holidays

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa

We know it’s super early (it’s not even Christmas in July yet!), but Busch Gardens Tampa recently announced a new special event for the upcoming Christmas season. Mimicking the popular Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, the Tampa event will bring the magic of the holidays to the African themed park. More details should be posted soon at the Busch Gardens website. In the meantime, here’s a brief overview: Continue reading

Walt Disney World Resort Sends 2011 out with a Bang

new years at walt disney world

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest fireworks evenings of the year at Walt Disney World Resort, a place where fireworks are both spectacular and an every-night occurrence. Fireworks and nighttime shows will light up the skies and create a mood of celebration at three theme parks on Dec. 31, 2011, while revelry of other sorts takes place elsewhere throughout the Vacation Kingdom.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s in store:

  • Magic Kingdom presents a double helping of pyrotechnics: “Wishes” nighttime spectacular with a holiday overlay at 8:30 p.m. and “Fantasy in the Sky” at 11:51 p.m.
  • Epcot‘s “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” delights revelers with a salute to the new year at 7 p.m. and 11:42 p.m.
  • At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the 25-minute spectacular “Fantasmic!” that combines water, fire, lights, lasers, fireworks and music will be presented at 6:30 and 8 p.m., with the popular “Lights! Camera! Happy New Year!” fireworks display at midnight.
  • At Cirque du Soleil, all guests attending the Dec. 31 performances will receive a limited-edition Walt Disney World/Cirque trading pin. Shows are at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. For pricing contact 407/WDW/SEAT.
  • Registered guests at select Disney resort hotels will be treated to music and entertainment. At Narcoosee’s restaurant (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa), for instance, there will be a four-course dining experience for $149, plus DJ, balloon artist and special fireworks viewing at 8:30 and 11:51.
  • Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort offers a special-ticket New Year’s Eve party from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. with video DJ Tony Zapulla.

For specific information about other holiday dining offerings at Disney resort hotels on Dec. 31, call 407/WDW/DINE.

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: Holidays Disney Style

Is the thought of spending the Christmas Holidays in the sunshine appealing to you?  Flip-flops and shorts instead of boots, wool jackets and mittens attached to strings? Well keep those mittens, you might want to bring them just for show. Welcome to the possibilities of celebrating Christmas at Disney.

Despite my efforts, I have never been able to see everything Walt Disney World offers during the holidays. From the life-sized gingerbread houses at the Resorts to the over-sized Christmas Trees everywhere, Disney truly knows how to ring in a Holiday. Disney pulls out all the stops when it comes to Christmas, and if you’ve never been during this special time, I highly recommend it.

Walt was so enamored with Christmas because of his two daughters; Diane and Sharon, that he made sure it was over the top for all his guests coming into Disneyland. These days, all Disney Parks have taken on that special task of welcoming guests with the very best holiday experience possible. Here are a few of the offerings for this extra magical time, remember it’s just the tip of the Christmas Tree though:

Walt Disney World offers Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom on selected nights from Nov.8 through Dec.18. This is a special ticketed event which means a separate ticket is needed.

Take into consideration that Christmas is the busiest time of year for Walt Disney World, meaning a lot more guests than usual. I do highly recommend visiting at least once during the Christmas season because they put on a great party. Tip: Try to visit after American Thanksgiving and before the week of Christmas if you can. All the decorations and events are happening, with minimal crowds.

Here are a few highlights of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is simply a wonderland of sites and sounds. Dancing gingerbread men to trumpet playing tin soldiers, there is something for everyone in this charming parade.  You might even see the BIG GUY alittle early to so make sure your letter to Santa is ready and you’ve been a really good girl or boy because he’s always watching.

Cinderella’s Enchanted Castle Dream Light’s is possibly my favorite thing to see.  Dusk is the very best time to see the magic happen.

My Fairy Godmother will make a wee appearance and so will a host of other charming characters and Cinderella invites everyone to her home to watch it sparkle and dance with thousands of beautiful lights.

And when your night is almost over, Holiday Wishes Fireworks will come alive in the Spirit of the Season.  A magical display of colour and sound. I really recommend watching this somewhere near the Partners Statue so you can take in the entire Castle area and I assure you, you will never be disappointed.   You will most likely have to save your viewing spot for at least an hour prior to the show so be prepared to wait a little. Oh, and while your waiting for the night skies to erupt with lights, why not have someone go and get some free hot cocoa and Christmas cookies for the wait? It’s all included in your price.

Character Meet & Greets

There are also many meet & greets with some of your favorite characters throughout the Park, decked out for the holidays. So get out your PhotoPass card and look on your special Park Map for locations.

