Sara’s Snippets – October 31, 2014 – PhotoPass Treats

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Just in time for Halloween, Disney's PhotoPass Service has a new treat for Walt Disney World guests. All guests wearing their MagicBands will have their ride photos linked to their My Disney Experience account. 

Guests without MagicBands can now link their attraction photos with their RF-enabled media (park ticket or PhotoPass card) via new touch points on the photo preview wall. The implementation of this new technology has already begun at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, and will be completed at Epcot and Animal Kingdom by mid-November.

All guests can also view their ride videos and animated magic shots on their My Disney Experience account. Only guests with the Memory Maker photo package will be able to download the videos and animated magic shots. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

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Sara’s Snippets – October 29, 2014 – Disney Cruise Line Early 2016 Itineraries

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Disney Cruise Line has announced that it will add Tortola and Martinique to select sailings in early 2016. The Disney Fantasy will sail 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailings out of Port Canaveral that will include a stop in Tortola on January 2, 16, 30, February 13, 27, March 12, 26, and April 9, and 23, 2016. The Disney Magic will sail 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailings out of Port Canaveral that include a stop in Tortola on April 3 and 17, 2106.

The Disney Wonder will return to San Juan, Puerto Rico in January 2016 for 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises that include a stop in Martinique. The dates are January 10, 17, 24, and 31, 2016. Early 2016 sailings open for booking to Gold and Platinum Castaway Club Members TODAY and to the general public tomorrow, 10/30/14.

Contact your Mouse Fan Travel Planner today to get a no-obligation quote for your magical Disney Cruise Line vacation!

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

6252-000235

Photo Courtesy of Disney®
 

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Sara’s Snippets – October 23, 2014 – Wet ‘n Wild Orlando

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

I'm concluding our series on the Universal Orlando Resort with a visit to Wet 'n Wild – Orlando's premier water park. Wet 'n Wild is the oldest water park in Central Florida but don't let that fool you! This water park features updated attractions and water play areas for the entire family. With more multi-rider attractions than any other water park in the area, Wet 'n Wild lets the whole family enjoy the fun together!

Fully owned and operated by Universal Orlando, Wet 'n Wild admission can be added to your Universal Orlando package. Wet 'n Wild even offers their own version of Express Pass – for an additional fee during the busy season, this option can be added to your water park admission and gets you to the front of the line of the most popular water slides! There is also a Unlimited BBQ buffet. 

My favorite part was the brand new water play area  - Blastaway Beach. This six-story castle with two pools, 15 slides, and over 160 water play elements means that everyone from little swimmers to adults can enjoy the fun. 

Wet 'n Wild is a great option to add to any Universal Orlando vacation!

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Blastaway Beach at Wet 'n Wild

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blastaway Beach at Wet 'n Wild

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Sara’s Snippets – October 17, 2014 – Diagon Alley

Greetings fellow Muggles!

Diagon Alley at Universal Studios is the latest addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Guests have two ways to enter Diagon Alley – through the London streetscape in Universal Studios or on the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade. (Note – Guests must have the Park to Park Option on their park admission in order to ride the Hogwarts Express as the ride starts in one park and ends in the other.) 

No matter how you enter Diagon Alley, prepare to be blown away. Universal has set a new benchmark for attention to details! Guests who have read the Harry Potter Series or seen the movies will find themselves immediately immersed in the world they know so well. Every building, every shop window, is eerily perfect in its replication.  

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is the cannot miss attraction in Diagon Alley. As you enter Gringotts and pass by the Goblin bankers, you move farther into the earth to board your ride vehicle. Part simulator, part roller coaster, I found this attraction to be less intense than the Forbidden Journey attraction over in Hogsmeade but still heart-pounding!

AFTER riding Escape from Gringotts, head over to the Leaky Cauldron for lunch and enjoy traditional UK fare – bangers and mash, fish and chips, cottage pie, and more. And don't forget to stop at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour for some Butterbeer Ice Cream! 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner
 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Keep an eye on the dragon atop Gringotts – he roars and breathes fire!

