Frommer s Walt Disney World and Orlando with Kids

by Jim Tunstall

Author Jim Tunstall Isbn 9780764544996 File size 10MB Year 2004 Pages 352 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship No other city on the planet caters to kids like Orlando does it s the number one family vacation destination in the country This brand new title helps you navigate through the maze of theme parks family activities and other attractions in the Land that Mickey Built so you can spend more time having fun and less time standing in line Whether you re toti

Publisher :

Author : Jim Tunstall

ISBN : 9780764544996

Year : 2004

Language: English

File Size : 10MB

Category : Family and Friendship



Walt Disney
World & Orlando
with Kids
®

1st Edition
by Jim & Cynthia Tunstall

Here’s what the critics say about Frommer’s:
“Amazingly easy to use. Very portable, very complete.”
—Booklist
“Detailed, accurate, and easy-to-read information for all price ranges.”
—Glamour Magazine
“Hotel information is close to encyclopedic.”
—Des Moines Sunday Register
“Frommer’s Guides have a way of giving you a real feel for a place.”
—Knight Ridder Newspapers

Walt Disney
World & Orlando
with Kids
®

1st Edition
by Jim & Cynthia Tunstall

Here’s what the critics say about Frommer’s:
“Amazingly easy to use. Very portable, very complete.”
—Booklist
“Detailed, accurate, and easy-to-read information for all price ranges.”
—Glamour Magazine
“Hotel information is close to encyclopedic.”
—Des Moines Sunday Register
“Frommer’s Guides have a way of giving you a real feel for a place.”
—Knight Ridder Newspapers

Published by:

Wiley Publishing, Inc.
111 River St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
Copyright © 2004 Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. All rights
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any product or vendor mentioned in this book.
ISBN 0-7645-4499-3
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Manufactured in the United States of America
5

4

3

2

1

Contents
1

List of Maps

vi

How to Feel Like an Orlando Family

1

1 Frommer’s Favorite Orlando
Family Experiences . . . . . . . . . . .4
Chills & Thrills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

2

48

2 Getting Around . . . . . . . . . . . . .53

Fast Facts: Walt Disney World
& Orlando . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58

Family-Friendly Accommodations
1 Choosing Your Orlando Hotel . . .61
Staying for Less . . . . . . . . . . . . .63
2 Places to Stay in Walt
Disney World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67
3 “Official” Hotels in Lake
Buena Vista . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83
4 Other Lake Buena Vista
Area Hotels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87

11

7 Planning Your Trip Online . . . . . .33
Frommers.com: The Complete
Travel Resource . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
Online Traveler’s Toolbox . . . . . .35
8 Getting There . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
9 Tips on Flying with Children . . . .39
In-Flight Fun for Kids . . . . . . . . .41
10 Package Deals for Families . . . . .44
A Magical Gathering . . . . . . . . .45
11 Disney Cruise Packages . . . . . . .45
12 Show & Tell: Getting the Kids
Interested In Orlando . . . . . . . . .47

Getting to Know Walt Disney World & Orlando
1 Orientation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48
Orlando Neighborhoods
in Brief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51

4

Orlando’s Best Online Sites . . . . .9

Planning a Family Trip to Walt Disney World
& Orlando
1 Visitor Information . . . . . . . . . . .11
Walt Disney World & Orlando—
Red Alert Checklist . . . . . . . . . .12
2 Money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
What Things Cost in Orlando . . .15
3 When to Go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
Kids’ Favorite Orlando Events . . .18
4 What to Pack . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
5 Insurance, Health & Safety . . . . .23
6 Words of Wisdom & Helpful
Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Kid-Friendly Tours . . . . . . . . . . .26

3

2 The Best Hotel Bets . . . . . . . . . . .6
3 The Best Dining Bets . . . . . . . . . .8

61

5 Places to Stay in the
Kissimmee Area . . . . . . . . . . . . .92
Homes Away from Home . . . . . .96
6 Places to Stay in the
International Drive Area . . . . . . .97
So You Didn’t Book a Room. . . 101

iv

CONTENTS

5

Family-Friendly Dining
1 Restaurants by Cuisine . . . . . . .107
2 Places to Dine in Walt
Disney World . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109
More Kid Cuisine. . . . . . . . . . .123
3 Places to Dine in Lake
Buena Vista . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127
4 Places to Dine in Universal
Orlando . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131

