Beyond the magical theme-park attractions and rides the existence of the legendary mouse – ears in ultimate disguise doubles our Disney delights. As a great fan of the Mouse I believe that the concept of Hidden Mickeys plays a unique role in strengthening our connections with the famous Disney World parks every time we visit them. Whether it’s at the Magic Kingdom or the Epcot the opportunities of finding Hidden Mickeys are many. Moreover, being able to figure out the magical ears in their most elusive formats during a Disney vacation is always a rewarding experience for me. In fact hunting for those secret images and shadows of the mouse is an ever-challenging fun opportunity one should not miss while visiting the world’s most beloved theme parks. Continue reading
When you’re planning a trip to Disney World Orlando, you may find it difficult to get everything you want without overdoing it with your travel budget. Like most theme parks, Disney World can be incredibly expensive to visit, but only if you aren’t aware of all the ways to save money. Below are a few helpful tips to help you plan on staying well within your budget the next time you visit Orlando.
One common way that many travelers to the area like to save money is to stay at a hotel that is close to the park but not in the official Disney resort area. The Walt Disney World resorts and hotels are beautiful and definitely worth the price, but only if you can afford it. Visitors to the park that have kids or who simply don’t need the “full Disney” experience may find that staying offsite gives them more money to visit other fun parks in the area.
For those that really do want to experience a Disney resort hotel, try travelling in the offseason, as it’s the best time to get a great rate while enjoying shorter lines at the park and much smaller crowds overall. The little known secret about the winter offseason in Florida is that with weather is very enjoyable, with sunny skies and warm temperatures without the heavy humidity and soaring temps that are found during the summer months.
A big key to saving big when planning a trip to Disney World is to purchase discounted park passes. You can purchase a multi-park and multi-day pass option, or stick to one park for your whole trip. Many families like the flexibility that the multi-park pass offer, as this way there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Don’t panic when planning your next Disney vacation! By doing some research and taking your time to find the best deals on lodging, park passes and other items, you can enjoy big savings while providing your family with a trip that they’ll never forget.
Every year from March through May Disney World Epcot celebrates spring unlike any other. It is also the time when the entire park area transforms into a unique mix of breathtaking blooms and great marketplaces with fresh and tempting foods. The premier spring event, Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival brings to life the spirit of the season in its most unique and colorful style. Truly, a visit to the place during the occasion is a great opportunity to celebrate the season with inspiring Disney topiaries, magical gardens, exhibits and more. Thanks to the Disney World gardeners in putting together such a beloved and magical spring experience for us.
While rainbows of blooms keep our eye engaged, the fresh outdoor kitchens tempt guests for some all new and delicious marketplace tastes. Though the outdoor kitchens were the newest additions (first introduced in the 2013 event), they had already occupied an important place among fans. I think the introduction of those tantalizing food kiosks is a unique initiative on part of Disney. The availability of fresh flavors in fact had raised the level of our experience at the special event today. And more interestingly, the ever expanding list of menus seems to dominate fans taste at this year’s event also. With farm fresh flavors straight from the gardens there is little for us to resist the temptations. Also the availability of latest marketplace boot such as the Urban Farm Eats enables visitors to try and enjoy lots of new flavors ever tested.
However, your trip to Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival remains incomplete without enjoying the festival’s nearly 100 whimsical topiaries. They are among the major highlights of the event and consist of favorite characters- all inspired from Disney films. Moreover, the addition of new topiaries each year makes the Event more exciting among Disney character lovers. And not surprisingly, the 2014 fest also boasts of two new character topiaries, as Kermit and Miss Piggy join the board. Also the story-book scene of Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck topiaries in their best butterfly hunting actions at the entrance is no doubt a centerpiece attraction the 2014 event has to offer.
Besides the inspiring topiaries and foods, the 700 plus vibrant gardens make the place a center of great fun and surprises. Special gardens, such as the new Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden welcomes you right into the world of a whimsical play-land full of activities and surprises for the entire family. For the flower fans the sights of amazing flower towers, the beautiful butterfly tapestry of flowers, and last but not the least the display of over 30 million colorful blooms is just an experience only Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival can offer.
