Although I am a proponent for spending Thanksgiving with family for many folks Thanksgiving is a 2 day paid vacation tacked in front of a weekend. With 4-days to get away what better way to do it than spend it in Branson. Branson, MO is nestled in the Ozark mountains between Harrison, AR and Springfield, MO. It is a touristy kind of town like Gatlinburg, TN. Branson will be decorated to the max with Christmas lights everywhere during the Thanksgiving holidays. Branson and the surrounding areas are very beautiful, especially this time of year.

If you were to spend Thanksgiving Day in Branson you would find many restaraunts and shopping outlets open. In addition there are going to be over 60 shows open on Thanksgiving Day in Branson. Of course you will need to find lodging and there are many hotels with fantastic rates for the entire Thanksgiving weekend. It's not too late to book your room and make your way to Branson for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend! Go ahead...what are you waiting for...an invitation? You got it. Just click the link below and book your room and any shows you may want to see. Then head to Branson and enjoy a long Thanksgiving weekend.

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I know many of you will be heading to Branson, Missouri to take advantage of the many shopping opportunities the day after Thanksgiving (commonly known as Black Friday). What many of you may not know is that many stores will be open at Branson Landing on Thanksgiving Day from 11am until 5pm. I am personally not a fan of being open on Thanksgiving day, however, if you do plan to arrive in Branson on Thanksgiving day before 5pm you will have the opportunity to get a head start on your shopping.


You can also get started early at the Tanger Center Outlet Mall with their Midnight Madness Sale that starts at Midnight on Thanksgiving. Follow the link to print a page of the discounts being offered at the various stores in Tanger not only at Midnight but for the entire weekend.

You will enjoy your trip to Branson not only because of the shopping but also because Branson, Missouri is beautifully decorated this time of year. It will literally be lit up like a Christmas tree. So take time to enjoy the lights of Branson. Maybe check out the Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights of the Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City. You can find out more about both of the these events by following the link below.

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NOAH The Musical

Posted by lrbeetravel | 9:18 AM


If you haven't made your trip to Branson this summer you need to get it scheduled. Labor day is just a couple of weeks away and it's just about time for school to start back. We made a short visit to Branson a couple of weeks ago and stayed 3 nights. We had some relatives down from Washington state and they enjoy Branson and wanted to make a return visit. One of the things everyone wanted to do was to see NOAH The Musical.

I will have to admit I didn't have extremely high expectations for the show. It did start off a little slow but it built up steam after the first 15 or 20 minutes and just continued upward after that. I don't want to put any spoilers in here but after intermission the stage setting that opens the last half of the play is unbelieveable. This is a very good show!

The Sight and Sound Theater, where the show is performed, is very nice. There is plenty of parking, the climate control in the theater is good, the seating is good, and there are plenty of refreshments to purchase in the lobby before the show and during intermission. The only thing I thought could have been better was the capacity of the restrooms. Both the men's and women's restrooms had long lines during itnermission.

Overall I would recommend attending this show. The ticket prices are comparable to other shows in the area and the 2nd half of the show really makes it worthwhile. Prices, including taxes, range from $53 for and adult, $25 for teens up to 18, and $16 for children ages 2 through 12. You can follow this link to get your NOAH The Musical tickets.

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Pet Airways

Posted by lrbeetravel | 9:29 AM

Have you seen this? Can you believe this? They now have an airline for pets. Not for people who want to bring their pets, just pets! No cargo hold transportation for these pets...just first class treatment all the way.

The video below shows their commercial....



I will admit I don't have pets at the moment because I'm too busy to have time to care for them and give them the attention they need. But an airline for pets? I guess I'm just a little too old school.


Do you have plans for the July 4th weekend? Are you looking for a great place to take in some fireworks shows? Well let me suggest Branson Missouri.

The Branson area has several fireworks shows scheduled for July 4th. Let me give you a quick recap of what you could be missing...

Chateau on the Lake Resort will be hosting a BBQ and fireworks display on July 4th. Chateau on the Lake is Branson's only AAA Four Diamond Resort. If you would like to book the July 4th weekend at Chateau on the Lake you can follow this link. Create your own vacation packages at ReserveBranson.com

Big Cedar Lodge which is one of the more popular resorts in the Branson area will be hosting a fireworks display at dusk on July 4th.

Next door to Branson in Hollister, MO a fireworks display will be held at dusk on July 4th. This is one of the longest running fireworks displays in the Ozarks. It has been conducted for over 50 years.

Can't wait until July 4th for your fireworks? Well, Branson Landing will be hosting it's 2nd annual Liberty Light Up Fireworks show on JULY 3rd. The program will kick off at 8pm with a concert in front of the beautiful fountain located in the the heart of the Landing. This is a choreographed fireworks show and it will be first class. Come early and shop and stay late for the show!


If you are not native to this region of the country let me give you a couple of pointers. It will be warm outside. Actually before dark it will be hot. Dress appropriately. The temperature will likely be in the 80's after dark. And speaking of dark you can expect it to be dark enough for the fireworks by about 9pm. Most of the fireworks displays will be between 30 minutes and an hour in length. Be patient when the shows are over it will take a little time to get back to your lodging due to traffic.

You still have time. Go ahead and follow this link and plan your July 4th weekend trip to Branson today! Create your own vacation packages at ReserveBranson.com

Walt Disney just announced a new feature on their website that will help you plan your trip to any or all of their parks. It is an interactive feature that will let you pick the places you want to visit in each park. You then will have the choice of either immediately printing your customized map of each park OR they will print it and mail to your home! This is a pretty cool feature if you have been to the parks a time or two and would like to either a)make the best use of your time at the park, or b)make sure don't miss any of the new rides or attractions that been added since your last visit.

Create customizable Disney Map!


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I wrote a little blurb last month about the Crater of Diamonds State Park located in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. At that time I was telling you about a large diamond that had been found by a visitor after a series of rainstorms. Well, everyone wants to know how hard is it to find a diamond at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Not everyone will find a diamond but once you read this story you will want to go try for yourself. I mean it's so easy even a dog can do it!

Check out this story about a little pooch that found a nice diamond 2 days ago at the Crater of Diamonds State Park....Dog Finds Diamond.

Islands of Adventure is the 2nd of the two Universal Orlando Parks. This park is much more ride oriented. Especially when you think of traditional theme park rides like roller coasters. In holding with it's sister park as well as the Disney Parks Islands of Adventures is divided into 5 areas.

Marvel Super Hero Island
This area is based on comic book hero's. This is also the area where you will find my favorite ride in Orlando The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman!


  • The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman is a 3D high tech thrill ride. You are in a roller coaster type car but you are traveling indoors through a city. A city in search of a hero. A city in search of Spiderman. The coolest part of the whole ride is when Spiderman appears to swing through the air and land right on the front of your car. This is a must do ride!

