Shine up your cowboy boots, Adventures by Disney is going to Nashville!

Have you ever wanted to visit Music City? Adventures by Disney Long Weekend trips allows you to discover exciting destinations and maximize your travel time with shorter trips. In addition to New York City and San Francisco announced earlier this year, Adventures by Disney is now offering a Long Weekend trip to Nashville, Tennessee.

This 4-day/3-night getaway explores the home of country music, which serves as the backdrop for the critically acclaimed show NASHVILLE on ABC. The Gaylord Opryland Resort will be your home for the weekend.

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From a backstage tour at the Grand Ole Opry and a visit to the famed Bluebird Cafe to a stop at The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson and a chance to record a song in the historic RCA Studio B, you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience that includes the best of Nashville.

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Plus, with two Disney-trained Adventure Guides Adventures by Disney taking care of the details, you will focus on having fun together as a family.

Here is the trip at a glance:

Airports
Arrive: BNA (Nashville)
Depart: BNA (Nashville)

Accommodations

Gaylord Opryland Resort

Departures
Spring; Summer; Fall; Adult Exclusive

Meals Included

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Ages
Minimum Age: 4
Recommended Age: 6+

Trip Highlights
•Concert and Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry
Visit “The Show That Made Country Music Famous” with a private guided experience backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. The world’s longest running live radio program opens its doors for a look into country music’s star-studded past with a private dinner in its famed soundstage, Studio A, and premier seating for the show.
•Performance at the Bluebird Café
Experience one of the Music City’s most famous musical hangouts at The Bluebird Café. A small and intimate music club, The Bluebird Café is internationally renowned for its musical performances. During your private “before-hours” visit, you’ll meet professional songwriters, learn about the art of songwriting and enjoy a private performance.
•RCA Studio B
Tour the hallowed halls of the “home of a thousand hits!” RCA Studio B has seen the recording of over 35,000 songs and hits from some of music’s biggest legends. You’ll even add to that legacy with a recording of your very own!
•After-hours Visit at The Hermitage
Behold this beautiful National Historic Site that was once the home of President Andrew Jackson. Tour the incredible former plantation and see its wondrous gardens and gorgeous antebellum architecture. During your private, after-hours visit you’ll get a guided ghost tour of the grounds, make authentic Southern biscuits, learn square dancing from Jackson’s era and have a delectable welcome dinner.

If you are ready to hit the road and visit one of the best cities in America, contact me today for a FREE quote. Jenngreene@destinationstoexplore.com or 443-424-0181

Brand New Horseshoe Casino opening in Baltimore, MD

Get ready Baltimore on August 26 at 9pm a new Casino will makes it debut! This Casino is owned by Caesar’s Entertainment, they also own a number of properties all over the U.S. and of course PLENTY along the Vegas strip. I have had the pleasure of visiting many of these Casinos and can’t wait to see what this new addition to Baltimore looks like.

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Located right on Russell Street in the heart of Baltimore the Horseshoe Casino has easy access from 95 and 395, it will also offer Free Parking. Hello, you had me with that one. Free Parking, in the city! It is also situated right in the heart of our stadiums so after a big O’s or Ravens Win keep the party going and head to the Horseshoe.

The Casino itself will offer 2500 of the newest slots and over 122 table games as well as a World Series of Poker Room. Maryland just entered the big time in the world of casinos. With 5 great restaurants you wont run out of fantastic offerings including a Jack Binion’s Steak, Johnny Sanchez, Guy Fieri’s Baltimore Kitchen, Baltimore Marketplace and Ruby 8 Noodles and Sushi. I for one cant wait to try Guy Fieri’s! If you are looking for a little nightlife then look no further than 14Forty, open 24 hours/7 days a week. The Horseshoe Baltimore will also feature Twisted Yard Bar, B’more Beers and TAG Bar. What more could you want when it comes to dining and entertainment.

While this is a stand alone casino without an adjacent hotel there are many partner hotels in the Baltimore area close by that you can choose from. The Sheraton Inner Harbor and Hyatt Regency will offer FREE shuttle service from 4pm-3am, seven days a week.

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So who is ready to head to Baltimore and try their luck at the BRAND NEW Horseshoe Casino? If you are looking to spend 1 night or an entire weekend visiting contact me and I will take care of your room reservations as well as help with local attractions in the Baltimore area. Shoot me an email at jenngreene@destinationstoexplore or give me a call at 443-424-0181! Good Luck, Have Fun and remember to Gamble Responsibly.

