Attention all Simpsons fans!  Springfield is now open at Universal Orlando Resort.  This new area of Universal Studios is the world’s first Simpsons themed environment.  You’re invited to step inside the hometown of America’s favorite animated family, The Simpsons, like never before. 

Springfield surrounds the mega-attraction The Simpsons Ride.  The newly-themed area features iconic eateries and shops from popular animated series.  During your visit to Springfield you can:
  • Enjoy a “Genuine Clown-Endorsed Meal” and Buzz Cola at Krusty Burger
  • Grab a Homer-sized helping of donuts at Lard Lad
  • Imbibe at Moe’s Tavern with a Flaming Moe
  • Get “embiggened” at the Jebediah Springfield statue
  • Enjoy a “Taco Fresho” at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck
  • Snatch the catch of the day at the Frying Dutchman
  • Get a slice that’s “a-nice” at Luigi’s Pizza
  • Hang out at Duff Brewery and enjoy a Duff Beer – brewed exclusively for Universal Orlando Resort
  • Go for an intergalactic spin on the area’s new attraction, Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • Meet Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob – Universal’s two newest walkaround Simpsons characters
The Simpsons is the longest running scripted show in television history.  The cultural phenomenon has a large fan base and the recreation of the characters hometown makes park-goers feel a part of their favorite show.  Purchase discount Universal Orlando Resort tickets to see where Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie call home.

Attention all foodies!  Orlando is hosting Magical Dining Month during September, an event during which 60 of Orlando’s top restaurants serve up three-course prix-fixe dinners for $33.  Indulge your inner gourmet with an appetizer, entrée and dessert at a different restaurant every day of the week. 

An array of restaurants with diverse cuisine will be participating in the event.  Some of the award-winning restaurants include Le Coq au Vin, Emeril’s Tchoup Chap and La Luce by Donna Scala.  With 60 restaurants serving patrons during Magical Dining Month, the restaurants have been divided into districts.   Browse our quick guide to get a head start on your dining plans. 

Convention District:  Encompassing International Drive, this district is home to the largest amount of Magical Dining restaurants, including eateries like Capriccio Grill, Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse and The Capital Grille. 

Disney/Lake Buena Vista District:   Upscale, fine dining options are available here.  Options include The Venetian Room, Todd English’s bluezoo, La Luce by Donna Scala and Mikado Japanese Steakhouse.   

Downtown District: Amidst the lively atmosphere you’ll find trendy and local favorites like Citrus Restaurant, Funky Monkey Wine Company, Maxine’s on Shine and The Boheme. 

Universal/CityWalk District: Universal signature restaurants participating in Magical Dining Month include Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, Trattoria del Porto and Mama Della’s Ristorante. 

Restaurant Row District: Upscale and casual restaurants are found along this one-mile stretch of Sand Lake Road.  Choose from Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, Seasons 52, The Melting Pot, Morton’s Steakhouse and Big Fin Seafood Kitchen.

Winter Park District: This quaint area serves up selections from Luma on Park and Chez Vincent, among others. 
In surrounding areas, you can dine at Bohemian Bar and Grill, K Restaurant, Le Coq Au Vin, The Capital Grille. 

Orlando’s Magical Dining Month  is a fantastic time to visit some of the best restaurants in Orlando.   Steep discounts let you save a good deal of money while you experience the meals created by renowned Chefs.   A charge of $33 gets you a three course dinner at restaurants that generally charge $20-$35 for a single entrée.  The Magical Dining Month discounts are available to locals and visitors.  A full list of participating restaurants is available here.  Browse the full selection of restaurants and choose a few to visit during your vacation.

A Celebration of Harry Potter is coming to Universal Orlando Resort and you’re invited!  The Orlando theme park, in partnership with Warner Bros. Studios, has designed a special Harry Potter event fans of all ages will want to experience.  Beginning January 24, 2014, fans will be able to enjoy three days of Potter-themed activities.  From interactive experiences to a private evening reception and more, this exciting event will be three days of unforgettable fun for all ages, set against the backdrop of two amazing theme parks.

