TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO
The Simpson's Ride at Universal Studios Florida

TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Welcome to Krustyland! Where we join the Simpsons -- yes those Springfield Simpsons of TV and movie fame -- in Krusty the Clown's crazy cartoon world, a theme park within a theme park. Talk about make-believe -- and incredible technology - as we're swept along, flying, bumping and crashing through the attractions, just opened at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando.

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BEYOND THE BEACH IN BELIZE
Cave tubing in Belize

BEYOND THE BEACH IN BELIZE

Mick Fleming arrived in dugout canoe; Lucy Fleming on horseback a day later. There were no roads to the overgrown farm in the Cayo district of Belize that the young couple hoped to run. Their land was a jungle - literally. "But there was something about the place," Fleming, who was raised in England, recalls more than 30 years later.

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Two Parks in one day at Universal
Hannah Sitzman at Seussland

Two Parks in one day at Universal

We’ve signed on for a VIP Tour at Universal Studios in Orlando, which means our very informed guide Karyn Shelton (who has almost finished a doctorate in music) cannot only answer all of our questions, but structure our visit around five year old Ethan and three year old Hannah, at the same time making sure their parents can ride all the coasters (and Universal has great ones) that they wish.

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Watery Fun at SeaWorld’s new Aquatica Park in Orlando
Aquatica at Seaworld Orlando

Watery Fun at SeaWorld’s new Aquatica Park in Orlando

Open just a month, it’s easy to see why SeaWorld’s latest venture is already a hit with 36 (count em!) water slides, six lazy rivers and lagoons, plenty of man-made sand beach (no one fighting over chairs for once) and two first rate areas for younger park goers complete with gentle slides, climbing nets, water cannons and giant water buckets that dump water on the little guests seemingly on cue.

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Autograph seeking and a guided tour of Disney World
Hannah and Ethan with our guide Disney Maureen

Autograph seeking and a guided tour of Disney World

You better plan ahead if you want to dine with a princess. I learn that breakfast or lunch at Cinderella’s castle is such a hot ticket that it‘s booked six months in advance. We see lots of little princesses in glittery, fluffy outfits with their hair done just so at the new boutique…

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TO SEATTLE
Seattle Aquarium

TO SEATTLE

So what if it rains a lot in Seattle. As long as you've got good rain gear, you won't care, especially when there's so much to do and see. Where else can you take the kids to see guys throwing raw fish, introduce them to ferries (yes, parents commute to work via ferry) take a turn on a sailboat, learn all about rock music, science fiction and the creatures who inhabit the sea in this part of the world.

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Chaa Creek — started small before “eco” was a word
Kids and caterpillars meet up at Chaa Creek resort in Belize

Chaa Creek — started small before “eco” was a word

Mick Fleming approached in a dugout canoe. “But there was something about the place,” he recalls more than 30 years later. His wife Lucy, who arrived on horseback the day after he saw the overgrown farm, agrees. “This place always had a certain amount of magic -- a pull. I felt it. We were young and crazy -- no money and decided to be pioneers.”

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Seeing Mayan ruins and tubing through a cave
Mayan ruins at Xunantunich in Belize

Seeing Mayan ruins and tubing through a cave

Right after breakfast, we head out with our guide, Wilbert Moh, to the Mayan site of Xunantunich, about 15 minutes from the Ka’Ana resort. It means Stone Maiden -- so named, Moh explains, because a hunter in the late 1800s claimed he spotted the apparition of a beautiful Mayan woman here. The structures -- including one that is the second highest in Belize – rise up to 525 feet.

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On to the Cayo District
Our bungalow at Kaana in Belize

On to the Cayo District

The 36-acre resort, which is growing popular with families, also has a terrific pool and a young chef who is said to be among the best in Belize. Most of the vegetables and herbs are provided from the organic garden -- everything from zucchini and peppers to cilantro, dill and parsley. (How about tipsy tequila shrimp or beef carpaccio, homemade pasta or tenderloin? Did I mention the wine cellar? The spa?

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