rsz_epcot_food_and_wine_copyrightCelebrating its 20th year, the Epcot Food & Wine Festival returns to Disney World for a global tour of culinary delights. For the first time ever, the festival is stretching into the park’s Future World with four new food and beverage marketplaces. Each year the festival, which is scheduled for September 25 through November 16, 2015, presents a showcase of food adventures, appealing to the culinary enthusiast in all of us.  To keep the festival fresh, Epcot adds new things to do so each year so guests can visit every year and have a different experience.  Ready to find out what is new for 2015?  Read on.

While most Epcot Food & Wine Fstival events are included in regular Epcot admission, including the new Back to Basics series, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discover Passport, as well as attractions and park entertainment, you can also look forward to over-the-top premium events, including:

Epcot_Intl_Fest_CopyrightRockin’ Burger Block Party
You can get a glimpse of the cast of ABC TV’s “The Chew” at this new premium event on Oct. 8 in World ShowPlace. They’ll enjoy specialty burgers and sliders inspired by top names in the music industry such as Dave Matthews and his Dreaming Tree Wines and Carlos Santana’s Casa Noble Tequila. (Two additional Burger Block Parties are set for Sept. 25 and Nov. 6.) This event includes VIP seating with a specialty cocktail toast, premium bar and more.

Yelloween Masquerade Party for the Senses
This first-time event on Oct. 31 will be one in a series of popular Party for the Senses premium events. You can experience an elegant, dance-the-night-away, gourmet tasting party with Champagne, wine, craft beers and specialty cocktails paired with food.

Epcot_Food_and_Wine_CopyrightAnother Party for the Senses you won’t want to miss takes place Oct. 24, and features Disney chefs from the United States, Europe, and Asia cooking their favorite cuisine that represents their cultures as well as the Disney Parks and Resorts they call home.

Additional Party for the Senses dates are Oct. 3, 10 and 17, and each evening starts with a reserved seat at the Eat to the Beat concert series at the America Gardens Theatre. Following the show, you will head to World ShowPlace for a sensational evening with more than 50 tasting stations, and performances by Cirque du Soleil.

What’s Cookin’ With…
You can begin the morning with a delightfully plated brunch and sparkling wine toast. Culinary celebs will demo a favorite dish and then sit down with the emcee to answer questions from the audience and share secrets of their successes. The brunch happens every Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. during the festival.

0918ZW_0098MSGuests include:

Sept. 27: Andrew Zimmern
Oct. 2: Amanda Freitag presented by Mylan
Oct. 4: Bryan Voltaggio
Oct.9: Jamie Deen
Oct.11: Carla Hall
Oct.16: Gale Gand
Oct. 18: Cat Cora
Oct.23: Allen Susser
Oct. 25: John Ash presented by Verlasso
Oct. 30: Robert Irvine
 Bold Flavors at the Brazil MarketplaceNov. 1: Erika Davis
Nov. 6: Buddy Valastro
Nov. 8: David Guas
Nov. 13: Alex Guarnaschelli
Nov. 15: Sarah Fioroni

Others premium events include the Mexican Tequila Lunch, Japanese Craft Beer Tasting and the new French Family Meal Traditions.

Reservations for these specialty events open July 30, 2015. Call to 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) to reserve your spot. Some events can be booked at culinary demos, beverage seminars, mixology seminars, general admission for Party for the Senses and general admission for the Rockin’ Burger Block Party.

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.

Reserve comedy show tickets for a laugh-out-loud night in Orlando. Hilarious antics and routines featured in Orlando comedy shows are the perfect way to end a day of vacation in the sunny state. From side-splitting impressions to deadpan humor about everyday life, comedy shows in Orlando Florida will have you laughing for days.

For some of the best laughs in Orlando check out these shows:


Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group
Experience the mystery, the humor, the euphoria and the indescribable celebration of art, technology, and music that is Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando® Resort. It combines science and laughter, and makes for an explosive evening of entertainment. Lose yourself in the incredible performances, the astounding music, and the captivating stage show. See the show that has wowed over 25 million people worldwide.

Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show
Join Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show for a comedy, mystery shows where you become the detective and solve the crime! Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows 2 ½ hour long intrigue will keep you talking for years to come about the mysteries that lurk in Orlando.

The Outta Control Dinner Show

The Outta Control Dinner Show

The Outta Control Dinner Show
This hilarious show combines high-energy comedy improvisation with spectacular magic to thoroughly entertain audiences of all ages. During the show, you will enjoy unlimited fresh hand-tossed pizza, salad, popcorn, beer, wine and soft drinks. Voted best dinner show on the Wesh 2 A-List and winner of the Orlando Sentinel Best Bets Award.

