Royal Caribbean Cruise News for 2019

An update on our family programming
Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

At Vacations with Character® we help families book many types of vacations, including cruises. Today, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has asked us to share some important information regarding an exciting update for 2019 and we’re passing it on to you:

“Royal Caribbean is always looking to the future and exploring new ways to exceed our guests’ expectations. We’ve been conducting extensive research to better understand and anticipate what matters most to the families of today — and tomorrow. And in 2019, we’re looking forward to delivering brand new experiences for families, kids and teens.

What began with new family features like glow-in-the-dark laser tag and the Sky Pad VR bungee trampoline experience on Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas will continue to evolve as Navigator of the Seas is amplified in March 2019. And we’re taking our family flagships to a whole new level when Oasis of the Seas gets amplified later in the year.

As we shift focus toward these new possibilities, the 9 ships that offer DreamWorks moments will no longer feature the program as of April 2019 sailings. We’ll continue to offer countless ways for families to make unforgettable memories onboard. Including our complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program with expansive facilities designed for each age group, plus teen programming in their own dedicated spaces. Family-friendly thrills, like record-breaking water slides, FlowRider surf simulators, Splashaway Bay aqua parks, Royal Escape Rooms and more. Parades and shows across stage, ice, water and air. Plus the ultimate family vacation destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, debuting May 2019.”

If you have any questions or if you’d like to book your next amazing getaway, please feel free to reach out to one of our fabulous Vacationistas here at Vacations with Character®. You can do so by visiting our secure website for a free quote or for more information: https://vacationswithcharacter.net

 

New Details Unveiled For Disney’s Gran Destino Tower

By: Disney Destinations

We have exciting news to share! Our team of Travel Professionals will be able to begin booking reservations for you at Gran Destino Tower on Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort beginning Nov. 27, 2018!

Here are more details from Disney Travel News:

Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products Chairman, Bob Chapek, unveiled the name of the new 15-story centerpiece of the resort, the Gran Destino Tower, and the opening month: July 2019.

Gran Destino Tower will be an “oasis on the shore of Lago Dorado” at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Here are some highlights:

* The tower will host a gorgeous 2-story lobby that will serve as a main entrance for all guests.

* Two new restaurants are planned. One will be located on the top of the tower that will provide amazing views of the Walt Disney World® Resort area. The second will be set on an island in the middle of the resort’s 14-acre lake, Lago Dorado. It will be accessible through new walkways stretching across the water, creating a pretty stroll and added guest convenience.

* Gran Destino will introduce 545 new guest rooms plus 50 suites!

* The resorts 1,800 + existing rooms will be fully updated with new fixtures, furnishings and lighting.

* A fresh color palette, Spanish influenced decor, and imaginative Disney touches will help tie the new and the newly re-imagined together.

Who’s ready to experience the spirit of great Spanish explorers? Be sure to contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional or request your FREE quote by clicking here.

Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction Update ~ Epcot

Storytelling Coaster Ride Vehicle

We have some exciting news regarding the new “Guardians of the Galaxy”-inspired attraction coming to life at Epcot® and we want to pass it onto you!

According to Disney Travel News, Bob Chapek (Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products Chairman) shared the first details on the innovative new ride system planned:

Building an adventure this big will require a ride system and ride vehicles unlike anything guests have experienced before. This encounter can best be described as a one-of-a-kind storytelling coaster that connects the adventure of a storyline with the thrills of a coaster.

“On most coasters, the vehicles point straight ahead throughout the ride,” Bob explained. “But on this attraction, each individual cab will be programmed to direct your eye to the story happening around you. That means instead of whizzing by the action, you’ll be fully immersed in the story from the minute you launch.”

This monster attraction, which will be housed inside a building so large that the volume of four Spaceship Earths could fit inside it, is said be one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters when it opens in Future World at Epcot, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World® Resort in 2021.

Stay tuned for future updates and be sure to contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional to add your name to their list to be contacted for 2021 vacations!

 

Celebrate an Epic Holiday at Universal Orlando and Create a New Tradition

Can you believe the holidays are almost here? The season can get a little crazy with all the shopping, cooking, baking, wrapping, packing, shipping, and let’s not forget the cleaning! Whether you want to make your life a little easier this year, take a break after the big holiday, or celebrate the New Year in a fun and unique way, we’ve got a list of 8 reasons to visit Universal Orlando Resort this holiday season. (Shhh…don’t tell Mickey!)

