Author Archives: siera

Let’s Celebrate National Plan for Vacation Day 2022

Happy National Plan for Vacation Day!

National Plan for Vacation Day (NPVD), celebrated on the last Tuesday in January, is a day to encourage Americans to plan their vacation days for the whole year at the start of the year— and inspire them to use those days to travel to and within the United States. Since 2015, when the travel industry and partners began tracking American vacation usage, survey findings have continuously shown that vacation days are not being used, negatively affecting mental health, personal relationships and job performance. National Plan for Vacation Day helps highlight the importance of taking time off to travel—both for our personal health and wellbeing and for the overall economic prosperity of our nation. This year’s National Plan for Vacation Day is on January 25, 2022. Together, using #PlanForVacation, we are reminding Americans to commit—and take—their days off. How will you celebrate National Plan for Vacation Day 2022?

Image: U.S. Travel Association

After two years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are feeling burned out and ready for a change of scenery. However, COVID-19 related health and safety concerns and increased workloads have prevented many American workers from using their hard earned time off. Americans are STILL not using all of their vacation days.

American workers left an average of more than four days or 29% of their paid time off on the table last year, but the majority of Americans (64%) say they desperately need a vacation.

Planning Vacations Reduces Burnout

Image: U.S. Travel Association
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of American workers feel at least moderately burned out and 13% are extremely burned out
  • More than half (53%) of remote workers are working MORE hours now than they were in the office and 61% now find it more difficult to unplug from work
  • COVID-19 related concerns followed by work related barriers such as heavy workloads and lack of coverage are top reasons preventing Americans from using their paid time off
  • Just one-quarter of Americans used ALL of their earned time off in 2021
  • Nearly eight in 10 (79%) believe vacations are important to their overall health and well-being
  • Avoiding burnout was the top-rated motivator to book a trip in the next six months—ranked even higher than travel discounts/deals

Travel Remains a Top Priority

  • More than nine in 10 (91%) Americans say it is important to use their paid time off to travel
  • Nearly eight in 10 (79%) believe vacations are important to their overall health and well-being
  • Nearly six in 10 (59%) agree that travel is more important than ever and 61% plan to make travel a top budget priority in 2022

Vacation Planning WORKS!

  • The three-quarters of Americans who planned out their paid time off for the year were more likely to use their paid time off to travel in 2021
  • 53% of planners anticipate traveling more in 2022 versus 27% of non-planners
  • More than nine in ten (91%) Americans say it is important to use their paid time off to travel
  • Close to eight in ten (79%) of Americans believe vacations are important to their overall health and well-being

The Impact of Planning

  • Americans who plan out their time off take more time off to travel—but one-quarter (24%) of American households don’t do this simple step. As a result, they lose or have to forfeit these days
  • Planners prioritize traveling with their paid time off, a trend that is expected to continue to rise in 2022 where 53% of planners anticipate traveling more than previous years versus 27% of non-planners
  • And planners actually do travel more than non-planners. More than half (56%) of Americans who typically planned their time off took an overnight vacation in 2021 compared to 33% of non-planners
  • Anticipating and planning travel makes Americans happy. Close to three-quarters (74%) of planners reported being extremely or very happy anticipating and planning vacations in the next year versus just four in 10 of non-planners
  • Avoiding burnout is an even greater motivator to book a trip for non-planners than planners—62% of non-planners rated avoiding burnout as a top motivator compared to 53% of planners

Planning: A Key to Happiness

Image: U.S. Travel Association

Those who plan for vacations are happier in general—with everything from their personal relationships to their work/life balance, health and well-being and even their job.

Extremely or Very HappyPlannersNon-Planners
On Vacation86%67%
Personal Relationships with Family and Friends80%58%
Work/Life Balance72%54%
Job Flexibility72%53%
Anticipating and Planning Vacations74%40%
Physical Health and Well-Being72%46%
Company Where You Work68%53%
Job68%50%
Source: Destination Analysts, 2021 & U.S. Travel Association

Ready to start planning your next vacation? Here are a few ideas to help get you started…

Walt Disney World Resort

Image: Disney

It’s always a magical time to plan a visit to the most magical place on earth, but 2022 is extra special with the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort. We recently shared 22 reasons why you should plan to visit Disney World in 2022! Plus, you may be able to take advantage of a special offer for additional savings when you travel March 6- July 7, 2022.

Universal Orlando Resort

There’s never been a better time to start planning your epic trip to Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Orlando Resort features incredible theme park adventures that allow you to let go and live in the moment with those you care about most. There’s plenty to explore at Universal Orlando Resort – home to three theme parks featuring more than 60 world-class attractions combined, eight magnificently-themed resort hotels, destination-wide entertainment and Universal CityWalk.

We have customizable vacation package options perfect for any visitor. Learn more about Universal Orlando Resort’s new offer for 2 days free or the Exclusive Wizarding World of Harry Potter vacation package.

Perfect Day at CocoCay with Royal Caribbean

This isn’t vacation days spent. This is bragging rights earned. You can conquer the tallest waterslide in North America and snap a shot from 450 feet up in a helium balloon. Grab a drink at the swim-up bar and soak up the scene in the largest freshwater pool in the Bahamas. Or get a taste of Bora Bora with their own floating cabana. This is Perfect Day at CocoCay — only on Royal Caribbean®

You can learn more about why your family will love a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation or 10 reasons to spend a perfect day at CocoCay.

All Inclusive Resorts

Ready to just unplug and recharge? Don’t want to have to worry about cooking or anything while you’re on vacation? Maybe an all inclusive getaway is the best fit for you. There are resorts available for for couples and families. You can find some of our favorite all inclusive resorts for families here.

Special thanks to the U.S. Travel Association for sharing these statistics with us!

22 Reasons to Visit Disney World in 2022

It’s always an exciting time to plan a visit to the most magical place on Earth! But, 2022 is looking like an extra magical year at the Walt Disney World Resort! Today, we are sharing 22 reasons why you should plan to visit Disney World in 2022!

1. The World’s Most Magical Celebration

The World’s Most Magical Celebration, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, began October 1, 2021 and will continue for 18 months so you can enjoy this celebration throughout all of 2022!

