We just got back from a fabulous trip to Florida and Disney. Here were some of our favorite things:

We specifically chose to go to Disney right AFTER the holidays, thinking that January is usually their slowest month and all the kids would be back in school. WRONG! Turns out there was a big marathon in town and the parks were PACKED! But my other reason for going in January is the weather. I can't take July in Florida (like we did last time) when it's about a hundred degrees and a hundred percent humidity every day and you're waiting in long lines and pouring sweat and feeling cranky from the extreme heat the whole time.

Turns out we got really, really lucky to have even made it out of NJ after the big snow. Most of our nine days in Orlando were warm but not hot, clear, sunny, breezy, and near perfect. Of course, when NJ had the deep polar freeze, Florida set records for low temps, and we did end up with a 37 degree day, but we used that day to go to Disney Quest, which is among the shops and restaurants in the Downtown Disney area. It's a five story building filled with all of the best new and classic arcade games, rides, simulators, and awesome things like building your own roller coaster and then riding in it! There is also the AMC 24 Dine-In Theatres in Downtown Disney where you can have a FANCY dinner while sitting in giant reclining leather seats and enjoying a movie and servers bringing you your food...you can even order drinks! Some of the other restaurants are fantastic, too. My favorite is Raglan Road Irish Pub. And there's now bowling, too, at Splitsville.

Fast Passes were a necessity at all of the 'big three' parks this time around, as some of the lines were up to TWO HOURS!!! At Hollywood Studios we loved the Toy Story Midway Mania interactive ride and Muppet Vision 3-D. Tower of Terror is also a family favorie, although I skipped it this time...can't handle that drop anymore, lol! We have never gotten on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster...the lines are always crazy long and we never even seem to be able to get a Fast Pass before they are all gobbled up. But we like the stunt car show, dining at the Sci-Fi Drive-In (where you sit in a classic car and watch black and white excerpts from some funny old drive-in movies and classic tv commercials while you eat). I also adore the 50s Prime Time Cafe, although we couldn't get dinner reservations there this time around. We were lucky enough to be there for the last night of the Osborn Lights, which were nothing short of spectacular....the whole back lot was lit up in holiday lights and syncrhonized to Christmas music.

Over at Epcot, we headed right away for the Test Track, since the boys love their race cars and getting to sit in some of the newest models like the Chevy Camaro. We also still love going to Energy with Ellen DeGeneres and through all the countries with their shows and movies and the rides in Mexico and Norway. We ate in Italy, which was wonderful (and the pistachio gelato is divine!) But the best ride there is most definitely Soaring! And the laser light show and fireworks are incredible.

Our favorite park still remains Magic Kingdom...with classics like Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Thunder Mountain Railroad, It's a Small World, the Tea Cups, and The Haunted Mansion. We were disappointed that Splash Mountain was closed, as was the Speedway race car ride. But we absolutely loved the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory show. Never gets old. Funny every time!

We also love the lobby and dining experience at the Whispering Canyons Cafe inside The Wilderness Lodge. Such a fun, family-style restaurant where the servers yell at you and joke with you and make you do really funny things. This time around they made all the men over the age of 21 in the entire restaurant stand in a circle and sing "I'm a  Little Tea Pot" complete with the movements. We were all rolling with laughter!

We didn't get to Wild Animal Kingdom or the water parks. Nor did we do Universal Studios this trip. We wanted some down time to swim instead of rushing the whole vacation. But we usually love Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, some of the other Disney dinner shows, and so much of the other stuff Disney has to offer.

There's another place we like to visit while in the area. Outside of Disney in Kissimmee is a place called Old Town (just a few miles from Disney) where they have the All American Muscle and Classic Car Cruises down a street lined with shops and rides and restaurants all around. This is a tradition for our family and the boys loved seeing more cars here than they have ever seen at the classic car shows at the Jersey Shore. Chirstopher even went zip-lining there!

What are your favorite Disney memories? Your favorite dining experiences? Your favorite rides and shows? And your favorite hotels on Disney premises? I'm curious to know for next time!