After spending a long day at the parks of Walt Disney World , do you stick around for the after hour activities? With lights, sounds and lots of action, the parks come to life when the sun sets. Continue reading Disney Parks After The Sun Sets
On May 25th the geography of Universal Orlando will change. Along with 2 theme parks, there will be the new water park, Volcano Bay. The philosophy celebrated at this new water park is “Water is
Life. Life is Joy”. It’s the carefree attitude that the fabled Waturi islanders have embraced on their Pacific isle for centuries. Now you can live the Waturi way at this all-new park where thrills and relaxation flow in perfect harmony. Continue reading Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay is here to stay!
EPCOT will soon be kicking off their annual celebration of Spring with it’s International Flower and Garden Festival. Beginning on March 1 through May 29, you can see the beautiful blossoms and fun character topiaries. Continue reading EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival: Flowery Fun!
When they named Universal’s Islands of Adventure, they weren’t kidding! This park is full of fun and great attractions! Our Orlando vacation was spent in both Universal Orlando’s parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, but Islands of Adventure was our favorite! Continue reading Universal Islands of Adventure
This past October, my family took a trip to Orlando. The past 40-something trips we hop on the Magical Express and went to Disney World. This time, we opted for something different. We caught a cab and headed toward Universal Orlando.
It’s never too early to start planning a cruise, right? That’s especially true with a Disney Cruise. Disney has become so popular with cruisers that the cabins book several months and even years in advance. Believe it or not, the itinerary for early 2018 have already been released! So, start planning your DREAM and get ready to set sail for exciting cruises to incredible ports!
Continue reading Disney Cruise Line 2018 Itineraries!
Sea World and Busch Garden unveil major new attractions for the upcoming year, and family vacation opportunities expand! Gone are the days that you wonder from pavilion to pavilion watching the lovable sea creatures. Now you can hop on exciting and thrilling rides that will turn your insides out! This will be the largest new attraction year in the company’s more than 50 year history. Continue reading Family Vacation Just Got Better at Sea World and Busch Gardens!
A sentence that I find myself saying, quite often, as a Travel Pixie, is “Universal Studios is not part of Disney.” Universal Studios is about 20 minutes away from Disney World. It’s located closer to the Orlando International Airport. And yes, it is NOT part of Disney. Universal is it’s own unique and awesome vacation destination!
Last month, I shared information about the awesome resorts that are located on the Universal grounds. Now, I want to share the two incredible parks. Universal has two parts: the Studios and Islands of Adventure. Continue reading Universal Is EPIC!
Many times, I’ve heard people say “What’s that other park in
Orlando?” The truth is, there are multiple theme parks in the Orlando area. And Universal Orlando is an entire vacation destination by itself. After attending an informational seminar, I’ve learned that this is a “must see” for people of all ages.
Let’s start by taking a look at the fabulous resorts that Universal offers. There are now 5 that you can choose from, all with different themes and perks. There is a resort for every price range and style. The two original resorts, Hard Rock and Portofino Bay, are the in the ‘Premiere Resort’ category. Both offer early admission to Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Express Pass that allows you to skip the lines, complimentary transportation to the parks and Universal City Walk, access to City Walk, delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort, priority seating at restaurants and transportation to Sea World and Aquatica.
The Hard Rock name is known for it’s rock star style and rare rock memorabilia. That’s exactly what you will find at this resort. Rock star theming along with comfy beds, full service dining and great pools! Speaking of pools, HR has the only pool that allows you to jam under water with it’s submerged speakers. The pool also has a fun water slide and cabana rentals. On select evenings, you can catch a “dive-in” movie poolside. The standard rooms at Hard Rock can sleep up to 4 people. If you need a bit more space and have the kids in tow, you might want to opt for the rock themed kid suites.
Looking for some great food? Try The legendary Palm bringing the legacy of its famous New York steakhouse to Universal Orlando® Resort. The Palm’s legendary menu offers a variety of American fare, Italian specialties, and its prime cuts of beef and jumbo lobster. If you’re in the mood for eating like the celebs, head to The Kitchen. It has an array of comfort foods with rock memorabilia on the walls. If you are lucky enough to be visiting Hard Rock on the last Thursday of the month, you can sit in on a Velvet Session.
