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5 Fun Things To Do This Valentines Day in Orlando

5 Fun Things To Do This Valentines Day in Orlando

If you are going to be in Orlando this Valentines Day then here are 5 quick ideas for things to do:

  1. Go to a Theme Park

There are tons of fun and romantic things to do at the theme parks on Valentines Day like Disney, Universal or SeaWorld, make a day of it!

2. Hang out in Winter Park

You can watch chocolate being made on site at Peterbrooke Chocolatier along with shopping and a bevy of restaurants to choose from.

3. Visit I-Drive 360

Experience the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds wax museum or Sea Life Aquarium.

4. Go to Disney Springs

Enjoy all the specialty shops, restaurants and activities at Disney Springs.

5. Dine on Restaurant Row - Sand Lake Road in Dr. Phillips Area

There are plenty of great dining choices on restaurant row, get ready to eat well!

Those are just a few ideas that can help you to enjoy your Valentines Day in Orlando! Enjoy!

Don't Miss The Celebration of Harry Potter

Don't Miss The Celebration of Harry Potter

Updated January 2018

Universal Orlando will be hosting the "Celebration of Harry Potter" starting on January 26-28th. The weekend is full of scheduled events that will bring joy to the hearts of Harry Potter fans of all ages. There are events scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The weekend has live demonstrations, question and answer sessions with actors from the movies, panel discussions and film screenings.  You need a park ticket for admission.  There are activities at both parks including chalk art, Harry Potter knowledge challenges, film screenings, scavenger hunts, and more.  What are you waiting for?  Meet us at Universal!

 Harry Potter Costume from the Expo in Universal Orlando.

Harry Potter Costume from the Expo in Universal Orlando.

Check out the Universal Orlando page for a schedule and updates on events: Celebration of Harry Potter.

Hogwarts sign
Hogwarts sign

If you are a Harry Potter fan than the "Celebration of Harry Potter" is a can't miss event.  Yes, you can dress up!

Butter Beer Sign
Butter Beer Sign

SeaWorld Wild Days

SeaWorld Wild Days

SeaWorld will be hosting "Wild Days" from January 16-31. During this time each weekend will have special guests like Jack Hanna, World Renown animal expert (January 16-17), Julie Scardina SeaWorld's Animal Ambassador (January 23-24) and meet SeaWorld Rescue Team members and partners (30-31).

During wild days there will be special opportunities to get up close with the animals and experts. January 16-17 you can sign up for either breakfast or dinner with Jack Hanna. The next weekend you can meet a penguin up close with Julie Scardina at the Glacial Collections area. You can meet Rescue Team members and partners and get their stories and information from actual rescues on January 30-31.

Of course you can also enjoy all the other attractions including the roller coasters like the "Manta".

If you are looking for a great experience with animals and experts then you should definitely pay a visit to SeaWorld's "Wild Days". For more info check out SeaWorld Orlando's website.

Five Reasons to Add Discovery Cove to Your Orlando Vacation

Five Reasons to Add Discovery Cove to Your Orlando Vacation

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 Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove

Recently, I spent the day at SeaWorld's Discovery Cove.  It was an amazing experience.  We picked a gorgeous day to enjoy the resort.  The day was very active - yet relaxing.  We soaked up the sun, snorkeled, swam alongside marine animals and enjoyed the endless supply of food and beverages included in price of admission.

Here are five reasons why I believe you should consider adding discovery cove to your Orlando itinerary.

  1.  It is an all inclusive resort.

Going on vacation can be a costly affair.  Often, you have to pay for your air, hotel and park tickets in advance and you still need to save money for food and incidentals.  At Discovery Cove you are provided with breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages (even alcoholic beverages), snorkeling gear, towels, sunscreen and good service!  All you need to bring with you is your flip flops, some beach shoes, sunglasses, beach hat and a change of clothes.  Everything else they have covered.   It's wonderful.  If you add Discovery Cove to your trip that will be one day that you won't have to worry about anything - you may have to pick up dinner because the park closes at 5:30pm.

See a sample menu for a day at Discovery Cove.

 Ladies at Discovery Cove

Ladies at Discovery Cove

2.  There is something for everyone

Often families have a hard time on vacation because everyone wants to do something different.  At Discovery Cove there are so many options for activities:

  • Visit Freshwater Oasis®, an all-new attraction with otters and curious marmosets.
  • Adventure on the not so lazy river on the Wind-Away River.  You will go through caves and waterfalls.  You can even snorkel and see what cool things are on the bed of the river.
  • See beautiful birds soar and sing in the Explorer's Aviary.  Hundreds of colorful birds soar above and around you as you walk.
  • You can reserve a 30-minute dolphin swim by purchasing the Dolphin Day Resort package
  • Snorkeling with thousands of tropical fish and rays in The Grand Reef®.  This experience was awesome.  There were so many fish it was amazing.  It was fun swimming over to the sharks, eels and lobsters (they were behind a glass partition).
  • Relax on the beach (bring a good book or catch a nap!  I brought my new Success Journal by Stacia Pierce to help me plan 2016.)

3.  The park will never be overcrowded

Discovery Cove restricts reservations to 1300 guests per day.  This is wonderful because the park will never be overcrowded, but it also means that you will need to get your reservation early during peak season.

 Beach at Discovery Cove

Beach at Discovery Cove

4.  The staff are friendly and love what they do

I really enjoyed the service of the staff.  They were friendly and you could tell that they really enjoyed their work.  Daily, staff bring out various animals for show, tell and touch.  It is great.  we were able to see a little owl and an armadillo.  It was very cool!  Kudos to one staff member Nelson, who went out of his way to help us at breakfast and lunch.  He then greeted us when we were leaving.  Katherine our cabana attendant was truly amazing as well.  Truly superb service was provided at the resort.

 Armadillo

Armadillo

5.  There is nothing like the feeling of being up close with marine animals

I have been snorkeling all over the world.  Discovery Cove was one of the best.  I understand that it is a man-made resort, but having so many marine animals so close to you was amazing.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I was not able to swim with the dolphins on this trip, but I could tell that people enjoyed the experience.  Next time I visit, I also want to do the SeaVenture.  It is an underwater walking tour where you wear a diving helmet and get real up close and personal with marine life.  SCUBA certification is not required. Pricing starts at $49 per person.  Discovery Cove donates 5% of the proceeds from SeaVenture to the Rising Tide conservation project.

 Snorkeling

Snorkeling

 Ray

Ray

This is the first of many posts on Discovery Cove.  There is so much more to share about this experience.  Take my word, if you add it to your Orlando vacation you will enjoy it and it may be your most memorable vacation memory.

Prices for Discovery Cove are $169 for out of state all day passes.  To swim with the dolphins the package price starts at $229 per person (out of state residents).  Seaventure begins at $49 add on price.

Walt Disney World's Ice Palace Boutique

Walt Disney World's Ice Palace Boutique

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 Disney's Ice Palace Boutique at Hollywood Studios

Disney's Ice Palace Boutique at Hollywood Studios

I was given a tour of Disney World's Ice Place Boutique in Hollywood Studios.  This is where girls and boys can come to get pampered and made up like their favorite Frozen character. It is great to see the children beautifully adorned like Anna or Elsa.

 The Hair Salon

The Hair Salon

 Photo Opportunity at the Ice Palace Boutique

Photo Opportunity at the Ice Palace Boutique

 Pampering Area at the Ice Palace Boutique

Pampering Area at the Ice Palace Boutique

Packages include:

  • Frozen Summer Fun Boutique Package – This package includes Anna or Elsa-inspired makeup, face gems, nail polish, a braided hair extension with a sparkling snowflake accessory and a photo. Package cost: $75, includes tax.
  • Ice Palace Boutique Package – This package includes the items offered in the Frozen Summer Fun Boutique Package. It also includes access to the Ice Palace Café (where they have gluten free options) and reserved seating at one the production “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”. Package cost: $175, includes tax.
  • Ice Palace Boutique Deluxe Package – This package includes an Anna or Elsa costume plus the items offered in the Ice Palace Boutique Package. Package cost: $240, includes tax.
  • Boy's Package - A Olaf-inspired package includes a glittered hairstyle and a T-Shirt.  Package Cost $19.95 plus tax.

Please note that only six guests are allowed with the The Ice Palace Boutique Package and the Ice Palace Boutique Deluxe Package.  This includes the child receiving the magical transformation.

As with the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (which is located in Disney Springs), reservations fill up quick so please call in advance. To book your appointment call 407-827-7400 (you must be 18 or older to make a reservation).

