The Lego Movie 4D – Now Playing At Legoland Florida

March 28th, 2016

Fans of Legoland are in for a treat on their next visit to the Orlando park: Merlin Entertainments has partnered with Warner Bros and The Lego Group to create an incredible 4D animated film. It began screening at all Legoland parks across the world on January 25th. It’s an incredible combination of the popular characters from the smash hit Lego Movie and some truly impressive 4D technology.

lego movie 4d legoland florida

Are you a fan of The Boxtrolls?

Families who love The Boxtrolls will be excited to learn that the writer of The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure is written by Adam Pava – the same writer of The Boxtrolls. It’s also co-written and directed by the man who directed the sequel to The LEGO Movie (which will premier in 2018). Some of the original voices will be in this special feature, too! They include Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Elizabeth Banks, and Nick Offerman. Patton Oswalt will be added to the cast.

The story behind the adventure

This new 4D movie will follow favorite characters from the movie: Unikitty, Wyldstyle, Benny, and MetalBeard. It picks up right after the group has received a mysterious invitation. Following the instructions leads theme park that was built based on their adventures in the original LEGO movie. Don’t be surprised when nothing is as it seems! Soon the heroes realize that they’re in the middle of a secret, evil plot – but they have help! The audience uses their LEGO building skills to save the day.

lego movie 4d

Special effects make all the difference

Those in the know say that this experience would be wonderful on its own, but it’s truly taken to another level by adding elements like smoke, wind, water, and special lighting. It brings the main characters back together with their friends in an adventure that folks of all ages will enjoy.

The team behind this new experience

Merlin Entertainments PLC is behind this new experience. They’re tops in Europe and second in the world as far as visitor attraction operation. In total they have 111 attractions, 12 hotels, and 4 holiday villages. Their work is in 23 countries and spans 4 continents. Their goal is to deliver experiences that are both memorable and rewarding. Other attractions they’re responsible include Sherk’s Adventure, Blackpool Tower, and the Orlando Eye.

By all accounts this new attraction is one worth checking out. It’s an exciting time at LEGOland, with old favorites holding strong and new attractions being added regularly.

lego movie weekends

Take In Orlando With The Orlando Eye

March 15th, 2016

A trip to the Orlando Eye is the perfect addition to any Orlando vacation, whether it’s your first trip or you’ve been dozens of times and simply want to see the city from a vantage you’ve never experienced before. This attraction offers a truly unique experience and utilizes technology that had never before been used. Let’s take a look at what wonders behold those who take on the Orlando Eye.

orlando eye

Adding new meaning to the “City Beautiful”

Did you know that one of the nicknames of Orlando is City Beautiful? Once you go up in the Orlando Eye you’ll understand why! The Eye will take you up 400 feet into the sky and you’ll be treated to incredible, breathtaking 360 degree views. There’s no better way to see the city and miles and miles of surrounding central Florida. In fact, you can see all the way to Cape Canaveral.

Don’t miss the pre-flight excitement

Before you go up into the Eye itself you have the opportunity to take advantage of the Eagle Eye view in a pre-flight experience. This 4D cinema attraction engages all your senses and has special effects that put most movies to shame. This pre-flight experience is worth the price of admission on its own.

A convenient location makes this attraction even more appealing

Right in the heart of International Drive, at I-Drive 360, the Orlando Eye is easy to get to. It’s not only one of the tallest observation wheels in the country – it’s the tallest on the entire east coast. There are thirty capsules in total, each of which can hold up to 15 people. These high tech pods rotate gradually so you’ll constantly have a brand new perspective.

inside orlando eye pod

Technology makes the experience even better

Every capsule is complete with Apple iPad Air tablets, which add an extra bit of interest to the experience. With them, guests can learn more about the landmarks they’re seeing. The guided tours are available in numerous languages, and there’s so much to learn that guests can ride the Orlando Eye several times and still learning something new on each visit.

The makers of the Orlando Eye have a lot to offer

Anyone who’s visited Madame Tussauds celebrity wax museum, or the incredible SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, won’t be surprised to learn that the Orlando Eye was created by the same masterminds who created those attractions. In fact, there are passes available to visit all three. The SEA Life Orlando Aquarium is one of the most immersive underwater experiences in the entire world and comes highly recommended.

