Nine Tips for Staying Cool in the Theme Parks

Don’t let the fact that it is almost Fall in Central Florida fool you, because staying cool in the theme parks should still be a priority!

These may seem like common sense tips, but there are the things that I like to keep in mind as I prepared for staying cool during a day in the parks with my family and friends.

Nine Tips for Staying Cool in the Theme Parks Pinterest

Nine Tips for Staying Cool in the Theme Parks

Indoor Attractions are the best attractions

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

From 1 to 4 pm the heat is at its worst here in Central Florida, but can be oppressive at time until the sun goes down so you will want to find ways to try to stay inside as much as you can during your time in the parks.

In addition to attractions, these peak times are also great time to catch a show you haven’t seen in awhile. My absolute favorite is For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, because you aren’t living your best theme park life unless you’ve seen parents belting out these songs louder and prouder than their kids. Also Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show, inside Universal Studios Florida, is a fantastic show with very little gore. It’s also worth noting that all of the outdoor shows are SeaWorld Orlando have covered viewing ares or splash zones for some relief from the heat.

Find ways to wait indoors for attractions

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

At all the parks there are several attractions with indoor queues and experiences that are perfect for waiting without the heat. My favorites are Dumbo the Flying Elephant at the Magic Kingdom with it’s indoor play as you wait area, The Mummy at Universal Studios Florida with an intricate queue, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and The Hogwarts Express at the Universal Resort are three of my favorite rides with indoor queues.

Splurge on dining for a break from the heat

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

Dining in the parks can get quite pricey, but there are several quick service and restaurant locations that offer indoor seating to grab a bite to eat and cool down. If you are looking for a restaurant experience, make sure to get a dining reservation online on the Walt Disney World website or using Open Table for the Universal Orlando Resort and some Disney Springs restaurants.

Prepare for afternoon storms

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

We often have daily showers, and being prepared for these rainy days will help keep your day on track instead of having to stop everything to find cover, so head on over on icFlorida.com where you can find some of my best rainy day survival tips!

Also please learn from my experience…don’t be fooled by the ‘covering’ over Diagon Alley at Universal Studio Florida, because it has openings and you WILL get wet!

Stay hydrated

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

According to the CDC, it is important to drink fluids before you even begin to feel thirsty. Your body uses thirst to indicate that you are approaching dehydration. Rather than drinking to quench your thirst, it is healthier to continuously replenish fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty at all.

Some other easy things to always remember when it comes to staying hydrated is to avoid soft drinks & alcoholic beverages, cool fluids can help encourage you to drink more during activity in hot weather, and try to have water every 2 hours.

There’s no shame in visiting First Aid

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

If you are not feeling well or are in need of a more intense break from the heat, there is no shame in visiting the First Aid locations in the theme parks. Everyone from attraction attendants to members of the custodial teams will be able to direct you to the nearest and easiest way to help. Please don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help if you need it before it is too late.

Be Prepared

Packing a Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Bag - Charger and Cord

A few years ago I created a video on icFlorida.com about beating the heat in the parks with nine key items to bring with you in your ultimate theme park bag, and to save you some time I am sharing that list (with some updates) with you!

1. Pack a Water Misting Fan.

Before we get started I know that it’s not glamorous, but these Water Misting Fans really do the trick! While you can purchase them in the parks, but you can also pick one up before you go at a fraction of the cost at Walmart or Target. A huge bonus is that they also help keep little ones happy while you are waiting or walking around.

2. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Sunscreen isn’t just for the pool, and you will want to follow the recommended directions to reapply for the best results. For everyone’s sake around you, please be careful when you are using an aerosol sunscreen.

3. Umbrellas are extremely useful!

Umbrellas are great for two reasons, they are great shade on the go and they are really useful when a storm pops up in the afternoon as they are wont to do in Orlando. I carry my umbrellas in a zip top bag, so if it does rain I can place my electronics in the bag and when I no longer need the umbrella I can put it in my theme park bag without getting everything else inside wet.

Just keep in mind that if you do use the umbrella for shade that theme park etiquette is that you should put it down before parades and outdoor shows.

4. Think of the children!

Little ones in a stroller will have shade, but they will also overheat easily. You can purchase a battery operated clip fan that will fit on most strollers in the theme parks or at Wal*Mart, Target, or online before you arrive at the park.

5. Stop to splash in the parks.

At all of the parks as well as Disney Springs and Universal’s CityWalk you can find splash pad play areas that are a really fun way to cool off while you are walking around. If this is something you are considering doing the day make sure you come prepared with bathing suits, swim diapers (if necessary), and a towel to make things a lot smoother for the rest of your day.

6. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Don’t worry about packing a million water bottles in your theme park bag, because anywhere that sells fountain drinks can also provide you with a free glass of ice water. I also like to carry an empty water bottle that can be filled as I need it during the day. Staying hydrated is extremely important!!!

7. Take advantage of cooling towels.

Along the same lines as the misting fan is the cooling towels. Now these have become extremely popular in the parks, but to save some money you can pick one up before arriving at the park. Again, this is something I pack in a plastic bag so I can store it in my backpack without getting everything else soaked.

8. Bring items that make you feel more comfortable.

I always bring what I call my ‘Bag of Necessities’ that I fill with anything from bandaids to chapstick, but making one of your own should really have what makes you feel comfortable in the park!

Download a weather app to your device.

