Hello and thank you for visiting OrlandoTastic! What started out as a top Disney World blog, OrlandoTastic is now a wonderful source of information for couples, groups and families planning an upcoming Orlando vacation. Through a vast network of theme park and attraction contacts, we’re able to bring our visitors the latest news, rumors, and stories covering just about everything in Orlando. Whether it’s a new ride at Walt Disney World, a new attraction at Universal Studios, a new restaurant opening downtown or a music festival planning a weekend concert, OrlandoTastic is happy to get the word out. And, of course, we’re always trying to partner with companies able to offer discount tickets to all the excitement. We hope you all enjoy our Disney blog, and if you have any questions, please contact us. Happy vacationing!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Incredible Photo of Disney Castle: Can You Guess Which Park?

Disney Fireworks
Above is a spectacular photo that was submitted last night to Reddit Pics (Credit Reddit user Nvr2Much for the great photo).  Disney parks are known for a lot of things, and one of them being having some of the most extravagant and incredible fireworks shows in the World.  This picture exemplifies that statement.

The question is though, which Disney Park was this photo taken in.  Do you think you recognize that castle?  (higher res photo) If so, submit your guess:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Busted: Disney World Tickets Fraud Ring

Disney World Tickets Fraud Alert
The Secret Service has busted a fraud ring involving Disney World tickets. Allegedly, the perpetrators were using stolen credit card information to purchase large orders of Disney tickets. How big were the orders? There was over $360,000 in fraudulent charges. What good are that many tickets to just a few people you might ask. Well, there is a re-sale industry for attraction tickets, especially Disney World theme park tickets, which are on the more expensive end of the market. So, not only were people being ripped off on the front end of this scam with their credit cards, other people were then being ripped off on the back end. Once the tickets are linked to the fraudulent charges, those tickets will be immediately voided out. (Story at Orlando's WESH.com)

This story is just another example of why you should never purchase your Disney World tickets from a private person. If the tickets were purchased legitimately, and have never been used, then that's the only scenario where you would be safe. But, is it ever worth the risk? We don't think it is. Purchase your tickets directly from the theme park, or from a 3rd party company that is established in the Orlando area, has a brick and mortar location, and has a positive and long-standing reputation with the Better Business Bureau.

A popular question we often get is why can't used tickets be bought at a discount. At first glance, it seems like a good idea. For example, say someone bought a 7 Day Park Hopper ticket, and only used 3 days. They are willing to sell you the ticket for less than half the original price. The problem is that Disney does not allow tickets to be transferred from one individual to another. To ensure people aren't doing this, they have a finger print scanning system. The first time a ticket is used the system will record the fingerprint of the individual using it. After that, only that individual will be able to use that ticket for admission.

If you're planning a Disney World vacation, then we hope we've given you some good advice. If you have any questions, please let us know!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Top 100 Disney World Vacation Tips.. with your help!

Top 100 Tips for a Disney World Vacation
Every site and blog has their own list of Disney World tips, tricks, and secrets to help enhance your vacation.  In fact, we've even published our own lists in the past.  And, yet, it is still one of the most popular questions we get from our visitors; "what are the top tips you can give me for our vacation?".

So, we decided to start building a definitive list, with the top 100 tips for vacationers to make the most out of their trip to Disney World's parks.  The only difference is that we're going to be building it with the help of you, our subscribers and visitors.  This list is going to be driven by vacationers, fans, and enthusiasts, from their own experiences, and then voted on.  Here are the parameters:
  • Tips can be about anything to do with a Disney World vacation, such as buying travel or admission tickets, traveling to Orlando, traveling within Orlando, dining, hotels, inside the parks, etc.
  • For the theme parks, we are limiting tips to the main 4; Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
Here are a couple of tips to get us started:

  • FastPass+ - Most people don't know this, but after purchasing an admission ticket for the parks, you can start making selections (basically making time reservations for rides and attractions) as early as 30 days before you arrive. And the best part? There is no extra charge for this complimentary benefit.
  • Disney World Restaurants - If you plan on dining at WDW's amazing restaurants, and they do have some of the best restaurants in the Country, then plan on making reservations as soon as possible.  All the restaurants begin taking reservations 180 days out, BUT.. they begin taking reservations online 1 hour earlier than the phone lines open.  Have your DisneyWorld.com account set up beforehand, and ensure that you'll secure reservations at your top restaurant choices.

