Soarin’ Due to Close January 2016 for Refurbishment | Soarin’

Soarin'

Soarin’ to Close

It has been announced on Walt Disney World’s official website that the popular attraction, Soarin’, will close for refurbishment on January 4, 2016.

Soarin’ is expected to reopen Summer 2016 and will feature a new ride video which takes riders around the world rather than the U.S.  The new Soarin’ will be known as Soarin’ Around the World.

You can view Disney’s official announcement here.

Soarin’ Popular From Opening

Since opening in 2001, Soarin’ has been Epcot’s most in-demand attraction.  Wait times reached 2-3 hours and FastPasses were distributed very quickly after the park opened each morning.

Soarin’ Today

Still today, it’s one of the most popular attractions in Epcot.  While the refurb will update the ride movie, unfortunately it doesn’t sound like there will be any update or additions to help alleviate the demand for this ride.  While the implementation of the new FastPass+ system has helped a bit, there are still many guests attempting to ride without a FastPass.

One option Disney has is to add an additional ride to handle to volume of guests.  They have already announced plans for this to help reduce the wait time at the very popular Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, however there may be space constraints over at Epcot which would prevent an expansion of Soarin’.

The other option Disney has would be to invest more into the park to create other exciting attractions.  There are many buildings sitting empty in this park right now.  One detractor opening soon will be the new Frozen ride in the Norway Pavilion.  That should help move a large portion of the crowd away from Soarin’.

What do you think? Are you excited for a new Soarin’ ride or will you miss the original?

Want to learn more about Epcot or Walt Disney World?  Check out our Walt Disney World info pages!

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Walt Disney World – 7 Quick Tips for Magic Kingdom | Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World has become an iconic park.  Kids and adults alike dream of visiting this magical place.  While there is a great amount of magic to be had, the park can sometimes seem overwhelming.  Here are 7 quick tips to help you make the most of your visit to the most magical park in Orlando:

7 Quick Tips for Visiting Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

  1. Prepare Before you Go:  Download the My Disney Experience and link your park tickets before you go.  You can select your FastPasses before you go to the park but sometimes it’s hard to predict your park-day schedule.  If you have the app set up, you can easily change your FastPass selections on the go rather than having to find a kiosk in the park.  Visit the official My Disney Experience page to learn more.
  2. Tour Clockwise:  After walking down Main Street, U.S.A., turn left to start your day in Adventureland.  The majority of the crowd will turn right and head for Tomorrowland (Space Mountain, etc.).  Touring the park clockwise will help avoid some of the crowd and will allow Tomorrowland to thin out by the time you get there.
  3. Save Money:  The Walt Disney World parks offer free cups of water!  You can walk up to any quick service restaurant with fountain drinks and ask for free water.  So don’t spend money on bottled water, save it for a delicious Mickey Ice Cream!
  4. More Character, Less Wait Time:  Want to meet Mickey without having to wait in a long line?  What about Anna and Elsa with less of a line?  Time your character meet-and-greets to line up with the parades and fireworks.  A majority of the crowd will be packed on Main Street and you’ll be able to take advantage of shorter lines!  *This also works for the popular rides as well!

    Walt Disney World
    Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Sign at Walt Disney World
  5. Hard Ticket Events:  Attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?  These events are advertised to start at 7 p.m. but you can arrive as early as 4 p.m. and receive your wristband for the event!  So arrive early and take advantage of the extra time!
  6. Don’t Rush:  Usually once Wishes or the Main Street Electrical Parade are done, guests will rush out of the park.  This jams the monorails, ferry boat, and trams.  Take your time leaving the park, maybe stroll through the shops, and let the crowd die out a bit.  There will be much less of a hassle getting to your destination if you take your time.  *Bonus!  If you stick around after the park closes, you’ll get to experience the Kiss Goodnight and you may even be able to score some cool pics of an empty Main Street U.S.A!
  7. Take A Walk:  If you must leave during a busy park exodus and you need the monorail, there is a short walkway from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort.  You can pick up the resort monorail there and take it to your destination rather than waiting in the long line for the express monorail.  This also gives you one last bathroom and refreshment break before heading home.
    Walt Disney World
    Walt Disney World Monorail from the Contemporary

     

More Walt Disney World Tips

Want even more tips for visiting Walt Disney World?  Check out our Magic Kingdom page or explore the other Walt Disney World parks!

