Top 14 Wizarding World of Harry Potter Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

There are too many must-do experiences at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that simply can’t be covered in a brief blog post. It’s one of those things in life that you truly have to immerse yourself in and experience for yourself.

There is so much to see and do that we have highlighted the top 14 must-do Harry Potter experiences for you to enjoy on your next visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

And trust me, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been dreaming of these must-do experiences since you first read the book!

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

1. Entering Diagon Alley.

There is something about that moment you first step foot into Diagon Alley and stand there in awe at something that can only truly be described as out of this world. When this moment happens, take your time, soak it in, and get your camera ready when you hear the Dragon on top of Gringotts Bank begin to rumble!

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

2. Have a wand choose you at Ollivanders

Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC. The wand that chose me was a 11″ holly, phoenix feather core, relatively supple.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

3. Get fitted with house robes at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.

Change out of those Muggle clothes and into some authentic wizardwear.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

4. Find a furry—or non furry—creature companion at Magical Menagerie.

Toad, owl, or cat? You can choose whichever you fancy.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

5. Stop by Quality Quidditch Supplies to pick up some house gear.

Whether on the field or in the stands, Quality Quidditch Supplies has everything you are looking for including brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, house sweaters, and more!

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

6. Stock up on pranks at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

Do you have a mischevious sibling that pranks you every chance they get? Well, you can pick up some pretty great pranks at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes to help even the score.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

7 .Exchange your Muggle money for wizarding currency at the Gringotts Money Exchange.

A REAL exchange with a goblin for some Gringotts™ bank notes. Easy enough, right?

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

8. You know at some point you’ll need to visit the vaults in Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts…

…but be careful, I’ve heard escaping is impossible.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

9. Pass through the brick wall to Platform 9 3/4 and board the Hogwarts Express.

Get ready to journey to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express! Certainly the ideal way to transport yourself from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and back again.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

10. Honeydukes is a surefire way to cure your sweet tooth!

Honeydukes is an ideal first stop in Hogsmeade. Not sure which colorful sweet to try first? I highly suggest you try the delicious Chocolate Frogs, each box also includes a special card celebrating a famous witch or wizard.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

11. Pick up some letter writing supplies at the Owl Post.

Don’t forget to pen your friend back home – they’re sure to appreciate a letter, especially one with a special Hogsmeade postmark!

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

12. Explore the mysteries of Hogwarts castle as you enter and experience Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Wander around the halls of the castle like a true Hogwarts student. Look carefully, there may be some hidden gems only a true fan would notice!

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

13. Missing anything? Head to Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.

Filch is always sticking his nose in Hogwarts students’ business. But hey, by raiding his confiscated goods you can find some really great items.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

14. My ideal way to end a magical day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks.

Personally, I love a mug of cold Butterbeer at the end of a long day. Did you know there are 6 Butterbeer treats in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Make sure to share your The Wizarding World of Harry Potter must-do’s on TwitterFacebook or Instagram with #WizardingWorldOrlando.

New Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Disneyland This Spring

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

It’s an amazing fairytale come true! Soon you will be able to experience an unforgettable, magical morning with some of your favorite princesses. The all-new Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures is a unique, one-of-a-kind occasion where families can share special moments with some Disney Princesses while enjoying an exquisite, three-course breakfast at the award-winning Napa Rose restaurant.* The morning also includes enchanting activities, intimate story time, a private portrait location and premium keepsakes.

Reservations are now available for this breakfast dining experience coming this spring to Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa!

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

The occasion takes place in the elegant surroundings of Napa Rose restaurant, where guests are welcomed into a charming new storytelling environment and served sparkling beverages, including champagne for adults. During the sumptuous breakfast event, Disney Princesses such as Belle, Tiana, Ariel, Jasmine and others arrive to greet and make memories with families.

The morning adventure continues on the patio, inspiring a whole new world of possibilities, where girls and boys let their imaginations soar as they delight in storytelling inspired by confident, kind and courageous Disney Princesses who dream big and celebrate who they are.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Princesses will share the moments they felt empowered to be their true selves. Mulan may encourage children to strike a pose to discover their own inner warrior, while Rapunzel may share how she felt when she found the courage to explore the world outside her tower, showing little ones how to spin joyfully and shout, “Best day ever!” Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures will encourage youngsters to discover their own strengths and talents, and start each morning with a “can-do” attitude to never stop believing that anything is possible.