Guests will have the opportunity to:
  • Attend Q&A; sessions with Harry Potter talent, filmmakers, and other special guests (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
  • Revisit some of their favorite Harry Potter film moments during a film tribute with Harry Potter talent and filmmakers (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
  • Learn the art of “dueling” at a wand master class that’s featured at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and hosted by Paul Harris – the choreographer who trained the cast of the Harry Potter films
  • Opportunities to explore Hogwarts castle, and shop and dine in Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • An exciting Harry Potter Film Tribute with select cast members and filmmakers
Guests will also have access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where they can soar above Hogwarts on the thrilling attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, sip Butterbeer at the Hog’s Head pub, see a wand choose a wizard in Ollivanders, explore iconic shops like Honeydukes, Zonko’s, and more.

While most of the activities for A Celebration of Harry Potter will be open to all Universal Orlando ticketholders only guests who purchase the special event package will enjoy exclusive benefits and reserved seating for select events.  Packages are extremely limited and go on sale at noon EST on Thursday, August 22.

Toby Mac

Disney World’s Night of Joy is a contemporary Christian music festival attracting thousands of attendees.  Guests who attend this after hours ticketed event, scheduled September 6 and 7 from 73pm to 1:00am, will enjoy live performances by Christian music superstars in rock, pop, and gospel.  The schedule of performers has just been released.  Here’s the information you need to know to plan your perfect Night of Joy experience.

September 6
Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage
  • Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith: 7:40pm
  • MercyMe: 9:50pm
  • Skillet: 11:55pm

Galaxy Stage

  • Audio Adrenaline: 7:30pm and 8:50pm
  • Mandisa: 10:25pm
  • For King and Country: 12:10am
Rockettower Plaza Stage
  • City: 8:15pm
  • We As: 9:40pm
  • Moriah Peters: 11:20pm
September 7
Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage
  • Francesca Battistelli: 7:40pm
  • Steven Musso: 9:30pm
  • TobyMac: 9:50pm
  • Newsboys: 11:55pm
Galaxy Stage
  • Matthew West: 7:30pm and 8:50pm
  • Group 1 Crew: 10:25pm
  • Building 429: 12:10am
Rockettower Plaza Stage
  • Jamie Grace 8:15pm and 9:40pm
  • Plumb: 11:20pm
Make a day of it and get discount Disney tickets for the day before you rock out to some of best contemporary Christian music at Night of Joy.  Night of Joy tickets are available for purchase here.  Advance sale prices are $55 for one night, $99 for two nights.  Day of event sale prices are $65 per night.

Face your fears at Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights.  For 27 terrifying nights beginning September 20 Universal Studios is transformed into one of the nation’s most terrifying playgrounds.  See if you can survive haunted houses, electrifying scare zones, outrageous live shows, and other hauntingly good fun.   Winner of Amusement Today’s “Best Halloween Event” Golden Ticket award the last four years, Halloween Horror Nights is the premier Halloween event in Orlando.

The horror film “The Cabin in the Woods” is set to come alive during Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 23.  You will step inside the menacing cabin from the movie and fend off a malicious family of zombies. Just like in the film, guests will flee from the cabin and enter a hidden facility where a secret operative is plotting their sacrificial demise.  Suddenly, a menagerie of bloodthirsty monsters is released – and you’re in the middle of all-out chaos.  Can you make it out alive?
After surviving “The Cabin in the Woods” summon your courage for haunted houses themed after “The Walking Dead” and “Evil Dead.”   Although “The Walking Dead” was featured at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights last year it has returned with a more prominent role.  You will have the chance to walk in the footsteps of human survivors when an all-new terrifying maze inspired by season three of walking dead is unveiled.  The eerily authentic and disturbingly real maze experiences will place Halloween Horror Nights guests at the heart of the show’s once impenetrable prison, the West Georgia Correctional Facility, now overrun by hordes of flesh-eating walkers.  The mazes at Universal Orlando will send guests cowering through the walker-infested wilderness that surrounds the prison and into the seemingly utopian town of Woodbury where gruesome secrets are concealed.  For the first time ever Universal has also dedicated its entire Halloween Horror Nights street experience to “The Walking Dead.”  All scare zones throughout the park will be themed after the hit television series.  Guests brave enough to walk the streets of Universal Studios Florida will encounter iconic scenes from all three seasons of the hit show – including the perilous city of Atlanta and Hershel’s dismal barn – and fleets of blood-thirsty walkers who are hungry for their next victim. 
At the “Evil Dead” haunted house you are transported into the film and face off against a demonic evil that will stop at nothing to consume them.  It begins when a mysterious passage from an ancient book is read, releasing an unearthly force of darkness. A pack of violently possessed victims, including the film’s starring character “Mia,” wreaks brutal carnage throughout the mazes – and guests must make their best attempt to escape. 