Disney World vs. Disneyland: which is the more affordable vacation?

Disneyland in Anaheim, California was Disney's first theme park creation, but Disney World in Orlando, Florida soon followed.  The two parks sit on opposite sides of the country, and, according to Google maps, the 2,499 miles between them can be driven in 34 hours.  But, for the average family of 4 that doesn't live close to either park, which one offers the more affordable vacation?

Hipmunk, a trip and travel planning website, took on this question and delivered some interesting results.  The graphic below illustrates most of their findings.  For a larger version, please click here.

Is Disney World or Disneyland more affordable

After looking over this graphic, we offer 3 main takeaways:
  • Flights into Los Angeles are generally 1/3 more expensive than flights into Orlando
  • Tickets (admission) to Disney World are roughly 10% more expensive than tickets to Disneyland
  • The biggest price discrepancies lie in whether a family decides to stay at a Disney property, or at a non-Disney hotel.  For a family looking to save money, this is, by far, the area where the most savings can be realized.  At Disney World, vacationers can save an average of 60% by staying at a non-Disney property.  And, at Disneyland, the savings are almost 70%.
*Staying at a Disneyland property is more expensive than a Disney World property, but that's only because Disneyland offers a small handful of options, and Disney World offers 31 total properties to stay at.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tips For An Affordable Disney World Vacation: Can It Be Done?

Cheap Disney World Vacation

Disney World might be one of the happiest and most magical places on Earth, but it’s also one of the most expensive.  From transportation to hotels and lodging, from restaurants to admission tickets, it truly can break the bank.  Each and every year, even during the recession of just a few years ago, ticket prices have gone up.  And, not just at the Walt Disney World Resort, but at most of the central Florida theme parks.  For the average family of four, a trip down to Orlando to see Mickey might not be in the cards any longer.  And that’s an absolute shame. 

Each year, however, Disney World ranks at the top of the list as the most popular theme park destination in the World.  For everyone that read this OrlandoTastic post, last year Disney World's theme parks all ranked in the top 8 on the list of the 25 most visited theme parks in the world; (1st) Magic Kingdom, (6th) Epcot, (7th) Disney's Animal Kingdom, (8th) Disney's Hollywood Studios.

So, that leaves us with one question; How do you plan a CHEAP Disney World vacation?  It’s not an easy answer, and “cheap” might not even be attainable.  However, there are definitely some strategies that can be used to make it as affordable as possible.  I’m not talking about super secret tips or anything, but just practices and advice that a seasoned veteran Disney World vacationer might offer you.  If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Disney World, here are some tips that might help you save a few dollars:

Getting to Orlando

Getting to Orlando

If you’re going to be flying to Orlando, I would suggest using an aggregate site like Kayak.  They provide pricing for a lot of the airlines, and have a predictability feature that offers advice on whether it’s a good time to buy your tickets now before prices are likely to go up, or to wait a bit for the prices to come down.  If your local airport is a hub for a particular airline not featured on Kayak, then you should also search for flights directly on that airline's web site. 

A lot of the time, it makes sense to drive your own car to Orlando, rather than fly.  If you’re traveling with more than 2 people, then it almost always makes sense to drive.  Even though gas is expensive, there are all sorts of costs involved with flying, such as transportation to and from each airport, long-term parking at your origin, paying for food while traveling, and, perhaps, renting a car once you get to Orlando.  Orlando isn’t a walking city by any means, and there is not a city transit system to take advantage of.  Unless you’re staying at a Disney property, then you’re going to have to ensure your place of lodging provides transportation to the different parks (with a decent schedule).  If you take your own car, you avoid these costs, you can pack up your car with everything you’re going to need on your vacation, including all sorts of snacks for the trip that wouldn’t make it past airport security.  And, with meals, you don't have to be limited on where you eat.  Orlando has a TON of restaurants, as you'll see below. 

Where to Stay

Orlando Vacation Rentals

When it comes to lodging, this is where Orlando offers the most options and flexibility.  Orlando is the 2nd most popular travel destination in the World (only behind Mecca).  People travel to the city for the theme parks, for the restaurants, for the sunshine, for the shopping, and for business.  The city has some of the biggest and most popular convention centers in the World.  So, where does everyone stay, and where do they go?  Using TripAdvisor.com, let’s take a quick look at Orlando by the numbers.

