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PARKsaver: New Disney cruise destinations; Universal vacation package benefits Give Kids The World

by Banks Lee

Disney Magic cruise ship at castaway cay

By Beci Mahnken and Suzannah Mitchell DiMarzio

Spring has sprung and there is even more exciting news and great deals springing up here in the Orlando area. From the looks of things around the rest of the country, it looks like a visit to the Sunshine State (or a plan for a future getaway) would be most welcome after the winter that just won’t go away!

Disney Cruise Line has just announced their new 2015 itineraries and destinations. Here are the newest itineraries for 2015:

Norwegian Fjords Itineraries
On 7- and 9-night sailings departing from Copenhagen, you will be immersed in both the splendor and charm of Norway with exciting new ports, steeped in Viking history. An 11-night sailing allows you to explore the Norwegian fjords, as well as Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

7-night Norwegian Fjords
Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen, Norway
Departure Date: June 6

9-night Norwegian Fjords
Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger, Molde, Olden and Bergen, Norway
Departure Date: June 20

11-night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland
Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Kristiansand and Stavanger Norway; Akureyri and Reykjavik (overnight), Iceland; Torshavn, Faroe Islands; Dover, England
Departure Date: June 29

Northern Europe Itineraries
On Northern Europe cruises, the Disney Magic will sail the Baltic waters where you will explore richly diverse cultures and national capitals including Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and St. Petersburg – known as the cultural capital of Russia. These itineraries depart from Copenhagen, Denmark and Dover – just a quick jaunt from London, England.

7-night Northern Europe
Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden
Departure Dates: May 30, June 13

12-night Northern Europe
Ports: Dover, England; Copenhagen, Denmark; Warnemunde, Germany (July 10 cruise only); Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia
Departure Dates: July 10 and 22

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Universal Orlando revealed never-before-released details about the Hogwarts Express experience that will debut as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley – the all-new land opening this summer. The train will connect the new land in Universal Studios Florida with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure – allowing guests with park-to-park admission to enjoy a real journey aboard the iconic locomotive.

The Hogwarts Express experience combines powerful storytelling, live special effects, lifelike animation and state-of-the-art technology to take riders on the journey of a lifetime. Guests will enjoy two completely different experiences depending on whether they’re traveling to Hogsmeade or London.

Once seated in the cabin, guests will be able to look out their windows as an incredibly authentic and magical adventure unfolds before them. They’ll see Hagrid come alongside the train on his flying motorbike, Buckbeak the Hippogriff swoop gracefully over the black lake, the Weasley twins on brooms and up to their usual antics, the Knight Bus swerving through London traffic – and other special moments and surprises.

Universal’s Creative team has been working closely with Warner Bros., Stuart Craig and the production team from the Harry Potter films to create a sensational Hogwarts Express experience that the entire family can enjoy. The creative team has gone to great lengths to ensure the experience is true to the books and films. Everything about the train is authentic – from the paint and the materials used to build it, all the way down to the whistle. I know we can’t wait to experience it first-hand!

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More news from Universal Orlando: due to its popularity among visiting families, Universal Orlando Resort has announced that it will continue through 2014 to offer a one-of-a-kind vacation package allowing guests to spend cherished family time in its theme parks and then to create unforgettable memories for children at Give Kids The World Village.

Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) is a 70-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort that immerses children with life-threatening illnesses and their families in joy, hope, laughter and non-stop fun at Central Florida’s world-class attractions.

“Give Kids The World Village is truly a special place and is our favorite charity to be a part of,” said Dr. Brian Lahmann who recently volunteered at GKTW with his family during their Universal Orlando Resort vacation. “As a previous ‘wish family’, it holds a special place in our hearts, as we visited there just after our Nolan finished chemotherapy for leukemia.”

With this vacation offer, guests spend two days enjoying unparalleled thrills at the Universal Orlando theme parks and one day making the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses come true as they come face-to-face with their favorite storybook characters, get their faces painted, receive makeovers and more. Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations will also continue to donate $100 to Give Kids The World for every package booked.

Give Kids The World Volunteer Vacation Package for Universal Partner Hotels:

Pricing starts at $359 per adult, tax inclusive. Pricing for Universal Orlando’s On-Site Hotels starts at $625 per adult, tax inclusive. No additional fees to volunteer.

Package includes the following benefits:
• Three nights of hotel accommodations
• 2-day Park-to-Park tickets with third day free – one theme park, per day (Must be used by May 22, 2014)
• A four-hour volunteer opportunity at Give Kids The World Village
• Free scheduled roundtrip transportation to and from Give Kids The World Village
• Early Park Admission to Universal’s Islands of Adventure to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the rest of the general public

Vacation package must be booked by Dec. 12, 2014, for travel through Dec. 17, 2014.

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SeaWorld is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a “Sea of Surprises” – a surprise squad will be giving out ride passes, merchandise and more during their year-long celebration, so now is a better time than ever to experience all SeaWorld Orlando has to offer, including their new One World Shamu show, opening soon.

Across the street from SeaWorld Orlando is Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive day resort where guests can enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, rays and tropical fish and hand-feed exotic birds. Discovery Cove was ranked #1 in the 2013 TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards under “Top 25 Amusement Parks & Water Parks in The World” category.

An all-inclusive Dolphin Swim Day Resort Packages starts at $219 plus tax. Day Resort Packages are also available without the dolphin swim experience for $149 plus tax. For visitors seeking an underwater excursion, SeaVenture guides guests on a 30-minute journey along the bottom of The Grand Reef for only $49. Those seeking to visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, may upgrade their package for $22.

All packages include a light continental breakfast, freshly prepared lunch, and snacks and beverages throughout the day, dolphin-safe sunscreen, snorkel equipment, lockers, wetsuits and towels. All packages also include unlimited admission to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica for 14 consecutive days around the date of your reservation.

Happy Spring!

Suzannah Mitchell DiMarzio and Beci Mahnken work for MEI-Travel and Mouse Fan Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner featuring a team of more than 75 affiliate destination experts located across the U.S.A. They’ve been providing magical vacation experiences for over 12 years, specializing in vacation packages and cruises to all major vacation designations.
For Disney destinations, visit: MouseFanTravel.com or follow them on twitter @MouseFanTravel. For Universal Studios visit UniversalFanTravel.com and for vacation packages and cruises around the globe visit MEI-Travel.com or follow them on twitter @MEITravel.

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