Planning a trip to Disney World Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida? If so, you’re probably researching where to stay, what to do and how to squeeze so much fun into one vacation. One of the best ways to enjoy the full Disney experience is by staying at one of the Disney World Resorts.  Yes, the price to stay at a Disney Resort is higher than an off-site property. But, there’s a good reason why! The perks of a Disney Resort stay are endless.

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Disney Yacht Club Resort

Disney Resort benefits include:

Free Ground Transportation: Disney World hotel and resort guests can board complimentary Magical Express buses at the Orlando International Airport, and be shuttled directly to their resort. Once there, you’ll never need a car as you can use Disney’s Magical Express buses, the monorail, and ferry boats to hop from park to park.

No Hassling with Luggage: With Disney’s free ground transportation from the Orlando Airport, guests can avoid the baggage carousel all together as Disney delivers luggage directly to your hotel room. On your return trip to the airport, which is also free, visitors can save time by checking their luggage and receiving your boarding passes at your Disney Resort. Travel to the airport and let Disney take care of the rest!

MyMagic+: The MyMagic+ program allows Disney visitors to pre-plan their visit, and by doing so they can maximize their fun at the park and minimize line time. All on-property Disney resort guests receive complimentary MyMagic+ bands.

Extra Magic Hours: Take advantage of this unique opportunity to have a more private park experience. Each day, one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or remains open up to two hours after regular closing time. Additionally, Disney Water Parks offer Extra Magic Hours during select times of year.

Walt Disney World Resorts are available in three tiers, from value resorts to moderate places to stay to deluxe accommodations. I’ll guide you through each category, so you can easily choose which option is perfect for your family vacation.

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney Value Resorts: A relatively low price point coupled with the standard Disney amenities make value resorts a good option for many families. Many of the Disney Value Resorts feature over-the-top theming geared towards kids, excellent poolscapes, on-site fast food options and kid-friendly amenities like arcades. Value Resort options include:

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

 

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Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney Moderate Resorts: For an upgrade in amenities, Disney Moderate Resorts are the accommodations that strike a decent balance between cost and services. These mid-level resorts and hotels have more elaborate theming, larger play and pool zones, more elegant and varied dining options, as well as more on site options such as fitness centers and lounges. Moderate Resort options include:

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

 

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Disney Contemporary Resort

Disney Deluxe Resorts: At Disney’s top level resorts visitors will be treated to the white glove experience. Expect high-end amenities with a luxurious touch, including spa services, valet parking, character dining and gourmet restaurants. Each Disney Deluxe Resort has an elaborate theme and backstory, as well as a prime location for easier park access. Deluxe Resorts include:

  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kigndom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

 

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Walt Disney World Swan Resort

Two other on-site Disney Resort options include the high-end Walt Disney World Dolphin and Walt Disney World Swan hotels. These posh hotels are where adults come to play at Disney. Although they are operated by a third-party, both offer all of the benefits of a typical Disney Resort excluding the Magical Express airport transportation.

When you visit the home of the world’s most famous mouse, stay where Mickey and friends call home. You’ll be able to avoid the hassle of travel time, as well as paying parking fees, car rentals and for gas. Plus, you’ll be at the forefront of the magic so you’ll never miss a moment of fun. Choose the Disney World Resort that fits your budget and vacation needs, and be on your way to vacation memories.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

 

WonderWorks-bubble-labOrlando, Florida is known as one of the best places to experience family fun and entertainment.  At Orlando interactive attractions you can do just that.  Engaging, immersive attractions let you experience some of the best Orlando has to offer.  From gators to surfing activities, interactive attractions in Orlando are sure to be a highlight of your vacation. 

Some of the most popular interactive attractions include:

Fantasy Surf: Experience the rush of sliding, riding and surfing waves when Fantasy Surf at FantasyWorld Resort.

Gatorland: Take in an incredible display of huge alligators and crocodiles, train ride, aviary, breeding marsh and bird sanctuary, petting zoo, nature walk, gift shop, and one-of-a-kind shows such as the world famous Gator Jumparoo. 

Kennedy Space Center: Just 45 minutes from popular Orlando attractions and theme parks is NASA’s launch headquarters, the only place on Earth where you can tour launch areas, meet a veteran astronaut, see giant rockets, train in spaceflight simulators, and even view a launch.

WonderWorks: WonderWorks is an amusement park for the mind with over 100 interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages to experience. 