329 - # of Hotels
11,006 - # of Vacation Rentals
3,064 - # of Restaurants
317 - # of Things To Do

When deciding where you want to stay, the first question to ask yourself is whether or not you want to stay on the Disney World property.  There are 31 resorts at Disney World, and they offer experiences for whatever type of group you might be vacationing with.  You could get a villa at Fort Wilderness with the kids, and have a giraffe in your backyard, or be pampered with your significant other at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (full list of Disney World resorts here).   Some of the perks of staying on a Disney property are that they offer free pickup from the airport, free transportation to and from all the Disney parks, and sometimes early admission into the parks (before the general public).  The problem is, these resorts are often on the pricier side.

Staying in Orlando off-site of a Disney property is what most people choose to do.  Vacationers have the option of staying at a hotel (you can find both kid friendly or adult properties), at one of the incredible supply of vacation rentals (everything from 1 bedroom condos to 6 bedroom houses with a pool), or there are even campgrounds.  For many people, vacation rentals are the way to go.  After a long day in the park, it’s often nice to be able to retreat back to a place that you’re able to make home for a few days. 

  • Orlando Hotels – The best sites to check out hotels, compare hotels, and view pricing are Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.com.  When it comes time to try and negotiate a better price, I have 2 options for you.  First, it always makes sense to call the property and ask them if they have any specials or promotions going on.  Be frank with them on the phone, and tell them you are looking for a deal.  If they aren’t able to offer you anything, ask them if they can give you advice and point you in the right direction.  Second, Priceline.com is a great tool for locking in a bargain price.  Figure out where you want to make an offer, and LOW BALL them.  Even if they don’t accept your offer, they will usually respond with a competitive rate.  I suggest making offers for 1/3 of what you might see online.  Remember, there are 329 hotels in this City.  Unless you’re traveling during Christmas or school vacation week, these properties have a lot of competition.  Take advantage of that!
  • Orlando Vacation Rentals – Vacation rentals are another great lodging option, especially for families.  They generally offer more space, but provide that nice sense of “home”.  It’s likely that your days are going to be filled with theme parks, theme parks, and more theme parks, so it’s nice to have something "homey" to come back to in the evenings.  I again suggest using TripAdvisor.com to explore the many options.  But, I also suggest the site VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner.  The owners of these condos and houses have paid money to be featured on this site, and, again, they are competing with everyone else.  Users can contact the owners directly to ask questions about the properties, and, most importantly, negotiate a better price.  One of the great features on the site are the reviews.  If you find a place where vacationers are saying that they come back year after year, then you can be assured it’s something special. 
Where to Buy Cheap Disney World Tickets

Disney World Tickets

When it comes to buying Disney World tickets, there are a lot of dos and don’ts.  First, the don’ts:
  • Don’t EVER buy used tickets.  Disney World does not allow people to use days on a ticket, and then sell it to someone else.  How do they prevent it?  They actually use a finger print scanning system, where they’ll electronically record your fingerprint when a ticket is first used, and then look to match it each subsequent visit.
  • Don’t buy your tickets on eBay, Craigslist, or any other consumer driven website.  Although there is the possibility of receiving legitimate tickets, the risk is too great.
  • Don’t buy a ticket that offers more than you’re going to use.  For example, if you’re going to be spending 4 days at Disney World, and plan on going to each park for 1 full day, which is ideal, then do not waste your money by adding the Park Hopper option.
  • Don’t purchase tickets if they have any association with a time-share opportunity (unless you’re looking to purchase a time-share).  Although you might find a good discount, these often entail sitting in on a 3-hour or more presentation.  Talk about a vacation killer! 
Many visitors purchase their tickets directly from Disney.  Although it’s easy and convenient, there are also easy and convenient options that are less expensive.  Buying from a ticket reseller, or broker, offers additional savings below anything you would get from Disney World.  These ticket agencies buy in bulk from Disney, and in doing so receive them at a discount.  They are then able to pass along some of the savings to their customers.  And, now the Do’s:

  • Do buy tickets either directly from Disney, or from an authorized and reputable ticket broker.  Do your due diligence and make sure the company is part of Orlando’s Better Business Bureau.  If a company or website is a part of the BBB, then they’ll usually take credit for it and tell you right on their site, as well as link to their profile.  OrlandoTastic partners with and recommends DW Tickets (DWTickets) .  They have been around for over 10 years, they offer some of the better discounts online, they have a great reputation in the Orlando area, and they have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do some planning, and purchase the right ticket for your vacation.  Options that can be purchased with a ticket include Park Hopping (the ability to move from park to park within the same day), Water Park Fun & More (includes admissions to additional Disney parks, such as Typhoon Lagoon and DisneyQuest), or the simple base ticket (admission to 1 park per day, choosing amongst the main 4; Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios).
  • Do make sure you’re actually receiving a discount on your ticket package.  Check out the pricing on the website you’re thinking of buying from, and then check Disney’s site (found here) to compare pricing. 
  • Do check for specials and promotions on Disney World tickets.  DW Tickets generally offers free upgrades and such, and have a promotions page here.

With the right planning, it’s possible to make a Disney World vacation more affordable.  Following this advice will not only save some money, but will also help you put together a fun and exciting trip.  Good luck!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Disney Is My Drug Of Choice, Says Veteran With PTSD

"Disney is my drug of choice.
It's been the happiest days of my life.
My Family is the main function of my happiest days.
But, all this art and magic, creates magic.
It gives you a different feeling of peace inside.
Or, it does for me."
Keep Moving Forward

Guy Spagnoli was your typical young American kid when he was drafted into the Army, and sent over to help fight the war in Vietnam.  While he was there, he saw and experienced the types of things that no one should ever have to be a part of.  But, he did it, because his Country asked it of him.  When he finally returned home, he returned a different person.  Although he wouldn't learn of his diagnosis till years later, he now suffered from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.  The world was now different to him, and he reacted differently towards it.  He suffered from panic attacks, nightmares, and was no longer able to watch the news, since many of its stories would trigger his PTSD.  The doctors began prescribing him pills.  But, as he has said, taking those pills would ultimately fry his brain.  So, Guy turned away from the doctors' medicines and found a more appropriate way to find peace from his PTSD; through Disney.

Guy has now been to Disney World 50 times, and this version of self-medication is doing wonders for him.  He was most recently there on July 18th for a Jodie Benson (voice of Ariel from The Little Mermaid) event.  In a Reddit AMA today, he was asked what his favorite thing about Disney World was, and he said, "Everybody is treated equal, everybody is given respect, and everybody is treated like a guest whether you work there or not.".  He has also worked on and off for Disney 11 times.  When asked his favorite thing about working there, he said "The food! There are so many different restaurants down there and food from so many different cultures you can try."

When another veteran with PTSD asked him for advice, he told him to "Find the thing that makes you happy and doesn't hurt you or anyone around you."  In other words, try to find your own escape, your own outlet, your own peace, whether it's Disney World or something else.

His favorite Disney quote is "Keep Moving Forward".  As he says, "The key to my PTSD is to keep moving forward. If you live in the past, it will consume you."  So, in that spirit, he is currently the main participant in a documentary in the works titled "Keep Moving Forward".  It chronicles Guy's story, and the effect his Disney World fascination is having on his struggle with PTSD.

To help fund this project, the creators have launched a kickstarter campaign, which can be found here (video below).

Guy, congratulations on all you have accomplished, and we wish you the very best with the documentary, as well as all things to come.

Keep Moving Forward

Friday, July 24, 2015

Universal Orlando Gets Top Billing In Sharknado 3

Well, it was actually Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, but it sure felt like Universal Orlando got the most screen time.  The movie, titled "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!", premiered on Wednesday night.  As usual with this movie series, it's gotten quite the reception.

Sharknado 3 Oh Hell No

Starting with Universal Orlando's front gate, there are plenty of venues and attractions that make appearances.  Without giving too much away, viewers should keep an eye out for Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, Universal's CityWalk, and Islands of Adventure.

Beyond Ziering and Reid, there's also plenty of celebrities involved in the story, including Chris Kirkpatrick from 'N Sync, Jerry Springer, Nascar's Brad Keselowski, Mark Cuban starring as POTUS, David Hasselhoff, Frankie Muniz, and Universal Orlando's President Brad Davis.

If you happened to miss Wednesday's premiere, not to worry.  It will be on SyFy tomorrow at 7PM, and Sunday at 9PM.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Epcot Food and Wine Festival: "Eat To The Beat" Concert Series Lineup

2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival doesn't kickoff until September 25th, but now's the time to checkout the "Eat To The Beat" Concert Series lineup and dates.  A lot of the fan favorites are returning, but there's also some great new performers.  Attending the concerts is included with your admission, so make your plans soon!