Treasure Tavern
Step into an evening of extravagant amusement and exceptional dining with Treasure Tavern. Meet Madame Gretta, the tavern’s outlandish maven who escorts guests through a two hour show filled with excitement, fun and a three course dinner and find out why travelers, adventurers and explorers call this tavern the best place for entertainment and dining.

Reserve your Orlando comedy show tickets today to receive discounts and the best seats available for your show time.

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.

When it comes to planning a summer trip with kids, plenty of exciting family fun awaits in and near Orlando. Whether it’s the world-famous theme parks, large number of Orlando attractions or unique outdoor adventures, the summer season brings many family-friendly activities for everyone to explore and enjoy every day. Certainly, Central Florida is hot, but the city’s hottest spots keep us entertained all season long. Here are some fun things to do in Orlando for kids that will keep you cool and provide a great time on your summer visit.

Meet Anna and Elsa during "Frozen Summer Fun"

Meet Anna and Elsa during “Frozen Summer Fun”

Orlando offers many exciting attractions for kids any time of the year, but in the summer the city really keeps families smiling. If your kids enjoyed the film “Frozen,” they’ll have a great time celebrating it all day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Throughout the summer visitors will be entertained by cool thrills including a royal procession, a sing-a-long show, “Frozen”-themed treats and merchandise, plus great food and beverages. The kids will love to see Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Kristoff and everybody’s favorite fun-loving snowman, Olaf, who has a brand-new show, in the royal welcome parade accompanied by the Royal Arendelle Flag Corps and a flurry of skaters, skiers and ice cutters, plus the delightful “Frozen” sing-a-long “Let it Go!”

Afterward, take a stroll to the beautiful Hyperion Theater located in the heart of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where you can catch the popular show, For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along-Celebration. Here, you’ll enjoy some all-new in-theater effects and special appearances. Outside the theater, there’s a new retail location filled with all-things “Frozen.”

Share a laugh at the Magic Kingdom

Share a laugh at the Magic Kingdom

For other fun Walt Disney World options, catch a showing of the new animated short “Frozen Fever” with Disney’s live-action “Cinderella,” and a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the film inside the ABC Sound Studio.

Later some favorite Disney characters take to the stage to host the “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party. At sunset, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf come together at the Event Stage for a grand finale to the day’s festivities kicking off an awe-inspiring “Frozen” fireworks display set to the music of “Frozen” and, of course, a flurry of snow! Its one cool spot where you can even see it snow in Florida.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a good park to combine with another park choice. Come early for the parade, take a few rides then pop off to one of the other parks for the afternoon. You can easily return to the Studios in time for the spectacular “Frozen” fireworks display.

The Magic Kingdom is always a good choice. I don’t know anyplace else where you can escape to a world of some of the most beloved animated characters that come to life and a fantasy world of princes and princesses, kings and queens. Known as the “King” of Orlando’s theme parks, it draws more visitors each year than any other theme park in the country. Also known as the “Happiest Place on Earth”, the Magic Kingdom covers 107 acres and is home to seven areas or themed lands along with dozens of other attractions for people of all ages. It’s a place for everyone, young and old, to journey to a fantasy land of the past and future. Here you can hurtle through space to unknown lands, sail on magic carpets or ride a train through an old west mining town. No trip to Disney World is complete without visiting the Magic Kingdom.

Make a splash at Typhoon Lagoon

Make a splash at Typhoon Lagoon

All of Walt Disney’s Water parks will stay even cooler all summer long with a variety of special events. Take a break from the theme parks to cool off at Disney’s water parks. Typhoon Lagoon, one of my favorites, and Blizzard Beach offer thrilling waterslides, raft rides, wave pools and other water relief. Both parks are lots of fun, and Blizzard Beach also has a mini-golf course right next door if you want to add a couple of rounds to your day.

If you like things a little more lively and want to leave the theme park rides behind, take the 40-minute drive from Disney World to the Kennedy Space Center where your entire family will experience a real adrenaline rush. Your kids will immerse themselves in the ingenious technology that sent brave astronauts on the ultimate journey through space. It’s definitely a unique experience. You’ll get a chance to see what its like to train in a spaceflight simulator, see rockets, launch pads and meet astronauts. Then grab a bite to eat at a space themed food court. If your kids are really into space travel you can enjoy a delicious meal with an Astronaut, who will give a short talk. And you’ll have the opportunity to actually take a photo with an astronaut.