  • Incredible Hulk Coaster. This big green monster of a roller coaster is not for the feint of heart. This is a high speed coaster that will send you blasting through the air at Hulk like speeds. This is one of the favorites of my kids and my wife.

  • Dr. Doom's Fearfall. Have you ever been to Space Camp and rode the Space Shot? That's pretty much what you get with Dr. Doom's Fearfall. You set in a seat type car and are strapped in and then you are catapulted 150 ft into the air! Just like being blasted into space by a rocket.

Toon Lagoon. Prepare to get wet when you enter this area. Here you will experiece cartoon characters you know and love from years past.



  • Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls! This is a log flume ride that is lots of fun. Did I say you would get wet?

  • Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. This is river rapid type ride with Bluto, Popeye and Olivie Oyle. Oh yeah, you will get wet!

  • Me Ship, The Olive Oyle. This is really more for the kids. A big ship with water guns and squirting devices.

Jurassic Park Warning, warning, warning....way cool ride in this area. It can also be a little scary for the little ones.



  • Jurassic Park River Adventure. A river ride through the Jungles of Jurassic park. Be prepared to get a little thrill on this ride. Again, the younger kids might get scared on this ride. If you are lucky enough to get a front seat in this ride you will likely get wet. But don't turn down the front seat...it's the best one on the ride!

  • Jurassic Park Discovery Center. A place to learn about dinosaurs.

The Lost Continent This area is the land of ancient myths and legends. This area is also home to a great roller coaster.



  • Dueling Dragon Roller Coaster. Fire and Ice. Blue or Red. This big dragon shaped roller coaster is a thrill a minute. And folks, they really do duel. At one point you like you are heading right into the opposing coaster. This is also a big favorite of most park goers.

  • The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad. This is a show and a good one. Lots of stunts and breathtaking scenes.

  • Poseidon's Fury. This another show/experience. This is ok, but if the line is too long skip it.

Seuss Landing We all know Dr. Seuss and this is his domain at Islands of Adventure. This is really an area for small kids and I haven't spent much time here but the rides are as follows:



  • The High In the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. A nice gently trolley/train ride that goes above the Seuss Landing.

  • The Cat In the Hat. Ride a couch through the story of the Cat in the Hat and meet that crazy cat!

  • Caro-Seuss-el. A merry go round.

  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Guide your fish through an obstacle course made of fountains.

  • If I Ran the Zoo. An interactive play area full of strange creatures.

We have already talked about admission to Universal Orlando so there is no need to cover that again. The dining inside Islands of Adventure is pretty typical of park fare. Mostly fast foods, ice cream, and cold drinks. These are the things you need to get you through your day at the park. There really isn't a must do on the dining menu at Universal Islands of Adventure.

I will have one last post on Universal Orlando and that will be to discuss the City Walk area (think downtown Disney).


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I wanted to give an everyone update on a few upcoming events at Branson so you can mark your calendars and plan your trips accordingly.

June 6 - August 9, 2009 is Kidfest at Silver Dollar City. You can be a kid again during Silver Dollar City's Kidfest. Interactive exhibits and multitudes of entertainment for the entire family during this summer festival. The magic of Pete Gossamer will return as will JEERK! a Swedish rythmic and percussion group that has been a real hit in the past at Silver Dollar City. Check out the video at this link. Here is link to the Kidfest brochure. Veggie Tales will be back presenting their Invention of Silliness. There will also be many other events going on for the entire family. All of this for the price of admission to Silver Dollar City. Remember, you can Create your own vacation packages at ReserveBranson.com

June 20-21, 2009 over at the Titanic Museum you will find the Father's Day Boat Show. Yes, believe it or not Father's Day is just around the corner. If Dad is a boat lover this is the place to be. You can read my post about the Titanic Museum.

July 14-17, 2009 is the Branson Gospel Music Convention. If Gospel music is your thing this is where you want to be. There will be performances by Marcey Wall, Blackwood Quartet, Chuck Wagon Gang, Eric Hinson, Crossway, Shannon Bunch, Samaritan Revival, Young Harmony, Jay Stone Singers, Minister’s Quartet, The Parish Family and The Ladds plus many, many more. This will be held at the Branson Convention Center. You can find out more at the Gospel Music Convention.

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Univeral Orlando consists of 2 parks. This makes the ticket pricing and the options a little simpler than when buying tickets for Walt Disney. Below is is quick summary of the ticket prices and options available this season (2009).






  • 1 Day 1 Park Pass - $75 at the gate or $73 if you purchase online and print your own ticket



  • 1 Day 2 Park Pass - $90 at the gate or $85 online (go to both parks on the same day)



  • 2 Day 2 Park Pass - $120 at the gate or $95 online (go to both parks on two days)



  • Unilimted 2 Park Pass - $125 at the gate or $100 online (unlimted admission for 7 consecutive days to either park)



I can do both parks in 2 days and cover the rides that I want to ride and see the shows I want to see. However, I don't recommend this for first time visitors. I would recommend the 2 Day 2 Park Pass and visit each park for the better part of a day, especially if you have young children. Be sure to evaluate whether it is beneficial for you to stay at a property hotel. If you stay at the property hotel you will get the Univeral Express Pass included with your hotel stay. This automatically moves you to the front of the line at Universal. If you don't stay on property you can purchase the Universal Epxress Pass separately.



Dining inside Univervsal Studios is good. It's pretty typical as far as the food goes. I am going to be honest with you and tell you that when I'm at Universal I'm not spending a lot of time at a restaurant or hunting food. I'm more interested in the rides and the shows. However, there are a couple of places that I will suggest you try when inside Universal Studios Orlando.



Finnegan's Bar and Grill is great little Irish/American bar that serves up some really great food in a great atmosphere. I'm not big on Corned Beef and Cabbage but the Irish Stew and the Fish and Chips are excellent. You can have a beer with your meal here or you can order something a little stronger if you like (Irish coffee anyone!). This is located in the New York area of Universal Studios.



Schwabs Pharmacy is located in the Hollywood area. You will want to visit them to try one of their great ice cream sundaes or hand-made milk shakes. Think of the 50's style drug store and and that is Schwabs.



You can find a Ben&Jerry's as well as Starbucks inside the park along with many other fine places to eat.




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Universal Studios Florida

Posted by lrbeetravel | 11:21 AM



One of the immediate differences you will notice when you enter the grounds of Universal Orlando is the huge parking deck. If you are driving this is where you will park. There is a cost to park in the deck. I believe it is around $10. Once you exit the parking deck you will find walkways (some with moving sidewalks) to get you over to the main park area. You will enter through CityWalk. This is the Universal Shopping and Entertainment area. (Think of a smaller version of Downtown Disney). Pass through CityWalk and bear to your right to enter Universal Studios. If you head to the left you will end up at Islands of Adventure.

