Category Archives: Orlando

Seven Reasons to Stay at Universal’s New Endless Summer Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Surf. Sand. Endless Summer. That’s what we’re all about at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. This resort consists of two totally free-spirited hotels, Surfside Inn and Suites & Dockside Inn and Suites, which make for the perfect theme park retreat.

Staying at either Surfside Inn and Suites or Dockside Inn and Suites will give you a seamless Universal Orlando vacation – complete with exclusive theme park benefits, including Early Park Admission – at our most affordable price point ever. Bring the entire family because these new 2-Bedroom Suites can sleep up to six people. Let’s dive in and see how these hotels will keep your summer fun going all year round.

Surfside Inn and Suites will surround you by the surf

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

You’ll feel like you’re one with the ocean at Surfside Inn and Suites, Universal Orlando’s seventh hotel in partnership with Loews Hotels & Co, opening June 27. As you make your way toward the check-in desk, vibrant surf and wave-like features will be everywhere you look. You’ll step across sand-colored flooring that transports you just below the surf. You can chill on the sea glass-inspired couches and gaze up at the light fixtures designed to resemble bubbles forming from the crash of the blue wave overhead.

You’ll find a shortboard surfboard in your suite

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

The moment you walk into your 2-Bedroom Suite at Surfside Inn and Suites, you’ll be greeted by a shortboard surfboard in a room filled with everything from colorful artwork to vibrant tie-dyed curtains, and details that give you that bright, open and serene feeling you get at the beach.

And, just like you would find at the beach, the 2-Bedroom Suites at both hotels also feature a charming picnic table for the whole family to gather around before heading out to one of our three theme parks. The best thing about these suites is that there is plenty of room to spread out! Up to six people will fit super comfortably in these rooms.

You can soak up the sun in a surfboard-shaped pool

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

You’ll be able to hang loose and chill at both resorts’ pools, but what’s extra cool about the pool at Surfside Inn and Suites is that it’s shaped like a surfboard. With a drink in hand, you’ll find this pool is the perfect place to keep your Universal Orlando vacation going.

Enjoy a beach break under the swell   

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

When you’re ready for some grub, head inside the hotel to refuel. Look up and you’ll find surfers trying to catch the perfect swell above the surface.

Dockside Inn and Suites will bring you back to the shore   

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Across the street at Dockside Inn and Suites – opening Spring 2020 – you’ll be surrounded by natural woods and colors that make you feel as though you’re hanging out on a pier. This hotel has a relaxed, calm and carefree vibe. The lobby’s driftwood features evoke the feeling of gathering around a sunset beach bonfire.

Suite decor includes a longboard surfboard

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

In the rooms at Dockside Inn and Suites, you’ll feel at ease lounging in the coastal aesthetic that includes wood finishings and sunset artwork. Inside the 2-Bedroom Suites, you’ll find an actual longboard surfboard. These rooms will definitely put you in relaxation mode as the sun begins to set – and forget having to pay for two connecting rooms because your entire family can stay together in these suites.

You’ll feel like you’re dining on a dock

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

At Dockside Inn and Suites, you can wind down with your crew in a dining area that stays true to the hotel’s laid back vibe, which will have you feeling like you’re sharing a meal along the shore.

These first-ever Value category hotels at Universal Orlando will have you riding the perfect vacation wave without stretching your wallet.

But staying at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort isn’t only about affordability. With exclusive theme park benefits, you’ll find your vacation bliss throughout your entire visit. You’ll wake up where the action is and enjoy theme park benefits like getting into the parks one hour before everyone else with Early Park Admission, convenient transportation to and from your hotel, the theme parks, Universal CityWalk, and more.

The casual sea-and-sand attitude of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort will be felt throughout both hotels.

Enjoy Behind-the-Scenes Access to “Rivers of Light” During Backstage Magic Tour

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

There is so much to see and do at Walt Disney World Resort, from exhilarating rides and attractions to spectacular shows and parades and more. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes to bring all that magic to life?

During the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic Tour, Disney fans can get an up-close look at the artistry, technology and wizardry behind Disney’s world-famous theme park entertainment. And beginning in June, Adventures by Disney will offer a brand-new experience as part of this tour: behind-the-scenes access at Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s nighttime spectacular, “Rivers of Light“! 

This exclusive daytime visit takes guests backstage to visit a hidden marina where the animal and lotus barges are prepared for the evening performance. These Backstage Magic guests will be among the first to see the inner workings — and learn the mechanical and technological secrets — behind this incredible attraction! 

Guests will also enjoy a new private lunch at Tiffins Restaurant, featuring a special menu and fascinating insider stories about the creation of the park, starting in June. If you’re a fan of Animal Kingdom, then this is officially a “must-do” for you!

But what is the Backstage Magic Tour?

