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Magic Memories

Sponsored Trip:

Magic Memories

By Canon
Trip Plan Tags: 
adventure,
family,
food,
outdoors + nature
Destinations: 
Florida,
Lake Buena Vista,
North America,
Orlando,
United States

For a fun-filled family adventure, experience all that Orlando has to offer. Capture all of the memories, details and moments of your trip with Canon's easy to use Flash Memory Camcorders. Having Flash Memory at your fingertips allows you to easily transfer, download and share your videos. The hardest decision you'll have to make is what to do next...

ITEMS

See + Do

Magic Kingdom, Florida

Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Tel: 407 824 4321
Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/parkLanding?id=MKLandingPage

When most first-time visitors imagine Walt Disney World, the place with the castle, the Hall of Presidents, and Space Mountain, they're thinking of the Magic Kingdom, which was the first of the four theme parks to open on Disney property back in 1971. A larger version of California's original Disneyland, its idealized mock-up of a prototypical Main Street USA spills into several themed areas (Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Mickey's Toontown Fair) stocked with tame rides and wandering Mickeys, Minnies, Goofys, and the odd Captain Hook. Get those famous mouse ears at Le Chapeau, just to the right as you enter. The lines for the kiddie rides of Fantasyland are shortest immediately after opening and again in the evening, when tykes go to bed. Otherwise, the Fastpass system allows you to pick up timed tickets, which get you onto the ride with a much shorter wait; use it liberally. The Kingdom experiences its biggest crowds on Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly. And if you plan on staying for the evening fireworks, wait around for 45 minutes or so to avoid the crush of departing visitors that overwhelms the transportation systems.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
ALT HERE

Hotel

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Florida

4401 Grand Floridian Way
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Tel: 407 934 7639, Tel: 407 824 3000, Fax: 407 824 3186
Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/resorts/resortLanding?id=GrandFloridianResortLandingPage

The ne plus ultra of Walt Disney World hotels, the lakeside Grand Floridian cribs directly from the palatial Victorian look of San Diego's Hotel del Coronado, down to the faux-cage elevator in the five-story lobby. You can't pick a more dreamily convenient Disney hotel—it's a single monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom, and four from Epcot. There are tennis courts, boat rentals, seven places to eat (two at the gourmet end), two pools, a spa, and a well-used wedding pavilion. The service is less than solicitous, but the sense of elitism is as well stage-managed as you'd expect (cue the small orchestra in the lobby). Rooms are fairly standard and have the usual dark and tiny Disney bathrooms, but are somewhat embellished by flat-screen TVs and iPod-playing clock-radios. Since they're spread around six buildings, you'll likely have to walk outside to reach yours. Only the few "Lagoon View" rooms stand a chance of having a view of the Magic Kingdom (availability is first-come, first-serve upon check-in), but the park's nightly fireworks are visible to all from the resort's ferry dock.

See + Do

Epcot, Florida

Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Tel: 407 824 4321
Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/parkLanding?id=EPLandingPage

Although Walt Disney wanted Epcot to be a real experimental community, like the Biosphere, what eventually opened 16 years after his death was more akin to a World's Fair, with corporate-sponsored rides and a mini-United Nations of pavilions representing a few of the world's countries. Epcot's focal point, the gorgeous orb of Spaceship Earth, houses one of the last attractions remaining from the 1982 opening, a history of communications. The Future World area, which surrounds Spaceship Earth is really a collection of family-friendly thrills like the launch simulator Mission:Space and the flying simulator Soarin' (it's the current blockbuster attraction, so hit it up early, when the line is short). World Showcase, gathered on a 1.3-mile footpath encircling the World Showcase Lagoon, is staffed by people native to the country of their respective pavilions. The American pavilion takes pride of place at the center, though the most interesting shopping options are in the Japan pavilion, which operates an outpost of Tokyo's historic Mitsukoshi department store. Authentic souvenirs and food are available at each stop, along with alcohol, which isn't sold at the Magic Kingdom.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
ALT HERE

Hotel

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Florida

2901 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Tel: 407 939 6244
Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com

By far the most interesting Disney-run hotel—and the best choice for guests who aren't enamored of the company's mythology—the 1,307-room property, several miles from the western frontier of the Disney campus, overlooks savannahs stocked with real African game. Giraffes, zebras, ostrich, and other animals roam carefree, and most rooms have a furnished balcony peering over the cud-chewing action (a fraction face the parking lot or animal-free gardens). The buzzy lobby mimics a luxury safari lodge and hosts regular wildlife talks and movie screenings beneath its 100-foot vaulted atrium. Away from the animals, in a secluded grove by the property's three restaurants (one counter-service, two by reservation), there's a pool with a water slide. Rooms are accented with carved woods and mock-Afro fabrics, but are standard in every other way. And if you actually want to do anything—from having dinner (with a reservation) to storing luggage—be prepared to wait in line.