Hopefully you have purchased your Universal Tickets in advance.

Tip=> Universal Studios has a feature called Universal Express. This is a separate pass that you can purchase that will give you front of the line access for all of the featured attractions. This is a little different than FastPass at Disneyworld. At Universal this is a purchase you can choose to make (it is not required) to speed up your wait time in the lines. If you have an Express pass you can go in a separate line at the attraction and be placed at the front of the line. The other way to get an Express pass is by staying at one of the 3 hotels on Universal property. If you stay at one of their hotels you can simply show your room card as your Express pass. Now, if your budget allows for this you can save a lot of time. I have done Universal both ways and with the Express pass it is better. We will discuss the cost of the Express pass in a little more detail when we discuss Universal ticket prices. However, just an fyi, the pricing is tiered based on time of year. Busier times the Express pass cost more. When it's not so busy the Express pass is less. The Express ranges in price from $26 to $53 per person.

Ok, so you have made it into the park. You will immediately encounter the Hollywood area to your right. In Hollywood you will find:

  • Terminator 2: 3-D

  • Universal Horror Make-up Show

  • Lucy A-Tribute
The Terminator show and the Lucy show are a must see in this area. Just be warned that the Terminator show is loud (includes a motorcycle being ridden inside a building, plus gunshots). Everyone in my family are fans of Lucy, especially my daughter, and that show is excellent. They have a Lucy store where can shop for Lucy souvenirs.

If you continue to your right, going counter clockwise, you will encounter the KidZone. My kids are older so we didn't spend much time here. However, it does appear they have beefed up the area a little over the last few years. They have Fivel, Curious George, Barney, and ET in this area, as well as others.

The next area is the World Expo which is where you will find the very popular ride Men In Black Alien Attack as well as the brand new Simpsons Ride (opened May 16 2009). I am going to be honest with you. I was never a fan of Men in Black and the line was always horrendously long, even with Express, and so I never did participate in this ride. However, from what I gather it is a more adult version of the Buzz Light Year ride you find at Magic Kingdom.

Next is the San Francisco/Amity area. Here you will encounter a version of the famous Fisherman's Wharf as well as the following attractions:

  • Jaws
  • Disaster
  • Fear Factor Live
  • Beetlejuice's Graveyard Review
Jaws is classic and it is a must do ride. Disaster is great as well. You will experience an earthquake equivalent to 8.3 on the Richter scale. Both of these rides are must do. Fear Factor was not there on my last visit and Beetlejuice is a musical type review featuring Beetlejuice and other Universal studios "monsters".



Next up is New York. Keep in mind that San Francisco and New York can be used as back drops in movies. These are quite elaborate areas. In New York you will encounter two other very popular attractions at Universal Florida:


  • Revenge of the Mummy the Ride


  • Twister Ride It Out


  • Blues Brothers
Twister is one of our favorite attractions at Universal Studios as it takes you inside the movie Twister. You get to see how the created tornadoes and some of the sets from the movie. This is very interesting attraction. During my last visit the Revenge of the Mummy Ride was new and we chose to skip it. It is an indoor roller coaster type of ride.

Finally as you work your way back toward the entrance you will encounter Production Central. This is an actual area of working studios for television and movies. The two attractions here are:
  • Shrek 4D

  • Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast
Both of these are good shows and worth the wait in line and are very kid friendly and entertaining for all ages.

Tomorrow we will talk about tickets and dining for Universal Studios Florida.

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Universal Florida is a great place to go on your vacation. There are a total of 3 parks at Universal Florida is if you count the Wet N Wild water park. The emphasis of the next few posts will be on Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure.

Universal Florida is a movie based theme park. They have a sister studio in Hollywood California which I actually went to many years ago. As you can imagine a lot of the attractions and entertainment are movie or television based. For example, Twister, takes you through some of the processes used to make the movie Twister as well as the special effects. This is very entertaining. On the other end on the spectrum you have the Terminator 2:3D experience, which is probably really hoping now the release of the new Terminator movie coming up in a few days. You also have Jaws, Shrek, Fear Factor and the new Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Next door at Islands of Adventure you get to visit your favorite cartoon, comic books, myths and legends. I may have hinted at this in one of the Disney post but The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is my favorite ride in Orlando, and it's a ride good for almost everyone. One of my other favorite rides is Jurassic Park. Wow, the first time you ride this you will probably scream! There are also roller coasters, and other water based rides which we will cover in more detail later.

In the next few days we will be covering these two parks in detail!

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We have had a nice visit over the last couple of weeks of the 4 major Disney World theme parks. I really enjoy going to Disney World and experiencing what their parks have to offer. The parks are always clean, the service is great, and I have yet to come away with a totally bad experience at one of their parks.

Take advantage of the FastPass that is available at all of the Disney Parks. This can save you some wait time for the most popular rides. Try to go early, before the park opens if you have access to that, and head to the back of the park to enjoy those rides first. Then, as you work your way back to the front of the park you can hopefully benefit from shorter lines there as well.

I recommend a character breakfast if your budget allows. My favorite is at Magic Kingdom at Cinderella's castle. You can also take advantage of the character breakfast at Chef Mickey at the Contemporary resort (it is not necessary to stay at that resort to book the character breakfast there). I also enjoyed the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall breakfast at Epcot. You can check out my posts on the Disney FastPass and Character Breakfasts.

Make arrangements in advance to get your discounted tickets as well as book your Orlando vacation through ReserveOrlando.com. Check out my post on ReserveOrlando.com

Personally my favorite Disney World theme park is Epcot. I just enjoy the various attractions and the entertainment at that park. I also like the way it is layed and never seems as crowded as some of the other parks even though I know there are just as many people there.

After Disney Epcot, for me, it is basically a tie between Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom. Both of these parks are very enjoyable with plenty of attractions, entertainment and dining. I do find that these parks appear a little more crowded just based on the way they are designed. Also, I think a lot of people who travel to Disney World for the first time feel obligated to go to Magic Kingdom as that is the park they have probably seen and read the most about. Bringing up the rear of the 4 major Disney World theme parks is Disney Hollywood. (Remember this is just my opinion). Disney Hollywood is a nice park and it is worth your time to check it out. For a movie based theme park I prefer Universal Studios.

So, if you landed on this post as a first time reader, please take the time to go back and read all of my posts on Disney World as I think you will find them meaningful and helpful as you plan your first trip to Disney World. Also, I strongly recommend you make the investment in the "Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide". You will find a tab for it at the top right corner of this blog.

Tomorrow we will continue our trip to Orlanda with a visit to Universal Studios!

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Are you looking for a quick get away this weekend? Do you live within a few hours driving time of south Arkansas? I would recommend a day trip to Murfreesboro, Arkansas and the Crater of Diamonds State Park. This is the only park where you can walk in, search for diamonds, and walk out with what you keep.