These events truly do give Disney and their Cast Members the opportunity to show you exactly what they do best. From the hand decorated ornaments, of which there are hundreds of thousands of them, to the hand strung garlands that are everywhere. I can’t forget to mention the parade floats, the costumes, and to give away another secret…….Disney can even make it snow! Despite the fact you hopped on a plane and flew thousands of kilometres to escape it, you will see snow, and it will be glorious!

Take in the spirit of the season

I really suggest that you merely walk and take everything in and not really worry about riding any rides during the Party. If you have the time and the waits aren’t that long, then by all means, enjoy yourself.
However, I really suggest walking around. You will find the magic and charm of Christmas everywhere. Main Street Bakery will tempt your taste buds from the moment you walk onto Main Street USA.  I always recommend taking a step through all the shops along Main street, there are amazing artisans with some unique crafts and goodies. Families traveling from all over to come and witness a Disney Holiday is truly a sight to be seen. Take a break, watch the festivities and be transformed with the Spirit of Christmas.

Now, if you will excuse me, there is a HUGE piece of gingerbread calling my name and the cocoa is getting cold so I could use a refill.

Until next time,
TTFN

Tracey

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!

 
 
 
 
 

Seaworld Orlando Christmas Celebrations kick off Black Friday


SeaWorld Orlando will introduce a holiday show based on the Christmas story and told through the eyes of animals during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration events, which kick off Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. The new “O Wondrous Night” includes puppet version of animals at the nativity scene and their live counterparts, such as a donkey and a camel. The production has all-original music and it will be produced in the Nautilus Theater, the usual home to “A’lure … The Call of the Ocean.”
Several holiday shows also are returning to the theme park, including “Winter Wonderland on Ice,” an ice-skating show; “Shamu Christmas … Miracles,” the killer-whale show; the comedic “Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas”; and “A Sesame Street Christmas.” Guests again can ride the Polar Express Experience, a seasonal overlay of the Wild Arctic ride. Returning for a second year are the Sea of Trees, dozens of sparkling and choreographed trees glimmering above the park’s center lake, and the Christmas Market with food and shopping along the Bayside Pathway. SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is capped with “Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale.”
The event runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 25 through Dec. 11. It becomes nightly from Dec. 16-31.
SeaWorld has a couple of promotions going on that will continue during the holiday season. It has re-introduced the SeaWorld Fun Card, which includes unlimited visits to the theme park through all of 2012 for the price of a single day’s admission. Plus, a kids-free promotion gives entry to one child for each full-paid adult admission. That offer is good through Dec. 25, 2011. (Orlando Sentinal)

Here are more details of the holiday festivities at Seaworld this season:

Attractions

The Christmas Market

‘Tis the season for being together. Feel the warmth of family as you admire festive ice dancers gliding merrily across the ice, then visit the bustling Christmas Market. You’ll find something special for that special someone among unique artisans and culinary delights. There’s no cooler place at SeaWorld.

The Waterfront

Christmas brings out the child in all of us. That’s probably why everyone feels right at home at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, where kids can enjoy all the joy of the holidays along with favorites Clyde and Seamore, Sesame Street and more! Gather the entire family for dinner at Seafire Inn during Santa’s Fireside Feast, or enjoy a traditional holiday menu at Sharks Underwater Grill.

Wild Arctic Plaza

Find authentic THE POLAR EXPRESS items, stockings and holiday gift ideas for everyone on your list. Capture the perfect family photo in front of a life-sized Polar Express train car or with Santa in the North Pole (at Wild Arctic). Memories are made, and captured, at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration.

THE POLAR EXPRESS Experience

Now boarding! It’s a wondrous journey to the North Pole aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS. The beloved holiday classic comes to life as you and your family are immersed in the heart-warming story of a young boy’s thrilling ride into an enchanted world. The sights, sounds, and scents of the season surround you. From the moment the conductor calls “all aboard” to your arrival at the North Pole (where you’ll meet Santa Claus himself), THE POLAR EXPRESS Experience promises to create an unforgettable holiday memory.

Village Square

Welcome to Seaworld’s Christmas Celebration, where towering, illuminated trees shine as brightly as our guests’ faces. Picuresque bakery and candy shops fill the air with scents of the season that tempt you with delicious holiday treats. This is your window into our wonderland.

Happy Harbor

Shamu and his crew invite kids of all ages to play the day away in a wintery wonderland of frosty fun. Whimsical holiday lights decorate the harbor in surprising ways sure to delight the young and young at heart, while snow flurries bring a touch of the North Pole to the games, rides, and experiences of Shamu’s Happy Harbor.  New this year is Holly Jolly Railway — Ho-Ho-Ho! Hop aboard the Holly Jolly Railway for a sea-inspired spin around Shamu’s Happy Harbor — it’s a ride that’s totally Santa-approved!
Shows

O Wondrous Night

Hear the greatest story never told with over 30 carols, live-size puppets and live animals in the brand new show that will charm, entertain and delight people from all walks of life. Lots of singing, special effects and incredible lighting enhance this production and holiday spirit.