SeaWorld’s Mako Will Be Orlando’s Tallest, Fastest and Longest Roller Coaster

March 10th, 2016

Exciting changes are on the way to SeaWorld Orlando, including Mako, an incredible new roller coaster that’s poised to break some records. This may be surprising to some folks, who don’t think of SeaWorld as a great place to visit for roller coasters, but this could be a game changer. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.

The background of Mako

Mako is named after a shark – but not just any shark. It’s named after one of the very fastest sharks in the world. SeaWorld first began teasing the public in April of 2015. The only thing they revealed at first was that the coaster would be a staggering 200 feet and would break many records. In May they officially announced the construction of Mako and added many new details.

mako roller coaster seaworld orlando

The incredible stats on Mako

SeaWorld already has several roller coasters, but Mako is slated to be something special indeed. The stats are impressive, with a steel track of more than 4,750 feet – which is nearly a mile long! The top speed will be 73 miles per hour, and SeaWorld promises it will leave riders both weightless and breathless. There will be deep dives and huge climbs – all designed to give riders the feeling of the hunt. When it’s completed, it’ll be the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Orlando.

Special effects make all the difference

Another unique aspect of Mako will be its incredible special effects. A special sound system will enhance rider’s experiences both on and off the ride. The score of Mako will follow them as they go up the first lift hill, and additional surround sound effects and scores will follow them on the ride. Nighttime riders are in for a special treat, as special lights accent the coaster, and flicker and shimmer to stimulate fish being scattered as the shark is on the hunt.

seaworld mako coaster

Mako’s place in the park

Mako won’t just be a standalone roller coaster, and it’s not replacing anything. Instead, it’ll be the centerpiece of an entirely new themed area. This plaza is going to be chock full of shark-themed attractions, including a Shark Encounter, and a restaurant called Sharks Underwater Grill. There will also be shops and various educational opportunities for kids and adults alike.

There’s another reason Mako is such a big deal

Besides the many records it’s breaking, Mako is a big deal for SeaWorld for another reason: It’s the first new roller coaster in six years. In fact, that least one to open was Manta, the exciting coaster that soars through the water and gets guests wet. It’s also the first new attraction in three years. The last attraction they added was the popular Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin back in 2013.

Mako’s opening day

While SeaWorld hasn’t officially announced when they’ll be opening Mako we do know that it’s slated for some time in 2016. We’d expect them to try and have it open before the peak season begins in June but only time will tell!

New Star Wars Attractions Coming To Disney’s Hollywood Studios

March 1st, 2016

Fans of Star Wars have a lot to be excited about at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. Tons of changes are coming, including new themed shows, attractions, food, and more! The Star Wars galaxy will open a bit at a time over the next few years, but those in the know agree that these are changes worth waiting for.

What we know about the new Star Wars features

There are two categories of info about these new features: official info announced by Disney and rumors from Disney insiders. First, let’s take a look at what Disney has officially announced.

Star Wars Launch Bay

Set to go up in what is now the Animation Courtyard, Star Wars Launch Bay will provide guests the opportunity to meet with their favorite characters. Their options will include meeting those from the Dark Side in a Star Destroyer area, or meeting the Rebels in a Rebel Base themed area. In one they’ll meet Darth Vader and in the other they’ll meet Chewbacca.

launch bay hollywood studios disney world

Star Wars Launch Bay will also have a few exhibits. Celebration Gallery and Hallway gives guests a chance to see ships from the Imperial Navy Fleet and the Rebel Alliance, along with other props and murals from the movie. The Preview Gallery will include costumes, models, and artwork from the most recent film. The final stop will be Launch Bay Cargo, which will feature a huge selection of Star Wars merchandise.

Changes to Star Tours

Star Tours has long been one of the most popular attractions in Hollywood Studios, and there’s even more to get excited about, thanks to Disney’s recent changes. They’ve kept the daring adventure intact for the most part, but have added new characters and adventures. The ride is longer, too – which gives fans even more to enjoy.

