#FridayFoto Mine Train at Fantasyland

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A springtime opening is planned for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a rollicking family-style coaster and the crown jewel of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom Park. Walt Disney World Resort guests will be treated to an exciting, musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine” as the lovable world of Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy and Dopey comes to life. One feature will be first-of-its-kind ride vehicles mounted in cradle-like pivots that allow the vehicles to swing back and forth during the ride. Adding to the fun, the journey will be accompanied by beloved music from the Disney film classic. On their adventure, riders pass by animated figures of Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and playful forest critters. The attraction will complete New Fantasyland, the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. Walt Disney World Resort is in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

A Thrilling Experience at Test Track

test track dtpIf you are planning a visit to Epcot Center on your next Walt Disney World vacation, you will want to snag a FastPass+ time to experience Test Track located in Future World.   This ride is a multisensory experience as you will create your own virtual concept vehicle before boarding a high-octane “SimCar” and speed through a thrilling series of hills, hairpin turns and straightaways.

 

test track design dtp

The first part of the queue is the Chevrolet Design Center where you will tap your Magic Band and design your own car that will be tested on the sim-track. It’s fun to design your own virtual custom concept vehicle based on the following test criteria:

  • Capability (handling)
  • Responsiveness (maneuverability)
  • Efficiency (fuel-saving and environmentally friendly)
  • Power (speed)

test track board dtpAfter adding finishing touches to your vehicle, you’ll move to the second queue that leads to the boarding area. Touch your Magic Band again to upload the car design to your vehicle.

 

 

test track car dtp

Buckle up tight in your 6-passenger simulation car and get ready to undergo four different tests: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. Discover how your vehicle performs as you speed through some surprising obstacles with a little rough terrain along the way. You’ll fly through straight-aways, experience inclement weather and banks with 50-degree angles and climb hills up to 3-stories high. Your ride culminates with an exhilarating test of speed up to 65 mph!

When your ride is over, you can see how well your vehicle scored during the test drive and participate in even more interactive experiences with your vehicle design.

Showroom Showoff! - Make a 15-second commercial of your design and then email it home to share with friends.

Give It a Spin! - Steer your vehicle over challenging terrain, through a variety of obstacles and conditions at this smaller, virtual te st ground. Especially fun for kids!

Photos! - Pose with a Chevrolet dream car or your concept vehicle against a dramatic backdrop, underwater scene or lunar landscape.

Test Track is so much fun! You’ll want to ride again and again on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Written by Sheri Morris, “Main Street Morris” — Sheri is proud grandmother with a keen eye for detail. She specializes in Disney Travel for adults and RV travel.  Book your next vacation with Sheri at 804 405 5005 or at sheri@destinationsinflorida.com.

Around the Mouse: Walt Disney World News, August 27, 2014

There are exciting new things popping up every day at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida! Join us every week to read about what’s new “Around the Mouse.” This week’s Walt Disney World news update features: additions to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, live entertainment changes at Epcot, a new Magic Kingdom parade and much more!

What’s New This Week?

Mayhem at the Mansion

Walt Disney World Theme Parks

New! Mayhem at the Mansion App Added to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: A new augmented reality app called Mayhem at the Mansion has been released for free via the iTunes store for use during the event. The app can be used to “capture” the three Hitchhiking Ghosts in the Magic Kingdom during the party by finding them with the help of an event map, and then “capturing” them using an iPhone’s camera. Then, guests are to “return” them to the Haunted Mansion. You can learn more at http://disneymansionmayhem.com as well as watch a demo video. Our agency owners are actually the talent you see in the video below!

New! More Villains Coming to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: This year, the Disney villains are stepping out like never before during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, featuring new and enhanced experiences. The popular “Villains Mix & Mingle – Live on Stage” returns to the Castle Forecourt Stage several times each night, with an unforgettable performance by beloved baddies from Disney films. Throughout the evening, guests interested in meeting their favorite Disney villains will now encounter them at locations around the park. Look for Jafar in Adventureland and the Queen of Hearts near Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland, while Lotso lurks near Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland. Another all-new feature of this year’s event, Club Villain, takes over The Diamond Horseshoe in Liberty Square with a wicked atmosphere, lively music, glowing décor, and appearances by Cruella De Vil, Dr. Facilier, Anastasia, Drizella, Lady Tremaine, and more! They are also introducing enhancements to Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade, including the expansion of the Phineas and Ferb Creepa Crew pre-parade interactive experience to more of the parade route and the first-ever appearance of Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope in the parade.

New! Villains’ Sinister Soiree Event Added to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: Reservations are now open for this fun new event at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: Villain’s Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella Castle. For $99 per person (Age 3 and up), you will enjoy preferred viewing for Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade and the HalloWishes Fireworks Spectacular. Then you will head to Cinderella’s Royal Table for devilish desserts and wicked entertainment in celebration of the villains’ favorite time of year. Lady Tremaine takes over Cinderella’s Royal Table after everyone has gone to bed, and she’s invited some of the most evil friends and special guests for a decadent dessert party (maybe you’ll see the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Cruella de Vil or Dr. Facilier?). Tickets for the soiree are limited and reservations recommended! Call 407-939-5262 – no online reservations.

