Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2018 is gearing up to be one of the best.

Along with an incredible line-up to the concert list on select nights the new merchandise is giving a musical feel.

Musical notes can be found on the front of the Unisex T-Shirt, surrounding “Mardi Gras Universal Orlando”. The new skull design for 2018 rocks the back of the T-shirt in a shiny finish.

Mardi Gras Merchandise - Front of Shirt Tie

Mardi Gras Merchandise - Back of Shirt 2

The skull itself is crafted by musical inspiration. A guitar neck creates the bridge of the nose which goes into a guitar pick. A turn-table is in place of the eyes with piano keys in place of teeth.

You can also find the skull design on this year’s souvenir shot glass and bottle opener.

Mardi Gras Merch - Skull ShotGlass

The lanyard for Mardi Gras 2018, gives a festive graffiti look in colors and design. Crowns, music notes, glimpses of the skull, and even trumpets are displayed across the black lanyard canvas.

Mardi Gras Merch - Lanyard

When it comes to Mardi Gras and merchandise for this high-energy event, one thing can’t be left out – BEADS!

This year, there are beads by the dozens.

If you’re moody like me, we’ve got you covered—happy face on one side, sad face on the other.

Mardi Gras Merchandise - Happy Face Beads
Mardi Gras Merchandise - Sad Face Beads
 If you’re one of the lucky ones to find the baby in the King Cake, you can totally sport your royalty. (Yes, there are babies on the beads in the center.)

Mardi Gras Merchandise - It's Good to Be KingQueen Beads

Let the good times roll at Universal Orlando’s biggest party – Mardi Gras. Grab your new gear, eat a beignet, and join the festive parade every night.

Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is bound to be a time you will never forget – you won’t want to miss this.

Mardi Gras Merchandise - Bottle Opener
Mardi Gras Merchandise - Heart Saints
Mardi Gras Merchandise - Sugar Skull
Mardi Gras Merchandise - Crown Bead
Mardi Gras Merchandise - Masks

New Astronaut Training Experience Center at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – The race to Mars has already begun, and with the opening of the new Astronaut Training Experience®


(ATX) at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex this December, guests will be the first to
“touch down” on the Red Planet. The all-new Astronaut Training Experience will use immersive
simulation technology to transport participants to Mars, train them to live and work in the
harshest environment, and teach them what it’s like to travel to the Red Planet, using real NASA
science to address engineering challenges.
Astronaut Training Experience will boast the most high-tech, hands-on activities available at
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex through two distinct programs: Astronaut Training
Experience, for which Training Segments will be available to guests as of December 18, and
Mars Base 1, which opens in January 2018. Astronaut Training Experience will provide an
opportunity for visitors to train like an astronaut preparing for a mission to Mars. Mars Base 1
will provide participants with a chance to live on Mars for seven hours, as “rookie astronauts,”
while performing base operations along with real science experiments and engineering tasks.
“We’re offering something that most people thought they would never get to do in their
lifetime,” Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex said.
“For anyone who has wondered what it would be like to feel like an astronaut, to train like they
train, face the challenges and issues they have to work though while under extreme pressure,
Astronaut Training Experience and Mars Base 1 is now available to everyone.”


Upon entering the Astronaut Training Experience Center, guests will be surrounded by ambiance
that replicates actual astronaut training techniques and experiences. A sleek design, realistic
signage and sophisticated technology provide a sense of authenticity. Excitement builds as
participants are handed life-like badges and special-issue t-shirts to immerse them in the
program, and their assignments, which are led by expertly trained educators – their “Trainers”
and “Lab Chiefs.”
Through the programs and associated assignments, participants will work together by taking on
specific roles to address challenges and solve problems:
In the Astronaut Training Experience program, groups of up to 24 will simultaneously work in
multiple training areas that will replicate astronaut training of the future. Trainees will attempt the
same physical tasks of the actual astronauts who will travel to Mars, by working within reproduced
environmental scenarios, such as the Land-and-Drive-on-Mars full-motion simulator, Walk-onMars
virtual reality, Launch Mission and Spacewalk Training.
Mars Base 1 provides the ultimate simulation of not just traveling to Mars, but living and
working there for an entire day. Offered to individuals and groups, the mission begins with a
“transport” to Mars. At three different stations within Mars Base 1, participants will be assigned
real-life challenges that require analytic thinking, communication and collaboration. For
example, in the Mars Engineering Lab, “rookie astronauts” will design and test a program that
allows a team of robots to efficiently clear debris from a photovoltaic panel, restoring maximum
solar power to the Base. They will also partner with scientists working on NASA’s Food
Production by planting, harvesting, and analyzing vegetables and plants as they gather data in a
series of controlled experiments taking place in the Mars Botany Lab.


