Why Waiting for Epic Universe to Open is a Bad Idea

Epic Universe, debuting at Universal Orlando in 2025, will be amazing but here’s why waiting to visit Universal Orlando until then is a bad idea!
Epic Universe Entrance – Artist Rendering, compliments of Universal Orlando Parks and Resorts

With 5 NEW and exciting lands, Universal Orlando’s 4th theme park is sure to be beyond Epic. In fact, that may be an understatement! However, if you are considering a future visit, here are some things to think about.

Let’s go back in time to the excitement and hype when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first opened. While it was a dream come true for Potter Fans, those days, weeks, and months after the grand opening were honestly not as magical for Muggles and little Wizards alike. Crowd levels were at capacity, attractions lines were hours looooong, and it was actually impossible to see and do much.

A quick Google search will produce tons of articles like this one showing how thousands of Guests waited in lines that stretched back to the entrance of CityWalk just to get into the parks:

Copyright: Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on opening day for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Fast forward to 2025 and it’s easy to predict the popularity for Epic Universe will surely soar again. After all, we are not only talking about the addition of a new Wizarding World. Joining the land of the Ministry of Magic are 3 other new lands: Super Nintendo World, Dark Universe, and How to Train Your Dragon: Isle of Berk.

This is going to be a mind-blowing, game-changing enhancement to all that Universal Orlando has to offer and you can bet crowd levels are going to soar until the hype and newness wears off a bit.

Lucky for you, Dear Friends, there are choices to be made! If you count yourself among those who are too excited to wait or just want bragging rights to be among the first to visit Epic Universe, your wish is our command! Packages and tickets for 2025 haven’t been released yet but you won’t have to wait too long and we’ll be here to assist you!

However, if you haven’t crossed off a most magical visit to Universal Orlando’s current theme parks from your bucket list or if you wish to return to create more memories, you may want to do so this year while crowd levels are still manageable because once Epic Universe opens, we have it on good authority Guests will still be directed to ALL of the theme parks, which translates into higher crowd levels everywhere on property.

Here’s a few more compelling reasons to visit now vs. later:

1) Vacations with Character® LLC has SO many great deals to offer in 2024, including exclusive savings* of up to $1300.00 on a 3-park/5 night vacation package as well as special ticket offers to get you to the magic sooner! There’s never been a better time to SAVE! $$$

2) There are SO many fun and new things to see this year:

    • The adorable DreamWorks Land is officially open
    • CineSational: Symphonic Spectacular the all-new lagoon show has made it’s debut and it’s FANTASTIC!
    • Hogwarts Forever is not to be missed! This new nighttime projection on Hogwarts Castle tells the story of a student going through their first year at Hogwarts and plays nightly (it even has a few different endings)

3) Beginning July 3, the New Mega Movie Parade debuts. This spectacular new addition will feature 13 brand new floats, nearly 100 performers (dancers, skaters, stilt walkers, performers, and more), not to mention special effects.

4) If scary movies are your jam, don’t forget Halloween Horror Nights, the world’s premier event is also coming this Fall and it’s never too early to plan for this as well. In fact, private tours, which are the best way to experience this event, and tickets do sell out!

Last but not least…

5) There’s nothing like a visit to Universal during the holidays to put you in the spirit. Join the celebration of Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ all decked out in it’s finest; Enjoy huge balloons at Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s and it even snows — in Florida!;  Laugh along to the Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Holiday Decorations, courtesy of Robin Gantek and Vacations with Character® LLC

So, as you can see, there’s never been a better time to experience all that Universal Orlando has to offer! Epic Universe isn’t going anywhere and in the meantime, you can still enjoy THREE amazing theme parks at an incredible price!

*For more information, be sure to contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista and we’d be  happy to provide you with the best price possible for your vacation as well as all the details for special offers available to you for your dates of travel. We ♥ Universal and can’t wait to help you book a most magical adventure. Please visit us at: www.vacationswithcharacter.net or or www.universalvacationplanners.com

Vacations with Character is proud to earn the distinction of being a Universal U-Preferred Travel Agency.

 

 

5 Holiday Offerings Coming To Walt Disney World

We are halfway to the most wonderful time of the year, and there really is no better place to celebrate the holidays than at The Most Magical Place On Earth! Check out 5 new and returning Holiday Offerings coming to Walt Disney World this year!

1. Disney Jollywood Nights is back!

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Get your holiday glam ready, because Disney Jollywood Nights is once again rolling out the red carpet! On select nights November 9 through December 21, guests can get holly and jolly for five festive hours from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. during this limited capacity, separately ticketed event.

* Get ready to gather on Hollywood Boulevard for a new dazzling skating spectacular set to favorite holiday tunes. Several times each evening, take in the grace and skill of international champion skaters in an awe-inspiring twist on the traditional ice show.

