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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
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?
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
Explore Orlando’s theme parks for less this summer with a stay at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. The new 4-star resort is slashing seasonal rates by 40 percent so you can enjoy your stay for as little as $125 a night. Travel July 29 through August 30 to take advantage of this great deal.
In addition, the resort’s award-winning signature restaurant, deep blu seafood grille, is offering a $40 three-course tasting menu for the month of August. Advanced reservations are required to enjoy the restaurant’s contemporary fusion fare, which focuses on fresh seafood dishes.
The family-friendly Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek is located in picturesque Bonnet Creek inside the Walt Disney World complex and offers a complimentary shuttle service to the Disney parks. When you’re not discovering the parks, relax at the resort’s lagoon pool (complete with a lazy river), try one of the five dining outlets, or splurge with a treatment at Blue Harmony Spa.
To book this deal, visit www.wyndhamgrandorlando.com or call 407-390-2300 and ask for the 40 percent off customer appreciation advanced purchase deal.
When I visited Walt Disney World as a kid with my family – and even during a school trip to the parks in high school – I never noticed anyone drinking alcohol. Maybe the hard stuff is just more pervasive now than back in 1989, but these days you can buy booze pretty much anywhere at Disneyland and Disney World (except the Magic Kingdom – the teetotalers won out there).
Epcot is by far the booziest of the Orlando parks – the annual Food and Wine Festival (September 28-November 12 in 2012) comes highly recommended – while your best bets in Anaheim can be found in Downtown Disney. Here are a few of the top places to tipple at the Happiest Places on Earth.
Disneyland may have Cars Land but only at Walt Disney World can you stay in a Cars-themed room. Or Finding Nemo. Or The Little Mermaid. Or The Lion King.
OK, technically you have to wait until June 18 for the Cars rooms, but the first section of the new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – the Nemo suites – opens today. These family-friendly rooms sleep up to six and include three sleeping areas, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette. And of course the entire room is decked out in characters from the Disney-Pixar film, from sea turtle wall hangings to a shark attack bathroom.
There’s a reason why Florida is one of the country’s top vacation destinations. From gorgeous beaches to vibrant cities to the world’s most popular theme parks, the state offers plenty of options for a great getaway. The best part? Reasonable airfare from most parts of the U.S. makes it easy to get there, whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend, or a full-blown family trip. Here are our favorite Florida deals from the past week:
- Beach Package at 4-Star Gulf Coast Resort, from $199
- Captiva Island Resort w/Dining Credit & Extras, from $160
- Family Resort near Disney w/Upgrade and Credit; from $69
- Oceanfront Condo Suite on Ormond Beach, from $77
- Save on Summer Getaways to Daytona Beach
- Panama City: Beach Hotel w/Water Park Tickets & More, from $109
Once airfare and hotels are covered, the most costly part of vacationing is the food. And when traveling with a family, it can become very expensive to satisfy everyone’s hunger. Walt Disney World is offering guests the opportunity to ease the stress of picking up the bill at the end of each meal. For guests of Disney Resort hotels, two free dining plan options are available when you purchase a 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way room and ticket package.
The first, the “Disney Dining Plan,” includes one quick-service meal, one snack, and one table-service meal per person, per night. You can choose from over 100 Walt Disney World Resort restaurants, like Rainforest Café, Planet Hollywood, Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner, and many more. It also includes a refillable drink mug for each guest. The second option, Disney’s “Quick-Service Dining Plan,” includes two quick service meals and one snack per person per night, as well as the refillable drink mug. In this plan, guests can choose from over 50 restaurants throughout Disney resorts, like the Lotus Blossom Café in Epcot, or Pinocchio Village Haus in Magic Kingdom.
As Patriots fans mourn Sunday’s Super Bowl defeat, they can at least take comfort in knowing that their beloved team has gone to a better place – or could, anyway. The Aruba Tourism Authority is offering all-expenses paid Aruba trips to the New England players, a move meant to “acknowledge and celebrate the hard work, dedication and season-long success of the team, despite their loss.” As Aruba Tourism Authority’s CEO continues, “We believe there is no better place to recover after a loss than Aruba. After all, we are ‘One Happy Island’.”
Where do the victorious Giants players get to go? MVP Eli Manning is in Disney World on Monday (pictured above), but otherwise the players celebrated on another happy island: Manhattan. The New York Giants Victory Parade 2012 commenced at 11am Tuesday morning at Battery Place and Washington Street, traveling north up the Canyon of Heroes. The Giants may not get to enjoy warm Aruba, but there was no shortage of partying in New York City. How are you celebrating (or recovering from) Super Bowl XLVI?
For some people, February 29 may be just another date on the calendar this year. But Disney Parks wants to make sure that day means a little extra magic. Two of its parks – Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Orlando – will stay open for 24 hours straight on February 29 to March 1, beginning at 6am on the leap day.