New “Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It!” Street Party Coming to Magic Kingdom Park: This fall, “Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!” Street Party at Magic Kingdom Park is getting a fresh, contemporary look and sound – plus a brand new name – when it becomes the “Move it! Shake It! Dance & Play It!” Street Party. This new procession will feature new music, new characters, refreshed floats with new video elements, and new opportunities for Guests to become part of the show. The fun begins on Main Street, U.S.A., as a high-energy party anthem heralds the arrival of favorite Disney characters – including new additions Stitch and Phineas & Ferb – who parade toward Cinderella Castle as the emcee, stilt walkers, and the rest of our party peeps encourage everyone to join in. Things heat up in the Central Plaza when hosts Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy appear atop giant gift boxes, leading everyone in a medley of remixed classic party songs. Once Guests have moved it, shaken it, and danced it, they decide what comes next, by voting for one of three current hits during the “Play It!” part of the show. The “Move it! Shake It! Dance & Play It!” Street Party will be presented several times daily, starting this fall. In the meantime, Guests can still enjoy the “Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!” Street Party each day at Magic Kingdom Park.

New! Entertainment Changes Coming to World Showcase at Epcot:  Beginning this fall, Epcot will be refreshing the atmosphere entertainment around World Showcase with the addition of new acts and enhancements to some existing performances. New experiences debuting over the next several months will contribute to the rich mix of entertainment at Epcot, and provide fresh experiences for our guests. In the near future, you can look forward to enjoying a traditional Berber music and dance troupe in Morocco, a corps of dynamic flag-waving performers in Italy, a thrilling lumberjack-inspired show in Canada, a Celtic folk music ensemble at the United Kingdom, and more. We will all bid a fond farewell to Mo’Rockin’, Off Kilter, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps and World Showcase Players over the next few weeks.

New! Meet Paul Briggs at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: On Friday, Aug. 29, meet Paul Briggs, Head of Story for Disney’s “Frozen” as well as the voice of Marshmallow. Paul’s other recent works include “Big Hero 6,” “Tangled” and “Mulan”. Paul will be on hand to sign “Frozen” inspired merchandise from 4 – 5 p.m. at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Limit two (2) items signed per Guest per Artist. We ask that you bring no personal items to be signed. Appearances are subject to time and availability and are not guaranteed.

Reminder! Night of Joy Returns to Magic Kingdom: Ride, rock and rejoice as Night of Joy returns to Magic Kingdom Park on Friday, Sept. 5 and Saturday, Sept. 6 from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Christian contemporary music celebration combines high-energy sound with spiritual worship for two enjoyable nights. Guests can enjoy performances from well-known Christian artists at three stages in Magic Kingdom Park: the Castle Stage, Galaxy Stage and Rockettower Plaza Stage. Featured headliners for this year’s event include:

  • Hillsong United
  • Chris Tomlin
  • MercyMe
  • Skillet
  • For KING & COUNTRY
  • We As Human
  • Matthew West
  • Mandisa

New! MEAC/SWAC Challenge Marching Band Showcase at Magic Kingdom: On Saturday, Aug. 30, a marching band showcase featuring the “Blue and Gold Marching Machine” from North Carolina A&T State University and the “Marching Maroon and White” from Alabama A&M University will take place at Magic Kingdom Park. This pre-parade steps off at 2:35 p.m., prior to “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” at 3 p.m. The bands represent the two schools participating in the 10th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented By Disney, a college football season kickoff between teams from Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). The game airs Sunday, Aug. 31 at 11:45 a.m. on ESPN.

Reminder! Some Performances of Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Cancelled: Due to upcoming concrete work on Main Street, U.S.A., there will not be morning performances of the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party on the following dates: Aug 29, Sept 10, 11, 15, 17. The parade will only perform at 5:40 and 7 p.m. on these dates.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

Reminder! Capt. Cooks at Polynesian Village Reopened: On Wednesday, August 13 the newly refurbished quick-service dining location reopened to Guests. Capt. Cook’s once again operates 24 hours each day, and is located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House. Dole Whip is not available at Capt. Cook’s, but it will be served in a new location at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Pineapple Lanai, which is opening soon. The new menu includes a classic lobster roll served on a buttered bun. They’ve added blackened fish tacos, a noodle bowl (beef or shrimp) and delectable coconut curry meatballs. A new gourmet hot dog is slathered with garlic ketchup and mango relish. And crispy fried chicken and waffles, a hearty breakfast favorite that stays on the menu all day. The favorite hot beef ‘n blue sandwich stays as well as the pizzas, grilled chicken sandwich and house-made sushi, delivered from Kona Island upstairs. The breakfast favorite Tonga Toast is still on the menu, along with a new breakfast burrito with egg, bacon, potatoes and Cheddar cheese.