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

Now this one might not be physical, but having a weather app is a major must. My favorite weather app, of course, is the WFTV Channel 9 Weather app, available for android and apple devices. It’s great to have to keep up to date on any weather information, storm warnings, and to keep track of how close lightning is for attraction closures.

Pick the best location for a fun day with the weather in mind

Tips for Beating the heat in the Theme Parks

When you are planning your day, be realistic about your destination. If you and your family don’t do well in the heat, skip parks where there is limited shade or consider visiting a water park.

These are just some of my favorite tips for staying cool in the theme parks, but I would love to hear some of yours in the comments below!

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Dollywood Announces Wildwood Grove Expansion Opening In 2019

Dollywood is making their largest capital investment in their 32-year history with the Wildwood Grove expansion set to open in 2019. The total cost for the expansion is $37 million, meeting The Dollywood Company’s 2013 commitment of $300 million in investments over a 10 year period four years ahead of schedule.

Wildwood Grove Dollywood

Dolly Parton was joined by park officials to talk about this new land that will feature 11 themed experiences, comprised of six new ride attractions, live entertainment, various indoor and outdoor play areas, a new restaurant, nighttime experiences, and the lands icon – the 55 ft. tall Wildwood Tree.

Wildwood Grove is inspired by Dolly’s experiences as a child playing in the forests of the Smoky Mountains.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood

“I’ve told you before about how I’d let my imagination roam free when I’d be out exploring in the hills around our home in the Smoky Mountains,” Parton said. “I’d pretend that the frogs and butterflies were my friends. I’d imagine about what it’d be like to fly with a dragonfly or to follow a bear family through the woods. Now all these things are coming true for our guests to experience in Wildwood Grove; it may be my new favorite part of Dollywood!

“This area is going to give families a place to explore, play and imagine together—but more importantly—it’s a place where they can spend more time together,” she explained. “I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is.”

The new Wildwood Grove will provide an adventurous journey for guests to explore, imagine and play together as a family which begins as soon as guests enter the area, located near the Mystery Mine roller coaster, through the massive hollow trunk of a fallen tree.

As soon as guests enter the area their eyes are drawn to the Wildwood Tree—a tree unlike any other— that serves as the centerpiece of the area. It grows from a cluster of natural rock and boulders, and offers a natural platform for performances throughout the day and night. The green, leafy canopy is adorned with thousands of butterflies that dance playfully in the breeze.

Six new ride attractions will also call Wildwood Grove home that are designed for families to enjoy together.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

The Dragonflier— This thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

Black Bear Trail— Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat. Families will enjoy meandering through the woods of this unique Smoky Mountain experience.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

Sycamore Swing— Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

Treetop Tower— This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

The Mad Mockingbird— Tennessee’s state bird—the mockingbird—gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

Frogs and Fireflies—These friendly frogs hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies fluttering from the tall reeds and grasses. Adventurous guests can hop aboard for this riveting race.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

Play options abound inside Wildwood Grove. Hidden Hollow, a 4,000 sq. ft. indoor play space, provides a climate-controlled area for families looking to recharge before their next big adventure. With climbing structures, slides and multiple games, play time here is full of exploration. Another refreshing stop for play is at Wildwood Creek where numerous pop jets, splashing pools and more await. There, guests also can discover their musical side thanks to the various “instruments” available to play.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

For the first time at Dollywood, several new friends await guests to the area. In the tradition of the Wildwood butterflies before them, Flit and Flutter—Wildwood Grove’s butterfly ambassadors of beauty and grace—dutifully watch over the Wildwood Tree. While each has their own distinct personality, both Flit and Flutter enjoy interacting with visitors to Wildwood Grove. Guests also can meet Benjamin Bear, a playful friend who loves to explore the grove with new visitors.

Wildwood Grove’s featured dining establishment, named Till & Harvest, offers another great option from Dollywood’s award-winning foods team. Visitors can order from a selection of Southwest fresh favorites, including burritos, salads and more, all with a Southern twist. In addition to traditional entrees and a topping bar with assorted salsas, guests can add items like pulled pork and fresh coleslaw to their selections. A walk-up window provides sweet treats like churros and ice cream.

As with most areas of Dollywood, Wildwood Grove takes advantage of the natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. Nearly $1 million has been planned for landscaping the area, with more than 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs helping transform this space into a lush and relaxing spot hidden within the foothills of the Smokies.

Wildwood Grove - Dollywood
Rendering – Dollywood

What makes Wildwood Grove so special is that as the sun sinks in the sky, the area will glow warmly as lanterns and lights glimmer like cheerful fireflies. Once darkness falls, the area sparkles as the Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening in a unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular color under the canopy of fireworks.

The new expansion is an exciting addition to Dollywood, and I am excited to bring you more information as it becomes available so make sure you follow @onthegoinmco on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Apply now for the Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Dreamers Academy 2019 Applications

The Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine selects 100 high school students for an all-expenses-paid mentoring experience of a lifetime annually, and applications are being accepted now through October 31, 2018.

For more than a decade, the Disney Dreamers Academy has inspired young people, ages 13-19, from across the country by fueling their dreams and showing them a world of possibilities as they prepare for the future, and this year the program is scheduled for March 21-24, 2019.

