Free things to do at Disney – Surely that can’t be true?

We all know how expensive it is to go on a Disney holiday but did you know that there are some pretty cool things you can do at the parks that don’t cost you any extra and might give you some extra souvenirs as well.

We all know about the badges you can get if you’re celebrating literally ANYTHING!! (you can pick these up from Guest Services…) but did you know that there are in park games you can play as well that will come with collectable cards and maps among other things.

If you’re lucky enough to be a frequent visitor to Disney then you might already know about these but some of them I’ve only just found out about so chances are there will be some people who don’t know so for those of you who go a lot then maybe I’ve given you something new to try!!

I know I’ll be doing some of these when I go this year!

MAGIC KINGDOM has Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom which is an interactive scavenger hunt game you play around the park using cards to cast spells to defeat the villians around the park.

You sign up for this free at the Fire House as you come into the park and you’re given instructions, maps and some free spell cards as well as your portal key which activates the ‘portals’ around the park to help you on your mission. There are actually 70 cards to collect and each person can have 1 set per day so even if your whole family isn’t playing they can scan their tickets and get the extra cards for you.

Sorcerers-of-the-Magic-Kingdom-Firehouse

There are several missions to complete and once you have completed one you’ll be told how to move onto the next and if you complete all you get to defeat Hades and then you can collect an extra set of cards so make sure you do that if you do get to do them all.

It’s a different way to see the park and it will give you some free keepsakes with the cards so it’s definitely worth a go. If you meet other gamers on your way round you may be able to trade cards with them as well 🙂

TOP TIP – Your portal key has a chip in which will save your progress so you don’t have to complete all the tasks in one day if you have more than one day in the park, this also allows you to get more cards to help on your mission. Each mission can take up to 30 minutes and it can take 5 hours to do all of them so it might be wise to spread them across a few days.

ANIMAL KINGDOM has Wilderness Explorers which is based on UP, this one we’ve done and it’s so much fun. We didn’t get to finish it so we’ll do the whole one this time.

It’s really good fun, you sign up at HQ near the entrance of the park – you can’t miss it – and are given a Wilderness Explorers handbook – bit like what you used to get at guides and brownies – and it shows you what badges you can get and gives you tasks to complete and questions you need to find the answers to.

You get given stickers – there are 30 to collect – and you get a special one at the end if you complete it all.

All the locations are shown on the park maps but you can spot them easily around the park by looking for these:

wilderness4

I really enjoyed doing this and it’s educational for kids as well, you learn all sorts of things about the animals and nature at Animal Kingdom. I’m intrigued to see what we can learn in Pandora!

EPCOT has 2 things you can do for free!! 2!!

You have the Kidcot fun stops all around the world showcase for the younger ones in the family. You’re given a free cardboard Duffy the Bear that you can colour in a section of at each of the stops around the world showcase. The cast member in each country will tell stories of where they’re from and give Duffy a stamp from that country.

We also did this last trip and the kids really enjoyed it. It’s a good way to have a little break as well walking round Epcot can be quite exhausting all the kidcot areas are air conditioned.

The areas are again all on the maps and are really easy to find.

For older children and those you can’t get away from their phones you have Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure based on Agent P from Phineas and Ferb. It’s a similar idea to Sorcerers in that it’s a scavenger hunt but with this one you’re given a FONE (Field Operative Notification Equipment) or you can connect with your own smart phone. You get clues via text that direct you to places in the world showcase to solve clues. There are several different missions in the showcase and each one can take up to 40 minutes to complete. Like Sorcerers it’s a really good way to see the park and being that the showcase is so big it will no doubt direct you to places you may not have seen if you were walking around on your own.

Sadly Hollywood Studios doesn’t have anything like this currently but what with Disney adding new things all the time who knows what may be there when Star Wars Land opens in a few years.

I love these little extra things that add to the magic, not only do they allow you to have a new experience when you’ve been to the parks before they also give you some really cool keepsakes you can take home with you.  And lets face it any souvenirs that are free are a good thing!!

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Blue Man Group – Is it worth it?

It’s always nice in Orlando to spend an evening catching a show and currently the 2 most popular and most well known are Cirque Du Soleil at Disney (Catch it quick it finishes in December) and Blue Man Group at Universal.

