An Insider's Guide to Disney World

Cruisin' with Mickey

Disney cruise

Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Let's get real here: Except for a few weeks in the off-season, Disney can be woefully overcrowded. That's why our insider's guide has a ton of smart strategies for navigating the parks. But there's another way to experience the magic of Disney that doesn't include waiting in long lines and schlepping miles to get an autograph from Mickey. It's called a cruise -- and I recommend it.

Our family booked a three-night cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Wonder. When we arrived at the ship, the party was already in full swing. There was music and dancing and dozens of our favorite characters giving out big hugs. My 5-year-old and 8-year-old immediately rushed the stage to join hundreds of other kids getting their groove on. Normally, the paranoid mother in me would have run right after them. But I didn't. They were having a ball, and I knew they were safe in the hands of Disney. We were shocked and awed.

And those two words pretty much sum up the whole fabulous vacation. We were shocked that our luxurious little cabin, with its twin bunks and queen-size bed, could accommodate our family so comfortably. We were awed by the quality of the food and service at the themed restaurants. We were shocked that our girls would go to the kids' clubs without a fuss. We were awed that we could relax guilt-free at the adults-only pool and spa. We were shocked that Disney could create its own island paradise at Castaway Cay. And we were awed that we got to swim with some stingrays (stinger-free).

Of course, the price might inspire a little shock and awe too. Depending on the season, rates start at $349 per person. But for an all-inclusive vacation with 24-7 entertainment, Broadway-style shows, fireworks, a private island experience, and best of all, no lines, I'd almost call it a bargain.
-- Sally Lee

Copyright © 2007. Reprinted with permission from the July 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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