For discounts on Walt Disney World admissions and passes to exclusive Orlando attractions and events, including discount Sea World Orlando tickets, Universal Studios tickets and other special Orlando packages you can consult authorized ticket Re-Seller – The Official Ticket Center
Have you ever been to any of Walt’s theme parks in Orlando, Florida and found yourself either wanting to see more of the other Disney theme parks or that the park you are in is just too crowded? Well you wouldn’t be alone. With all of the different tickets you can buy to see all of Walt Disney World’s world famous theme parks, the one ticket that has been the most popular has to be the famous Walt Disney World Park Hopper Ticket!
Working for the mouse for 8 years I have seen it all and the one thing that I would hear the most was how guests wish that they had bought the hopper ticket when they were planning and buying their passes. The main reason people wished they had purchased the Hopper Ticket was that they had accomplished most of what they had set out to do at a certain park and wished to go over to another park in the same day and finish the evening off at another Disney park. On some nights for example, the Animal Kingdom might close at 6pm. and the Magic Kingdom on that night might close at 12am midnight. When you have a 1 Day Base Ticket, you are closing out your night early at the Animal Kingdom. If you had spent an extra $30 to upgrade your ticket to a Hopper Ticket, you would be spending the evening at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot with everyone else being the hero of your vacation. Most people go in with the mindset that they are going to be content with just spending the day at one park, but you would be amazed at how people’s moods and energy change once they are in Walt’s parks.
The biggest advantage to buying a Park Hopper Ticket in my opinion is that if a theme park gets a little too busy for your taste and it does happen quite frequently, you have the ability to travel over to another park where the crowd is much more manageable. For instance I have personally had my own Disney Park Hopper Ticket and started out at the Magic Kingdom and by 3pm or 4pm the park was an absolute mad house. Having the Park Hopper Ticket I and my guests were able to jump on a Monorail and stop by a Disney Resort for a cold beverage on our way to Epcot. Epcot is my default park to head to for a little elbow room. Epcot also closes every night at 9pm. so it is a great park that stays open semi-late and you do not feel the crowd factor as much as you would at any other Disney park.
To add a little curve ball to this equation, you can also buy a Walt Disney World Water Park Fun & More Ticket or the Premium ticket of all tickets the Park Hopper Water Park Fun & More Ticket. Both of these tickets are Hoppers in a sense. The Water Park Fun & More ticket is NOT a Hopper ticket for theme parks i.e. Epcot, Hollywood Studios etc. but a Hopper ticket from your one theme park that you are allowed to visit in that day, to an “Optional” item of your choice. The “Optional” items are the 2 Disney Water Parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach, Disney Quest, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Disney’s Miniature Golf Courses at 2 locations or a round of golf at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. So for example with this ticket you could start off at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and stay until 4pm., then you could walk to the front of the park and jump on a Disney bus and go over to Typhoon Lagoon and spend the rest of the day there soaking up the evening sunshine before returning to you humble abode for the night.
Now if you had bought the Walt Disney World Park Hopper Water Park Fun & More Ticket you could do the same thing as the Water Park Fun & More ticket but now you have the ability to Park Hop between theme parks in the same day as well as Hop over to one of the “Optional” items as well. It all boils down to how much money you want to spend, how many days you are going to be here and do you want the ability to change course within you day in order to visit multiple parks. If money is tight and you do not want to visit more than 1 park within a day, or you think that you or your kids will not be able to handle this type of traveling, then stay with the Disney Base Tickets. They are a great ticket and have served many a traveler with just the right amount of Disney Pixie Dust, but if you are the type of person who can handle a little more action in you day then the adventure ticket you are seeking is definitely the Disney Park Hopper Ticket.
To purchase any of these tickets that I have mentioned at a discount, please contact The Official Ticket Center in Orlando, Florida. There are many online ticket brokers, but they are local and have an actual Guest Service location within 5 miles of Disney and other Orlando theme parks.
©Patrick Pulliam 2014
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival in Orlando, Florida. Every spring, this Disney theme park dazzles its visitors with high energy entertainment as well as family fun for all. This year’s event will once again open its doors in March and will be brimming with special experiences for all ages and interests.