Each year, students participate in hands-on, immersive career seminars in a wide range of disciplines found at Walt Disney World. Participants learn how to improve their communication skills, what it means to be a leader and networking strategies, among other skills. They are also inspired by celebrity speakers and other special guests who share their stories and provide insights on how to achieve their life goals.

disney dreamers academy workshop
2nd from Left: Jaterria Hicks, of Atlanta, Ga., learns medical principles during a medical workshop (Todd Anderson, photographer)

I have had the distinct privilege of attending some pop these outside-the-classroom programs which turn Walt Disney World into a virtual classroom, and to see the students growth over the period of a few days is life changing!

During their time at Walt Disney World students participate in a series of sessions and workshops designed to help them imagine bright futures, make exciting discoveries, and learn how to put their goals into action while working side by side with celebrities, community and industry leaders and Disney cast members.

As the Disney Dreamers Academy moves into their second decade, the organization is focused on challenging young people to relentlessly pursue their dreams through the “Be 100” campaign. This promotional push is inspired by the powerful impact Disney Dreamers Academy has made on graduates, who have gone on to become doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, journalists and more. Some have started their own public relations firms, while others have worked with national political leaders.

The application process is made to inspire creativity without being intimidating, as applicants must answer essay questions about their personal journeys and dreams for the future. Students are selected based on a combination of attributes, including strong character, positive attitude and determination to achieve their dreams.

When applying to the Disney Dreamers Academy, families should keep in mind that a parent or guardian is required to accompany each student on the trip.

For more information or to apply, visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com.

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Thoughts on Theme Parks: Five Things I Will Miss When Summer Ends

While the summers in the theme parks of Central Florida may bring images of crazy crowds to your mind, for me this summer was full of amazing special events and offers.

Today I thought I would take a moment to talk about the five that I will miss the most when summer ends in just a few short weeks.

Theme Parks Thoughts When Summer Ends August 1 2018

Theme Parks Thoughts: Five Things I Will Miss When Summer Ends

SeaWorld Orlando

Free Beer

Theme Parks Thoughts When Summer Ends - Free Beer SeaWorld Orlando
Photo: Walt Disney World

SeaWorld Orlando is offering free beer to park guests ages 21 and up through September 2, 2018.

Guests can visit Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio and receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit from 10:30 a.m. to one hour before park close.

The park will rotate beer offerings throughout the summer starting off with SeaWorld’s very own Mako Red Ale. Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, Yuengling, and more will also be featured throughout the summer.

Walt Disney World

Incredible Tomorrowland Expo at Magic Kingdom

Theme Parks Thoughts When Summer Ends - Tomorrowland Expo Incredible Summer
Photo: Walt Disney World

Until September 3 Disney•Pixar Super Heroes will take over Tomorrowland, as part of an Incredible Tomorrowland Expo that celebrates “all things super.”

Meet Mr. Incredible, Frozone, and other supers including Edna Mode for the first time from Disney•Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and upcoming “Incredibles 2.

Tomorrowland is also be decked out with Incredibles décor and sounds from the film, and it would be a celebration without a dance party on the Rocket Tower Stage.

Also, don’t forget to take time to spend time with the ‘Cosplay Supers’ who are attending the Tomorrowland Expo!

The Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! Concert Series at Epcot

Theme Parks Thoughts When Summer Ends - Guardians of The Galaxy Live Concert Epcot
Photo: Walt Disney World – David Roark, photographer

Star-Lord and Gamora from “Guardians of the Galaxy” host a show that takes a musical journey through the cosmos in The Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! concert series.

The show features tunes from Star-Lord’s Awesome Mixtapes, the soundtrack from the two movies.

The show is super high energy, full of tons of fun, and is performed five times daily through August 19th.

Disney H20 Glow Party Nights

Theme Parks Thoughts When Summer Ends - H2O Glow Nights Party Typhoon Lagoon
Photo: Walt Disney World

When the sun goes down, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon transforms on select evenings until August 11 into a massive glow party from 8 pm until 11 pm.

Guests can enjoy special entertainment, Disney PIXAR character meet and greets, exclusive menu items and beverages, and tons of glow-in-the-dark fun.

This is an especially awesome way to visit Typhoon Lagoon, because the lines are really short with fantastically fun entertainment and delightful menu & bar additions. Plus the event gets extra bonus points for not having to worry about sunscreen!

Tickets $55 per person plus tax for adults and $50 per person plus tax for children ages 3-9. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (407) 939-1872.

Disney Springs

Brews and BBQ Trail

Theme Parks Thoughts When Summer Ends - Disney Springs Brews and BBQ Trail
Photo: Walt Disney World

Until September 3, you can take a culinary exploration of Brews and BBQ at Disney Springs.

Discover a whole new host of tasty and unique food and beverage pairings as you stroll through the many restaurants and shops throughout the area to visit the 23 different locations across Disney Springs.

And what’s more? For guests ages 21 and older, each of these dishes can be paired with a crisp, craft-brewed beer!

To make the most of your visit, make sure to pick up a map of the participating restaurants and kiosks at the Disney Springs Welcome Center, located in Town Center.

You can find the menus for all the stops on my post over on icFlorida.com!

With every ending comes a new beginning, and tomorrow I will be sharing what I can’t wait to experience this Fall in the theme parks of Central Florida!

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Altamonte Springs 23rd Annual Red Hot & Boom

Altamonte Springs 2018 Red Hot Boom

Altamonte Springs set to host 23rd Annual Red Hot & Boom

Altamonte Springs’ 23rd annual festival brings hot acts, family fun and dazzling fireworks for Independence Day

The Red Hot & Boom Festival in Altamonte Springs is set to deliver a day of music from the hottest artists, family fun, and of course, one of the best firework displays in the South.

