Florida

72 Hours In Ontario

Over the weekend I took advantage of a stopover in Ontario on my way to Orlando. I managed to visit my family and friends in Acton and Toronto. While I couldn’t see everyone, I worked in quite a few.  

   
Also got to visit the awesome Christmas windows at Hudson’s Bay downtown after a fantastic lunch at Drake 150. The windows always gets me in a festive mood, and the food has always been great at this restaurant located downtown Toronto on Bay Steeet.  

    
   
Currently I’m headed to Orlando, taking the new UP Express Airport shuttle from Union Station. The price is a little steep at just over $27, however the trains are super modern and the trip is only 25 minutes long. Pretty impressed with it, there’s also free WiFi. I was going to use Uber, but didn’t want to get caught in traffic.
   
I’ve got a connection in Newark (ugh) then I’ll be arriving in Orlando just after midnight. Off to Universal tomorrow to see Diagonal Alley!

Halloween Horror Nights 23 Review

HHN23 Main Gate

We just got back from our amazing trip to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 23. We spent three nights experiencing the terror, gore and awesome that is our favourite Halloween event. This year’s focus was on zombies and more zombies, which was cool until we got sick of them and hearing The Walking Dead theme in every inch of the park. Read on check out our photos and read our thoughts on the event. Continue reading

Run Disney Tower of Terror 10 Miler Report

TOT Logo

Have you ever got the urge to try something completely out of your comfort zone? You want to combine your love for all that is Disney and get your fitness on?

I highly recommend looking into the RUN DISNEY events that have recently become a phenomenon throughout the lands.

I recently had the unique perspective of assisting in the preparation of a Disney Marathon with my step brother Shane. Not a seasoned runner by any means but has over the last year participated in several different Disney Marathon offerings, I thought during my recent trip to explore the running world with him and all that Disney has offered for these events.
The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror 10- Miler Weekend provided all the chills and thrills that an October run should offer, including plenty of villains thrown throughout the course to make it scary but so much fun!!
Now, I do NOT recommend using this race as your very first Disney Marathon unless you are a seasoned person because it does offer a challenge course wise, length wise and you certainly have to keep a steady pace or Disney officials will sadly disqualify you. HOWEVER, it is a nice challenge for someone who has trained for these type of races.
Set late at night, throughout the streets of Hollywood Studios, The ESPN Wide World of Sports Fields and then back through the Studios, Disney certainly pulls out all the stops for their events. With many character stops to special surprises, you have the opportunity to combine your love for athletics and getting your fitness on to seeing special not so often seen characters throughout the course.
Waiting for the race to start, I noticed that the runners are corralled into groups. Inside your corral, you are with runners of similar pace, therefore you’re not with a seasoned pro runner if your just starting with your very first race and then the seasoned pros are not with the newbies and so on.
Thousands of athletes are moving like cattle through gates to commence the race. This was a fantastic opportunity to us the spectators to scope out the athletes. So many different costumes and characters here. We saw the sublime runner with merely a set of earjacks for some night music to elaborate Tu-Tu’s created especially for races to Villain’s of every shape and size. Men in Tiara’s to Twilight Tower Of Terror costume replicas complete with bell boy hat to complete the outfit. I suspected with the extremely high humidity that some of those racers would be rethinking their attire once the race commenced.
It was the energy and emotion that I saw not only on the face of the racers but the spectators as well. it was truly an experience, and one I was very grateful to be a small part of.
Once you sign up for a Disney Marathon, you arrive a few days before and are invited to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex to pick up your packet and register. Thousands of runners, family & friends gather in this tight-knit community to share stories, war wounds and  to merely participate in the fun. There is also a fantastic opportunity to purchase any and all types of gear from many participating sponsors. From running shirts, socks, compression gear to assist with the pain caused from the sport to New Balance special RUN DISNEY RUNNING SHOES especially created exclusively for Run Disney events, there was literally something for everyone. Was looking like BLACK FRIDAY inside the retail coral and I attempted to get involved by taking a stroll through. Anything you could have thought of was there and so much more. Plaques for your medal, special tracking devices and there was so much my head was spinning. The energy from the participants was really charging and I wasn’t even running. The Expo is INTENSE SO BE PREPARED!!