Here are a few of this year’s Flower & Garden highlights:
• Outdoor Kitchens
• Topiary Displays
• The Flower Power Concert Series
• Interactive Play Areas for Children
This annual event has so much to see and do that you are sure to return again and again throughout the spring!
Outdoor Kitchens: Similar to Epcot’s International Wine & Food Festival, Epcot has integrated this event into their Flower & Garden Festival. At last check, there were 12 food stations throughout the countries. Most dishes will be spring light and cooked just right! Just think tapas size servings that you can eat on the go. Here are a food stations and their menus including drings that will be paired up with each dish:
Experience a taste of several fresh Florida ingredients, each grown and produced locally. It’s a perfect opportunity to treat your senses to some of the most delightful fruit and drink the Sunshine State has to offer! Florida Fresh can be found next to the Germany Pavilion.
• Watermelon salad with pickled onions, BW Farm baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction
• Shrimp and stone ground grits with andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro
• Florida kumquat pie (TRYit!)
• Watermelon passion fruit slush featuring Simply Lemonade®
• Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria featuring Simply Lemonade, Florida Orange Groves (St. Petersburg, Florida)
• Garda Italian Wine Blend, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida)
• Rogue Valley Pinot Noir, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida)
• Blonde Ale, Orlando Brewing Company (Orlando, Florida)
• Cotton Mouth Belgian Style Witbier, Swamp Head Brewery (Gainesville, Florida)
• Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale, Florida Beer Company (Cape Canaveral, Florida) – Festival Exclusive!
• Florida Avenue Blueberry, Cold Storage Craft Brewery (Tampa, Florida)
• Beer Flight – Blonde Ale, Cotton Mouth Belgian Style Witbier, Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale and Florida Avenue Blueberry
• Simply Orange
Travel near the Japan Pavilion where the annual ritual of admiring springtime flowers is in full bloom. From delectable bites to refreshing beverages, uncover how Hanami’s flavors reflect the season.
• Frushi – Fresh pineapple, strawberries and melon, rolled with coconut rice, topped with raspberry sauce, sprinkled with toasted coconut and served with whipped cream on the side
• Temaki hand roll – Sliced Panko fried chicken, curry sauce, rice and pickled julienne carrots wrapped with Nori
• Hanami sushi – A flavorful combination of salmon, scallop and beef-topped rice balls served atop a shiso violet sauce (TRYit!)
• Japanese puffed rice cakes with green tea whipped cream and azuki
• Kirin draft beer
• Pinepple Paradise with Yuzu Slushie – Frozen blend of sweet sake, pineapple juice and crème, flavored with a hint of Yuzu citrus juice
• Orange Mango Slushie – Frozen blend of Nigori sake, mango and orange juice
Jardin de Fiestas
Make your way near the Mexico Pavilion where the tapas are spring light and cooked just right. Don’t miss your chance to take part in this festival of flavors, complete with savory tacos and mouthwatering cocktails.
• Tacos al pastor – Corn tortilla filled with achiote-marinated pork, garnished with grilled diced pineapple, onions and cilantro
• Quesadilla de hongos con queso – Flour tortilla filled with mushrooms and cheese
• Flan de chocolate Abuelita – Mexican chocolate custard
• Tecate draft beer
• White Mexican sangria
• Franbuesa (raspberry) margarita on the rocks
• Tequila flight – blanco, reposado and añejo
• Dasani® bottled water
Fleur de Lys
Indulge your senses in extravagance at this tasty milieu influenced by the “flower of the lily.” Once a royal emblem used by the French monarchy, the symbol now serves as inspiration for this decadent stop where you can refine your palate with some of the France Pavilion’s most magnificent culinary masterpieces!
• Gnocchi Parisien à la Provençal – Parisian-style dumplings with vegetables and mushrooms
• Confit de canard, pommes de terre Sarladaise – Pulled duck confit with garlic and parsley potatoes
• Macaron à la fleur d’ Oranger – Orange blossom macaron with white chocolate ganache (TRYit!)