Now located among the other attractions at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and offered
as an add-on to regular admission or purchased separately, Astronaut Training Experience
activities are designed with a focus on problem solving, communication and collaboration,
making them ideal for team building in an interesting and inspirational environment. Programs
will range from 30- and 45-minute experiences easily added to a Kennedy Space Center Visitor
Complex day, to a few hours or two, three- and five-day camp programs, providing the
opportunity to participate based on interest level and specific educational needs.
“The new Astronaut Training Experience Center is the most interactive and technologically
advanced experience at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex,” said Protze. “ATX and Mars
Base 1 bring the future of space exploration to life. Guests looking to get as close to Mars as
possible without actually becoming an astronaut will be able to have that opportunity at the new
Astronaut Training Experience Center.”
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program,
offering a full day or more of fun, inspiration and educational activities. Highlights include
Heroes & Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, presented by Boeing, the
Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour featuring the Apollo/Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V
moon rocket, Space Shuttle Atlantis®, Shuttle Launch Experience®, IMAX® A Beautiful Planet
3D and Journey To Space 3D films, Astronaut Encounter, Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted,
Science on a Sphere®, Rocket Garden, Cosmic Quest, and many other exhibits.

Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. with closing
times varying by season. Please contact our office to purchase your discount Kennedy Space Center tickets TODAY!

Toy Story at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Set to Amaze Guests in 2018

Here in the U.S., Toy Story Land is set to open to guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on June 30, 2018. This land will bring with it all the fun, imagination and beloved characters from the “Toy Story” films.

Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios

When it opens, guests visiting the land will “shrink” to the size of a toy and join in on the fun Woody, Jessie, Buzz, and Andy’s other favorite pals are having in Andy’s backyard. Here, guests can take a ride on Slinky Dog Dash, a roller coaster Andy has assembled from his Mega Coaster Play Kit and topped off with Rex and Jessie, while Slinky serves as the coaster vehicle. (See photo above for a new look at the track).

Families will also be able to take a spin on Alien Swirling Saucers, a galactic play set that Andy won from Pizza Planet. Here, adorable little green aliens swirl about in their flying saucers with guests in tow in their rocket ship toys, while “The Claw” hangs overhead.

Guests can also walk through a new carnival game box to experience Toy Story Mania!, which has been a guest-favorite attraction at the park since it opened in 2008. Now expanded with a third track, the popular attraction will put even more guests in the action taking aim at 3D objects – using everything from baseballs to cream pies – in a variety of whimsical, fast-paced games.

Woody’s Lunch Box will serve up tasty meals and old-fashioned soda floats from a walk-up window setting. The entire land will serve as a visual celebration of toys, with Crayons, Cooties, Green Army Men, Rubik’s Cubes, Tinkertoys, and other familiar toys and game pieces incorporated into the land’s design.

Bob also shared this amazing behind-the-scenes video that shows the progress that’s being made on Toy Story Lands at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Shanghai Disneyland. (Toy Story Land at Shanghai Disneyland will include three attractions – Rex’s Racer, Slinky Dog Spin and Woody’s Round-Up – and is on track to open on April 26, 2018). Take a peek at both in the video above.

Which attraction are you most looking forward to experiencing when Toy Story Land opens this summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – or will you make the trip to Shanghai Disneyland? Tell us in the “Comments” section below! To purchase your discount Disney tickets, please call our office at 1-877-406-4836.

Epcot Back in Blooms: The 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Returns

Walt Disney World Resort

Some say Florida doesn’t have an official “Spring” season, but I beg to differ.

Spring most definitely begins in Florida when the more-than-30-million blooms come alive at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

This year is the Festival’s 25th year, and the park again is overflowing with the brightest plants, flowers, trees and topiaries adorning both Future World and World Showcase.