More than two decades since it first began, the event has grown into an anticipated family-friendly tradition, drawing more than 175,000 spectators celebrating the spirit of summer.

Red Hot & Boom will take place on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 at Cranes Roost Park in Uptown Altamonte.

The event is known for featuring up-and-coming talent for a FREE show which starts at 4 p.m. and continues after the fireworks.

This year’s artists include:

  • Echosmith – This sibling trio stormed onto the scene with the hit “Cool Kids,” but the new release, “Over My Head” is already climbing the Billboard charts.
  • Lauv – Singer-songwriter Lauv has a collaboration with Demi Lovato and a tour with Ed Sheeran under his belt, but his breakout song “I Like Me Better” made him a star in his own right.
  • MAX – The 25-year-old model, actor and musician is known for his single “Lights Down Low.” The aspiring singer has also worked with the likes of Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Pharrell.
  • Jack & Jack – This rap-pop duo got their start on the social media platform Vine, but have since taken on music professionally, recently releasing the single “Beg.”
  • In Real Life – The winners of the reality show “Boy Band” have already released the single “Tattoo” and are touring this summer.
  • Alyssa Raghu – The Lake Nona High School sophomore is fresh off her stint on “American Idol,” where she graced the Top 24.
  • Logan Henderson – Known for his role on the TV show “Big Time Rush” and the band by the same name, Henderson is now taking on a solo career with several recent singles, including “Sleepwalker.”

The hottest act of the night is the show-stopping fireworks, lighting up the sky with a splash of color starting at 9:30 p.m., weather permitting.

The firework display is perfectly choreographed and synchronized to today’s hits and old-time favorites for the dazzling 25-minute show over Cranes Roost Lake.

Altamonte Springs 2018 Red Hot Boom Fireworks
Photo: Altamonte Springs

“Red Hot & Boom has become a tradition for families throughout the south east. We want to create a happy and energetic environment for all who attend this event,” said Jerry Sullivan, deputy director of Leisure Services for the City of Altamonte Springs. “We’re incredibly proud of this celebration, and we work hard to make sure this event is fun and memorable every year.”

Red Hot & Boom starts at 4 p.m. The event is rain or shine.

For more information, please visit www.UptownAltamonte.com/RHB.

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Disney Cruise Line Releases Rendering Of New Ships

It is a happy day for Disney Cruise Line enthusiasts, because new renderings have been releases of the three newest vessels setting sail in 2021, 2022 and 2023 will be no exception.

This first, early rendering depicts the magnificent exterior of the newest Disney ships that will elevate family cruise vacations to a whole new level.

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line

In keeping with the distinct Disney Cruise Line style, the new ships will embody the elegance and romance of the golden age of ocean cruising with unique touches all their own. The new vessels will offer more innovation, new technologies, spectacular entertainment and more Disney stories and characters than ever before.

Ingenuity and innovation from stem to stern will amaze and delight Disney Cruise Line guests of all ages. Each new ship will be approximately 140,000 gross tons and each is currently planned to include about 1,250 guest staterooms.

We CANNOT WAIT to bring you more information about these new ships!

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Disney Cruise Line announces new Summer 2019 sailings

Disney Cruise Line offers new sailings from Rome and seven new ports in Europe, plus Alaska and Caribbean sailings take center stage

Disney Cruise Line new destinations Summer 2019 sailings

In summer 2019, Disney Cruise Line will sail on new itineraries and to seven new ports in Europe, including a first-ever round-trip cruise from Rome and first-time visits to destinations in Sweden, France, Spain, Denmark and Northern Ireland. Disney Cruise Line takes guests on a grand tour of Europe with visits to the Mediterranean in early summer and northern Europe in late summer. Plus, adventures continue with sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas, including new cruise lengths aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Bookings open to the public on March 8, 2018. More details on 2019 itineraries can be found on the Ports and Itineraries for 2019 page of disneycruise.com.

New round-trip sailing from Rome

Disney Cruise Line Roman Coliseum
David Roark, photographer

For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests can experience the rich history of Rome as a bookend experience in a single cruise.

In Rome, families can explore the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican, and sample authentic local cuisine.

On June 14, 2019, the Disney Magic will sail an eight-night cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome). Ports of call include Salerno (Positano, Amalfi, Pompeii) and La Spezia (Florence, Pisa), Italy; Villefranche (Monte Carlo, Cannes, Nice) and Marseilles, France; and Barcelona, Spain.

First-time visits to seven new ports in Europe

Disney Cruise Line Geiranger, Norway
Matt Stroshane, photographer

Disney Cruise Line will call on seven new ports in Europe for the first time in 2019, including Gothenburg and Nynashamn (Stockholm), Sweden; Toulon (Provence) and Brest, France; Cartagena, Spain; Fredericia, Denmark; and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Belfast is a new destination on a seven-night British Isles cruise departing from Dover, England, near London, on Sept. 8, 2019. In Belfast, Disney Cruise Line guests can explore the stunning Giant’s Causeway, one of the most impressive natural wonders in the United Kingdom, and enjoy breathtaking vistas along the Antrim Coast, including the dramatic cliff-side ruins of the medieval Dunluce Castle.

Throughout the summer, the Disney Magic’s tour of Europe includes engagements in the Baltic, Norwegian fjords, Iceland, British Isles and the Mediterranean.