The best time to look for diamonds on the surface is after a rainfall. And believe me, we have had a lot of rain in Arkansas the last few weeks. There have already been 418 diamonds found in the park this year for an average of about 2 a day. There is a current post on this at the Arkansas State Parks website. Check it out and happy hunting!



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The fuel prices are trying to inch upward again as we near the Memorial Day weekend. Here in the United States it seems as if Memorial Day usually kicks off the summer travel season. Although most schools have not yet dismissed for the summer the long weekend and warmer weather usually have folks heading to the favorite lake, beach, or other holiday destination.

Do you plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend? If so, how far to you plan to travel and where do you plan to go? Please leave a comment and let me know your travel plans for the upcoming holiday weekend!

Disney Animal Kingdom is a large park and there are many attractions to enjoy during your visit. I want to highlight some of the attractions that you can enjoy on your next Orlando Vacation.



Disney Animal Kingdom Attractions



  • Expedition Everest - This is the newest attraction at Animal Kingdom. During my last visit this ride was actually under construction. This ride looks like it's a blast. It is basically a roller coaster type ride for the big kid visitors to Animal Kingdom. Sharp drops, hairpin turns, all wrapped around and through Mt. Everest.

  • Kilimanjaro Safari - I talked about this attraction in yesterday's post. It is a must do ride at the Animal Kingdom and it is for all ages. See details on Kilimanjaro Safari.

  • Kali River Rapids - Warning! You will get wet on this ride...and that's not necessarily a bad thing! This a fun river rapid type ride in a large circular raft. The ride is experiences a 90 foot drop and has lots of twists and turns. Watch out for the water fall! Did I say you would get wet? You will. Take advantage of the storage to keep your shoes and socks dry. Your clothes will dry quickly but it's nice not to squish for the next hour or so in wet shoes.

  • Maharajah Jungle Trek - A walk through an Indian Jungle where you will encounter ruins and tigers and a few other exotic animals. This is an enjoyable attraction.

  • The Tree of Life - This is very cool and another must do attraction at Animal Kingdom. This is located in the center of the park. You can't miss it. Inside the The Tree of Life is a theater where you will see the #d show It's Tough To Be A Bug! This is really funny with lot's of surprises. Everyone can enjoy this and it's good place to cool off and have a short respite during your day at the park.


There are many other attractions within Disney Animal Kingdom but these are my favorites and the most popular. You will need an entire day to visit this park. Tomorrow we will discuss dining and entertainment at the Animal Kingdom.

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Disney Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite Disney World theme parks. As you can imagine from the name the focal point of the Animal Kingdom is the opportunity to get unique viewing opportunities of animals normally found in Africa. The park is huge, covering more than 500 acres, and it is home to more than 1700 animals.

My favorite attraction at the Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The ride takes you on an African safari where you get to see giraffes, elephants, lions, and many, many other wild animals in a very natural environment. You ride in a safari type vehicle (see picture), think large army type truck with rows of seats, that is open air allowing you many opportunities to photograph the animals. This is a must do ride and it is for all ages. My suggestion is to go to this attraction first. The animals tend to be out more in the mornings due to the cooler weather and also due to feeding times.

My favorites show in the Disney World Parks is also at the Animal Kingdom and that is the Festival of the Lion King. All I can really say about this show is WOW! Get there early and try to sit on the first row or two. If you don't that's ok because all of the seats are good. This is a 30 minute Broadway caliber show with amazing costumes, amazing singing, and amazing performances by the monkeys, the giraffes, Timon, Pumba, all of them. I will say this, if you only see one "show" in your entire trip to Orlando, see this one!

There are many dining opportunities, and we will talk about those in a future post, but my suggestion is call in advance and make lunch reservations for the Rain Forest Cafe located near the entrance to the park. It's a great place to cool off and the food is very good. And of course you have the entertainment inside the cafe as well!

Details tomorrow on the various attractions at Disney Animal Kingdom.

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There are many options for dining at Disney Hollywood. The prices are typical Disney Dining prices and the choices are wide. The prices will range from $15 to $50 per head depending upon your menu choices. A quick run down of the Disney Hollywood Dining choices are as follows:



  • Disney's Play and Dine


  • Toy Story Pizza


  • Starring Rolls Cafe


  • Backlot Express


  • ABC Commissary


  • The Hollywood Brown Derby


  • Hollywood and Vine


  • Mama Melrose Italian Restaurant


  • Sci-Fi Dine In Theater - My personal favorite


  • 50's Prime Time Cafe


  • There also ice cream shops and a French Fry stand


I really enjoyed dining at the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater. The food was good, American cuisine, and the atmosphere really takes you back in time to the 1950's. Your "table" is actually a car that you sit in while watching an old sci-fi movie on a large screen. It replicates a drive-in theater, but you are indoors.



I am not as familiar with the other restaurants in this park but the ABC Commissary would be high on my list to try. Lot's of food choices, including healthy choices, and it is a quick service type establishment.



Other Things to do at Disney Hollywood



This park is Hollywood themed so much like the entertainment business things change here. Most of the items listed below here were not there during my visit to this park a few years ago. However, you can bet one thing, Disney goes first class with everything it does and these shows and entertainment opportunities will be fantastic.




  • Block Party Bash-Much like the Magic Kingdom parade this is an opportunity to see the characters up close and in a fun environment.


  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year - A 15 minute live show.


  • Fantasmic - The end of day show at Disney Hollywood. 25 minutes of fireworks and water show.


  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage - A 25 minute Broadway style performance. If this is anything like the Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom then it's fantastic.


  • And of course character greetings.


This wraps up my look at Disney Hollywood. Tomorrow we will move on to the Animal Kingdom!




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Disney Hollywood studios will celebrate its 20th anniversary this month. The studio was originally known as Disney MGM Studios. The name was changed in January 2008 to Disney Hollywood Studio's.

I'm going to be right up front with you about this park. I like it but it is not my favorite. I actually prefer Universal Studios over Disney Hollywood. I will also admit I have only been to this park once or twice and it is actually number 4 on my personal list of the 4 major Disney Parks. Now, understand I'm not saying this is a bad park, quite the contrary, I'm just saying my preference for this type of park would be Universal Studios. That being said let's get to it.

Disney Hollywood is just that. A theme park wrapped around and covered up with movie and television related attractions and shows. It is a fun park to visit so if you have plenty of time during your Orlando vacation be sure to allow time to visit this park.

There are some must see attractions at Disney Hollywood.

Studio Backlot Tour - This is a very interesting tour that lets you in on some of "secrets" of making movies. You will be shown how sea storms and sea battles are created. You will encounter pyrotechnics. You will be taken through a prop warehouse where you will stage settings and props from shows and movies. Let's not forget the earthquake, the flash flood, and of course and a couple of really cool explosions.

