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New Raptor Encounter Now Open at Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park

by on May 27, 2015 1 Comment

New Raptor Encounter Islands of Adventure Jurassic Park

Take a dino selfie at the new Raptor Encounter in Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park (photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

While Disney was loudly kicking off their Coolest Summer Ever promotion with bicoastal 24 Hour parties, Universal Orlando quietly opened a new attraction over Memorial Day weekend with little fanfare, as the new Raptor Encounter debuted in the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure. Conventional wisdom says that, while Universal makes excellent thrill rides, Disney dominates the meet and greet experience. But much like the Transformers meet and greet in Universal Studios Florida, this innovative dinosaur photo op flips that expectation upside down.

The new Raptor Encounter is located outside of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, in an unused area that was formerly the entrance to Triceratops Trail, a long-defunct walkthrough attraction. Guests approach a fenced-in holding pen that has been built to contain a live velociraptor, who has been trained just well enough to pose briefly for photographs between snaps and screeches.

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New Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Show to Debut this Year

by on May 27, 2015 1 Comment

©Disney

©Disney

If you love Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you’ll have one new thing to experience at this year’s event and I have to tell you, I’m super excited for this one.

The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular will bring the fantastically evil Sanderson Sisters (from that favorite cult Halloween favorite, Hocus Pocus) to the Castle stage where they will run amuck (amuck, amuck) at this fun party.

With the help of the Disney villains, the three sisters, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah will conjure the ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Potion and “cast a spell on you.” The show will also feature appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent, as well as other favorite baddies. To round things out there will be dancers, projections, and special effects. The show will be replacing the Villains Mix and Mingle.

The whole stage show sounds like a blast. I’ve got my vintage Madonna costume ready because I’m ready for this sisters to perform their magic on me.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place on select nights at the Magic Kingdom, September 15 through November 1.

Tips For Avoiding Traveler’s Tummy on Your Disney Cruise

by on May 27, 2015 6 Comments

How to Avoid an Upset Stomach on your Next CruiseYou’re on a different schedule, eating richer (and more) food than usual — it’s going to hit you sooner or later. I’ll call it “traveler’s tummy.” It can take the form of bloating, upset stomach, or just feeling queasy. You may not be able to avoid it entirely, but there are definitely some things you can do to head it off. Following these tips can make a big difference in your enjoyment during your Disney cruise.

The first thing to know is that there’s a difference between garden variety upset stomach and genuine gastric distress, which could be a sign of a virus. If your symptoms are severe, do yourself, the crew, and your fellow passengers a solid and check in with the ship’s medical staff. Yes, they take these things very seriously. And, yes, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be quarantined, but that’s for another article. Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Crowd Calendar Report – May 17 to 23, 2015

by on May 27, 2015

At the beginning and end of last week wait times at Universal Parks were lower than the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted but between Wednesday and Friday the predictions did quite well. We saw crowd levels stay at a level ‘6’ or lower all week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – May 17 to 23, 2015

by on May 27, 2015

Last Saturday (the Saturday before Memorial Day) was much busier than usual but crowd levels between Sunday and Friday were very close to what was predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar. Resort-wide crowd levels stayed at a ‘5’ or lower for four out of the seven days last week with wait times rising drastically heading into the weekend. Friday’s 24-Hour Event at Magic Kingdom was very busy and although crowds were extreme at some points during the event the park hit a level ‘8’ on our scale (which is based on average wait times at core attractions between 10am and 5pm).

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans.com Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – May 17 to 23, 2015

by on May 27, 2015 1 Comment

The Disneyland Crowd Calendar predictions did great last week, missing only one day (Tuesday) on the resort-wide index. We saw average wait times in the upper half of our scale all week with no day dipping below a level ‘5’. Crowds on Friday’s 24-Hour Event were extreme but based on the definition of our crowd level index (average wait for core attractions between 10am and 5pm) the park level’s stayed below ’10’. It appears that the blue line indicating what we predicted on our Disneyland Overall Crowd Level Chart is missing the second half of the week. That is because the predictions are hidden behind the red line indicating what we actually observed.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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10 Tips for Disney Cruisers Heading to Europe

by on May 27, 2015 2 Comments

Did you hear Disney Cruise Line is sailing to Europe again this summer and next? Are you one of the lucky cruisers headed there? The Disney Magic has begun its voyage across the pond, so I thought it might be a good time to post some tips specifically for those meeting her there. If you are currently on the Magic, I’m afraid this is too late and I must apologize to you. I’m sure these were the exact 10 tips that would have completed your planning and I have failed you. For everyone else – 10 tips for your trip to Europe for a Disney cruise!

