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Fairytale Dreams and Destinations
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Letting Myself “WOAH”

Letting Myself “WOAH”

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Globus & Mundi Travel Agency at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

I recently returned for the first time since pre COVID from a wonderful three night stay at Universal Orlando Resort.  The main purpose of my visit was to experience two new attractions that opened while the US/Canadian border was closed, The Bourne Stuntacular located in Universal Studios and VelociCoasterfound inside Islands of Adventure.

If you’ve never visited before, the first thing that you need to know about the Universal Orlando Resort is that it is NOT the same as the resort complex down the street.  And that is a FANTASTIC thing.  I mean why would you want to spend your vacation time and money on a similar experience?  Universal is many things, but above all else, it’s an absolute must do for Harry Potter fans and/or thrill seekers.  I happen to fall into the latter category.

The Ukrainian Ironbelly perched on top of Gringotts Bank

Not that I dislike Harry Potter, but I never cared for the franchise.  I did read all seven books and saw the corresponding movies.  Ok, that’s not entirely true.  I read six and a half books.  I was so bored when I reached the tent scene in the Deathly Hallows, that I stopped reading and asked my husband to tell me how it ends.  So – unlike most – my enjoyment for Harry Potter didn’t come from reading the books or watching the movies.  It came in 2012 during my very first visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when I felt as though the pages of the books came to life before me.  And now, it’s safe to say that experiencing it has turned me into a fan of the Harry Potter franchise.

Theming at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is like nothing you’ve ever come across before.  You can stroll the streets of London and enter Diagon Alley, where you will find some of the wizarding world’s most famous establishments.  Beneath the fire breathing Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon, you can join Harry, Ron and Hermione as they hunt for a horcrux and face off against he who must not be named.  You can dine at the Leaky Cauldron, pick up a magical gag at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, shop for school robes and so much more.

Hogwarts Castle at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

After you have all your school supplies, you can travel through platform 9¾ and take the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade.  This snow-capped wizarding village is filled with enchanted wand shops and more.  At the top of the village, you’ll find Hogwarts Castle, where thanks to a spell from Hermione, you’ll take flight and soar above the castle.  You can also go well beyond the school grounds to join Hagrid and venture into the Forbidden Forest.  And when you’re ready for a drink, I highly recommend the frozen butterbeer, as I simply can’t get enough of this butterscotch and marshmallow deliciousness.

While several muggles will spend a lot of time exploring both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, there is much to experience at the Universal theme parks beyond the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  So after my second butterbeer and too many chocolate frogs, I was ready to check out my first of two new experiences: The Bourne Stuntacular.

This show replaced the “SUPER” Terminator 2: 3D, a show I thoroughly enjoyed sitting through every time I visited Universal Studios.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Terminator 2: 3D was a live show, where performers interacted with a 3D film.  The effects of this show were excellent for its time.  But The Bourne Stuntacular has taken those same effects, picked them up and ran away with them.

The Bourne Stuntacular Poster at Universal Studios

If you’ve never seen the Bourne movies, go ahead and watch them all right now.  Go on, I’ll wait.  But all you really need to know to enjoy Stuntacular is that Jason Bourne is on the run, he’s dangerous and he’s the good guy.

In The Bourne Stuntacular, you’ll observe fistfights, helicopters, high-speed car chases and more, all thanks to a 130 ft wide, 28 ft tall screen that blends in seamlessly with mobile set pieces.  And in a similar fashion to its predecessor, the action transitions between live performance to the screen and back again.  As much as I enjoyed Terminator 2: 3D, The Bourne Stuntacular is by far the best stunt show I’ve ever seen and is the textbook example on how to make a great attraction even better.

Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure

I purposely saved riding VelociCoaster for last.  Because not only am I a thrill seeker, but one of my all-time favourite movie franchises is Jurassic Park.  As such, I’ve always loved the theming and details found in this area of Islands of Adventure.  So, I was over the moon when I heard that Universal built a roller coaster in the middle of the Raptor paddock!

Taking a lesson from John Hammond, Universal “spared no expense” when building VelociCoaster.  The story for this ride takes place right before the first Jurassic World movie.  Once here, you have entered Jurassic World Resort and are about to race through the velociraptor paddock with “trained” raptors racing alongside you.  The indoor (yay, air conditioning!) queue will keep you entertained, and fans will very much enjoy the nod to Dr. Ian Malcolm and other clever Easter eggs from the original 1993 Jurassic Park movie.

As for the coaster itself?  Hold on to your butts.  No matter how much you mentally prepare yourself, you won’t be ready for the launch.  And after the fact, you will be too busy screaming from your first of four inversions to think about it again.  The ride pauses briefly in the paddock area before launching you even faster, this time at 70 miles per hour in only 2.4 seconds, pushing you 155 feet into the air and then immediately dropping into an 80-degree vertical drop.

Indoor Queue at VelociCoaster

You might think at this point, the coaster is going to slow down and return to its loading station.  But you would be wrong because you can’t race with raptors without experiencing a 360-degree barrel roll just inches above water!  And if you enjoy zero gravity – the sensation of floating in your seat – you’ll feel it about a dozen times throughout VelociCoaster.

Did I mention that all this takes place while strapped in only with a lap bar?  I’m not going to lie; I didn’t even notice the raptors because I was too busy fearing for my life.  The VelociCoaster is relentless and extremely intense, but the design of the vehicle and tracks make for an unbelievably smooth experience.

