The best Disney World resort for your family this summer is...

Disney family vacations require therapy preceding and immediately following the event.

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If you've been before, you empathize, share your doctor's name, then reminisce with a kind of awe shared by climbers of Mt. Kilimanjaro and other conquerers of extraordinary feats.

If you've never been before, you make a funny face at me and think I'm exaggerating.

Well, I'm not kidding...

  • People are licensed Disney planners. They probably majored in it at college. Bless 'em. It's a lot of work.
  • People plan dinner reservations a year in advance. 
  • People make matching family shirts to wear so they can easily spot each other in the crowds. Yes, even grandma and newborn baby get one.
  • Websites by the hundreds detail park rides with daily itineraries, down to the hour. And people print these out. And plan their days around it. Clipboards may or may not be involved.
  • People buy selfie sticks in preparation. <-- very intense

Disney just doesn't fit my DNA make-up. And because of that, I'm definitely not as prepared as the folks above to handle all the factors it takes to wring all the goodness out of a Disney Family Vacation.

Listen, I make 4th of July plans on July 1st...if I'm planning ahead. <--That's who you're dealing with here.

Our stay was brief...4 days. 

This was our second Disney World trip and I was dreading from experience how full my brain would become with FastPass+ choices, showtimes, fitting in naps, eating on a budget, and being certain I didn't lose a kid.

So, while I morphed into Mom Concierge, preparing an itinerary of activities for my children, I let my husband make the resort arrangements. 

"Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge...all booked!"

View of balconies which overlook the savannah. 

View of balconies which overlook the savannah. 

I was worried about the pool. "Does it have a good kiddie pool area?"

"It's got animals," he told me reassuringly.  Talk about an understatement.

If you haven't stayed at a Disney resort (and I hadn't) it really is a full sensory experience.

The 5 star, full course, VIP treatment

From the moment four Disney color bands arrived at our doorstep, prior to our trip

to

the resort luggage tags that hung on each of our bags, ensuring that after we left them at the ticket counter in at the airport, we wouldn't see them again until they magically appeared in our hotel room 

to

an air conditioned Disney bus that transported us from the Orlando airport directly to the resort with the beep of a wristband scan, which made me feel a little bit like a rockstar

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to

the resort pool that alone would have made our Orland visit worth it

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to

the "Welcome Home" greeting we received from every staff member that checked us in

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the 2 hours of extra park time after closing , just for resort guests

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to

THE ANIMALS.

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Oh dear.

Wowed.

Jaw dropping. 

The kind of breath stealing moment you remember for years to come and compare every future trip against, unsuccessfully.

The African drums sounding their deep welcome.

The graceful giraffes and the Watusi with their 8 ft long span of horns on the savannah.

It was like I was teleported across the Atlantic to a different continent. 

Lobby, Animal Kingdom Lodge

Lobby, Animal Kingdom Lodge

And I knew then...

I was bit by the Disney resort bug. I fell hard. 

I was wooed.

Damn you, Walt.

Now, I will expect a gazelle outside every hotel bedroom balcony for the rest of my life.

PS...I can give you the name of my doctor.

PPS...If you're planning a trip to Disney World and you're a first timer, you have to read this article and do EVERYTHING it says.