Shamu Christmas – Miracles

SeaWorld invites you to experience the power and beauty of our Shamu family in our nighttime holiday show: Shamu Christmas- Miracles. Thrilling seasonal music rings out and killer whales soar through the air in a story of reflection and understanding… of peace and friendship… of the everyday miracles that surround us all year long. From the sweeping vocal majesty of our soundtrack to the heart-pounding excitement you’ve come to expect from our Shamu family, this performance will take you on a stirring voyage into the heart of the holidays.

A Sesame Street Christmas

Everybody’s Sesame Street® friends have come to SeaWorld for a festive and fun musical celebration! The holidays have arrived, but Abby Cadabby doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about… she’s never heard of Christmas. Through dance, laughter and interactive sing-a-longs, Elmo, Telly Monster and the rest of her Sesame Street friends teach Abby what Christmas means to them. Your little elves will be smiling all the way home.

Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas

Santa’s helpers, Clyde and Seamore, are bringing their own brand of comedy to Christmas this year. Our loveable sea lions, along with a few mischievous otters, a comical elf, and a wintery walrus or two, invite you and yours to their fun-filled holiday celebration. It doesn’t get more holly or jolly than this.

Winter Wonderland on Ice

Christmas comes to life on a stage of ice, jewels and light as skaters dazzle and delight in this show-stopping, ice skating extravaganza. The other stars of the show are the towering fountains of water dancing on the lake and fireworks that light up the night sky after the last ice show of the evening. It’s a don’t-miss experience for the holidays that will take your breath away.

Sea of Trees

Take a walk through our wintery, watery wonderland and immerse yourself in a sea of holiday trees. Our glistening forest with over 100 trees sparkles to music and lights up the water… and, your eyes. As the lights literally dance to holiday classics, your heart will soar with wonder and delight at this truly awe-inspiring Christmas treat.
Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountain Finale
SeaWorld celebrates the season with soaring fountains, dazzling lights, and festive fireworks, choreographed to joyous holiday musical favorites.  Experience a wondrous SeaWorld Christmas connection that lights the night.

Universal Orlando Christmas 2011: Grinchmas & More!


There’s no better place to enjoy the Holidays with your family this year than at Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Orlando Christmas 2011 is the only place you can come face-to-face with The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville, watch a cheerful holiday parade filled with big, colorful Macy’s balloons and sing along to the classic sounds of the season as you stroll through a holiday-trimmed theme park with your loved ones. The Holiday fanfare runs from December 3, 2011 through January 1, 2012, offering guests incredible entertainment themed for the season at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. At Islands of Adventure, adults and children alike will be entertained when the popular Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is brought to life in Grinchmas. Guests can see the live stage show featuring The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville with an original recorded musical score by Mannheim Steamroller. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet The Grinch and the Whos, and on select dates, purchase a spot at a special character breakfast with the mean, green one himself. At Universal Studios, the Macy’s Holiday Parade will celebrate its 10th Anniversary of partnership with Universal Orlando by filling the streets every evening with some of the same iconic elements seen winding through New York City each year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The beloved event features colorful holiday characters, fantasy-filled floats – including one specially-designed to commemorate the 10-year milestone – a tree-lighting ceremony by Santa Claus and dozens of larger-than-life balloons. The Macy’s Holiday Parade also welcomes select park guests to participate in the procession as real balloon-handlers guiding the helium giants, a truly unique and exclusive experience to Universal Orlando. Returning this year with more concerts than ever before is Mannheim Steamroller – the masters of Christmas music with more than 40 million albums sold worldwide. The acclaimed musical group will take to the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios six times this year to play their memorable holiday hits for guests, performing on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. Also at Universal Studios, guests can enjoy special holiday-themed versions of their favorite shows, and nightly a capella holiday music in the nearby Holiday Village, which is filled with hand-blown glass ornaments, caramel apples, hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and a cupcake decorating location. The celebration continues at Universal Orlando’s three on-site hotels – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort – all of which will glisten with holiday decorations. Hotel guests will be immersed in the spirit of the season with tree-lighting ceremonies, special musical performances, holiday pool-side “dive-in” movie presentations and holiday buffets and dining events. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel kicks off the season on Friday, November 25 with ‘Holiday Harbor Nights’, a wine tasting, food and jazz celebration on the piazza, along with a tree lighting ceremony. Hard Rock Hotel welcomes Santa to The Kitchen restaurant on Fridays in December and Loews Royal Pacific Resort rings in the new year with a family-friendly dinner and celebration. All holiday entertainment – including the Mannheim Steamroller concerts – is included as part of two-park or multi-day admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. There’s never been a better time to start a new family tradition at Universal Orlando’s Holidays event, as guests can take advantage of a special holiday vacation package