Feb 23rd
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Ask the Travel Agent

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Ask the Travel Agent

Q.     We’d like to know how to plan a Disney vacation in Florida for our family of four. We want to stay in the park.
A.    The best time to visit Disney Theme Parks is in the fall.  It gets very crowded from June to mid August and from mid February to April.  The end of August, right before school starts, might not be too bad, but it can be very hot and humid. Disney offers a Fall Fantasy Package which will run approx. $2700 (air not included) for a family of four to stay in the Caribbean Beach Resort for 7 nights.  Included in this package is a length-of-stay pass--unlimited admission to all Disney World theme parks; breakfast every morning with the Disney characters, airport transfers, and a $500 coupon book.  I feel this is a really good buy, but it does sell fast.
    Disney offers many different accommodations--condos, camping, wilderness cabins and themed hotels--all priced differently.
    The All Star Resort is the least expensive Disney lodging.  Moderate priced properties include the Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans, Dixie Landings, and Coronado Springs Resorts.  This is followed by Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Boardwalk Villas, The Villas at the Disney Institute and the Old Key West Resort.  Deluxe accommodations are Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian, Boardwalk Inn and  Yacht and Beach Club Resort.
Q.     My boys, ages 5 & 8 and I want to vacation in Florida. Do you have any ideas?

A.    There’s much to see and do in Florida, here are a few highlights:  In east central Florida, there’s Daytona Beach, Melbourne Beach, and Vero Beach, where there’s a Disney resort.  The Kennedy Space Center is located in this area, too.  In little over an hour, you can drive to Orlando, located in the central part of the state to find Disney Theme Parks, Universal Studios, Cypress Gardens, Sea World, The Orlando Science Center, and lots more.
    Further west on the gulf is Tampa, with many beaches like Clearwater, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, and Venice.  In Tampa you’ll find Bush Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, and Museum of Science and Industry.   
    Sarasota is home of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus; in the area is South Florida Museum, Parker Manatee Aquarium, and Bishop Planetarium.
    On south is Captiva Island, a great family spot and Sanibel and Marco islands.  Various accommodations can be found here.
    In the southeast is Palm Beach, Miami, and the Keys; check out the Miami Metro Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the US, as well as the Miami Seaquarium.   Many resorts offer children’s programs throughout this area.
    In the northeast is Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Amelia Island, which is a nice family resort area.
    Panama Beach, in the northwest is another great family destination.

Q.     What are some resorts in the Caribbean that have kid’s activities?

A.    Check these out...  Antigua-St James Club (268-460-5000); Aruba-Aruba Sonesta (800-SONESTA), Costa Linda Beach Resort (800-992-2015); Curacao-Sonesta Beach (800-SONESTA); Jamaica-Boscobel Beach--famous for their “Super Nannies” (800-330-8272) and Franklyn D Resort (800-330-8272); Puerto Rico-El Conquistador Resort (800-468-5228), the Hyatts--Cerromar Beach and Dorado Beach (800-233-1234); St. Lucia-Wyndham Morgan Bay (800- WYNDHAM), Windjammer Landing (800-423-4095); St. Kitts-Beaches (800-726-3257); and, Barbados-Almond Beach Village (800-425-6663).  
Q.     We’d like to try a dude ranch in Arizona with our boys, ages 7 & 10.  What do you suggest?

A.    Here are a few... they’re members of the Dude Rancher Association:  Tanque Berde Ranch,  Tucson, AZ (520-296-6275) good kid’s program;   Aspen Meadow Ranch, Eagar, AZ (520-333-2717);   Elk Horn Ranch, Tucson, AZ (520-822-1040);  Rancho De Los Ca-balleros, Wickenburg, AZ (520-684-5484) good kids program;  White Stallion Ranch, Tucson,  AZ  (520-297-0252).

Q.     We’re headed to Munich this summer with our 13-year-old.  We need ideas!
A.    The Englischer Garten,--German’s “Central Park,” Hellabrunn Zoo, and Thalkirchen Englischer Garten, one of the largest municipal parks in the world.  Its origin dates back to 1789--today one of the main attractions and centerpieces of a thriving beer garden.  Find also the first "geo-zoo" in the world, with approximately 460 species and some 5000 animals.          
    Take the Bavarian Film Tour through Germany's Film City--150 hours of cinema and TV films such as Das Boot, Cabaret, The Never Ending Story; and German TV series are produced here every year.  
    I suggest ordering the Munich Information Pack provided by the Munich Tourist Office with detailed information on the city, hotels, low-cost lodging packages, sites and the history of Munich.  Munich Tourist Office:

Q.     We’re planning a trip with our kids to Scotland.  What would be interesting to see in Edinburgh?

A.    The Edinburgh Castle is the first obvious choice with its 11th Century St. Margaret chapel, the Palace yard, and, its more sinister characters--a guided tour of the dungeons.
    Scotland is known for its Haunted Castles--Glammis Castle, the most haunted Castle in Scotland, should be a kid pleaser.  Then there's Crathes Castle in Banchory.  It is known for its own ghost, "the Green Lady."  A sight in Edinburgh's haunted history is Mary King's Close, a street that has been buried beneath the City Chambers since the days of the Black Death, when it was sealed off to protect inhabitants from its contaminated walls.  On the Royal Mile leading up to the Edinburgh Castle,  the Witchery offers a "Ghost and Gore" tour highlighting the city's history of torture, plague and witchcraft.   
    The National Library, National Gallery, and Royal Scottish Museum are good sites to visit.
    Arthur's Seat, a small hill south of Edinburgh, provides an excellent view of the city.  Then, there’s Princes Street Gardens; kids love the Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World.    
    Edinburgh Zoo is Scotland's largest wildlife attraction, with more than 1,000 animals in a spacious hillside park three miles from city centre.  A great favorite is the penguin parade and the animal-handling classes.
    Museum of Childhood has a great collection of antique toys, and the The People's Story is an exhibition of ordinary folk's lives--work and pastimes.
    Scotland is very family friendly, most places have family rooms and restaurants have children's meals.

--Debbie Gioquindo is a Certified Travel Counselor, experienced in family travel.


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