EPCOT: 4 Parks in 1 Day - The Traveling Gals

Date Night at Disney World

Date Night at Disney World

While Disney World is mostly known as a family destination, there are actually some wonderful date night locations throughout. These are great ideas if you live in the area, or if you are on vacation and want to do have a nice night out together. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or you can spend a ton of money. Disney World has a variety of restaurant and entertainment options that will make your date night at Disney magical. Even just taking a stroll and enjoying one of the fireworks shows can make for a wonderful night out. Check out some of these favorite date night ideas.

[Related Post: Disney World 4 Parks in 1 Day Challenge]

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Travel Tips USA Travel

Things To Do In Orlando (Besides Theme Parks)

Orlando, FL is known as the theme park capital of the world. Millions of people visit Central Florida every year to enjoy the theme parks (Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, LEGOLAND, and Busch Gardens in Tampa). While these alone make for a great vacation, if you want a break from the theme parks there are also other fun places in the city to visit.

Here are the top picks for things to do in Orlando

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom After Dark

The Traveling Gals at Opening Night of Disney’s Animal Kingdom After Dark

When we booked our Memorial Day weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge last year, we had no idea how much extra magic we were in for!  All three of us gals arrived just in time for opening night of Disney’s Animal Kingdom AFTER DARK!  In the first phase of the massive expansion happening at Animal Kingdom, the park is now open until 11 p.m. with a spectacular nighttime transformation.  It is always so exciting to see everything you have read about come alive Disney style!

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Our first stop was the evening safari on Kilimanjaro Safaris.  We were able to get Fastpasses so our wait time was only about 5 minutes.  We had a very entertaining safari guide so the trek started out just right.  Being on the savannah in the dark is such a different experience than during the day.  It was not quite dark when we arrived, but just after sunset so there was a beautiful, dusky glow.  Disney added very unobtrusive lighting that allowed for great viewing.  The animals were so incredibly active after sunset.  It was like an entirely different safari than the daytime (which we also love!).  Some of the hippos were out of the water walking around, the baby rhino was actually running with its mother.  The cheetahs were awake and alert, the lion and lionesses were wide awake and actually walking around!  It was such a thrilling sight.  For us gals who go on the safari regularly, this was almost like going on a new safari encounter all together.

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Disney Springs Town Center
Ashley Disney

Review: Disney Springs Town Center

Updated February 6th, 2018

The new area of Disney Springs called the Town Center finally opened and it is beautiful. This is the second new area to open at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). First was The Landings which features: The Boathouse, Jock Lindsay’s Hanger Bar, STK and Morimoto Asia. Now we have the Town Center, which is the main shopping center that also has some unique dining locations.

Disney Springs Town Center

The Town Center features 23 stores and dining locations and new stores will be opening throughout the summer as well. The architecture and details in this area are amazing. It really is one of the nicest shopping centers. It is not all “Disney-ed” up, but it still has the high level of detail that Disney is known for. The buildings are styled after Spanish architecture and is bright and open. Disney also opened the second parking garage (so now there is Lime & Orange), and parking is still free! There is also valet parking (not free) if you so choose. If you are staying on property, your best bet is still to take the resort transportation because the construction makes for a lot of traffic in the area.

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Disney World Challenge: 4 Parks in 1 Day

For those who love Disney World, a popular challenge is going to all 4 parks in 1 day. While this may sound like an impossible task, with a little planning it can be done. And it is so much fun! It is important to keep in the back of your mind that you won’t be able to do everything. If possible, try to plan some Fast Passes to coincide with when you will be in the park, just to save time. Also bring some snacks like granola bars to keep the energy levels up!

Now we routinely can do 3 parks in one day (Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, Magic Kingdom). The one that can cause problems is Animal Kingdom because it is not connected to any of the other parks. You can walk/boat/bus from Hollywood Studios to EPCOT and then take the monorail over to Magic Kingdom. Because of this we suggest starting your challenge at Animal Kingdom. We also highly suggest you use Disney transportation and not your own car if you are not staying on property. The toll booth lines can get backed up and you may end up parking really far away from the entrance. You can park for free at Disney Springs and head over to Saratoga Springs to catch your first bus.(You can also try parking at a resort. If it’s not crowded they will usually let you, but don’t tell anyone that was our idea!)

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WEEKEND GETAWAY: Universal Studios Orlando

Weekend Getaway: Universal Studios Orlando [UPDATED FOR 2017!]

Of course we are unashamed big fans of Disney World. It is our favorite place to go, and we just love love love it. There is another theme park in Orlando that we also love, and that is Universal Studios. On some websites we have found that many Disney fans hate Universal and think Disney is far superior. While we think Disney exceeds Universal in certain aspects, we think it is a little ridiculous to say one is better than the other. They are different and we absolutely think you should spend a few days at Universal when you are in Orlando. Especially with all the exciting new things happening there!

Halloween Horror Nights 2016

First things first, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter absolutely exceeded any expectations we had. We thought Hogsmeade was amazing, and then were actually blown away by Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express. You feel like you have just walked into the movie. There are massive rumors swirling that Universal will be announcing a third Harry Potter section this summer. (Our vote is for The Ministry of Magic!) If you don’t really care about seeing Universal, we still think visiting the Harry Potter areas is worth it.

TIP: If you want to ride the Hogwarts Express, you have to buy a park-to-park pass.

Hogsmeade is obviously home to Hogwarts and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This is one of the most unique rides we have ever been on. If you get even slightly motion sick though, you may want to skip this one. You should still go through the queue thought because you never know what magical surprises you might find.

Hogwarts Castle - Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

So you can either start at Islands of Adventures or Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure usually closes earlier, so we suggest starting there. First you will go through the Port of Entry. While most people run right by this, there are actually a lot of neat details in this area. IOA is basically a big circle, so you can choose to go either right or left. If you go to the right you will hit Suess Landing, The Lost Continent, Hogsmeade, Jurassic Park, Skull Island, Toon Lagoon, and Marvel Super Hero Island. Each of these “islands” are a lot of fun to walk around. If you are here around the holiday season, Suess Landing celebrates “Grinchmas” with great decorations and special events.

TIP: Mythos is consistently voted one of the best theme park restaurants in the world. Even if you don’t want to have a sit down meal, peek your head inside to see the impressive theming. If you are looking for healthier fare, this is the place to be.

Weekend Getaway: Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure

Our favorites: Spider Man, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey.

Things to Skip: Reign of Kong Skull Island was disappointing. The building and the queue were the best part of the ride. It was way too short and utilized the same screen and simulator technology as many of the other rides. If there’s no line, check it out but we wouldn’t wait in line for this one. Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls is fun, but you will literally be soaked head to toe no matter where you sit.

You can then either walk over to Universal Studios Florida or take the Hogwarts Express.

TIP: Take the Hogwarts Express in both directions. Just do it.

Weekend Getaway: Universal Studios Florida - Diagon Alley

Universal Studios Florida seeks to put you in the middle of all the moviemaking magic. While we think it misses the mark a little as far as theming goes, it still has lots of neat details to see and fun rides and shows. This is also where there are special events throughout the year, like Mardi Gras and Halloween Horror Nights.

Our favorites: Revenge of The Mummy, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, Despicable Me, Transformers The Ride, Horror Make-Up Show.

Things to Skip: Hollywood Rip Ride Rock-it was so shaky and choppy. It was the opposite of a smooth ride, and while it is fun to choose your own music, it was not worth the headache. Also, while Springfield is super cute and fun to walk around, The Simpson’s Ride is also very shaky and uncomfortable. It probably needs a technology update. We do suggest grabbing a drink at Moe’s!

If you still have some energy left, City Walk is quite fun to walk around, shop, eat, and drink. Our favorite is the dueling pianos bar, Pat O’Brien’s!

Universal Orlando City Walk

There are five on-site hotels at a variety of price points. The hotels all offer either bus or water taxi service to the parks. When you stay on-site you get early access to the parks as well, which is a nice perk.

NEW: Volcano Bay, the “water theme park” opens May 25th. Race Through New York With Jimmy Fallon is now open. The Fast & The Furious Ride is set to open in 2018.

So now we want to hear what you think of Universal! What are your favorite things to do and things to skip? Have you eaten at any of the restaurants at Universal or stayed at any of the hotels? What did you think? Let us know here or on Facebook.

The Traveling Gals




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Food and Wine Fest

Disney On A Budget: Food and Wine Festival $25 Challenge

Savor the 2015 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival with only $25!!!!!

We are always trying to think of ways to save money for travel without skimping on the things we love. Kary decided to challenge herself and buy a $25 festival gift card and spend only that amount this Friday evening at the Food and Wine Festival.   While the tastings at each booth around the World Showcase are reasonable, they can add up quickly! It is always a challenge to pick the healthiest fare and spend the least amount of money.

$3.50     Festival Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles at Chew Lab

  • I wanted to try something at this new booth and the cabernet sauvignon is one of two wines created especially for the 20th anniversary of Food and Wine. At tastings over the last few years I have switched to mainly reds because there are so many to try! This one was very nice and not as heavy as some cabs. Paso Robles, California is defined mainly by cabernet varietals. The climate and growing conditions echo those of Bordeaux, France. Their cabernets are award winning and great addition to the Festival.

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A Scary Good Time at Halloween Horror Nights - The Traveling Gals

A Scary Good Time at Halloween Horror Nights

A Scary Good Time at Halloween Horror Nights - The Traveling Gals

Halloween brings out all the ghouls, goblins, horrors, and hauntings. None do it quite as well as Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) at Universal Studios Orlando. Considered one of the top Halloween events in the world, this event transforms the park into a seriously scary place with haunted houses, scare zones, and shows. This year being the event’s 25th anniversary, they did it up big which meant a scary good time for everyone attending.

Because we have premier passes to Universal Studios Orlando, one of the great perks is one admission into HHN on select days. We decided to go on a Sunday so that we could arrive to the park early and not have to wait in the long entrance lines when the event opens.

This year’s main attractions: (the one’s in bold we went through and will put our review after the description)

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