5 tips for your first trip to Orlando

 

 

Serving up an irresistible combo of good times and warm sunshine, Orlando is the perfect place for a family vacation. But with so much fun stuff to see and do near Disney, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are five tips to make sure your first trip to Orlando runs without a hitch!

 

Plan ahead – but don’t try to see it all!

 

Should you spend your whole vacation at Disney, visiting each of the different parks? Or should you focus on trying to see a few key attractions, with days off for shopping and water parks in between? There’s no right or wrong way to tackle a trip to Orlando, but whichever approach you decide to go for, it’s important to plan ahead.

 

Try to draw up a rough plan before you go, with the whole family’s ‘must-see’ attractions high up on the list. To make sure you have enough time (and cash!) for these, you might want to buy your attraction tickets in advance. It’s also a good idea to look at one of the many crowd calendars available online, so you can see which days tend to be busiest at each theme park.

 

Once you’ve ticked off the top sights, you can then work some of your second-choice attractions and activities into the time you have left. Walking around the theme parks and waiting in line can be surprisingly tiring, so it’s worth leaving some time over for chilling by the pool. You’ll be thankful for it when you come home feeling rested and relaxed!

 

Stay somewhere special


Not thrilled by the idea of staying at a dreary motel on International Drive? Well how about something completely different? The Disney area is packed with fun and unusual places to stay, including private villas that come with their own outdoor swimming pools.

 

At some of the best vacation rentals, like those offered by local experts Top Villas, you’ll have the chance to enjoy incredible private amenities. Guests can test their skills in zany game rooms, spend the night in beautiful themed bedrooms, and kick back in front of Hollywood blockbusters in their very own multi-seater movie theaters.

 

Staying at one of these high-end mansions isn’t just for the super rich; if you’re sharing with a few others, the per-person rates are often better than you’d get at a run-of-the-mill motel!

 

Get off the tourist trail

 

It’s famous for its tourist attractions, but you shouldn’t forget that Orlando is a living, breathing city. And there are loads of opportunities for getting off the tourist trail in and around the City Beautiful, without needing to break the bank.

 

Fans of golf will want to make a beeline for TopGolf Orlando, a local hangout that combines a high-tech driving range with an arcade, a restaurant and full-service bar. If you’re more into music and the arts, and you fancy getting a glimpse of Orlando’s creative underbelly, time your visit to coincide with the annual Immerse festival (mid October). Alternatively, for breweries, offbeat shops and independent restaurants, head to Downtown DeLand Historic District  – it’s a 45-minute drive north of downtown Orlando.

Take a couple of day trips


To get a feel for Florida life beyond the theme parks, make time for a couple of day trips. If you base yourself near Disney and have your own vehicle, you’ll be within easy reach of some of the state’s best beaches and state parks. You’ll also be within striking distance of some quirky coastal towns, many of them perfect for surfing, seafood and sunset cocktails.

 

One of the best day trips you can make from Orlando is to the Blue Spring State Park, where you have the chance to go kayaking, snorkeling or tubing in the crystal clear springs. You might also spot some of the manatees that congregate here from November to mid-March. It’s around an hour’s drive northeast from the Magic Kingdom.

 

If you’re up for a longer excursion, try the 100-mile round trip to the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast. Time your trip just right and you might get the chance to meet a real astronaut – or even catch a rocket launch!

 

Pack carefully – but don’t bring too much!

 

The Sunshine State is usually warm and err… sunny, but sometimes it can rain. Even though these downpours tend to be short-lived (unless you arrive during hurricane season) it still pays to pack a poncho or two. These can also be handy if you’re planning to check out some splash rides but don’t fancy staying wet for an hour or two afterwards.

 

And just because it’s usually hot in the daytime, that doesn’t mean you might not get a little cold at night. This is especially true during the winter months, so pack a couple of sweaters just in case. Remember that you can bring too much, though! And who knows? Forgetting something might just give you the perfect excuse to check out some of the awesome outlets in Orlando…

It’s Time to Celebrate Mardi Gras and Carnevale at Disney Springs!

Feast of Carnevale

The end of February and beginning of March marks the time to get together with friends and celebrate Mardi Gras.