Expertly led by knowledgeable tour facilitators, this immersive Adventures by Disney experience allows guests to witness first-hand the magic and hard work that goes on behind-the-scenes at the theme parks. Highlights include backstage visits to…

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Epcot: Explore the inner workings of The American Adventure attraction as your tour facilitators reveal the feats of engineering and attention to detail behind this inspiring Audio-Animatronics stage show. (I don’t want to give anything away, but the only way to describe the technology here is “WOW!”)

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Creative Costuming: Observe the talented professionals who design costumes for character, show and parade performers at Walt Disney World Resort. Spoiler alert: It’s not all needles and thread! 

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Central Shops: Explore the facility where engineers, mechanics and artisans develop and maintain all of your favorite attractions, including Audio-Animatronics, ride vehicles and elaborate stage sets. Not even the tiniest details go unnoticed here!

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Magic Kingdom: Become immersed in the story that started with Walt himself as you navigate the “utilidor” tunnels, a network of underground passageways constructed beneath the theme park so Disney Cast Members can move around undetected – right beneath guests’ feet!

On the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic Tour, guests visit Walt Disney World Resort Textile Services to unfold the secrets behind one of the world’s largest laundry facilities. (Disney)

Textile Services: “Unfold” an experience like no other within one of the world’s largest laundry facilities. Yes – at Disney, even the laundry is pixie-dusted! Don’t miss your opportunity to see this fascinating facility in action, an experience only available during the Backstage Magic Tour through the end of May.  

Ready to get your own VIP pass to see the magic backstage? Call 407-939-8687 or contact your travel agent to book the Backstage Magic Tour!

Top 5 Reasons to Add a Day at Universal to a Disney World Vacation

There are so many exciting things to see and do in Orlando that it can be hard find to do them all during one vacation! Although you may not need to spend a week exploring Universal Orlando Resort, it’s a great add on to a Disney World vacation! You can add a day at Universal to your Disney vacation to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, minions, Transformers, and more!

Here are the top five reasons why you should add a day at Universal Orlando Resort (or maybe a few) to your Disney World vacation:

  1. Harry Potter: The biggest draw for most families to visit Universal Orlando Resort is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is the ultimate experience for any Harry Potter fan. You can walk the streets of London, ride Hogwarts Express, drink butterbeer at Three Broomsticks, fly with Harry, and so much more.
  2. Super Heroes, Dinosaurs, Minions, and More: Visit with all of your favorite super heroes at Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure, try the new Marvel Character Dinner, and feel the gamma rush on the Incredible Hulk coaster. You can explore Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure to get up close and personal with Blue at Raptor Encounter, watch a dinosaur egg hatch, and embark on a daring raft ride. You can become a minion on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem or enjoy breakfast with Gru, the girls, and minions. The Simpsons and SpongeBob Squarepants can also be found at Universal Orlando Resort!
  3. Volcano Bay: Universal’s new water theme park is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. From a relaxing beach to adventurous water rides, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and somewhere for everyone to cool off. The TapuTapu wearable allows you to even enjoy other attractions and activities in the park while you wait for your turn to ride!
  4. Thrill Rides: Universal Orlando Resort is full of thrill rides in all three of their parks! You can feel the rush of adrenaline on The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Revenge of the Mummy, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Krakatau Aqua Coaster, and more.
  5. Seasonal Events: Universal Orlando Resort hosts a number of seasonal events throughout the year, many of which are included with general park admission. You can celebrate Mardi Gras at Universal, Florida’s biggest party every February and March. Or, Rock the Universe with contemporary Christian artists in early February. Universal also hosts the nation’s premier Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights. And, the whole family will love the holidays at Universal featuring Grinchmas, Universal’s Holiday Parade featuing Macy’s, Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and more.

We can help you add a day at Universal Orlando Resort to your Disney World vacation without the hassle of renting a car. You can learn more about our exclusive shuttle to Universal from any of the Disney World hotels here.

Top 5 Hidden Gems at Universal’s Aventura Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

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There are so many things to love about Universal’s Aventura Hotel, from the views 17 floors up at Bar 17 Bistro to all the convenient features of the in-room tablet.

Here are 5 hidden gems at Universal’s Aventura Hotel to discover that make it just plain cool.

  1. Walking Path to Volcano Bay
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Silence your smart watch’s notifications to keep moving and get in a few extra steps by taking the walking path from Universal’s Aventura Hotel to Volcano Bay. It’s less than a five-minute walk and with the added benefit of Early Park Admission one hour before the theme park opens, you’ll be able to pack even more fun into your day.

2. Sweet Treats

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

After a day of theme park hopping, treat yourself to a scoop of creamy gelato from Urban Pantry or better yet, take dessert up a notch with a gelato panini. Simply put, this decadent creation is a pressed warm sweet roll with a gelato center, served on a plate drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Choose from a variety of delectable gelato flavors and satisfy your sweet tooth with this refreshingly different (and Instagram-worthy) treat!

