outside the parks

Fun Spot: Trashy & Fun!

Fun Spot Orlando is a trashtastic, carnival style attraction that is like the ugly stepsister of every other Orlando park. It isn’t really a park, more like a parking lot filled with rides that will make you question your safety. With that said, it’s really fun! They have Go-karts, a Ferris Wheel, Paratrooper and some other kiddie rides. We love rides, so we took a quick trip there to check it out. Continue reading

The Serious Art of Make-Belief exhibit at Orange County Regional History Center

One of the most fascinating gems in the Orlando area is the Orange County Regional History Center. It’s home to many exhibits about the history of Central Florida before and after the Disney. Many people would never think of  visiting a museum on their vacations to Orlando, but this is for sure a must visit attraction.

Located in Downtown Orlando, the Orange County Regional History Center is easy to overlook considering you have Disney, Universal, Seaworld and countless other million dollar attractions down the highway. In this former County Courthouse, there are various exhibits showcasing the history of Central Florida. Continue reading

Universal Orlando Citywalk Calendar January 2012

For more information, guests may call CityWalk Guest Services at (407) 224-2691
Venues subject to $7 coverage charge or CityWalk Party Pass
21 and up are welcome
St. Practice Day
The 17th of Every Month
– Starting at 4:00 p.m.; $7 cover; Free admission before 9:00 p.m.
– Join the party every month at Pat O’Brien’s as we get ready for the big day, one month at a time!
– Traditional Irish food and drink available for purchase
– Live entertainment
– Drink Specials
**Restaurants and Clubs**
Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
Legendary Thursdays ~ 4pm – close
– 1/2 off select appetizers
– Heineken and Appleton Run and Pinnacle Vodka drink specials
Ladies Night ~ Sundays, 9pm – close
– No cover for ladies until midnight
– 2 for 1 drink specials until midnight: Hypnotiq, Bacardi, Grey Goose and Red Stripe
Mystik NRG ~ Monday – Friday
Chain Reaction ~ Saturday & Sunday
CityWalk’s Rising Star
Karaoke with Live Band & Backup Singers ~ Tuesday – Saturday
Karaoke with Backup Singers ~ Sunday & Monday
Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando
Happy Hour ~ Daily: 5pm – 8pm
Free dessert with purchase of a lunch entrée ~ now through January 31, 2012
– Simply present your Universal Orlando theme park ticket to your server
– Limit one per table
the groove
80s Night – Every Thursday from 9pm to close
– Free admission until 10pm
– $7 cover after 10pm; 21 and up for admission
– Russian Standard & Pinnacle Vodka drink specials
DJs ~ nightly
Hard Rock Live
Purchase tickets at the Hard Rock Live Box Office or by calling 407-351-LIVE
January 1st ~ Hard Rock Live presents B.B. King with Kaleigh Baker
January 21st ~ Hard Rock Live and Foundation presents Rebelution Peace of Mind Tour with special guest The Grouch & Pep Love
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
Happy Hour at the Lone Palm ~ Monday – Friday 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Blue Stone Circle ~ Tuesday – Saturday
Hypersona ~ Sunday & Monday
Guitar Hero at Lone Palm ~ Daily
Live Guitar Soloist on the Porch of Indecision ~ Daily
Interactive DJ on the Porch of Indecision ~ Friday & Saturday
Latin Quarter
Happy Hour ~ Sunday – Friday 5pm – 7pm
Ladies Night Every Thursday ~ 10pm – 2am
Complimentary admission and drink specials all night long
Alejandro Kartal ~ Nightly on the patio
DJ Leony ~ Thursday – Saturday
NASCAR Sports Grille
– Daily beer and drink specials
– Showing all NFL, all bowl games and UFC fights
– $1.95 Coors Light pilsner refills during all bowl games
– 5 for $15 buckets of Miller Light and Coors Light during all NFL games
– Retail shop with the latest in NASCAR, NFL and College Football merchandise
NBA City
All sports, all the time!
Happy Hour daily ~ 4pm – 7pm
Pat O’Brien’s Orlando
2 for Tuesdays ~ 4pm – 10pm
2 for 1 Hurricanes; 2 for 1 domestic drafts and specialty drinks
World Famous Dueling Piano Players ~ Nightly
Red Coconut Club
Nightly Happy Hour
Sunday – Thursday: 8pm – 10pm; Friday and Saturday: 6pm – 9pm
Ladies Night every Thursday ~ 8pm – close
Ladies receive complimentary admission and drink specials all evening
Hospitality Tuesdays ~ Tuesdays 10pm – close
Free admission for members of the hospitality industry all evening with your ID, business card or hospitality pay stub
Free parking after 10pm
$2 domestic beers, $3 premium cocktails
Herb Williams Band ~ Thursday – Saturday
DJs ~ Nightly
AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX
January 13th ~ Contraband
**Dates and times subject to change

