Walt Disney World Holiday Magic Starts November 6

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

We are super excited to share an update on some of the festive experiences coming to Walt Disney World Resort for the holidays!

We know how much Guests love the holidays, and from Nov. 6-Dec. 30, you’ll will be able to enjoy festive décor, themed merchandise, seasonal food & beverage offerings and entertainment all across Walt Disney World Resort. Holiday magic will be in full force at the four theme parks and Disney Springs, and Santa Claus will even make time for special pop-up appearances at each location, waving and exclaiming holiday wishes to all.

Enjoy the sight of festive flotillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, holiday promenades at EPCOT and merry motorcades at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Plus, character cavalcades at Magic Kingdom Park will take on a special holiday twist, with Christmas friends on festive floats in their holiday finest. Gingerbread Men? Check! Elves and Reindeer? Check, check! And the Toy Soldiers will join the Main Street Philharmonic as they march through Magic Kingdom Park, bringing musical holiday cheer for all to hear.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

When night falls, special projection effects will give a festive look to Cinderella Castle this year, providing a colorful backdrop for photo ops. The appearance of the iconic castle will be transformed with a rotating series of designs including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Of course, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a meal among friends and family. Minnie Mouse will be hosting a yuletide gathering for all her friends at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting Nov. 6. Santa Goofy will be there, along with Minnie and more in their holiday best. 

Shifting gears to Disney Springs, You will discover Christmas around every corner as they come across a collection of elaborately-decorated Disney Christmas trees spread throughout this retail, dining and entertainment destination. In the evening, encounter a magical snowfall in areas within Town Center, West Side and The Landing, adding an extra touch of wonder to your holiday shopping. And to top it off, Jock Lindsey will once again be turning his hangar bar into Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar complete with delightful holiday décor and a delicious limited-time menu filled with festive favorites.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Disney Resort hotels will also be decked out for the holidays too, with their lobbies featuring iconic trees and other festive flourishes.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Starting a bit later in the season, on Nov. 27, holiday kitchens will return around World Showcase promenade with favorites like American Holiday Table featuring Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing and Bavaria Holiday Kitchen with dishes like Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl.

Step inside World ShowPlace to enjoy the returning group, JOYFUL! as they present a journey through R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday music. Also, the Voices of Liberty will bring their incredible 8-part harmonies to the America Gardens Theatre stage for a special concert of favorite carols and songs of the season.

We’re looking forward to helping you create new traditions this year with unique ways to enjoy the season together. There’s a lot of holiday fun to see and do at Walt Disney World Resort! To learn more about about booking a getaway with seasonal experiences, ask your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista for a free, no-obligation quote at: https://vacationswithcharacter.net/ We may even have a few special offers to share with you too!

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Halloween Experiences Invade Universal Orlando this Fall

Halloween is Coming to Universal Orlando Resort this Fall!

HHN Fall 2020 – Courtesy of the Universal Travel Agent Partner Community

Halloween seasonal experiences are set to invade Universal Orlando for an extended time and will include trick-or-treating for little ones, plus the official debut of 2 all-new horrifying haunted houses, sure to please any #HalloweenHorrorNights fans, and more!

AND it’s all included as part of your daytime theme park admission beginning the weekend of September 26th and 27th and then daily from October 3rd through November 1st!

Universal Orlando Fall 2020 – Courtesy of the Universal Travel Agent Partner Community

Here are all the spooktacular details:

DRESS UP IN COSTUMES WHILE VISITING THE THEME PARKS
Guests can share their Halloween spirit and don family-friendly costumes while visiting Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

SCARECROW STALK IN UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA
Participate in the Universal Orlando Scarecrow Stalk, a NEW scavenger hunt that sends guests to find unique scarecrows and collect stamps at 13 retail locations throughout the park. A Halloween treat awaits those who successfully complete the stalk!

TRICK-OR-TREAT IN ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE
While venturing through Islands of Adventure, guests 12 and under can trick-or-treat to collect Halloween candy at retail locations marked by pumpkin signage.

 

Universal Orlando Fall 2020 – Courtesy of the Universal Travel Agent Partner Community

BRAVE TWO HAUNTED HOUSES IN UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA
Developed by the twisted minds of Universal Orlando, guests will scream their way through two all-new haunted houses where terrifying creatures await to haunt their every move. In “Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives,” one of Universal Pictures’ most notorious monsters will step out of the shadows as she stops at nothing to revive Frankenstein’s Monster at any cost. In “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy,” guests will be immersed in an original story that uncovers a dark ritual behind the innocent childhood tradition.  