6

8

More Kid Cuisine II. . . . . . . . .133
5 Places to Dine in the
International Drive Area . . . . . .135
6 Places to Dine Elsewhere
in Orlando . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .138
7 Only in Orlando: Dining with
Disney Characters . . . . . . . . . .144

What Kids Like to See & Do
in Walt Disney World
1 Essentials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .147
2 Making Your Visit More
Enjoyable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .151
FASTPASS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .153
Suggested Itineraries . . . . . . . .153
Hidden Treasure . . . . . . . . . . .158
3 The Magic Kingdom . . . . . . . . .159
Frommer’s Rates the Rides . . . .162
A (Baker’s) Dozen Suggestions
for Fewer Headaches . . . . . . . .164
4 Epcot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .176
Top 10 Orlando Family
Attractions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180

7

105

147

5
6
7

8

Behind the Scenes: Special
Tours in Walt Disney World . . .182
Great Things to Buy
at Epcot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .190
Disney–MGM Studios . . . . . . .194
Find the Hidden Mickeys . . . . .200
Animal Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . .204
Animal Kingdom Tip Sheet . . . .207
Disney Water Parks . . . . . . . . .213
Water Park Dos & Don’ts . . . . .216
Did You Know? . . . . . . . . . . . .217
Other WDW Attractions . . . . . .218

What Kids Like to See & Do Beyond Disney

220

1 Universal Studios Florida . . . . .222
Suggested Itineraries . . . . . . . .227
Frommer’s Rates the Rides . . . .229
Universal Cuisine . . . . . . . . . . .234
2 Islands of Adventure . . . . . . . .235
Some Practical Advice for
Island Adventurers . . . . . . . . . .236
Suggested Itineraries . . . . . . . .239

Great Things to Buy at
Islands of Adventure . . . . . . . .248
3 SeaWorld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .248
New Dining Programs . . . . . . .252
More Active Fun . . . . . . . . . . .256
4 Other Area Attractions . . . . . . .258
5 Attractions Outside Orlando . . .263

Orlando for Active Families

265

1 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .265
Hitting the Links . . . . . . . . . . .266
2 Spectator Sports . . . . . . . . . . .269

3 Playing on the Green: Orlando’s
Parks & Playgrounds . . . . . . . .270
4 Kids’ Camps & Classes . . . . . . .271

v

CONTENTS

9

Shopping for the Whole Family
1 The Shopping Scene . . . . . . . .272
Setting Limits . . . . . . . . . . . . .274

272

2 Shopping A to Z . . . . . . . . . . .278

10 Entertainment for the Whole Family
1
2
3
4
5

Dinner Shows . . . . . . . . . . . . .283
Arcades & Fun Centers . . . . . .286
Movies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .287
Theater . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .288
Concert Venues . . . . . . . . . . . .288

6 Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .288
7 Night Out for Mom & Dad . . . .288

On the Boardwalk . . . . . . . . . .289
Not Your Ordinary Circus . . . . .292

11 Side Trips from Orlando
1 Tampa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .297
Special Meals & Tours at
Busch Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . .302

297
2 Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral
& Kennedy Space Center . . . . .307

Appendix A: For International Visitors
1 Preparing for Your Trip . . . . . . .314
Visitor Information Abroad . . . .315
Walt Disney World Services for
International Visitors . . . . . . . .320

283

314

2 Getting to the U.S. . . . . . . . . .321
3 Getting Around the U.S. . . . . . .322

Fast Facts: For the
International Traveler . . . . . . . .323

Appendix B: Useful Toll-Free
Numbers & Websites

328

Index

331

General Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .331
Accommodations Index . . . . . . . . .338

Restaurant Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . .339

List of Maps
Orlando Area Theme Parks 2
Orlando Neighborhoods 49
Walt Disney World & Lake Buena
Vista Accommodations 68
Kissimmee Area Accommodations
93
International Drive Area
Accommodations 99
Epcot Dining 111
Walt Disney World & Lake Buena
Vista Dining 118
International Drive Area Dining
137
Dining Elsewhere in Orlando 139
Walt Disney World Parks &
Attractions 149