Rock Springs at Kelly Park Photo Credit: Rain0974/flickr

Rock Springs at Kelly Park
Photo Credit: Rain0974/flickr

Your trip to Orlando isn’t complete without an excursion to a gorgeous natural spring where water temperatures average 68 to 72 degrees all year. Rock Springs at Kelly Park in Apopka, is a beautiful, shaded park with a playground about 45 minutes from Orlando. Hidden in a corner of Orange County, cool, crystal clear natural spring water spills out of crevices in the ground. For a splashy adventure, you can swim, rent a canoe and a kayak, and walk along a hiking trail. Imagine tubing on a swift creek that travels for more than 8 miles through a pristine rock spring run. It’s a fun activity for the whole family. Admission is $3 and you can rent tubes from private outfitters just outside the park for $5 to $10. The park fills up fast on summer weekends, and the gates shut when parking lots are full. It’s best to arrive early in the morning or visit during the week when you can avoid the crowds.

World of Disney, located at Downtown Disney, is the largest Disney souvenir shop anywhere

World of Disney, located at Downtown Disney, is the largest Disney souvenir shop anywhere

If you really like things lively, visit the Downtown Disney area with its world-class restaurants, dazzling entertainment and unique shops. Here, you’ll discover that Disney World isn’t all kid stuff. The Landing, West Side, and Marketplace all add grown-up fun to the mix. Shop in the world’s largest Disney store, dine amid prehistoric creatures, and have some fun bowling a game at Splitsville, 30-lane bowling alley.

Another reason to visit Orlando now: From personal experience, it’s a lot less expensive in the summer. You can find pre-high season deals on the hotels and resorts, such as the New Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World, the Ritz-Carlton, or several on-site at Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World Resorts. You’ll also find plenty of free or low-cost activities around town.

Disney World attracts visitors from all over America thanks to its family-friendly appeal. For over 40 years, the park has been popular due to its promise of meeting Mickey Mouse, riding Space Mountain and walking through Cinderella’s Castle. Over the years, Disney World has added new attractions and enhanced old ones to ensure each day is magical perfection. Many rides have reached iconic status due to their staying power, popularity and sense of nostalgia they invoke. Which are the most iconic rides at Disney World Orlando? Read on to find out.

Space Mountain

Space Mountain

Space Mountain
There’s a reason I mentioned this ride above: it’s the first ride that comes to mind when I think Disney. Before I had ever been to Magic Kingdom, this was the one ride I was familiar with. As the centerpiece of Tomorrowland, it is a holdover from Walt Disney’s initial vision for this area of the park. Space Mountain was the first true thrill ride at Disney World, and lead the way for future Imagineering efforts. No matter your age, the surprise twists and turns are sure to make you scream. There’s a reason there’s always a line and a top FastPass+ pick.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean
As the last attraction overseen by Walt Disney, this is iconic for both its legacy and enduring mark on pop culture. Can you think of any other Disney attraction that inspired a movie, as opposed to the other way around? Despite small additions to Pirates of the Caribbean, inspired by the movie franchise (think Captain Jack Sparrow – yo, ho!), the look and feel of the indoor ride has remained the same. It’s pretty cool to float through a pirate invasion of a Spanish fort and know Walt envisioned it all.

Peter Pan's Flight

Peter Pan’s Flight

Peter Pan’s Flight
Peter Pan is an indelible character, alive in the minds of even the youngest park goer. Peter Pan’s Flight is totally throwback yet still incredibly popular. As you fly along with Peter Pan, you journey through London visiting the Darling Children’s Nursery, meeting Wendy, Michael and John. Then, as night sets sail passing glittering sites like Big Ben and Tower Bridge before descending to Neverland where the famous Captain Hook is found. It’s hard not to smile as you relive beloved moments from the animated film. Its classic premise makes it a true iconic Disney ride.

It's a Small World

It’s a Small World

It’s a Small World
While not everyone’s favorite, It’s a Small World certainly has a place among the most iconic Disney Rides. Originally commissioned for the 1964 World Fair, the ride was first introduced at Disneyland, then Disney World, and is now at Disney parks worldwide. As you travel on the “happiest cruise that ever sailed,” you’re greet by the children of the world, from regions both near and far, as they sing “It’s a Small World (After All).” All seven continents are covered in the vibrant, glitter-filled festival of peace. At 10 minutes the ride is a lot longer than most, ensuring the song will no doubt be stuck in your head for hours to come.