Access to the two haunted houses is included with theme park admission. There may be times when the Virtual Line experience is available for the haunted houses. Guests can use the Official Universal Orlando Resort App to select a Virtual Line time to visit. NOTE: Haunted houses may be too intense for young children and are not recommended for guests under 13.

HHN Fall 2020 – Courtesy of the Universal Travel Agent Partner Community

For additional Halloween treats this fall, you can also:

  • Stop by the popular Halloween Horror Nights Tribute store, an immersive retail location dedicated to the legacy of the world’s premier Halloween event, to purchase limited-time “throwback” merchandise and to get a taste of the horror with an assortment of nearly 20 sweet and savory items. TIP: The Halloween Cake is delicious!
  • Enjoy additional limited-time, crave-worthy food & beverage options to celebrate the season. In Universal Studios, this includes a variety of Halloween-themed drinks like the Frozen Candy Corn beverage at the all-new Skeleton Bar at Café La Bamba, the iconic staple, Pizza Fries, at Louie’s Italian Restaurant, and all-new food trucks near the haunted houses that feature uniquely themed items such as “Franken Fried Chicken & Funnel Brains.” In Universal CityWalk, guests can pick up the “Jack the Clown” and “Pumpkin Spice” specialty doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnut. Plus, guests can sip on specialty drinks themed after icons from Halloween Horror Nights history at Universal Orlando’s hotels, including “The Director” and “The Chance.”
  • Horror movie buffs can catch a classic horror flick at Universal Cinemark in CityWalk now through October 31.
  • Lastly, you can have a hauntingly good time at Hollywood Drive-In Golf, where you’ll encounter a choice of two family friendly courses: “The Haunting of Ghostly Greens” and “Invaders From Planet Putt.” Experience cutting-edge interactive elements and special immersive features that can’t be found elsewhere. Encounter a haunted house, flying saucer, 30-foot robot, and more in quirky capers filled with ghoulish gags and interplanetary puns. Special effects and lighting make it easy to play day, evening, and even late night. And since it’s located in Universal CityWalk™, it’s just steps away from the rest of the action.  This is one family favorite you won’t want to miss!
    Courtesy of Robin Gantek, Vacations with Character®

    To learn more about about booking a getaway to Universal Orlando’s Halloween seasonal experiences, visit your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista at: https://universalvacationplanners.com. We have a few special offers to share with you too and are experts at creating exciting adventures to this amazing destination!


Safety Note: Universal Orlando continues to implement its enhanced health and safety procedures and guidelines focused on “screening, spacing and sanitization,” and those practices will be applied to all experiences taking place this fall. Key measures include screening guests and team members, enforcing social distancing, requiring face coverings, limiting capacity at the parks, attractions and hotels, and increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures and more. Specific health and safety protocols for the haunted houses include:

  • Face coverings worn by team members – including scareactors – and guests.
  • Everyone following social distancing guidelines in the queue and inside the haunted houses. Plexi-glass will be installed in various areas to help keep separation between scareactors and guests.
  • The required use of hand sanitizer before entering each haunted house. It will also be available for guests to use immediately after they exit.
  • Managing the guest flow inside the haunted houses by pulsing travel parties and limiting capacity.

 

Five Universal Orlando Resorts Ranked 2020s Top 10 Best Amusement Park Hotels!

USA Today has released it’s top 10 Best Amusement Park Hotels and guess what? Universal Orlando Resorts claims FIVE of them. It’s no surprise, as these are among our top favorites too!

Advertising Resorts Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando Resort CBBR, UOR Pool Exteriors kids having fun in pool, children in pool, couples by pool, water slide, lounging by pool
One of 2 Pools at Cabana Bay Beach Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

1) Cabana Bay Beach Resort

This resort features a fun retro theme that takes you back to the iconic beach resorts of the 1950s and 60s. This property features two massive pools including a water slide and a lazy river, 10-lane bowling alley, arcade, fitness center, delicious food court, fire pit, outdoor activities, and there’s even a even a Starbucks®.  Great for families on a budget, this resort is the perfect place to call your “home away from home” for a week…or two. It’s truly a little getaway all to its own.

2) Universal’s Aventura Hotel

Courtesy of: LB McLeod, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Prime Value, Universal Orlando Resort, Double Queen Standard Room

You’ll say “Ahhhh” at Universal’s Aventura Hotel as you relax and experience a fresh and fun way to vacation. It’s modern and smart, yet vibrant and sleek. At this landmark within Universal Orlando Resort™, you’ll find yourself at home with open areas designed for sharing and gathering. The pool and amazing rooftop views at Bar 17 Bistro are relaxing sweet spots that will be calling your name after time in the parks.