So many people ask about Blue Man and want to know what it is and if it’s worth watching. In a word. YES!!!

I am a huge fan of theatre shows and I know it’s a really bold statement but Blue Man is one of the most incredible ones I’ve seen. I could watch it again and again and again and not be bored.

You’ll find it in it’s own theatre just outside the entrance to Universal Studios, it’s  relatively small  so you will have a good view in any area. There are ‘poncho seats’ where you will get wet and covered in all manner of things including cereal…

It’s fully accessible and there are wheelchair seats if you need them but please book in advance.

It’s cheaper to buy before you go and most of the ticket resellers will sell them, tickets are around £40.

But what is it about? Anyone who’s had the luck to see this show will know how hard a question this is to answer because, quite frankly, it’s a bit odd!! But I shall give it a go…

The gist of it is that these ‘Blue Men’ are aliens who have come to our planet and are trying to understand how we live. That’s basically it. In a nutshell. Doesn’t sound too exciting but I promise you it will be one of the greatest (and strangest) things you ever see.

They use music, art, percussion, lots of paint and mime which I normally hate!

You’ve probably seen little bits of them on variety shows and things on TV where they paint things by spitting paint on a canvas, that is a VERY small part of the show and isn’t really a good representation of the things you see in it.

It is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen and they’re really really clever in that they’ve managed to create something that EVERYONE can understand. On my last trip the youngest was 6, the oldest 60 and we all laughed, at the same time. That doesn’t happen very often.

The show is really visual, some of the comedy is the old slapstick stuff that your grandparents love. They don’t speak. It’s incredibly clever the way that they manage to convey whatever message that they want without saying a word. There is a lot going on and it’s split into different ‘scenes’

There’s a bit of audience participation which starts literally as soon as you get in the theatre when you’re encouraged to read out loud from a screen which you may find your name on…

They do also come out into the audience and will stand right in front of you and stare at you, remember they are aliens who know nothing about us and what we are.  It can be a little odd but ultimately you will laugh at it.

All in all it’s a family friendly hilarious, colourful and fun show.  There’s a little video below to give you a little idea of the kind of thing that they do but honestly you must see this for yourself.  You will not be dissapointed!

It’s just over an hour so it’s not a long show and there is no interval. There’s 2 shows most days but obviously check the schedule.

The men will be around after so you can meet them like I did, they don’t hug you though they just put a blue thumb print on your head… I didn’t get one of those thankfully.

Make sure you go, it’s incredible!! And if anyone has seen it and has a way to actually describe it then I’d love to hear it!!

blueman

Character Dining in Orlando

One of the most fun things about being in Orlando – and Disney particularly – is the ability to dine with the Characters.

There is so much choice though so how do you decide on which one (or ones) that you want to do?

I thought I’d put together a little guide to all the Character Dining options in Disney (and the other parks) so hopefully I can help you choose which one(s) is best for you. I’ll include whether or not there are allergen/vegan options (although I will do a more extensive blog on eating with specific diets) and also a price guide and if it accepts dining plans and how many credits it uses.

The first thing I will say, as I thought this before I had done it, is that the characters don’t actually ‘dine’ with you. They come around to your table as you eat and do pictures and autographs while you’re there. The characters rotate and you don’t need to worry if you see one walk out as you walk in, that character will be back and your hosts always make sure your table isn’t missed out.

Another thing that’s a bit of a misconception is that you can only do the dining in the parks. There are places in resort hotels you can dine with characters and you don’t have to be staying there to do that. So if you’re on a trip to Orlando and you’ve done Disney before and don’t fancy the parks but do want a little of the magic. You can do this!!

Currently I’ve only done Chef Mickeys in Orlando and Cafe Mickeys in Paris so review wise I can only comment on those. However for our upcoming trip I’ve gone a bit mad on the character dining and so far have booked 4 character dining experiences (5 if you include Be Our Guest) I’m sure there will be more….

So let me start with the ones available in the parks!

All these are correct and available at time of writing but they do have one off dining events sometimes as well. Keep an eye on your MDE (My Disney Experience) for them.

MAGIC KINGDOM

Magic Kingdom has 3 in park character dining – I honestly thought there was more!!