Star Tours - This tour is not about movie stars. No, it's about Star Wars. And it is one of the better attractions inside the Hollywood park. This is basically trip through space Star Wars style and it is fun. You will be greeted outside by R2D2 and C3PO.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - This attraction is not for the little guys or the faint of heart. Experience a 13 story drop as you visit the once famous Hollywood Tower Hotel.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - This is another very good show to attend while at Disney Hollywood. This is a 30 minute show that recreates many of the famous scenes from the Indiana Jones movies. Remember the giant rolling boulder? You will see it here! Also, you will learn how many of the stunts and special effects from the Indy movies were done.

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show - Another stunt show with automobiles as the main attraction. Cars flying through the air, explosions, fire and lot's of near misses. This is a 33 minutes long show that is also very good! Think of the movie Fast and the Furious combined with Evel Kneivel. Here is a short video clip!

Tomorrow we will look at in park dining as well as other things to do at Disney Hollywood!


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Disney Epcot-FastPass

Posted by lrbeetravel | 8:03 AM

As we wrap up our visit to Disney Epcot I wanted to quickly review the FastPass rides with you. If you missed my post on how the FastPass works you can click the link to read about the Disney Fastpass!

The FastPass can save you time at Disney Epcot just as it can at the other parks. Again, I would recommend you go directly to Test Track and Mission: Space and actually ride those first, if you get there when the park opens. Otherwise, use your better judgement to determine if it is better to wait in line for a bit or take the FastPass and return at a later time.

Disney Epoct FastPass rides are as follows:


  • Soarin

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Audience

  • Test Track

  • Living with the Land

  • The Maelstrom

  • Mission: Space

For a map of Disney Epcot click here!



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ReserveOrlando.com is the best place to buy your Disney Tickets. Right now they have a special promotion going on that you need to take advantage of today.

If you buy a 4-day Disney World theme park ticket, either adult or child, you will get the 5th day free. If you buy a 5-day DIsney World theme park ticket, either adult or child, you will get the 6th day free. This is approximately a 10% savings over buying your tickets direct from Disney. They have additional discounts if you want to buy 8,9, or 10 day tickets.

In addition to buying you Disney tickets you can book your entire Orlando vacation with ReserveOrlando.com. Why should you use these fine folks? Not only do they have an easy to use website and great prices but they also have a very helpful customer service staff. You can call them anytime at 1-888-590-5910 and talk to a real person who will be happy to help you with your vacation. Also, they are not a timeshare promoter. Call them or use their website for your next Orlando vacation. And best of all your reservations through them are 100% guaranteed!



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Disney Epcot is one of my favorite parks and visiting it is one of my favorite things to do in Orlando.



The best rides, in my opinion, at Epcot are as follows:


  • Mission Space

  • Honey I Shrunk the Audience

  • Soarin

  • Test Track

Mission Space is a 6 minute long motion based ride that takes you on a trip through outer space on a mission to Mars. It is essentially a giant motion simulator similar to the ones used to train pilots and astronauts. This ride has two teams (read levels of intensity) an orange team and a green team. If you tend to get a little "green around the gills" from motion then you should select the green team as this version of the ride is less intense. You will still find it enjoyable you just will not experience some of the g-forces and motion that you do on the orange team. I think it's great that Disney Epcot has done this allowing even those of us who get a little queasy the opportunity to enjoy a great ride without....well, you know, getting sick.


During the mission you will blast off from earth and head to the moon. You will use the gravity of the moon to slingshot your craft toward Mars. You will also land on Mars and then blast back to Earth. Great ride, not for little kids.


Honey I Shrunk the Audience is a 3D experience. I say experience because not only are you watching a 3D movie you are also moving. Your chair moves, you experience smoke, and don't forget the dog sneezing on you ( I love that part)! There is one part where a large python with fangs seems to come after you (hey, it is 3D) that some small kids might find scary. Otherwise this is a blast! You must do this. This is also another place to cool off on hot day. The theater is dark and cool and rather refreshing to step into after a hot day.


Soarin is a newer ride to Disney Epcot. It is breathtakingly simple ride. You experience the thrill of hang-gliding without actually hang-gliding. You soar high over the state of California seeing many of its beautiful vistas as well as the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Malibu. You will see the Golden Gate Bridge, a PGA Golf tournament, as well as seeing skiers and snowboarders. This ride actually lifts you up about 40 feet into the air where you are surrounded 180 degrees by an Imax Projection Dome. This is a really cool ride. I'm not great with heights but I had no problems on this ride!


Test Track as I told you in a previous post is one of my favorites in all the parks or Orlando. Go ahead and click this link for a brief video on Test Track and then come back here for more details.


Okay, now that looks like fun doesn't it! Let me qualify my comments here about Test Track. I'm not a big car person (not into driving fast, or NASCAR). In fact I'm not a big ride person (I tend to shy away from most roller coasters whereas my wife and kids seek them out). There is something about Test Track that you can find very exhilarating without feeling terrified. This ride will take you up to 65mph during the speed test. But because you are lower than normal to the ground and you have an open top it seems as if you are going much faster. The banked turns are fabulous and the fact that you are "testing" an automobile gives you leeway to test the brakes, drive across bumpy roads, climb hills, and of course come down those same hills all in an open air vehicle. I love this ride and you must do this if you are going to go to Disney Epcot!


There are many more attractions as Disney Epcot but the ones listed above are the ones on my personal must do list. Do you prefer one that's not on the list? Leave me comment and let me know.


The fireworks/laser/water show each evening is called Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. It is spectacular! Just the right combination of fireworks with laser and water show make this my favorite amongst the park closing performances. I mean the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom is very good I just like this one a little better. The show takes place above the World Showcase lagoon each evening. Find you a spot around the lagoon about 30 minutes before show time and prepare to be in awe of the Illuminations spectacular!

TIP>> This is a simple tip for Disney Epcot but it will work if you get to the park early, like when it first opens. Most everyone will gravitate toward Spaceship Earth because it is near the entrance. Bypass that and head toward Test Track or Mission Space. Ride those first and then you can start to work your way back through the park. Make Spaceship Earth your last stop or a late afternoon stop during your visit to Disney Epcot!



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Disney Epcot is probably my favorite Disney World Park. I think it stems from my first visit there and seeing Spaceship Earth. I have always had an interest in technology and this made Future World right up my alley. Add to the fact that, in my opinion, Epcot is more laid-back park with not quite the hustle and bustle of Magic Kingdom or Disney Hollywood. I enjoy walking through the World Showcase and visiting the various countries. With that said, let's take a closer look at some of the things you will find at Epcot.

One thing I should not have to say about visiting the various theme parks in Orlando Florida, but I will, wear comfortable shoes and clothes. If you have never been to these parks before they are unlike anything you have seen or visited before. Maybe not the rides in particular, but they cover acres and acres of ground. For example, Epcot is 300 acres....and that is 2x the size of the Magic Kingdom.

