SURPRISE! Months ahead of their typical schedule, Walt Disney World has released 2022 packages! Contact me to receive your complimentary quote!
Walt Disney World
Liberty Bell Returns to Rivers of America
As you may remember, last October, Cast Members drained the waters of the Rivers of America, sending the Liberty Belle to dry dock behind Magic Kingdom in order to replace her underwater track. On February 5, 2021, she has once again returned to the Rivers of America in Liberty Square! This historic 47-foot authentic steam-powered paddle wheeler has been sailing the waters of the Rivers of America for nearly 50 years. Welcome back, Liberty Belle!
New Gateway Hotels Announced
For guests who choose to stay off-site, some new options are available! Four new hotels have been added to the Walt Disney World Gateway Hotel collection: Residence Inn by Marriott at Western Entrance, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott at Western Entrance, Homewood Suites by Hilton at Western Entrance and Home2 Suites by Hilton at Western Entrance. The convenient location of these hotels makes it easy to visit the parks—and by booking a vacation package with the Walt Disney Travel Company, guests receive select benefits guaranteed to add a little more magic!
Leave a Legacy Goes On
Leave A Legacy is returning to EPCOT! With the transformation of the EPCOT main entrance area, the original Legacy sculpture has been removed, but Leave A Legacy lives on in a bright, colorful new setting. These newly designed panels are the first of many that will be installed outside the EPCOT touch points. To search for your tile at the new location, use your smart device to scan the QR code at the Leave a Legacy display. This opens up the tile finder search feature, which can provide the coordinates for a tile’s location. Guests can also visit the EPCOT guest Relations team for assistance.
Universal Orlando Resort
Volcano Bay Reopening Updates
Ahead of schedule, Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park will begin welcoming guests again on Saturday, February 27!
Universal’s Volcano Bay is a tropical oasis filled with a variety of relaxing and thrilling experiences – all surrounding a massive 200-foot volcano nestled right in the center of the park. Guests are immediately transported to a South Seas-inspired paradise where they can relax on the sands of Waturi Beach, drift leisurely down Kopiko Wai Winding River, brave a 125-foot drop alongside the volcano on Ko’okiri Body Plunge, and so much more.
Volcano Bay’s enhanced health and safety procedures will be in place when the park reopens on February 27 and reflect the guidelines that debuted last year. Key measures include temperature screenings for guests and team members, limiting capacity at the park and on attractions – including rivers and pools, enforcing social distancing, aggressive cleaning and disinfection procedures, and requiring face coverings inside restaurants, retail locations and when entering and exiting the park. Face coverings are not permitted on the slides and in the pools.
Tickets for Volcano Bay are on sale now! Three-park annual and seasonal passes, as well as vacation packages, that include access to Volcano Bay will be available for purchase in the weeks ahead.
Reservations for Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining on Buena Vista Street at Disneyland Resort
Guests can once again enjoy outdoor dining at Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining on Buena Vista Street, an extension of Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort. Reservations are highly recommended for this experience, which can be made at Disneyland.com or on the Disneyland mobile app.
New Limited-Time Ticketed Experience Coming to Disney California Adventure Park
In a letter that commemorates the 20th anniversary of Disney California Adventure Park today, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock announced directly to cast members that a new offering is headed to the resort, soon. A copy of that letter is below. We look forward to sharing more details about this all-new, limited-time ticketed experience, planned to begin in mid-March, soon!
Dear Cast Members,
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since we welcomed our first Guests to Disney California Adventure Park. While I’m relatively new to the Disneyland Resort, I was so excited to visit Disney California Adventure that first year and have enjoyed seeing the park evolve over the last two decades and the role it has played in creating a multi-day destination for our Guests. From the ongoing expansions and enhancements focused on bringing more Disney storytelling to the park, including Cars Land, to our upcoming mission to suit up the next generation of Super Heroes at Avengers Campus, we continue to add new and vibrant experiences for Guests to enjoy.