Cinderellas Royal Table, The Crystal Palace and Tianas Riverboat Party

CINDERELLAS ROYAL TABLE is one of the most popular dining experiences in WDW and if you want to dine here you need to pre book. (a step by step guide on how to book dining via your MDE app can be found here)

The restaurant is inside the castle in Magic Kingdom and is one of the most stunning looking places to eat in the parks not to mention the incredible views you must have from inside the castle.

WHO CAN I MEET? Obviously this is Cinderella’s castle so you will get to see her. After doing a little bit of research it seems you meet her before you enter the dining hall and the others come around the tables. You will see Ariel, Aurora, Jasmine and Rapunzel here. Also Snow White on occasion. They do have different ones so just ask your server who it is that day.

WHAT CAN I EAT?

Breakfast you can have pastries and choose from a few different breakfast plates including a traditional American breakfast, Shrimp and Grits, Quiche and a healthy option. TOP TIP If you’re not staying on site and you want early entry to the park book in for breakfast.

Lunch and Dinner menu is pretty similar with Pork, Beef, Fish, Chicken and a vegetarian CousCous option. Puddings here look incredible and you can pre order the Cinderella shoe dessert for around $15. It comes in white and milk chocolate and you can have your own message written on it as well. You can view the full menu for it here and all the other restaurants on your MDE app.

ALLERGEN /VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes ask your server.

PRICE $35-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED?  Yes it requires 2 of your Table Service credits.

Extra info – it seems as though you need to turn up dead on your reservation time here you will not be let in any earlier. Wands and Swords will be provided for the children. I’m hoping I will get a wand as well but I guess we will see in a few months!!

THE CRYSTAL PALACE is found at the end of main street. Looking at it it reminds me a little of the Plaza Gardens at Disneyland Paris.

One of things I love about any of the character/themed dining in Orlando is how it can transport you to a different time/place. This restaurant looks beautiful.

WHO CAN I MEET? This is a Winnie the Pooh and friends experience so you will see Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Rabbit.

WHAT CAN I EAT?

This is a buffet restaurant and I do love a buffet!!

Breakfast buffet will be standard american breakfast regulars bacon, sausages (that look like burgers), biscuits and of course the infamous Mickey Waffles.  As well as pastries and fruit.

Lunch and Dinner are again the same with various meats and fish, salad and sides and vegetable ‘creations’

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes ask your server. They do have the Tofu ice cream in here.

PRICE $15-$35 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes it requires only 1 of your Table Service Credits.

TIANA’S RIVERBOAT PARTY Now this looks amazing!! I actually didn’t know about this one until recently.  This is actually ON the Liberty Square Riverboat and isn’t just dining. This is a dessert party with perfect viewing for the parade. It only runs once a day.

WHO CAN I MEET? After the parade and a little journey on the lake you are met by Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.

WHAT CAN I EAT? This is strictly for those of you with a sweet tooth. It’s cakes and ice cream so really my idea of heaven!!

tiana3

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Can’t find any info on this.

PRICE – $49 PER ADULT $29 PER CHILD

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? No

EPCOT

Epcot has 2 Character dining experiences.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and Garden Grill

AKERSHUS ROYAL BANQUET HALL is found in Norway in the World Showcase and is incredibly grand. It’s a nice alternative to Cinderellas Royal Table.

WHO CAN I MEET This is a Princess Dining experience and as with CRT they can change them around. Here you can meet Snow White, Belle, Aurora, Jasmine and Ariel. Anna and Elsa don’t appear at any of the dining.

On reading it seems that you do meet one of the Princesses before you go in, much like at CRT.

WHAT CAN I EAT? As you’d expect from being in the Norway pavilion the menu is Norwegian themed. It’s all all you can eat buffet.

Breakfast has the normal american staples but also a few other things found in a traditional Norweigan breakfast, meats and cheeses.

Lunch and Dinner are similar menus with a wide range of choices including the famous meatballs and various different fish dishes.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? A really extensive GF menu here and chefs are really great at walking you through and letting you know what you can eat being Vegan.

PRICE – $35-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? – Yes it requires 1 Table Service Credit.

THE GARDEN GRILL is in the Land pavilion in Future World and is a really cool rotating restaurant that rotates through different scenes of the Living with the Land ride which is underneath.  TOP TIP from the reviews I’ve read you will have a much better experience if you sit in one of the booths so be sure to request one.

WHO CAN I MEET? This is the only place you can meet ‘Farmer’ Mickey as well as Pluto and of course Chip and Dale who are the hosts of this particular dining experience.

WHAT CAN I EAT? This is a harvest style ‘family’ dining experience so although this is all you can eat. Its not a buffet. Your servers bring you round what is on the set menu and you can ask for more if you wish. A lot of the food is sourced from inside the ‘Land’ pavilion so the salad items will be different depending on what’s in season at the time.

Breakfast items are the same as everywhere else in Disney.

Again Lunch and Dinner are pretty similar. There are various different meats on the menu Turkey, pork and Pot Roast.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes, ask server for options esp Vegan as they can change according to season.

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 table service credit.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Hollywood Studios has only one permanent dining experience at Hollywood and Vine which is located opposite Echo Lake.

WHO CAN I MEET?  During Breakfast this is a Disney Jnr Play and Dine where you can meet Jake and Doc Mcstuffins, Sofia the First and Handy Manny. Lunch and Dinner will be Mickey, Minnie and friends. This is seasonal and changes throughout the year with them all dressed in seasonal outfits!

WHAT CAN I EAT? Breakfast is again the same as the other places in Disney. Lunch has a variety of different meats and nuggets and chips for the kids. Dinner has more choices including steak.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes both and quite extensive.

PRICE $35-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes 1 Table service credit.

N.B during some events they do have different offerings here such as Star Wars and Villian Dining. These may not be included as part of the dining plan.

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Animal Kingdom also only has one dining experience. The Donald Duck hosted Tusker House which can be found in Africa in AK.

WHAT CAN I EAT? Breakfast is slightly different here as the menu is African inspired so you’ll find some interesting new items you can try.  Most people I’ve spoken to have said this is the best breakfast in Disney..

Lunch and Dinner are the same menu roughly.

WHO CAN I MEET? Well this is Donald’s restaurant so you’ll meet him all dressed in his Safari gear with his friends.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes and very extensive. African food is all about flavour and a lot of vegetable dishes are available.

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table Service Credit.

DINING OUTSIDE OF THE PARKS

1900 PARK FAIR AT GRAND FLORIDIAN

This has really cool themeing based on an old Victorian Carousel (just like the one Mary Poppins brings to life)

WHAT CAN I EAT? It’s another all you can eat buffet. Breakfast here is a little different to the others with a lot of fresh fruit, smoked salmon and made to order omelettes. Brunch has some of the breakfast items and salads and the famous Floridian Strawberry Soup. Dinner menu combines some of the things from the brunch with a few extra meat dishes and a wide selection of veggie ones. And Sushi! (This is a bit of a posh one!)

WHO CAN I MEET? There are 3 different types of experience here (for each meal) Breakfast is Supercalifragilistic where you can meet Mary Poppins, Alice, Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Brunch there isn’t a list for but Dinner is Princess themed, although it changes all the time Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Ugly Sisters are a regular occurrence here.

There is also a Wonderland Tea Party here for children only 4-12 which is an hour of fun, games and stories with Alice and her friends.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS Yes, lots of veggies here. Ask server for the allergen menu.

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT FOR THE BUFFET AND $40 FOR THE TEA PARTY (CHILDREN ONLY)

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table service credit. Buffet only. Dining plan can not be used for Tea Party.

PERFECTLY PRINCESS TEA is also found at Grand Floridian and is a really pricey option for Character Dining at over $300 for 1 adult and 1 child. For Fruit, Sandwiches and Cake. You do get lots of Disney merchandise like dolls and jewellery but it would probably be cheaper to purchase them yourself!!

CAPE MAY CAFE is at Disney’s Beach Club resort with beach-side themeing throughout.

WHAT CAN I EAT? Character dining here is breakfast only and is the same sort of breakfast food at the other buffet offerings.

WHO CAN I MEET? Minnie and friends so usually Mickey and Donald and Pluto.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes as with the other breakfast ones.

PRICE $15-$35 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes,  1 Table Service credit.

CHEF MICKEYS is inside the Contemporary resort right next to Magic Kingdom and can be seen from the monorail.

WHAT CAN I EAT? It’s another buffet so breakfast food is the same including the famous Mickey Waffles. Brunch and Dinner are pretty similar with meats, fish and vegetable dishes. As well as some awesome puddings!!!

WHO CAN I MEET? Mickey and friends all dressed in chef outfits! We met Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN Yes

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table Service credit.

MICKEYS BACKYARD BBQ is at the Campsites at Fort Wilderness and is a little different as this is more like a dinner ‘show’ with music and line dancing with the characters.

WHAT CAN I EAT? Well it is a BBQ so you’ll have plenty to chose from with chicken, burgers, corn on the cob and plenty of sides.

bbq3

WHO CAN I MEET? Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Goofy all dressed in their best line dancing gear!

ALLERGEN/VEGAN There are a few vegan options but it is mostly meat. Servers will show you what you can eat if you have allergys.

PRICE OVER $60 PER ADULT – IT’S NOT CHEAP BUT IT IS ENTERTAINMENT AS WELL

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? Yes 2 Table Service credits for this one.

OHANA BEST FRIENDS BREAKFAST is in the stunning Polynesian resort just a short monorail ride from Magic Kingdom so along with Chef Mickeys is a fab choice to go for Breakfast on a Magic Kingdom day.

WHAT CAN I EAT? American Breakfast with a Polynesian twist. This is all you can eat but not a buffet. It’s family style so your food is bought to your table.

ohana3

WHO CAN I MEET? Lilo and Stitch!! And Mickey has been known to make an appearance as well. This is only during Breakfast there are no characters at other times of the day.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS Yes, ask server and they will accommodate.

PRICE $15-$35 PER ADULT

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table Service Credit.

That’s everything that I know of in Disney, they will have extra seasonal dining experiences as well so it’s worth checking on your MDE. You’re able to filter your search for dining to ‘Character Dining’ so have a look before you go especially if it’s during Halloween and Christmas time.

UNIVERSAL

There is only one permanent in park character dining experience here. The Superstar Character Breakfast at Cafe La Bamba in Universal Studios.

WHAT CAN I EAT? It’s a traditional American breakfast. All you can eat but you order from a menu and it’s bought to your table.

WHO CAN I  MEET? Minions!! and Gru!. We also saw Dora and Diego, EB and Fluffy from Hop, Spongebob, Patrick and Squidwart. However these can change around. This was one of the best character interactions we had.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes, but you need to advise when you book. There doesn’t seem to be any menus online for any of the Universal places although they do state they cater for food allergies/specific diets.

PRICE? $35 FOR ADULTS $20 FOR CHILDREN

This breakfast is also available in some of the Universal Hotels on select days as well.

During the Halloween Period you can Dine with the Scare Actors from the Halloween Horror Nights at the Monster Cafe and during Christmas you can eat Green Eggs and Ham with The Grinch.

Both Seaworld and Busch Gardens have previously had dining with Elmo and Friends however that seems to be off for this year but hopefully it’ll come back on.

If I’ve missed anything then please let me know and I’ll do an extensive review on all 7 that I’ve booked for this upcoming trip when I get back 🙂 Did you notice it was only 4 at the start of this blog? Writing and researching made me want to do more….

 

 

Orlando – When’s the best time to visit? What’s on this year?

This is probably one of the most asked questions from people who are planning a trip to Florida. The answer is a really hard one! Orlando is a great place to visit whatever time of the year and there’s plenty to do whatever season you’re there.

Many of you are tied to the school holidays when you visit and obviously during these times it will be a bit busier than term time but with fast passes available for all the parks you can somewhat avoid some of the queues.

Crowding aside what are the other deciding factors in choosing when you visit?  For me I like to go when some of the seasonal events are on. Some of these you will be well aware of and some you might not be. So, here’s a little guide to what annual events are on this year. And a little info on what sort of weather you’re likely to have .Hopefully this will help you decide when you visit or give you some other things to experience on your trip.

MARCH : Going this month there is loads to do!! Weather wise March is one of my favourite times to go. It’s hot but not too hot and I’ve never had any issues with storms or bad weather. You might need a light jacket if you’re out in the evenings but you can go to waterparks and the beach and not be cold and get a tan.

HOURS OF SUN IN MARCH – AVERAGE 9 HOURS PER DAY

Disney has the annual Flower and Garden festival which has all sorts of topiaries all over Epcot of many different Disney characters. It’s included in your park admission and this year they also have loads of live music. Called ‘Garden Rocks’ throughout March and into May you can find some well known names in music playing free shows in the America Gardens Theatre. This month you can see Pointer Sisters, Simple Plan (my favourite band I’m so upset I’m not going), Plain White T’s, Night Ranger and The Little River Band. A full list of times can be found here.

Universal also has some live music as part of their annual Mardi Gras event in Citywalk. Again this is included with park admission and this runs through March. Acts playing this month are UB40, Toby Keith, Jason Derulo, Earth, Wind and Fire and the All American Rejects.

mardigras

Seaworld has a food festival on and you can see live music there as well. All included in your standard park admission. Discover loads of new cuisines from all over the world in the ‘Seven Seas Food Festival’. Live music every weekend until mid May and this month you can see ZZ Top and Phillip Phillips (whoever that is!)

For something a little different. Crayola Experience at Florida Mall is having Cirque month with La Nouba themed crafts. Some of the make up artists will be there to paint your faces like the performers in La Nouba and some of the costumes and props will be on display.

Cirque-Month-Web-Slider---Use

There’s golf on at the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Club from 13th – 19th, Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival is also on this month, and the Lakeridge Winery has a wine and Seafood Festival.

It’s always worth checking out Hard Rock Live, House of Blues and Velvet Sessions. You never know who will be playing when you’re there.

March is a great time to visit if you’re a music fan!!

APRIL – Weather wise April is pretty similar to March, although it can get slightly hotter towards the end of the month.  It is Easter holidays so you’ll find the parks are fairly busy.

HOURS OF SUN IN APRIL – AVERAGE OF 10 PER DAY

Epcot still has the Flower and Garden festival and during ‘Garden Rocks’ this month you can see Blood, Sweat and Tears, Gin Blossoms, The Orchestra (feat members of ELO), Expose and Berlin.

Hollywood Studios has the Star Wars Galactic night from 13-16th as well. These are evening separate ticketed events and will include stars of the films doing talks and a scavenger hunt through the park amoungst other things. Tickets are $129 and need to be booked in advance it’s something that’s likely to sell out.

Seaworld’s Seven Seas food Festival is still on and this month you can see Jack Hanna, Village People, Commadores and more.

There’s a big Star Wars convention on during April the Star Wars Celebration. Conventions in the US are crazy so if you’re a Star Wars fan this would be well worth a visit.

star wars celebration

April is also Wrestlemania month at the Camping World Stadium on 2nd. This is a huge thing in the wrestling calendar and a really fun night out. If you like football then the soccer season starts so you may be able to catch Orlando City Soccer

MAY – Getting into May the weather is starting to get a little hotter. More humid and a lot warmer in the evenings.

HOURS OF SUN IN MAY – AVERAGE OF 10 PER DAY

Epcots Flower and Garden festival finishes this month so it’s your last chance to see the Park with all the awesome Disney themed flowers. Last few shows at America Gardens Theatre are Starship, Hermans Hermits and The Spinners.

Seaworlds food festival also finishes this month so be sure to check it out.

Legoland has Lego Star Wars days throughout May showing some of the most famous scenes from the movies made of Lego and opportunities to build your own as well as a Star Wars themed costume parade. This is included in standard park admission.

legoland-star-wars

The Orlando International Fringe festival is on this month which is modeled on the famous one in Edinburgh as well as another convention. The MegaCon is a huge comic/movie/gaming convention and has some incredible guests including Stan Lee and Tim Curry.

Football season is in full swing so now is a good time to get to a game.

JUNE/JULY/AUGUST – Orlando starts to get really hot during June, when you’re looking at high temperatures in the 90s. It’s really important to keep yourself hydrated during the summer months but all the inside buildings are air conditioned and are great places to cool off during the hottest times of the day. These are the busiest months to visit due to the summer holidays over here and during August you may experience some storms and heavy rain. The weather forecasts in Orlando are incredibly accurate and they can predict the times of showers pretty much to the minute. They’re usually over as quick as they start and don’t ruin your holiday at all. Standing out in the rain is quite nice, it’s like a hot shower.

AVERAGE HOURS OF SUN – JUNE 11, JULY 10, AUGUST 9

By the summer the 2 BIG new theme park openings should be well ironed out and hopefully should be less busy the further into the summer you get. Obviously I’m talking about Universals Volcano Bay and Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, both of these are scheduled to open towards the end of May and both look AMAZING!

It’s always worth checking out places like the Amway center in Orlando during the summer. There’s usually some really good touring music festivals.

SEPTEMBER – My other favourite time of the year to visit. September in Orlando weather wise is similar to March. Although it is classed as hurricane season so you are likely to get a bit of rain.

HOURS OF SUN IN SEPTEMBER – 9 HOURS PER DAY

September means HALLOWEEN!! I know it’s not strictly until October but they do like to drag it out!! Both Disney and Universal start their Halloween festivities in September.

Disney – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! One of my favourite things I have ever done and great for adults and children alike. Magic Kingdom is decorated for Halloween and there are themed parades and show, appearances from rare characters (including most of the Villains) and the best bit is the Treat or Treating around the parks. You can get so much candy!!  It’s the only time adults are allowed to dress up in the park as well. It’s not included in your ticket price and is a separate ticketed event but it’s well worth it. Dates for this year haven’t been announced yet but they usually start around the second week of the month. Prices are around $90 and can only be purchased from Disney directly. This is an evening event only.

 

Universal – Halloween Horror Nights, this is a lot more grown up than the Disney one and puts you inside some of the most popular horror movies and TV Shows. They have a series of ‘houses’ all with different themes. Each one has live actors in them transporting you into the film or TV show it’s based on. It’s not for the faint hearted!! Dates for this have been announced and are on selected evenings from 15th September. Past themes have been American Horror Story, Poltergeist, The Walking Dead and Friday the 13th. You can also dine with the scare actors and they have shows and special events as well. Again this isn’t included as part of your ticket price and you do need to purchase separate tickets for it. You can do this in advance from most of the UK resellers, it’s worth getting a Frequent Fear Pass which will allow unlimited access to selected dates during your stay. Prices are around £90 for these. This is also an evening event.

September is also Magical Dining Month. This is a fab event that lots of restaurants in the area participate in with loads of food offers. Nearly 100 places took part last year offering 3 course meals for $33 with money from each one going to charity. A lot of the best and most expensive places in Orlando take part in this so it’s a really good way to get to eat in some of those places for a portion of the price. September is a great month to visit if you’re a foodie!!

Epcot has it’s annual food and wine festival as well running until mid November.  With loads of food carts from all different parts of the world there’s even more choice of things to eat in Epcot during this festival, as well as concerts, celebrity chefs and other food themed events. I for one cannot wait to get to this!

OCTOBER – October starts to get a little cooler – although not by our standards – it’s still in the high 80s during the day.

HOURS OF SUN ON AVERAGE –  8 HOURS PER DAY

Both the Disney and Universal Halloween events run all through October.

Seaworld has it’s ‘Halloween Spooktacular’ which runs on weekends only throughout October and is included in your park admission. It’s aimed at children and there are not so scary live shows and trick or treating for candy throughout the park. It runs during park hours as well.

Busch Gardens has ‘Howl O Scream’ from the tail end of September through October. Running on weekends only.  It looks pretty similar to the Universal Horror Nights with scare actors and haunted houses and shows. It seems as though all the rides are open in the park which isn’t the case with Universal. It’s a separate ticketed event and you’re not allowed to wear costumes.

If you want a ‘real’ Halloween experience and you just so happen to be in Orlando on Halloween itself it’s worth a little trip to Celebration. It’s a Disney owned community and most residents will decorate for Halloween and Christmas so it’s a bit of a spectacle to see.

Halloween is a BIG thing in the US and I’m sure nearer the time most of the attractions will have some kind of event on for it.

NOVEMBER – Temperatures in November are in the 70s so much more bearable than the summer months but still hot enough for water parks and beaches.

HOURS OF SUN – AVERAGE 8 HOURS A DAY

It’s classed as low season for some of the behind the scenes tours at Seaworld and Busch Gardens so now is a good time to do those.

As soon as Halloween is over Christmas begins! Going to Disney end of Oct/start of November is great as you’ll get to experience both Holidays!

Disney Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party starts early November and like the Halloween one is a separate ticketed event. It follows the same idea as Halloween just all Christmas themed. Different parades, characters in festive costumes and a chance to meet Santa. You also get free milk and cookies and it will snow on main street.

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Orlando has a great theatre that has some of the best touring musicals so if you fancy seeing a bit of Broadway in Florida check out the Dr Phillips Center for Performing Arts and see if there’s anything on that takes your fancy.

DECEMBER – Although it is a lot cooler in December, mid 70s it’s still hot!

HOURS OF SUN – AVERAGE 7 HOURS A DAY

December is a great time to go to Discovery Cove as it’s classed as low season so likely to be a little cheaper.

Disneys Christmas Festivities will still be going and this is also when Universal start theirs. Not only that Epcot is a great place to visit throughout the Christmas season as each country in the world showcase will be decorated as they are at home and you can find out all about different Christmas traditions and food as you walk round the park. Not to mention the famous Candlelight Processional.

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Universal has a really good festive event included in your park admission called ‘Grinchmas’. Housed in Islands of Adventure, You’re able to meet the Grinch and some of the other ‘whos’ in WhoVille. Cindy-Lou reads the story of The Grinch and there is music and festive things to do all day. Universal Studios also has the Macys Day Parade.

Seaworld has its Christmas Celebration. You can meet Rudolph and friends, try some festive food and do some Christmas shopping. Ice Shows and more. All included in park admission. In past years they had the Polar Express Experience so hopefully they’ll have something equally as special this year.

Busch Gardens changes itself into Christmas Town. They have over 2 million Christmas lights and a whole host of Christmas shows and music. As well as a Christmas market and Santa’s House. All included with Park Admission.

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Legoland has a Christmas ‘Bricktacular’ has a HUGE Lego Christmas tree and other festive friends around the parks as well as fireworks, meet n greet with Lego Santa and themed building events. All with your park admission.

During Christmas Day parks can be unusually busy and Magic Kingdom has been known to hit capacity so plan well and if you want to go to Magic Kingdom get there extra early!!

Again as with Halloween, Celebration is a great place to visit over Christmas to see the decorations and the SNOW!

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY – Weather in Jan/Feb are the coolest months in Orlando and again most things are classed as low season so a good time to do extras like Behind the Scenes tours.

HOURS OF SUN – JANUARY AVERAGE 7 PER DAY – FEBRUARY 8 HOURS

New Years Eve is a really popular time to go to the parks and all will have special events on with fireworks etc. Parks can be really busy though so be prepared for that especially into the evening.

Epcot is a great place to be on New Years with all the different festivities around the world and dance parties from 7pm.

January with the exception of New Years Eve and Day is a pretty quiet time to go to Florida.

February is of course Valentines Day, I couldn’t see any special things in any of the parks for this but being in Orlando for it is romantic enough surely!! There are plenty of romantic things to do though. I’ve found a great list of things within Walt Disney World here

Don’t forget to check out places like Old Town and Celebration who have regular fun family events on that are worth having a look at.

Hopefully this should have given an idea of what sort of things to expect at different times of year.

There’s probably a load more things going on that I don’t know about. Check out the Visit Orlando website for up to date info on what’s going on. There’s loads of sports events as well NFL, Basketball, Ice Hockey, Soccer, Golf… some ticket resellers in the UK sell sporting tickets but it’s worth checking Visit Orlando for dates of when they’re on.

If there’s anything you know about that I haven’t mentioned then please let me know

 

 

 

 

Blue Men…

Yes, you read that right Blue Men. What has that got to do with Orlando I hear some of you say.

Well, Universal Studios is the home of one incredibly funny and innovative show ‘Blue Man Group’ and it’s a must see if you’re in Orlando. I’ve seen it before and I’m lucky enough to be watching it again this time round.

It’s a strange thing to try and explain it’s a show, it has music, it has mime, it has a LOT of paint, it has comedy and it has men who are blue from head to toe. I’ve seen it and I’m still not entirely sure what I witnessed, what I do know is I absolutely loved it and laughed. A Lot.

The current show investigates technology and the iPhone in particular. The basic gist is that they’re aliens trying to figure out what we’re all about. The music is original the comedy is just hilarious and its a one of a kind family friendly show.

I tried to find something on YouTube to show you all what it’s about but I couldn’t find anything that did this is the closest I found. All I can say is watch it, you won’t regret it!!