Make a runDisney Goal – My runDisney 5K Story

Conversations with Cheryl: Make a runDisney Goal – My runDisney 5K Story

I never thought I could achieve a 5k.  My friends were in participating in the runDisney 5K, and at over 310 pounds I was scared but excited to join them.

Conversations with Cheryl Make a runDisney Goal - My runDisney 5K Story 

How I started slowly…

The idea of training for my first 5k was daunting at first, but once I became more comfortable with the idea that a 5K was 3.1 miles which I typically walked during a day in the parks I was ready to get started.

My favorite (and easy) practice walk was to go to Epcot and walk around World Showcase, which is 1.2 miles.

After I got  comfortable walking for longer periods of time, I found that I wanted to keep going so I would walk at night around my neighborhood or I would hop on the treadmill.

runDisney Conversations with Cheryl 5K runkeeper

Do you need a buddy for a runDisney 5k?

I like to walk with friends, but it is not completely necessary.

If you think you would like to have a buddy, don’t be shy about asking your friends. Who knows…you could inspire them to give it a try, too!

Also if you look on Facebook it is easy to find running groups, charity runners, and running events in your local area.

You can also find a runDisney practice program online and Motivation Tips at Cigna.

runDisney Conversations with Cheryl 5K with Shelley
Getting ready for a runDisney 5K with Shelley

You can do it, too!

I wear my 5k T Shirts and people say “I could never do a 5k”.  My response is If I can walk a 5k at my weight, they should be able to walk one as well.

One thing that helped keep me motived and focused was Cigna Coaching!

Part of my insurance with Cigna involves Cigna coaching for those that don’t meet their BMI.  My coach is friendly  and it is incredibly convenient for me to meet my coach at his mobile office.

httpv://youtu.be/zP5JJARGhDk

My biggest piece of advice? Don’t be scared about meeting with a coach!

One of the first things you will do with your coach is to set goals together.

Your goals can be as simple as:

Do you have Cigna as your health insurance?  You may be able to get voice coaching.

Cigna also offers assistance with Achilles International, they will have some athletes in the races and some Cigna Employees.

What if I don’t have Cigna Insurance?

Coach by Cigna Logo runDisney

Cigna offers a free coaching app which is accessible to everyone on the Apple app store or the Android Google Play Store.

How to register for a runDisney 5K

Registration for the Run Disney 5k fills up quickly, plan to register now.

If your event is full, consider running for Charity listed at the end of the event page.

 

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19 Magical Experiences in 2019 at Walt Disney World Resort

19 Magical Experiences in 2019 at Walt Disney World Resort

Over on the Disney Parks Blog, Jeremy Schoolfield just shared a blog post about the 19 new Magical Experiences in 2019 coming to Walt Disney World.

2019 is definitely going to be one for the Theme Park history books!!!

Check out what’s coming in his post and let us know what you’re looking forward to the most!!!!

19 Magical Experiences in 2019 at Walt Disney World Resort

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2019 is going to be an amazing time at Walt Disney World Resort, with so many new and exciting things happening all year long. You’ll travel to a galaxy far, far away and experience zany fun aboard a runaway railway. You can MousekeDance yourself silly and play basketball like the pros. Or maybe you’ll want to take in beautiful views while you dine 15 stories high atop a new resort hotel tower or glide across the sky in a gondola.

So let’s get to it!

Here are 19 reasons to be excited for a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in 2019:

2019 Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

1. Anything Can Happen at Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration – Starting Jan. 18, Magic Kingdom Park is honoring those true originals, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, now, more than ever with new entertainment, merchandise and specialty food and beverages. The new “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party” will parade up Main Street, U.S.A. several times daily, while you can meet Mickey and Minnie together – wearing their new birthday outfits – in Town Square Theater.

2019 Hollywood Studios 30 Logo

 

2. Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios – On May 1, Walt Disney World Resort will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The park is honoring this achievement all year with a new 30th anniversary logo and other fun and excitement (see below!).

2019 Illuminations Farewell Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

3. Say a Fond Farewell to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth – After nearly 20 years of delighting Epcot guests through music, fireworks, fire torches and more, this nighttime spectacular will be ending in the second half of this year. Now, more than ever you’ll want to spend another evening around World Showcase Lagoon to celebrate this classic show that has entertained millions since its October 1999 debut.

4. Jaleo Cooks Up Fresh Tastes at Disney Springs – Chef José Andrés will bring the spirit and flavors of Spain to Disney Springs with his new Jaleo restaurant, opening this winter. The tapas experience will offer a lively setting befitting its name, which means “revelry.”

5. Party with Pixar Pals at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Starting Jan. 18, celebrate the park’s 30th anniversary with The Incredibles, who will host a dance party at Pixar Avenue (where you can also meet the one and only Edna Mode!). A door to the monster world will open at Walt Disney Presents, where Mike and Sulley from Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” will be greeting you. And Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and the rest of the gang are ready to welcome you into Andy’s backyard at the new Toy Story Land.

2019 Festival of the Arts Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

6. Disney on Broadway Concert Series Expands During Epcot International Festival of the Arts –This celebration of the visual, culinary and performing arts returns Jan. 18-Feb. 25. This year, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series will expand to seven days a week, so you can bask in live Disney magic more than ever. The festival also will feature 13 Food Studios, a variety of workshops led by professional artists, interactive exhibits and activities, and much more.

7. “The Lion King” Roars Again at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney Pictures’ animated classic “The Lion King.” To mark this occasion, starting Jan. 18 Rafiki and Timon will lead you in dances and games during the “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party” on Discovery Island.

2019 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

8. Take in the Topiaries During Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – Welcome spring’s arrival with this popular festival, which returns March 6-June 3. This year’s event will feature delectable bites at outdoor kitchens, as well as dozens of world-renowned, Disney-themed topiaries. In addition, the Garden Rocks Concert Series will include three shows a day for all 90 days of the event.

2019 Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

9. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy Speeds into Disney’s Hollywood Studios – When this new show experience opens this spring, you’ll come face to face with racing legend Lightning McQueen, who will teach you about racing from his years of experience on the track. This will be the untold story of Lightning McQueen … as told by Lightning McQueen!

2019 H2O Glow Nights Typhoon Lagoon Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

10. H2O Glow Nights Return to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – These evening beach parties happen Thursdays and Saturdays from May 30 through Aug. 17, transforming the water park into a new nighttime experience through special music, lighting and food. Come party with friends from Pixar’s “Toy Story” films during the 30th anniversary summer of Typhoon Lagoon!

11. New Cinematic Nighttime Experience Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios – As part of the theme park’s 30th anniversary, Wonderful World of Animation will debut May 1. The show will use state-of-the-art technology to take you on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation, all beginning with Mickey.

2019 Gran Destino Tower Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

12. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort to Open New Tower – This summer, the resort will complete a total reimagining, including the new 15-story Gran Destino tower featuring a rooftop restaurant and 545 new guest rooms. A second new restaurant will be located on an island in the middle of the resort’s 14-acre lake, while all of its existing 1,800-plus rooms have been fully updated with new fixtures and furnishings.

2019 NBA Experience Disney Springs Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

13. NBA Experience Will Be a Slam Dunk at Disney Springs – This brand-new destination will allow you to participate in your own scouting report, take you through pregame preparations and let you step onto the court to make clutch shots and highlight reel-worthy slam dunks. By participating in 13 unique and innovative hands-on activities, you’ll feel like a star player.

23rd Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

14. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Will Spice Up Fall – The aromas and flavors of global marketplaces will welcome you to the 24th year of this renowned festival. You’ll have a chance to meet celebrity chefs, try new food and wine pairings, and listen to great music during the Eat to the Beat Concert Series.

15. Major Youth Sporting Events Return to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex – The Jr. NBA World Championship will return to the complex, showcasing top boys and girls basketball teams from around the world. In December, the 63rd Pop Warner Super Bowl will bring hundreds of young football players to Walt Disney World to compete in national championship games.