1. Mischief and Merry

While Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is more magical than you can possibly imagine, when you think of the holidays, one parade is synonymous – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Universal Orlando treats you to a taste of this beloved event in the Universal Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. Over 100 choreographed performers take part in this family favorite that also features the famous larger-than-life balloons and incredibly detailed floats. Minions from Despicable Me, fairy tale characters from Shrek, and wild animals of Madagascar come together for this celebration you won’t want to miss!

2.  It’s Not Just a Holiday…it’s a Who-liday

When you think of Christmas, what other famous character comes to mind? Why, the Grinch of course! (Sorry Santa!) There’s no better way to experience Who-liday joy except during Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Watch the retelling of this beloved Dr. Seuss tale in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” then meet some of the Whos plus the Grinch himself in adorable photo meet-and-greet opportunities. There’s even a special character breakfast available if you’re savvy enough to “steal” a reservation (ask us how!)

3. Butterbeer and Christmas Cheer

Hot Butterbeer is a seasonal favorite for all muggles! Grab a cup while you while you watch a Harry Potter holiday-themed show or wander through the streets of The Wizarding World admiring the festive window decorations (Universal Orlando really outdoes itself). At night, see a true showstopper as Hogwarts come to life in The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.

4. Put some Jingle in those Bells

Take a stroll over to the Music Plaza Stage at Universal Studios to hear the sounds of the season where, on select nights, you can find Mannheim Steamroller. They’ll put some jingle in your step and keep you in the holiday spirit listening to their modern take on classic holiday tunes.

5. Home Away from Home for the Holidays

While you may leave your home-sweet-home for a spell, you don’t have to leave behind the traditions your family has grown to love. Instead, add to them! The resorts at Universal Orlando are filled with festive decor, tree lightings, yummy treats AND holiday activities from cookie decorating, carolers — and even visits with the big man himself, Santa!

6. Skip the Lines

You’ll waste enough time standing in line whether at the grocery store, the department store, the post office or the gas station! Spending holiday time at Universal Orlando doesn’t have to be the same way. Did you know there are actually ways to SKIP the lines at most major attractions? Universal has an amazing thing called Express Pass and it’s FREE to guests staying at certain resorts on property but it’s also available for purchase as well. Express Pass allows you to experience more, play more, and wait in line less, which also opens the door for a more relaxing vacation. Can you envision spending downtime poolside or just relaxing in your beautiful onsite resort room because you saved so much time skipping the lines? This is the best way to visit a theme park during peak holiday travel times. A Universal Orlando vacation can truly be a stress-free, worry-free one because of this option!

7. Cooking Schmooking

There are countless restaurants and dining options available to choose from in the resorts, theme parks, and in CityWalk — Universal’s “Epicenter of Awesomeness”. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years, all the traditional feasts can most likely be found along with all of your normal favorites…plus a few surprises (there’s even a luau!)

And speaking of CityWalk, this brings us to  number eight on the list:

8. Celebrate the Year—and Party into the Next

How does celebrating the New Year by dancing the night away on Orlando’s biggest dance floor sound? Featuring a live DJ and live music, cocktails and unlimited cuisine, EVE at Universal City Walk is the place to be! As if that weren’t enough, the evening culminates with dazzling fireworks and a champagne toast at midnight. (Note: this is a separately ticketed event for guests ages 21 and older.)

In closing, we’re all about Vacations with Character® around here but even more, we’re about helping you spend quality time with those you love. Why not celebrate the holidays with your favorite characters and create special memories that will last a lifetime?

Contact a Vacations with Character® Travel Professional (we are an authorized seller of Universal Orlando Resort vacations and tickets) or request your FREE quote by clicking here. We provide the best prices possible for your vacation needs, never charge a fee, and our experience is priceless!

All Photos Courtesy: Universal Partner Community / Universal Orlando Resort / Bailey Morris, Universal Partner Community

NEW Disney World After Hours Events!

Photo Courtesy of Disney Destinations

We’ve got great news! The success of Disney After Hours events have been such a huge hit that not only are more event nights set for Magic Kingdom Park, but for the first time, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be available for select nights as well.

Imagine the ability to experience the magic of Disney with little-to-no waits for attractions, experiences and, of course, CHARACTER meet-n-greets for THREE ENTIRE HOURS after regular park hours! Sounds pretty amazing, right? Well, that’s not all…you can even enter the park early – at 7 p.m. on the event night – before Disney After Hours begins. As if that’s not exciting enough, ice cream, popcorn and select beverages are also included in Disney After Hours admission, which is a separately priced ticket from daytime park admission.