See + Do

Disney's Animal Kingdom, Florida

Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Tel: 407 824 4321
Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/parkLanding?id=AKLandingPage

Added in 1998, Animal Kingdom is the most spacious Disney Park by a large margin (500 acres), although most of that belongs to the menagerie of exotic, free-roaming animals. See them on the 20-minute excursion, "Kilimanjaro Safaris," as soon as the park opens, before long lines form and the animals seek shelter from the sun. When Disney realized the Kingdom's big-ticket attractions (the clever, sense-tricking movie It's Tough to Be a Bug! shown beneath the Tree of Life, the bruising indoor ride Dinosaur, and a few exhibits about animal conservation) weren't keeping guests busy enough to stay until closing time (at dusk), they added a roller coaster, Expedition Everest, in spring 2006 and a Broadway-style musical version of Finding Nemo, opened a year later. Despite these additions, visitors still tend to vacate the park by 2pm or so. Since much of the park's attractions are exposed to the elements, either limit your visit to the cooler morning hours or make sure to wear appropriate clothing.

Eating

Todd English's Bluezoo, Florida

1500 Epcot Resorts Boulevard
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Tel: 407 934 1111
Website: www.thebluezoo.com

Now that Orlando has proved to be fertile ground for celebrity chefs (Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck both have locations in the busy tourist corridor), seemingly every culinary marquee name is unpacking his utensils in O-Town. Todd English, the Boston-area impresario behind Olives, is pulling the strings at the seafood-oriented BlueZoo, located at the Michael Graves–designed Dolphin Hotel near Epcot. In addition to a selection of simple, fish-first dishes such as miso-glazed Chilean sea bass and raw-bar oysters and clams, English adds fusion touches, such as Cantonese lobster with a sticky soy glaze, plus a selection of flatbreads. The dining area, done by Jeffrey Beers, is a bit "Disney-fied"—a pleasing but intense environment of cobalt neon, twisting glass sculpture, wooden slats, and copper light fixtures.

See + Do

Islands of Adventure, Florida

Universal Orlando Resort
Orlando, Florida
Tel: 407 363 8000
Website: www.universalorlando.com

Considered by aficionados to be the best-designed amusement park on earth, IOA's designers spared little expense. Its five themed areas (Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing) are distinct and hand-designed down to the lampshades and the trash cans. Its entangled Dueling Dragons coasters are synchronized to tease riders with three near-collisions, and the Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges are the wettest and most thrilling of the white-water boat genre. Don't miss the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, where riders don 3-D glasses and whisk through a series of rooms in which motion simulation, animation, and sense trickery (bursts of flame, water droplets) collaborate in thrilling harmony. Next up for the park: A whole Harry Potter universe, set to open in 2010. Leave your bags in your car (the parking lot's covered), since you can't bring anything but yourself and your screams onto the roller coasters.

Doc's

See + Do

Seaworld Orlando, Florida

7007 SeaWorld Drive
Orlando, Florida
Tel: 800 327 2424
Website: www.seaworld.com

Here, the pace is slower than at most amusement parks, because the focus is on wildlife and education instead of magic or thrills. Yes, there's the savage Kraken roller coaster and the Journey to Atlantis flume to appease the kids, but by and large, this well-manicured park provides a place to peer into aquariums at your own speed and observe manatees, dolphins, penguins, beluga whales, walruses, and other giants of the sea. The park's prize orcas, collectively named Shamu, perform several times daily at a specially constructed stadium that affords views from above and under the surface of the water. The killer whale's favorite trick? Dousing anyone within reach—so pay close attention to the "splash zones" delineated on stadium floors.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.