The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion
There’s just something about this spooky yet silly attraction. Walk through the decrepit graveyard and pass musical crypt, before being greeted by cast members urging you to enter the center of the room. There are no exits, and soon the room begins to move, transporting you to the depths of the Haunted Mansion where 999 happy haunts await your arrival. Fairly atypical for Disney World, this attraction uses special effects to make area like the Grand Ballroom a true marvel to behold.

Outside of Spaceship Earth

Outside of Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth
Located at Epcot, Spaceship Earth is a Disney classic for several reasons. Before Epcot became widely known for World Showcase, it was dedicated to technology serving as the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” It’s location inside the giant golf ball-like sphere that has become the trademark of the park further cements its iconic status. As you travel through the decades of human communication, from the Stone Age to the computer age, you get a sense of the original Walt Disney design for this theme park. Although slightly dated, recent enhancements make the experience more engaging. Plus, you can’t beat the view at the end of the ride.

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Although relatively new compared to the rest of the rides on this list, The Tower of Terror stands tall among the rest. Its Twilight Zone theme automatically transports guests to an iconic pop culture time period. Add in a seamlessly told story and adrenaline-revving drop falls, and you have one of the most creative examples of Disney Imagineering. Packing the most thrill of any Disney ride, Tower of Terror is a favorite for many park-goers.

Experience these iconic rides at Disney World on your next Orlando 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.

LEGOLAND Florida has officially opened Heartlake City, the newest addition to the Orlando theme park geared toward kids ages 2-12. The new area is based on the popular LEGO Friends product line and stars five main characters: Olivia, Stephanie, Emma, Mia and Andrea.

Heartlake City features several signature elements, including:

Mia’s Riding Adventure is a brand new ride themed around Mia’s love of horses.  This adventurous ride seats up to 40 passengers on a circular platform with outward-facing horse shaped seats. The disk spins in circles while traveling forward and backward on a wide U-shaped track.

Friends to the Rescue is a new interactive musical show starring the LEGO Friends as they work together at Heartlake Hall to ensure the concert goes off without a hitch.

Stephanie’s Newsroom is a photo opportunity that gives guests the chance to show off their camera-ready skills, as they take over for Stephanie at the Heartlake News Desk.

Heartlake Stepping Tones Fountain is a heart-shaped fountain filled with LEGO brick instruments that play real music triggered by interactive icons.

Heartlake Mall features several retail areas offering a variety of LEGO products including the LEGO Friends toy line.

Explore the new Heartlake City LEGOLAND attraction on your next Orlando 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.

august_eventsCheck out these Orlando events planned for August 2015:

August 1-September 17: Frozen Summer Fun
Join Disney’s Hollywood Studios as they host Frozen Summer Fun. Spend the day enjoying all-new interactive experiences, geared towards Frozen fans everywhere! Included us a royal welcome from Elsa and Anna, as well as a sing-along and parade featuring Kristoff and Olaf.

August 1-9:  Summer Nights at SeaWorld
See a nighttime spectacular every evening at SeaWorld Orlando during Summer Nights. There will be special night shows like Shamu’s Celebration and Sea Lions Tonite, capped off by a fireworks spectacular.

August 1-16:  Summer Nights at Busch Gardens Tampa
Stay after dark for a music and acrobatics show every night at Busch Gardens. An amazing fireworks display will end each night.

August 7:  Date Night at Leu Gardens
Enjoy an outdoor movie in beautiful Leu Gardens in Orlando. Alcohol and picnic baskets are allowed. Don’t forget a blanket or chair. Admission is $6 plus tax for adults. The featured film will be The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1.

August 13:  Popcorn Flicks in the Park
The City of Winter Park and Enzian Theater will be showing a free film in Central Park at 8pm. Bring snacks, drinks, and a blanket. Central Park is located at 251 S. Park Avenue in Winter Park. Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets will be the featured film.

August 15-16:  21st Annual Harvest Grape Stomp
This family-friendly event at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards will have grape stomping competitions, live music, food, and wine. Event will be held 10-5 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday. A $2 donation to benefit The Boys & Girls Club is requested.

You might dream of a Disney World vacation, but have no idea where to start. If that’s the case, follow these Disney World vacation planning tips. They cover four basic steps to creating your ideal Disney vacation.

Nothing makes a kid smile more than Disney World

Nothing makes a kid smile more than Disney World

Choose Your Ticket Type
First, you’ll need to research Disney ticket types and decide which is the right fit for your family. From base tickets to park hopper passes and waterpark add-ons to multi-day combinations, there are a lot of options to consider. A few questions to help you decide:

Do I want to see every Disney World Theme Park: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
How much time to I want to spend inside each park?

Next, look at the free days offered for certain tickets. That’s right, free! For example, Reserve Orlando offers a four-day park hopper pass with the 5th and 6th day free. That’s a total of six days to play for the price of four. Deals like these let you better plan your time at the park.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Decide Where to Stay
To stay at a Disney resort or not? That’s the ultimate question. To truly immerse yourself in the magic of Disney, plus get access to extra magic perks, exceptional Disney service and convenient transportation, a Disney Resort is a must. If you want to have an all-encompassing Disney vacation, stay on-property. If you think its out or your budget, think again. Disney World value resorts like Art of Animation and Pop Century are affordable, larger-than-life accommodations. If you’re looking to splurge, the Grand Floridian, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Village Resort are outstanding options. In addition, there are top-notch places to stay near Disney World that’ll make it easy to transport between your days at the park. A few to consider are WorldQuest Orlando and Blue Heron Beach Resort.

All Aboard BIg Thunder Mountain Railroad

All Aboard Thunder Mountain Railroad

Choose Your Dates and Length of Stay
When you travel has a lot to do with the final price of your vacation. Summertime is generally the most expensive, while dates in September and October are more budget-friendly. Also keep in mind how rushed vs. relaxed you want to be when choosing your length of stay. You might think four full days at Disney World will be enough. But, if it’ your first time visiting it won’t be. If you want to truly experience all the parks have to offer, including attractions, parades, shows and fireworks, at least five full days are recommended. Luckily, this ticket type offers the best money-saving deals.


Memory making at the Magic Kingdom

Figure out a Budget
You might think this question should come first. However, you really need to look at what you want first, and then decide what you need. Putting numbers to paper will give you a better understanding of the hard dollars a Disney World vacation will cost. This might also factor into staying an extra day (or leaving a day early), or whether to stay on property or not. After familiarizing yourself with ticket types, discount Disney World tickets available and deals on Disney resorts, you can figure out exactly how far your budget will go and put the finishing touches on your Disney World dream.

Keep in mind, when it comes to Disney, it’s best to book at least 180 days in advance. This will ensure the best availability, prices and will let you have further control of your vacation plans.

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.


Fans of the movie Frozen rejoice because Frozen Summer Fun has returned to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. The world of Frozen is featured June 17 through September 7, 2015. Spend the day enjoying all-new interactive experiences, geared towards Frozen fans everywhere!

Frozen Summer Fun Live! Experiences


Anna and Elsa Frozen Summer Fun at Disney's Hollywood Studios_RSZAnna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome
Twice daily watch Anna and Elsa embark on a goodwill tour of neighboring kingdoms. As they make their way down Hollywood Boulevard, Ann in a horse-drawn sleigh and Elsa on an ice palace float,  the royal sisters are joined by Kristoff, Olaf, the ice cutters and joyous citizens of Arendelle who skate and ski their way through the procession. The entire parade stops twice, in order to host a sing-along to “Let It GO” with the crowd.

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Join Anna, Elsa and the newly-appointed royal historians of Arendelle in the Premiere Theater to enjoy For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Musical Celebration. Laugh and sing along while enjoying this humorous and heart-warming retelling of the kingdom’s history. Show times are at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm and 7:00pm. Fastpass+ is available for this show.

rsz_frozen_charactersFrozen Fireworks Spectacular
At the end of a fun-filled Frozen day, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf come together at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage for a grand finale—complete with an awe-inspiring fireworks display set to the glorious music of the movie.

Frozen Forever Viewing
See the new animated short, Frozen Forever, at ABC Sound Studio. Showings, which include behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, start at 10am daily, with showings every half hour.

Olaf’s Summer Cool Down
Several times throughout each day, the Ambassador of Hollywoodland, Olaf and some friends will take their places on the Event Stage to have fun “In Summer.” Olaf’s personal flurry will even make a burst to cool down the crowd.

Coolest Summer Ever Dance Party
A dance party takes over the area around the Event Stage, with a DJ, live band, and more! The band plays a variety of classic and contemporary summer rock & roll hits, as well as a cool, rocking medley of “Frozen” favorites. It’s going to be hot! Use the special events hashtag and share song requests and photos; some will even make it on the big screen!

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.