What can you expect at each park?

In Magic Kingdom, enjoy your favorite attractions from Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain as well as newer favorites like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, plus many more.

Event nights at Magic Kingdom will run on: Nov. 26; and Dec. 3, 10, 2018; and Jan. 7, 17, 24 and 28, 2019; Feb. 7, 14, and 28, 2019; and March 7, 2019.

In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, experience little-to-no wait for newly opened Toy Story Land attractions, including Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania! Fan favorites like Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror and other attractions will also be available.

Event nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be: Dec. 8, 15 and 22, 2018; and Jan. 5, 12 and 19, 2019; Feb. 2, 9 and 16, 2019; March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 2019; and April 6 and 13, 2019.

Enjoy the best Disney’s Animal Kingdom has to offer at night, including the heart-tugging Tree of Life Awakenings, the adventures within Pandora – The World of Avatar and more.

Dates at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are: Dec. 4, 12 and 18, 2018; and Jan. 8, 16, 22 and 31, 2019; and Feb. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 26, 2019; and March 5, 20 and 27, 2019; and April 3, 2019.

At all parks select quick-service food & beverage locations will remain open throughout the night for purchases as well.

All Disney After Hours event tickets cost $125 + tax for advance purchase and $129 + tax for day-of purchases. Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders do receive a discounted price $95 + tax.

Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional to purchase tickets or to request a FREE vacation quote by clicking here.  Be sure to ask us for more ideas on how to create an even more magical experience for your next vacation as well!

Wreck It Ralph and Vanellope Coming to Disney Parks this Fall!

Ralph and Vanellope

Best friends, Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz, are once again preparing to venture beyond Litwak’s Arcade to celebrate Disney’s all-new animated adventure, “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, coming to theaters November 21.

The duo will make their appearance in Disney Parks this fall AND for a limited time next month, guests will be able preview a sneak peek from Disney’s new animated adventure “Ralph Breaks the Internet” in Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

But wait…there’s more!

Be on the look out for a new, hyper-reality experience, “Ralph Breaks VR”, coming to The Void at Disney Springs and Downtown Disney as well!

Here’s the scoop:

Ralph and Vanellope will make appearances on the West Coast in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure park beginning November 9 while at Disneyland park, the preview of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” will be shown in 3D at the Tomorrowland Theater. This limited sneak-peek experience will be presented by Mailchimp November 9 to December 9.

The digital duo will also be heading east to Epcot in the Walt Disney World Resort where they’ll greet guests starting November 21 in Innoventions West. Visitors to Disney’s Hollywood Studios will also be treated to an advanced look at a portion of the film, starting Friday, November 2, as part of the “Walt Disney Presents” attraction.

(Don’t worry…Ralph and Vanellope won’t “wreck your fun” at other meet-and-greet opportunities available in Epcot. They’ll be appearing in new locations that won’t affect any other characters currently appearing at the park. Plus, this winter, a new experiment — a portal into other dimensions — will open up a window on the internet for Ralph and Venellope to step through for regular encounters with Epcot guests in the ImageWorks area of the Imagination! pavilion.)

Photo Credit: thevoid.com

As mentioned, a new hyper-reality experience is coming to The Void at Disney Springs and Downtown Disney as well! What’s The Void? It’s probably better if we let them tell you in their own words: “It’s hyper-reality. It’s technical achievement. But mainly, it’s fun! THE VOID is a whole-body, fully immersive VR experience, full of surprises at every turn; with you, your family and friends inside the action. One second you’re standing on solid ground, the next you’re stepping deep into darkness, looking at unimaginable beauty – or fending off danger from another realm. Did you see it? Did you feel it? What’s next? You’ll just have to experience it to understand.”

Doesn’t that sound amazing?? To sign up to get on the list for more information on “Ralph Breaks VR” or other virtual reality experiences, it’s simple…just visit The Void or contact your Travel Professional.

Are you excited to see Ralph and Vanellope in Disney Parks and to check out their new movie, “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” this fall? Here’s a little snippet to tie you over!

Are you ready to make plans to see Ralph and Vanellope in Disney Parks this fall? Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional to book your next stress-free / wreck-free vacation by clicking here.  Be sure to ask about adding this or other character experiences as well. After all, creating Vacations with Character is what we do best!

The Importance of Vacations ♥

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Universal Orlando’s Hogwarts Express

Orlando, Florida has to be one of the most magical places on earth. It’s the land of sunshine, fairy tales and family time. In its four hundred and ninety-four square miles you’ll be entertained, amazed and rejuvenated like nowhere else.  It’s a place to reconnect, catch up, laugh, de-stress and feel like a kid again; it’s a place that makes you smile.

The theme a few years ago at the Walt Disney World Resort was based on one word: celebrate!  I personally loved this concept. As we go through the hum-drum moments of our everyday lives we obviously can become burned out, stressed out and just plain worn out. It’s hard to feel grateful, thankful, blessed, and even “connected” some days. We need a vacation to help us get back to what’s important — celebrating our lives and our connections with each other.

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Walt Disney World’s PhilharMagic

Studies show that most people do not take vacations often enough, and in fact, many don’t take vacations at all. That’s a shame! Vacations are not only fun and relaxing, but they are actually healthy for us. They help us recharge our batteries and get back to feeling our best. Our mood, stress levels and quality of sleep are drastically improved for a few weeks afterwards. While our minds, bodies and souls personally benefit, our relationships do too. We strengthen ties when spending quality time and enjoying life with loved ones. We reconnect and actually see each other; we bond.

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Walt Disney World’s Magic Bands

Orlando is one such place that was designed for celebrating life in every stage. It’s a place that reminds me of many happy times: the look of wonderment in my two year old’s eyes when she met Cinderella for the first time; the memory of my five-year-old son shrieking with delight when the Grinch tried to steal his bag of chips, and sharing giggles over the actions of one very naughty mime at Sea World! :o)  It’s exciting memories of a helicopter ride, wave pools, sea lions and whales, safaris, boat rides, golfing, theme park thrills, and experiencing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are also little, precious moments like those of my baby girl kissing Pluto’s nose, the way “Wishes” brought tears to my eyes, the look of contentment on my sleeping children’s faces, and the echoes of a million other wonderful sounds and magical memories we’ve made together there over many years.

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The One That Got Away!

Orlando is our “happy place” here at Vacations with Character® and in our real lives as well. There’s something for everyone, for every vacationing style, and for just about every budget. Your options are as limitless as the memories you’ll make.

It’s never too late to find your happy place. So, go on…book that next vacation and celebrate life! Your loved ones will thank you for it. ♥

Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional or request your FREE quote by clicking here.

What Floats Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease?

We’ll give you a hint…it’s not the man on the flying trapeze! The answer is: Disney Skyliner — and it will certainly offer an even better bird’s eye view!!

Last year, Disney Imagineers surprised us all with a state-of-the-art plan to move guests across Walt Disney World resort. We have more details to share with you about this new and innovative gondola system that will conveniently connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot to four resort hotels- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort as well as the proposed 15th Disney Vacation Club property, Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Disney teams are quickly making progress and guests have been and will continue to notice construction in many areas. In addition to unique Disney station designs that complement their surroundings, support towers have been popping up across Walt Disney World Resort and will soon be connected with a series of reinforced cables to carry guests in stylish themed gondolas.

As the next phase of construction begins and teams install the miles of cable between towers, guests staying at Boardwalk area resorts should also be aware access to the International Gateway in Epcot may be effected. Boat service to/from these resorts to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is rumored to become unavailable after Thanksgiving week and bus service will be offered instead. Disney has not supplied firm dates at this time, however, Swan and Dolphin Resort Hotels, which are not owned or operated by Disney, have begun spreading the word to their future guests. Construction disruption is said to begin as early as November 27 or 28 and continue through December 18, 2018.

Change is always difficult but once the system is in place, Disney Skyliner should be a great option for onsite guests — and a HUGE perk for staying at Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach Resort or Disney’s Riviera Resort (when construction is complete).

Check out this video for a fun look at the new system and keep checking in with us here for future details!

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment, we’d ♥ to know what you think!

For more information or to book your next vacation, contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional or request your FREE quote by clicking here.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…Off to Dinner We Go!

Photo Courtesy of Disney Destinations

Have you heard the news?  Inspired by the Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a unique Character Dining experience is coming to Artist Point, located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort.

Storybook Dining with Snow White at Artist Point will offer a delicious, dinner with visits from your favorite characters — Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and even The Queen herself — all set in a storybook theme.

Delight in an experience that begins with shared appetizers including Hunter’s Pie, Winter Squash Bisque and Wicked Shrimp Cocktail. Then, choose your entrée from a prix fixe menu. You can feast on the Royal Prime Rib Roast, Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken, Magic Mirror Slow Braised Veal Shank, Seafood Stew and Bashful’s Butter Poached Snapper. Or enjoy A Stroll Through Nature, the vegetarian option featuring butternut squash, arugula and gnocchi.

Children can choose from a selection of kid-friendly items, including Royal Prime Rib Roast, Grilled Chicken, Princess Pasta and Vegetarian Steam Bun as well.

Each Guest will receive a choice of a non-alcoholic fountain beverage (alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty beverages are not included). However, for an additional cost you may also choose to quench your thirst with creative and fun cocktails (and mocktails) and a variety of beers in bottles and on draft. A wine list with a focus on the most highly rated wines from Oregon and Washington State rounds out the beverage menu.

End your storybook dining experience on a “Heigh-Ho” note with a choice from several delectable desserts that include a “Poison” Apple, Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie, Miner’s Treasures (sponge cake with chocolate gems and buttercream icing), and The Hunter’s Gift to the Queen, which features cracked maple popcorn and a ganache heart.  Can’t choose your favorite? No worries! The desserts are shared and you’ll receive one of each. ♥

Pricing is $55 for adults and $33 for children ages 3-9 (tax and gratuity not included) or one Disney Dining Plan Table Service credit can be redeemed per Guest for those on a Disney Dining Plan.

Advance reservations for Storybook Dining with Snow White at Artist Point are open now and up to 180 days prior to your visit for dates beginning Dec. 16, 2018.

Please note the current Signature dining experience at Artist Point will be only be available through Nov. 10, 2018, and as always, menu items are subject to change.

We really think you’re going to dig, dig, dig this ! Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional or book your next storybook vacation by clicking here.  Be sure to ask about adding this or other character dining experiences!

Walt Disney World Ticket Changes – Oh My!

I LOVE MICKEY BALLOONS! (2)

Walt Disney World Resort is constantly looking for new ways to deliver the best experience possible for guests – just like we do here at Vacations with Character®.

In addition to our previous post about all of the new changes coming in 2019, we would like to tell you about one more debuting next month: Beginning on October 16 a new date-based ticket system is being introduced.  Why you might ask? Well, the answer is quite simple. Walt Disney World has become an ever popular experience and the hope is this new system will allow attendance to be better distributed throughout the year.

All of the graphs and information out there can be confusing  but to sum it up, prices will no longer be based on the number of days on a ticket or the theme park visited. Instead, ticket prices will be predetermined by day and date. For example, it may be more expensive to visit a theme park on a Sunday vs. a Monday. So, guests may be able to save a little bit more money  (and perhaps avoid a more crowded time period) if their plans are flexible.  And, just as before, traveling during peak and/or holiday seasons will continue to cost a little bit more and crowds will probably remain higher during these times as well.

cinderella-castle-family

That’s easy enough, right? Well…there is one more thing to know. All tickets will have a limited-use window attached to them based on the type of ticket purchased unless you want to opt for a Flexible Date ticket option (more on that below).

For example:

2-Day Tickets – Must be used any 2 days within 4 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

3-Day Tickets – Must be used any 3 days within 5 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

4-Day Tickets – Must be used any 4 days within 7 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

5-Day Tickets – Must be used any 5 days within 8 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

6-Day Tickets – Must be used any 6 days within 9 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

7-Day Tickets – Must be used any 7 days within 10 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

8-Day Tickets – Must be used any 8 days within 12 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

9-Day Ticket – Any 9 days within 13 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

10-Day Ticket – Any 10 days within 14 days beginning on the start date selected at the time of purchase

Note: adding the  Park Hopper option will also provide you with 1 additional day!

As for packages that include room accommodations and more, your tickets will be good for THE LONGER OF:

1) the length of stay from check-in date until midnight of the check-out date

OR

2) The standard valid use period for the ticket selected.

If you are unsure of your plans or just don’t wish to think about all of this – no worries! Disney thought of that too and a Flexible Date ticket option will also be available – but it will cost you.

As before, tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable once purchased. You may add the Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus option, or modify your ticket at a later date, but you can never DOWNGRADE your ticket(s). Also, adjusting the start date could make your ticket price increase, so BEWARE!

And if reading all of this is making your head spin like you just got off the Mad Tea Party tea-cups, don’t worry -we’re here to help. Just be sure to let us know if your dates are flexible so we may provide the best price possible for your vacation dollars!

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Contact your favorite Vacations with Character® Travel Professional or request your FREE quote by clicking here.