Want to learn about the best places to rest in the park?  Check out our blog post here:  BEST PLACES TO REST AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

 

Have a tip not listed here?  Share your best tip below!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our channel on YouTube!

 

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Universal Studios Resources | Universal Studios

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure Florida

Universal Studios

Online Resources – Universal Studios

Here is a list of helpful Universal Studios Orlando links and resources:

Theme Park Guru Resources – Universal Studios

For more information on visiting Universal Studios, visit our dedicated Universal page.

 

General Info:

Universal Studios, located in Orlando, Florida, is a multi-faceted resort including theme parks, resorts, restaurants, movie theater and night scene. The two theme parks are Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. Connected to these theme parks is CityWalk, an enormous plaza including restaurants, movie theater, bars, bowling alley, mini-golf course, clubs and water taxis that connect to three different resorts. The three resorts it connects to are the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The Cabana Bay Beach Resort is nearby as well, and this resort is connected to CityWalk and the theme parks by bus shuttle. CityWalk offers all types of dining options from expensive to affordable. Some of the popular restaurants include Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Emeril’s Orlando and the brand new NBC Sports Grill & Brew. The water taxis are a popular and unbelievably beneficial element to the experience of staying at one of the three resorts and attending the theme parks. The water taxis are small boats that fit about 40 to 50 people that arrive at your hotel’s dock and takes you right to the dock at CityWalk. From there, you are only a short walk to your next destination, whether it be a restaurant, theme park or movie theater. This resort exemplifies the idea of making fun as easy as possible.

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Butterbeer – Cold, Frozen or Hot? | Butterbeer

Butterbeer

Butterbeer at Universal Orlando

One of the great benefits of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando is the ease of access to Butterbeer.  The parks offer three varieties:  cold, frozen, and hot.  You can also choose whether to have your drink in a plastic cup or in a souvenir mug.  We also want to mention that they offer Butterbeer flavored ice cream.  While we won’t be discussing that in depth here, we do suggest giving that a try as well!

Which Butterbeer Variety is the Best?

As we said, you can order this drink cold, frozen, or hot.  While the cold varieties seem to make sense being that the majority of the year it is pretty hot at the parks, the hot variety has it’s brief moment in the spotlight. The cold variety is just served chilled and tastes similar to a cream soda. The frozen variety has the consistency of a slurpee.

This wizardly drink is delicious any way you order it.  There appears, however, to be disagreement about which way is the most delicious.

Butterbeer  Butterbeer

So here we go, we want to know which way you think tastes the best!  Tell us below and may the best Butterbeer win!

 

Which variety of Butterbeer is the best?

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We think Universal Orlando did a great job bringing this amazing drink to life.  They also make it easily accessible and offer it in many locations throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley.

Butterbeer Away from the Parks

Can’t get to the parks? Check out this link:  Homemade Butter Beer Recipe

While a homemade recipe isn’t quite going to live up to what the parks offer, it can be a nice way to hold you over until your next trip.  As an added bonus, buy the souvenir mug while in the park and then use it when drinking the homemade Butterbeer at home!

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Dole Whip! Whip it Good? | Dole Whip

Dole Whip

Dole Whip is an iconic Disney treat!

We recently spent some time over at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and we decided to indulge in a treat.  Naturally, we headed for the Pineapple Lanai just outside the lobby to grab a Dole Whip.  It had been while since we enjoyed one, which made this treat that much better and inspired us to post about it now.

For frequent Disney-goers, this iconic dessert is nothing new.  They know about it and they know how amazing it is.  However, as we sat and ate this delicious treat, we felt compelled to spread the news to those who may not know of this magical concoction or maybe never took the time to try it.

