Do you have other couples that you and your significant other enjoy hanging out with and say, “We really should travel together!”…??? Well, here’s your chance! Travel to any Sandals all-inclusive resort between September 1 -December 25 2017 or September 1 – December 25, 2018, and with 5 paid rooms, the 6th room is FREE! 🙂 Yes, a free vacation for the “hub” person who organizes the adult getaway! *You can also share/split the free room value between the 6 couples.
Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort is set to open May 25, that’s just a month away!
And as details emerge I am more and more excited to visit! Here are my top 5 things I am looking forward to at Volcano Bay. In no particular order.
1. Kopiko Wai Winding River™
Yes, that’s right. I LOVE me a lazy river. It’s my favorite thing to do, just lounge and float along.
2. Premium Seating
For a very reasonable price, just $29.99 + tax you can have 2 padded loungers with an umbrella and a lockbox in an area with food and drink service. Umm, yes please. Sign me up.
3. Tapu Tapu
This is Universal’s new virtual line system, so no waiting in long lines for rides. You tap the totem pole by the ride entrance with your wearable Tapu Tapu bracelet ( similar to Disney’s Magic Bands), and get a return time. Then come back at that time and tap and enter.
4. Express Pass
Even better, most rides will also offer Express Pass options to bypass even the virtual line system.
The dining at Volcano Bay looks incredible. Imaginative options in-keeping with the South Pacific Island theme.
Volcano Bay is going to be a fantastic addition to an already exciting vacation experience at Universal Orlando Resort. Read more about a Universal vacation here and here.
To start planning your EPIC Universal Vacation, contact me at Barbara@ATimetoTreasureTravel.com
You can Play, Stay, Dine and save up to $500* on a 5-night 6-day Walt Disney Travel Company room, ticket and dining plan package for a family of four at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights Jan. 1-March 7, 2017 when booked Oct. 3-Dec. 21, 2016.
*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same package for 2 adults, 1 junior, 1 child in the same room. Tickets valid for one Theme Park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms.
Excludes alcoholic beverages and gratuities, Children ages 3-9 must order from children’s menu, if available. Some Table-Service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.
Full List of Disney Resort Hotel Exclusions:
Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.
Trattoria al Forno is located on Disney’s Boardwalk outside of Epcot’s International Gateway. Also known as the exit between the U.K. and France pavilions.
This restaurant replaced Cat Kora’s Kouzzina 2 years ago. Another lesser known restaurant that consistently has excellent food and service. This was our second visit, we visited last year as well.
We started with ordering drinks, water for the boys, a Peach Bellini for me and an Italian beer for my husband. Next, we shared an appetizer of Fried Calamari – with Balsamic Agrodolce $11.99. I normally don’t eat more than a bit or two of calamari, not a big fan, but this was very good and I had more than I normally would.
For entrees I chose the Seasonal Risotto $18.99. I cannot remember everything that was in it, but it was very tasty. The rice was not over-cooked and the sauce was not overpowering.
Hubby chose the Braised Short Rib Bologonese – with smoked bacon, tagliatelle, and roasted mushrooms $21.99. He was a bit jealous of my short ribs last night at Captain’s Grille. These were just as wonderful, I had a taste. I did not get a picture, but click the dish name and it will bring you to a photo of the dish from All Ears.
The kids are too old for the kid’s menu and Matthew has very much looking forward to the Giant Meatball he had last year. He talked about it for months leading up to the trip asking if we could go eat there again. It was changed a bit from last year, but he had the Polpetta Gigante – beef meatball, spinach ricotta canneloni and Sunday Gravy $19.99. It was not quite as big, but still pretty large. Spinach and ricotta not being items he would normally eat, but he wanted that giant meatball and ordered it anyways. He said he didn’t even notice the taste of the spinach although you could clearly see it and he liked the ricotta cheese.
Eric chose a pizza of course, it was quite large, but he finished off the entire pie by himself, including the crust, saying it was very good pizza.
Service was great and we were seated within minutes of arriving despite being early for our reservation. It was busy, but not completely full and with the open kitchen, it makes for a fun lively atmosphere even though it’s more formal than most.