The return of Jedi Training

Disney guests were bummed to learn that Jedi Training was closing, but the good news is that it’ll be opening again with enhanced features and new characters – including the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. This popular interactive attraction allows kids to step right into the shoes of Jedis in training.

jedi training disney world

Abridged cinematic reels

Guests of the park who want to relive their favorite moments can head to Star Wars: Path of the Jedi to see an abridged cinematic reel with some of the best parts of episodes I – VII.

star wars cupcakes disney worldNew food throughout the park

Restaurants and snack carts throughout the park are embracing the Star Wars spirit. Look for exciting galactic foods like Blue Milk Panna Cotta, BB-8 Lemon and Butter Cream Cupcakes, and Padawan Limeade.

Fireworks only Disney could pull off

Disney World is known for their unsurpassed fireworks, and guests of Hollywood Studios are sure to be excited by the newest Disney fireworks spectacular: Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular. These have been going on nightly since mid-December and are expected to continue indefinitely.

Rumored additions to Star Wars Land

Rumors must be taken with a grain of salt until they’re officially confirmed, but some of the more credible rumors have included:

  • A life-size Millennium Falcon that allows fans to fly in the cockpit
  • The second major attraction will feature Rogue One content
  • A new Disney job listing seems like pretty solid evidence that there will be a Star Wars Rebels meet and greet or show

While the full details of the new Star Wars attractions aren’t yet clear, one thing is certain: this will be an incredible addition that Star Wars fans can get excited about.

 

Interactive Lines At Disney World Make Waiting Easier

February 23rd, 2016

As you decide which Disney attractions to use your FastPass+ on, there are numerous factors to consider. One of the key components many people forget are the lines themselves. Some rides have incredible interactive queues that are almost worth the trip alone. Here’s a comprehensive list of all lines with interactive queues.

Magic Kingdom rides with themed or interactive lines

Some lines are simply heavily themed, meaning there’s plenty to do, while others are actually interactive. Let’s review all of the options in Magic Kingdom and which ones are worth seeing.

7d mine train interactive line disney world

  • Haunted Mansion. There are tons of great things to see and do in this line. The best time to go through is within the first two hours of park opening.
  • Here there’s an entire indoor play area for kids! Using FastPass+ totally bypasses it, so if you’re interested in the play area you’ll need to go in the standby line.
  • Winnie the Pooh. There are numerous hands-on activities in this line. Using FastPass+ still lets you see and experience a few of them, but you’ll be going by quickly.
  • Space Mountain. There are video games to make the long lines more bearable but they’re not worth doing for the sake of doing.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This one is tricky. The interactive elements are truly amazing, but the line can be hours long. Try getting to this ride within the first hour the park opens to avoid long lines but still be able to see the interactive elements.
  • Journey of the Little Mermaid. There are tons of great details in this line but you can see most of them buzzing by in the FastPass+ line.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Some new, updated queue elements are cool but not worth the long lines.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight. This is another newly revamped line with some very cool themed elements. Still, the line can be unbearably long. Best to use FastPass+ for this one.

Epcot

There is only one ride in Epcot with an interactive queue: Soarin’. At the moment, it’s closed to improve this queue. Before the improvements it was certainly not worth seeing, but only time will tell if the improvements make it a must-see.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is undergoing some serious changes, thanks to the building of both Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. At the moment there are a few rides with interactive queues. Who knows what the park will look like in just a few years!

  • Toy Story Midway Mania. There’s lots to see in this queue but nothing worth waiting in the 120+ minute long lines.
  • Tower of Terror. This is likely the most impressively themed queue in all four parks. However, everyone gets to see it FastPass+ or not.
  • Star Tours. Fans of the movies will love the queue, but once again most details can be experienced from the FastPass+ line too.

toy story mania interactive line

Animal Kingdom

The only ride in Animal Kingdom with noteworthy theming is Expedition Everest. It’s not worth waiting in a long line for though, so we recommend either using a FastPass+, taking advantage of the single rider line, or visiting it right when the park opens or in the last hour the park is open.

