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Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras To Feature Musical Performances by MKTO, Styx and American Authors

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration continues this weekend, featuring live concerts by MKTO, Styx, and American Authors. Best known for their hit single, “Classic,” pop, hip-hop and R&B duo MKTO will rock out on Universal Studios Florida’s Music Plaza stage on Friday, March 13.


On Saturday, March 14, guests can enjoy a live performance by classic rock band, Styx. With their chart-topping hit singles, “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Fooling Yourself,” Styx was the first band ever to release four consecutive triple-platinum albums.

American Authors  - HR

American Authors will take the stage on Sunday, March 15. This popular alternative rock band is best known for their multi-platinum single, “Best Day of My Life,” which was named the No.1 most played song in 2014 on Adult Pop Radio.

Before the concert, guests can catch colorful beads by the handful during the festive Mardi Gras parade, which features 12 vibrant floats. Guests can also visit Universal Studios Florida’s very own French Quarter Courtyard to enjoy authentic Cajun cuisine and see performances by bands pulled straight from Bourbon Street.

Postcard From Marvel Super Hero Island


If you find yourself inside Universal’s Islands Of Adventure, standing in Jurassic Park, across the lagoon you see Marvel Super Hero island featuring The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, and Doctor Doom’s Fearfall.  At Universal Orlando Resort, you can vacation like you mean it where your story is the stuff legends are made of!

Key Fest Food and Wine Festival Grand Tasting

Episode 296 – Rick and Marc experience the Grand Tasting at the 2015 Key West Food and Wine Festival at the Marker Waterfront Resort.

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The Key West Food and Wine Festival For Yourself!

Magic Kingdom Special Event Dates Announced

Are you already looking forward to your favorite fall events at the Walt Disney World Resort? Dates have been announced for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. And, tickets for both events will go on sale in April.


During these specially-ticketed events the Magic Kingdom Park comes alive with holiday decorations, special entertainment and tons of fun!

This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will be held 25 nights throughout the months of September, October and November. And, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be held 20 nights in November and December.


Dates for 2015 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party are:

Sept.  – 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27
Oct. – 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31
Nov. – 1


Dates for 2015 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are:

Nov. –  8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29
Dec. – 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18

As a reminder, tickets for both events will go on sale in April. Stay tuned for more information about these exciting events, including sale dates and ticket prices.

Neil Patrick Harris To Host All New “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney”

Neil Patrick Harris will join Mickey Mouse as host of the all new “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” opening May 22, 2015 at Disney California Adventure Park as part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration.


Fulfilling their hosting duties through video footage, Mickey Mouse and Neil take you on a fun-filled and inspirational journey – from Walt’s decades-long legacy of memorable animated moments to his dream of Disneyland Park. Plus, the show culminates in a madcap musical tour of Disneyland Resort attractions as never seen before!

This unforgettable show features animated imagery, live-action film, fountains, lasers, special effects and a stirring musical score, all on the magical water canvas of “World of Color.”


The all-new “World of Color – Celebrate!” is just one part of the dazzling Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, which kicks off May 22, 2015 along with the new “Paint the Night” parade and the fully-immersive new “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular.

Stay tuned for more details regarding the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration!

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights Celebrates 25 Years With More Nights and More Scares

By day, guests at Universal Orlando Resort are propelled into some of pop culture’s most iconic and beloved stories – laughing as they experience cutting-edge attractions and screaming as they brave plummeting roller coasters.


But there’s another, darker side to Universal Orlando.

On select nights in September and October, guests sprint away in paralyzing fear. They scream uncontrollably. Their nightmares come to life at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.

Now, guests can be among the first to book a vacation package that combines the excitement of Universal Orlando’s two world-class theme parks by day and heart-pumping horror of Halloween Horror Nights by night.


Consistently ranked the nation’s best, Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate Halloween event, attracting guests from around the world. From the moment guests step inside the event’s gates, they become a victim inside their own horror film. The streets of Universal Studios Florida are transformed into highly-themed scare zones, brought to life with elaborate scenery and teams of menacing “scare-actors” that lunge from the shadows and tactically hunt guests as prey.

Multiple haunted houses are erected throughout the theme park, rivaling the most detailed and terrifying of movie sets. Once inside, guests shriek their way through an unpredictable, multi-sensory labyrinth based on anything from iconic slasher films to hit horror video games to haunting original stories created by Universal’s Entertainment team.


This fall, Halloween Horror Nights will mark its milestone 25th year as the biggest, longest and most intense in event history. It will run for a record-breaking 30 nights, including the following event dates:

  • Sept. 18-19, 24-25, 26-27
  • Oct. 1-4, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28-31
  • Nov. 1

Details about the newly-announced Halloween Horror Nights 25 Hotel & Ticket Package are available HERE. Additional details about the event will be announced at a later date.


Trace Adkins to Perform At Universal Orlando Mardi Gras

There’s nothing like eating N’awlins style food, catching some beads and listening to a true Louisianan perform on the Music Plaza stage.

Trace Adkins Coming to Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras

Chart-topping country music star Trace Adkins will be at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras this Saturday, March 7. Adkins has turned his albums into Platinum plaques, selling more than 10 million albums. Not just famous for his music, Trace Adkins is also known for his many different achievements including:

  • Celebrity Apprentice Winner 2013
  • Appeared in The Lincoln Lawyer and Mom’s Night Out
  • Developed and hosted GAC’s “Great American Heroes”
  • American Country Awards host for four consecutive years.
  • Spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Program and American Red Cross

Trace Adkins has had more than 20 singles on the Billboard country music charts, with hits like, “No Thinkin’ Thing”, “Ladies Love Country Boys”, and “You’re Gonna Miss This.” One thing is for sure, you are NOT gonna wanna miss this.

Before the concert, guests can catch colorful beads by the handful during the festive Mardi Gras parade, which features 12 vibrant floats. Guests can also visit Universal Studios Florida’s very own French Quarter Courtyard to enjoy authentic Cajun cuisine and see performances by bands pulled straight from Bourbon Street.

 Schedule of Events for the Weekend:

  • 4:00 P.M. – French Quarter Courtyard Opens
  • 7:15 P.M. – Mardi Gras Parade Starts
  • 8:00 P.M. – Live Concert Begins

Mardi Gras runs on select nights through to April 18, so let the good times roll and get ready for a rockin’ weekend!

New Fun Ship Choices Coming to New Orleans, Jacksonville & San Juan

Carnival Cruise Line will expand capacity on its four- and five-day short cruise program from new Orleans by 34 percent when Carnival Triumph replaces Carnival Elation on this schedule next spring.


In turn, Carnival Elation will reposition to Jacksonville, Fla., for year-round four- and five-day cruises and Carnival Fascination will shift to San Juan for year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning in spring 2016, providing consumers with fresh and exciting new choices in these markets. As previously announced, Carnival Liberty will replace Carnival Triumph on the line’s year-round four- and five- day cruise program from Galveston next spring.

“Repositioning these ships to New Orleans, Jacksonville and San Juan provides our guests and valued travel agent partners with fresh and exciting new ‘Fun Ship’ choices in three important and highly attractive cruise markets,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.


New Choices in the Big Easy
Carnival Triumph will shift from Galveston to New Orleans to launch year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico beginning April 4, 2016. On this route, four-day “long weekend” cruises depart Thursdays and call at Cozumel while five-day cruises depart Mondays and Saturdays and visit Cozumel and Progreso. During these fun and affordable getaways, consumers can relax on world-class beaches, enjoy a variety of dining, shopping and cultural opportunities and visit centuries-old Mayan ruins including Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Carnival Triumph will also offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from New Orleans April 8-11, 2016.

Carnival Triumph will join Carnival Dream which operates year-round seven-day cruises from New Orleans. Together these two ships are expected to carry 450,000 guests annually from New Orleans – the most of any cruise operator. Carnival is the only cruise line to operate two year-round ships from New Orleans and offers the widest variety of cruise durations and itinerary choices from the Big Easy.

Carnival Triumph has undergone an extensive dry dock that added a number of Fun Ship 2.0
innovations, including Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, poolside watering holes BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, and Cherry On Top, a “candy and more” store. Carnival Triumph also features more than 500 staterooms and suites with private balconies that are not generally available on other short cruises and are highly coveted by Carnival guests.


Carnival Elation to Jacksonville, Carnival Fascination to San Juan
Carnival Elation will shift from New Orleans to Jacksonville to operate year-round four- and five-day cruises from Jaxport beginning April 23, 2016, providing a newer ship on this highly attractive cruise program.

Carnival Elation will assume Carnival Fascination’s four- and five-day schedule from Jacksonville and continue cruising’s only year-round program from that port. Four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Freeport and Nassau and five-day voyages depart Mondays and Thursdays and visit the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau.

In turn, Carnival Fascination will reposition to San Juan to operate year-round seven-day southern Caribbean cruises beginning April 24, 2016. These week-long adventures feature five breathtaking Caribbean islands: St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten. In addition to some of the world’s best beaches, these tropical seaside destinations are known for their exceptional snorkeling, scuba diving and water sports.


Exciting Six- to 11-day Voyages from New Orleans and San Juan
In anticipation of its new homeport, Carnival Elation will offer two exciting longer length cruises
visiting some of the Caribbean’s most stunning ports of call. An 11-day cruise will depart New Orleans April 2 and arrive in San Juan April 13, 2016, with port calls at Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas, while a 10-day cruise will sail from San Juan to Jacksonville April 13-23, 2016, featuring Barbados, Grenada, Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

Carnival Fascination will also offer a special six-day cruise departing Jacksonville April 18 and arriving in San Juan April 24, 2016. Featured ports on this one-time voyage will include St. Thomas, St. Kitts and St. Maarten.

All of these cruises have been specially designed to offer our guests who have previously sailed with Carnival from New Orleans or Jacksonville, with new itineraries that visit more exotic ports of call. The unique appeal of these voyages should provide first-time cruisers with even more incentive to experience a Carnival cruise vacation. The 10- and 11-day cruises also offer our valued travel agent partners with the ability to earn higher commissions due to the longer cruise duration.

Royal Caribbean’s Harmony Of The Seas To Feature Neighborhoods, Waterslides, Bionic Bar

Royal Caribbean’s next Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas, will feature a mixture of first-introduced-on-Quantum- and Oasis-class experiences, as well as brand-new additions, including the line’s first-ever waterslides.


“We are orchestrating a medley of new exciting concepts with the best Royal Caribbean innovations to strike the perfect chord for adventurous vacationers,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

In a first for the line, passengers will be able to twist and slide their way down three multilevel waterslides. One of the slides will feature a Champagne bowl that swirls riders around as they approach the end of the slide.


First introduced on Oasis of the Seas, the line’s distinct neighborhood concept will return on Harmony of the Seas. Seven neighborhoods are featured including the revolutionary Boardwalk and Central Park spaces.

Among other features yet to be announced, the Boardwalk on Harmony will feature a classic games arcade, a kids-only climbing play area and a Starbucks cafe.

Other neighborhoods include the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.


Harmony of the Seas will offer passengers a choice of two Dynamic Dining options. Those preferring the more traditional set-time cruise dining style can select the “Classic” option, which puts passengers on a dining schedule that rotates through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early or late seating time throughout their cruise with the same dining group and waiter each evening. For the more laissez-faire, the standard Dynamic Dining option allows passengers to make reservations in any free or for-fee restaurant, at any time on any given day.

Among other specialty restaurant concepts onboard Harmony of the Seas will be Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, which adds a teppanyaki menu to the sushi restaurant found on several other Royal ships. Sabor Modern Mexican will offer a modern take on traditional Mexican fare, while Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine (pictured above) takes diners on a kaleidoscopic culinary journey for the senses.


Sticking to its high-tech guns, Royal Caribbean also is bringing some of its most technologically savvy experiences from Quantum of the Seas, like RFID WOWBands, to Harmony of the Seas. The RFID-enabled bracelets give passengers access to their cabins, and can be used for making onboard purchases and reservations. Harmony of the Seas also will feature Royal Caribbean’s high-speed Internet connectivity, currently only available on Quantum, Oasis and Allure of the Seas (and Anthem of the Seas later this spring).

The Bionic Bar, which debuted on Quantum of the Seas, also will make its first appearance on an Oasis-class ship. Located on the Royal Promenade it features robotic arms serving up cocktails while “dancing” to music.



Harmony of the Seas also is tweaking some of the Oasis-class cabin categories, expanding the size of some and bringing virtual balconies to all interior staterooms. In a move sure to please single cruisers, Harmony of the Seas also will feature several studio cabin choices.

Suite guests will have exclusive use of the Coastal Kitchen restaurant first launched on Quantum of the Seas. New to Harmony of the Seas will be a full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck only for suite passengers.

The two Oasis-class ships continue to be among Royal Caribbean’s most popular cruise ships.

“They shatter preconceived notions of what cruising can be and continue to stand in a category by themselves,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCCL is the parent company of Royal Caribbean International. “With Harmony of the Seas, we are making the most exciting experience at sea even better.”

The 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks and, at 227,000 gross registered tons, will be the largest cruise ship in the world when it launches April 2016. Itineraries for the ship will be announced next month.

Postcard From Key West Florida


There are many beaches in Florida that are beautiful and offer breathtaking sunsets, but the sunsets from Key West are even more breathtaking and beautiful.  If you’ve never experienced a Key West sunset for yourself, you need to let Kingdom Magic Vacations take you there as soon as possible!

Book Your Key West Vacation Today!

Enjoy A Shrimp Boil At The Hogfish Grill From Stock Island

Episode 295 – Rick and Marc visit The Hogfish Grill on Stock Island to enjoy and old-fashioned Florida Shrimp Boil!

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Key West Adventure Today!

New Tastes At Raglan Road Just In Time For St. Paddy’s

Hard to believe it’s been nearly 10 years since Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant opened its doors at Downtown Disney, and the food just keeps getting better. Under the creative eye of Irish Master Chef Kevin Dundon, the kitchen with Chef Heberto Segura continues to shine a spotlight on the very best of Irish food and drink with a focus on seasonal ingredients.


The spring menu debuts just in time for the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival March 13-17 (for more info about live music, Irish dance, face painting and other activities, go to


We got a taste of the new dishes and craft cocktails, starting with the Rollicking Raglan Weekend Brunch (10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays). Each brunch starts with a complimentary sip of Suave Smoothie, a new seasonal drink with fresh fruit and honey yogurt. Heartier is the Pork Hash Tagged, a generous plate of potato hash with bits of crispy braised pork belly topped with fried eggs and a dollop of shallot puree. Heartiest is Ellis Isle Steak ‘n Eggs, featuring a grilled New York strip steak, roast potatoes and poached eggs that are fried and battered for a whole new taste sensation. If you prefer light, go for the Smoked Salmon Potato Cakes with beautiful smoked salmon atop thin potato cakes (made with mashed potatoes) with crème fraiche and a drizzle of caper dill vinaigrette. A beautiful Irish farmhouse cheese platter rounds out the brunch additions.


Three new items join the lunch and dinner menus. Cod Cornucopia stars perfectly pan-roasted cod with crispy skin atop warm potato salad and a drizzle of chorizo vinaigrette. (Fish is flown in three times a week from Boston, according to Chef Heberto.) Proud Pork is a generous grilled chop with traditional colcannon potato mash with cabbage, buttermilk and onion. The cider port jus took the chops over the top. The table favorite was the Double Joint, a cowboy cut rib-eye steak served with duck fat fries, roast veggies and a lightly dressed salad. Add béarnaise or red wine jus, both served on the side.


New cocktails compete with popular Irish beers and whiskies, all made with cold-pressed organic juices for delightful sipping: grapefruit gin and tonic; Strawberry Fields with Prosecco and vodka (brunch only); Ginger Mojito; Smoking Margarita with tequila and Irish whiskey are just a few gems.


Raglan Road is a true slice of Ireland in a lovely setting with antique bars and Irish antiques, and live Irish music nightly. For reservations, call 407-938-0300.

Height Requirements For Attractions For The Magic Kingdom

There are so many attractions at Walt Disney World Resort, and sometimes as a parent it can be tough to determine which ones are a good fit for younger children.

There are 25 attractions without any height requirements at Magic Kingdom Park alone! Once your baby grows into a preschooler, there is even more fun to be had on rides for slightly taller kiddos.

Disney Parks Blog rounded up height requirements from the most popular attractions in all four theme parks and put them into handy charts to help you plan ahead.


Once in the parks, be sure to check out the My Disney Experience mobile app for height requirements, thrill levels, wait times and more, all while on the go. If you are dying to check out a thrill ride and your youngest isn’t quite there yet, your family may be able to utilize Rider Switch, which allows adults to take turns riding the attraction without waiting in line all over again.

What are your favorite attractions to experience with your little ones?

Set Sail With Disney’s Star Wars Day At Sea

What do you get when you combine the power of the Force, the magic of Disney and the excitement of cruising? An out-of-this-galaxy experience unlike any other!


Last week, Disney shared the exciting news that Disney Cruise Line added Star Wars Day at Sea, a brand-new, day-long celebration, to eight special sailings on the Disney Fantasy in early 2016.


Check out these intergalactic highlights:

Force-filled Fun for Everyone

  • Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers and other characters from across the Star Wars galaxy will be onboard for scheduled meet and greets, as well as roaming on deck and elsewhere around the ship. You’re also encouraged to dress up in your own stellar costumes!
  • A shipboard version of the popular Jedi Training Academy experience invites young Jedi hopefuls – known as “Padawans” – to learn lightsaber moves from a Jedi Master. They can then use the Force and face off in a final test against the evil Darth Vader.
  • Kids and families enjoy friendly competition during Star Wars trivia games, covering fun facts from the film and television sagas.
  • For Younglings, Star Wars-themed arts and crafts, games and activities will be offered throughout the day in Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab youth clubs.
  • In the evening, adults entering the night club will feel like they stepped into the Mos Eisley cantina scene. Characters and cantina music set the mood as Star Wars-themed specialty cocktails are served.


Film Screenings and Celebrities

  • You can watch the first six Star Wars films and follow Darth Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi, Luke and Leia along their epic journey.
  • Also showing will be episodes of the new Disney XD animated series, Star Wars Rebels.
  • On each of the special sailings, celebrities and insiders from the Star Wars galaxy will share their experiences, meet fans and sign autographs.

Star Wars Deck Party and Fireworks

  • There’s intergalactic fun when the Star Wars deck party blasts off to an exciting evening filled with music, dancing and games.
  • Star Wars characters converge on the deck stage for a celebration of the Star Wars saga in a show featuring special effects and guest participation.
  • The deck party culminates in a spectacular display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects, lasers andStar Wars music.

Star Wars Day at Sea will be available only aboard the Disney Fantasy on select Western Caribbean sailings, January through April in 2016. Star Wars Day at Sea is available on:

    • January 9
    • January 23
    • February 6
    • February 20
    • March 5
    • March 19
    • April 2
    • April 16
    The Star Wars Day at Sea is scheduled to be the ‘At Sea’ day following Grand Cayman.

Cruisers’ Choice: Best Cruise Ships Of 2015

(CNN) — While Disneyland has long been known as the “happiest place on Earth,” Disney’s cruise ships sound like they’re also pretty cheerful spots to vacation.


At least that’s what the 2015 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards, announced Monday, are indicating. Disney Cruise Line dominated this year’s awards, winning in 12 categories.

Disney Cruise Line won the coveted “best overall” cruise line award for the third year in a row. The Disney Dream ship won in the large ship category, and Disney Wonder won in the midsize category.

Other Disney awards include Disney Dream’s wins for “best entertainment” and “best cruises to the Bahamas” and Disney Fantasy’s wins for “best cabins,” “best service” and “best for families.”

The awards are based on consumer reviews by members of the Cruise Critic website.

“Cruise Critic’s community of cruisers is the largest in the world, so to be named to this list is truly an honor,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic. “Of the thousands of reviews we received in 2014, these ships represent the best-of-the-best, qualified by travelers who have sailed firsthand and shared their experiences once they returned.”

Oceania Riviera won four awards, including “best dining” and “best cabins” in the midsize category for the second year in a row, taking note of the variety of fine dining options, Culinary Center and elegant cabin furnishings.


Carnival Liberty was named “best value for money” in the large ship category for the second consecutive year.

The awards are bestowed in three ship categories, based on passenger capacity. Large ships carry 2,000 or more passengers. Midsize ships carry 1,200 to 1,999 passengers. Small ships carry fewer than 1,200. Awards are calculated using Cruise Critic member ratings.

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