The Magic Kingdom 160
Epcot 177
Disney–MGM Studios Theme
Park 195
Animal Kingdom 205
Universal Orlando 221
Universal Studios Florida 224
Islands of Adventure 237
SeaWorld 249
Orlando Area Attractions 259
Orlando Shopping 273
Downtown Disney 291
CityWalk 295
Tampa 298
Cape Canaveral 309

Acknowledgments
Angie Ranck and Katie Wilmeth of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors
Bureau; Sandra Robert, Gary Buchanan, and Karen Haynes of the Walt Disney World
staff; Camille Dudley at Universal Orlando; and Kjerstin Dillon with SeaWorld are perennial troopers who make sure we survive our time in the trenches.
Our grandsons, Jake and Andy Tourigny, give us a youthful perspective and the energy
to attack the theme parks time after time.
The editorial staff at Frommer’s would also like to thank David Brady, Kevin Rafferty,
and Dave Smith at Disney, and Katie Elliott at Universal, for their invaluable insights and
assistance.

An Invitation to the Reader
In researching this book, we discovered many wonderful places—hotels, restaurants,
shops, and more. We’re sure you’ll find others. Please tell us about them, so we can share
the information with your fellow travelers in upcoming editions. If you were disappointed
with a recommendation, we’d love to know that, too. Please write to:
Frommer’s Walt Disney World & Orlando with Kids, 1st Edition
Wiley Publishing, Inc. • 111 River St. • Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774

About the Authors
Jim and Cynthia Tunstall have racked up plenty of time waiting in Walt Disney
World lines. They were there when the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, and in the
more than 3 decades since that watershed moment they’ve sampled virtually everything that’s part of an Orlando vacation with their kids and grandkids. Their many
insider experiences allow them to separate the good from the bad and the ugly, and
they give you the best ways to cut through the lines, the crowds, and the theme park
PR in order to find the things that are right for you.
Based 90 minutes from WDW, they’ve written six other Orlando and Florida books,
including Walt Disney World & Orlando For Dummies and Florida For Dummies. They
have also contributed to Frommer’s Florida and Frommer’s Florida from $70 a Day.

An Additional Note
Please be advised that travel information is subject to change at any time—and this is
especially true of prices. We therefore suggest that you write or call ahead for confirmation when making your travel plans. The authors, editors, and publisher cannot be held
responsible for the experiences of readers while traveling. Your safety is important to us,
however, so we encourage you to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Keep a
close eye on cameras, purses, and wallets, all favorite targets of thieves and pickpockets.

Other Great Guides for Your Trip:
Frommer’s Florida
Frommer’s Walt Disney World & Orlando
Frommer’s Portable Tampa & St. Petersburg
Frommer’s Best-Loved Florida’s Driving Tours
Frommer’s Irreverent Guide to Walt Disney World
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World
The Unofficial Disney Companion
Beyond Disney: The Unofficial Guide

Frommer’s Star Ratings, Icons & Abbreviations
Every hotel, restaurant, and attraction listing in this guide has been ranked for quality,
value, service, amenities, and special features using a star-rating system. Hotels and
restaurants are rated on a scale of zero (recommended) to three stars (exceptional). Attractions, shopping, nightlife, towns, and regions are rated according to the following scale:
zero stars (recommended), one star (highly recommended), two stars (very highly recommended), and three stars (must-see).
In addition to the star-rating system, we also use six feature icons that point you to
the great deals, in-the-know advice and unique experiences that separate travelers from
tourists. Throughout the book, look for:
Finds

Special finds—those places only insiders know about

Fun Fact

Fun facts—details that make travelers more informed and their trips
more fun

Moments

Special moments–those experiences that memories are made of

Overrated

Places or experiences not worth your time or money

Tips

Insider tips—great ways to save time and money

Value

Great values—where to get the best deals

The following abbreviations are used for credit cards:
AE American Express
DISC Discover
DC Diners Club
MC MasterCard

