Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlandoulie4Staying “on property” at Universal Orlando definitely has its perks, but what you might not expect is the high quality of their hotels.  I had the pleasure of staying at Loews Royal Pacific during my last visit and had one of my most enjoyable hotel stays to date in Orlando.

Loews Royal Pacific is a tropical, “South Pacific” themed resort just tenths of a mile away from the entrance of Islands of Adventure.  While you are just walking distance away from Universal Studios, you feel a surprising sense of peace and relaxation in this gorgeous resort hotel. Room types include water view and garden view rooms available with one king bed or two queens at 335 square feet as well as suites, including the popular Jurassic Park kids’ suites. Loews Royal Pacific at Universal OrlandoThese rooms provide an incredibly comfortable night’s rest so you are refreshed and ready for Early Entry to the Wizarding World the next day!

 

If you are looking for recreation and amenities, Royal Pacific offers some of the very best in the area.  The center piece of this resort is the huge lagoon-style pool with two hot tubs and an interactive water play area for little ones.  When you aren’t at the parks, you can take part in poolside activities such as ping pong, hula hoop contests, arts and crafts and poolside “Dive-In Movies” after dark.   If you aren’t too exhausted from enjoying your day in the parks, there is 5,000 square foot fitness center complimentary to guests.

 

Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando

Another huge draw to this resort is the variety of shopping and dining located within the resort.  With two large Universal gift shops located within the hotel, all the souvenirs and items you may have left at home are at your fingertips.  You are also sure to never go hungry with a variety of restaurants located throughout the hotel.  Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, featuring Asian Fusion food, and Islands Dining Room for breakfast with some of my favorite Universal friends are some of the most enjoyable meals I have ever had in the Orlando area and are all very reasonably priced.

 

Loews Royal Pacific at Universal OrlandoWith any Universal Orlando resort stay, guests are treated to exclusive advantages to make the most of your time in the theme parks.  Guests can enjoy complimentary transportation to and from the parks and City Walk via boat, early entry into the Wizarding World and free Universal Express Pass for every member of your party.  Extras like these make this resort an excellent value that your whole family will be sure to enjoy!

 

To book a Universal package or hotel stay at Loews Royal Pacific, please contact your Me & the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Experience this Deliciousness at Universal’s CityWalk

Toothsome Chocolate EmporiumLooking for a unique experience while visiting Orlando?  So was I – on Valentine’s Day while visiting my daughter. What comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day?  Perhaps flowers and candy?  Perhaps chocolate?  Yes, indeed.

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal’s CityWalk is perfect for a Valentine’s Day celebration.  Let’s be honest – this place is perfect to visit any day of the year!  If I lived closer – I would be sure to visit frequently so I could try practically everything on the menu.

Toothsome Chocolate EmporiumThe Chocolate Emporium is a full service restaurant, bar and confectionary with a steam punk theme.  It is two stories with seating on both levels.  The menu offering is tremendous making it hard to choose just one item.  Their brunch menu is served all day featuring unique crepes, waffles, French toast and quiches.  Also served are soups and salads, sandwiches and burgers, flatbreads, pasta, and entrees such as steaks, pork chops and delicious chicken options as well. Unique milkshakes, sundaes and specialty desserts are offered to fulfill your sweet tooth. (Gluten Free options are available as well.)

Here are just a few of their unique offerings:  Black and Tan Onion Rings (Onion Rings with cocoa ranch dipping sauce.) – Pork Belly Sliders (Caramelized onions, mustard aioli, arugula, chocolate dipped bacon, pretzel bun)

What was on the menu for us you ask?

Toothsome Chocolate EmporiumFor starters, we began with their signature temptation of Warm Chocolate Almond Bread with Salted Carmel butter.  We continued our culinary journey with a ½ pound house-made hamburger patty, Colby andouile queso, cheddar cheese, grain mustard on a pretzel bun, and we upgraded our kettle chips to truffle fries.  Finally, we pondered how we wanted to finish our heavenly visit, and we decided to add a milkshake for dessert.   What did we choose?  The Salted Dulce De Leche {Salted Carmel ice cream, dulce de leche, salted pretzels, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate cigars.}

After all these choices, if you are still craving chocolate, visit the confectionary located on the lower level to enjoy later.  I give this Emporium two thumbs up.