The morning concludes with a fond farewell photo opportunity and special treasures to remember this inspirational day. For more information, including reservations for the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures, visit the Disneyland Resort website.

While visiting the Disneyland Resort, there are many wonderful ways to encounter some favorite princesses in the theme parks:**

  • Fantasy Faire: In Fantasyland, meet Disney Princesses, enjoy charming live performances, browse magical mementos and revel in pure fairytale enchantment.
  • Storytelling at Royal Theatre: Behold beloved Disney fairytales live on stage, with fun twists, located in Fantasyland.
  • “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion”: This dazzling theatrical interpretation of the smash-hit animated feature tells the emotional and heartwarming adventures of royal sisters Anna and Elsa—a one-hour Broadway-style show, live on stage in Hollywood Land!
  • Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome: Drift into a wondrous wintry moment as you meet the splendid sisters from “Frozen” in Hollywood Land.

The Disney Princesses look forward to seeing you soon!

*Dining experience and elements subject to restrictions and change without notice. Specific characters are not guaranteed. Restaurant seating is subject to availability and reservations are recommended.

**Separate theme park admission required.

Top Three Reasons to Sail on a Disney Cruise from Port Canaveral

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

With the new year in full swing, we’re excited for Disney Cruise Line’s lineup of sailings from Port Canaveral! Disney Cruise Line is sailing year-round from this port on three-, four- and seven-night voyages to a variety of destinations in the Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas, as well as a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay.

Disney Cruise Line’s first homeport, Port Canaveral, remains one of their most popular departure points for family cruises. Here are just a few of the reasons why this Florida port is the perfect place to start your Disney cruise vacation:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

With the Disney Wonder, Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream all sailing from Port Canaveral in early 2019, Port Canaveral offers a variety of Disney cruises and experiences perfect for any family. 
Three ships in port and cruises spanning three, four and seven nights from January to May means a full menu of options to sail from Port Canaveral this year. Each ship has a variety of magical onboard experiences ranging from unique family dining to dynamic Broadway-style live musicals! You can also choose from a wide array of itineraries with sun-drenched beaches to the Bahamas and Eastern and Western Caribbean. Whether you’re looking for a weeklong Caribbean cruise vacation or a shorter Bahamian getaway to relax on the beach, Port Canaveral is the perfect place to begin!

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island paradise in the tropical waters of the Bahamas, reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests. In a setting of crystal-clear turquoise waters, powdery white-sand beaches and lush landscapes, the 1,000-acre island offers one-of-a-kind areas and activities for every member of the family. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Every Disney cruise from Port Canaveral stops at Castaway Cay, our private island paradise in the Bahamas – the ideal getaway for families. 
Castaway Cay is reserved exclusively for our guests and outfitted for premium family leisure. Whether you’re seeking some adventure, relaxation or quality time with your family, this pristine island has something in store for you. With activities from stingray encounters and snorkeling to bike rentals and private cabanas – not to mention powdery white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters and lush landscapes all around– your whole family will have countless ways to create amazing vacation memories!

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

It’s close to the Walt Disney World Resort – the perfect place to start or end your vacation!
Port Canaveral, near Orlando, is only a one-hour drive from Walt Disney World Resort, giving you the option to plan the perfect Disney vacation – both on land and at sea! We make combining a cruise and resort stay easier with options like motor coach transportation between the port and resort and luggage delivery from the resort to your stateroom. Plus, we’ll assist with booking your accommodations, theme park tickets and resort food package. Pretty convenient, right?

Ready to book your cruise out of “Florida’s Fun Port?” Check out which of Disney cruise from Port Canaveral is the best fit for you!

Enjoy Nine Broadway Style Shows with Disney Cruise Line Musicals

From the Disney Parks Blog:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Disney Cruise Line raising the curtain on their Broadway-style live musicals! On every Disney cruise, you can see cruise ship entertainment reach new heights with the most elaborate productions at sea. Disney Cruise Line has taken the most imaginative elements from modern and classic Disney films to bring the stories you love to life on stage.