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: DCL: More than a children's playground at sea

So, you have explored Walt Disney World, you may have even ventured over to the West Coast to where the dreams all began in Disneyland I bet you’re wondering what else you could do that’s Disney but different? Why not try what everyone has been talking about lately, Disney Cruise Line.

Cruising became popular in the 1980’s when air travel became boring and crossing the seas in a luxurious ship become all the rage. What was once though of as a “rich folk only” mode of transportation, cruising has become second nature for many families. So popular in fact that is has grown to a $29.4 billion dollar business. In 1995, Disney created Disney Cruise Lines, commissioning two ships to be created in the same Disney fashion as the theme parks we know and love. The Disney Magic set say July 30th, 1998 and from there, has grown to 4 ships as of March 2012 when the Disney Fantasy will set sail for the adventure seekers. From 2400 passengers to the current 4,000 on the Disney Dream, Disney has truly created a magical experience for their guests. Many different ports of call to choose from, again, it merely requires some investigation and imagination and Disney will certainly take care of the rest.
Of course, choosing your room type and your ports of call is literally the only thing you will need to decide, along with transportation to and from the location if you so chose to travel to someone other than the Port Canaveral region for travel to and from the Florida base which the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy shall remain. As for the Magic and the Wonder, they will be setting sail to both the East & West Coasts respectively.
I highly recommend a 3 day cruise if you are a first timer. This is a lovely way to “get your sea legs’ as one might say and discover if cruising is something you enjoy. With the size of ships coming a very long way, one would be safe to say being sick wouldn’t be so difficult back in the day but it would hard with the stabilizers and the like of today’s modern ships.However, 3 days is a delightful way to get accustom to the surroundings and enjoy a little quiet time. If traveling to say the Bahama’s from Port Canaveral on the Disney Dream, after arriving at MCO (Orlando International Airport) you can certainly enjoy the Disney Cruise’s Lines Express shuttle from the airport to the ship. You will be whisked away, luggage and all and meeting you in your stateroom magically from the airport.

Once checked in by Disney Cast Crew Members, (please bear in mind a passport is required to travel Internationally) you will be given your key packages and your off to explore your new home for 3 glorious and enchanting nights.
Disney has, as they have always become accustom to, creating a wondrous retreat. As an adult with no kids, I was weary as to travel aboard without children as most would assume Disney Cruise Lines is children only. So not the case to my amazing surprise. Many options to choose from including a Concierge Level if this is more to your liking. Coming as a Concierge I was delighted to hear that. Offering staterooms with veranda and even a jetted tub, they have certainly thought of everything. As your friends have once informed you of their cruise to Caribbean many, MANY years ago, the food on cruise ships is beyond your imagination. This is true for Disney Cruise Lines as well.
Disney has created an amazing opportunity to try many different options on your journey and offer a rotation so to offer choices for the guests. With such restaurants as “Animator’s Palate” “Parrot Cay” “Triton’s” and many more, Disney has offered many amazing and truly unique dining possibilities. My favorites of course, may not be yours but I know you will find your own. If room service is something more to your liking, this option is available as well. These dining options are all included in your cost of course, however, alcoholic beverages are of course, an extra fee.
Speaking of, but a wonderful one I highly, HIGHLY recommend is dining at “Palo”. Palo is a finer dining experience but one you will certainly thank me for suggesting. It is an extra cost, but if you can consider $20 per person an exaggerated fee, than by all means stick with your rotation and ignore this next bit of information. Palo can be used as a switch out selection for one of your rotations and most people try for this. It is something you must request and despite perhaps being declined the opportunity due to over booking, please do not fret, you will have another opportunity the day you arrive on-board when you check in and you can ask a cast member for assistance for creating the reservations. Please also be advised that Palo requires a dress code, simply meaning absolutely no jeans. Khaki’s and button down shirts for the men and dress pants and sleeved shirts for the ladies No need for the ball gowns, but one night of dressing up is always a treat. The food in incredible and that is merely all I will give away about that so you can create your own memories but I will merely leave you with this tip: order the CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE when you check in. You will totally thank me later 😉