This is another one of my favorite restaurants on Disney property.
Captain’s Grille is one of the most under-rated restaurants at Disney World in my opinion. Having had breakfast here twice, both excellent, we decided to try it for a “date” dinner one night on our recent trip.
We arrived without a reservation on a rainy evening and were seating immediately. Our waitress was wonderful, she took our drink order and went over all the specials and then returned to answer any questions we had and make recommendations on things we were considering.
For an appetizer, I had the House-made Potato-Cheese Gnocchi – toasted walnut breadcrumbs, julienne pears and truffle butter $9. It was excellent. I am used to homemade, by my father and mother, gnocchi and they can be difficult to get right. These were perfect. Not too soft, but not hard either. A very nice texture. Hubby had the New England Clam Chowder – creamy chowder with clams, potatoes, and vegetables $8. I didn’t get a picture. He said it was very good though.
Hubby chose beer and I chose a lovely glass of Riesling.
Next was the entrees. Hubby went for the crab legs as this is something he rarely gets to eat. Snow Crab Legs – New Potatoes and Corn on the Cob $31. They are a lot of work, but he enjoyed them.
I chose Tagliatelle Pasta – braised short ribs, fennel, cipollini onions, veal jus, shaved parmesan, and seasoned greens $23. The braised short ribs were a menu item on their own as well and came recommended, but after a week of very little pasta when we eat it quite often at home, I was craving a little. The waitress did say they use the same braised ribs in this dish so it was a good choice. This was so good. The ribs were like butter, so soft and the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente. There was a good amount of short ribs in this dish, they are mostly covered by the pasta in the picture.
We did not indulge in dessert as we were quite full with all this food, the portions are just right.
The atmosphere in this restaurant, located just off Disney’s Yacht Club Resort lobby is upscale , but not overly so. Still casual enough to feel comfortable with kids and there were several tables of families as well as couples and a few small groups when we were there.
This was one of my favorite meals at Disney World, ever!
Our recent trip to Florida included this wonderful first for us.
Air boat adventure on Spirit of the Swamp Air Boats
We drove out to Kissimmee and Lake Tohopekaliga to the address from the website. We were a little worried as it was raining most of the way and a hurricane was bearing down on Florida. We didn’t know what to expect and we arrived to a park with a playground, a restroom, a dock area with the air boats and the address was a private residence. You check in right at the dock and they use the private house address so your GPS will get you there, it was a tad confusing when we first drove in, but it worked. There appeared to be another air boat company there as well.
We met Captain Lynne from Spirit of the Swamp and boarded our boat after she put the canopy up since it was sprinkling. It was a small boat and it was just our family, which was really nice. We booked a 1 hour ride. We got on and were told about the headsets, we could hear the Captain and we could all speak as well without pressing anything and we could all hear each other. The boat is quite loud especially when going fast so the headsets are a must. As we were making our way along the canal out to the lake, Captain Lynne told us safety features and how the boat works.
Once we arrived onto the lake, we immediately started spotting wildlife. Mainly birds, interesting birds everywhere. Vultures and egrets I believe were the first we saw. Captain Lynne was full of information about the birds, the lake and the alligators and she was funny too. We very quickly found our first alligator, it was hatchling season, so there were mama gators guarding their nests and babies in spots and Captain Lynne knew them all. We got to see several nests and the babies are hard to spot, they are so tiny, but at one nest we saw tons of them. Unfortunately, the mother was nowhere to be seen. Captain Lynne said she hadn’t seen her in days and was afraid she had been caught as hunting season had started 2 weeks earlier. It seemed really wrong to us that they would allow hunting of female alligators right during hatchling season. Now those babies will probably not survive much longer without their mother.
We were not sure what to expect, but we had a really good time on this excursion and am so glad we did it. It sprinkled a bit, on and off, but we were covered and stayed dry.
I had been on an air boat once when I was a child in the everglades, but I barely remember it. I do remember it being a big boat with lots of people. This was so nice because it was just us, we all had a great view, Captain Lynne would turn the boat around so we all got a great view.
From Disney World, it took about 40 minutes to get there with some traffic. It took us under 30 minutes to get back.
I highly recommend this “off the beaten path” adventure while in the Orlando area.
We recently returned from another fabulous Florida vacation. This time was different from all the previous ones. For one thing, we didn’t do the Disney parks, but we still stayed onsite at Disney of course. Let’s not get too crazy here!
This trip was Universal and other Orlando attractions we’ve never taken the time to do. Sea World, Discovery Cove and we took an air boat ride through the swamp to see alligators! We also rented a car this time, which we’ve never done. Using Disney and private transportation is great, but with so many different things on the itinerary, a car was really necessary this time. It turned out to be easy peasy too.
This trip we spent more time at Universal, 4 nights total with 3 days of park to park tickets, so we could ride Hogwarts Express! This amount of time was great as it really let us enjoy so much more of the parks and still get lots of down time at the resort pool to relax. We mainly spent half days in the parks, the mornings, and the afternoons and evenings at the pool. A dinner break at City Walk and maybe a short trip into a park for a few rides in the evenings.
We stayed on site at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, we love this place! Read all about it here.
Highlights for this year:
Eric was tall enough for everything, last year he missed out on Hulk and Dragon Challenge, so he was thrilled. Hulk had just re-opened after an almost year long refurbishment just a few weeks prior. Phew!
We missed out on a few things last year that we made sure to not miss again. We rode Hogwarts both ways, enjoying the walk through the wall at Platform 9 3/4. The Simpson’s ride became a new favorite and finally after a 20 year wait, I rode E.T. So cute! I was in line for E.T. 20 some odd years ago on a trip with a friend and after waiting in line 2 hours, the ride broke down and we never got to ride it, we were almost inside!
Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen had just opened so while wait times for milk shakes and the restaurant were a bit much for us, I did tour the shop and it was great, so unique!
Matthew the donut lover got to have the Big Pink Donut from Lard Lads. Heaven for him!
We ate at several restaurants at City Walk including Margaritavilla, Hard Rock Cafe, NBC Sport Grill and Brew, all wonderful.
Skull Island Reign of Kong had recently opened and just started accepting Express Pass when we arrived, perfect timing.
We of course rode all our favorites from last year, more than once taking advantage of early park entry for onsite guests on 2 of the 3 days and the invaluable Express Pass included with our stay at Portofino Bay Resort. Even during a not so busy time of year, the last week of August, Express Pass came in handy.
Universal can be done in 1-2 days, but taking a little more time really makes it a much more enjoyable vacation and as the kids get older, they tend to lean more towards this type of entertainment.
Staying onsite at Universal Orlando Resort has many benefits and staying at one of the 3 deluxe resorts includes the best benefit of all, included Unlimited Express Pass.
HOTEL GUESTS ENJOY EXCLUSIVE THEME PARK BENEFITS
SKIP THE REGULAR LINES with Universal Express SM Unlimited ride access* in both theme parks – a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day^
(valid theme park admission required)
Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, one hour before the theme park opens† (valid theme park admission required)
Loews Royal Pacific offers the lowest cost option of the deluxe resorts and is an absolutely gorgeous resort. Easy walking distance to both parks and boat service as well.
Dine on exceptional cuisine; delight in the impeccable service; and soak in the breathtaking splendor of lush tropical surroundings at a white sandy beach of the lagoon-style swimming pool; all while enjoying the latest in modern conveniences.
Royal Pacific offers several room categories, from standard, water view, suites and their fun kid’s suites…Jurassic Park themed!
Guest Room Amenities
1,000 guest rooms including 51 suites; rooms start at 335 sq. ft
Flat panel television with HD channels and On Demand® in-room movies (fees apply)
iHome clock radio and docking station
Keurig coffee maker featuring Emeril’s Gourmet Coffee and assorted teas
Cotton signature bathrobes
Nightly turndown service (upon request)
Iron, ironing board, hairdryer and in-room safe
Complimentary* wireless internet access in each guest room and most common areas of the hotel
Upgrade to Premium Plus^ wireless internet access for optimal entertainment and business needs
2 telephones (1 cordless) with dual voice lines, data port and voicemail
Club Level rooms feature complimentary continental breakfast, access to the fitness center, and more
Whether it’s relaxing in the serene lagoon-style pool, the sights and sounds of our weekly luau, or a workout in the fitness center, Loews Royal Pacific Resort has something for everyone.