The event is extremely well-organized and since Disney has been doing them for a few years now, they have become more seasoned and have been given much feedback and the likes and dislikes and have included something for everyone. HOWEVER, do remember that this IS a Disney event, there are going to be characters and situations happening throughout your event, photo ops which I highly recommend taking full advantage of unless you plan on returning for many more.
Speaking of characters, from the Old Hag from Snow White, which I can throw in here since I am a pretty versed expert in Snow White character sightings, she is NEVER, EVER OUT so I would take COMPLETE advantage of this one which I am kicking myself I am NOT in any shape to run but certainly HAS pushed me into wanting to start training so perhaps I might FINALLY be able to see the Hag.
But I digress, I am here to discuss the Mile Markers and characters. Shane would start sending photos of the mile markers which are electronic tote boards with the time clock timer so paces can be set by the runners, but there was sprinklings of themes throughout. Shane agreed that if Disney truly wanted to do something scary, they could. There was sightings of Scar and the hyenas from The Lion King and Pride Rock.  A haunted woods set up through the dark which took a few runners off guard as they came rounding the trail. Cruella De Vil was spotted although with Malificent and so many more along with a really awesome surprise for the avid Disney fan, one of the beloved submarines from 20,000 leagues under the sea was spotted on top a flat-bed truck which you could have your photo taken alongside.
Also a special note here, Run Disney also provides some of the very best medical in the racing community and they truly do look out for their athletes. With spots to stop throughout to get things from Vaseline to gel to assist your muscles to medic tents for more serious injuries, Disney has you covered. Multiple athletes were in serious need post race, wheelchairs from racers passing out from heat exhaustion to leg cramps and even a few protein spills……..Disney has got you covered in case your race didn’t go totally as planned.
As you came along close to the finish line, you could hear the commentators and the crowds started to get closer and the mere thought of the finish line was certainly  enough to provide some drive to get moving and finish. Flames shooting out of the finish line area was an awesome touch as you passed and the bleachers set up filled with literally hundreds of family, friends and spectators made it truly a memorable experience.
Afterwards, racers and special ticket holders were treated to a Villains Party until 4am. There was food and drink stations set up everywhere throughout the Park. It was interesting to walk through Hollywood Studios at 2am and be able to get a glass of wine or spirits or even a hearty beer and walk to an attraction. This is truly magical for some because Disney is obviously dry and not providing alcohol is pretty standard so this was a surprise.
Villains, Villains and more Villains was the theme. It seemed that since the race was over, EVERYONE was in the celebration mode. Photo spots are set up strategically throughout and if you wanted to snap a photo with the Evil Step Sisters well this was certainly the time.
PLEASE NOTE- this event was NOT free. It was a separate purchase ticket needed. $70+ taxes race day and for 6 hours, and not everything in the Park opened, it is certainly something to consider prior to going if you are a family member. It IS however included in the race fee so if you’re participating, HAVE FUN!!
All in all, from an outsider looking into her first Run Disney event, it was very well-organized, smooth transition and well executed.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10- Miler was certainly filled with chills and thrills and an event that I would highly recommend if you’re a Disney fan and someone who enjoys the sport of Marathons. I would also recommend going to RUNDISNEY.COM for more details on the plethora of offerings for up coming Marathons and the different types available

Disney releases incredible new World of AVATAR Details

Disney Avatar Land Overview

Disney just released amazing new renderings of the upcoming World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. While it’s only a few new glimpses of what we can expect to see, it looks amazing! Interestingly enough, they mention new nighttime entertainment using floating lanterns, water screens, live music and more. Seems like the long rumoured “Rivers Of Light” is finally blossoming! Read the details from the Disney Parks Blog below: Continue reading

Do You Know Disney Stacey?

disney stacey

One of the best parts of heading off to Walt Disney World is plopping down in our hotel room, turning on the television and watching the effervescent Stacey guide us around Walt DIsney World. Who are we talking about… oh so you haven’t met Stacey? She’s the in room host of the Walt Disney World Resort, bopping around showing you the best of what to do! No matter where you stay from Pop Century to Animal Kingdom Lodge, she’ll be the first (and most likely last) person you see on your television.

As quoted from her website:

If you have been anywhere near a television screen at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida since 2005 then you have been captivated by a vivacious and adorable woman telling you about the fabulous rides and attractions you’re going to experience during your stay. The hyper-energetic, totally mesmerizing personality, known to her fans as “the human exclamation point” is Stacey J. Aswad. She is the Resort TV host of Walt Disney World’s TOP 7 MUST SEES and MUST DO DISNEY TV shows that loop 24/7 and are watched and memorized by millions of people!

Her full name is Stacey Aswad, and she hails from California. Believe it or not, Stacey has her own cult following. Her Facebook Page has over 1500 fans and she regularly responds to people’s comments. You can even donate $20 to save animals and she will send you an autographed picture.

stacey aswad wdw

She’s been the host of Must Do Disney since 2005. The best part is that each time Disney adds new attractions, they get Stacey to update her original video. If you didn’t notice, the original video was filmed a few years ago!
If you ever feel like you need a taste of home, just watch this video and pretend you’re getting ready to head off to your favourite park:

Don’t forget to visit her official website!

Universal Orlando launches 2013 Ad Campaign

vacationlikeyoumeanit

Universal Orlando has unleashed its new advertising campaign for 2013, with the tagline “Vacation like you mean it.” It’s a great campaign that gets use excited for our next trip! We must mention our favourite ad campaign was the “Be courageous. Be Outrageous. Be Extraordinary” that debuted with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. What’s your favourite Universal Orlando ad campaign?

Continue reading

Lisa goes to Walt Disney World

Our good friend Lisa Leeman has just returned from a triumphant escape to the happy place, AKA Walt Disney World. She has kindly prepared a trip report for our readers, including New Fantasyland, Test Track 2.0 and The Legend of Jack Sparrow. Sprinkle some pixie dust and let’s head off to Neverland… Continue reading

What does Disney think of the new Star Wars Miniland?

In an interesting twist of fate, Legoland Florida just unveiled its new Miniland based on the Star Wars franchise. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’d be aware that The Walt Disney Company just purchased Lucasfilm, and now owns this popular franchise.

Now, two different theme park operators have what are essentially Disney lands within their gates (Legoland Florida and Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando.) Don’t forget, Disney also owns Marvel, and Islands of Adventure up the road has an entire land called Marvel Superhero Island dedicated to those characters.

It will be interesting to see how these licensing agreements play out over the next few years as they expire or are renegotiated due to Disney swallowing up franchises left, right and centre.

In the meantime, learn all about the Star Wars Miniland expansion below: Continue reading