3. VR Game Room

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Get your game face on in Aventura Hotel’s Virtual Reality game room, located on the second floor next to the fitness center. Enjoy another one of the hotel’s high-tech features while testing your skills at popular VR games like Fruit Ninja, Merry Snowballs or Space Pirate Trainer. Games can change, so be sure to stop by on your next visit to see what’s new!

4. In-Room Tablet

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One of my favorite features at Universal’s Aventura Hotel is the in-room tablet. It allows you to do everything from adjusting the room temperature to ordering room service without getting out from under the covers. Need to wind down after a long day in the parks? Sign into your Netflix or Hulu account to stream your favorite shows on the room’s TV and don’t worry about signing out – your tablet will do it for you when you check out.

5. DJ at Bar 17 Bistro

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

When you’re done at the pool, head up to Bar 17 Bistro to take in the breathtaking sunset views of the Orlando skyline at Universal Orlando Resort’s first ever rooftop bar and grill. If the views and internationally-inspired menu aren’t enough to get you up to Bar 17 Bistro, the music definitely will. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, a DJ gets the party started with a mix of current and classic hits. After a Dew Point Hooligan (or two), you’ll be ready to bust out your best dance moves.

Discover all of these great features and more hidden gems at Universal’s Aventura Hotel and share some of your favorites below!

Disney Villains After Hours Event Held at Magic Kingdom Park This Summer

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Disney After Hours has been a huge success with guests looking for the opportunity to experience the magic at Magic Kingdom Park after the sun goes down. You now have a new reason to delve into the delights of Disney After Hours this summer – Disney Villains will add a wicked twist to Disney After Hours event nights June 6-August 8!

In case you aren’t familiar, Disney After Hours is a special event that’s open to a limited number of guests and offers low wait times at more than 20 attractions and experiences after the park closes to day guests, from classics like the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain, to newer favorites like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, plus many more. Event tickets also allow entry as early as 7 p.m., which gives you time to enjoy fireworks before heading off to the attractions. Ice cream novelties, popcorn and select bottled beverages are also included in the cost of admission.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

This summer, Disney Villains After Hours will take on a wickedly fun villains theme, with exclusive entertainment, food & beverage, merchandise and more.

Here’s a taste of what new elements to expect:

  • A Brand-New Disney Villains Stage Show – Hades and Meg from “Hercules” will set the castle stage ablaze in this all-new stage show, Villains Unite the Night, which will also feature appearances by Jafar, The Queen, Dr. Facilier and Maleficent.
  • Spot Maleficent the Dragon – Maleficent the Dragon, with her Steampunk style and signature wicked grin, will be let loose for the first time at night – breathing fire as she creeps through the park as a one-of-a-kind experience for party guests.
  • Villanous Enhancements: Discover surprising, villain-inspired additions at Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.
  • Wickedly Good Food & Beverage -A variety of special food & beverage offerings will also be available for purchase, including tasty desserts, drinks and dishes inspired by The Queen, Cruella de Vil, Maleficent, Hades, Dr. Facilier and even Emperor Zurg.
  • Event Merchandise – Event attendees can also purchase new logo merchandise, as well as items from a curated collection of the best Disney Villains merchandise available.
  • One Notorious Item to Note: Ever driven to stand out in their unpredictable and audacious fashion, while the Villains will be entertaining guests in the new stage show, they will not be participating in character greetings during the event.

If you really wanna get in on the action, feel free to show off your sinister side by dressing in attire inspired by your favorite baddie.

Disney Villains After Hours tickets cost $139 plus tax in advance, $144 plus tax on the event night. Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation ClubMembers can take advantage of a $30 discount and purchase tickets for $109. Tickets for these specific Disney Villains After Hours event nights will go on sale April 29.

Here are the event dates for Disney Villains After Hours:

  • Thursday, June 6, 2019
  • Thursday, June 13, 2019
  • Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • Thursday, June 27, 2019
  • Monday, July 1, 2019
  • Thursday, July 11, 2019
  • Thursday, July 18, 2019
  • Thursday, July 25, 2019
  • Thursday, August 1, 2019
  • Thursday, August 8, 2019

Heading to this year’s event? Be sure to share your experience with us using #VillainsAfterHours.

8 Things to Do at the 2019 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is one of my favorite annual events at Epcot! This beautiful annual event is included with your regular theme park admission so you can enjoy much of it without any added expense.