There is so much more than I could ever write in a note about Disney Cruise Lines but a few tips and pointers and you will find yourself on your way to magnificent journey’s on the seas. You will spend one day at sea traveling, during this time, trust me, Disney has provided more than enough options to keep yourself occupied. Don’t ever think you’re going to be sitting in your room bored and counting down the minutes until it’s all over, on the contrary, you will be finished before you even blink your eyes and wonder where to time got to.
There are first run movies to watch (meaning if Disney-Pixar’s Brave is out in theatres during your cruise, it’ll be showing at the cruise ships movie theatre- even in 3D if applicable!) clubs to dance the night away to, games, art galleries to view, pools to swim in of course, basketball courts to sweep across, gyms to get your sweat on in, Spa’s to relax in (more later of course ) and theatre’s to watch award-winning Disney productions in. That isn’t even mentioning what there is in-store for the children in your life. Disney has provided this magical thing that you can drop your kids off at a club to be entertained whilst you are given a pager in case your kids want to contact YOU, not the other way around. This way, you can get away to the Spa to get that massage you were dreaming of.
The children’s programs are, of course as you would expect, totally Disney tested and approved by millions of parents around the world. They offer from babies to teens and everyone in between. You can explore, take a cooking class, fight with Pirates and that’s only the toddlers. Ask your reservations agent for my information on the programs available on what ship or you can, as always, go to the amazing Disney website for more details and information.
Now, you have exhausted yourself and your settled in for a restful sleep in your cabin and you’re wondering what’s tomorrow going to bring? CASTAWAY CAY!!
 This well-known Island, or for those of you living under a rock for the last few years with all that has been said about it, Castaway Cay is Disney’s private Island. Yes, you read that right, PRIVATE ISLAND. Registered to Disney Cruise Lines, this Island offers everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE the opportunity to do whatever their heart desires. Parasailing? You fancy that? DCL has you covered, watercraft more your speed, sure they can accommodate that too. Now, you have dreamed of feeding a stingray, well, I can tell you from experience, it is something they can do as well. You see, as the stories go, Wishes do come true. We haven’t even started with the activities on the Island. There is something for families, private Cabana’s if you want to lie in a hammock and have fruity drinks all afternoon in the sunshine.
You want to do some snorkeling and search out a hidden Mickey with the local fish? I have photos I am not going to share because I don’t want to give the location away, but I can tell you that Castaway Cay is truly incredible. Relaxing and fun. Grab a bike and take a wee spin around and explore. Oh, you say you say the Flying Dutchman from the Pirates of The Caribbean movie series, yup….you sure did. It’s parked at the Island and you can certainly take some incredible photos and bring the movies right into your reality. Of course, there are alway many awesome opportunities to spend some quality time with some pretty charming characters during your stop as well. It seems as though Stitch, Captain Hook and even Mickey & Minnie love to getaway as well and get some sun and surf time in as well.
Whew………….like I said, there is way more to do during a Disney Cruise than you may have first anticipated. Excited yet? Well, not to worry, your off again and about to visit the Bahama’s. Nassau Bahama’s is a charming Port offering many things to keep you occupied whilst the ship docks for the day. Atlantis Resort is probably one of the most popular, exploring a Casino, an incredible aquarium and Hotel, Nassau offers so much more than meets the eye. The straw market is certainly a must see. Rows and rows of stalls with merchants offering many different displays of handcrafted products, there are historic harbor tours available, even visiting the Blue Lagoon Beach. Ask your Disney Cast Crew Member for details and options. Enjoy your day in the tropical Island.
Senses Spa is located on the Disney Dream, or Vista Spa offered on the Disney Magic & Wonder and I can certainly say from vast experience, this is a MUST DO when you’re cruising aboard Disney Cruise Lines. Now, of course, with the newer ships comes more space and more amenities, the Disney Dream’s Senses Spa has created an enchanting and relaxing oasis waiting for your arrival.
 Sure, they both offer the usual Spa menu, Mani’s, Pedi’s and massage that will send you into a euphoria, the Senses Spa’s have begun offering some fantasy items. What do you think of when I say a RAIN FOREST ROOM? That’s right, Disney Cruise Lines has created a wet and dry Shangri-La. Looking to chill out for an afternoon whilst your hubby goes to the gym to work off that souffle? Well, might I recommend a trip into the Hamam (Steam Bath) and then a massage out in the private Villa?? Sssshhhhhh, he doesn’t have to know, it will be our little relaxing secret.
As I have confirmed, cruises in the 21st century has become something of a Resort on the open seas. A place where you can do nothing and everything. The possibilities are endless and are only as open as your imagination allows.
The Disney Cruise Line website is where all the information is for these unbelievable offerings, check it out and find something that tickles your fancy and I assure you, your going to want a lot more than a mere 3 days.