Reminder! Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Silver Creek Springs Pool to Close for Refurbishment: The main pool and slide will be closed for enhancements at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Sept. 3 through Nov. 27. During this time, the leisure pool at The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will remain open. Guests will also have the opportunity to visit either the Main Pool at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Complimentary transportation will be provided to both of these neighboring resorts.

Reminder! Disney Food Truck Serving Breakfast at Disney’s All Star Music Resort: Breakfast options are available at the Disney Food Truck every day from 7-11:30 a.m. The food truck is parked near the Singing Spirits Pool Bar at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Menu includes: Egg, bacon and cheese breakfast croissant; Kielbasa and caramelized onion biscuit sliders with sausage gravy; Strawberry-covered waffles with fresh whipped cream; donut holes and more.

Reminder! Wine Pairings at Martha’s Vineyard at Disney’s Beach Club Resort: New late-afternoon wine pairings combine food and wine with a little enlightenment, with wine experts on hand to talk about what you’re sipping at Martha’s Vineyard at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Upcoming dates are 4-5:15 p.m. September 4, September 25, October 2 and October 30. Wineries aren’t yet announced (the last one was France’s Louis Jadot), but the Disney chefs are having fun with pairing delicious food with whatever is poured. It’s an intimate setting – no more than 18 guests, and the conversation flows with the wine. Cost varies, but is in the $20-30 range for three wines paired with three small plates, and price depends on what’s being poured. For reservations, call 407-934-3833.

Walt Disney World Resort – General

New! Monorail Operating Hours Adjustments beginning Sept. 1: With several special evening events planned at Magic Kingdom and Epcot this fall, we are adjusting monorail service hours to accommodate our Guests. Beginning Sept. 1 through Sept. 26, monorail service will run from:

  • 8:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. (midnight on special event nights) on the Magic Kingdom Resort beam.
  • 9:30 a.m. – 1 hour after Magic Kingdom fireworks on the Magic Kingdom Express beam.
  • 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. on the Epcot beam.

On Sept. 5 and 6, the Magic Kingdom Resort and Express beams will close at 2.a.m during Night of Joy. Watercraft and additional buses will be available to transport Guests to their destinations.

Monorail

New! Downtown Disney Water Taxi Service Expanding Operating Hours Aug. 31: Beginning Aug. 31, the Downtown Disney internal boat transportation service (water taxi) will expand operating hours until 2 a.m., with the last Guest pick–up at 1:30 a.m. As a reminder, this water taxi service provides transportation between Downtown Disney West Side, Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney Marketplace.

New! The Great Irish Hooley Returns to Raglan Road: The third annual Great Irish Hooley returns to Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney over Labor Day weekend, promising days of Irish fun! The “hooley” is a traditional Irish social festival and Raglan Road will celebrate theirs with live music, traditional dancing and delicious Irish fare. Live music begins at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29 and at Saturday, Aug. 30 through Monday, Sept. 1, continuing each day and night. Looking to stretch your legs and put your dancing shoes to good use? Free workshops, “From Our Roots to Riverdance,” will be available Saturday-Monday, led by renowned Irish dancer and choreographer Ronan McCormack of the original Riverdance cast. The Raglan Road dancers will also be on hand to give traditional “ceili” (kay-lee) dancing entertainment and tips. Join in on the fun Aug. 29-Sept. 1 and visit www.thegreatirishhooley.com for more information.

Reminder! Dining Reservations Can Now be Made 20 Minutes in Advance: Dining reservations can now be made for available seatings up to 20 minutes in advance by using the My Disney Experience website or via the My Disney Experience mobile app on iOS devices. Future enhancements are planned to include the same booking feature for the My Disney Experience mobile app for Android devices. Previously, reservations could only be made for two hours in advance.

Reminder! Festival of the Masters Cancelled in 2014: Downtown Disney, which normally hosts the Festival of the Masters, is undergoing the largest expansion in its history. As they prepare for Disney Springs, much of the area that traditionally houses the Festival of the Masters is unavailable due to expansion work and unfortunately they will not be able to host the event this year.

Merchandise Events

  • August 29: Be sure to pick up a copy of Tinker Bell: An Evolution, a full biography about everyone’s favorite fiery fairy by author Mindy Johnson. Mindy will appear at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace from 3 – 4 p.m., alongside special guest and Disney Legend, Alice Davis. Tip: Also being released during the event is Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man.

Closures and Refurbishments

Click here to view the latest renovations and closures at Walt Disney World Resort.