Here are 8 things you won’t want to miss at the 2019 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival:

  1. Character Topiaries: The “star of the show” is always the incredible character topiaries throughout the park. This year, you can find topiaries featuring Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Bambi and friends, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story pals, Captain Hook and Peter Pan, Mickey and the gang, and so many more!
  2. Outdoor Kitchens: You can try some unique food and drinks at seventeen outdoor kitchens scattered throughout the World Showcase. These snack sized samples are perfect for an afternoon treat or you can easily make a meal out of a few of them! Many feature fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden and there’s even a new spot this year offering food and beverages infused with honey. We highly recommend the frushi at Hanami!
  3. Garden Rocks concert series: This popular concert series brings 36 different artists to the park over 90 nights to perform three concerts nightly at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8 pm. You can see a variety of genres covered by artists including Air Supply, Simple Plan, Steven Curtis Chapman, Lonestar, and more.
  4. Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration: This springtime scavenger hunt features Spike the honey bee and will take your family all over the World Showcase searching for him. You can purchase a map for $6.99 and then return it for a surprise which makes for a fun and inexpensive souvenir.
  5. Interactive Play Areas: Epcot has two new interactive play areas for the festival that your kids will love and can be a great break for them to burn some energy. Your kids can choose from Bo Peep’s Playtime Training Grounds or the Play Full Garden.
  6. The Goodness Garden Butterfly House: You can see and learn about butterflies up close in the butterfly house which is home to several different species. If you’re really lucky, you might even get to watch one emerge from a chrysalis.
  7. The Story of Coco: You can watch this new Coco-inspired show several times day in the Mexico pavilion. Folklorico dancers join the musicians of Mariachi Cobre to bring the story of Disney-Pixar’s Coco to life, with Miguel even appearing as a puppet.
  8. Guided Tours: There are four tours available in Epcot this spring- Gardens of the World, English Tea Garden, Royal Tea Garden, and Behind the Seeds. Gardens of the World is unique three hour tour to the Flower and Garden Festival that will help you see how these incredible character topiaries are brought to life.

The 2019 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is happening now through June 3, 2019.

PS- Dates have now been confirmed for the other Epcot festivals happening later this year. The 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival officially returns August 29- November 23, 2019 and the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will run from November 29 through December 30, 2019.

When is your next visit to Epcot?

Top 15 Moments You Must Experience at Universal Orlando Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

I personally think you should see it all when you come to Universal Orlando Resort. But knowing there’s so much to do, these are 15 moments you just have to experience at Universal when you come to the parks.

  1. That moment when you realize you’re going to Hogwarts castle

When I first stepped into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, my heart skipped a beat. The land is absolutely beautiful. When I turned the corner and Hogwarts castle was revealed, I definitely shed a tear. It’s truly amazing.

2. That moment when Optimus Prime says hello

What’s cooler than seeing your favorite Transformer give you a warm welcome as you step up to pose for a photo. Next to TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D is a photo opportunity to meet Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Megatron.

3. That moment when you fly up in the air 185 feet

Doctor Doom’s Fearfall will have you screaming way more words than you even knew you had in your vocabulary. No fear of heights (or maybe a deathly fear of heights)? This attraction was built for you. The launch uses more thrust than a 747 jet.

4. That moment when you plunge down to escape a large T. rex

Jurassic Park River Adventure takes you on a lovely scenic water cruise where you come across some nice herbivore dinosaurs. All of a sudden, you’re taken off course and end up face to face with a HUGE T.rex before plunging 85 feet! It’s so awesome.

5. That moment when you finally meet Blue

Speaking of dinosaurs, did you know you can now meet Blue? At Raptor Encounter you’ll get to learn some interesting raptor facts about this clever girl. And if you’re brave enough, you can even grab a quick photo with her. Fun fact, kids can even sleep in their very own gyrosphere bed in our new Jurassic World Kids’ Suites.

6. That moment when you wake up and see a volcano through your window

Picture this… You walk into your room at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort for the first time and open the blinds to discover one of the most breathtaking views on property. Our Volcano Side rooms give a bird’s eye view into Universal’s Volcano Bay. Let me tell you, these views are absolutely out of this world. Plus, being a hotel guest gives you access to Volcano Bay an hour before the park opens for the day with Early Park Admission.

7. That moment when you come face to face with Kong

Are you brave enough to step foot into this mysterious island at Skull Island: Reign of Kong? Inside, you’ll encounter a few frightening creatures and prehistoric predators. But at the end of your journey, you’ll come face to face with Kong himself. This moment is definitely worth the trek.

8. That moment when you see a fire dancer at the Wantilan Luau   

You can’t miss this classic Hawaiian luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The Wantilan Luau will have you dancing along with hula dancers and will have your jaw dropping at these fire twirlers. Shows are every Saturday evening starting at 6pm.

9. That moment when you step inside the tube at Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides

These body slides, at Universal’s Volcano Bay are sure to make your jaw drop when the floor disappears, sending you plummeting down intertwining tubes through the Krakatau Volcano.

10. That moment when you climb 90 degrees straight up on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

In my opinion, the most intense part of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is the moment you’re 90 degrees looking straight up at the sky, your stomach turning from anticipation. At least you have some music playing to ease your nerves.

Fun Fact: this coaster is 17 stories high, making it one of the tallest roller coasters at Universal Orlando Resort.

11. That moment when you take a bite of a donut as big as your head

This. Donut. Is. Amazing. It’s also the size of your head! You can find this giant pink-iced sprinkled donut in Springfield at Lard Lad Donuts. Calories don’t count on vacation… right?

