Travel Tips

By: Festiva Getaways

July 27, 2018

Escape Summer's Heat at Indoor Play Parks

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the dog days of summer?” Its origins are ancient, and have to do with the dog star Sirius being highest in the sky during the hottest days of summer, which is a nerdy way of saying it is incredibly hot outside. Like, fry an egg on the sidewalk type of hot. What that adds up to is that while on vacation, you might want to find something indoors that’s fun to do, at least for when it gets to be mid-afternoon and the heat becomes ridiculous.

Let’s say you find yourself vacationing in Orlando in August, and the afternoon showers have given way to stifling humidity that makes you crave a little go-kart racing in climate controlled air conditioning. Whereas that seems like an oddly specific craving, it’s not impossible to find in the theme park center of the universe. Andretti Indoor Karting & Games is a quick air-conditioned Uber ride from anywhere in the Orlando area, and features precisely the type of out-of-the-sun shenanigans that your family needs. The go-karts are all electric, fast, and fun to drive over their many challenging tracks. There’s also the indoor ropes course suspended above the arcade, a two-story laser tag arena, and boutique bowling.

Or, after a morning of basking in the sun along the ocean’s shore in Myrtle Beach, you may be want to give your crispy skin a rest by visiting 710 North Myrtle Beach, which is more than an address, it’s an indoor gaming center. With the tagline “Burgers, Bocce, Beer & Bowling,” this unique amusement center redefines the term “bowling alley” with its philosophy of being a fun, casual, and relaxed venue with more games than just bowling. Along with 14 traditional and 6 boutique bowling lanes, they also feature billiards, bocce courts, table tennis, shuffleboard tables, air hockey, skee-ball, arcade basketball, and foosball.

You’re a mountain person, you say, and you’ve spent the day hiking the Ozarks near Branson, but are in need of a little less sun in your life? Fritz's Adventure has got you covered as it’s a family attraction that brings the excitement and challenges of outdoor adventure indoors. You’ll enjoy climate controlled climbing, tunneling, sliding, swinging, and zip-lining. Featuring a life-size water tower with multiple slides, tunnels and tubes to burrow in, and an air-worthy airplane to explore, you’ll have a hot time having a cool adventure.

Whether you’re travelling together as a family or just as a couple, you’ll have loads of summertime fun out of the sun.

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By: Festiva Getaways

July 20, 2018

Disney Magic Without Paying Theme Park Admission: Disney Waterparks

With the peak summer heat settling in, it's natural to let your thoughts drift towards pools filled with cool, blue water. And if you're staying in Orlando, and you have a day where you're not playing in the park, you may want to visit one of their amazing water parks.

Typhoon Lagoon is a themed water park with a fun “history”. Long ago, a Typhoon wreaked havoc upon Lake Buena Vista, the technical name of the city Walt Disney World is in. Fishing gear, ships, and surfboards were flung about. In the middle of it all stands the “Miss Tilly”, a shrimp boat that has become lodged at the very peak of Mount Mayday.

Water attractions include Castaway Key, a continuously-flowing “lazy river that encircles the entire park. Keelhaul Falls, a single-rider inner tube slide on top of Mount Mayday. Mayday Falls is the highest and longest waterslide at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon. Get ready for a bumpy ride down the rapids.

Blizzard Beach is another wonderful waterpark with a similarly fun story for its theme. According to legend, a freak snowstorm suddenly hit Central Florida. The western end of Walt Disney World property was blanketed in powdery fresh snow. Disney immediately put into place plans for a ski resort. Unfortunately, before the park could open temperatures soared and the snow melted. So, their newest water park was born.

Some of their more popular attractions include the Downhill Double Dipper, which offers side by side identical racing slides. The slides achieve speeds up to 25 mph and are partially enclosed. The hallmark of Blizzard Beach is Mt. Gushmore, a snow covered mountaintop that is the origin point for many of the park's attractions. You must take a chair lift to reach the top, complete with snow skis. Summit Plummet is a ski jump turned water slide. You will achieve speeds of approximately 60 mph during your 120-foot plunge. This is definitely not a slide for the weak of heart!

