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

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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

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A room at Portofino Bay

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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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Sara’s Snippets – September 19, 2014 – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tips from AllEars.Net

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans! 

With Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in full swing, I thought about writing a blog post with tips. Then I saw that our partner AllEars.Net beat me to the punch! You can check out all of their coverage – including tips for families, videos, costume guidelines, and more – in the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party section

One tip from me is that there is going to be even more candy given out this year! And that guests leaving the park after the 8:30 Boo to You Parade will be given an extra treat when exiting. (Which means less crowds for those waiting for the later parade!) If you can, stick it out for the later parade. Less crowds means a better seat and a better view of a truly amazing parade. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Photo Courtesy of Disney®

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Sara’s Snippets – ‘Frozen Fun’ Extended at Hollywood Studios

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Select events featured during the "Frozen Summer Fun" at Disney's Hollywood Studios have been extended through the holidays. The "Frozen Sing Along" and Wandering Oaken's Trading Shop will continue with Wandering Oakens will move closer to the Sing Along location and will be expanded to include a larger play area with real snow!

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

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Sara’s Snippets – September 12, 2014 – ‘Frozen’ Attraction to Replace Maelstrom

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

"Arendelle" is coming to Epcot! The "Maelstrom" attraction in the Norway pavilion at Epcot will be replaced with a "Frozen" attraction that will immerse guests in the world of "Frozen" with music and locations from the film. No opening date has been announced for this new attraction. 

Also, starting in early November, Queen Elsa will use her powers to transform Cinderella Castle nightly into an ice palace! 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

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Image Courtesy of Disney®

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Sara’s Snippets – September 10, 2014 – New Loews Resort Coming to Universal Orlando in 2016!

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Universal Orlando guests will have a new resort option starting in the summer of 2016 – Loews Sapphire Fall Resort! This colorful and casual Caribbean-inspired resort will be built around a tropical river and towering waterfall and will have over 1,000 rooms and suites. The sand-bottomed pool will include a water slide and pool-side cabana rentals. Enjoy a meal with water views at the resorts table service restaurant! 

Guests of the Loews Sapphire Resort will receive exclusive theme park benefits including Early Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well as water taxi and shuttle bus transportation to the Universal Orlando theme parks. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Image Courtesy of Loews®

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