Here’s your complete guide to the captivating Disney Cruise Line musicals waiting for you on your Disney cruise!

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Beauty and the Beast” (Disney Dream)

“Be our guest” for Disney Cruise Line’s original musical production of “Beauty and the Beast!” The first musical inspired by the live-action film, Disney’s creative minds joined forces with top Broadway artists to reinvent this story for the stage. An innovative take on the story transforms renowned songs into spectacular, show-stopping numbers, and lavish costumes and puppetry bring a fresh perspective to beloved characters. Audiences of all ages will be enchanted by characters and songs from the Disney classic, along with two musical numbers from the live-action movie.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” (Disney Wonder)

Enjoy a heartwarming tale of two sisters with “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular.” Based on the hit film “Frozen,” this musical shows the adventure of Anna and Elsa when an accident as children changes their lives forever. With catchy songs to state-of-the-art designs and technology, this original stage show is a flurry of fun for the whole family!

“Tangled: The Musical,” presented exclusively aboard the Disney Magic, combines a heartfelt story, an enchanting score and lavish production numbers to showcase the thrilling adventure of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, as they face ruffians, thugs and a budding romance on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery. (Ryan Wendler, photographer)

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Tangled: The Musical” (Disney Magic)

At last we see the light…only on the high seas! The animated Disney film “Tangled” comes to life on stage as the first adaptation of the endearing story we all love. We assembled an all-star creative team to develop this original Disney Cruise Line stage spectacular, which includes three new songs created exclusively for the show by Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken and Grammy Award-winning lyricist Glenn Slater, along with pioneering puppetry created by master puppet designer Michael Curry.

New to the Disney Fantasy is the Broadway-style production “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular.” The live stage show, performed in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre, features the cast from the classic animated Disney film, “Aladdin,” in a fast-paced musical comedy. Magic lamps, wise-cracking genies, princesses, evil wizards, a magic flying carpet scene and soaring music are all a part of this stage spectacular. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” (Disney Fantasy)

From the big screen to the live stage, enjoy this uproarious performance based on the Disney film “Aladdin.” This mythical story of boy meets girl raises the bar with special effects and technology, which often spills the action into the aisles or above the audience. Enjoy your favorite songs from the movie, or delight in a new song for the production “To Be Free.”

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story” (Disney Magic)

What if Cinderella never got a chance to slip on the glass slipper? Beginning where the classic film ended, “Twice Charmed” is a fresh new take on an original Disney story. This new musical combines pop and rock ‘n’ roll elements to create an enchanting score, featuring six original songs as well as classics like “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”

“Disney Dreams … An Enchanted Classic” tells a bedtime story of a young girl who realizes the power of her dreams with the help of popular characters from beloved Disney features. On the Disney Magic, Anna, Elsa and Olaf from the animated hit “Frozen” make their stage show debut at sea during the Broadway-style production performed at the Walt Disney Theatre. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic” (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder)

Journey through a bedtime story with a young girl as she learns to believe in magic through the power of her dreams. Delight as your favorite Disney characters tell their stories through rousing renditions of songs from “Pinocchio,” “Cinderella,” “Aladdin” and more. You’ll see the strength of positive thinking and how an encouraging attitude can affect the whole world.

Every night is show time at Walt Disney Theatre, an elegant, 1,340-seat palace onboard the Disney Dream that is equipped with advanced theatrical technology and state-of-the-art sound, lighting, staging and set design. Premiering on the Disney Dream and headlining the musical repertoire is Disney’s Believe, an original stage spectacular that combines a heartfelt story about a father and daughter with a captivating musical score, a comical and insightful performance by Genie from Disney’s “Aladdin” and appearances from more than 20 of Disney’s most beloved characters. (Gene Duncan, photographer)

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Disney’s Believe” (Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream)

What does it take for a loving daughter to help her father see a life beyond work? Just a dash of Disney magic! Enjoy this spellbinding original musical about a workaholic who reconnects with his daughter with the help of Disney characters. This modern-day fable features some of the most memorable songs from “Peter Pan,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Lion King” and more.