Look No Further For Central Orlando Discounts on Family Travel

Who the heck can keep up with the discounts that come through your in-box everyday from some of your favorite vacation destinations? I know I can’t, and I see them everyday! Here is the most current list of all the discounts around Central FL for Fall/Winter 2014!

Disney Discounts

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Walt Disney World® Resort
● Save up to 30% off Disney Resort Hotels: Do you want to bring the kids to Disney World for a getaway through fall? You still have time to save up to 30% off Disney Resort Hotels through November 25, 2014.
● Active/Retired Military Rates: For US active and retired military, save money on tickets and resort accommodations through October 2015.
● Florida Resident & Annual Passholder Rates: Florida Residents and Annual Passholders can take advantage of great rates on rooms at select Disney Resort Hotels up to 35% off through September 24, 2014.
● RunDisney Group Rates: Are you a runner? Do you want to run a race with Mickey Mouse? Join our VIP runners at Destinations in Florida for some of the favorite races including Tower of Terror, Disney Marathon, and Disney Princess Run. These exclusive rates are only with our agency.

Disneyland® Resort
● Save up to 20% off Disneyland® Resorts: For a limited time, you can save up to 20% off your hotel accommodations through September 27, 2014.
● Retired Military Rates: For US active and retired military, save money on tickets and resort accommodations through October 2015.
● Book a Package for as Little as $89 Per Person/Per Day: Stay right down the road from the Disney Magic at a Good Neighbor Hotel from now through November 21 for as little as $89 per person/per day.
● 3rd, 4th or 5th Night Free at Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels: Visit Anaheim during select nights through December 2014. Stay at a select Disney Good Neighbor Hotels and enjoy a 3rd night, 4th night or 5th night free. Contact your favorite Destinations in Florida/Destinations to Explore agent for details.

Disney Cruise Line®

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● New! Canadian Residents Save up to 20% Off: From November 2014-January 2015, Canadian Residents can save up to 20% off Disney Cruise prices on select cruises.
● Special Rates for Florida Residents and US Military: Take advantage of special deals for Florida Residents and active/retired United States Military.

Universal Orlando Resort Discounts

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● Florida Resident Halloween Horror Nights Package: Are you ready to scream? You can now book a HHN Package at special savings, just for Florida Residents.
● Halloween Horror Nights Packages: For non-Florida Residents, you can still save money with a special HHN Package from $459 per adult at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort most Sun-Thurs September 19-November 1, 2014.
● Halloween Horror Nights Tickets: Pre-order your HHN tickets to save money and lock in your favorite date. These are now available as stand alone tickets or they can be added to any Universal Orlando package.
● Cabana Bay Beach Resort Florida Resident Deal: Florida Residents can experience this new hotel from just $79 per night plus tax.
● Universal 1-Day or 2-Day Pass with Shuttle Transportation for 2014: Take a day away from the Disney World Parks to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Book a 1-Day or 2-Day Pass to Universal Studios with shuttle transportation included in the ticket.
● “Take 2” Transfer: If you do not want to rent a car during your Orlando vacation, take advantage of the new “Take 2” Transfer ticket for only $39 per person. This transfer includes transportation from a Disney Resort hotel to Universal Orlando Resort for a Universal Studios vacation. After your Universal vacation, the transportation takes you back to the Orlando International Airport.

Sea World Discounts
● Eat for Free During Your Vacation: Book a Sea World Package at one of the partner hotels and get the All Day Dining Deal for FREE!
● Kids Free at Sea World: Book your Sea World Package and kids play for free. You will receive one free child ticket (ages 3-9) for every paid adult.

Other Orlando Discounts
● Air Tour Over Orlando: The air tour over Orlando’s theme parks is a great way to get amazing aerial views of Orlando’s most famous attractions. Piloted by an FAA-certified pilot, the flight offers you perfect views of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, the Wide World of Sports Complex and more from 1,100 feet. This tour starts from $64!
● See Oldest City in the United States with a St. Augustine Day Trip: Enjoy a day in America’s oldest town, Saint Augustine. On this day trip from Orlando, head east to the picturesque Atlantic-coast town, where you can wander the cobbled streets and enjoy a meal in one of the many promenade cafes. St Augustine is a unique city filled with colonial Spanish neighborhoods, magnificent buildings and a wonderful, old-time charm. Prices from $64!

