Adults

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration

by on March 21, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration. No one loves theme park events more than us. Mickey’s Not So Scary? Fantastic. Halloween Horror Nights? Even better. Grinchmas, Mickey’s Very Merry, and Food & Wine? Can’t wait for each of them.  Villain’s Unleashed? The exception that proves the rule.

But one of our favorite events of the year takes place at Universal Studios Florida and is included with regular park admission. We’re talking about Mardi Gras, and today we’re going to look at six reasons why this is the best party outside of New Orleans itself and we’ll start off with….

# 6 – The Walk Around Characters

Get your cameras ready because there are a ton of colorful characters throughout the party, and all of them would love to take their pictures with you. From steampunk inspired cowboys to court jesters and everything in-between (including jazz bands), there is something for everyone.

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The King and Queen of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration welcome you to one of the best theme park parties of the year. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Theme Park Questions For the Magic 8 Ball

by on March 14, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Theme Park Questions For the Magic 8 Ball. Theme park fans have a lot of questions. In fact, the mailbag at the Saturday Six offices is stuffed with letters from fans asking about their favorite Orlando parks. Unfortunately, thanks to TV being our babysitter growing up, our reading comprehension isn’t that great. We hired some interns to handle the mail, but they are even worse because of YouTube, Vine and Twitter (enjoy life now because we’re all doomed when this generation takes control of things.) So we did the only thing that we could do given the circumstances….we made up our own questions.

# 6 – What will Avatarland do in the area of merchandise?

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A Na’vi makes the bond with 15.99% APR. (photo by Matt Cleary)

Disney has slowly been giving us information on the upcoming Avatar expansion at Animal Kingdom, including the groundbreaking ceremony in early 2014 in which Imagineers used 10 foot shovels. Several attractions have been vaguely teased, and the point is always stressed that this land is attempting to be one of the most amazing experiences in theme park history. It’s James Cameron and Walt Disney Imagineering, two of the best in the world at what they do.

However, one thing that hasn’t been mentioned at all is what kind of retail opportunities there will be in this land, if any. Avatar is the most successful movie in the history of cinema, but it does not lead itself to the traditional methods of merchandising that Universal has used for its Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The third act of Avatar is hinged on the fact that the humans have nothing to offer the Na’vi, because the natives of Pandora have no use for materialistic things. What are those materialistic things? Shirts, action figures, magnets, and pretty much anything else you would find in a theme park gift shop.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Ways to Repurpose Your Extra MagicBands

by on March 7, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Ways to Repurpose Your Extra MagicBands. MagicBands. We all have ‘em. They multiply faster than Tribbles on the USS Enterprise or selfie sticks at a theme park. But what do you do with all the extra MagicBands you have lying around your house? Throw them away? Seems wasteful in this era of going “green,” and besides, we have more important things at WDW to take to the dump.  Sell them on eBay? Good luck, the only thing with less value is a share of SeaWorld stock. But, there has to be something we can do with all these bands… right?

Have no fear, the crack team at the SATURDAY SIX offices got together and came up with six ways you can use MagicBands in your everyday life. This is life hacking meets theme parks and we’ll start it all off with…

# 6 – Pet Collars

Pet owners around the world have been forced to buy expensive pet collars from the Big Chains for years, but did you know that you can reuse your MagicBands as the perfect* collar for the Aristocats or 101 Dalmations in your household?

MagicBand_petcollar_Laurel

“I’ve got 8 lives, do you? May want to sleep with one eye open for a little while pal.”

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Menu Monday: Mixology Class aboard the Disney Magic

by on March 2, 2015

Sailing aboard a Disney Cruise offers an ocean of opportunity to indulge. There are so many wonderful experiences waiting for you to enjoy, especially on 7 night or longer sailings. A series of adult beverage seminars is one of the more popular experiences offered on longer sailings. These seminars are a fantastic way to explore new tastes or learn more about a favorite beverage. On my recent cruise aboard the Disney Magic I finally decided to experience a beverage seminar for myself. After experiencing the seminar, I can safely say it is a good value and I am here to tell you why.

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A Tale of Two Runners and runDisney

by on February 15, 2015

To the shock and utter amazement of those that know me well (and even myself), I am contemplating signing up for a runDisney event in 2016. I have scoured every inch of the runDisney website and read many other people’s blogs about their experiences. However, I had concerns about what hotel was the right one to stay at for these events, so I asked two previous runDisney racers: Dave Russ, a casual runner who mainly does 5ks to support local causes, and Jordan Viebranz, a more seasoned runner who loves sharing his experiences and motivating others to participate.

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What runDisney event(s) have you participated in?

Dave: I did the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2014.

Jordan: I participated in the Goofy Challenge this year. Last year (2014) I participated in the 10k and the full marathon.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

by on February 14, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Each of Walt Disney World’s onsite hotels have their own unique feel, and that rings true from the value end (such as Art of Animation) through the moderates (including Port Orleans French Quarter) and all the way up to the deluxe resorts like The Contemporary. That said, no hotel in Orlando stands more by itself as a one-of-a-kind original experience than Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Located directly next to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park (and absolutely nothing else,) many guests consider Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) too far out of the way to consider staying at. While the wait for the Disney buses may be a little bit longer than other resorts on property, today’s edition of the SATURDAY SIX is going to count down six reasons we feel everyone should consider staying at AKL as part of their next vacation, starting with…

# 6 – Indian-style Bread Service at Sanaa

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Sanaa bread service. A first ballot hall of famer for Disney food. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Animal Kingdom Lodge is broken up into two parts, the main hotel (Jambo House) and the Disney Vacation Club wing (Kidani Village.) In these two areas there are three of Disney’s best restaurants including Boma and Jiko at Jambo House, and Sanaa at Kidani Village. Unlike many restaurants at WDW that have dumbed themselves down in order to maximize profits as part of Disney’s Dining Plan, AKL’s restaurants deliver an experience that is true destination dining. The standout of these three venues is Sanaa’s bread service. With five different types of Naan bread available and up to nine different accompaniments to go with it, this is a bread service like no other.

