Hogwarts Express – Behind The Scenes At Universal Orlando

Fastpass Q&A

Q. How many FastPass+ selections for attractions and entertainment am I allowed to make during my entire vacation?
A. The total number of FastPass+ experiences available to you during your visit depends on several factors including availability and the vacation packages and tickets linked to your Disney account. Generally, Guests are able to select one set of FastPass+ experiences each day for every valid theme park ticket linked to their account.

Depending on availability, you should be able to make up to 3 FastPass+ selections for attractions and entertainment each day at one theme park. You can choose your FastPass+ experiences up to 30 days in advance of each day of your theme park visit. If you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you can make your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days prior to check-in for the entire length of your stay.

After you use all of the initial FastPass+ experiences on the day of your visit (or your arrival windows have passed), you can select one additional FastPass+ experience to use that same day (based on availability). The additional FastPass+ experience is a rolling FastPass+ experience—each time you use an additional FastPass+ experience, you can select a new one.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opens May 28

The lovable world of Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy and Dopey comes excitingly to life starting May 28, 2014 when the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train takes New Fantasyland guests on a rollicking, musical adventure into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”

The “crowning jewel” of New Fantasyland, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train represents the completion of the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. The family-style coaster features first-of-its-kind ride vehicles that swing back and forth during the ride. Adding to the fun, the journey will be accompanied by music from the film classic and scenes filled with Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and playful forest critters.

Inspired by the Disney animated film classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the story begins as guests cross a stone bridge and walk through a beautiful forest with the Dwarfs’ cottage in the distance. Then, they step into the attraction entrance and into the timeless story of the radiant and kindhearted Snow White and her forest friends led by the lovable Dwarfs.

When designing the cottage, Walt Disney Imagineers referenced the film in order to plan details as intricate as the color combination of roof shingles, the slope of the roof’s eaves, the shape of a lantern, and especially the etched woodland creatures that decorate the house. Props – including lanterns, ropes, pulleys and buckets of shiny jewels – were inspired by items found in the mine scenes of the film. According to Walt Disney Imagineering, jewels appear throughout the mine in four different sizes and in six different colors: red, green, amber, purple, blue and clear.

Let It Go | Alex Boyé (Africanized Tribal Cover) Ft. One Voice Children’s Choir

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a salon at Disney World dedicated to creating magical Disney Princess makeovers guaranteed to delight any little girl. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique offers three different makeover styles to choose from, and features some of the most beloved Disney Princesses, including Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Jasmine. Depending on the package you purchase, your very own Fairy Godmother will complete the magical transformation in about a half hour.              


Princess-Perfect Packages

How much of a princess do you want to be? It’s all up to you at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! Whether you want a touch of glamour or to be ready for the ball, we have the perfect spell:First, pick your hairstyle:

  • Fairytale Princess
  • Disney Diva
  • Pop Princess
  • Color Star

Then pick your package:

The Coach Package (starting at $54.95 plus tax)

  • Hairstyling
  • Shimmering make-up, face gem
  • Princess sash and tote

The Crown Package (starting at $59.95 plus tax)

  • Hairstyling
  • Shimmering make-up, face gem
  • Princess sash and tote
  • Nail polish

The Courtyard Package (starting at $94.95 plus tax)

  • Hairstyling
  • Shimmering make-up, face gem
  • Princess sash and tote
  • Nail polish
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique T-shirt
  • Trendy tutu

The Castle Package (starting at $189.95 plus tax)

  • Hairstyling
  • Shimmering make-up, face gem
  • Princess sash and tote
  • Nail polish
  • Complete costume of your choice plus accessories
  • One 6″ x 8″ and four 4″ x 6″ photos in a princess-themed holder

The More the Merrier
Make your day even more magical with photo add-ons, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique merchandise and the Knight Package.

The following extras are available at an additional cost:

The Imaging Package ($32.95 plus tax)
Can be added to any package

  • One 6″ x 8″ and four 4″ x 6″ photos in a special photo holder


  • Sparkling Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique T-shirt
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique parasol

The World of Disney location offers a wide variety of beautiful accessories, including ponytail hairpieces and tiaras.

Guests can also choose:

The Knight Package ($15.95 plus tax)

  • Hairstyling with gel
  • Mighty sword and shield
  • Confetti

Know Before You Go

View important information about reservations, available products and Guest restrictions.

  • Makeovers at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are very popular, so reservations are strongly recommended. Call (407) WDW-STYLE or (407) 939-7895 to book your appointment with a Fairy Godmother-in-training today!
  • Guests must be between 3 and 12 years of age and be accompanied by an adult (18 years of age or older).
  • Your princess transformation will take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the package selected.
  • Costume choices may include Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella, Tinker Bell, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Merida.