V Visa

Frommers.com
Now that you have the guidebook to a great trip, visit our website at www.frommers.com
for travel information on more than 3,000 destinations. With features updated regularly,
we give you instant access to the most current trip-planning information available. At
Frommers.com, you’ll also find the best prices on airfares, accommodations, and car
rentals—and you can even book travel online through our travel booking partners. At
Frommers.com, you’ll also find the following:





Online updates to our most popular guidebooks
Vacation sweepstakes and contest giveaways
Newsletter highlighting the hottest travel trends
Online travel message boards with featured travel discussions

1
How to Feel Like
an Orlando Family
I

f we’re ever in doubt, and we confess that at times we are, we only need to look
into the eyes and smiles of our grandsons, and the tens of thousands of other
kids we see on a visit to Orlando, to come to one conclusion: This is a magical
place where children and families are the real VIPs.
For every business that caters to adult travelers, there are three or four others
that roll out the red carpet to children of all ages and their families. They tempt
you with special check-in desks, kid-friendly menus, character meet-and-greets,
and slightly lower admission prices for those 3 to 9 years old. Some hotels and
motels have special programs for youngsters—and, in a few cases, teenagers—
giving them their own space to hang around with their peers. A handful of landing zones offer rooms themed on cartoon characters or action heroes. And almost
every one of them lets kids ages 17 and under stay free with paying adults.
Thank Walter Elias Disney and his wannabes for that.
Uncle Walt laid the foundation for what, in the past 3 decades, has become
America’s No. 1 vacation destination for the young and young at heart.
Until his heirs opened the Magic Kingdom in 1971, water-skiing and alligator wrestling shows were the only attractions, and central Florida’s motels and
restaurants had to make most of their living off business travelers or those who
came to visit relatives at a high-and-dry naval training center.
Nowadays, The Kingdom That Walt Built tries to make you a POD—Prisoner of Disney—by tempting you with four theme parks, a dozen smaller attractions, two nightclub districts for when mom and dad need a rest, tens of
thousands of hotel rooms including timeshare holdings, scores of restaurants,
and two cruise ships. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld add four theme parks,
while the smaller fry ante up 80 lesser attractions, an avalanche of restaurants,
and enough hotel rooms to boost central Florida’s total to more than 110,000.
Of course, all of that comes with a price and you’re the one paying.
Amusement Business, a trade journal that charts theme-park attendance, says a
typical family of four spends about $250 a day for admission, parking, a fastfood lunch, and two small souvenirs. That’s without a room, other meals, transportation to and from Orlando, and other expenses.
There’s also an intangible price to pay: anxiety. There are so many things to
see and do that a 2-week stay and deep pockets won’t allow you the time to hit
all of the parks and attractions. That unravels some travelers and can leave the
unwary family feeling slightly frazzled.
But here comes the cavalry. Us. Over the years, we have explored the parks
with our kids and grandkids, dined with many a child at Orlando’s restaurants,
and snooped around and inside area resorts and hotel so that we can give you an
inside track. With this book, you’ll have the tools to plan ahead and make sure

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C H A P T E R 1 . H O W T O F E E L L I K E A N O R L A N D O F A M I LY

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C H A P T E R 1 . H O W T O F E E L L I K E A N O R L A N D O F A M I LY

Fun Fact By the Numbers
While the post September 11, 2001, economy has cut into tourism, Central
Florida still handles a staggering number of tourists. The individual parks
don’t release figures, but Amusement Business estimates theme-park
attendance. Its figures show the four Disney parks handle about 40 million visitors annually, Universal’s two have about 141⁄ 2 million, and SeaWorld of Florida chips in another 51⁄ 2 million.

all members of your family have a good time. There’s more than enough information here to make you a savvy shopper. Our job: to make your family vacation easy to arrange and as enjoyable as possible so you’ll be able to relax while
you’re here and feel like you’re kids again (and your kids will feel like they’ve hit
the theme-park jackpot). At the same time, we’re going to give you options to
make your vacation affordable. We noted some of the best deals in this corner
of the planet and ways to keep expenses to a minimum while having maximum
fun. And Orlando tourism gurus will make sure your family has a steady stream
of new things to see.

