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2014 Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages Available Now

Walt Disney World guests can start booking their Candlelight Processional Dining Packages. This is great for you early planners since the event starts the night after Thanksgiving (November 28) and runs through December 30.

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Disney Parks Blog has also shared a partial list of celebrity narrators including Candlelight veterans Whoopi Goldberg and Jodi Benson, and two fabulous new narrators – Academy-Award-winning actress Sharon Stone and Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer.

For those unfamiliar with the event, it’s a gorgeous re-telling of the Christmas story with a celebrity narrator each night and seasonal music from a massed choir and huge orchestra. The event started at Disneyland park in the 1958 with Walt Disney himself. At Walt Disney World Resort, it’s presented at the America Gardens Theater at Epcot, a beautiful venue, especially when all decked out for the holidays.

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Here is a partial list of celebrity narrators:

  • Jodi Benson – 11/28 – 11/29
  • TBD – 11/30 – 12/2
  • TBD – 12/3 – 12/4
  • Whoopi Goldberg – 12/5 – 12/6
  • TBD – 12/7* – 12/8
  • TBD – 12/9 – 12/11
  • TBD – 12/12 – 12/14
  • Sharon Stone (New) – 12/15 – 12/17
  • Ana Gasteyer (New) – 12/18 – 12/20
  • Marlee Matlin – 12/21 – 12/23
  • TBD – 12/24 – 12/25
  • TBD – 12/26 – 12/27
  • Steven Curtis Chapman – 12/28 – 12/30

Narrators are subject to change without notice. – Show Times are at 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m. & 8:15 p.m. each night. *Show Times on December 7 are 6:45 p.m. & 8:15 p.m. only

Candlelight Processional Dining Packages, available on select days, start at $35 for lunch and $50 for dinner for adults, include a delicious meal at an Epcot restaurant and a guaranteed seat for one of the Candlelight Processional performances and pre-arranged fireworks viewing. Note: Availability is limited.

Contact your Kingdom Magic Travel Planner for more information.


New Events And Activities Inspired By Disney’s Frozen At Disney’s Hollywood Studios

As Disney Entertainment author Shawn Slater shared with Disney Parks Blog, starting Saturday, July 5, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort there are new events inspired by the film Disney’s “Frozen” – including a new procession, sing-along, merchandise shop, snow activities, nighttime fireworks spectacular and more!

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The Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package, available daily from July 5 – September 1, 2014 (with the exception of August 23), will offer guests reserved viewing for three of the park’s most anticipated new experiences. This package is a great way to see Princess Anna and Queen Elsa. Guests who book the package will check in at Min and Bills Dockside Diner starting at 10:30 a.m., then enjoy refreshments and reserved viewing for Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome procession at 11:00 a.m.

Later on, they’ll experience reserved seating at one showing of For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, which takes place between 12:30-7 p.m. The evening will end from 8:30 – 10PM with an exclusive dessert party in a reserved area for viewing of the nighttime Frozen fireworks spectacular. (Note: Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome procession and the dessert party offers a reserved viewing area, no seating is available. Wheelchairs and ECVs will be accommodated).

Packages cost $59 for adults and $34 for children (including tax and gratuity). Discounts do not apply. Park admission is required. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Ask your Kingdom Magic Travel Planner to book this event for you.

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In the film “Frozen,” Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post is where Anna meets a snow-covered Kristoff, and they set off on an adventure together to find Elsa and stop the eternal winter. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a place inspired by that scene in the film – Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland – will open its doors to offer you adventure starting this Saturday, July 5. Here, you’ll be able to purchase “Frozen” wares, special snacks, take photos and enjoy wintertime fun – including ice skating!

Located inside the Soundstage One building toward the rear of the park, Oaken’s Frozen Funland features a frozen pond where guests can go ice skating. Skating sessions are $10 for 30 minutes on the ice, including the use of ice skates, socks and a helmet. Guests can also bring their own equipment. Oaken’s Frozen Funland will be open daily from park opening to 8 p.m., and skating sessions are available on a first come, first serve basis. (Note: Skating availability may be limited to the sizing of skates. Waivers for all guests are required and minors must have an adult/responsible party age 18 or older present to sign for them).

(Note: Guests will receive a credential for identification during the Royal Welcome procession viewing. If you are not able to attend the Royal Welcome procession viewing, please visit Guest Relations to check-in between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. and select a show time for the sing-along celebration. After 8 p.m., please check-in at Min and Bill’s. Credential identification is non-transferable and will not be replaced if lost or stolen.)

Relive Harry Potter Films at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk AMC Cineplex

You’ve probably heard that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley is opening on July 8. And having spent time in this amazing new land, we can tell you that it is simply breathtaking…the iconic locations seen in the films have been replicated and expanded beyond what I could ever imagine.

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So if just thinking about Harry Potter or looking at all the images from Diagon Alley has you itching to go back and watch all the films, AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX at Universal CityWalk is showing all eight of the films on select dates through mid-July.

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Be there when Harry is chosen by his wand at Ollivanders, inadvertently turns up in Knockturn Alley for the first time or faces dark forces during the epic Battle of Hogwarts—all on the big screen. It’s a great way to get ready for your own adventure and experience the films that inspired The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Show Times & Dates:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Tuesday 7/1 – 1pm & 7pm
Wednesday 7/9 – 1pm & 7pm
Thursday 7/17 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Wednesday 7/2 – 1pm & 7pm
Thursday 7/10 – 1pm & 7pm
Friday 7/18 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Thursday 7/3 –1pm & 7pm
Friday 7/11 –1pm & 7pm
Saturday 7/19 –1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Friday 7/4 – 1pm & 7pm
Saturday 7/12 – 1pm & 7pm
Sunday 7/20 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Friday 6/27 – 7pm
Saturday 7/5 – 1pm & 7pm
Sunday 7/13 – 1pm & 7pm
Monday 7/21 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Saturday 6/28 – 1pm & 7pm
Sunday 7/6 – 1pm & 7pm
Monday 7/14 – 1pm & 7pm
Tuesday 7/22 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Sunday 6/29 – 1pm & 7pm
Monday 7/7 – 1pm & 7pm
Tuesday 7/15 – 1pm & 7pm
Wednesday 7/23 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Monday 6/30 – 1pm & 7pm
Tuesday 7/8 – 1pm & 7pm
Wednesday 7/16 – 1pm & 7pm
Thursday 7/24 – 1pm & 7pm


Travel + Leisure Award Both Disney Cruise Line and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

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Travel + Leisure announced its World’s Best Awards 2014, and Disney Cruise Line and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa earned top distinctions.

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Disney Cruise Line has been named as the Top Mega-Ship Cruise Line and Top Mega-Ship Cruise Line for Families by Travel + Leisure readers in the magazine’s World’s Best Awards 2014. This is the first time Disney Cruise Line has received the Top Mega-Ship Cruise Line award and the sixth consecutive year it has been recognized as a top cruise line for families.

The World’s Best Awards are selected by Travel + Leisure readers who participate in a survey and rate cruise lines on several criteria, including staterooms, food, service, itineraries, excursions and value.

Disney Cruise Line has consistently received distinguished awards and recognition from the travel industry since first setting sail in 1998. These awards have included all aspects of the operation from dining and entertainment to youth activities and spa facilities.

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Located on the white sandy shores of O’ahu in Ko Olina, Hawai’i, Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa is a family paradise with a touch of magic – where everyone can enjoy amazing adventures, both together and on their own. With spectacular entertainment, an interactive kids club, themed pool areas, as well as an award-winning spa and incredible dining – Aulani is a whole new world of family fun.


Universal Orlando Keeps Pace with New CityWalk Openings

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CityWalk, the nightlife entertainment area at Universal Orlando Resort, is in the midst of a partial 2014 makeover that is helping the attraction keep pace with the rush of new Universal guests expected for this summer’s openings of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios theme park, and the nearby 1,800-room Loews Cabana Bay Beach Resort on the Universal Orlando campus.

Tom Schroeder, the vice president of corporate communications for Universal Orlando Resorts, introduced some of the restaurateurs involved in the entertainment area’s new look at a CityWalk event during the recent media preview of the upcoming opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

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CityWalk is the entrance to our resort and this year alone we are adding eight new venues,” said Schroeder. Among the new additions is Antojitos, a newly-opened Mexican restaurant that replaced the previous Latin Quarter. The restaurant, with the friendliest staff we encountered during our days at Universal, turned into a winning margarita-and-taco bar Cinco de Mayo-style fiesta during a brief media visit that we were reluctant to end. Already established at CityWalk is Red Box Pizza, which is located close to the CityWalk movie complex. Another is the Hot Dog Hall of Fame, soon to open on a site that was formerly the Galaxy Bar.

A third new restaurant is Vivo, a lively and upscale Italian restaurant that has already taken over the location of the former Pastamore Restaurant. A popular yogurt bar called Menchies is the place to create your own yogurt dessert, an attraction that replaced a former TCBY yogurt store. Opening soon is a unique dining concept called Cowfish, a “sushi burger bar” that has established its name in North Carolina as the place where diners can order sushi or burgers or a popular combination of both from the “Burgushi” menu. Yet another new concept is the Bread Box, a new take on the old neighborhood sandwich deli that replaces the former Cigarz cigar bar.

Steve Schussler, the culinary creator of Hot Dog Hall of Fame, said his outdoor hot dog stand, featuring baseball stadium style seating, will offer nine different hot dogs, 12 types of mustard and five kinds of buns for “best hot dog experience you have ever had.” Preview guests munched on Coney Island dogs, Chicago dogs, Boston dogs and several others that will soon be seen all over the CityWalk plaza. No opening date, however, was announced for the Hot Dog Hall of Fame.

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Guests Want “Authenticity”

Ric Florell, the senior vice president and general manager of resort revenue operations at Universal Orlando Resort, explained the thinking behind the changes at CityWalk. “At CityWalk we needed more focus on what guests wanted,” he said. “The Latin Quarter, for example, was successful but guests were telling us that instead of a Pan-Latin American concept an authentic Mexican Restaurant would be the next step up. Authenticity is very important to our guests.”

Florell noted that Red Box Pizza has already gained popularity for the specially imported Italian tomatoes and flour that have become signature ingredients of the pies on the menu. As for Cowfish, Florell described Universal’s excitement at discovering the hottest new food concept in North Carolina, a restaurant that eliminates the conflict between family members who want a traditional burger menu and those who want more diet-friendly sushi fish items.

“We are taking advantage of new things opening in our parks,” said Florell, noting that he is also responsible for the new Leaky Cauldron Restaurant in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, with its contemporary take on traditional British pub items including Ploughman’s Lunch, Fisherman’s Pie, Bangers & Mash, Fish ‘n Chips, Sticky Toffee Pudding and English Trifles.

“I’m surprised I don’t weigh 800 pounds,” said Florell with a laugh. “We are dedicated to all-natural ingredients and new food concepts are showing up in my office every day.”

Universal management promised that many of those new and “authentic” food concepts will be appearing at Universal CityWalk as the Universal Orlando Resort continues to grow in the months and years ahead.


What I Learned From Running My First Ultramarathon – Guest Blogger Kevin Bryniak

It’s now one month since I ran my first ultramarathon, the 50 mile individual of the Keys100 series (Marathon Key to Key West), and thought I’d take a moment to share my memories of the experience. For background, I’ve been a runner for most of my adult life, and though I’ve done numerous half and full marathons, this was my first attempt at a race longer than a marathon.

To start, let me say that this was, without question, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I knew that an ultra would be tough, but I really can’t describe the mental and physical struggle that race was for me. Beyond the obvious challenge that a race that long presents, I made a slew of stupid mistakes that nearly cost me any hope of finishing. In fact, had it not been for an unusually cool day (only 85 degrees or so, as opposed to the normal 90+ temperatures), I’m certain I would have dropped out.

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So, as for those mistakes, they really were “rookie” errors that I guess I have to blame on nerves. First, I messed up my hydration (sports drink instead of water), which soured my stomach. Then, since my stomach was upset, I wasn’t eating. So, there I was at mile 15 having had 2/3 of a LaraBar and maybe 16 ounces of liquid. Once my crew had the “light bulb” moment that I needed water and switched out my hydration pack, things improved a bit. The problem, of course, was that I had really burned through my energy stores in that first 15 miles, and was fighting an uphill hydration and nutrient battle for the rest of the race. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how vital my crew was to my finishing the race. Without their support, both verbal and supplies, I could not have finished the day.

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The other thing I realized during this race was how mentally tough it was to be out there for 14 hours with very few people around other than my crew, which I met at roughly 3 mile increments. If you’ve ever run a marathon, you may be used to seeing other runners and many spectators throughout the race. This race was a different animal, due to the length and the location. That said, the people I DID encounter made me understand why the ultra community is such a close-knit group. Any runner I saw took the time to talk to me about the race (how many have you done, how are you doing, etc.), and I started doing the same. It was these people, struggling through the same challenge, which kept me going.

Thinking back on the race, I remember how cramped I was at the end (I had to stop every 15 minutes to stretch my legs to keep the muscles moving) and how tired I was at the finish. I also remember how foolish I felt for going from 26.2 right to 50, without trying a 50K or 40 miler first. That said, I can’t wait to run my next 50.

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In the end, I learned something that I think applies to many of us, regardless of the distance we’re training to run. I learned that the body can do extraordinary things, as long as the mind stays focused on the goal. More importantly, I learned the reason I ran that race, and the reason that I’ll run longer races in the future. After all, until I try a distance and fail…and then try again and fail again…it’s only then that I’ll know my personal limitation.

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So, you’ll keep finding me out there, running longer and tougher ultramarathons until I finally can’t make the distance. It’s the only way I’ll really be able to learn what my body, and my mind, can handle.

Celebrating the Fourth of July at Disneyland Resort

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and Disneyland Resort is gearing up to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, concerts, and more! Here’s a look at some of the star-spangled highlights we’ve got planned for next week:

Disneyland park – “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” rockets into the air above Sleeping Beauty Castle. This special, fireworks spectacular will be presented on four different nights, July 1 – 4 at 9:25 p.m.

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band – This outstanding military band from Miramar, California, is returning to Disneyland park for another year! The band will be performing several times throughout the day on Friday, July 4.

Catch the band in a brief cavalcade along the parade route at 3:30 p.m., just ahead of the “Frozen” pre-parade and the first performance of Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.

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The band will help retire the colors at the Disneyland park flag retreat ceremony in Town Square at 5:30 p.m.

Immediately following the flag retreat, at 5:45 p.m., the full band will perform along the parade route, all the way back to “it’s a small world.”

Finally, you can enjoy the full band in concert on the stage of the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, starting at 7:15 p.m.

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Disney California Adventure park – On July 4, a special patriotic pre-show will be presented at the start of both the 9 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. performances of “World of Color.”

“Glow With the Show” – Don’t forget to bring along your “Glow with the Show” Ears (or pick up a pair)! Those interactive, light-up Ear Hats magically become part of the fireworks at Disneyland park and “World of Color” and its patriotic pre-show at Disney California Adventure park.

To help you get in the spirit, here’s a look at last year’s production of “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky.” Who’s ready for some red, white, and blue?!


Inspiration of Aulani With Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde

Disney Parks Blog interviewed Joe Rohde, creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, about his inspirations for the design of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Joe’s career has included such iconic projects as Disney’s Animal Kingdom; Expedition Everest; Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; and the upcoming AVATAR-inspired land at Walt Disney World Resort.  Joe shares some of the magic and tradition behind what makes Aulani unlike anywhere else in the world.

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What is the significance behind the arch logo for Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa?

The curved arch is based on a traditional Hawaiian canoe house as echoed in the framing of the Maka‘ala lobby as well as in the resort’s physical layout.

What was the inspiration for the Maka‘ala lobby?

Maka‘ala does several things all at once. It is a warm and welcoming place that expresses the spirit of aloha, acceptance and inclusion. But it also announces that this place – where you have arrived, Hawai‘i – is a special, unique and important place, and that there are stories to be learned here that you may not know … and LOTS of them. Lastly, it also suggests a feeling of elegance and artistry, which is consistent with true Hawaiian culture.