And don’t forget to contact your favorite travel agent (ahem) when you are ready for a FREE no obligation quote. I can be reached at 443-424-0181 or just shoot me an email at jenniferg@destinationsinflorida.com

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Family Fun for Everyone

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg, one of the great perks of my job is that when a training is complete we get Complimentary tickets to visit the destination. Did you know Sea World Parks and Resorts now operates Busch Gardens Williamsburg? They have made a few great improvements to this classic park.

Site Logo

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is an homage to the Old Countries of Europe, it showcases Italy, Germany, Scotland, England and France. The theming is great in each country with attractions, shows and food that really showcases that country. This used to be a park that was very adult oriented, owned by a beer company it was coasters and beers all day. Now it hosts 2 lands that are great for kids including a Sesame Street themed area as well as the Land of Dragons. Our kids loved the Sesame Street area, they must have rode the coaster 40 times!

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Much like other parks these days Busch Gardens is offering a “cashless” way to pay in the parks, its a wristband that they automatically load $50 on for you and it can be scanned as you go to enjoy food, drinks and souvenirs. I thought this was pretty easy, however they may want to make this a little more secure as there is no way to know that is really you charging it. So not sure what would happen if you lost the wristband.

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Busch Gardens is home to classic coasters like The Loch Ness Monster and Alpengeist. However it has added a few new coasters in recent years such as Griffon and Verbolten. Both of these are great coasters for enthusiasts. Griffon is a bit of a cliff hanger and Verbolten is an unexpected high speed launch coaster. Don’t miss out on either ride if you love coasters.

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The entertainment at this park is great! It offers a Live Irish Dance show, an Octoberfest party with live polka band, London Rocks stage show and much more. All summer long they end the night with a fireworks display that salutes America!

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If you are looking for a great day full of family thrills then be sure to put Busch Gardens Williamsburg on your must do list for family travel! I highly suggest going to Christmas Town if you like winter theme parks it really is fantastic.

If you have already been to Busch Gardens Williamsburg what is your favorite attraction?

Celebration of Harry Potter returns in 2015

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host the second annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter” event at Universal Orlando– 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, 2014 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. Full vacation package details are below.

BUTTERBEER

All general admission park guests will have the opportunity to:
◾Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent and other special guests (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
◾Experience and participate in the interactive and unique exhibits of the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
◾Enjoy special discussions regarding various aspects of the Harry Potter franchise
◾Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Plus, ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket.
◾And much more!

While most of the activities for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be open to all Universal Orlando park guests and annual passholders, only guests who purchase the exclusive event vacation package or annual passholder package will enjoy certain special benefits and reserved seating for select events. Packages are limited and will go on sale at 1 EST on Thursday, August 21, 2014.

Packages for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando Resort:

All packages are LIMITED so please do not delay in requesting a quote!

Cabana Bay Beach Resort (24)On-Site Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at $219 per adult per night, tax inclusive
◾3-night on-site hotel accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando Resort’s all-new retro-themed moderate & value priced hotel
◾3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (includes access to the Hogwarts Express)
◾Exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
◾Access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, including light desserts and Butterbeer
◾Specially themed Welcome Parcel and complimentary commemorative merchandise item
◾Special Guest access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
◾Reserved seating or viewing area for select Celebration events
◾Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the parks open
◾Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, one per person
◾Complimentary on-site transportation to and from both theme parks and Universal CityWalk

Note: This package does not include complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access

Royal Pacific

On-Site Deluxe Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at $285 per adult per night, tax inclusive
◾3-night on-site hotel accommodations at one of Universal Orlando’s spectacular deluxe on-site hotels: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort
◾3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (includes access to the Hogwarts Express)
◾Complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access to skip the regular lines in both theme parks for all three days – a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day
◾Exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
◾Access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, including light desserts and Butterbeer
◾Specially themed Welcome Parcel and complimentary commemorative merchandise item
◾Special Guest access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
◾Reserved seating or viewing area for select Celebration events
◾Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the parks open
◾Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, one per person
◾Complimentary on-site transportation to and from both theme parks and Universal CityWalk