• La Vie en Rose frozen slush – Vodka, Grey Goose Orange, St. Germain Liquor, and white and red cranberry juice
• Kir Imperial – Sparkling wine, Chambord and black raspberry liquor
• Rosé pamplemousse cocktail – Rosé wine mixed with natural grapefruit syrup
• Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 – Fruity white beer with citrus notes
Hit the pavement near the China Pavilion for a garden-fresh take on spring-influenced flavors. Appease your cravings with a wide variety of Chinese cuisine, including popular street foods and bubble tea!
• Beijing-style candied strawberries
• Spring pancake with grilled chicken and green apple
• Vegetable spring rolls
• Popping bubble tea
• Kung Fu Punch – Vodka and triple sec with mango and orange juice
• South Sea Storm – Guava juice with light and dark rum
• Plum wine
• Tsing-Tao beer
• Lychee aerated water
Enjoy the Great White North with a tropical twist at the Canada side of World Showcase promenade. Then, get ready to hear your sweet tooth say, “Thank you!” as you bite into all kinds of treats featuring this popular golden fruit.
• Pineapple soft serve
• Pineapple soft serve with Myers’s dark rum
• Pineapple soft serve with Parrot Bay coconut rum
• Sweet potato cinnamon waffle with pineapple soft serve (TRYit! selection)
• Frozen desert violet lemonade featuring Simply Lemonade (nonalcoholic)
• Tropical Mango Pale Ale, St. John Brewers (U.S. Virgin Islands)
• Once Upon a Vine’s The Lost Slipper Sauvignon Blanc
Say, “Ciao!” to spring as you set sail for a land of garden-fresh foods near the Italy Pavilion. On your stop, be sure to explore the countryside’s many flavors—caprese, manicotti, torte di ricotta and fine Italian wines.
• Caprese – Fior di latte mozzarella, roasted peppers and olio verde
• Three cheese manicotti – Egg pasta stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, tomato sauce and béchamel
• Torta di ricotta – Lemon cheesecake with limoncello-marinated strawberries
• Placido Pinot Grigio
• Placido Chianti
• Bosco del Merlo Prosecco
• White peach bellini – Prosecco and white peach puree
• Strawberry rossini – Prosecco and marinated strawberries
• Frozen Italian primavera – Assorted fruit slushy with limoncello and vodka
• Moretti Lager
• Moretti La Rossa
Taste of Marrakesh
Embark on a trek near the Morocco Pavilion and educate your tastes on North African spices. Each unique flavor has been paired with fresh ingredients and can be sampled with Moroccan beer and wine at this garden oasis.
• Lamb brewat roll with prunes and sesame
• Harissa chicken kebab with couscous salad
• Baghrir – Moroccan pancake with honey, almonds and argan oil
• Mint iced tea
• White sangria
• Guerrouane red
• Casa Beer
• Desert Rose – Sparkling wine with pomegranate liqueur
Urban Farm Eats – NEW!
Honor the earth and all it grows with a refreshing selection from this location’s all-natural menu. Choose from a hearty array of foods and beverages, many of which have been cultivated entirely from the soil!
• Pickled beet salad with goat cheese cream, mizuna and pistachios
• Land-grown eggplant “scallop” with romesco sauce and spaghetti squash (TRYit!)
• Ghost pepper-dusted tilapia with crisp winter melon slaw and mint oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick It Up Rub
• Cucumber lemon spa water, finished with a sprig of fresh mint
• The Vegan Vine Chardonnay
• The Vegan Vine Cabernet Sauvignon
• Redbridge Gluten-Free Sorghum Beer, Anheuser-Busch (St. Louis, Missouri)
The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews
Celebrate the truly American tradition of slow-cooked flavors near The American Adventure Pavilion. Sink your teeth into savory barbecue meats and then pair each one off with craft brews from across the country.
• Pulled pig slider with cole slaw
• Smoked beef brisket with collard greens and jalapeño corn bread
• Smoked turkey “rib” (TRYit!)
• “Piggylicious” bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunch featuring Nueske’s® Applewood Smoked Bacon
• Magic Hat #9, Magic Hat Brewing (South Burlington, Vermont)
• Maduro, Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida)
• Fat Tire, New Belgium Brewing Company (Ft. Collins, Colorado)
• Billy’s Chilies, Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado)
• Beer Flight – Magic Hat #9, Maduro, Fat Tire and Billy’s Chilies
• The Original Rib Shack Red Wine
The Buttercup Cottage
Delight in elegant afternoon-tea offerings and fresh garden flavors near the United Kingdom Pavilion. Drop by this charming locale to sample scrumptious treats, British teas and beverages inspired by lovely English fruits and fragrances.