There are two areas within Disney Epcot. Future World and World Showcase. And their names are pretty descriptive. Future World includes Spaceship Earth (the big giant golf ball looking display) as well as many exhibits of technological advancement and innovation. There are some pretty neat animatronics in Future World as well. And the World Showcase is a massive exhibit from various countries around the globe. A place where you can not only see but you can touch, feel, and eat things from other countries as well.

Epcot Future World
Definitely take the Spaceship Earth ride. It is low key and for all ages. It is a tour through technology, space, and time. It is a good ride to cool off on in the summer time as it is about 15 minutes in length and it is cool and dark on this ride. You will also want to check out "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience", Mission Space, and Test Track. All of these are entertaining rides. Test Track is my favorite ride at Epcot (and close to being my favorite ride in all the Disney Parks).

Epcot World Showcase
The World Showcase consists of pavilions of several different countries from around the world. The pavilions are situated around a large lagoon so the area is very open and easy to walk and easy to navigate. Each pavilion has shops, entertainment and restaurants. The countries of the World Showcase are as follows:



  • Mexico

  • Norway

  • China

  • Germany

  • Italy

  • United States

  • Japan

  • Morocco

  • France

  • United Kingdom

  • Canada

I find all of these enjoyable, educational and entertaining. However, my two favorites are United States and Germany. The United States pavilion has the American Adventure Pavilion. There you can see an animatronic review of significant events and people in American history. It is very enjoyable. The German pavilion has the Biergarten which is my favorite restaurant. I'm not a big beer drinker, and you can get a beer here, but the bratwurst and the chicken schnitzel are very good. Save room for dessert because the Bavarian cheesecake, the black forest cake, and the apple strudle are out of this world.


Allow a whole day to visit this park. Tomorrow we will talk more about the rides at Epcot and the fireworks/laser/ water display, IllumiNations.



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Branson Air Show

Posted by lrbeetravel | 9:56 AM


Just a quick reminder that the 1st annual Branson Air Show get underway this weekend. Activitiies kick off Friday afternoon at 6pm and continue Saturday and Sunday. Keep in mind that this airshow is being held in conjuction with the Grand Opening of the new runway at Branson Airport. Most military airshows are free to the public, however, this show does have an admission charge. Advance tickets for adults are $16 and $18 at the gate. Advance tickets for children ages 6 - 12 are $5 and $6 at the gate. The Thunderbirds will be performing on Saturday and Sunday only. For more details on the Branson Airshow click here.

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A short video with ideas on how to maximize the use of our time while at Disney World.


Walt Disney World Time-Saving Tricks


Click here for video!

A few more time saving tips for Disney Parks:




  • If you stay at Disney Hotels you are admitted an hour early at different parks on different days. As I indicated in a previous post anytime you can get advance entry into the park you will have a much shorter wait time on the first 2 or 3 rides.


  • Go to the ride you want to ride the most first. Lines will only get longer as the day goes on.


  • If you leave before the park closes be sure to get your hand stamped. You may get your energy back after a short rest period and decide to return to the park. The stamp will get you back into that park that day.


  • Use the theme park maps to navigate your way quickly and efficently through the park.


  • Take advantage of the Disney FastPass!

  • Save time by buying your Disney Tickets in advance by Creating your own vacation packages at ReserveOrlando.com





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We temporarily interrupt these posts on Walt Disney World to bring you some breaking information from SeaWorld in Orlanda,Florida. Tomorrow, May 5, will be the debut of the new Manta Flying Ray Roller Coaster. This looks to be an incredible ride and a great addition to SeaWorld. SeaWorld has always been a little ride lite but they have been making improvements the last few years. The construction for the project is ahead of schedule and SeaWorld has made the decision to open the ride tomorrow, 17 days ahead of schedule.

Here is a link to the SeaWorld site that gives you detailed information on the coaster as well as a short video.

SeaWorld Manta the Flying Ray Roller Coaster Video


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Disney FastPass is a cool service that Disney offers on many of it's most popular attractions. Disney World is a busy place and there are lot's of visitors there wanting to take in the full Disney experience. This includes riding the best rides. Disney developed a service call FastPass that allows you to obtain a "pass" that will allow you to ride a specific ride during a specific time window allowing you to avoid the long normal line.

Think of the Disney Fastpass as your personal place holder in the line to ride the most popular rides. Let's examine this in a more practical way. You want to ride Splash Mountain. So you make your way to Splash Mountain only to find the wait time for the ride is 75 minutes. You don't want to stand in line for 75 minutes so you decide to get a Fastpass for this ride. You walk up to the Disney FastPass distribution point (see picture for an example) near the ride entrance.
There is a clock that tells you if you take a fastpass you will be able to ride Splash Mountain between time X and time Y with a much shorter wait time (say 15 minutes). You decide to take advantage of this. You insert your park pass into the fastpass machine and it prints out a Disney FastPass ticket for you (see example picture of the yellow machine). The ticket will tell you the return time window for you to use the FastPass. You return during the designated time and go the line marked FastPass ticket holders. You are usually able to ride the ride within 15 minutes. The Fastpass window for most rides is 1 hour. You must return sometime within the designated hour to use your pass. For shows the fastpass is for a specific show time. So you will need to be there for the beginning of the show.

What rides use Disney Fastpass?

Magic Kingdom

  • Splash Mountain


  • Space Mountain


  • Big Thunder Mountain


  • Buzz Light Years Space Ranger Spin


  • Jungle Cruise


  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh


  • Peter Pan's Flight


  • Mickey's PhilHarmagic

When we discuss the other parks we will list the FastPass rides for them at that time. One other thing to note about the FastPass. Everyone in your group who is going to ride must have a FastPass to use the FastPass line. So, if you are in a group of 4, including 2 children, you will need to scan each person's park admission ticket to be issued a FastPass ticket for use at the designated ride or show. Also, there is a limit to how many FastPass tickets you can be issued at once. You usually can't be issued a FastPass for another attraction until you use the FastPass you had already been issued, or two hours after your prior FastPass has been issued. This keeps you from going to all the FastPass stations and collection FastPass tickets to use back to back.



Disney Tips and Tricks can be found here. It is worth the money!

Dining at Magic Kingdom


Let's not beat around the bush about this topic. Food and drinks inside the Magic Kingdom are not cheap. However, if you are careful about how you plan your day, and your meals, you can complete the day and meet your food requirements (not starving to death and not carrying around a grocery bag full of food) without totally destroying your budget. Now keep in mind here we are not talking about McDonald's prices so you need to look for value not just price. I really think that the best meal of the day for value at Disney is the Character Breakfast (remember this is my opinion). So, book your character breakfast 90 days in advance. Call the Walt Disney Dining Number (407) WDW-DINE and work out the arrangements with the reserving agent.

