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Adventures by Disney Adds More Danube River Cruise Sailings

Last month Adventures by Disney launched all-new river cruise itineraries for 2016. These itineraries were so popular with our guests that now we’re excited to announce two additional river cruise vacations on the Danube river in Europe, sailing on August 4, 2016, as well as a special holiday-themed departure on December 15, 2016!

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Sailing with AmaWaterways, the Adventures by Disney Danube River Cruise vacation offers families the opportunity to discover Europe in a unique and immersive way, while visiting iconic locations and wondrous sites in eight destinations across four countries – Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

On these 8-day, 7-night vacations, guests will experience the captivating culture and authenticity each European country and city has to offer, while only having to unpack once. Whether sliding down a mineshaft in Salzburg, sipping wine from local vineyards in Melk or even learning a traditional Austrian dance, guests will be in awe of the beauty and adventures each destination offers. With countless activities and sights to see, these river cruise vacations offer maximum port time for exploration.

For more information on Adventures by Disney Danube River Cruise itineraries, click on the link below.

MSC Divina Returns to Miami for Year-Round Sailings

The Divina, a ship custom-built for the North American market for MSC Cruises, will return to year-round sailing from Miami beginning fall 2015.

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The redeployment brings the 3,500-passenger ship full circle. When it launched in November 2013, the glitzy ship was seen as the Italian line’s salvo into the competitive North American market. To that end, the line made a number of modifications to appeal to American tastes, including enhanced entertainment, a movie screen poolside, a sports bar featuring American pub grub, a more restrictive smoking policy and significant training for crew members.

But less than six months after Divina launched, the line decided to move the ship to the Mediterranean between May and October 2015. At the time, a spokesperson said the redeployment was meant to continue MSC’s strength in the Med.

So what’s changed in the past year? In March, MSC broadcast a new commitment to North America, announcing its first Seaside-class ship, debuting in December 2017, would be based in Miami year-round. The line is also investing millions of dollars into expanding and renovating Terminal 5 at the Port of Miami in anticipation of the new vessel.


Book Your MSC Cruise Today!

Unleash Your Inner Rock Star At The Hard Rock Hotel At Universal Orlando Resort

Ready to bring out your inner rock star?

We’re going to let you in on the best kept secrets of the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, where you can find musical inspiration around every corner.

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It’s called The Sound of Your Stay. This is an awesome music program with three parts:

  • Picks, an in-room guitar rental
  • Tracks, custom tracklists to listen to during your stay
  • Mix, where you can DJ with a laptop and Traktor Kontrol Z1 controller.

This hidden gem at the Hard Rock hotel gives you everything you need to be inspired, strum a melody, or produce a hit.

Pick Your Guitar
When you stay at the Hard Rock, you get to choose from 20 legendary Fender guitars or basses. Pick your ax (refundable deposit required) and the staff will deliver it right to your room, along with a headphone amplifier and Nixon headphones. You can practice day and night, without disturbing your family or other guests.

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Become a Star
Not only does Hard Rock provide the tools for you to become a rock-star, but you get taught too! Turn your TV to a special channel, and you can learn the basics of your instrument with step-by-step lessons. You’ll sound just like Jimi Hendrix in no time! Maybe.

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This exclusive amenity is ONLY available to guests at Hard Rock hotels. Book your room, grab your guitar and become a star. Did we mention it’s FREE with your stay?

Thank you, Orlando, and goodnight!


Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar to Open this Fall at Downtown Disney

Tucked in between the soon-to-be-expanded Paradiso 37 and recently opened BOATHOUSE restaurant, a new Disney owned and operated Food & Beverage offering has been taking shape. Disney Parks has shared more details on this aviation-themed lounge, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar.

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With a prime location along Lake Buena Vista and seating for 150, the venue will feature unique cocktails – such as the “Hovito Mojito” with Barsol Quebranta Pisco, fresh lime juice and simple syrup – and small plates such as “Air Pirates Everything Pretzels” with house-made mustard and beer cheese fondue.

