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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DreamWorks Land Details Revealed

This summer, Universal Orlando Resort will debut DreamWorks Land – a vibrant new themed environment inspired by DreamWorks Animation’s beloved characters Shrek, Trolls and Kung Fu Panda.

As soon as guests step into the spectacular new land, the vivid world and imagination of DreamWorks Animation will surround them as they embark on exciting adventures like exploring Shrek’s Swamp just outside of his 35-foot-tall cottage, taking a ride on a dazzling Trollercoaster, interacting with Po in the Panda Village and meeting favorite characters like Gabby from Gabby’s Dollhouse. Guests will also discover unique treats, photo-op-worthy murals, interactive play areas, splash pads and entertainment offerings themed to popular DreamWorks stories and characters. 

Here’s the full run down about the enchanting and playful new experiences coming to DreamWorks Land:

SHREK
Like ogres and onions, guests can peel back layers of fun in Shrek’s oasis to discover “ogre-the-top” adventures at every turn.


Shrek’s Swamp Meet: Guests can visit Shrek’s Swamp Meet to interact with beloved characters Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey, the noble steed eager to joke around and converse with guests, just outside of Shrek’s cottage.

Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres: This ogre-sized play area features four fun slides, wet play areas and a playground where guests can climb, bounce and splash around as well as venture into Shrek’s outhouse.

Mama Luna Feline Fiesta: The blockbuster film, Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish, comes to life with this new interactive experience that takes place in Mama Luna’s retirement home for cats. Here, guests get to play with Mama Luna’s many cats on vivid interactive screens activated by buttons, bells, maracas and levers. They might even spot the one and only Puss in Boots himself.

King Harold’s Swamp Symphony: Guests can create their own melodious masterpiece as they trigger a choir of ever-changing frog ribbits by continually stomping on an array of interactive lily pads.

Swamp Snacks: Families can feast like an ogre at this new kiosk, which will serve scrumptious snacks inspired by Shrek, including Shrekzel, Far Far A Waffle, Frozen Ogre and more.

TROLLS
A magnificent fountain featuring favorite Trolls characters Poppy and Branch sits at the center of the Trolls Village where “fantastamazing” energy flows and guests can relax and “find their happy place.”


Trolls Trollercoaster: After strolling through a dazzling marquee starring cherished Trolls characters Poppy, Viva, Tiny Diamond, Satin and Chenille, guests of all ages can take a ride on the iconic Caterbus escaping evil spiders as they speed along a bright orange and yellow track aboard this family-friendly rollercoaster.

Poppy’s Playground: Nestled under a giant, 20-foot mushroom is Poppy’s Playground – a shaded play area featuring colorful flowers and bugs with a bountiful array of fun bouncing and climbing structures for the youngest of trolls.

Trolls Treats: Poppy’s boombox from Trolls Band Together has been transformed into a playful kiosk that offers up brightly colored Trolls ice cream treats inspired by Poppy and Branch like the pink lemonade-flavored Poppy-licious Pink and huckleberry-flavored BroZone Berry.

High Five Hideaway: Cloud Guy hosts this all-new retail location featuring the latest merchandise including apparel, plush and accessories from Shrek, Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, Gabby’s Dollhouse and more.


KUNG FU PANDA
Guests embark on thrilling and fun adventures alongside the lovable panda Po from the action-packed world of the Kung Fu Panda movies.

Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp: Inspired by the hit Kung Fu Panda films, this all-new play area brings the Panda Village to life like never before. Within both wet and dry play areas, guests have the opportunity to help the pandas wash and dry their laundry with enormous water cannons, dump buckets, giant fans and more. Guests will also encounter fun elements throughout the experience, including an interactive gong, mischievous, giggling baby pandas, and oversized merry-go-round noodle bowls from Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop.

Po Live!: This digital, interactive meet and greet experience gives guests the opportunity to interact with the famous Dragon Warrior himself as he teaches them cool Kung Fu moves, cooks some delicious stir fry and babysits his little cousin, Ling Ling…all at the same time.

DreamWorks Land will also feature additional opportunities for guests to meet and interact with beloved characters through extraordinary live entertainment, including:

DreamWorks Imagination Celebration: Popular DreamWorks Animation stories leap off the screen and come to life in DreamWorks Imagination Celebration. The multisensory adventure combines hit pop songs, high-energy dancing, advanced technology, and more to create an imaginative party atmosphere that will transport guests to the worlds of their favorite characters within the all-new DreamWorks Theater.

DreamWorks Character Zone: At DreamWorks Character Zone, guests can meet, greet and interact with their favorite DreamWorks characters like Gabby from Gabby’s Dollhouse and more.

There are so many fun events, like the family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration, to wonderful updates such as the addition of Minions Land at Universal Orlando Resort! For more information or to book your adventure, contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista today! https://universalvacationplanners.com/

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

 

Disney Cruise Line Magical Offers

More Disney Cruise Line Magic is Coming to Florida and We’ve got a Few Featured Sailings to Share!

