Seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels In The Walt Disney World® Resort In Florida Offering Appealing “Spring Into The Magic” Rates

Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels Offer Great Discounts Thru Late June

Ready to put the record-setting winter behind you? Then what better way than a visit to the Sunshine State?  As they say in Florida, “When you need it bad, we’ve got it good…”

And now is a terrific time to visit the Walt Disney World® Resort inCentral Florida, with such special events as the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival; Star WarsTM Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®; and the Sounds Like Summer Concerts at Epcot®. A great way to experience these events and the area is by taking advantage of the special “Spring Into The Magic Rates” that are being offered by the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels. Available for stays May 1-June 21, 2015, the special rates also provide a great opportunity to take in the many new offerings in the Walt Disney World® Resort including the recently expanded Fantasyland® at Magic Kingdom® Park.

In addition to the hotels having an ideal location with an easy walk tomore than 75 themed and immersive shopping, dining and entertainment venues at the Downtown Disney® area, these seven Official Walt Disney World® Hotels also provide complimentary shuttle transportation every 30 minutes to all four Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, two Water Parks, and to the Downtown Disney® area. As a bonus, guests at these hotels also receive the“Downtown Disney Deals” booklet that features exclusive discounts and specials from over 30 merchants on Downtown Disney® area dining, entertainment and shopping.

Among the many coupons featured in the “Downtown Disney Deals” booklet are discounts at Rainforest Café®, T-Rex CaféTM, Wolfgang Puck® Express, Steve Baker Caricatures, The LEGO®Store, Planet Hollywood®, House of Blues® Restaurant, Splitsville Luxury LanesTM, Bongo’s Cuban CaféTM, and Ghirardelli® Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop.

The Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels’ “Spring Into The Magic Rates” are:

  • B Resort & Spa – rates from $111 per room, per night

B Resort & Spa -- exterior night -- Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels

  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel – rates from $79 per room, per night

Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel -- Restaurant -- Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels (2000x1371)

  • Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa – rates from $84 per room, per night

Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa -- signature aerial photo -- Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels

  • DoubleTree Suites by Hilton – rates from $99 per suite, per night

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton -- exterior -- Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels

  • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – rates from $99 per room, per night

Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista -- exterior -- Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels

  • Holiday Inn Orlando – Lake Buena Vista – rates from $89 per room, per night

Holiday Inn Orlando -- Lake Buena Vista -- (exterior) -- Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels

  • Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort – rates from $77 per room, per night.

Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort -- aerial -- Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels

Taking advantage of the special rates also will enable you to enjoy such other benefits of staying at one of the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels as:

  • Disney tickets available to purchase at each hotel
  • Advance tee times and discounts at all Walt Disney World®golf courses
  • Disney Merchandise store located in each hotel
  • The ability to book advance dining and dinner show reservations for all restaurants across the Walt Disney World®Resort.

Contact Us for a Free, No-Obligation Quote Today!

877-918-8941 or Request a Price Online

 

Note:Rates are based on availability, some blackout dates may apply, and availability may be limited. The rates do not include the Resort Services Fee or daily parking fee (if applicable), taxes or gratuities. The offer is not valid with any other special offers, promotions, existing reservations, or for groups.

Laughin’ Place Playground at Magic Kingdom

Laughin’ Place Playground Near Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

Did you know there’s a playground near Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom? It’s great for little ones to play while bigger siblings ride Splash Mountain or Big Thunder  Mountain Railroad!

The Laughin’ Place offers tunnels to crawl through and places for kids to climb and play. It’s a fun playground to burn off some energy, especially when waiting for other members of your party to return from rides on Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, both of which have a height requirement of 40 inces (102 cm).

Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World

Behind the Scenes with Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

This excerpt from the Disney Parks Blog sets up who you’ll see in this great behind the scenes clip!

This creative process has been one of the most dynamic and collaborative ones we’ve ever undertaken. It began when our then-Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts proposed to James Cameron that together we might recreate the world of Pandora at Disney. Since that time, our creative development team, led by Joe Rohde, has been working hand-in-hand with Jim, Jon Landau and their team of artists and designers at Lightstorm on every aspect of this project—from overall design to the smallest—yet crucially important—details. And along each step of this process, Tom, as well as Disney CEO Bob Iger have been actively involved in helping guide the creative vision that is shaping the extraordinary world we’re building.

Pandora’s grandeur will be available to guests in early 2017.