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What was the inspiration for the overall shape and design of Aulani and the Waikolohe Valley?

The resort was designed to reflect the sense of a Hawaiian valley opening out toward the ocean from highlands to lowlands. This organization has many connotations. One is the ahupua’a, the traditional organization of land that followed a watershed from the mountains to the sea and knitted all members of the community together in a working relationship and a functional sustainable relationship to the land.

Another is a Hawaiian concept of time itself as flowing – like fresh water – from the past, which is in the mountains, to the future, which is in the sea. The architectural statements of Aulani tend to follow this organizational layout.

You know, of course, that Waikolohe means “mischievous water.” That name is simply meant to connote the playful aspect of the springs, which spray you from unexpected directions, and the presence of the Menehune. It is true that, along this part of the O’ahu coast, fresh water comes from springs, and we wanted to reflect that but in a fun, mischievous way.

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Hawaiian canoes are seen throughout Aulani. Why are canoes such a key aspect of the design?

We wanted to use little clues here and there to celebrate the great canoe tradition of Hawai`i, because these canoes are at the very heart of what makes Hawaiian culture Hawaiian. Without these canoes there would be no Hawaiians at all. They express the highest form of artistry, engineering, symbolic meaning, purposefulness and social cooperation that Hawaiian culture stands for. In particular, we wanted to celebrate the Hokulea, the canoe that awakened the Hawaiian cultural revival in the 1970s and continues today on its worldwide voyage.


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Royal Caribbean Reveals Entertainment Options For Quantum Of The Seas

Entertainment on Quantum of the Seas will be the “complete package deal,” similar to what you’d find in Las Vegas, said ship godmother Kristin Chenoweth during a live Google Hangout broadcast from the Bellagio hotel there. Alongside Nick Weir, vice president of entertainment for Royal Caribbean International, Chenoweth revealed some details of what entertainment cruisers can expect when Quantum launches in November of this year.

Here are highlights from the Google Hangout -

 

Entertainment will center around three main venues: Two70, the Music Hall and Royal Theater.

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Two70
Taking what Royal Caribbean calls a “futuristic” approach, the 450-seat Two70 will pair advanced technology with dancers, singers, aerialists and musicians to deliver a series of shows that Weir and Chenoweth had a difficult time describing. Instead, they showed a visual mockup that merges the vibrant animation of Avatar with the artistry of Cirque du Soleil.

The visuals will appear via a floor-to-ceiling window of digital screens over 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall that will be able to create any scene, real or imagined. Combined with these will be six moveable Roboscreens, which measure seven feet high and can twist and turn.

The 270-degree nature of the venue will enable audience members to feel like they’re part of the performance, Chenoweth said.

In addition to the special effect- laden main shows, like Starwater (which Weir admitted is still in the creation phase), that will appear in Two70, the space will also host a series of virtual concerts with “premier” musicians, groups and bands. Royal Caribbean would not elaborate on who would be performing.

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Royal Theater
In addition to the already announced Mamma Mia, Quantum of the Seas’ Royal Theater will be home to one other main show, as well as 3D movies.

Sonic Odyssey is a musical show created by 2013 America’s Got Talent contestant William Close that combines the ethereal music of his gigantic Earth Harp with a 136-drum Drum Wall, a Vocal Percussion Jacket and Violin Dress. The show also will incorporate singers, dancers, aerialists and gymnasts to tell a story through music and movement.

Royal Theater could also play host to special performances by artists like, say, Kristin Chenoweth herself. Though Chenoweth would not confirm it, she did say that Royal Theater is the venue she would choose.

She also joked, with a smirk, that there may or may not be a Kristen Chenoweth performance during the ship’s naming ceremony.

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Music Hall
An intimate space that melds the stage with the dance floor, Music Hall will be the main live music venue onboard Quantum. Here passengers will find tribute bands covering the likes of The Beatles, Bee Gees, Journey and Bon Jovi; an after-the-show Mamma Mia! cast party; and Wink, a “class and sass” adults-only late night show.

All shows will be free, though Weir said Royal Caribbean is looking at opportunities to charge for exclusive entertainment offerings in the future. Weir defended the move by saying other lines are doing the same. Carnival Cruise Lines has already begun charging for some entertainment with its Carnival Live concert series.

Quantum of the Seas is the first ship in the much-anticipated Quantum Class. It will bring to the sea innovations like a sky-diving simulator, the North Star — a jewel-shaped glass capsule that extends 300 feet above the ship for 360-degree sea views — the Seaplex sports and entertainment complex and Dynamic Dining, a concept that dispatches with the traditional main dining room in favor of multiple, more flexible options.

The ship launches November 2014, sailing seven- to 12-night itineraries to the Caribbean and Bahamas, before moving to Shanghai in June 2015.


Disneyland Paris Debuts New Ratatouille Attraction

Disneyland Paris previewed La Place de Rémy – a new area dedicated to the Disney•Pixar movie “Ratatouille.” The special themed-area will bring the storybook world of Ratatouille to life when it officially opens in just weeks – on July 10, 2014.

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The dedication of La Place de Rémy happened in Walt Disney Studios Park at a ceremony that included Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger, as well as Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney SAS Philippe Gas, and stars from the film.

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“When we turn amazing worlds that may only exist in our imaginations or on film into multi-dimensional theme park experiences, we give our guests the opportunity to step into a story that they love. And Ratatouille is a fantastic example of that,” Tom said.

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La Place de Rémy will feature the new Ratatouille, l’Aventure Totalement Toquee de Remy attraction that whisks guests into a crazy, culinary adventure in one of the capital’s most chic dining establishments, Chez Gusteau, offering a comical rat’s eye view into the world of Remy. Guests begin their adventure on the rooftops of Paris before boarding ratmobiles to scurry though the restaurant’s cold store and dining room overseen by the intimidating Chef Skinner.

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And with a design inspired by the French capital represented in the movie, the area will also include Bistrot Chez Rémy, a table-service restaurant, and a special boutique, Chez Marianne (Souvenirs de Paris) – which opens at the end of the 2014.


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Disney Cruise Line Navigator App Now Available On Disney Wonder

Following its launch on Disney FantasyDisney Dream and the Disney Magic, the new Disney Cruise Line Navigator app is now available on the Disney Wonder.

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If you have upcoming reservations on the Disney Wonder, you will receive an email notifying them about this free app.

Prior to their your departure, you can download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store, allowing you to experience the convenience of having the Personal Navigator in an electronic version right at your fingertips once on board.

Watch the following video to find out how the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app can help create a unique onboard experience for you.


Universal Announces Grand Opening of Diagon Alley

diagon-announcment Start planning your summer now because soon you’ll be able to experience more of Harry Potter’s adventures than ever before! Find out what awaits inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort, including your chance to ride the Hogwarts Express! Don’t miss the LIVE WEBINARS from Universal Orlando Resort where you can get sneak peeks of the new Diagon Alley!  Click To Find Out More


Walt Disney World Welcomes New B Resort and Spa

The all-new B Resort & Spa, located in Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort, officially opens its doors next week. The much-anticipated arrival of the B Hotels & Resorts brand in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., brings a burst of contemporary style and an approachable lifestyle hotel experience to Orlando’s Tourism Corridor.

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Rising from the site of the former Royal Plaza Hotel, B Resort & Spa is set in the heart of the Downtown Disney area, minutes from Walt Disney World Theme Parks and the Orange County Convention Center.

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Following a massive, top-to-bottom redesign, the new 394-room resort offers luxurious appointments, modern touches, innovative technologies, unique activities and ample event space.

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“B Resort & Spa is the first resort designation for the B Hotels & Resorts brand and we are thrilled to introduce travelers to such an incredible, unique product in one of the world’s top business and leisure travel destinations,” said Keith Wolling, the property’s general manager. “This is a four-star resort with attractive prices and a team that is committed to delivering unforgettable, customized experiences to virtually every type of traveler.”

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The new B Resort & Spa offers an outstanding array of signature offerings and amenities, including:

  • Inspiring, playful design -B Resort & Spa’s stylish lobby features white marble floors, soaring ceilings and comfortable yet lively lounge areas that invite guests to work, socialize and relax. In the corridors off the lobby, bright pops of color come from the B Artistic exhibition, a contemporary art gallery showcasing the vibrant Central Florida arts scene. Guest rooms and suites are appointed with sleek blue-and-white décor and floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of the area’s theme parks, lakes, and evening fireworks celebrations. Rooms are equipped with designer furnishings, the signature Blissful Bed®, large HD LED interactive flat-screen televisions and a B Treated Box of whimsical (and affordable, at $5 each) in-room snacks. Complimentary gaming consoles are available upon request. Many rooms also feature bunk beds, kitchenettes and wet bar
  • Innovative technologies – Guests can B in touch with resort-wide FreeB Wi-Fi (complimentary wireless internet access), complimentary loaner iPads and the Monscierge digital concierge service and destination guide. Custom-designed for each B property, the Monscierge touchscreen and mobile app provide useful information, from hotel amenities to flight updates, even allowing printing capabilities of boarding passes from a lobby screen to the front desk. Also with Monscierge, guests can B Adventurous with access to unlimited localized content, such as tips on excursions, dining and sightseeing adventures within the destination.
  • Zero-entry pool and relaxation area – A heated outdoor pool is the perfect place to decompress and enjoy the afternoon at B Resort & Spa, with interactive water elements, a nearby kids’ zone and a pool bar and grill.
  • Stylish, flexible function space – With state-of-the-art ballrooms, several boardrooms and an expansive 5,000-square-foot terrace, B Resort & Spa offers more than 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting and celebration space. Guests will revel in new options for enchanting weddings, meetings and other private functions in this world-class destination.
  • B Humane – As part of the brand’s B Humane program, each guest room has a plush toy gopher frog, a species indigenous to Central Florida, perched on the bed. Guests can “adopt” the stuffed animal to take home, with a portion of the proceeds from sales going to the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, a nonprofit organization that helps protect the preservation of Florida’s fish and wildlife resources and their habitats.
  • Unique food and beverage offerings – Opening on the heels of the B Resort & Spa will be American Q, a new signature restaurant developed in partnership with restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow and China Grill Management. The renowned group, of China Grill and Asia de Cuba fame, is continuing its tradition of food and beverage innovation with the inaugural location of this concept. American Q puts a modern twist on classic barbeque, featuring specialties from regions throughout the U.S. and Latin America. Guests can expect spontaneous line dancing led by friendly “cowboy/cowgirl” servers and an appetizer and salad station served from the bed of a 1951, cherry-red, Ford F1 pickup truck.
  • For convenient grab-and-go fare, The Pickup, located just off the lobby, has a full coffee bar and ice cream shop, as well as a variety of snacks and sundries for on-the-go needs. Complimentary coffee is available daily until 11 a.m. B Resort & Spa also offers a pool bar and grill, customized catering menus for weddings and meetings, a specialty spa menu and 24/7 in-room dining.
  • B Indulged® Spa by AVEDA – Set to open later this summer, B Resort & Spa is home to the brand’s first full-service spa. Well-deserved after a fun-filled day at the area’s many theme parks or a productive business meeting, this haven nurtures the body and soul, pairing pure botanical products with the ancient science of AVEDA. Travelers can treat themselves to customized massages, facials, hair and makeup services and a nail boutique, as well as unique offerings for busy business men and women, children and teens. The adjacent B Active® Fitness Center features state-of-the-art exercise equipment.

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Crewing For The Keys 100

Have you ever participated in an Ultra Marathon? Recently myself and a friend of ours served as support crew for my husband who was participating in the 50 Mile Individual race of the Keys 100. Talking to others we soon realized that many ultra-runners consider this the step below the Badwater run in Death Valley.

Keys Banner

The weather in the Keys, while gorgeous if you’re coming to dive or sightsee is brutal for a runner. There is no shade during the race and any breeze you have dies away as soon as you get on the island. With a 9:45am start time for the 50 mile race the sun is already blazing and it’s going to be a long day. The 50 mile racers have until 2:00am to finish the race.

So what does support crew do? The basic answer is you follow your runner in a car, meeting them at approved locations along the route, providing them with what they need at any given point. This might be food, water, sunscreen or even a muscle massage. We had the car stocked with everything from chill towels, sunscreen, first aid items to extra running clothes and food. We were also there for moral support…after all, your runner is facing 50 miles in the Florida Keys….it’s not a piece of cake.

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We learned a lot on that race, our first time crewing. There were things we just didn’t think about bringing, from a chair for our runner to sit on, to a high powered flashlight for crossing 6 lanes of highway in the pitch black lugging a cooler to meet our runner. We quickly started a list on our phones for next time. With it being our first time we weren’t sure what to expect, but we were quickly learning. We had made an error with hydration for our runner, giving him only Gatorade in his hydration pack which quickly soured his stomach after the 7 mile bridge making it hard to convince him to eat. And by mile 20 our concern was things were going to get worse if we couldn’t get some food in him. Thankfully the aid stations had Drip-Drop, a medical grade powder to combat dehydration. We got some of that into him and some food and things started to look up…but we were far from the finish. It’s things like this you have to be prepared for.

The camaraderie on throughout the day is amazing! We talked with other runners support crew and learned about them and their racers. We cheered on our runner, but others as well. We shared supplies with others who might have needed something. You really are a family out there dedicated to getting every runner to the finish safely.

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I wouldn’t have thought it would be so exhausting to crew for a runner, after all, I figured we’re basically there to drive the car and provide supplies. But the hours in the sun, worried about your runner, rushing around to be sure you can give them what they need when you meet them really takes its toll. We were out there for 14 hours with our runner.

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Some tips for those crewing:

1.  Try to think outside the box when you are stocking the car with supplies…a chair for your runner to sit on is essential. Don’t forget safety gear for yourself once it’s dark depending on the race start time.

2.  Bring extra of everything…we ended up sharing some food & band-aids with other teams who either ran out or didn’t have some items packed.

3.  Make sure you are taking care of yourself…we were sunburned quite a bit even though we applied sunscreen. You have to take care of yourself to take care of your runner

4.  Have a plan ready in case your runner is exhausted, physically hurting or thinking of stopping the race. What will you say if they say they can’t finish…you need to know when they truly can’t and when they are tired. We watched other runners that had to take themselves out of the race because they just weren’t able to go on. You need to be able to give your runner “permission” if they ask you if it’s okay to stop or ask your opinion, assess the situation and give your honest answer.

5.  Be aware of what the aid stations have to offer your runner….like us, it may become necessary to take advantage of things like the Drip-Drop to help your runner along.

6.  Drive the race route the day before and discuss with your runner points that you may want to meet them, talk about the expected pace they will have and make sure you have a way to stay in touch with your runner during the race.

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Article Author – Carrie Bryniak

carrie-bryniakI am your friendly Travel Professional with Kingdom Magic Vacations and a runner as well.  My first RunDisney Race was in 2010, the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay…and since then I’ve been hooked on Disney races and others.  Some of my favorites are the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, the Turtle Krawl 5K and the USA Beach Running Championships.  If you’re a runner and you need help with travel plans for a race, don’t hesitate to contact me!  I’m here to help you and support your efforts!

Club Disney Opens at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Young guests can discover favorite Disney stories in a new way at Club Disney at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

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This new children’s activity center is inspired by classic Disney Little Golden Books such as Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp and Alice in Wonderland. Imagination runs wild as timeless tales unfold in storybook-themed play areas. Young guests will enjoy activities including storytelling, movies, crafts, dress-up and more while parents enjoy a night out at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Child-Sized Fun at New Club Disney

Reservations are now available for kids ages 3-12. Contact your Kingdom Magic Travel Planner for more information.

Don’t forget! The addition of Club Disney is just one part of an overall renovation of this iconic resort, which includes a re-imagined feature pool, new food and beverage offerings and an expansive new lobby area.


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