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Tips for the Orlando theme park-weary

Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer.

Doing Disney the relaxing way

When you just can't take another day at the theme parks on your Orlando vacation, consider this advice to give you a little vacation from your vacation.

Stormalong Bay – Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Book a spa treatment

What better way to soothe fragile nerves and sore feet than a session at one of Orlando's resort spas. On Disney property, there's the Grand Floridian as well as the Saratoga Springs Spa, where one of their luxurious treatments are a perfect addition to your vacation. Off property you can't do any better than the ultra-luxurious Ritz-Carlton Spa or the Gaylord Palms Canyon Ranch Spa. Those staying at a Universal Resort should consider an exotic Javanese treatment at the Mandara Spa at Portofino Bay Hotel.

Relax at your resort's pool

Orlando's resort pools are justifiably renowned for their spectacular theming. Disney offers some of the best, particularly Stormalong Bay at the Yacht Club Resort, a 3-acre mini waterpark (pictured above), or the boulder-lined beauty at the Wilderness Lodge featuring waterfalls and its very own geyser.

Off property, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress' Fantasyland pool is cooled by 12 waterfalls, and at the Grande Lakes' "Lazy River" you can float to your heart's content. And at Universal Orlando's Hard Rock Hotel is the coolest (and I don't just mean the water temperature) pool around, with an underwater sound system, sand beach and poolside cabanas.

Spend time on Disney's waterways

Disney has miles of lakes and lagoons to explore. You'll find that most Disney resorts have a marina where many types of watercraft are available for hire. Sailboats, pontoon and canopy boats, Sea Raycers -- even a 48-foot yacht. Take your pick. Perhaps the biggest bang for your buck is to be had at the Contemporary Resort where in addition to the above you'll also find parasailing, waterskiing, tubing and wakeboarding on beautiful Bay Lake.

Cool off at a Disney waterpark

Disney has two wonderful waterparks: Blizzard Beach (a perfect place for daredevils), and Typhoon Lagoon (where you'll find a whopper of a surf pool along with tamer attractions). Spend your day hopping from one crazy waterslide to another, or just kick back and relax on a lounge chair for the afternoon.

Shop 'til you drop in The Mall at Millennia

For one of Orlando's best shopping experiences, head to this fabulous mall just minutes from Universal Orlando. At Millennia Mall, you'll find only the best with stores such as Neiman Marcus, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany. But fair warning: this trip could end up costing a pretty penny.

Those with great taste but thriftier intentions will love the Orlando Premium Outlets Mall, located just across I-4 from Downtown Disney where designer outlet stores such as Hugo Boss, Armani, Escada, Ermenegildo Zegna and Burberry won't break the bank.

Head to Downtown Disney

For a change of pace, there's Downtown Disney. Here you'll find more than 70 shops, restaurants and nightclubs plus a 24-screen theater, Disney Quest with five floors of virtual games and adventures, even a Cirque du Soleil. Adults will want to pick a great restaurant for dinner like Wolfgang Puck or Portofino Yacht Club, and then head to Pleasure Island to party down until the wee hours of the morning.

Swim with a dolphin

Perhaps the most unusual experience in Orlando is Discovery Cove. Spend up close and personal time with your very own dolphin friend, snorkel with tropical fish and rays, even feed birds right out of your hand... then relax on a sandy beach with little or no crowds. Definitely a day to be remembered.

Make the rounds resort-hopping

Spend a few hours ogling Disney's wonderfully themed resorts -- it doesn't cost a thing. Board the monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center, and hop off at each of the three Magic Kingdom resorts. First there's the Polynesian, a tropical wonderland, then the Grand Floridian -- Disney's flagship resort -- and finally the Contemporary, where you'll enjoy the Grand Concourse with the monorail silently gliding overhead.

Out back, you can catch a boat to the Wilderness Lodge, Disney's most beautiful is resort modeled after an early 1900s national park lodge. Then, just catch a boat to the Magic Kingdom and a ferry to the stop where you started. It's a grand circle that can't be beat.

More Disney fun

Tips for Disney World first-timers

How to save money on a Disney vacation

Disney vacation tips: 6 ways to save on your stay

 

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