Locations Selling Dole Whip

There are currently three consistent places you can order a Dole Whip:  Aloha Isle in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom, the Pineapple Lanai at the Polynesian Village Resort, and Tamu Tamu Refreshments at Animal Kingdom.

Dole Whip

We highly suggest getting the pineapple-vanilla swirl soft-serve, it is AMAZING.  

Types of Dole Whip

You have the choice of soft-serve ice cream in a cup or in a souvenir tiki bowl, or you can get a Dole Whip float.

Dole Whip                        Dole Whip

 

We highly suggest getting the pineapple-vanilla swirl soft-serve Dole Whip, it is AMAZING.  (Honorable shout-out to the discontinued orange-vanilla swirl, which was incredible)

So the next time you are near one of these stands, if you haven’t experienced this treat yet, do it!  We promise, there is a reason there is so much hype around this dessert!

Fellow Disney fanatics, back us up!  Tell us about your Dole Whip experiences below!

Can’t make it to Disney World to get a Dole Whip?  Try out an at-home Dole Whip Recipe!

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Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Purchase and Renewal Price Increase

Effective October 4, 2015, the prices for Walt Disney World Annual Passes has increased.  The passholder system has also changed a bit.  Instead of offering a Seasonal, Annual, and Premium Pass, Disney now offers Silver, Gold, and Platinum Passes.

Below is a screenshot of the new rates to purchase a new pass as a Florida Resident:

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If you are looking for the updated prices for a new non-Florida resident pass, click here.

For renewal prices, click here.  You will be required to login to see the new renewal prices.

The newest amenities for these passes is that Photopass downloads are now included with the Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Plus Passes.  The difference between the Silver Pass and the Gold Pass (besides Photopass) is the Gold has slightly fewer black out dates.

Here’s a Guru tip for you:  if you are a member of AAA, they have not raised their rates yet.  If you are looking to buy a new pass or renew, you can still get the old rate as of today (10/6/15).

Tables in Wonderland has also increased in price by $50.00.

 

What do you think of the rate increase?  Comment below!

 

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Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando | best time to visit Universal Orlando

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando

Are you planning a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort?  If you are flexible on your dates and want to avoid large crowds, here is a list of the best time to visit Universal Orlando and the worst time to visit Universal Orlando:

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando:

September through Early November – especially during the week after Labor Day.  Walking around the parks and hotels, it’s amazing how low the crowds are.  You may deal with some crowd during the weekends for Halloween Horror Nights, but for the most part you’ll be able to walk onto almost all of the popular rides.  The weather during September can be hot, but not as hot as July.  When you get into mid-October, the weather is glorious.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando
Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel empty on a day in September

January through February – After everyone has overloaded on holiday trips to the parks, the crowds tend to slow down during these months.  You will have no problem riding your favorite rides multiple times without a line.  The downfall to visiting during these months:  it can get pretty cold, even for northerners.

May – Again, after everyone has taken their spring break trip to Orlando the parks tend to clear out in May.  Most people are back home focusing on finishing up the school year before summer begins or people are saving their vacation until summer.  The nice thing about the parks being in Orlando, it’ll already be hot in May, so you’ll feel like you’re already on a summer vacation trip.  In our book, this really is the best time to visit Universal Orlando.

The list above shows you the best time to visit Universal Orlando.  Keep reading to see the worst times to learn when to avoid the parks if possible.

Worst Time to Visit Universal Orlando:

June through August – We think it’s pretty common knowledge that the parks get busy during summer break.  Add the insane Florida heat to the mix and you’ve got a pretty rough combo.  We understand that for some this is the only time they can travel to the resort, but if you are able to visit during another time we highly suggest you do so.

Thanksgiving Week through New Year’s Day – For the same reasons above, people are off and so they take the time to head to the parks.  The holidays obviously draw people to the parks and we do recommend checking the parks out during this time because the decorations are great, but don’t expect to get on a bunch of rides.

March through April – This is Spring Break time and again you must avoid if possible.  The weather is still bearable at this point but if you can hold off until May, you’ll be able to experience all of the attractions without the hassle of crowds.