Portofino Bay, in my opinion, is the stark opposite of HR. It is an experience in the charm and romance of a Mediterranean village in Italy. Portofino has elegant rooms and dining. The water area is gorgeous with it’s 3 pools and breathtaking lagoon. The Beach pool has a water slide and sand beach, the Villa Poll has cabana rentals and if you’re looking for some quiet time, check out the Hillside pool. PB comes alive at sunset when guests are serenaded on the piazza with live Italian opera during Misica della Notte (Music of the Night).
The accommodations are made up of 750 rooms and suites. There are several different suite configurations. One of my favorites is the Despicable Me themed kid suites. An exquisite culinary voyage right to the heart of Italy awaits you amid a decor of Bice (Bee-Chay) at Portofino, which combines Old World elegance and modern chic. Bice Ristorante offers Northern Italian cuisine and superb service in an elegant atmosphere. If you have a hankering for a brick oven pizza, be sure to give Sal’s a try. The Thirsty Fish is a casual bar on the piazza that offers live Jazz Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls are the Preferred class of resort. Royal Pacific offers the same front of line access of the two Premier resorts . Royal Pacific also will give you priority seating at the restaurants throughout the resort. Other perks, such as early admission to Wizarding World of Harry Potter, complimentary transportation to the parks and Universal City Walk, access to City Walk, delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort, priority seating at restaurants and transportation to Sea World and Aquatica are available at both.
The Royal Pacific will transport you to an exotic South Seas island with it’s sparkling waterfall and lush landscaping. The 1,000 guest rooms and suites, it can accommodate families of 2 to 5. If you want some privacy away from the little ones, opt for the Jurrasic Park kid suites.
RP offers some great dining choices. The Island Dining room features Pan Am with a twist. This is where you can dine with the characters and there is even a special dining room for the kids! Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (Chop Chop) features cuisine with an Asian-Polynesian fusion. How can you go wrong with Emeril? One of the best “extras” at RP is the Luau on Saturday evenings. It all starts with the nightly torch lighting. Sit back and experience an evening of authentic Polynesian food and entertainment at the enchanting Wantilan Luau. The weekly Hawaiian dinner show featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of Polynesian specialties, live Hawaiian music and traditional hula dancing. Hula and fire dancers delight the audience and entice a few to even learn the hula!
Sapphire Falls is the newest resort and Universal calls it “an island escape in the heart of an unforgettable adventure”. It boasts a 16,000 sq ft. zero-entry pool with water slide, play area, hot tub and fire pit. The 1000 guest rooms and suites all sleep up to 5 people, with different configurations. Each room has a mini fridge, coffee maker and free WiFi. You can pick from standard view, lagoon view or pool view. All of the rooms are comfy and a great place to rest after a long day at the parks.
Rumbling in your tummy? SF has full service dining at Amatista Cookhouse, Water Tavern and Drhum Club Kantine. If you are
looking for something filling with great ambiance, try Amatista. The outside seating is next to the waterfall for a beautiful, relaxing sound. Upon entering the Strong Water Tavern, you’ll find a wall of vintage rums complete with your own rum expert, a ceviche bar, and a patio with breathtaking views of the lagoon. Be sure to take part in the daily rum tasting.
If you are looking for a value, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is first resort in the Prime Value group. Currently, the Bay has 1800 guest rooms and suites. The plan is to add another 450 rooms by the end of 2017. The standard rooms will fit a family of 4 comfortably. They do offer family suites that sleep 6. Cabana has 2 large pools, a tasty food court and the Galaxy Bowl Restaurant, which is a sit down. Along with a sand beach, CB has a 10 lane bowling alley and dive-in movies. If you want a blast from the past and you’re missing the beach hotels of yesteryear, this is just what you’ve been looking for!
So, as you can see, Universal Orlando offers a resort for everyone. Whether you are looking for top of the line amenities or just a great resort at a value, you can’t go wrong. By the way, did you know that there are 2 awesome parks within walking or complimentary shuttle distance? Watch for my September blog for more information about those adventures.