12. That moment when you eat a sushi roll that’s actually a burger…

Two of my favorite meals are sushi and a good burger. At The Cowfish, my two favorite meals collide. You can literally eat what they call Burgushi. It’s either a burger made with sushi or sushi that’s actually a burger. It is all SO good.

13. That moment when you Hulk out

Shooting out of the tunnel and racing up to 67 miles per hour on The Incredible Hulk Coaster is INTENSE. And so much fun. This roller coaster has a total of seven inversions and will make you want to come back for more.

14. That moment when you see the Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon breathe fire

Sitting on top of Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, at the far end of Diagon Alley, is a massive fire-breathing dragon. One of my favorite moments is stepping foot into Diagon Alley and catching the dragon growl and blast fire out of its mouth.

Fun Fact: the fire out of the dragon’s mouth reaches temperatures of 3,560°F!

15. That moment when you take in the view from a rooftop bar

Universal’s newest resort hotel, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, just opened—and you’ll definitely want to check out Bar 17 Bistro, the hotel’s rooftop bar. This is the first rooftop bar at Universal Orlando Resort, and these views are absolutely incredible.

What’s your favorite experience at Universal Orlando Resort? Tell us in the comments.

Top 5 Things to Know About Memory Maker at Disney World

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

When planning your Walt Disney World Resort vacation, you’re probably focused on selecting your accommodations, adding your park tickets, and then determining which experiences you absolutely have to fit in during your visit. But one other important aspect of your vacation you’ll want to consider before arriving is how you’ll capture and preserve the memories you’ll make at Walt Disney World Resort. For many, Memory Maker is a great option. There are usually a lot of questions about Memory Maker and how it works so here are the top five things you’ll need to know about Memory Maker so you can decide if you need it during your Disney World vacation.

How is Memory Maker related to Disney PhotoPass Service? 
Disney PhotoPass Service has photographers stationed throughout Walt Disney World Resort ready to get your entire family in the photo and cameras ready to capture your experience at select attractions.

Memory Maker is a product offered by Disney PhotoPass Service. PhotoPass photos can be purchased individually, but when you purchase Memory Maker, you receive unlimited digital downloads of all your PhotoPass photos taken during your Memory Maker window for one price. So the more photos you take, the more value you receive!

Which Disney PhotoPass photos are included with Memory Maker? 
Anywhere Disney PhotoPass captures your photo during your Memory Maker window, you’re entitled to download that image as part of your active Memory Maker entitlement.

This includes PhotoPass photos taken at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Character Experiences, either Disney PhotoPass Studio, iconic locations such as in front of Cinderella Castle, Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and all attraction and dining locations with PhotoPass capture.

Magic Shots, which add Disney Characters and other fun surprises to your photos after they’re taken, are also included with Memory Maker!

Does Memory Maker offer any exclusive photo opportunities?
While all guests can view attraction videos from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as well as Animated Magic Shots in their account, an active Memory Maker entitlement is required to download, save and share them. (And, remember that a MagicBand linked to your account is required for you to collect and view attraction videos)

Can my Memory Maker entitlement include my travel party’s photos? 
Absolutely! If you’re linked to others in your party through My Disney Experience Family & Friends and they choose to share their photos taken during your Memory Maker window with you, you’ll have the ability to download them. So, if you’re traveling with friends and family, only one party needs to purchase Memory Maker and then you can all share it!

When should I purchase Memory Maker?
Memory Maker can be purchased before, during or after your Walt Disney World Resort vacation. But when you buy early, you save: When you purchase three or more days prior to the start of your vacation, the price is $169. If you purchase during or after your vacation, the price is $199.

If you think Memory Maker is right for you, I would encourage you to purchase it prior to your vacation, as the less time you spend figuring out which photos you’re going to buy, the more time you have to make the memories, take another ride on Space Mountain, or enjoy a Dole Whip! Plus, that $30 discount leaves you a little extra spending money!

Have other questions? Let me know in the comments, or give the Disney PhotoPass Guest Support Team a call at 407-560-4300!

Memory Maker is subject to the applicable terms and policies available here. Includes photos taken during the applicable Memory Maker Window as defined in such terms (generally, photos taken (i) within one day for the One Day product or (ii) within 30 days from the date of first activation for standard Memory Maker). A MagicBand is required to receive certain attraction photos and other digital content. Online registration required. Disney PhotoPass Photos in your account will expire pursuant to the expiration policy available here. Downloads are restricted to personal use only. Not responsible for missing, lost or damaged photos. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Valid theme park admission required for certain photo locations.

Siera is a travel agent with Destinations in Florida, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. She would love to help you plan your next vacation at no cost to you. Call her at 734-771-1290 or email her at siera@destinationsinflorida.com for your free, no obligation quote. 

Top 5 Best Character Dining Experiences at Disney World

There are so many great places to eat at Disney World! Whether you are a picky eater or a foodie aficionado, you will love most of the restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort. Character dining is a great option for families with kids who want to see the characters without having to use a FastPass or wait in long lines in the theme parks.