Take a look at the full list of Orlando interactive attractions to see all the choices available.  Many of the attractions have discounts on ticket prices, too, an added bonus of booking your tickets in advance.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Grab your light saber and gear up for Star Wars Weekends 2015. You can join the rebellion Friday, Saturday and Sunday May 15-June 14, 2015 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This event is a must for any diehard Star Wars fan. Celebrities and movie artists make special appearances, their are Jedi Training Academies to attend, behind-the-scenes information to discover and daily parades to watch. That’s just the beginning though. More than 60 characters from the Stars Wars collection will on hand, and each night ends with a Symphony in the Stars Fireworks Show.  Best of all, almost all of the Star Wars Weekends events are included with Hollywood Studios tickets.

Check back soon for details regarding Star Wars Weekends. In the meantime, practice your saber skills!

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Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.
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Hilton Garden Inn Lake Buena Vista

Make your stay in Orlando easy and convenient by staying at a hotel with free shuttle service.  Orlando hotel shuttle service lets you leave the worry of driving and parking behind and is an extra perk of any vacation in the sunny state.  Small hotels to large, amenity-filled resorts offer free shuttle service so you’re sure to find one that suites your vacation needs.

When you choose a hotel with free shuttle service you can wake up, head to the lobby and catch the quickest shuttle to theme parks like Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld.  Some properties have scheduled shuttle service, while others feature non-stop shuttle service.  You can also choose to stay at a Disney World resort for convenient access to transportation to the Disney theme parks.

Some of the Orlando hotels with free shuttle service include:

  • B Resort Lake Buena Vista
  • Best Western Plus Orlando Gateway
  • Celebration Suites
  • Clarion Inn & Suites International Drive
  • FantasyWorld Resort
  • Hilton Garden Inn Lake Buena Vista
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
  • Melia Orlando Suite Hotel
  • Ramada Plaza Resort
  • Summer Bay Orlando
  • WorldQuest Orlando
  • Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa
  • Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort

 

Choose from our selection of Orlando hotels with free shuttle service to simplify your vacation.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Part of the Disney World experience are live stage shows. Each Disney World theme park has exceptionally entertaining productions featuring classic characters and new favorites. Which shows should you see while visiting the parks? I’ve narrowed down five of the best live stage shows at Disney World Orlando you should squeeze into your itinerary.

Five Best Live Stage Shows at Disney World

1) Festival of the Lion King: Maybe it’s childhood nostalgia. Maybe it’s my love for Simba. But my #1 pick was a clear front runner. Headlining at Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Village, Festival of the Lion King shines the spotlight on all your favorite Lion King characters and beloved songs. Animatronics, larger-than-life puppets and innovative performers in African animal costumes make the movie come to life right before your eyes. Just try to hear the “Circle of Life” without singing along!

Show Duration: 30 minutes
Show Times: Held hourly from 10am-5pm
Fastpass+ Offered

2) Beauty and the Beast: A close second in the favorite Disney movie from childhood is Beauty and the Beast. Seeing the “tale as old as time” jump from cartoon form to charming stage show brought about the best of childhood. Performed at the Theater of the Stars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the show is lavish, bold and bright in costumes, scenery and talent. Watch as Belle meets the Beast, listen as they fall in love and reunite with your favorite characters like Lumiere and Mrs. Potts.

Show Duration: 25 minutes
Show Times: Daily, hours vary
Fastpass+ Offered

3) Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular: Even though the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is one of the oldest shows at Disney, as it debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1989, it is nostalgia at its best. All of my favorite scenes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” are action-packed into the program. The technology in the show is a bit dated now, but that’s part of the throwback fun. Indy’s and Marion’s search for the golden idol is made dramatic by brash stuntmen, boulders, whips, explosions and epic bad guy chases. Be sure to volunteer for the casting call at the beginning of the show. You could be chosen to the join Indy on his adventure!

Show Duration: 30 minutes
Show Times: Daily, hours vary
Fastpass+ Offered

4) Finding Nemo: Everyone’s favorite fish is found at the Theater in the Wild at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Park-goers of all ages enjoy an adventure under the sea with Marlin, his goofy friend Dory, Crush the Turtle and son Nemo. Swim through the Great Barrier Reef into an underwater world brought to life by over-the-top puppets, exceptional sets and special effects. The new musical numbers added to the show create an all-new experience. It’s the first time Disney has ever adapted a non-musical cartoon into a musical. To create the songs, Broadway veteran composer Robert Lopez was brought on, penning “Just Keep Swimming,” “Go with the Flow” and “In The Big, Blue World.”