I’m pleased to report that Avengers Campus is making incredible progress. From the futuristic architecture, theatrical lighting, unique audio, creative food, beautiful costuming and innovative merchandise, the land will be an immersive experience that we know our Guests are going to love. And while we aren’t ready to reveal Avengers Campus to the world just yet, I am excited about another very special opportunity we have at Disney California Adventure Park that speaks to our top priorities: getting more Cast Members back to work and engaging with our Guests in different and relevant ways.
Currently planned to begin mid-March, we will debut an all-new, limited-time ticketed experience, focused on our world-famous food and beverage offerings from around the resort, the latest merchandise and unique, carefully crafted entertainment experiences…all to be offered multiple days a week. With limited capacity and enhanced health and safety measures in place, Guests once again will get to step into a magical Disney environment — an environment that will provide memorable and fun experiences our Guests are craving.
Teams across the resort are currently developing this distinctly Disney experience, so there are many more details to come, but I wanted you – our Cast Members – to hear this news first. Stay tuned for the official announcement coming soon.
What I'm most thrilled about is that this initiative — along with the recent reopening of our outdoor dining on Buena Vista Street — enables us to bring about 1,000 Cast Members back to work. While that is clearly not all we want to accomplish, it’s a start. Teams are working as we speak to start recalling identified Cast in the coming weeks.
This past year has presented extraordinary challenges, but that has not curtailed in any way our ability to move forward with a spirit of optimism. Thanks to each and every one of you for your contributions to making the Disneyland Resort a place where dreamers around the world are always welcome. Stay safe and stay well.
Disneyland Resort President
Staying at 2 or more resort hotels during your vacation, also known as a split stay, is one of the best ways to experience Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort (or both!) But what exactly does that mean? And why should you do it? If you're asking yourself those questions, get ready for Split Stays 101!
A split stay requires at least 1 night's stay at each resort hotel that you plan to book. Split stays can be between 2 or even 3 resorts. If you choose to do a split stay at Walt Disney World, bell services will transfer your bags free of charge to your next Walt Disney World Resort Hotel. If you transfer from different Universal hotels, or split between Disney and Universal, you're on your own.
If you're looking for luggage for the kids (or kids at heart!), American Tourister has some adorable Disney luggage, including Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and BB-8! Not looking for character luggage? American Tourister also has this great 3-piece set!
Where to Split at Walt Disney World
The resorts you choose to split between are a completely personal choice. 99% of the split stays that I book are because of the following:
Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have something for everyone in each of their parks. Still, some of those parks are more geared for certain groups. Don't worry...I'm here to break it all down for you! Check out my top picks for teens, thrill-seekers, little ones, grandparents, explorers, and couples.
For Teens: Universal Studios (Universal Orlando Resort)
There is something for every teen at Universal Studios! For the Harry Potter fans, don't miss Diagon Alley, where you can immerse yourself in Harry Potter and ride the thrilling Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts! Universal Studios also offers tons of fun shopping and dining experiences. The very Instagrammable Central Park Crepes is located here for the ultimate IG photo shoot. To keep phones charged, don't forget a portable charger! I love this rose gold one for park days. For your coaster-loving teens, don't miss Rip Ride Rockit and Revenge of the Mummy.
For Thrill-Seekers: Islands of Adventure (Universal Orlando Resort)
One word: Velocicoaster. Opening this summer, UOR will be debuting the ultimate roller coaster at Islands of Adventure. In addition to the record-breaking coaster opening June 10, 2021, Islands of Adventure also has Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (a personal favorite), Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Jurrasic Park River Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, and more! (Don't forget a fanny pack for those intense rides! This Adidas one is what I personally use!)