Return to Alaska                  

Disney Cruise Line Alaska
Kent Phillips, photographer

In 2019, the Disney Wonder will return to Alaska for the summer season, opening up a world of breathtaking natural vistas, magnificent glaciers and awe-inspiring wildlife. A variety of five-, seven- and nine-night itineraries will depart from Vancouver, Canada, with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska, plus Victoria, Canada.

Special Disney Fantasy itineraries to the Caribbean and Bahamas

Disney Cruise Line at Sea
Disney

In addition to seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, near Orlando, Florida, the Disney Fantasy will embark on a variety of special itineraries to the Caribbean and Bahamas throughout the summer of 2019.

The special itineraries include a three-night Bahamian cruise departing Aug. 7, a six-night western Caribbean cruise departing June 30, an eight-night southern Caribbean cruise departing June 22, and an 11-night southern Caribbean cruise departing July 27.

All cruises aboard the Disney Fantasy in the summer of 2019 include a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, in addition to multiple tropical destinations where Disney Cruise Line guests can dive into charming island cultures, sunbathe on golden beaches and revel in local marketplaces.

Castaway Cay: More opportunities to explore Disney’s exclusive private island

Disney Cruise Line Castaway Cay
David Roark, photographer

In 2019, the Disney Dream will sail a series of cruises that include two stops at Castaway Cay so guests can have twice the fun in the sun and enjoy even more of Disney’s award-winning pristine island paradise.

On June 19, July 3 and July 17, 2019, the Disney Dream will sail from Port Canaveral on four-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau, plus two stops at Castaway Cay.

On June 14, June 23, June 28, July 7, July 12 and July 21, 2019, the Disney Dream will sail from Port Canaveral on five-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau, plus two stops at Castaway Cay.

These special itineraries are in addition to three- and four-night Bahamian cruises from Port Canaveral that visit Nassau and Castaway Cay.

Guided Experiences with Adventures by Disney

Disney Cruise Line Family
Chloe Rice, photographer

In the summer of 2019, Disney Cruise Line guests can enrich their experience by combining a Europe or Alaska cruise with a package from Adventures by Disney, a leader in family guided group vacations.

New pre-cruise Short Escapes

New in 2019, Adventures by Disney will offer pre-cruise guided experiences in Rome and Vancouver. These three-night Short Escapes, also offered in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Barcelona, allow families to experience memorable icons in ways that few can, such as a private, after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in Rome. Plus, activities like ziplining, flamenco dancing and preparing local cuisine immerse families in the culture of the region.

Guided group excursion packages for select Europe cruises

Families can also enhance select European sailings with an Adventures by Disney package during the cruise. Knowledgeable Adventure Guides lead travelers to experience the best of each port, helping them unlock the wonders of the destination through immersive excursions and off-the-beaten-path adventures. In addition, guests will enjoy exclusive receptions onboard and have access to concierge service from these dedicated guides throughout the voyage.

These Adventures by Disney offerings open for booking beginning March 8, 2018, with the exception of the Vancouver Short Escape, which will open for booking later this year.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, visit disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact a travel agent.

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2018 Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival at Raglan Road

St. Patrick’s Day revelers will definitely want to enjoy three non-stop days of live music, Irish dance, first-rate food, and fun during the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival 2018 at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs March 16-18.

Raglan Road 2018 Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival

Here’s the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival complete lineup:

  • Young Dubliners – One of Celtic rock’s hardest working bands, the You Dubliners play hundreds of shows to thousands of fans across the United States and Europe every year. Young Dubliners are known for their hearty rock and Irish-infused live performances.
  • Elevation (U2) — Back by popular demand, this stellar U2 tribute act will play two special nighttime shows March 16 and 17. They appeared at Raglan Road’s Great Irish Hooley last September during U2’s world tour celebrating 30 years of the groundbreaking Joshua Tree album.
  • The Maguires – Called “brilliant” by IrishCentral news, The Maguires traditional Irish family band comprises Emma, 17, on fiddle, flute and whistle; Aoife, 15, on concertina and uilleann pipes; Sean, 12, on bodhrán; and their dad, Philip, on guitar.  Trad favorites and modern tunes combine with syncopated, infectious rhythms sure to wow Mighty Festival crowds.

Raglan Road 2018 St Patricks Mighty Festival

  •  Briste — This inspiring all-female trio includes Emma Robinson (flute, whistle), Joanna Boyle (banjo, vocals) and Alison Crossey (bodhran, guitar). They grew up listening to and playing traditional Irish music, winning numerous awards at County, Ulster and All Ireland competitions, quickly gaining themselves a fine reputation in traditional music circles. Blending together their rich musical backgrounds, Briste creates a fresh and exciting mix of country, folk and Irish traditional music.
  • The Byrne Brothers — An exceptionally talented traditional Irish music family from Donegal. They are Luca, 13 (button accordion); Finn, 11 (banjo, mandolin and whistle); Dempsey, 8, (whistle and bodhran); and father,Tommy (guitar, Uilleann pipes, fiddle, whistles, bagpipes and bodhran). Their show combines exciting traditional Irish tunes with modern dance beats, and they love to interact with every audience.
  • The Raglan Roots Coalition – This edgy house band is known for its soul-rockin’ Celtic bluegrass with hip-swingin’, knee-shakin’ funky roots beats.
  • Reel Republic – Hailing from the southwest corner of Ireland, Aisling Egan-Sage (fiddle); Liam O’Keefe (box, vocals); and Colin Foley (guitar, vocals) are Reel Republic 2.0, three seriously talented musicians always pushing to make the next gig better than the last.
  • Out the Gap – Niall McIlroy (guitar, ukulele bass, whistles and flute); Deirdre Ni Mheachair (fiddle); and Aidan Byrne (guitar, vox, keys and percussion) make up the pub’s newest house band performing a sweet combination of innate musicianship, beautiful tune playing and fairly outrageous virtuosity.
  • The Raglan Road Irish Dancers – Plucked from the cast and stages of the world’s greatest Irish dance shows, the Raglan Road Irish Dancers perform throughout the Mighty Festival. You can even learn some traditional Irish dance steps – no experience necessary!