Six more ways to eat healthier at theme parks this summer

1. Pack lunches to bring with you to the park. You won’t have to wait on line for food, can eat exactly what you want and you’ll save big bucks.
2. Bring reusable water bottles and forgo sugar-laden drinks. Pat yourselves on the back for traveling greener and avoiding plastic water bottles. The kids can turn their bottles into instant souvenirs by slapping stickers on them.
3. Skip kids’ meals entirely and share an adult portion with your child or divide an adult portion between two kids.
4. Make reservations for dinner at a “sit down” restaurant in the park where you have more healthy options to choose from. Order a half portion from an adult menu for the kids. Use vacation to encourage them to try new foods!
5. Opt to stay someplace where you have a kitchen or at least a fridge so you can prepare a healthy breakfast-cereal and milk, yoghurt, fruit, etc, rather than calorie-laden pastries or doughnuts.
6. Pack your own snacks so when the kids-and you-get the munchies you can satisfy your cravings without cotton candy, giant lollipops or caramel apples.

Let’s hear it for Mickey Mouse.
Order a kid’s meal at a Disney park and you get apples instead of fries, (unless you ask for fries), and low-fat milk rather than sugary soda. Of the more than 12 million kids meals served last year at Disney Parks and Resorts in the U.S., parents stuck with the healthier options six out of 10 times. Now Disney will enhance these efforts by further reducing sodium in kids’ meals and introducing new well-balanced kids’ breakfast meals.

This is all part of a broader initiative just announced that makes Disney the first major media company to introduce new standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families.

We all know the dismal childhood obesity statistics: 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. But whether a child is overweight or not, it’s certainly not healthy to eat a steady diet of fried and fat-laden foods on vacation.

As we all head to theme parks this summer, let’s consider how we might eat healthier while we’re there. Sure you can still get churros, burgers, chicken fingers and fries and all the ice cream you want at theme parks, but you can also get fresh salmon and rotisserie chicken at LEGOLAND Florida, where there is an entire new exhibit, complete with LEGO characters about farming and where our food comes. At Sea World Orlando’s Sharks Underwater Grill, there’s a steak kabob on the kid’s menu.

Nearby at Downtown Disney, Kids chowing down at Wolfgang Puck Cafe can choose California rolls made from ham and cheese while the Italian restaurant Portobello offers whole-wheat cheese pizza and the kids’ menu at Fulton’s Crab House includes crab legs and fresh fish.

Disney World’s Rider Switch Program

Don’t let traveling with a toddler or infant keep you from enjoying some of the best attractions Disney World has to offer, use the rider switch program to explore some of Disney’s most thrilling rides. The rider switch program works best at rides that have a long line and have a height restriction — or are just too scary for your little one.

Consider using the rider switch if you want to enjoy roller coasters like Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The rider switch program isn’t just for roller coasters — Snow White’s Scary Adventures will terrify most small children, so ask for a pass if there is a long line.

How it Works: A child switch or rider switch pass allows you to just wait in line once — so Dad can wait in line and then enjoy Expedition Everest while Mom watches the little ones. Once Dad has enjoyed the ride, Mom can use a the rider switch pass just like a Fastpass, and breeze to the front of the line.

Who can use the rider switch program: Anyone with a child or dependent adult who is unable to ride an attraction like Soarin’, Splash Mountain or the Tower of Terror. At least two adults or responsible parties are required to utilize the rider switch program — one to experience the attraction and one to wait with the child.

How to Use the rider switch program: Approach the cast member at the Fastpass or main entrance of the attraction you want to ride. Some rides will do a rider switch even though they do not have a Fastpass option. Let the cast member know you want to do a rider switch, and you will be issued a special paper ticket. The first rider will need to wait in the line, but the second rider will not.

Warning: You must have all parties present to qualify for a rider switch ticket — at least one child and two responsible adults. If all parties are not present, you won’t be issued a pass.

*You can still use a Fastpass with the child switch program — just show up at the time on the Fastpass and let the ride attendant know you need to make a switch.
*Look for play or shopping areas to explore while you wait for your turn to ride, or use the waiting time to allow your child to take a quick nap.

Single Riders

This suggestion won’t work for parents who have young children, but if you don’t mind seeing your older kids take off in the car before you or the car after you, Disney’s single rider lanes are a real time-saver.

Essentially, by getting into this line you agree to let the park personnel at the front of the line assign you to any car where they need to fill a seat, even if that means splitting up your family and friends for the length of the ride. Many times, you’ll find smaller groups stay together anyway. Single rider lines can cut your wait time in half — sometimes by even more at peak wait times. Look for the option if you think your family situation will allow it.

Car Masters Weekend Returns to Downtown Disney for 3rd Year of Retro Fun

Downtown Disney is about to undergo its own extreme makeover into Disney Springs, so June 15-16 may be the last year to really enjoy the great atmosphere of Car Masters Weekend until about 2017. If that’s not a good enough reason to get you out to see the cars, there is always the merchandise, special meet and greets, and the Pixar Cars themed fun. Plus this year they’re throwing in new fun from Splitsville and La Nouba by Cirque du Soliel and more.
Car Masters Weekend, now in its third year, is also the perfect way to celebrate Father’s Day. The Downtown Disney West Side area will be filled with classic cars and special entertainment as only Disney can arrange. Featuring all things “Cars,” the event showcases meet and greets with Disney•Pixar “Cars” and “Cars 2″ characters, a sock hop at Splitsville, select discounts on food and shopping, and more exciting entertainment for the whole family.