2019 Black Spire Outpost Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

16. Explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Live your own Star Wars adventure when this deeply immersive land opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this fall (and this summer at Disneyland Park in California). You’ll explore Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu, where you’ll find all manner of new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, characters and creatures from a galaxy far, far away. The land will also feature two thrilling new attractions: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

2019 Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

17. Take a Ride on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Opening later this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this will be the first ride-through attraction themed to Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. It will feature a new original story and lovable theme song, taking you on a journey inside the wacky and unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts. New technologies will transform the two-dimensional cartoon world into an astounding multi-dimensional experience.

2019 Disney Skyliner Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

18. Glide Through the Air in the Disney Skyliner – Disney Skyliner will offer Tinker Bell views later this year as guests float in gondolas to either Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios on roundtrips from Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the new Disney’s Riviera Resort.

2019 Disney's Riviera Resort Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

19. Disney’s Riviera Resort Will Be 15th Disney Vacation Club Resort – Scheduled to open by the end of this year, Disney’s Riviera Resort will reflect an elegant early 20th-century design, inspired by Walt Disney’s travels to the Mediterranean. The deluxe DVC resort is slated to offer approximately 300 family-friendly vacation home units.

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Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips

Disclosure: I was an invited guest of the Walt Disney World Resort to experience the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, however all opinions are 100% my own.

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.

The Epcot International Festival of Holidays fills the park with holiday magic, international seasonal delicacies, captivating live entertainment, and festive decor daily until December 30th. And the best gift of all? Most of what you can experience is included with your theme park admission!

The Festival is a great way for families to learn about and even celebrate Holiday traditions from around the world, and at this year’s Epcot International Festival of Holidays you can also experience a new Holiday Cookie Stroll as well as new food and beverage items at Holiday Kitchens throughout Epcot.

With so much to do, I thought I would share my Epcot International Festival of the Holidays must do’s and tips!

Top 7 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Must Do’s and Tips

Try a tasty teats at the Holiday Kitchens

At the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays  you can savor holiday dishes and beverages from across the globe at 12 specialty kitchens set around the park’s World Showcase.

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018
The L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen is new this year, and the potato knish with herb sour cream was AMAZING!!!

New items this year include black forest roulade with cherry whipped cream at the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen in the Germany pavilion and sofrito-marinated beef with sweet plantains, and olives at the Feast of the Three Kings Holiday Kitchen.

AND a brand-new kitchen this year, L’Chaim!, will feature traditional Jewish dishes such as pastrami on rye, chicken and matzo ball soup, and more. I can tell you that this Holiday Kitchen is an ABSOLUTE MUST DO!!!!

If you want to find out a COMPLETE list of what you can find at each Holiday Kitchen, visit the official Festival website to plan your culinary celebration!

Tip – If you want to sample dishes at the Holiday Kitchens, you can stay on budget by using Disney Gift Cards! Also, don’t forget to register your card on disneygiftcard.com, because if you lose the card you can still have access to the money you’ve loaded onto the card.

Three words…Holiday Cookie Stroll

New this year is the Holiday Cooke Stroll where you can enjoy delicious cookies from cookie stroll locations around World Showcase.

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018
Here’s a list of all the cookies on the stroll!

As you enjoy the cookies you will collect stamps for each one in your Holiday Passport, and if you get all five stamps you will be rewarded with a complimentary “completer” cookie and a cold glass of milk!

Tip – You don’t have to eat all all five cookies in one day, but I won’t stop you…you have until December 30th to present your completed passport for the Cooke Stroll.

Candlelight Processional

Candlelight Processional is the heart of Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays, and is a retelling of the story of Christmas by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a full choir and a 50-piece orchestra in a performance that inspires joy and fills you with the holiday spirit.

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018

This elegant showcase is performed three times nightly at 5:00 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:15 PM through December 30th at the America Gardens Theatre in Epcot’s World Showcase.

Here’s a list of this year’s remaining celebrity narrators:

  • NEW! Alfonso Ribeiro – November 27, 2018
  • Robby Benson – November 28 to 30, 2018
  • John Stamos – December 1 to 2, 2018
  • Neil Patrick Harris – December 3 to 6, 2018
  • Whoopi Goldberg – December 7 to 9, 2018
  • NEW! Bart Millard – December 10 to 12, 2018
  • Blair Underwood – December 13 to 14, 2018
  • Gary Sinise – December 15 to 17, 2018
  • Pat Sajak – December 18 to 20, 2018
  • NEW! Auli’i Cravalho – December 21 to 23, 2018
  • Edward James Olmos – December 24 to 25, 2018
  • Jodi Benson – December 26 to 27, 2018
  • Cal Ripken Jr. – December 28 to 30, 2018
Tip -Seating for Candlelight Processional can get quite packed, so if there is a celebrity narrator that you MUST see consider taking advantage of a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. You can choose to enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner at some of the tastiest restaurants in Epcot and the adjacent Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts followed by reserved seating at a performance of the Candlelight Processional. To reserve Candlelight Dining Packages, call (407) WDW-DINE.

Storytellers and Holiday Entertainment

Another MUST DO for the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is to stroll the World Showcase stopping to see costumed performers bring the traditions of their home countries to Epcot with holiday stories and music, along with a variety of other international festive entertainment.

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018
The new Hanukkah Storyteller (located between Morocco and France)
Tip – As soon as you get into the park pick up a times guide (or two) for the week, because this is the only way to find out what times performances are happening in each pavilion.

Chip ’n Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree

Chip & Dale are on a scavenger hunt, collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree—and they need your help!

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018
Here’s a look at this year’s map!

To get started, simply purchase a map and stickers ($6.99 plus tax) from select merchandise locations including Pin Central, Disney Traders, and World Traveler at International Gateway.

As you travel around World Showcase, be on the lookout for Chip & Dale in each World Showcase pavilion.

Once you spot them, add the corresponding ornament sticker to your map.

Then, take your completed map to Disney Traders or World Traveler and exchange it for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip & Dale!

Tip – Look carefully for Chip & Dale on wreaths on the Holiday Kitchen buildings…some are hard to find, so be patient!!!

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

The Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime spectacular of fireworks, special effects, flame torches and more includes a special holiday finale nightly until December 30, 2018.

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018
This is the view from the area between France and the United Kingdom pavilions.

This will be the final holiday season for IllumiNations, as the show is currently scheduled to conclude at the end of summer 2019, with new thrills on World Showcase Lagoon set to debut immediately afterward (more on this soon).

Tip – While most of the fireworks and special effects take place in the air, I still like to arrive 30 minutes before Illuminations: Reflections of Earth begins (make sure to check your times guide) to find a spot close to the water so I can see all of the magic!

Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus

If you are looking to take an iconic Holiday photo, head to The American Adventure pavilion where you can pose for a photo and share their holiday wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Tip – The lines to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus can get quite long, so if you are visiting with little ones try to have one adult wait in line while the other adult keeps the little elves busy with the Kidcot Fun Spot at the pavilion or by grabbing a snack from the nearby Holiday Kitchen.

Epcot International Festival of Holidays Must Do’s and Tips 2018

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Top 10 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tips

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a really fun way to ring in the holiday season, and since attending the party is a splurge for most families here are some of my best tips for making the most of your time at the celebration:

Top 10 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tips

Tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party vary by date, so make sure you pick the best date for your schedule and wallet. Also, on select nights there are discounts for Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. Also remember that while the party officially starts at 7 pm, you can enter the park with your Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ticket starting at 4 pm.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Ticket Prices

When you are entering the Magic Kingdom, make sure to grab a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party event map…in fact grab more than one since you will be referencing it often during the celebration.

A lot of the entertainment happens around the hub in front of Cinderella Castle, so if catching as many of those as you can is a priority consider grabbing a spot that allows you to see several of the offerings at once.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2018

Little ones getting restless? Head over to Club Tinsel, inside of Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, where they can dance with holiday friends and get out some energy.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

There are several attractions opens throughout the park during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but if rides aren’t your priority I still recommend taking a spin on the Jingle Cruise.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2018

There are several party exclusive treats this year that are only available after the party begins at 7pm, however if you use the My Disney Experience app to mobile order you’ll find them before the party starts. (I 10 out of 10 recommend the Feliz Navidad Nachos at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe!)