If you would like more information about any of the spectacular resorts of Universal Orlando, just contact one of the Travel Pixies at Our Laughing Place Travel. We will help you plan the perfect vacation!
It‘s almost time for one of EPCOT’s most exciting times of the year! The 2016 International Food and Wine Festival is set to start on September 14 and run through November 14. This event brings
incredible food and delicious wine to the park that excites the senses.
If you’ve never been to EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival, you are in for a real treat! You can, literally, eat your way around the world. Spread throughout the World Showcase, vendors are set up in each country. You can purchase a small portion to sample. Along with the food, you can also purchase a paring wine. Some of the booths this year will feature American, Bakery, British,
Chinese, Norwegian, Asian, African, Japanese, Polynesian, Greek, Italian, Moroccan, French, Seafood, German, Latin, Sushi and Irish Cuisine. How will you choose??
You prefer a good drink, you say? Great! There are several opportunities to try your hand (or mouth) at new mixology techniques. You can attend a beverage seminar that will give you tips from some of the top drink specialists. There is a class that will teach you how to pair cuisine with special brews and spirits. If you want to learn a new talent, you can go to the Mixology seminar and become the life of the party!
This year, Disney has an exciting line up of Celebrity Chefs. Great Culinary notables Geoffrey Zakarian, Maneet Chauhan, Duff Golman and Masaharu Mormoto, to name a few, will be on hand for culinary
demonstrations. Other icons like Robert Irvine, Cat Cora and Elizabeth Falkner will return to inspire foodies at premium events like the Party for the Senses.
For a second consecutive year, ABC’s Emmy-Award-winning lifestyle series, “The Chew” will arrive to produce a full week of programs on the show’s exclusive Epcot festival stage.
The big news for this year are the Disney World Resorts joining the festival experience. Some of the new adventures include:
- “Brunch with a Twist at Disney’s
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa” — a sumptuous 5-star, 5-course meal prepared by the resort’s award-winning chefs
- “The Secrets of Flavor at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort” — a three-course lunch that gives you a ‘sensory-food connection’ at Yachtsman Steakhouse
- “Culinary Adventures with a Master Chef” at Disney’s Contemporary Resort — a hands-on chef’s table experience in a professional working kitchen
- “Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto” at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort — an entertaining tour of the whimsical Trader Sam’s, followed by lunch and a special mixology session
One of my favorite parts of the festival is that you can use your Disney Dining Plans at most of the meals and some food booths will allow you to use snack and counter service portions of the plan.
As though all of this is not enough, you will be able to dance off some of those newly added calories at the “Dance to the Beat” concert series. The series runs several weeks and consists of bands from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. The concerts are held in the American Garden’s Theater and are free with your EPCOT admission. You can see your favorite acts 5:30pm, 6:45pm and 8:00pm.
This is the current line up:
- Wang Chung — NEW! – September 14-15
- Starship — September 16-18
- Air Supply – September 19-20
- The Bo Deans — September 21-23
- Fuel – September 24-25
- Sugar Ray — September 26-28
- Los Lobos — September 29-30
- David Cook — October 1-2
- Wilson Phillips — October 3-4
- Blues Traveler — October 5-6
- Plain White T’s — NEW! – October 7-9
- 38 Special — October 10-11
- Jeffrey Osbourne — October 12-13
- Tiffany — October 14-16
- Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx — October 17-19
- Christopher Cross – October 20-21
- Toad the Wet Sprocket — NEW! — October 22-23
- Chakka Kahn — October 24-25
- Billy Ocean — October 26 – 27
- Living Color — October 28- 29
- Hanson – October 30- November 1
- Soul Asylum – October 2-3
- Delta Rae — NEW! — November 4-6
- Boyz to Men — November 7-9
- Sister Hazel — November 10-11
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy — November 12-14 (Unconfirmed)
Now that I have you drooling and your belly growling, all you need to do is contact your friendly OLP Travel Pixies. We will help you make the most of all of the Festival experiences and find you the best rates for your vacation!