“Disney Wishes” is a Disney Cruise Line stage spectacular, presented exclusively aboard the Disney Fantasy. The show, performed in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre, is a heartfelt story about three best friends who discover the secret to being a grown-up is staying connected to their inner child. Full-scale production numbers and special effects bring excitement to the stage as the cast performs original songs and classic Disney tunes with a contemporary twist, including “Honor to Us All” from “Mulan” featuring Mulan.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“Disney Wishes” (Disney Fantasy)

Enjoy an enchanting musical about staying young at heart with “Disney Wishes.” Watch as a young trio of teens go on the “Ride of Their Lives” before graduation with some of their favorite Disney characters. Bask in full-scale production numbers from “Lilo & Stitch,” “The Jungle Book,” “Mulan” and more, all with a captivating, contemporary twist.

Every night is show time at Walt Disney Theatre, an elegant, 1,340-seat palace onboard the Disney Dream that is equipped with advanced theatrical technology and state-of-the-art sound, lighting, staging and set design. The Golden Mickeys is a Disney Cruise Line guest favorite and an award-style show celebrating the musical heritage of Disney animated films. This production showcases an extra sprinkle of glitz and glamour on the Disney Dream with new musical numbers, enhanced technology and dazzling special effects. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“The Golden Mickeys” (Disney Wonder and Disney Dream)

You’re invited to a Hollywood-style awards show at sea! Walk the red carpet into the Walt Disney Theatre to enjoy this nighttime extravaganza as it unfolds into dazzling song-and-dance numbers from “Tarzan,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and more. And by the end of the gala learn that in our hearts, we are all winners!

So sit back, relax and enjoy the show as the curtain goes up aboard the Disney Cruise Line ships! Make sure you catch your favorite Disney Cruise Line musicals at sea on your next Disney cruise.

New Menu at White Water Snacks at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Put away those paddles and get out your forks and knives – White Water Snacks has reopened and is serving up fresh new bites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Located at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort, this white water rapids-inspired eatery serves up everything from Mickey waffles and buttermilk biscuits to Angus cheeseburgers and artisanal pizzas. In addition, the quick-service restaurant now offers mobile ordering through the Disneyland app, allowing you to maximize your time by ordering and paying ahead to skip the line!

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Start your morning off with a selection of classic breakfast dishes, such as the American Breakfast with eggs and bacon (or sausage!) or a warm Breakfast Burrito filled with scrambled eggs, tater bites, bacon, and cheese. The Smoked Salmon Bagel Sandwich is another option thats swam upstream to join the menu along with a few vegetarian options like Roasted Vegetable and Three-Cheese Quiches, Avocado Toast, and Egg White Scramble with spinach, asparagus, avocado, and roasted tomato. And for the kids? They’ll love the Breakfast Plate with turkey bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit, and tater bites.

If you’re looking for a sweet start to your morning, you can indulge in a delectable breakfast pastry or a warm Belgian waffle topped with strawberries and chantilly cream. Buttermilk Biscuit French Toast also joins the menu with banana brûlée, toffee sauce, and bacon dust – YUM.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

For lunch and dinner, we’ve got new eats including a couple hearty bowls! The Poke Bowl comes with your choice of salmon, tuna, or tofu marinated in poke sauce and either steamed white rice or shredded lettuce red onions, pickled cucumber, edamame, avocado, green onion, and furikake. Then there’s the Rice Bowl with your choice of grilled beef, chicken, or tofu over steamed white rice and served with a vegetable egg roll, pickled cucumber, and a hard-boiled egg.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

If you’re looking for an on-the-go bite, you’ll love these handcrafted sandwiches. Try the Mortadella Sandwich with provolone cheese and cornichons on a pretzel roll, the Prosciutto, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich with burrata cheese on a French roll, or the Chicken Salad Curry Sandwich on a butter croissant. You can also chow down on a skewer – choose from Shawarma Chicken, Bulgogi Beef, or Mediterranean Vegetables.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Artisanal pizzas are on the menu and come straight out of the pizza oven. Try the Margherita Pizza or the Pepperoni Pizza as well as unique pies like the Forest Mushroom Pizza with vegetarian sausage or the Charcuterie Pizza with pepperoni, prosciutto, salami, and fennel sausage.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Other unique offerings include the Cali-Grilled Angus Cheeseburger with grilled asparagus-celery salad, spiced hollandaise, swiss cheese, and artichoke aïoli, Sustainable Fish Tacos with yuzu citrus slaw, and Chicken-Fried Brisket and Waffle with bbq sauce, pimento cheese spread, and housemade pickles.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Kids can enjoy some yummy chicken breast or mini corn dog nuggets as well as a Parmesan-crusted Grilled Cheese and a PBJ & N Sandwich with peanut butter, jelly, and chocolate-hazelnut spread. All of these are served with either french fries or house-made chips.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