Tips for Navigating Lines at Disney

We love theme park rides, but one of the things we’re not so crazy about are the long lines caused by the gazillions of other people who also love theme park rides.

Visit at Off-Peak Times to Navigate Lines at Disney

The single best tip for minimizing the time you wait in lines is to zag when everybody else is zigging. That is, plan your visit when the crowds are likely to be relatively low. Try to avoid high traffic times such as the early summer, school vacations, or holidays. Of course, there are reasons why guests flock to the parks during the busiest times, and if you find yourself visiting during a high season, you still want to zag and avoid zigging.

Arrive Early to Navigate Lines at Disney

Arrive when the park opens, and hit the most popular rides first. Leave during the midday crush, and return in the early evening. Also, figure out traffic patterns and do the opposite. For example, Spaceship Earth, the attraction near Epcot’s front gate, is usually busiest in the morning when guests enter the first line they encounter. Consider going to other attractions in the morning, and return to Spaceship Earth when the lines are shorter in the afternoon.

Tips for Navigating Lines at Disney During Summer

During the summertime, one of my favorite strategies for avoiding the lines is getting a very early start, riding things in the morning, and then taking a break and doing some resort down-time. So come and swim at the pool, take a nap, eat at one of the great restaurants in the area, and then after you’ve had a good rest, go back in the evening when the lines maybe are a little quieter.

Use Fastpass to Navigate Lines at Disney

You will want to take advantage of Fastpass, Disney’s line management system. It’s free to use and can save a lot of wait time. Here’s how it works: for Fastpass-enabled attractions, check the standby line wait time and the Fastpass return time to determine whether it makes sense to use Fastpass.

Tips for Using Fastpass to Navigate Lines at Disney

If it does, insert your admission ticket into the Fastpass machine, which will spit out a Fastpass indicating your return time. When it is time to return, go to the Fastpass line, and show your ticket to a cast member. It’s important to note that you can’t get another Fastpass for any attraction until it’s time for you to return for the first attraction OR two hours have passed since you obtained the first Fastpass.

Use Apps to Navigate Lines at Disney

You might want to check out smart phone apps designed to help users better navigate the lines at Disney parks. One of the more popular queue apps is RideMax (this is a paid app but well worth it if you will have more than one visit.) When you do find yourself stuck in a long line, Disney has added some interactive elements to help pass the time. Themed to the attractions’ stories, the interactive queues help set the stage and build anticipation for the ride experiences.

Written by Arthur Levine at About.com

Home V Hotel

Party with the Monsters at Disney this Summer

New and Fresh Experiences

Delight in new additions and enhancements across the Resort, including:

  • New Fantasyland: Discover more immersive enchantment with the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom park*
  • Test Track® Presented by Chevrolet®: Cruise into Epcot* for an exciting ride on a recently reimagined attraction
  • Splitsville Luxury LanesTM: Enjoy a modern twist on the classic bowling alley, located in the Downtown Disney area
  • Splashtacular Places: Delve into fun at the recently updated Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park* and Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park*
  • Celebrate the Magic: Soak up the sights and sounds of this popular nighttime spectacular, including an all-new segment dedicated to summer fun and some favorite Disney characters

Monstrous Surprises Around Every Corner
Be on the lookout for Mike and Sulley from the upcoming Disney•Pixar film Monsters University. They’re scaring up all kinds of surprises throughout the summer at Walt Disney World Resort.

  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor: Led by Mike—the “monster of ceremonies”—a colorful gang of comics has been studying up on their jokes. Will they graduate to new comedic materials? Check out the “frights” and sounds in this attraction to see for yourself!
  • The “Monsterail“: One of the iconic Monorail trains has been redesigned and monster-ized with visuals from the newest Disney•Pixar film. So go ahead and hop on board—this is one frighteningly fun Monorail ride you won’t soon forget!
  • Monsters University Meet Up: Drop in to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a magical encounter with some monstrous friends from Disney•Pixar’s Monsters University, and pop off a few frighteningly good photos with Mike and Sulley!

Citizens sing in a Summer Trolley Show

Starting in June at Walt Disney World Resort, hop on for a magic ride down memory lane as the Citizens of Main Street U.S.A. get summer hummin’ along in style!

The second you walk through the gates at Magic Kingdom park, keep your eyes peeled for a toe-tappin’, parasol-spinnin’ good time—the Citizens have got the red, white and blue spirit after all and they’re ready to pass it along to you! So get in the mood for some good old-fashioned summertime fun and join the Citizens for this unforgettable bit of Limited Time Magic!

Disney FastPass

Discover how to make the most of Disney’s advance planning program, including how to get FastPass+ before you arrive at the parks.

A ride on the Mad Tea Party tea cups is an archetypal Disney theme park experience. But the 90-or-so seconds of pure joy is frequently preceded by another archetypal Disney theme park experience: the dreaded 45-or-so minutes spent standing in line.

It is an absurd irony that we toil away all year at our oppressive jobs, scrimp and save for a big vacation, and fly halfway across the country…so that we can inch along in the hot sun for hours while we listen to our kids whine. But we love theme parks, and lines are a necessary theme park evil, right? Well, not necessarily.

