At a theme park known for mixing thrilling attractions with engaging animal exhibits, it’s no surprise Busch Gardens‘ next addition is a hybrid of both. Cobra’s Curse is a one-of-its-kind spinning roller coaster themed to snakes. Located in the Egyptian portion of the park, the ride will put a new twist on Busch Gardens attractions.

If you’re afraid of snakes, beware! You’ll come face-to-face with an 80-foot snake icon during your journey. You’ll also experience a vertical life, forward motion, backwards motion and free spinning as you trek the Serengeti Plain and follow an Egyptian archaeological excavation.

Cobra’s Curse Facts:
Maximum Height: 70 feet Ride
Length: 2,100 feet of track
Maximum Speed: More than 40 mph
Ride Duration: More than three and a half minutes
Height Requirement: 42 inches
Manufacturer: Mack Rides

The new thrill ride is expected to open in 2016. A specific time period has not yet been set. Check back to find out more information about Cobra’s Curse.


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.

Universal CityWalk is continuing its massive update with a new addition opening this fall. The first-ever NBC Sports Grill & Brew combines sophistication with a stylish setting, yet there is wall-to-wall sports coverage, a massive beer selection and handcrafted menu items.

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Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

When I say they have sports covered, I’m not exaggerating: there are almost 100 high definition television’s surrounding patrons. On screen is a constant stream of live sports content and in-depth sports coverage. There’s also a 100-foot-wide high definition stadium screen telecasting sports. It will be the place to watch the big game in Orlando. Of course, we all know beer goes great with the game so there’s a large selection of beers on tap. In total, there are more than 100 beers to choose from, including a draft exclusive to the restaurant, as well as craft beers and regional brews.

Food at NBC Sports Grill & Brew Orlando will be cooked on open kettle grills, adding yet another entertainment aspect to the scene. You can watch the action of the game and your food be masterfully prepared. A full menu for the restaurant hasn’t been released yet, but I do know it will have burgers and steaks.

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Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

The design of the restaurant echoes the feel of a luxury skybox in a sports stadium, while you can also sit outside a watch the game in the beer garden. On the exterior of NBC Sports Grill & Brew there are larger-than-life video screens broadcasting games, so you’ll never miss a moment no matter where you sit.

NBC Sports Grill & Brew is part of a major revamp of Universal CityWalk. The 30-acre entertainment complex opened eight new venues over the past year, completely overhauling options for visitors. The collection of restaurants, shops and nightclubs features mainstays like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville as well as Emeril’s Orlando.


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.
Busch Gardens Unearthed

Photo Credit: Howl-O-Scream/Facebook

Howl-O-Scream will unearth a sinister evil at Busch Gardens in 2015, descending on the Tampa theme park for 19 select nights. Joining Busch Gardens is award-winning horror filmmaker Robin Cowie, the producer of the Blair Witch Project. Together, they’ve created a Howl-O-Scream event where imaginable evil lurks in every corner. If you’re a fan of the phenomenally scary, Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream is where you should get your dose of hair-raising Halloween haunts.

The newest haunted house is Unearthed: Scarlett’s Revenge. Cowie has created a dark tale based on Scarlett, a village healer who turned to dark magic to avenge her husband’s killers. As her powers grew, she was hunted, trapped and buried alive deep beneath the park … but has now been Unearthed to summon terror on unsuspecting guests. Guest venture into a mysterious centuries-old house filled with secrets, and terror awaits all who dare to enter as Scarlett summons demons and collects body parts to reincarnate her dead husband.

Busch Gardens Unearthed

Photo Credit: Howl-O-Scream/Facebook

In addition, some of the most demented houses are back this year by popular demand, but with horrifying new twists:

Dead Fall: Thirst for Blood – Humans and plants entwine with an insatiable thirst for human blood, as guests attempt to escape the nightmare that has taken over this Victorian garden and greenhouse.

Zombie Containment Unit 15: Moving Targets – Armed with only a Z.E.D. (Zombie Eradication Device), guests must hold off an undead mob in this interactive zombie hunting experience.

Howl o Scream Tampa FB

Photo Credit: Howl-O-Scream/Facebook

Death Water Bayou – Deep in the bayou the Voodoo Queen transforms wanderers into her evil servants. Those who enter must escape her dark magic before falling victim to her spell.

The Basement – Momma’s Meats’ award-winning recipe has always been a family affair that’s only created in The Basement. Guests must escape before becoming the secret ingredient.