Here are some of the top things you shouldn’t miss at the Festival:

  • Gardens, Gardens and More Gardens: In addition to all the natural flora throughout the park, the Walt Disney World horticulture squad has curated some truly breathtaking gardens for our guests this year. New garden destinations this year include “The How-To Garden” and “The Imagination Play Garden” which are perfect for adults and kids to enjoy together. Returning favorites include “The Goodness Garden Butterfly House” and “The Water Wise Garden,” which showcase environmental responsibility as well as just being fun!
  • Outdoor Kitchens: What would an Epcot Festival be without fun food and drinks? 15 Outdoor Kitchens this year grace World Showcase, with the newest being “The Honey Bee-Stro,” which features Roasted Cauliflower with Buckwheat Honey Carrot Purée; Honey Tandoori Chicken Flatbread with White Cheddar Cheese; and Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with Orange Blossom Honey Ice Cream garnished with Fennel Pollen Meringue Kisses. These dishes were created to showcase multiple honey varietals in creative and exciting ways. Returning Outdoor Kitchen favorites include “The Berry Basket” (featuring a lamb chop with quinoa salad and blackberry gastrique) and “THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brew” (featuring a pulled-pork slider and warm chocolate cake with Bourbon-salted caramel sauce and spiced pecans). YUM!
  • Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration: One of the beloved characters from Disney animated short cartoons, Spike the honeybee, has been “pollen-nating” throughout the Festival. In this springtime scavenger hunt, gardeners of all ages can follow Spike on his pollination trail around World Showcase, where he will “bee” busy collecting nectar and pollinating gardens at Epcot. To get started, purchase your map and stickers at Port of Entry. Available while supplies last.
  • Garden Rocks Concert Series: Each Friday through Monday of the Festival (what we like to call a “Disney Weekend”), favorite artists from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s will rock out at the America Gardens Theatre. Night Ranger kicks off the series March 2-5, and Rick Springfield, Survivor and Lonestar are just some of the popular rock and rollers in the lineup. Each night, there will be three performances – 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. – and guests can pair a wonderful meal at several of our Epcot restaurants with reserved concert seating in a nice package. Click here for Garden Rocks dining package availability or call 407-WDW-DINE.
  • Character Topiaries: Locations throughout the park feature some of the most beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar characters including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady and The Tramp and Buzz Lightyear.
  • Merchandise: Guests will find a wealth of hats, T-shirts, mugs and other fun Festival merchandise throughout Future World and World Showcase. I can’t resist anything with Figment on it; so you KNOW I’ll be buying some.
  • Tours: One of the great ways to get the “inside track” on the Festival or the latest in gardening techniques is to take one of the tours offered during the Festival. There are tours of The Land pavilion greenhouses and the “Gardens of the World – Spring Edition.” There is also the daily Royal Tea Garden Tour at the United Kingdom pavilion that includes a tea tasting. Guests can find out more about the tours here or call 407-WDW-TOUR.

If you’re coming out to this year’s festival, plan on more than one day to see, smell, hear, touch and taste everything. You surely can’t do it all in one!

For more information about the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call us at 1-877-406-4836 or for discount Disney tickets to this event.


Happy gardening!

Is the Universal Studios Park to Park Ticket Right for You?

Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Universal Studios Park to Park Tickets

Many travelers are pretty much up to speed in the fact that Universal Studios in Orlando has two parks now. There is Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Both are owned by NBC and are giving Disney a run for it’s money. Even though Disney has four theme parks, Universal has been taking a big chunk of cheese away from Mickey for a good many years. Now that Universal has Harry Potter  lands in each of their parks, travelers have been blowing of the big tickets from Disney and spending a few more days at Universal’s two parks.

If you think about the two parks, Universal and Islands of Adventure, they are now connected by the all new Hogwarts Express Train. This is Universal’s version of Disney’s Monorail system that connects Magic Kingdom and Epcot. you can either travel between parks using the train or you can exit the park and walk to the other. Both parks are located on the same property and separated by only 200 yards. If you decide to take the train, you will need the Universal Park to Park ticket or as many call it a Universal Studios Hopper Pass.

Universal Studios Orlando Florida

Hogwart’s Express Train

If you are the type of traveler who likes to have unfettered access while on vacation, then the Park to Park ticket will be for you! Not only will it allow you to move freely between the two park but it will allow you to enjoy the Hogwart’s Express Train Ride which is an actual ride unlike Disney’s Monorail. This ride features some of your most favourite characters from the Harry Potter movies. It’s also a great way to cool off and travel like the student do on their way to wizard school.

Some people are just fine with not hopping and couldn’t care less about some stupid train ride for a movie they never saw. Well then the Universal Base ticket is the ticket for you. You can visit the park of your choice and spend the whole day there of you can leave and have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe for instance and re-enter back into the park you were in earlier. Whichever ticket you choose, you are sure to have a fantastic time while making memories that last a lifetime!