Aventura Hotel Lobby – Courtesy of Vacations with Character®

Dining options are plentiful. Choose from Bar 17 Bistro to Bar Sol to Urban Pantry, the food hall where unique, high-quality restaurants come together offering a multitude of cuisines for your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. (TIP: try the salmon, it’s delicious!) And, for those who need their coffee fix, there’s even a Starbucks®. Great for families with tweens or for a friends/couples getaway, this resort will fill the need quite nicely – and without breaking your piggy bank.

3) Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

What can we say about Sapphire Falls except we ♥ this resort! This hidden gem has a Caribbean-inspired theme that transports you to a paradise…and the invitation for relaxation is everywhere.

Every comfort has been built in including a luxuriously landscaped 16,000 square foot, resort-style pool surrounded by cascading waterfalls as its centerpiece. From the beautiful stone turret work in the lobby to the inviting island charm of the 1,000 guest rooms and suites, you’re surrounded by old-world chic, yet modern and timeless style…and you’re only steps away from the theme parks! TIP: the suites are amazing!

You can almost reach out and touch the theme parks from here as well! Look closely at the top left and you’ll see Hogwart’s Castle!

Aerial View of Lowes Sapphire Falls from Bar 17 Bistro at Universal’s Aventura Hotel – Courtesy of Vacations with Character®

Culinary options abound from Amatista Cookhouse, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to Strong Water Tavern, to the grab-and-go offerings at New Dutch Trading Co. You can also enjoy a menu of fresh seafood along with tropical drinks poolside. For those needing some pampering, there’s even 24-hour room service! From families to friends to couples, we recommend this resort for anyone. And believe it or not, it too is budget friendly!

4) Lowes Royal Pacific Resort

Lowes Royal Pacific Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

Explore the island of comfort and sophistication at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Experience touches of paradises such as Fiji, Bali and Hawaii. From lush landscaping to the white sandy beach of the lagoon-style swimming pool, you’ll be surrounded by an exotic feel!

Feast in the Island’s Dining Room or Jake’s American Bar or savor sushi at Orchid Court. Bula means “welcome” in Fijian, and you will love Bula Bar & Grille, a casual poolside eatery featuring tropical drinks, sandwiches, and classic American items.  Tuk Tuk Market, the all-new lobby marketplace, offers coffee, breakfast items, pastries, and exclusive Tuk Tarts, plus hot and cold sandwiches, wok bowls, sushi to go, ice cream and gelato. At Royal Pacific, 24-hour room service is also available as well. We recommend this resort for anyone seeking a luxury vacation in a beautiful surrounding.

Royal Pacific Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

5) Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal Orlando Resort – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

Take a trip to the stunning seaside village of Portofino, Italy without leaving the country at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. The stunning and luxurious rooms, authentic Italian specialties, and warm hospitality make your stay here a taste of what the Italians call la dolce vita – the sweet life. From the cobblestone streets to the outdoor cafes, you just may forget what country you’re in. Kids are not overlooked here as well. The kid’s suites are amazingly fun!

Portofino Bay Hotel, Despicable Me Suite – Courtesy of Universal Travel Partners

We recommend this resort for anyone seeking an upscale luxury resort vacation but you’ll have to wait to enjoy a stay here as it is currently closed.

Speaking of the sweet life, did you know by staying on property you’ll also receive exclusive theme park benefits? What can be sweeter than that?

Guests staying at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel or Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites enjoy  Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ one hour before the theme parks open along with complimentary shuttle service (or water taxi for Sapphire Falls guests) to and from the Universal Orlando® theme parks and Universal CityWalk® the dining and entertainment complex.

Guests staying at Lowes Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel® or Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel enjoy exclusive benefits including FREE Universal Express Unlimited™, which provides access to skip the regular lines at participating rides and attractions at Universal Studios Florida™ and Universal’s Islands of Adventure™. Plus, they receive Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay™ one hour before the theme parks open. Staying at these resorts also means you’re within walking distance-or a short, complimentary water taxi ride-from the theme parks and Universal CityWalk™!

Questions? We’ve got answers…and tickets…and special offers available for your next amazing vacation to Universal Orlando Resort.  You can also read our blogs about the reopening and all of the safety features in place to keep you safe by starting here:

RELATED: 10 Tips To Experience Universal Orlando Resort

Ready to visit? There’s never a better time to plan your trip! Contact a Vacations with Character® Vacationista for a free quote for tickets or packages today, and let’s get you back to enjoying life and creating amazing memories with your family and friends!  Just visit us at: https://universalvacationplanners.com/

We look forward to hearing from you!