Please note that all children's faces are intentionally blocked to protect their identity.  Each child is truly glamorous upon completion from their boutique experience.

Gatorland: True Family Fun!

Gatorland: True Family Fun!

Earlier this week I visited Gatorland and had a truly wonderful and educational time. If you are looking for an affordable and enjoyable outing while in Orlando then Gatorland should be on your list.

After arriving on the campus you can quickly get a sense of the friendly nature of the park by the giant teeth at the entrance. It is a great place to take photos to remember your visit.

Gatorland was founded in 1949 by Owen Godwin and is the oldest amusement park in Central Florida. Over the years it has grown from 16 acres and expanded into a large complex of 110 acres with a plethora of experiences with gators and other wildlife. The park is unique in the way that the staff interact with guests, they are truly friendly and approachable. They are extremely welcoming and go out of their way to make you feel at home.

When you go to Gatorland you should look at the website to find out the show times in advance. There are several shows that offer interesting experiences such as the "Upclose Encounters", the "Gator Jumparoo" and "Gator Wrestlin" shows.  Each one offers an opportunity to see gators and other animals in action.

The property has a number of enclosures and pens where you can see different types of gators.

The photo above was taken in the pen with the gator, his name is "Chester". I had the privilege of entering the pen with the "Dean of Wrestling" Tim Williams. That is the only way I would feel comfortable taking a photo this close. This is a large gator, he is close to 1,200 pounds and he looks menacing! But, with Tim, I felt totally safe.

The gator pictured above is a leucistic alligator commonly mistaken for albino. The difference is the leucistic gators have blue eyes while albino gators have pink eyes. Once again I was inside the pen when I took this photo. He is really cool looking but, he can create 1,200 pounds of bite force and kill you! So I was very careful while in his presence!

I think the most beautiful and and interesting part of my visit was the breeding marsh. It is a large marsh and river area with a really nice boardwalk that allows you an up-close view of the gators in their natural environment.

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IMG_6480

Along with the marsh area there is a amazing natural area to walk that is completely open, if you see a gator over there he is in the wild!

There are also several zip line towers that you can enjoy. They even have a zip line harness for handicapped and wheelchair users.

When you visit Orlando Gatorland is a must! If you enjoy nature and are interested in seeing the American Alligator, crocodiles and other exotic animals then this is the place to go. There was so much to do that I have to cover the rest in a future post! Gatorland is great for a family visit and is reasonably priced with a bounty of things to do, see and experience.

 

Gatorland

Hours

10:00 am - 5:00 pm Daily

Admission

Adults 13 and up $26.99

Children 3-12 $18.99

Children under 3 free

 

1-800-393-5297

 

 http://www.gatorland.com/public/the-park/hours-prices/index.cfm

 

Making the most of your Disney Cruise

Making the most of your Disney Cruise

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Recently, I spoke with a family that was going on a Disney Cruise.  If you have not been on a Disney Cruise, I highly recommend taking one.  Adults and children enjoy the cruise.  The food is good, the service is superior and the activities are outstanding.  We had a great time. When I met the family going on the cruise I gave them two points of advice:

1.  Go on the water slide as soon as possible and often - it's awesome!

2.  Get a Cabana on Disney's Castaway Cay

We were able to get a cabana when visiting Disney's Castaway Cay.  It was amazing.  The cabana came with snorkeling gear, inner tubes, free bike rentals, non-alcoholic beverages, fruit, access to a private beach and FUN!!  We were in cabana 15, which held up to 10 people. We enjoyed the lounging in the hammock or lawn furniture or chatting inside the cabana.  It truly was a highlight of our trip.

 Excitement for the beach!

Excitement for the beach!

 Our private beach!

Our private beach!

 Cabana 15

Cabana 15

 Cabana

Cabana

I highly recommend that you book the cabana in advance because they sell out quickly.  Most of all, have fun!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Now through May 17th you can experience the beauty and great food specials of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. The festival has some beautiful exhibits that cover various types of plants and topiaries. The various exhibits cover everything from dry succulents to everyday garden plants from your backyard. Come out and experience the beauty in the park. Each of the exhibits is meticulously maintained and all the topiaries are living plants.

