Archive for the ‘Walt Disney World’ Category

Families get luxury treatment with Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort, Orlando, new ‘Red Carpet Family Package’

May 4, 2011

'Red Carpet' treatment at the Villas of Grand Cypress means you are whisked to the themepark of your choice by limousine with new family package © 2011 Karen Rubin/

Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort is giving families the opportunity to experience Orlando – one of the world’s most popular family destinations – with a distinctly “red carpet” feel. From stretch limousine transportation to a private hot air balloon tour, the property’s exclusive, three-night “Red Carpet Package” promises to leave families with a lifetime of memories.

The dream package, available May 1 through Sept. 30, starts at $3,600 plus tax and resort fee for a family of four (two adults, two children) and includes three nights accommodations in a spacious, luxurious two-bedroom villa, transportation in a luxurious stretch limousine from and to the Orlando International airport, and roundtrip limousine transportation to the themepark of your choice, for a full day of activity for a family at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando; a hot-air balloon tour of Orlando with sunrise picnic breakfast and limousine; a few hours of ‘decompression’ time will find Dad getting to play a round of golf, Mom enjoying a massage, and the kids heading off to half-day at the property’s Kids Camp. And just for Mom and Dad, a romantic evening just for the parents, featuring a specially prepared four-course meal at Nine18 restaurant, with a bottle of wine included, while the the kids are whisked away to a fun evening at Kids Camp, with their own dinner included.

The resort offers private villas along the fairways and waterways of the golf course. Each villa is furnished with a family-friendly living room, dining room and fully equipped kitchen, along with patios and verandas.

The Club, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner (and evolves into a sports bar in the evening) and Nine 18, open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, are the primary dining venues, with a poolside snack bar to accent the offerings.

Villas of Grand Cypress – one of the “75 Best Golf Resorts in North America” as named by Golf Digest – features 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf comprised of 27 holes plus the Nicklaus-designed New Course.

Up to two additional children can be added to the package for $350 each. The package is subject to availability and children must be between the ages of 4 and 16. Alternative arrangements or baby sitting may be arranged for those younger or older than the specified ages.

To reserve the “Red Carpet Family Package” and for additional information about Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort, visit, or call 877-330-7376.

See also:

Walt Disney World Orlando is Still the Place for Magic and slideshow

Inside Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and slideshow


August 6, 2010

Kids eagerly await the giant dump of water, one of the attractions at Coco Key Resort-Orlando's waterpark © 2010 Karen Rubin/

The newly opened CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort-Orlando has announced two late summer travel bargains ideal for families with pre-school children: Kids Eat Free in August and rates starting at $89 in September.

“Shorter queues and more accommodating price points make late summer a great time for families with young children who aren’t yet in school to visit Central Florida, and CoCo Key is the perfect setting for that vacation,” said Frank Fry, general manager of the CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort-Orlando.  “Our resort is purpose-built for young families and we offer the perfect setting for making kids happy.”

CoCo Key’s Kids Eat Free promotion is available throughout the month of August and offers free one breakfast buffet and dinner at the resort’s Trade Winds restaurant for kids 12 and under staying at the hotel, for each adult buffet or meal ordered.  The breakfast buffet, available 7-11 a.m. daily and regularly priced at $9.95, includes biscuits, sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, French toast, pastries, bagels, cereal, fresh-made waffles, a variety of juices, milk, coffee and tea.  Kids’ dinner selections at Trade Winds include chicken tenders, the CoCo Key burger, mac n’cheese, goldfish salad and a “build-your-own sandwich” option.  All kids’ meals are served with a choice of fries or fruit cup and include a soft drink, milk or apple juice.

Guests taking a late summer vacation this September at CoCo Key will enjoy rates as low as $89.

The new Key West-themed CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort-Orlando combines a casual tropical hotel setting with a whimsical water park that features slides, rides and fun amplified with three pools, eight water slides, a 6,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art arcade, and splashing good times all specially designed for youngsters in a safe and friendly environment.

One of Coco Key Resort's three pools is in the shape of Mickey's ears © 2010 Karen Rubin/

Located in the heart of the Orlando vacation corridor at 7400 International Drive, CoCo Key also is a perfect hub for quick access to Orlando’s other popular attractions – a five minute-drive from Universal; five minutes from Sea World/Aquatica; and 10 minutes from the Walt Disney World theme parks.  Families taking advantage of the late summer travel bargains can experience the excitement of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the dazzling display from the Main Street Electrical Parade, which has been extended into the fall, at the Magic Kingdom.

CoCo Key is a Universal Partner Hotel and offers resort guests free transportation to the Universal theme parks, Sea World, Aquatica and Wet n’ Wild, and sells discounted admission tickets at its lobby ticket desk.

For more information log on to, call 877/875-4681 or sign up for CoCo Mail to have offers e-mailed directly.

See full coverage of CocoKey Hotel & Water Resort-Orlando at

Walt Disney World’s Summer Nightastic is Fantastic

July 24, 2010

Walt Disney World's Summer Nighttastic Fireworks Show at Magic Kingdom is spellbinding (© 2010 Karen Rubin/

I admit it: I was as thrilled as any six-year old to see the bursts of fireworks over the magical Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.

Summer Nightastic! Fireworks Show, on through August 14, is truly one of the phenomenal spectacles that only Disney Imagineers could pull off (when the bursts formed the pirate skulls, that was jaw-dropping amazing).

We very cleverly checked the schedule of activities in order to make the best use of our two days of Park Hopper tickets, spent our first day at Hollywood Studios (it was open until 8 p.m. that night, then we were too tired to go to another park); then spent our second, amazing day at Animal Kingdom knowing that Magic Kingdom was open until 11 pm., with the Electric Parade on at 9 and 11 pm. and the fireworks at 10 pm.