For dessert, sip on a classic Root Beer Float with vanilla ice cream and Chantilly cream, or try the seasonal crostata.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

White Water Snacks is open 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check out the full menu by visiting the Disneyland Resort website, and be sure to come on out and try one of these new dishes for yourself! No white water rafts or paddles required!

Top 7 Reasons to Visit Mardi Gras 2019 at Universal Orlando Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

If you love catching countless beads from vibrant parade floats, eating delicious authentic N’awlins style food and listening to some of the biggest names in music then Mardi Gras 2019 at Universal Orlando is the place for you.

The best part Florida Residents? You don’t have to fly to New Orleans to have that authentic Mardi Gras celebration because it’s right in your backyard.

1. Live Concerts with Some Of The Biggest Names In Music

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

First and foremost, on select nights, you can watch some of the biggest names in music take to the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios Florida for unforgettable performances including…

  • February 9 – BUSH
  • February 16 – Gavin DeGraw
  • February 17 – Dan + Shay
  • February 23 – Macklemore
  • March 2 – Sabrina Carpenter
  • March 9 – Becky G
  • March 10 – Sean Paul
  • March 16 – Steve Miller Band
  • March 17 – Ziggy Marley
  • March 23 – NF
  • March 24 – Pitbull
  • March 30 – Bazzi
  • March 31 – To be announced

*Blockout dates apply for Seasonal Passholders on all concert event nights at Universal Studios Florida. You will still receive access to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Insider TipHead over to the Music Plaza stage early to get up close and find a nice spot in the grass for the nightly concert. Visiting with a group? Take turns grabbing your fill of N’awlins inspired food & spirits for the best picnic ever.

2. Universal Mardi Gras Parade

Get ready to unleash your wild side with this year’s parade theme –– Party Animals! You will experience returning fan-favorites and new vibrant floats with lively characters decorated in animals from around the world including the jungle, arctic, swamp and more.

Passholders can also enjoy the parade from a special viewing area in front of Mel’s Drive-In™. Don’t worry! No matter where you’re viewing the parade from, be prepared to catch beads by the handful.

Interested in riding and tossing beads from the Mardi Gras parade floats? Passholders can sign up for a chance to be a Mardi Gras float rider with up to five guests! Visit the sign-up page here

Insider Tip: Love catching and collecting Mardi Gras beads from the parade floats? Make your way towards the Horror Makeup Show to catch both the beginning and the end of the parade.

3. Dig Into N’awlins Style Delicious Food

Make your way to the French Quarter Courtyard located in the New York area, loosen up your belt and get ready to try a wide variety of mouthwatering bite-sized Cajun favorites including jambalaya, shrimp gumbo, Andouille sausage, sugary-sweet beignets, and more!

Visit the Mardi Gras Food Guide for more mouthwatering details.

4. Refreshing Mardi Gras Drinks

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Quench your thirst with our refreshing Mardi Gras themed specialty beverages, featuring slushies, a wide variety of craft beer selections and delicious cocktails including the Ragin Rumbalaya, Carnival Cocktail and Vicious VooDoo. 

Stay tuned for more mouthwatering details.

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

5. Live Entertainment and Performers

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Visit the French Quarter Courtyard and join in the Mardi Gras celebration as you encounter stilt walkers, dancers, colorful parade characters and more wandering the streets.

Don’t forget, not only do the Mardi Gras characters carry extra beads, they love to interact with you and take photos. So make sure your camera is handy and don’t be shy to ask for a photo.