While your out at the festival you can also try the various foods stations that have been set up. The photo below is of a Teriyaki curry bun – Steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables, curry and sweet sauce and a dessert Frushi – Fresh pineapple, strawberry and melon—rolled with raspberry coconut rice, sprinkled with toasted coconut and served with whipped cream on the side available in Japan at the World Showcase.

 IMG_4007

IMG_4007

If you have the opportunity head out to Epcot and check out the Flower and Garden Festival, it is truly worth seeing.

10 Things to do this Valentine’s Day Weekend

10 Things to do this Valentine’s Day Weekend

 Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

10 Things to do this Valentine’s Day Weekend

It’s the weekend of love.  It doesn't matter if you are married or single; Valentine’s Day is a great time to love and to be loved by others.   If you are visiting Orlando or a local resident, here are a few things you can do to enjoy the weekend.  It’s still time to make some plans.  This Valentine’s Day is going to be a great one for you.

  1. Enjoy a nice dinner.

Orlando has so many nice restaurants to fit any budget.  We can recommend several restaurants (use our trip consultation services), but it’s important to make a reservation when dining out on Valentine’s Day weekend.  Contact the restaurant directly; use the Disney app or Open Table to make a reservation on property.

  1. See a Valentine’s Day movie

Orlando is a great place for a romantic Valentine’s Day movie.  The AMC theater, Fork and Dine gives movie goers an opportunity to have dinner and a movie in one location.  Coming out Valentine’s Day weekend is The Last Five Years, 50 Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service.  Take your pick of these new releases or something still at the theater.

  1. Make your own chocolate

You can buy your own chocolate at some local chocolate shops (Godiva, Peterbrooke, etc.) but you can also schedule a visit to The Chocolate Kingdom.  This chocolate factory allows you to make your own chocolate (milk, dark or white) bar filled with nuts or candy.

  1. Go Dancing

Dancing is fun and gives you a good workout.  There are several places to go dancing in Orlando.  Bongo’s Cuban Café at Downtown Disney provides a live band on the weekend and great food.  There are also several dancing clubs in downtown Orlando and Universal CityWalk.

  1. Go Bowling

Kings Bowling Alley is a nice place to hang out.  You can do a lot more than bowling at King’s Bowl.  You can sing Karaoke, have dinner, play pool and watch the big game.  See our blogpost for more.

  1. Go to the Spa

Check out the spas at the Four Seasons, Wyndham Grand, Ritz Carlton or the Waldorf Astoria. These four are all highly rated. There are also independent spa locations that you can enjoy.  It really doesn't matter if you get a facial, full body massage or nail service, you will enjoy your time at the spa.

  1. Have a picnic

Leu Gardens has a Valentine’s Day Stroll.  From 7-10pm, you can pack your picnic blanket, dinner and enjoy the beautiful sounds of Ricky and the Buzzcatz, Daniel Heitz Band and The Shed Hounds.  The cost is only $17 per person or $22 on February 14th.

  1. Enjoy some Jazz

Jazz Tasting in Maitland is a nice place to enjoy some good food and live jazz.  Enjoy the smooth sounds of the JT Quartet at 8pm this Valentine’s Day.  I recommend making a reservation because it can get crowded.

  1. Hang out at a theme park.

A great date or place to hangout can happen at any of the Disney parks, Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure or SeaWorld. The good thing about hanging out at a theme park you will be able to dine at some great restaurants.

  1. Stay home or at the hotel.

Some of the most romantic times are spent at home or in my hotel room.  Cook a great meal or order some takeout and just enjoy the evening.

Bonus:  Go shopping

If you have a significant other, take them shopping.  Some stores will have special activities and sales this Valentine’s Day weekend.  It doesn't matter which mall you go to or boutique just enjoying a nice stroll through the mall will make anyone happy.

Do something special and enjoy your Valentine's Day weekend in Orlando!

Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando

Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando

 Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

Annually, Universal Orlando brings the fun and festivities of New Orleans Mardi Gras to Central Florida.  Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras.  During weekends in February, March and April, Universal Orlando will host 16 concerts with popular artist like Kelly Clarkson and Trey Songz.  During the Mardi Gras Parades Universal Orlando will distribute over 1.8 million beads.

Access to Mardi Gras is granted with Universal Studios Admission or Annual Passes.