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are hosting “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” while decked out in sparkling new EARidescent fashions. Donald Duck and Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale are also sporting their own custom-made EARidescent looks. You can see them when they travel through Magic Kingdom Park several times daily in the new “Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade.”

These eight friends are even featured in special golden character sculptures at Magic Kingdom Park. There are 50 characters total in this series of sculptures that are displayed across all four theme parks.

“The World’s Most Magical Celebration” features icons at each of the four parks transforming into Beacons of Magic at night, exclusive merchandise, new food and beverage offerings and even an update look for the iconic Cinderella Castle.

2. Typhoon Lagoon is Now Open

Surf’s up! Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is open once again for guests to experience their favorite thrilling water attractions and tropical family fun. You can build your own tropical flavor DOLE Whip combinations at Snack Shack, body surf in America’s largest outdoor wave pool, plunge down Humunga Kowabunga, relax in Castaway Creek, and take a journey with friends and family down Miss Adventure Falls. 

Whether it’s the topsy-turvy architecture, storm-strewn treasures scattered around the park, or the stranded ship, Missy Tilly’s, perched upon the summit of Mount Mayday, each detail immerses guests into the magical legend of Typhoon Lagoon every time they visit the park.

3. New Nighttime Spectaculars at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT

“Disney Enchantment,” the new nighttime spectacular at Magic Kingdom Park, will take you on a journey filled with adventure, wonder and empowerment. Inspiring everyone to believe in magic, “Disney Enchantment” features music, enhanced lighting, stunning fireworks and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.

Harmonious,” at EPCOT, is one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park. This new show brings the globe together at World Showcase Lagoon in a celebration of Disney music that inspires people worldwide. It’s a grand, powerful tribute to the stories and songs that unite us, embracing new technical magic that incorporates pyrotechnics, choreographed moving fountains, lighting and media in new ways. “Harmonious” will invite you to travel the globe through new interpretations of classic Disney songs as you’ve never heard them before, reimagined in more than a dozen languages by a diverse group of 240 artists from around the world.

4. Character Meet and Greets Are BACK!

You can once again have individualized time with some of your favorite Disney characters, by getting to visit with them in a themed location and snap a photo or two. You will find the Disney Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom Park, Minnie Mouse at Red Carpet Dreams and the stars of Disney Junior in Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And, when you stop in to see Mickey Mouse backstage at Town Square Theater on Main Street, U.S.A., he’ll be sporting his all-new EARidescent look designed just for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration!

5. Select Behind the Scenes Tours Returning February 6, 2022

Image: Disney

For those of you with a love of animals, adventure and the outdoors – and those seeking to discover how Walt Disney’s vision, innovation and creativity brought Magic Kingdom Park to life – things are about to get a lot more exciting with the return of some fan-favorite tours from the Enchanting Extras Collection!

Guests who want to get even closer to the magic of nature and Disney now can book one of the following tours returning beginning Feb. 6, 2022:

  • Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom
  • Caring for Giants
  • Wild Africa Trek
  • Up Close with Rhinos
  • Savor the Savanna

6. Disney Genie Service

Image: Disney

Available for all guests right in the My Disney Experience app, the new complimentary Disney Genie service offers new features that let you create your best Disney day. These features include a personalized itinerary creator that effortlessly and smartly maps out an entire day inspired by the things you love – helping you make the most of your park time so you can have more fun. 

Disney Genie puts guests at the center of the experience by prioritizing ways to:

  • Reduce time in lines while keeping in mind your top picks
  • Pace your day with experiences you’ll enjoy – and haven’t already done yet
  • Build around your existing plans like dining reservations and Park Hopper preferences 

7. Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

Image: Disney

This annual festival, running January 14 through February 21, 2022, invites you to explore an expansive collection of visual, performance and culinary arts throughout the park. The DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series is also returning for this year’s festival, where you can see some of your favorite entertainers perform Disney songs live at America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase.

During the festival, art lovers of all ages can enjoy inspirational experiences, such as:

  • Culinary delights from Food Studios around World Showcase
  • The Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine – a fun food stroll featuring five delicious sweet and savory treats
  • Chalk artists turning walkways into stunning landscapes and portraits
  • Photo ops where you can step into famous artwork
  • A paint-by-number mural
  • Figment’s Brush with the Masters scavenger hunt
  • Performance and visual artists
  • Special festival merchandise

8. Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser to Welcome Guests Beginning March 1, 2022

Image: Disney

The inaugural voyage of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World Resort will depart March, 1, 2022! General bookings for this immersive adventure in a galaxy far, far away are now available.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a first-of-its-kind vacation experience that goes beyond anything Disney has created before. You’ll become the hero of your own Star Wars story during this two-night adventure, traveling the galaxy in style aboard the Halcyon starcruiser and eventually making your way to the Outer Rim for a planetside excursion to Batuu. You choose how to make your way in the galaxy – maybe as a member of the Resistance, or by learning the ancient ways of the Jedi lightsaber. Maybe you prefer loyalty to the First Order or the excitement of living life like a smuggler? The decisions are up to you. 

9. EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

The 2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival springs to life March 2 and runs through July 4, offering 125 days to enjoy fresh cuisine, colorful gardens, playful topiaries and vibrant entertainment.

Gardeners will marvel at thousands of blooms forming colorful, living panoramas all around EPCOT, and the entire family can experience the Health Full Trail presented by AdventHealth along the Imagination walkway to learn tips for staying well.

Fresh flavors are on the menu at the festival’s 18 Outdoor Kitchens as well as other food and beverage locations around EPCOT, offering a fresh selection of springtime fruits, vegetables, desserts and more.

The popular Garden Rocks Concert Series is planned to return, featuring favorite tunes at the America Gardens Theatre.

You’ll also find blooming keepsakes including vibrant apparel, drinkware, accessories and more with new merchandise collections launching just in time for the event.

10. Disney’s All Star Sports Resort Reopens March 31, 2022

Photo: Disney

Put them in, coach! Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort will welcome Guests back beginning March 31, 2022. The whole family can get in the game at this Walt Disney World Resort hotel that salutes the world of competitive sports, including baseball, basketball, football, surfing and tennis. Go the distance and don’t be afraid to celebrate your inner fan amid sporty décor starring some of your favorite Disney characters.

11. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond to Premiere at Animal Kingdom

Photo: Disney

A reimagined version of “Finding Nemo: The Musical”, based on the same beloved characters, will debut at Theater in the Wild  in 2022.