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2018
I **promise** there are nachos under all these toppings!!!

If you see merchandise you really want to purchase or a party exclusive photopass picture you want to take…do it right away! As the night goes on, lines can get longer and/or you may find yourself on the other side of the park.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Don’t forget to pick up your Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card from the Firehouse on Main Street U.S.A.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2018

After the fireworks, a sizable portion of the attendees at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will leave the park, so it is always a good idea to watch the second parade. BUT keep in mind that A Frozen Holiday Wish and Holiday Wishes fireworks only happen once during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Wordless Wednesday Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Skipping the first parade also means shorter wait times for treats and attractions during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Yes, you are seeing at 5 minute wait for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2018 Also, don’t forget to check out my Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide before you go to help plan your night!

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide 2018

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Walt Disney Word Resort

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide 2018

Everything you need to know to plan a festive evening at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

There’s no better way to celebrate Christmas than a evening at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special hard ticketed event not included with regular theme park admission, takes place on November 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29 and 30; and December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21 from 7pm until midnight.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party gives guests the opportunity to meet with some of their favorite Disney friends in their holiday finest, enjoy holiday entertainment, exclusive fireworks, a high-energy parade, complimentary treats throughout the park, and more topped off with a ‘snowfall’ on Main Street U.S.A.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Treats

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Let’s talk about those complimentary treats you can find during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, because it is more than just hot cocoa and sugar cookies!

Throughout the Magic Kingdom there are seven locations, marked with a giant inflatable candy stick, offering a wide variety of holiday treats until midnight.

Here is a list of where you can find the treats throughout the Magic Kingdom:

  • Tortuga Tavern (Adventureland): Snowman Soft Pretzel and Blue Sno-Cone
  • Liberty Square Ticket Office (Liberty Square): Ginger Molasses Cookie and Eggnog
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow (Storybook Circus): Peppermint Crunch Cookie and Nesquik Chocolate Milk
  • Pinocchio Village Haus (Fantasyland): A variety of Holiday Favorite cookies and Hot Chocolate & Apple Cider
  • The Friar’s Nook (Fantasyland): Variety of DOVE Chocolate and Chilled Sparkling Apple Cider
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (Tomorrowland): Snickerdoodle Cookie and Hot Chocolate
  • Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies (Tomorrowland): Santa Claus Cookie and Blue Sno-Cone

If you have dietary concerns, there are allergy-friendly and alternative healthy options available upon request at each location.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Entertainment

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Another huge part of the celebration is the event exclusive holiday entertainment, and this year the returning favorites are fantastic! 

  • Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration: Mickey and his pals invite some of their friends over for an unforgettable Christmas party filled with music, dancing, color and fun on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage! The celebration features medleys of delightful holiday songs both classic and contemporary, along with special effects, magical projections and beloved Disney characters including Woody and Jessie from “Toy Story,” Fantasyland friends such as Peter Pan and Snow White.
  • A Frozen Holiday Wish: Arendelle royalty and their lovable snowman visit Magic Kingdom Park to help everyone feel the wintry chill in the air and love in their hearts. “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” presented on the Castle Forecourt Stage, features Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff. As a gift to the kingdom, Elsa lets it go and uses her icy powers to transform Cinderella Castle into a sparkling palace of ice. (Keep in mind that this only happens once a night during the party, but will happen before the party officially begins if you arrive early)
  • “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas”: Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski and Stitch join host Haley Comet for an intergalactic musical revue on the Rockettower Plaza Stage. The show is full of modern twists on classic holiday songs and the coolest dance numbers in town!
  • Club Tinsel: located inside Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café in Tomorrowland, becomes the coolest place to get down with a DJ and some North Pole pals in the cheeriest dance party this side of Santa’s Workshop!
  • The Edge Effect: Experience the incredible vocal harmonies in an unforgettable, a cappella holiday concert live on the the Rockettower Plaza Stage.
  • Storybook Circus Disney Junior Jingle Jam: Young partygoers can get their groove on with their favorite Disney Junior Characters.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Once Upon A Christmas Time

Stepping off in Frontierland, the Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade fills the streets of the Magic Kingdom with holiday fun and cheer featuring some of your favorite Disney characters, iconic marching soldiers & prancing reindeer, and ending with the big guy himself.

The Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade happens twice during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and typically the second parade is less crowded. 

Holiday Wishes Fireworks – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season

Wordless Wednesday Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Holiday Wishes Fireworks – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season is the holiday nighttime fireworks and pyrotechnic spectacular that lights up the skies above Cinderella Castle that is set to some familiar and favorite holiday songs with touches of Disney magic.

PLEASE keep in mind that this only happens once during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, so if this is a priority make sure you keep track of the time. The best viewing areas are in front of Cinderella Castle, and while getting there early is still a good idea it isn’t a necessity.

Special Disney Character Appearances during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Throughout the Magic Kingdom you can find characters, their locations are marked on the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party maps with a Mickey Mouse silhouette and in the My Disney Experience app, during the party that are exclusive to the event.

Here are the character locations from 2017’s Mickey Very Merry Christmas Party:

  • Main Street U.S.A.: Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse
  • Adventureland: Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie and Abu, Captain Jack Sparrow, Moana, and Peter Pan
  • Frontierland: The Country Bears
  • Liberty Square: Sandy Claws aka Jack Skellington
  • Fantasyland: Ariel & Prince Eric, Rapunzel & Flynn, Cinderella & Prince Charming, Belle, Pooh & Friends, Seven Dwarfs, Snow White & Prince, Aurora & Prince Phillip, Elena of Avalor, Minnie Mouse, Scrooge McDuck, Donald & Daisy, Santa Goofy, Mary Poppins & Bert, and Tiana & Naveen.
  • Tomorrowland: Nick Wilde & Judy Hopps

It’s important to know that these appearances can change at any time, so make sure you talk to the Cast Members around the entrances to the lines to make sure you are in the correct place.

November 2016 at Walt Disney World Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Photo: Walt Disney World

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Event Merchandise

It wouldn’t be a special event at Walt Disney World without exclusive event merchandise that includes everything from ornaments to MagicBand, and this year the merchandise has a really fun retro vibe. 

Here is where you can find this year’s merchandise:

  • Full Event Collection: Emporium (Main Street U.S.A.), Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe (Liberty Square), Big Top Souvenirs (Storybook Circus), & Mickey’s Star Traders (Tomorrowland) 
  • Trading Pins: Emporium (Main Street U.S.A.), Frontier Trading Post (Frontierland), & Mickey’s Star Traders (Tomorrowland)  
  • MagicBand: Frontier Trading Post (Frontierland)  & Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. (Tomorrowland)
  • Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Merchandise: Emporium (Main Street U.S.A.) & Mickey’s Star Traders (Tomorrowland) 

To purchase Walt Disney World Annual Passholder exclusive merchandise, you will need your Walt Disney World Annual Pass and photo id.

Exclusive Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party PhotoPass Pictures

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

 This year the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ‘Magic Shots’ from their PhotoPass photographers are AWESOME!!!

They range from the addition to some of your favorite Disney characters to fun holiday themed videos.

The Disney Parks Blog has examples of all the shots you will find at this year’s party!

New this year at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

This year at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, guests will be able to experience these new offerings during the festivities:

  • Very Merry Morsels Await – Guests will find festive new treats at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, such as the Sugar Rush Jumbo Red Velvet Cupcake or the Vanellope Éclair with rainbow cereal topping.
  • Holiday Music Happening in Tomorrowland – A new a cappella group will sing holiday favorites in Tomorrowland during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Look for them in between performances of “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas”!
  • New Sweet-and-Savory Party Debuts on Town Square – Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party will debut this year as part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. In this special experience, guests will discover a mix of sweet and savory treats including Tony’s famous meatballs, red velvet cupcakes and much more. The $99/person ticket also includes beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as special reserved viewing for Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.

Purchasing Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tickets

November 2016 at Walt Disney World Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Photo: Walt Disney World – Ryan Wendler, photographer

Ticket pricing for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party varies by date and range in price from $95 to $125 plus tax for adults (ages 10 and up), $90 to $120 plus tax for children (ages 3-9), and children under 2 are free.