Mardi Gras 2015 Concerts

Saturday, February 7 - Olivia Newton-John

Saturday, February 14 - Jessie J

Sunday, February 15 - Barenaked Ladies

Saturday, February 21 - Kelly Clarkson

Saturday, February 28 - Heart

Saturday, March 7 - Trace Adkins

Friday, March 13 - TBD

Saturday, March 14 - STYX

Sunday, March 15 - American Authors

Friday, March 20 - Becky G

Saturday, March 21 - Yandel

Sunday, March 22 - The B-52s

Saturday, March 28 - TBD

Saturday, April 4 - The All-American Rejects

Saturday, April 11 - The Band Perry

Saturday, April 18 - Trey Songz

Each event night features zydeco bands from Louisiana.

Check it out.

It's A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

It's A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

If you love Harry Potter, come out to Universal Orlando January 30-February 1, 2015 for A Celebration of Harry Potter.  There is be interviews from celebrities from the Harry Potter movies, special presentations and even a Harry Potter expo! To download the complete Celebration of Harry Potter  schedule Click here.

Arrive early, because there are usually crowds for this event.

Walt Disney World Offers Ticket Deal for Florida Residents

Walt Disney World Offers Ticket Deal for Florida Residents

Walt Disney World is once again offering a discount for park tickets to Florida residents. Right now Disney is offering Florida residents a three park ticket for$139. The tickets are called "Discover Disney" tickets. The tickets can be upgraded to hopper tickets for $24.50 per ticket (This allows a ticket holder to move between parks during the same day).The regular price for a 3 park ticket is $274 per ticket. Florida residents will also be able to get a deal on 4 day tickets for $159.

There are a couple of caveats with the tickets, first there are blackout dates for Magic Kingdom from March 30 to April 9, 2015.  Secondly, the tickets must be used by June 4, 2015. To purchase tickets you must show proof of Florida residency.

 

If you are Florida resident this is a great way to check out Walt Disney World and everything it has to offer.

New Years Eve in Orlando

New Years Eve in Orlando

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We are only a few hours away from 2015.  If you don't have plans, it's not too late to make some.  Orlando is a great city with a lot to do. First and foremost, it is important to be safe.  If you are going out, make sure you go out with family or friends and use taxi service like Uber or Metro Cars if needed.  AAA also offers a service called Tow To Go that offers a free and confidential local ride for AAA members and non members until 6:00 AM January 1st.  free and confidential.

Here are four things you can do to bring in the new year.

1.  Check out hotel celebrations.  Every major hotel will have a New Years Eve Party.  Here are a few links

a. The Four Seasons Orlando.  See our blog post about this new hotel.

b.  The Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive.  See our blog post about this hotel.

c.  The Rosen Centre.

d. The Waldorf Astoria Orlando 

 2.  Go to church.  Churches around town will have a mass service or a New Year's Eve celebration.  It's a great way to get a positive message before the new year.  Our church, Dream Life Center, has a New Year's Celebration.  Here is the invitation.

 Dream Life Center

Dream Life Center

3.  Go downtown Orlando

There is the Aloft hotel, which always has activities.  A ton of restaurants and clubs.  Also this year Billy Joel will be performing at the Amway Center tonight at 9:30 PM.  Get tickets through Ticketmaster.

 4.  Go to Universal Orlando

Islands of Adventure closes at 11:00pm on New Years Eve.  Universal Orlando closes at 12:30am.  There is a laser show and fireworks at Universal.  You can even enjoy Universal CityWalk.  There is a big countdown and fun.

CityWalk offers a number of nightclubs and bars.  Most have a cover charge.

4.  Hang out at Disney

The Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios are all open until or past midnight.  There will be family friendly parties, fireworks and festivities to help you bring in the new year magically.

You can also go to Downtown Disney.  There are restaurants and night clubs there as well.

Whatever you do be safe and have fun.

We're Grateful For Orlando

We're Grateful For Orlando

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We just finished the Thanksgiving Holiday.  During that time, Bill and I always take time to reflect and be grateful for the people that have poured into our lives with wisdom and ideas and the experiences in which we were exposed.  I thought it would be a great idea for us to share our gratitude list for Orlando.  I am truly grateful to live in such a great place.  The people are friendly, there is so much to do and see.  Review our list below.  We hope it causes you to be grateful for this fantastic city. Five Reasons We are Grateful for Orlando

1.  The Theme Parks.  I love the large parks Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld.  They are always coming up with something new.  I also love parks like The Holy Land ExperienceFun Spot, Gatorland, WonderWorks and Ripley's Believe It or Not!  They all can add to a family's amusement.

