Disney World

We can’t help but get a little nostalgic when thinking of Disney World; after all, it’s where dreams come true! And whether you’re six or sixty, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears never looked so good as when you’re spinning in a teacup or roaming the theme park grounds, cotton candy in hand. However, one thing that decades of Disney experience can change is where you want to stay on the massive property. A resort with a pool teeming with tots, waterslides, and floaties? Great for families, not so fab for couples looking for a bit of romance — you catch our drift. So we’ve done some digging into Disney’s digs and have found the resorts that’ll best suit all types of Disney-bound Disney fanatics. Whether you’re planning a girls’ getaway or a family vacation, Disney World can be just the spot to relax, reconnect — and most importantly – have the time of your life. So without further adieu, first up: Disney for families.

 Disney Digs Best Suited for the Fam: Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Modeled after an East African safari lodge, with giraffes and gazelles that freely roam the grounds, the 762-room Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s most unique resorts — and is arguably the best option for families looking to have highly-entertained tots. Though it’s a bit more removed from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom than other properties, the resort is adjacent to the Animal Kingdom theme park and features a massive pool, a playground, a great kids’ club, and numerous free activities — such as cookie decorating and African drumming — throughout the day. Older children can enjoy the on-site arcade.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Miami is one of the U.S.’s most celebrated metropolises, a Cuban-influenced coastal city on the Southern tip of Florida, known as the “gateway to the Americas.” But Miami’s wild reputation and glamorous lifestyle can really wear on the locals (and their bank accounts). With its high-brow art scene, luxurious shopping, and A-list clubs, Miami is an energetic, ultra-lively hub for young partiers and jet-setting tourists — but to escape the rowdy scene, southern Floridans have several spots to flock to within the Sunshine State for some much-needed R&R. Put on you sexiest string bikini (or Speedo), pack your bags, and jump in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Miami to Key West

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 11 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 161.7 miles
  • Take This Trip If: It’s been too long since you’ve last passed out in a hammock with margarita in hand.
Key West is known for extreme leisure

Key West is known for moving at an...errr... leisurely pace.

Casa Marina Resort is island luxury at its finest.

Eden House boasts beautiful grounds at an affordable price

There’s a reason even the most sunny of Floridians love visiting Key West: Its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it one of the best vacation destinations in the country. Miami residents may get their share of water sports and authentic Cuban cuisine, but Key West maintains a much slower pace. The island boasts warm weather year-round thanks to its Southernmost U.S City status, which even steamy Miami can’t compete with. For a supremely luxurious experience, the Casa Marina Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, offers a sophisticated setting while maintaining a chill vibe with its poolside bar, beach hammocks, and lush grounds. Although not quite a steal, the Eden House is offers a variety of amenities at a fraction of Casa Marina’s price. Within the beautiful grounds, guests can enjoy complimentary happy hour, outdoor pool (make sure to apply your FREE sunscreen!), koi ponds, hammocks, or barbecue on the small rolling grill. What more do you need for some fun in the sun?

  • Top Driving Tip: Be prepared for Seven Mile Drive to the Keys to feel like Seven Hour Drive. The bridge spanning the Florida Keys is usually heavily congested, but does offer some of the most scenic views of the Altantic Ocean just about everywhere.

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Credit: PRK / PR Photos

As tradition goes, the NFL Super Bowl MVP gets a trip to Disney World for all of his hard work put forth during the past season. And since many of us are Giants fans here, we couldn’t help but potentially plot this for weeks: Where would our MVP Champ stay when visiting the amusement park (slash mini world of all things Mickey)? Plus, Eli already has an affinity for travel — he got married at the One & Only Palmilla — so we figured we’d help him plan his Orlando vacay. Check out our favorite Disney hotels for Eli Manning and his family after the jump, and then tell us: Which hotel would you stay at in Disney World?

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Water rides are just one of the many ways to keep cool while at Disney

It’s about a billion degrees in Orlando during the summer, so how can you stay cool while you visit Walt Disney World? As the poem goes … “Let me count the ways…”

Swimming Pools

The obvious way to stay cool at Walt Disney World is to jump into one of the great pools. Pools like the Hippy Dippy Pool at Disney’s Pop Century, or Nanea (the Volcano Pool) at the Polynesian Resort are – like all of the hotel pools around Disney World –  great places to escape the heat.

Water Parks

Another way to get away from the Central Florida summertime furnace is by visiting one of the awesome water parks. Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach (the world’s coolest water park) are great for getting out of the broiling sun and into a nice, cool lazy river.

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The Japan Pavilion at Epcot has some of the best sushi in Disney

There’s no doubt that the number of sushi lovers is growing all the time, and the trend is as true in Orlando as it is anywhere else. So if you’re headed to Disney World for vacation and can’t live without your raw fish fix, here’s a guide to hooking Disney’s best sushi.

1) Japan Pavilion in Epcot Center

Not too surprisingly, the best place for sushi in all of Disney World is the Japan Pavilion at Epcot Center, where all of the eateries serve at least some sushi. The contemporary Japanese menu at Tokyo Dining includes sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls, which is made by chefs stationed at a bar in the dining room. Teppan Edo, known for stir-frying meals on tabletop grills right in front of guests, also serves sushi, as does Yakatori House, a casual eatery overlooking the Japanese gardens.

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The Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom is a great fun and free offering at Disney World

Walt Disney World is notorious for sucking money out of its guests’ wallets. But there are some really nice, free, or very inexpensive activities a family can enjoy during a Disney vacation.

The best fun and free offering at Disney World is watching the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks show, Wishes, from the beach of one of the hotels on the monorail. The best beach to watch Wishes from is the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. You can grab a pool chair and relax. The music is piped right on to the beach. It’s a great experience. (For more info on places to watch the fireworks, check out this post.) Read More »

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Snow White's Scary Adventures at Magic Kingdom

Those of us who were raised in Florida have experienced Disney World at least two dozen times in our lifetime, thanks to close proximity to the theme parks as well as amazing Florida resident deals year-round. And those of us who have ventured on every single ride at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Typhoon Lagoon too many times, have clear favorites and priorities when returning to Disney’s famed attractions. Additionally, we all have one ride…or two…or three that give us butterflies from the very thought of being subjected to bespoke torture. Below are three rides I avoid like the plague.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures at Magic Kingdom: I don’t think I ever got over the wicked witch’s vicious antics in Snow White’s Scary Adventures. From ages three to seven, I was too young to decipher between fiction and reality, and mistakenly thought the witch cardboard cut-outs were going to come after me. Though I laugh at this now, I would avoid this ride for kids that are prone to fearing monsters under the bed and in the closet.

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Downtown Disney in Disney World, Orlando

Downtown Disney in Disney World, Orlando

Orlando is typically a must-do vacation for any family with children. Parents might try to save money by searching the web for the best deals at Disney World, because we all know how expensive a family vacation can be, but they might not look into the numerous Orlando attractions outside the theme parks. To help keep your vacation within budget, consider these fun and free alternatives.

Downtown Disney Marketplace: Experience the Happiest Place on Earth without paying for it. Downtown Disney is a perfect spot for a relaxing day. You will enjoy walking along the boardwalk and shopping in various specialty stores like the Disney Mega Store and the Lego store. Afterward, you can reward the kids (and yourself) with ice cream from the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop. It’s within a short drive from Disney ‘s All Star Movie Resort, one of Disney’s most affordable resorts, or the pricier. Read More »

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