For The Little Ones: Disney's Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World)
When you think "Hollywood Studios", you're probably thinking "Star Wars" right? While there are plenty of Star Wars experiences for all ages, that's not the only thing at Hollywood Studios! In fact, there are plenty of experiences for little ones there! Have a Disney Junior fan? Not only do Disney Jr. characters participate in cavalcades all day, but there's actually an entire Disney Junior live show! A Disney Jr. character breakfast is also available. For Frozen fans, there's a Frozen Singalong! Plus, you cannot miss Toy Story Land! This immersive, incredible land features a family-friendly coaster, Alien Spinning Saucers, and the ever-popular Toy Story Mania ride/game! Hollywood Studios is also home to Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway!
For The Grand Adventure (Grandparents): Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World)
A "grand adventure" at Walt Disney World is when 3+ generations of a family visit together. (Grandparents, parents, and kids!) What better place to make everyone feel like a kid again than at Magic Kingdom? This park is a nostalgic classic for adults and full of wonder and fantasy for little ones. For the ultimate family day, Magic Kingdom keeps everyone happy. Take a ride on King Arthur's Carousel, spin on the teacups, and more! Those classic experiences, along with the thrills of the "Disney Mountain Range" (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder) will bring every part of your family so much joy!
Universal Orlando Resort
Military Freedom Pass Announced
Universal Orlando Resort pays homage to active duty, retired military members and their families with the introduction of the first-ever Military Freedom Pass, offering military personnel a chance to visit Universal Orlando all year and without blockout dates! The special offer allows military members and their families to enjoy 2 or 3 theme parks, including Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay, plus options to upgrade into exclusive military vacation packages.
2021 MILITARY FREEDOM PASS
Active duty, retired military members and their families can purchase a 2-Park 2021 Military Freedom Pass for $199.99 per adult or a 3-Park pass for $234.99 per adult. These are available now through December 27, 2021 and must be used through December 31. These passes are not available at the front gate. Valid ID at your authorized Military Ticket and Travel Office is required.
MILITARY VACATION PACKAGE UPGRADES
Military members and their families can take their vacation to the next level by upgrading to an exclusive vacation package including the Military Create Your Own Vacation Package and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Exclusive Military Vacation Package. Both packages come complete with the Military Freedom Pass, allowing guests to visit all year long.
The customizable Military Create Your Own Vacation Package includes accommodations at any Universal Orlando hotel and Early Park Admission to select parks and attractions. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Exclusive Military Vacation Package includes hotel accommodations at any Universal Orlando hotel with a Special Themed Keepsake Box, breakfast at both the Leaky Cauldron inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and Three Broomsticks inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, and one Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio session. For more information about either vacation package and to purchase, call 1-877-801-9720, or visit your authorized Military Ticket and Travel Office.
UP TO 40% OFF A UNIVERSAL HOTEL STAY
Military members and their families can make the most of future vacations by staying at a Universal Orlando hotel. Military members and their families are eligible to receive a discounted rate at all Universal Orlando Resort hotels including up to 40 percent off their room rate at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort!
Walt Disney World
Celebrate Soulfully in February at Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World has unveiled several new experiences allowing guests to celebrate and honor Black heritage and culture during and beyond Black History Month at The Most Magical Place on Earth. As I mentioned before, “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” debuted February 1st at EPCOT inside The American Adventure.
As part of their "Movies Under the Stars" program, select Disney Resort hotels throughout the month of February will show films celebrating Black culture. These complimentary outdoor movie screenings are available to guests of Disney Resort hotels.
“Celebrate Soulfully at Disney Springs” brings jazz-inspired performances, new art displays, special food menus and more, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. It will feature:
There are certain Walt Disney World restaurants that get all the (totally justifiable!) hype. Cinderella's Royal Table, Be Our Guest, the list goes on and on. (In fact, I have an entire blog post dedicated to some of the best romantic restaurants!) Sometimes, those hard-to-get reservations elude us. I've found these tried-and-true hidden gem dining spots for those days where you're in a pinch and need a reservation quickly!