TIP>>To have the best chance of getting the day and time that you want, especially for Cinderella's Castle, call exactly 90 days in advance. Wait later than that and you will taking what you can get.


My favorite option for this is the Cinderella's Royal Table which is breakfast in Cinderella's Castle inside the park. I recommend you take the earliest breakfast possible. Why? Because you will get early admission to the park and you will avoid much of the opening rush. You will be escorted to the Castle upon entering the park. Once your reservation time arrives you will be seated and served a wonderful hot breakfast (eggs, sausage, homemade breads, danish, juices, coffee). This is meal that will last you well into the afternoon unless you have just a voracious appetite. The other good thing about breakfast at the Castle is you get to meet the characters up close and personal. Generally each one will stop by your table, sign autographs, and allow you to take pictures with them. This is great! A nice relaxing environment without being crowded by a bunch of different folks trying to do the same thing. Usually you have Cinderella, her Fairy Godmother, and other Disney Princesses such as Belle, Snow White or Aurora. This meal is going to cost you in the neighborhood of $40 per person. But wait, there's more (I always wanted to say that). If you managed to book the early breakfast when you leave breakfast the park will just be opening. You are in the center of the park. Walk to your favorite ride on the back side of the park and you should be one of the first in line. Almost no waiting. You should be able to get two or three rides in with minimum wait and without having to use a FastPass!

I also like the Chef Mickey character breakfast at the Contemporary Resort. It is less expensive than Cinderella's Castle, but remember, you are not in the park for this breakfast. It will cost you about $22 per person. Also, you will be seeing Mickey Mouse and his buddies and the Chef Mickey breakfast. Finally, I also enjoyed the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall breakfast at Epcot. This was a Norwegian Style breakfast and it was also very good. Your characters here are the Disney Princesses.


There are plenty of places to walk around and grab a hot dog or a burger or some unique treat in the Magic Kingdom. However, for a sit down lunch I recommend the Liberty Square Tavern. It is always good with an nice variety on the menu and each time we have dined there we have been happy with both the food and the service!

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You have been looking forward to this day for some time now. You have planned and budgeted for the trip and the day has finally arrived. You are headed to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World!


Take the bus or your car to the Disney parking area where you will head to the Monorail station. Board the Monorail for your trip into the Magic Kingdom.


Secret Tip==> If you happen to be fortunate enough to end up in the front que for the 1st Monorail car ask the conductor if you and your children can ride in the engineers car with them. This is an especially awesome view at night. You have an unobstructed view going into to each stop and into the Monorail station at the Magic Kingdom.

Disney Tips and Tricks can be found here. It is worth the money!

Once you deboard the monorail at Magic Kingdom you will head toward the main entrance which is just a short walk. My suggestion to you at this point is to invest in an "Autograph Book" so that your children, or you, can collect the signatures of the various Disney characters that you will encounter at the various Disney Parks. (Tip>>>Bring a pen or two as the characters to do not carry pens with them. Also, some of them have a difficult time grasping a small pen because of their costume so you may want to bring one that is easy to grip.) Also, at this time I would suggest you obtain a park map so can navigate the Magic Kingdom. If you have older kids make sure you arrange for a meeting point at a certain place in the park at a certain time so you can regroup.


The park is divided into 7 different area's:


Mainstreet USA

Adventureland

Frontierland

Liberty Square

Fantasyland

Mickey's Toon Town Fair

Tomorrowland


Mainstreet USA is just that. You will find the Disney Railroad and the trolley cars. It is one of the first area's you encounter when you enter the Magic Kingdom. Ther are many shops as well. I suggest you make a quick pass through Mainstreen USA upon entering the park and head to one of the other areas that have rides. Mainstreet is also the headquarters for the City Hall, the bank (ATM), reserve dining privileges, pick up wheel chairs, strollers, etc.


Adventureland is an Adventure. The Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean are just two of the many rides in Adventureland. You really must do the Pirates of the Caribbean. I can still remember the first time I rode this ride as a youngster. The cannon's firing, the smoke, the water, the waterfall drop. WoW! And it really is pretty tame and for the whole group!


Frontierland takes you back to the old west and the frontier life. There you will have the opportunity to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. Be sure you do this.


Libertyland is about the coming of age of our great country, along with a few other things. We always enjoy the Hall of Presidents. The animatronic presidents are quit good as is the animatronic narrator, Mark Twain. Also, another must do attraction in Libertyland is the Haunted Mansion. This is a really fun tour through the Haunted Mansion.


Fantasyland get's you more into the actual Disney fantasy adventures. It's A Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, and the Mad Tea Party are just a few of the rides in this area. I know it may be a little hokey for the adults, and you will be humming the song for the rest of the day, but you really must ride the It's A Small World ride. The music and the animated dolls are very good. Just think about this ride and how long it's been around and it's still good!


Mickey's Toon Town Fair is where many of the characters are located. There you can see the "homes" of some of the Disney characters. The main thing here is to keep your autograph book and camera handy as you should encounter Disney characters.


Tomorrowland is the future. Here you will encounter Space Mountain, Astro Orbit, Buzz Lightyear Ailen Encounter, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. I would recommend Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear in this area. Space Mountain is basically an indoor roller coaster (you are riding a rocket ship through space) and the Buzz Lightyear ride is interactive as you are shooting your "laser gun" at aliens scoring points along the way!


Parades and Fireworks


The "Dreams Come True Parade" is held every afternoon at 3pm. Find a place along the parade route where you can watch the parade and take pictures. This is a very colorful and exciting parade. I would recommend trying to get near the central hub on Main Streen to watch the parade because there is shade and you will be able to see the entire parade. Pick out a good spot and get there a little early to find you a spot.


The Disney Wishes fireworks show is held each evening at 10pm. This fantastic music and fireworks display is first class all the way. It basically wraps up the festivities for the day and shuts down the park each night. Be patient if you stay for the fireworks show. It will take a little time to exit the park, catch the monorail or other transportation and get back to your hotel.


Tomorrow we will discuss FastPass, dining in the park, and character breakfasts at Magic Kingdom.

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There are a lot of things to do in Orlando. Once you arrive and get checked into your hotel you will have a multitude of options. Hopefully you will have planned your itinerary in advance as this will allow you to make the best use of your time during your stay in Orlando. In this post we will give you a high level look at the various attractions and things to do. In following posts we will delve into the details of the larger attractions in the Orlando area.

Orlando Theme Parks

Disney World is THE primary attraction in Orlando, Florida. When most people say Disney World they really mean all the Disney related parks. These are the 4 big parks under the Disney umbrella:

Magic Kingdom - This is the oldest park and the park that most people think of when you say "Disney World". It is the one with Cinderella's Castle, Space Mountain, and of course Mickey Mouse.

Epcot Center - This park was built after the Magic Kingdom and it is an interesting park and one of my favorites. It contains Spaceship Earth. This the most notable visible icon of Epcot. It looks like a giant silver golf ball. This park contains a lot of information about technology and has World Showcase which allows you to "visit" several different countries around the world.

Animal Kingdom - The Tree of Life is the focal point of Animal Kingdom. There are lots of opportunities to see animals, especially on the Safari. In addition they have recently added a new ride attraction called "Expedition Everst".

Disney Hollywood - This park is about entertainment in the form of movies and television. There are live stunt shows and high speed rides. Don't miss the Tower of Terror and Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

For special Disney Savings...

Universal Studios is one of my favorite parks if not my favorite. There are really two parks here. Universal Studios where you will visit movie sets and see live action shows, stunt shows, and adventure rides. After you finish up at Universal go next door (literally) to Islands of Adventure. This is for the thrill lovers and the folks that like rides. Multiple roller coasters like Hulk and Dueling Dragons and thrill rides like Spiderman (the BEST) and Jurassic Park (very good).

Seaworld is an old standby that is always good entertainment. Especially if you like animals. Some of the shows are very entertaining. Don't miss Shamu! Seaworld has worked on upgrading their park with some thrill rides. Journey to Atlantis is a very good ride.

In addition to the Theme Parks there are go-cart parks, water parks, and a Ripley's Believe It or Not. There are shows like the Blue Man Group and the Arabian Knights Dinner Attraction.

If your schedule permits and you are up for it drive over one day to the Kennedy Space Center. Not only is it educational it is very fun for the entire family. Who knows, if you are lucky you may be able to catch a rocket launch or even better a Space Shuttle launch.

Create your own vacation packages at ReserveOrlando.com. Use them for things to do in Orlando.


Orlando has so many hotels to choose from that is seems to be an almost insurmountable tasks. Do you want to stay in a luxury hotel with great amenities? Or do you prefer to go low budget because you are going to be on the go all the time anyway? Or do you want something in between? We are going to look at these three options in this post. What we are not going to do yet is specifically look at the on property Disney Hotels like the Grand Floridian and The Contemporary resort. We will look at these in a future post.

I want luxury. This is going to be my ultimate vacation!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort
My family and I stayed in this resort a few years back and let me tell you it is wonderful (see the picture accompanying this post). They have one of the most elaborate pool areas you will find anywhere. It covers over a half acre with waterfalls, swim through "cave" type areas, and of course a super water slide. The adults and children alike enjoyed this feature of the hotel. They have bikes you can take out and ride around the property. They have a pitch and putt area for golfers. They have access a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course as well. Of course they are nearby to all of the major attractions like Disney World, Universal, and Seaworld. You will truly be impressed with the interior of the hotel as well. The rooms are clean, large, and very nice. You can actually see the night time fireworks display at a couple of the parks from the one side of the hotel each evening. You do need to be on the upper floors to see it though. I just checked the price for mid-June for 2 adults and 2 children and the rooms are starting at $132 using Onetravel.com which you will find on the right side of this page or at the bottom of this post. That is a fantastic price for this luxury hotel. If you stay here you need to realize you will want to spend some time on the grounds because it is that nice. So factor that into your time budget.

I want a nice hotel with shopping nearby.

The Regal Sun Resort. Formerly the Grosvenor.

Ok, this is the last hotel I stayed at in Orlando and it is right beside Downtown Disney (a fantastic area of shops and restaraunts). I will be honest with you...I was not too impressed with the property. The interior of the hotel was a little dingy and seemed a bit run down. The rooms were not what we expected at all. And this was a Disney Hotel? We had some issues that we had to get addressed once we checked in and that is not usually a good sign. Anyway, it seems as though the property has received a MUCH NEEDED UPGRADE. A $25 million makeover which included every portion of the property. I mean every room has been redone. This has to make this a good opportunity now if you are headed down to Orlando. While we didn't love the hotel at the time we did love the location. You can catch the Disney transportation system (bus) right at the hotel and ride to and from the properties. You can also walk about 1 - 2 blocks and be in Downtown Disney. Lots of shops and places to eat, things to do, people to see. So, believe it or not they are running a standard room for $60 per night (2 double beds). This is a great price. You can upgrade from there if you like. Please use the Onetravel.com logo on the upper right side of the page or the one at the bottom of this post.

I want to go cheap! Besides, I'm not going to spend much time in my room.

Holiday Inn Maingate East

It has been several years since we stayed in this hotel but at the time it was clean and nice with a good pool. It is very close to Disneyworld. We didn't spend a lot of time in the room because we were constantly on the go, as you probably will be. So, if that's the case save some money on your lodging and use it on your entertainment or food budget. This hotel seems to still be in good shape and you can find rooms starting at $50 per night. I believe we used a Kids Suite when we were there and those are running $73 per night at Onetravel.com.

So, there are three options for those heading to Orlando in the coming weeks or months. And I must say I am impressed at the prices available on lodging for the summer months. It looks like a really good time to go to Orlando Florida.

OneTravel.com


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Orlando Florida has become one of the top travel destinations in the world. Wait a minute you say. How can a town in central Florida be a destination for travelers all over the world? The answer is simple and I'm sure know what it is....its Disney World!

Over the next several posts we are going to look at several aspects of Orlando Florida and all the things you can do while vacationing in the Orlando area. I have been to Orlando several times and stayed at various places, including the Disney hotels, and went to all of the major attractions.

To start with, unless you live within a 6 or 8 hour drive I highly recommend you fly into Orlando International Airport. The airport code for Orlando International Airport is MCO. Of course prices will vary depending upon your departure location, but I will tell you now that the airlines prices have come down and if you do your homework you can get a good deal on your tickets. Check out this early post on how to save money on your airfare. Even flying into MCO is nice. It's a clean airport that has well manicured and attractive grounds. You will take a tram once you deplane to the main terminal to pick up your luggage. This tram will remind you of the mono-rail at Disney World. I suggest you click the OneTravel.com box on the right hand side of this blog to get your ticket pricing. Just click the Flights Tab or the Flights Button once you are on their site and enter your home airport code and MCO as your destination airport. There is a promotion on that site now to save $10 per airline ticket (this should be automatic when you book through the banner; if not the coupon code is ORLANDO10).

Rent your car in advance so that you can arrange to pick it up at the airport. You can rent all types of vehicles from compact cars to mini-vans to SUV's. Unless you absolutely have to have the more expensive vehicle I would go for a full size sedan. You can usually Find Cheap Rental Cars at OneTravel.com. Book a Car Today! I have always found Orlando pretty easy to navigate, and I'm not the best navigator just ask my wife, but you will encounter some toll roads so be prepared for that.

Ok, so next up we will look at lodging in the Orlando area, including some options on Disney property and Universal Studios property. You will find with lodging that you can spend as much or as little as you like it's just going to be a matter of what type of arrangements are going to meet your needs.

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