You will save some by purchasing your tickets in advance, and there are select dates that have discounts for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club owners.

As with any & every purchase, I only suggest buying tickets directly from Walt Disney World by using their website or by calling (407) 939-5277. Don’t take the chance that what you purchase is a lump of coal!

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November 2018 Theme Park Events, Celebrations, and More!

November 2018 Theme Park Events, Celebrations, and More!

November 2018 Theme Park Events, Celebrations, and More!

We are coming off of a super busy October in the parks, but things aren’t slowing down in November 2018 as we kick off the holiday season and have some new and returning events to talk about!

Walt Disney World – November 2018

The holidays are kicking into high gear at the Walt Disney World Resort, but there will also be a celebration for Mickey’s 90th Birthday in November 2018!

Mickey’s 90th

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Mickey Mouse 90th
Walt Disney Word Resort

It was all started by a mouse, and this year Mickey Mouse will be celebrating his 90th Birthday this November.

Walt Disney World will celebrate Mickey’s birthday from November 16-18 with special merchandise and food & beverage items as well as the chance for guests to celebrate at Magic Kingdom Park during the “Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It!” Street Party, sing “Happy Birthday” along with the Dapper Dans on Main Street, U.S.A., and join in a special birthday dance party at Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland.

Then in 2019, the World’s Biggest Mouse Party, a limited-time celebration of Mickey and Minnie, comes to the Walt Disney World Resort. While we don’t have a lot of details yet, we do know that other Disney parks around their world will celebrate with new nighttime spectaculars, merchandise, specialized food and beverage offerings, and more.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Walt Disney Word Resort

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special hard ticketed event, meaning it’s not included with regular theme park admission, that takes place in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on 22 select nights in November & December beginning November 8th.

During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party guests have the chance to meet with some of their favorite Disney friends in their holiday finest, enjoy holiday entertainment, exclusive fireworks, a high-energy parade, complimentary treats throughout the park, and more topped off with a ‘snowfall’ on Main Street U.S.A.

We’ll be talking more about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party soon, but keep in mind that you will save money by purchasing your tickets in advance.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Walt Disney Word Resort

Discover a festival like no other, featuring the joyous holiday traditions of Epcot’s 11 World Showcase nations from November 18th through December 30th.

The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, included with admission to Epcot, surrounds guests in the wondrous sights, sounds and flavors of the season, as celebrated by cultures near and far.

During the festival guests can enjoy stirring live musical productions, savor seasonal food & beverage specialties at the expanded Holiday Kitchens, and take a festive global tour as costumed performers bring time-honored traditions to life throughout World Showcase.

Candlelight Processional

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Candlelight Processional
Walt Disney Word Resort

The highlight of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is the moving Candlelight Processional.

Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem. While gorgeous choral pieces are woven into the production as a 50-piece live orchestra and choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy.

This dazzling presentation happens each night with multiple shows from November 22nd through December 30th at the American Gardens Theater, and does not require an additional ticket to attend.

Here is a look at the narrators and dates:

  • Chita Rivera – November 22 to 23, 2018
  • NEW! Helen Hunt – November 24 to 25, 2018
  • NEW! Alfonso Ribeiro – November 26 to 27, 2018
  • TBD – November 28 to December 2, 2018

Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Disney's Hollywood Studios Flurry of Fun
Walt Disney Word Resort

It is a Flurry of Holiday Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as their holly, jolly celebration is brimming with magical merriment!

Delight in festive shows, enchanting “snows”, holiday décor, Toy Story Land cheer, and so much more from November 8, 2018 through January 6, 2019.

You definitely won’t want to miss the colorful projections on The Hollywood Tower Hotel during Sunset Seasons Greetings. This year the show has new laser effects and “snow,” plussing the returning favorite that includes stories, songs, and holiday cheer brought to you by friends like Mickey, Minnie and Olaf.

But starting a few days earlier on November 6th, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM will end each day with a Santa-sized spectacular that is jam-packed with holiday music, fireworks, special effects, and state-of-the-art projections.

Holidays at Disney Springs

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Holidays at Disney Springs
Walt Disney Word Resort

Disney Springs will once again be filled with Christmas cheer and fun in addition to their great shopping and dining experiences from November 8, 2018 until January 6, 2019.

I especially love the Holidays at Disney Springs, because parking and most of the activities are free!

During the celebration guests at Disney Springs will enjoy seasonal tasty treats and beverages, seasonal entertainment, a Christmas Tree trail featuring some of your favorite Disney character, a join Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt to help experiment 626 find his Ohana’s lost gifts, and even meet with the big guy himself at his Chalet.

Universal Orlando Resort– November 2018

Holidays are Universal as you celebrate Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, visit all the Whos down in Whoville with Grinchmas, and watch some of your favorite characters in the new Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s from November 17, 2018 until January 6, 2019.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Universal's Islands of Adventure Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade Magic of Christmas Hogwarts Castle
Universal Orlando Resort

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle is back in November 2018. Revel in a dazzling projection of holiday spirit nightly in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

While in Hogsmeade, take in the festive décor, listen to the Frog Choir sing holiday themed songs and grab a Hot Butterbeer.

Then head over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida to see more stunning holiday decorations throughout London and Diagon Alley.

And you won’t want to miss the talented Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees singing their holiday hits.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Universal Studios Florida Universal Orlando Resort Universal's Macy's Holiday Parade Minion Despicable Me
Universal Orlando Resort

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s is returning to the streets of Universal Studios Florida. This colorful parade fills the streets with music, confetti, and some of your favorite characters, including the Despicable Me Minions, Shrek and Fiona, King Julien, the Penguins of Madagascar, and more!

And, of course, there’s a visit from Santa as he rides high in the sky on a beautiful float, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.

Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Universal's Islands of Adventure Universal Orlando Resort Grinchmas Suess Landing
Universal Orlando Resort

Grinchmas is returning to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Hear the tale of the Grinch and help the Whos down in Whoville save Christmas during a wonderful live stage show. Sing along to all your favorite songs and get into the Grinchmas spirit.

You can even start your morning off with breakfast with the Grinch himself (reservations required). Then stroll through Seuss Landing, all decked out for Christmas by the bustling Whos as they get their final preparations in order for Christmas.

Mannheim Steamroller

November 2018 Theme Park Events -Universal Studios Florida Universal Orlando Resort Mannheim Steamroller
Universal Orlando Resort

Fan-favorite Mannheim Steamroller will also be returning to perform live on the Music Plaza Stage. Their performances will take place on select night during the months of November and December.

SeaWorld Orlando– November 2018

In November 2018, the event lineup at SeaWorld Orlando offers something for everybody with three unique opportunities to add value to a visit to the park and events taking place every Saturday and Sunday.

Jack Hanna Weekend

November 2018 Theme Park Events - SeaWorld Orlando Jack Hanna Weekend
SeaWorld Orlando

World-renowned animal expert “Jungle Jack” Hanna is back for another weekend of excitement and storytelling at SeaWorld Orlando on November 3rd and 4th. The internationally-known conservationist, author, television personality and lifelong adventurer will share animal facts and his travel tales during captivating and interactive presentations at 1pm & 3pm inside the Nautilus Theater.

In addition to shows included with park admission, SeaWorld will have several additional opportunities for guests to personally interact with Jack Hanna at the park including meet-and-greets, autograph signings and exclusive dining packages.

  • Jack Hanna Reserved Show Seating (Saturday and Sunday November 3 – 4) – Save time and enjoy one of the best seats in the house for Jack Hanna. Prepare for Jack to entertain with animal facts, stories and answers to questions from you. Pricing begins at $20 per person and Pass Members receive a special discount.
  • Up-Close Dining at Shamu Stadium Jack Hanna Dinner (Saturday, November  3rd) – Enjoy a delicious dinner and mingle with Jack Hanna at Up-Close Dining at Shamu Stadium. The package includes a buffet dinner and a meet-and-greet with Jack Hanna. Dinner is at 5pm. Pricing begins at $49 per person. Pass Members receive a special discount on all dining package purchases.