Raglan Road 2018 St Patricks Mighty Festival

Guests can enjoy a mighty selection of beers, spirits and craft cocktails to pair with exceptional pub grub and more elegant Irish fare while musicians and dancers perform on multiple stages, indoors and out, from noon-1:30 a.m. March 16 and 10 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. March 17 and 18.  Mighty Festival guests can accent their Irish holiday attire with complimentary face painting available for up to nine or 10 hours each festival day.  On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, guests will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis with a cover charge of $10 for each guest age 18 and older. Reservations can be booked for other festival days by calling 407/938-0300.

The entertainment schedule will be posted at raglanroad.com.

Raglan Road 2018 St Patricks Mighty Festival

Guests can order from Raglan Road’s brunch, lunch, dinner and bar menus that include new dishes like the Guinness-braised pulled pork, apple chutney with pork crackling on a homemade bun, and the handmade gnocchi with seared Georges Bank scallops and crispy pork belly.  Traditionalists can dig into the pub’s loin of bacon and cabbage, the authentic Irish dish of St. Patrick’s Day, plus other pub classics.  Throughout the event, the restaurant’s Cooke’s of Dublin counter-service eatery will offer Irish favorites, as well, including fish and chips.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary Celebration Details

This year Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be celebrating its 20th anniversary on Earth Day, April 22, with more wild adventures than ever before as they prepare for an incredible summer filled with all-new events and experiences at the Walt Disney World Resort.

's Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary Celebration Details Pinterest

Commemorating the milestone year, the 500-acre adventure park will offer animal encounters, family-friendly activities, specialty desserts and more during an expanded Party for the Planet celebration from April 22-May 5, 2018.

Over the two-week “Party for the Planet celebration, guests can attend conservation talks by animal-care experts and participate in enhanced interactions with some of the more than 2,000 animals that make their home at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited park.

Disney's Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary Celebration Details
Walt Disney World

Rafiki’s Planet Watch will take center stage for the year-long 20th anniversary. It’s home to fun educational exhibits and activities that help create awareness of animal issues. During the 20th anniversary, Rafiki’s Planet Watch will offer backstage experiences with experts where guests can learn about animal nutrition, visit the veterinary hospital and hear how Disney promotes global wildlife conservation.

Guests can also commemorate their visits to the theme park with special photo opportunities. They can step into an oversized picture frame celebrating the park’s 20th anniversary. Other photo frames support Disney’s “Reverse the Decline,” an initiative created to help protect 10 threatened animal species. One recent success of the program was the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran Tiger Cubs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Just for kids is the chance to earn a limited-edition badge as part of the Wilderness Explorer program. The badge is one of many that youngsters can earn by completing fun activities throughout the park.

Party for the Planet will also include six different Tiffins Talks – themed dinners hosted by animal experts at Tiffins, the theme park’s signature, full-service restaurant. Watch the Disney Parks Blog for more information.

The 20th anniversary fun also includes a commemorative adventure guide, limited-edition merchandise, and a special-edition print created by renowned Walt Disney  Imagineer Joe Rohde.

He will be available on April 22 from 1-4 p.m. to sign prints at Discovery Trading Company. Quantities are limited. For more information on Party for the Planet, visit disneyworld.com/PartyforthePlanet.

Here are other experiences and adventures rolling out in 2018 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

Disney's Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary Celebration Details
Walt Disney World
  • April 22 will mark the debut of a brand-new show, UP! A Great Bird Adventure featuring Russell and Dug from the Disney•Pixar animated comedy-adventure film “UP.” The show will give guests the chance to see Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his fuzzy friend Dug in a new adventure that includes encounters with exotic birds from around the world. This free-flying show will be performed multiple times daily.
  • A “dino-tastic” celebration with Donald and his friends will also premiere Memorial Day weekend in DinoLand, U.S.A. This dinosaur-themed party celebrates Donald Duck’s discovery that his bird ancestors were actually dinosaurs. DinoLand U.S.A. will feature colorful new décor and playful character greetings with rarely seen pals like Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and more. A DJ-powered dance party will mix tunes from the truck-o-saurus stage, capping the nighttime festivities.
  • Memorial Day 2018 commemorates the one-year anniversary of Pandora – The World of Avatar. Here, travelers are transported to a mystical world of floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences. Inspired by the blockbuster film, AVATAR, the epic land invites guests to explore a glowing landscape, encounter a larger-than-life Na’vi Shaman of Songs and soar on the back of a banshee.

For more information about the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, visit DisneyWorld.com/AnimalKingdom.