The musical retelling of this underwater tale of family, friendship and kindness will feature new story material, as well as fan favorite songs such as “In the Big Blue World” and “Go with the Flow.” This new show is set in the timeline of the movie “Finding Dory.” When you take a seat in the theater, you’ll find yourself at the Marine Life Institute.

12. Festival of Fantasy Parade Returns to Magic Kingdom

This year will welcome the return of the Disney “Festival of Fantasy” Parade at Magic Kingdom Park. This vibrant and joyous celebration of Fantasyland brings to the streets of Magic Kingdom Park dozens of beloved Disney characters and stories, from the Disney Princess Garden to a carnival of color presided over by none other than Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

13. Adventure Friends Cavalcade

Image: Disney

2022 will also introduce a new character cavalcade, the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade, with an exciting lineup of characters all embarking on a great journey through the park. The Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade will feature the most characters of any cavalcade to date, including Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Baloo and King Louie from “The Jungle Book,” José Carioca and Panchito from “The Three Caballeros,” Miguel from “Coco,” plus Merida, Moana, The Incredibles, and so many more!

14. Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire

Image: Disney

Live entertainment is returning to the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage with a show newly enhanced for the 50th Anniversary celebration. “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” will incorporate favorite scenes from the previous version of the show – with sequences inspired by “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “The Princess and the Frog” – plus a new opening and a new finale with Mickey Mouse and all his friends in their sparkling, EARidescent fashions. The show will also include an all-new, original song entitled “Where the Magic Feels Like Home.”

15. MagicBand+ to Debut

Image: Disney

MagicBand+ will retain popular features of the original MagicBand and add functionality that unlocks new moments of magic for you. After you enter a theme park, MagicBand+ will come alive at various times with color-changing lights, haptic vibrations and gesture recognition. The wearable will allow you to engage with favorite Disney moments in new ways, including:

  • Play like a bounty hunter in a galaxy far, far away and find virtual bounties throughout Black Spire Outpost in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 
  • Interact with the “Disney Fab 50 Character Collection,” the golden sculptures spread throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks.
  • Experience nighttime spectaculars in a new way as you see your band light up and complement the magic in the skies, including the new “Harmonious” at EPCOT and “Disney Enchantment” at Magic Kingdom Park.

16. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to Open at EPCOT This Summer

Image: Disney

Cue up your mixtape and prepare for something awesome … because it’s about to be save the galaxy time!  Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open at EPCOT this summer. This thrilling new family-friendly coaster matches the “grandosity” and fun of the blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy” films in what will be one of the longest fully enclosed coasters in the world. 

17. 40th Anniversary of EPCOT

EPCOT will celebrate its 40th anniversary on October 1, 2022! The park has been undergoing an historic transformation and we hope to see more new openings here in 2022, like Journey of Water, inspired by “Moana” where guests will have the opportunity to meet and play with magical, living water. You can also enjoy new dining options like Space 220 and the Creperie while awaiting the opening of a new quick service dining option, Connections Cafe, near the new Creations shop.

18. Fantasmic! Will Return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Image: Disney

“Fantasmic!” will be returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2022. When this incredible spectacular reopens, it will incorporate an all-new sequence featuring more than 50 live performers, massive sets, stunts, stunning special effects, dazzling pyrotechnics, rousing music and more!

19. Disney KiteTails at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

 “Disney KiteTails” takes the magic of nature and Disney storytelling to new heights, immersing everyone in a gala performance of color and movement at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

This new show happens several times daily at the Discovery River Theater, near DinoLand U.S.A. As you make your way into the space, you’ll be joined by a team of performers bringing with them a colorful collection of oversized props and kites adorned with Disney animal friends from “The Little Mermaid,” “a bug’s life” and “Finding Nemo.” Original arrangements of favorite Disney tunes fill the air, and the excitement builds toward the launch of an impressive show of kites over the lagoon.

Watercraft zoom into view, pulling with them dynamic kite trains and enormous, three-dimensional kites depicting familiar characters from “The Lion King” or “The Jungle Book.” From one performance to another, you may see Baloo the bear dancing in the sky or Zazu the red-billed hornbill chasing after Simba. These remarkable kites, some as large as 30 feet in length, are inflated by moving through the air, allowing characters like King Louie or Timon and Pumbaa to soar like never before!

20. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT is Now Open

You can see everyone’s favorite “Little Chef” when you ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the newest attraction at EPCOT! In this delicious new attraction, you’ll feel like you’ve shrunk to the size of Chef Remy as you scurry through Gusteau’s famous restaurant on a wild adventure for the whole family (no height requirement!).

21. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is Back at Hollywood Studios

Photo: Disney

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular has recently restarted daily shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This live show, featuring Indy and Marion, allows you to watch as the daring duo dodges deadly traps, battles bad guys, leaps from tall buildings and makes thrilling escapes straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The edge-of-your-seat suspense ends with a dynamite finale!

Along the way, you’ll also get an inside look at how stunts are done in movies with demonstrations that reveal how to safely throw and take punches, fall from tall buildings, and even wield whips in the midst of complex action sequences.

22. Celebrate Animation with Cirque du Soleil’s New Show, Drawn to Life

Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil and Disney, is a new show inside the iconic white theatre at Disney Springs. Drawn to Life is the first theatrical collaboration between three creative icons: Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering.

Drawn to Life celebrates Disney’s extraordinary legacy in the art of animation, from the earliest pencil sketches to the feature films of today. The classic characters and moments from Disney Animation are reinterpreted through Cirque du Soleil’s innovative design, acrobatic performances, dazzling choreography and creative costuming alongside an original score inspired by timeless Disney music.

Are you planning to visit Disney World in 2022? You can receive free vacation planning assistance and book your trip here!

Top 10 Unique Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

If you are looking for picturesque views, phenomenal dining options, pools that will transport you and your family to full vacation mode, and oh yeah some Universal Orlando Resort theme park perks, too? Well, you’re in luck because half the fun of a Universal Orlando vacation can be found at the eight unique and impeccably-themed Universal Orlando Resort hotels. So, today, we are sharing ten unique experiences at Universal Orlando Resort hotels you won’t want to miss!