The Wave...of American Flavors is located at Disney's Contemporary Resort. If you're dying to check out the Contemporary, this is an exceptional hidden gem. Located just off the lobby, this spot has breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. The food is fresh and there's something for everyone...even for the pickiest of eaters! (Pro tip: if you're there for breakfast, order the sweet potato pancakes...then be prepared to fall in love!)
Whispering Canyon Cafe is located in the lobby at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort. Here, they're known for the phenomenal all-you-care-to-enjoy skillets for breakfast lunch, and dinner, though you can order an entree a la carte if you'd like. The name of this restaurant is definitely misleading, because this sounds about as far from "whispering" as you can get! Be prepared for some silly shenanigans from your waitstaff. (Of course, if you don't want to participate in the hijinks, just let them know! It's still a lot of fun to watch!)
When you hear the word splurge, there's no way that you think the word value, amiright? While I normally pride myself on my money-saving tips and tricks for clients, these 4 Walt Disney World splurges are totally worth it!
When it comes to dining, there are plenty of ways to save money at Walt Disney World. (In fact, all of my clients get tons of foodie budget tips in their e-packages!) However, signature dining can really make one meal an extra special occasion. If you're celebrating a special birthday, anniversary, engagement, or honeymoon, I highly recommend splurging on a fancy meal. You can read about my recommendations for those here.
Upgrade Your Room or Resort
There are tons of ways that you can upgrade your room or resort at Walt Disney World. Upgrading to a preferred room will get you closer to dining, transportation, or a pool area. Upgrading to a larger room or suite will give you more room to spread out, and 1+ bedroom villas will even come with a full kitchen and in-room laundry! When it comes to resort upgrades, you may consider upgrading from a moderate to deluxe, for example. Having something like the Monorail right at your resort or being within walking distance to the parks are some of the many perks of a deluxe resort. For more information about resorts, you can read about my resort overviews here and here. I also have a list of my Top Resorts for 2021.
Memory Maker is a photo package available as an add-on. It's currently $20 cheaper to buy this in advance, which is what I recommend to all booked clients. Memory Maker gives you access to all of your ride and character photos during your trip, as well as those classic must-have photos. (Think castle photos, Tree of Life photos, etc.) The photos are captured by Disney PhotoPass photographers, and you'll see them everywhere in the parks. One of the coolest aspects of Memory Maker is the addition of Magic Shots, which add a little extra magic to your family photos. One big change in 2021 is that your PhotoPass photographers will no longer take additional photos on your cell phone or camera. This means that adding on Memory Maker is a more valuable splurge than ever!
For the ultimate splurge, book a VIP Tour! Having experienced 2 of these for myself, I can 100000% vouch for the experience and value. Yes, it's a major splurge...much more so than anything else on this list! Especially with FastPasses not returning anytime soon, skipping the line has never been more worth it! Not to mention the reserved seating, private transportation, and luxurious experience! You can read about my VIP Tour experiences here!
Have you splurged on any of these experiences? Do you want to add one of these to your next Disney vacation? Contact me to get started!
From the classics to the "Disney walls" to foodies...there are 10 photo ops you don't want to miss on your next trip! (Pro tip: make sure that you ask me to add on Memory Maker to your package! Adding it prior to your stay will save you $20!)
#1 - The Park Icons (Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, the EPCOT Ball, Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Yes, I know, technically this is 4 photos altogether, but did you really visit Walt Disney World if you didn't get a photo in front of these icons? You'll see tons of PhotoPass photographers stationed all around these areas, so make sure you grab one. These all look totally amazing in the sunshine AND all lit up at night!
#2 - The Purple Wall (Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom)
The original wall to go "viral" at Walt Disney World! This one can be found as you're heading into Tomorrowland from Main Street USA. Get your Insta captions ready!
#3 - The Popsicle Wall (Toy Story Land, Hollywood Studios)
You'll find this one as you're exiting Toy Story Mania. The detail in this wall (and all of Toy Story Land, really) is incredible!