1 Frommer’s Favorite Orlando Family Experiences
From Cinderella Castle to Space
Mountain, everybody loves the Magic
Kingdom, but here are some other
things to try at Disney and Universal,
and in the greater Orlando area (see
chapters 6 and 7 for details):
• Spend a day at Epcot. This is a
great stop if your kids are old
enough to have inquiring minds.
You can travel around the world at
the World Showcase pavilions, get
your thrills riding Mission: Space
and Test Track, then have a different look into the future at
Innoventions, where space-age
products and interactive games
await you. And, what better way
to cap your day than watching the
IllumiNations fireworks show!
For more details, see “Epcot,” in
chapter 6.
• Star Gaze at the Orlando Science Center. But the planetarium
is only part of the fun. Your heirs
can dabble in Weird Science, 123
Math Avenue, KidsTown, and lots
more at this popular downtown
attraction. See p. 263.

• Visit Disney–MGM Studios.
This park has lots of great things
for kids and movie buffs. If you
have kids over 8, don’t miss Tower
of Terror and Rock ’n’ Roller
Coaster. The whole family should
see Fantasmic!—the after-dark
fireworks, live action, and laser
lights show.
• Check Out Gatorland. Located
between Orlando and Kissimmee,
this throwback park is a great way
to spend a half day at less than half
the price of the major theme
parks. Make sure to see Gator
Jumparoo, which has been the signature show since the park opened
in 1949. If you have deep pockets
and your kids are over 12, they (or
you) can be a Trainer for a Day.
And don’t forget a visit to the gift
shop if the boys (and some girls)
in your party want an offbeat
gator gift. See p. 260.
• Experience Universal Orlando.
Universal Studios Florida and its
sister, Islands of Adventure, combine cutting-edge, high-tech special effects with great creativity,

F R O M M E R ’ S F A V O R I T E O R L A N D O F A M I LY E X P E R I E N C E S

5

Moments Chills & Thrills
For parents and older children (who meet the mandatory height
requirements) looking for the ups and downs of a good ride, here are
the top stomach churners and G-force generators in Orlando (see
chapters 6, “What Kids Like to See & Do in Walt Disney World,” and 7,
“What Kids Like to See & Do Beyond Disney,” for more information):
• Incredible Hulk Coaster (Islands of Adventure). You’ll blast from 0 to
40 mph in 2 seconds, spin upside down, and endure seven rollovers
and two plummets on this glow-in-the-dark roller coaster. See p. 242.
• Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster (Disney–MGM Studios). You’ll launch from 0
to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and go into the first inversion as 120 speakers in your “stretch limo” mainline Aerosmith at (yeeeow!) 32,000
watts. See p. 200.
• Dueling Dragons (Islands of Adventure). Your legs dangle as you
ride through five inversions at 55 to 60 mph and—get this—three
times come within 12 inches of the other roller coaster. See p. 245.
• Summit Plummet (Disney’s Blizzard Beach). This one starts from a
120-foot-high perch and turns into the world’s fastest body slide, a
test of your courage and swimsuit as it has you moving sans vehicle
at 60 mph. See p. 217.
• Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney–MGM Studios). The free-fall
experiences (there are several scenarios) are more than thrilling—
they’re scary (one of the ride’s designers is too scared to get on it).
Once your legs stop shaking, some of you will want to ride again.
See p. 202.
• The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure). 3D
doesn’t get any better than this ride that has you twisting, spinning,
and soaring before a simulated 400-foot drop that feels awful real.
See p. 241.
• Mission: Space (Epcot). If you’re claustrophobic or prone to motion
sickness, stay clear of this ride that simulates liftoff and G-force, and
gets the seal of approval from the NASA astronauts who helped
design it. See p. 185.
• Kraken (SeaWorld). This floorless, open-sided coaster uses speed (up
to 65 mph), steep climbs, deep drops, and seven loops to create
a stomach-churning ride that lasts far too long for some folks. See
p. 254.

though the latter is more appealing to preteens, teens, and adults.
Not-to-be-missed attractions:
Back to the Future . . . The Ride,
Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across
Time, Men in Black Alien Attack,
Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast,
Dueling Dragons, the Incredible
Hulk Coaster, The Amazing

