Events

Universal Orlando Tests Mardi Gras Guide App

by on April 19, 2015

Universal Orlando test of a Mardi Gras Guide app could hint at the future of theme park events, for good or ill… (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Easter has been over two weeks, but Universal Orlando‘s annual Mardi Gras celebration only came to an end on Saturday night. Universal Studios Florida’s final parade and concert played on April 18th to a packed park under overcast skies, unlike the previous week’s rain-soaked washout. But in addition to flying beads and Trey Songz’s bass beats, Universal tossed out another surprise to its fans, testing a new Mardi Gras Guide app for smartphones on the party’s last night.

I began by downloading The Official Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Guide App to my iPhone 6 Plus. The app became available on April 15, and can still be downloaded for free (though it doesn’t do much now that the event has ended).

When the iOS Mard Gras Guide app opens for the first time, you’ll be asked to approve access to various services. Interestingly, there is no request to access the camera, which will become an issue later…

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Least Crowded Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2015 Dates

by on April 10, 2015

Last year I wrote about what we expected to be the least crowded Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It proved to be a very popular topic, so here I am once again to review the information from last year and give you an even better projection for 2015. Make sure you check out our dedicated page for a complete list of dates as well as a thorough description of what the Christmas party is.

christmas mk lightsIn short, if you’re looking for the best Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2015, we recommend Tuesday, November 10, 2015. Last year we recommended the exact same date; Monday, November 10, 2014, and it honestly didn’t turn out great, being only the 11th least busy party by our calculation. However, we think that was an aberration, since over the past 3 years combined, that date still ranks number 2 overall. Being that the November 10th party this year is on a Tuesday, the least busy day historically, we are comfortable recommending it.

Since I’m sure you’re wondering how we did with our recommendations last year, the answer is…not too bad. There were several predictions that we nailed, but we had a few that were a little off that we have fixed for this year’s recommendations. Here are the top 5 from last year’s recommendations:

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The Least Crowded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party of 2015

by on April 6, 2015

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween PartyWelcome back to what has become a yearly tradition: predicting the least crowded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. We have done the same for each of the past two years, and we’ve been pretty successful if we do say so ourselves. We’ll look back at last year’s recommendations in a bit and give you the full 2015 list, but first make sure you check out our dedicated page for a complete list of dates as well as a thorough description of what the Halloween party is.

In short, if you’re looking for the best 2015 Halloween Party to attend, we recommend Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Each of the past two years we recommended the equivalent party, Tuesday, September 17, 2013 and Tuesday, September 16, 2014. In 2013 it turned out to be the party with the lowest wait times by our calculation, while last year’s came in fourth. The reason we still recommend that date despite it’s lack of a top finish last year is simple: 4 of the top 5 from 2014 were all parties earlier in September…parties which are not offered this year.

In 2014, the first Halloween party was on Labor Day, which was September 1. Previously, Disney had scheduled the first party for the Tuesday following Labor Day, and they’ve reverted to that schedule for this year. The reason the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is not until September 15 is because Labor Day is not until September 7th. To make up for only two weeks of September parties, Disney has decided to load October up, with 18 parties in 31 days.

If you’re not going to be around for the first party of the year, Tuesday, September 15, go as early as you can. Over the past few years we’ve noticed an increasing trend where the parties get busier the closer the calender ticks towards Halloween. That sounds logical, but it hasn’t always been the case. A trend that has remained in tact is the difference in day of the week, with Tuesday evening parties being the least busy. So go early in September and/or go on a Tuesday.

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Easter Egg Excitement Enters Epcot

by on March 30, 2015

Easter has sprung all around the Walt Disney World resort. From the magnificent Easter egg displays at the Grand Floridian to Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny meeting their friends over at the Magic Kingdom, spring is in the air. Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 8.11.12 PM

One special event is the Disney Egg-stravaganza 2015, a Disney Easter egg hunt, held at Epcot from March 27, 2015 through April 5, 2015.

For a $4.95 fee (with no discounts available), guests can purchase a packet containing a map and themed egg-shaped stickers. Then the fun really begins. Every country in World Showcase (plus the Outpost) has a large Disney character egg hidden somewhere in the pavilion. As you find each egg, place the sticker with the correct character on the spot on the map for that location. Once you have found all twelve hidden eggs, return to the Port of Entry and show your completed map for a special reward. The map and the reward are yours to keep as a souvenir.

