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About Our Agent Bloggers

All Agents are College of Disney Knowledge graduates, with some also holding additional specialties like:   Accredited Cruise Counselor, Universal Specialist, Sandals & Beaches Specialist, as well as other destination specialties.   Our Agents are experienced travelers.  If your specific agent hasn’t experienced “it”, there is someone in the Agency that has; so you have access to first-hand, experienced advice.  That’s how we can provide you this experiential based travel planning service!  We are an entire Team working together!

Our Agents will ALWAYS, without fail, no exceptions – tell you the truth and do what they say.

Trained. Traveled. Trusted.  It’s Who We Are.

 

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5 Magic Band Dont’s

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Chrsitina Szewczuk
11.12.19

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  1. Don’t forget to personalize your Magic Band

Part of the fun of the Magic Bands is picking out your favorite color and figuring out how you want to use your 9 character personalization on the underside of your band. Each person gets to choose what they want it to say on the bottom, so more than one person can have the same color. Many prefer their name or nickname, however it’s fun to get creative! (I like to do my initials and the trip year.) The color choices are red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, pink or gray. There are several prints available at an additional cost if you’re interested in upgrading. If you do forget to personalize, don’t worry. You will still get Magic Bands! You’ll be provided gray bands with your first name (up to 9 characters) printed on the underside. Your Wishes Family Travel Agent will handle this for you and remind you before the deadline to ensure you will get what you want.

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  1. Don’t forget your Magic Bands!

Magic Bands are an important tool for a successful Disney trip! Your Magic Band will function as your room key, your park tickets, your line of credit, your FASTPASSES entry, your photopass, and your Magical Express ticket. However, if you do forget it, you will be able to get replacements at check in. BUT they will not be personalized. You will receive gray bands and a cast member will help you link them to your account.

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  1. Don’t check them in your luggage.

If you are taking advantage of the luggage delivery service, it can take up to 4 hours for you to be reunited with your luggage in your room. This is time you could be spending in the parks! Also, if your luggage gets lost, you will at least have your band and be able to hang out in the parks until your bag is found. You will also need your Magic Band to check into the magical express to get to your hotel. Make sure these are in your carry on bag so you’ll have them handy!

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  1. Don’t forget to link a credit card to it.

You can link a credit card to your band and choose your PIN number in your my disney experience account or at check in. This allows you to charge food and merchandise to your account while in the parks without having to carry a credit card or cash. To pay, you scan your band, type your pin and then complete the transaction. We like to charge everything to our account and pay off our account at the end of the trip before the total gets charged to the credit card. You can pay the balance down with cash or Disney Gift Cards at guest services at your hotel! If you want to do this, make sure to go to the desk the evening before checkout to pay.

 

  1. Don’t lose it.

This circumstance is extremely inconvenient, but don’t freak out. We can fix this. If you simply left them in your room, use the mobile key in your my Disney experience app to open your door and go ahead and grab them. Problem solved. If they are legitimately gone, you’ll need replacements. Since a pin code is needed to charge anything, you won’t have to worry about people using your bands to charge stuff or use your dining credits while they’re missing. You will, however, have to go directly to guest services. They will deactivate your lost bands and outfit you with new (gray) bands, connect them to your account and have you off on your merry way!

For more travel tips and information or to just follow my travel adventures, follow me on my social media accounts!

Www.facebook.com/cszewczuk.wft

Www.insatagram.com/Christinaatwishes

Www.twitter.com/wisheschristina

Www.pinterest.com/christinaatwishes

Also, feel free to email me at Christina@WishesFamilyTravel.com.

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CRUISES TO GREAT STIRRUP CAY ISLAND: Norweigan Cruise Line’s Private Island

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CRUISES TO GREAT STIRRUP CAY ISLAND: Norweigan Cruise Line’s Private Island

Cruising to Great Stirrup Cay, our idyllic private island paradise, is an experience reserved just for our guests. Unwind on white-sand beaches and enjoy the many ways to explore paradise. Snorkel with sea turtles and colorful fish in warm turquoise waters. Peacefully glide along the coastline in a kayak, craft your own delicious taco at the new complimentary Abaco Taco, and then simply relax in your private beachfront cabana. Do it all – or nothing at all – the choice is yours.

Take Relaxation to the Next Level atSILVER COVE

Silver Cove Relax in Luxury Great Stirrup Cay

Luxurious Hideaways

With the incredible expansion of Great Stirrup Cay, you will be able to take relaxing to another level. Unwind at an exclusive, private retreat at Silver Cove where your luxurious villa awaits. Each Villa offers A/C, in villa TV with complimentary on-demand movies, access to the upscale Silver Cove buffet, full private restroom, a retractable glass wall providing unobstructed views and access to the beach.

VIEW OPTIONS

Explore OurISLAND ACTIVITIES

Delightful Shore ExcursionsSWIMMING WITH PIGS IN THE BAHAMAS

Swimming with Pigs Shore Excursion Cruise

The Swimming Pigs of Treasure Island

Located just a short 10-minute scenic boat ride from Great Stirrup Cay, are the Swimming Pigs of Treasure Island. This unique and popular experience is offered as a shore excursion that includes round-trip transporation to the island and interaction with these playful swimming pigs. Not to be missed!

READ MORE

Family-Friendly Options MeanFUN FOR EVERYONE

family stingray encounter

Fun For the Entire Family

Great Stirrup Cay has something to offer for everyone; from shore excursions to bars and lounges that will have children and adults alike jumping for joy. The island offers plenty of family-friendly activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, Eco-Boat tours, and even a Stingray Encounter (one of our top-rated shore excursions!) Our family beach area can also make for some unforgettable sandy adventures.