Circus of Superstition: The Last Laugh – A lifetime of avoiding black cats and sidewalk cracks won’t save guests from this house, as the bad luck of childhood superstitions catches up with them in new demented ways. • Zombie Mortuary – Led by their queen, zombies infest this small town funeral home and satisfy their hunger with fresh flesh and brains.

Attend Howl-O-Scream’s signature Show, Fiends, for a fright-filled show, along with a dinner that’s to die for. Plus, guests gain an additional hour of front-of-the-line access to select haunted houses. Be sure to keep the party going at Club Unearthed, where heart-thumping music and liquid courage will set the scene.

Howl-O-Scream tickets are on sale now.  Freaky Preview is back and will open Howl-O-Scream 2015 on Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26. The event then runs Thursday through Saturday nights, Oct. 1-31. Howl-O-Scream 2015 will also be open on Sunday, Oct. 18 and 25. Operating hours are 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. If you purchase tickets now, you can receive single-day admission for only $45.  Going with a group of friends?  Then, tickets are as low as $35.


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.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios just keeps getting better! On the heels of a recent announcement confirming a Star Wars themed land coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is even more fantastic news—Toy Story Land is set to debut at the park as well. These two new attractions are part of a reimagining of the Disney World Theme Park.

Toy Story Land

The new Disney experiences will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the worlds of their favorite films, starting with Toy Story Land. This new 11-acre land will transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard. You will think you’ve been shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz as they are surrounded by oversized toys that Andy has assembled using his vivid imagination. Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels, and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land, which will include two new attractions and one expanded favorite.

  • Family-friendly roller coaster – All on the back of Slinky Dog, this coaster will zip and zoom, plunge and coast as it takes guests on a fun, toy-filled adventure throughout the new land.
  • Alien saucers attraction – The famous little green aliens from the movie will take Guests around for a spin in their very own flying saucers. The music, lighting and sound effects add to the flurry of action, while “The Claw” looms over.
  • Toy Story Mania!® – Guests glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games, with an expansion that adds a third track to this popular attraction.

 

Toy Story Land sounds like my favorite Pixar movie brought to life.  I can’t wait to see this attraction debut! What are you most excited for?  Star Wars Land or Toy Story Land?


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 who grew up loving the George Lucas saga Star Wars, rejoice! Walt Disney World Theme Parks have confirmed Star Wars themed lands are set to debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® at the Walt Disney World® Resort, and Disneyland® Park at the Disneyland Resort.

Ambitious plans to bring Star Wars to life in the two parks include creating Disney’s largest single themed land expansions ever at 14 acres each, transporting your Clients to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

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These authentic lands will have two signature attractions. Along with the thrilling battle experience, another attraction puts Guests behind the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, as they take on a customized secret mission.

Disney announced a line-up of new attractions and entertainment coming to Walt Disney World® Resort and Disneyland® Resort during the D23 EXPO 2015.

Star Wars Enhancements & New Experiences at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

Star Tours® – The Adventures Continue
Later this year, Star Tours will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving Guests a new adventure in the Star Wars galaxy.

Star Wars Land Disney

Star Wars Launch Bay
This interactive experience will take Guests into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars characters, special merchandise and food offerings. Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland® at Disneyland Park.

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Jedi Training Academy
A favorite of younger fans is reimagined with a new experience that includes new characters and a new villain to battle from the popular Disney XD series “Star Wars Rebels.”

Season of the Force
This new seasonal event, beginning early 2016, brings new experiences to both coasts. In Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park, your Clients can explore the Star Wars galaxy with special entertainment throughout the land, themed food locations and more. Guests also will be thrilled to climb aboard Hyperspace Mountain, a reimagining of the classic Space Mountain® attraction, in which Guests will join an X-wing Starfighter battle. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests will close out weekend nights with a new fireworks spectacular set to the iconic score of the Star Wars movies.


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.

One of the most beloved things to do on a Disney World vacation is character dining. Not only do you get to eat a delicious meal in a unique, trans portative setting—you get to do it while hanging out with your favorite Disney friends. Character dining allows you to have a personal experience without the long lines of typical character meet-and-greets. However, some Disney World character dining experiences are better than others and none are exactly cheap. A select few are more affordable than others, and others are true standouts for families. One such standout is Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom. If you want to know why this hidden gem is a great find, read on.