Now, if you will excuse me, the Pirates IN the Caribbean Party is about to begin and I have to get my Pirates Costume on and get out to the deck because I want a fantastic spot for the FIREWORKS. See ya on the open seas…….



Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: 2011 Review and what's new for 2012

‘Tis the season to review what the last 12 months has offered and Theme Park Canuck is certainly not going to be left behind so I am going to take the opportunity to review what amazing and well……magical things Disney has certainly accomplished in 2011 and what exciting things are in store for us in 2012. In no particular order:

1. Star Tours Refurbishment

Star Tours 2.0

Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World provided their guests a long awaited referb and update.  Bringing all the magic and thrills of Star Wars back to the forefront. More than 50 stories themes are being offered in 3D.  New characters and worlds will offer the chance to fight alongside of some of our beloved characters.  I actually enjoyed my time in October with Darth Vader who joined me on my quest.
2. Aulani
Nestled on the Island of Oahu, the brand new shiny Vacation Club Resort is a masterpiece of all that is Disney. 360 Hotel rooms & 481 Vacation Club suites collaborating the customs and cultures of the Island and the magic of Disney. Aulani is the newest destination offering incredible views, experiencing and a chance to explore the lands.   21 enchanting acres in fact,  filled with snorkeling lagoons, grand villas and an abundance of Pixie Dust.   You may even find Mickey & Minnie in grass skirts somewhere out on a beach as the sun sets if you really look closely.
3. Avatarland
Avatar Land
 James Cameron’s movie about a fantasy world will be joining the Disney family in 2013 but was announced earlier this year causing some major excitement.  Several acres of land  in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park will offer attractions, entertainment, the amazing animatronics Disney has been accustom to delighting us with.   With a reported $500 Million dollar budget, Pandora is going to give guests an incredible look inside this fantasyland.
4. The Disney Dream- Disney Cruise Line’s Newest addition
Aqua Duck on Disney Fantasy & Dream
Jan 26,2011 was the maiden voyage for this youngster in the Disney Cruise Lines fleet.  The Dream offers 4000 passengers the opportunity to sail on the state of the art masterpiece. and is, just some trivia for you, is the 10th largest ship in the world currently.  11 night clubs and lounge, kids and teens areas and the most impressive dining in the fleet thus far.  A plethora of sporting options, a basketball court, a mini-golf course and the glowing piece DE la resistance, the Aqua Duck. The 765 foot long water coaster is exhilarating to say the least and everyone will have to take a whirl.
6. Carsland
Cars Land
This brand new, super detailed land is scheduled to debut at Disney California Adventure this coming summer. Look for brand new attractions and ways to interact with the characters from Cars like never before. This is the biggest expansion in DCA’s history, all part of the 1 billion they are spending to fix the former retail & dining oriented park and turn it into a full day park worthy of the Disney name.
5. New Fantasyland
New Fantasyland
In a two stage process, Walt Disney World will offer some fantastic new attractions and restaurants that haven’t been seen in some time. Two new rides, Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid and The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster.  A new castle which the Beast will inhabit and the second castle for the Park. The 550 seat “Be our Guest” sit down restaurant will also be a welcomed addition. Dumbo will just be moved slightly double in capacity, unofficially dubbed “Dueling Dumbos.”  The expansion has disturbed Fantastyland for much of the year but will be well worth the wait.
All in all, Disney Parks offered more than I could possibly include in this blog but that means that you have more exciting things to see and do at Disney Parks.  As a New Year is about to commence, I wish for prosperity and joy and a lifetime of happiness to all that read this blog.  2012 is proving to be an incredible year with so many things to explore at the Parks so get out there and find your own magic.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a date with the Fairy Godmother and I don’t want to keep her waiting because my slippers are only good for……well, you know the story I’m sure. 😉