Craft Beer Festival

November 2018 Theme Park Events - SeaWorld Orlando Craft Beer Festival
SeaWorld Orlando

Calling all beer connoisseurs, SeaWorld Orlando has a brand-new festival worth raising your glass over. The SeaWorld Craft Beer Festival will feature 100+ brews on draft at 18 locations around the park on from breweries across the state of Florida, plus a few domestic and international craft favorites on November 3rd, 4th, 10th, and 11th.

Park guests can enjoy brews from local breweries such as Orlando Brewing Company, Crooked Can, and Dead Lizard Brewing. In addition, the event will also feature a variety of beverages from Florida based craft breweries in Tampa, Gainesville, Jacksonville, and St. Petersburg.

The festival will also feature 20+ unique food items designed to perfectly pair with the event brew selection. Enjoy unique renditions of some bar food staples as well as a few new concepts designed to complement the festival’s draft beer selection. Some festival exclusive items include:

  • Infused Bacon Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese – Buttery Pretzel Bites Infused with Bacon and Smothered in Beer Cheese
  • BBQ Brisket Mac-n-Cheese – Jalapeño Cheddar Pepper Jack Cheese Sauce and BBQ Brisket Topped with Spiked BBQ Sauce and a Parmesan Garlic Crust
  • Bison Slider- Served with Lager Bacon Onion Jam and Minorcan Mustard
  • Jumbo Chicken Wings – Chicken Wings Tossed in a Pilsner Buffalo Sauce Served with Tangy Slaw
  • Fish and Chips- Traditional Fish and Chips with Beer Battered Haddock and Sea Salt Fries
  • Chorizo Potato Skins – Topped with Queso Fresco, Onions, Cilantro, and Avocado Crema
  • Candied Bacon Lollipops – Sweet and Savory Candied Bacon Served on a Wood Skewer
  • Buffalo Burger Quesadilla – Pepper Jack Cheddar Cheese Blend, Balsamic Onions, Baby Arugula, Crème Fraiche, and Roasted Tomato Salsa

Guests looking to taste their way around the Florida craft beer scene can take advantage of SeaWorld’s sampling packages designed for the most adventurous beer fans.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

November 2018 Theme Park Events - SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Sea of Trees
SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is where holiday traditions are made, with delicious food, stunning live shows, delightful holiday shopping and joyous entertainment.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration brings together family fun and holiday traditions on select nights from November 17 – December 31, 2018 and is included with park admission.

I am really excited for the official start of the holiday season in the parks, and can’t wait to share all the latest news and reviews of the celebrations with you.

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How To Save Money at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

's Not So Scary Halloween Party

#TalkoTuesday: How To Save Money at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is an annual special after-hours and separately ticketed event that happens on select nights at the Magic Kingdom from August to October.

During Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party transforms the Magic Kingdom into a family-friendly Halloween party with exclusive entertainment, parades, characters, fireworks, treats (but not tricks), shopping, and more while still being able to enjoy most of the park’s attractions with shorter lines.

All of this fun does however come with a price tag, and one of my most asked questions over the years is how families can save money at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

So for today’s inaugural #TalkoTuesday I thought I would tackle this question!

#TalkoTuesday: How To Save Money at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

's Not So Scary Halloween Party Ticket Prices
waltdisneyworld.com

Choose your Date Wisely: Tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party vary in price by date, so use the interactive calendar to find the best date and deal for your family

Purchase Your Tickets Online in Advance: This tip is actually what my Dad would call a ‘twofer’, because not only will you save $10 on your tickets compared to the day-of purchase price when you buy at least a day in advance but you’ll also not waste any time you could be partying it up waiting in line to purchase your ticket at the Ticket and Transportation Center.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2016 Wristband

Don’t Be Tardy To The Party: While Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party OFFICIALLY begins at 7pm, guests with party tickets can arrive as early as 4pm to receive their party wristband to enjoy time in the Magic Kingdom before the fun begins. This is a great time to ride attractions that are not open during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, to get some pre-party pictures, and to make a game plan for your evening in the park.

Make Sure To Eat Before You Arrive: Not all dining locations in the Magic Kingdom are open during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and you won’t want to dedicate too much of your time to finding food during the party, so my best advice is to eat a large lunch later in the afternoon.

BYOG – Bring Your Own Glow: When night falls and the glowing toy carts come out with a median price of $20 per item, be prepared by bringing your own glow in the dark necklaces and light up toys. I try to pick them up every time I go to the Dollar Tree or to Five Below.

's Not So Scary Halloween Party Costume Pajamas
shopdisney.com

Think outside the Costume Box: Let’s be real here…Most Halloween costumes aren’t made for the Florida heat as they usually have long sleeves and many layers. When Zoe was little we would buy a ‘fancy’ nightgown for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party from The Disney Store, because they were much lighter in weight and meant that we could put her right to bed when we got home instead of changing her out of her costume.

Be Prepared: A few Halloween’s ago, I wrote a detailed blog post with what I pack for a night at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to cut down on unnecessary purchases…you should check it out!

Packing a Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Bag

Candy Hack: This one requires some planning, but I promise you it’s worth it! When you are packing your Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party bag, make sure you pack a gallon size zip top bag for each person attending. As you start filling up your provided candy bag, put some of your collected candy in your packed zip top bag. Not only will this cut down on little ones spilling candy, but you’ll find that you’ll be able to carry more candy easily.

If you or anyone in your party has allergies or dietary restrictions, make sure to check out this post on Trick or Treating at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party with allergies!
walt disney world gift cards
**These are older ones I have, but LOVE them and thought they were perfect for the post**

Budget Using Disney Gift Cards: One easy way to budget for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is to buy a Disney Gift Card, and every week add a little bit more by following the directions on the back of the gift card. There are also several ways to save money on purchasing a Disney Gift Card…but more on that soon!

To keep up with the latest news and information, make sure to follow @onthegoinmco on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

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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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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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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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Epcot International Festival of the Arts Must Do’s

DISCLOSURE: I was invited by the Walt Disney World Resort to experience the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, but all opinions and over-use of exclamation points are 100% my own.

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is back for its second year filling the park with a six week celebration of all forms of art forms from the visual to the culinary to the performing that is quickly becoming one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World.

While this year’s Epcot International Festival of the Arts has even more offerings than last year, the biggest and best change to this year’s Festival  is that the fun continues seven days a week from now until February 19th!

With so much to do and experience at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, I wanted to share my list of ‘Must Do’s’ for your visit to the Festival!

Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2018 Walt Disney World

9 Epcot International Festival of the Arts Must Do’s

1. Taste the Culinary Arts

It wouldn’t be a Festival at Epcot with amazing food, and at this year there are even more Food Studios with enticing tastes at stops around the World Showcase promenade.

Not only do the offerings taste amazing they are definitely photo-worthy with unique twists and interesting plating.

This year five new Food Studios have joined the culinary adventure for a total of 13 at the Festival, and you can find the new locations in:

  • France (“L’Art de la Cuisine Française” or “The Art of French Cooking”),
  • Morocco (“Mosaic Canteen”),
  • Japan (“Takumi Table”),
  • Italy (“L’Arte di Mangiare” or “The Art of Eating”), and
  • China (“The Painted Panda”). 

A complete list of Food Studios and menus are at The Culinary Arts: Food Studios, but I will be talking more about food soon!!!

2. Be a part of the Art

Also returning this year is the hands-on wall mural (located in the Expression Section which is on the Showcase Plaza Promenade as you are traveling to/from Canada from Future World), where you can pick up a brush and assigned paint color to complete a square of a mural with a certain dragon that is ‘from head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment‘. 

3. Art Walk around World Showcase

Inside of each World Showcase Pavilion guests can find galleries showcasing artwork or relics from that country year round, but during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts guests will find an Art Walk in their Festival Guide that encourages them to visit each gallery to do a relief rubbing of the gallery’s icon plaque.

 4. Unique finds

While this year’sEpcot International Festival of the Arts is really fantastic (I LOVE the water color inspired design), there are some really unique ways to bring home a souvenir from the event in addition to the artist booths.