Gluten Free Eating At Disney World

February 11th, 2016

Many Disney World guests following a gluten-free diet are understandably worried that their options will be limited, or that they’ll have difficulty determining what they can and can’t eat. The good news is that Disney takes all food restrictions seriously. If you’re eating at a table service restaurant, be sure to note on your reservation that you are gluten-free. Not only will you have options available, but the chef will come to your table to consult with you about what you can and can’t eat, and offer their recommendations. Below are just a few of the gluten-free choices we recommend.

Garden Kiosk in Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has an amazing food allergy kiosk specifically for guests who have special diet needs – including dietary restrictions and food allergies. Cast members are there every day from 9 am to 3 pm and are specially trained to handle these questions and offer advice. They also sell pre-packaged snacks, many of which are gluten-free, and even gluten-free beer.

garden kiosk animal kingdom gluten free

Splitsville in Disney Springs

Another great option is not in the parks themselves, but is in the newly revamped Disney Springs. Splitsville, an upscale bowling alley, has an impressive 16 gluten-free dishes. They include tasty entrees like rick bowls, pizzas, BLT sandwiches, grilled salmon, and more!

Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom

This spot gets a special place on the list because it’s a quick service option. Though you’ll have gluten-free options at every table service restaurant, that’s not necessarily the case at every counter service or snack kiosk. Flame Tree BBQ offers open air dining and great options like BBQ chicken and coleslaw. They even have gluten-free brownies!

gluten free treats flaming tree bbq disney

Biergarten in EPCOT

Biergarten is not just a restaurant, it’s also a fantastic experience. The food is buffet style and a German show takes place while guests sit around communal tables and chow down. All you have to do is let your server know you’re gluten-free and the chef will come out, walk you through the buffet, and explain what you can and can’t eat. There are tons of choices, and sometimes the chefs even come back out and present guests with pre-packaged gluten-free treats for later snacking.

Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom

Crystal Palace is another buffet, and just like at Biergarten you can expect the chef to walk you through and let you know what you can eat. They have many options, including shrimp, quinoa salad, roast chicken, carving station, and they’ll even bring out tapioca rolls. Make sure you save room for the best part: a special chocolate dessert that many swear is the best gluten-free dessert in all of Disney World.

crystal palace disney world gluten free

Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios

Mama Melrose is a table service Italian restaurant with adorable theming and tons of gluten-free options. The best thing about this restaurant, for those with gluten intolerance, is that most of their gluten-free options are naturally gluten-free. They do offer GFI rolls, desserts, etc. but they also have numerous meat dishes served with delectable sauces and sides that naturally contain no gluten.

Disney World offers so many options for guests with special needs – including those with dietary restrictions. These are just a few of the places you can have delicious food with no hassle.

Downtown Disney Is Now Disney Springs

February 1st, 2016

As of September 29th, 2015, the shopping and entertainment hub once known as Downtown Disney is officially Disney Springs. This is a huge re-imagination of the area that will almost double the size, add shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Disney Springs is set up into four neighborhoods

Construction will be complete sometime in the middle of 2016. When all is said and done there will be four separate neighborhoods for guests to enjoy: Marketplace, Town Center, The Landing, and West Side. Each will have unique theming, shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

disney springs view

The Landing

Those familiar with Downtown Disney of yesterday will remember The Landing as Pleasure Island. It’s an outdoor neighborhood and several new restaurants will make their home there: The Boathouse, Tea Traders Café by Joffrey, Morimoto Asia, Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar, and STK Orlando. There’s plenty of other nightlife in The Landing, including The Edison, a gothic-style club themed to the 1920s with Cabaret performances.

Several new stores will make their way to The Landing:

  • Art of Shaving
  • Sanuk
  • Vivoli Getateria
  • APEX by Sunglass Hut
  • Erin McKenna’s Bakery
  • Sound Lion
  • Art of Shaving
  • Chapel Hats
  • Havaianas
  • Erwin Pearl

erin mckennas bakery disney springs

Town Center

Town Center is another outdoor neighborhood. There guests will find a mixture of dining and shopping, plus a relaxing promenade guests can stroll down while taking in the beautiful surroundings.

The Marketplace

The Marketplace was part of the original Downtown Disney, but they’re adding a larger World of Disney Store, plus new retailers. At the moment, the Village Causeway is open, which connects one end of the Marketplace, close to the LEGO Store, to the other end, near the Rainforest Café. As guests walk this causeway they’ll find a variety of retailers selling everything from toys to local specialties like Flour & Sugar, a Florida-themed cookie company, and Florida Bath Co.

