Top Five Things to Do During the Holidays at Disney World

Believe it or not… the Walt Disney World Resort truly does become more magical during the holiday season. With special events throughout the parks, beautiful decorations throughout the parks and resorts, it is one of the best time of year to visit. 

Here are the top five things to do during the holidays at Disney World: 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: This separate ticket event is held on select nights in November and December from 7 pm to 12 am at Magic Kingdom Park. Although there is an added cost for this experience, you get to enjoy unlimited hot cocoa, apple juice, cookies, and apple sliced throughout the evening; Once Upon a Christmastime Parade; a Frozen Holiday Wish; the Jungle Cruise transforms into the Jingle Cruise; Holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular; two dance parties; rare character meet and greets and so much more!

Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: The Hollywood Tower Hotel transforms with projections and even “snow” along Sunset Boulevard during Sunset Seasons Greetings where guests can enjoy four stories about some of our favorite Disney characters. Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam is a fun nighttime show projected onto the Chinese Theater. Wayne and Lanny from ABC’s Prep & Landing need our help to save Santa Claus and bring him back to the North Pole in time for Christmas Day!

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays: The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays includes holiday kitchens featuring seasonal recipes, Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree scavenger hunt around the World Showcase, Candlelight Processional, and more. Candlelight Processional is always a guest favorite, featuring a celebrity narrator reading the Christmas story and accompanied by a fifty piece orchestra and full choir. Even with three readings nightly, this event fills quickly so we do strongly recommend the Candlelight Processional dining packages to reserve your spot.

Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs: 2016 was the first year that Disney created the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs and it has grown each year since! With twenty-five trees planned for 2018, all inspired by our favorite Disney movies and characters, this is a great place for photo opportunities or even a little inspiration for your Disney decorated trees at home.

Resort Decorations: All of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels decorate for the holiday season with Christmas trees, wreaths, and more. However, some have over the top decorations that you just have to see for yourself! The most incredible is probably the life size gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Although you won’t want to miss the life size gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort or the gingerbread castle at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, either. There are even sleigh rides through Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground!

What are your favorite things to do during the holidays at Disney World? 

Call Siera today to book your Disney World vacation at 734-771-1290 or email her at siera@destinationsinflorida.com anytime with questions or a free, no obligation quote! 

Seven Reasons to Plan a Holiday Vacation at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

From the Disney Parks Blog:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Seven Reasons to Plan a Holiday Vacation at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

There’s nothing quite like the spending the holidays in the merriment and magic of Disneyland Resort – and making the most of it by staying in one of three on-property hotels. Here are seven sparkling ways you can make memories with your family and friends this holiday season, now through January 6, 2019:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Christmas Trees, Décor and More: The Craftsman-inspired décor at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa extends to the holiday decorations, from natural garlands to the towering Christmas tree lit with “arts and crafts” lanterns. The midcentury Disneyland Hotel receives a retro-holiday look with silver trees and bright colors. The nautical theming at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel features blue, green and silver holiday décor—along with shells and starfish garland—to create a seaside holiday setting.

“Grand” Gingerbread House and Holiday Treats: A highlight at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the giant gingerbread replica of the hotel, right in the lobby. Standing 7 feet tall and 12 feet wide, the structure is created from more than 600 pounds of gingerbread, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 250 pounds of fondant, 1 pound of “pixie dust” glitter and features 25 hidden Mickeys! Nearby, you may purchase sweet treats such as Mickey snowflake cookies from the lobby’s holiday cart.