Happy New Year’s!!

So until next time, TTFN!!


5 reasons to stay on property at Disney

Your on a budget, I get it. Hey, breaking the bank ain’t tops on my priority list when I think of my vacation either, but let me assure you staying on property is seriously worth all the money your about to fork out. Sure, now your saying to yourself, Tracey your always going to tell us to stay on property because, hey, it’s Disney and you LOVE Disney. Allow me to explain why I recommend staying on property rather than outside the Parks. Here are my 5 reasons you should stay on-site at Walt Disney World:

1. Free transportation

Yes, you certainly can get a budget friendly resort outside and rent a car to get around.  Yes, I agree, you got an AMAZING bargain at the Maingate Magic Castle Motel, a mere 20 minutes outside the Disney property. Here’s a dirty little secret about these off property places: while they claim that they are at the “main gate” of Walt Disney World, they fail to disclose is that they mean the pretty little entrance gates you drive through as you get onto Disney property. Walt Disney World itself does not have a gate, because that’s the name of the whole resort. The 4 parks and 2 water parks have gates.  Meaning while you may be across the highway from the “main gate” to Disney property, it can still take you 15 minutes to drive to the real main gate of the park. Now you have to keep in mind that you can take a cab from the airport to your said AMAZING bargain resort, which from Orlando International could cost you a small child’s college tuition.  Add to that the $14 a DAY for parking at each Park that your going to visit for the next 7 days. Or, you can hop onto Disney’s Magical Express bus service and be whisked away to your hotel. Then, a quick bus or monorail trip and you’re in the parks. You actually check your bags at the airport with the Magical Express, and they put them into your hotel room for you while your out enjoying your vacation. This service is FREE with a Disney Resort stay!
2. Free Dining
Depending upon the time of year you vacation, you could stay at a Disney Resort and be eating on Disney’s dime with the Disney Dining Plan. Simply choose a package that best suits you, we will review this later, and your meals will be included. However I cannot stress enough, just because your saving money by getting free meals, you still have to tip your servers at your restaurants. And while it’s free upfront, it’s really built into the cost of your vacation. But as food is a big expense when on vacation, it’s one less thing to worry about while you’re there.
3. Resort Options for every budget & taste
You probably you already know that Disney has so many choices when it comes to accommodations. The truth is, everybody has different tastes.  From the value conscious to luxury seekers. No matter where you stay, each resort is themed just as well as any of the parks. The details are everywhere, meaning the magic doesn’t end when you leave the parks at the end of the night.