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Waitress Is Coming To Orlando And Holding Auditions

Waitress the Musical Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Orlando
photo: Joan Marcus

Local auditions for “LULU” in WAITRESS will take place Wednesday, February 28 at Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts

Two little girls are about to get their big break as the critically acclaimed Broadway musical WAITRESS rolls into town next month. Casting directors are looking for two aspiring actresses under age 5 (and three months) to play a “sweet, carefree” young girl in the finale scene of the Tony-nominated show.

Here are the WAITRESS audition details:

WHAT:  Live audition for the role of “Lulu” in WAITRESS, part of the Fairwinds Broadway in Orlando series.

WHO:  Dr. Phillips Center Director of Education Dana Brazil and a creative team member from the New York production of WAITRESS will interview up to 36 young actresses.

WHEN:  Wednesday, February 28, 2018 – 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Actresses must be registered to receive a scheduled appointment time.

WHERE:  Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts – Second floor of the Dr. Phillips Center – Anderson Street Entrance

AUDITION INFO:  Registration is open NOW at drphillipscenter.org/lulu. Applicants must be under the age of 5 and three months and shorter than 4’2”. Individual applicants are welcome, as are sets of twins or siblings. Once registered, qualified applicants will receive an email with their appointment time or notification of being waitlisted. The audition will consist of the child reading two lines from the show. Prior acting experience is not required. If headshots and resumes are available, parents should bring them but they are not required. Two girls will be selected to share the role; each will perform in four performances during the six-day engagement.

WAITRESS debuts in the Walt Disney Theater Tuesday, March 20 and runs through Sunday, March 25. Inspired by Adrienne Shelley’s beloved film, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie baker working at a local diner and stuck in a loveless marriage. Her salvation comes in the form of her daughter, “Lulu.” Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, the irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (“I Am Sam”) and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus (Finding Neverland, Pippin, Hair).

Tickets are now available for WAITRESS and may be purchased online at drphillipscenter.org, by calling 844.513.2014 or by visiting the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office at 445 S. Magnolia Avenue between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. Online and phone ticket purchases are subject to handling fees.

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Get Caught Up In The Mayhem of March

Aloma Bowling Center Logo Aloma Bowl Logo

Aloma Bowl, Boardwalk Bowl offer prizes, deals for Mayhem of March

Grab your jerseys and foam fingers – it’s time for college basketball to dominate your TV!

Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando and Aloma Bowl in Winter Park will make it easy for you to monitor every game of your bracket while enjoying prizes and a mug madness offering with the Mayhem of March event.

Brooklyn South Bar inside Boardwalk Bowl and Aloma Bowl will be the headquarters for the popular promotion.

While the NCAA tournament starts on March 13, the venues will turn the heat up early so you can get in the zone. Mayhem of March will last from March 1 to April 2. During this time, not only will the games be going strong, but the offers will be, too.

Prize drawings will take place throughout game day, when every guest in the venue can win…they don’t even have to be watching the game. Prizes get larger every week, ranging from items such as a $10 game card or a pitcher of beer to $50 gift certificates. All entries at each venue will be pooled for a grand prize drawing at the end of the tournament, with the winner receiving an Ap’Pintizer Party for 20, worth more than $500.

Brooklyn South Bar will also have drink specials with Mug Madness. Anyone who purchases a commemorative mug filled with domestic beer for $9 will receive $3 domestic refills all tournament long.

Each venue features HDTVs throughout, as well as several big screens or giant projection screens, so you can keep your head in the game while doing some winning and celebrating yourself.

For more information, visit www.AlomaBowlingCenters.com.

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Steve Harvey Bringing His Daytime Talk Show To Walt Disney World

On the heels of the show’s second season pick up, Steve Harvey daytime series “STEVE” is traveling to Walt Disney World Resort for an all-new week of exciting shows set to air March 19 – 23, 2018.

Steve Harvey Tickets Walt Disney World 2018

The week will feature celebrity families and couples including The Bella Twins, Eric Christian Olsen and Sarah Wright Olsen, Tracey Edmonds and Deion Sanders, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker as well as celebrities Josh Henderson, Terry Crews and more.

True to “STEVE” form, these special episodes will be filled with exciting games, prizes and giveaways. Viewers will learn about an incredible summer in store for Walt Disney World guests, which includes the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

One deserving couple will even get the wedding of a lifetime after their hometown wedding landed the bride in the hospital. Throughout the week, the couple’s family and friends will help celebrate with all things Disney to make the couple’s dreams come true.

Steve will also proudly honor students from the 2018 Class of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. Disney Dreamers Academy is an annual empowerment program featuring 100 select high school students from across the country who are looking to dream big and learn how to put dreams into action. The academy aims to prepare students for the future by developing networking and interviewing skills and showcasing a variety of career opportunities.

“STEVE” will tape March 9 -11 before a live studio audience from Epcot at Walt Disney World. This is the first time the show has visited Walt Disney World and the first time the show has taped from a remote location since its premiere this past fall.

To attend a “STEVE” taping at Walt Disney World, visit www.getstevetix.com.

 

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Toy Story Land Opening Date Announced!

If you missed it, earlier today on Good Morning America the Walt Disney World Resort Announced that the much awaited Toy Story Land will open on June 30, 2018 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

In preparation for the opening, let’s look at what we know about the expansion!

Toy Story Land Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World 2018

The Story

Toy Story Land Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World 2018
Walt Disney World

When guests enter Toy Story Land they will ‘shrink’ down to the size of a toy so they can step into the whimsical and beloved world of PIXAR Animation Studios’ blockbuster franchise set in Andy’s backyard.