This year’s Halloween Horror Nights happens Sept. 20, 21, 26 – 29; Oct. 3 – 6, 10 – 13, 16-20, 23 – 27, 31; Nov. 1 and 2.  Halloween Horror Nights tickets are on sale now.  A separate admission is needed for this special event. 

It may be summer now but that’s no reason you can’t start planning your winter vacation.  Gaylord Palms has already announced details regarding their spectacular ICE! event.  This year the Gaylord Palms is bringing the North Pole to Orlando and Frosty the Snowman will join them in the festivities. 

Frosty the Snowman and his friends will be featured in a colorfully frozen retelling of the original Christmas classic.  More than 2 million pounds of hand-carved sculptures and icy recreations make this 9 degree event a true winter wonderland.   There’s even four ice slides designed to let you truly experience the fun of an ICE! 

New for 2013 is Artisans in Action.  The live lice-carving zone allows you to get up close to watch masterful ice carver from Harbin, China up close as he creates amazing sculptures before your eyes.  He is part of the tem of 40 ice sculpturists who travel from Harbin to create the ICE! event.  More than 6,000 blocks of ice are used and it takes over a month to complete the exhibit.

DreamWorks characters are also returning for some child-friendly events.  Join Gingy from Shrek for Gingy’s Gingerbread Experience where you can decorate a gingerbread house and get your picture taken with Gingy.  Want to start your day off right?  The Shrekfest Interactive Character Meal is just the ticket.  Become an honorary Ogre and join Shrek and friends for a fairytale feast fit for a king with tableside hugs and photos. Special DreamWorks character meet and greets are also planned.  Characters from Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda make appearances.  On top of that, a DreamWorks Themed Scavenger Hunt is planned for families too.
Gaylord Palms Orlando gets into the holiday spirit dazzling holiday displays, more than two million twinkling lights, a 54-foot tall Christmas tree, carolers and plenty of cheer.  Plan your winter escape now to experience the wonder of ICE! at Gaylord Palms.

On the thirteenth year every century, evil comes out to play. Thirteen evils, to be exact. Come in to Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream – they’ve been expecting you.  On select nights from September 27 through October 26, Tampa’s most thrilling theme park puts the terror back in Halloween. 

What are the 13 evils waiting for you at Busch Gardens Tampa?  The theme park has unveiled each evil, one by one, adding to the anticipation of what to expect at annual Howl-O-Scream bash.  Ten of the thirteen evils known so far include:

  • #1: The Possessed
  • #3:  The Hunter
  • #4: The Butcher
  • #5: The Banshee
  • #6: Voodoo Queen
  • #7: The Surgeon
  • #9: The Zombie
  • #10: The Cannibal
  • #12: The Hangman
  • #13: The Clown
Stay tuned to find out which evils are lurking behind doors #2, #8 and #11. 

Four Haunted Houses have already been revealed for BuschGardens Howl-O-Scream.

  • Death Water Bayou: Deep in the bayou the #6 Voodoo Queen mystically transforms lost wanderers into her minions of evil with black magic. Here, her night servants roam with a zombie-like hunger and seek to grow her collection. The darkest evils lurk in shadows. Get out before you fall victim to her spell.
  • The Basement:  From Momma’s secret ingredient to Granny’s bone-ground flour, Momma’s Meats’ award-winning recipe has always been a family affair that’s only created in the Basement.  Escape the depths of the Basement before she and #4 Butcher turn you in to the secret sauce! She always said it took blood, sweat and tears!
  • Circus of Superstition 3D: You’ve tried to avoid black cats and sidewalk cracks, but all those years of bad luck caught up with you!  The #13 Clown challenges you to survive 13 superstitions in their 3-D Tent of Terror, but it will take more than luck to escape his whole new dimension of fear.
  • Zombie Mortuary:  No one remembers how the epidemic started, but now, the #9 Zombie and his undead friends live here. They infest this small town funeral home and feed on the fresh flesh and brains of mortuary mourners to satisfy their insatiable hunger. Avoid the walking dead or you may find yourself deeper than six feet under.
Howl-O-Scream tickets are on sale now.  The event is featured Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.  Operating hours are 7:30pm to 1:00am on Thursday nights, with hours extended until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.  If you purchase tickets now, you can receive single-day admission for only $47.  Going with a group of friends?  Then, tickets are as low as $30. 
Join the scare-a-bration at Busch Gardens this fall!
Photo Credit: SeaWorld.  Pictured: Jack Hanna

Animal Expert Jack Hanna returns to SeaWorld Orlando September 14-15, 2013.  During the wild weekend Hanna will host special shows as well as join select guests for dinner and breakfast.   