* This year’s event includes over 20 unique character experiences featuring both new and returning favorites. Reunite with beloved characters like Phineas and Ferb, Santa Duffy and Santa Stitch, and look forward to fresh new faces such as Bo Peep, Lotso, Baloo, and King Louie from TaleSpin. Don’t forget, Disney PhotoPass digital downloads are included in your event ticket!

* Returning culinary favorites – including that iconic Gertie cookie! – will be available alongside new treats. Upon exit, each guest will also receive one sweet treat created by Wondermade!

* What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along, Disney Holidays in Hollywood, and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

* The Holiday Fiesta en la Calle will move to Animation Courtyard, and there guests will be able to spot Jose Carioca and Panchito from The Three Caballeros! Meanwhile, The Twilight Soirée at the Tip Top Club located in the Tower Courtyard will have guests dancing throughout the night! Jazzy Holidays at the Hollywood Brown Derby will return – we recommend getting a reservation due to limited space. Stay tuned for more information on how to book in September.

Guests of select Disney Resorts hotels, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels and Shades of Green can purchase tickets starting on July 2. For all other guests, tickets will go on sale July 10. The dates for 2024 are:

  • November 9, 13, 16, 18, 23, 25, 30
  • December 2, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21

With more Saturday dates added, there are plenty of opportunities to join in the holiday fun. Don’t miss out on this swanky holiday celebration at Disney Jollywood Nights!

2. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Makes a Festive Return

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is just one of the holiday highlights that guests can experience during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The separately ticketed event also features dazzling stage shows, fireworks, complimentary sweet treats and so much more. It takes place on 25 select nights Nov. 9-Dec. 22. Now in its 40th year, the event has become a holiday tradition for families and kids of all ages. (Harrison Cooney, Photographer)

Nothing beats experiencing the joy and holiday spirit Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party brings to Magic Kingdom Park!

* Those delicious complimentary cookies and cocoa will be available throughout the party once again, making the evening even sweeter. Every night will be filled with festive cheer, from the beautifully decorated Main Street, U.S.A. to the enchanting holiday-themed attractions.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a limited capacity five-hour holiday event, kicking off November 8 and running on select nights through December 20 from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Guests of select Disney Resorts hotels, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels and Shades of Green can purchase tickets starting on July 2. For all other guests, tickets will go on sale July 10.

The dates for 2024 are:

  • November 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29
  • December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20

Mark your calendars to experience the wonder and delight of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. There’s no better way to get into a magical holiday spirit!

3. EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

Holidays are a global tradition – and we can’t get enough of the sights, the sounds, and the sensational flavors at the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays starting on November 29 through December 30! Enjoy festive traditions from around the world with amazing holiday storytellers, delicious dishes, merchandise, entertainment and more, each celebrating unique cultural traditions.

* Get ready to satisfy the festive cravings at Holiday Kitchens. Located throughout the park and serving up a mouth-watering array of seasonal foods and drinks, there are delicious treats waiting for guests from around the globe.

* Fan-favorite, the Candlelight Processional, is returning. Listening to a celebrity narrator tell the Christmas story, accompanied by a full orchestra and mass choir, is such a moving experience—it truly captures the magic of the holidays. Keep an eye out on Disney Travel News for this year’s lineup of narrators.

4. More Festive Offerings Across Walt Disney World Resort

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

We’re thrilled to share that many favorite holiday offerings are returning to our parks and Disney Springs this season!

* At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, the enchanting Merry Menagerie of artisan-sculpted winter animal puppets will be back amidst the beautiful holiday décor. And don’t forget to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy in their festive attires!

* Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the yuletide projection show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel is making a comeback, and guests can catch Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear in their festive attire in Toy Story Land.

Debuting in 2023 at Magic Kingdom Park, “Frozen” friends from Arendelle are conjuring up something remarkable for the holidays. The new Frozen Holiday Surprise brings together Olaf and more than 100 of his Snowgie siblings who attempt to add festive decor to Cinderella Castle. With Anna and Kristoff at her side, Queen Elsa adds sparkling finishing touches, transforming the castle into a shimmering crystallized palace – a look that will remain each evening throughout the holidays. (Mariah Wild, Photographer)

* Magic Kingdom will once again host the “Frozen Holiday Surprise” in front of Cinderella Castle, featuring Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and the adorable Snowgies.

* Meanwhile, Disney Springs is the perfect spot for holiday shopping, with dazzling decorations and the popular Christmas Tree Stroll. And don’t miss the magical snowfall in Town Center—yes, snow in Central Florida!

* To put the bow on top, Santa Claus will be making appearances across all four parks, Disney Springs, and Disney Water Parks, where he’ll be donning his tropical holiday beachwear. Get ready to snap the perfect family portrait!

* Meanwhile, Disney Springs is the perfect spot for holiday shopping, with dazzling decorations and the popular Christmas Tree Stroll. And don’t miss the magical snowfall in Town Center—yes, snow in Central Florida!

