Once Upon a Dream: The Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, CA, a retro-flavored resort that dates to 1955, the year Disneyland opened.
Take a second look: Sure, the artwork and signs from the hotel's early days transform the public spaces into time capsules, but the pool feels über-modern. It's lots bigger, with a play place just for the under-3 splasher set. There are also waterslides for big guys (26 feet high) and little guys (3 1/2 feet high); both send you through enclosed Monorail tunnels. The guest rooms are electrifying—no, really. They've got light-up headboards! You can watch “fireworks” explode over Sleeping Beauty castle right above your noggin (well, you'd have to be sitting up and watching them over someone else's head, but still). Kids can turn them on again and again—complete with a few measures of “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”: fun times (for the first dozen). disney.go.comfams are raving:“It's really close to Disneyland, so when it's time for a nap, it's a short stroller ride back to the room.” —Courtney Lien Montgomery, on Facebook
Go Fish! Atlantis, the sandcastle on steroids in the Bahamas.
Take a second look: If the kiddies liked the aquarium last time (the largest open-air marine habitat in the world), they will go blissfully out of their minds now. Take the Trainer for a Day program. Wrangle sea lions, care for dolphins, hand-feed cownose stingrays, and snorkel in a lagoon with neon-colored tropical fish. Grab lunch with the marine specialists, then tour the fish hospital to find out how the pros cure all those slippery critters. The massive 8,000-square-foot AKA kids' club earns props, too. Each kid designs his own daily sked. Maybe yours will chill in the Wizardology reading room, shop for snack fixings at the “grocery store,” and cook a candy pizza. They're on vacation—let that one go, people. atlantis.comfams are raving:“The Splashers Kid's Pool was great! It's zero-entry [so it gradually slopes like a beach]. My 18-month-old had a blast.” —Kristie Harris Culpepper, on Facebook
High-Flying Fun: The tropics-without-the-passport vibe of Club Med Sandpiper Bay, an all-inclusive haven in Port St. Lucie, FL.
Take a second look: A whopper of a redo was finished in January. Biggest thrill: the Kidz Village. Now tots as teeny as 4 months old can check into the Baby Club Med section. (Don't fret: They have a bottle warmer, refrigerator, and sterilizer.) After the kids are done in the splash park, they've got choices: circus school or the modern art center? You've got your own decision to make. Book a Provence Lavender Body Wrap at the L'Occitane Spa, the first in the U.S.? Take a golf lesson from the Golf Channel's Brad Brewer or have your backhand critiqued by Monica Seles's former coach? Then crash in your suite. But wait, what's this? A separate master bedroom and bath! That wasn't there last year. Ah, privacy…at least until she wants water at 3 a.m.sandpiperbay.clubmed.usfams are raving:“We've been going every year for ten years. Our girls love the new camp—and we love that they love it, so we can relax even more.” —Jay Benowitz, Plainview, NY