Dockside Margaritas, while not new, has benefited from a facelift and taken on a bigger menu, which includes local beers, Florida wines, and brand new cocktails. Its location on the waterfront makes it a great place for a casual meal or drink.

dockside margaritas

West Side

The West Side was also a part of Downtown Disney. There guests can check out live entertainment, and elevated spots that offer shade and great views of the entertainment. A new NBA experience will also be added later this year, and will including food, shopping, and interactive activities. It will go in where DisneyQuest used to be.

New parking

One of the biggest complaints about Downtown Disney was the lack of parking. Disney took that complaint seriously and has built two new parking garages, with a total vehicle capacity of more than 6,000. This will be a relief to anyone who’s tried to park there on a Friday night in the past!

There’s no question that exciting things are in store for Disney Springs. From all evidence it looks like it’s shaping up to a be a totally overhaul that will be well worth the wait.

disney springs dining

 

Frozen Ever After Coming To Epcot Spring 2016

January 21st, 2016

Girls and boys around the world – and their parents, too – are anxiously awaiting the opening of Frozen Ever After in Disney World’s ECPOT theme park. Slated for a spring 2016 opening, it will be a part of the Norwegian pavilion in the popular World Showcase area of the park. While final details haven’t been released yet, we do know that it will contain scenes inspired by the film Frozen and the animated short Frozen Fever.

The plans for a Frozen attraction were in the works before the film was even released, but with the incredible, unprecedented success of the film, those plans were accelerated. Some World Showcase fans have expressed concern that it’s inappropriate to create an attraction that’s based on a fictional place within the World Showcase, but Disney says they feel it will do nothing but boost interest in the Norway pavilion and Scandinavian culture – which is what Frozen was based on in the first place.

frozen ever after ride epcot

Those familiar with EPCOT will recognize the location of Frozen Ever After as the previous home of the attraction Maelstrom. In fact, it utilizes some of the same tracks and waterways as its predecessor. Maelstrom was closed for good on October 5, 2014 and construction on the new attraction began almost immediately.

The ride will prominently feature Audio-Animatronics utilizing the latest technology in facial animation, which uses rear-projection technology that makes the characters look much more lifelike. Savvy guests may recognize it as the same technology that was used on the very popular Seven Dwarfs Mine Train next door in the Magic Kingdom, and in Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Disneyland. There are no songs being written specifically for the attraction, but there will be a few songs from the movie with lyrics that have been revised by the original composers specifically for the ride.

When riders first enter the queue for Frozen Ever After they’ll arrive in the summer season in Arendelle. They’ll celebrate the Winter Festival, pass through Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, and go on to board their boats where they’ll find Sven and Olaf preparing for the festival.

On the ride itself, Grand Pabbie narrates the story of the meeting of Kristoff and Anna, the boats come around a turn to show Anna, Sven, Kristoff, and Olaf enjoying a winter scene, then on to Queen Elsa in her ice palace, through Marshmallow and his friends that were introduced in Frozen Fever, and finally to a return to Arendelle through a dramatic cloud of mist. In the final scene riders will experience an incredible fireworks finale and a send-off from Anna, Elsa, and the whole gang.

frozen ever after coming spring 2016

The Norway pavilion will also be home to a Royal Sommerhus. This historic Norwegian log cabin will house Anna and Elsa while they greet guests, snap photos, and sign autographs.

How far did the team at Disney go to ensure their attraction would be authentic? They traveled all the way to Norway to study both the country and its culture. No matter how guests feel about the movie, about closing Maelstrom, or what they see as a significant change to the World Showcase, there’s no question that this will be a unique experience.

Skull Island: Reign of King Kong Opens Summer 2016 at Universal Orlando

January 14th, 2016

Universal’s first ever King Kong themed ride, King Kong Encounter, opened in Universal Studios Hollywood park way back in 1986. The seven ton, 30 foot-tall King Kong was a massive success and it’s no wonder that Kongfrontation was ready on opening day in Universal Studios Florida. That ride has been closed for over a decade, but fans of the movie monster are about to get something even more impressive. Skull Island: Reign of King Kong opens in Universal’s Islands of Adventure in summer of 2016.

According to the ride creator, everything about this ride is going to be big. Just consider the ride vehicle: it’ll be a full 40 feet long. Or consider the length of the ride: an average theme park ride is just under four minutes long while this one will be just ten seconds shy of six minutes. Guests can enjoy a long ride through an impressively immersive environment.

skull island universal orlando

While many details of the ride are still being kept under wraps, we do know a few things. First, guests will enter off the main promenade of Islands of Adventure. They’ll pass the marquee and walk through the main entrance, which is an archway topped with a huge stone King Kong skull. They’ll then be surrounded by a dense jungle and plants that appear to have seen better days. As they continue on, they’ll be faced with crates, supplies, and other items that will suggest their expedition has made it to Skull Island.

As guests work their way through the queue area they’ll wind back and forth through the base camp and get the full Reign of Kong backstory through a radio broadcast. In fact, it’s an actual 1930s NBC news broadcast, complete with musical interludes from the NBC Orchestra.

After the base camp guests will see ruins of an ancient temple, and will eventually enter those ruins. As they go deeper they’ll have a sense of the native presence on the island. They’ll meet a few characters from the expedition who will fill in some of the blanks on the backstory, and then they’ll finally make it to the load area.

The whole time guests are making their way through the queue areas they’re moving from large, open spaces into tight, confined spaces. This was a deliberate choice on the part of Universal: they’re establishing a tone and creating tension.

universal orlando reign of kong

When guests get to the load area they hear a final radio broadcast. Somewhere deep in the jungle comes a broadcast from the base camp. The purpose is to let the driver know where they need to go when they get into the field, but it also hints at what guests can expect to encounter when they get on the ride.

Guests take their seats and their enormous ride vehicle roars out of the ruins, along a crumpled road, and then makes a hard turn. As it approaches the Great Wall drums are beating, flames are flaring up, and a set of massive temple doors open.

What happens next is anyone’s guess, as Universal has not released the details of the ride itself. What we do know is that everything is big and overwhelming. We know that Universal expects to amaze and delight guests on the ride.

10 Advantages to Renting a Vacation Home

November 9th, 2015

As you plan for your next trip, one of your first decisions will be where to stay. There are numerous advantages to choosing a vacation home, including the following ten benefits.

1.         Laundry facilities

Having laundry right in your vacation home saves you money on baggage fees because you can pack less, offers optimal convenience, and saves time by eliminating the need to visit a local laundromat.

2.         Cooking at home

Cooking in your vacation home saves you money and makes it easy for the entire family to sit down and share a meal every night.

orlando home rental kitchen

3.         Extra space

Perhaps the biggest advantage of renting a vacation home: everyone has plenty of privacy! Why pack into a hotel room when you can all spread out?

4.         Affordability

This one is a shocker for many people, but the reality is that renting a home is often more affordable than staying in a hotel. For example, you can rent an Orlando vacation home starting at just $99 per night.

5.         Community

Most home rentals are located in communities with other homes for rent. You’ll have a great mix of people who know the area well and others who are experiencing it for the first time with you.

6.         Lots of variety

You can stay at vacation homes year after year and never stay in the same one. You’ll have different décor, amenities, and more.

gameroom orlando vacation home

7.         All the comforts of home

When you rent a home you’ll truly feel that you’re at home! You’ll have comfortable living quarters, your own bedroom, and all the create comforts of your home.

8.         Privacy in spades

The extra room you have in your vacation home translates to tons of privacy! You can put the kids to bed and stay up late watching movies with your sweetie without worrying about waking anyone up.

9.         All the technology you need

Vacation homes will vary by location, but generally speaking you can expect to have wireless internet, cable TV, and other technology. Feel free to bring your laptop and get some work done, or snuggle down on the couch with the family and watch your favorite TV shows.

flat screen tv orlando vacation home

10.       Less crowded

Why fight crowds to get to a pool when you can stay in a home with a private pool? Why fight crowds to get to your car when you can pull up right into your own driveway? Private homes are only as crowded as you make them!