Universal Partner Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at $185 per adult per night, tax inclusive
◾3-night accommodations at a Universal Partner Hotel near Universal Orlando
◾3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (includes access to the Hogwarts Express)
◾Exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
◾Access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, including light desserts and Butterbeer
◾Specially themed Welcome Parcel and complimentary commemorative merchandise item
◾Special Guest access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
◾Reserved seating or viewing area for select Celebration events
◾Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the parks open
◾Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, one per person
◾Free scheduled transportation between the hotel and Universal Orlando Resort

Note: This package does not include complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access

Are you ready to celebrate all things Harry Potter? These package WILL SELL out! Contact me today for a quote, don’t delay. I will be quoting on Aug 21 as soon as packages open for booking. jenniferg@destinationsinflorida.com

Add a little bling to your Magic Band with Cover Bands

Tired of those plain Magic Bands when you go to Disney World? Wouldn’t you love to add a little something extra to dress it up? My friend Morgan over at DVC Central makes a product called Cover Bands. Cover Bands are vinyl decals for your theme park and fitness (Flex only) wristbands! They’re removable (not reusable) and waterproof. Cover Bands are really reasonably priced anywhere from $6.00 and up, depending on what you would like. And they ship for a flat $1 fee to anywhere in the world and can be delivered to your resort if you leave your name, name of your hotel, and check-in date in the COMMENTS section of your order. From the Classic Disney Characters, to Princesses and more Cover Bands well have you covered.

When you get your Cover Bands they will come on a sheet just like the one below. Since we had a yellow Magic Band laying around we decided to try the Mickey Cover Band.

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Just peel the Cover Band off the adhesive paper and apply to your Magic Band. Yes it really is that easy!

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Then just put on your Magic Band and Rock Your Band in the parks of Walt Disney World Resort!

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Morgan was nice enough to offer me a FREE Cover Band for an honest review, and honestly I love them! If you would like to order one just visit DVC Central. Also, give Morgan a Follow on twitter @centralmorgan and Like her on facebook to keep up with the newest bands!

But wait there is more!! Morgan was AWESOME enough to donate a Cover Band for me to giveaway to 1 lucky reader! All you have to do is comment on this blog post the band you would most like for your next trip and you will be entered to WIN a Frozen themed Cover Band courtesy of DCV Central.

Enter to Win!

Enter to Win!

Because depression is real…

As you know I am normally upbeat and fun, however last nights news really hit me hard. I have never seen a post of a celebrity death and gasped with an “Oh No”, that is exactly how I responded to Robin Williams death. His films and him have been a part of my life, literally. To me he was that funny distant relative that you never knew personally but felt you knew. To me he will always be Popeye, Mork, Genie, Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams those roles are just iconic Robin Williams. However he also had more serious roles in his career with Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, 1 Hour Photo, Dead Poet’s Society and Awakenings. His talent knew no bounds, yet he was suffering with demons only those who know them can understand. I am tearing up as I write this. It’s a bit surreal to be affected by someone’s death you never knew.

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I suffer from depression, it’s dark and lonely at times however if treated you can manage it just like any disease. Too many people ignore the signs and it gets to a serious point that you can’t turn back from. Depression can stem from so many things, genetics, trauma, stress and so many other reasons. If you see someone that you think is suffering from depression talk to them and try to get them help. Don’t let those you love suffer and eventually succumb to the darkness that is depression, eventually they will be drowned by the dark place and the demons that come with it. Sadly, Robin was drawn down deep by his depression, and couldn’t find a way out other than ending his own life. Don’t let that happen to those you love, or even those you don’t know!

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Don’t wait until it’s too late, or think this will pass. Depression NEEDS to be treated, there is no other way out of it. I have mainly good days, but there are triggers that can turn a day bad, I know how to turn it around and get out of it. So many don’t know how to escape the demon that is depression. Please don’t let yourself or loved ones get caught in the dark depths. If you are reading this, know that you are not alone. And If you need someone to talk to I am here, you may be someone I know or a total stranger. Doesn’t matter, if I can help I will. Always remember no matter what You Are Loved.

What’s new around the Universe?

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: Halloween Horror Nights 24 updates, Rock the Universe Christian Music Festival, live concerts and events and more!

What’s New This Week?

