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When you think of Walt Disney World, images of Mickey Mouse, roller coasters, smiling kids (and kids at heart) come to mind. But there’s another side to Disney……the decadent side.

Our recent trip to the sprawling campus in Lake Buena Vista just outside of Orlando was pleasantly filled with luxurious accommodations, relaxing spa treatments, creative and upscale four-star dining, African safaris, and head-of-the-line treatment for rides and shows within the parks. With a little planning, all this can be yours too.

Accommodations at Animal Kingdom Lodge include typical hotel rooms or 1-bedroom suites in Kidani Village that are fit for a tribal king. Featuring African-inspired architecture, a gourmet kitchen, massive master bath with a Jacuzzi tub, tiled shower, water closet and double sinks, second full-bath off the living room for the kids or another couple, dining table, flat-screen televisions, and, oh, did we mention roving zebras, giraffes, buffalo and antelope in the natural savanna outside your balcony? And with modern amenities including a fitness facility, tennis courts, shopping and multiple African-themed restaurants throughout the property, Animal Kingdom Lodge brings new meaning to a luxury family stay at Disney.

Keep the theme going with a day at Animal Kingdom. African open-air safaris, hikes through Maharajah Jungles and Pangani Forests, learning about the habitat of bugs in the 3-D Tree of Life, and zipping up Mt. Everest--Legend of the Forbidden Mountain gives whole new meaning to the world around us. And be sure to take advantage of Fast Pass to get rock-star treatment in the lines for the rides and shows.

After a long day in the park, nothing could be nicer than a massage or pedicure to ease sore feet and tired muscles. And Disney can accommodate. From couples massages to citrus body wraps, the spa facilities at Saratoga Springs or Grand Floridian are as decadent as we’ve ever seen. Whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, high tea, and couple relaxation rooms complete the experience…..and the respite.

Dining at Walt Disney World is reaching new heights and showing up as a major player on the U.S. culinary scene. From celebrity chefs (including Cat Cora’s new Mediterranean-inspired Kouzzina to Todd English’s ode to seafood at bluezoo) to exotic wine lists (including 100% South African wines at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jiko) to Central Florida’s only AAA Five-diamond dining experience at Victoria & Albert’s in Grand Floridian, dining at Disney has become much more than hamburgers and chicken nuggets. (Don’t get us wrong…..the grilled turkey legs in Dinoland at Animal Kingdom still rock our world).

Families still rule at Disney. But with accommodations, activities, facilities and dining that lean toward the more upscale and creative, Disney can be a more decadent experience than ever before.