Santa Claus and Carolers: This year, Santa will visit each hotel from November 22 through December 24. Hotel guests are encouraged to meet, greet and take a seat with St. Nick! Also delightful are the joyful sounds of vocal performers and holiday carolers strolling throughout the holiday season at each resort hotel.*

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Extra Magic Hour: With easy, convenient access to both parks, guests staying at the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort will make the most of their visit with Extra Magic Hour admission with their valid theme park ticket. Extra Magic Hour offers admission to a designated theme park one hour earlier than the general public, and is only available for guests who stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. **

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Christmas Trees Delivered In Room: Parents, you can enlist Santa’s secret helpers to bring the spirit of the season right to your hotel room, surprising the kids with a 4-foot, pre-lit Christmas tree, holiday décor and gift baskets with candy canes, gingerbread-flavored popcorn and frosted pretzels. Afterward, the family’s tree—including all the ornaments—can be shipped home.***

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Holiday Shopping: Gift shops at each hotel offer unique Disney treasures. Additional shopping is just steps from the hotels at the Downtown Disney District, a destination of its own with dining, entertainment and retail options. A must-visit site for Disney fans is the newly reimagined, 40,000 square-foot World of Disney. This store was redesigned to make shopping even easier and more entertaining with touches of pixie dust in the displays and merchandise collections. Other favorite boutiques are the Disney Home store and The Disney Dress Shop, which opened in 2018. Other shopping destinations include Sephora, PANDORA Jewelry and Curl Surf.

Vacation Values: It’s a season of savings with up to 25 percent off select rooms at Hotels of the Disneyland Resort for select Sunday-Thursday nights through December 20, 2018. Guests can save up to 20 percent on standard rooms and 25 percent on premium rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa; up to 15 percent on standard rooms and 20 percent on premium rooms at Disneyland Hotel, and up to 10 percent on premium rooms at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Book through December 16, 2018. To find out more, please visit disneylandresort.com.

The holiday festivities at the Disneyland Resort take place Nov. 9, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019. When is your holiday vacation at a Disneyland Resort Hotel?

*Check Entertainment Guide for performance times.

** Extra Magic Hour valid for registered Disneyland® Resort Hotel Guests for admission to the designated theme park before the park opens to the general public. Check Disneyland.com for schedule of when each park offers Extra Magic Hour. Each registered hotel Guest (ages 3 and older) must have a valid theme park ticket and active hotel room key card. Applicable theme park, days and times of operation and attractions and services availability may vary and are subject to change without notice. Subject to capacity, cancellation and other restrictions.

***Additional costs apply.

Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel for most Sunday through Thursday nights through 12/20/18. Book through 12/6/18; travel must be completed by 12/21/18. Premium room types included in offer are Premium, Deluxe and Woods/Garden/Courtyard rooms; select Concierge rooms; and only Paradise, Artisan, Junior and Regal suites. Not valid on previously booked rooms. Advance reservations required. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Excludes applicable fees and taxes. Limit two (2) rooms per reservation, and occupancy restrictions apply per room. Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Separate Theme Park admission required to enjoy the Parks.

Top 5 Holiday Experiences at Disney World to Book for your Vacation

From the Disney Parks Blog:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

From glittering holiday decor to special entertainment to tasty seasonal treats, spending the holiday season at Walt Disney World Resort can’t be beat.

Here are five holiday experiences at Disney World you can book right now that can help you make the most of your holiday visit:

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park – Experience the holiday party of a lifetime at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Taking place on select nights in November and December, this guest-favorite annual holiday event includes a special “Once Upon a Christmastime Parade,” “Holiday Wishes” fireworks, snow on Main Street, U.S.A., and much more. Pick up tickets now before they’re gone. You can also plus up your party experience with special dining options that are only available on party nights, including the Holiday Wishes Fireworks Holiday Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace and Holiday Wishes Fireworks Holiday Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party – Reservations just opened for this brand-new F&B offering at Magic Kingdom Park. This experience begins at 9:30 p.m. on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights, and includes a tasty hors d’oeuvres and a dessert buffet at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. At 11 p.m., you’ll have access to a special reserved viewing area for the truly enchanting “Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade” as it makes its way down Main Street, U.S.A. Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party continues until 12:30 a.m., even longer than Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Both a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ticket and reservations for Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party are required to attend. More details and bookings here.