 

See more pictures in the gallery below!

 

Trying to figure out your next Orlando vacation? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’re specialized in Disney, Universal, and much more! We’d love to help take the stress away from your vacation planning.

 

Traci Perjak

Travel Specialist

 

Sprinkles at Disney SpringsLocated in the Marketplace Town Center right in the Heart of Disney Springs (across from The Landing) hides this hidden gem!  Sprinkles Cupcakes boasts a wide variety of sweet treats, including gourmet cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, shakes, and an assortment of specialty beverages.

Sprinkles opened its doors at Disney Springs May 15, 2016 and continues to command a crowd of sweet seekers nightly.  The hours of operation are 10am – 12am daily.  During peak seasons, they have a queue out front for guests, so the line doesn’t get out of control while they wait for their sweet treat.  For patrons on the go, the Sprinkles at Disney Springs even has a Cupcake ATM! {I know, it sounds amazing!} It’s restocked throughout the day and night. So you can purchase cupcakes and cookies 24 hours a day {again, this sounds like a dream!!}!  Guests can enjoy their cupcakes out on the deck overlooking the Disney Springs Marketplace and Walking Bridge in the heart of the entertainment district.
Sprinkles at Disney Springs

Sprinkles has an assortment of cupcake sizes: regular and mini and flavors: chocolate, vanilla, banana, coconut, lemon, salty caramel, and many more!  They also update their menu weekly, monthly and seasonly. So, anytime you go you can always try something different! My current favorite flavors are raspberry chocolate chip and maple bacon.  Sprinkles also caterers to a variety of dietary restrictions by offering vegan, sugar free and gluten free cupcakes. To top off the whole experience, you can watch the cupcake bakers make the sugary sweet treats while you wait! I am fascinated by the baking process, and watching it makes the wait much more fun!

Sprinkles at Disney SpringsSprinkles also has a perks program that offers deals and information about upcoming flavors and promotions.  You get a free cupcake for signing up AND one on your birthday!!  The more you visit, the more perks you earn.  Who doesn’t love FREE and CUPCAKES?!
So, the next time you’re at Disney Springs day or night don’t forget to stop by Sprinkles and pick up a cupcake or a dozen! P.S. Be sure to tag your photos on social media with #MeandTheMouse so we can see all the fun you’re having!
If you’re looking for more fun activities to do outside of the parks, contact a Me and The Mouse agent today. We would love to help put a little extra magic into your next visit!

Amy Pattee

Travel Specialist

 

Are you ready for some Muggle Magic?

Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most immersive and impressive themed lands ever created.  It is no wonder that this area is very popular and always crowded.  In order to get the most out of the Wizarding World with the least amount of hassle, you must go in with a plan.  By following the steps below, you are sure to experience all that your Muggle heart desires without the aggravation of lines, crowds and excessive waiting.

 

Step 1 – Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Escape from Gringotts!

Congratulations!  You’ve been accepted into Hogwarts so now you must pick up all of your supplies.  Stepping into Diagon Alley is like stepping into the movie.  Never have I experienced such a feeling of being a part of the story.  You will want to spend some time here experiencing all of its beauty.  Do the attractions in the following order to get the most out of your time here:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
  • Purchase your interactive wand from Ollivanders and if you are lucky, your wand will choose you!  Interact and cast spells all over Diagon Alley. (Read more about the Wand Ceremony, HERE!)
  • Grab breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron before catching the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade.

 

Step 2 – Arrive in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogsmeade

You’ve made it to Hogsmeade and now you are ready to become a wizard!  Stepping off the Hogwarts Express, pause and take it all in.  The snow-topped buildings with the awe-inspiring Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be like heaven for muggles so make sure you get plenty of photos!  Explore Hogsmeade in the following order to make the most of your time:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Compete in the Triwizard tournament in Dragon Challenge (Use your Express Pass)
  • Hop on board a Hippogriff in Flight of the Hippogriff (Use your Express Pass)
  • Interact throughout Hogsmeade with your wand
  • Have lunch at Three Broomsticks (Learn more about Universal’s Dining Plan, HERE!)
  • Grab a Butterbeer from one of the carts: regular, frozen or ice cream. Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 

Other tips and tricks to make the most of your visit to the Wizarding World 

  • Stay at a Universal on-site hotel to get early entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  For an even more convenient experience, add Universal Express Pass to your tickets or Unlimited Express Pass free with your stay at one of the three premier Universal resort properties.
  • Make sure you have a Park-To-Park Ticket to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, you are sure to fall in love with this area of the Universal theme parks.  Take your time, tour with patience and enjoy your journey into this magical world. For more information or to book your Universal Orlando vacation, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

 

Do you know that Disney World is one of the top ten domestic honeymoon spot in the United States? That should be no surprise to anyone who knows about Disney World. If you stop and think about it Disney has great food, great entertainment, and plenty of activities for you to do.

Let me give you some helpful tips to make your honeymoon memorable. Honeymooning at Disney

  1. Choose to travel in off peak season if you can. You will enjoy your Disney World honeymoon much more if you can avoid the crowds. You might be able to find better deals as well.
  2. Sign up for Disney’s Honeymoon Registry. Yes, you read that right. Disney offers a registry. So instead of getting four toaster ovens, you can get exactly what you want. You can go to disney.honeymoonwishes.com to start a registry.
  3. If your budget can manage it, stay at a moderate or deluxe Disney resort. Staying on-site will provide less hassles. Moderate or Deluxe resorts provide more on-site recreations and dining options. If you can’t afford to stay at these resorts, be sure to research the value resorts to find the best fit for you and your spouse.
  4. Make Advanced Dining Reservations. This is so important! This is a nice time for you and your spouse to have some down time and enjoy each other without the crowds. Signature Restaurants might provide a nice, romantic option. Also Le Cellier or Be Our Guest are good options. And husbands, if you want to treat your wife like a princess, try Cinderella’s Royal Table. Honeymooning at Disney
  5. Be sure you both are on the same page about what kind of honeymoon you would like to have. Do you want to wake up early to an alarm clock and go all day in the parks or do you want a more relaxed honeymoon?
  6. Don’t forget to get your celebration buttons at Guest Relationships. You will get a lot of attention from cast members if you wear this button. Also go ahead and get the bride and groom Mickey ears. You only get to wear them once in a lifetime.
  7. Get the Memory Maker. This is Disney’s photopass service. This is a great way to get quality photos of the two of you. When you get home, you can edit the photos by adding fun borders.
  8. Make sure you plan some non-theme parks activates. Spend a day at Disney Springs, at the spa, or playing golf.

Most important, let loose and be a kid. You just married the love of your life. Embrace life and the happiness you feel and live, love, Disney!

Lori Steinnerd

Travel Specialist

Holidays at UniversalWhen you think of Christmas in Orlando, most people immediately think of Cinderella’s Castle decked out in gorgeous lights or the giant gingerbread house on display at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.  Lesser known, but very impressive, are the celebrations and special events at Universal Studios.  With the Macy’s Holiday Parade, Grinchmas and the Manheim Steamroller live in concert, guests are sure to get in the holiday spirit.

During the month of December, the streets of Universal Studios come alive with the floats, balloons, bands and dancers of the Macy’s Holiday Parade.  The parade happens daily at 5pm on the Universal Studios side of the park, kicking off in the New York area.  Spectators will need to reserve a spot no later than 4pm.  The best place to view the parade is New York Street across from the Mummy attraction.  Holidays at Universal

The Manheim Steamroller concert is also a big draw to Universal Orlando during the Christmas Season.  This concert takes place exclusively on weekends at 7pm on Hollywood Street on the Universal Studios park side.  This concert lights up the street with classic Christmas music and stage effects sure to put you in the Christmas Spirit.  To view this concert, it is best to start finding seats no later than 5:30pm.