Here’s a quick breakdown of your options for Disney Resorts:

All Star Movies

Pop Century Resort

Value Resorts
These are the ones that the majority of the children stay at. Think about it, if you have more than 1 child now a days, your added dollar signs in front of everything you do. So, the Value Resorts offer you the best value for your money. Please don’t expect to have tons of amenities. Obviously you will have a bed and a bathroom as you would expect, you also have a swimming pool or two, but don’t expect a Spa or fine dining.
Pop Century, All Star Movies, All Star Sports, All Star Music & the soon to open Disney’s Art of Animation Resort fall under these categories. These accommodations offer value, quick service dining and great service as all the Resorts offer just no frills. And yes, yes I have stayed at these locations.  I see no reason to not have just a bed when all I really want to do is head to the Parks. if that sounds appealing, then this is totally your option.
Port Orleans Riverside

Coronado Springs

Moderate Resorts
These just happen to be my favorite types of resorts. They have more amenities than the Value Resorts as previously mentioned and most locations have sit down restaurants or pubs to grab a snack and a beverage after a sweaty day of fun.
Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter are both what some of us like to call our home resorts, meaning it’s were we go to stay on property whenever we come down (which is quite often!) The two just happen to be separated by the Sassaguola River. One offering a Mardi Gras feel (French Quarter) and one offering a Mark Twain Bayou type Resort. Plantation style and French Quarter styled buildings overflow with charm and laid back paces. You could literally just stay here and never go the parks and call it a vacation. Be sure to stop at Boatwrights in Riverside for breakfast.  I can assure you it will fuel you up for a hard day of walking the Parks. There are several other Moderate Resorts to chose from, including Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs and the Cabins at Wilderness Lodge Resort. My favorite Resort pool from any type of Resort has got to be the Coronado Springs.  It is a feast for the senses.
disneys polynesian resort
Polynesian Resort

disney's animal kingdom lodge
Animal Kingdom Lodge

Grand Floridian

Deluxe Resorts
Now, if you are going to spoil yourself rotten and have the means, then I recommend any of the Deluxe Resorts. They can certainly cater to your every whim. From award winning 5 star dining at Victoria & Albert’s Restaurant at the Grand Floridian Resort, to the grass skirts and gentle palm trees swaying at the Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney does luxury like no other.
The Deluxe category also applies to Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club Resort, Boardwalk Resort, The Contemporary Resort, The Yacht Club and Wilderness Lodge Resorts. All have so many incredible things to chose from and you will find your piece of heaven wherever you chose to stay.  Concierge Levels offer unique services and each of these Resorts has the incomparable Disney service that they have famous for.
I am not in any way saying that the Deluxe Resorts offer the only top notch service either, but I am going to say that if your paying to stay at a Deluxe Resort, your expectations are different.
Fort Wilderness Campground
Wait a second, you think I’m done don’t you? I am certainly not, I have one more little surprise. Fort Wilderness is one of the original accommodation choices back in 1971 when Walt Disney World first opened and deserves it’s own category.It is hard to believe that it has stayed as popular as it has. You can pop a tent if that is what vacations mean to you, or you have an RV that you have decided to drive to see the countryside float by, then this is your spot.

4. Free activities & events around every corner

chip & dales campfire singalong dsney
Chip & Dale's Campfire Sing Along

Think nothing is free at Disney? Well, you’re wrong! Many of the resorts offer fun & free activities for kids, families & kids at heart. There are too many here to describe, but my favourite is Chip & Dale’s Campfire Sing Along. This gathering is held nightly and starts at 7:30. It’s a great way to get some quality time with characters, sing some great songs and enjoy a relaxed evening. The best part is they also offer a movie by the campfire as well. You can even purchase the ingredients to create smores and who wouldn’t want to have those sitting by a roaring fire?