5. Gingerbread Houses and Décor Galore

Staying at a Disney Resort hotel is an experience like no other, immersing guests in the same legendary detail, service, and storytelling found in the parks. Now picture that with Christmas trees, joyful decorations and the oh-so-delicious smell of gingerbread displays crafted by our world-class culinary teams!

To make it all even sweeter, starting on June 27 guests can save up to 30% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights from November 24 to December 25, plus, other savings for stays most Sunday to Thursday nights between October 6 to November 21. Guests can also get free Park Hopper option added to their tickets when they upgrade to a Walt Disney Travel Company package that includes a non-discounted 4-day or longer date-based ticket.

Whew – we can’t wait for the merriest time of the year at Walt Disney World. For more information, be sure to contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista for more information or to book a most magical holiday adventure: www.vacationswithcharacter.net

We’ll be sharing even more details as we get closer to the most wonderful time of the year!

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*All entertainment and offerings are subject to change.

For Resort Offer:  **Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Theme Park tickets and options valid for admission beginning on the date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on ticket length. Visit Disneyworld.com/usage for more details.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Returns With Surprises

It’s Halfway to Halloween and Disney is sharing some spooktacular details for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2024!

Mickey’s not-So-Scary Halloween Party Parade – Courtesy of Disney Destinations

This year’s event kicks off Aug. 9 and will take place on select nights through Oct. 31 at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort. Tickets go on sale for guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels, and Shades of Green on May 8. For all other guests, tickets will go on sale May 15.

The dates announced for 2024 are:

  • August 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30
  • September 2, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29
  • October 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31

It’s never too early to start planning for Halloween! Here’s what’s in store for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2024:

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

New costumes for Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse

Get ready to strike a scary pose! Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will greet guests during the Party in their brand-new neon spiderweb attire.

Courtesy of Disney Travel News

More Villains Sightings

From the moment this Halloween Party begins  guests will be able to spot their favorite sinister villains and ghoulish foes—and they might even get to take a selfie with them!

Guests can also ‘bust a move’ during the DescenDANCE Party and Talk about Bruno from “Encanto” as he joins Mirabel in the fun for the first time during the party at their Casita in Fairytale Garden.

New earlier start time for “Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade”!

Gone are the days of Boo Bash! This year, the fan-favorite parade will take place a full hour earlier, at 8:15pm to be exact – perfect for those guests attending with little ones who want to enjoy the fun before it’s bedtime.

Fall is here and there is plenty of festive fun for guests to enjoy at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. From Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival presented by CORKCICLE to eerie-sistible merchandise, food and beverage delights and boo-tiful fall décor, there is so much to experience this autumn at the Most Magical Place on Earth. (Courtesy Disney Travel News: Courtney Kiefer, Photographer)

That’s everything that’s brand new, but what about what’s back for more tricks (and treats) this year?

Returning favorites include “Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular” fireworks show, hosted by Jack Skellington, the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” stage show, and trick-or-treating throughout the park. In addition, dance the night away and enjoy popular attractions with special Halloween twists, including Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Space Mountain, and Mad Tea Party. Fill a Halloween basket with M&M’S, Skittles, Snickers and more available at various trick-or-treating locations. And don’t forget to stock up on marvelous event-exclusive merchandise!

For those with a frightening sweet tooth, take a bite out of Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Dessert Party, which includes fireworks viewing from Plaza Garden or Tomorrowland Terrace. Reservations for this experience open on June 7.

This is just the beginning of spooky season at Walt Disney World, so stay tuned for even more updates! And in the meantime, contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional as it’s never too early to make plans for a stay at Walt Disney World to join in the fun! Tickets ALWAYS sell out early as well: REQUEST MORE INFORMATION

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Black Friday Cruise Offers

Go big this Black Friday and lock in an exciting cruise vacation at an incredible price. If one of these limited-time offers piques your interest, contact us for details!
Black Friday Vacation Deals - Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Black Friday Deals

30% Off Every Guest+ Kids Sail Free + Up to $750 Off*

Royal Caribbean®’s biggest sale of the year is here, and we’ve got early access to monumental savings! Black Friday cruise offers are now unlocked, with bold offers of 30% off every guest, kids sail free and more.  From Caribbean getaways  to longer journeys into Alaska, the Mediterranean, and beyond, this is your chance to lock in your next cruise adventure on the most innovative ships at sea!

Wherever you venture to with Royal Caribbean, the moments you have on board will rival those on shore. Spend your days catching waves on the FlowRider® surf simulator, speeding down the boldest slides at sea, racing around in bumper cars, solving puzzle rooms and dining on inspiring cuisine that takes you from Tuscany to Japan to Wonderland and everywhere in between. You’ll find more exclusive experiences on their newest ship, Icon of the SeasSM, where you can have a blast at Category 6, the largest waterpark at sea, and raise a glass at Swim & Tonic, the first swim-up bar at sea.

Black Friday Cruise Deals - Princess Cruise Line
Princess Cruise Line Black Friday Deals

50% Off Cruise Fares + 50% Off Deposits + 3rd & 4th Guests Sail Free. Plus, our agency exclusive of $900 in Onboard Savings + Up to $85 Onboard Credit!*

Feel the freedom of “do-anything” days, the joy of exploring legendary places and the connection the crew makes with everyone who sails with Princess. Immerse yourself in the region on board through unique programs like North to Alaska and ashore through award-winning Discovery™ and Animal Planet™ excursions. Watch original production shows or go stargazing on the top deck. Spend more time connecting with each other and doing what you love on a Princess MedallionClass® vacation. There’s nothing like a personalized vacation with fast Wi-Fi and intuitive technology for whatever you need delivered wherever you are, easy dining reservations and more of what you love. And if you want more value out of your vacation, it Pays to Plus®. Get Wi-Fi, drinks, premium desserts and more included when you purchase Princess Plus®.

Now’s a great time to lock in your vacation with Princess Cruises. Our Black Friday cruise offers include and exclusive surprise only when you book through our agency by December 2, 2023 as you’ll receive a coupon booklet with over $900 in onboard savings. Plus, enjoy up to $85 in onboard spending per stateroom on select sailings.

Black Friday Cruise Deals - Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Black Friday Deals are here!

Our Black Friday cruise offer with Norwegian Cruise Line includes 50% off all cruises, $250 free with CruiseFirst until November 26th and enjoy Norwegian’s Free At Sea all-inclusive offers, including Free Unlimited Open Bar, Free Specialty Dining, Free Excursions, Free Wi-Fi and Free 3rd & 4th Guests! Plus, receive up to $400 Onboard Credit on select sailings, only when you book through our travel agency. This offer ends November 30th, book today!*

From action-packed wilderness adventures and extraordinary sightseeing to an extended sailing season and exclusive onboard credits only available through our travel agency, we can’t wait to plan your cruise vacation with Norwegian Cruise Line.

Black Friday Cruise Deals - Celebrity Cruises
Seeing the World on a Celebrity Cruise is More than Just a Vacation!

When you board a Celebrity ship, you can take your chances at the onboard casinos, explore flavors from around the world without leaving your table or even sign up for archery tournaments to take a shot at the bull’s-eye.

In December 2023, Celebrity Cruises will launch its newest ship — Celebrity AscentSM — which will invite you to retreat into a vast selection of staterooms and suites. And for the first time ever in 2024, Celebrity Cruises is taking you to one of the Caribbean’s most exclusive destinations, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private island destination. Step ashore and experience the best of beachside bliss and sun-soaked excitement. From taking on the tallest waterslide in North America to unwinding in your own Overwater Cabana or retreating to the newly added Hideaway BeachSM, an adults-only beachfront paradise.

Book your Black Friday cruise offer now to take advantage of this great savings: Drinks, Wi-Fi and Tips — All Included + Receive $50 Onboard Credit per Stateroom, only through our agency.*

Black Friday Cruise Deals- MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises Black Friday Deals

Drinks & Wi-Fi Included + Up To $500 Onboard Credit + Kids Sail Free*

Take advantage of MSC Cruises’ Black Friday cruise offer and book your vacation with Drinks & Wi-Fi included up to $500 Onboard Credit to spend on a variety of experiences like specialty dining, spa treatments, shore excursions and more. Plus, Kids Sail Free! Discover must-see destinations, including the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Mediterranean and more, in 2023, 2024 and beyond. Hurry, don’t miss the opportunity to get this limited-time offer.

Disney Cruise Line – The Sea is Calling!

Aboard any Disney cruise, you can experience fun and relaxation, imaginative dining, Broadway-style shows and exclusive spaces for adults and kids alike. If you’re ready to set sail for breezy Bahamian shores, please visit our Disney Cruise Line blog post for more information on magical featured sailings!

Vacations with Character® is a Family-Owned, Full-Service, Authorized Travel Agency. Making your Vacations Dreams Come True in the Happiest Places on Earth is our Specialty!
Connect with one of our Cruise Line specialists today!

*Restrictions apply.  Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista for full terms and conditions and for this exclusive offers.

Universal’s Mardi Gras International Flavors of Carnival

Universal Orlando Resort’s Mardi Gras 2023 Celebration Returns

Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Orlando Resort
Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort invites guests to go beyond the bayou and let the good times roll from February 4 through April 16, 2023 with the return of Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval – featuring a dazzling Mardi Gras parade, mouthwatering cuisine inspired by global Carnaval celebrations and, on select nights, live concerts by top names in music – all included with regular theme park admission to Universal Studios Florida.

Click Here to See an Overview of this Year’s Celebration and take a look at all the details below:

Star-Studded Mardi Gras Concert Lineup

This year’s concert series will feature eight live performances by popular names in music like GRAMMY-nominated band Goo Goo Dolls, GRAMMY-winning Platinum superstar Maren Morris and GRAMMY-winning artist Sean Paul, and at the Music Plaza stage – an outdoor concert venue set against the backdrop of the towering Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster.

