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Disney

Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, downtown disney hotel deals

Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista

Want to stay a stone’s throw away from the action of the Walt Disney World Resort without paying those infamously high hotel prices? Your best bet is book a stay at the nearby Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels: a collection of seven properties within walking distance of the free-to-enter Downtown Disney shopping and dining district.

Included with a stay at any of the properties is complimentary shuttle service to each of the Disney theme parks and water parks, on-site Disney tickets for purchase, the ability to book dining reservations at Disney restaurants, and a booklet filled with discounts on dining, entertainment, and shopping.

Plus, through the end of March, the hotels are offering reduced rates with its Escape the Cold promotion to make stays here even more tempting. With it, rates start at $73 a night, depending on the property. Here’s a look at what’s being offered during the promotion:

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stuffed animals souvenirs at disney world

Flickr/chuckwaters83

What’s the best way to take home a piece of the magic when you visit Walt Disney World? A souvenir, naturally. With more than 200 retail locations to browse — from brick and mortar stores to carts selling clothes, designer bags, artisan soaps, and unique knickknacks — Disney World is a shopper’s paradise. Here, we offer pro tips that’ll help make souvenir shopping a lot easier.

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Walt Disney World ticket increase 2015

Flickr/Phil Whitehouse

It’s getting more expensive to get into the four parks at Walt Disney World. One-day tickets for the Magic Kingdom are now going for $105 each, before taxes, for ages 10 and up — about six percent more than the $99 entrance fee before the hikes. One-day passes for the resort’s three other parks  — Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom — are going for $97, plus tax (a more modest increase from $94).

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Disney World Magic Kingdom CREDIT Flickr fortherock

Flickr/fortherock

If you’ve ever tried to plan a Disney vacation, you know that it’s no small feat. There’s the decision of staying on property versus off, what kind of tickets you’ll buy, and where you’ll be eating — not to mention getting organized for FastPass+ reservations. While we’ve shared advice for these specific topics and more, we thought we’d also offer a few more general tools to help you. After all, stressing out over over planning defeats the very purpose of taking a holiday, no?

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orlando - ice at gaylord palms - kimberly button

Want to be somewhere warm this season without giving up the holiday cheer? We introduced some surprising destinations for getting into the spirit of things earlier this week, including some sunny locales, but we wanted to give Orlando — the third most popular holiday travel destination in America — a special spotlight today. Yes, it’s a balmy 70-plus degrees here this time of the year, but you’ll still find plenty of Christmas classics here. You can still throw a snowball or pretend you’re in a snow flurry — with palm trees and a swimming pool never too far away.

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Flickr Sam Howzit Disney Great Movie Ride

Change is coming to one of the original rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

According to The New York Times, Disney and cable channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM) are entering an agreement that would allow TCM to freshen up The Great Movie Ride as early as the first few months of 2015.

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1Hershey Park

Shorts and sunscreen have been replaced with jackets and scarves, and theme parks across the country have suited up to take the winter weather in stride. The gates are open for one last hurrah of the year as these parks offer the best of the holiday season. Warm up with the festive glittering lights, re-themed rides, seasonal treats, and, of course, the treasured opportunity to meet Santa. Though some of the bigger rides of these parks are closed for the winter, exploring the all-encompassing holiday worlds built in these parks is the main attraction.

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cakes - mickey - © Disney

One of the biggest assets that set Disney World apart from its competitors is the level of service the company delivers to guests. It’s no secret that the iconic resorts offers exclusive hours and transportation, but here are 10 lesser known services offered by the House of Mouse.

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etihad airways - 620

Space travel. Bitcoin payments. Suites on airplanes. Some trends just keeping popping up on our news feeds time and time again. Some of these are fantastic and others… not so much. But for better or worse, here are nine that we think are here to stay.

1. Wearable tech.
Now that Apple’s in the game, wearable tech seems more and more like a part of the future — and not just as an ugly fashion trend. While we all love to hate Google Glass, travel brands are already responding to the Apple Watch unveiled in September. For example, Starwood’s new SPG app, which will let guests unlock rooms with their iPhone, is already designed to be Apple Watch-compatible. Of course, at nearly $349 dollars, Apple Watch isn’t a casual purchase, and we bet there will be some software and hardware challenges to overcome. Plus, it needs to be paired with an iPhone, though brands like Samsung are attempting to market what’s essentially a mini-smartphone to wear on your wrist.

2. Space voyages.
Despite the unfortunate Virgin Galactic crash at the end of last month, space travel is going to happen. The brand’s CEO shared that the company is continuing full steam and will “have a new spaceship that’s going to be ready in a few months” (as investigations into the crash continue). Having recently received massive funds from NASA, Boeing is also working on developing passenger aircraft for space. And it’s not just planes we’re talking about here. A Beijing-based company called Space Vision is developing a “high-tech balloon” powered by helium to bring tourists into space, and a Japanese construction company, Obayashi Corporation, is aiming to operate an elevator into space by 2050.

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Flickr Anthony Quintano AulaniWalt Disney World and Disneyland are clearly the top places to visit to get your Disney fix. But if you’re not craving a trip to either California or Florida — or you’ve already been — there are other places to have a top-notch Disnified experience — besides your local Disney store.

From three stand-alone resorts, where the company’s legendary service and hospitality are at the forefront, to a museum dedicated to all things Disney, here are four destinations where you can get your Disney fix.

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Disney Land and Sea Packages

Flickr Joe Turco2

Want the ultimate Disney vacation? There’s a way you can enjoy Mickey and friends on both land and sea: by combining a stay at a Walt Disney World hotel with a trip aboard Disney Cruise Line that embarks from Port Canaveral.

The easiest way to do this is to first book the cruise, then make your stay at Disney World an add-on with a Land and Sea Vacation package. But there are some caveats with this method of booking — here’s the dish on what you should know.

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Flickr Sam Howzit 2

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that vacations to the “most magical place on Earth” aren’t exactly cheap. Sticker shock can be a common result of tallying up prices for  basics like hotel rooms, park tickets, and dining — and that’s before adding in extras like tours and special events.

But if you think that there are never savings to be had when it comes to Disney vacations, we’re letting you in on a secret: You’re just looking at the wrong times. During the low season, not only do hotel rates drop, but Disney itself releases special offers for is biggest fans. Promotions include room-only discounts, packages, and even a free dining plan — over which guests unsurprisingly go completely bonkers. And that’s not to mention significantly shorter wait times for attractions. As you might guess, this is definitely the time of the year that we recommend visiting.

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best places to watch disney world fireworks

JD Baskin

Watching the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom is perhaps one of the most popular experiences at Walt Disney World. What’s not so magical? The hoard of crowds during the show and the mad crush to exit the theme park after. If you’re done with all the rides, we suggest saving your sanity by enjoying the show at these locations outside of the parks.

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Flickr Henry Mestre

It looks like our fascination with drones is here to stay. We’ve already talked about ways to armchair travel with drones, and a new sharing platform called Dronestagram has since joined the scene. But what’s really caught our attention today is the recent drone-related patent application that the Walt Disney Company has filed.

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Disney Cinderella Castle at ChristmasTo say that Disney World in Orlando, Florida pulls out all the stops for the holidays is an understatement. Starting in September, the Magic Kingdom is decked out in fall and Halloween décor. The entire resort, including the parks and hotels, later makes the transition to Christmas decorations in November through the first couple days of the New Year. Wreaths, lights, garland — you name it, they’ve got it.

The holiday festivities alone are enough to draw in thousands of visitors during the last few months of the year. Here’s what you should know when traveling there during this season.

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