Meet Disney Authors Jim Korkis, Dave Shute and Josh Humphrey at Epcot

The Easy Guide to your first walt disney world visitMeet Disney Authors and Disney Author/Historian Jim Korkis

Meet The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit co-authors Josh and Dave, plus the contributor of the “Jim’s Gem’s” vignettes in The easy Guide, Jim Korkis, at Epcot on Monday, April 20th!

All three authors as well as Allison from Destinations in Florida Travel will be on hand to meet friends and fans, sign books and give out some great prizes to attendees.

Date: Monday, April 20, 2015

Time: Starting at 7pm

Place: Epcot – Outside Liberty Inn, American Adventure Pavilion

We hope you will stop by and see us!

Walt Disney World News Update April 15, 2015

Around the Mouse: Walt Disney World News, April 15, 2015

What’s New This Week?

Frozen Fever Olaf Cupcake

Walt Disney World Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom Park

Reminder! Frozen Fever Treats Now Available in Multiple Locations: The Disney Parks Food and Beverage team has created new treats inspired by the “Frozen Fever” short. Make today a perfect day with Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake, available at select quick-service locations at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. This vanilla cupcake has icy blue buttercream frosting, marshmallows and snowflake candies, topped with a white chocolate Olaf. Locations include:

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Starring Rolls Cafe and ABC Commissary
  • Epcot: Sunshine Seasons and Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
  • Magic Kingdom Park: Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: Landscape of Flavors
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: The Mara
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Beach Club Marketplace
  • Disney’s BoardWalk: Boardwalk Bakery
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort: Contempo Cafe
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Gasparilla Island Grill

Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day starts with birthday cake-flavored ice cream, piled high with hot fudge, mint marshmallows, brownie pieces, whipped cream, sprinkles and, of course, warm hugs. This sweet treat will be available at select ice cream shops at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort:

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Scoops
  • Magic Kingdom Park: Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Beaches & Cream Soda Shop

Frozen Fever Olaf Sunday

Guests at select table-service locations will be able to order an ice-cream cake of their own, inspired by Princess Anna’s birthday cake. At Disneyland Resort, guests can order an individual ice cream cake and at Walt Disney World Resort, guests will be able to order a sweet slice of ice cream cake.

  • Trattoria al Forno
  • Captain’s Grille
  • The Wave … of American Flavors
  • Sanaa
  • Coral Reef Restaurant

New! Wi-Fi Upgraded at Theme Parks: Recently, the Wi-Fi network was upgraded at Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, providing faster connections, better performance and less interference. Guests who are unable to access Wi-Fi can check/make FP+ selections from in-park kiosks.

Reminder! Magic Kingdom Special Event Tickets On Sale Now: Tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Disney’s Night of Joy are now available for purchase.

Tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party include:

  • September 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27; October 1 – Advance: $68 (plus tax) for adults; $63 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9); Day of the Event: $74 (plus tax) for adults; $69 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9)
  • October 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, November 1 – Advance: $74 (plus tax) for adults; $69 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9); Day of the Event: $79 (plus tax) for adults; $74 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9)
  • Halloween – $87 (plus tax) for adults; $82 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9)

Tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party include:

  • November 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19; December 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15 – Advance: $74 (plus tax) for adults; $69 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9); Day of the Event: $79 (plus tax) for adults; $74 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9)
  • November 20, 29; December 4, 11, 17 – $79 (plus tax) for adults; $74 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9)
  • December 18 – $82 (plus tax) for adults; $77 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9)

Single-day ticket prices for Disney’s Night of Joy (September 11-12) are $65 (plus tax) in advance and $80 (plus tax) on the day of the event (if available). A two night ticket also is available for $115 (plus tax) in advance of the event. Group tickets are also available by calling 877-NITE-JOY (1-877-648-3569). To order tickets or find out more information on any of our Magic Kingdom Park special events, guests can check out Disneyworld.com, call 407-W-DISNEY or contact their travel agent.

Epcot

New! Sounds like Summer Concert Series Returns: Epcot is GROOVIN’ this June and July with the return of the Sounds Like Summer concert series. From June 7 to July 25, the America Gardens Theater will once again rock out with some of the world’s hottest tribute bands. The Sounds Like Summer concerts are included with regular Epcot admission. Show times are 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. daily. This year’s lineup includes: (Entertainment and times subject to change)

  • June 7-13: DSB – A Tribute to Journey
  • June 14-20: 2U – A Tribute to U2
  • June 21-26: Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot – A Tribute Billy Joel Show
  • June 27 – July 4: Don’t Look Back – A Tribute to Boston
  • July 5-11: Fire & Ice – A Tribute to Pat Benatar
  • July 12-18: Stayin’ Alive – A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • July 19-25: Hotel California – A Salute to the Eagles

Sounds like Summer Concert Series

New! Earth Day Events at Epcot: In addition to the daily fun, there are special events such as an Earth Day Weekend April 17-22 with nature activities for kids and families, Disney’s Animal Kingdom specialists (April 17-19), and a sand-sculpture creation to showcase Disneynature’s soon-to-be released “Monkey Kingdom” film at the World Showcase Outpost. At the Seas with Nemo & Friends, learn about conservation efforts to protect coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks and the many other amazing creatures that inhabit our oceans (April 22).

New! ‘Tomorrowland’ preview coming to Epcot April 18: At Epcot, experience a vision of an optimistic future full of exciting possibilities. Starting April 18, the Imagination theater at Epcot will present a sneak preview of Disney’s riveting mystery adventure ‘Tomorrowland.’ This preview will offer Guests an exclusive look at scenes from the film, complete with special in-theater effects that can only be experienced at Disney Parks. A special Annual Passholders-only preview will open on April 17 and passholders can learn additional details on the passholder website. During the preview, the Captain EO attraction will temporarily close. After the theatre is finished as a venue for film previews, it is expected that the Captain EO attraction will return at Walt Disney World.

Reminder! Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Underway: The 75-Day festival opened March 4 and continues through May 17, 2015. Here you can enjoy topiaries of Disney favorites, ten new gardens, play areas and more. You can rock out at the new Garden Rocks Concert Series, featuring artists from the 60’s through 90’s. Delight your taste buds at eleven Outdoor Kitchens, including the new, Latin-inspired Botanas Botanico. Explore Fun Fresh Weekends during the festival with themed special events!  This week’s Garden Rocks Concert Series features Jon Secada April 17-19.

New! Mexican Marimba Trio to Perform Mondays and Tuesdays in World Showcase: Mexican Marimba Trio is the newest addition to the talented Mariachi Cobre! This group has prepared unique musical pieces centered around the marimba that celebrate the musical heritage of Mexico and the diverse influences on their music and culture. Starting next week, Mexico pavilion will have 7-day entertainment when the Mexican Marimba Trio is offered in addition to the Mariachi Cobre. Hear the Mexican Marimba Trio on Mondays and Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m., 12:15, 1, 1:45, 2:30, 4:15, and 5 p.m.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

New! Frozen Summer Premium Package Reservations Now Available: Reservations for the Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package are now available for dates starting June 17 to September 7. Have a day fit for Arendelle royalty, with reserved viewing to a trio of Frozen Summer Fun experiences and chill out with cool refreshments. Cost is $69 for adults, $39 for children age 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity are included). Reservations can be made online or by calling 407-939-3463.Each Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package includes:

  • See Anna and Elsa in the reserved viewing for Frozen Royal Welcome, complete with regal refreshments—water, a selection of soft drinks, and ice cream
  • Reserved seating for your choice of (1) show time of For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Frozen Fireworks viewing with dessert party, a dazzling nighttime display of fireworks paired with Frozen-themed desserts as well as specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

New! Park Hours Extended April 17 and 22: Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be extending operating hours Friday, April 17 and Wednesday, April 22 to close at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. as originally scheduled. In addition, a second Fantasmic! will be added Friday, April 17 and Wednesday, April 22 at 10 p.m.

Reminder! Easter Specialty Cupcake Still Available:  The Easter cupcake is still available. It is a white chocolate and raspberry specialty cupcake. The Easter Bunny cupcake is available at the following quick service locations: FairFax Fare, Pizza Planet, Starring Rolls, Backlot Express, ABC Commissary, Studio Catering Co., Rosie’s All American Café, and The Trolley Car Café. This item is included in Disney Dining Plan, the Easter cupcake will be available through April 19.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

New! Dinoland Closing Early April 16: Due to a special event happening April 16, DinoLand U.S.A. will close at 6:30 p.m. Restaurantosaurus will close at 6:30 p.m. l Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck will meet until 6 p.m.