Adventures of Spider-Man, and
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls.
• Explore Eco-Entertainment at
SeaWorld and Discovery Cove.
Journey to Atlantis and Kraken
give SeaWorld a little zip, but it’s
still better to come here looking
for what this place best offers—
hands-on encounters with critters

6

C H A P T E R 1 . H O W T O F E E L L I K E A N O R L A N D O F A M I LY

and up-close views of animals
ranging from polar bears to killer
whales (kids of all ages will be
entranced). Its newer sister, Discovery Cove, gives you a chance to
swim with dolphins (alas, at press
time it cost $229) as part of its
package.
• Become a Monorail Co-Pilot. If
there’s no one but the pilot

aboard, ask to sit up front and you
and your kids can pretend to drive
Disney’s monorail. This won’t
work at peak times such as the
opening or closing times of the
theme parks, and your best chance
is if you can board at the Grand
Floridian, Contemporary, or Polynesian resorts. See p. 158.

2 The Best Hotel Bets
Get all of the information you’ll need
on these and other area hotels and
motels in chapter 4, “Family-Friendly
Accommodations.” But here are the
high points:
• Most Family-Friendly Hotels:
All Disney properties cater to families, with special menus for kids,
video-game arcades, free transportation to the parks, many
recreational facilities, and, in some
cases, character meals. Camping at
woodsy Fort Wilderness (& 407/
934-7639) makes for a special
family experience. If bunk beds
and a geyser going off in the lobby
sound good, check into the
Wilderness Lodge (& 407/9347639). On the No-Mickey Front,
Holiday Inn Family Suites
(& 877/387-5437 or 407/3875437), Holiday Inn Nikki Bird
Resort (& 800/206-2747 or
407/396-7300), and Holiday Inn
Sunspree Resort Lake Buena
Vista (& 800/366-6299 or 407/
239-4500) offer Kid Suites, kids’
clubs, and more. See chapter 4 for
more family-friendly accommodations.
• Best Moderately Priced Hotels:
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
(& 407/934-7639) has Southern
charm in its French Quarter and
Riverside areas, and the pool in
the French Quarter has a water
slide that curves out of a dragon’s
mouth. See p. 80. In the free

world, Hawthorn Suites Lake
Buena Vista (& 800/936-9417
or 407/597-5000) is near to but
sheltered from Disney, and has
large rooms, free American breakfasts, and weekday social hours.
See p. 90.
• Best Value/Deal: That’s easy: Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
(& 407/934-7639; p. 81), AllStar Music Resort (& 407/9347639; p. 81), All-Star Sports
Resort (& 407/934-7639; p. 82),
and Pop Century Resort (& 407/
934-7639; p. 82). If you’re going
to stay on WDW property, you
can’t beat them, though they
would be significantly overpriced
outside of the realm. The Hampton Inn Maingate West (& 800/
936-9417 or 407/396-6300; p. 95)
is one of the nicest, most modern
of the inexpensive properties in
the Kissimmee area, and it’s only
11⁄ 2 miles west of Disney.
• Best Budget Motel: The Ramada
Inn Resort Eastgate (& 800/
272-6232 or 407/396-1111) has
clean rooms, is located close to
Disney, and there’s a restaurant
next door. All these things make it
a good budget choice. See p. 96.
But if price is your lone consideration, it’s hard to beat the nearby
Econo Lodge Maingate Resort
(& 800/356-6935 or 407/3909063), where rates are as low as
$39 double. See p. 95.

