGet your children involved in planning your Disneyland vacation package by giving them a part in the vacation planning such as choosing which attractions they would like to see and in what order they would like to see them.

ChecmarkFind out Disneyland park hours, parade and firework times, and special event happenings so you can plan out your days. Disneyland Park hours are sometimes not available until 3 months prior to your travel dates.

ChecmarkBe realistic about the time you have and the time it may actually take to accomplish your list. Be flexible so you can get the most out of your Disneyland vacation package.

ChecmarkDon’t make a strict schedule for your family to follow; it could make your Disneyland vacation package a miserable experience. Have a basic itinerary or outline of attractions and activities you would like to see and do.

ChecmarkCharacter Meals are fun and the most popular, they can be reserved 30 days in advance.

ChecmarkWhen planning your Disneyland vacation package, make your travel and hotel reservations as far in advance as possible.

ChecmarkResearch your Disneyland hotel options. Take into consideration that just because a hotel may have a cheaper rate it may not have all the amenities you would like during your stay. To save on travel time it may be worth it to pay a little more per night to be closer to the parks and make a better Disneyland vacation package. Find more information on the Disneyland Hotel and stay on site.

ChecmarkOnce your are there, kick back and enjoy your Disneyland vacation package!


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