5. Stress free vacation

Here are a few thing’s you won’t have to worry about if you stay on site, after all what’s a vacation if you’re stressed out?
Package Delivery: No more lugging around all the great souvenirs and presents you purchase, Disney will deliver these to your resort for free.
No Driving: Imagine not having to drive for a whole week! No parking fees, finding a spot, walking to the park, remembering where you parked. Parents, you can even both have a few beverages at EPCOT without having to worry about who will drive. Now that’s a vacation1
Magical Wake-Up Calls: How thrilled will your kids be when Mickey wakes them up in the morning with a friendly phone call? Try that at Super 8!
Extra Magic Hours: You actually get to spend more time in the parks than anyone else!
Plus many, many other options! All part of your Disney Resort stay! Trust me, it’s totally worth it to stay on property
All in all, I have given you a very brief overview, giraffe’s munching leaves from you room, armadillo’s sneaking around your tent, or breakfast on the Sassagoula River, all examples of different ways to enjoy Disney Resorts. There is something for every budget, taste and interest.  All you have to do is decide where and Disney will take care of the rest to have a truly magical vacation!

You will have to excuse me now, I am off to the Grand Floridian Spa for a quick facial and maybe Cinderella will be there so I will catch up with you again soon.

Until next time,

DVC Announces New Expansion at Grand Floridian

A new resort development announced today will expand Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, distinguished as the flagship hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort, and continue the growth of Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s innovative vacation-ownership program.

Disney Vacation Club plans to build an estimated 147 villas as part of a previously announced expansion of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, one of the premier resort hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Estimated to open in late 2013, this new resort experience is slated to be the 12th Disney Vacation Club property and will be located near the spa and wedding pavilion at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. In addition to villa accommodations, plans for the expansion include a children’s water-play area and other amenities.
“We continually look for ways to expand Disney Vacation Club by creating resort experiences that our members will love,” said Claire Bilby, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Club. “With the continued popularity of Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we are thrilled to offer our members and guests a new resort option along the monorail system with easy access to the Magic Kingdom Park, as well as a variety of shopping, dining and recreation experiences.”
Disney Vacation Club is owned by Disney Vacation Development Inc., part of the magic of The Walt Disney Company. To learn more, visit www.disneyvacationclub.com.

5 reasons we love Universal Orlando

While Walt Disney World is the main attraction for many visitors to Orlando, and we agree that it’s a great place to visit, many people forget about the other awesome resort just up the road from the Mouse, Universal Orlando. With 2 parks, 3 resorts and tons of great dining and shopping experiences, we think Universal is pretty awesome. Here are 5 reasons why we love Universal Orlando Resort:

1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There is no experience on the planet that is better than this fantastic, magical, immersive themed environment. If you only visit one area of the entire Universal Orlando Resort, make this your stop. From the magic of Hogsmeade Village, to the delectable taste of Butterbeer, nothing is more exciting than actually experiencing the locations from the films. The star attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Joruney, will leave you speechless. The lineup for this ride is just as good as the ride itself. I mean, you get to walk to halls of Hogwarts! Make sure to visit Ollivander’s to pick your want, or if you’re lucky it will pick you! And take a little treat home for your friends by grabbing a bottle of Pumpkin Juice for them to try. Sadly, Butterbeer is not sold in bottles, so they’ll have to visit to taste it themselves.

2. Margaritaville at Citywalk

Nothing sets me in a better mood than sitting on the patio listening to Jimmy Buffet and sipping a carefully concocted margarita. The food here is great and you never know what impromptu entertainment will be taking place both inside and out front. Make sure to visit the inside portion of the bar to experience the hurricanes that happen every once in a while. They also have a massive Margaritaville Store where you can buy almost anything with the famous brand stamped upon it. My favourite being the Margaritaville Blender that comes in many variations, or the shot chiller that’s sure to be a hit at any gathering hoping to get to paradise.

3. Rockin special events year round

From the magic of Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Macy’s Holiday Parade, to the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, there is always something exciting happening at the resort. Universal Orlando knows how to party, and they get great bands to play at their special events (such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Smash Mouth for New Years), plus most are included with park admission. Even Citywalk has awesome events all the time. The Ellen Degeneres Show tapes their once a year, and random dance parties break out at Citywalk. Pretty awesome!