A quick word of advice: Florida summers are marked by afternoon thunderstorms which have a nasty habit of closing the rides, so it's best to plan to get to the parks early in the day. Don't worry, it's plenty hot in the mornings in Florida, and you'll have tons of fun cooling off!

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By: Festiva Getaways

July 13, 2018

National Ice Cream Month: Best Places to Indulge on Vacation

Sunday, July 15th, marks National Ice Cream Day, the center-point of National Ice Cream Month. It’s a very special time for Americans across the country, mostly because it’s so hot and ice cream is so, so cold. Don’t believe that myth about drinking hot chocolate on a hot day. It’s bunk, even if it is kinda sorta true. Everyone knows that when it’s hot, you want ice cream. And everyone also has their favorite ice cream joint to visit near their house. But, where should you get ice cream if you’re on vacation?

If you’re in Orlando, then there’s a good chance you’re playing in one of the theme parks. Since the only thing that goes together better than July and ice cream is theme parks and sugar, there are several uniquely tasty options for you to indulge your red hot sweet tooth. While touring Walt Disney World, you could stop by the Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom for one of their popular Dole Whips, (or you can find it at the Polynesian Resort if you’re touring the hotels) a soft serve pineapple ice cream. They also have a Dole Whip Float, which covers a cold cup of pineapple juice with a large swirl of the soft serve, and it’s divine.

Another fine treat is the Ice Cream Martini at L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France. L’Artisan has a large selection of ice cream and sorbet flavors for you to choose from, but for the martini, you’ll get two scoops of ice cream or sorbet and a shot of Grand Marnier, Whipped Cream Vodka, or Rum. You may stop reading for a second to pick your tongue off of the floor, we won’t blame you. We good to go on, now? Let’s go, then.

If you’ve shopping along Disney’s Boardwalk, you’ll have to stop in Beaches ‘N Cream, where you will find the caloric monster, the Kitchen Sink. Bring a friend, or two, or three to help you finish it, and be prepared to offer some to passing strangers because there’s simply that much ice cream and toppings that no mere mortal group of human beings can finish it before the ice cream melts. But that also just means you’ll have a delicious bowl of ice cream soup to slurp, which is a joy all to itself.

When you’re exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, there’s a good chance you’ll be tempted by one of their frothy Butterbeer drinks. Although a delicious beverage, you may want to reserve that space in your tummy for some Butterbeer Ice Cream, which is served up in Diagon Alley at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour. Served in a cup, waffle cone, or a souvenir glass, it’s every bit of a magical treat that needs to be experienced to be believed.

Or, another Universal Orlando mainstay is the Dippin’ Dots at Universal CityWalk, the charming gateway to both Universal theme parks. Tiny bits of colorful ice cream swirled together in a cup full of flavor. They switch out the flavors, so it’s recommended to be adventurous each and every time you visit – and you will visit often, maybe even in the same day.

If you’re combing the sand in Myrtle Beach, you have a few options you will want to try out. Kirk’s: 1890 Ice Cream Parlor, a local mom-and-pop shop, has two locations in Myrtle Beach located only a couple of miles apart but still manages to pack them in during the summer months. Both stores are only a couple of blocks from the beach so it’s a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. The “1890” reference in the title is the theme of this store that’s been around since the 1970s. Soda fountain chairs, time-period photos and outdated games add to the old-timey feel. Or, Mad Myrtle's Ice Creamery is a quaint little shop filled with vintage memorabilia and old-school sundaes, milkshakes, and funnel cakes that are the perfect antidote to Summer’s sunshine.

To recapture that American Graffiti feeling while in Banson, give Cakes-n-Creams 50’s Diner a visit, where you won’t just get a delicious milkshake or sundae, you’ll also find a classic Americana menu full of hamburgers and fries.

There are so many frozen flavors waiting to be discovered, all you’ve gotta do is play out in the sun to work up an appetite and then indulge in the cool sweet treat that fancies you the most!

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By: Festiva Getaways

July 6, 2018

Disney Magic Without Paying Theme Park Admission: The Monorail Three

Anyone who has visited the Magic Kingdom has ridden the express monorail from the parking lot to the theme park’s front gate. It’s the first ride to mesmerize kids as they get to look out the window and see Cinderella’s castle and Space Mountain draw closer and closer. Guests on the monorail also pass by three resorts on their travels both to and from the Magic Kingdom. In fact, there’s an entire monorail line dedicated to those hotels, making a stop at each resort before stopping at the theme park gates, and any guest can disembark the monorail to explore these three resorts.