6. Big Easy Tunes in the French Quarter

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Now that you have a full stomach and a drink in hand, stick around the French Quarter to hear the signature sounds of these authentic Big Easy bands.

  • February 9 – 17: Dirty Bourbon River Show
  • February 18 – 27: Naughty Professor Brass Band
  • February 28 – March 18: Free Agents Brass Band featuring Honey Bannister
  • March 19 – April 4: New Breed Brass Band

7. Have The Time Of Your Life!

Whether you’re coming for a day of family-friendly fun, or to wild out with friends, start the countdown now and for a limited time, take advantage of great Universal Orlando Annual Pass Deals to help throw the party and get up to 6 months FREE.

Get ready to find your inner party-animal with us at Mardi Gras!

Tell us about some of your favorite experiences at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2019 in the comments below. And make sure to share your Mardi Gras 2019 moments on TwitterFacebook or Instagram with #UniversalMardiGras.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free at Sea Offers Free Airfare to Hawaii and More

Have you always wanted to visit Hawaii, but thought it was too expensive to get there? Now is the time to book a cruise to Hawai’i! Norwegian’s Free at Sea promotion now lets you choose up to 6 fantastic, FREE offers! Book a Studio or Inside stateroom and choose 1 free offer or choose 3 free offers when you book an Oceanview, Balcony or Mini-Suite. Best of all, cruise in a Suite and enjoy all six free offers.

Norwegian’s Free at Sea Promotion

Choose up to 6 FREE offers:

  • FREE unlimited beverage package
  • FREE shore excursion credits
  • FREE specialty dining
  • FREE WiFi
  • Norwegian’s Friends & Family Sail FREE
  • FREE or reduced roundtrip airfare on select sailings

Norwegian Cruise Line offers you seven days, four islands and two overnight stays in Hawai’i. You’ll visit O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’i and the Big Island of Hawai’i, giving you plenty of time ashore. Yes, Hawai’i is a paradise of cascading waterfalls and jewel-toned beaches. It also has some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses and Norwegian’s shore excursions can take you there. Back on board, you can dine, dance, swim, get a massage and wake up every morning to a new view. Take the cruise voted the “Best Hawai’i Itinerary” by the readers of Porthole Magazine and discover Freestyle Cruising with Norwegian.

What are you waiting for? Take advantage of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free at Sea promotion and start planning your Hawaiian adventure today! Call Siera at 734-771-1290 or email her at siera@destinationstoexplore.com for more information or your free, no obligation quote.

Reservations Now Available for Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Gran Destino Tower opens this summer, and sitting atop this grand new expansion to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood. The unique restaurant will offer a menu featuring dishes and small plates inspired by the flavors of Spain. Guests of Toledo will enjoy a surrealistic rooftop dining experience along with classic tapas, steaks, seafood, and delightful desserts.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

An on-stage tapas kitchen will serve charcuteríá and cheeses as well as pintxos (small plates) and cazuelas (soups). House boards include a cured meat selection, an artisanal manchego cheese selection, and a grand platter of signature artisanal meats and mixed cheeses.

The pintxos selections feature an array of items like Salt Cod-stuffed Piquillo Peppers with goat cheese and toast, Olive Oil-poached Tuna, and Tortilla de Día wrapped in jamón serrano. Cazuelas include options such as Shrimp Pil Pil, Charred Octopus with romesco and chimichurri, and Rioja-braised Chorizo with field onions..

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

If you’re looking for larger appetizers, you can enjoy several selections including Heirloom Tomatoes with stone fruit and farmer cheese, Jamón Serrano with compressed melon, and Savory Churros.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

For the entrées, guests can enjoy Wine-braised Chicken and steak lovers can savor the Hanger Steak with crushed new potatoes or the Manhattan Filet. There’s also the Rib-Eye For Two – an aged, hand-cut 32-ounce Spanish chuletón for two.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

The restaurant will serve 100% sustainable seafood with options such as Scallops with hummus, olives, and roasted carrots and Golden Tile Fish with petite potatoes and cauliflower. There’s also a creative plant-based take on a seafood platter that includes mushroom scallops, calamari, and ceviche as well as hearts of palm crab cake.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

