Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2018 Set To Go

 

Are you a fan of delicious foods and tasty wines? Are you a fan of the Walt Disney World Resort? Well if you answered yes to both questions then Epcot is a must for you! Every year towards the end of August, Epcot puts on one heck of a festival that includes wines, gourmet tapas dishes and art from around the world. It’s called the International Food & Wine Festival and has been going on for years.

This is a festival for the connoisseurs and foodies who enjoy taking a tour of the world right in the comfort of Disney. For a few months out of the year Epcot puts on a party of parties all day long. For the price of a daily admission ticket you can enjoy the sights, sounds and flavours as you explore the different cuisines from around the world. Vineyards and breweries from around the globe are center stage during this once a year event.

Executive chefs from the Walt Disney World Resorts prepare regional dishes while pairing up wines and beers that make your experience one to savour! As you wander through the theme park you will encounter different cuisines at different locations. As an example if you are in France or Germany, you will be a guest of that country and served local dishes that represent their country all the while being able to sample their regional wines and beer.

The downside is that this isn’t free and can get quite costly. The best way to approach this is to stop at the very first food kiosk and get yourself a prepaid wristband and preload it with as much money as you see fit. I normally will put $50 on mine and that will get me to at least the America pavilion which is the halfway point on the World Showcase at the back of the park. By this time you are feeling pretty good and might want to just put another $50 onto your wristband again to finish strong!

This event is a event worth Uber-ing, staying on property like at the Boardwalk, Swan or Dolphin which are staggering distances from the back entrance of Epcot. If your partake in the fermented beverages you will not want to be driving believe me. This is a great event to share with friends and families and probably should not be a festival that you would want to bring your kids to as people at this event can get pretty happy to say the least but in a good way. Here is a link to their current 2018 menu so have a look and see what you think ~ Epcot Food & Wine Menu 2018 

If you plan on attending this event and need Epcot tickets or Disney World tickets please visit our website at www.officialticketcenter.com or by calling us toll free at 1-877-406-4836.

Disney to put the Kibosh on Pet Friendly Families

 

It would seem that the policy that allowed families to bring their furry little family member to the Happiest Place on Earth is coming to an end. The rule I guess had been just a pilot program and was not in place as a permanent thing. Many families have a hard time leaving their pets at home or at a boarding shelter while traveling to Disney or anywhere else for that matter while on vacation.

Not only can it be scary for the pet but can be quite expensive for mom and dad. Sources say that come October 2018 that pet friendly program is coming to a screeching halt! When asked if the program would be extended the official answer was that they did not see that happening. Maybe if enough people call and voice their concern, they might change their minds, but that is probably not going to happen.

Disney is in the process of getting as much money as they can and if I’m a betting man this latest hatchet job is to make the owners put their animals up at their on property kennel Best Friends Pet Care. I have personally put my dogs up there and it was great. Downside is that it is very expensive as you would expect from Disney. However knowing that my family members are close and taken care of is a piece of mind situation that I was willing to pay at that time.

Disney has said though that if you check-in before October 15, 2018 you can still bring your pets and they can stay for the whole duration while visiting at the Walt Disney World Resort. This is going to be a huge issue and people have the right to be a little peeved. But hay, when Disney sees a way to make more money…look out! If you are in the market for minimizing you overall cost of your Disney vacation and need discount Disney tickets, check out a local ticket broker like “The Official Ticket Center” in Kissimmee.

Below is a screenshot of their new policy:

 

 

 

Summer fun with the family at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Studios Tickets

 

If you can remember all of those summer vacations with mom and dad when you were a kid and having the time of your life, you had a pretty cool childhood. The vacations of the past can be re-lived  and the memories can be passed down now to your kids at Universal Orlando Resort. Venturing off of the Disney plantation in Orlando, one can have a pretty kick butt, action packed vacation minus princesses and talking mice.

Universal has marketed itself as a vacation from the ordinary and for good reason! They have crafted a vacation destination for teens as well as adults but the little ones in the group have not been forgotten. This vacation destination has something for everyone and then some. Now with three parks to escape to, Universal has made their little slice of heaven a weeks plus long getaway!

The one great thing that I personally love about Universal Orlando is that they listen to what their guests want and their ability to offer ticket specials as they see fit. Currently they are 3 extra days free on select tickets and sold through licensed partners like The Official Ticket Center, a local ticket agency that has been in business for over 20 years. Universal Studios tickets and other seasonal specials like this are what can let a family of four take a much needed vacation at a pretty nice discount.

If there was a cherry on top of everything under their umbrella it would have to be their all new Volcano Bay water park. This in my opinion is the Disney water park killer. I have been to them all and Volcano Bay is by far my favourite. If you can’t afford that trip to Bali or Tahiti, this is the next best thing especially if you have a few of their signature drinks to get your mind into the game!

Guardians of the Galaxy Lookin Good at Epcot

 

Have you drove by Epcot in the past few weeks and noticed a big o’le building to the left of Spaceship Earth? Well that big thing everyone is looking at and talking about is the all NEW Guardians of the Galaxy ride and I can’t wait to experience it! Epcot was kind of in a rut for awhile and many visitors were asking if Epcot had just become a Festival theme park. Seems they were only rolling out the carpet a few times a years for their Wine & Food Festival as well as their Flower & Garden Festival. To be honest it was getting kind of stale and really did not offer anything new until now.

The area where the new ride will be is over where Ellen was next to Mission Space. That area was like a place where if you wanted to go take a nap and not be bothered by anyone, this was the place to do it. Now it has become something very busy and looks to be just more than a ride, maybe even a small little land into itself. I know Walt would be pleased with this space aged addition as he dreamed of this whole park being like that and not what it has become.

Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing new but it is so hot right now as Mugatu would say so hopefully nothing knocks it too far back to where visitors will be like what the heck is a Groot? I’m pretty positive that this will not be the case and this little corner of Epcot will be everyone’s newest favorite piece of the park. I am really hoping for some new eateries keeping in line with the whole space theme and maybe a sit down restaurant.

All in all this is going to be a much needed addition to Epcot that is for sure! If you have been over there within the past decade, you will agree that nothing has been added to the theme park and if you have been reading any Disney related blog, people have been demanding that something be added to Walt’s treasured park for quite some time. I’m glad to see it finally happening. If you are planning to visit anytime soon be sure to check out “The Official Tickets Center” for all of you Disney tickets and discounts.

 

Countdown to Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios

 

 

 

If you have been paying attention lately, you would notice a great disturbance in Walt Disney World’s Force. If one would look for a minute over at Hollywood Studios, you would see a major Pixie Dusting taking place in the form of a huge expansion of Toy Story Land. For the past few years Hollywood Studios has been going to the extreme of updating this once not so popular theme park. Guests have been waiting patiently for this and Disney is guaranteeing a home run with this newest addition!

Over the past few weeks guests have been privy to a soft open of this new land. You won’t hear about it but you can sure read about it as Disney has been slowly and quietly bringing in media and bloggers to start building the excitement for what it hopes to be a big winner for their park. I have seen pictures and videos of the rides and food stands, but I have yet to go myself. Next week will be their official media event and yours truly will be there reporting on everything.

I am a huge Disney fan and I hope to be able to see all of my favourite characters as well as shrink down to what is the end idea of being one of Andy’s toys. The whole gist of their new land is to be one of Andy’s toys and for the guest to be able to enjoy a day in Andy’s backyard. I have seen the a few of the rides like Slink Dogs rollercoaster as well as a few walk up eateries and I can’t wait. It has been long overdue and I hope that Disney hits a homerun with this much needed addition!

Disney has great visions for all of their theme parks but Hollywood Studios I have a feeling will be a new diamond on Mickey’s crown especially after they add the much anticipated Star Wars Land. Once they have these two new additions they will be a Force to reckon with no pun intended…lol The only thing that I would have added if I were Disney is possibly a Toy Story Resort. Could you imagine how cool that would be for the kids? Hopefully they read this and make it happen. Stay tuned for after party reports and if you should every need discount Disney tickets to any of the parks, please visit The Official Ticket Center for all of your ticketing needs.

 

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL WITH NEW MARDI GRAS MERCHANDIS

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®

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(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.”

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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.

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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!