Schedule your stay for that time period and you could get a free night to spend at the resorts. The offer applies to stays of three or more nights from February 26 through March 10 at official Disney hotels at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World when you book a room and ticket package; book by January 31.
The best way to enjoy a Disney vacation, obviously, is if the whole thing is free: Every day through February 29, Disney is giving away a four-night vacation for four to either Disney World or Disneyland – a total of 60 prizes! The packages include hotel accommodations, airfare or ground transportation, Park Hopper passes, a $1,000 Disney gift card, and more. Enter to win (one entry per day) at disney.go.com/memories.
Florida brings to mind many things – theme parks, retirement condos, alligators, golf courses, and orange groves among them – but one of the state’s sometimes overlooked qualities is its easily accessible setting for romance. It’s sunny, warm, and ringed with 663 miles of beaches. It’s home to leading hotels and top chefs. And its assorted resort regions, from the Atlantic to the Gulf to the Keys, have vibes that range from exceedingly mellow to, well, not so much. Plus, you won’t have to spend much on airfare, so you can splurge on your accommodations. Here’s a look at five very different ways to embrace the romance on offer in Florida. Read more
Located just a few minutes’ drive from all of Orlando’s major theme parks, the all-suite Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa is the ideal home base for families visiting the area. While the kids are sure to go gaga for the pirate-themed pool complex – with water cannons, a water slide, and waterfalls – parents will appreciate perks like full kitchens and in-room Jacuzzi tubs. The experience is rounded out by three restaurants, a full-service spa, and free shuttle service to Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. Thanks to a two-night pre-holiday package, rates start at just $89/night for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite that sleeps up to six. You’ll also receive a coupon booklet with $200 worth of savings for the on-site Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. The package is available through December 22.
THE VALUE: You’ll save 45 percent on the room rate alone, not to mention the $200 in potential savings on your holiday shopping!
THE CATCH: There’s a two-night minimum stay for this package.
THE DETAILS: Head over to www.lbvorlandoresort.com and use code SHOP to book, or call 866-401-2699 and ask for the Holiday Shop & Stay package.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights to Orlando.
Airlines, bloggers, cruise lines, and resorts flood our inboxes daily with travel contests and sweepstakes. The prizes are always tempting, but it’s tough to figure out which giveaways are worth your valuable time (and contact information) and which you should demote to the spam folder. To up your odds of scoring a free vacation, we’ll feature one travel contest each week – and say why it’s worth your while.
Contest: Funjet Vacations’ Fairy Tale Adventure contest sends three families on a three-night, all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World for four, but just one clan will score a stay in the elusive, by-invitation-only Cinderella Castle Suite atop the park’s palace. A Facebook photo contest selects the three families (two chosen by popular vote, a third elected by Funjet), and the winner of an in-park scavenger hunt nabs a night in the castle – on 11/11/11, to make it all even more magical.
Ease of Entry: Easy. Just “like” the Funjet Vacations Facebook page, and upload a photo that showcases your Disney fanaticism.
Value: Priceless: Disney opens the Cinderella Castle suite by invitation only.
Located right next to Walt Disney World, but with plenty of activities to keep guests entertained on-site, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is a smart choice for any Orlando vacation. The 1,500-acre, 815-room property boasts a private balcony in every room, along with flat-screen TVs and iHome stereos with iPod docking stations. Along with seven restaurants and four bars/lounges, the Hyatt features four golf courses and a golf academy, a half-acre outdoor pool with waterfalls and slides, a 21-acre lake for water sports, 12 tennis courts, and the perennially popular s’mores pit. With the hotel’s Sunshine on Sale promotion, why not take an extra night to explore the theme parks, or just enjoy everything the Hyatt has to offer?
THE VALUE: Rates start at $130/night with the free fifth night factored in.
THE CATCH: A $22 per night resort fee is not included.
THE DETAILS: Book via grandcypress.hyatt.com, or call 407-239-1234.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights to Orlando.
For general trip-planning information, see our Orlando Travel Guide.
Mickey’s home turf is set to get a large dose of luxury in the form of a new Four Seasons resort. The upscale brand announced plans to build a 444-room Walt Disney World hotel opening in 2014, with construction beginning in December. Amenities abound for kids and parents alike: While adults will appreciate the 14,000-square-foot spa (complete with 18 treatment rooms), little ones can enjoy three pools and a lazy river. Another crowd pleaser is sure to be the rooftop restaurant with Magic Kingdom views; other offerings include tennis courts, a basketball court, climbing wall, recreation centers for kids and teens, and the existing Tom Fazio-designed Osprey Ridge golf course. The $360 million Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort will be situated in Disney’s Golden Oak community. Though no rates have been announced, expect a hefty price tag: On-property Disney hotels are notoriously expensive as it is, and the Four Seasons experience doesn’t come cheap.
For general trip-planning information, see our Walt Disney World Travel Guide.
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