Show Duration: 40 Minutes
Show Times: Daily, hours vary
Fastpass+ Offered

5) A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration: New to the Disney entertainment line-up, the Frozen stage show is simple yet extremely popular with Frozen fans. During the show, held at the Premiere Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you join Anna and Elsa for an interactive experience where you laugh and sing-along to your favorite Frozen songs. You won’t be able to “Let it Go” because you’ll be belting it out!

Show Duration: 30 Minutes
Show Times: Daily, hours vary
Fastpass+ Offered

Bonus: Although not technically a theater show, Dream Along with Mickey is a favorite of mine. All of the timeless Disney characters, from Mickey Mouse to Cinderella, come together for a show that is the essence of happily ever after. Even all of your favorite princesses make an appearance to sing classic songs such as “Some Day My Prince Will Come,” “Once Upon a Dream” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” Dream Along with Mickey is located on the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

Show Duration: 20 minutes
Show Times: Daily, hours vary
Fastpass+ not available


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

february_eventsCheck out these Orlando events happening this February:

February 1 – March 6:  Real Music Concert Series at Busch Gardens
The Real Music Concert Series continues at Busch Gardens Tampa during February. Concerts are held Wednesdays-Saturdays and feature live music from a variety of artists including Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, Shirley Jones, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, The Grassroots and The Diamonds.

February 7– April 18:  Universal Studios Mardi Gras
Take part in one of the most spectacular Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans at Universal Orlando. On Saturdays and select nights during the spring, enjoy live concerts, parades, street performers, and authentic Cajun cuisine.

February 7: Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival & Birdapalooza
Get close to nature during this second annual event, held 9am-4pm. Birdapalooza celebrates the rich variety of birds and wildlife found in the natural habitat of Lake Apopka, Florida.

February 7-8: Mount Dora Arts Festival
Listen to local and regional musical talent while browsing endless rows of fine art. It’s a true day in the park during the Mount Dora Arts Festival, held from 10am-5pm. The juried arts show is located in Downtown Mount Dora, a quant New England-esque town bordering Lake Dora.

February 13-15: WINEFEST XXV
Lakeridge Winery hosts free festivities, wine tours and tastings. Plus, a Winter Wine Festival is held each Saturday night in January and WINEFEST XXV takes place February 13-15, 2015.

February 14: 13th Annual Orlando Folk Festival
The 13th Annual Orlando Folk Festival features folk and Americana music all day on the main stage, dance, storytelling, traditional craft demonstrations and plenty of food and art vendors. Hours are 10am-5pm.  Admission is free.

February 19-22:  Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend
The half marathon weekend features fun and athletic competitions for the whole family. Events include Disney’s Princess Half Marathon, Disney Royal Family 5K, runDisney Royal Family Kids’ Races, Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo, and Pasta in the Park Party.

Universal Orlando CityWalkWhen you spend a day at Universal Orlando Resort you can explore Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, immersing yourself in an action-packed atmosphere full of thrilling rides and movie-themed attractions. To help you get a head start on your theme park visit we’ve guided you through where to eat at both parks with our Universal Orlando Resort dining guides. Now, let’s take a look at the options available at Universal Orlando CityWalk – a hip, modern entertainment and dining zone.

A variety of fresh flavors and eclectic cuisines are presented at Universal Orlando CityWalk. Everything from comfort food to spicy Latin fare and Asian fusion find a place on restaurant menus. Many restaurants here cater to adults, with more than just your typical theme park food gracing tables.

CityWalk Table Service Restaurants

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Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food: A festive, fun atmosphere greets guests at Antojitos.  Located at the former site of The Latin Quarter, the restaurant celebrates Mexican street culture and cuisine.  Order from their large tequila section to get your night started.  Then, dip your chips in one of the spicy fresh salsas.  The tableside guacamole bursts with flavor, too.  Same room for the main course, though.   Mexican menu items run the gamut from enchiladas to burritos to fajitas and tacos, each with a unique twist. I recommend the Chile Relleno de la Abuelita, Carnitas Lupita or El Burito Revolucionario. Each combine the rich flavors, large portion sizes and perfectly seasoned.

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Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom: Share the love at Bob Marley’s, a Jamaican-influenced restaurant serving appetizers, entrees and desserts. Some of the most popular menu items are Oxtail Stew and a Jamaican Curry Chicken. The atmosphere will appeal to any Marley fan as it is a faithful recreation of the singer’s Jamaica home, and has various artifacts throughout celebrating his life, music and career.