4. Halloween Horror Nights

We know this is an event, but it’s so grand it deserves a mention for itself. This is the biggest and best Halloween event in North America. Each year during the Halloween season, they bring terrifying mazes, scare zones and shows to the resort. Each year has a brand new theme and new attractions. It’s not recommended for children, and personally we agree. If you’re looking for a legendary night out, or just need a little liquid courage to make it through the mazes, they have booze EVERYWHERE. In the lines, scattered through the park, and even shot girls dressed as nurses! The only place they don’t seem to have booze is in the bathrooms. Ok, so we like to party hard at this event. But even if you don’t drink, it’s our favourite event of the year because it’s just so cool to see the resort transform into such a different atmosphere.

5. It’s not Disney

Don’t get us wrong, we love Walt Disney World. It’s just sometimes, you can get tired of the magic and make belief of the place. I repeat, we still love Disney. Heck, some of us have worked for the Mouse. But Universal has a different atmosphere, it’s more adult oriented, which gives them license to be a bit more risque (Beetlejuice’s Rocking Roll Grave Yard Revue, for example.) and it’s just different than Disney. You can have a few drinks, hear some off colour humour and not worry about destroying the dreams of a 5-year-old by doing so. Universal is the place to visit if you’re looking for something that’s just as great as Walt Disney World, but isn’t a blatant wannabe.

So, what are your reasons for loving Universal Orlando? Leave a comment below and let us know!


Big Red's Disney Bootcamp

I’d like to introduce a very good friend of mine who will be contributing her passion and love for Disney here at Theme Park Canuck. There isn’t a better qualified person on this planet who can help guide you through all the magic of the Disney Parks. Here’s an introduction from Tracey:

Let’s start at the very beginning, that’s a very good place to start….
When I was a very young girl, and for those that know me, it was a WHILE ago, Sunday night’s were very special to me.  My parents would take my kid brother and I over to my grandparents. A normal Sunday activity for a lot of families, but for me, it instilled in me what I wanted to be when I finally grew up. Ok, I didn’t want to be that saucy fairy who flew around all over the screen. Although…..

But I digress, it was where I wanted to be.
Uncle Walt presented the Wonderful World of Disney.  This TV show aired until 1979 and we were introduced to so many incredible things.

The enchanting fairy tales Disney was so well known for, but also of Pirates, the Wild West and many other beautiful things. There were animals, fantastic tales and different people featured from all over the world. Fast forward to my 20’s: with all the excitement and adventure I remembered from those Sunday night’s with Uncle Walt. With all that magic, mystery and excitement firing inside of me, I traveled to Walt Disney World for the very first time in 1995.  Late bloomer I guess, but it was truly as magical as any 7 or 8-year-old would have experienced. The best part: I will remember MY visit for the rest of my life instead of only through photos and stories my mom and dad tell me.
Since then, not only did I WORK there, yes Virginia, it is possible to work at Walt Disney World! I have also traveled back to my happy place at least twice a year ever since.  Heck, I even lived in sunny Orlando again for 6 months just so I could be closer.  I have also traveled to where the magic all began, Disneyland in Anaheim, California and been on several cruises with Disney Cruise Lines, despite having a Concierge Manager’s position that keeps me pretty busy. I haven’t been able to visit the other Disney locations throughout the world, but my step brothers have and I have many more tips & tricks for the overseas parks like Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney.
I don’t have any children, although I am old enough to have a few, but it is truly amazing that one man created a place where both children and adults alike can come together and have remarkable experiences.  I return over and over again because I have a totally different experience every single time. Sure, I see the same things, but it is truly the people that create a different experience each and every time I visit. These people keep me, and millions of others, coming back for more time and time again. I want you to have the most fantastic experience when you visit the Wonderful World of Disney, that’s why I’ll be sharing my tips & tricks for you to have a magical visit and help plan your Disney vacation.
Now, if you don’t mind, I am off to the France Pavilion at EPCOT to enjoy an orange slushy and find some inspiration for you.
TTFN (Ta Ta for now!),


Make sure to check back next Friday for the first session of Big Red’s Disney Bootcamp: Tips & Tricks & Advice from a former Disney Castmember!