Holidays at UniversalAt Islands of Adventure, Seuss fans can enjoy the story of Grinchmas.  Located near Circus McGurks, this indoor show blends acting, music and other theatrical elements to tell the story of the beloved Grinch.  The show takes place 6-8 times daily during the holiday season.

 

 

Holidays at UniversalEach of these special holiday events are free with park admissions.  For more information, or to book a Universal holiday vacation, please contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

There’s extra magic to discover in Orlando!

Discovery Cove OrlandoNestled amongst the bustle of busy Orlando theme parks is an all-inclusive, secluded paradise, Discovery Cove!
When you arrive at Discovery Cove you will walk through a canopy of tropical plants and trees to a thatched roof registration building.  Once you are registered and walk out the door you feel as if you have been teleported to a tropical island fantasy!  Adding a day at the cove to your Orlando vacation has so much to offer your family!

  • Meals included (Breakfast, Lunch, and unlimited snacks and drinks)
  • Swimming with bottle nosed dolphins (which is an add on to your package and needs to be scheduled ahead of time) Minimum age is 6 years old
  • Relaxing on beautiful beaches
  • Floating down the Wind-Away River
  • Snorkeling in The Grand Reef with tropical fish and rays
  • Hand feeding birds in the aviary
  • Animal encounters in the Freshwater Oasis
  • Swimming
  • Private Cabana Rental (have your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist set this up before you arrive as there is limited availability).

 

Discovery CoveDiscovery Cove has really thought of everything when it comes to providing your family with a relaxing and enjoyable stay.  They have limited entrance availability every day, thus providing you with a more peaceful environment and minimal lines.  All you really need to bring is your swim suit!  Your wetsuits, snorkel gear, sun screen, lockers, and changing facilities are already provided!  If you will be celebrating something special on your visit make sure to talk to your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist about Discovery Cove’s special package enhancements to make your day even more memorable!  As an added bonus your admission to Discovery Cove includes with it unlimited admission to both Sea World and Busch Gardens for 14 consecutive days surrounding your day at Discover Cove.  I highly recommend adding a day of awe and relaxation in Discovery Cove to your Orlando Vacation!

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

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Want to make your Harry Potter trip a little more magical?

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may already have your favorite Hogwart’s house picked out. To add to the fun of your visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, I recommend visiting the official site for J.K. Rowling before you arrive at the park (or while standing in line to get in!)  You can learn all about Harry Potter, Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and even get sorted into one of the four Hogwart’s houses!

Let’s get started!

  • Start the fun at www.pottermore.com and select “Begin Your Journey.”
  • If you are viewing the site on your computer, select “Sorting” at the top right. If you are on your smartphone, there is a drop down menu in the upper left corner.
  • You must provide your birth month and year.
    {Important to note: guests must be at least 13 years old to register.}
  • You will need a separate email address for each member of your family to register.
  • Once you complete the registration, jump back to the Sorting area and scroll to “Join Your Hogwart’s House.” Select “Be Sorted and Discover Your House.” Answer all the questions in the Sorting Ceremony (making sure to scroll to view all the possible responses) until you complete each question and are finally “sorted” into your house. Harry Potter Sorting

For true Harry Potter fans, you can also be sorted to reveal your Patronus (an animal that possesses characteristics from your own personality) as well as to select your wand.

Now that you have your house colors, go explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with confidence!


I will tell you that my family got ourselves “sorted” before our first adventure into the world of Harry Potter. For us, it made the visit more magical and fun, especially for my daughter. She was able to pick out a Hufflepuff scarf and a wand, and it definitely was more exciting for her knowing where she “belonged!”