New! Work on Tree of Life Begins: Beginning April 20 and continuing through June, work will be conducted during the day and Guests will be able to see the workers accessing the Tree of Life. Although the workers will be visible, this work will not impact the flamingo badge for Wilderness Explorers, the rain back up location for Pocahontas, PhotosPass availability or the Winged Encounters show. As a reminder, flamingos are not onstage at this time.

New! Face Painting and Caricatures Available at Rafiki’s Planet Watch for Limited Time: Earth Day may be another week away, but Guests can celebrate now with special caricature artists and face painters at Rafiki’s Planet Watch through April 25.

New! Specialty Earth Day Cupcake Available April 22: A special Earth Day themed cupcake will be available April 22. This chocolate cupcake has a chocolate mousse filling with white buttercream dipped in Oreo crumbs. It is topped with a chocolate flowerpot and gummy worms. Try this cupcake Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery and Isle of Java.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

New! Grand Floridian Beach Pool Water Play Area Refurbishment: The Beach Pool water play area will be closed for refurbishment beginning Monday, April 13, through Friday, May, 1. Work will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and quiet hours will be observed.

Grand Floridian Water Play Area

New! Activity Passport Coming to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: A new activity passport will be introduced at the resort beginning on April 19. The passport will take Guests through four stops where they will interact with Cast Members to receive stamps and complete activity pages in their passport booklet. After completion, Guests may visit Landscape of Flavors anytime after 11 a.m. to enjoy a complimentary kids’ gelato. Passports will be available at any of the four “Stamp Stop” locations: Luggage Assistance, Lobby (Front Desk and Concierge), Ink and Paint Shop and Landscape of Flavors. This activity will be available for approximately 2 months.

New! Zimbabwe Independence Day: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge will recognize Zimbabwe’s Independence Day on Saturday, April 18. Animals, Science & Education team will be setting up a themed prop table at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge—Jambo House Lobby from 2–4 p.m on Saturday, April 18. In addition, our Zimbabwe cultural representatives will present a Zimbabwe Overview African Journey in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas—Kidani Village Palace Library at 6:30 p.m. and a Zimbabwe Overview Cultural Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge—Jambo House Sunset Lounge at 7:30 p.m.

Reminder! Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter Bus Stop Refurbishment: The Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter bus stop will be undergoing a refurbishment starting April 13. During
the refurbishment, the bus stop will be temporarily relocated near Building 3.

Walt Disney World Resort – General

New! New Allergy-Friendly Menus at Disneyland, Walt Disney World Resorts: On April 14, Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts will begin to introduce new allergy-friendly menus at approximately 120 quick-service and table-service locations. The menus provide more convenience and readily available options for guests with special dietary requests. The new allergy-friendly menus provide allergen content for each menu item, making informed choices easier. Menu selection includes appetizers (where applicable), entrées, side items, desserts and kids’ meals, and focuses on the most common allergens: gluten/wheat, milk, peanut, tree nut and fish. Guests are still able to consult directly with a restaurant chef or special diets trained cast member. We also encourage guests to continue to communicate special dietary needs to our restaurant cast members, as this allows our culinary team to take extra measures during preparation to prevent the introduction of the allergen.

Update! Water Park Bus Service Test Ends: April 11 marks the conclusion of the park to park test between Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks. Bus service will return to normal operation for Water Park Guests beginning Sunday, April 12. Guests wanting to park hop between Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks will need to transfer buses at a resort or at Epcot.

Reminder! The BOATHOUSE Now Open at Downtown Disney / Disney Springs: As Downtown Disney continues to transform into Disney Springs, we welcome the first of several new restaurants that
will open over the coming months. Guests are now able to dine at The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats. Located in The Landing, The BOATHOUSE is a 24,000-square-foot upscale waterfront dining experience showcasing steaks, chops, fresh seafood and a raw bar. Built over the water, the 600-seat, nautically themed restaurant houses three main dining rooms, two private dining rooms and three distinctive bars. The BOATHOUSE immerses Guests inside and out with waterfront adventures including live music and romantic Captain’s guided tours aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot wooden Italian Water Taxi featuring champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. Tours can accommodate individuals and groups of up to 20 for $75 per person or $50 per child under age 13. Guests may visit The BOATHOUSE to book a 20-minute amphicar tour on the lake. The fleet of amphibious autos launch from land, entering the water with a splash. Piloted by a boat captain, these amphicars accommodate parties of up to three for $125.

amphicar

New! United World Soccer Returns to Downtown Disney with Kiosk: United World Soccer has opened a new mobile merchandise kiosk near Cirque du Soleil. The location features soccer gear and merchandise. United World Soccer has been part of Downtown Disney since May 2014 when it opened a temporary shop for FIFA World Cup fans.

Update! Richard Petty Driving Experience Closed Permanently: Richard Petty Driving Experience and the Exotic Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Resort will close permanently in early August to make room for future transportation improvements. At this time, the Exotic Driving Experience is Temporarily closed through May 1 due to a fatal accident that occurred earlier this week. Guests with questions or those wishing to make or modify their reservations can call  (407) WDW-PLAY. They can also visit www.drivepetty.com to move their reservation to another Richard Petty Driving Experience course, including their Daytona Beach location, or visit www.exoticdriving.com to modify their existing exotic driving experience reservation

Merchandise Events

April 16 – 18: Renowned international artist Larry Dotson is scheduled to appear April 16 – 18 and 23 – 26 at Art of Disney in Epcot. If you are unable to make it, find him, April 30 – May 3 at Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

April 17: New creations take form as Disney Pins! Be among the first to ‘assemble’ at Disney’s Pin Traders in Downtown Disney Marketplace for these new releases and meet artists Tim Loucks and Erica Virgin who will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 11 a.m. – Noon.

April 17: Take part in Trading Night from 6 -9 p.m. p.m. in Veracruz A at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Register online here.

April 18 – 22: Celebrate Earth Day with us! Take part in special artist showcases with Bushman (April 18-19), Just Plumerias (April 18 – 22), Elemental Nursery (April 18 – 22) and William Silvers (April 20 -22), at select locations throughout at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

AME6909524

New! New Dooney & Bourke Collections Coming to Marketplace Co-Op on April 25:  Two new collections will be released on April 25 at Cherry Tree Lane in theMarketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The first collection is called Runway Princess, and it features Disney Princesses such as Snow White, Princess Aurora and Cinderella. The second collection is called “Beach.” These bags are nylon and the pattern shows Mickey and his friends enjoying beach-y activities. Guests attending this product launch on April 25 will have an opportunity to meet Ian Ray, Creative Director for Dooney & Bourke, from 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Runaway Princess Dooney Beach Dooney

Closures and Refurbishments

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

 

Journey into Imagination with Figment at Epcot

Journey into Imagination with Figment at Epcot Imagination Pavilion

Figment the playful, purple dragon is your guide on this whimsical tour of the Imagination Institute.

Climb aboard your carriage and get ready for surprises galore as you travel through Dr. Channing’s sensory labs. Little ones will love learning and laughing about the 5 senses—sound, sight, smell, touch and taste—on this madcap musical trip with Figment.

The Institute’s beleaguered chairman Dr. Nigel Channing (played by Eric Idle) sets out to prove how the 5 senses capture the imagination but is upstaged by the mischievous Figment, who sabotages the doctor’s sound experiment, interferes with the eye chart and causes quite a stink in the Smell Lab.

Then up becomes down as you cruise through Figment’s fluorescent, topsy-turvy house and discover that imagination really does work best when set free!


Afterward, be sure to head to ImageWorks, an interactive play area where you can use your imagination to make music, digital pictures and more.

About the attraction:

Guests Can Be

Any Height

Age Interest

Preschoolers, Kids, All Ages

FastPass+ Offered

Thrill Level

Dark, Slow Rides

Learn to Draw Disney Characters – Tinker Bell

Learn to Draw Disney Characters at Animation Academy

With help from a Disney artist, enjoy a unique hands-on opportunity to draw your very own Disney character sketch at Animation Academy. This is a free activity that is available to all park guests. The experience runs approximately every 20 minutes. Here’s an example of the experience.

Animation Academy is located within The Magic of Disney Animation attraction in Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. The artist instructions do a great job at explaining the techniques they use to draw Disney characters. The whole family can participate, though little kids might just end up drawing whatever they like if they can’t keep up with the instructor. The instructor teaches you to draw a different character each class, so go back a few times and create your own portfolio of masterpieces!

After the class, they will give you a rubber band to roll up your artwork so you can carry it with you and take it home.

If you have a Disney vacation coming up, a good way to get the family excited about your upcoming trip is to sit down together and learn how to draw Tinker Bell right from your home with our video! Enjoy!

Dolphin Plunge at Aquatica by Sea World

Experience the Dolphin Plunge at Aquatica

The most popular ride in the Aquatica by Sea World park is the incredible Dolphin Plunge. One look and it’s easy to see why.

Two side-by-side enclosed tube slides send you racing through an underwater world that is home to a playful pod of beautiful black-and-white Commerson’s Dolphins.

Known for their playful nature and electrifying speed, you may well see them racing right alongside you as you zoom by.

It’s a ride unlike any other in the world- one only a waterpark by SeaWorld® could create.

Ride Requirements

  • Guests must be at least 48” (1.22) tall to ride.
  • Guests over 300 lbs (136 kg) may not ride.
  • Appropriate swim attire required, cotton shorts or shirts, sport shorts, cover ups, loose fitting articles, or similar items are not permitted.   Swim wear with buckles, rivets, or any sharp objects are not permitted.
  • Footwear of any kind is not permitted.
  • Loose articles such as jewelry, phones/cameras or any other item that may damage the slide or cause harm to others are not permitted.
  • At the discretion of Aquatica certain items may be held by the rider, however we recommend you leave them with a non-rider.  Aquatica assumes no responsibility for lost or damaged items.
  • Riders must be able to maintain proper riding position without assistance: feet first, lying on your back with legs firmly crossed at the ankles, and arms folded across the chest during the entire ride.

Transform Yourself Into Disney Characters with Show Your Disney Side App

New Show Your Disney Side App Transforms Your Personal Photos and Videos

We love this new Disney app that allows you to transform your own picture into your favorite Disney or Star Wars character.  It is really fun for the whole family!

The app brings your Disney Side – that side of you that comes out to play the moment you step through the gates at Disney Parks – to life like never before, transforming you into characters from our most popular park attractions and experiences.

With the Show Your Disney Side app, you can become an X-Wing Pilot from the Star Tours – The Adventures Continue attraction, a swashbuckler from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, a princess from “Frozen” and even a favorite Disney villain, Maleficent. And If you visit Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort, you can unlock special Haunted Mansion characters like the Hitchhiking Ghost and Madame Leota. It’s also possible to unlock these special characters by sharing three creations on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Start with a selfie and let the app do the rest.
  • Choose your Disney Side from iconic attractions and experiences like Frozen, Star Tours®, Pirates of the Caribbean®, and Villains of Disney Parks. You can unlock special Haunted Mansion® characters by visiting either Disneyland® Resort or Walt Disney World®  Resort, or by sharing three Show Your Disney Side app creations.
  • Customize your characters with different costumes and frames.
  • Tap or swipe and watch your Disney Side magically react! Experience thrilling special effects for each character.
  • Record video of your creations as they come to life and share with friends.
  • Visit Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort where your Disney Side will be unleashed to the fullest!
  • Don’t forget to show off your Disney Side! Tag your photos and videos with #DisneySide and see how others around the world are expressing their Disney Side.

You can download the app from your app store or visit https://itunes.apple.com/app/id945289759

Tampa Bay is a GREAT Place for Small Kids

Things to Do in Tampa With Kids

When you think about vacationing in Florida, where do you think of relaxing?  Many people flock to Disney and Universal Parks in Orlando.  While Disney and Universal are both wonderful family vacation destinations, there is another family-oriented place that is frequently overlooked – Tampa Bay.  Most families do not fully take advantage of the amazing vacationing opportunities for younger children in Tampa.  As a mom of two boys who are very active and as a resident of Central Florida, my family spends a lot of time in Tampa. Here are my recommendations of some great things to do in Tampa with kids.

Where to Stay

Loews Don Cesar Resort- St. Petersburg, Florida: This is the nicest beachfront resort in St. Pete Beach. You can recognize this resort at the “Big Pink Hotel” located right on the ocean. Well worth your money, the Don Cesar will provide beach lounge chairs, children’s programing, wonderful restaurants, and beautiful sunsets. Located close to Tampa, you can quickly arrive at any destination in the Tampa area you wish.

Photo Credit: Loews Hotels

Tradewinds Resort – St. Petersburg, Florida: Known to locals as a beachfront family resort, the Tradewinds provides endless activities for children and teenagers. With a giant inflatable waterslide, children’s activities daily, beach activities, and paddle boats. The rooms are spacious but need a little updating. If you are comfortable in a 3 star resort, you will be comfortable in the rooms. It is definitely a fun time for families.

Innisbrook- Palm Harbor, Florida: This resort is not beach front and it’s most well known for its golf courses, but Innisbrook is a wonderful resort for children. The rooms are in the process of being updated, and the updated rooms are wonderful! They have one- and two-bedroom suites available with full kitchens and seating areas.  The one thing about this resort is the amount of things for children to do.  There is a wonderful zero entry pool with a waterslide and sand play area. While on property, for no additional fee, children can fish, play miniature golf, and play on the playground.

Photo Credit: Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort

Photo Credit: Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort

What to Do

Fort De Soto State Park: Fort De Soto is a historic fort with 3 miles of protected shoreline.  They have canoeing on a canoe trail, nature trails, fishing piers, and playgrounds.  Pack a lunch and spend the day enjoying nature.  Parking is $5.00 for the day.

Florida Aquarium: The best thing about the Florida Aquarium is the outdoor water playground for children. The Aquarium itself is not one that you could spend an entire day but make sure you bring your swim trunks, sunscreen, and towels as they have an outdoor 2-acre water play area with a pirate ship that kids love.  The second great thing about the Florida Aquarium is the dolphin tour.  I have gone three times and each time seen dolphins very close to the boat. You will get wet so make sure you go in the warmer months or bring clothes you don’t mind getting wet. Cost for Aquarium Admission and Dolphin Tour is $49.90 for adults and $40.90 for kids.

Photo credit: Florida Aquarium

Photo credit: Florida Aquarium

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI): MOSI is one place that we continue to renew our annual passes.  You can easily spend an entire day with the exhibits, IMAX, ropes course, playground, and inflatables.  While they do not have a place to eat on site (just snacks) there are several restaurants nearby.  I recommend Jason’s Deli or McAllister’s. You can leave and come back to the museum with your admission, just keep your wristband on. Preschool age children to adults will find this one of the most fun places to spend the day in Tampa. Admission is $22.95 for adults and $18.95 for children.

Glazer Children’s Museum: Glazer is perfect for children under the age of 7.  If you have older children, they will probably not be as interested as it is geared towards preschool and young elementary students. They can play in a giant water table, “sand” box (made of ground up tires), fly an airplane, climb through a rope maze, and play in a realistic town.  For small children, plan on spending at least 4 hours.  This is a great place for parents to have a little down time and kids to run off energy.  There are two restaurants close by: a Subway in the lobby and a 5 Guys Burgers and Fries across the street. Admission is $15.00 for adults and $9.00 for children.

Lowry Park Zoo: Lowry Park Zoo is ranked the #1 Zoo by Parents Magazine for Preschool children. What I love about it is that they don’t nickel and dime you. The zoo has 5 kiddie rides and they are all FREE.  The only thing that will cost you extra is food, feeding the giraffes ($3) and riding the horses ($5). I recommend feeding the giraffes. They have all of the animals that you would expect at a zoo. The one thing they have that is unique is a manatee hospital. When manatees are found in Tampa Bay injured or abandoned, they are brought here for rehabilitation and release.  If you go early in the morning and go straight to the manatee hospital, they will sometimes let you through the barrier to watch the abandoned manatees drink their bottles.  We have done this once and it was truly a special experience. Be advised that they will only ask if all party members are quiet and well-behaved as any noise can cause stress the young manatees. I just explained to my boys that the baby manatees were sleeping and they had to tiptoe and they did fine. Allow about 4-5 hours to explore the zoo. Admission is $27.95 for adults and $20.95 for children.

Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise: I am typically not into “touristy” things but we did this for my son’s birthday, and it was just too much fun not to mention. We allowed our kids to dress as pirates (they were 3 and 4 at the time) and they completely thought the entire experience was real.  You board a large red boat that looks just like a pirate ship. From the moment you board, all drinks are free (including wine and beer).  The staff entertain the children for the entire 2 hour tour of Tampa Bay. They give them water guns and have a battle, do a treasure hunt, play games, and have dance parties.  It was really a lot of fun and we typically don’t do those types of cruises. I highly recommend for anyone with children ages 3-12. Admission was $34.00 for adults and $29.00 for children.

Photo Credit: Captain Memos Pirate Cruise

Photo Credit: Captain Memos Pirate Cruise

Written by Kristi Gregory. Kristi is a travel agent with Destinations to Explore who lives in the Tampa Bay area. She books trips all over the world, and specializes in Florida travel including Disney and Universal. Contact her at kristi@destinationstoexplore.com or 859-229-4840.