Complete Concert Line-Up for Universal 2023 Mardi Gras Celebration
Complete Concert Line-Up for Universal 2023 Mardi Gras Celebration
New “Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras” Parade Theme

Guests of all ages can dance along with high-energy performers and catch beads by the handful during this year’s spectacular parade, which will showcase a new “Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras” theme inspired by fantastical creatures like dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and more – with a Mardi Gras twist. This year’s imaginative theme will be brought to life within six incredibly detailed and festive parade floats that will join Universal’s traditional lineup of New Orleans-inspired floats – such as the iconic, two-story Riverboat and nearly 50-foot-long King Gator.

Taste the International Flavors of Carnaval

The mouthwatering flavors of global Carnaval celebrations from New Orleans to Brazil to Belgium and beyond will come to life as part of an expansive menu featuring more than 50 tasting-sized items for guests to enjoy at this year’s event. While venturing throughout the parkwide celebration, guests will find kiosks featuring delectable food and beverage inspired by iconic fare from around the world – including the classic Crawfish Boil and deliciously fluffy Beignets from New Orleans, Shrimp Ceviche Tostada from Mexico, a Mofongo Flight inspired by the Carnaval Ponceño in Puerto Rico, Indonesian Black Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango and so much more.

Plus, for the first time ever, Universal Orlando’s other theme parks are joining the fun by featuring a limited selection of Mardi Gras items, including Gumbo, Jambalaya, King Cake and more at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and the Muffuletta Long Board Pizza at Universal’s Volcano Bay.

All-New Mardi Gras Tribute Store and Merchandise

Located within an all-new space in the Hollywood area of Universal Studios Florida, this year’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store invites guests to an international jazz celebration that leads to the traditional alleyways of New Orleans and ultimately into a speakeasy where the Mardi Gras celebration continues. Within the new store, guests can shop a new selection of Mardi Gras merchandise that ranges from apparel to accessories and collectibles such as keychains, pins, themed glasses and even some personalized options – allowing them to take a piece of Florida’s Biggest Party home with them. Guests can also devour tasty treats inspired by this year’s celebration within the new retail location.

The Party Continues at Universal CityWalk and Universal Orlando’s Hotels

Guests can keep the party going at Universal CityWalk with special Mardi Gras festivities at select venues along with food kiosks featuring delicious menu items that offer a taste of the Mediterranean, the Islands and popular Mardi Gras fare. Pat O’Brien’s will host a Mardi Gras After Party on select nights from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. that includes live entertainment and exclusive food and drink offerings; as well as a special Fat Tuesday celebration on February 21 from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. featuring a dueling piano and more. Reservations for the festivities at Pat O’Brien’s can be made by calling 407-224-3663. Plus, the Red Coconut Club will transform for the Mardi Gras season into the Cursed Coconut Club – more details and dates of operation will be shared soon.

The best way to experience Universal’s Mardi Gras is with a stay at one of Universal’s eight incredible hotels. Each hotel will have exclusive Mardi Gras offerings such as Cajun Jambalaya Pasta at Trattoria del Porto in Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, N’awlins Po’ Boy Sliders at Velvet Bar at Hard Rock Hotel, Crawfish Etouffee at Bar 17 Bistro in Universal’s Aventura Hotel and more. Universal Orlando hotel guests can also enjoy exclusive benefits including Early Park Admission and complimentary transportation to the theme parks.

Incredible Offers to Get the Celebration Started

Access to Universal’s Mardi Gras is included with theme park admission. Guests wanting to join the festivities can save 25% on a 5-Day/5-Night Vacation Package to visit Universal Orlando this spring and experience Mardi Gras (blockout dates apply).

Florida Residents can also take advantage of a new offer to partake in the festivities that gives them two days of free admission to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with the purchase of a 2-Park, 2-Day ticket (valid for use through June 29, 2023; blockout dates apply).

For more information or to book your adventure, contact your favorite Vacationista today! https://universalvacationplanners.com/

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.

 

 

EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is Here!

Take a First Look: EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival presented by CORKCICLE

Epcot Food and Wine Sign
By Disney Destinations – July 14, 2022

For the next 128 delicious days, guests can sip, savor, shop and repeat across six continents at the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival presented by CORKCICLE! The festival kicked off yesterday and continues through Nov. 19, offering new experiences for foodies and fun-loving
families.

Friends enjoying various drinks at Epcot Food and Wine Festival
By Disney Destinations

A passport for the palate, this iconic festival is a magical taste tour – one that whisks guests off on a fun and flavorful journey. It’s a delicious celebration of the best in global food and drink along with live entertainment, family activities and more. This year, the creative Disney culinarily teams have dreamed up unique dishes as nearly one third of the menu offerings are NEW!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Passport
Festival Passport by Disney Destinations

Guests can grab a Festival Passport to use as their handy guide to discover all the new sips and fresh bites available at the more than 25 Global Marketplaces throughout the park. These special food and beverage locations celebrate the best in global cuisine.

The Fry Basket by Disney Destinations

Debuting this year is The Fry Basket showcasing French fries presented with unique savory and sweet toppings – like the Fry Flight, featuring three different flavors!

Family enjoying morning treats at Epcot Food and Wine Festival
By Disney Destinations

For those who like to get an early start enjoying the festival and all that EPCOT has to offer, the Belgium marketplace will open at 8:30 a.m. daily to serve up delicious Belgian Waffles topped with either Warm Chocolate Ganache or Berry Compote and Whipped Cream, as well as Chilled Mocha Coffee.

Various Booths at Epcot Food and Wine
By Disney Destinations

All other marketplaces – including The Swanky Saucy Swine, Coastal Eats, Hops & Barley, The Alps, Germany, Spain, Canada, Australia, Greece, Brazil and Flavors from Fire to name just a few – will open at 11:00am daily to entice guests with exciting new options and returning fan-favorites. Be sure to check out the full Festival Foodie Guide for photos of many delectable offerings.

Don’t miss the Eat to the Beat Concert Series presented by Florida Blue Medicare as well! Be sure to check out this incredible list of performances and make plans for which guests want to see. And don’t forget about Eat to the Beat Dining Packages (for Friday through Monday concerts), which include a leisurely meal at a select EPCOT restaurant and guaranteed seating at a performance later that same day. To see the full lineup of artists, performance dates and pricing, and to make a dining package reservation, visit TasteEpcot.com.

New Merchandise for Epcot Food and Wine Festival
By Disney Destinations

It’s time to sip, savor…and shop! Five new merchandise collections offer up fun and whimsical kitchenware, tabletop items, apparel, novelties and unique collectibles featuring favorite Disney characters such as Chef Minnie Mouse, Chef Mickey Mouse, Princess Tiana, Chef Figment and Chef Remy. Merchandise can be found at festival retail locations across EPCOT, with additional pieces debuting throughout the festival. Select items are also available on shopDisney.com.

Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Savenger Hunt and Sweet Treat
By Disney Destinations

But that’s not all! There are other ways to have even more fun exploring the festival. Cheese lovers will love Emile’s Fromage Montage and take a walk on the tasty side to sample dishes featuring cheese served in inventive ways.

Guests of all ages can enjoy Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure where they’ll join Chef Remy on a daring culinary journey and zip, dash and scurry through Gusteau’s bustling Paris restaurant. And kids will want to embark on a Ratatouille-inspired scavenger hunt that’s très magnifique in Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak as well.

At the end of the day, Guests will want add to the magical memories made by watching “Harmonious” – one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney Park.

To experience the 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista for all the details!

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

 

 

Disney Cruise Line Latest Updates

Disney Cruise Line Introduces Pixar Day at Sea and Announces Return of Marvel Day at Sea in 2023!

Toy Story, Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Inside Out Friends to Join DCL in 2023 on Select Sailings.

Disney Cruise Line Guests will be immersed in the ever-unfolding stories of their favorite toys, monsters and heroes during the all-new Pixar Day at Sea aboard the Disney Fantasy  and  Marvel Day at Sea on Disney Dream for select sailings in early 2023.

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On Disney Fantasy, this day-long celebration featuring one-of-a-kind experiences on select seven-night voyages will bring to life the beloved Pixar tales of “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo” and more exclusively for Disney Cruise Line Guests.  Other details and highlights include:

Character Encounters

  • From morning until night, Guests will dance, play and interact with their favorite Pixar pals, including Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Bo Peep from “Toy Story”; Mike, Sulley and Boo from “Monsters, Inc.”; Joy and Sadness from “Inside Out”; Dug and Russell from “Up”; and everyone’s favorite supers – Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone from “The Incredibles.”

Immersive Entertainment

  • A new nighttime spectacular will call upon Disney Cruise Line Guests to help the Incredibles save the day.
  • A first-of-its-kind theatrical experience will bring to life the beloved story of Miguel and his family from “Coco” through live music and puppetry.
  • Families will be able to join their favorite characters from the beloved Pixar films for a dance party bash.

Dining Filled with Character

  • A new, interactive character dining experience hosted by Sheriff Woody, Jesse and Bullseye will kick-start the day with sing-a-longs, cowboy serenades and all the country breakfast fixins.
  • Families will enjoy a Pixar-themed dinner with dishes inspired by the Pixar Animation Studios’ California locale.
  • Guests will immerse themselves in undersea magic while dining in Animator’s Palate with visits from some of their favorite “Finding Nemo” friends, including interactive conversations with Crush.

Pixar Day at Sea will be included on nine select Disney Fantasy cruises from January through March 2023. Departing from Port Canaveral, Florida, the Disney Fantasy will sail to several Guest-favorite destinations in the eastern and western Caribbean. Eastern Caribbean itineraries feature stops in ports such as Tortola, St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico, while western Caribbean sailings visit Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; and Falmouth, Jamaica. Every cruise includes a visit to Disney’s private island oasis, Castaway Cay.

Join Thor, Captain America, Spider Man and more on Disney Dream in 2023 for Marvel Day at Sea select sailings!

Marvel Day at Sea on Disney Dream is not only returning next year, but for the first time ever, the largest assembly of Marvel Super Heroes and Villains on one ship will be sailing epic voyages from Miami, now on the Disney Dream!

Marvel Day at Sea combines the thrills of renowned Marvel comics, films and animated series with the excitement of a Disney cruise during an unforgettable day at sea.

Immersive Entertainment

This day-long celebration on select five-night Caribbean cruises features encounters with some of Guests’ favorite Marvel Super Heroes, action-packed entertainment and Marvel-themed activities designed for the whole family to enjoy.

Along with visiting fan-favorite destinations in the Western Caribbean like Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, Guests will be able to experience all that the Disney Dream has to offer while on a Marvel Day at Sea sailing. Broadway-style shows like Beauty and the Beast, themed dining, activities for every member of the family and Disney’s classic service and attention to detail are just a few things that await Guests on board.

We can’t wait to help you create a vacation filled with character! Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista for all the details and a free quote today: www.vacationswithcharacter.net. 

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Live Entertainment Returning to Disney World!

Several major live entertainment experiences will be returning to Walt Disney World Resort during The World’s Most Magical Celebration, some with new additions and enhancements!
Just announced as part of the Destination D23 event, several major live entertainment experiences will be returning to Walt Disney World Resort during The World’s Most Magical Celebration, and some of them are coming back with new additions and enhancements!

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, we’re thrilled to share some additional details about this newly updated show, which is being called “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” The new show is set in the timeline of the movie “Finding Dory.” We’re told the team is hard at work getting “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” ready to open in 2022, and we look forward to sharing more soon.

Photo: Courtesy of Disney Travel News

As Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, announced earlier today, “Fantasmic!” will also be returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2022. When this incredible spectacular reopens next year, it will incorporate an all-new sequence featuring live performers, stunts, special effects and more!

Just announced as part of the Destination D23 event, several major live entertainment experiences will be returning to Walt Disney World Resort during The World’s Most Magical Celebration, and some of them are coming back with new additions and enhancements!

At Magic Kingdom Park, live entertainment is returning to the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage early next year, with a show newly enhanced for the 50th Anniversary celebration. “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” will incorporate favorite scenes from the previous version of the show – with sequences inspired by “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “The Princess and the Frog” – plus a new opening and a new finale with Mickey Mouse and all his friends in their sparkling, EARidescent fashions. The show will also include an all-new, original song entitled “Where the Magic Feels Like Home.” “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” will be a wonderful addition to the live entertainment lineup for the 50th Anniversary celebration.

Photo: Courtesy of Vacations with Character®

Since parks  reopened last year, Disney has been presenting favorite characters in new ways, such as the cavalcades that travel the parade route at Magic Kingdom Park. These cavalcades have been very popular and will continue to be part of the park entertainment experience into the future. Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade debuted Oct. 1 as part of the 50th anniversary, and later this winter, a new one will be introduced, the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade, with an exciting lineup of characters all embarking on a great journey through the park. The Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade will feature the most characters of any cavalcade to date, including Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Baloo and King Louie from “The Jungle Book,” José Carioca and Panchito from “The Three Caballeros,” Miguel from “Coco,” plus Merida, Moana, The Incredibles, and so many more!

Photo: Courtesy of Disney Travel News

And best of all, in early 2022, these cavalcades will be joined by the return of the Disney “Festival of Fantasy” Parade. This vibrant and joyous celebration of Fantasyland brings to the streets of Magic Kingdom Park dozens of beloved Disney characters and stories, from the Disney Princess Garden to a carnival of color presided over by none other than Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Photo: Courtesy of Vacations with Character®

All of this (and more!) is on the way, adding to new experiences that debuted with the launch of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration, including “Disney KiteTails,” “Harmonious,” and “Disney Enchantment,” as well as other returning favorites like “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.”

Stay tuned for more news coming soon. We can’t wait to help you create a magical vacation to all that fun! Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista if you are interested in booking a vacation package and tickets at www.vacationswithcharacter.net. 

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Disney Genie+ to Replace FastPass at Disney Theme Parks

Disney Genie Service is set to Reimagine the Guest Experience at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort!

Disney Genie by Disney Destinations Travel News

Goodbye FastPass+… Hello Disney Genie! Earlier today, Disney Parks announced more details about what promises to be an amazing new tool to help increase guest experiences and make the most of precious time in the theme parks. This new three-tiered approach will be know as Disney Genie and will be coming this Fall. Here are some details:

Disney Genie, Courtesy of Disney Travel News

* Disney Genie is a complimentary service that will be available to all guests through the free My Disney Experience and Disneyland Apps. It will allow guests to select favorite attractions and experiences, including restaurants, then sit back and relax while ‘Genie’ conjures up the ultimate itinerary for fun-filled day. If plans change, no worries! The App also allows for changes on the fly as well!

It will also include tip boards based on guests favorites they’ve selected, show future wait time forecasts, offer a virtual assistant, mobile ordering and the ability to join a mobile walk-up waitlist for restaurants as well!

Again, Disney Genie is free for all guests.

Disney Genie+, Courtesy of Disney Travel News

* Disney Genie+ is similar to the old FastPass+ system that was discontinued, however, it will now be a paid enhancement that will allow guests to to choose return times (for 1 select ride at a time) for any of the included attractions throughout the day. Once Guests tap in for their arrival, they can make another selection and this service can be used in all four parks with a park hopper ticket as well.

The attractions included in  DisneyGenie+ have not been officially announced, but we’ve heard they will be available for more than 15 attractions at Disneyland Resort, and over 40 attractions at Disney World and attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Haunted Mansion should be included.

Disney Genie+ also includes special audio experiences and a special photo lense overlay experience for guests of Walt Disney World, while guests of Disneyland guests will receive the audio experiences as well as unlimited photo downloads from their day at Disneyland plus the special photo lense overlay experiences. (Walt Disney World guests would still need to purchase Memory Maker if they would like to enjoy unlimited photo downloads, magic shots, super zoom shots, and more. )

The additional cost for Disney Genie+ is $15.00 per ticket/per day at Walt Disney World and $20.00 per ticket/per day at Disneyland.

* Lightening Lane is also a new paid enhancement that will allow guests to skip the standby line at some of the most popular attractions and the attractions offered through this individual purchase option will be different than those offered through Disney Genie+. Rides to be included in this individual attraction selection option may include: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom, Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure Park, Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Web Slingers in Disney California Adventure park, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT. Disney will release the rest of the attractions in this group later this year.

Guests will be able to schedule a time to ride up to 2 high-demand attractions each day and use the Lightning Lane entrance during their scheduled time to ride. These two attractions can be at different parks if you have a park hopper ticket. $ Pricing for this Individual Attraction Purchase option will vary by date, attraction, and park.

Individual Attraction Purchases can be made on the same day of your visit and used across multiple parks.

ADDITIONAL TIPS:

1. The use of Disney Genie is not needed to experience any attraction or experience at any Disney theme park. All Guests may use this service as much or as little as they wish or not at all. Standby lines will still be available as usual as well as Disney’s virtual queue experience for select attractions like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

2. The purchase of Disney Genie+ is not needed to use the Individual Attraction Selection Service (Lightening Lane). For example, if you ONLY wish to ride Rise of the Resistance and you don’t care about anything else, you DO NOT need to purchase Disney Genie+ to ride it. You only have to pay the individual cost for the purchase of that attraction.

3. ONSITE GUEST PERK ALERT! Guests staying at a Disney owned and operated hotel at Walt Disney World, or the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, or the Shades of Green Hotels, and who purchase an  enhancement will be able to make their first individual attraction selection at 7AM. All other guests will have to make their selections when they enter their first park of the day.

Here’s a great little video that explains it all perfectly!

Follow us on Facebook for news and updates as they occur on this and all things Disney! And if you’d like more information or a free, no-obligation quote proposal, please reach out to your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista or request a quote on our website at: https://vacationswithcharacter.net

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New Cirque du Soleil Show Opening at Disney Springs!

The Show Goes On! Cirque du Soleil & Disney Announce Opening Date for Drawn to Life at Disney Springs!

Drawn to Life By: Disney Destinations Travel News

Calling all Cirque du Soleil fans! The iconic white tent theater at Disney Springs that has been sitting empty since is buzzing with activity once again as Cirque du Soleil artists are returning to the stage to train and rehearse for a spectacular new show.

Drawn to Life is a thrilling collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. At its core, the show is about the love between a father and a daughter with a story drawing inspiration from Disney’s 100-year heritage of animation. The family-friendly show brings timeless Disney stories and characters to life in an unforgettable way through the use of innovative design, acrobatic performances, dazzling choreography, musical scores, brand-new animation lovingly created by Disney Animation artists, and some extra touches of Disney magic. Here’s a sneak Peek:

Originally scheduled to debut in spring 2020, Drawn to Life was in its final rehearsals when the pandemic brought live theater performances to a halt. While waiting to return to the stage, artists stayed in shape by training at home or at local facilities. Now, the intermission is over and being back in the theater together is a dream come true for the cast and crew — and soon to be for fans alike!

Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney is scheduled to open on Nov. 18, 2021. Tickets will go on sale Aug. 20 to the general public.

For more information about Drawn to Life, visit DisneySprings.com/Cirque. And be sure to keep an an eye out for some behind-the-scenes stories coming in the weeks ahead on our Facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/VacationsWithCharacter.

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