Fastpass, available for selected attractions at the four Walt Disney World properties in Florida, eliminates lines. There are some caveats, however. The most important: Guests can only have one Fastpass at a time unless two hours have lapsed since picking up a Fastpass ticket. That means you’ll still have to wait in some of the old rat-maze queues, now called “standby” lines.

Disney Takes a Pass at Lines

Instead of watching those cheesy projected asteroids fly overhead ad nauseam, Disney’s Fastpass allows guests to wander freely around Tomorrowland before blasting off into hyperspace. Depending on the time of day, the number of people in the park, and the popularity of the attractions, Fastpass return times can vary considerably. On very crowded days, the waits can quickly jump to three or four hours — or the passes can run out completely.

  1. Once you’ve decided to use the Fastpass system for an attraction, go to the bank of Fastpass machines near that attraction’s entrance. Insert your admission ticket, and the machine will spit out a Fastpass ticket indicating the time you need to return.
  2. You have a one-hour window. For example, the Fastpass may read “Please return anytime between 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m.” Go enjoy other things in the park. Return to the Fastpass line at the attraction during the designated time.
  3. A cast member (Disneyspeak for employee) will check your Fastpass before allowing you into the line. DON’T DISCARD YOUR FASTPASS TICKET! At many of the attractions, a second cast member will re-check your Fastpass before letting you board the ride. (This prevents scofflaws from sneaking from the standby line into the Fastpass line.)
  4. You can’t get another Fastpass for any attraction until it’s time for you to return for the first attraction OR two hours have passed since you obtained the first Fastpass (whichever comes first).

Fastpass Tips

  • The most important tip is a general one: Plan ahead and get to the parks early — particularly during holidays and other peak periods. You’ll be able to get Fastpasses with quick return times for the most popular attractions right away, and you’ll probably be able to walk onto some attractions as well. Later in the day, when the Fastpasses are gone and the lines have swelled up to two hours, go hang out by your hotel pool with a frozen drink.
  • To save time and energy, give the quickest one or two members of your touring group all of your admission passes and have them get the Fastpasses. You can order their meals or start some other activity while they’re traveling back and forth across the park.
  • Look at the posted standby line time. If it’s just a few minutes, it’s probably not worth wasting a Fastpass. Just wait in the regular line and use Fastpass later for a more crowded attraction. On particularly slow days, you may only need to use Fastpass once or twice, if at all.
  • Look at the posted Fastpass return time. There are signs at the entrance of all Fastpass-enabled attractions that indicate the current return times. If it’s much later in the day, and you’re planning to go somewhere else, you may want to skip the Fastpass. Remember, you can’t get another Fastpass until it’s time for you to return for the first attraction (or two hours have lapsed).
  • Ask cast members if any Fastpass machines are distributing “Surprise” Fastpasses. These bonus tickets, given at the same time as a regular Fastpass, will allow you to skip the line for a second attraction.
  • Look at the posted Fastpass return time and the standby line time. If it looks close, you may be able to get a Fastpass, wait in the standby line, then get back in the Fastpass line for an immediate re-ride.
  • Once you get a Fastpass for later in the day, try not to plan an itinerary that will have you crisscrossing the park. The time you save from Fastpass may be wasted walking all over the park.

Disney Top Tips

#10: Take a break in the early afternoon.

Especially in the summer, the heat in Orlando can be a killer. We recommend going to one of Disney World’s parks early, then taking a break in the early afternoon to escape the heat. Go relax in your condo or pool home or find a restaurant or a relaxing attraction like The American Adventure in Epcot. This will let you escape the heat as well as rest up to have fun for the rest of the day.



#9: Avoid parks with early morning or late extra-hours.

Disney Parks with Extra Magic Hours tend to be very crowded. If you are staying off property, go into one of the three other parks that do not have EMH. The park will become jam packed with people as the day goes on.



#8: Make all your Disney World dining reservations as early as possible. (But be sure to cancel more than 24 hours in advance if you need to.)

With Disney World restaurants, guests can book reservations up to 180 days in advance. Many people get the dining package, but then wait until the last minute and get stuck with the less desirable restaurants. Don’t be like them and prepare! Note: Disney World now enforces a cancellation fee around $10 per person for reservations broken less than 24 hours in advance. Advanced Dining Reservations are not as flexible as they used to be, but they are still a valuable asset for planning your Disney World vacation. Just be aware of the cancellation fees and keep track of your ADRs! (Advanced Dining Reservations)


#7: Use Restaurants.com

Sign up for Restaurants.com, a great resource for saving money on dining at restaurants around Disney World. They send codes up to 80% off for restaurants in the Orlando Area, including Swan and Dolphin’s Shula’s, Ill Molinos, Todd English’s Blue Zoo, and Downtown Disney’s House of Blues.

#6: Use Disney’s iPhone app… or the wait time board.

Planning is an essential part of any good Disney World trip. There are several smartphone apps, including the official (and free) Disney Parks’ Mobile Magic for the iPhone, that can give you up to the minute info on wait times and Fastpass availability for each attraction. It’s a really great way to be able to figure out which ride to hit up next. For the less-tech savvy, each park has a wait time board that will give you the length of the lines. Use each of these resources to make your way around the parks and save yourself hours of waiting in long lines.

#5: Buy an Annual Pass

An annual pass is great for more than just the ability to visit Disney World many times in a year. In fact, it might make financial sense to buy an annual pass even if this was your only visit to Disney during the year. If your party was only to buy one annual pass, the savings you qualify for with it might be well worth it. There is a 10% discount of merchandise and qualified food in the parks.

#4: Get to the park 30-40 minutes before it opens.

The early bird really does get the worm at Disney World. Except in this metaphor, the early bird gets to ride Space Mountain a couple of extra times. The parks are always the least crowded right when they open, or at the “rope drop” as Disney experts call it. This allows your group to hit major popular attractions in a fraction of the time that it would take just hours later in the day. If you want to get the most out of your day at Disney World, show up 30-40 minutes before the park opens. For those who want to see it all, this tip is not to be missed.

#3: Use The Single Rider Line

The Single Rider lines at Disney World are sometimes even quicker than the Fastpass line, and they are even easier to overlook. Single riders fill in the spots left over from odd numbered groups. If you go in a single rider line with your friends or family, there is a small chance that you will be seated by one or two of the members of your group. However, be mindful that you will most likely be separated, but just for the duration of that ride. This also provides a great opportunity to be “that guy” in some other family’s picture of them on Test Track. For the Disney fan looking to get the most out of their Disney World day, Single Rider lines are a must.

#2: Use A Fastpass.

The Fastpass is one of the best innovations ever to come to Walt Disney World. It lets you grab a ticket for a popular ride and then come back later and experience a shorter line. Effective use of Fastpasses will let your party get more done with your day at Disney. With effective planning, your group can use Fastpasses to ride all the most popular Disney World attractions.

#1: Remember: You’re on vacation!

Don’t stress yourself out trying to have fun! This is the most magical place on Earth. Take time to enjoy it. Also, don’t try to do too much. Figure out which rides and sights are the most important for you to visit ahead of time, and then make a plan to try to experience all of them. If you don’t get to everything, don’t worry! You’re still in Disney World!

Florida Hurricane Season

Does Florida Get a Lot of Hurricanes?

  • More storms hit Florida than any other US state. Looking at the years from 1851 to 2004, for hurricanes of Category 3 and higher: Florida had 35 hurricanes; Texas, 19; Georgia, 3; Alabama, 6. Typically, at least one named storm makes landfall in Florida every season.
  • Some areas of Florida may be as risky as the Caribbean islands. The chances of Miami being hit by a hurricane is “higher than anywhere in the Caribbean” the period from August to October is the height of the hurricane season in Florida. Remember, though, that Mother Nature isn’t reading any calendars.
  • For Floridians, hurricane preparedness is part of life.

Do Visitors Travel to Florida during Hurricane Season? 

Absolutely! And they travel to the Caribbean islands, too. The chances of your particular vacation spot being affected by a horrendous storm during the days of your visit are small. In fact, as noted earlier, summer’s a peak travel season in Florida. Also, state and local governments are well aware of the importance of tourism to Florida’s economy, and they closely monitor any developing storm activity and anticipate impacts for visitors.

Note too, that Orlando — the state’s tourism powerhouse– is in central Florida, more than an hour away from either the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Coast.


For millions of family vacationers, Orlando is the destination in Florida, and fortunately its distance from both coasts gives some protection from storms. Still, Orlando has had some action over the years. 2004′s Hurricane Charley, for instance, whipped through central Florida and even shut down Walt Disney World for a short while.

Walt Disney World and Hurricanes 

Since the Magic Kingdom theme park opened in 1971, Disney World theme parks have only closed completely due to storms on two occasions*: in 1999 for Hurricane Floyd, and for Charley in 2004.

Disney ticket prices on the rise

Yes, one-day ticket prices have risen, and multi-day passes have gone up as well. However, multi-day tickets, particularly the 4- through 10-day passes, still offer substantial savings. An 8-day Disney World ticket with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More, for example, which includes unlimited admission among the 4 theme parks for 8 days plus 8 visits to any combination of the resort’s two water parks, a round of golf, Disney Quest, a round of miniature golf, or Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, costs $403. (All examples included here, unless noted, are based on tickets for ages 10 and older. Tickets for ages 3 to 9 cost less; children under 3 are admitted free.) That’s $50.38 per day, which is fairly reasonable considering all of the options.

A comparable 10-day pass costs $423, just $20 more than the 8-day option. That brings the per-day cost down to about $42, which is a pretty good deal.

For more information on Disney and other park tickets call Florida Deluxe Villas today and one of our “Ticket Team” will be happy to help you.

Star Wars Weekends

Feel the power of the Force! Enjoy a weekend filled with classic Star Wars characters and celebrities, out-of-this-universe entertainment, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and your favorite Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions—from May 17 to June 9, 2013.

Tickets now on sale for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party


November 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22
December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20


Advanced Purchase

Advance Purchase pricing is available for all events except 11/22, 12/6, 12/13, 12/19 & 12/20. For events on these dates, only Same-Day Sales Pricing applies.

Ages 10+ – $62 + tax
Ages 3 to 9 – $57 + tax

Same Day Purchase

Ages 10+ – $67 + tax
Ages 3 to 9 – $62 + tax

Premium Night

December 20 2013
Ages 10+ – $71 + tax
Ages 3 to 9 – $66 + tax

Passholder and DVC Discounts

Specially priced tickets are available to Disney Vacation Club Members and Passholders with the following Annual Passes – Premier Passport, Premium Annual Pass, Annual Pass, Seasonal Pass, Weekday Select Pass, and Epcot After 4pm Annual Pass for the following event days: 11/8, 11/11, 11/14, 11/15, 11/17, 11/21, 12/1, 12/3, 12/5 & 12/10.

Advance Purchase

Ages 10 + – $58 + tax
Ages 3 to 9 – $53 + tax


Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

Come explore the biggest and most expansive attraction in SeaWorld Orlando’s history, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™. This epic exploration of a mysterious world blends animal encounters with an exhilarating family ride for a one-of-a-kind experience the whole family will enjoy. Be transported to an icy world like you’ve never seen before. Experience the majestic grandeur of the South Pole and see it through the penguins’ eyes on an exhilarating, first-of-its-kind family ride. Then, step out and explore their colony in an expanse that envelops you in cool extremes: bringing you above and below their icy world. Are you ready?

SeaWorld Orlando’s Reusable Cup Program

Visiting the world famous theme parks in Orlando is a dream come true experience for any. But when it comes to a more conscious and responsible vacation, I think SeaWorld Orlando is probably a better option. The Park besides being the global leader in marine attractions is also known for its unique conservation activities such as – the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, a no profit initiative that helps protect wildlife worldwide. Following its environmentalist approach, the Park comes with another new fun program in the form of a more innovative and interactive penguin cup, namely Cup That Cares.

The new reusable cup program offers you the opportunity to enjoy the thrills in a more special and personalized format. With the Cup That Cares program guests will be able to reuse materials and reduce their carbon footprint at personal levels. Each cup comes with an embedded RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chip which calculates and tells guests how conscious they are environmentally. Every-time they choose to reuse the cup at any of the installed soft-drink dispensers, the software calculates the specific amount of Carbon- dioxide each guest saves. It is interesting to know that every refill with a re-usable cup will save about 27 grams of Carbon- dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

The new program is exclusively available at the park’s newest attraction- Antarctica: Empire of the Penguinwhich opens on May-24, 2013. The Antarctica attraction is the biggest and most expansive ride adventure that the park has to offer till date. Here while the world’s most freezing ride takes you on an epic journey down into the bottom amidst wildest habitats, the new penguin cup program enables you to engage in activities that encourage the well-being of such natural habitats and environs around us.

Guests have a choice of two distinct cup options- Cup That Cares souvenir reusable cup and Create A Cup That Cares at 9.99 USD and 15.95 USD onwards. The Cup That Cares features the picture of the penguin hero Puck and is available at any of the two beverage outlets within the attraction site, while Create A Cup That Cares offers the flexibility to create your own penguin-shaped character cup and will be available at the Antarctica gift shop.

The new cup program is indeed a great conservation-minded initiative by the Park. We should do whatever little we can to save our environment. Thanks to SeaWorld for this wonderful thought and hope that the cup program will keep the spirit of awareness alive and active among the guests.

Diagon Alley coming to Universal

Building on the global phenomenon that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expansion of historic proportion with the entirely new themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project.  The new area will bring to life some of the experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films, offering brand-new adventures for fans and theme park guests from around the world.

Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.  The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.

And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between ‘London’ and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express.

Work on the new area is already underway.  When complete, it will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank – all directly inspired by the fiction and films.

To bring Diagon Alley and ‘London’ to life, Universal’s creative team is working closely with Warner Bros. and the production design team from the Harry Potter films – just as it did for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

“I’m so pleased that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I’m sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience,” said J.K. Rowling.

“We are continuing the journey and adding an entirely new level of adventure,” said Tom Williams, Chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts.  “And we are bringing the same drive, commitment, enthusiasm and innovation to this project as we did to the first.”

“We are thrilled to offer the legions of fans the opportunity to embark on this new journey and experience Diagon Alley as it was brought to life in the books and films,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

“Our vision is to create two amazing theme park experiences that combine into one, complete, magical journey,” said Alice Norsworthy, executive vice president, marketing and sales for Universal Orlando Resort.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in June 2010 as a fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment – bringing to life the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster feature films from Warner Bros.  Since that time, it has become a global phenomenon, entertaining millions of people from around the world.

Visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are swept into the adventures of Harry Potter.  They can tour Hogwarts castle, shop in Hogsmeade and dine at the Three Broomsticks.  They can soar above Hogwarts with Harry, be chosen by a wand at Ollivanders, sample Butterbeer and much more.

Happy Birthday Hollywood Studios

Today we celebrate the 24th birthday of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios).

The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be.

— Michael Eisner, May 1, 1989

Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid

Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, is the great new dark attraction located in the Enchanted Forest of the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland. The ride opened this past December to great fanfare and has been delighting Walt Disney World guests who experience it.

The queue for this attraction is truly phenomenal, and winds down along the shore-line beneath Prince Erik’s Castle. Guests encounter playful sea life they descend through the grotto’s and caverns where they can interact with mischievous little crabs engaging guests in games of ‘trash’ or ‘treasure’ to help the crabs fill their treasure chest. It’s an enchanting way to pass the time

Once under the sea, guests will find themselves immersed in the story of “The Little Mermaid.”, guests climb inside their Omnimover “clam shells” that move and turn to direct the guest’s attention while traveling with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures both above and below the Sea.

Adults and children alike will enjoy and relate to the festive atmosphere of the attraction and the suspenseful villainy of Ursula the Sea Witch.

Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid uses more than 180 Audio-Animatronic characters to tell its story through song and imagery. Their creation posed some special challenges to Imagineers who strived to place guests inside of the animated world. To achieve their goals a special “skin technology” was developed and used for Ariel, King Triton and Ursula, because they have so much exposed. The vibrant colors and life-like motion help to suspend reality and the familiar musical score playing through will entice everyone to sing along.

Electric convenience vehicles are able to navigate the mermaid queue easily. Though the belt loading system can sometimes be difficult to navigate for guests with impaired mobility, the cast members at this attraction have the ability to slow or stop the ride’s motion in order to assist those in getting on and off the ride. My experience with the cast members at this attraction in needing assistance was both friendly and compassionate.

2013 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Looking for something different that’s fun for kids and extra-special for grownups?

Guests visiting Disney World from March 6th through May 19th can check out Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival. First-time visitors with young children often overlook Epcot, assuming that it’s mainly for older kids, but there’s so much hands-on learning and fun at the Festival that a visit is well worth your time. In addition to flower towers, playgrounds, over 100 topiary, 240 floating mini-gardens, and countless beds with hundreds of blooms, this year’s festival offers a few surprises

  • For the first time, Future World and the World Showcase will have illuminated gardens full of sparkly lights each night. I think this is my favorite new addition.
  • There will be a new circus-like play area based on the film Oz: The Great and Powerful, which is being released on March 8, 2013. The play area will feature various play systems that will cultivate your kids’ imagination while they exercise, red and white circus tents, and plants that will recall the movie.
  • The Garden Marketplace will feature drinks like Hot Sun Tomato Wine from a local Florida winery and everyone’s favorite Dole Whip, this time with spiced rum. There will also be non-alcoholic beverages like Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade.
  • Kids will love the all the topiary featuring their favorite characters, including Phineas and Ferb, Mike and Sully, and Tinkerbelle and Friends.
  • A Radiator Springs interactive raceway located on the Test Track walkway will have Lightening McQueen and Mater in attendance.


As always, there will be exhibits every Friday by HGTV, showcasing various outdoor home improvement projects. In addition, you’ll want to check the schedule for other classes and seminars taking place throughout the 75-day festival.


There’s more than gardening on tap as well. Music lovers will enjoy the Flower Power concert series, which showcases bands from the 1970s and 80s:

March 8-10: Micky Dolenz
March 15-17: Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
March 22-24: The Guess Who
March 29-31: Nelson
April 5-7: The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie
April 12-14: Paul Revere & the Raiders
April 19-21: The Village People (new!)
April 26-28: The Orchestra, Featuring Former Members of ELO and ELO II
May 3-5: Tommy Roe (new!)
May 10-12: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
May 17-19: Starship starring Mickey Thomas.

Preventing Credit Card Fraud

Here are a few tips to help prevent credit card fraud.

*Never give out your credit card number over the phone unless you placed the original call.

*Use extreme caution in how and where you dispose of credit card carbons and receipts. Tearing the paperwork into very small pieces and disposing of them in your home trash can and greatly reduced you changes of fraud.

*In the state of Florida, it is now illegal for a merchant to require a consumer to display a credit card when accepting a personal check. The only form of identification necessary is a driver’s license or state photo identification card.

*Keep a list of all credit cards and the issuer’s phone numbers in a safe place in case you need to report the cards lost or stolen.

*Many credit card companies are now offering cards that have your photograph on them. Taking advantage of this type of offer can greatly reduce the chances of your card being used fraudulently.

*Carry only the credit cards you need and plan to use. Cards that you are not using should be placed in a secured area of your home. Carry your cards separately from your wallet.

*Always double check the total on your bill prior to signing the credit card receipt and then compare all your receipts to your monthly statement.

*Before discarding expired credit cards, always make sure to cut them up into small pieces and discard them in your home trash can.

*When getting gas on your debit card, always choose the CREDIT option, this will only ask for your zip code, not your pin number.

*During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.

*Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.

*Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.

*Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.

When traveling to Florida, always notify your card issuer. There is an abundance of places to visit and things to do, so you do not need the aggravation of you credit card being stopped because your issuer thinks it may have been stolen.

“Next Generation Experience”

With reports of Disney investing as much as $1 billion in what has been dubbed the “Next Generation Experience” or simply “NextGen,” there has been much conjecture and hand-wringing about what the project would entail and what impact it would have on guest visits. By releasing some details about its forthcoming MyMagic+ program, which will initially focus on Walt Disney World, the company has begun to make its intentions clearer. For the most part, the new initiatives would appear to be a positive development for park fans.

