Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

10 Reasons to Take a Holiday Cruise on Disney Cruise Line

by on October 9, 2014

It’s that time of year! Holiday sailings for the Disney Cruise Line! I just returned from a Halloween on the High Seas sailing on the Dream and we enjoyed our Thanksgiving cruise on the Disney Fantasy so much last year that weve booked another on the Disney Magic this year! The Halloween sailings for 2014 started in September and continued through the end of October. The Very Merrytime sailings start November 8th and go through the end of December. All Disney cruises are magical for me, but the holiday cruises have something a little extra. Here are 10 reasons to try one!

1. No Cooking Holiday Dinners – Oh, yes! This is my favorite part. If you are onboard for one of the big holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas – you do not have to cook!!!!!! Equally exciting – you do not have to clean, so you get to enjoy the holiday as well!!!! Win win win. We had a choice of seven entrees for our Thanksgiving dinner. And I can testify firsthand that the turkey was delicious. On our Halloween sailing, our servers even brought us an absolutely adorable cake in the shape of a spider.

2. Gorgeous Decorations – The ships are gorgeous any day of the year, but they are really done up for the holidays. For the Halloween sailings, there are four different Halloween trees decorated with pumpkins. Actually, they usually start off with just leaves and by the end of your sailing it’s covered in pumpkins. And don’t miss the portholes on deck 4, they have adorable Jack-o-lantern faces. During the Very Merrytime sailings, there will be Christmas trees everywhere! In the restaurants, in the atrium, in the terminal, even on Castaway Cay! There is also a giant gingerbread house in the lobby which they start constructing in early November and finish around the last week of November.

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Disney Savvy Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

by on September 24, 2014

Cinderella Castle - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Cinderella Castle at Christmas

Ed. – We realize it’s still over a month until Halloween, and you haven’t even ordered your Thanksgiving Turducken yet, but tickets are already on sale for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Enjoy the Food&Wine-aweenThanksmas season and have a Happy New Marathon Weekend.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a popular, hard ticket event at Disney World where guests can enjoy holiday festivities and the Christmas spirit at the most magical park of them all, the Magic Kingdom! The party is scheduled for select dates throughout November and December. In addition to the festive atmosphere, but also a series of holiday performances and activities to enjoy. Like what? New this year is the lighting, or rather freezing, of Cinderella Castle by Frozen’s Elsa! The party also offers character dance parties, Holiday Wishes, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, character meets, and so much more. To help you maximize the Disney magic, I’ve got a little early Christmas present:

Disney Savvy Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Plan for the Cold - Contrary to popular opinion, Florida is not warm and sunny all year long. In fact, it can get very chilly at Disney World during the holiday season, especially at night. The past two times I attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I’ve needed several layers or even a coat to keep warm. When your party date draws close, check the extended forecast or monthly average temperatures for an idea of how to dress.

Watch the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade from Main Street – Many guests have their own opinions for where to watch the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electrical Parade; but for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I encourage everyone to find a spot on Main Street, U.S.A. for the popular Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Why? Main Street, U.S.A. is the only location in the park where fake snow drifts down from above as the parade passes by, creating a picture-perfect winter wonderland! Spots along the parade route go quickly, so claim a space early!

Prepare for Rain - During my first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party experience, it rained the whole night! Myself, along with most of the party guests, just donned a poncho and braved the damp, but there were few changes to the party due to the inclement weather. First of all, some elements of the parade were removed for safety purposes. The main floats were still included, but some of the characters and dancers were not. Whenever the weather isn’t cooperative, Disney does their best to carry on the night as planned, but some performances and live entertainment can be cancelled, delayed, or altered. It’s just something to prepare yourself and another reason to check the forecast.

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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Dates Released

by on August 11, 2014

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

©Disney

While it may well still be sweltering outside, the time has come for us all to start thinking about…Christmas. That’s right, nothing says preparing for the Holiday Season like knowing the second you step outside, you’re going to need to take another shower. However, for those who are eagerly planning a vacation for November/December, this is, of course, one key piece of news you’ve been waiting for.

You see, the dates for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which takes place annually at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, have been released! This season’s event is scheduled for Friday, November 7, 2014, through Sunday, January 4, 2015. (Note that – barring changes to park hours – they will be unavailable on December 10 since the park is scheduled to close at 6:00 pm.)

The dazzling showcase of festive lights takes place on The Streets of America. Guests marvel as they walk along, gazing up at the beautiful lights, made even more spectacular when they start to blink and dance to the musical tracks.

In addition, introduced last year and continuing this year, guests who purchase Glow With The Show ears will see them interact with the lights as the ears have been programmed to light up, both matching the colors of your surroundings and flashing to the beat of the holiday music.

For those who are unaware, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights started modestly in Arkansas as each year, Jennings Osborne and his family set up an elaborate collection of holiday lights. Over time, the collection of lights grew until 1995, when the lights were brought to Walt Disney World Resort.

The event is included in the price of your admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Candlelight Processional Dining Packages Now On Sale

by on July 8, 2014

Candlelight Processional

©Disney

The Candlelight Processional, which takes place at Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre, is honestly one of the best parts of the holiday season. What is better than a celebrity narrator, a mass choir, and an orchestra performing a re-telling of the Christmas Story? To ensure that you get to see this fantastic show, which is extremely popular, Disney offers the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, and I bring good news! The package is now on sale!

This year’s Candlelight Processional takes place from November 28 through December 30. Showtimes are at 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. nightly. (With the exception of December 7, which will only have showtimes at 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.) While most of the celebrity narrators haven’t yet been announced, we do know a few of them. The list currently includes:

  • November 28-29: Jodi Benson
  • November 30-December 2: TBD
  • December 3-4: TBD
  • December 5-6: Whoopi Goldberg
  • December 7-8: TBD
  • December 9-11: TBD
  • December 12-14: TBD
  • December 15-17: Sharon Stone (New)
  • December 18-20: Ana Gasteyer (New)
  • December 21-23: Marlee Matlin
  • December 24-25: TBD
  • December 26-27: TBD
  • December 28 – 30: Steven Curtis Chapman

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Islands of Insanity: Christmas Week Crowd Photos from Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure

by on December 30, 2013

I’ve never participated in the running of the bulls in Spain, nor rung in the New Year in New York’s Times Square, because I don’t need to: I’ve been engulfed by the Christmas week crowd in Orlando’s theme parks. In the spirit of “taking one for the team,” I took on the challenge of visiting Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure on two of the busiest days of the year — Christmas Eve (December 24, 2013) and the Friday after Christmas (December 27, 2013) — to give you idea of what guests face during 8 to 10 days on our crowd index.

We maintain our Crowd Calendar to help you avoid days like these, and Tourimg Plans to help you navigate should you be meshuggenah enough to ignore the following photos. These Islands of Adventure Christmas week crowd photos should also serve as great advertisement for the unlimited Universal Express access included with an on-site hotel room. And remember, these mob scenes are just a hint of hordes certain to swarm when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley opens at Universal Studios Florida next summer.

Christmas Eve (12/24/2013)

We’ll start with my mid-afternoon stroll around Islands of Adventure on Christmas Eve:

Wait times are substantial with Forbidden Journey posted at 100 minutes.

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Five Disneyland Holiday Favorites

by on December 24, 2013

Disneyland holiday five favorites

Photos by Seth Kubersky

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (at least according to that ubiquitous song) and there’s no holiday season quite like a Disneyland holiday. In the past, I’ve experienced Disneyland it all its seasonal splendor during Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Fourth of July. But until last week, I’d never visited the Happiest Place On Earth during Christmas time, and as an Orlando resident I was blown away by the quantity and quality of seasonal celebrations. As we enter the final weeks of the peak holiday season, here’s my personal top five favorite aspects of Disneyland’s 2013 special offerings to distract you from the epic E-ticket queues.

Seasonal Sweets and Treats

Christmas is no time to go to Disneyland on a diet, as I discovered an insatiable need to sample the limited-time seasonal snacks offered and nearly every quick-service counter.

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Five Disney California Adventure Holiday Favorites

by on December 24, 2013

Disney California Adventure holiday favorites

Disney California Adventure is decked out for the holidays. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

It may not have the six decades of cherished Christmas traditions of its older sibling across the Disneyland Resort esplanade, but don’t dismiss the Disney California Adventure holiday celebrations. The park has made great strides since its Cars Land-fueled rebirth last summer, and this year’s enhanced seasonal offerings are no exception. Once you’ve finished checking out my five favorite Disneyland holiday additions, tackle these top picks among DCA’s Christmas presents.

Buena Vista Street Decor and Shows

As soon as you step through Disney California Adventure’s Art Deco gates into the 1920′s era Buena Vista Street, you’ll notice the seasonal spirit in the shop windows. DCA has been criticized for redecorating the original Imagineer-designed window dispays with non-period merchandise, but the retail corridor’s holiday treatments for 2013 represent a return to form.

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Universal Orlando Holidays: Your Complete Guide to Grinchmas and the Macy’s Holiday Parade

by on December 12, 2013

While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, and other seasonal entertainment at Walt Disney World seem to get the lion’s share of publicity this time of year, visitors to Orlando shouldn’t overlook Universal Orlando‘s holiday offerings. Universal Orlando holidays might not have quite the nostalgic lure of Mickey’s merrymaking, but Universal’s options are every bit as expertly produced, and have the benefit of all being included with regular park admission (unlike the extra-cost “hard ticket” nighttime parties at the Magic Kingdom).

Universal Orlando’s holiday lineup, which kicks off the first weekend each December (unlike Disney, which starts Christmas almost before Halloween is over) and continues through the Saturday after New Year’s Eve, consists of two main components, described in detail below.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort for November 27, 2013 (Christmas decorations, construction, Red Oven Pizza Bakery)

by on December 1, 2013

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express, the first ever attraction that travels between two separate theme parks

Time for a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort. Seth Kubersky covered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley in his photo update earlier this week, so check out the first edition of his PotterWatch 2.0 for construction updates, rumors, and pictures.

Universal still has not released on any dates on when  the Potter area will open, but we may have been given a little bit of a hint earlier this week thanks to an interview with Loews hotels chairman Jonathan Tisch. While talking to CNBC (which you can watch here), Tisch said that the upcoming 1,800 room Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal would be:

“The largest hotel under construction in the world outside of China. Phase One will open April 1, 600 rooms. The rest of the hotel by June, when Harry Potter 2 opens.” – Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotels Chairman

On the Universal website, Cabana Bay is having “preview pricing” that ends on June 14, 2014. That’s another red flag that they expect demand to go up in June. Here’s an example of what type of savings you can get for a Family Suite at Universal compared to Disney. I booked out a room from April 12-18 for 2 adults and 4 children at both Cabana Bay and Disney’s Art of Animation resort. The cheapest room at Cabana Bay was $232.00 a night, compared to the cheapest room at AoA at $498.76. After taxes, this particular week at Cabana Bay would cost a family $1572.06, while AoA would cost $2992.53.

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Disneyland Handmade Candy Canes Available Now through Christmas

by on November 30, 2013

Disneyland handmade candy canes available through Christmas 2013

Image copyright Disney

A popular Anaheim tradition returns to the resort on the day after Thanksgiving, as fresh handmade candy canes are again available at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure through Christmas Day. Availability alternates between Disneyland’s Candy Palace (Fridays and Tuesdays) and Disney California Adventure’s Trolley Treats (Mondays and Saturdays) and is strictly limited to about 120 canes per day.

The complete handmade candy cane schedule is as follows:

  • At Disneyland’s Candy Palace: November 29; December 3, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20.
  • At DCA’s, Trolly Treats: November 30; December 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21.
  • On Christmas week only, the schedule is Candy Palace on Sunday & Tuesday (Dec 22 & 24) and Trolly Treats on Monday & Wednesday (Dec 23 & 25).

Fresh handmade candy canes sell out quickly, so if you want one you’ll need to secure a wristband at park opening and pick up your candy before 4pm. Candy canes cost $13 each, and no discounts are offered. For more details, check out the full report on the Disney Food Blog.

Are you planning to line up at dawn for one of these delicious holiday treats? Or are you unable to tell the difference between handmade candy canes and the standard store-bought ones? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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