Pixar Pals Party on the Disney Wonder

Pixar Pals PartyPixar Pals Party is an exclusive event for Disney’s Alaskan Cruises. Many of your favorite Pixar characters throw a party in the atrium of the Disney Wonder. The festivities start with an introduction as each character enters the atrium. The party usually has two characters from the following movies: It’s a Bug’s Life, Up, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and Toy Story. One of my favorite parts of the Pixar Pals Party is the sing along to the popular song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the movie, Toy Story. Pixar Pals Party includes a meet and greet where guests can take pictures with the characters like Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Incredible, Russell, Dug, Remy, and Flik. During the party you can take photos, get autographs, dance, and sing. Guests will also enjoy a Toy Story themed dinner in the main dining rooms on the night of the party. Make sure you check your Personal Navigator so you don’t miss the Pixar Pals Party during your Alaskan Cruise.

Written by Shante Carson — Shante is a Disney Cruise Expert with over ten cruises taken on the Disney Fantasy, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, and Disney Fantasy.  Bon Voyage!  Shante is ready to help you plan your magical Disney Cruise vacation. Book your next vacation with Shante at 252-917-0497 or shante@destinationsinflorida.com.

#FridayFoto Frozen Summer of Fun

frozen

Royal sisters Princess Anna and Queen Elsa, from Disney’s hit animated motion picture “Frozen,” ride in a horse-drawn sleigh down Hollywood Boulevard during “Frozen Summer Fun Live!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Extended due to guest popularity until Sept. 28, 2014, the event celebrates the worldwide phenomenon of “Frozen” with a daily character procession, special sing-alongs with Anna and Elsa, a polar playground, an ice skating rink, a nightly party featuring a live band and themed fireworks on select evenings. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  (Chloe Rice, photographer)

Diagon Alley Ollivander Wand Shop

The new Ollivanders Wand Shop in Diagon Alley is magnificent! It’s MUCH larger than the old one in Hogsmeade, with several wand selection rooms to accommodate more guests in this popular attraction.

You enter the wand shop to see the show just to the left of the main store. You get a glimpse of the shop on your way to the wand selection room.

Ollivanders Wand Shop
Along the way, you pass shelves upon shelves of wands.

Ollivanders Wand Shop
Ollivanders wand selection process in Diagon Alley is basically the same as it has been in the Hogsmeade section, however, the rooms are much bigger, allowing more guests to enjoy the show and hopefully, less time waiting in lines.

Ollivanders Wand Shop Selection Room
Everything about the new Ollivanders Wand Shop in Diagon Alley is bigger, more imposing, and more impressive than the old Hogsmeade version. Guests will surely delight in this updated version of Ollivanders.

Contact our team at Destinations in Florida for more questions about Ollivanders at Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.  Book your Universal Orlando Resort tickets with transportation from your hotel or book your Universal Orlando Package today.

Gringotts Money Exchange in Diagon Alley

Gringotts Money Exchange in Diagon Alley offers Muggles the opportunity to exchange their Muggle currency for Gringotts Bank Notes that can be used throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley).

Gringotts Bank Notes

These commemorative Bank Notes can be used just like Muggle currency (cash) or you can keep them as souvenirs from your visit to the Wizarding World. They are available in ten and twenty dollar denominations.

Gringotts Bank Notes
Gringotts Money Exchange can be found in Diagon Alley as a separate location from the Gringotts Bank. Do not go into Gringotts Bank expecting to exchange your Muggle currency. You will be redirected to the Money Exchange, next to Wiseacres.

Gringotts Money Exchange

 

Additionally, the Gringotts Money Exchange has various Gringotts souvenirs, only available in the Money Exchange, including Gringotts wallets for your bank notes, chocolate gold coin candy, and Gringotts bank bags.

Gringotts Souveniers

Contact our team at Destinations in Florida for more questions about Gringotts Money Exchange at Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.  Book your Universal Orlando Resort tickets with transportation from your hotel or book your Universal Orlando Package today.

Around the Mouse: Walt Disney World News, August 20, 2014

There are exciting new things popping up every day at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida! Join us every week to read about what’s new “Around the Mouse.” This week’s Walt Disney World news update features: Disney Springs Updates, show and tour closings, food and restaurant updates, special events and much more!

What’s New This Week?

Disney Springs

Walt Disney World Theme Parks

New! Additional Purchase Options for MagicBandsBeginning Aug. 19, select locations will test an option for Guests to purchase solid-colored MagicBands and link them to a MyDisneyExperience account at a later time. With the new Link-It Later option, Guests will be able to purchase solid-colored MagicBands (available in seven colors) and link them at a future date, which provides an opportunity to buy MagicBands as gifts. This test is taking place at stores currently selling MagicBands at theme parks, Downtown Disney, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, and Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan Hotels. NOTE: This test excludes graphic MagicBands. They must be linked to a valid park ticket, annual pass or MemoryMaker account at time of purchase.

New! Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Epcot: Guests with electric vehicles now have the opportunity to charge their cars at Epcot. Four ChargePoint charging spaces at the front of the Journey parking lot are available for Guests to use by scanning their pre-ordered ChargePoint card, by easily registering for a free ChargePoint account online at http://www.chargepoint.com, or by using a credit card. The cost to charge at these stations is $.35 per kilowatt hour, with a minimum service amount of $1.50. Charging will stop once the vehicle’s battery is fully charged and ChargePoint will “ping” the owners to alert them. The charging stations are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

New! T. Rowe Price Piggy Banks Available for Purchase Online: T. Rowe Price is now selling a replica of the pigs that are a part of The Great Piggy Bank Adventure exhibit at INNOVENTIONS. The piggy banks are only available online at www.MoneyConfidentKids.com for $9.65+ shipping. They are not available at Epcot’s INNOVENTIONS West or any other location at the Walt Disney World Resort®.

Piggy Bank

 New! American Idol Experience Closing: The last show of The American Idol Experience will take place August 30, 2014. At this time, there has been no announcement of what will replace this attraction.

New! American Film Institute Showcase and Shop Closed: On August 18, 2014, the American Film Institute Showcase and the corresponding gift shop its doors. At this time, there has been no announcement of what will replace this portion of the attraction.

New! Male Gorilla Baby Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: There’s a new family member on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – a newborn male gorilla who can sometimes be seen cuddling with his mom. Born Aug. 7 to mother Azizi and father Gino, the healthy infant has already become an integral member of his family group, which includes two other adult females, Kashata and Benga, and 4-year-old Lilly. The new baby, which is yet to be named, is the fourth gorilla born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals.

Baby Gorilla at DAK

New! Sumatran Tiger Arrives at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: A new tiger name Sohni can be seen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, a self-guided walking tour set in the land of Asia. Until very recently only one species of tiger could be found on this trail, but with Sohni’s arrival comes increased diversity in the form of a Sumatran tiger, a species that is only found in the wild on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

New! Ultimate Day VIP Tour at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival: Another new Food & Wine Festival event has been added this year. The Ultimate Day VIP Tour is described on the Disney Parks blog as follows: Begin the daylong festivities at the VIP Lounge hidden within the Festival Center at the Wonder’s Retreat. This special tour includes Champagne, a beverage tasting, six-course tapas-style lunch, wine, private backstage tours, time on some of the most popular Epcot attractions, food and beverage pairings with Disney chefs, VIP seating at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, reserved seating for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks spectacular and more. Occurring rain or shine Thursday and Sundays on select dates September through November, this private tour lasts six and a half hours and costs $399 per person (21 and up only). Call 407-WDW-TOUR (939-8687)

Reminder! New Villains Unleashed Event On August 23, 2014:  A brand new special event will take place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Aug 23, 2014 8pm -1am — Villains Unleashed! For the first time ever, a record number of Disney villains – more than 50 in all – will invade Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 23 as a part of the park’s new event, Villains Unleashed. This one-night party will kick off at 8:00pm as the Disney villains have plotted to take over Hollywood Studios. The celebration of their wonderful wickedness will include exclusive merchandise, specialty food and beverage and exciting atmosphere entertainment offerings.  Purchase tickets at Disneyvillainsparty.com for $67 for adults and $62 for children, plus tax.

Reminder! Some Performances of Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Cancelled: Due to upcoming concrete work on Main Street, U.S.A., there will not be morning performances of the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party on the following dates: Aug 19, 20 and 29. The parade will only perform at 5:40 and 7 p.m. on these dates.

Reminder! New Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Late Nights – LIVE!: Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE! street party will run from 9:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday during the festival between the United Kingdom Pavilion and World Showcase Plaza. The event includes six tastes (food and beverages) from select marketplaces, live music, entertainment, and a DJ. Cost is $79, plus tax. Admission to Epcot is not required after 9 p.m. for guests who have purchased credentials to the event.

Reminder! Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package: From noon-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday during a select festival period (September 22-November 6), the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package is an opportunity for guests staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel (or the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels) to sip and savor in style. The package includes an in-room gift with wine for guests 21 and older, a festival wine glass, truffles and credential for the Premium Package Areas at the festival – plus an Epcot International Food & Wine Festival MagicBand and a $50 Disney Gift Card to start the fun. The credential gives access to 10 VIP “Premium Package Areas” around World Showcase Promenade where you can order items from Marketplaces and have them delivered to you – no waiting in line. You can also bring your favorite marketplace treats into the Premium Package Areas and just relax. The package also includes one admission to Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE!, which you can attend on Tuesday or Thursday night. Cost is $199 per guest, plus tax, plus Epcot admission.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

New! Capt. Cooks at Polynesian Village Reopened: On Wednesday, August 13 the newly refurbished quick-service dining location reopened to Guests. Capt. Cook’s once again operates 24 hours each day, and is located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House. Dole Whip is not available at Capt. Cook’s, but it will be served in a new location at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Pineapple Lanai, which is opening soon. The new menu includes a classic lobster roll served on a buttered bun. They’ve added blackened fish tacos, a noodle bowl (beef or shrimp) and delectable coconut curry meatballs. A new gourmet hot dog is slathered with garlic ketchup and mango relish. And crispy fried chicken and waffles, a hearty breakfast favorite that stays on the menu all day. The favorite hot beef ‘n blue sandwich stays as well as the pizzas, grilled chicken sandwich and house-made sushi, delivered from Kona Island upstairs. The breakfast favorite Tonga Toast is still on the menu, along with a new breakfast burrito with egg, bacon, potatoes and Cheddar cheese.