Starting in 2011, the company began introducing technology-fueled innovations that gave a sense of where it was heading in its bid to more personally engage its guests, tailor its one-size-fits-all approach, and make its parks more enchanting. Examples of small, but welcome advances included interactive queues in attractions such as Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid in New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. (You can see the Haunted Mansion interactive queue in my Tips for Navigating Disney Park Lines video.) The distractions help reduce the monotony of waiting in long lines, a bane of theme parks.

Disney Imagineers also developed intriguing interactive experiences that let guests explore the parks, cruise ships, and Aulani, its Hawaiian resort. The self-paced adventures, which incorporate sophisticated technology, include the Muppets-themed Midship Detective Agency aboard the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.

Disney Pluses the Magic

In early 2013, the company revealed more details about its NextGen project by announcing MyMagic+. The program is being anchored by the rollout of a new Web site and mobile app, both called My Disney Experience. They are now available with limited functionality. When they are fully operational, which is expected to take place in spring 2013, guests will be able to plan their Disney World vacations and visits in the following ways:
Make up to three advance reservations of ride times, show performances, character meet-and-greets, and/or preferred seating for fireworks or parades by using the new FastPass+ program. Yup, you read that correctly. You’ll be able to book a ride down to the day and hour on, say, Expedition Everest months in advance of your visit. How crazy is that?
Explore options and get info about the parks and the entire resort.
In addition to FastPass+, use planning tools to book hotel rooms, make dining reservations, purchase park tickets, and secure other services.
Coordinate trip planning with family and friends who will be joining you.
Share trip photos with your posse.
So How Much Will All this Pampering Cost Me?

Here is perhaps the most revolutionary part of the new program: It’s free. Nada. Zip.
After Disney spent a reported $1 billion on developing the technology, the rampant speculation that it would charge visitors beaucoup bucks for the privilege of pre-arranging their ride times and other vacation itineraries was perhaps understandable. Many feared that a two-tiered system pitting the moneyed elite against the average Joes might evolve.

Instead, the company seems to be hoping that its magical program will help to further distinguish it from its competitors and make Disney World all the more compelling. Additionally, it seems to be banking on fattened coffers from MyMagic+. By making all of its guests’ visits so much more seamless and engaging, Disney surely hopes that they will barely notice when they’ve parted with more of their hard-earned dollars.

How Will It Work at the Parks?

OK, you’ve planned your visit and you’ve booked your Fastpasses well in advance. Now what? Here’s where it gets even more ingenious. Disney has developed radio-frequency identification (RFID)-embedded bracelets it is calling MagicBands. (There sure is a lot of magic going on around here, isn’t there?) The rubber bracelets will come pre-loaded with all of your reservations and other info.
The MagicBands, which will be complimentary for Disney World guests staying on property, will be capable of being used as hotel room keys, virtual charge cards to make cashless purchases throughout the resort, park tickets, and Fastpass tickets. In the same way that transponders allow equipped cars to zoom past toll plazas on highways, MagicBand-equipped guests will be able to quickly tap their bracelets and avoid bottlenecked turnstiles at the parks.

Guests not staying at a Disney hotel will be able to purchase MagicBands. Regardless, they will still be able to participate in My Disney Experience by using park tickets with RFID chips.

Would you rather save the appointment you made months earlier with the Expedition Everest’s Yeti for another day? No problem. Once guests are at the park, they will be able to make changes on the fly using the My Disney Experience app on their smart phones. The app is sophisticated enough to provide users with real-time info about standby line wait times and Fastpass distribution and return times for attractions.

Possible Downsides

It all sounds fairly remarkable, especially the fact that the benefits of MyMagic+ are free — for now. While the company hasn’t announced anything, wary Disney watchers still suspect that premium options, which could command premium prices, may be on the way. Instead of three complimentary FastPass+ tickets, what if those willing to pay the price could pre-book all of their rides and the rest of their vacations?
Even if the have/have-not scenarios never materialize, it would seem that Disney is making Fastpasses more readily available. That might make standby lines even longer for visitors who run out of Fastpasses or who don’t take full advantage of the My Disney Experience options.

There are also security concerns. Losing a MagicBand, which could contain valuable tickets, credit card data, hotel room access, and other sensitive info could be problematic. Also, there is the 1984 aspect that some may find disconcerting. Disney will be able to track every purchase, every ride guests enter, and virtually every move its RFID-embedded guests make at its resort.

And future iterations of the program will allow users to enter personal information into their My Disney Experience profiles such as anniversary dates and favorite characters. That will allow Disney cast members to add personal touches such as welcoming guests by name and acknowledging their special occasions. Perhaps rides could even be tricked out to respond to passengers. For example, imagine Captain Jack Sparrow whispering conspiratorially to you, by name, in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Personally, I would have no problem sharing personal info with Mickey and the gang. The way I figure it, most of us on the grid gave up any semblance of anonymity years ago. Even so, Disney says that guests will be able to provide as little or as much info as they wish. They need not participate in MyMagic+ My Disney Experience at all if they so choose