Presented in the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot, Candlelight Processional is one of the most beloved holiday traditions at Walt Disney World Resort. Featuring a joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a glorious mass choir, this festive performance takes place annually in November and December. Show times are at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. Epcot is one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

“The Candlelight Processional” Dining Packages at Epcot – “The Candlelight Processional” is a holiday tradition for many Disney guests and families. See the show with ease thanks to a “Candlelight Processional” dining package, which gives you breakfast, lunch or dinner at a tasty Epcot restaurant plus priority seating for the show. Each meal includes an appetizer, entrée and dessert or one full buffet or family-style dining (where applicable), along with a non-alcoholic beverage. Check out this year’s list of narrators – which includes newcomers Auli’i Cravalho and Alfonso Ribeiro, as well as returning favorites Neil Patrick Harris and Gary Sinise – here.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Not only does this delicious dessert party dish up mouth-watering sweets, but dessert party reservations give you priority viewing for not one, but two of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ nighttime shows – “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” and “Disney Movie Magic,” as well as a greeting with a Disney character! Sneak a peek at the delicious menu and make your reservations here.

New Year’s Eve Celebration Reservations – Three unforgettable New Year’s Eve experiences – Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve CelebrationDisney Countdown to Midnight: A New Year’s Eve Celebration, and Disney Ink & Paint Club – are already on sale. Don’t miss out!

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

And, last but not least … no trip to Walt Disney World Resort during the holiday season would be complete without picking up an adorable holiday Minnie Snowflake Ears Headband or Santa Mickey Mouse Ear Hat. Several new styles were just released this fall. Grab them now at ShopDisneyParks.com before they’re gone!

Top 8 Reasons Why You Need to Ride Hogwarts Express Both Directions

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Straight from the pages and silver screen, Universal Orlando Resort is the only place where you can actually ride the famous Hogwarts Express. From The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley and back again, traveling between Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida aboard Hogwarts Express is a must-see attraction unto itself.

There are hundreds of reasons to choose the Hogwarts Express as your mode of transportation, but we are sharing with you the top eight reasons today:

1. First and foremost, the aesthetics of the stations and attraction are true to the movies and books, so you’ll feel like you’ve actually been dropped into the story.

2. Each station offers unique opportunities for epic photos to share with your friends and family.

3. Not to mention, the architecture is totally stunning.

4. And remember, the Hogwarts Express is the best way to stay immersed in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when traveling between the two lands.

5. At King’s Cross Station, you’ll find yourself at Platform 9 ¾. You can even walk through the iconic wall; but I’m leaving that bit out because it’s so much better when you experience it for yourself!

6. When traveling from London to Hogsmeade, be sure to look out for a number of cameos from your favorite characters, like this fly-by of Hagrid and his magical motorcycle.

7. And from Hogsmeade to London the story and cameos are completely different, so look out for moments like this one with Fred and George *casually* plugging their Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes store in Diagon Alley.

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

8. Finally, riding the Hogwarts Express both ways allows you the opportunity to experience both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, which is a true one-of-a-kind experience that you can only get here.

Of course, there’s much more mind-blowing stuff to see and do on the Hogwarts Express. What’s your favorite part of riding!?

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Thanks Universal Orlando Resort Blog!

Top Four Reasons to Take an Adults Only Disney Cruise

From the Disney Parks Blog:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

A Disney cruise is for the young AND the young at heart… But many adults don’t realize just how much there is for them to do on a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Whether your kids want to hang out in the complimentary kids club or you want an adults only Disney cruise vacation, there are so many things for adults to enjoy!

Did you know that we have specially designed experiences to check every box on your vacation “wish list”? Whether it’s upscale dining, hip nightclubs, relaxing pool time or luxurious spa treatments, we’ve got all the essentials for anyone’s dream getaway!