One of the most impressive features of this resort is the lagoon-style swimming pool and sandy beach. Sink your toes into the sand and ease your body into your lounge chair. Lagoon style swimming pool featuring a white sand beach and the following:
Two (2) hot tubs
Beach volleyball court
Private cabanas for rent
Mandara Spa® & Fitness Center
Visit the full service Mandara Spa® next door at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Mandara Spa® offers comprehensive wellness services, a de-stressing zone where you can work out, or tune out with a delicious spa treatment.
Supervised Kids Camp
When Mom and Dad want to enjoy a night on the town, drop the kids off at the supervised children’s activity center.
Kids will enjoy an arts & crafts table, storybook corner, computer desks, a movie room, and more. Counselors are trained to supervise toilet-trained children ages 4-14 only. One counselor for every 8-10 children.
COST: $15 per hour, per child / $15 per meal
HOURS: Open from 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm, Sunday through Thursday and from 5:00 pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. * Times are subject to change.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
In both atmosphere and menu, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop offers diners a unique and exotic journey through the Pacific Seas, a perfect complement for the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, complete with bamboo, waterfalls, sculpted gardens and giant woks in full view.
Islands Dining Room
Enjoy savory chef-inspired creations featuring noodle bar dishes, rice bowls, wok and hibachi specialties. At breakfast, join us for traditional favorites, along with several Polynesian-influenced morning specialties.
Jake’s American Bar
Jake’s American Bar is the perfect place to meet for drinks and lively conversation after your day’s adventures.
Sit back and experience an evening of authentic Polynesian food and entertainment at the enchanting Wantilan Luau, a weekly Hawaiian dinner show featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of Polynesian specialties, live Hawaiian music and traditional hula dancing. Hula and fire dancers delight the audience and entice a few to even learn the hula! (Fees apply; reservations required)
Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar
Enjoy a continental breakfast or a tropical cocktail at the Orchid Court Lounge, which overlooks a serene orchid garden. The Orchid Court Sushi Bar features modern, inventive sushi and sashimi presentations along with Asian-inspired desserts and South Seas martinis.
Bula Bar & Grille
Bula means “welcome” in Fijian, and you’ll definitely feel right at home at this poolside eatery serving up food and beverages with a tropical flair.
THE LONGER YOU STAY THE MORE YOU SAVE!
Stay more nights and save up to 35%!
Contact me to get starting planning your EPIC vacation at Universal Orlando!
Rope Drop is what opening is called at the Disney theme parks. At Magic Kingdom, they have a Welcome Show each morning as a part of their Rope Drop. Occasionally, the other parks have had shows as well, but not regularly.
Why should you plan to be at the Magic Kingdom in time for Rope Drop?
3. It’s a fun show! The train pulls into the station with most of the characters on it, there is singing, dancing, waving, confetti and often a Family of the Day picked from the early arrivals to the park. Often there is fun going on just inside the park as well, cast members waving hello, the Dapper Dan’s may be out. It’s exciting!
2. Parks are empty! You are walking into an empty park. A cast member will lead people to the main attractions and there are photo ops with fewer people than you will see for the rest of the day. You can ride the big ticket rides with little to no wait, more than once if you’d like.
1. The number one reason is to maximize your time in the park! By arriving at opening when crowds are minimal and many are still sleeping in, you’ll have access to many rides with little to no wait for an hour or two. You’ll get much more accomplished in the morning than in the afternoon and it’s not quite as hot either.
While sleeping in is nice, my number one recommendation on a Disney trip is to be at Rope Drop and make the most of your time. Relax by the pool later in the afternoon when the lines are long and the parks are crowded.