 WonderWorks

WonderWorks

2.  The accessibility to the Beaches.  The great thing about Orlando is that you can be consumed with the Theme Parks, but you can also take a short drive to the beaches.  There are great beaches to the east (including Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna, Melbourne or Daytona).  To the west you have the beautiful beaches of Clearwater, Siesta KeyCaladesi Island State Park just to name a few.  With beautiful sand and breathtaking views, what's not to love?

 Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach

3.  The Shopping.  Let me just say that people come from all over the world to shop in Orlando.  The shopping is not just good, it is great!  I love the malls (The Florida Mall and Mall at Millenia).  I also love the outlet malls (Premium outlet mall on International Drive and Apopka Vineland are great).  There are so many other shopping areas, you just need to get our guide.

4.  The Food.  I love the local restaurants you can find in communities like Mills 50 (Downtown Orlando) and Winter Park.  You can also dine lavishly on Restaurant Row (Sand Lake Road), where you can find most cuisines.  Let me also mention the food at the theme parks are amazing.  Finally, check out the food tracks throughout the city.  My friend, Jackie Wilson,  just opened her first food truck, Eat My Treat.  Visit her website and find out where she will be next.  You must try her desserts.  They are amazing.

 Eat My Treat Food Truck

Eat My Treat Food Truck

5.  The people.  Disney is known for its outstanding service, but there is something energizing about the people from Orlando.  Every where I go I am shocked by the hospitality, sevice and friendliness.

I hope these five things made you apprciate Orlando as much as we do.

==

Fun Things to Do This Halloween

Fun Things to Do This Halloween

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 Halloween family

Halloween family

Halloween is a such a Spooktacular Holiday.  There's the abundance of candy and the fun of seeing everyone dressed up in their favorite costume.  If you like being frightened, check out my post about Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.  Below is a list of a few fun things you can do this Halloween (Friday, October 31st).

1.  Attend Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival.  The International Food and Wine Festival is open now until November 10th. Hangout at Epcot, enjoy internationally inspired cuisine and wines from around the world.  Stay and enjoy the nightly fireworks IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, which will begin at 10pm on the 31st.

2.  Go to the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic.  Stop by the Swan and Dolphin Resort from 5:30pm - 9:00pm on October 31st and November 1st for wines and cuisine from across the globe.

3.  Hang out at Downtown Disney.  I am sure you will see a lot of people dressed up and walking around.  Enjoy the evening, grab a great dinner.  I love dining and dancing at Bongos Cuban Cafe or enjoying some fish and chips and live music at Raglan Row Irish Pub.

4.  Go shopping.  I love the Orlando Outlets and malls.  Halloween the malls will be festive and the stores will have good sales on Halloween.  A few malls to visit are:

Enjoy your Halloween!

Hang Out with The Walking Dead for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

Hang Out with The Walking Dead for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

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If you like to be frightened, there are a few options to get your blood pressure going in Orlando.  One option is attending Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, open on select nights September 19 - November 1st.  This year,  Halloween Horror Nights takes after the famous AMC TV show, The Walking Dead.  Universal does an outstanding job making the zombies come back to life. While in the theme park, you will be frightened by zombies and other creatures.  Come prepared to scream. Here are a few tips to help you get the most of your Halloween Horror Night Experience:

1.  If you like haunted houses, and plan to go back more than once, it is to your advantage to purchase a pass.  Your options are:  Rush of Fear pass (10 nights), Frequent Fear (16 nights)

2.  Upgrade your ticket.  There are two options for upgrades:  Express Pass (which allows you to get through the line faster) or  the more expensive RIP Tour (this upgrade option allows you to bypass all the lines and receive a lights-on tour of the park.

3.  When you enter the park, go to the haunted houses to the right (near the terminator ride).  Most people go towards the left and the lines are long for the haunted houses.  Go in reverse order and save time, not scares.  There are eight different haunted houses, including Halloween, Alien vs. Predator and The Walking Dead.

