Showing posts with label orlando. Show all posts
Showing posts with label orlando. Show all posts

Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration - New Details Released!

In this artist rendering, Cinderella Castle shines with new golden and EARidescent décor at Magic Kingdom Park as part of “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” which begins Oct. 1, 2021, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)


The Walt Disney World Resort celebrates its 50th Anniversary on October 1, 2021 and Disney Parks has just announced new details about a celebration that one soon won't forget.  The party will last 18 months so guests will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the magical offerings!

Beacons of Magic at All 4 Walt Disney World Theme Parks




This birthday celebration won't be confined to just Magic Kingdom as all four parks get in on the party!  Cinderella Castle will continue its transformation with gold bunting added and a 50th anniversary crest.  The illumination after dark will give guests a pixie dusted experience.  EPCOT, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Disney's Hollywood Studios will also feature some of the EARidescent sparkle as you can see in the images above.  I don't know about you, but I love these colors and think this will look amazing after dark all around Walt Disney World!

The End of Extra Magic Hours: What it Means for Your Disney Parks Vacation

Mickey Mouse pauses on Main Street, U.S.A. just before sunrise prior to the phased reopening of Magic Kingdom Park, July 11, 2020, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)


Disney Parks shared several announcements this week that have big impacts on your future Disney vacations.  The end of Disney's Magical Express and Extra Magic Hours mean that some of those "free" perks of staying on site at a Walt Disney World hotel have ended.  But with Extra Magic Hours, has it really changed?  Or is this an evolution that may not be so bad?

What were Extra Magic Hours?

Extra Magic Hours have been in place at Walt Disney World Resort for years now and provided guests staying on site or at a "good neighbor" hotel the chance to enter a selected park one hour early and stay late at a selected park each day.  Early birds and night owls often made use of this advantage to squeeze in more fun without a little less crowding. 

Buh-bye Magical Express: How to Get From Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World Resort


2021 is starting off where 2020 ended. . .more bad news.  This week, Disney fans were dealt a few blows including the end of Extra Magic Hours, so long to Disneyland Annual Passports, and the end of Disney's Magical Express Service beginning January 1, 2022.  I saw such a huge reaction on social media to this announcement - and for good reason.  Disney's Magical Express has been a staple in helping guests get to their resorts from Orlando International Airport for years - since 2005 to be exact.  So what does the end of Magical Express mean for your Walt Disney World Resort vacation?  What options do you have to get to your Disney resort property now?

Ride Share / Taxis

Let's start with probably the most obvious answer that comes to mind.  We all know that Uber, Lyft, and other ride share and taxi services are popular in tourist areas and Orlando is no different.  You can easily find these options at the airport and they will happily whisk you away to your happily ever after.  While many of us already are familiar with these services, there are a few downsides to note when deciding if this is right for you.  If I was traveling alone or just with my husband, this may be a great option.  But if I'm a mom juggling oodles of suitcases, worried about car seats, and wondering if my stuff will fit in the car that arrives, this option may stress me out a bit.  I have NEVER traveled with a car seat - which says something when you think about how much we traveled with our kids.  We always found options that guaranteed us car seats at our destination when needed.  To me, this is the biggest downfall of ride shares.  There are a lot of extra steps for young families.  The price is right though and this may be the best option for families with older kids and adult travelers.

Top 10 Posts of 2020



2020 was a crazy year - that goes without saying!  But, we had a lot of fun still here at Running on Pixie Dust and I'm excited to take a look back with you at my top 10 posts of the year.  From running to recipes, travel and family, there's a little something for everyone!

10.    Family Guide to Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando - Before COVID hit, we had the chance to visit Orlando in January and spent two days exploring SeaWorld with the kids.  This was the first time I had been to the park in 25 years and so much had changed.  We loved exploring Sesame Street Land with our boys!


9.    Holiday Gift Guide for Runners - I've been lucky this year to join the BibRave Pro Ambassador family and as such have had the chance to try out some amazing running gear.  I compiled a list of some of my favorites to share with you in a holiday gift guide which became a very popular post in Decemeber!

8.    Hersheypark Seasonal Events 2020 - If you've read my site over the past few years, you'll know that Hershey, PA is one of my favorite places to visit.  I was excited to share with my readers the awesome activities that took place in the fall and winter - Hersheypark in the Dark and Christmas Candylane.  These are annual favorites and we can't wait for next year to hopefully be back to normal so we can enjoy more time in the "Sweetest Place on Earth!"

Walt Disney World Is Open For Business!

I miss Goofy hugs!

"There's a great big, beautiful tomorrow. . ."

And that day is here.  Following the closure of Walt Disney World Resort due to the coronavirus pandemic, the resort has been in the process of re-opening for weeks beginning with Disney Springs, followed by select resorts, and now the parks.  While things look different - masks, reservation systems, temperature checks, characters, dining - there can still be magic to be found.  While I haven't been to Florida and won't be going any time soon, several of my local friends have been out and about covering the re-opening.  Here's a quick round-up of their coverage!

Disney Springs Re-Opening


Disney Springs was the first destination on Walt Disney World Resort property to reopen.  My friend Meg from www.megforit.com was at Disney Springs on opening day.  Check out her report at what you can expect in this YouTube video.


Since opening day, more has reopened in Disney Springs like my favorite restaurant, Chef Art Smith's Homecomin'!  

Guests Return to Walt Disney World Resorts


Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Resort properties around Walt Disney World have been slowly reopening, beginning with some DVC fan favorites.  While not all resorts are opening at this time, you can find availability and even book new reservations for a 2020 stay.  My friend Brandon has his YouTube channel Expedition Neverland and shared this video of his stays at both Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian.  


Looking for reviews on some hotels around Walt Disney World, both on and off property?  Check out my list of resort reviews!


If you're interested in booking a Walt Disney World vacation package, visit my friends over at Get Away Today (Affiliate Link).  There really has never been a better time to use a travel agent with so much uncertainty in the air.  Take the guess work out of your vacation planning and leave it to the experts!

Walt Disney World Resort Park Previews


Disney's Hollywood Studios

Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom are scheduled to reopen to the general pubic on July 11 with EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios following on July 15, but both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have had some special cast member and Annual Passholder preview days ahead of time.  While there can be varying stories found on social media, the overall feedback seems to be pretty positive.  More details about how Disney is asking everyone to do their part for health and safety can be found here on the Disney Parks Blog.

In the meantime, check out my friend Tina from Footprints in Pixie Dust and her visit to Magic Kingdom Park during the Annual Passholder Preview! 

Update on the AP Preview! What did we ride? Where we eat? Whom did we see? What can you expect?

Posted by Footprints in Pixie Dust on Thursday, July 9, 2020


Not able to visit the Disney Parks?  Catch some fun movies on Disney+ to add some magic to your summer at home!



Walt Disney World will certainly be a different vacation destination for some time.  However, I was happy to see characters and fun interactions around the parks, even if they weren't the same as in the past.  If you're planning a trip soon, pay close attention to the latest phased re-opening news as announcements come frequently about updates to the systems in place!  See ya real soon pals!

SeaWorld Orlando - The Best Roller Coaster

SeaWorld Orlando - Entrance to Manta

When vacationers think of Orlando theme parks, SeaWorld usually comes to mind, but might not be at the top of lists.  While it's true that there is a lot for young kids to love here (sea animals, Sesame Street Land, cute shows, and much more!), there is plenty of adventure for adults as well.  While I had done my research and heard that there were some stellar coasters at SeaWorld Orlando, I wasn't quite prepared for how amazing some of the rides would be.  With three big coasters - Kraken, Manta, and Mako - roller coaster fans will find plenty to enjoy. Let's break down each ride and I'll share which one was my favorite.

SeaWorld Orlando - Roller Coasters and Quick Queue Pass


Before we start, I should mention that my family and I had purchased Quick Queue passes for the day we were at the park.  Unlike FastPass+ at Walt Disney World, there are no "freebies" that come with your admission ticket.  We found Quick Queue Unlimited passes on a Black Friday sale so we figured it was worth it to give it a go.  This got us unlimited access to most of the popular rides including Mako, Manta, Infinity Falls, Wild Arctic, Antartica: Empire of the Penguin, Journey to Atlantis, and Kraken.  It was a good value to not have to wait in lines with little kids and also allowed us to revisit our favorite attractions again and again.

Traveling with little ones to SeaWorld? Visit my guide to Sesame Street Land!

SeaWorld Orlando - Mako

SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - Mako


Let's first talk about Mako.  Mako is currently Orlando's tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster.  At speeds in excess of 73 MPH and at a height of more than 200 feet, you certainly feel that distinction as a thrill seekers dream.  Mako does not go upside down so riders are restrained with a lap bar in open car seating which makes the coaster feel even more exciting.  I love that sensation of your butt lifting off a seat while you ride a coaster and you will certainly have that feeling time and time again here!! 

SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - Manta


Talk about a roller coaster that is unique!  Manta was my first experience riding a roller coaster from the "flying" position.  That's right!  Inspired by the beautiful and majestic Manta Rays, this coaster takes guests from a seated loading position to flying before you leave the station.  It felt a little awkward as your body is strapped in so tightly.  I enjoyed the unique ride experience, but felt that between the restraint and being in the middle row, I didn't really "see" anything while riding.  I'd love the chance to go back again and ride from the front row.  One of the coolest sensations on the ride was skimming the water - just like a sting ray! 

SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - Kraken


The most traditional of the roller coasters at SeaWorld in my opinion is Kraken, but even this ride has a non-traditional twist as Orlando's only floorless coaster.  Guests sit up right and wear over-the-should harnesses to prepare for twists, turns, loops, and heights of over 150 feet.  It's fast and full of adventure, just like the mythical Kraken it's named after!  While I enjoyed this ride, I did feel like it was something I had "done" before.  
SeaWorld Orlando - Manta


SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - What's My Favorite?


Time for the big reveal!  (Although the excitement of which I wrote about them may have given something away.)  While I love trying new things and Manta was certainly unlike anything else I have ever experienced, nothing quite excites me like the pure speed and height of Mako.  Wowsa!  That roller coaster will leave you catching your breath and begging for more.  I had so much fun riding it and look forward to riding again!

Have you been to SeaWorld Orlando before?  Which coaster is your favorite??

Find out more about the reopening of SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World Resort following the COVID closures here!


Walt Disney World Resort Re-Opening: What We Know!!!

Slinky Dog Dash at Disney's Hollywood Studios

It's coronation day!

Well, not quite. . .but for Walt Disney World fans it's kind of the same thing.  For the first time in forever, Walt Disney World Resort is preparing to open the gates again!! On May 27th, Walt Disney World presented to the Orange County Task Force about their plans.  While I'm sure more will be shared in the days and weeks ahead, this is what we know so far.

Walt Disney World Re-Opening


As always, for the latest information, visit the Walt Disney World website and the Disney Parks Blog.

With announcements from Universal Studios Orlando and Legoland Orlando, Disney fans have been patiently waiting their turn.  Here's what Disney shared:
  • Reopening of the parks begins on July 11th with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Both EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios will follow suit on July 15th.
  • No parades or fireworks for now.  Disney is limiting these in park events that draw large crowds and said they plan to have them return "at a later date."
  • No character meet and greets, no makeovers, no playgrounds - for the time being.  They do mention that characters will be around the parks though.
  • Limited capacity means you'll need an advanced reservation to enter the park.
  • Currently new tickets and new hotel reservations are not being accepted.  Disney is working with guests who have existing reservations first before allowing new reservations to be accepted.
  • Masks are a must for everyone 3 and over.
  • Temperature checks will also be required prior to park entry.
  • Of course, increased cleaning and disinfection will be a priority around the park.
  • DVC resorts at Walt Disney World will begin reopening for members and guests on June 22 along with Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  Hilton Head and Vero Bech Resorts will begin reopening June 15.

It's never too early to plan your next WDW vacation! Find all the details on Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and celebrating the holiday season at Walt Disney World here!


SeaWorld Announces Re-Opening Plans Too!


Not to be outdone by Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando also announced their plans to reopen at the same Orange County Task Force meeting:
  • June 11th reopening for SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove.
  • Masks required for guests 2 years and older.
  • Temperature checks prior to park entry.
  • Limited capacity in pools and rivers.
  • Hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit of each ride.
  • Character interactions and parades may be modified to promote social distancing.
  • Increased cleaning procedures and practices to promote social distancing. 

For the latest information on SeaWorld, visit the official SeaWorld website.

Planning a visit to SeaWorld, check out my guide to Sesame Street Land!


So what do you think?  We all know that visiting theme parks this summer will be unlike anything we've ever experienced before.  Will you be joining those braving the parks, or watching and waiting to see how things go?  

Family Guide to Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando

Bert and Ernie
SeaWorld Orlando has been a popular family destination in Central Florida for many years now, but the recent addition of Sesame Street Land gives young families even more to love.  This new land opened in Summer 2019 and adds so much fun for little ones when visiting SeaWorld.  Before our visit, I had a lot of questions and I want to share answers to some of those questions that may be on your mind too as you plan your visit!

What is in Sesame Street Land?


A lot!! In this relatively small corner of the park, you'll find 6 rides - all perfectly sized for pint sized visitors, a playground area, a splash pad, shopping, interactive displays, food trucks, character greetings, and a parade.  See. . .it's a lot!  At the time of our visit, my boys were 4 and 7 which was perfect for visiting.  Throughout most of the rest of SeaWorld, my youngest was too little for almost all of the rides, but here he could do everything.  His favorite was the Cookie Drop.  My oldest is still a little shy when it comes to roller coasters, but the Grover themed roller coaster here had him all smiles - he rode it 3 times in a row!  The interactive displays are all very well done too.  You can actually walk along Sesame Street ringing doorbells, knocking on Oscar's trashcan, racing bicycles, and building monsters.

Give the Gift of a Family Vacation!

This holiday season, why not give the gift of a family vacation to the ones you love?  What better way is there to celebrate the season then creating family memories that will last a lifetime?? You've heard me share about the specials my friends at Get Away Today have had in the past, but Black Friday deals keep getting better and better!  Check out information below on specials for not only California, but Florida travel too.

Disneyland Travel - Get Away Today still has Adult's at Kid's prices on 3 day or longer tickets for Disneyland.  This is good on a variety of tickets including park hoppers or one park per day and can be used with or without MaxPass.  There are no blackout dates and they are good through the end of 2020!  Purchase your discount tickets to Disneyland Resort here.

Southern California Combo Ticket - Looking to plan a longer visit to Southern California?  You can combine the above Disneyland ticket deal with savings on other popular SoCal attractions like Universal Studios Hollywood and LEGOLAND, plus get an EXTRA combo discount to save even more on these tickets.  No promo code is required - you'll see the savings pile up in your cart! Check out the Southern California Combo savings here.

And For The East Coast - No need to fear!  We get included on the fun with this Black Friday Sale!  You can save an extra $10 off tickets for Florida attractions like Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando off of the already discounted prices offered through Get Away Today.  Use code BLACKFRIDAYFL to access this savings.  For more on Florida deals, click here.

Don't forget to use my special code PIXIEDUST to save even more when you book a vacation package including tickets and hotel stay.  Visit soon though!  There is limited availability on some of these deals and they ALL expire on December 2nd!  Happy traveling my friends!

I'm an affiliate partner with Get Away Today.  That means that while you're saving money on some amazing vacations, I may also earn a small commission.

The Edison at Disney Springs

If you've visited Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort in recent years, you have noticed the addition of more great restaurants and stores making this a top destination for visitors to Orlando. The Edison is no exception to the reputation for delicious food and a fun atmosphere.  My visit in October 2018 was a Saturday lunch reservation with one of my good friends who moved to Orlando a few years prior.  The outside presents as an industrial throwback and welcomes guests with a patio and ample outdoor seating.  It's located in The Landing of Disney Springs near some other favorites such as Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' and Morimoto Asia.

Upon entering the restaurant, the industrial theming from the outside continues.  A large clock greets customers while you check in and wait for your table.  We were seated promptly at our reservation time and found the restaurant only partially full on a Saturday afternoon at 1:00.  With the expansion of dining options in Disney Springs, availability for many of them can be found, especially if you can be flexible with days or times. On our way to the table, we walked past several recreations of inventions from the past.  There are also many casual seating options in the restaurant such as oversized chairs and couches.  The vibe inside the restaurant reminds of The Great Gatsby and a throwback to the 1920s. It's a multi-level restaurant as well which adds to the visual interest. I have seen events advertised here featuring jazz music on select evenings - this looks like a fabulous place to enjoy an evening out at Disney Springs!  While you probably wouldn't be bringing the kids out too late, it's worth noting that this does turn into an adult only (over 21) venue after 10PM.

Industry means comfort inside of The Edison
When we were seated at our table, we found ourselves faced with an impossible choice of what to eat.  The lunch menu features a wide variety of favorites including burgers, sandwiches, seafood, and an assortment of soups and salads. I ended up opting for The Edison Burger while my friend decided to give the Fish Tacos a try.  The presentation and taste were both great on the fish tacos.  My friend shared that the Mahi-Mahi was cooked perfectly and the tastes were bold and flavorful.  I'm really glad I chose The Edison Burger too.  After a few days of trying to eat healthy while working, I went all out on my final meal in Disney. The burger was topped with cheddar cheese, crispy onions, bacon, special sauce and french fries on the side - this was close to heaven on a plate!  I regret not giving the Clothesline Candied Bacon a try after seeing this served as an appetizer to the table next to us.  It features an assortment of bacon literally hanging on a cute little table sized clothesline. There's always next time, right?!?

How great does this burger look?
So what were my overall thoughts on The Edison?  I'd definitely recommend it to friends and family looking for good food and a casual, fun environment.  It's certainly a family friendly spot for lunch or dinner.  Guests can expect pricing in line with most non-signature table service restaurants in Disney with main dishes ranging between roughly $15 and $30.  With so many great places to eat in Disney Springs and throughout the Walt Disney World Resort it's truly becoming harder and harder to make decisions when planning your advanced dining reservations.  Featuring a menu that I would describe as classic American fare, this is one place where the whole family will be able to find choices to suit them.  Bon appetite, friends!