  • 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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Survey Results : The Best Places to Eat and Drink at Epcot's World Showcase

(Via Napoli at the Italy Pavilion)

A couple of weeks ago we launched a survey hoping to gain some insights into where our readers ventured at Epcot's World Showcase.

Here are the current results:

Where is your favorite place to go to grab a quick snack?

1st Place - Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe - Norway - 12.7%
2nd Place - Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie - France - 11.7%
3rd Place (tie) -  La Cantina de San Angel - Mexico - 10.1%
3rd Place (tie) - Liberty Inn - America - 10.1%

Where is your favorite place to go for a refreshing drink or cocktail?

1st Place - La Cantina de San Angel - Mexico - 15.8%
2nd Place - Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room - United Kingdom - 14.5%
3rd Place (tie) - La Cava del Tequila - Mexico - 10.5%
3rd Place (tie) - Refreshment Cool Post - Outpost Area - 10.5%

Where is your favorite place to go and sit down and enjoy a nice lunch or dinner?

1st Place (tie) - Le Cellier Steakhouse - Canada - 10.1%
1st Place (tie) - Via Napoli - Itlay - 10.1%
3rd Place - Chefs de France - France - 8.9%

Please tell us your favorite way to experience Epcot's World Showcase...

  • Eating around the world - purchasing a dish or two at each country and sharing
  • Wandering around searching out vegetarian friendly stalls and shops.
  • Sober!
  • Sampling all the wonderful food& drinks from all the countries.
  • Epcot is our favorite disney park. We enjoy being able to walk around and taste all of the different foods and beverages from around the world! It makes you feel like you are truly on vacation.
  • We love the fall Food and Wine Festival
  • We enjoy going to each country whether we start from left to right or vice versa. the hands on activities are fun for the whole family!
  • On a cool day, sitting on a bench!!
  • Take the time to stroll instead of run through the park. Try to experience Epcot during the International Flower and Garden exhibit.
  • Start counter clockwise, stopping at Liberty Inn for lunch.
  • We love the garden and flower festival as it changes Epcot into a beautiful paradise. Love the butterfly farm. We love taking a slow walk round all the world's.
  • Over several days. We aren't interested in too many rides there so we like to eat!
  • Watching the fireworks from the Japanese pavillion
  • With vodka freezes in France, finding a table to look over the lake while imbibing
  • I really like visiting all the countries and eating and having a drink or two.
  • Trying different foods from all over the world. We have eaten at most of the restaurants in EPCOT and love them all.
  • Try a little bit of food and drink as you walk all the way around.
  • By walking "through the world" and taking in all the sights and sounds at the individual country's locations. Browsing the shops and eating at the various dining locations "across the globe."
  • Food and wine festival!!!!!
  • Pub crawl
  • My husband and I have never been there. We are 80 and afraid we could not keep up the walking and standing in line for the events.
  • Via Napoli is our favorite lunch spot
  • My husband and I love to sample all around the world at a very leisurely pace.
  • Start at one end and begin walking and enjoying everything - when you get to the other side- turn around and do it again!!
  • Leisurely over a few days. Try the food in some of the less expensive places and then splurge on one expensive meal. Tokyo dining has a great view of Illuminations during a late dinner.
  • Food and Wine Fall Event
  • During the food and wife festival going to each country and trying all the interesting new flavors in each area

 Than you again to everyone that participated.  We'll be putting out a new survey later this week. (survey results)

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Confederate Flag at Disney World? Not Anymore...

Epcot at Disney World

It all started at the South Carolina State House, and has since led to the removal of the Confederate Flag from venues and buildings all over the South.  And, to the surprise of many, even at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park.

The flag (pictured below) is not the traditional Southern Cross, but is actually the 3rd flag of the Confederacy.  The flag was featured in Epcot's "The American Adventure" exhibit, which uses animatronics of Presidents and Statesmen to guide visitors through different eras in American history.  There are over 40 different flags on display, however, this version of the flag will no longer be on display.

Confederate Flag at Disney World

“I think in this day and age we shouldn’t be promoting a part of our history we’re not proud of,” Sheri Labowski, a Connecticut tourist outside the American Adventure on Wednesday, told the Orlando Sentinel
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