travel planning

A Hair Raising Analogy

Imagine you’re going out to your favorite Italian restaurant where you got engaged, had your wedding reception, and now eat every Sunday with friends and family for a lovely Prix-fix meal. There’s the roving accordion player, the bottles of imported Chianti on every table, and… Read More »A Hair Raising Analogy

Finding Nemo Icons installed at Art of Animation Resort

Walt Disney Imagineer Ryan Parrish offers the first sneak peek inside Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World Resort, as well as a look at the three large character icons featured in the “Finding Nemo” courtyard. Here’s the concept art again: How do… Read More »Finding Nemo Icons installed at Art of Animation Resort

Universal Orlando Resort Hosts Holiday Festivities

Universal Orlando Resort showed a bit of restraint waiting until after Thanksgiving to launch its Christmas celebration. That’s appreciated by us purists, but means you only have a short window of time to get yourself to the resort and enjoy the festivities. For a list of their offerings, read our earlier post.

I recommend arriving early and exploring both parks. They have a lot of decorations up and the Holiday Village has fun games and treats for the whole family. I would have liked to see more entertainment options like they had for Mardi Gras, but there was still plenty to see and the treats all smelled delicious.

This year marks the 10th year the Macy’s Holiday Parade has run through the streets of Universal Studios. In theory these are the floats and balloons from the actual parade in NYC and I think I saw a few (the Polar Bear float and some of the balloon characters), the rest are from past parades. But it is the next best thing to being at the real parade, and it was a balmy 78 degrees instead of 42 degrees.

The highlight of the parade was Santa Claus lighting the Christmas Tree. But you have to be standing near the tree (opposite the Macy’s facade near Revenge of The Mummy).

Also returning is Grinchmas – a fun ‘wholiday’ stage show. The show was moved indoors a few years ago, which means you won’t encounter any weather issues. You will have to leave Suessland in Islands of Adventure and venture to one of the Soundstages, however. I found all of the featured performers to be quite talented. That includes Max the dog. Definitely catch this show when you visit.

Wrapping up the evening on the studios side is a special concert from Mannheim Steamroller. We didn’t stay to see the whole concert, but if you like their music, like I do, it is fun to see it made live and in person.

Please join me below the fold for more photos of our special evening at Universal Orlando Resort for their Christmas celebrations:

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Dressing for Vacation At Walt Disney World – Footwear

Editor: Please welcome my wife Stacey who will be writing a series of travel planning articles. What shoes do I wear? That seems to be the question when visiting a Florida theme park. I have some helpful tips and recommendations that will help you get… Read More »Dressing for Vacation At Walt Disney World – Footwear

Ahoy! Earn Your Pilot’s License on Disneyland’s Mark Twain Riverboat

As you cross the threshold between Adventureland and New Orleans Square at Disneyland, you’ve undoubtedly seen the iconic Mark Twain Riverboat chugging along the Rivers of America, puffing white steam into the blue sky as she takes guests on a delightful twelve-minute journey through yesteryear.… Read More »Ahoy! Earn Your Pilot’s License on Disneyland’s Mark Twain Riverboat

More Art of Animation Details – Phase One Opens May 31st, 2012

The Art of Animation resort will offer 1,120 family suites (bedroom, living room, and kids sleep area) themed after “The Lion King,” “Cars” and “Finding Nemo” animated films, as well as 864 guest rooms inspired by “The Little Mermaid.” The current timeline has the “Finding… Read More »More Art of Animation Details – Phase One Opens May 31st, 2012

Using Group Deals to Save on Your Next Vacation

You may be using group discount coupon websites in your local town for some big savings, but have you considered taking advantage of those same great savings when you’re on vacation? Most popular destinations like Anaheim and Orlando have tons of great deals that are perfect for savings.

Half-Off Depot frequently has deals with 50% off savings on Kissimmee and Orlando area attractions and hotels.

Groupon Orlando has more restaurant deals, but they also have been known to include an attractions or water park deal every now and then. Los Angeles and Orange County are definitely worth checking out if you’re planning a trip to Disneyland.

LivingSocial also has Orlando and Orange County deals. I’ve found some really great vacation bargains via LivingSocial.

Even if you don’t see any deals you’re interested, make sure you sign up for email alerts to any city you plan to visit in the next 6 months or so to see if great deals appear. However, keep in mind these points:

  1. Some deals don’t activate immediately. So read the deal carefully before buying.
  2. Read all the requirements and the expiration date before buying. A deal that saves $10 off a $20 purchase but requires a $50 purchase from the whole table, may not be a good deal. Likewise, a deal that expires in September, but your vacation is in October, won’t work.
  3. Don’t over plan. Part of being on vacation is having flexibility, if you have a group coupon for every day of your vacation, you’ll miss out on some of the serendipity.

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