Two of my favorites are Enemy Ink (located just inside of the building with Starbucks and Club Cool) where you can create a custom Festival t-shirt on-demand in a variety of designs & color combinations and Jortra Jewelry (their booth is located between Morocco and France in World Showcase) offering hand-made jewelry from natural materials melon seeds, orange peels and coffee beans.

5. Fun Photo Spots

Epcot is full of great photo spots, but during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts you can find some really unique ‘Artful Photo Ops’ throughout World Showcase where you get to step into famous works of arts.

You can find them in the following locations:

  • Italy: The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
  • Italy: The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci & The Scream by Edvard Munch
  • American Adventure: Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb
  • France: Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

There are PhotoPass photographers at each location, but they will also take photos with your camera or phone.

6. Free Seminars

During the Festival accomplished Disney artists, guest-perts, and Cast Members impart their professional expertise at complimentary seminars, hands-on workshops, and quick study sessions at the Odyssey Festival Showplace seven days a week.

These Seminars happen at 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm, but space is extremely limited so if there is one that you HAVE to attend make sure you arrive early to grab a seat.

You can find a week-by-week list of free seminars here.

Also, during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts you can find the Animation Academy (YAY!) intermittently from 2 pm – 8:30 pm in the Odyssey Festival Showplace where you can learn to draw Disney characters from Disney artists for FREE!

7. Interactive Workshops

Each week the interactive workshop series offers Festival Guests a unique opportunity to walk away with an enhanced skillset or new understanding of various artistic and culinary techniques from animation drawing and floral arranging to calligraphy, abstract painting and other interesting topics.

All of the interactive workshops ($39 per person plus tax, Epcot admission required but not included, & 15% discount per Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member) are held in the Odyssey Festival Showplace seven days a week at 11 am to 12:15 pm.

Space in these workshops is EXTREMELY limited, and you will need to make reservations in advance by calling (407) WDW-TOUR to reserve your spot or visit the Odyssey Festival Showplace. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

You can find a week-by-week list of the interactive workshops and how to book them here.

8. Live Performances

This year there is an increased presence in the performing arts at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts with entertainment on the Fountain View Plaza Stage throughout the day.

We had the opportunity to see the new Art Defying Gravity show, and it is amazing what those performers can do!!!

The Epcot Times Guide, found at the entrance and in retail locations throughout the park, lets you know when you can catch these fun performances.

9. Disney on Broadway Concert Series

The EXTREMELY popular (and rightly so) Disney on Broadway Concert Series take the stage in the American Gardens Theater in World Showplace on ‘Disney Weekends’ (Friday to Monday) bringing a taste of ‘The Great White Way’ to Florida!

The concerts showcase the stellar talents of performers who sing selections from award-winning Disney on Broadway musicals that you will not want to miss!

Here’s the lineup:

  • January 19-22: Kara Lindsay (NEW!) and Kevin Massey Jan. 19-22, who will perform songs from “Tarzan,” “Aladdin,” “Newsies” and “Frozen.”
  • January 26-29 and February 2-5: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White will perform songs from “Tarzan,” “The Lion King,” “Aida,” “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid.”
  • February 9-12 and 16-19: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland will perform songs from “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Tarzan,” “Mary Poppins,” “Newsies” and “Frozen.”

All Disney on Broadway shows are included in theme park admission and will take place Fridays through Mondays at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m.  Even though there are three shows a night, GET THERE EARLY!!! I cannot stress how popular these performances are!

New this year are the Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Packages that are available at five participating Epcot restaurants that can be booked online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-7463.

*** BONUS FOR ALL WALT DISNEY WORLD ANNUAL PASSHOLDERS ***

Not only to Walt Disney World Annual Passholders have exclusive Festival merchandise, but they can receive an Epcot International Festival of the Arts print.

Simply go into the American Adventure Pavilion (you will see a sign outside guiding you to enter on the left set of doors), show your valid Walt Disney World Annual Pass and photo id, and a Cast Member will give you the Belle print with an embossed seal. It’s really pretty!!!

You can find out how to book specific experiences and find more information for planning your ultimate day at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts with the official website.

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Tips For Stepping Into THE VOID At Disney Springs

DISCLOSURE: I was invited guest of the Walt Disney World Resort to experience THE VOID on opening day, but all opinions are my own.

Tips THE VOID Disney Springs

Disney in collaboration with THE VOID, Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB has launched a new “hyper-reality” VR experience in Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort.   The Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire “hyper-reality” experience is an immersive virtual reality experience like no other.

THE VOID Disney Springs Indoor Sign

 

Part of legitimate Star Wars canon, the experience takes place around the time of Rogue One and features characters like Captain Cassian, Darth Vader, and K-2SO.  Part of a rebel team, your mission is to infiltrate a covert imperial base in search of the mysterious contents of a secret shipment.  Unlike other virtual reality experiences, as you make your way through THE VOID you truly feel like you are in an alternate reality.  You and your team, dressed as Imperial Stormtroopers, must fight your way through the base as the smells of sulfur permeate your nose and the heat of molten rock radiates beneath you.

THE VOID Disney Springs Official Photo
THE VOID

Here are my 5 tips for a successful mission inside THE VOID:

  • Take extra time with the fit and securing of your pack to ensure that you feel all the haptic feedback from laser blasts and explosions.

THE VOID Disney Springs Backpack

  • Guests must be 10 years old and at least 48” tall, and the pack weighs more than 15 pounds, so ensure your children are ok carrying the weight.
  • When you get into the staging room, make sure the volume on your helmet is turned up, so you can hear the experience as well as your teammates.

THE VOID Disney Springs Warnings

  • Wear close-toed shoes to keep from tripping or getting your feet stepped on by your teammates.
  • Teamwork is critical, so make sure you communicate with your fellow rebels throughout the mission.

You begin your experience in a briefing room where you verify your identity, choose your storm trooper uniform, and have your missing briefing from Captain Cassian.  Once you are clear on your mission you move into the equipment room to get your pack and helmet before boarding your hijacked imperial shuttle.  Once you arrive at the imperial base, K-2SO will help guide you through the mission.  This is a completely immersive experience, so make sure you look and feel around your environment to see everything.  You will have to interact with physical objects like blasters, door locks, and computer panels to complete your mission.

THE VOID Exterior Disney Springs

I recommend purchasing tickets for THE VOID Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire in advance on their official website.

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New Cirque du Soleil Show Coming To Disney Springs

In 1998 Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts teamed up for the first to bring La Nouba to life on stage, and twenty years later Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts have announced that they are working together on a new project to take the stage in the iconic building located on the West Side of Disney Springs.

Cirque du Soleil and Walt Disney World Logo
Cirque du Soleil / Walt Disney World

The new show will be created by Cirque du Soleil in collaboration with Disney, and will draw its inspiration from Disney’s heritage of animation. It will celebrate Disney’s legacy of storytelling in Cirque du Soleil’s signature way, with a tribute to the one-of a kind craftsmanship that makes Disney so extraordinary.

“This long-standing relationship is built on mutual esteem and the success achieved by our two creative businesses throughout the past two decades with La Nouba,” said Tiffany Rende, Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances and Operating Participants, The Walt Disney Corporation. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with Cirque du Soleil in developing this new show that will honor Disney animation’s rich history.”

After paying homage to some of entertainment’s greatest artists, such as The Beatles and Michael Jackson, Cirque du Soleil will leap into the iconic world of Disney.

Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, added “We are incredibly inspired by Disney’s immense creative universe. We are convinced that bringing Disney’s magic to life on stage will touch audiences and bring them back to their childhood.”

The curtain falls on La Nouba for their final performance on December 31, 2017, but its impact on the Walt Disney World has left an impressive legacy. Since its première, La Nouba has entertained more than 11 million guests, has performed close to 9,000 shows, have flipped 2.8 million times in the PowerTrack act, and the wardrobe department has handled over 21 million costumes and headpieces. Tickets are still available for your chance to watch the show one more time before it takes its final bow.

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Celebrating The Season At Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays

DISCLOSURE: I was invited by Walt Disney World to attend a day of exploring Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays, but all opinions are my own. 