We took the ferry over from the parking lot (instead of the Monorail), for an exquisite view of Magic Kingdom, and arrived just as the Main Street Electrical Parade was getting underway, miraculously managing to get a spot right on Main Street.

Magic Kingdom's Main Street glitters at night, with Cinderella's Castle in the background (© 2010 Karen Rubin/

And then to have Magic Kingdom almost to yourself at night, in the dark, to do the rides and attractions! We got to do the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (my favorite coaster), then dashed to Tomorrowland (it makes you smile to see a 1950s “vision” of the future) to Space Mountain coaster, getting in the last ride of the night. Coming back, the 11 p.m. Electrical Parade was underway and we got to see the end from a different perspective, right in front of Cinderella’s castle.

Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electric Parade comes to Cinderella’s Castle making a spectacular sight (© 2010 Karen Rubin/

At Epcot’s nighttime display, the skies explode with lasers, fireworks and music for the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth that glitters and glows over the World Showcase Lagoon.

There’s no question, Disney’s got it.. The Magic. You can’t even put your finger on it. As an adult, you appreciate the artistry, the creativity, the imagination, and then simply get lost in a child’s delight. You are swept up in the enchantment, taken to other worlds, no matter how old you are or where you are in your life, or where you are from.

In fact, walking with the crowd as Animal Kingdom was closing for the night, you sense that there is no place on earth that has such a conglomeration of humanity. As it happens, it was around the Tree of Life, but we felt it again on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. For the time you are under Disney’s spell, it almost seems that there is nothing else beyond these magical worlds.

During our two-day visit using the Disney Park-Hopper ticket, we were able to enjoy three of the parks:

Some of the highlights of our visit:

Hollywood Studios (the Extreme Stunt show is not to be believed; the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is a music-charged zoomfest that takes you through loops, twists and turns inside; a new addition is the American Idol Experience); Animal Kingdom (Expedition Everest is an amazing coaster set in a realistic re-creation of Nepal; Harambe safari is stunningly realistic; we had an amazing trek of our own seeking the silverback gorillas on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trails, the daytime Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade is wildly creative, and the new “Finding Nemo” Broadway-style musical is Tony-Award caliber that will delight everyone; and “Tough to be a Bug” 3-D experience in the base of The Tree of Life is as marvelous as ever); and Magic Kingdom.

Planning tips: Wednesday is the least crowded day at the theme parks. Check the Walt Disney World website to get a schedule for the parks – which are open late, when the parades and the fireworks are scheduled, or special events.

I suggest, if possible and the schedule works out, save your favorite park for the second day in order to get the full enjoyment: you are tired after traveling and it takes a day to get oriented to the Disney way the parks operate.

Take advantage of Disney’s FastPass system – where you can get a time to return (it spans an hour) and you just breeze in, so you don’t have to wait on the standby line. You can only use the pass once an hour, though.

Get all the info you need and do your vacation planning at

See our full story at

–Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate

Pet Care Resort Opens at Walt Disney World

July 4, 2010

Pet lovers visiting Walt Disney World Resort can now plan to board the family pet in fun, luxurious new accommodations. Reservations are being accepted for pet boarding stays beginning Aug. 27, 2010, for the new Best Friends Pet Care Resort.

The one-of-a-kind resort comprises more than 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including 17,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor space, 10,000 square feet of covered outdoor runs and play areas, and an expansive private dog park exclusively for the use of pet resort clients and their dogs.

The facility will accommodate up to 270 dogs and 30 cats for both daytime and overnight boarding. A wide selection of suite choices for dogs includes air-conditioned indoor rooms, 48-square-foot indoor-outdoor suites, and four expansive VIP (very important pet) suites with television, raised bedding and private outdoor yards.
Feline guests will spend their visit in the separate “Kitty City” pavilion – away from the dogs – in two- and four-room condos.  All suites and condos are designed to provide comfort and privacy and will be cleaned daily with hospital-grade disinfectants.

The pet resort is operated by Best Friends Pet Care (

“Best Friends has long been the industry leader for boarding, and this will be our crown jewel. We’ve taken the ‘best of breed’ in every category to create the perfect environment for pets,” said Dennis Dolan, president and CEO of Best Friends Pet Care. “Our goal is to ensure that pets staying with us have a fun, action-packed vacation – just like their families vacationing at Walt Disney World.”

The resort’s exclusive dog park features a fenced walking trail bordering the natural wetlands around the park. Inside the trail, guests can choose from a variety of different play areas, including a 3,300-square-foot area covered in artificial turf, a 4,500-square-foot area with shade trees and a 1,300-square-foot “canines only” water park. There are several large areas for owners to sit, relax and watch their dogs play.   The entire park is secured from outsiders and is illuminated for use after dark.

Other features of the resort include: a grooming salon, which will provide go-home-fresh baths and haircuts for pets; two 1,100-square-foot “camp rooms” for play group and doggy day camp, each opening onto an outdoor play-yard; and a special facility for the boarding of “pocket pets,” such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.

Pet parents can choose from a wide range of a la carte activities for pet guests from one-on-one playtimes and social playgroup with other doggy guests, to cuddle time and bedtime stories with staff. Additional amenities and upgrades include Ice Cream Treats, Bottled Water and Premium/Orthopedic Bedding.

Feline guests can also enjoy private playtimes, activity toys in their suites and treats such as Cookies and Milk or Tuna on a Ritz.

The pet resort is located across from Disney’s Port Orleans Resort at 2510 Bonnet Creek Parkway in Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830.  Pricing and other details are available at or by calling 877/4-WDW-PETS.

For more features about theme parks and family travel, go to