Halloween Horror Nights Alen Vs. Predator

New! “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” house coming to Halloween Horror Nights 24: You will find yourself caught in the middle of the epic battle between the Aliens and Predators as you visit one of Weyland-Yutani’s secret facilities to assist with a critical situation. This Central American bio-weapons research facility houses several divisions that deal in extra-terrestrial technologies, specifically the Alien xenomorph species. Recently received surveillance shows the facility has been compromised by the Yautja—commonly known as Predators—who are relentlessly hunting the Aliens AND any thing in their path.

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New! 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.

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New! Power Pass Summer Blockout Dates Reduced: This summer’s blockout dates for Universal Studios Florida were originally noted to continue through August 14, but Universal has lifted the blockout starting August 1. You can now experience Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express earlier than planned.

Reminder! Changes to Park Operating Hours: August 1 through August 16, Universal Islands of Adventure will open at 8:00am to the general public (7:00am for Early Park Admission), while Universal Studios Florida will open at 9:00am to the general public (8:00am for Early Park Admission). Due to the differences in opening times, the Hogwarts Express will not be available until 8:00am, and from 8:00am to 9:00am, it will only be available to guests with Early Park Admission (and park-to-park tickets, as always). Universal CityWalk operating hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., 365 days a year.

Reminder! Diagon Alley is OPEN! July 8th marked the official grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Universal Orlando welcomed thousands of excited guests into the spectacularly themed land for the very first time with confetti, fireworks and a red carpet lined with dozens of cheering Diagon Alley team members.

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Reminder! Halloween Horror Nights Announcements Released: 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. More announcements to come.

Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Wine Riffs Event at Hard Rock Hotel: Wine Riffs featuring Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars will take place Friday, August 8 at 6:30pm at The Kitchen. Listen to Elizabeth Delouise-Gant tell the stories of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, taste the culinary pairings from our chefs and feel the emotions of the soundtrack that tie them all together. Five Course Dinner + Pairings: $125 + tax and gratuity.

New! Florida Resident and Annual Passholder Discount at Cabana Bay Beach Resort: Experience Universal Orlando® for less at the retro-themed Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, now open. This moderate and value priced property offers guests their choice of family suites complete with kitchenettes, or standard rooms, plus a wealth of recreation. With two huge pools, a lazy river, bowling alley, and more, it’s unforgettable family fun at a great value, right in the heart of Universal Orlando’s theme parks and non-stop nightlife. Special Summer Savings for Florida Residents and Annual Passholders – Rates Starting From $79 for Travel July 26 – August 31, 2014. Must Book by Aug 16, 2014.

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 – December 10, 2014 with select travel through December 18, 2014. Prices starting from $109 per adult, per night, tax inclusive.

Universal CityWalk

DJ Ideal

New! DJ Ideal Appears Saturday, Aug 16 at the groove: He’s a fixture at Miami Mansion and has spun private events for Jay-Z and Beyonce, Usher and Eminem, and he’s in Orlando for one night only. Don’t miss it! Admission $7 per person. VIP Table Service available. Call 407-224-2166 for details.

Reminder! K92.3 All Star Jam with Big & Rich to Perform at Hard Rock Live Aug 15: Some of the most popular acts in country music right now will gather under one roof for what’s sure to be a night of incredible music. The K92.3 All-Star Jam takes over the Hard Rock Live Orlando stage, on Friday, August 15th 2014, featuring performances by Big & Rich, Chase Rice and Jamie Lynn Spears! $65 Reserved Balcony $39 GA Standing Floor. Doors open at 7:00 pm. Show starts at 8:00 pm. Tickets available at the Hard Rock Live box office and all Ticketmaster locations. For more information call 407-351-LIVE.

Reminder! The Wayans Brothers to Perform at Hard Rock Live Aug 16: The prodigiously talented Wayans Brothers are getting together for a 2014 tour! Keenan Ivory, Shawn, Marlon and Damon are heading out on what’s been called a sketch comedy/stand-up hybrid. They will appear at the Hard Rock Live Orlando stage, on Saturday, August 16th 2014. Doors open at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $75.50 First 2 Rows and Balcony Tables $65.50 Advance $72.50 Day of Show. Show starts at 8:00 pm. Tickets available at the Hard Rock Live box office and all Ticketmaster locations. For more information call 407-351-LIVE.