Jack Hanna is a popular celebrity animal expert who is recognized for his vast knowledge and enthusiasm for wild animals and wildlife conservation.  In the past, some of the animal friends Hanna has brought to Sea World include clouded leopards, chatty kookaburra birds, and a variety of majestic eagles.  One of the reasons his visits to SeaWorld are so special is he regularly interacts with his audience and makes the experience personal yet educational.  Even better, Jack Hanna’s shows are included with SeaWorld tickets.  Come early, though, as seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Show times will be at 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. each day in Nautilus Theater

If you’d like to attend the breakfast or dinner events, an additional ticket is required.  Cost for dinner is $59, while breakfast reservations are $49.

Dinner with Jack Hanna at Dine with Shamu:  During this special event, Jack Hanna will entertain with some animal facts, stories and answers questions from you.  Guests also review a complimentary family photo, one complimentary adult beverage for guests 21 and over and special reserved seats at his second show! 

Breakfast with Jack Hanna at Sharks Underwater Grill:  The breakfast event is similar to the dinner option, although alcoholic beverages are not included.

Join SeaWorld for “Jungle Jack” weekend in Orlando!

September 6-7:  Night of Joy at Magic Kingdom
This contemporary Christian music festival brings together music superstars of rock, pop, and gospel. Concerts will take place on multiple stages during the evenings.  Night of Joy tickets are on sale now. 

September 6-7:  Rock the Universe
Universal Studios will be hosting their own Christian music festival featuring 17 bands. A separate event ticket is required.
September 10 – November 1:  Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Magic Kingdom hosts this Halloween-themed event appropriate for all ages. Dress up in your favorite costume and go trick-or-treating around the park.

September 14-15: Jack Hannah Weekend at SeaWorld
Renowned animal expert and television personality, Jack Hanna, and his animal friends bring an unforgettable wild experience to SeaWorld Orlando.   Hanna’s past “co-stars” have included clouded leopards, chatty kookaburra birds, penguins, otters and majestic eagles.   Hanna’s shows are included in park admission but seating is limited.

September 27 – October 26:  Howl-O-Scream at Busch GardensHaunted houses, scare zones, thrilling shows, and shocking creatures are some of the terrifying experiences happening during Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa.
September 20 – November 2:  Halloween Horror Nights
This year’s Halloween event is even scarier with haunted houses themed after The Walking Dead, The Cabin in the Woods and Evil Dead.  Make your way through haunted houses, terrifying shows, and scare zones.

September 27 – November 11:  Epcot International Food& Wine Festival

The 18th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festivalis the highlight of the fall as Disney guests can taste their way around the world, listen to some of their favorite tunes during the Eat to the Beat Concert Series and attend culinary programs geared towards the foodie in all of us.

You’re invited to Walt Disney World Orlando’s premier contemporary Christian music festival – Night of Joy!  The festival is scheduled for September 6 and 7, 2013, at the Magic Kingdom theme park from 7:30 pm – 1:00 am (after the park closes.) The star-studded lineup is always outstanding and features a host of Dove Award and Grammy Award winning artists.

Guests who attend this after hours ticketed event will enjoy live performances by Christian music superstars in rock, pop, and gospel. Night of Joy artists will perform on various stages throughout Magic Kingdom.  All concerts begin at 7:30pm.
September 6 performers include:

  • Mercy Me
  • Michael W. Smith
  • Mandisa
  • Audio Adrenaline
  • We As Human
  • Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Skillet
  • Matthew West
  • Moriah Peters
  • City Harbor

September 7 performers include:

  • TobyMac
  • Francesca Battistelli
  • Group 1 Crew
  • For King and Country
  • Newsboys
  • Britt Nicole
  • Building 429
  • Jamie Grace
Several attractions at the Magic Kingdom are open during the Night of Joy Festival. 

Magic Kingdom rides open during Night of Joy include:

  • Big Mountain Railroad
  • Space Mountain
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Splash Mountain
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
Make a day of it and get discount Disney tickets for the day before you rock out to some of best contemporary Christian music at Night of Joy.  Night of Joy tickets are available for purchase here.  Advance sale prices are $55 for one night, $99 for two nights.  Day of event sale prices are $65 per night.