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More 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Food Finds

by on March 21, 2015

While Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival hasn’t yet caught up with the International Food and Wine fest in edible options, there are still more items to sample than any human stomach should attempt in a single day (trust us, we’ve tried). Therefore, I recently followed up my first visit to 2015 Flower and Garden Festival with another lap around World Showcase, this time in the opposite direction. The following photos show of some of my favorite Flower and Garden food finds from the western “hemisphere” of Epcot’s promenade, along with a closer look at a few of the floral arrangements we overlooked the first time around.

2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Food Finds

Let’s start with Urban Farm Eats, home to two of my favorite dishes at this year’s festival.

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Universal Studios Florida Photo Update: Mardi Gras, Furious 7, and Garden of Allah

by on March 19, 2015

Spring break is shifting into high gear at all theme parks right now, and Universal Orlando is no exception. If you don’t feel like struggling through the crowds, come take a virtual tour with me in today’s Universal Studios Florida photo update, featuring a look at construction on Garden of Allah Villas, the new Furious 7 car display, and last weekend’s Mardi Gras concert.

Garden of Allah Villas Construction

The Garden of Allah Villas complex between Hollywood and KidZone is still behind construction walls, behind which is what permit filings describe as a “NBCUniversal Media Lab.” Leave your thoughts in the comments as to what exactly that means.

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2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Opening Day Photos and Menus

by on March 7, 2015

2015 epcot flower and garden

Donald, Chip, and Dale star in this display near the entry to the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Though the rest of the country is suffering through a deep freeze, spring is in the air in Orlando, and the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom. We stopped by Epcot on the anticipated annual event’s opening day (March 4, 2015) to bring you this photo tour of the flora and food of the this fan-favorite festival.

2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Topiaries and Displays

Here’s a small sampling of the dozens of topiaries and floral displays that currently fill Epcot’s Future World and World Showcase:

 

These butterflies on the back side of Spaceship Earth make a popular photo op.

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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.

rundisney_logo

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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2015 Celebration of Harry Potter Schedule and Autograph Session Information

by on January 16, 2015

Celebration of Harry Potter schedule and autograph information

Plan your Celebration of Harry Potter weekend with event schedules and autograph advice.

If Dani’s recent blog post about Universal Orlando‘s upcoming Celebration of Harry Potter event inspired you to attend, you’re probably looking for some hard information on the weekend-long fan convention kicking off at Universal Studios Florida on January 30th. Fear not, muggles, because we’ve found the full details on the Celebration of Harry Potter schedule and autograph session information to help you snag some face time with your favorite wizarding stars.

 

Celebration of Harry Potter Basic Information

The Celebration of Harry Potter, scheduled for January 30 through February 1, 2015, brings Harry Potter fans together with the actors and artists who helped create the blockbuster franchise. Similar to sci-fi and comic book conventions held around the country, the Celebration features panel discussions and question & answer sessions where guests can see some of the series’ stars in person, and possibly get an autograph. Confirmed participants in 2015 include Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). Paul Harris, the choreographer who created “wand combat” for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will also attend to lead popular masterclasses in wizard dueling.

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My Disney World Christmas Vacation Traditions

by on December 17, 2014

The most magical place on earth gets a little more magical around this time of year when the parks and resorts deck the halls with holiday finery and give Disney fans a reason to take one more Walt Disney World vacation! My family and I love to take a trip to Disney World around the holidays, and we have created a few festive traditions over the years. Check out a few of my Disney World Vacation Christmas Traditions.

Downtown Disney's Days of Christmas Store

Downtown Disney’s Days of Christmas Store

Buying a New Ornament

It just wouldn’t be right to leave Disney World around Christmastime without a new ornament to add to our tree. My favorite place to shop for ornaments is the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. I love how it feels like we’re walking through an old, colonial home. For a wider variety of Christmas décor, we like to drop by Disney’s Days of Christmas Store at Downtown Disney, where it really does feel like Christmas all year round.

Holidays Around the World

Epcot’s World Showcase is one of my favorite corners of Disney World, and I especially enjoy Holidays Around the World this time of year, where performances educate guests about the different holiday traditions of their respective countries. It’s a lot of fun to hear and see how other countries celebrate the holidays. Our favorites would be Father Christmas at the United Kingdom and the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers at the American Adventure. The special holiday treats and the chance to do a little Christmas shopping is pretty great too. After all, there’s no chance that what you’re buying as a gift is something someone already has when you shop at the stores in the Norway or China or Morocco pavilions.

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