Family-Friendly Poolside Resort Steps from Disney Attractions
When Walt Disney designed Walt Disney World© in the 1960s, he wanted to build something more than just the East Coast’s answer to Disneyland. He envisioned a futuristic “Community of Tomorrow” that would exist right alongside the park. Even though Disney’s planned city never came to pass, his resort grew to become so successful that most of greater Orlando now reflects his influence. There are mouse ears, costumed characters, and grand-scale spectacles everywhere, especially in Downtown Disney Marketplace©, a public shopping and entertainment district so extravagant that it’s practically a theme park of its own. The Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel neighbors this neon stretch, making it one of the most conveniently located hotels in the area.
You can also take the hotel's free shuttle, which stops by the lobby every hour and continues on to all four Disney parks. It’s one of many ways the hotel is intertwined with the parks; you can visit the onsite gift shop for themed souvenirs or flick on the Disney channel to watch individual biographies of all 101 Dalmatians.
Outside the hotel, families can relax at a heated pool with an adjoining kiddie pool. Then stop for a meal at Trader’s Island Grill, where the menu includes kid-size mac ‘n’ cheese ($3.99) and Caribbean-inspired entrees such as jerk chicken with papaya salsa ($15.99).
Even though it’s minutes from one of the most-visited places on the planet, the poolside area is quiet, shielded by palms and live oaks. Overlooking the same tropical scenery are the deluxe queen rooms, which each feature a patio with a sliding-glass door.
Greater Orlando: Pyrotechnics and Acrobatics in Former Swamp
Despite popular misconceptions, Walt Disney World© isn't actually in Orlando. It lies in Lake Buena Vista instead, a former marsh; the area is still dotted with hundreds of lakes and ponds, making it look a bit like a slice of swiss cheese from above. But today, there aren't many indicators that this area was anything but an entertainment mecca.
Head to Epcot© to find re-creations of France, Norway, and Japan, or stop by Magic Kingdom’s© fireworks show, which you can enjoy from the Ticket and Transportation Center without actually entering the park.
One of the area's most acclaimed performances is put on by another group of consummate entertainers: Cirque du Soleil. During La Nouba performances, acrobats spiral down silk ribbons and flip off trampolines made from thousands of super-glued rubber balls.
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