News Reel

Booking Our Second Annual Family Vacation

Ocean View from Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach

September 2021 was our time to take our second annual family vacation. Before I share all the fun details about this trip I’d like to give you a mini back story. I know many of you are shocked that this is the 2nd vacation my family has taken. And to be honest last year was our very first family vacation. As a single mother finances have always been tight. For 17 years I was living on survival mode; trying to keep up with living expenses and daycare. After 13 years at the same company and my children are grown up now I have some wiggle room. Of course my kids have travelled more then I have. I have a great family support system and with that my children were invited on vacations with extended family. My sister and my parents are the biggest blessings in my life and have treated my children like their own. They would take my lil humans to NC, TN, GA, and to enjoy the sites in our home state. I stayed home and would live my daily life like usual…work and housesitting/petsitting. Don’t get me wrong I was content. One day, A- my oldest asked why we never go anywhere together and I went on a mental excursion remembering how much family vacations meant to me when I was growing up. I never had the funds and I had to sacrifice my ownself for the greater good. As parents we always want to give our kids the absolute best. Travelling without me at that time was the best- they made some core memories (an extreme amount of core memories- I have a fun family.) Last year I surprised my kids with our first annual family vacation to Saint Augustine. I never did have time to write about our visit- perhaps one day soon I will. It was refreshing to take a break and just enjoy life. After that trip I decided I could not wait another 20 years til my next vacation. I wanted to go on some sort of trip every year. So with that said in the beginning of 2021 I logged into my Hilton Honors app and booked the closest beach- Cocoa Beach. Right now I am limited with how far I can travel- car issues. It’s a long story but in short- Ugly Betty (my car) just about died after our first road trip. Well, no…she actualy died. I pushed her to far. BUT she was revived by another amazing human in my life. He has become my superhero- if you are reading this YOU know who you are! I will definitley have to write the post on last year’s vacation just so I can share what happened to Ugly Betty. But for now we are going back to the some what present. I have warm memories of Cocoa Beach. When I was a young girl my family would visit this beach just about every summer for a week or so. I knew my children would love it too! Booking my hotel stay through the Hilton Honors App was very easy. Simply search for your destination, choose your travel dates, select your room prefrences, and search special rates like AAA, AARP, Senior Rate, Travel Agent, and/or Gov/Military Rate.

When I booked my trip my rate was a bit high, but as you know rates change- they can go up and they can go down. To get the best rate I checked the app for new rates weekly and just about daily a week before our trip. If I found a cheaper rate I locked it in by updating my reservation. I did manage to lower my rate a bit and it ended up being a little more afforadable. Not only can you book your trip on the app, but you can do early check in, utilize digital key, and check out. Anyone who is not tech savy can easily navigate the app. These additional options help keep travelers safe during COVID- allowing less face to face interaction with hotel staff. And this is what I found to be really cool…we checked into our room 24 hours prior to our arrival. I selected my room using the available room chart all from the comfort of my own home- the day before.

On the day of check-in I received a notification that my room was ready (I was still driving to the hotel- I was somewhere between Kissimmee and Cocoa. Locals you know that long road in Saint Cloud; Nova Road?) and I was able to go straight to my room using the digital key in the app. Hilton makes travel easy! I think I am addicted to this App. I log in just about every day since to plan my next stay at a Hilton Family Hotel. Where will my app take me next?

In my next post I will share details about the hotel we stayed at and more. I just wanted to share how easy it is to use the Hilton Honors App. As a new traveler I was very impressed. If you haven’t already you should sign up for Hilton Honors and start earning free stays! http://www.Hilton.com

Screamin’ Green! Crayola Experience Orlando’s Hauntoween Event Resurrected with Entirely New HUE-rific Attractions

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 23, 2021) – This is no hocus pocus! Crayola Experience’s Screamin’ Green Hauntween event returns this year with the same name but totally new spook-tacular attractions and activities that are sure to wrap families in a web of frightfully creative fun.