The end of February and beginning of March marks the time to get together with friends and celebrate Mardi Gras. While famously celebrated on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Disney Springs® is offering up its own spin on this favorite holiday complete with food and entertainment that will have your Guests “jazzed” to celebrate!

No celebration is complete without a pair of ears and Mardi Gras-inspired Minnie Mouse ears make for the perfect party accessory! They feature all the fun colors and patterns of Mardi Gras. Your Guests can find these ears in the newly renovated World of Disney store at Disney Springs Marketplace.

And for foodies, there’s no shortage of specialty and limited-time eats on the menu at favorite restaurants. Look no further than House of Blues Restaurant & Bar for classic New Orleans favorites such as Steak Po’Boy (made special for this event!), Jambalaya, Gumbo and Bourbon Bread Pudding. Your Guests can grab all of these dishes at the Smokehouse grab and go window now through March 5, 2019. In addition to delicious bites, there will be live music, drink specials and prizes March 1-5 in the House of Blues Courtyard. With no cover or reservations required, this is a celebration Guests won’t want to miss.

Over in The Landing, Carnevale is back at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante! This annual festival began in Venice, Italy and commemorates the joyous gathering of family and friends to eat, drink, dance and celebrate life together. If booked by March 5, 2019, you’ll get a front-row seat to live entertainment including singers, stilt walkers, jugglers, mimes, face painters, folk dancers and more all while indulging in signature Italian cuisine. During this limited-time engagement, your Guests can enjoy the prix fixe “Feast of Carnevale” selections or order a la carte from the regular menu. Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling (407) 560-8466.

If you are planning a trip and are in need of discount Disney tickets, please contact local authorized ticket agent at www.officialticketcenter.com for current prices and discounts to the parks.

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.

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.

 

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!

Fast & Furious – Supercharged ride - universal orlando

Upcoming Orlando Theme Park Attractions 2018

For Orlando theme park guests it’s a whole new list of anticipations in 2018. At SeaWorld Orlando the upcoming Infinity Falls promises to take guests on a never before river ride adventure. Come spring, guests at Universal Studios Florida Park will be hijacked for a high-octane experience with the likes of Dom, Letty, Hobbs and the rest of Fast & Furious crew. Again Legoland Florida is offering the first V-R coaster for kids, featuring the wildest Lego race ever imagined. Last but not the least Disney World is all set to shrink guests to the size of a toy with its blockbuster 2018 project – Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park.

The new Fast & Furious – Supercharged ride attraction is opening at the Universal Studios Florida section of the popular Resort. The ride will take you on a pulse pounding action where you will meet up with the Fast & Furious gang. During the adventure you have to stay with the unbreakable team that will help you escape dangers during the wild chase. The new standalone attraction promises a longer and more furious and immersive ride experience, featuring vehicles with 120 mph ride speed, and high definition 3-D projections.

The Infinity Falls river raft ride at SeaWorld Orlando promises a thrilling journey of discovery. Amidst soaking fountains and waterfalls, roaring rapids and tallest drop, the newest ride will put you through the wildest wet experiences ever. Guests will board a round shape, eight-seater blue and green ride vehicle as they navigate through turbulent waters of Infinity Falls that ends with a pulse pounding 40 foot drop. At LEGOLAND Florida it’s another wildest Lego race waiting to take your kid’s V-R coaster experience to next level. The Great Lego Race is seen as the first V-R roller coaster initiative with the kids in mind. The wild virtual race pits guests against Lego speedsters.

When it comes to Walt Disney World – the Toy Story Land is one of the most anticipated 2018 attractions to look for at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A great opportunity for fans to experience the world of toys. The new land will shrink guests down to the size of a toy and put you in Andy’s backyard. The new attraction features the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster and the spinning ride – Alien Swirling Saucers ride. Toy Story Land also include a quick-food restaurant and the popular Toy Story Mania 4-D shooting ride.

You can book your discount Sea world, Disney World or universal studios tickets from Officialticketcenter.com in advance and save more on upcoming trips to your favorite theme parks in Orlando, Florida.

Staying Cool At A Orlando Theme Park Near You

Winter time in Florida is almost here and the temperatures are rising at the theme parks to prove it. The biggest issue a traveler has when visiting the parks during the hot and humid times is their stamina and sweating to death. There are many issues that will make or break a person during their vacation here and keeping cool is at the top of that list! So many times you hear of travelers coming to the Orlando area and visiting the parks wearing as little as possible. You would think that showing up to the Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios wearing almost nothing in order to stay cool would be the best idea but time and time again this proves to be a very bad idea!

First off I would like to tell you that I used to work at Disney World for 8 years and I have seen it all. The tourist that are there on their first day and hitting the parks in the morning and then showing up at the end of that day looking like a fried lobster. The look on their faces resembling a fresh fried piece of red  leather and heat waves rolling up their whole body! Not fun and surely not feeling good! I have seen people get physically ill from too much sun to the point of needing medical attention. This is not how to stay cool folks. People from Europe are the worst when visiting our theme parks and get burned up in the first few day.

Staying cool in Florida is not that hard and requires just a few simple things. The biggest thing one must do is lather up with the sun screen! Head to toe and applying throughout the day. No exceptions. Next wear a long sleeve shirt that you won’t mind getting wet in. Ladies might want to wear a undershirt for this! Throughout the day when you start getting hot, pour a cup of water all over your shirt! This will cool your body core down and make you feel like you just jumped in a nice cold pool. Next bring a big plastic water bottle that you can refill at the parks for free. Drinking water will also bring your core body temperature down considerably. This will also save you money rather than buying water in the parks.

The biggest and best way to cool down would have to be airconditioning! Get your shirt wet and go stand or sit on one of the many areas inside at the theme parks. If you can’t find on ask! A cast member will tell you the best areas to go take a break at. I try to always take two pairs of cloths with me when I go to the parks, one for getting wet at the parks in and one for the end of the evening. This will make your trip home not a funky one! Wear a big hat and wear cool towel to wear around your neck. There are many on the market that state they are a cooling towel and they do work. Remember to pace yourself and take those breaks! It’s a vacation, not a race.

For discounts on your favourite Orlando theme parks including discount Disney tickets and discount Universal Studios tickets, contact our office by calling toll free 1-877-406-4836 today to save!

Theme Parks, Screaming Parents and Disfunction Oh My!

Have you ever been on vacation and witnessed a situation that made you cringe or better yet made you want to rethink your choice of destination? I can’t count how many times I have been at a theme park in Orlando and witnessed a parent yelling at a tired child or worse seen grown adults getting into fights over the dumbest things. The other day I was waiting for the Ferry Boat to take me and my little princess back to the parking lot and Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park and a older man walked right up next to us and started clipping his nasty nails within feet of my little girl. When I said excuse me sir, he just looked at me and went right back to making his nasty little pile of fingernail clippings. When he was done, he just kicked them around and spread them for the people to walk through.

Nastyness is everywhere and I guess it is all in how you deal with it. You may remember not to long ago, two women at one of the other Disney parks got into a fistacuf over someone getting to close in line and then started beating the crap out of one another with umbrellas all while children looked on. Such an ugly site for anyone to witness but those little souls were probably scared for life after seeing the ugly side of adults at such a magical place. I have to admit that there have been times that I have lost my cool, but was smart enough to take a deep breath and walk away, but all to often this is not the case. When you mix long days with heat and add a little beer to the mix, things are going to get a little testy from time to time.

Last week I was at Universal Studios Orlando and witnessed a man yelling at the top of his lungs at his little boy for not moving in the right direction for dads perfect vacation photo. I think he knew he was losing it when everyone around him just liked at him with shame, but some people just do give a damn about how they are acting or how they look doing it! When you start mixing long hot days with screaming kids and throw in a beer or two, things are going to get a little ugly. Some of the worst times that I have been at a theme park and just saw absolute chaos had to be at Epcot during their International Wine & Food Festival. Not a place for non-drinking people who do not like to see loud obnoxious people have a good time.

If you are a traveler who wishes to visit during the least stressful time, I recommend going during time when kids are in school and the season is cool with no 100 degree days. The hottest times seem to be the most stressful times as many travelers are not used to our hot steamy Florida days. It can suck the life right out of someone, leaving them stressed and dehydrated. This is not good if you are supposed to be taking of kids or elderly people. Just remember to stay cool, come during the right time and try to stay away from drink festivals if traveling with small children. For discount Disney tickets or Universal Studios tickets, please call our office toll free at 1-877-406-4836.