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Menu Monday: The Best World Showcase Pavilions for Drinking

by on February 9, 2015

Enjoy the details in Epcot's World Showcase - Torii gate in Japan (Photo by Sarah Graffam)

Whether you’re attempting to drink around the world or simply want to stop in at one of your favorite spots in World Showcase, there’s no denying that Epcot is a great place to kick back and have a few. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you can take in the sights and sounds of different cultures from around the world in a single day. Many park guests have made it their mission to have a drink in every single one of the World Showcase countries in one day, which isn’t a task to take lightly. If you’d rather just sample a drink or two and need help prioritizing which countries to hit up, you’re in the right place. Below you’ll find my list of the best countries to drink in at World Showcase in Epcot. When I originally set out to do this list, I was going to rank all the pavilions from best to worst but found that a lot of my descriptions were the same because frankly there isn’t that much to do in a lot them drinking wise besides take in the architecture, walk around the gift shop and move on. With that in mind, I decided to limit the list to the five best pavilions.

I based my rankings on five categories. Each category is scored on a 5-point scale, so there is a total possible score of 25 points. The categories are:

Drink Selection

This category focuses on the amount of different drinks available in the pavilion and whether or not they’re any good.

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How to Have a Perfect Day at Castaway Cay

by on February 6, 2015

It’s the most loved port for any Bahamian or Caribbean journey aboard Disney Cruise Line. Disney’s very own private island is touted as Shangri La or Neverland and I have to say, I agree. A Disney Cruise is magical on its own, but a visit to Castaway Cay makes the experience truly enchanting. After over ten visits to this paradise of an island, I’ve developed my own routine and experienced many of the wonders around the island to know how to make a perfect day at Castaway Cay.

Let me start by saying up front that the perfect day at Disney’s private island is going to be a little different for each person. A family traveling with young children will have a different itinerary than a family with teens, and of course adults on their own will have a whole different agenda. But, the basic principles are the same.

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Healthy Habits at Walt Disney World

by on February 4, 2015

Photo Credit - Savannah Sanders

Hollywood Studios Walking Path

Getting and staying healthy is a popular resolution this time of year. But what can be a struggle at home may seem nearly impossible or just not at all fun when you’re on the road.

Healthy habits at Walt Disney World?! That’s crazy talk.

When I go on vacations, I love to indulge myself. It’s all part of the experience! However, on my last trip, I tried to make an honest effort to keep up the healthy lifestyle I strive to live at home.

I spoke with a primary care physician at the Mayo Clinic, who gave me an insight into the do’s and don’ts for maintaining personal health and wellness. Here were his recommendations:

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Add a Little Romance To Your Disney Valentine’s Day

by on February 1, 2015

Aaaaaah. It’s almost Valentine’s Day again. That ever so romantic day where millions of people in love buy each other roses, chocolates, and mushy cards. But what do you do when you are spending the day in the most magical place on Earth? You celebrate Disney style of course.

I know you are thinking this is probably full of Mickey ears, parades and fireworks right? Well, it could be. Or you could plan for some truly romantic Disney magic to encompass the day. Here are my top picks for romance in Disney.

Pirate's Passion ©Disney

Pirate’s Passion ©Disney

  • Order flowers, chocolates, champagne, or even a tiara to be delivered to your resort room. Disney Floral and Gifts has it all! Call 407.939.4438 or order online at disneyfloralandgifts.com. I suggest the Pirate’s Passion. Hint hint if you are reading honey!!
  • Book a massage for your sweetheart at one of Disney’s eight spas. Or be adventurous and try a couple’s massage offered at Mandara Spa at the Dolphin or Senses at either the Grand Floridian or Saratoga Springs. Call 407-WDW-SPAS to make reservations.
  • Treat her like a princess when you dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table. There are several special event packages you can choose from, but my favorite is ordering the chocolate slipper. If eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table seems too childish, other locations include the Grand Floridian’s table-service restaurants (Citricos, 1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Café, Narcoosee’s, Victoria and Albert’s) or during afternoon tea at the Garden View Lounge. The slipper must be ordered in advance by contacting crt.special.events@disney.com.
  • Splurge for dinner at one of Disney’s Signature restaurants such as Victoria and Albert’s or the California Grill. (Ed. – Book far in advance if you wish to dine at any restaurant on Valentine’s Day. There is currently no availability for parties of 2 at any signature restaurant on Valentine’s night.)
  • Looking for some fireworks in your evening? Take your sweetie on a Wishes or Illuminations cruise. The fresh night air, your own private cruise, inspiring pyrotechnics: what girl wouldn’t swoon?
  • More of a land lubber? Got an equestrian side to you? How about a horse drawn carriage ride at either the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds or Port Orleans French Quarter. When my husband surprised me with this one year I almost cried.
  • Kiss everywhere. I recommend kissing in every country in Epcot. Take selfies or ask someone else to take photos for you. Flowers die, but you can remember the romance a lot longer with pictures.
Snogging in England

Snogging in England

This list is nowhere near complete of all the romance to be found in the Disney parks.  For more ideas, check out a few other TouringPlans blogs on the subject by Stacey Lantz and  Lisa Gilmore.  Whatever you choose to do I’m sure the day will be filled with pixie dust simply because you are together in the most magical place in the world.

Did your sweetheart do something romantic for you while in the parks?  Share your romance story below.

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