Here are the five best character dining experiences at Disney World:

  1. Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort: We love just about everything about Chef Mickey’s! Chef Mickey’s has a HUGE buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with such a variety that everyone in the family is sure to leave stuffed! Plus, you get to eat with all of the fab five classic Disney characters- Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. This is also a great place to celebrate a birthday or special occasion!
  2. Garden Grill at Epcot: Situated in the Land pavilion in Future World, Garden Grill offers a relatively intimate character dining experience. With a smaller restaurant, characters tend to spend more time with families here and even make it back around to your table more than once. We also love the all you can eat meals served family style right to your table. With gooey cinnamon rolls for breakfast or a platter of meats for lunch and dinner, everyone in the family is sure to find something they love!
  3. 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: This is a great meal for the whole family, but especially little princesses. You can choose from breakfast with Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger or dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella. The stepsisters are so funny and offer some really fun and funny interactions. (Tip: Be sure to try the strawberry soup!)
  4. Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: You can enjoy an expansive breakfast, lunch, or dinner buffet with Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy in their safari gear. Although breakfast is your standard fare, lunch and dinner offer some more unique, African-inspired options. (Tip: Book a late breakfast so you can try a bit from both the breakfast and lunch menu)
  5. Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Breakfast at Hollywood & Vine is one of the best meals for toddlers and preschoolers because you get to eat with the Disney Junior characters! This upbeat and exciting meal plays some of your little ones’ favorite Disney Junior songs while they meet Sofa the First, Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, and Roadster Racer Goofy.

What has your best character dining experience been?

Your Complete Wizarding World of Harry Potter Guide for Universal Orlando Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Many people have been waiting their entire lives to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After reading the books and watching the films, actually stepping foot into the stories is a phenomenal experience. This handy Wizarding World of Harry Potter guide will help you make the most of your experience at Universal Orlando Resort.

With Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, there are two unique lands to explore. We’re listing out each and every activity you can enjoy during your next trip!

This Wizarding World of Harry Potter guide is organized by type of activity: attractions, experiences, food and drink, shopping, shows, and hidden gems.

ATTRACTIONS

Harry Potter and the Forbidden JourneyHogsmeade

  • Soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with an array of magical creatures.
  • Pro Tip: Make sure to take your time in the queue for this one to appreciate all the details of the Hogwarts corridors including Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, and more.

Flight of the HippogriffHogsmeade

  • Bow to Buckbeak as you board this family-friendly roller coaster that spirals and dives around the pumpkin patch, and then swoops past Hagrid’s hut.
  • Pro Tip: This ride is great for little witches and wizards who might be a bit spooked by Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade StationHogsmeade

  • Board the famous train and head towards King’s Cross Station in London. You’ll need a park-to-park ticket for this one.
  • Pro Tip: The experience is completely different on the way back from King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade (see below), so you’ll want to ride it twice.

Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross StationDiagon Alley

  • Enter King’s Cross Station and walk straight through a solid brick wall onto Platform 9 ¾ to board the Hogwarts Express. You’ll need a park-to-park ticket.
  • Pro Tip: If you want to journey in Harry’s footsteps, do some shopping in Diagon Alley and then hop on the Hogwarts Express to start your next term!

Harry Potter and the Escape from GringottsDiagon Alley (pictured)

  • Take a journey through cavernous passageways that lead deep underground as you climb aboard this mind-blowing, multi-dimensional ride.
  • Pro Tip: For those looking for a more intense ride, ask the attendant if they can accommodate you towards the back of the ride vehicle. However, all seats offer a thrilling adventure!

EXPERIENCES

See a wand choose a wizard at Ollivanders, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (pictured)

  • Step inside this iconic shop and watch an Ollivanders wandkeeper go through the process of pairing a witch or wizard with just the right wand.
  • Pro Tip: You might be the lucky witch or wizard chosen!

Cast spells with your interactive wand, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley

  • Look for medallions on the ground throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley for opportunities to practice your magic. Simply follow the directions at your feet and look out for amazing surprises.
  • Pro Tip: You’ll need an interactive wand for this one, and inside the box is a map telling you where all the spells are located.

Send a letter through Owl PostHogsmeade

  • Here, you can mail a letter complete with a special Hogsmeade postmark.
  • Pro Tip: This is a great way to let your friends and family know you’re thinking about them during your trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Meet the Hogwarts Express conductor, Hogsmeade

  • Oftentimes you can find this jolly gentleman next to Hogsmeade Station near the front of Hogsmeade.
  • Pro Tip: Take a photo with him to remember your Hogwarts Express journey.

View The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts CastleHogsmeade

  • On select nights, you can see some amazing projection mapping that transforms the castle in a dazzling display of lights, special effects and music.
  • Pro Tip: Scope out the best view early in the day to make sure you know where you want to stand later.

Meet the Knight Bus conductor, Diagon Alley

  • On the London embankment, you’ll find this three-storied bus and its amiable driver.
  • Pro Tip: You can also chat up the shrunken head hanging over the steering wheel.