Capt Cooks Menu

New! Kona Island at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Adds Shaved Ice: Another new treat at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is Hawaiian shaved ice at Kona Island on the resort’s second floor. Located just off the monorail, Kona Island serves specialty coffee and pastries all day, and now shaved ice joins the lineup, along with takeout sushi. Hours are 6:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 5 – 10 p.m.

New! Sunrise Safari Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Ending: the last day of operation for the Sunrise Safari tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be Dec. 28,2014. Guests interested in exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom can still book Backstage Safari and Wild Africa Trek. Guests staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge also have the opportunity to participate in the Wanyama Safari, Night Safari and Dine with an Animal Specialist.

New! Disney Food Truck Serving Breakfast at Disney’s All Star Music Resort: Breakfast options are available at the Disney Food Truck every day from 7-11:30 a.m. The food truck is parked near the Singing Spirits Pool Bar at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Menu includes: Egg, bacon and cheese breakfast croissant; Kielbasa and caramelized onion biscuit sliders with sausage gravy; Strawberry-covered waffles with fresh whipped cream; donut holes and more.

New! Wine Pairings at Martha’s Vineyard at Disney’s Beach Club Resort: New late-afternoon wine pairings combine food and wine with a little enlightenment, with wine experts on hand to talk about what you’re sipping at Martha’s Vineyard at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Upcoming dates are 4-5:15 p.m. September 4, September 25, October 2 and October 30. Wineries aren’t yet announced (the last one was France’s Louis Jadot), but the Disney chefs are having fun with pairing delicious food with whatever is poured. It’s an intimate setting – no more than 18 guests, and the conversation flows with the wine. Cost varies, but is in the $20-30 range for three wines paired with three small plates, and price depends on what’s being poured. For reservations, call 407-934-3833.

Wine Pairings at Martha's Vineyard at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Reminder! Sassagoula Rivercruise Now Open: The Downtown Disney Marketplace Watercraft dock reopened Aug. 15. It had been closed since February, as part of the overall enhancements at the property. When the dock reopened, the following service changes to the Sassagoula Rivercruise takes effect:

  • Port Orleans River Cruise – Yellow Route: Service between Downtown Disney Marketplace and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
  • Downtown Disney Area Water Taxi – Red Route: Service between Downtown Disney districts including the Marketplace, Pleasure Island and the West Side

In addition to the Water Taxi (Red Route) that services all locations, the West Side boat dock continues to offer the
following routes:

  • Disney Vacation Club Ferry – Blue Route: Service between Downtown Disney West Side and Disney’s Saratoga Resort & Spa as well as the Treehouse Villas
  • Disney Vacation Club Ferry – Green Route: Service between Downtown Disney West Side and Disney’s Old Key West Resort

DTD Boat Dock

Walt Disney World Resort – General

New! Imagineers Unveil the Story of Disney Springs: Disney Springs is about bringing diversity of retail, destination dining, and fantastic entertainment together with a great story. Executive Creative Director Theron Skees explains that story in the video below:

New! Festival of the Masters Cancelled in 2014: Downtown Disney, which normally hosts the Festival of the Masters, is undergoing the largest expansion in its history. As they prepare for Disney Springs, much of the area that traditionally houses the Festival of the Masters is unavailable due to expansion work and unfortunately they will not be able to host the event this year.

Reminder! Reservations Can Now be Made 20 Minutes in Advance: Dining reservations can now be made for available seatings up to 20 minutes in advance by using the My Disney Experience website or via the My Disney Experience mobile app on iOS devices. Future enhancements are planned to include the same booking feature for the My Disney Experience mobile app for Android devices. Previously, reservations could only be made for two hours in advance.

Reminder! Inaugural ESPN Fantasy Football Conventions Coming to Walt Disney World: On August 22-23, you can officially kick-off sport’s greatest season of the year with ESPN‘s inaugural Fantasy Football Convention, taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The first-of-its-kind event features unprecedented access to ESPN talent including Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Sara Walsh, Mark Schlereth, Stephania Bell, Tim Hasselbeck and more! The event includes an epic Tailgate Party, where you can mix and mingle with ESPN talent and be a judge in the first-ever ESPN Chili Bowl by taste testing creations from decorated Disney Chefs from around the world, and breakfast with some of your favorite characters decked out for the gridiron. The Convention includes a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now. The event finale features the opportunity to take part in a live fantasy football draft with the help of ESPN Fantasy Experts roaming the floor. And best yet, season winners of leagues created during the Convention will receive a customized trophy. Talk about bragging rights! Price is $349 per person.