T H E B E S T H OT E L B E T S

• Best Spa for Kids: That’s not a
typo. The Holiday Inn Family
Suites (& 877/387-5437 or 407/
387-5437) started something
good with its Sugar & Spice Kids
Spa, with services from $10 to
$99. (It has services for grownups,
too.) The resort also has a lounge,
fitness center, and whirlpool so
that parents can spend a little time
on their own. See p. 91.
• Best Kids’ Programs: The Wizard of Diz has dandy kids’ centers
at some resorts, but there also are
great ones outside Disney. Our
top five outside Mickey’s World
are Camp Hyatt at the Hyatt
Regency Grand Cypress (& 800/
233-1234 or 407/239-1234),
Ritz Kids at the Ritz-Carlton
(& 800/241-3333 or 407/2062400), Camp Nikki at Holiday
Inn Nikki Bird (& 800/2062747 or 407/396-7300), La Petite
Academy at Gaylord Palms
(& 877/677-9352 or 407/5860000), and Camp Holiday at
Holiday Inn Sunspree (& 800/
366-6299 or 407/239-4500). You
can find more details in chapter 4,
“Family-Friendly Accommodations.”
• Tops for Toddlers: Watch their
faces light up when larger-thanlife raccoon mascots Max and
Maxine show up to tuck them in
at Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort
Lake Buena Vista (& 800/3666299). See p. 91.
• Tops for Teens: We’ve yet to find
a mainstream hotel that comes
close to the activities offered in
Common Grounds, the teen clubs

7

aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s
Wonder and Magic (& 800/9513532). Activities for 13 to 17 year
olds include karaoke, a Hawaiian
pool party, and improv. See p. 45.
• Best Location: Disney’s Grand
Floridian Resort & Spa (& 407/
934-7639; p. 72), Polynesian
Resort (& 407/934-7639; p. 74),
and Contemporary Resort
(& 407/934-7639; p. 72) are on
Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake.
They’re also on the WDW monorail route, providing quick and easy
access to the parks. The Portofino
Bay Hotel (& 888/322-5541 or
407/503-1000; p. 97), Hard Rock
Hotel (& 800/232-7827 or 407/
503-7625; p. 98), and Royal
Pacific (& 800/232-7827 or 407/
503-3000; p. 100) are within walking distance of Universal’s parks
and CityWalk, and there’s also boat
service available.
• Best Views: The whole family can
watch the Magic Kingdom’s new
Wishes fireworks display from the
comfort of your room if you book
one on an upper floor on the west
side of the Contemporary Resort
(& 407/934-7639; p. 72). And
you have a front-row seat for the
action at SeaWorld from the
upper east-side floors at the
Renaissance Orlando Resort at
SeaWorld (& 800/327-6677;
p. 100).
• Best Family Pools: Arguably, the
best pool in O-Town is at the
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Resort (& 800/233-1234 or
407/239-1234). It’s a half-acre

Fun Fact From All Sides
In order to produce the 13-minute IllumiNations spectacular each night at
Epcot, Disney uses 68 fireworks firing positions and more than 1,100
shells.

8

C H A P T E R 1 . H O W T O F E E L L I K E A N O R L A N D O F A M I LY

lagoon-like pool that flows
through rock grottoes, is spanned
by a rope bridge, and has 12
waterfalls and two steep water
slides. See p. 88. The JW Marriott’s Lazy River (& 800/2413333 or 407/206-2300) finishes a

close second. It’s a 24,000-squarefoot winding stream through
small waterfalls and rock formations. See p. 89. Most of the Walt
Disney World resorts have terrific
pools, too.

3 The Best Dining Bets
While Orlando can’t compete with
U.S. destinations such as New York or
San Francisco, it has everything on the
restaurant front from fast-food joints
that will satisfy your kids to 5-Diamond winners for a more adult palate.
Look for more details on these and
other eateries in chapter 5, “FamilyFriendly Dining.”
• Best Character Meal: Hands
down, it doesn’t get any better
than Chef Mickey’s (& 407/9393463) breakfasts and dinners at
Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
These “events” feature their
respective namesake and other
characters, but a word of warning:
They draw up to 1,600 guests each
morning. See p. 145.
• Best Kids’ Menu Range: When it
comes to the deepest menu for
young taste buds, Pastamore Ristorante at Universal CityWalk
(& 407/363-8000) gives kids a
choice of nine entrees. See p. 134.
• Best Offbeat Kids’ Menu: With a
menu that offers beef or chicken
teriyaki, shrimp tempura, pork
dumplings, and sushi, it’s hard
to beat Ran-Getsu of Tokyo
(& 407/345-0044) in this category. See p. 136.
• Best Burgers: From Cheeseburgers in Paradise to Cuban Meatloaf
Survival Sandwiches, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Universal
CityWalk (& 407/224-2155) has
some of the juiciest and most
unusual burgers in town. See
p. 134.