If you have visited the Orlando area and have not yet made your way over to Universal Orlando Resort, you truly don’t know what you’re missing.  Here, you can play, scream and laugh all at the same time.  So, live in the moment, embark on your epic adventure and let yourself “WOAH”!

– Christine Fiorelli

Everyone Needs a Fairytale.  Contact Fairytale Dreams & Destinations to Take Back the Magic Today!

(905) 857.3611 | 1.855.FDMAGIC
10 McEwan Drive West Unit 3 Bolton ON L7E 1H1
www.fairytaledestinations.com

 

 


The World’s Most Magical Celebration

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Last week I was invited to a media preview of the World’s Most Magical Celebration – the 50th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort.  I questioned how Disney was going to find new and innovative ways to celebrate such a milestone.  But I was quickly reminded that nobody creates magic quite like Disney can and they have pulled out all the stops for this celebration to prove it.

When the Walt Disney World Resort opened its doors back on October 1st, 1971, it consisted of one theme park, two resort hotels and a campground.  Today, the 147 square kilometre complex includes four theme parks, two water parks, over 25 resort hotels and much, much more.  Yes, the resort has grown – a LOT – over the past 50 years.

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

The idea of Disney World began one Sunday afternoon, when a father was bored watching his daughters on a carousel.  That boredom led to a vision of somewhere in the world where adults and children could play together.  Fifty years later, this common enjoyment remains the focus of Walt Disney World, as majority of its attractions and shows are still experienced and enjoyed by Guests of all ages.

One of the main additions for the 50th anniversary is the brand-new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure inside the France pavilion at Epcot.  Once onboard, you’ll feel as though you’ve been shrunk to the size of Chef Remy as you scurry though Gusteau’s restaurant on one wild ride.  This attraction for all-ages is a welcomed addition to the park, as it fits in perfectly with both The Sea with Nemo and Friends and Frozen Ever After.

Fab 50 Statue of Figment

The centrepiece of the magical celebration is Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom.  The castle underwent a lengthy refurbishment and is now dressed up in a new colour scheme and fancy décor.  For those of you who remember the 25thanniversary Castle cake, I promise you Disney did not repeat that beautiful disaster.

Scattered across all four parks are the Disney Fab 50 statues, which represent the stories that have moved us to dream bigger, follow our passions and believe in the power of magic.  I quite enjoyed trying to find all 50, but I only found 24.  I look forward to discovering the remaining 26 on my next visit.

Disney Enchantment

The most exceptional features of the celebration all take place after the sun goes down.  Since 1971, fireworks have offered Guests an exclamation point at the end of an enchanting day at Magic Kingdom.  From the days of Fantasy in the Sky to the recent Happily Ever After, over and over, each new nighttime spectacular has raised the bar.  And the all-new Disney Enchantment nighttime show at Magic Kingdom is no exception to this golden rule.  Narrated by Angela Bassett, Disney Enchantment blends fireworks, Disney music and immersive projection effects from Cinderella Castle, all the way down Main Street U.S.A.

Barges for Harmonious During the Day

Over at Epcot, Harmonious has debuted for the 50th and it is the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney theme park.  I’m not going to lie, this show scared me.  Mostly because I worried that the giant barges that are required for it are quite the eye sore in the middle of the World Showcase lagoon.  But I’m happy to report that these new daytime barges are well worth this amazing evening show.  Harmonious celebrates the music of Disney and its ability to unite us all, bridging cultures and generations to unlock the magic of possibility.

On top of these two nighttime spectaculars, all four theme park icons transform into ‘Beacons of Magic’.  Cinderella Castle creates a dazzling glow that sparkles with pixie dust.  Lights shine across the reflective panels on Spaceship Earth.  The Hollywood Tower Hotel returns to its former glory by evoking the glimmer of the golden age and fireflies gather to call forth the magic of nature on the Tree of Life.  These Beacons of Magic are stunning!  So much so, that I question why it took Disney 50 years to make this happen.

Beacons of Magic | Epcot

During the celebration, Disney is full of magical touches.  Throughout the resort, you’ll discover many royal blue and gold 50th anniversary decorations, EARidescent connects all corners of the resort, monorails feature glowing nighttime lights that match each train’s specific colour and SO much more.

In pure Disney fashion, the 50th anniversary celebration is for all ages to experience.  The magic is calling and there has never been a more opportune time to answer that call.  But not to worry if you don’t feel comfortable traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort just yet, as the World’s Most Magical Celebration will be ongoing for the next 18 months.

– Christine Fiorelli

Everyone Needs a Fairytale.  Contact Fairytale Dreams & Destinations to Take Back the Magic Today!

(905) 857.3611 | 1.855.FDMAGIC
10 McEwan Drive West Unit 3 Bolton ON L7E 1H1
www.fairytaledestinations.com

 

 


Fairytale Dreams & Destinations
Fairytale Dreams & Destinations™ Inc. exclusively sells the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina, Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Florida, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii and the Universal, Orlando Resort.

Fairytale Dreams and Destinations™ Inc. is an Ontario Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) authorized travel agency. TICO is an organization mandated by the Ontario Government to administer the Travel Industry Act, 2002 and an industry financed travel compensation fund. TICO Registration # 50010111
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