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There is generally one main factor at play when it comes to cruise prices during the holiday season: the strength of the cruise industry. If it’s been a gangbuster year, don’t expect the cruise lines to wave you aboard for a pittance. Conversely, if sales have been lagging over the past ten months, they’re more likely to roll out holiday deals in a bid to shore up fourth quarter revenues. Value offers will vary by line, so consumers will benefit from some comparison shopping.
Though 2013 brought some challenges to the cruise market – remember the Carnival Triumph power loss in February? – deals seem to be on the scarce side this season. Nevertheless, we found a few decent ones floating around: Read more
Summer is winding down and kids are heading back to school, which means that prime beach destinations like Florida are quickly clearing out and entering their low season. Normally, a destination’s slow-down time signals less-than-prime weather conditions, but Florida in the fall is ideal. While it’s technically still hurricane season, in many spots, you’ll still find warm waters and beautiful days with weather that can soar up into the 90s. Add to that the fact that many hotels offer discounts of 40 to 50 percent off their peak season rates, and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect fall getaway. Here are some of the reasons you should visit during Florida’s bargain season. Read more
For those intrepid travelers who aren’t satisfied by simply riding the rides at their favorite theme parks, there’s a whole new way to experience Disney, SeaWorld, and more. While these behind-the-scene tours have been around for some time, they’re always changing and revealing new secrets (but never quite giving away all the magic, of course). Here are four theme parks that give you behind-the-scenes access. Read more
It just got a little more expensive to visit the Happiest Place on Earth. Recently, Disney World and Disneyland increased their 1-Day ticket prices (Disney World: $95 for adults/$89 for kids ages 3-9; Disneyland: $92 for adults/$86 for kids ages 3-9). If you’re adding up the cost of a family – say two kids, mom, dad, and maybe even grandparents – you could be looking at upwards of $500, without taxes…or food…or souvenirs! If that number scares you, think of it this way: There are plenty of other ways to save big on your trip to Disney. Read more
Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner. You may be sniffling from spring allergies now, but Memorial Day will be here before you know it, bringing warm temperatures, shortened work days, and summer vacations. Don’t let the season sneak up on you; take advantage of the many early bird specials out there and book your summer travel now. Read more
Being a kid can be rough, but being the adults traveling with tykes can be difficult as well. Coordinating activities for youngsters of varying ages is a challenge (little Tommy wants to visit the petting zoo, while teen Tammy would rather go shopping), as is attempting to stay on a budget. For parents planning a trip for the whole clan, we have good news (and bad news).
Offering healthier items on children’s menus will be a priority this year for restaurants nationwide, according to the National Restaurant Association, which begs the question, why now? Why are restaurants suddenly waking up to the nutritional needs of kids?
After the holidays, we tend to get stuck in winter slumps. For many of us, as the temperatures drop and the sun goes down earlier, we’re left counting down the days until spring. But instead of hiding inside all winter, use the post-holiday months as a time to travel somewhere new, whether it’s to a relaxing beach, a ski resort out West, or Walt Disney World. All of the deals below are valid for travel throughout January – just in time to nip those winter blues in the bud.
January is one of the best months to visit Orlando, especially later in the month, when crowds at the theme parks are down after the holidays, and temperatures are in the perfect mid-70s. Hotels follow suit and dip down in pricing, like the 4-star Melia Orlando Suite Hotel, which starts at just $125 per night in January – a 45 percent savings on high season rates. The Melia is the closest all-suite hotel to the Disney Parks, and includes a full kitchen in each unit, plus a 360 -egree infinity pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and complimentary breakfast. Dozens more 4-star Orlando hotels are available for low rates in January, like the Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orlando – Orange Lake Resort from $80 per night, the Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa from $97 per night, and the Mystic Dunes Resort and Golf Club from $105 per night. Read more
It takes a special kind of nerd to track down all the healthy-eating options at the Magic Kingdom; I am that nerd. Of course, I love pigging out on a behemoth burger or a cinnamon bun the size of my face on occasion. However, most times what I need is a light but filling meal that doesn’t wreck havoc on my belly (especially if I plan on hitting the Mad Tea Party ride). If this sounds like you, never fear. We’ve scoured the park’s restaurants for some healthful choices that also happen to be darn tasty.
1. Quinoa Salad: Be Our Guest Restaurant, Fantasyland
Quinoa is all the rage these days because it packs a powerful punch of protein. Be Our Guest’s lunch menu includes quinoa salad ($7.99), which comes with green beans, potatoes, olives, roasted bell peppers, golden beets, and tomatoes. The kids’ lunch menu includes Mickey-shaped meatloaf and seared mahi. Read more
Cue the talking wardrobe. Prepare the grey stuff (it’s delicious). Pump up the steel-drum, nautical-themed music. Guests will be showing up in droves for the grand opening of the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, which makes its debut on Thursday. [Update: It's open and awesome!] This portion of Walt Disney World has nearly doubled in size, going from 11 to 21 acres, making it the largest expansion in the park’s 41-year history. So, it’s no surprise that there is plenty to see. We’ve done some of the leg work for you, though, so you’ll know exactly what to target.
1. Down a Brewski
Well, a LeFou’s Brew, that is. This frozen apple juice concoction has a hint of toasted marshmallow and is topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. It’s served up at Gaston’s Tavern (and, yes, he really does use antlers in all of his decorating).
2. Dine Inside Beast’s Castle
Disney has really outdone itself with the Be Our Guest Restaurant, a gourmet, French-themed eatery. Its massive chandeliers, gorgeous terrazzo floors and snowflakes falling among the fictional French countryside all stay true to the Beauty and the Beast movie. Choose from quick-service meals for lunch or fancy table service for dinner. Read more
There’s rarely a time when Orlando isn’t buzzing with people that don’t call themselves citizens of Florida, but the winter months can make the roadways particularly zany. If you’re in the region as a proud member of the Snow Bird contingent, an avid follower of all things Disney, or just flying down to one of the most widely used convention centers in the world, we’ve got some advice for you. In an effort to get you outside of the boardroom and into the wilds of Orlando, we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings.
A number of viral videos depict a similar theme. On the morning of a big day – sometimes Christmas, sometimes a birthday – parents will train cameras on their children as they tell them the family is going to Disney World … and they’re leaving today. The kids, overwhelmed with the prospect of meeting Mickey in person, burst into tears.
This strategy may be adorable (or traumatizing, depending on how you look at it), but the premise neglects a lot of nagging questions. How do you discretely pack for a week away without giving away the scheme? Will holiday travel slow down the festivities? Is there a way to chaotically dart through an airport and reach your destination while avoiding the dreaded Home Alone scenario?
For the first time in 41 years, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will serve alcohol to park goers. Be Our Guest, the park’s “Beauty and the Beast” themed restaurant opening next month, has announced they will serve wine and beer during the spot’s dinner hour. The eatery is located in the park’s Fantasyland Forest, which features a castle modeled after the one where the Beast resides.
Parents want vacations to run smoothly. No one should get sick, hurt, or lost. Sometimes the latter is the hardest to avoid. Families have wanderers, eager-beavers, and inherently independent little ones that need special attention, especially in crowded places. Modern Family fans will remember the scene when Lily, a young child, runs around Disneyland, driving her fathers mad. They resigned to buying her a pair of high heeled princess shoes to slow her down. My parents chose the leash.
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