A great way to getaway when you live on the East Coast of Florida is to drive to Lake Buena Vista and the Walt Disney World area and make a weekend out of it.
We tend to forget that we live just over an hour from one of the most visited places on this planet.
Shopping, world-class restaurants, and nightlife are right at your fingertips.
Yet, you may want to bring some patience.
When traveling State Road 528 westbound, you will quickly realize that life is a little different in Orange and Osceola counties.
Also, one of the best ways to have a trouble-free weekend is to plan ahead.
When looking for hotels, make sure you speak to a travel consultant who knows the Lake Buena Vista/Disney area, because there are several types of accommodations to choose from.
For a really spectacular, high-end experience, try Disney's Grand Floridian.
The Grand Floridian offers everything under the Florida sun. You can have 24-hour room service, their event staff can put together a last minute romantic dinner with views of Cinderella's castle. You can even rent out their private yacht, the "Grand One," and cruise the Seven Seas Lagoon with your own private captain and deckhand
If you would like one of the top dining experiences in the area, try Victoria and Albert's in the resort. This is prix fix restaurant that offers each table a "Victoria and Albert," your private servers for your dining experience, and the cuisine is five star. They also offer a chef's table that allows you to watch as a world-class kitchen staff prepares your meal.
Other dining in the hotel includes Narcoosees, a seafood establishment, and Citricos, a Mediterranean casual dining restaurant.
For the young ones, The Grand Floridian has "Tea with a Princess." Sleeping Beauty joins you and your family for tea and refreshments and all receive a My Disney Girl.
The 1900 Park Fare in the hotel has character dining with Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh. Also, Cinderella and the Prince show up during evening hours for photos.
The resort has a spa that takes all the park and traffic woes away. There are two pools, with one open 24-hours a day, and poolside full dining from a wonderful private dining department.
Besides private yachts, you can also rent pontoons and two-person speedboats.
The resort is attached to Disney's monorail system. Also, water transportation is as easy as walking through the resort and hopping on a boat. Before you know it, you're at the front of the Magic Kingdom.
The Grand Floridian is Disney's flagship resort, and is worth every penny.
The next couple of months are a great time to go.
Disney has several special events coming up, such as the International Food and Wine Festival from Sept. 28 to Nov. 11. This event takes place all over property, but mostly in the Epcot Resort.
During the fall, "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween" party for the little ones is a great way to experience the Magic Kingdom in the evening with less crowds. The park is open only for guests with a separate ticket. Costumes are encouraged.
As we get closer to the December holidays, there is no better time to see Disney and the Grand Floridian. Both have been featured on the Discovery Channel and both offer some great specialty dining, shopping and decorations. The Grand Floridian features a life-size gingerbread house.
Other parks, such as Epcot, have holiday events nightly. MGM has Osbourne Family Lights, and all have fantastic fireworks displays and phenomenal decorations.
The reservations for the holidays go fast, so call ahead as soon as possible.
Also, the 2008 reservations have just opened.
Disney can be overwhelming in a weekend unless you make your hotel and dining reservations, and purchase your tickets in advance. Having a planned-out itinerary will not only make for an enjoyable weekend, but also keep you out of one less line.
Marcy Csuhran is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at (321) 253-3674 and firstname.lastname@example.org.