4.  Enjoy some Universal Rides.  The following rides are open during Halloween Horror Nights:

  • TRANSFORMERS: THE RIDE-3D
  • HOLLYWOOD RIP RIDE ROCKIT®
  • REVENGE OF THE MUMMY®
  • MEN IN BLACK™ ALIEN ATTACK™
  • DESPICABLE ME MINION MAYHEM
  • THE SIMPSONS RIDE™

5. Go back often.  I have friends that attend Halloween Horror Nights annually.  They say that it gets better (or more scary) the closer you get to Halloween.

6.  Universal Orlando's Annual Pass holders get perks.  Premium Annual Pass holders receive a FREE  extra ticket to be used on the first three weekends.  Annual Pass holders also receive early access to three houses from 5:15-6:30pm on select nights.  RSVP is required.

7.  Book your tickets early.  Halloween Horror Nights anticipates hundreds of thousands of guests and tickets do sell out.

Let us know how you enjoyed your experience at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights.  Use the hashtags #theorlandotravelguide and #HHN24

 Zombie

Zombie

New Hotel on the Horizon: Sapphire Falls at Universal

New Hotel on the Horizon: Sapphire Falls at Universal

Universal has started construction on it's fifth hotel which will open up in summer 2016, Sapphire Falls. The new hotel will add another 1,000 hotel rooms to the Universal properties. The hotel will have a Caribbean theme with a colorful lagoon and waterfall. The hotel will be operated by Loews and will be a resort property with with leisure amenities such as a large resort pool, children's play area, beach area, full service restaurant, outdoor fire pit and over 130,000 square feet of meeting space. Sapphire Falls will be connected to the parks by shuttle and water taxi along with a pedestrian bridge to Universal City Walk area. Like the other four hotels on Universal property guests will be able to access the parks earlier than other park visitors. The hotel will begin taking reservations in Spring 2015. Stay tuned for updates and information as construction progresses!

Now is A Great Time to Come to Orlando

Now is A Great Time to Come to Orlando

Recently, I was talking to a friend that works retail.  She said her store is preparing for their fall merchandise and the clearance items are now have been marked down again!  That was the news I needed to hear to encourage readers that now is a great time to come to Orlando.  Good shopping isn’t the only reason.  Here are four additional reasons why now is a great time for you to come to Orlando.
  1. The parks are less crowded.  Bill and I have been to the theme parks all throughout the year. We love visiting the parks after Labor Day.  The kids are back in school and the lines are quick.  It is a great time to take advantage of your favorite rides and enjoy them over and over.
  2. The weather is a bit cooler.  It’s something about the fall in Central Florida.  It is still hot, but a little more pleasant.  You really can enjoy the evenings.
  3. It’s a great time to take in a water park, but go early.  Check out Aquatica, Discovery Cove, Wet n Wild, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.  It rains consistently in the summer and early fall around 3-5pm.  So enjoy your time at the water park early.
  4. You can find good travel deals.  You can get good transportation and hotel deals after Labor Day.  Check for Expedia, Orbitz or American Express Travel for travel deals and packages.

What We Love About SeaWorld's New App

What We Love About SeaWorld's New App

This month SeaWorld unveiled its new app. Just like the other theme parks in Orlando, using the app will enhance your visit. Here are some of the things we love about the app.

With the SeaWorld app you can:

  • Integrate your park tickets and show passes into your account. You can also purchase tickets right from the app.
  • Get updated on the latest park news and deals.
  • Take pictures and have them in digital SeaWorld frames. Pretty cool.
  • Integrate your account with social media
  • Car finder to help you remember where you parked. Ingenious!
  • In the park features like ride wait times and walking paths.
  • Play games! Currently, SeaWorld is celebrating their 50th anniversary so you can collect badges from different places in the park and win cool prizes.

The Seaworld App is free for the iPhone and on Android devices.

 

Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars Weekends

 

 

 

 

If you are visiting Orlando and stopping at Hollywood Studios you should check out “Star Wars Weekends.” It is big fun for the whole family! Let you inner Star Wars fan come out!

Every weekend from May 16 thru June 15 you can experience Star Wars Weekends! Meet actors and characters from the Star Wars Universe like Mark Hamill June 6 – 8 (Luke Skywalker Episode IV, V and VI)!  You will also have the opportunity to purchase limited edition merchandise and have fun interactions with characters like the Boba Fett or a patrol of Storm Troopers! If you have children under 12 they can participate in the Jedi Training Academy.

If you are visiting the Orlando area Star Wars Weekends are a great way to spend your vacation or weekend!