Get your moving photograph at Shutterbutton’sDiagon Alley

  • Create a portrait of yourself that actually moves and purchase a collectible photo album in commemoration.
  • Pro Tip: Borrow props and costumes or bring your own!

Exchange your Muggle money at the Gringotts Money ExchangeDiagon Alley

  • Have a conversation with the goblin behind the counter before trading your U.S. currency for Gringotts bank notes in $10 or $20 denominations.
  • Pro Tip: The banknotes can be used for purchases within Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and at select locations throughout Universal Orlando Resort.

SEASONAL: Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry PotterHogsmeade and Diagon Alley

  • Diagon Alley, London, and Hogsmeade are transformed with festive décor and brilliant lighting during the holidays. Not only do shows incorporate some favorite holiday tunes, but look out for special treats and drinks! The atmosphere is simply brimming with excitement.
  • Pro Tip: Plan some time to take in all the detail of the beautiful decorations.

FOOD & DRINK

ButterbeerHogsmeade and Diagon Alley (pictured)

  • You simply can’t come to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and not try Butterbeer! This concoction is reminiscent of butterscotch and shortbread. Find it at many of the restaurants listed below and various snack stands throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
  • Pro Tip: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has six unique ways to enjoy that delicious Butterbeer flavor, so come with an empty stomach.

Three BroomsticksHogsmeade

  • This cozy, snow-capped inn offers tasty British fare including Fish And Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, Cornish Pasties, Turkey Legs, and Fresh Vegetables. View a breakfast menu here and a lunch and dinner menu here.
  • Pro Tip: Take some time to explore – you never know what you might find.

Hog’s HeadHogsmeade

  • This pub in the back of Three Broomsticks is the perfect place for a Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, along with domestic and imported beers, the pub’s exclusive Hog’s Head Brew, Gillywater (bottled water), specialty drinks, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks.
  • Pro Tip: Pay attention to the stuffed hog’s head over the bar – it just might snarl at you.

Leaky CauldronDiagon Alley

  • A small, grubby-looking pub and inn where you’ll find foods like Bangers and Mash, Fisherman’s Pie, Toad in the Hole, Ploughman’s Platter, and more. View a breakfast menu here and a lunch and dinner menu here.
  • Pro Tip: This location is very popular among visitors at lunchtime, but the friendly attendants will make sure you have a great experience.

Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream ParlourDiagon Alley

  • Here, witches, wizards, and Muggles of every age can indulge in scoop and soft-serve ice-creams with fantastic flavours like Butterbeer, Granny Smith, Earl Grey and Lavender, Chocolate Chili, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Salted Caramel Blondie, Chocolate and Raspberry, and more.
  • Pro Tip: Keep an open mind… some unusual flavors may surprisingly delight you!

Fountain of Fair FortuneDiagon Alley

  • Named for one of the fables in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, this location serves a variety of beers and other beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
  • Pro Tip: You can also get Butterbeer ice-cream here.

The Hopping PotDiagon Alley

  • Nestled within Diagon Alley, you can cool off with a variety of delicious drinks at this walk-up counter.
  • Pro Tip: This is a great place to grab a snack while watching a show in Carkitt Market.

SHOPPING

Ollivanders, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley

  • In search of the most essential wizarding item? Look through the thousands of boxes filled with wands waiting to choose their wizard.
  • Pro Tip: There are many other variations of wands in addition to character wands

HoneydukesHogsmeade

  • The shelves of this legendary sweet shop are lined with all manner of colourful treats including Acid Pops, Cauldron Cakes, Fizzing Whizzbees, Chocolate Frogs, and Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans.
  • Pro Tip: Every Chocolate Frog comes with a wizard trading card – collect them all!

Dervish and BangesHogsmeade

  • From magical items like Sneakoscopes, Spectrespecs, and Omnioculars to Quidditch supplies like Quaffles, Golden Snitches, and brooms to Hogwarts clothing, journals, and stationary, this shop offers it all.
  • Pro Tip: This is an ideal place to find accessories featuring the Hogwarts houses, so it’s a must-see.

Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated GoodsHogsmeade

  • Peruse items taken from students who got on the wrong side of the school’s resident caretaker, Argus Filch. You’ll find Hogwarts t-shirts, shoulder bags, caps, scarves, house crest banners, and stationary; plus authentic movie prop replicas, clothing, toys and more.
  • Pro Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the Marauder’s Map and watch as inhabitants move about Hogwarts castle.

Owl PostHogsmeade

  • Here, you’ll find correspondence materials like stationary, quills, seals, and ink.
  • Pro Tip: You can even pick out your very own owl to take home.

Weasleys’ Wizard WheezesDiagon Alley

  • This colourful emporium is the novelty joke shop run by identically ingenious prankster twins Fred and George Weasley. Shop for all manner of mischief such as magical jokes, tricks, and toys including Pygmy Puffs, U-No-Poo pills, Skiving Snackboxes, and Puking Pastilles, and much more.
  • Pro Tip: Don’t miss the dazzling display of never-ending fireworks exploding at the ceiling.

