PLAYguide: Staycation

2014 Family Favorite Award Winners: Staycation

Best Resort Kids Club

Ritz-Carlton
You voted this the best spot for kids to have some fun while parents enjoy their free time. The Ritz Kids program at the Orlando Ritz-Carlton has creative, fun activities for kids ages 4 to 12, such as obstacle courses, eco-focused projects, crafts, dance parties and bike rides. 4040 Central Florida Parkway, 407-206-2400, www.grandelakes.com

Best Resort Pool for Families

JW Marriott
Swimming at JW Marriott is no ordinary adventure. The JW Marriott Lazy River is always a family favorite, as you drift under waterfalls and bridges. The poolside dining and bar area is open for quick bites and cocktails, and the zero-entry pool is perfect for lounging. 4040 Central Florida Parkway, 407-206-2300, www.grandelakes.com

Disney's Art if Animation

Disney’s Art if Animation

Best Resort Family Suite

Disney’s Art of Animation
What’s not to love about spacious accommodations inspired by favorite Disney animated movies? Families staying at the resort can immerse themselves in outdoor storybook landscapes seen in such classics as Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. 1850 Animation Way, 407-939-5000, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts

Best Resort on a Budget

Disney’s All-Star Resorts
These resorts are a great family staycation option on Disney property. Plus, the family will love picking a themed resort of the three options: All-Star Sports, All-Star Movies and All-Star Music. Reasonable rates start at $98 a night. 1701 W. Buena Vista Drive, 407-939-5000, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts

Best Theme Park (for Kids Under 8)

Magic Kingdom
This Disney park won for both the “under 5” and “ages 6 to 8” categories. It’s no wonder, since the Magic Kingdom touts multiple rides and adventures for the preschool pack, plus families can take advantage of the FastPass. The recently redone Dumbo ride even has an indoor play area, where families can wait until they’re next up in line. It’s great for kids ages 6 to 8 because they can ride basically everything in the park. And being that they are out of the preschooler phase, they have more steam to stay out later to enjoy evening festivities. 3111 World Drive, 407-939-5277, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/magic-kingdom

Best Theme Park (for Kids Ages 9 to 12)

Universal Studios
The kiddos have reached that age where they are ready for some big-kid adventure, and Universal Studios definitely delivers. Despicable Me and Transformers 3D are just two of the attractions that scream tween heaven. 6000 Universal Blvd., 407-363-8000, www.universalorlando.com

Dad’s Favorite Theme Park

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
Of course, dad is up for an adventure! Kiddos and dad (heck, even mom can join!) can hop from coaster to coaster and cap off the day with a Butterbeer (nonalcoholic) at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 6000 Universal Blvd., 407-363-8000, www.universalorlando.com

Mom’s Favorite Theme Park

Epcot
What’s not to love about absorbing some culture? The annual Food and Wine Festival as well as the Flower and Garden Festival make Epcot the winner for Orlando moms. 3111 World Drive, 407-939-5277, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/magic-kingdom

SeaWorld Antartica Penguin Habitat

SeaWorld Antartica Penguin Habitat

Best Theme Park on a Budget

SeaWorld
A day at SeaWorld means the perfect combination of education and fun without breaking the bank. The Fun Card lets you pay for a day and come back all year. 7007 Sea World Drive, 888-800-5447, www.seaworldparks.com

Best Theme Park Show

Festival of the Lion King
This long-running, live Animal Kingdom show has a new home at the Harambe Theater. It still captivates audiences daily with the songs, dances, characters and atmosphere that take you to the African savanna. 2901 Osceola Parkway, 407-939-5277, www.animalkingdom.com

Best Theme Park Special Event

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Dress up in your favorite costume, and collect delicious candy throughout the Magic Kingdom. The attendance is capped at a maximum number of people, and Disney characters dress up in their own Halloween costumes. 3111 World Drive, 407-939-5277, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/magic-kingdom

Best Water Park

Aquatica
This local water park offers more slip-and-slide diversity than your average park. Check out this park’s newest addition, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls. 5800 Water Play Way, 888-800-5447, www.aquaticabyseaworld.com

Words by Amanda Keefer

An Orlando mom of two girls, Amanda Keefer blogs about food and travel for Orlando families at TheMammaMiaBlog.com.

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