The design team has gone to great lengths to ensure that every element – from the propeller-based ceiling fans and diving bell “booth” to the “Rolling Boulder Meatballs” on the menu – fits within the storyline.

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And just what is that story? Ardent fans of the “Indiana Jones” films may recognize Jock Lindsey as Indy’s frequent pilot; he’s also the owner of a pet snake named Reggie – an important detail, trust me on this! In the main room, guests will discover an expansive bar, aviation decor filling the room, vintage travel posters covering the walls and correspondence between Jock, Indy and their fellow adventurers on display. Guests can eat, drink and be merry outside as well, in Jocks’ old steamboat, now in permanent dry dock and aptly named “Reggie;” and in nearby seating on the adjacent deck.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is set to open this fall at Downtown Disney. If you’re as excited about this next adventure as I am, let me know in the comments below!


Diamond Mad T Party Begins at Disney California Adventure Park

When the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration begins May 22, 2015, you are invited down the Rabbit Hole to experience Mad T Party – a dazzling new version of the popular nighttime dance party.

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Diamond Mad T Party will feature heart-pounding live entertainment, interactive fun and delectable delights all wrapped in sparkling décor and seasoned with unique tributes to 60 years of Disneyland Resort.

Over at the Main Stage, you can enjoy the sounds of the most amazing band this side of Wonderland, featuring contemporary and classic rock favorites, as well as newly mashed-up Disney tunes. And, when the band is not onstage, the White Rabbit DJ takes over playing the hottest and latest dance tunes.

At nearby House of Cards, party goers can try their luck at a series of interactive games and activities, or just chill out with a cold drink from the Drink Me Bar or Chiller Truck. And, they can check out a new fantastical photo location created in the spirit of Diamond Mad T Party, while paying tribute to the Diamond Celebration.

Over at the Hollywood Backlot Stage, guests can enjoy the high-energy performances of talented dance crew, the Hottest Deck in town.

Plus, whimsical and mischievous hosts, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, will share some celebratory moments of their own.

The fantastical fun begins May 22, 2015 at Disney California Adventure Park!


Exploring the Big Island of Hawaii on Two Special Disney Cruise Line Voyages

This September Disney’s returning to Hawaii with two unforgettable 10-night cruises. These voyages will visit the four major Hawaiian islands—the Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai. Over the next several weeks they’ll tell you about some of the exciting Port Adventures you can join to discover the scenery and experiences found on each island. With excursions in historic Hilo, your gateway to the beauty and culture of the Big Island of Hawaii, includes Volcanoes National Park.

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The park is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. On the Volcano National Park Odyssey & Macadamia Nut Factory tour, your adventure starts with a drive along the 11-mile crater rim that circles most of Kilauea’s summit caldera and craters. Stops allow you to view smooth and jagged lava, lava tubes, sulfur banks and bleak desert areas. Next up is the Jagger Museum where there are spectacular overlooks into Kilauea Caldera and Halemaumau Crater, videos of volcanic eruptions and other geologic displays for you to enjoy. Last is a visit to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, the perfect place to shop for delicious gifts.

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If you’re looking for a more active way to explore the area, you won’t want to miss the Kilauea Volcano Bicycle Adventure that takes you around the crater rim on two wheels. In addition to eight miles of cycle/hiking through an incredible rain forest that leads you directly through an amazing lava tube. With steam surrounding your feet, you’ll witness the heart of the volcano at Halemaumau Crater. This Port Adventure also includes a visit to the Jagger Museum, plus samples of the Island’s fresh fruit and macadamia nuts.

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Those who want a taste of the Hawaiian lifestyle will absolutely love the Culinary Hawaii Home Tour. Big Island rese is a progressive island brunch, showcasing local ingredients, in the homes of the residents. You’ll savor the flavors of the Islands, like passion fruit, mango, coconut and Kona coffee, and find out what it’s like to live in paradise. During the insider look at islander living, the guides will share details about each home, local trivia and stories of life in paradise.


 

24-Hour Summer Kick-off Celebration at Walt Disney World Begins May 22

It’s almost time to kick off the “Coolest Summer Ever” here at Walt Disney World Resort with this year’s 24-hour celebration. And as we watch the clock and count the days until the party begins on May 22, we’re sharing some of our favorite sights and sounds from past all-nighters.

Time flies during the 24-hour celebration but we have 24 things to squeeze into your 24 hours at Magic Kingdom Park.

So, what’s your favorite part about our all-night celebrations? Let us know in the comments section below.


Top-Five Enchanting Princess Encounters on a Disney Cruise

On a Disney cruise, you’ll not only feel like royalty yourself with the legendary service and first-class accommodations, you’ll actually be in the company of true royalty with several Disney princesses sailing the high seas. Throughout your voyage you’ll have plenty of opportunities to be graced by their presence, but here is what’s selected as the top-five enchanting princess encounters on a Disney cruise.

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Princess Gatherings: The magnificent three-deck atrium lobby on each of the ships is the perfect setting to meet with Disney royalty. A dazzling chandelier and a grand staircase set the stage for an elegant experience as you have the unique chance to greet and take photographs with three or more princesses!

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Royal Court Royal Tea: Royal Court Royal Tea on the Disney Fantasy is truly a one-of-a-kind affair that celebrates the “royal” in everyone. During this afternoon-tea event, you and your children are transported to a fairytale world where storytelling meets reality as classic Disney princesses dance and visit around the room.

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Magical Port Adventure: When the Disney Magic sails to Ålesund, Norway, Anna and Elsa accompany Disney cruisers for a traditional Norwegian summer celebration on a Port Adventure like only Disney can do.The festivities culminate with the grand arrival of the beloved sisters and their ice-loving companion, Kristoff, who join in the lively revelry.

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Story Time for Kids: Just for little cruisers, Once Upon a Time is a musical story time where a beloved princess shares tales of her adventures in a faraway kingdom. This special youth activity takes places in Disney’s Oceaneer Club on the Disney Magic, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

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Live Stage Shows: With some of the most elaborate musicals presented at sea, it’s no wonder Disney princesses take center stage in the Walt Disney Theatre. Whether she is the star of the show or a leading role in one of the production numbers, there’s a good chance you’ll spot your favorite heroine singing and dancing in her fairytale world.

What your most magical memory of a Disney princess onboard one of Disney’s ships?


 

Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Opens

The Deluxe Studios at Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Villas & Bungalows are the largest at Walt Disney World Resort, sleeping five guests each. Each features tropical décor complete with striking prints, bamboo-style fixtures, a whimsical hidden pull-down bed and a split bathroom perfect for families. The Deluxe Studios also offer the flexibility of connecting to an adjacent room.

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The resort’s Bora Bora Bungalows are the first such accommodations ever created by Disney. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom Bungalows transport guests to a tropical haven filled with Disney touches. Each Bungalow sleeps eight guests and offers a view of the Magic Kingdom Resort area. Inside the Bungalows, modern luxuries with an island touch add life to the already exquisite design. Amenities include a full kitchen, two bedrooms complete with flat panel televisions, split bathrooms, washer and dryer, two hidden pull-down beds featuring playful artwork, a private plunge pool on the back deck, and many other special touches.

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Premiering with Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows is its newly re-imagined sister resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which now offers more dining and recreation experiences with signature touches for guests to enjoy. Arriving guests are greeted in the Great Ceremonial House, with its dramatic new décor and signature chandelier. Also new is a large Tiki statue that welcomes guests with his outstretched arms.

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The resort’s newly redesigned Lava Pool will feature a highly themed children’s water play area, Kiki Tiki Splash Play Area, and an enlarged deck for poolside seating. An enhanced supervised childcare option, Lilo’s Playhouse, allows parents to enjoy an evening date night together.

Guests in search of tropical snacks and libations will find them at new dining locations, including Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, a tiki bar that features exotic cocktails and Polynesian small plates. The nearby Pineapple Lanai serves the world-famous Dole Whip soft serve ice cream and floats.

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Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was one of the original Walt Disney World resorts that opened in 1971. It has provided guests with superior accommodations, entertainment and dining experiences for more than 40 years.


 

For a great vacation to Disney’s Polynesian resort click here and request a quote!

King Kong Roars To Life In Groundbreaking New Attraction

Over the past 25 years, Universal Orlando has created some of the world’s most incredible entertainment experiences by combining emotional storytelling, timeless characters and innovative ride technologies. Today, we honor one of the most monumental figures in movie history, King Kong, with the announcement of a groundbreaking attraction opening in the summer of 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.”

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You’ll navigate perilous jungles, explore ancient temple structures and encounter hostile natives – and that’s only the beginning. Throughout the rest of your excursion, you’ll brave foreboding caves crawling with prehistoric creatures, fend off unspeakable terrors – and even come face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.

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When they began conceptualizing the next great attraction for Universal Orlando Resort, one prevailing thought rose to the top of their minds. How do they make the experience MASSIVE? The sets, the characters and even the story itself. All of it will be larger than life.

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The challenge is also to tell the next generation of the Kong legend, all while delivering an unparalleled, revolutionary theme park experience guests have come to expect from Universal. We have done exactly that with Reign of Kong – you’ll be pulled into a powerful, intense fight for survival as you discover a side of the iconic beast that has never been revealed…until now.


 

Fun, New Facts About the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

You can imagine the excitement when a few months after grand opening, Disney shared some new stats about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Check out these golden nuggets…or shall I say Galleons!

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Number of bricks in the entrance to Diagon Alley: 7,456 bricks – and together, the bricks weigh more than 37,000 pounds!

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Number of times the Gringotts dragon has breathed fire: The Ukrainian Ironbelly has breathed fire more than 15,000 times since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley officially opened.

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Temperature of the dragon’s fire: 3,560 degrees Fahrenheit (1,960 degrees Celsius). That’s more than 16 times hotter than boiling water!

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Number of crystals in the chandeliers within the lobby of Gringotts bank: The four chandeliers include nearly 62,000 crystals.

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Number of mythical creature species inside the Magical Menagerie: 13 different types of creatures, including Kneazles (like the one in the photo), Demiguises and Graphorns.

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Number of passengers who travelled aboard the Hogwarts Express: More than 5 million guests have travelled aboard the Hogwarts Express since Diagon Alley officially opened.

What’s your favorite memory to date from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley?


 

Take A Tour Of The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Travel With Rick transports us from the streets of London to experience all the magic and wonder of the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort!

Hope you enjoy today’s video, be sure to leave a comment and share it with your friends!


Fresh Springtime Fun and Summertime Thrills at Walt Disney World Resort

Spring blooms in a big way with bountiful blossoms, colorful Disney topiaries, gardening seminars and flavors of the season during the 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival going until May 17, 2015, at Walt Disney World Resort!

Dozens of Disney character topiaries, from Chip and Dale to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, rule the festival kingdom in the park’s Future World and World Showcase, and popular Outdoor Kitchens are back with refreshing beverages and tantalizing tastes from the garden and grill.

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Home and garden seminars, children’s play gardens and other popular festival features fill the event. At the Festival Center, interactive gardening workshops set the stage for outdoor do-it-yourself inspiration, and guest speakers cover the latest in outdoor trends and home and garden topics.

Guests can try new food and beverage tastes from Outdoor Kitchen menus and pose for selfies among whimsical topiaries, multiple themed gardens and children’s play areas. Disney-crafted “flower towers,” herb gardens and beds of multi-colored blooms add to the floral splendor of the park’s landscape. On the park’s Future World lakes, more than 200 mini-gardens are set afloat.


 

Behind the Scenes: Inside the Bakery at Epcot’s France Pavilion

You smell it before you see it – that unmistakable aroma of freshly baked bread hot from the oven. As you enter Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion at Epcot, all five senses are awakened when you smell the bread, see the beautiful pastries, hear the lilting sound of French, touch, then taste your favorite. Maybe a crisp baguette or buttery croissant. Or a Napoleon or macaron or éclair … maybe a jambon beurre sandwich or quiche Lorraine. So many choices, so little time.

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Every single item in the bakery case is made by hand – in the on-stage bread ovens or in the bustling upstairs bakery where the crew arrives before daybreak to make buttery croissants, dense quiche Florentine and parfaits almost too pretty to eat. You’ll be hungry just looking at these delicious photos by Disney photographer Matt Stroshane.

Disney Parks Blog shared a special behind-the-scenes peek at the expansive upstairs bakery that’s as big as Les Halles below, with cooks busy making crème brûlèe, slicing fresh Napoleon, piping éclairs and putting the finishing touches on chocolate mousse and strawberry tarts. A tray of freshly baguettes with ham and cheese with Dijon mustard butter, a classic Parisian sandwich, was readied for the first guests of the day. Freshly made macarons in jewel tones, light as a feather, were gently placed in little boxes.

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Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie opens at 9 a.m., ahead of World Showcase, and is a wonderful little hideaway for breakfast. The pastry team of 30, under the direction of Pastry Chef Olivier Saintemarie, starts their day at 5 a.m. and rotates throughout the day until 11 p.m. to make sure guests have the freshest taste of France.

Chef Baker Matthieu Cabon from Brittany, France, who, with his team of six, turns out 700 to 800 baguettes every single day, along with specialty breads such as brioche and croissants, started baking at age 15, and studied only bread making for four years – “I mastered bread the old-school way … no shortcuts,” he says. It was the aroma that determined his career, he says, as well as the quiet of early-morning hours when bakers do their best work.

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“Bread is limitless, it just takes imagination,” says Matthieu.

And, really, it’s just four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water, but you must add “know how,” says the chef. Everything at Les Halles is made from scratch, and it takes two days, start to finish, to produce a perfect baguette. His bakers make all the breads for Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, Chefs de France, Monsieur Paul and brioche for the pavilion’s ice-cream shop.

“For baguettes, day one is slow fermentation, then the dough sits overnight in a cooler to coax out the flavor,” says Matthieu. “Day two we divide it, shape it and bake. That’s it.”

But it’s the artisan touch that makes a perfect baguette. “Bread is all about feeling, but the real boss is the dough, which can be temperamental with temperature, weather and humidity,” he says. “Dough follows nature, and a good baker knows just by touching whether it’s right.”

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For a perfectly flaky croissant, the chef explains that the folding process is a science. “It takes six hours to shape, then it’s baked the next day,” he explains.

And for tartines, which Americans call “open-faced sandwiches,” the bakery makes a rustic loaf with blistered, rugged crust and tangy soft inside – Chef Matthieu knocks on the crust and knows by the sound if it’s perfect.

All told, they turn out eight different kinds of bread: baguettes, croissants, tartines, whole-grain loaves, pain de mie (a type of sliced bread), brioche, focaccia and walnut-raisin bread.

He and his team also make exquisite, smaller breads for Monsieur Paul: whole-grain loaves, rustic baguettes, poppy seed “epis” (a type of artisan French bread) and a mushroom, bacon and cheese bread that’s a guest favorite.

Matthieu deftly inserts a shovel-like peel into the hot oven and slides out a dozen or so crackly loaves. From the hint of a smile on his face, you know it’s a good morning.


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