WDW Character Dining Lifestyle Shoot. 2013. Photographer: Melanie Acevedo

WDW Character Dining Lifestyle Shoot. 2013. Photographer: Melanie Acevedo

First things first: This is a Disney character dining experience so who are you dining with? Donald and Daisy Duck are the main hosts, but other classic Disney characters appear such as Goofy and Mickey Mouse. Even more fun—the characters are dressed in safari gear ideally suited for navigating Animal Kingdom.

Located in the Harambe Marketplace of Africa, the character dining buffet excels for several reasons. The first is it’s one of the least expensive Disney character dining options, with prices for adults ranging from $29.99-$59.99 depending on whether you choose a breakfast, lunch or dinner dining time. Kid’s prices start at $15.99. I prefer to make reservations for the breakfast Disney character dining experience as it’s less crowded and a great way to start your day.

WDW Character Dining Lifestyle Shoot. 2013. Photographer: Melanie Acevedo

WDW Character Dining Lifestyle Shoot. 2013. Photographer: Melanie Acevedo

For my Tusker House character dining experience, I arrived about 10 minutes early and was then promptly seated by a friendly server. As breakfast is a buffet, it’s easy to design your own delicious meal. I was very pleased with the buffet selections. All of the standard American options are offered, including bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, skillet potatoes, biscuits and gravy, honey ham, and even Mickey Mouse waffles. I think the most popular item was the Mickey waffles—must be the design—but I really liked the more interesting menu items like the ham and cheese frittata, coconut-sweet potato casserole and banana-cinnamon bread pudding. A useful inside secret to know: book a late breakfast and you’ll be able to try some of lunch buffet offering as wells, which have even more of an African-inspired flavor.

WDW Character Dining Lifestyle Shoot. 2013. Photographer: Melanie Acevedo

If you do choose to opt for the lunch or dinner character dining experience, you’ll be treated to a large array of meats and fish. Among them are baked salmon, curry and rotisserie chicken, spit-roasted sirloin and coffee barbeque pork. The side dishes are the most inspired. I went back for seconds on the watermelon and feta salad, orzo pasta and tomato and cucumber salad with mint yogurt dressing. Needless to say, it’s one of the better buffets you can find at Disney World and authentic to the Animal Kingdom atmosphere. Although I prefer the more exotic dishes served, there are basics like macaroni and cheese that even the pickiest eater can enjoy.

My Tusker House character dining experience exceeded my expectations. From the food to the ample time with characters, I walked away not thinking about the money spent but how much fun it was. Add this activity to your Disney vacation and discover character dining at the Animal Kingdom.


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.

SeaWorld_San_Diego_26609SeaWorld may be known as an amazing aquatic theme park, but it’s much, much more than that. Behind-the-scenes there is a massive zoological team striving to provide the best in animal care, training, conversation and research. If you want to learn more about the efforts made regarding aquatic life, read these interesting SeaWorld facts.

SeaWorld intends for animal encounters, and even shows, at SeaWorld theme parks to provide guests with an educationally yet emotionally enhancing experience. Viewing penguins, dolphins, and whales in real-life heightens sympathy not only to the creature, but the environment around them.

SeaWorld is a global leader in animal husbandry, veterinary care, enrichment an animal welfare. Their world-class standards of care, state-of-the-art animal habitats, and a commitment to animal welfare for nearly 50 years.

SeaWorld_San_Diego_71204The team of zoological professionals has made innovative advances in the care for species in zoological facilities and in the conservation of wild populations.

When a guest visits a SeaWorld Park, they are helping to support the company’s many programs that rescue and care for animals all over the world.

SeaWorld works worldwide and rescue teams are on hand 24/7 assisting wild animals that are orphaned, ill, injured, or in need of expert care.

More than 23,000 wild animals in need have been rescued by SeaWorld. Ideally, the animal is rehabilitated and successfully returned to the ocean.

Rescue experts at SeaWorld continually develop new ways to save wild animals. A few creative developments include custom nursing bottles to hand-feed orphaned whales, imaginative ways to save sea turtles with cracked shells, prosthetic beaks for injured birds, and even an “animal wetsuit” to help an injured manatee stay afloat and warm.

Key to SeaWorld’s commitment to conservation is research. They publish their own research, provide scientist’s access to their animals for studies conducted on a variety of subjects, and fund and support projects around the world.

SeaWorld_San_Diego_(65943)SeaWorld’s animal health team and scientists have contributed to more than 1,000 published studies advancing the global scientific community’s understanding of animals.

SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has granted more than $9 million to wildlife research and conservation projects around the world.

SeaWorld is currently working on the Blue World Project—a massive expansion of killer whale habitats in all three parks. With a planned maximum depth of 50 feet, surface area of nearly 1.5 acres and spanning more than 350 feet in length, the new first-of-its-kind environment with also have views exceeding 40 feet in height, providing guests with the world’s largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales.

In addition, the Blue World Project is pledging $11.5 million in research funding focused on threats to killer whales in the wild and the oceans they live in.


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.

september_eventsCheck out these Orlando events happening in September 2015:

September 1-30: Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month
Satisfy your cravings during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month.  Select Central Florida restaurants will offer three-course, prix fixe dinners for $33. Indulge your inner gourmet with an appetizer, entree and dessert at a variety of trendy bistros and upscale dining destinations.

September 11-13: 6th Annual Orlando Fall Home & Garden Show
Visit the Orange County Convention Center for this home and garden extravaganza. From the front door to the backyard you’ll find it all at the 6th Annual Orlando Fall Home & Garden Show. Hours: Noon-7pm Friday, 10am-7pm Saturday and 11am-5pm Sunday.

September 11-12:  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 11-12: Rock the Universe
Universal Studios will be hosting their own Christian music festival featuring over 14 bands. Experience two nights of soul-stirring songs from Christian music’s hottest stars, along with guest speakers, a Candlelighting Ceremony and more. It’s an unforgettable weekend of faith and fun. A separate event ticket is required

September 15 – November 1:  Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
On select nights, 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 15 – November 16:  Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
The 20th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is 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.

September 18-November 1:  Halloween Horror Nights
This year’s Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios is even scarier with haunted houses themed after The Walking Dead, Freddy vs. Jason and Jack the Clown.  Make your way through haunted houses, terrifying shows, and scare zones.

September 25 – October 31:  Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens
Haunted houses, scare zones, thrilling shows, and shocking creatures are some of the terrifying experiences happening during Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa.

 

Eat to the Beat LogoDisney’s 20th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is scheduled for September 25 – November 16, 2016. The event features flavors from around the world, as well as culinary programs and the Eat to the Beat concert series. Purchase your Disney tickets today to enjoy all that available at this showcase of international delights.

The Food and Wine Festival at Disney World will feature food from area around the World Showcase, including Italy, Thailand, New Zealand, Chile, Morocco, China and the United States.

Highlights of the festival include:

• The Festival Welcome Center, home to a champagne and wine bar, educational wine seminars and celebrity chef book signings.
• Disney will host around 250 chefs, many of which will conduct culinary demonstrations and host dinners and tasting events.
• Culinary Programs such as Celebration Dinners, Culinary Adventure Signature Dining, Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen, Food and Wine Pairings, among others.
• Weekly Party for the Senses Grand Tasting Event with delicious plates from award-winning chefs, accompanied by spirits and entertainment.
• The Eat to the Beat Concert Series featuring a rotating line-up of performers.

 

David Cook FB

David Cook
Photo Credit: David Cook/Facebook

The Eat to the Beat Concert Series Schedule:

  • David Cook – September 25-27, 2015
  • Wilson Phillips – September 28-29, 2015
  • Christopher Cross – September 30-October 1, 2015
  • Starship – October 2-4, 2015
  • Smash Mouth – October 5-7, 2015
  • The Pointer Sisters – October 8-9, 2015
  • 38 Special – October 10-11, 2015
  • Rick Springfield – October 12-13, 2015
  • Sugar Ray – October 14-16, 2015
  • The S.O.S. Band – October 17-18, 2015
  • Air Supply – October 19-21, 2015
  • Fuel – October 22-23, 2015
  • Tiffany (NEW!) – October 24-25, 2015
  • Dennis DeYoung – October 26-28, 2015
  • Jo Dee Messina – October 29-30, 2015
  • Everclear (NEW!) – October 31-November 1, 2015
  • Boyz II Men – November 2-4, 2015
  • Sister Hazel – November 5-6, 2015
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – November 7-9, 2015
  • Hanson – November 10-12, 2015
  • Maxi Priest (NEW!) – November 13-14, 2015
  • Chaka Khan (NEW!) – November 15-16, 2015

 

The Orlando concerts are held each night at the America Gardens Theater and are included with the purchase of your Epcot tickets.

Please note: Daily show times take place at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. Entertainment and appearances are subject to change without notice.


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.