1. Embark on a Rum-Tasting Journey at Strong Water Tavern.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

This experience at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is an educational blast — you’ll be paired with a Rum Captain (coolest job title ever) who will host a tasting of several different rums and teach you about their flavor nuances. Even if you’re not a rum-fan, I recommend trying this out or just sitting at the bar and enjoying one of the other great signature cocktails.

2. Bowl a strike at Galaxy Bowl.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Well, at least try to bowl a strike. How many hotels have a literal bowling alley in them? Let alone one as cool as you’ll find at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Whether you’re staying at this hotel or not you should definitely plan a bowling excursion during your Universal trip.

3. Make a splash at your hotel pool.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

What’s a vacation to Florida without a day spent at the pool? Each of the hotels deliver their own great pool experience (Cabana Bay Beach Resort even has a lazy river)! Be sure to check out our guide to the pools here and don’t forget your sunscreen.

4. Get adventurous with the sushi at Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Sushi with a view is the most succinct way I can articulate the magic that is this restaurant in Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The sushi menu is vibrant and inventive, the cocktail offerings are one-of-a-kind, and you’ll be enjoying it all with a view worthy of the word “paradise” as the restaurant overlooks the lush and tropical vibes at Royal Pacific..

5. Attempt the Kitchen Sink Challenge at The Kitchen in Hard Rock Hotel.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Think you have what it takes to eat a burger, side of fries, one fried pickle, and a giant slice of The Kitchen Sink Cake in thirty minutes? Even if you can’t, I can bet it’ll be a delicious experience trying.

6. Enjoy gelato on the harbor.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Get yourself a cup of gelato from the Gelateria and soak in the relaxing ambience of the harbor at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. You may even end up having to pinch yourself to come back to reality and remind yourself you’re not actually in Italy.

7. Grab a rooftop drink and bite to eat at Bar 17 Bistro.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Take in one of the best views throughout all of Universal Orlando Resort at Bar 17 Bistro, located at the top of Aventura Hotel. Sipping on a Volcano View with a view of Volcano Bay is an unmatched experience.

8. Level up your vacation with one of our themed kids’ suites.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Whether the kids in your group are into dinosaurs, Minions, or music, there’s a kids-suite for them! The different kids’ suites throughout Universal hotels will really  have you sleeping where the action is with the Future Rock Star Suites at Hard Rock Hotel, Despicable Me Kids Suites at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, and Jurassic World Kids Suites at Royal Pacific Resort.

9. Sample all of the exclusive drinks the hotels have to offer.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

If you’re at Universal Orlando Resort’s newest hotel, Dockside Inn and Suites, grab some of the Wet n’ Wild-inspired specialty cocktails by the pool. More of a beer drinker? Enjoy the specialty craft beers at Sunset Lounge in Dockside or head to Jake’s American Bar at Royal Pacific Resort to try out their menu of specialty beers. Pro-tip for your time at Jake’s — all of the Team Members have made-up names there! Be sure to ask your server why they picked theirs.

10. Treat yourself to some pampering at Mandara Spa.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

You deserve it! This spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has a ton of options for you to relax and bring your vacation to another level of pure joy and bliss. Besides, after all that roller coaster riding you’ve been doing in the theme parks, you’ve earned yourself a massage.

Let me know in the comments below your favorite experiences at Universal Orlando Resort hotels.

Thanks Universal Orlando Resort Blog!

Looking for the perfect outfit for your daughter to wear to Universal Orlando Resort? Check out DotDotSmile or join DotDotSmile by Siera!

Top 10 Things to Do at Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort

If you’re coming to vacation at Universal Orlando Resort, you’re most likely going to find yourself passing through Universal CityWalk. Whether you’re staying at one of the fabulous Universal Orlando resort hotels and riding a water taxi over or parking in one of the massive parking garages, you’ll find yourself walking through CityWalk on your way to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. CityWalk is the perfect place to grab lunch, dinner, or a quick snack, and there is a lot of fun entertainment to check out after you wrap up a day in the theme parks. Here are the top 10 things to do at Universal CityWalk during your next Universal Orlando Resort vacation!

1. Indulge in a Fantastical Milkshake from The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen

If you went to Universal and didn’t get a Toothsome milkshake, did you even go? These milkshakes are the must-get treat during your vacation for not only the deliciousness, but also the photo that will have everyone wishing they were in your shoes.

2. Try the Epic Fusion of Burgers and Sushi at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar

Is it sushi? Is it a burger? It’s both! Burgushi combines the best of both worlds into unique dishes you can only find at The Cowfish. While you’re there, I recommend trying one of their exotic cocktails or spiked milkshakes.

TIP: CityWalk’s restaurants are pretty busy during lunch and dinner times (especially during peak seasons). Click here to guarantee yourself a table by making a reservation ahead of time.

3. Play a Round, or Two, of Miniature Golf at Hollywood Drive-In Golf

Not many can say they’ve golfed through a space worm or a haunted house during their vacation… but you can! These two mini-golf courses are themed to the classic sci-fi and horror flicks of the 1950s.

4. Stop By Voodoo Doughnut for a Big Pink Box of… Doughnuts!

Voodoo Doll. Grape Ape. Portland Cream. No, these aren’t band names, they’re doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut. Choose from traditional or whimsical flavors and make sure to ask if they have any specialty doughnuts. They also have vegan options like the ODB, which is so good, like borderline flawless, absolutely delicious.

TIP: Skip the line and order your box of doughnuts ahead of time by mobile ordering through the Universal Orlando Resort app.

5. Get the Ultimate Sports Fan Experience at NBC Sports Grill & Brew

You don’t have to miss the game just because you’re on vacation. Catch any league game here while enjoying good food (like a giant soft pretzel) and a cold one from a selection of over 100 beers. There are also foosball tables. Literally, a table where you can eat and also play foosball!

6. Sing Your Heart Out at Rising Star with a Live Karaoke Band

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a singer, Rising Star makes that dream reality. Take the stage with backup singers and a live band (on select nights) and belt out your favorite songs in this rockin’ karaoke experience.

7. End Your Day Roasting S’mores and Savoring Smoky Spirits at Bigfire

Open fire cooking? Check. S’mores tableside? Check. An extensive list of whiskey and bourbon? Check. Bigfire is where you go to have summer vacation vibes year round with smoky flavors reminiscent of camping and backyard barbeques.