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Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market: The company made famous by the movie Forrest Gump comes to life at CityWalk. Shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp highlight this menu, although you can also find steaks and ribs. The family-friendly stop is an entertaining one as memorabilia from Forrest Gump lines the walls of the restaurant.

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Emeril’s Orlando: Perfect for that special night out Emeril’s Orlando is an upscale restaurant with a flavorful menu created by Chef Emeril Lagasse Unique dishes, quality ingredients and first rate service create the best place to dine at CityWalk. “Kick it up a notch” with Emeril’s creole-infused, New Orleans inspired creations. I highly recommend reservations for Emeril’s Orlando.

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Hard Rock Café Orlando: The eye-catching Hard Rock Café Orlando is designed like the Roman Colosseum and it shines across the lagoon of Universal CityWalk. The sight is quite an impressive one. Inside the café you’ll see decades of rock ‘n roll memorabilia. Classic American cuisine like hamburgers, steaks, and barbeque are choice selections. Save room for dessert – the Key Lime Pie is a tart yet sweet finish worth the wait.

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Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville: Step into the laidback, carefree Margaritaville – where all your worries drift away and sunshine days are endless. Tropical, beachy and oh-so-refreshing Margaritaville at CityWalk is one of my favorite dining options. The coconut shrimp are crunchy, sweet and plump and the serving is plentiful. Plus, the drinks here are a signature item so when in Margaritaville do as the villagers do – drink margaritas!

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NBA City: Take it the court at NBA City, a basketball themed restaurant serving American fare with a contemporary twist. Entrees range from Chicken Bleu Cheese Pasta and Sesame Crusted Salmon to Maple Glazed Pork Chops, Cajun Stuffed Chicken, and Oak-Smoked Baby Back Ribs. Take a shot at the menu, which has family-friendly options like hamburgers and steaks too.

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Pat O’Brien’s: An authentic reproduction of New Orleans’ favorite watering hole, Pat O’Brien’s is fun day or night. New Orleans-style dishes like Crawfish Nachos, N’awlins Po’Boy and Bourbon Street Chicken are some of my favorite menu items. Dueling pianos perform nightly creating a lively atmosphere where it’s Mardi Gras every night. We recommend sitting in the courtyard for the best New Orleans-inspired experience.

Credit: facebook.com/TheCowfish

Credit: facebook.com/TheCowfish

The Cowfish: The name says it all, as this restaurant combines burgers with sushi for a menu that is unique to say the least.  It also solves the conundrum of getting your sushi fix when others in your group aren’t a fan.  A customizable gourmet burger menu features all-natural, mouth-watering stacks topped with everything from jalapeno poppers to peanut butter to tomato onion jam.  At the sushi bar, fresh fusion rolls are a favorite.  The King’s Roll and The Boss are two standouts.

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VIVO Italian Kitchen: Comfort food at its best is found at VIVO Italian Kitchen.  Traditional Italian food made with classic recipes shines at the restaurant that replaced Pastamore.  The upgrade has been well received, especially as the food is the best Italian you’ll find at Universal Orlando CityWalk.  The sleek, modern design showcases an open kitchen, complete with a hanging tree for the freshly made pasta.  Squid Ink Pasta, Risotto with Short Ribs, Pear-Stuffed Fucheti, Tagliatelle & Fennel Sausage and Bucatini with Meatballs are quickly becoming favorites of patrons.  The

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Universal CityWalk Counter Service Restaurants

  • Big Kahuna Pizza
  • Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches
  • BK Whopper Bar
  • Cinnabon
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Fusion Bistro Sushi and Sake Bar
  • Hot Dog Hall of Fame
  • Lone Pal Airport
  • Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt
  • Moe’s Southwest Grill
  • Panda Express
  • Red Oven Pizza Bakery
  • Starbucks Coffee

If you’re looking for a quicker way to dine at CityWalk check out the Top of the Walk Food Court. Many of the restaurants listed above are located there. Its convenient combination of options makes it easy for family members to pick and choose the food they want. I prefer a Moe’s burrito but my friend loves Panda Express. We each order and meet back at the table and everyone’s happy. You can get your sweet treat fix at Cinnabon and TCBY, while you can get a shot of energy at Starbucks. Thirsty for a drink? Fat Tuesday and Galaxy Bar.

Universal Orlando’s CityWalk is an eclectic mix of restaurants sure to inspire your taste buds. Whether you’re stopping for a meal after a day at the park or looking for a fun night our, CityWalk has you covered.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.