"It's a palace, Mommy! It's perfect for me." We'd just driven up to the entrance of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando's Walt Disney World, an 867-room Victorian-style hotel with five stories of balustrades, turrets and towers. As my seven-year-old daughter, Zoe, jumped up and down, a princess returning to her rightful home, I realized that the resort had been modeled on San Diego's Hotel del Coronado. It was the location of one of my favorite movies, Some Like It Hot, in which Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon go on the lam disguised as women. Above our heads, Minnie Mouse disembarked from the monorail that connects the Grand Floridian to the Magic Kingdom theme park. Echoes of men in drag for Mommy, I thought; Disney "cast members" in costume for my daughter. That's what this vacation was all about: something for everyone.
Our own cast members: Zoe, who had been lobbying for this trip since the moment she could talk. Her goals: to get a hair wrap and hug Cinderella. Isaac, age five. His objectives: to go on the Buzz Lightyear ride and meet Buzz Lightyear and get Buzz Lightyear's autograph. Husband Bruce wanted only to ride the Incredible Hulk roller coaster at Universal Orlando and to make his offspring happy. And then there was me: allergic to organized fun, afraid of heights and susceptible to motion sickness on the subway.
Amusement parks may not be my thing, but I like good food. Luckily, I'd heard that there were a lot of new restaurants in Orlandosome with celebrity chefs like Todd English and Norman Van Aken. Still, there are so many places to eatmore than 500 in Disney World alonethat it's hard to know where to begin. Plus, I don't eat meat, my husband is a healthy eater, my daughter an adventurous one and my son eats only kid food. A trip to Disney World can include ice cream bars with chocolate-dipped Mickey Mouse-shaped ears and barbecued turkey legscaramel-colored appendages seemingly designed with Fred Flintstone in mind that appeared to be the street food of choicebut there are other choices too. Our lunches were better than expected (though honestly not great), but each night of our vacation Bruce and I ate and drank well, and our kids didn't go to bed hungry either.