8. Pick Out the Perfect Gift or Souvenir from the Universal Studios Store

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

You won’t want to miss stopping by this big — and I’m talking BIG — store jam-packed with all the Universal themed gifts and souvenirs you could ever want. 

TIP: Don’t feel like carrying around bags all day in the theme parks? You can have your purchases delivered here for you to pick up as you’re heading out.

9. Enjoy a Stone-Baked Pizza from Red Oven Pizza Bakery

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Dang, this is some good pizza. These made-to-order pies are baked in a stone-lined oven with a variety of both blanco and rosso pizzas. Grab one to go and sit by the CityWalk lagoon for a great view or enjoy outside seating at the restaurant while getting some great people watching in.

10. Spend the Evening Listening to Your Choice of Live Music

End your busy day at the theme parks by unwinding with live music from one CityWalk’s many venues.  From reggae jams to full-blown rock concerts, here are a few of my favorite spots.

(Just remember that like all restaurants and concert venues, these performances are subject to change. Luckily, there is always something to do in CityWalk!)

Got any recommendations for first-time visitors? Share your favorite things to do at CityWalk in the comments below.

Thanks Universal Orlando Resort Blog!

Looking for the perfect outfit for your daughter to wear to Universal Orlando Resort? Check out DotDotSmile or join DotDotSmile by Siera!

Everything You Need to Know About TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D at Universal Studios Florida

There are several reasons why TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D in Universal Studios Florida is one of the best rides at Universal Orlando Resort. The action is non-stop from the moment the ride begins, which is then only elevated by the special effects and 3-D elements. Because of the constant action and story turns, the ride feels like it lasts a long time! Lastly, for fans of the franchise who grew up watching the 1980’s animated television series or the more recent live-action movies, this ride gives you the chance to become a part of the long-lasting war between the Autobots and Decepticons — your classic good versus evil scenario.

Not only did TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D bring a new hit attraction to the parks, it introduced one of the coolest character meet-and-greets. And just check out that giant Optimus Prime statue at the ride entrance! Here’s everything you need to know about one of the must-do rides in Universal Studios.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

THE STORY

The battle between the Autobots and Decepticons (two factions of an alien robot species called Transformers) has come to Earth, and you’ve been recruited by the Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty (N.E.S.T.) to help defend mankind. Your objective: keep the AllSpark — a powerful object capable of creating new life — out of the Decepticon’s possession. Of course, the mission goes haywire as Decepticons descend on the N.E.S.T. base and an explosive battle begins…

THE QUEUE

As you enter the ride building, you’re entering N.E.S.T. headquarters, where you’ll receive debriefing on your mission from N.E.S.T. and the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. Throughout the queue, you’ll encounter the AllSpark fragment that you’re tasked with protecting, as well as other Transformer artifacts and weaponry.

THE RIDE

Immediately after boarding your ride vehicle, which happens to be your Autobot partner Evac, you encounter your first Decepticon stealing the AllSpark until Bumblebee intervenes… but you’re not in the clear yet. Decepticons surround you at every turn as Evac attempts to evade the onslaught from Bonecrusher, Starscream, and more. During the struggle, you find yourself in the middle of Optimus Prime battling the evil Megatron. Do you and the Autobots defeat the Decepticons? I’ll leave that for you to discover.

The ride experience is motion simulation based with a ride vehicle that moves along a track (NOT a roller coaster) and combines 3-D visual and 4-D physical effects. The Transformers will appear larger-than-life with your 3-D glasses on, and you’ll feel the raging effects of battle around you like strong winds and heat.

Ride Details:
– Minimum height requirement of 40″ (101.6 cm) to ride
– Universal Express Pass is accepted
– You can take your bags on this ride (woot!)
– Child Swap is available upon request

MEET THE TRANSFORMERS

Whenever my friends or family come to the parks for vacation, one of my favorite things I tell them they have to do is meet the TRANSFORMERS characters. I remember the first time I stood next to them — I was in awe (and still am to this day)of how big and incredibly detailed they were, a feeling which only grew when next thing I knew they spoke to me!

You can meet three TRANSFORMERS daily right next to the ride building, kiddy-corner from the Supply Vault store. Optimus Prime (leader of the Autobots), Bumblebee (spunky Autobot lieutenant), and Megatron (leader of the Decepticons).

Download the Universal Orlando Resort App to see the daily meet-and-greet times for the TRANSFORMERS.

SUPPLY VAULT

You’ll need to gear up on N.E.S.T. essentials now that you’ve been recruited to join the battle. Stop by the Supply Vault store (near the exit of the ride) for all things TRANSFORMERS merchandise.

  • Deck yourself out in N.E.S.T. T-shirts, cadet hats, and bags, or show your support for either Autobots or Decepticons with themed apparel, car decals, magnets, mugs, and more. 
  • We can’t talk TRANSFORMERS without mentioning the toys and collectibles (which for some of us are the same thing).

Check out more TRANSFORMERS merchandise before your trip on our online merch store.

FUN FACTS

  • The Orlando ride is the third installation of the TRANSFORMERS ride at a Universal theme park, the first is at Universal Studios Singapore and the second at Universal Studios Hollywood.
  • Evac, the Transformer who is your ride vehicle, was created and designed exclusively for the Universal ride.
  • During the ride, see if you can spot the famous yellow Volkswagen Beetle that was Bumblebee’s alter ego in the original comic and TV series.
  • Besides Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron, there are 13 other Autobots and Decepticons you encounter throughout the ride.
  • When working with big transforming robots, everything is going to be giant in scale. The ride is no exception with 34 custom built screens that tower at heights of over 80 feet tall.

Are you ready to keep the AllSpark safe? Autobots, roll out!

Thanks Universal Orlando Resort Blog!

Looking for the perfect outfit for your daughter to wear to Universal Orlando Resort? Check out DotDotSmile or join DotDotSmile by Siera!

10 Ways to Celebrate a Disney Christmas at Home

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Whether you are spending the holidays at home or traveling to be with your loved ones, we have some fun ways to celebrate a Disney Christmas, even if you can’t be at the most magical place on Earth for the holidays. You can make some Disney Christmas recipes, watch Disney Christmas specials and movies, and more.

