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I’ve been asked many times over the past few years where my wife and I like to take our kids when we go on vacation. We have a seven year old and a two year old, and because of airlines, flight delays, transportation, etc, we really only consider one destination because we can get there without an excessive amount of hassle: Orlando’s Disney World. Disney of course offers everything that all of us could possibly want, including the day trips to SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios, and the myriad of other things to do that Orlando offers. It keeps all of us entertained every day, to the full extent that we can muster the energy.

The key to a successful vacation at Disney World is to get a great central base which to make all your excursions from, and plan everything at least weeks, but preferably months in advance. Our favorite hotel to stay at while we are there is the Pop Century Resort, because it’s close to everything, has quiet rooms, lovely pools, and it’s an all around beautiful resort. The cost is great, particularly when you buy a package (combo hotel/park pass/meals).

If you must rent a car, I’d recommend you consider renting for only the days that you need the car, as there is a rental agency on the Disney grounds. They’ll pick you up and drop you off at the resorts when you rent a car from them. We choose not to rent a car at the airport and keep it for the whole stay because of cost, and the fact that Disney picks you up and returns you to the airport in big, comfortable buses for free. Take advantage of it and enjoy the ride. The kids love it because Disney plays welcome videos for them to watch while en route to the resort, along with fun departure videos when returning to the airport, so time zooms by pretty quickly.

Our favorite theme restaurants with characters at Disney are (hands down) Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort, and EPCOT‘s Princess Storybook Dining. If you can get reservations for it, Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom is also very well worth the visit but plan on making reservations months in advance as I find it to be difficult to get seats there. For a dinner show, our favorite is Mickey’s Backyard BBQ when it’s in season. This event gets the crowd involved, so be prepared with cameras!

We like to visit Disney during the first or second week of December, while they are celebrating the holidays. The temperatures are comfortable in the daytime and can be cold at night, so bring light to medium-duty coats with you if traveling at this time of year. If you can make it, try to get into the special admission event Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas at the Magic Kingdom. It’s an incredible special event and worth the admission cost.

Keep in mind that Disney, and all the attractions that Orlando comes with, is far more than you can squeeze into a week. When we first went to Disney years ago, we tried to hit everything so our then-two-year-old daughter could “see it all”, and we just wore ourselves out. We learned very quickly that we needed to pace ourselves, and allow for plenty of rest so we could enjoy everything we went to. Another lesson learned: don’t push the kids to their breaking point. We did that with our daughter and had a couple of meltdowns that could have easily been prevented had we just worked in rest periods throughout the day so she could take naps and get some time in at the water parks (our favorite is Typhoon Lagoon, aside from the resort pools).

As for my wife and I, we enjoy the experience of seeing our kids having fun and enjoying life. We usually return wishing we could go on a vacation from our vacation, but all-in-all we thoroughly enjoy the experiences we have while in Orlando. It’s something I wish everyone on the planet could experience at least once in their lives because of the legendary service they provide.

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