Kids will be spellbound as they venture through Crayola Experience to discover rare, Halloween colors starting Saturday (9/25) and running through Oct. 31 at the family attraction located in The Florida Mall. Throughout their thrilling journey, families will be guided by monster-ific crayon characters while they:

·       Visit with a 3D Bride of Frankenstein as she waits for her witchy makeup artist.

·       Creep through a spooky forest and cross a rickety, crickety bridge to find a timberwolf.

·       Take a photo with a pumpkin-loving zombie and a world-renowned aromatherapist vampire.

·       Jump into color wormholes with a galactic mining skeleton.

·       Visit an ancient Egyptian tomb with a talking Pharaoh head and his mummy.

These new attractions are being added for a limited time to Crayola Experience’s world of color in addition to the 28 hands-on activities offered throughout the year.

Plus, kids will be able to sink their teeth into crafting a witch’s castle, starring in their own spooky coloring page, making ooey-gooey Crayola slime*, decorating pumpkins*, trick-or-treating on weekends, and feasting on Halloween themed snacks and beverages. Guests are encouraged to wear their best, most colorful Halloween costumes (no costume masks are allowed). 

Screamin’ Green Hauntoween runs Sept. 25-Oct. 31 and is included in the general admission price (*additional fee for slime class and pumpkin decorating).

Families unable to visit can still have a frightfully colorful time with the Crayola Experience at Home MONSTER-ous Halloween Adventure Kit. Kids will have a skele-TON of fun with this video-guided, hands-on mission through Crayola Experience to save Crayola crayons from a magical, monstrous mishap! With 2.5 hours of hands-on activities—including a zombie drawing lesson with a Crayola artist and scary-easy instructions that can be done at your own pace right in your own home (all supplies included)—this package could wake up the dead!

For more information and tickets to Crayola Experience Screamin’ Green Hauntoween, or for details on the MONSTER-ous Halloween Home Adventure Kit, go to www.crayolaexperience.com/orlando.

Enter to Win a Four Year University Scholarship from LEGOLAND!!!

LEGOLAND turns 10 this year and they are celebrating in a very big way. LEGOLAND is giving one lucky family a 4 year university scholarship. There is one major requirement: your child must have been born on or after October 15, 2011- LEGOLAND’s opening date.

Details from their website and how to enter can be found here

Disney updates mask policy…

and I find it to be irresponsible. Vaccines are out but not everyone is on board AND we have to worry about the variants that are running rampant in Central Florida. This is not the time to let our guard down or give into guests who can’t keep a mask on because it ruins the magic of a photo. Not to forget our lil humans who can’t get vaccinated yet. Doctors have warned the public – the B.1.1.7 variant has rapidly risen across the state and has a higher attack rate in young children. I say keep your masks on! It’s really easy and will save a life…maybe two or three.

If you are interested in the latest mask policy please read below:

Drive-in Disney Style

Earlier this week Disney revealed the first-ever Walt Disney World Resort license plate benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And just in time for the world’s most magical celebration starting October 1, 2021, in honor of Magic Kingdom’s 50th Anniversary! This unique design features an “EARidescent” 50th-anniversary castle logo on a majestic royal blue background. Disney’s unique plate design was inspired by what was the color scheme of Cinderella’s Castle. Florida drivers can purchase a presale voucher for $25 plus applicable state administration fees by visiting their local County Tax Collector’s Office or online through the Orange County Tax Collector’s office at https://www.octaxcol.com/specialty-license-plate-vouchers/.

100% of the proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish of Central and Northern Florida. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Your purchase will help spread pixie dust and make even more dreams come true.

Crayola Experience is Giving Away 1 Million Crayons to Celebrate National Crayon Day 2021

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 24, 2021) – Crayola Experience is spreading colorful creativity for this year’s National Crayon Day. To celebrate, the iconic brand’s indoor family attraction will give away a million crayons.

Starting today, guests can sign up on the Crayola Experience website to get a free custom box of 32 crayons at one of the five Crayola Experience locations around the country. The Crayola Store at each location will be giving away 6,250 crayon boxes over the course of the giveaway.

When guests pick up their box, they’ll have colorful fun filling it with their own choice of crayons from the store’s 40 ft. by 8 ft. “Pick Your Pack” wall holding nearly half a million crayons. Picking crayons has never been so epic.

“Opening up a box of crayons is like visiting Crayola Experience—it opens up a world of imagination and hours of fun, which is why we thought this would be a great way to celebrate this unofficial holiday,” said Victoria Lozano, EVP-Digital Strategy & GM Attractions & Retail of Crayola.

To receive the colorful gift, guests must register for one of the available times to pick up their  crayon box and pick out their crayons at one of The Crayola Store locations in Easton, Pa.; Orlando, Fla.; Bloomington, Minn. (Mall of America); Plano, Texas; or Chandler, Ariz. Time slots begin on March 31. Sign up is on a first come, first serve basis. Limit one (1) box per household. No purchase necessary. Additional restrictions apply. See www.crayolaexperience.com/orlando for details and to register. 

Discover the magic of color at Crayola’s premier and one-of-a-kind family destination. More than 25 creative activities and attractions throughout 70,000 square feet of color await families at the Florida Mall in Orlando, Fla. Bigger, brighter and bolder than ever, the adventures of Crayola Experience help kids and adults alike explore art and technology, express their creativity, and experience color in a whole new way. Also featuring live entertainment and The Crayola Store with the world’s largest selection of Crayola products and unique souvenirs. The brand’s other attractions are located in Easton, Pa.—home to the Crayola Experience flagship and birthplace of Crayola crayons—as well as the Mall of America (Bloomington, Minn.); Plano, Texas; and Chandler, Ariz. To learn more, visit CrayolaExperience.com/Orlando or join the conversation at Facebook.com/CrayolaExperienceOrlando.

Freshly Squeezed Orange

According to news outlets Disney is sending a little bit of sunshine to passholders this summer in the form of Orange Bird Magnets! These magnets would have been released last Spring during the Flower and Garden Festival. For months passholders wondered when they would be released. Wonder no more! Disney plans to mail 2 Orange Bird Magnets per household to all current passholders. Here’s to sunny days and lots of Orange…Orangebird that is.

Jaemor Farms- A Family Favorite

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Located in the North Georgia Mountains, Jaemor Farms is a wonderful place to shop for the freshest local produce. Straight from their family farm, you’ll find not just produce but homemade breads, jams, jellies, pickles, relish, BBQ sauces, marinades, dressings, pies, ice creams, cakes, boiled peanuts and so much more! My favorite treat is the strawberry and peach swirl soft serve ice cream and their strawberry bread. It is a perfect spot to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you aren’t a local or you cannot stop by, you can order goods from their website. If you want any more information visit them at http://www.jaemorfarms.com/ or like and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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Holiday Update: Walt Disney World News

New fireworks show joins the fun of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as Walt Disney World transforms into a winter wonderland beginning Nov. 8

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (June 3, 2019) – Starting Nov. 8, Walt Disney World Resort will unwrap the 2019 holiday season with very merry festivities across its theme parks, resorts and Disney Springs. This year marks the debut of a new holiday celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and a spectacular new holiday-themed fireworks show at Magic Kingdom Park.

It all adds up the most fun this side of the North Pole, with special live entertainment, characters in festive garb, seasonal décor, holiday treats, specialty eats, miles of garlands and decorations, and a shimmering castle to lift holiday spirits.

While Santa and his elves are busy preparing for the holidays, savvy guests are already planning their holiday vacations at Walt Disney World. To help with all that planning, here is an advance look at holiday happenings across the resort:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Joins in the Holiday Fun for the First Time

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will introduce the biggest holiday season in its two-decade history, with festive new entertainment and holiday décor in every land. Daytime and nighttime, guests will experience the majesty of nature and holiday magic. Here is some of what’s in store:

  • In the heart of the park, on Discovery Island, guests will find themselves immersed in a magical scene. By day, stylized, life-sized animal puppets mingle with villagers who make the island their home. As day becomes night, rooftop luminaries in animal shapes and bird lanterns throughout Discovery Island will bring a warm glow to the village.
  • As the sun sets, the Tree of Life will awaken with a series of wintry tales emerging from within, backed by a familiar and heartwarming holiday musical score. Between awakening moments, the Tree of Life will shimmer and sparkle throughout the night, alive with the magic of nature and the spirit of the holidays.
  • Dinoland, U.S.A. will rock out with the DJ-led “Holiday Hoopla Dance Party with Chip ‘n Dale” and plenty of interactive fun and games. Throughout the land, characters gathered for “Donald’s Dino-Bash!” will get in the holiday spirit with colorful costumes.
  • Diwali, the Holiday Festival of Lights in India, has inspired the residents of Anandapur in Glowing flowers, lanterns and more will illuminate the main square leading to the waterfront stage, home to authentic and colorful cultural performances.
  • The village of Harambe in Africa will welcome guests with a unique holiday presentation, fusing Western traditions with the colors and texture of authentic African celebrations; colorful costuming and new music flavors each performance.
  • Tusker House diners get their merry on as Safari Donald Duck and his pals spread holiday cheer.
  • Guests will find out-of-this-world holiday fun at Pandora – The World of Avatar. Ex-pats living and working on the moon of Pandora roll out seasonal cheer with a display at Pongu Pongu of whimsical holiday décor, pairing vintage pieces from Earth with items handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora.
  • A Christmas tree will tower over the park entrance. Decorated with traditional ornaments and hidden animals, the tree is a prelude to the holiday magic that awaits inside the park.

Magic Kingdom Park to Unveil New Holiday Fireworks Show

The skies above Magic Kingdom Park will sparkle to life this holiday season as visions of fireworks dance in the air during an all-new nighttime show – Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks. Hosted by Minnie Mouse, the holiday extravaganza invites guests to come together in a celebration of heartfelt moments and the magic of Christmas. The show will be presented during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which takes place select dates Nov. 8-Dec. 22, and nightly Dec. 23-29.

This holiday season will also see Magic Kingdom transformed into an enchanting wonderland with dazzling decorations, holiday treats, a shimmering ice castle and more. Returning holiday favorites include:

  • With glittery Cinderella Castle as its centerpiece, Magic Kingdom shines its brightest during the holidays. Guests will be swept into a magical scene of seasonal music, characters in their festive finery and fireworks bursting above. During A Frozen Holiday Wish stage show, Queen Elsa magically transforms Cinderella Castle with glistening ice.
  • Holiday Fireworks Dessert Parties are a sweet way to enjoy the new holiday fireworks. Offered nightly, each festive party includes seasonal treats and dazzling views of the new fireworks spectacular. Dessert parties are not included with theme park admission. For schedules, pricing information and reservations, guests can visit DisneyWorld.com or call (407) WDW-DINE.
  • Each of the 23 nights of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will feature performances of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration stage show. Guests will also experience select rides and attractions (including the “Jingle Cruise”), savor complimentary treats, discover event-exclusive merchandise and delight to a magical “snowfall” on Main Street, U.S.A.
  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates: Nov. 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24; Dec. 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22. For more information and ticketing, guests can call (407) 939-1872 or visit Disneyworld.com.

Beloved Epcot Candlelight Processional Begins Nov. 29 as Highlight of Holiday Festival

Joyous Yuletide traditions from across the globe are at the heart of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. From Nov. 29, 2019, through Dec. 30, 2019, merry-makers will be immersed in a vast world of holiday decorations and entertainment, themed merchandise, festive cuisine and costumed storytellers in many of the 11 World Showcase nations.

  • Epcot’s grandest holiday tradition – the Candlelight Processional – features the retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator backed by a 50-piece orchestra and massed choir. Performances will run three times nightly during the festival. Narrators already announced for this year include Whoopi Goldberg, Pat Sajak, Steven Curtis Chapman and Edward James Olmos. More narrators will be announced in the coming months. Dining packages include guaranteed seating for the holiday event and can be booked starting July 3 by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
  • Special Holiday Kitchens sprinkled throughout World Showcase will serve up tasty treats inspired by treasured holiday recipes from across the globe.
  • World Showcase pavilions will come alive with the sights and sounds of special entertainment celebrating each country’s holiday heritage.
  • Chip & Dale are gathering ornaments for their Christmas tree and guests can join in the fun! To be part of Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree Scavenger Hunt, guests will purchase a map and stickers from select merchandise outlets and scout World Showcase locations looking for the famous chipmunks and their ornaments. Completed maps are returned for a special festive surprise, courtesy of the chipmunk duo.
  • With its premiere scheduled for Oct. 1, 2019, holiday guests will be among the first to view “Epcot Forever,” a new nighttime spectacular bursting above World Showcase Lagoon.
  • Epcot guests can quite literally do their holiday shopping around the world. The World Showcase pavilions are filled with favorite fragrances, jewelry, toys, stocking stuffers and more.
  • Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet guests at The American Adventure pavilion.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Glitters with Special Holiday Entertainment

Holiday adventures begin at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as new attractions and lands turn this theme park into one big holiday gift. Add seasonal shows, enchanting “snowfalls,” décor and more, and it’s easy to see how holidays here become extraordinary:

  • Park guests will be mesmerized by the Sunset Seasons Greetings show projected onto the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Boasting amazing laser effects and “snow,” the experience also includes stories, songs and cheer courtesy of favorite Disney friends.
  • The nighttime spectacular “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” will treat holiday-goers to iconic music, fireworks, special effects and state-of-the-art projections to create a one-of-a-kind holiday experience at the iconic Chinese Theatre. To add a sweet touch, guests will be able to make reservations for the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Dessert Party. This event is not included with theme park admission, and pricing and reservation information will be available later this year.
  • Holiday touches and festive décor throughout the park will include seasonal fun inside Toy Story Land, as well as joyous greetings from Santa or Santa Goofy.
  • As a curtain-closer, Olaf delivers a special holiday finale in For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along.

While guests are merry-making through the park, they will want to stop at the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge where they can live their own Star Wars adventures and find the perfect holiday gift from a galaxy far, far away. (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences are subject to capacity.)

Disney Springs Delivers Season’s Greetings

Perfect for this special time of year, the Disney Springs retail, dining and entertainment district is where guests can make a holiday list and check it twice as they breeze among dozens of trendy brand-name stores and a large and varied collection of Disney merchandise. They can also indulge the holiday hungries at great dining spots that will also serve up seasonal cheer. Live entertainment will include the spectacle of toy soldier stilt walkers, carolers and Living Statues in holiday attire. Holiday decorations set the colorful stage for Disney Springs festivities, which run Nov. 8, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020:

  • Guests strolling the Christmas Tree Trail will be treated to custom-decorated holiday trees, each dedicated to a popular Disney theme featuring favorite Disney characters.
  • Guests will be invited to join in Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt and discover where the mischievous Experiment 626 is hiding.

Disney Resorts Deck the Halls

Resort hotels across Walt Disney World will be decked out for the holidays. Seasonal décor and massive Christmas trees usher in the festive spirit:

  • A life-size holiday gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the place to pick up Christmas treats, including (of course!) tasty gingerbread. Disney’s Beach Club Resort boasts a life-size, edible carousel as a holiday tradition, while a holiday village with a miniature train takes center stage at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
  • A special dining experience always ties a big red ribbon around the holidays. Holiday menus that celebrate the season will be found at restaurants throughout Disney resort hotels. For holiday dining information and reservations, guests can call (407) WDW-DINE.

 

Need Help with Bedtime?

Call Disney’s Bedtime Hotline!  Presented by shopDisney.com and Disney Store.  Parents can dial in for free from now through September 30, 2019 to hear a special bedtime message from a Disney favorite.  Character messages include:  Mickey Mouse, Woody, Jasmine, Anna and Elsa, Yoda, and Spider-Man.

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