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
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Universal Studios
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What’s new Around the Mouse this week?

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: new Frozen MagicBands, other new merchandise, special events and much more!

What’s New This Week?

Olaf Magic Band

Walt Disney World Theme Parks

New! Limited Edition Olaf from Frozen Magic Band Available: A new, limited edition retail MagicBand, featuring Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen” is now available at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This limited edition MagicBand will have an edition size of 5,000, and will have a retail of $29.95 (plus tax). This new MagicBand will join three open edition MagicBands inspired by Disney’s “Frozen,” which are currently offered in Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post.

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Reminder: New F.O.N.E.s to Stop Doofenshmirtz: On June 27, Agent P World Showcase Adventure replaced its classic flip phones with sleek new secret communicators. Traveling around the world and saving the day from the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz takes the best technology out there and now guests have it! The new screen is three times bigger than the previous version, and the colors are more vivid. Cast Members also give Guests their communicators in a protective pouch, which one can attach to a lanyard, making it harder for the evil doer to reach the top-secret, crime-fighting information.

Reminder! Haunted Mansion-Themed Merchandise Shop Opening This Fall in Magic Kingdom Park: The new merchandise shop will be located in the current Yankee Trader shop, which will have its last day of operation on July 27, 2014. Inspired by Madame Leota, the new location will carry select items from the upcoming Haunted Mansion Authentic program including apparel, home goods, souvenirs, and more.

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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! Sassagoula Rivercruise Reopening Soon: The Downtown Disney Marketplace Watercraft dock is scheduled to reopen Aug. 15. It has been closed since February, as part of the overall enhancements at the property. When the dock reopens, the following service changes to the Sassagoula Rivercruise will take effect:
◾The Downtown Disney Water Taxi, currently servicing the West Side and Pleasure Island, will once again include the Marketplace
◾Service to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, which is currently located at the Pleasure Island dock, will return to the Marketplace dock.
◾Service to Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort will remain at the West Side dock.

Walt Disney World Resort – General

New! Beautifully Disney “Tangled Web” Collection: This delightfully dark seventh collection from Beautifully Disney arrives at Disney Parks on August 9. Paying homage to those vivacious villains who have a flair for the dark side, you’ll be sure to find Tangled Web simply sinister.Beautifully Disney

Beautifully-Disney

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.

Reminder! WonderGround Gallery Joins Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney: A small assortment of WonderGround Gallery items was recently added to the Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace. WonderGround Gallery opened in June 2012 at Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort in California. It is a distinctive and eclectic contemporary art collection which showcases unique art by some incredibly talented artists. Now a small sample of their work is available at Walt Disney World too.

Merchandise Events
◾August 7: Meet Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” director/co-writer Bobs Gannaway from 3 – 4 p.m. at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace, as he signs some of the new “Planes: Fire & Rescue” merchandise available at Disney Parks.
◾August 7 – 11: Find the latest releases from Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace.
◾August 14 – 17: Keep an eye out! Renowned artist David E. Doss will be appearing daily at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Stop in and find a new piece of art to add to your collection!
◾August 14 – 17: It’s time for you to check out the latest releases from international artist Larry Dotson, who will be appearing throughout the day at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park.
◾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 http://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.

Stay tuned every week for updates and new events Around the Mouse!

Throwback Thursday..way back to my childhood

I blame my parents for my love of Disney. They introduced me to the magic as a child, and my love never went away. It’s now a huge part of my career and my blog. I have passed on this fantastic and expensive hobby to my girls, hubby says I have to apologize to any future husbands (hey it could have been worse, right?)

Our first visit we loaded up the family truckster and hit the road, 16 hours from Maryland. I don’t remember the car ride, praise the lord for that! I remember we stayed off-site at the Disney Village. That was neat, I believe it’s now called Downtown Disney soon to be Disney Springs. This trip was also full of River Country fun, It makes me sad that its just rotting away. I hope they at least do something with the land. We returned to Disney a few years later but we flew this time and stayed in a Magic Kingdom View at the Poly. I have great memories from that trip, probably because I was a little older. For nostalgic reasons I want to stay at the Poly with my girls, because that’s where we stayed when I was a kid.

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When was your first visit to Walt Disney World? Do you hold any nostalgic feelings about those visits? I would love to hear your memories!