Diagon Alley Preview

 

 

 

 

 

The lobby of Gringotts

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Sara’s Snippets – October 15, 2014 – Cabana Bay Resort at Universal Orlando

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Some of us are old enough to remember long summer road trips when your parents would throw you in the back of the station wagon and hit the road. You would stop at road side motels and pile out of the car and head directly to the pool! It is these memories that inspired Universal Orlando's Cabana Bay Resort. Featuring vintage 1960's styling, this family-friendly resort has something for everyone. Fabulous pools, a Jack LaLanne Fitness Studio, even a bowling alley, are guaranteed to keep you busy on days when you aren't touring a Universal Orlando theme park. (There is even a Starbucks in the lobby if Mom & Dad need a pick-me-up in the morning. And the Swizzle Lounge for their nightcaps!)

This resort offers both standard resort rooms and family suites. The family suites sleep up to six guests and have a small kitchenette. Guests at Cabana Bay do get to take advantage of the early entrance to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but do NOT get Universal's Express pass with their stay. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

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Sara’s Snippets – October 9, 2014 – Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

I was lucky enough to tour the Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific last week. Both resorts offer spectacular rooms and pools but the experience is very different!

Live like a Rock Star for a few days at Hard Rock Hotel. You can even borrow a guitar at the front desk for a refundable deposit! Choose from a guitar menu and the guitar, amp, and headphones will be delivered to your room. Roam the hallways exploring rock memorabilia and even measure yourself against the mirrors in select rooms that tell you how tall your favorite star is! And after you check out, have the front desk cut your room key into a guitar pick for a great souvenir. 

Loews Royal Pacific is an oasis of calm. With beautiful and exotic decor, the best sushi on property, and a fun pool area, this resort is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. 

Up next week – Cabana Bay Resort, and we finally get to the parks!

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Royal Pacific

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A touch of the exotic in the lobby of Loews Royal Pacific Resort

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Sara’s Snippets – October 8, 2014 – Loews Portofino Bay Resort

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans! 

Loews Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Orlando was my home last week for a three nights. This resort is one of Universal Orlando's Deluxe Resorts (along with the Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific) which means that your stay includes the Unlimited Universal Express pass for each guest in your room! But just in case this perk isn't enough to convince you to stay here, how about luxurious rooms, large bathrooms, beautiful pools, the Mandara Spa, and great restaurants. 

Lest this sound too much like a grown-ups paradise, there are family suites with a Despicable Me theme. The main room looks like a standard Portofino Resort room but then there is a special door for "Authorized Minions Only" that leads to a minions-themed room just for kids! 

Tomorrow, more on the Hard Rock Hotel and Royal Pacific. Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Portofino Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A room at Portofino Bay

Minion Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Minion Room in the Family Suite

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Sara’s Snippets – October 2, 2014 – Universal Orlando

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

I returned late last night from a 3-night stay at Universal Orlando. My brain is overflowing with details about the resorts, parks, restaurants, and more! I'll be sharing some of my experiences with you over the next few posts but I have to start with the first thing I noticed…

The lack of crowds! I was thrilled to learn that late September is a GREAT time to visit Universal Orlando. Thanks to the popularity of Halloween Horror Nights (more on that later), the parks tend to be very quiet earlier in the days which is great news for us chickens. Even the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was pleasantly quiet allowing us to enjoy the shop windows, and take in the atmosphere. 

More next week!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

MEI-Travel Agents as Hogwarts Students! (Note the Harry Potter glasses!)

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Sara’s Snippets – September 25, 2014 – Universal Orlando Bound!

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans! Or in this case – Harry Potter Fans?

This weekend a group of MEI-Travel agents – myself included – are headed to the Universal Orlando Resort for some training. We'll be touring the Universal Orlando Resorts, experiencing the theme parks (including the all new Diagon Alley!) and dining in some of the spectacular restaurants. It's a rough job… wink

So I'll be back next week with photos, reviews, and more! In the meantime, check out www.UniversalFanTravel.com to start planning your next trip! 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

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Sara’s Snippets – September 24, 2014 – Studio Backlot Tour to Close

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

The Studio Backlot Tour attraction at Disney's Hollywod Studios will close permanently on September 27, 2014. This combination walk-through and ride attraction includes a special effects demonstration with audience volunteers and a tram ride that includes such highlights as props from Disney films such as Pirates of of Caribbean and a thrilling stop in Catastrophe Canyon. 

A portion of this atrraction will become home to Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and play area as part of the Frozen Fun event, scheduled to run through the holidays. No announcement has been made regarding the future of the attraction and its significant footprint in the park. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo Courtesy of Disney®

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