LEARN MORE

Relax and Recharge at OurDINING VENUES & BARS

Beach Buffet

Beach Buffet

Grab a bite to eat at our newly redesigned 8,500 square-foot complimentary beach buffet.
Abaco Taco

Abaco Taco

Build your own taco in the new complimentary Abaco Taco Bar.
Jumby Beach Grill

Jumbey Beach Grill

Grab a refreshing cold brew or cocktail and a mid-afternoon bite at Jumbey Beach Grill.
Bacardi Bar

Bacardi Bar

Get a freshly muddled mojito made at the Bacardi Bar.
Bertram’s Bar

Bertram’s Bar

Grab a drink and meet some new friends at the lively Bertram Bar.
Patron Bar

Patron Bar

Sip on a refreshing margarita made with Patron at the Patron Bar.

What YouNEED TO KNOW

  • Port Name & Location
    Ship will ANCHOR OFF SHORE at this port and guests will be tendered ashore.
  • Time Zone
    EST (Eastern Standard Time)
    UTC/GMT -5 hours
  • Language
    The local language is English.
  • Currency & Shopping
    US Dollar (USD), Your Stateroom Key Card
    Crafts and souvenirs.
    • Best Way to Get Around
      Organized Shore Excursions for beaches, parasailing, snorkeling, kayak tour. Shuttles available.
    • Famous For
      Lounge on the Beach, take a swim, go snorkeling, paddle a kayak, or simply just relax in a hammock on our very own private island.
    • Fun Fact #1
      This island oasis sprawls an impressive 250-acres.
    • Tip
      Grab a bite at our new 8,500-square foot beach buffet which includes a central pizza making station, two grills, hot and cold food stations, as well as fresh fruits and breads.

Ships thatSAIL TO GREAT STIRRUP CAY

Norwegian Bliss Bahamas Cruises
Norwegian Bliss
Sail to Great Stirrup Cay on one of our newest ships. Experience the largest race track at sea, our famous Observation Lounge and fantastic dining options.

IslandHISTORY

106 AD old map

106 AD

The Lucayan Indians are thought to be the first settlers on Great Stirrup Cay.

1600s pirate ship

1600s

With the increase of sea-faring traffic, Pirates begin to migrate to the area, looking for the trade ship to loot and pilage.

1700s map

1700s

British Naval officer, Captain Bertram, for whom Bertram’s Cove is named, makes his home on Great Stirrup Cay. His grave marker is located on the main beach.

1860s island coast

1860s

Federal troops used the island to store provisions during the Civil War. The surrounding waters still contain evidence of battles.

1863 lighthouse

1863s

The lighthouse on Great Stirrup Cay is built over great protest since the local economy was supported by shipwreck salvaging.

1940s bird thumb

1940s

The US Air Force creates a satellite tracking station. Closed in 1991, what’s left remains near the lighthouse.

1977 great stirrup cay island

1977

Belcher Oil Company sells Great Stirrup Cay to Norwegian Cruise Line (known then as Norwegian Caribbean Line) and becomes the first cruise line to offer a private island experience.

Great Stirrup Cay

Today

We invested $25 million to preserve and enhance this 250-acre Bahamian treasure for your enjoyment.

Originally Published: https://www.ncl.com/freestyle-cruise/great-stirrup-cay

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Six Must-Do Experiences on Adult-Exclusive Adventures by Disney River Cruises

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Six Must-Do Experiences on Adult-Exclusive Adventures by Disney River Cruises

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by , Public Relations Manager, Adventures by Disney

Now that summer is winding down, many of us are wrapping up our summer vacations and heading back to reality – which means it’s time to start planning our next trip! I’m thinking an adult-only getaway sounds just right… don’t you?

Adventures by Disney Rhone River Cruises

If you’re looking for a vacation experience that is just as easy as it is spectacular, consider gathering your best friends, parents or grown-up family members and treating yourselves to a European river cruise. Adventures by Disney offers incredible adult-exclusive sailings along the Danube, Rhine, Seine and Rhone rivers and each itinerary features all the magical, hassle-free fun of a traditional Adventures by Disney trip, plus an added sense of sophistication with experiences tailored especially for guests ages 18 and up.

Keep reading to discover some of my favorite must-do experiences during these adult-only vacations, and to get details on a limited-time offer you won’t want to miss!

1. Watch fairytale castles drift by from your “warrior” pose: Beginning this fall, a wellness host will be joining all adult-exclusive Adventures by Disney river cruise sailings. Before another big day of exploration begins, you can join your onboard wellness expert for a rejuvenating yoga session on the top deck – the perfect way to clear the mind for new memories to be made!

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2. Explore ruins with an adult-only twist: As the Adventures by Disney Danube River Cruise: Oktoberfest sailing draws to a close, guests embark on a “ruin pub crawl” in Budapest. From the outside, these unassuming bars look like houses; but inside, guests find quirky, graffitied drinking and socializing establishments that bring new life to the storied ruins.

3. Dine like royalty: At the Chef’s Table restaurant onboard your river cruise ship, you can enjoy a lavish tasting menu as you indulge in awe-inspiring views of majestic riverside landscapes bathed in the glow of a beautiful sunset. This intimate, 28-guest restaurant offers regional wines and delicious flavors inspired by the destinations featured on your voyage, all expertly prepared by the world-class AmaWaterways culinary team.

4. Step back in time in Normandy: During our Seine River Cruise, you will spend a full day exploring Normandy, including the site of the D-Day invasion, Omaha Beach. You will also get the chance to board a World War II era vehicle for a tour of other historic locations, such as the 100-foot cliffs that U.S. Army Rangers scaled during the war, and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice at Les Braves Memorial.

5. Go truffle hunting in Provence: On our new Rhone River Cruise, guests get an inside look at one of the world’s most secretive businesses – truffle hunting! During this extra-special experience, you’ll set out on a search for France’s elusive “black gold” with a trained truffle-hunting dog. After the hunt, you’ll even get to taste these culinary treasures.

6. Taste your way around a French village that inspired Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”: The Adventures by Disney Rhine River Cruise: Food & Wine sailing includes an excursion along the cobblestone streets of the quaint, medieval town of Riquewihr, one of the two villages that served as the inspiration behind Belle’s hometown in Disney’s iconic animated film. During this culinary tour, guests sample local foods and sip delicious wines like Riesling, for which the village is known.

There has never been a better time to book the adult getaway you’ve been dreaming of. From now until Oct. 15, you can save $400 per person on select Adventures by Disney river cruise itineraries. For more information on our adult-only vacations, click here.

 

Originally Published: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2019/08/six-must-do-experiences-on-adult-exclusive-adventures-by-disney-river-cruises/

Since this blog was published, the promo dates have been extended into December! Please contact your Wishes Family Travel Agent for more info!

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BIGFIRE RESTAURANT NOW OPEN AT UNIVERSAL CITYWALK

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BIGFIRE RESTAURANT NOW OPEN AT UNIVERSAL CITYWALK

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Bringing fireside dining directly to guests.

Amanda MonteleoneAmanda Monteleone

Publicity P161 Big Fire Food Shoot 032019 Big Fire Bigfire Signature Bison Burger
Publicity Big Fire Food 060419City WalkTrout Dip
Publicity Big Fire Food 060419City WalkCauliflower SteakVegan
Publicity Big Fire Food 060419City WalkTrout
Publicity Big Fire Food 060419City WalkRibeye

Universal Orlando’s next original dining concept – Bigfire – is now officially open at Universal CityWalk. This all-new full-service restaurant draws inspiration from the nostalgia of cooking over open flames – from memorable summer vacations to camping and backyard barbecues.

Bigfire - Universal's CityWalk

As guests enter the restaurant, they will feel as though they have stepped into a lakeside summer house, surrounded by friends and family. Bigfire features natural design elements of mix and matched fabrics, cast iron, camp lanterns and more to complete the outdoor ambiance inside the restaurant.

BigFire Grill

One of the coolest things about Bigfire is the custom wood fire grill where chefs will prepare signature dishes inspired by the style of open-fire cooking. Food is carefully matched with wood species that have been carefully chosen based on the flavors they exude. The result? Delectable dishes, sides, desserts – and even cocktails – all infused with smoky spirits!

And you have to save room for dessert because at Bigfire you can make s’mores – right at your table! Does it get any better?

Bigfire Smores - Universal's CityWalk

Bigfire is located between VIVO Italian Kitchen and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on the edge of the lagoon – offering incredible views of Universal CityWalk.

When are you coming out to try Bigfire? Leave it in the comments below!

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Understanding Early Park Admission

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Understanding Early Park Admission

Anna Trosper
11.7.19

If you have used me as your travel planner, or have been following me on Facebook, you know I am a big fan of staying on-site at theme park resorts. This is especially true when it comes to Universal Orlando.

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There are so many terrific benefits of staying on property. It offers great proximity to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and City Walk. In addition, you have free transportation, free pool hopping at select hotels, free resort delivery of your in-park souvenir purchases, and so much more.

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One of the best benefits is Early Park. This is offered at all Universal Orlando Resorts. It allows you to enter select parks up to one hour early. This benefit can be a huge advantage to get ahead of the crowds, especially during busy, peak times! I want to walk you through all of the details of when and how to use this perk. That way you can take advantage of it on your next trip we plan together.

The following are the Universal Orlando Resort hotels offering Early Park Admission:

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando
  • Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • Universal’s Aventura Resort
  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites (now open) & Dockside Inn and Suites (opening March 2020)

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort also offer free Universal Express Unlimited, which is another amazing benefit of staying on property that I will address in another blog.

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Early Park Admission allows all Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests one-hour early entry into either Universal’s Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida. However, during extra busy times of year, both parks may allow early entry. In addition, resort hotel guests also get one-hour early entry into Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park. Valid theme park admission is required.

During Early Park Admission, select rides, attractions and areas are open one hour before the park opens to the general public. As your travel planner, I will make sure you know what park is open early each day of your visit. It used to be that the one-hour Early Park Admission was limited to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but that is no longer the case. Attractions now vary.

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Early Park Admission is available each day of your hotel stay with valid park admission, including day of check-in and check-out. Using Early Park Admission on your check-in day is a bit trickier, so I don’t always recommend this unless you are only spending one night at a Universal Orlando hotel and it’s an extremely busy time of year. If you want to take advantage of Early Park Admission on your check-in day, please note that you will need to check into your hotel first which means a very early morning. Early Park Admission usually begins at 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. You would need to check into your resort first and then allow enough time to get from your resort to the park.

To make the most of your time, I recommend arriving at least 30 minutes earlier than the start of Early Park Admission. You’ll need your park tickets and your resort room keys when you enter the park hosting Early Park Admission. A resort key is needed for each member of your party. The parks typically start allowing all guests in up to a half hour before the official opening time, so you definitely want to be in the park before then if you want to ride with the lowest wait times.

I know you are on vacation and who wants to get up early? You are going to have to sacrifice a little shut eye for Early Park Admission. Most vacationers don’t want to do this, so use it to your advantage! Come back mid day and take a nap when the parks are packed full.

You definitely should use Early Park Admission in these scenarios:

  • You have only one day in the park (or parks). This is especially true if you have only one day and you are park hopping!
  • You are visiting during an extremely busy time: the peak of summer and around holidays. Use our crowd calendar as your guide. If it’s a level 8, 9 or 10, consider using Early Park Admission.
  • You’re spending the day at Volcano Bay. Early Park Admission gets you first access to the rides, but it also gets you dibs on prime seating at the wave pool and other places around the park.
  • Any time you visit and want to get a jump on the crowds!

If you arrive early, you will be able to ride the two or three rides open for Early Park Admission and you can move onto the next most popular ride on your list. It may already be in operation in the 15 minutes before the park officially opens. Even if it’s not, you can be one of the first in line!

For example, with Early Park Admission at Universal Studios Florida, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, you should be able to easily ride both before all park guests arrive. If you start with Minion Mayhem and then move onto Gringotts, you will be in the back of the park and in prime position to ride Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Transformers: The Ride, or Men in Black Alien Attack, with little to no wait.

Are you ready to jump on Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando Resort? I highly recommend it and you’ll love staying on property! Contact me at AnnaT@wishesfamilytravel.com to book your Universal Orlando Resort vacation to make the most of your next trip.

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Caution! Laughs Ahead at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

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Caution! Laughs Ahead at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

Erin Buchanan
11.5.19

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Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is a Walt Disney World attraction that may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it should be! This comedy-filled show can be found in Tomorrowland, adjacent to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin inside the Magic Kingdom Park. While waiting in line, guests can text in jokes that may be used in the show! They have T.V. monitors throughout the queue with instructions on how to text in your jokes. They usually choose two or three and they will tell them during the stand-up routine. In the movie Monsters Inc., the monsters discover that children’s laughter works even better as an energy source, so they have set up this comedy club to catch as many laughs as possible. They have a tank right beside the stage which measures the laughs. Audience participation helps! If they don’t fill the tank, Roz isn’t happy!

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The auditorium is air-conditioned and is a great way to get out of the hot Florida sunshine or one of the famous afternoon rain showers! This is an animated show featuring Master of Ceremonies, Mike Wazowski! It’s interactive and each show is different depending on the audience…particularly “That guy.” (You must see the show to guess who I’m referring to!) It’s full of corny puns and knock-knock jokes that will have you literally laughing out loud! You just can’t help it!

This attraction offers a FastPass+, but in my opinion it’s not a good choice for one. The auditorium holds around 200 people and the show runs throughout the day every 15 minutes. The average wait time is around 10 minutes. This show is for children of all ages. It is handicap accessible and you may remain in your wheelchair or ECV. They also offer sign language interpretation, video captioning, and assisted listening devices if needed. I highly suggest adding this to your itinerary for your visit to Magic Kingdom. You will be glad that you did!

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Top 10 Beaches in Our Caribbean

Posted by on 7:07 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Top 10 Beaches in Our Caribbean

Norweigan Cruise Line Blog Staff

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 1.06.25 PM

It should come as no surprise that one of the primary draws for people to visit the Caribbean is its beaches. Whether you are cruising in the Eastern, Western, or Southern Caribbean, you’ll visit at least one port where you will want to take advantage of a day on the beach. Here is our list of the ten best beaches in our Caribbean cruises.

Condado Beach, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with many secluded beaches. However, you don’t have to go too far out from San Juan to enjoy a wonderful beach experience. Just 10 minutes by taxi from Old San Juan is Condado Beach, one of the best beaches in The Caribbean. Condado Beach is not the quietest, most secluded beach around, but there are ample hotels, restaurants, and nightlife lining the shore. This is the beach to be at if you want to be in the middle of everything. Perfect for a coastal escape before a cruise embarking in San Juan.

Jalousie (Sugar) Beach, St. Lucia

Set between the Pitons, the two lush green peaks that symbolize St. Lucia, Jalousie Beach, or Sugar Beach, is one of the most stunning beaches in the Caribbean. Jalousie is public, but much of the access is part of the ultra-exclusive Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort, so be sure to arrive via a water taxi to Jalousie Bay where you can enjoy the beach, snorkeling, and views.

Cockleshell Bay, St. Kitts

Cruisers looking to relax on the beach may at first think they need to find a luxury resort and hope they can score a guest day-pass for the beach. But if they do so, they’ll miss out on Cockleshell Bay, one of the best beaches in St. Kitts. Cockleshell Bay is a two-mile-long, secluded stretch of beach, with powder-white sand and a stunning view of Nevis Island. The beach is very safe for swimmers. Along the shore, you can find plenty of amenities, such as a beer shack and reggae bar, or just lay out a towel on the soft sand.

Best Beaches of Caribbean St Kitts
Nevis Island features powder-white sand beaches.

Ffryes Beach, Antigua

There are 365 beaches on Antigua, one for each day of the year, so it’s hard to pick just one. Ffryes Beach is a beautiful powdery-sand beach that is far less crowded than the more popular Dickenson Bay beach. Ffryes Beach is accessible by taxi or bus, and has a restaurant and beach bar, as well as amenities such as sun loungers and changing facilities.

Magens Bay Beach, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

While many cruisers to St. Thomas opt to take a ferry across to Trunk Bay Beach in St. John, this isn’t something that needs to be done to find a beautiful beach. Magens Bay Beach is a one-mile crescent of white-sand on the north coast of St. Thomas, in the Magens Bay Park. This beach provides calm, swimmable water, fine white sand, and shade-providing palm trees.

Harvest Caye, Belize

Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island retreat off the coast of Belize, has an outstanding beach, as well as loads of other amenities for visitors to the island. Harvest Caye’s swimming pool is a massive draw for guests, as are the Nature Park wildlife experience and Kids Splash Pad. Or, more adventurous visitors will enjoy the opportunity to paddleboard, kayak, or embark on the ropes course and zip line back from the lighthouse. On the seven-acre beach, the further from the pool you venture, the less crowded it becomes.

Best Beaches in the Caribbean Belize
Harvest Caye’s beach is perfect for family adventures.

Fiesta Beach, Great Stirrup Cay, the Bahamas

Although Great Stirrup Cay isn’t technically in the Caribbean, many of our Southern Caribbean cruises include this gem of a stop as you head back home. If you’re looking for a little more privacy, venture a little further into Great Stirrup Cay and you will reach the white sands of Fiesta Beach. Its slightly more remote location provides a extra serenity for visitors to the Cay, which is the first island ever to be turned into a private cruise port, back in 1977. Fiesta Beach offers plenty of chairs for guests to enjoy, and you can also rent snorkel gear, kayaks, or paddleboards for the day if you want to explore the crystal-blue waters, including the underwater sculpture garden.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach is a mainstay of “Best Beach” lists, due in part to its mix of sapphire-blue waters, beach bliss, adventure activities, and opportunities for island fun. The beach is 5.5 miles long, and you will find something for every beach lover along this stretch. Relax and take in the sun, join in a game of beach volleyball, rent a Jet Ski, kayak, or paddleboard, snorkel in Cemetery Reef, or enjoy some local food or a cocktail at one of the many beach restaurants or bars.

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach in Aruba is continuously rated as one of the top beaches in the world. The beach is quiet and serene, with beautiful views of the sunset with the iconic Divi Divi trees silhouetted against a kaleidoscope of colors in the sky. Eagle Beach is truly one of The Caribbean’s most magical beaches.

Trying to decide which Caribbean cruise is right for you? Before you book, be sure to enter your email and sign up for Norwegian’s cruise deals to have the latest specials and news delivered right to your inbox.

Tulum Beach, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Tulum Beach is not the largest beach in The Caribbean, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in history. Tulum Beach lies in the shadows of the Tulum Maya ruins, a walled city located on the cliffs overlooking the sea.  You can easily reach Tulum via a 45 minute ferry from Cozumel.

Best Beaches Tulum
Tulum has history and beauty.

 

Originally Published: https://www.ncl.com/travel-blog/top-beaches-caribbean-cruise

 

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A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO YOUR FIRST TIME VISIT TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

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A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO YOUR FIRST TIME VISIT TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

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Universal Orlando Resort is a place that allows you to explore the streets of Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, visit a real-life Raptor Encounter to meet Blue the Raptor, float down the Kopiko Wai Winding River at Volcano Bay, and finish with a cold beverage high in the sky at Bar 17 Bistro on top of Universal’s Aventura Hotel all in one day.

With so much to see and do, how can you get the most out of it during your first-time visit? Here’s a few first timer tips to get the most out of your upcoming visit.

 

JUMP AHEAD

 


WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

 

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Diagon-USF
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Have you ever watched a movie and said “I wish I could experience that movie in real life.” Well, we have some good news for you. Check out these must-do experiences straight from the movies: 

  • Must-Do Attractions:
  • Experience: Follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps as you enter into Diagon Alley – watch out for the fire breathing dragon
  • Character Meet & Greet: Meet Optimus PrimeBumblebee and Megatron
  • Show: Swing over to see Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration with an incredible array of dazzling projections on colossal dancing fountains
  • Parade: See Universal’s Superstar Parade featuring with SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora and Diego, The Secret Life of Pets characters and more
  • Shopping: Find all things Universal and more at the Universal Studios Store
  • Bonus: Journey from King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios Florida to Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure aboard the Hogwarts Express (only available with a Park-to-Park admission ticket)

Great Places to Eat at Universal Studios Florida

  • Quick Service: “Hey Hey, Kids!” Visit Springfield, U.S.A. and stop by Krusty Burger for a fun atmosphere and great meal.
  • Best View: Try an off-the-charts meal and take in an incredible view of the lagoon at Richter’s Burger Co.
  • Best Atmosphere: Get your fill of Bangers and Mash, Fisherman’s Pie, Toad in the Hole and more at the Leaky Cauldron
  • Romantic: Try Lombard’s Fresh Catch at Lombard’s Seafood Grille while you take in the nautical atmosphere on the docks of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Sweet Treats: Try a Dole Whip Pineapple Sorbet at Schwab’s Pharmacy

View a complete list of Universal Studios Florida rides, attractions, dining and more at universalorlando.com.

 

Here are some resources to help plan your day:

 

LOCAL TIP | Start at the back of the park and work your way counter-clockwise to the front to stay ahead of fellow guests and take full advantage of ride lines.

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WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
AT ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

 

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Get ready to encounter dinosaurs, fly high above city streets with a famous web slinger, visit a secret school of witchcraft and wizardry, come face-to-face with a colossal ape and more. Check out these must do experiences that give you a sense of adventure:

 

Great Places to Eat at Islands of Adventure

  • Quick Service: Enjoy a delicious meal at Three Broomsticks
  • Best View: Eat while you watch daring riders get drenched at Thunder Falls Terrace in Jurassic Park
  • Best Atmosphere: Dine with Super Heroes at Marvel’s Character Dinner at Marvel Super Hero Island in Islands of Adventure
  • Romantic: Take in the spectacular view of the park’s inland sea and colorful lands from the award-winning Mythos Restaurant
  • Sweet Treats: Pick up a delicious Butterbeer from Hog’s Head

View a complete list of Islands of Adventure rides, attractions, dining and more at universalorlando.com.

 

Here’s some resources to help plan your day:

 

LOCAL TIP

  • Start your day off in Hogsmeade and work your way clockwise around the park to take advantage of wait times and attractions.

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WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
AT UNIVERSAL’S VOLCANO BAY

 

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Words can’t describe what it feels like the moment you take that first step inside Volcano Bay and immediately feel like you’re in a tropical paradise thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean. Check out these must-do experiences that are filled with relaxation and thrills:

Great Places to Eat at Volcano Bay

View a complete list of Volcano Bay rides, dining and more at UniversalOrlando.com

 

Here’s some resources to help plan your day:

 

LOCAL TIPS

  • First, plan to arrive early to Volcano Bay and secure that perfect beach chair with that incredible view. TapuTapu will also make your day easy. This wearable device that holds your place in lines, activates interactive surprises, makes cash-free payments and more.
  • Stay at a Universal hotel and enjoy early park admission to Universal’s Volcano Bay one hour before the park opens (valid theme park admission required).

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WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
AT UNIVERSAL CITYWALK

 

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Get ready to indulge in some of the most mouthwatering food with refreshing drinks, shop until you drop and dance the night away at Universal CityWalk. Check out these must-do experiences for a day or night out:

 

Great Places to Eat at Universal CityWalk

View full list of entertainment, shopping and dining options at Universal CityWalk

 

Here’s some resources to help plan your visit:

 

LOCAL TIPS

  • Take advantage of the FREE self-parking after 6PM!(Not valid during Halloween Horror Nights. Additional restrictions may apply and are subject to change without notice)
  • Free parking available with a purchase of two (2) Universal CityWalk Matinee tickets.

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WHERE TO STAY
AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT


There’s a Universal Orlando hotel for every family style and budget. Take a look at all the amazing places you can stay so close to the parks:

Premier Hotels – $$$$

 


Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Relax in surroundings inspired by the beauty, romance and charm of the picturesque seaside village of Portofino, Italy.

  • Experience: Treat yourself to a day at the Mandara Spa
  • Feature: Spend an enchanted evening with live music and traditional opera as you sip wine and sample gourmet fare during Harbor Nights. Additionally, enjoy nightly festive melodies with Musica Della Notte, a unique blend of classic opera, festive melodies, and “popera” favorites
  • Dining: Feel like you’re part of the family at Mama Della’s Ristorante with authentic Italian cooking and strolling musicians
  • Benefits: Free Universal Express Unlimited, early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Universal’s Volcano Bay, free transportation, priority seating at restaurants and more

Learn more about Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

 


Hard Rock Hotel

Live like a rock star and savor the perks of rock ‘n’ roll royalty with impeccable surroundings, laid-back style and show-stopping service.

  • Experience: Attend a monthly award-winning “Velvet Sessions” with an up-close and personal rock concert. Past performers include Bret Michaels, Eddie Money, Joan Jett, and more
  • Feature: Take a self-guided Music Memorabilia tour and discover Elvis’ pajamas, John Lennon’s suit, Paul McCartney’s guitar, Lady GaGa’s leather outfit, Rihanna’s bodysuit and more
  • Feature: Discover The Sound of Your Stay™ program with A-list perks. tracks.®, lets you stream a celebrity-curated playlists to amplify your stay. picks® allows you to choose from a menu of 20 different Fender® guitars that can be delivered to your room (down payment and loan agreement required)
  • Dining: Stop by The Kitchen and dig into their famous mac and cheese. But don’t forget the encore – they’ve got some of the most jaw-dropping desserts you’ve ever seen
  • Benefits: Free Universal Express Unlimited, early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Universal’s Volcano Bay, free transportation, priority seating at restaurants and more

Learn more about the Hard Rock Hotel



Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Get swept away in an exotic south seas paradise with tropical wonders, exotic foods, and carefree fun.

  • Experience: Have breakfast with your favorite characters from Illumination’s Despicable Me
  • Feature: Experience weekly Wantilan Luau firsthand with an evening of authentic Polynesian food and entertainment at this exciting dinner show
  • Dining: Visit Jake’s American Bar where you can try fabled South Seas explorer Jake McNally themed favorites including island cocktails, Jake’s American Red Lager and the B-1 Bomber Burger
  • Benefits: Free Universal Express Unlimited, early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Universal’s Volcano Bay, free transportation, priority seating at restaurants and more

Learn more about Loews Royal Pacific Resort

 

Preferred Hotel – $$$

 


Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Escape to the feeling of being in paradise with the calming sounds of steel drums, swaying palm trees, scenic views, and blue cascading waterfalls.

  • Experience: Take in the incredible 16,000-square-foot pool with a sand beach, hot tub, water slide and more
  • Feature: Join a weekly dinner celebration filled with Caribbean flair at the Caribbean Carnaval Dinner Show
  • Dining: Try Caribbean-inspired cuisine at Amatista Cookhouse or stop by the Strong Water Tavern for rare vintage rums and tapas-style dining options
  • Benefits: Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Volcano Bay, free transportation & Universal’s Volcano Bay, located steps away from Volcano Bay, and more


Learn more about Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

 

Prime Value Hotels – $$

 


Universal’s Aventura Hotel

It’s your chill zone, your party place, your hangout, your refuge. And the best part, it’s perfectly priced.

  • Experience: Check out the hotel’s Virtual Reality game room for an experience unlike any other
  • Feature: Enjoy a drink with a view high in the sky at Bar 17 Bistro
  • Dining: Have a chef cook up a custom wok dish right in front of you at the Urban Pantry
  • Benefits: Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Universal’s Volcano Bay, free transportation, steps away from Volcano Bay, and more

Learn more about Universal’s Aventura Hotel


Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Enjoy vibrant, retro-style with rooms and suites brilliantly designed for fun and affordability.

  • Experience: Take on a friend at Galaxy Bowl and when you’re finished, head over to the Ace The Arcade for an overtime match of timeless arcade favorites
  • Feature: Have a relaxing day floating down Cabana Bay’s lazy river while you soak up that warm Florida sunshine
  • Dining: Try a wide variety of food stations including deli items, pizzas, burgers, salads and desserts at the Bayliner Diner
  • Benefits: Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Universal’s Volcano Bay, free transportation, steps away from Volcano Bay, and more

Learn more about Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

  

Value Hotel – $

 

 


Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites

– Opening June 27th, 2019
Step into the extra affordable surf lifestyle with beach-themed standard rooms, spacious two-bedroom suites, and more.

  • Experience: Kick back in the surfboard-shaped pool and soak in the sunshine
  • Feature: Check out the spacious, two-bedroom suites that sleep up to six
  • Dining: Stop by the food court for a wide variety of great food options or have a fresh-made pizza pie delivered directly to your room
  • Benefits: Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Universal’s Volcano Bay, free transportation and more

Learn More about Surfside Inn and Suites

Universal's Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites
– Opening March 2020
Inspired by sand, sea and breathtaking sunsets, this extra affordable retreat features two-bedroom suites, two large pools and more.

  • Experience: Soak in the sunshine at one of the two large pools with a beautiful sandy beach – how cool
  • Feature: Check out the spacious, two-bedroom suites that sleep up to six
  • Dining: Stop by the food court for a wide variety of flavorful food for every palate. On the go? No problem. There are plenty of grab-and-go options available
  • Benefits: Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Universal’s Volcano Bay, free transportation and more

Learn More about Dockside Inn and Suites

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THINGS TO KNOW

You might know about all the amazing experiences you’d like to try at Universal Orlando, but now let’s take a look at few ways you can get the most out of your first time trip with a few local planning tips.
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Express Pass – Get to the Fun Faster

Want to get the most out of your visit? Check out a few of the Express Pass options available so you can skip the regular lines at most of your favorite rides and attractions to get the most out of your day at the parks.

Did you know you the Express Pass is included FREE when you stay at a Universal Premier category hotel? Check out the details here.

 

Plan Your Entire Trip with Ease Using the Official Universal Mobile App

Universal Orlando App

Imagine having your own travel guide to give you every bit of important information you need to get the most out of your first-time visit. That is what the official Universal Orlando Resort App provides!

What can the Universal Orlando Resort mobile app do?

  • The app can become your Virtual Wallet
  • You can find everything you need including ride wait times, showtimes, dining venue hours and more
  • Create your own personal “to-do” list of favorites
  • Always be in the know with the latest park updates
  • Order meals on the go with ease
  • What else can you do with the App? Find out here

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WHAT TO BRING

Let’s dive into a few tips to help you decide what to bring during your first-time visit to the parks.

Backpacks and Shoulder Bags

Can you bring a bag or backpack to Universal Orlando Resort? Absolutely! A small, soft-sided bag is perfect for toting your essentials around while exploring the parks.

Potential Items To Add To Bag Include:

  • Sunscreen
  • Rain poncho or jacket
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Sunglasses

Check out the What To Pack For A Day At Universal Orlando Resort for more great tips on what to bring to the parks.


TAKING PHOTOS AT THE PARKS

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Can you bring a camera to Universal Orlando Resort? Of course! You are about to have some of the best times of your life and what better way to remember those moments than incredible photos to take home with you.

Here are a few great photo opportunities at the parks to keep in mind:

LOCAL TIP | Since it’s your first time visiting the parks, check out the My Universal Photo options, so you can focus on the fun while they focus on capturing your best moments.

 


WHAT TO WEAR

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Florida is a tricky place when it comes to weather. Most of the time it’s warm and sunny, but there are those occasional days that cause us to break out our coats. Regardless, it’s good to be prepared. 

  • Check the Weather: Take a moment to check the weather forecast before heading to the parks
  • Fashion or Comfort: Of course you want to look fashionable in all of the Instagram photos you are planning on taking, but keep in mind to be comfortable as your day may include lots of walking and standing in the heat
  • Which Shoes to Wear: Try to wear a shoe that is breathable and comfortable

Check out the full list of Frequently Asked Questions on what to bring to the parks.

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Did we miss anything? Tell us about some of your theme park first-timer tips in the comments below! And make sure to share your tips on TwitterFacebook or Instagram with #ReadyForUniversal or ask for help with #AskUniversal.

 

Originally Published: https://blog.universalorlando.com/visiting-us/a-locals-guide-to-your-first-time-visit-to-universal-orlando-resort/

 

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Find Your #HappyPlace: The Stories That Live in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Find Your #HappyPlace: The Stories That Live in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

slr5lhjntbu9475by , Public Relations Director, Disney Parks

Recently we had Matt Martin, Creative Executive of Franchise Story & Content from the Lucasfilm Story Group, visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, and while he was exploring the planet of Batuu, he met with some of the authors who helped bring some of the stories of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to life. During the next few weeks we will be taking you through Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to check out my list of “can’t miss” experiences with friends!

To kick things off, Matt got the chance to explore Batuu with authors Delilah Dawson (author of “Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire”), Zoraida Cordova (author of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge A Crash of Fate”) and Ethan Sacks (author of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” comic series) along with illustrator Will Sliney. Check out some of their stories below!

Originally Published: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2019/10/find-your-happyplace-the-stories-that-live-in-star-wars-galaxys-edge/
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A Magnificent Marvel Character Dining Experience at Universal

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Amy Baranek
10.31.19

Does meeting Captain America, being harassed by Wolverine, and watching Spider Man try to climb walls and photo bomb pictures sounds like a fun time to you? Then you will want to make Marvel Character dinner at Café 4 a priority on your next Universal vacation!

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The Details

Marvel Character dinner at Café 4, in Islands of Adventure, is an all-you-care-to- enjoy dining experience, available most nights Thursday-Sunday from about 5pm-7pm. Times and days can vary, especially during more crowded times. You need reservations for this meal, and you may pre-purchase this meal, making for a quick check-in process at the restaurant. Current prices as of September 2019 are $53.24 age 10 and up and $26.62 ages 3-9, under 3 are free and these prices include tax. The price also includes one digital download from your evening. Since Café 4 is inside Islands of Adventure theme park, theme park admission is required.

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Our Reservation

On our first day at the park, we stopped at will call for our park tickets. At this time they were also able to print our tickets for our character meal. You will want to be sure to do this prior to your meal for an easier check-in process.

There was someone outside to check us in and then directed us inside. Once inside, they gave us a Universal photo card. This card is what you would use for your free digital download. Once they saw we had a Universal photo package, she let us know to use that card for all photos. The photo package that includes all pictures in the park, as well as rides, also entitles you to all pictures taken at your character meal. We were then seated, our drink orders were taken and instructed to help ourselves to the buffet.

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The Food

Food is served buffet style and there are salads, pasta, pizza, and chicken, as well as some other traditional offerings and an assortment of desserts. You also receive a non-alcoholic beverage with your meal. My honest opinion is that the food was under whelming. I felt like I was at a quick-service dining experience and they were allowing me to pick from all their food offerings instead of having me choose. I say this not to discourage you from going, but to have realistic expectations of the food so you aren’t disappointed when you go. We all agreed our food was ok, not terrible; but if it weren’t for the characters, I would not return.

The Characters

The characters make this dinner! This was by far some of the best character interaction I have experienced at a meal anywhere!   Current characters available to meet are: Captain America, Rogue, Spider Man, Storm, and Wolverine. All of the characters came up and had conversations with us; it wasn’t just a quick “hello” and take a picture. Captain America was asking my boys what kind of helpful things they had done for me today. Storm and Rogue had us pose in an appropriate X-men style and discussed the weather, and how important it is to be true to yourself. They were good enough to be sure to grab a photographer for pictures with them. Later in the evening, they were picking on Spider Man, calling him a “crazy teenager” as he was hiding around the corners, sneaking into their pictures to photo bomb, and trying to climb the walls. My absolute favorite was Wolverine. My husband was sitting across from me and I saw him start laughing and grab his phone. It was then that I heard and felt heavy breathing by my ear and Wolverine started talking. He then worked his way to my 12 year old son and started picking on his hair. He was running his claws through his hair and asking him what was in his hair and why he would make it greasy. At this point, I was crying, I was laughing so hard, because I have been harassing my son about his oily hair. (He hadn’t been using shampoo when he showered because it made his hair too ‘fluffy,’ and product in his hair made it ‘feel weird.’) After we informed Wolverine of this, he would not leave my tween alone. He kept coming over and messing my son’s hair up. My son would try to put his hair back in place, and Wolverine would be right back to mess it up again. This alone made the night for me and as a side note- guess who is using shampoo more since this interaction?

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Summary

I absolutely loved this meal and would do it again in a heartbeat! I would love to see them add some more healthy options, or at least less heavy/greasy food. I loved the fact that they had photographers there that kept an eye on character interactions and when people got up to take a picture, they would head over to take pictures of the interaction. If the photographers happened to be busy, the characters had no problem waiting until they were able to come over.

Our reservation time was 6:45pm and I believe this was one of the last reservation times. This was a great time for the extra character interactions and antics! They did close down one side of the buffet shortly after we went up. The other side was still open and had most of the original food options, but it did limit the options a bit more then what was initially available to us. If some amazing character interaction is what you’re after, I’d definitely recommend a similar time for your reservation!

Are you thinking of a Universal vacation? I would love to help you plan your perfect vacation! Please email me at amyb@wishesfamilytravel.com and we can start discussing what will make your perfect vacation. I would love for you to follow my Facebook page for reviews, travel information, and staying up to date on new information and promotions! If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please click here to read more that I’ve written!

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