1. Packing Tips – Unless you are flying Southwest or carry certain credit cards, checking bags stateside has become expensive. How many of us try to cram everything we own into a carry on to avoid baggage fees these days? Well good news: when flying internationally almost all airlines will allow you to check one bag…phew! Checking two, however, will be quite expensive, so stick to one! Plan to do laundry onboard and pack as light as you can. While packing, you do need to be aware of dress codes in the places you plan to visit. The Vatican, for example, does not allow visitors to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts, so make sure you have appropriate clothes. You should also be aware that lost luggage is a more common problem when traveling internationally. When you’re packing, spread each family member’s clothing across more than one bag. That way if one of your four suitcases is lost, little Sally still has some clothes in other bags and isn’t stuck with what was in her carry on for the entire cruise. As you can imagine, if your luggage is still in transit when your ship is leaving, it’s going to be pretty hard for it to catch up with you.

2. International Flight Tips – At first thought, spending eight hours on a flight sounds awful. In reality it’s not as bad as you think. On flights of that length there will be complimentary meals served, which is pretty much unheard of on stateside flights these days. I recently sat next to a gentleman from Norway on a 5 ½ hour flight across the US and he was shocked that we needed to pay for something to eat on that long of a flight. On international flights on almost every airline you will be served one, or even two, meals. Many flights will also pass out toothbrushes and toothpaste for you to use at your leisure. I can’t even tell you how wonderful brushing your teeth feels after eating and sleeping and sleeping and eating again. There will also be movies to watch to pass the time, usually with several to choose from. That long of a flight can still be a challenge for little ones, so be prepared with whatever you can to keep the little ones comfortable and entertained.

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The Amazing Race Around Disney World

by on May 26, 2015 38 Comments

Amazing Race

Three things that my family loves are Disney World, reality TV, and competition. So once a year during our summer Disney World vacation, we combine all of these together into what we affectionately call “The Amazing Race Around Disney World”. In case you aren’t familiar with the popular reality TV series “The Amazing Race“, the basic premise is that teams of two compete in challenges while racing around the world for a million dollars. We follow this same format (minus the million) and create new challenges each year.

Please read on for a complete copy of one of our races and to learn more about how to create your very own “Amazing Race Around Disney World” for your next vacation!

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Epcot AtMousePhere: The Music of the Entrance

by on May 25, 2015 13 Comments

epcot3After a brief hiatus, the AtMousePhere series is back and taking a look at Epcot, and specifically Epcot music!

Out of all of the theme parks, fans have especially latched on to the music of Epcot’s entrance. The other three theme parks have music at the entrance that is put together like a patchwork quilt: One piece ends, and the next piece begins. In Epcot, however, the pieces are woven through a main tune that appears in some form between each new piece of music.

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Lombard’s Seafood Grille: The Best Food at Universal Orlando

by on May 25, 2015 4 Comments

When discussing dining at Universal’s Islands of AdventureMythos typically steals the culinary spotlight. Even Finnegan’s tends to get lots of love within Universal Studios Florida itself, but it’s actually Lombard’s Seafood Grille where a great deal of Universal’s gastronomical delights are to be found. When its top-notch offerings and ideal location on the park’s waterfront are combined with its low profile, an unexpected bonus pops up: lower wait times (on average, at least) and a quieter, more relaxed ambiance. The result is that Lombard’s is not to be missed.

Lombard's Seafood Grille -- exterior.

Image © Chuck Plagmann

Is that a hyperbolic statement, given the totality of the resort’s high-class dining offerings? In a word, no. While it’s true that Mama Della’s is the best overall full-service restaurant at Universal Orlando, and The Three Broomsticks is the highest quality quick-service location – and let’s not forget Mythos itself, which has to easily take the crown for the best-themed eatery – Lombard’s has some of, if not the, best meals around, coupled with an atmosphere that is subtly themed but nevertheless sublime.

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