For a sweet ending to your meal, try one of several unique signature desserts created by Disney’s Master Pastry Chef: Classic Crema Catalana with Valencia oranges and chocolate tuile, “Café con Leche” Choux with dark chocolate mousse and vanilla “nata montada,” and “The Toledo Tapas Bar” – a progressive bite-sized sweet tasting, tapas style, featuring a crunchy chocolate bar with bite-sized flavors of Spanish coffee mousse, chocolate cake, “frambuesa” raspberry mousse, and lemon curd. Kids can also enjoy Mickey-shaped raspberry mousse topped with yummy strawberries.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

There’s even a plant-based dessert option on the menu. The Chocolate Avocado Mousse with strawberry-basil sorbet and coconut crumble is a decadent option that you definitely won’t want to miss out on.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

The beverage menu shines the spotlight on Spanish and California wines with over 75 selections hand-selected by our Master Sommelier. Other drinks include handcrafted cocktails such as the “Gin Tonic” with house-made saffron tonic and sangria as well as beers and ciders from Spanish and American Craft Breweries, a selection of non-alcoholic artisanal cocktails, and dinner beverages showcasing Spanish coffees, brandies, and dessert wines.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Reservations are now open for Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood for bookings starting in July, when Gran Destino Tower opens at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. For more information and to book reservations, visit the Walt Disney World Resort website or call 407 WDW-DINE (407 939-3463).

For more information and to book hotel reservations for Gran Destino Tower, visit the Walt Disney World Resort website or call 407-W-Disney (407 934-7639) or your travel agent.

How to Use My Universal Photos at Universal Orlando Resort

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

There are two ways most people go about taking photos on vacation: having someone in your party not be in the photo or asking a stranger to take the photo for you. However, at Universal Orlando Resort, you have an ideal third option—My Universal Photos.

My Universal Photos takes the stress out of your vacation by helping you capture your unforgettable experiences here and share them with friends and family. With all of the awesome photo opportunities throughout the parks, we’ve got you covered—whether you’re screaming your face off on one of our high-speed coasters or coming face-to-face with spectacular, cinematic icons.

Here’s how it works:

1. Purchase Your Preferred Package

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

My Universal Photos has three different packages to make sure you’re properly set up for your day (or days) of play:

  • 1-Day Photo Package: This package gives you one full day of photos at any of our three parks with exclusive pricing on park photo prints and unlimited digital downloads. It also includes a My Universal Photos themed lanyard and card, discounts on photo gift products, as well as one 4×6 and one 5×7 photo print at time of purchase.
  • 3-Day Photo Package: This option allows up to three consecutive days of photos in the parks beginning on the day you pick up your My Universal Photos lanyard and card. You also receive one free 5×7 print in a folder and one free 4×6 print valid in-park or online, plus a few other exclusive discounts.
  • 1-Day Photo Package at Volcano Bay: If you’re just looking for a slice of Waturi paradise, this package is for you. With your one day of photos at Universal’s Volcano Bay (as with all packages), you get unlimited digital downloads and the ability to view and share your photos forever.

2. Time to Have Some Fun!

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Once you’ve ordered your package, show your confirmation email at a merchandise location where Universal Express Pass is sold or at the My Universal Photos stores in the parks. A Team Member will give you your photo card and then you’re all set! There are three different ways to capture your vacation memories:

  • Have one of our professional photographers scan your card before taking a photo.
  • Scan it yourself at one of our selfie stations.
  • Scan it at a kiosk at the end of any participating rides.

The photos automatically show up on your My Universal Photos account, which you’ll be emailed a password and link to.

3. Photos at Your Fingertips

Make your friends jealous by sharing your adventures with the Amazing Pictures Mobile App. Download the app and log in with your email address and the password you were given. The photos you take during your day will be uploaded automatically. Once you see them, share them to your heart’s content. Click on a photo and send it via text, post it on social media, or even just download it to your camera roll. It’s super easy to share the fun.

4. Memories that Last a Lifetime

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Relive your fun-filled moments and choose which ones you want to keep forever. When you’re in the park, head to a standalone photo store or a ride photo location to get an individual print. You can also order prints of your favorite pics from home or print them on items like mugs, Christmas ornaments and more. There are tons of products to choose from.