Merchandise Events

  • August 23: Keep an eye out for spellbinding commemorative T-shirts and more as part of the “Villains Unleashed” event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Remember, a separate ticket is required to attend this event. If you are thinking of going, purchase tickets now at www.DisneyVillainsParty.com or by calling 407.939.1933.
  • August 29: Be sure to pick up a copy of Tinker Bell: An Evolution, a full biography about everyone’s favorite fiery fairy by author Mindy Johnson. Mindy will appear at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace from 3 – 4 p.m., alongside special guest and Disney Legend, Alice Davis. Tip: Also being released during the event is Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man.

Closures and Refurbishments

Click here to view the latest renovations and closures at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley

The Leaky Cauldron is the centerpiece dining location in the new Diagon Alley section of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Pull up a chair and enjoy hearty British fare in this famous inn, as well as delicious, frothy Butterbeer™. The children’s menu offers items that kids will love, such as macaroni and cheese.

The Leaky Cauldron

In the Harry Potter movies, the Leaky Cauldron is a popular wizarding pub and inn in London. It is the entrance to Diagon Alley, and, indirectly Knockturn Alley.

You can find the Leaky Cauldron restaurant just to the left as you enter the new Diagon Alley. You walk through a foyer entrance to the main part of the restaurant. Here you will order your food to take with you to the main dining area.

The Leaky Cauldron

You can dine at the Leaky Cauldron during your visit to the Diagon Alley. Certain Diagon Alley vacation packages include breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.

Contact our team at Destinations in Florida for more questions about the Leaky Cauldron  at Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.  Book your Universal Orlando Resort tickets with transportation from your hotel or book your Universal Orlando Package today.

Around the Universe: Universal Orlando Resort News, Aug 19, 2014

There are exciting new things happening every day at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida! Join us every week to read about what’s new “Around the Universe.” This week’s Universal Orlando Resort News update features: Celebration of Harry Potter 2015, new houses at Halloween Horror Nights 24, Holidays at Universal and much more!

What’s New This Week?

Celebration of Harry Potter

Universal Orlando Theme Parks

New! Celebration of Harry Potter 2015 Scheduled for January:  Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. announced that they will host the second annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter” event – a special event for fans celebrating the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter. Beginning January 30, 2015, fans will enjoy three days of incredible experiences – including the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo, Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent and more.  Special vacation packages, including annual passholder packages, will go on sale August 21 and will include exclusive benefits such as access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and the all-new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.  More details.

New! Universal Celebrates One Million Riders on the Hogwarts Express: Cheers from guests filled the air at Hogsmeade Station on August 7th as Universal Orlando Resort celebrated its one millionth rider on the Hogwarts Express – the iconic train that transported Harry Potter and his friends between Hogsmeade Station and King’s Cross Station in J.K. Rowling’s beloved series. To celebrate this magical milestone, nearly two hundred guests were given complimentary Butterbeer ice-cream.

Hogwarts Express Millionth Rider Celebration

New! Three Original Houses, Two New Scare Zones Announced for Halloween Horror Nights 24:  Universal Orlando Resort announced that three original concept haunted houses and two all-new scare zones will join the killer line up of experiences at Halloween Horror Nights 24 at Universal Studios Florida.

Original House – Dollhouse of the Damned: Dollhouse of the Damned Halloween Horror NightsAs described on Universal Orlando’s Blog: “When you walk into the house, you find yourself in this old-time morgue. But this little girl has set up shop and now it’s her playhouse. She’s torturing people in there. So you’re taking the sweetness of the dollhouse and childhood and combining it with something completely sinister. That theme remains throughout the maze. Another phrase we use is ‘forced integration.’ You’ll see characters with porcelain doll masks that have been smashed into their faces, and now they’re permanent. They’re victims of this twisted amalgamation. It’s really creepy.”

Original House: Giggles & Gore Inc.

Giggles & Gore Halloween Horror Nights 24

As described on Universal Orlando’s Blog: “So, we asked ourselves, where do evil clowns come from? And we discovered evil clowns are not born, they’re made. It’s an actual process. We all know that there are countless unsolved disappearances across the country. Where do these people end up? In the clown factory, being stretched, smashed and eviscerated. Faces are peeled off and voice boxes are torn out. Victims are dropped into a wood chipper, and the gunk that comes out is shoved into other people to create these massive, nasty stuffed clowns. Toward the end, you encounter the most evil of all evil clowns: The Discarded. These are the surviving clowns that have been cast down for being too dangerous to exist, even with other evil clowns.”

Original House: Roanoke – Cannibal Colony

Roanoke Halloween Horror Nights 24

As described on Universal Orlando’s Blog: “The year was 1587. It was one of the first settlements of the colonial era. The people living here were expecting supplies from Europe, but there was a war going on so they couldn’t make the voyage. Three years later, when the supply ship finally arrived, everyone was gone…except the deranged cannibals who’d managed to survive by eating their fellow settlers. As a guest, you’re fighting you’re way through this chaotic gauntlet of flesh-hungry man-eaters.

