Monday, October 24, 2016

Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Disney's Hollywood Studios featuring Star Wars Fireworks

This is the Dessert Party you’ve been looking for…..

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular debuted in Hollywood Studios on June 17, 2016.  Since its opening, it has been touted as one of the best nighttime shows in Walt Disney World history, by both Star Wars fans and non-fans alike.  The 12 minute show features fireworks, lasers, light projections and other special effects set to Star Wars-themed music, and combined with iconic characters and scenes from throughout the saga.  The best area to watch the show is in front of the Chinese Theater, ensuring you have a good view of both projection towers on either side of the building.  Note, however, that these spots are often scoped out 60-90 minutes in advance, especially now that the show is no longer running nightly (the show is currently only being offered on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights after running daily during the summer months).  If sitting on the pavement for an hour and a half doesn’t suit your fancy, consider booking the Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, which is offered every night that the fireworks are presented.

The party is scheduled to begin an hour and 15 minutes prior to the start of the fireworks, though you are often allowed entry up to 15 minutes prior to the official start time.   The party is held inside Launch Bay, and will run you $69 /adult and $39 /child, which includes tax and gratuity, and is paid at the time of booking (though cancellations can be made up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund).

Party offerings include both sweet and savory food items, in addition to unlimited beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).  Additionally, each participant will receive a souvenir Chewbacca stein. 

There are cast members stationed outside Launch Bay to check you in and provide you with your party credentials (a lanyard).  The dessert party itself is located inside Launch Bay, just past the character meet and greet area.  There were several long tables set up with the food on one side of the room and high top tables (no chairs) located on the other side.  We had no issue finding a table inside on a sold out night, but there are also additional tables set up outdoors if needed.

As mentioned, the buffet includes both sweet and savory items.  In the interest of research, I wanted to try a bit of everything, but it was just too much!  Savory items included black bean dip and roasted red pepper hummus with flatbreads for dipping.  There were also cheese and olive skewers, which my husband loved, as well as tomato and mozzarella skewers.  My son ate his weight in fruit skewers (there were both grape and watermelon options), while my daughter and I preferred the sweets.  Dessert offerings included Darth Vader, R2D2 and BB8 cupcakes, a red velvet brownie (themed to Darth Maul), stormtrooper and Darth Vader shortbread cookies, blue panna cotta, rice krispie bon bons and Mickey Bars, available upon request.  But perhaps the most amazing treat was the freeze-dried Nutella truffle!  Served with your choice of either chocolate or raspberry syrup, it was my personal favorite.







In addition to water and soda, the party offers 4 specialty alcoholic drinks, all of which my husband and I found too sweet for our liking.  The Light Speed Margarita was the least offensive, with the Galactic Punch a close second (POG juice with 2 varieties of rum and a mango syrup).  There was also a Cosmic Citrus Twist (citrus vodka and watermelon lemonade) as well as Swamp Milk (vodka, melon liqueur, vanilla syrup and half & half).






Launch Bay remains open during the party, so you are free to explore all areas of the building, including the meet and greets with Kylo Ren and Chewbacca.  Approximately 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the show, party-goes will receive a Stormtrooper escort to the reserved viewing area.  The viewing area does have a designated wheelchair / ECV location at the front of the area, and younger children are often allowed to join this area if it is not filled prior to the start of the show.  

Tip for those with small children if you do not want to be separated during the show: Head out to the viewing area 5-10 minutes prior to the Stormtrooper escort for a spot along the rope.  This will ensure that your children are still able to see the show in its entirety, with you standing directly behind them.  When the Cast Members invite children to join the wheelchair viewing area, the invitation is for children ONLY, not their parents (though they will ensure that no child is allowed to leave the viewing area and will wait for the parents to retrieve them at the conclusion of the show).  Our group (which included 2 children) left the dessert party a half hour prior to the scheduled showtime and had no problem getting a spot at the front of the viewing area.

Upon checking into the viewing area, we received our souvenir Chewbacca stein, and there were cast members in the back of the area distributing water and soda.  We were also allowed to bring drinks from the party into the viewing area.  The view from this area is arguably the best possible spot to be in for this show.  A bit left of center, but with a perfect view of the Chinese theater and the 2 projection screens on either side.  The majority of the show is projected onto the front of the theater, so a viewing spot with a good view of the theater is a must for this presentation.

             

The fireworks and dessert party are currently scheduled through November 12, 2016, at which time it will take a brief hiatus to make way for Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, a new show that will be offered nightly at Hollywood Studios during the holiday season.  However, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is scheduled to return on December 31, and it is expected that the dessert party will continue to be offered into 2017 as well.  Disney has been very slow to release updates to the entertainment schedule in recent months, so check back often for updates if you will be travelling after the first of the year. 


By Agent Alyssa
alyssa@traveltimetravel.com


Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!


Maui, Hawaii...Vacation during the Maui Half Marathon

When you think of a tropical vacation in Hawaii, you usually think of sunshine, beaches, and sipping mai tais on the beach while getting away from your reality and busy life to relax. In reality, that’s exactly what you get in Maui.



In September of every year you can also add a half marathon or marathon to that bunch if you like. Maui features one of the most scenic half marathons in the country, the Maui Half Marathon. It includes 13.1 miles of beautiful scenery along the coast. You also have an option to run a marathon 26.2 instead. 





If that sounds like a little too much, there’s also a 5k family friendly walk the previous day and a kids mile run.








Aside from the race that I attended, I was able to enjoy everything Maui has to offer which included the beautiful scenery along the windy road to Hana which included beautiful waterfalls, a ton of greenery, and waterfalls, and the best part, a black sand beach and lava tube. 









 






If you want to get out into the ocean, you can also experience snorkeling at the sunken crater of Molokini. There you will be able to see deep down into the ocean and the beautiful corral, along with ridding along Maui’s coast to see Hawaiian sacred land, beaches, and celebrity beach mansions.















Another attraction is driving up the volcano of Haleakala Volcano National Park. Once at the top, you will be over 10,000 feet above sea level where you will witness a breathtaking view and be high above the clouds. It gets pretty cold up there so make sure to dress warmly.










I recommend experiencing Maui from a land, sea, and culture perspective. Land includes Haleakala and Hana, sea being snorkeling such as at Molokini, and culture such as a luau which there are many that Maui has to offer.

I highly recommend Maui if you want to experience Hawaii without the city and busy life. It was very relaxing, there are no tall buildings or crowded cities, so you really do get the relaxation feel.

By Agent Leia
Leia@traveltimetravel.com 

Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Off the Beaten Path - Exploring Miniature Golf at Walt Disney World

Off the Beaten Path – Exploring Miniature Golf at WDW



Did you know that Walt Disney World has two miniature golf courses on site? Fantasia Gardens and Fairways is located adjacent to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels while Winter Summerland can be found next to Blizzard Beach water park.  Both boast two 18-hole courses, with each 18-hole round costing $14.00 for adults and $12.00 for children aged 3-9, plus tax (annual passholders can receive a 10% discount on this price).  Additionally, if you have purchased a Magic Your Way vacation package, 4 vouchers good for 1 round of miniature golf are included free of charge with your package (note: vouchers are only good prior to 4 p.m.).   While the courses do not take reservations, you will be provided with an estimated tee time when you check in.  The courses are not terribly crowded during the day, when many travelers are visiting the theme parks, but tend to get busier in the evening.  Additionally, there is little shade or cover on the courses, so avoid the heat of the day if possible.  But, of course, beverages and ice cream novelties are available for purchase if you must brave the hottest part of the day!  Operating hours vary by season, so be sure to check the calendar before you arrive.

While all four courses are suitable for adults and children alike, Fantasia Gardens is a more traditional putt-putt course, whereas the Fairways side is a traditional golf course built on a smaller scale, complete with sand traps, bunkers, water hazards and sloping greens.  Fantasia Gardens is recommended for families and beginners, with the Fairways geared more toward the experienced golfer.  Both courses at Winter Summerland are true “putt putt” courses, with a sand course decorated for summer, including sandcastles, surfboards and palm trees, and a snow course featuring whimsical winter touches, such as snowmen, giant peppermints and a melting castle.

This was our family’s first time experiencing miniature golf at WDW, and we chose Fantasia Gardens.  The kids preferred the theming of this course, and it also happened to be in close proximity to our dinner reservation at Beaches & Cream, which worked out well for travel! We checked in around 4 p.m. on a Saturday, and had about a 20 minute wait to start playing.  During that time, we were fitted for putters, selected our ball color, and surveyed the course. 

The holes on this course are nestled among larger-than-life scenes from the movie, Fantasia, featuring tutu-clad hippos, giant broomsticks and dancing ostriches.  Each of the 18 holes are par 3, and the start of each hole featured a musical title and a fun “song” about the upcoming hole:




               
Difficulty of the holes varied, as is true of any course.  Fantasia Gardens is sprinkled with obstacles, ramps and trap doors that will challenge even the most experienced miniature golfer, while not still not being too difficult for the younger crowd.  On some holes my 5-year-old was able to achieve a hole in one with great ease (this was his first time playing miniature golf), while on others, even the adults in my party struggled!  But only one hole (#17) caused all 4 of us significant duress, and yes, several balls were sacrificed to the water gods there!



All in all, I was quite surprised by how much fun we had.  Normally I am a “commando” WDW visitor, constantly looking for ways to maximize our park time, and avoiding any activity that we can do at home.  This was my daughter’s birthday trip, however, and the birthday girl wanted to putt-putt.  And I’m so glad she did - this is definitely an activity we will make time for again!  It’s a great option for a non-park day that will still give you that “Disney feel” without the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, and will be far more relaxing



By Travel Time Agent Alyssa
alyssa@traveltimetravel.com

Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Remy's Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt and Pin Trading Family Adventure in EPCOT




Here are some details about Remy's Ratatouille Hide & Squeak adventure in Epcot!  Help Remy find the ingredients to complete his signature dish, Ratatouille.
  • Buy a map at one of the following locations inside Epcot: Disney Traders, Festival Center, Pin Central, Port of Entry, or World Traveler (International Gateway).
  • Work your way around the lagoon finding the various statuettes of Remy throughout the World Showcase. There are a total of 12.  
  • When you find a statuette of Remy with one of his ingredients, place the matching sticker on the map to represent that corresponding location you found him in. 
  • When you have found all of the ingredients, simply show your map to the redemption location at Disney Traders by November 14, 2016 to pick up your surprise.



Cost?

$8.99, plus tax. Received discount with annual pass


It is a simple process. Some statuettes can be difficult to find but we found that the cast members were happy to give hints to Remy’s location if we were stuck.  If you've already done it, it is fun to do again!  He is hidden in all new locations from last year.  This is good for all ages.  It is best to do it in daylight, just keep in mind most of World Showcase doesn't open until 11 AM.  






If you are only interested in the surprise and do not want to actually search for Remy, you can return your map completed or not to Disney Traders to redeem one of six limited release pins




Tidbits: 

Back again for the second year
This year’s surprise is one of six limited release pins
Participate while supplies last during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival between September 14th and November 14th, 2016
The scavenger hunt is a great way to keep children entertained and engaged while exploring the food and drinks available around the World Showcase during the Food & Wine Festival.



 By Travel Time Agent Christina
Christina@traveltimetravel.com

Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Contemporary Resort at Disney Pool Cabanas Photos

A worthy indulgence...renting a Cabana poolside at Disney's Contemporary Resort!
























Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!