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Road Trip: Orlando, The House of Mouse

Daphne Nikolopoulos

It wouldn’t be a road trip if it didn’t include Walt Disney World. We know what you’re thinking: Again?
   Thankfully for us jaded types, the Disney experience keeps evolving for the better. Case in point: Disney’s new “magic bands,” cool little bracelets that store all information for your trip, including accommodations, park tickets, dining reservations and even Fast Passes, pre-planned via My Disney Experience. The bands replace paper Fast Passes, tickets, room keys and even cash. They don’t call them “magic” for nothing.

Disney World - Cinderella's Castle - Road Trip to Orlando - Disney World Vacation

   And of course, there’s always something new happening at the parks. Our picks: the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the newest family coaster at Magic Kingdom, and the Princess Fairytale Hall, where Rapunzel, Cinderella, the sisters from Frozen and, on occasion, other princesses dwell, ready to pose with adoring fans.

Disney Magic Bands - Disney VIP Tours

Miles from Palm Beach: 167

 

Why go: If you have little kids, you already know the answer to this. If not, consider the stats: The 40-square-mile destination is a veritable land of enchantment with four theme parks, 36 resorts, 63 holes of golf, a sports complex, two spas and a shopping and entertainment district.

Sunrise Safari at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Sunrise Safari at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Try this: For busy individuals or those who have no patience for queues, the VIP Tour Guide service is an absolute must (407-560-4033). A plaid-vest-clad cast member escorts VIPs to all attractions, ensuring they never have to wait, and can even secure hard-to-get reservations, such as dinner with Winnie the Pooh and friends at The Crystal Palace. Sometimes, access means passing through “backstage” areas, which only adds to the experience.

Disney VIp Tour Guide - Orlando Road Trip - Luxury Disney Vacation

Where to sleep: With its grand lobby and savannah views, the Animal Kingdom Lodge exposes families to the wonders of Africa. Opt for a savannah view room and watch antelopes, giraffes and zebras roam beyond your balcony. We also recommend going for the Kilimanjaro Club experience, which entitles you to a Sunrise Safari through Disney’s Animal Kingdom before the park gates open. The animal viewing is best in the early morning—and in privacy.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village

Where to eat: Character dining is to children what the Oscars are to adults. This necessitates reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table (below) or The Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom or at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot. Among those, Cinderella’s offers the finest dining experience, but no one will pay attention to the food anyway.

Disney's Character Dining - Cinderella's Royal Table

African Cookery at Jiko - Animal Kingdom Lodge

African cookery from Jiko.

 

Wild Africa Trek - Animal Kingdom Lodge - vacation in Orlando - kid-friendly road trip in Florida

The Wild Africa Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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