Orlando’s National Treasure Right Next Door at The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Travelers from around the world come to Central Florida everyday. Most visitors are not aware that Orlando has a very unique national treasure within an hours drive, the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. Mixed in with the Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, Kennedy Space Center was here before them all. When you say NASA to pretty much anyone on the planet, they understand what and where you are talking about. This was the place to be back in the late 1960’s as this was the place where we sent our brave astronauts to the moon,

The Kennedy Space Visitors Complex in Cocoa Beach, Florida is only about a 50 minute ride from the Orlando attractions. The entire experience can be visited in a day while some spend a few days engaged in their behind the scene’s adventures. If one was a science and space admirer, then there are a few very things one could do to make their dreams of spaceflight come true while staying here on good old terra firma. First and foremost the standard KSC ticket gets you pretty the whole shabang! This ticket will allow you to visit the welcome center where they have the rocket garden, IMAX-3D, Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit with the Shuttle Launch Experience as well gift shops and places to grab a bite to eat.

The next step of the adventure will take you on a restricted area tour that transports you by bus to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here you can stay as long as you like while observing a real life Saturn V rocket that is on display. Have you ever wanted to touch the moon? Here you can do just that. Touch the moon and talk with actual Astronauts about their experiences flying in space. If you are one of the lucky travelers on a special day of a rocket launch, the Saturn V building is the place to be. Check with the current calendar for these once in a lifetime opportunities!

If the general admission ticket is not enough, check out the upgrades and have lunch with an astronaut. Here you will have a buffet lunch all while listening to a guest astronaut speak of their space explorations. You can even ask that question you have always wanted to know about traveling in space! Next you can check out the KSC- Up-Close Tour or visit mission control at the KSC-Close Launch Control Center Tour. Whatever the experience is, the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex has a little bit of everything for everybody.


Early Arrival to the Orlando Theme Parks for No Lines

I get the same questions every day from my guests traveling out to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld. The question is, “How can we avoid the line at the parks”? The answer is short and sweet, get there early. If you get to the theme parks early, you will have accomplished the biggest task of your day. Getting there early before everyone gets there not only ensures that you won’t have to wait in long lines for the most popular rides, but it will also save you time from the hot Florida sun that will zap your energy level quick!

Most travelers like to wake up kind of early, stroll down to the lobby of their hotel or resort, have a cup of coffee, then head back up to get the rest of the family for breakfast. This takes up at least two hours in the morning and this does not even take in consideration the time needed to travel to the parks. Combine all of this with the crowds rolling in late and security checkpoint lines and bam, you are now in the thick of late morning traffic that everyone hates.

Getting there one hour before the park opens for example at Disney’s Magic Kingdom will not only give you a smooth and stress free experience, but will also get you a very special early morning performance from of all of Disney’s characters before being allowed into their park for the day. After the performance, greeters welcome guests in to enjoy Mainstreet USA for a short period before their rope drop. Many early morning guests then travel back to the top rides with no wait at all. One could ride at least four rides before really encountering any kind of real lines.

When it comes to the saying, “The early bird gets the worm”, this is exactly right when it comes to getting the most while at the theme parks. This method really works best for travelers who can get to bed early the night before and really try to hydrate the evening and morning before arriving at the parks. Waking up early really works best for travelers from Europe due to the time difference. A traveler from England has the clock on their side as they are five hours ahead of us, so the can wake up at 6 am and feel like they slept in until noon! Unfortunately this is not the case for us in the USA.

Catching Up With Universal Orlando’s CityWalk

If you have ever been out to Universal Studios CityWalk, you will probably remember that it was a pretty cool place to eat, dance and just be merry! Lately though, it has been under a transformation and for the better. The theme of CityWalk seems to be that of the old Downtown Disney entertainment district. People can come here after the parks and grab a bite to eat before heading home or back to their resort, or make it a special night out while visiting their night time clubs, watching a movie or having dinner and drinks.

The most visual transformation has to be the all new NBC Sports Grill & Brew. This was the old NASCAR Cafe that was such an eyesore. But now it is a shiny new jewel among CityWalk’s bustling new skyline. Here one can choose from over 100 beers all while catching sports games from around the world. The other day we were there cheering on some soccer team while drinking beers with our brothers from across the pond. This place is such a great opportunity to meet people from all around the world sharing a pint all the while!