*Side Note:  While some of this can apply to the Walt Disney World Resort as well, the “off season” has become more limited at WDW due to its ever-growing popularity and Disney’s seasonal offerings such as Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Flower and Garden Festival, etc.

Is the best time to visit Universal Orlando during your favorite time to visit?

What is your favorite month to visit the Universal Orlando Resort?  Comment below!

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Mel’s Drive-In Lunch Review

We recently had the chance to take time and have lunch at one of the coolest looking eateries in Universal Studios Florida – Mel’s Drive-In.  This restaurant is themed after the movie American Graffiti and is located pretty much in the middle of the park, which makes it easily accessible.

We actually arrived around 11:30 a.m. and we were glad we did.  We were able to pick a comfortable window seat and did not have to wait in line to order.  As we were finishing around noon, the restaurant started to get packed.

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Ordering was pretty easy, you order with a cashier and then wait to pick up your food.  Once you have your food, you find your own seating and there is plenty of it.  This restaurant also has the Coke Freestyle machines, making it easy to refill your mugs!

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We decided to each order a kids meal because the portions here are pretty big.  Josh ordered a regular kids cheeseburger with fries:

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Kids Cheeseburger with Fries

 

I ordered a kids gluten free cheeseburger with fries:

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Gluten Free Kids Cheeseburger with Fries

 

 

Our grand total for the meal after our passholder discount was around $14.00, which is not bad!  Plus we had plenty of food and were full afterwards.

The cheeseburgers overall were good – the only downfall to getting a kids cheeseburger is that you don’t get toppings.  The taste and size were good, though.  The fries were really delicious and had some sort of seasoning on it which made them tasty.

The experience eating there was nice.  They had 50’s and 60’s music playing, our view from our seat was great, and the decorations made you feel like you were on a movie set.  The one downfall – no working jukeboxes!  We were pretty disappointed.

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We definitely recommend this eatery as a lunch or dinner option for the price, location, menu options, and ease.

Have you eaten here?  Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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Final Year for Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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Disney announced today on their blog that this holiday season will be the final year for the Osborne Family Lights.  The amazing display has been taking place for the past 20 years at Hollywood Studios (MGM when it first started) and has in recent years covered the Streets of America.

It has become a tradition for many to visit during the holiday season and the reaction from Disney fans has been mostly of sadness and confusion as to why Disney couldn’t just move the lights to another area of the park.  Besides the incredible amount of lights on display, the lights would also sparkle, dance, and change in synchronization to a variety of Christmas music.

With the announcement of the new Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land expansions for DHS at the D23 Expo, the thought of losing the Streets of America entered the minds of many.  Unfortunately, Disney has now confirmed those thoughts.  Here is the excerpt from Disney’s blog:

As you plan ahead, we also wanted you to know that this holiday season will mark the finale for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The display of lights has enjoyed a successful run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, going all the way back to when it first appeared on Residential Street.

In order to prepare for some incredible experiences coming to the park, including the recently announced Toy Story Land and a Star Wars-themed land, we will not be able to present The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in the future. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the family of Jennings Osborne for letting us share their family tradition year after year. And thank you to all of you for being part of the spectacle with us. Here’s to making more memories in this, the 20th and final year.

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Coke Freestyle Mugs at Universal Orlando

One thing we absolutely love about visiting the Universal Orlando parks is being able to use our Coke Freestyle refillable mug.  We all know that at any theme park, drinks can be expensive.  Hydration, however, is essential to a successful theme park day.

When you initially purchase the Coke Freestyle mug, it will cost $11.99 and your mug will be active for the day of purchase.  You will be able to refill your mug at any of the Coke Freestyle machines around the parks and you will have from over 100 flavors of drinks to choose from.

The key to making this purchase really worth it is to save the mug and bring it back to the park with you on your next visit.  You will be able to “recharge” your mug for $6.00!  That is a really great deal when you compare that price to what it would cost to continue to purchase single-serve cups or bottled drinks.

We love that Universal has implemented such a great system and we honestly hope more parks join in!

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