Here are some of our adult guests’ favorite ways to unwind and indulge with Disney Cruise Line:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Dining in Style
Disney Cruise Line has adult-exclusive dining options that offer delectable dishes, superlative service and romantic ocean views. At Palo, our signature specialty restaurant, you can delight in Northern Italian delicacies with a modern twist for dinner (don’t miss the chocolate soufflé!) or brunch. Aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, you can also savor gourmet French-inspired cuisine — during dinner, champagne brunch or a dessert tasting — at Remy.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Playing the Night Away
Looking for a late-night party or a cozy space to enjoy an after-dinner drink? Every Disney ship features a nighttime entertainment district with sophisticated lounges, casual pubs and trendy nightclubs reserved exclusively for adults. In addition to hand-crafted cocktails, beers on tap and world-class wines, these venues also offer live entertainment, from musicians and cabarets to game shows and dancing.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Relaxing in Serenity
Adults have their very own sun-soaked escape aboard every Disney cruise ship: Quiet Cove, a peaceful oasis on the top deck created especially for guests 18 and over. Here, you can relax in the pool, sip a fruity drink, enjoy live music and soak up the sun. On the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, adults can also luxuriate under a rain curtain at the Satellite Falls wading pool.

And for the ultimate luxury on most Bahamian and Caribbean sailings, you can head to Serenity Bay, an exquisite white-sand beach just for adults on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, with lounge chairs, hammocks for two and therapeutic massages overlooking the sea.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Treating Yourself
Pure bliss awaits at Senses Spa & Salon aboard every Disney ship. This adults-only retreat offers a full menu of treatments, like massages, facials, mani-pedis, hairstyling and more… all while enjoying a magnificent ocean view!

Not to mention, Disney Cruise Line has special adults-only cooking classes, beverage tastings, exotic Port Adventures and more experiences designed with adults in mind. In other words… it’s good to be all grown up on a Disney cruise!

Complete Guide to the Best Food at Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Complete Guide to the Best Food at Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal’s Volcano Bay—Universal Orlando’s third theme park, is home to the fabled Waturi tribe and their entire realm is centered around the colossal 200-foot-tall Krakatau volcano with cascading waterfalls. Here, travelers are transported to the idyllic South Pacific where adventures await at every corner – they can shoot down the epic aqua coaster through the insides of the breathtaking Krakatau volcano, or ride one of the many thrilling, wild water slides and rides.

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Volcano Bay is also home to four dining spots: Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social ClubWhakawaiwai EatsBambu and The Feasting Frog, along with two full bars to quench your thirst – Dancing Dragons Boat Bar and the Kunuku Boat Bar.

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Sure, there are the usual staples of family favorites here—burgers, corn dogs, nachos and chicken tenders (although even those often have a tropical twist). But the Food and Beverage team for Volcano Bay have amped up the notches on the foodie meter here. They’ve added distinctive touches to the menu of over 60 different island-inspired dishes and over 12 signature cocktails.

Here are some of the best dishes to eat and drinks to drink at Volcano Bay so far:

Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken, served with french fries, sweet plantains and cucumber mango basil slaw. This lovely fried chicken has just a touch of sweetness from the coconut flavors, transporting your taste buds to an island in the South Pacific.

Hawaiian Ribs

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

If there’s one dish you must try at Volcano Bay, it’s these smoked Hawaiian ribs. Sticky and sweet, these are slow smoked honey glazed ribs served with french fries, sweet plantains and a cucumber mango basil slaw.

Burgers at Volcano Bay

There’s quite a few burgers here, all served on a King’s Hawaiian Roll bun for that island flavor and sweet kick. From bacon to Szechuan glazed pork belly, there’s something for everyone. One of the most popular burgers is the vegetarian friendly Quinoa Edamame Burger.

Quinoa Edamame Burger

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Volcano Bay should just call it the umami burger, because it is packed with umami flavors from the roasted shiitake mushrooms to the crispy, crunchy quinoa edamame “burger” patty.

Reka Burger

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

The Reka Burger has Pepper Jack cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, topped with bread and butter pickles and BBQ sauce, on a King’s Hawaiian Roll, served with fries

Belly Burger

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Belly Burger – Szechuan-glazed pork belly, caramelized onions, topped with fresh cucumber basil slaw, lettuce, and tomato, served with fries.

Bacon Cheeseburger

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Who doesn’t love a classic? Bacon Cheeseburger with two slices of crispy bacon, American cheese, lettuce and tomato, served with fries.

Jerk Mahi Sandwich

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

For those seafood lovers, the fresh and succulent jerk seasoned mahi mahi sandwich is the perfect choice, served with a cucumber mango basil slaw, lettuce, tomato and Sriracha mayo on coconut bread with a side of vegetable chips.

Hawaiian Longboard Pizza

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

The pizzas here aren’t your typical round pizzas found at the corner. The ones served on the island of Volcano Bay are “longboard” pizzas, served in the shape of an elliptical surfboard. Ride the flavor waves with the Hawaiian Longboard Pizza, topped with sweet caramelized pineapple, savory diced ham, and spicy pickled jalapeños.

Jerk Shrimp Mac & Cheese

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

This savory and satisfying Jerk Shrimp Mac and Cheese features Jamaican jerk-spiced, pan-seared shrimp tossed with pasta shells in a creamy, white cheddar cheese sauce. It’s so good, you might be tempted to just dive in and devour the whole thing yourself. It’s probably best to share.

Poke Poke Bowl

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Succulent, fresh Ahi Tuna, tossed in soy honey vinaigrette and served with plantain chips. With origins in Hawaii, the poke tuna is all the rage right now. The sweet and sour soy-honey vinaigrette sauce makes this tuna dish pop with flavor.

Loaded Nachos

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

A family favorite, these Loaded Nachos come topped with chili, melted cheese, jalapenos and a drizzle of sour cream. Don’t forget the napkins!

Round out this foodie adventure with some of the finest desserts to be found in all the seven seas.

Waturi Fusion Ice Cream Cone

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Made up of swirls of banana, blue raspberry, strawberry, and orange ice cream flavors, this colorful dessert is a treat for both your eyes and your taste buds.

Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

This delicious chocolate cake is topped with a sweet ring of pineapple.

Chocolate Lava Cake

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

With molten chocolate filling oozing out of its chocolate core at the very first bite, there is absolutely no better dessert to try at Volcano Bay than the Chocolate Lava Cake.

No trip to an island paradise is complete – for adults over the age of 21, of course – without a visit to the local Tiki Bar.

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

Guests at Volcano Bay have the blessings of not one but two Boat Bars – Dancing Dragons and Kunuku. These island oases are shaped out of outrigger ships that let you sail away to distant shores with their festive rum and vodka cocktails and libations. Try one of Volcano Bay’s many creative concoctions to freshen up in between water rides.

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

The Guavaruma made with Mt. Gay rum, Passoa, Sprite, fresh guava juice, and fresh pineapple juice is a spritzy, sweet treat perfect.

For craft beer lovers, Volcano Bay’s very own specialty microbrew – the Volcano Blossom – is a light pilsner beer certain to please with tropical fruit flavors.

Don’t miss out on any of these dishes on your journey to the island paradise of Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay. And as with any foodie locale, the menu shifts to feature new flavors and surprises to keep guests happy. Some dishes may change with the seasons, so keep an eye out for what’s new when you visit.

Until the next water ride adventure, grab an island dish, pull up a beach chair, sip on a cocktail with a tiki umbrella in it, and enjoy the island life on Volcano Bay.

Must be 21 years of age or older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages at Universal Orlando Resort.

What is your favorite food at Volcano Bay?

Siera is a travel agent with Destinations in Florida, Universal Studios Travel Agency of the Year 2010, 2011, & 2012. She would love to help you plan your next Universal Orlando vacation at no cost to you. Contact Siera today at siera@destinationsinflorida.com or at 734-771-1290 for more information or your free, no obligation quote. 

Eight Things You Need to Know About Castaway Cay

From the Disney Parks Blog:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Most Disney cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s gorgeous private island paradise in the Bahamas. With a family beach, an adults only beach, water playgrounds, and more, your whole family will love spending the day here!