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

* Pottermore.com is not affiliated with Universal Studios, but it is the official site for J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter stories

Loews Sapphire FallsAn exciting, new resort opened on Universal Orlando property in July 2016.  Loews Sapphire Falls is a beautiful resort conveniently located one mile from the entrance of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  Full of lush Caribbean scenery and breathtaking waterfalls, this resort hotel is sure to make you feel like you are in a relaxing tropical paradise, not in the middle of a theme park.

Walking in to the lobby of this resort was very impressive.  The spacious lobby is decked out with a giant beach ball chandelier. You can also see a view of Islands of Adventure from the windows. The check in process was absolutely flawless. The desk staff was extremely friendly and efficient.   It took only 10 minutes from check-in to being in my room!

Loews Sapphire FallsMy room had two queen beds and a standard view. However, I still had a great view of the water surrounding the resort.  Each room comes equipped with a Keurig coffee maker, flat screen television and mini refrigerator. The room was very clean. I loved the decor. The decorations are a stunning sapphire blue, white and tan matching but not overkilling the Caribbean beach theme.  I personally love the separated toilet and shower from the sink and vanity area. This helps families trying to get ready to go to the parks in the morning.

Loews Sapphire FallsOne of my favorite amenities at this resort is the huge pool area.  The 16,000 foot is the largest pool on Universal property, includes a waterslide, hot tub area and plenty of lounge chairs to accommodate the guests.  Around the pool, there are also several outdoor games, ping pong tables, a large screen for movies at the pool and an indoor fitness center.

The Sapphire Falls Resort offers several restaurant options inside.  First, the Dutch Trading Company is the quick service/grab and go option.  You will find quick service food as well as a Coke Freestyle Machine with the option of purchasing a refillable resort mug.  Amatista’s and Strong Water Tavern are also available if you are in the mood for a table service meal. Loews Sapphire Falls
Like all Universal Orlando resort hotels, Sapphire Falls offers benefits for staying on-site.  The complimentary water taxi will take guests direct to the parks and City Walk.   As a guest of Sapphire Falls, you are also eligible for early morning entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Overall, I was very impressed with my stay at Sapphire Falls.  It is truly a moderately-priced resort with the feel of a deluxe.  For more information, or to book this resort for your Universal Orlando vacation, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Universal Quick Serve DiningTo get a dining plan or not is one of the greatest debates families have when planning a theme park vacation.  A dining plan can save money, add convenience and provide flexibility for a family visiting Universal  Parks.  After spending a day on the Universal Quick Service Dining plan, I can easily see how this is a great option for families.

  • It’s a great value: On the quick service plan, adults pay $21.99 per day and receive one counter service meal with non-alcoholic beverage,  a snack and an additional non-alcoholic beverage. This can save guests as much as 30% on dining.
  • It’s flexible: Guests can purchase this dining plan for one day or all days of their vacation.  The plan can also be purchased for only some of your travel party. It can even be added the day they are in the park.  For example, two teens traveling with parents can have the quick service dining plan. At the same time, their parents can be on their own for dining. This a great perk for kids exploring the parks on their own.  Universal Quick Serve Dining
  • Wide Selections:  Quick service dining options are available at over 100 restaurants in Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Universal City Walk.  With a huge selection, each person will find a meal or a snack well-suited to their tastes.  Even the popular Harry Potter-themed restaurants, Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomsticks, are available on the Quick Service Dining Plan.
  • Anyone can get it:  To be eligible to purchase the Quick Service Dining Plan, you can be a Universal Orlando Resort guest, or a day guest staying off property.  Anyone in the parks can take advantage of this plan.  Universal Quick Serve Dining

*     Credits don’t expire:  If you have leftover credits you don’t use, hold on to them and bring them with your your next trip to the parks.

I found the Universal Quick Service Dining Plan to be very convenient and easy to use.  I added the refillable Coke Freestyle mug to my plan for an additional $6 for unlimited refills all day.  To add this plan to your Universal package, please contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist