Travel, Theme Parks, and Resorts
You may have noticed that Walt Disney World has been experimenting over the past few years with various “add-on” events. Whether it’s a dessert party that comes with fireworks viewing, or a dinner package for a nighttime event, or realizing that they can close down a park early and re-open it for a separate ticket and people will love it, Disney has been pretty successful with this. But are these extra additions, like Disney After Hours, worth the price? We’ll discuss that below and let you decide. But first, a little backstory…
It’s no secret that Walt Disney World Resort is more crowded than ever and it’s not slowing down any time soon. It wasn’t too long ago that there were blissful “slow times” at WDW. Those were the times that locals waited for, and during which smart planners booked their vacations. Times when the lines were down, the weather was better, and it made all the difference. Disney noticed these times too, and thought “Hey, we should make a reason for people to come down and visit when our numbers are down….maybe a….festival or something? And the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival was born.
Way back in 1994, Epcot would create fun springtime topiaries, and thought turning it into a festival was a natural answer to the slower time between Mother’s Day and the start of summer. The next year, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began, during the usually slow time in the early Fall when school was back up but before the holidays started.
Over many successful years, these festivals filled in the gap of less crowds, leaving only one major time when the park had noticeably less guests. A new experiment, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts filled in that gap. This festival was born of the former “Festival of the Masters” that took place at Downtown Disney, before it was rejuvenated as Disney Springs. Now, I cannot even fathom having a festival at Disney Springs on a weekend, the crowds would make it impossible to even move. The festival takes place in the weeks between January and February before February vacation and then Spring Break begin. It is the favorite time for many a local. The weather is usually cold, or at least cooler and not humid (though nothing is a guarantee in central Florida), and because of the time period, less families are taking off and going on vacation. It is glorious. Or it was.
Nowadays, there aren’t many times when you can find a Disney park or Disney Springs “less crowded.” There are events, either festivals or races or seasonal parties filling in pretty much every day of the year. Sure, going during the week, when school is in session will be slightly more manageable, but long gone are the days when you didn’t have to plan ahead and could just roll up, expect to walk on a ride or walk in to a table service restaurant and expect to be seated. It is a different time, one of FastPasses, ADR’s (neither of which guarantee a quick wait) and constant crowds. But I’m not here to comment on the changing times and yell at you kids to get off my lawn. I’m just giving some background as to how these events have been creeping up over time. What once was a display of flowers and topiaries has turned into a mini food and wine festival itself. What was once a festival to try some new international dishes, sample some wines and beers and see demonstrations from chefs around the world, has turned into Drinking Around the World with t-shirts to match (that’s another post on its own from me :P) And the latest addition to these free (minus attendance and cost of food/drinks of course) events, has been dessert parties and the like.
Don’t want to worry about where to stand for the perfect fireworks or parade view? There’s an add-on package for you. Getting “free” candy or cookies and treats during the already separate ticketed event of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party not enough? There’s a dessert party add-on for you too! But the truth is, in the last few years, the hard-ticketed parties are more crowded than they’ve ever been, and while yes, wait times are reduced compared to a typical day, there are still a LOT of guests there, especially during the fireworks and parade times. So what’s the answer for those that want to enjoy a bit of the old reduced-crowd Disney parks experience? The answer is – Disney After Hours.
Yes, this event is very limited to specific dates over the course of the year, and yes, it is $129 per person – adult or child. BUT – it IS worth it – in most cases. Let’s figure out why.
First, I understand that many people reading this may not be locals or passholders, but guests who plan for years and need accommodations and park hopper passes and a host of other items locals don’t normally have to worry about. So while it may seem flippant for me to say “it’s worth the extra $130!” I promise, I am taking vacationers into account.
What I am suggesting is that, if you are able to work an After Hours event into your existing vacation dates, that you could perhaps do it on a day where you visited a water park or Disney Springs during the day, enjoy a dinner there, at a resort, or even off-property, saving a day of your Park Hoppers. Then return to the After Hours park and enjoy multiple (and I do mean multiple) rides on the available attractions of your choice, which are traditionally either impossible to get FastPasses for or easily have over 100 minute waits daily, no matter the time of year. In addition, you get unlimited ice cream novelties and select bottled beverages during the event! Other locations are open during the event to purchase food and drink items (and merchandise) too. It would also make planning the rest of your days easier. If you know you’ll be able to ride your favorites After Hours, you could take the time to enjoy attractions or places that you put off seeing during a normal visit when everything is action-packed and scheduled to the minute.
I have now experienced two parks at After Hours events, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and I was truly worried I would not think it was worth it. But the lack of stress while in a Disney park; no worrying about waiting in line, having time to see it all, making sure everyone gets to ride their favorites, is quite simply, heavenly. It reminded me of a time gone by, when you could stroll the parks and drink in all the details and still enjoy attractions as well. The fact that it’s at night and everything looks extra magical and lit up is just a bonus in my opinion.
EDIT: I have now experienced all 3 parks Disney After Hours events (I don’t think Epcot could ever offer this because it’s just SO big, maybe if they did Future World only, but then there would only be 2 real attraction draws, although the same could be said for Animal Kingdom I suppose?). I worried at first that Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be more crowded because there are quite a few attractions that have a huge wait or are difficult to get FastPasses for. However, I was surprised to see that because the popular areas of the park are spread out, it wasn’t really an issue. We went to Slinky Dog Dash first, and the wait time was 10 minutes, and it truly was 10 minutes. But as the night went on, it was down even lower to the usual 5. And that’s for the newest attraction in any park. Rock ‘n Roller Coaster was a walk-on, as was Tower of Terror and every other open attraction.
I think Hollywood Studios was my favorite for this event, because it’s always been one of my favorite parks to just stroll and enjoy the details, but add Christmas decorations which DHS has really bumped up in the last 2 years, and the fact that the projections on Tower of Terror, now with snow and lasers were going on all night, and it was truly a magical experience.
So is it worth it for everyone? Does the cost make sense for the value (amount of hours, attractions you can ride in those hours, free snacks)? Well, the answer may be different for every guest, depending on your vacation style or if you’re vacationing at all. I think for the price and experience, if you are a single or couple visitor, the benefits are a no-brainer. If you have many little kids that may not take advantage of the attractions available, it might be a great time to try out the on-site kids clubs. 😉 I think it was a great time and love the atmosphere and feeling like you truly have the parks to yourselves. Click photos below to scroll through the gallery:
Here are the Disney After Hours Facts:
Admission to Disney After Hours can be purchased in advance for $125 per adult or child, plus tax—or purchased on the day of the event for $129 per adult or child, plus tax. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of specially priced tickets for just $95 per adult or child, plus tax. – So very similar to passholder rates for the seasonal parties.
Magic Kingdom dates and info:
Guests with Disney After Hours tickets can enter the park at 7:00 PM every event night.
The event takes place from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM:
- Monday, November 26, 2018
- Monday, December 3, 2018
- Monday, December 10, 2018
- Thursday, March 21, 2019
- Thursday, March 28, 2019
- Thursday, April 4, 2019
- Thursday, April 11, 2019
And 9:00 PM to midnight:
- Thursday, February 14, 2019
- Thursday, February 21, 2019
- Thursday, March 7, 2019
And 8:00 PM to 11:00PM:
- Monday, January 7, 2019
- Thursday, January 17, 2019
- Thursday, January 24, 2019
- Monday, January 28, 2019
- Thursday, February 7, 2019
- Thursday, February 28, 2019
Magic Kingdom Attractions:
- Astro Orbiter
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Disney Princess Greetings at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Haunted Mansion
- “it’s a small world”
- Jungle Cruise
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan’s Flight*
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- And much, much more!
*Please be aware that Peter Pan’s Flight will be closed on January 7, January 17 and January 24 in 2019.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios dates and info:
The event takes place from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM:
- Saturday, December 8, 2018
- Saturday, December 15, 2018
- Saturday, December 22, 2018
- Saturday, January 5, 2019
- Saturday, January 12, 2019
- Saturday, January 19, 2019
- Saturday, February 2, 2019
- Saturday, February 9, 2019
- Saturday, February 16, 2019
- Saturday, March 2, 2019
- Saturday, March 9, 2019
And 9:00 PM to midnight:
- Saturday, March 16, 2019
- Saturday, March 23, 2019
- Saturday, March 30, 2019
- Saturday, April 6, 2019
- Saturday, April 13, 2019
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Toy Story Mania!
- Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorTM
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- Star Wars Launch Bay
- Character Greetings with Toy Story Land Pals, Mickey, Minnie and Olaf
*All attractions and entertainment are subject to change without notice.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Dates and Info:
The event takes place from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM:
- Tuesday, December 4, 2018
- Wednesday, December 12, 2018
- Tuesday, December 18, 2018
- Tuesday, January 8, 2019
- Wednesday, January 16, 2019
- Tuesday, January 22, 2019
- Thursday, January 31, 2019
- Tuesday, February 5, 2019
- Wednesday, February 6, 2019
- Tuesday, February 12, 2019
- Wednesday, February 13, 2019
- Tuesday, February 19, 2019
- Tuesday, February 26, 2019
- Tuesday, March 5, 2019
- Wednesday, March 20, 2019
- Wednesday, March 27, 2019
- Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Animal Kingdom Attractions:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Rivers of Light
- Tree of Life Awakenings
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- TriceraTop Spin
- And more!
Disclaimer: I was invited by Disney to experience Disney After Hours as a hosted guest. My opinions and thoughts are, as always, my own.
I will be experiencing Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios tomorrow (12/8) and will add to this post any further notes. Be sure to follow along on my instagram story throughout the night to see what it’s like!
Are you planning to experience Disney After Hours? I’d love to know your thoughts below!
It’s no secret that LEGOLAND’s Brick or Treat is one of my family’s favorites. My youngest son, Gio, has had the good fortune of being a part of a few of their local social media campaigns, but we were fans far before that. It’s such a fun, family experience and included in park admission on those dates! This year they are offering even more dates, and some new surprises too. Here’s the complete rundown, and you can always take a look at the past posts on LEGOLAND Florida fun.
The Halloween party built for kids returns to LEGOLAND® Florida Resort on nine dates in October. Brick or Treat features a lineup of kid-friendly, Halloween fun! No extra ticket is require
d to enjoy a brand-new show, loads of candy along a uniquely LEGO® trick-or-treating trail, interactive character meet-and-great experiences, a fireworks spectacular and much more.
New this year, a pair of curious trick-or-treaters will sing, dance and chant their way through solving “A Candy-Coated Curse,” a new show on the LEGO City Stage – showing on event dates only! Also, making her Brick or Treat debut, LEGO Spider Lady will be weaving webs of fun inside LEGO Kingdoms.
Except for Wednesday, Oct. 31, each Brick or Treat date will conclude with a ghostly show featuring the “Tale of Pirates’ Cove,” and a Halloween fireworks spectacular in the skies above Lake Eloise. Wear a complimentary pair of viewing glasses for a brick-tastic LEGO twist.
Guests can sip in spooky style with an event-themed Coca-Cola Freestyle® collector’s cup, indulge in Pumpkin Spice Granny’s Apples Fries and nibble on a variety of Halloween-themed snacks. Back after popular demand, Be-A-Minifigure Costume Shop will offer more than 20 LEGO minifigure outfits for boys and girls allowing kids to dress up as their favorite LEGO characters. Guests who spend $50 will receive a special gift-with-purchase item, LEGO Penguin Girl Snow Hut. The seasonal retail shop is available for a limited time only.
Staying the night at the LEGOLAND Hotel is getting a lightly-frightful touch with Halloween-themed rooms. Guests will be able to boo-k a night – or two – beginning August 20 by calling 1-888-690-5346.
2018 Brick or Treat Dates
- Oct. 6-7 (Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.)
- Oct. 13-14 (Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.)
- Oct. 20-21 (Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.)
- Oct. 27-28 (Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.)
- Oct. 31 (Wednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.)
I love a good festival. Art, Food, Renaissance, Fools, I’m always up for a festival. I’ve written many times before about the various established Epcot festivals. Originally begun to bolster lower attendance weeks at Walt Disney World, the first modern, well-promoted festival at Epcot was the International Flower and Garden Festival, which began in 1993. I missed the first couple of years, but when I moved down in 1995 and began working for Walt Disney World, it became a tradition to attend. The Flower and Garden Festival always revolved around Mother’s Day and back then, Disney provided a free photo op (much like they also used to at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party). It became a Mother’s Day tradition to attend with my mom, enjoy all the fun topiaries and floral displays, dine in France, and get our photo taken together. Also in 1995, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began. I remember how exciting those first years were; being able to stroll around World Showcase and sample smaller bites from countries that may not have a full pavilion, but have some great flavors to offer. It was a fun time.
Now, there are very few “low attendance times” at Walt Disney World. People now plan their visits around the festivals, in order to try the food items, or take part in the many seminars and sessions offered. Another addition over the years was runDisney appearing on the scene, with some races around the festivals, making it even more well-attended. And, of course, Epcot drinking teams also became a thing, giving Food & Wine bit of a reputation for drunken hordes roaming the World Showcase Promenade. That is not to say these festivals are not still enjoyable, just that they have considerably changed over the years, and become an entity unto themselves. As a local, it’s still fun to go on a weeknight and try the foods, or perhaps splurge on a dining event offered. My husband and I did the Parisian Afternoon last year and had a lovely time. There is always something new to see or experience, so you really can get out of the festivals what you want.
Enter #ArtfulEpcot. Quietly sauntering into the festival scene in the middle of January this year, the Epcot International Art Festival became an INSTANT hit. And I do mean instant. There was very little info provided about this festival far ahead of time. We saw a few photos of “artsy food” which, yes, looked amazing, but I don’t think I was alone when I thought, “oh, it’ll be Food & Wine in February…” and also wondered how they would pull off these artistic food creations under the usually extreme conditions of festival food booths. Then, I walked into Epcot the first Friday it opened, saw a perfectly crafted Figment topiary, complete with two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer…he really was a lovable fellow. Sorry, it’s impossible for me not to break into song when discussing Figment. Anyway, I sort of fell in love, again, with Epcot.
Of course it was more than just a Figment topiary to make me appreciate this new festival. I attended an event which highlighted the various food creations, merchandise, and entertainment offerings within the festival. Every cast member on hand who spoke about their area of expertise was so passionate and excited. That excitement was contagious, and I soon realized this was something very different from just another festival. As we strolled around Epcot, I saw more and more reasons why this was going to be a big hit.
There are many different types of Disney fan out there. I’ve spoken about what kind I am before, and though there are most certainly no wrong or right type of fan, there are many others like me, who love the history of the Walt Disney Company, the pioneering advances and different thinking that made it succeed, even while it was doomed to fail. We Disney history nerds love the original concept, hopes, and ideals that EPCOT Center stood for both in Walt’s initial idea, and the 1982-1994 incarnation of the theme park once known as EPCOT Center. I have professed my love for this park endless times. That park doesn’t really exist today, but you can see glimpses and sparks of it if you know where to look. As an EPCOT Center fan, it’s completely normal and acceptable behavior to stare at wall carpet, marvel at the ride system within Universe of Energy (Ellen’s Energy Adventure), or watch Impressions de France on repeat, while the rest of the park may be lining up for characters or Frozen or Test Track. That is not to say we can’t also enjoy some of the park’s current lineup. It is to say, we miss original EPCOT and all that it represented to us.
What the Epcot Festival of the Arts has done is found the perfect mix, to entertain the masses, and delight those who dearly miss what EPCOT once was. How? Well, for starters, the entire design of the festival speaks to EPCOT in a modern way. Muted, watercolor style images of park icons, including the original EPCOT Center logo, make my 1980’s heart sing. Figment is the “mascot” of the festival, but not in an annoying, or out of place way. He represents the very spirit of art, appearing in each World Showcase country, in a work of art hailing from the country you are in, only Figment-ized. A perfect way to get kids (and adults) interested in art and seek out more knowledge about the pieces featured, the countries, and art in general. This “scavenger hunt” featuring Figment is actually available as a paid activity. You purchase a Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt map for $6.99 from several possible locations, and then match the Figment artwork to the artwork featured in the World Showcase pavilions. Turn in your map when you’re done, and you’ll get a prize. It’s fun either way!
Speaking of art, there are not one but two mini-galleries of original and concept art at the festival. Artists, Imagineers and Disney Legends Herb Ryman and Mary Blair have their artwork displayed within (another EPCOT Center holdout) the Odyssey restaurant. There we can see huge versions of Ryman’s original concept art for EPCOT and its Future World pavilions, as well as a selection of Mary Blair’s South American-inspired art pieces. Also within the Odyssey are free – yes FREE – informational sessions from topics like the animation ink and paint process, to different types of tea. There are also paid sessions on specific art topics which include take-home items from the lesson too. As you stroll around World Showcase, there are also classes like origami making or anime drawing in Japan, various chalk displays around the world, and fun photo ops where you become part of a famous work of art. Animation Academy, once held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, also makes a reappearance in Innoventions during the festival.
The hit of the festival since it opened has been the Paint By Numbers Mural found between Future World and World Showcase. You are given – again, completely free – a tiny cup of paint and a paint brush and told to paint anywhere from 3-5 (depending on how busy it is) squares matching your color to your number. For the first few weekends, it was a Future World image, the full size version of what is available at character meets as the backdrop in the front of Epcot. Last weekend, the mural design was changed to a World Showcase image, which was also a big hit. When the murals are completed, they are changed out for blank canvases and guests can start all over again. It is sponsored by Glidden’s line of Disney-inspired paint names, so that adds for a fun connection.
The seven “Food Studios” (see full list of menu items at that link)as they call the food booths at this event, may be small in number, but the varied items almost all take a unique spin on a classic food item, or highlight favorites with an artistic twist. My favorites were the Classic Reuben, which looks anything but classic with it’s futuristic “rye curl” in place of traditional bread, and the Scallop with Chorizo found in America at The Artist’s Table. Oh, and don’t forget the jaw-dropping Piet Mondrian-inspired cake at Pop Eats! as well as adorable “chocolate easels” which are an edible work of art in the form of Figment, Mickey and Pluto, or Mary Blair designs. (Click to read full captions below)
Bridging the gap from classic art to modern, there are also many booths around World Showcase, featuring Disney artists and local artisans alike. Many of the artists are on hand to sign their work. It’s a great way to build your art collection with some originals or prints and meet your favorite artists at the same time.
To top off all that this festival has to offer, at the end of the day, Disney on Broadway Concert Series stars appear at the American Gardens Theatre three times a night, perfoming hit songs from the ever-growing catalog of the Disney Broadway productions. As a huge Broadway musical fan, these shows were the perfect fit. I’ve seen two sets of performers and every show was incredible. Such amazing talent. The shows always seem to have a full house too, so I think this series has been very well received.
Word has spread fast online about this incredible festival, which has quickly become my favorite of the Epcot festival lineup. Every aspect of Artful Epcot fills me with joy, and I hope it returns for years to come, running all week long instead of just long weekends. My only fear is that this charming, quaint, interactive festival that offers so much for so many, will lose that charm if it expands too much. However, I’ll put my confidence in the designers behind the scenes to ensure that doesn’t happen. Part of what made the Festival of the Arts such a success is the way it mixed history with present day, classic with modern, and just enough included opportunities that you don’t feel like you have to shell out premium prices (other than a ticket to the park), to experience all this festival has to offer.
There is just one weekend left to the Epcot Festival of the Arts, so I urge you to get down there, get some paint on your hands and chocolate on your face and ENJOY! If you’ve been, I’d love to hear what your favorite part of the festival was or what you hope is added next time around.
My family and I have been visiting Gaylord Palms ICE! as part of our holiday traditions since 2007, before I even wrote about it in Zannaland. It has really become one of the things my children most look forward to, and they ask every Fall – “when does ICE! start?” (Part of the perks of being Orlando locals; our holiday traditions are just a little bit bigger and over the top than many places.)
Over the years, we’ve seen the displays and offerings change and grow – ice skating outside, ice skating inside, snowball fights, snow tubing, enchanting circus performers, characters, and differing Christmas themes in ice. In all those years, none has been so magical, to me personally, than this year’s theme – A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Growing up in the 1980’s, I have very specific and very wonderful memories of Christmastime. Christmas is always exactly 2 weeks after my birthday, so the whole month of December has forever been overwhelmingly magical to me. I remember the weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with Christmas specials: Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” the Rankin Bass productions of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” and of course, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
I can see myself clearly, sitting on the floor close to the T.V. in my festive Christmas nightgown, while the lights on the Christmas tree twinkled behind me and the scent of pine and the cookies my mother was baking wafted around me…watching those shows, commercials and all, once a year. At the risk of sounding even more ancient than I already do, this was before a time of cable and satellite television, before 300 channels and DVR’s and Netflix and Roku and Apple TV, or even Blockbuster and VCR’s at this point. So waiting all year to see these shows and making sure you didn’t miss them was a big thing. It became a part of the season, a part of the traditions, a part of the magic.
So to walk in to Gaylord Palms at 9 degrees (a very common temperature feel growing up outside of Boston), and see “A Charlie Brown Christmas” larger than life, right before my eyes, was pretty special for me. The detail was absolutely mind-boggling. Every character, every color, every detail from the television special was carved in perfection. Add to that the music and audio clips from the show, and it was truly a wonderland for anyone who’s grown up with the show, or the Peanuts in general. They were my grandmother’s favorite, and she loved Snoopy, so the Peanuts Gang were always a big part of family visits to her house. I left the ICE! display and wanted to go right back in and see it all again, so I could be little 8 year-old excited-for-Christmas-me once more. If anyone is a fan of the Christmas special or Charles Schulz’s work in general, you must go, you will not be disappointed. The night we were there, Charles Schulz’s son, Craig Schulz, was on hand and seemed to be enjoying himself as well. I can only imagine the memories he must have of these characters.
More to see at Gaylord Palms
Also a part of Christmas at Gaylord Palms is a tree lighting display, A Christmas Wish Light Show, which is the most impressive display yet. Returning for the second year is Cirque Dreams, an impressive show of acrobatic artisans performing in the lobby stage nightly. Alpine Snow Tubing also makes a come-back in the ICE! area, where you can tube down snow-covered slides, as well as other fun activities like photos with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus, a Build-a-Bear Workshop, and much more. ICE! runs this year through January 1, a perfect treat for winter break from school or work. The property itself is so beautiful, it’s like another world when you are inside and my kids ask me all the time when we can stay there next!
Thank you to Gaylord Palms for inviting my family and I to experience the magic of Christmas at Gaylord Palms and see ICE! and the other entertainment offerings first hand. My opinions, as you can see, are my own. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Locals have been watching the construction with great anticipation, and now Universal Orlando Resort has treated us to a photo and some more info about the upcoming King Kong attraction at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. While I’m not *personally* a fan of giant things screaming in my face, I know many people are, and are excited about this upcoming attraction. (What can I say, I prefer my giant creatures to be magical dragons.)
I do love a good immersive attraction, however, and the Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye attraction in Disneyland is one of my all-time favorites. I also am a mega-fan of the Wizarding World attractions in both Universal theme parks, so I’m willing to give this a try when the gates open this summer. Until then, here’s the official release from Universal with the details they are willing to share today:
Soon, you will be transported to an island shrouded in mystery and legend. It is a lost world where adventure – and the unimaginable – will challenge you in unforgettable ways.
When it opens this summer at Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong will bring the next generation of the King Kong legend to life. You will be thrust into an exotic world filled with the menacing, the intense – and the wildly entertaining. A powerful storyline, a stunning 3D experience, innovative technology – and the unexpected – will pull you into one of Universal Orlando’s most massive adventures yet. This is a multi-dimensional experience filled with surprise – all wrapped into what will be one of the longest Universal ride experiences ever created.
More first-ever details will be released soon. But today, Universal Orlando unveils details about the incredible journey guests will experience.
The adventure begins as you set out to explore an island rife with prehistoric creatures of unknown origin –and the legend of a beast still undiscovered. You find yourself at a campsite of the 8th Wonder Expedition Company, the research team leading your adventure.
Once beyond camp, the menacing terrain shows signs of a native presence; beating drums draw you toward an ancient temple. Moving deeper into the ruins reveals a lost shrine – and proof you are not alone. You ignore warnings to turn back.
You board a specially designed expedition vehicle that will take you deeper into the island. Mysterious sounds pierce the air and you hear chanting. And then – you confront an enormous temple wall, complete with carvings and images that seem to pay homage to something you cannot quite comprehend. The temple’s massive wooden doors slowly open, revealing a labyrinth of caves.
Inside the caves, you meet your expedition leader – and suddenly find yourself in the midst of a raging struggle between creatures of incomprehensible size and ferocity. Then, as those creatures turn on you, there is an even more enormous, earth-pounding presence – bigger, closer and more overwhelming than you can possibly imagine. It is Kong. But is he friend or foe?
More details about “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will be revealed soon. To stay up-to-date on all the latest news, visit universalorlando.com/
How does it sound? Mysterious? Menacing? Will you be willing to brave Skull Island this summer? What are you most looking forward to if so? I’ll update more news here as it’s released. Until then, let’s all work on our Fay Wray screams, okay?
I wanted to share this story that was recently posted on the Disney Parks Blog – I’m sure by now you’ve seen on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter about the #ShareYourEars campaign where Disney Parks will donate $5 to Make-A-Wish for each photo with Mouse Ears (you can even make your own out of anything!) uploaded to the above social media sites, with the hashtag #ShareYourEars, up to one million dollars. Now there is another way to contribute to such a great cause, and get some new Ears in the process! Check out Michelle Harker’s post below:
I have even more exciting news! One hundred percent – 100%! – of the $19.95 sale price (exclusive of sales tax) of the ear hat shown above will be donated to Make-A-Wish — helping make wishes come true around the world for children with life-threatening medical conditions. No discounts apply. Purchasing limits will apply, and this particular ear hat will be available at Disneyland Resort only at the following locations.
Downtown Disney District – World of Disney Store
Well done, Disney! And if anyone’s in Disneyland and wants to pick me up some, let me know! 😉
Continuing the grand tradition of millions of pounds of ice sculpted by artisans and formed into amazing displays for all to see, this year Gaylord Palms Resort returned to a classic Christmas story, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.This was actually one of my favorite Gaylord Palms ICE! displays in years past, so I was happy to see it return to Gaylord Palms in an updated form.
For those unaware, ICE! is an indoor winter wonderland featuring:
- Walk-through holiday attraction, kept at a chilly 9 degrees
- Two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures
- Four ice slides
- Six individual rooms depicting the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
- The Frostbite Factory — a live carving zone
- Final room is a breath-taking Nativity scene carved from crystal clear ice
In addition to the sculpted ICE! displays, there is Alpine Rush Snow Tubing in a separately ticketed area, for unlimited rides down snow-covered slides on tubes.
Both of the above ticketed events are part of the larger Gaylord Palms Christmas, including free events like an all-new show:
Cirque Dreams UnWrapped
Be dazzled by an array of seasonal characters brought to life in a dreamscape of imaginative costumes and creativity, while stunning feats of showmanship are unwrapped, performed on stage and in the air. Broadway director and Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg is bringing the famed entertainment brand to Orlando for the first time in the company’s 22 years with this exclusive show. The entire family can enjoy this uniquely inspired 25-minute Christmas dream presented with the Broadway style and inventive theatrics for which Cirque Dreams is renowned.
This show was captivating and fun for the whole family, a wonderful addition to the beautiful decorations in the grand atrium – which also features SNOW this year after the Cirque Dreams shows.
You can find out more about the events and activities at Gaylord Palms on their site, and purchase tickets to ICE! and other events. Staying at the Gaylord Palms is always a magical experience, I find myself just not wanting to leave the resort because there is so much to see and do and experience. The holidays amplify that feeling, so if you haven’t booked your stay, go ahead and make plans now for this year or next!
Disclosure: I was invited to experience ICE! with my family by Gaylord Palms. My opinions and thoughts are my own.
It’s no secret we are huge fans of LEGOLAND Florida here at Zannaland. It is a place where all of my kids, from ages 16 to 6 have SO much fun every time we visit. It’s a place where everyone has a great time, and the surroundings are so beautiful. It’s a wonderful place to reconnect as a family and experience some of the real Florida at the same time as a fun theme park. Now that time can be extended with the opening of the Legoland Hotel. In complete Legoland style, they’ve seemed to have thought of every detail to make Lego fans and families relax and enjoy. The Legoland Hotel had its grand opening ceremony last Friday and we sent correspondent Kira from SecondBlogToTheRight.com over to cover this event. She came back with some great photos and details that make me want to book a hotel stay right NOW! So without further ado, please enjoy Kira’s coverage and see all of the bricktacular details below:
LEGOLAND® Hotel is officially open for business & we’ve got the inside scoop!
On May 15, 2015, the doors opened…well maybe that’s not exactly how it happened, check out the video below…
A few of our LEGO® friends greeted us in the lobby. The details in this hotel are incredible. As an avid LEGO® video game player & huge fan of The LEGO® Movie, the little things are really easy to get lost in.
LEGOLAND® Hotel features 152 guest rooms and suites across four themes: Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, and LEGO® Friends. Guests of the Hotel also enjoy early access to LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, free full breakfast daily, interactive play areas, daily and nightly entertainment, disco elevator, resort pool and much more.
Each room sleeps up to five, and offers a king-sized bed for adults and a separate sleeping area for up to three children, featuring a bunk bed and a trundle bed, as well as two flat panel TVs.
VIP Suites feature a king bed, a living room, pull out sofa, kids’ play area and three flat panel TVs. Suites can sleep up to nine people.
All rooms and suites feature LEGO models and a treasure chest, which can be unlocked only by completing a hotel scavenger hunt.
My personal favorite was the Adventure themed rooms due to all the Indiana Jones details!
Sidenote: LEGOLAND® resort is happy to preserve the land that used to be Cypress Gardens. Guests of the hotel can enjoy a relaxing walk on the boardwalk as well as the serene views of Lake Eloise.
Room rates begin at $219 per night. To make a reservation, visit LEGOLANDHotel.com.
When I saw this new line of Her Universe designs my mouth dropped and I wished I was 20 again. I may have to throw my pre-conceived fashion notions out the window for a few of these new items. They are that adorable. The Loki dress is to die for, and the Tony Stark jacket is fabulous. I love them all though! Here is the official release from Her Universe below and info on the pre-sale going on at Hot Topic now before the mid-May release of this new Marvel line. Which one is your favorite??
Fangirls assemble! In celebration of the release of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Her Universe – the trendsetting geek girl apparel company, and Disney Consumer Products have announced a new fashion line inspired by fan-favorite Super Heroes from the Avengers films. The Marvel by Her Universe collection will be available mid-May exclusively at select Hot Topic stores and hottopic.com, with an online pre-sale starting April 21st on hottopic.com.
The Avengers-inspired line features designs by winners from the first-ever Her Universe “Geek Couture” Fashion Show held at last year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego where attendees Amy Beth Christenson and Andrew MacLaine wowed the audience with their original, handmade creations on the runway and took top honors at the event. As part of the grand prize, Christenson and MacLaine were rewarded the exciting professional opportunity to design an exclusive fashion collection with Her Universe founder, Ashley Eckstein, for pop-culture and licensed apparel destination Hot Topic. To see the making of the collection, from inspiration to sketches to fittings to ready-to-wear, visit hottopic.com/
“It’s been such a pleasure to work with Amy and Andrew to create this line from their initial sketches to the final product sold in Hot Topic stores,” said Her Universe Founder Ashley Eckstein. “Geek fashion is a trend that’s here to stay. Fangirls are making a statement in the fashion community and this new Avengers collection is addressing their demand for more fashion-forward designs.”
“It’s exciting to see Marvel’s female fan base grow with the second installation of our collaboration with Her Universe, inspired by one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2015,Avengers: Age of Ultron,” said Paul Gitter, Senior Vice President, Licensing, Marvel at Disney Consumer Products. “This collection brings awareness of the emerging fangirl trend into mainstream fashion by uniting stylish designs with iconic characters to create a strong statement at retail.”
The action-packed Marvel by Her Universe collection consists of stylish dresses and jackets inspired by popular Avengers characters, available in straight and extended sizes. The six piece fashion collection for Hot Topic includes:
– Captain America Halter Dress, $59.50
– Thor Sailor Dress, $59.50
– Stark Industries Bomber Jacket, $54.50
– Black Widow Dress, $44.50
– Black Widow Belted Jacket, $64.50
– Loki Halter Dress, $59.50
Click to enlarge the photos:
“Witnessing two talented designers who truly understand the fans and fan culture win a competition at Comic-Con 2014, and then seeing their spin on Avengers turn into real product at Hot Topic makes what we all do feel genuinely authentic – and so much fun,” said Cindy Levitt, Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing at Hot Topic.
In addition to the fashion collection, Hot Topic will offer a wide range of Avengers tees, accessories, gifts and more. The Avengers return to theatres in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron onMay 1, 2015.
About Her Universe
Her Universe was launched in 2010 by actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein and The Araca Group, a leading theatrical production and brand management company. Ashley and Araca created Her Universe to address the expanding market of female sci-fi and fantasy fans. They entered their first agreement with Lucas Licensing to develop and produce a line of female-centered Star Wars apparel and accessories. The success of that line was followed up with a collection for BBC Worldwide for Doctor Who, CBS Consumer Products for Star Trek, AMC for The Walking Dead, Nerdist Industries, Marvel, Hasbro for Transformers and Studio Ghibli. You can learn more about Her Universe and purchase the current line of fangirl apparel and accessories by going to www.heruniverse.com and by following Eckstein & Her Universe on Facebook (facebook.com/HerUniverse) Twitter (twitter.com/HerUniverse), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/