Spas to Please at America’s Biggest Theme Parks and Resorts
What if you could drop the kids off at an amusement park while you relax and renew at a luxury spa just steps away? Turns out, you can! On a recent trip to California’s Disneyland, my hubby and I stayed at the park’s famed “Grand Californian,” a hotel set right inside the California Adventure Park. After 8 hours on our feet, gallivanting through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Paradise Pier (Disney’s fantastic regions within the two parks), we bellied up in the resort’s supersized pool and prepared to be pampered at the adjacent spa.
These “all inclusive” family destinations are in high demand, and Disney isn’t the only company heeding the call. Parks across the country are now offering lavish accommodations, world-class spas and peaceful pursuits like yoga and Tai Chi, all just steps away from big name theme parks, water parks and amusement parks.
Here are a few of our favorite one-stop-family-fun zones:
Disney Resorts in Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida – “The Happiest Place on Earth” has taken on new meaning at the Grand Californian (in Anaheim) and the Grand Floridian (in Orlando). After a thrilling ride on the theme parks’ acclaimed Space Mountain (my husband’s favorite) – and a gut-wrenching spin on the Hollywood Tower of Terror (my heart is still racing) – we stepped into an oasis that boasts a huge swimming pool, complete with slide, and “Mandara” luxury spa. My favorite antidote for a day of walking and riding in the park: “The Time for Two” massage (a 50-minute massage side-by-side, plus 30-minute tea time, sans Disney characters!). Since chances are good that you’ll be traveling with pint-sized counterparts, the spa offers services catered to them as well. The acne facial and surfers’ scrub of fresh limes, lemons and ginger are two refreshing favorites that kids love.
Great Wolf Resorts – With 11 locations throughout the United States (and counting), including Kansas City, Kansas; Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania; Sandusky, Ohio; Traverse City, Michigan; Williamsburg, Virginia; and Concord, North Carolina, Great Wolf is primed to give American families easy access to getaways with activities for everyone in your minivan. The resorts feature more than 60 water activities and attractions ranging from spray guns and fountains to oversized buckets that dumps between 700 and 1,000 gallons of water every five minutes, giving guests a thrill at every turn. High-speed body and inner tube waterslides wind in and out of the building into a splash-down watering hole, a lazy river, activity pools and large free-form hot tubs. When you’ve had your fill of slipping, sliding and splashing, take your pick of spa treatments at the resorts’ Aveda Concept Spa. Some resorts even include something called “Scooops,” a Kid Spa boasting giant banana split pedicure thrones, flavored manicures and pedicures, flavored fizz soaks, sherbet scrubs and delicious nail colors.
Renaissance Sea World in Orlando, Florida – A stone’s throw from Aquatica and Discovery Cove, The Renaissance Orlando Resort offers premiere park access to Florida’s Sea World® (it’s literally steps away). With activities ranging from swimming with dolphins and hanging out by the stingray pools to animal exhibits, roller coasters and water rides, there’s no shortage of ocean-inspired entertainment at these three resorts. The lavish nèu lotus spa allows you to recharge between activities with marine treatments like a 24-minute “marine exfoliating body glow,” and a 50-minute warm seashell massage. No stone is left unturned when it comes to pampering guests with peace and tranquility. Want a unique experience? Don’t miss the Bamboo Shoots Massage. Imagine bamboo rods of various sizes soaked in essential oil rolling, sliding and tapping on your tired muscles. Does it get any better than that? Actually, it does. You can finish your evening dining with Shamu, Sea World’s signature killer whale!
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