Once you choose your tropical getaway to Castaway Cay, be sure to read up on these eight things you need to know about Castaway Cay before you visit …

1. The island is your own slice of Bahamian paradise. Castaway Cay is reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests, and only one ship docks there at a time. This means you get more of that powdery white sand to yourself as you enjoy the island’s lush landscape and turquoise waters. Plus, Bahamian shops and a post office add local flavor to your day in the Abacos.

2. All that you need for a fun beach day is included. Towels, beach chairs, umbrellas? We’ve got you covered. Lunch? A delicious all-you-care-to-eat buffet and soda fountains are steps away from the family beach. The only thing you need to bring is sunblock (though if you forget it, you can always purchase a bottle at one of the island’s shops).

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

3. It’s easy to get around. The dock at Castaway Cay means you’re one step closer to fun in the sun since you don’t need to take a tender boat from the ship. Then it’s just a short walk to the tram, which will take you to various points on the 1,000-acre island. Want a more adventurous way to explore? Rent a bicycle and stretch your sea legs!

4. The island is a haven for water sport enthusiasts. Take a banana boat thrill ride or cast off on a fishing tour. In addition to more than a dozen guided Port Adventures out on the water, paddleboats, water cycles, sea kayaks, sailboats, stand-up paddle boards and snorkel gear are all available to rent.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

5. Your stateroom key card is gold. You’ll need it to get off and on the ship and make purchases on the island. Treat your family to frozen drinks at the Olaf-inspired Summertime Freeze or yourself to Bahamian specialty drinks at one of the bars. Then shop our collection of exclusive Castaway Cay merchandise at She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else!

6. There’s something for everyone. Just like on the ship, kids, tweens and teens have activities and spaces designed specifically for them. And while your little ones ages 3-12 are hanging out with the youth counselors at Scuttle’s Cove, you can get some “me time” at our pristine stretch of beach reserved for adults.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

7. Castaway Cay has all the ingredients for fun and relaxation. Fly high above the island on a parasail adventure, snorkel in a 12-acre lagoon, or lounge in a hammock gazing at the crystal-clear waters. Start the day off right with yoga on the beach, or for the ultimate indulgence, schedule a massage in a private cabana at the adult-exclusive Serenity Bay.

8. Disney pals join the fun on the island, too. You won’t want to miss a warm hug from Olaf or a high-five from Goofy. Bring your camera for that perfect photo opp with Mickey and the gang wearing island attire in front of a picturesque backdrop—turquoise water, silky sand and swaying palm trees.

Want a taste of the island life? Check out which of our cruises you can take to visit this one-of-a-kind destination!

Explore the Legend of Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure Park

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Buckle up river rafters! Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure park is a one-stop destination for thrill-seeking rafters—and you’re invited to take a closer look as we ride up, down and through Grizzly Peak.

The Disney Parks Blog is exploring the thrilling whitewater raft adventure which takes guests down a roaring California river reminiscent of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This mountain also conceals several story elements and fun references which may “peak” your interest!

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

According to legend, long ago a coyote met a grizzly bear on top of the mountain. Seeing that the grizzly was such a powerful creature, the coyote asked him to watch over and protect the land. Even as people came upon the mountain and tried to chase the grizzly bear down, the bear held his ground. When the coyote saw that the bear was alone against the surrounding people, he turned the grizzly into stone so he could never be driven away. To this day, people claim they can hear the bear’s spirit in the wind when traveling through the caverns of Grizzly Peak.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

As you walk through the land of Grizzly Peak, you may notice an assortment of items, including mining equipment. During California’s Gold Rush days, the whitewater rapids became home to the Eureka Gold & Timber Mining Company, when prospectors were drawn to the hope of striking it rich in the Sierras. As time went on and gold began to run dry, people began to realize that the beauty of Grizzly Peak was more precious than gold.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