Celebrating and exploring the customs of the holidays around the world has always been a staple of Epcot’s rich history, but this year they are kicking off the first Epcot International Festival of the Holidays with even more entertainment, food, and activities for the entire family from now until December 30th.

What makes celebrating the holidays at Epcot so fantastic is that this journey is included with your admission to the park, and celebrating is an entire day (or two) experience that takes you from morning to night that you won’t want to miss.

So let’s take a peek at what you won’t want to miss during the first Epcot International Festival of the Holidays!

Celebrating The Season At Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Celebrating the Holidays Around the World

There’s no better way to get caught up in the holiday spirit than by traveling to the 11 countries in Epcot’s World Showcase to see the wondrous sights, sounds, and stories of the season as they celebrated by cultures near and far.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

In addition to the traditional holiday decorations and music in each nation’s pavilion, you can find the following story tellers:

  • Canada – Holiday Voyageurs sing seasonal tunes,

  • United Kingdom – Father Christmas discusses local holiday traditions,

  • France – Pere Noel tells a story about the French tradition of children leaving their shoes out for Christmas,

  • Morocco – A cultural representative tells tales of Moroccan festivals and other traditions,

  • Japan – The story here is focused on the Japanese New Year, O-Shogatsu, with the story of the origin of the Daruma dolls,

  • America – You can hear the story of Hanukkah, Kwanza, see the Voices of Liberty perform holiday favorites, & meet traditional Santa and Mrs. Claus,

  • Italy – La Benafa, the good witch, tells the story of the Epiphany,

  • Germany – Helga tells us the origin story of the Nutcracker,

  • China – Dragon dancers excite the crowd to celebrate the New Year,

  • Norway – Sigrid tells the tale of the gnome Julenissen, who makes an appearance later in the show, and

  • Mexico – Fiesta de Navidad with Mariach Cobre and traditional dancers bring to life the traditions of the Mexican culture with music, dances, and stories during this holiday fiesta.

There are SOOOOO many storytellers to see, so if you can spread out your day you will find that you are bouncing around World Showcase less. Make sure to keep a keen eye on your times guide for how to best schedule your day!

There are also two new groups that are beyond fantastic that you won’t want to miss!

El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia

In the Mexico Pavilion you can find a new celebration of Día de los Muertos inspired by Coco, the new animated feature from Disney•Pixar, as the El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia perform songs from the film.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

The show is full of fun & heart that lasts a little over 10 minutes, and runs several times a day until January 6, 2018.

Mostly Kosher

There is no better description of Mostly Kosher than the one they give themselves on their Facebook Page.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

“Mostly Kosher, a Los Angeles based indie-global-collective, radically reconstructs Judaic and American cultural musical roots. Through ravenous post-klezmer beats and arresting Yiddish refrains, Mostly Kosher is a musical feast that explodes into a global food-fight of Jazz, Latin, Rock, Hip Hop, World and Folk. These fearless soundsmiths highlight the architecture of heritage music and yet raze it to the ground.”

While this is a celebration of traditional Hanukkah songs and Jewish musical traditions rooted in klezmer music, their music is universal as it taps into several genres. You’ll be dancing and tapping your toes before you know it!

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season brings a blend of inspiring gospel with jazz, R&B, and more to create a brand new show that showcases Christmas and Kwanza traditions several times a day on the Future World Fountain Stage. The spirit of this show is fantastic, and once the show starts you will find that you won’t be able to walk away.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays
Disney

Then on December 26th there will be a festive and JOYFUL Kwanza experience that you will want to catch.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Holiday Kitchens

Let’s grab that complimentary Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Holiday Passport that available throughout the park for a peek at the new (and delicious) holiday kitchens serving up tasty treats until December 30th!

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Throughout the park there are 15 holiday markets spread throughout the park offering up traditional fare from around the world. My favorite dishes are the Cheese Fondue (The Bavaria Holiday Kitchen in the Germany Pavilion) that is served with bread and steamed vegetables, the Roasted Pork with Smashed Yucca and Pickled Green Bananas (Feast of the Three Kings Holiday Kitchen in Showcase Plaza), and the Gingersnap Cookie with Cream Cheese Icing and Cranberry Jam (The Cookie Nook – The Odyssey).

In addition to Holiday Kitchens, each of the four Joffery’s Coffee and Tea Company kiosks throughout the park have a signature beverage.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Merchandise

As with any special event at Walt Disney World, there is a large assortment of merchandise to commemorate the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. And I especially love that it features Chip & Dale!!!

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

In addition to the official event merchandise, you can find special holiday merchandise at many of the countries in the World Showcase. Make sure to drop in as you are exploring the park for some traditional cultural gifts.

Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree

Becoming a staple of the festivals at Epcot are the family-friendly scavenger hunts, and during the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays the hunt features two familiar and mischievous friends.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Chip and Dale are collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree—and they need your help! To get started, simply purchase a map and sticker from select merchandise locations including Pin Central, Disney Traders, and World Traveler at International Gateway.

As you travel around World Showcase, be on the lookout for Chip and Dale as they gather ornaments from holiday decorations in each World Showcase pavilion. Once you spot them, add the corresponding ornament sticker to your map. Once you have found all the ornaments, you simply take your completed map to Disney Traders and exchange it for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip and Dale!

Maps are $6.99 plus tax, and are available throughout Holidays Around the World at Epcot while supplies last.

Candlelight Processional

The heart of any day at Epcot during the holidays is the Candlelight Processional in the American Gardens Theater in front of the American Pavilion in the World Showcase.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays
Disney

Each night until December 30th, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem with choral pieces woven into the production as a fifty piece orchestra and stage filling choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy.

This year, an exciting line-up of celebrities—including a few new faces and voices—are set to lend their talents. Still left to present this season are:

  • Neil Patrick Harris – December 18 to 21, 2017

  • NEW! CCH Pounder – December 22 to 24, 2017

  • Jaci Velasquez – December 25 to 27, 2017

  • Chandra Wilson – December 28 to 30, 2017

Admission to the Candlelight Processional is included with your theme park admission, and showtimes are nightly at 5:00 pm, 6:45 pm, & 8:15 pm. However, you will absolutely want to arrive early to queue up for a seat. While seats are not guaranteed, you can secure a seat with a Candlelight Processional Dining Package.

Candlelight Processional Dining Packages

Candlelight Dining Packages are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and include a 3-course meal or full buffet (depending on the location), and guarantee priority seating at at Candlelight Processional show that same day.

You can find a full list of restaurants and prices here, but as with anything there are a few things to keep in mind before you book your Candlelight Processional Dining Package:

  • Tax and Gratuity are not included with the prices listed,

  • Meals do not include alcoholic beverages in the price but they are available for purchase,

  • You will be given your Candlelight Processional badge from your chosen restaurant location at the end of the meal,

  • and while you are guaranteed seating you will still want to arrive early to queue up for a seat.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Every night IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth lights the Epcot sky above The World Showcase Lagoon, but during the holiday season park goers are in for a special fireworks tag treat that has so many shells your bells will be jingled from now until December 30th!

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays
Disney

Featuring holiday greetings in native languages from the countries of World Showcase, along with the beloved sounds of the classic song “Let There be Peace on Earth,” this festive finish leaves you with a joyful message of “peace on earth and goodwill to men.”

My best tip for watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is to watch which way the flames from the torches are blowing before the show, because if they are blowing towards you so is the smoke so you will want to move. There really isn’t a bad spot to watch from around the World Showcase Lagoon.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays expanded entertainment, food, and activities make it a welcome addition to the holiday celebrations in Orlando!

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Nine Ways To Have A Flurry Of Fun At Disney’s Hollywood Studios

DISCLOSURE: I was invited by Walt Disney World to experience a Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but all opinions are my own.

There is a festive holiday spirit in the air at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a Flurry of Fun has been added this holiday season that includes new decorations, shows, treats, and more that can be experienced every day from now until December 31st!