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. Disney Cruise Line is truly a Vacation with Character!

We’re excited to share not only is Fort Lauderdale now a year-round home port for Disney Cruise Line, it’s also a gateway to both of their island escapes in the Bahamas, Disney Castaway Cay and brand-new Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point. This latest island addition will be located on the southernmost tip of the island of Eleuthera, nestled in a one-of-a-kind location where the deep blue Atlantic Ocean meets the turquoise waters of the Bahamas. Guests will be immersed in the natural beauty and tranquility of the Bahamas, inspired by its rich culture, traditions and stories, all interwoven by the amazing storytelling of Disney Imagineers. Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point debuts summer 2024.

We’ve compiled a list of a few of our favorites just for you that include these amazing destinations and more:

We’ve also prepared a special e-brochure just for you to learn more about all of the amazing experiences a Disney Cruise Line provides, as well as to share a complete list of our special offers. You’ll find all of the magical details here: Handle with Care — Dreams Enclosed! 

Dreams really do come true on a Disney Cruise and if you’re ready to set sail for breezy shores, it’s as easy as Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo to contact us to book a magical escape you’ll never forget with Disney Cruise Line!

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Minions Land: Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort shares details about all the ways to eat, laugh and make mischief in Minion Land!
Minions Land Opening Summer 2023 at Universal Orlando Resort

Minion Land on Illumination Ave expands upon the wildly popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction. Said to debut this summer,  this new experience will be fun for guests of all ages. Read on to learn about all the mayhem that awaits!

Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast
ILLUMINATION’S VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST

First, put your villainous skills to the test in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast. This new attraction will have guests competing against each other in an interactive gaming experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime!

ILLUMINATION’S MINION CAFE

Next, Minions in the kitchen = mischief in the dining room. Hungry Guests will find tons of tasty food at the new Illumination’s Minion Cafe. This immersive new eatery offers something for every palate. Additionally, it will feature three themed areas designed after beloved Minions Kevin, Stuart, Bob and Otto:

The Kitchen – where guests will get a glimpse of the equipment and gear the Minions have used to whip up the cafe’s menu.

The Breakroom – where guests can dine in the Minions’ break space. This section includes everything from “Office Safety Tips” to a vending machine stocked with mischievous items.

The Dining Room – a vibrant space adorned with colorful artwork courtesy of the Minions and more. Guests can also enjoy their meal on an outdoor patio that overlooks the fun of Minion Land.

Undoubtedly, Guests will enjoy Minion Cafe’s incredible surroundings, but hungry tummies will also enjoy a delicious menu. Try an eclectic “despica-bowls” such as Otto’s Noodle Bowl. There’s also Agnes’s Honeymoon Soup and Carl’s Crispy Cauliflower (vegan offering). For those who like handhelds maybe the Steak & “Cheese Ray” Sandwich will fit the bill? Of course, “mini Minions” will enjoy their own menu too. Lastly, everyone everyone will fall in love with adorable desserts such as Bob’s Teddy Bear Chocolate Cream Puff.

Alternately, Minion Cafe will also feature an express window with a limited menu. This is perfect for those looking to quickly satisfy their mischievous cravings!

Bake My Day at Universal Orlando Resort
BAKE MY DAY

You won’t miss this venue as it’s topped with a massive pink cupcake. For this reason, it’s visible from anywhere in the land! Bake My Day is a whimsical retail location and bakery featuring a selection of Minion-themed sweet treats.  Delectable offerings will include cupcakes, macarons, s’mores and more. Of course, fans can also find exclusive Minion-inspired merchandise here as well.

POP-A-NANA

Banana-flavored popcorn, anyone? Yes please! This walk-up location will feature sweet and savory popcorn inspired by the Minions’ love for bananas. Additionally, guests may also find an assortment of cute popcorn buckets, including the Minion Selfie bucket.

FREEZE RAY POPS

Cool off with a visit to Freeze Ray Pops, showcasing a variety of colorful popsicles and beverages inspired by Gru, the Minions and Vector.

ILLUMINATION THEATER

No land would be complete without a meet and greet. At Illumination Theater you can interact with beloved characters like the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes. In fact, new additions from the hit film “Sing”  – Rosita, Gunter and Johnny – ­will debut at this outdoor location as well.

And that’s not all! Guests can also discover murals, photo ops and more throughout Minion Land that celebrate additional characters from popular Illumination films.

Minion Land is yet another example of how Universal Destinations & Experiences is raising the bar on immersive storytelling for the entire family.

In addition to this exciting news, earlier in the year the company announced plans to build a one-of-kind, original theme park for families  in Frisco, Texas. Stay tuned for more details to come.

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

We can’t wait to experience the all-new, adorable Minion Land! If you would like more information, please reach out to your favorite Vacations with Character® Vacationista! https://universalvacationplanners.com/

 

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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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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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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