Disney’s private island and our last night on the cruise
Ethan and Mike check out a stingray

Disney’s private island and our last night on the cruise

The sky is blue, the water clear turquoise. We step off the Disney Wonder onto kids vacation heaven -- a great big beach, a play structure anchored in the water. Machines dispensing all the ice cream and pop parents will let the kids have (as well as fresh fruit).

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Kid Nirvana on the Disney Cruise
Towel animals on the Disney Cruise

Kid Nirvana on the Disney Cruise

It’s well past their bedtime but they’re not in bed. Instead, they’re dressed to the nines (the girls anyway, in princess get-up, complete with sparkly shoes and Minnie Mouse dresses) waiting in line to get Cinderella and Jack Sparrow’s autograph. They’re at the Oceaneer lab climbing up to the top of the “pirate” ship so they can slide down.

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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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WHAT’S NEW AT THEME PARKS THIS SUMMER
Jungala_Tree Top Trails at Busch Gardens

WHAT’S NEW AT THEME PARKS THIS SUMMER

Whether your gang love coasters or hate them, love water slides or refuse to wait in line for them, (yes that was us skipping the famous water slides at the Atlantis in the Bahamas), you'll find plenty of new attractions to amuse everyone at this country's more than 400 theme parks (and scores more water parks) this spring and summer. Here's just a sampling of what's out there:

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MEETING THE FOLKS BEHIND THE MOUSE’S MAGIC
Disney from the inside

MEETING THE FOLKS BEHIND THE MOUSE’S MAGIC

They are Imagineers. That means they spend their workdays (and probably a lot of work nights) dreaming up and ultimately implementing new attractions for Disney parks and resorts around the world. There are about 1,000 Imagineers, 750 of whom work in Glendale, Calif., in an office building (once a cosmetics factory) that has tighter security than many government buildings.

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