It’s as simple as that. With over 30 locations to smile or scream, all you need to worry about is deciding which ride to go on next. Say cheese!

More Adventures by Disney River Cruise Vacations in Europe in 2020

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

In 2020, there will be more Adventures by Disney river cruises in Europe than ever before, including a brand-new vacation through southern France on the Rhone River! Plus, they will launch three new Short Escape itineraries in Paris, Amsterdam and Budapest, Hungary, which can be added to Adventures by Disney river cruise vacations or booked at standalone trips.

The expanded season of river cruises includes a record-breaking 27 departures along the DanubeRhineSeine and Rhone rivers. Sailing with AmaWaterways, a premier luxury river cruise line, these all-inclusive vacations allow families to explore the heart of Europe in a way that’s active, immersive and hassle free. What’s more, we’re doubling the number of adult-exclusive departures in 2020, giving our adult guests even more opportunities to experience the sophistication, variety and adventure of a river cruise in a fun, comfortable setting with Adventures by Disney.

Bookings for 2020 Adventures by Disney river cruise vacations open to the public on Jan. 31, 2019.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

New Rhone River Sailings Through Southern France
During the new eight-day, seven-night Rhone River itinerary onboard AmaCello, our guests will sail through southern France, including the renowned region of Provence, for the first time. To bring the rich history, charming culture, distinguished art and distinctive cuisine of this diverse region to life, we’ve curated engaging, authentic experiences in every port-of-call. Here are the highlights:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Active sightseeing adventures include exploring enchanting towns and villages by bike; kayaking beneath the famous 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard; and taking in the magnificent
scenery of the Gorges du Doux by steam train and rail bike.

Interactive culinary experiences celebrate the region’s local flavors and world-famous cuisine. The menu of activities includes a private truffle-hunting experience and tasting; cheese and jam making at a goat farm; and an immersive tasting experience at a family-owned olive oil farm near Les Baux-de-Provence. Guests will also enjoy curated tastings featuring Rhone Valley wines, chocolate and more.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Engaging art-focused excursions draw Adventurers into a world of color and imagination. Among the highlights are a walking tour of Roussillon’s colorful Ochre Trail followed by a painting class; a
demonstration in the art of silk-weaving in Lyon; and a visit to the Carrieres de Lumieres, a former
limestone quarry where famous impressionistic paintings come to life.

Immersive historical tours are bolstered by signature Disney storytelling as guests step into the stories of the Palais des Papes, a breathtaking palace that was once the seat of papal power; the Roman ruins of Lyon and Nimes; the historic hilltop villages of Gordes and Les Baux-de-Provence; and the 12th-century Abbaye de Senanque, where tales of medieval Cistercian monks unfold.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

New Short Escape Itineraries in Paris, Amsterdam and Budapest
Beginning in 2020, our guests can enhance their European river cruise vacations with three-day, two-night stays in ParisAmsterdam and Budapest. These guided group itineraries are designed to maximize vacation time, highlighting each city’s most well-known attractions while also uncovering unexpected hidden gems.

The Paris Short Escape can be added to Seine and Rhone sailings to round-out vacations in northern or southern France. In Paris, not only will guests come face-to-face with one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, but they’ll also enjoy spectacular views of the “City of Lights” from their seats at dinner on the structure’s first floor. Other activities include a private walking culinary tour and a bucket-list visit to the Louvre Museum, which features a local expert guide and a special art detective activity for Junior Adventurers.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

The Amsterdam Short Escape can be added as a post-cruise stay following Rhine River sailings to complete the cruise’s four-country journey. This itinerary is comprised of a number of hands-on activities, like a painting workshop following a visit to the Van Gogh Museum and a tile glazing activity at an earthenware factory. Adventurers will also visit quintessential Dutch windmills in Kinderdijk, embark on a canal cruise and taste their way through the trendy Jordaan neighborhood.

The Budapest Short Escape can be added to Danube River sailings as the perfect land complement to the Central European tour by water. The itinerary combines enriching cultural excursions — guests will indulge in homestyle Hungarian cuisine at a historic bistro, ride in a tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) and revel in a performance at the Budapest Opera House — with visits to the city’s must-see locales, such as Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church.