New Scare Zone Street Experiences: Even more horrors fill the streets of Universal Studios as guests are hypnotized by deceptive patrons of a seemingly glamorous ball in MASKerade: Unstitched and surrounded by voodoo practitioners that fill the snake and spider-infested Bayou of Blood.

Additional announcements for even more horrifying experiences are coming soon.

New! Universal Holiday Events Announced: Beginning Dec. 6 and running daily through Jan. 3, the Holidays at Universal Orlando features one-of-a-kind traditions. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, families will light up with holiday cheer as Grinchmas comes to life throughout Seuss Landing. Guests can enjoy a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s classic holiday tale, “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular,” featuring the Whos from Who-ville, accompanied by an original musical score by Mannheim Steamroller. Guests can also meet The Grinch and the Whos and on select dates, enjoy a special breakfast with the characters.

At Universal Studios Florida, the Macy’s Holiday Parade will fill the streets every evening with the same larger-than-life balloons seen in Macy’s famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This year, you won’t want to miss the Chloe The Clown “Balloonicle,” a new addition to the parade that combines a towering balloon with a self-powered vehicle that roams the streets of Universal Studios. Guests will also enjoy colorful holiday characters, fantasy-filled floats and a tree-lighting ceremony by Santa Claus.

This year, the masters of modern Christmas music—Mannheim Steamroller—will return to the stage to spread Christmas cheer. With more than 40 million albums sold worldwide, the acclaimed musical group will take to the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios on select nights to perform their memorable holiday hits. Performance nights are Dec. 6, 7, 14, 15, 20 and 21.

Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Orlando

Reminder! Rock the Universe Tickets on Sale Now: Rock the Universe is Florida’s biggest Christian Music Festival. It’s an entire weekend of great music, real faith, best friends, fist-pumping rock, praise songs, autographs, shouts of joy, lifted hands and lifted hearts—and you can be a part of every second of it, from the very first scream to the final amen. Grab your friends and join thousands of other believers for a weekend of soul-stirring concerts from some of Christian rock’s brightest. In-between the concerts, scream and spin and laugh on action-packed rides in Universal Studios. This year’s event is September 5-6, 2014. Tickets start at $41 per day. More info.

Reminder! Prior Halloween Horror Nights Announcements: Step right into some of the most pulse-pounding moments in horror history at Universal Orlando® Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights®, the nation’s premier Halloween event. Select nights Sept. 19 – Nov. 1, you can explore eight terrifying haunted houses, multiple street experiences, two outrageous live shows, and many of your favorite rides and attractions. You’ll be completely immersed in the worlds of the biggest names in horror including: The Purge: Anarchy, Syfy’s Face Off, From Dusk Till Dawn, Alien vs. Predator and AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

New! Velvet Sessions with Eve 6 Aug 28, 2014: Velvet Bar hosts the city’s only rock ‘n’ roll cocktail party on the last Thursday of the month. Admission is $29 on-line or $35 at the door and includes FREE specialty drinks & finger foods and warm-up tunes from 6:30-8:30pm, plus FREE valet parking. Cash bars and live band from 8:00pm onward. Each “session” combines creative cocktails with live music from some of the hottest rock bands.

Reminder! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ Exclusive Vacation Package Dates Extended: Experience all the magic and excitement with this exclusive vacation package including admission to both Universal Orlando® theme parks, hotel accommodations, Early Park Admission? to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ one hour before the theme parks open, breakfast at the Three Broomsticks™ and the new Leaky Cauldron™, receive an Owl Post Welcome Gift and more! Purchase now through December 10, 2014 with select travel through December 18, 2014. Prices starting from $109 per adult, per night, tax inclusive.

Universal CityWalk

New! Blue Man Group Discounts for Florida Residents: Florida residents can save up to $40 on Blue Man Group Tickets on select Sundays through September. Adult tickets are $54 and Children’s tickets are $29.

Reminder! Classic Albums Live Featuring Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at Hard Rock Live Aug 22: Classic Albums Live is a group of studio musicians and vocalists that perform the albums LIVE using the instrumentation used on the original recording…cut for cut…note for note. August 22, 2014. Doors open at 7:00 pm. Tickets: $25 Advance, $30 Day of Show for Reserved Seating and $15 Advance, $20 Day of Show GA Standing Perimeter. Tickets available at the Hard Rock Live box office and all Ticketmaster locations. For more information call 407-351-LIVE.

Reminder! CityWalk Expansion Plans: Hot Dog Hall Hall of Fame opened most recently to join Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, Cold Stone Creamery, Starbucks, Menchie’s, Breadbox and VIVO Italian Kitchen as the latest establishments to open as part of the expansion to Universal CityWalk. The CowFish will open later this year.

Closures and Refurbishments

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

  • None

Universal Studios

  • None