• Best Outdoor Eating: Kids can
get into the festive jungle atmosphere while digging into their
own wild menu at the Rainforest
Cafe in Downtown Disney West
Side, which offers indoor as well
as patio dining (& 407/8278500). See p. 121. The terrace at
Artist Point (& 407/939-3463),
the premier restaurant at Disney’s
Wilderness Lodge, overlooks a
lake, waterfall, and scenery evocative of America’s national parks.
See p. 124. And the Rose &
Crown at Epcot (& 407/9393463) delivers a front-row seat for
the IllumiNations fireworks display. See p. 114.
• Best Value: At Romano’s Macaroni Grill (& 407/239-6676),
the ambience and northern Italian
cuisine score very high, and prices
are low, low, low. See p. 130.
• Best Spot for a Parent’s Night
Out: Dinners don’t get much more
romantic than those at the Victorian-style Victoria & Albert’s
(& 407/939-3463). The meal is
comprised of six courses served by
a maid and butler. See p. 122.
• Best Ice Cream: Go for the
splurge (and maybe a larger waist
size) at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain
and Chocolate Shop (& 407/
934-8855) in Downtown Disney
West Side. See p. 281.
• Best Barbecue: Hands down, follow your nose to Bubbalou’s
Bodacious BBQ (& 407/6281212) after catching a whiff of the

THE BEST DINING BETS

9

Tips Orlando’s Best Online Sites
Given Orlando’s enormous popularity, it should come as no surprise
that hundreds of websites are devoted to it. They have a lot of information about everything from Walt Disney World history to getting
around town.
There are several sites written by Disney fans, employees, and selfproclaimed experts. Our favorite (www.hiddenmickeys.org) is about
Hidden Mickeys, a park tradition (see chapter 6, “What Kids Like to
See & Do in Walt Disney World”). These subtle Disney images can be
found scattered throughout the realm, though they sometimes are in
the eye, or imagination, of the beholder. Deb’s Unofficial Walt Disney
World Information Guide (http://allearsnet.com) is another pleaser for
Disney fans, which has tons of family info on hotels, restaurants,
attractions, and more. And you should definitely take a look at Disney’s official site, www.disneyworld.com, if you’re planning a pilgrimage to the Land of the Mouse.
If a trip to one of Universal Orlando’s theme parks or CityWalk is on
your dance card, then stop at www.universalorlando.com. You can
order tickets, make reservations, and find out about special events,
among other things on the site. And fish fans can get in the know
about SeaWorld at www.seaworld.com and Discovery Cove at www.
discoverycove.com.
If you’re seeking general information about the city, accommodations, dining, nightlife, or special events, head over to the Orlando/
Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau site at www.orlando
info.com. Orlando Weekly (www.orlandoweekly.com) offers cuttingedge reviews and recommendations for arts, movies, music, restaurants, and much more from Orlando’s premier alternative weekly.
Links at the site include dining, arts and culture, shopping, and news.

tangy hickory smoke. It tastes as
good as it smells. See p. 144.
• Best Italian Cuisine: We have
to give the nod to Pacino’s Italian
Ristorante in Kissimmee (& 407/
396-8022). It has great food and
a moderately priced menu. See
p. 143.
• Most Entertaining Restaurant:
It’s hard to contain yourself when
the corny jokes and lively music
kick into gear at the Hoop-DeeDoo Musical Revue at Disney’s
Fort Wilderness Resort and
Campground (& 407/939-3463).
See p. 283.

• Best Steak House: At the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s
Yacht Club Resort (& 407/9393463), the aged steaks, chops, and
seafood are grilled over a wood
fire. See p. 124.
• Best Breakfast: Disney character
breakfasts certainly get the nod if
you have children under 10 in
tow. But in terms of volume, it’s
hard to beat the Sunday brunch
at Atlantis in the Renaissance
Orlando Resort at SeaWorld
(& 407/351-5555). See p. 135.
• Most Kid-Friendly Service: The
entire family eats free at the fun,

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