Family Travel: Experience the Magic of Orlando

Orlando World Center Marriott

As the weather cools, our thoughts turn to a warm-weather vacation, and what better place than to hop on a plane for a quick getaway to Orlando, Florida.

The city is constantly changing, adding new attractions and updating older ones. Even if you visited a year or two ago, you’ll be amazed by all that’s new and different. There is definitely something for all ages and the magic is still here in spades.

You can choose so many options in Orlando: Stay on property at a Disney resort, nearby at an unaffiliated hotel, or rent a home or apartment. But how about a resort hotel that’s within a stone’s throw of all the excitement and is a destination in itself?

I found that at the Orlando World Center Marriott resort. Not only can you visit with your favorite characters and spin, fly and swoop on rides galore just minutes away, but you can play 18 holes of golf (or take lessons), cook with resort chefs, immerse yourself in spa treatments, watch daily light shows, eat scrumptious meals and slide down a plethora of water slides to your heart’s content right in your own backyard.

It’s a 200-acre paradise where you’ll have so much fun that you’ll have to drag yourself away to enjoy the nearby attractions. And when you do, there’s no need for your own car—they offer transportation so there’s one less thing to worry about.

Plus, if you choose to leave the property to visit the mega parks, you’ll have a place to return to that will keep you and your kids busy the rest of the day and evening. Hang out in the mega pool (ranked one of the “world’s coolest hotel pools” by Forbes) where you can swim under waterfalls, take an aerobics class and grab a tail and join the Mermaid Academy to be Arielle for the afternoon. No need to schlep far to keep your kids occupied; adjacent to the main pool is a LEGO area and Splash Zone water activity center with sprinklers galore. For the bigger kids (adults included) there are a pair of 200-ft winding waterslides and one of Florida’s tallest and fastest 90-foot speed slides for a real waterpark experience.

If the weather is overcast, you can even keep everyone occupied in the large indoor pool, video game arcade and a tech lounge filled with XBOX, PlayStation, Wii, iPads, and more.

When mom and dad want a break, check the little ones into Kid’s World, a camp-like recreation program where they’ll enjoy the playground, sports activities, crafts and more. While they’re happily occupied, you can head next door to the spa for a couple’s massage or a workout at the extensive gym. Then relax in the tranquility of the adult-only spa pool that’s usually virtually empty. No blaring rock music (you get soothing, quiet tunes instead), no water toys or balls thrown at you. It’s a child-free zone of relaxation.

For golf fanatics, there’s the Hawk’s Landing Golf Club, a championship golf course right on the property. Play 18 holes, get a lesson with the golf pro or just take out a bucket of balls for some practice.

[gravityform id=”13″ title=”false” description=”false” ajax=”true”]

Then everyone can meet up for dinner at one of the numerous on-site restaurants for sushi, hibachi, Italian, steaks and even a food court for lighter fare. For large parties, the culinary team will set up a cooking lesson with their chefs or a dinner in a private dining room, pairing each course with an original cocktail. And anywhere you eat, know that the pastries are all made on site by the talented kitchen staff.

At the Orlando World Center the day’s not complete until the “Light Up the Night” laser show that you won’t want to miss. Head to the pool for a nightly extravaganza with a kaleidoscope of lights, synchronized music and state-of-the-art digital graphics. You can even get a cocktail in a light-up glass to join in the fun. Your kids will want to watch it while floating in the warm pool waters, or catch it from your balcony in your PJs, though we can’t guarantee they’ll want to go right to sleep after all the excitement.

Be sure to ask for a room with a pool view to take in the fun. If you’re high up enough, you can also catch a glimpse of the light shows in the distance at Downtown Disney, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot.

It’s truly paradise in this special World.

If you’re heading to Orlando this season, here’s what’s new around town:

SeaWorld: Mako, a 73mph hyper coaster that is now Orlando’s longest, fastest and tallest coaster with nine hills and one drop from 200 feet in the air

Universal Studios: Incredible Hulk, the extreme roller coaster that towers above Universal’s Islands of Adventure has smashed its way back from an extensive renovation with a brand new storyline, a new, sleek ride vehicle and attraction entrance. Plus, the new King Kong adventure set on Skull Island takes riders into the jungle home of the beast rather than bringing the ape to civilization as a chained captive.

Orlando World Center Marriott

Magic Kingdom: Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire new castle stage show bringing together all the characters from “Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled,” and “Frozen” along with classic characters Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy.

Hollywood Studios: Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is a new “Star Wars”-themed show using lasers, video projections, and other special effects.

Disney Springs: The final phase to the transformation of Disney Springs has opened with 23 new retail shops.

Animal Kingdom: For the first time, this 20-year-old theme park is now open past sunset with special nighttime tours, a bioluminescent forest and the addition of hyenas and African wild dogs.

Epcot: Several “Frozen Ever After” attractions have opened including the opportunity for guests to meet Anna and Elsa at the Royal Summerhus cabin and a boat ride to submerse them in the world of Arendelle. A new multi-sensory hang-glider-themed attraction, Soarin’ Around the World has opened giving visitors a bird’s-eye-view of famous places like the Great Wall of China and the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

To learn more about the Orlando World Center Marriott, visit!