Madam Malkin’s Robes for All OccasionsDiagon Alley

  • Build your wizarding wardrobe at this cheerfully appointed shop. Fashionable guests can buy authentic replicas of Hermione’s Yule Ball gown and Dumbledore’s robes. You’ll also find Hogwarts uniforms, ties, scarves, hats, sweaters, and cardigans as well as jewelry.
  • Pro Tip: Model your potential purchase in front of the mirror and it just might talk back to you.

Borgin and BurkesDiagon Alley

  • This dark and dusty Knockturn Alley shop is infamous for shady patrons. As you walk among the dimly lit shelves and displays teeming with malevolent relics, you’ll find Death Eater masks, skulls, Harry Potter film costume replicas, apparel, accessories, jewelry, and collectibles.
  • Pro Tip: Look (and listen) for the Vanishing Cabinet just like the one Draco Malfoy once used to sneak Death Eaters into Hogwarts.

Magical MenagerieDiagon Alley

  • Purchase a variety of plush toys including Crookshanks, Fang, Buckbeak, Fluffy, and Scabbers. Also available are Cornish pixies, ferrets, Pygmy Puffs, and an assortment of owls, including Pigwidgeon and Hedwig.
  • Pro Tip: Try out your Parseltongue when you peek in at the snake in the window from outside the store.

Quality Quidditch SuppliesDiagon Alley

  • This is the destination for everything you need to play the most popular sport in the wizarding world, including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles, and more.
  • Pro Tip: You can even pledge your allegiance to professional teams like the Holyhead Harpies or the Chudley Cannons, Ireland or Bulgaria.

Sugarplum’s Sweet ShopDiagon Alley

  • Discover a wealth of wizarding treats – every nook is stocked with tasty temptations like Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Pink Coconut Ice and more.
  • Pro Tip: Feed Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans to unsuspecting friends and family and brace yourself as they just might end up with a flavor like earthworm or earwax.

ScribbulusDiagon Alley

  • Find all the authentic writing supplies a witch or wizard could need including ink and inkwells, feather quills, parchment, journals, envelopes, stationery sets, seals, bookmarks, and backpacks.
  • Pro Tip: Everything here is perfect for back-to-school or your office.

Wiseacre’s Wizarding EquipmentDiagon Alley (pictured)

  • Browse a variety of wizarding wares and essential supplies including crystal balls, telescopes, compasses, crystal phials, and hourglasses plus apparel and accessories from your Hogwarts house.
  • Pro Tip: You can have packages delivered to the front of the park or your Universal Orlando hotel room so that you don’t have to carry them all day.

Wands by GregorovitchDiagon Alley

  • This long-time rival to Ollivanders also creates some exceptional wands. Here, you can choose from a wide assortment of Harry Potter character wand replicas, and more.
  • Pro Tip: Boxes with gold labels are interactive and will help you practice magic in-park.

SHOWS

Hogwarts Frog ChoirHogsmeade

  • Hear the vocal stylings of this small choir of Hogwarts students, accompanied by the smooth bass rumbles of their giant throaty frogs.
  • Pro Tip: Look in your park map or on the official Universal Orlando app for times.

Triwizard Spirit RallyHogsmeade

  • Cheer on the colourful procession of students from the legendary wizarding schools of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang as they lead the excitement for the Triwizard Tournament.
  • Pro Tip: Stick around after the show for a potential meet-and-greet opportunity.

The Tales of Beedle the BardDiagon Alley

  • Watch as adept players perform a trunk show using stylized scenic pieces, props, and puppetry. See them retell two famous tales of Beedle the Bard, a 15th-century author of wizarding fairytales, including The Fountain of Fair Fortune and The Tale of the Three Brothers.
  • Pro Tip: This stage is right near The Hopping Pot (see above), so grab a snack and enjoy!

Celestina Warbeck and the BansheesDiagon Alley (pictured)

  • Sway and groove to the dulcet tones of wizarding world sensation, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. The swinging show features never-before-heard songs including “A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love,” “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart,” and “You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me.”
  • Pro Tip: Dancing and singing along is allowed!

HIDDEN GEMS

Call the Ministry of Magic, Diagon Alley (Pictured)

  • Try entering the telephone booth in London and dialing 62442 (`MAGIC`) to see what you get connected to.

See 12 Grimmauld Place, Diagon Alley

  • Keep an eye out for the Black family`s loyal house-elf, Keacher™ – you might just see him.

The Monster Book of Monsters, Hogsmeade

  • A Book with Bite`- Stop inside Dervish and Banges to view this beastly required reading for Hogwarts students taking the Care of Magical Creatures class. It’s caged for a reason.

Be sure to keep an eye out on all the hidden gems inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

So much to see and do! Where to, first? Tell us in the comments section below.