If you are on the fly and need a quick bite to eat, try stopping by the all new Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Here you can taste all of the most famous hot dogs from every stadium in the good o’le USA. Try anything from the famous Chicago hot dog with all of the toppings or a steamer from New York, it doesn’t matter because this place has it all. You will not find any other location like this in Orlando. You can eat authentic shoestring fries and taste authentic topping like actual pinto beans for the famous Arizona dog or sauerkraut for you New York dog! This place even has brats so the menu is absolutely mesmerizing.

Lastly would be my little favourite, The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. This little gem is for everyone who love sushi and burgers. Here you can dine on some of Orlando’s most delicious sushi and burgers of fuse them together and feast on their signature dish the “Burgushi®“. Trust me it is delicious especially when you wash it down with one of their 10oz exotic martinis. If martinis are not your thing try one of their signature hand spun milkshakes. If you can’t make up your mind, I recommend their Bento Box. This is a sampler of all of their most famous dishes but on a small sampler scale.


Universal Studios Springfield USA Serves Up Some Tasty Treats

Have you ever wanted to have a Krusty Burger and be able to wash it down with a beer from Moe’s Tavern? What if I told you that there was a real live place where you could do exactly that! The place I’m talking about is Universal Studios Orlando’s Springfield USA. Here you can rub elbows with Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie and even your most favourite side characters like Moe, Mr. Burns and even Apu at the Quickie Mart. Probably the best of it all are all of the delicious foods and treats that we have all watched time and time again on the television.

Universal Studios spared no expense when they created Springfield and my most favourite little dive has to be Moe’s Tavern. Here you can sit at the very bar where Homer spends most of his spare time at. The famous beer of all here is Duff beer. Nothing like a good cold Duff beer to start your day or if beer is not your thing try the Flaming Moe instead! It is just orange soda with dry ice, but is on par in sale to Harry’s Butterbeer. Here you can have your picture taken with Moe’s patron saint Barney Gumble who has a statue at the end of the bar.

By now you should be feeling pretty hungry so peel yourself off of your bar stool and walk to the back where you will find 4 counter service dining options. On of my favourites has to be Cletus’ Chicken Shack. Here you will find big o’le chicken sandwich platters with fries. Cletus’ is sure to fill the biggest of appetites. Also you will find The Flying Dutchman that serves up fried foods, Luigi’s Pizza and Lisa’s Teahouse of Horrors. Lisa’s would be the place for any vegetarians in the group!

If you’re the type of person who likes to sit outside and people watch while you eat, try out the local food truck fair at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck. Here you can grab a cold Duff’s beer and chow down on some tacos or nachos! If savory dishes are not your thing then I have just the treat for you. Lard Lad Donuts are famous in Springfield. Sit down and savor the taste of the Big Pink. This donut is about as big as a open man’s hand wide and about four inches thick of sweet decadent goodness! Tell Mayor Quimby I said hello!


SeaWorld Best Theme Park in Orlando for the Budget Traveler

Being in the theme park ticket business I am bombarded on a daily basis with questions about budget traveling. Many people know that Orlando is not very budget friendly! One part stands out above the rest and that park is Seaworld Orlando. It’s very expensive to go to Disney or Universal these days and average ticket costs can be over $120 a day. The worst thing about that is you’re paying that much money to be in a crowded environment where people don’t seem to be very happy. Now take SeaWorld for example, here you can go for a day for around $83 per person and have some of the most beautiful scenery to enjoy throughout your day.

Not only do they have the most beautiful parking Central Florida but they also have some of the coolest animals on the planet here! I wish try to tell people to take a good look at the Sea World parks. They actually have four here in Central Florida. The first and most popular of course to see world, followed up by Busch Gardens in Tampa and now they have two awesome water parks to cool off at on a hot Florida summer day. The biggest and most popular one is Aquatica and the other one is Discovery Island which sits next to their Tampa theme park Busch Gardens.

A budget traveler who wanted to get the most out of a vacation would probably take a look at their all new 14 day unlimited ticket that includes free parking. This would get a person into all four of their parks with free transportation to Tampa and free parking at any other of their parks. This ticket is only $148. I’ll take a good look at Disney and Universal and see how much they’re charging and this doesn’t even include a water park or parking fees. Current parking fees at the other parks are up to $20 a day.

For that kind of money I better be whisked off like a pharaoh from Egypt. When you stop and do the math this is only about a dollar 50 a day and comes with free transportation to Busch Gardens. So at the end of the day, the folks over here have really made it possible to have a great and memorable vacation on a budget.