Disney Christmas Recipes

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies Recipe

Photo: Disney

These rich, fudgy chocolate cookies from the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays are coated with confectioners’ sugar that cracks — or crinkles — when they bake, giving them a snow-capped, wintry look.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (for coating the cookies)

Directions:

1. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl until combined; set aside.

2. Add granulated sugar and oil in bowl of stand mixer. Beat on medium-low until combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beating on medium-high until combined. Gradually add flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until combined. (Note: The consistency will be similar to a brownie batter but will firm up with chilling.)

3. Tightly seal bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or up to 24 hours) until dough is completely chilled through and able to be rolled into balls.

4. After dough is completely chilled and ready to be baked, preheat oven to 350°F.

5. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Fill small bowl with confectioners’ sugar; set aside.

6. Remove and unwrap dough. Using medium cookie scoop to measure out dough, roll into round balls. Roll dough ball in confectioners’ sugar until completely covered on all sides. Place cookie balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.

7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes – do not overbake. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire rack, and let them cool until they reach room temperature.

8. Store in sealed container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Peppermint Marshmallow Wand Recipes

Photo: Disney

Holidays are truly sweet at Marceline’s Confectionery, a delightful candy shop named after the small Missouri town where Walt lived as a boy, located at Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort

The talented candy makers have been busy dipping apples, crisped rice cereal treats, and marshmallows into warm chocolate, with some confections getting a second dip into creamy caramel. The candy makers then artfully embellish with holiday candies to create adorable treats almost too cute to eat!  

As a sweet gift to our Disney Parks Blog readers, we asked the candy makers to give us their recipe for Peppermint Marshmallow Wands, an easy (and yummy) holiday recipe the entire family can make and enjoy at home.  

Peppermint Marshmallow Wand: Fluffy marshmallows dipped in caramel and dark chocolate covered in crushed peppermint candy.  

Peppermint Marshmallow Wands 
Marceline’s Confectionery 
Downtown Disney District 
Disneyland® Resort 
Makes 8  

  • 2 (12 ounce) jars hot caramel topping  
  • 8 large lollipop sticks 
  • 24 large marshmallows 
  • 1 (10-ounce bag) dark melting chocolate  
  • 1 cup crushed peppermints (15 candy canes, crushed) 
  1. Melt caramel in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Keep warm.  
  2. Dip one end of each lollipop stick in 1 inch of water. Skewer 3 marshmallows onto each stick, starting at the wet end.  
  3. Dip marshmallows into caramel, gently tapping to remove excess caramel and place on parchment paper. Cool caramel at room temperature for 30 minutes, until caramel is set.  
  4. Melt dark chocolate in medium saucepan over low heat. Keep warm. 
  5. Place crushed peppermint in shallow bowl.  
  6. Dip caramel-coated marshmallows into melted dark chocolate, gently tapping to remove excess chocolate. Gently roll wand in crushed peppermint; place on clean parchment paper. Repeat for all wands. 
  7. Cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, until chocolate is set.  

NoteAlways use caution when handling sharp objects and hot contents. Please supervise children who are helping or nearby. This recipe has been converted from a larger quantity in the restaurant kitchens. The flavor profile may vary from the restaurant’s version.  

Watch Disney Christmas Specials

Magical Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade

ABC and Disney Parks will bring the magic of the holiday season into our homes with holiday specials hosted from the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California! Derek and Julianne Hough will host the “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade,” from Walt Disney World Resort, alongside Freeform’s Trevor Jackson (“grown-ish”) and Sherry Cola (“Good Trouble”) from the Disneyland Resort, Saturday, Dec. 25, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. ET/PT. Be sure to mark your calendars to watch on ABC and stream the next day on Hulu.

Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic

The Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resorts truly turn into winter wonderlands when the theme parks and resorts are decorated for the holidays. Larger-than-life themed Christmas trees, miles of lights, garland and wreaths really bring the spirit of the season alive for guests visiting this time of year.

Want to take a peek behind the scenes to see how the magic is made? “Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic,” hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, is available anytime on Disney+. With special co-hosts Disney Channel’s “Descendants” star Sofia Carson and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Jordan Fisher, the festive one-hour event will reveal how the holiday magic comes alive at the Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resorts.

Noelle

One of my daughter’s favorite Christmas movies is Noelle, the Disney+ holiday film. In the Disney+ holiday comedy “Noelle,” Kris Kringle’s daughter is full of Christmas spirit and holiday fun, but wishes she could do something “important” like her beloved brother Nick, who will take over for their father this Christmas. When Nick is about to crumble like a gingerbread cookie from all the pressure, Noelle suggests he take a break and get away but when he doesn’t return, Noelle must find her brother and bring him back in time to save Christmas.

Make Disney Inspired Gingerbread Houses or Creations

One of my favorite holiday decorations is the incredible gingerbread displays throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. From the life size gingerbread house inside the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to the spinning gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, there are so many amazing displays to inspire your family’s creation!

Disney Christmas Shopping

You can add a little Disney Christmas to your home with decorations, gifts and more. We have created a 2021 holiday gift guide for the Disney fan in your life or 25 Disney gifts under $25 to help make your shopping this year a little easier!

Disney Christmas Crafts and Printables

Gingerbread Mickey Ornaments

Photo: Disney

With this Gingerbread Mickey template from the Disney Parks Blog, puffy paint and a few other materials, you are on your way to making an ornament that will make even Scrooge smile! Leslie Brignac, the mom behind Minnie Van Mom, is the creator of this holiday keepsake that will no doubt become a family treasure. Inspired by her daughter’s Disney themed tree, this can be created at home in six easy steps

Create a Disney Christmas Wreath

You can make a Disney inspired wreath to decorate your front door or home this season. We recommend one of these DIY wreaths from Disney Rewards or this Frozen 2 holiday wreath.

Disney Christmas Holiday Playlist

Photo: Disney

You can download the Disney Christmas Holiday Playlist to rock out to some Disney inspired holiday tunes. What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Do you plan to have a Disney Christmas at home this year?

Magical Activities, Decor and More for the 2021 Holiday Season at Disney World

Are you ready for the most magical time of the year during the 2021 holiday season at Disney World? The 2021 holiday season marks the return of Candlelight Processional at EPCOT and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at Magic Kingdom Park. Learn all about the 2021 holiday season at Disney World below.