Looking around the highly intricate and themed land, guests will notice that all of the buildings are built from other toys and boxes with familiar faces from the Toy Story Franchise.

The Attractions

Toy Story Land Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World 2018
Walt Disney World

Once inside of Toy Story Land, guests will find that there are two new attractions that have been developed just for this new area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as a fan-favorite that has a few new touches.

Slinky Dog Dash

Toy Story Land Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World 2018
Walt Disney World

Slinky Dog Dash is a family coaster themed as if Andy built it in his backyard using his Mega Coaster Play Kit and some of his other favorite toys.

The attraction’s ride vehicles, inspired by the character of Slinky in the film, will send riders dipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops Andy has created to stretch Slinky’s coils to the max.

Alien Swirling Saucers

Toy Story Land Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World 2018
Walt Disney World

Alien Swirling Saucers, is designed as a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, inspired by the first “Toy Story” film.

In the attraction guests will step into a flying saucer that will rotate around the toy planets and satellites as part of the game while swirling to the beat of fun “Space Jazz” music and lighting developed just for this experience  while “The Claw” looms ominously overhead.

Toy Story Mania

Toy Story Mania is an absolute fan-favorite at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and if you haven’t been lucky enough to score a FastPass+ it is worth the wait!

On the attraction guests step inside of Andy’s room which is littered with classic toys and fun details to board an early-20th-century-inspired Carnival Ride Tram donning 3D glasses & armed with a spring-action shooter to take on five unique carnival games.

The Restaurant

Walt Disney World

Toy Story Land will ‘shrink’ guests to the size of a toy so they can step into the whimsical and beloved world of Pixar Animation Studios’ blockbuster franchise set in Andy’s backyard, and in keeping with the Land’s theming Woody’s Lunch Box has been created by Andy using his lunch box and thermos.

If you look closely at the rendering, you can see some of Andy’s favorite toys, items from his lunch, and maybe even a few green army man on a nearby lookout tower watching for Andy’s return.

“We can’t wait for our guests to experience Toy Story Land, and the new quick-service window located within the land will surely delight hungry toys and people alike,” said Carlos Castro, vice president of Disney Corporate Alliances. 

While we don’t have a complete menu for the location yet, we know that it will serve “tasty meals and old-fashioned soda floats” and is the first in a multi-year strategic alliance with Mini Babybel, which has also been named the Official Snack Cheese of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the Disneyland Resort in California, and Disney Cruise Line.

“At Bel Brands USA, we are all about sharing smiles and we are delighted to bring that to life through our alliance with Disney,” said Francis Perrin, chief marketing officer of Bel Brands USA, makers of Mini Babybel cheese. “We believe Mini Babybel makes snack time an adventure in deliciousness for the whole family every day and now we can share that fun and great taste with even more families as they enjoy adventures of their own at Disney Parks.”

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Take A Peek Inside This Month’s Disney Twenty-Three Magazine

Spring 2018 D23 Disney TwentyThree Cover

The Spring issue of Disney Twenty-Three magazine, offered exclusively to D23 Gold and Gold Family Members as a benefit of their membership, is set to be arrive mid-February, and it is chocked full of amazing content.

Inside of the issue there’s a closer look at Black Panther that hits theaters on February 16th, and director Ryan Coogler and executive producer Nate Moore whisk readers off to Wakanda to get the inside story behind the making of the thrilling Marvel film. 

Disney twenty-three also visited the set of A Wrinkle in Time, speaking with director Ava DuVernay about her dazzling adaptation of the exhilarating adventure which opens this March. 

Plus, in honor of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 20th anniversary, legendary Imagineer Joe Rohde shares 20 ways this innovative theme park—which he has worked on since its inception—broke the mold.

Also included in the spring issue of Disney twenty-three:

• A look inside D23’s 2018 Gold Member Gift, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse

• The imagination and origination of Tokyo Disney Resort

• The inside-the-nursery story of Disney Junior’s all-new Muppet Babies

• Spectacular artwork that inspired Peter Pan, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year

• A visit to the office of Disney’s Animal Kingdom vice president Djuan Rivers

• Regular features including Character Analysis, D Society, and Ask Dave

D23 disney twenty-three Fanniversary D23 Destination D Disney D23 Expo

About D23

The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his first studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s 90-plus-year history. It gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication, Disney twenty-three; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year. 

Fans can join D23 at Gold Membership ($74.99), Gold Family Membership ($99.99), and General Membership (complimentary) levels at D23.com and at shopDisney.com/D23.

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Wordless Wednesday – A Moment of Disney Cruise Line Zen

Disclosure: This post was created from experiences I had while onboard the Disney Dream as invited media by Disney Cruise Line. All opinions and over-use of exclamation points are all my own.

I haven’t done a Wordless Wednesday for a very long time, but after the past week of loss and stress I have found that I keep gravitating to this short video that Stephanie shot while onboard the Disney Dream as the ship made its way from Port Canaveral to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.

A moment of Disney Cruise Line Zen

Okay it is a little longer than a minute…but it sounds better than 1 minute and six seconds of Disney Cruise Line Zen…and maybe this isn’t so wordless…but it is Wednesday, so it works for me!

I am working on compiling all of my Disney Cruise Line posts to share with you, but until I do join me in watching this quiet moment and daydreaming of sailing again.

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