Vacations with Character® is proud to be recognized as a Universal Orlando Preferred Travel Agency. This distinction is only offered to top sellers for Universal Orlando Parks and Resorts.

 

Virtual Queue Update for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The reopening of Disney parks has gone smoothly and happy guests are reporting back to share they are having a wonderful time. Here’s a few things to know if you are visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios soon and want to face an epic battle against the First Order on the thrilling attraction Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance!
Courtesy of Disney Destinations Travel News

Since Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened, the virtual queues do fill quickly each day. This is due to new health-and-safety measures that  includes requiring extra space between groups in queues and on attraction vehicles.

With all of this in mind and even with limited park attendance, Disney is simply not able to accommodate as many people on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as they could before the implementation of physical distancing. Therefore, Disney is adjusting the virtual queue for this attraction.

Guests with a Disney Park Pass reservation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, must continue to access the My Disney Experience app virtual queue if they wish to experience this attraction just as before, but beginning Friday, July 24, opportunities to join the queue will be available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. only.

Here are some helpful TIPS to be aware of before you arrive:

  • First, make sure to download the My Disney Experience app before you arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
  • Also, make sure your My Disney Experience account is linked to park tickets for you and the others in your group because you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time.
  • While you are in the park and at precisely 10 a.m. or 2 p.m., log in to your account. Groups will fill up quickly, so you must be diligent!
  • Once you have logged in, select “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue” on the home screen. You will be able to view the current status and next steps for joining the virtual queue.
  • The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time. If there is no availability try to join a backup group.
  • Make sure push notifications are turned on for My Disney Experience so you will be alerted if your group is called to return. You’ll have up to an hour from the time of the alert to go to the entrance of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
  • Guests who are enrolled in the virtual queue will be able to see an estimated return time indicating when they may be called back to experience the attraction. This time may change throughout the day, so continue to check the app for updates. Also, the tip boards around the park will display the boarding groups that have been called back.
  • In order to give as many guests as possible the opportunity to join the Resistance, each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day.
  • Please note that joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

If you have any questions or need assistance with joining the virtual queue, cast members at Guest Experience Team locations throughout the park are available to assist. While you wait for your virtual queue group to be called, you can enjoy other experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios including the newest addition, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Enjoy your vacation and “May the force be with you!”

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10 Tips to Experience Universal Orlando Resort

The parks, hotels, and CityWalk are open and welcoming guests back with a few changes and welcome surprises! Read on for more details.

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

As previously reported on our social media accounts, things may be a little different when you arrive with new operational guidelines that put your safety, and that of the Team Members, first.  Rest assured, it’s still the Universal you know and ♥! Here are some tips to experience the parks and make your visit a stress-free one, which = more fun for you!

RELATED: 10 Tips for Universal Orlando’s Reopening and 10 Tips for Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay Reopening

1. The Universal Orlando Resort App is Your New Best Friend

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

Take a minute to download the Universal Orlando Resort app! More than ever, this will be the most useful thing during your visit. It will help you navigate around the crowds, trim down time waiting in queues, minimize physical interactions, and so much more! Here are some top features:

  • – Virtual Line experience for attractions
  • – Mobile food and drink ordering for select restaurants
  • – Interactive park map
  • – Virtual wallet where you can purchase and house your park tickets, Express passes, and also set up your TapuTapu for your visit to Volcano Bay
  • – Wait time alerts that you can set for when the times drop

(Download it for FREE from the App Store and Google Play. Data and other charges may apply; check with your wireless provider’s rate plan for details.)

2. Dodge Crowds with the Virtual Line Experience (see #1 above!)

Courtesy of Derek Funk, Universal Partner Community

3. Order Your Food Ahead of Time with Mobile Order (see #1 above!)

4. Make a Game Plan Beforehand

Create your list of “must-do’s” and then use the app to navigate wait times while also utilizing the virtual line queue, plus mobile ordering.

5. Get a More Personalized Experience With Social Distancing

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

Maintaining social distancing spaces actually makes you feel as if you have rides and attractions almost to yourself and provides for a more personal and intimate experience!