• Freshly baked potato and cheddar cheese biscuit with smoked salmon tartare
• Field greens with Plant City strawberries, toasted almonds and Farmstead stilton (TRYit!)
• Pork and apple sausage roll with house-made piccalilli
• Freshly baked lemon scones with berry preserves and crème fraÎche
• Chilled rose blush lemonade featuring Simply Lemonade with Raspberry (nonalcoholic)
• Twinings® Cold Brewed English Classic with lemon grass syrup
• Berry tea cocktail – Twinings Cold Brewed Mixed Berry Tea with Florida Cane vodka and Plant City strawberry, flavored with raspberry and açaí syrup
• Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee
• Deloach Pinot Noir
Dig into your day or turn over the evening at this charming stop found right within the Festival Center. Pop inside to find all kinds of fine food and beverages—wine, cheese, wraps, salads and more!
• Fruit & cheese plate
• Vegan trio
• Southwest chicken wrap
• Tuna salad with pita
• Side salad
• Asian tuna salad with noodles
• Caprese Push-Pop – Tomato, mozzarella and balsamic (TRYit! selection)
• Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria, Florida Orange Groves (St. Petersburg, Florida)
• Garda Italian Wine Blend, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida)
• Rogue Valley Pinot Noir, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida)
• Martini Prosecco
• Strongbow Cider, Bulmers Cider Company (White Plains, New York)
• SweetWater Blue, SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia)
Designers’ Stage Presented by HGTV
If you are a “Do it Yourself” kind of person then lookout for HGTV and DIY personalities that can help you turn your home into a springtime masterpiece.
Listed below are the celebrities that will be attending this year’s event:
• Chris Lambton: March 14 to 16, 2014
• Matt Blashaw: March 21 to 23, 2014 – NEW!
• Matt Muenster: March 28 to 30, 2014 – NEW!
• Taniya Nayak: April 4 to 6, 2014
• Amy Matthews: April 11 to 13, 2014 – NEW!
• John Gidding: April 18 to 20, 2014
• David Bromstad: April 25 to 27, 2014
• Chip Wade: May 2 to 4, 2014 – NEW!
• Genevieve Gorder: May 9 to 11, 2014
• Alison Victoria: May 16 to 18, 2014 – NEW!
Epcot’s Flower Power Concert Series
Find a comfortable spot with your favorite food and drink and rock out to some peace and love at this outdoor musical event! This is a very popular daily event, so make sure to get there early! Listed below are bands that will be performing at this year’s event:
• The Guess Who – March 7 to March 9, 2014
Known for their song “American Woman”
• Gary Lewis and The Playboys – NEW! March 14 to March 16, 2014
Known for their song “This Diamond Ring”
• The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO – March 21 to March 23, 2014
Known for their song “Evil Woman”
• The Lovin’ Spoonful – March 28 to March 30, 2014
Known for their song “Summer in the City”
• Paul Revere & The Raiders – April 4 to April 6, 2014
Known for their song “Good Thing”
• Village People – April 11 to April 13, 2014
Known for their song “YMCA”
• The Grass Roots – April 18 to April 20, 2014
Known for their song “Midnight Confessions”
• Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone – April 25 to April 27, 2014
Known for their song “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am”
• STARSHIP Starring Mickey Thomas – May 2 to May 4, 2014
Known for their song “We Built This City”
• Chubby Checker & The Wildcats – May 9 to May 11, 2014
Known for their song “The Twist”
• Alan Parsons Live Project – NEW! May 16 to May 18, 2014
Known for their song “Eye in the Sky”
Here are a few basics to insure that there are no surprises during your visit to Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival:
Admission to Epcot is required. While most Epcot Flower & Garden Festival events are included with your theme park ticket, many experiences require a separate purchase or a separate admission fee. Availability is limited for some experiences. Events may be rescheduled or cancelled at any time. To purchase you tickets to this event, please visit www.officialticketcenter.com or call toll free 1-877-406-4836.