The Contemporary Resort is practically an extension of TomorrowLand, one of the many themed lands of the Magic Kingdom. Built in the 70s as a vision of the future, it now stands as a brilliant piece of retro-futurism architecture. The biggest draw for non-guests of the hotel is the character dining offered at the resort’s signature restaurant, Chef Mickey’s. Guests can enjoy a lively, all-you-care-to-eat buffet with Disney Friends such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy. As the monorail whizzes by, these Disney Characters mingle with Guests for photos and autographs and periodically lead diners in song and dance. It’s a popular dining spot, so you’ll need a reservation, but the American Cuisine that’s served is as magical as the dinner guests.

The Polynesian Resort sits directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom, and is themed after the pacific islands that lent it their name. The tropical décor is a delight to experience, and a stroll around the lobby is a magical time. Dole Whips are an iconic Disney treat; soft serve pineapple ice cream that cools the entire body on a hot day. Outside of the long line at Aloha Isle in Adventureland, the only other place in Walt Disney World that serves the frozen treat is the Pineapple Lanai located right outside the back entrance of the Polynesian’s lobby. Or, if you’re ready for a full mean, there’s an exclusive character breakfast at O’Hana, which is one of the rare spots to meet Lilo and Stitch. Reservations are also required.

Finally, the Grand Floridian is a ritzy throwback to the early 20th century, with a lobby that’s, well, grand. Filled with unique shops, it also is sometimes visited by Cinderella and Prince Charming, who come from the nearby 1900 Park Faire. In the evenings, a pianist plays classic Disney tunes on a grand piano, and it’s not uncommon for guests to take up a partner and perform a little waltz or two. Also, you can head out to the beach area at night to watch the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle in the park, and also be treated to the Electrical Water Pageant, colorful floats towed through the Seven Seas Lagoon.

All in all, you can spend an entire day exploring the three resorts. They are all uniquely magical experiences, especially during the holiday season where they get festive makeovers, including a full size gingerbread house in the Grand Floridian that sells gingerbread. And you can visit each of them from the resort monorail line without paying theme park admission.

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By: Festiva Getaways

June 28, 2018

Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – What We Know So Far

As it has for the past 27 autumns, Universal Orlando will host the country’s most popular Halloween event this fall, Halloween Horror Nights 28. Everything about the event is first-class showmanship, including how and when they announce the attractions each year. The theme park unveils each haunted house attraction, one at a time, over the summer months. So, what do we know so far about this fall’s HHN28?

There will be 10 haunted house attractions this year, the most Universal Orlando has ever created for a single event. So far they have announced two of the themes. The first will be based on Netflix’s runaway hit, Stranger Things. The second house will be themed after the cult classic film, Trick ‘R Treat.

That means there will be eight more announcements in weeks to come.

In addition to the houses, Universal Orlando will feature 5 Scare Zones throughout the park to startle and frighten guests as they walk from attraction to attraction. Three scare zones will be original productions with no tie to existing movies or TV shows. Look for Vamp 85: New Year’s Eve featuring “metal head vampires,” rotted pumpkins and human sacrifice in the Twisted Tradition area and “decrepit creatures” in The Harvest.

The remaining two zones, however, will be sure to tickle the nostalgia of horror fans as they feature two beloved cult franchises. The Revenge of Chucky scare zone will feature a toy fair that’s turned lethal, filled with diabolical twists on childhood toys from the past including murderous monkeys, a deadly board game, and of course the titular doll. Then in the Killer Klowns from Outer Space scare zone, an interstellar circus tent houses sweet-smelling cotton candy made from people. Guests must escape unscathed in order to prevent becoming candy themselves.

Halloween Horror Nights 28 will be held at Universal Studios theme park on 34 select nights between Sept. 14 and Nov. 3. HHN28 is an intense, after-hours, hard ticketed event that is consistently chosen as the best Halloween event by industry magazines.

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