6. Take a Break in the U-Rest Areas

In addition to planning out what you want to do, make sure to slot in time to take breaks. There are new U-Rest areas sprinkled throughout the parks and CityWalk, where you can recharge with a drink or snack with your face covering off. You can find them in the following locations:

  • Universal CityWalk
    • Down by the waterfront in front of Hard Rock
  • Universal Studios Florida
    • Fear Factor Live Theater
    • Central Park by the lagoon
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure
    • Port of Entry Landing by the waterfront
    • The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show Theater in Lost Continent (the show is no longer available)

7. Make Way for Perfect Selfies and Photo Ops!

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

With limited crowds and social distancing, there is plenty of free space all around so you can capture some really great memories – and photos of your favorite spots without other guests crowding in.

8. Early Park Admission = More Time and Fewer Crowds

Booking a vacation package  OR purchasing your tickets from Vacations with Character® allows you the perk of entering the park one hour earlier than the general public! Can you say…sign me up??? We are also experts at helping you navigate the hotels, new policies, attractions, transfers, and more…and our services are FREE for our clients! In fact, we may be able to save you money…money you can use to buy a new Wizarding Wand or a few ButterBeers and VooDoo doughnuts. 😉

9. Your Bae This Summer is Volcano Bay

Courtesy of Universal Partner Community

With minimal crowds, plentiful areas to relax, social distancing enforced while you play, and the TapuTapu wearable – made exclusively for Volcano Bay – this park truly makes you feel as if you’ve escaped to a relaxing, tropical paradise and you will simply fall in LOVE! Plus, masks are not required in the pools, on the slides, or while eating/drinking because your space is always maintained with new guidelines and markers. Plus, with Tap Tu Play and Tap Tu Pay on your TapuTapu wearable, there is no  standing in long lines to experience an attraction, no more carrying wallets, cash or credit cards around the park and no fumbling for a locker key. They have truly thought of everything!

10. New Experiences are Waiting to Welcome You Back

The parks may have been closed for a couple of months, but select Team Members have been hard at work creating new experiences for you to come back to. With new “Love is Universal” and anniversary merchandise to snatch up, new food and beverage offerings, and even new entertainment attractions like The Bourne Stuntacular and Raptor Encounter (baby raptor Sierra is the cutest!), there’s never a better time to visit!

Questions? We’ve got answers…and tickets…and special offers available for your next amazing vacation to Universal Orlando Resort.  Contact a Vacations with Character® Vacationista for a free quote for tickets or packages today and let’s welcome you back!   https://universalvacationplanners.com/

We are honored to be an Authorized Universal Orlando Vacation Planner!

Many thanks to Denielle Ricci, Associate Editor of the Discover Universal Blog and Universal Partner Community Representative for help in providing this information!

 

 

 

Disney’s Magical Express Service Changes You’ll Want to Know

There are a lot of changes going on at Walt Disney World and there is one new change you should know about if you’re flying into Orlando International Airport and planning on using Disney’s Magical Express!

Courtesy of Disney Travel Agents

Complimentary airport transportation is always available via Disney’s Magical Express service for onsite Guests arriving and departing from Orlando International Airport. This service is continuing to operate during this period BUT with some modifications.

NEW: Beginning July 16, 2020, luggage delivery service will not be provided for those arriving to and departing from Orlando International Airport as before. Instead, Guests who choose to use Disney’s Magical Express will be responsible for picking up any of their checked luggage from the airport’s baggage claim area and taking it to the motor coach, so that it can be loaded for transport to their Disney Resort hotel. Also, Guests’ luggage will travel with them to their Disney Resort hotel.

As before, Luggage Assistance will be still be available at the front of Disney Resort hotels, including luggage storage and/or transport to the room.

ALSO NEW: Upon departure, Guests should ensure their luggage is with them and loaded onto the motor coach so they can check it in with their airline once they reach the airport. The resort airline check-in service will not be offered at this time.

Guests will be notified of these changes prior to departing their home locations. Stay tuned to Vacations with Character® for any additional updates at a later date!

Contact us to book or purchase tickets! As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, our agents are well trained and stay up to date on all new procedures and changes. We are poised to help guide you through the new steps and changes needed to visit each park as well as help with itinerary planning and more in order to create a stress-free vacation for you and your family/friends to enjoy.

Visit us and request a quote or drop us a line to reserve your vacation today!

Though the experience may be different than the time you last visited, there is so much to look forward to, with many favorite attractions and dozens of entertainment offerings available across all four theme parks, including special new character cavalcades and the #TasteofEPCOT #InternationalFoodAndWineFestival!!

See ‘Ya Real Soon!

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Vacations with Character® has earned the distinction of being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner