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Carnival Cruise Lines and DJ Irie Create DJ Academy for Teens

Carnival Cruise Lines has teamed up with legendary DJ IRIE – the official DJ of Carnival and the Miami HEAT who has entertained crowds from South Beach and Vegas to Paris and Brazil – to create Spin U, a new shipboard DJ academy exclusively for teens ages 15-17.


Part of the line’s popular Club O2 teen program and inspired by DJ IRIE’s own Spin’iversity – a customized training program exclusively for developing Carnival’s shipboard DJs – Spin U is designed to provide aspiring spin-masters all they need to know about this emerging art form, from bringing a crowd to its feet to pumping up the dance floor with energy and excitement.


Under the guidance of Carnival’s talented and energetic shipboard pro DJs, Spin U students learn not only how to operate the latest mixing and sound equipment but also how to read a crowd and tailor song selections from every musical genre to keep the party moving, while making maximum use of their own personality to create their own memorable DJ persona.

Three different Spin U packages will be offered:

  • Intro – a free 30-minute introductory session that includes an overview of equipment basics and spinning and mixing techniques.
  • DJ 101 – a 45-minute program that expands upon the Intro program with a comprehensive overview of both mixing and scratching. Cost is $20.
  • DJ Master – comprised of three one-hour sessions, DJ Master is exactly what the name implies, helping participants master the art of mixing, mic skills and understanding song structure and transitions. After selecting their own creative DJ moniker, DJ Master students participate in a “Battle of the Beats” against other up-and-coming DJs with one lucky DJ entertaining guests poolside on Lido deck. Cost for the three-session program is $99.

Personalized, one-on-one sessions with Carnival’s shipboard DJs are also available and all DJ Master participants receive a “swag bag” containing a variety of premium branded logo items.

“I am thrilled that Carnival and I were able to cultivate a youth program that involves something I am so passionate about and really translates into a fun guest experience,” said DJ IRIE. “It is exciting to be a part of a program that supports the arts and provides an outlet for young music lovers to express themselves during a family vacation,” he added.

Spin U is currently being piloted on six- and eight-day cruises of the Carnival Freedom from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with fleetwide rollout expected by the end of 2015.

The Spin U program can be booked via the Club O2 venues throughout the fleet.

Hollywood Studios Offers Frozen Holiday Package

‘For the first time in forever’, Walt Disney World guests can experience “Frozen” fun during the holiday season at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, thanks to the new Frozen Holiday Premium Package.

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Offered November 7 – 19, November 21 – December 9 and December 11 – January 4, 2015, this package includes reserved seating for a performance of “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” at the Premiere Theatre, and reserved Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights viewing and Frozen-themed dessert party (which will feature mini Anna cupcakes and mini Elsa cupcake, among other delicious treats) in the evening, and a holiday themed lithograph and “Frozen” pin.


The package costs $89 per adult and $59 per child (ages 3 – 9), plus tax (gratuity is included). Valid theme park admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is required and is not included in this package price.

For more details, or to book, please contact your Kingdom Magic Travel Planner!

Candlelight Processional Adds A ‘Frozen’ Voice

Just when you thought we couldn’t work Disney’s hit animated film “Frozen” into ONE MORE blog post, Walt Disney World has just announced the addition of Jonathan Groff to the lineup of celebrity narrators for the 2014 Candlelight Processional at Epcot.


Groff, who voices the character of Kristoff in Disney’s “Frozen,” is also a Tony-nominated veteran of the Broadway stage (“Spring Awakening”) and TV (“Glee”).

This year’s event will also have a little “Scandal” with everyone’s favorite Gladiator Papa Pope Joe Morton, who plays Kerry Washington’s secret-agent-father on Scandal. Morton’s career has spanned more than 40 years with hits on Broadway, TV and in film.


Groff and Morton join an illustrious list of celebrity narrators for this year’s event including newcomers Ana Gasteyer and returning favorites like Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris. They will be just part of the Holidays Around the World celebration at Epcot, the Candlelight Processional is one of the most beloved holiday traditions at Epcot – a joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a glorious mass choir.

  • Jodi Benson – 11/28 – 11/29
  • Neil Patrick Harris – 11/30 – 12/2
  • Jonathan Groff – 12/3 – 12/4
  • Whoopi Goldberg – 12/5 – 12/6
  • TBD – 12/7 – 12/9
  • TBD – 12/9 – 12/11
  • Joe Morton – 12/12 – 12/14
  • Chita Rivera – 12/15 – 12/17
  • Ana Gasteyer (New) – 12/18 –12/20
  • Marlee Matlin – 12/21 – 12/23
  • Isabella Rossellini – 12/24 – 12/25
  • Blair Underwood – 12/26 – 12/27
  • Steven Curtis Chapman – 12/28 – 12/30

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The Candlelight Processional is presented three times per night at the American Gardens Theater at Epcot. Show times are 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. (Narrators are subject to change without notice.)

For more information on Holidays Around the World at Epcot and the Candlelight Processional or to make reservations for a Candlelight Processional dinner package, check back to the Kingdom Magic Vacations for updates on who fills those last coveted slots in our narrator lineup.

Special ‘Dinner & A Show’ Offer For ‘La Nouba’

For a limited time, you can purchase the special Dinner & A Show package, which includes a meal at a popular restaurant in Downtown Disney area—plus a ticket to La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil.


Explore ticket prices per person:

  • $99 plus tax for a Category 2 ticket ($89 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9)
  • $119 plus tax for a Category 1 ticket ($109 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9)

The package includes 1 ticket to a 6:00 PM performance Tuesday through Saturday nights on the following dates:

  • September 30 through November 1, 2014
  • November 6 through November 22, 2014

Before or after the show, enjoy dinner at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, Planet Hollywood or Splitsville Luxury Lanes. The offer includes one entrée, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage.

Take advantage of this special offer now and enjoy a spectacular night of food, fun and one-of-a kind entertainment this fall at Downtown Disney!

Contact your Kingdom Magic Vacations’ Travel Planner today!


Special Ticket Offer For Military At Universal Orlando

For a limited time,  eligible service members can purchase a 1-Day Park-to-Park Ticket and get 2 days FREE. That is three days enjoying both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida for the price of one.

Universal Orlando Resort celebrated Veterans Day with a special in-park parade featuring its Veteran Network

Here are all of the details and ticket purchasing info:

  • Who is eligible? This special military offer is valid for purchase by active duty, reservist military and retired military service members, Department of Defense employees and/or spouses with valid military photo ID.
  • How many can I purchase? Eligible service members may purchase up to 6 tickets with this offer.
  • When is this offer valid? This offer is available for purchase now through November 30, 2014, and tickets must be used in full by December 14, 2014.
  • How do I use this offer? Tickets are activated at either Universal Orlando theme park, with the eligible service member required to be present with a valid military photo ID to activate the ticket. Admission is valid for up to 14 days from first use.

In addition, active duty and retired military personnel can make it a special vacation or long weekend by adding a stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort with a discounted vacation package.

Universal Orlando Resort celebrated Veterans Day with a special in-park parade featuring its Veteran Network

Special military vacation package rates include the 1-Day Park-to-Park Ticket with 2 Days Free and 3 nights at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort starting at $269 per adult, tax inclusive with valid military identification.

This ticket offer and special vacation package can be purchased by visiting participating Base ITT/LTS offices.

Have any questions about this offer or any Universal Orlando Resort Military offers? Contact your Kingdom Magic Vacation’s Travel Planner Today!

10 Things To Love About Fall at Walt Disney World

When the weather cools at Walt Disney World, you know it’s time to pull out the Halloween decorations and get ready for some magical treats! Here’s a list of the 10 things to love at Walt Disney World this Fall!0909ZW_0392CC-613x437

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties – This special after-hours Halloween party at Magic Kingdom Park is a must-do during a fall visit. Bring your Halloween costumes, get ready to trick-or-treat and expect to see some amazing Halloween entertainment and fireworks! More details on this offering here.

Villain’s Sinister Soiree – Available only on Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nights, guests can book this special package that offers a wicked good time that includes VIP viewing for the parade and fireworks, as well as an exclusive dessert party that features some of your favorite Disney villains, musical entertainment and some delectable treats. The package costs $99 per person. Contact your Kingdom Magic Travel Planner for more information.

Decorations- Fall at Magic Kingdom Park offers up some amazing photo opportunities, as our photography team showed in this blog post earlier this month. What I love most are the pumpkins along Main Street, U.S.A., which each feature their own unique design. Take a moment to check them out.


Haunted Mansion Merchandise Shop Set To Debut - This fall will see the debut of a new dedicated merchandise shop that Haunted Mansion fans are guaranteed to love. Steven Miller offered a sneak peek at some of the items that will be available at the shop in this post. Stay tuned for more on the shop’s opening.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - Each night through November 10, Epcot will come alive with food and fun thanks to the return of one of our most popular events, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This year, 25 marketplaces will show off the talents of 270 chefs, including some of Disney’s finest, as well as some celeb chefs.

Celebrity Chef Appearances – This year’s festival will feature appearances by celeb chefs Jamie Deen, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro and Allen Susser, among others.

Eat To The Beat Concert Series – While we’re talking about fall fun at Epcot, the Eat to the Beat concert series is already underway with several new acts – including Fuel, Jim Brickman, Los Lonely Boys and David Cook – in the lineup. (Concerts are included in park admission).


runDisney Races Return – Two race weekends – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler Weekend and Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend – will return to Walt Disney World Resort October 3-4 and November 7-8, respectively. Registration for Kids Races and after parties are still available.

Special Fall Treats – Even snacks are dressed up for the holiday, with new Maleficent cups, Zero popcorn buckets and more now appearing in parks.

Fall Savings on Resort Rooms – Guests visiting Walt Disney World Resort this fall can save up to 30 percent on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels, including Deluxe Villa Resort rooms and Deluxe Resort rooms. This offer is valid for stays most nights October 4 through November 25, and November 29 through December 23, 2014 and must be booked by October 3, 2014. (Some restrictions apply). To book, click on the image below.

What’s your favorite part of visiting Walt Disney World Resort during the fall season?

Princess Cruises Introduces Exclusive 50th Anniversary “Seawitch” Craft Beer

Princess Cruises is pouring a new craft beer to toast its upcoming 50th anniversary. The “Seawitch” West Coast IPA beer – playfully named for the company’s iconic logo – was developed exclusively for Princess Cruises, in partnership with award-winning Strike Brewing Company, and is the first in the line’s new series of craft beers. The brew will be introduced aboard Regal Princess when the cruise ship debuts in Florida for a season of Caribbean cruises this November.


“We know our guests love distinct experiences and authentic flavors so we’re excited to debut a new craft beer series with this special 50th anniversary blend aboard our newest ship,” said Jonathan Wilson, Princess Cruises vice president of food and beverage services. “The Seawitch West Coast IPA not only commemorates our milestone anniversary, but is also meant to inspire our guests to celebrate their sea journeys with Princess.”

Strike Brewing Company, located near San Francisco – one of Princess Cruises’ home ports – is an award-winning microbrewery well known to fans of local craft beer. The Seawitch West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale) features the balanced aroma of lightly roasted malt and barley which is strongly accented by the crisp dry flavor of a unique hop blend.

The Seawitch West Coast IPA will retail for $6.25 and be available in bars and lounges throughout Regal Princess. It is expected to be available fleetwide by early 2015.

The cruise line will roll out additional Seawitch craft beers in partnerships with regional breweries that specialize in local flavors and represent some of the cruise destinations Princess ships visit.

Princess Cruises will officially kick off its 50th anniversary year with the naming ceremony of Regal Princess on Nov. 5 in Ft. Lauderdale. The company is honoring the role the The Love Boat played in its five-decades-long history by having the original Love Boat cast members serve as godparents for its newest cruise ship.

Six Must-Have Items for a Disney Cruise

Sailing on one of the amazing Disney Cruise ships is a treat unto itself, but there are a few things that you can bring from home to help make your voyage even more magical!


Pirate attire – Arrgh mateys! Disney cruisers go all out for Pirate Night, and if you don’t bring your own costume, you’ll wish you had! Bandanas and eye patches are available onboard, but this night is the perfect excuse to pull out that Jack Sparrow wig and those pirate pantaloons.

Smartphone or tablet – Our newsletter of daily activities, the Navigator, is available as a mobile app. You’ll have a list of what’s happening every minute of every day and a map of the entire ship in your back pocket.

Wrist watch – This one is especially important if you don’t bring #2… Most people recommend you leave your watch at home during vacation, but on a Disney cruise, you won’t want to miss any of the planned activities! A waterproof watch is even better so you can leave it on at the pool and during our water ride.

Day bag – Put a few essentials, like a swimsuit, sunscreen and medications, in a small bag to keep with you when you board the ship. Then you can check the rest of your luggage to be delivered to your stateroom later that day. It can also serve as a beach bag for Castaway Cay and extra space to bring home your souvenirs.

Autograph book – The number of Disney characters onboard never ceases to amaze new cruisers. Bring a keepsake for them to sign, and make sure it’s large enough to hold autographs from all of your favorites.

Camera – There’s no shortage of picture-perfect selfie spots onboard and at Castaway Cay! Plus our crew members are always happy to snap a family photo for you on your personal camera.


What else has your family learned to always brings on a Disney cruise?

Top 10 New Tastes for 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Epcot’s 19th Annual International Food and Wine Festival is here and we cannot be more excited.  With so many food items, we have the scoop on some of the top 10 new offerings this year.


This is the seventh year that Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann has been at the helm, and every year he gets a little more authentic, a little more creative. Thirty-five new food offerings debut this year, requiring multiple visits to truly savor each taste.

And while it may be nearly impossible to appreciate every single dish paired with tasting-sized servings of wine, beer (and non-alcoholic beverages) at the 25+ Marketplaces, we’ve done a little homework and are suggesting the Top 10 new, “don’t-miss” dishes for 2014.


Here, in no certain order, are 10 of the new dishes worth a taste, even if you have to share to make it all the way around:

1.  Lobster Alfredo at the Hops & Barley Marketplace, a bowl with warm macaroni noodles, generous bits of lobster and a crunch topping. Add a 6-ounce pour of crisp Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat.

2.  Eat dessert first: you don’t want to miss the rich, velvety caramel crème brûlée with fleur de sel at the France Marketplace. Pair it with a flute of Sparkling Pomegranate Kir.

3.  A hearty, healthful dish is Patagonia’s Verlasso salmon, served with quinoa salad and a flourish of garlicky arugula chimichurri. Add a pour of the fruity Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier.

4.  At the Farm Fresh Marketplace, there’s the perfect taste of Southern comfort food: griddled “Yard Bird” (chicken thigh) with collards and a dollop of the house-made habanero sauce. Just for fun, add a Florida wine (yes, Florida), the Key Limen-Key Lime Wine from Florida Orange Groves.

5.  Also at Farm Fresh, the Florida grass-fed beef slider with a scoop of kicky pimento cheese melting over the warm burger was another don’t-miss. We added the Beer Flight (four 4-ounce servings): I-4 IPA, Ba Ba Black Lager, Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale and Florida Cracker Belgian Style White Ale.

6.  Even if the idea of snails is not for you, give it a try. They’ve jazzed up the escargot in France, now served with three tender snails in pastry with lots of garlic, spinach, bacon and Parmesan. Be elegant and pair with a cool Chardonnay, Macon-Villages, La Côte Blanche.

7.  The Greece marketplace has added hearty Vegetarian Moussaka, made with eggplant and potatoes and a rich béchamel sauce. Try it with Domaine Skouras Moscofilero, a white wine with rich flavors of citrus and tropical fruits. (We also loved sipping the Tzatziki martini featuring Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka and BOLS Natural Yoghurt Liqueur.)

8.  For a taste of the tropics, it’s the Ensalada de Carrucho, Caribbean conch salad with onion, tomato and cilantro at the new Puerto Rico Marketplace along the Rose Walk leading to World Showcase Plaza. Pair it with Medalla light beer.

9.  Canada’s Seared Rainbow Trout with Bacon, Frisee and Maple Minus 8 Vinaigrette deserves a pour of the Canada Mission Hill Family Estate Syrah.

10.  Desserts & Champagne Marketplace is always our final stop, and we can recommend this year’s trio: Passion Fruit Coconut Creamsicle, Blueberry Lime Cheesecake Roll and Chocolate Espresso Opera Cake. Best of all, they’re now serving Dom Pérignon Champagne. Life is good.


And we still have to make room for a few returning favorites: the grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and crunch potato chips in Australia; crispy pork belly with black beans, tomato and cilantro in Brazil; Kālua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise in Hawaii, and the kimchi dog with spicy mustard sauce in South Korea.

Also, here’s a link to all the menus. Get out there and share your favorite Marketplace dishes with us!

Universal Celebrates Annual Passholders Month

There are 365 days in every year that guests can enjoy the playground that is Universal Orlando Resort. And there’s no better way to do it all, all year long, than as a Universal Orlando Resort Annual Passholder.


Soon, the heat will subside, the annual events will start up, and guests can enjoy year-round what the whole world comes to see during the summer.

To get you going, and to thank all of their long-time passholders, Universal Orlando has kicked off Annual Passholder Appreciation Month, chock full of special benefits.


Throughout the entire month of September, Universal Orlando annual passholders will enjoy additional benefits including:

  • Early Park Admission to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, one hour before the theme park opens weekdays throughout September.
  • Experience the Blue Man Group for $49 for adults and $29 for children at 4:00 pm every Sunday in September.
  • Halloween Horror Nights 24 Passholder Nights: September 19, 20, 26 & 27 from 5:15 pm – 6:30 pm. Enjoy early access to Halloween Horror Nights plus exclusive access to three designated haunted houses as well as the first showing of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.
  • Save $6 on a refillable Souvenir Cup. Just ask for the Passholder special at Louie’s Italian Restaurant, Monsters Cafe, Mel’s Drive-in or Richter’s Burger Company.


And a whole bunch of Universal CityWalk benefits:

  • Get a FREE CityWalk PartyPass for one Passholder and a guest throughout September.
  • AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX: Save $1.75 each on up to 5 matinee movie tickets.
  • Bob Marley–A Tribute to Freedom: Buy one adult entrée and get 50% off a second.
  • Pat O’Brien’s: Buy one adult entrée and get 50% off a second.
  • Red Coconut Club: Buy one, get one free martinis. 
  • Dippin Dots carts: Receive 25% off at CityWalk locations.

South Florida’s Peak Cruise Season Nears Kickoff

South Florida’s peak cruise season is right around the corner and cruise lines are rolling out new food and beverage programs and dining and entertainment options to attract potential and repeat cruisers.


During the busy October-through-April period, some local seaports also will welcome a new cruise ship, and some existing ships will make first-time stops there.

All this adds up to more choices for consumers looking to cruise soon.

“Cruise lines are offering ways for customers to customize their [vacation] experiences more and more,” said Miami-based cruise industry specialist Stewart Chiron of all the new offerings available.

At Port Everglades, a highlight of the upcoming season will be the Nov. 5th naming ceremony for Princess Cruises‘ newest ship — Regal Princess — which entered service in Europe in May. Beginning Nov. 9, Regal Princess will sail on a series of seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises through April 25.

The 3,560-passenger ship will be the seventh Princess ship to be named at the Fort Lauderdale seaport. The original cast of the popular 1970-80s TV show “The Love Boat” will serve as its godparents, including Gavin MacLeod, Fred Grandy and Ted Lange.


The christening ceremony kicks off festivities for Princess’ 50th anniversary in 2015.

“It’s another nice ship, with a very stately design,” Chiron said of Regal. “I enjoyed sailing [twice] on her sister ship Royal Princess very much.”

Other changes at the port includ day-cruise operator Resorts World Bimini Superfast beginning sailings between Port Everglades and Bimini in the Bahamas on Oct. 14. Trips will run every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

In early December, the port’s cruise terminal 4 will reopen after a $24 million renovation that included a high-efficiency air conditioning system, 50 check-in counters and two new loading bridges to speed passenger processing.


“We look forward to a busy cruise season again this year, especially once our newly renovated cruise terminal 4 opens and our guests experience improved access and a much more efficient transportation flow,” Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director Steven Cernak said.

For the new fiscal year that runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2015, the port is expecting 3.9 million cruise passenger moves (embark, debark and in-transit) across 42 cruise ships.

On Dec. 19, a smaller Princess ship — the 672-guest Ocean Princess — will make its first call at Port Everglades, followed by another first-timer, Carnival Conquest.

The Carnival Cruises Lines‘ 3,700-passenger ship will take over Carnival Freedom’s six-and-eight-day Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale starting in January, the Miami-based cruise operator said. Freedom is relocating to Galveston, Texas.


Port Everglades also will have a strong lineup of longer cruises in 2015, with five ships departing on world and grand cruises starting in early January. Among them is Holland America Line’s ms Prinsendam that departs Jan. 3 on a 68-day Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage, which includes 31 ports in 11 countries.

At Port of Palm Beach, officials expect about 340,000 multiday cruise passengers in the 2015 budget year. The port’s sole cruise operator, Celebration Cruise Line, sails to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.

The Riviera Beach port is in negotiations with another potential cruise operator.

“We consistently work to identify opportunities to expand our cruise business at the port, whether it be intracoastal cruises, day or multiday cruises, or as a port of call for a cruise line,” Executive Director Manuel Almira said.

Next month, the port’s day-casino gaming boat, Island Breeze II, is slated to resume service before Halloween after several weeks in drydock, a company spokesperson said Wednesday.


At PortMiami, highlights of the winter cruise season include the arrival of the 2,144-passenger Costa Mediterranea, which will join the 2,826-guest Costa Luminosa for a season of 10-, 11- and 12-night Caribbean cruises starting in December.

“Our longer Caribbean itineraries are the best options to see the whole region in a relaxed and pampered atmosphere,” said Scott Knutson, a Costa Cruises North America vice president. “By offering extended cruises on two ships, we’re giving guests more time to experience the Caribbean the Costa way.

Quantum of The Seas’ Amazing New Features

When Quantum of the Seas debuts this fall, it will be the most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited Chairman and CEO Richard Fain revealed at a news conference Monday at the Meyer Werft shipyard where the vessel is being built.


“This ship’s combination of ease and flexibility would make a yoga instructor proud,” Fain said.

Fain and technology expert David Pogue, speaking to a group of journalists, unveiled a range of technological advances designed to improve the passenger experience, even before people board the ship.

Among the highlights of the announced technology enhancements:

Improved check-in and boarding process. In addition to the typical online check-in process, passengers can upload photo IDs ahead of their cruises. They’ll be issued digital boarding documents, which Royal Caribbean says will help them get on the ship in less than 10 minutes, with no lines and no forms to fill out when they arrive to port. Also, suitcases will be tagged with radio-frequency ID devices at port that will allow passengers to use their mobile devices to track their luggage en route to their cabins. The same devices will be used to allow for luggage tracking when passengers disembark.

Apps for better scheduling and onboard communication. Two new apps will help passengers plan the details of their cruises. Cruise Planner is designed to be used ahead of the sailing, giving passengers the opportunity to book spa appointments, shore excursions and dinner reservations from their mobile devices ahead of their sailings. Once onboard, passengers can use Royal iQ to keep track of their schedules. The daily Cruise Compass will also be available via Royal iQ, and passengers can pick activities to try out and be alerted if there are scheduling conflicts. Royal iQ will also allow passengers to communicate with one another while onboard Quantum of the Seas. Using Royal iQ’s scheduling features is free, but it will cost passengers a yet-undetermined fee to use the communication portion of the app. Passengers will also have the option to use RFID wristbands rather than the traditional keycard to gain entry to their cabins and make purchases onboard. The wristbands will cost $2 per person.

Super-fast Internet. Partnering with Ob3 Networks, Royal Caribbean has hooked into satellites that will allow passengers to experience Internet speeds akin to what they might find on shore: Fast enough, the company says, that passengers could watch streaming video, share vacation photos via social media and video conference with loved ones at home, options almost unheard of when it comes to Internet on cruise ships, which is notoriously slow.

Tablets for the crew. Royal Caribbean is giving Microsoft tablets to every crewmember on Quantum of the Seas, theirs to keep as well as use to better track passenger preferences. Crewmembers can also use the tablets to communicate with their families at home. The line will eventually give tablets to every shipboard employee fleetwide — 40,000 total.


Robot bartenders. While Royal Caribbean has revealed little about the bars and lounges on Quantum, today’s announcement provided a glimpse into at least one space, dubbed Bionic Bar. Here, passengers order cocktails via tablets, then watch as robots mix their drinks.

A green commitment. All lighting on Quantum of the Seas will come from LED or fluorescent lighting, and hallways will feature motion-sensitive lighting; when no one is around, the halls will dim, conserving energy. Cabins, too, will feature environmentally sound lighting systems.

Royal Caribbean‘s new ship debuts in November, when it sails from Southampton to Bayonne, New Jersey, where it will homeport for the winter before it moves to Shanghai. Fleetmate Anthem of the Seas, expected to be a near-twin, debuts in spring 2015 in Southampton and will homeport in Bayonne beginning next fall.

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort Returns

You may be just starting to carve up pumpkins, but we’ve got some important holiday news to share with you today! Holidays at the Disneyland Resort is returning November 13 and will continue through January 6, 2015.


Disney California Adventure Park


Disneyland Park

  • “A Christmas Fantasy” parade
  • “it’s a small world” Holiday
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
  • “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks spectacular


Downtown Disney District

  • Downtown Disney Winter Village
  • Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Walt Disney World Resort guests can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and enjoy the vibrant cultures, flavors and fun of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina and Chile during the 19th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival from Sept. 19-Nov. 10.


The popular 53-day culinary extravaganza will welcome guests to a global tasting event that includes a Puerto Rico experience featuring popular island sips and bites, the new Patagonia marketplace with flavors from Argentina and Chile and the popular Mexico marketplace.  The festival, which also will present Hispanic and Latin culinary stars hosting dining events and demonstrations, launches soon after National Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15.

Celebrating Hispanic and Latino Americans’ contributions to the United States since 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month is steeped in the centuries-old traditions that reflect the ethnic and cultural customs of their communities.


At the festival’s Puerto Rico experience and marketplace, guests will be transported against a colorful backdrop of Old San Juan created by Walt Disney Imagineering as the festival’s first two-story marketplace.  There, guests can explore the history and culture of Puerto Rico and taste the best of the All-Star Island with a menu featuring Ensalada de Carrucho, Caribbean Conch Salad with Onion, Tomato and Cilantro; Carne Guisads con Arroz Blanco, Slow Braised Beef with Puerto Rican Grown Rice; Frituras – Sorullitos, Sweet Polenta Fries and Bolitas de Queso, Cheese Fritters with Mayo Ketchup; and FlanCocho, Vanilla Caramel Custard with Chocolate Coffee Cake.

A variety of beverages from Puerto Rico are on tap: Medalla Light Beer, a Frozen San Juan Breeze featuring Don Q Limón Floater (also available as non-alcoholic lemonade); Gasolina Sangria Cocktail, and Chilled Club Caribe Mango Rum, neat.


Puerto Rico also will host “Experience Puerto Rico – The All Star Island” gala, a premium event in the park’s World Showplace pavilion at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20.   Guests can enjoy a sumptuous selection of foods and beverages plus authentic entertainment by a Latin DJ, band and guitar duo during the island’s premier dining celebration.


At the Patagonia marketplace, Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann will introduce fully sustainable Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri; Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée; and a Beef Empanada.  The Chilean Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier and Argentinean Terrazas Reserva Malbec are suggested wine pairings; other beverages at the marketplace will be Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut and Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé.


For years, the festival’s Mexico marketplace has sizzled with favorite tapas and lively scheduled performances of the internationally acclaimed Mariachi Cobre band.  Guests can savor three popular dishes: Shrimp Taco with Fried Shrimp, Pickled Habanero Pepper and Onions on Flour Tortilla; Rib Eye Taco with Marinated Ribeye, Roasted Chipotle Salsa and Grilled Scallions on a Corn Tortilla; and Sweet Corn Cheese Cake.  Refreshing menu sips will include Dos Equis Beer, Sangria, a Mango-Strawberry Margarita and a Tequila Flight.


More than 25 festival marketplaces in the park’s World Showcase will feature flavors of six continents.  Culinary demonstrations and beverage seminars at the Festival Center in Future World will present recipes and beverages from many cultures, including Puerto Rico, Argentina and Chile.

The lineup of notable chefs includes Puerto Rico’s Maira Isabel, who will create a variety of recipes with Puerto Rican ingredients at scheduled culinary demonstrations and during the Sept. 20 gala.  Other Latin American chefs participating include Paula DaSilva of 3030 Ocean in Miami Beach; Lupe Sanchez of La Hacienda de San Angel and San Angel Inn at Epcot, and several other chefs from a variety of Walt Disney World Resort restaurants.

Universal Orlando To Add 5th Resort Sapphire Falls in 2016

Universal and Loews Hotels & Resorts have announced plans for a 5th hotel to be added to Universal Orlando, Sapphire Falls Resort to open in 2016.


Located in between the Royal Pacific Resort and the newly-opened Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the new resort will be a colorful Caribbean hideaway built around a lush, tropical lagoon and towering waterfall.

Sapphire Falls will add 1,000 rooms, including 77 suites, which will bring the number of on-site hotel rooms at Universal Orlando to 5,200. Earlier this Summer, Universal announced plans to expand on the adjacent Royal Pacific Resort, which will see the addition of larger meeting and event space.

The expected price point for the hotel should fall between Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Royal Pacific, but that is solely based on speculation and not confirmed by Universal Orlando at this time.


Inspired by the picturesque rivers and waterfalls of the Caribbean, Loews Sapphire Falls will immerse guests in a highly themed resort environment using traditional island styling with modern touches. A resort-style pool with a water slide, children’s play area, sand beach and fire pit will help form a central courtyard and will be surrounded by the hotel’s guest rooms. There will be water taxi and shuttle access to all of the entertainment and dining options throughout Universal Orlando Resort, however it will not include the Express Pass benefit, similar to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

“Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will be every bit as distinctive as the other four on-site hotels and will offer a new option to families looking for a truly special Orlando vacation,” says Jonathan Tisch, Chairman of Loews Hotels & Resorts.  “We are excited to continue our growth plans at Loews Hotels by building another hotel with our long-standing partners at Universal Orlando.”

“We look forward to bringing them yet another incredibly themed experience with the opening of Loews Sapphire Falls Resort,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Universal Parks & Resorts.  “Our guests repeatedly tell us that our Universal Orlando on-site hotels provide them a completely immersive vacation experience from the moment they enter our hotels and are transported to another place.”

The new hotel will be full service. Amenities will include Early Park Admission to Universal’s theme parks, a full-service restaurant with scenic views and outdoor dining, a themed lobby lounge, poolside bar and grill, quick-service marketplace, valet service and a fitness center. Booking information and pricing will be announced at a later date, however reservations are slated to begin around the Spring 2015.