There is just no place on earth like the Gulf coast of Florida. Fortunately for us, this is far enough south so that the predictions are only a 10% chance that the oil will reach these beaches. The currents in the gulf keep the oil away from these shores. It is Anna Maria Island, and it is my paradise.
We started out with 3 days here. Disney. It is a monstrosity of a resort, and with less than a week to travel, we changed our lodging reservations so we could stay at the resort. Great move. Our place was awesome. We had several pools, transportation to the parks and dining, etc. And a coach pick up from the airport. Cannot thank the source that tipped me off to staying at the resort rather than any other hotel nearby. Well worth the extra cost. My kids loved Disney, all the fun rides, etc. I am most surprised how all of them glommed onto the characters whenever we saw them too. My daughter stood in line 45 minutes (longest line of all events) to see 3 princesses. It was so totally worth it to see her face. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! We did a day at the Animal Kingdom park too, which I really liked.
Then a week at the beach. I highly recommend the Disney part first and the beach second. I love the beach and the sun and surf. We had a house with pool that was 5 houses from the beach. PERFECT. The kids swam in the afternoon and played at the beach in the mornings. The surf was just calm enough all but one day to float with a tube/noodle. The kids and I searched for shells, and those few elusive sand dollars. On our last day, we even saw 2 manatees swimming in the wild (on the ocean side) and got to witness a very friendly pelican from 2-3 feet. He was as curious about us as we were about him.
The Sarasota Jungle Gardens was a nice park for the kids, with many indiginous Floridian animals from gators to fancy birds to these lovely and friendly creatures. We got to feed them from our hands like you would a duck. The boys held a baby croc too.