The fun goes from day to night, so let’s take a look some of the highlights of holiday fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Nine Ways To Have A Flurry Of Fun At Disney’s Hollywood Studios

1. Take a stroll around Echo Lake

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Echo Lake, just off of Hollywood Boulevard, has received a retro and merry makeover that includes extra-large ornaments on the water, colorful garlands and medallions on every light pole, a few woodland friends, decorated umbrellas, and the centerpiece of the decorations is a giant Christmas tree centered on the water that is a perfect backdrop for photos. Dinosaur Gertie is also excited for the fun, and is festively dressed for the holidays.

Don’t forget to visit Echo Lake at night, as the area comes alive with lights. A stroll around Echo Lake is a great way to end your day in the park.

2. See a new holiday tag For the First Time in Forever

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World
Disney

The ever popular For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration fills the Hyperion Theater with holiday fun and songs as the royal historians, Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff welcome Olaf to the show for the holiday season to share all-new songs from Disney’s new animated short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”.

The holiday addition fits seamlessly into the existing show, and having Olaf in the show is a holiday present for the audience.

3. Make sure you are on the right list with Santa

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

You can’t celebrate the holidays without a visit to see Santa, but during the Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios there are TWO ways to meet the big guy!

The Once Upon a Time store, located among the star-studded stores all along Sunset Boulevard, you can get in those holiday requests and photos in person with Kris Kringle from November 9 to December 24, 2017.

Jolly Old Saint Nick will be greeting good girls and good boys in an area decorated just for the occasion with Christmas trees, ornate garlands, and even a lovely red and gold rug.

But remember! Santa will only be available to meet until Christmas Eve. Be sure to visit him during his limited appearance dates, taking place from November 9 to December 24, 2017!

After Christmas, “Yule” laugh your way right into the New Year when Goofy takes over for the big guy from December 25 to 31, 2017.

Once Christmas morning arrives, Santa Claus will be well on his way back to the North Pole… but don’t you worry it’s Santa Goofy to the rescue! Don’t miss your chance to ring in 2018 with a hearty laugh and even a picture too as you spend time with the goofiest holiday Character in history.

Please keep in mind that all entertainment and appearances are subject to change without notice, and if you are looking for information on meeting Santa or Santa Goofy check with a Cast Member when you arrive at the park, Guest Relations is located to the far left of the entrance as you are facing the park.

4. Grab a sweet treat

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World
Disney

The holidays aren’t the holidays without sweet treats, and The Disney Parks Blog shared a look at the fun for foodies!

My favorite treat was the over-the-top red velvet whoopie pies that are piled hight with icing garland, ornament pearls, and holiday sprinkles that are tree-shaped and available at Sweet Spells and Fairfax Fare.

Fans of Olaf will be overjoyed, because he stars on several desserts around the park! Olaf can be found dancing on cupcakes at ABC Commissary, Rosie’s All-American Café, Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare and Sweet Spells. There’s an Olaf Pop at Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction along Echo Lake, an Olaf Sundae at Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Boulevard, and Sugar Frosted Fruit Bites at Pretzel Palooza on Sunset Boulevard. For even more fun, there is even an Olaf-themed sipper that comes filled with a fun “Frozen” beverage that can be found in several locations around the park.

5. Festive beverages for adults

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World
Disney

For the holiday season, guests over the age of 21 can look forward to a selection of specialty beverages themed to the celebrations.

It isn’t always hot in Florida, and you may find that you want to warm up with a spiked hot chocolate that can be found at both Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner along Echo Lake and Fairfax Fare on Sunset Boulevard. The selection of hot chocolates includes a hot chocolate martini, Bailey’s Salted Caramel hot chocolate, black cherry bourbon hot chocolate, and there is even a hot chocolate flight where you can sample all three if you can’t choose just one to try.

Other adult beverages available this year include a Peppermint White Russian, a Winterberry Cooler and a Let It Glow drink consisting of vodka and blue-raspberry frozen carbonated beverage with your very own glow cube at various locations around Echo Lake and Sunset Boulevard.

6. Watch as the streets of Hollywood come alive during Sunset Seasons Greetings

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

On Sunset Boulevard, just off of the main entrance’s Hollywood Boulevard, as night falls a ‘snowy’ holiday celebration takes place as billboards above the street move into motion with appearances from some beloved characters who are sharing their love of the holidays.

The billboards above direct you to look at the iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, as it is magically transformed, courtesy of some cutting edge projections, bringing to characters’ stories to life and into motion.

The Disney character moments during Sunset Seasons include:

  • Mickey and Minnie reminiscing about a hometown Christmas as the scene shifts into a romanticized, Norman Rockwell-inspired town—starting in black and white before slowly changing into color.
  • The Toy Story characters guessing which new toys are coming this Christmas as the scene becomes covered in holiday wrapping paper.
  • The Swedish Chef from The Muppets babbling as only he can while the scene turns into giant gingerbread houses.
  • And finally, Olaf pining over his holiday wish as iconic music plays and the scene freezes over into a Frozen winter wonderland—complete with dancing Aurora Borealis lights and projected falling snow.

Each of these scenes lasts for almost 3 minutes, and play on a loop. So you are invited to slow down your pace and enjoy the show as you make your way to the attractions and restaurants or grab a spot to watch them all. If you do decide to grab a spot for a bit, please make sure you are considerate to other guests who might be making their way down the Boulevard.

7. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World
Disney

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is back this year with even more BAM!

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a nighttime spectacular full of fun and hijinks that features traditional holiday tunes, state-of-the-art projections from Disney Animation classics, special effects, fireworks, a little snow, and unexpected surprises.

It’s “Kringle Level 9” for the stars of ABC’s Prep & Landing Wayne and Lanny as they search for Santa who has gone missing. You will get caught up in the adventure as the Chinese Theater, as well as the surrounding buildings and rooftops, come alive to immerse you into scenes from Mickey’s Christmas CarolBeauty and the BeastPluto’s Christmas TreeTim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more. The festive finale is a snowy, visual wonderland that is a must-see for the holiday season.

For the best viewing spot, make sure you arrive early and have a sight line that includes as much of the Chinese Theater and surrounding buildings as you can. Most of the firework bursts happen on the right side of the Theater, but even more effects and fireworks are launched from the surrounding areas.

8. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World
Disney

If you want to really amp up your Flurry of Fun, I suggest booking the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party.

During the party you can enjoy specialty sweets and sips from around the park before you move to a special reserved viewing area to enjoy Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! The viewing area, weather and condition permitting, is located in the Chinese Theater courtyard.

Among the desserts offered are candy cane brownies, holiday Mickey and Minnie sugar cookies, warm pumpkin pie spiced bread pudding, and sweet Yule Log.

And at the end of the party you get to take home a special ornament as a gift to remember your evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

The Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party is a premium event that is not included with admission that takes place nightly through December 31. Pricing does change based on date, and from now to December 15, pricing is $79 for adults and $45 for children ages 3-9; and December 17-31, adults are $89 and children are $49 (gratuity and tax included).

Reservations must be made in advance either online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

9. Minnie’s Holiday Dine-In

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World
Disney

You can deck the halls at a dazzling dinner party filled with holiday cheer and amazing food at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Minnie’s Holiday Dine-In.

Minnie Mouse is the hostess-with-the-mostest, and she is throwing a fantastic feast that features a mix of fun music and décor with a seasonal menu that is full of the joy of the season.

Minnie greets you at the door for a special photo opportunity, and while you are dining you can meet Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they stop by your table to pose for pictures and holiday hugs.

And before you leave, make sure you pick up your gift from your thoughtful hostess!

Minnie’s Seasonal Dining events cost $50 per adult and $30 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made online or using the My Disney Experience App. Some dining plans accepted, so check before you go.

If you are not planning on attending at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, this is a great time to get photos with some of your favorite characters in their holiday finest while enjoying a great meal. I have had the chance to go to several of Minnie’s holiday get togethers, and I look forward to them every time!

And while this is a buffet, don’t feel like you can’t dine here if you have allergies because they go above and beyond accommodating guests with allergies and dietary concerns!

Spending the holidays at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always been a great way to kick off our holiday celebrations in November, but this year it is even better with all of these new additions! It truly is a Flurry of Fun!

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