The rapids we see today are a result of the logging and natural waterways that was important to the business boom brought on by “Gold Fever.” With a twist on this idea, adventure seekers can brace themselves and raft along the rushing waters of the mountain, almost like bobbing, twirling logs, spinning out of control.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Throughout Grizzly Peak, guests are invited take a break from technology, open their minds to conservation, and pledge to help preserve the surrounding land. Wilderness areas and parks allow people to slow down and to appreciate and experience on a person‐to‐person, human scale. By walking about and exploring lands such as Grizzly Peak, visitors can focus on delicate plant life, gentle streams, silent vistas and amazing wildlife.

Do you have a favorite spot near Grizzly River Run to soak in the wild beauty of California? Or do you prefer to get soaked while braving gurgling geysers, jetting water and a splashdown? Comment below!

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. 

Eight Universal Orlando Vacation Upgrades Worth Every Penny

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog)

It can make such a difference in the lives of you and your loved ones to take a break, have some fun, and make memories. But we all know that going on vacation can also be expensive, so you want to do it right. Feeling good about the time, money, and effort you put in is important.

Before heading on your Universal Orlando Resort adventure, we’ve got some insider tips to help you choose which Universal Orlando vacation upgrades are the best value.

1. Park-to-Park Tickets: You might think you can do one park at a time, but upgrading your tickets will be the best thing you do all vacation. For $55 more per day, you can have the flexibility to roam all three Universal Orlando theme parks whenever you’d like, making planning so much easier. Not to mention, the only way to board the Hogwarts Express and journey between the two lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is with a Park-to-Park ticket.

2. Hotels that Offer Free Express Passes: For perhaps the most surprising value at Universal Orlando, turn to our Premier hotels. They might cost a bit more than the Preferred and Prime Value hotels, but Loews Portofino Bay HotelLoews Royal Pacific Resort, and Hard Rock Hotel all offer free Universal Express Unlimited. This benefit lets you skip the regular lines at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can save up to $129.99 per person and get more time to ride your favorite attractions.

3. My Universal Photos Package: My Universal Photos lets you focus on having fun—we’ll document the memories for you. A one-day pass is $69.99, but you get unlimited digital downloads of photos from your rides and character meet-and-greets. This is especially valuable if you have little ones and don’t want to deal with the hassle of digging out your phone and missing that special moment. And on-ride photos are normally $19.95, so if you plan to go home with more than a couple of those, this package will help.

4. Volcano Bay Premium Seating: If you don’t want to spring for an entire cabana at Volcano Bay, a great option is Premium Seating. Beach chairs can go fast and lockers cost money. But with this upgrade, you get a pair of reserved padded loungers with an adjustable shade canopy and a built-in storage lockbox for only $29.99. Plus, you can enjoy the services of an area attendant who’ll see to your food and drink orders, delivering them right to your seats. It is so worth it to make your chill day the chillest.

5. Refillable Cups and Buckets: Drink water or soda all day long when you purchase a refillable Coca-Cola freestyle cup. Machines are located throughout the parks, and for $14.99, you’ll never go thirsty in the Florida heat. You can also keep the snacking going when you purchase a $5.99 popcorn bucket with the option of $1.29 refills. Just ask for either at the nearest beverage counter, quick service restaurant, or full-service restaurant.

6. Shutterbutton’s DVD Photo Album: You should definitely consider the Shutterbutton’s experience in Diagon Alley if you’ve got fans of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in your party. You’ll be guided through 12 scenes taken from iconic locations, you’ll choose your outfits, and after a bit of acting, you’ll create a portrait of yourself that actually moves. DVD photo albums are an amazing keepsake! The whole afternoon will be memorable enough to warrant the cost.

7. Blue Man Group Tickets: When it comes to entertainment, you can’t get much better than this fusion of comedy, theater, rock concert, and dance party. It’s a Broadway-caliber production right here at Universal Orlando. With tickets starting at $60 for adults, you won’t regret spending a night taking in a show you won’t forget.

8. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Cabana Rentals: When it’s time to take a break from the parks, cabana rentals can be a great option for groups staying at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Up to six people can enjoy amenities like an LCD TV, an in-house telephone to order delivery pizza, an armoire, table, cushioned lounge chairs, and a refrigerator. You can spend a full day recharging with everything your family will need within arms reach. Prices may vary, but they start around $50/day.

Thanks Universal Orlando Resort Blog!

Storybook Dining at Artist Point Opens December 16, 2018

From the Disney Parks Blog:

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the hungriest of them all? If you’re looking to partake in a fanciful meal set in an immersive enchanted forest, then you might want to make a visit to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge this winter. Starting this December, Storybook Dining at Artist Point invites you to venture into a magical forest-like setting inspired by Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Brought to life through rustic décor and iconic music, we’ve brought this beloved fairytale to life. During this immersive character dining experience, you’ll be visited by Snow White and a few of her forest-dwelling friends. You might even have an evil encounter with the Queen!

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

In addition to fun characters, tempt your taste buds with a seasonal themed menu that combines classic dishes with playful presentation. You’ll begin your story with an array of delicious shared appetizers: Hunter’s Pie with chicken, black truffle, and stone fruit preserve; Winter Squash Bisque with caramel loli and granola served in an adorable black cauldron; Wicked Shrimp Cocktail with soy, miso, avocado, thai chili, and greens; and From the Garden, an array of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and create-your-own honey butter.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

For the main entrées, you’ll enjoy your choice of one of the many unique dishes such as the Royal Prime Rib Roast with horseradish mashed potato, hay-smoked carrots, popover, and jus as well as Magic Mirror Slow Braised Veal Shank with mashed celery root, wilted winter greens, and jus. Or if seafood is more your style, try the Seafood Stew with shrimp, bay scallops, mussels, tomato, and fennel.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Kids can enjoy Grumpy’s Grub. This includes the same appetizers and desserts as the main menu and their choice of entrée. Kid’s entrées include the Princess Pasta (with your choice of red sauce or cheese sauce), the Vegetarian Steam Bun (with crip shiitake, hoisin, pickles, and cilantro), Royal Prime Rib Roast, and Grilled Chicken (both served with roasted potatoes and broccolini).

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Give your story a sweet ending with an array of shared desserts for the table. Sing “Heigh Ho” as you discover The Miner’s Treasure made up of sponge cake, chocolate gems, and buttercream icing or enjoy the enchanted flavors of the Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie with meringue. You can even try a “Poison” Apple made of white chocolate apple mousse with a sour center. But if you’re trying to impress, The Hunter’s Gift to the Queen is just the thing with crackled maple popcorn and ganache hearts.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

If you’re feeling a little thirsty while you’re eating, try some of the wickedly refreshing cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails we’ve brewed up just for you! For the adults, sip on the Enchanted Apple with citrus vodka, sour apple, and white cranberry juice or summon The Smoking Mirror with scotch, wildberry, lime, and rosemary smoke. If you’re feeling particularly evil, you’ll love the Evil to the Core with silver tequila, habanero, blackberry and orange juice. A variety of beers are also available along with a selection of highly-rated wines from Oregon and Washington State.

(Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

Non-alcoholic options for the little miners out there include the Transformation Potion with sparkling lemonade and the Stone Fruit and Berry Breeze with herbal tea infusion.

Snow White has invited all of her new friends to this magical character dining experience, and she’s inviting you too! So make a journey to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge to experience Storybook Dining at Artist Point starting December 16, 2018. Pricing is $55 for adults and $33 for children ages 3-9 (tax and gratuity not included). Each guest will receive one of each appetizer, their choice of entrée, and one of each dessert as well as their choice of non-alcoholic fountain beverage (alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty beverages are not included). All menu items are subject to change.

For a full menu and to make reservations, visit the Walt Disney World Resort website or call (407) WDW-DINE (407 939-3463).