Magic Kingdom Park

  • Main Street, U.S.A. is decked for the holidays with holly jolly seasonal décor and themed menu items at select locations.
  • On select evenings, special holiday projections will beam onto Cinderella Castle, alternating periodically throughout the night with the Castle transforming into a Beacon of Magic as part of “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”
  • Wave hello to Jolly Old St. Nick during special appearances through December 24
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade returns daily from December 22-31

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • The Hollywood Holiday Tower Hotel twinkles anew at the end of Sunset Boulevard during Sunset Seasons Greetings. Projection effects magically transform the park icon into snowy Arendelle, a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, and a Dickensian village inspired by “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” This holiday show also alternates with the tower’s nightly transformation into a Beacon of Magic.
  • “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” features a festive finale starring Olaf.
  • Santa Claus brings some North Pole cheer to a Merry Motorcade down Hollywood Boulevard through Dec. 24 of this year.
  • Minnie Mouse hosts a meal at Hollywood & Vine, joined by her pals in their holiday finest – and Santa, too!
  • Cheerful holiday décor throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios honors the spirit of the season.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

  • Discovery Island springs to life with a Merry Menagerie of winter animals in the form of playful, life-sized artisan-sculpted puppets interacting with guests.
  • The park’s centerpiece – The Tree of Life – becomes another Beacon of Magic most nights as a part of the 50th anniversary celebration. During the holiday season, there will be even more magic inspired by nature as the holiday edition of Tree of Life Awakenings also takes place most nights.
  • Accompanied by joyful songs of the season, Disney characters set sail down Discovery River, including limited-time voyages featuring Santa Claus through Dec. 24 of this year.

Disney Springs

  • The Walt Disney World shopping, dining and entertainment district transforms into a winter wonderland, full of sparkling lights, enchanting décor and holiday surprises, offering a wide array of Disney holiday merchandise, including ornaments, matching family pajamas, Spirit Jerseys and more.
  • The Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll presented by AdventHealth features 20 elaborately decorated themed trees, including some inspired by “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”
  • In the evening, guests visiting Town Center experience a magical snowfall, bringing the spirit of the North Pole to Central Florida.
  • Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar becomes Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar with delightful décor and a delicious limited-time menu filled with festive favorites.
  • Santa Claus will visit Disney Springs, where guests have the opportunity to wave hello and pose for a photo through December 24 of this year.

Disney Resort Hotels

  • Iconic trees and other seasonal touches turn Disney Resort hotels into holiday hideaways.
  • Select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, like Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, feature incredible gingerbread displays perfect for holiday photographs … and inspiration for holiday treats.
  • Select resorts offer holiday menus at restaurants, as well as other specialty food and drinks.

EPCOT

  • The EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth will return November 26 through December 30 with special live entertainment, Holiday Kitchens throughout the World Showcase, a Holiday Cookie Stroll and more.
  • Candlelight Processional at EPCOT, a beloved holiday performance and Disney Parks tradition dating back to 1958 at Disneyland park, returns with a lineup of celebrity narrators telling the Christmas story, a choir of Disney Cast Members and a live orchestra.
  • Guests of all ages can take part in Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt to search for holiday traditions Olaf has gathered from around the world – and lost along the way!
  • A stirring and uplifting performance of music in celebration of Christmas and Kwanzaa, “JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season” returns to the Showcase Plaza Stage.
  • Holiday traditions of the world come to life once again around World Showcase with unique presentations such as Las Posadasat the Mexico pavilion, the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs in the Canada pavilion, a Chinese Lion Dance celebrating the new year in the China pavilion, a Hanukkah storyteller along the promenade and delightful holiday storytellers in France, Italy, Japan, Norway and the United Kingdom.
  • Santa Claus will appear at EPCOT through December 24 of this year, giving guests the opportunity to wave hello and pose for a photo.

The 2021 holiday season at Disney World is an extra magical time of the year. Are you planning a visit to Disney World for the holidays?

2021 Holiday Gift Guide for Every Disney Fan in Your Life

I love supporting small business! Etsy is full of small businesses and individuals who work hard to share their handmade items and creations. If possible, I encourage you to shop small this year and support these families who work so hard! Every time you purchase from a small business, you could be helping a family pay for their child’s dance class, sports, music lesson and so much more. Etsy’s Holiday Shop is full of amazing gift ideas for everyone in your life. However, if you’re shopping for a Disney fan, I have even more detailed suggestions in my 2021 holiday gift guide.

I have created a list of my favorite items on Etsy and even categorized them into groups like vacation essentials, apparel, earrings and accessories.

Disney Vacation Essentials

This list includes some of the essentials you’ll need for a day in the parks. We’ve included an ear holder for your bag, reusable straws and more.

Disney Apparel

Whether you are hanging out at home or spending the day at the Walt Disney World Resort, there are so many amazing Disney inspired shirts you can wear!

Disney Inspired Earrings

I think earrings are a fun and inexpensive way to add a touch of Disney to your day! I have highlighted some of my favorite earrings.

Disney Inspired Accessories

There are so many amazing Disney inspired accessories you can wear from head bands to scrunchies and more!

You can also check out some of my favorite Etsy shops here.

What’s your favorite Etsy shop? Be sure to share your favorites with me below!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission for purchases made through these links. Thank you for supporting my small business!

15 Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise Line Vacation

Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise

We absolutely love Disney cruises! They are such a perfect blend of relaxation, entertainment, and Disney magic! We’ve taken four Disney cruises just within the last 18 months and have found that there are some items that can be really helpful to have with you to make your experience even more enjoyable! So, today, we wanted to share with you 15 things to bring on a Disney cruise!

Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise for Onboard Fun

Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise

Pirate Night Attire: One of my favorite parts of a Disney cruise is Pirate Night! (almost) Every Disney Cruise Line sailing offers a pirate night with a deck party, late night buffet, and fireworks at sea. Your dinner menu will even be themed to celebrate. You’ll receive bandanas from your stateroom host or hostess, but our kids always love glow sticks, costumes, eye patches, and tattoos.

Autograph Book or Photo Mat: You will have the opportunity to meet a number of Disney characters throughout your sailing! Many guests ask the characters to sign an autograph book so they can keep the signatures all together in one place. We also love these photo mats so that we can display our favorite vacation memory inside when we return home.

Fish Extender Holder: A popular experience for many Disney Cruise Line guests is the fish extender gift exchange. This gift exchange is generally organized through your cruise’s Facebook group prior to sailing. It is a fun way to exchange gifts with fellow cruisers. Some guests will also leave “pixie dust” gifts for fellow cruises without any type of organized exchange. To participate, you’ll need a fish extender holder for your gifts to hang outside of your stateroom.

Candy or Snacks for Movies & Shows: One of the few things not included in your cruise fare is the popcorn and candy available outside of the theaters. We can’t help you resist the fresh buttered popcorn smell, but you can bring prepackaged candy and snacks to enjoy during the evening Broadway style shows and movies onboard.

Magnets: Disney Cruise staterooms doors are magnetic so you can decorate your door. Show off your Disney side with magnets that can be customized with your family name, ship, sail date, and more! We also love this port hole Mickey that fits around your stateroom door’s port hole.

Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise to Use In Your Stateroom

Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise

Laundry Bag: Space is limited in a cruise stateroom so it can be nice to have a dedicated location for dirty clothes. Although your suitcases fit under your bed, you probably won’t want to have to pull them out to put dirty clothes away. We recommend packing a laundry bag or pop up hamper to save space and keep all of your dirty clothes easily together in one place.

Shoe Rack: As you may know, space is often at a premium in cruise staterooms. Although Disney does offer some of the largest staterooms, you can maximize your space with a shoe rack. It can be a great way to store toiletries in the bathroom or even drink cups and kids toys in the stateroom.

Clothes Pins: Clothes pins can be really useful to have in your stateroom with wet swim suits. There is a clothes line that can be hung across your bath tub. You can fit more on the line and not have to worry about anything falling off when you can secure them with clothes pins.

Night Light: If you’re in an inside stateroom, it can be pretty dark in there at night. If you are traveling with little ones or just want to be able to easily find your way around the room at night, we recommend packing a night light.

Dry Erase Board: Many guests hang a dry erase board on their (magnetic) stateroom door. This way, your fellow cruisers can leave messages or artwork. You never know who might leave you a message. It’s also especially helpful if you are traveling with any family and friends.

Magnetic Hooks: You may also find a magnetic hook helpful for hanging your lanyard inside your stateroom. These can also be used for jackets, wet swim suits, and more.

Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise to Make Travel Easier

Things to Bring on a Disney Cruise

Tumblers/Cups/Water Bottles: Soft drinks are included with your cruise fare. They are readily available up on the pool deck during your Disney cruise. Although Disney provides small paper cups, we enjoy bringing something bigger and more portable like these water bottles. We especially love our stainless steel Mickey Tervis for both hot and cold beverages!

Sea Band or Non-Drowsy Dramamine: If you are concerned about motion sickness, we highly recommend packing sea bands and/or non-drowsy dramamine. It’s always better to be prepared. We’ve found rougher seas going in and out of port so you may want something to help relieve discomfort before the gift shops have opened. You can even order some dramamine for kids.

Reusable Straws: In an effort to be more environmentally responsible, Disney has eliminated plastic straws on board. Although you can request paper straws, we find that they are difficult for small children. They don’t hold up very well so we prefer to bring reusable straws like these metal straws or these silicone straws. The silicone straws even come with a cleaning brush and portable case.

Lanyards: You will receive a plastic Key to the World card for your room key and all purchases onboard. We find it convenient to wear a lanyard to easily access (and remember) our Key to the World card. We recommend one of these fun Mickey and friends lanyards.

What items have you found most useful to bring on a Disney cruise?

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting our small business!

5 Fun Facts About Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

19-39228 Surfside Pre-Open Shoot 062219, Loews Hotels, Exterior, Lifestyle, Pool, Poolside, Endless Summer, Bus

If you know anything about Universal Orlando Resort Hotels, you know the teams behind them leave no detail untouched and no space unthemed. That is as true as ever in regards to the destination’s newest property and first extra-affordable value hotel, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites. Here are five fun facts about Universal’s Endless Summer Resort- Surfside Inn and Suites…

1. Half of the hotel is made up of suites.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

And the suites are pretty sweet, if I do say so myself. If you hear “value” and start picturing anything less than a spacious room with very, VERY comfy beds, a picnic table for meals, storage space, immaculately clean areas, and a surfboard coat-hanger — welp, you’re just not thinking about Surfside!

2. The hotel pool is in the shape of a surfboard.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Of course the pool at Surfside Inn and Suites is shaped like a surfboard; I told you that the theming at this place has left nothing untouched! This surfboard-shaped pool would take more than 1,191 regular surfboards to fill the total square footage. So, yeah, the pool is huge, there are plenty of spots to sit by it, and the Sand Bar (which is, if it isn’t obvious, a bar) is right by the pool so you’re never too far from your next drink.

3. Speaking of drinks, all food and drink options throughout the hotel are below $12.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

That means whether you’re craving a Breakfast Pizza in the morning or a Pipeline Burger with Bacon Jam in the evening — or if you’re craving both right now just from reading this — you’re eating real good and saving money while you do so.

4. The Shuttle Bus from the hotel to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and Universal CityWalk takes less than ten minutes.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Ten minutes away from Hollywood Rip Ride RockitToothsome Chocolate Emporium milkshakes, and all the other incredible thrills at Universal Orlando Resort? OK, I’m in. Staying with Universal at Surfside Inn and Suites means you don’t have to pay for transportation to the parks and you get to ride in style with your fellow vacationers racing for the first row on all the coasters. PLUS! You get into the park before regular park guests with your access to Early Park Admission. That is a full hour before the parks officially open for you to experience.

5. There are more than 1,435 surfboards around the hotel.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Each of these surfboards were made special by Quiet Flight and fit perfectly with the beachy vibes and tones throughout the hotel. Can you find all 1,435?

What are your favorite facts about Universal’s Endless Summer Resort? How many did you know?

Book your Universal Orlando Resort vacation today to check out Surfside Inn and Suites for yourself and let us know in the comments what you’re most excited about during your vacation!

Looking for the perfect outfit for your daughter to wear to Universal Orlando Resort? Check out DotDotSmile or join DotDotSmile by Siera!