Discounted Holiday Events Make For Rich Seasonal Travel

holiday events

As we make plans for travel through the first of the year, holiday events are often included. At home or on the road – traditional, old fashioned or new – different holiday events are in place for us to enjoy. Some are free to see, others have a ticket or admission price, but all aim to be a part of our holiday travel plans. Here are a few of the more noteworthy holiday events to consider.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular“- New York City
Norwegian Cruise Line has been designated the official cruise line of the Rockettes and is offering a 25% savings on tickets to the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” through December 30, 2012 (use promotional code “Cruise”).

Norwegian also launched a sweepstakes that gives “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” attendees a chance to win a cruise for a family of four on Norwegian Breakaway, which will be the largest ship to homeport year-round from New York City beginning in May.

Holiday Ballet “The Nutcracker” from Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre
– Atlanta
To many of us, nothing says “holidays” like a good performance of “The Nutcracker” and Atlanta’s Georgia Metro Dance Theater has one of the best.

In its 11th year of creating holiday magic, they invite you to come and watch the timeless tale unfold as a young girl’s gift of a nutcracker comes to life and a handsome prince whisks her away through the land of snow.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing LightsOrlando
Walt Disney World in Orlando has a seasonal display featuring millions of glittering lights
at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Synchronized to holiday music, buildings are blanketed in sheets of multi-colored lights with thousands more forming twirling carousels and heavenly angels in a show that cycles every ten minutes.

Included with standard admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, Santa and his reindeer will be on hand through January 6, 2013.


CHILL: A Dazzling Ice Kingdom in a Giant Igloo at the Queen Mary
– Long Beach
Retired ocean liner the Queen Mary has been transformed into an amazing winter wonderland for the whole family called CHILL through January 6, 2013. A giant igloo, home to The Ice Kingdom, features a one-of-a-kind exhibit with larger-than-life ice creations.

Ice Tubing, an Ice Skating rink, a Holiday Village, complete with Christmas trees, “Candy Lane,” gingerbread decorating, carolers and Santa Claus will be on hand too as we see in this video:



Looking for discount tickets to these and other holiday attractions? Suddenly Frugal, an online source has all of these and more listed as well as a list of the 11 Best Freebies When You Travel.

[Photo credit- Flickr user ZakVTA ]

Member Of Secret Disneyland Club Tells All


A member of Disneyland’s most exclusive club has been opening up to inquiring minds on Reddit, a social news website. The anonymous user has been defending the club’s $35,000 per year price tag, and also dished about dining with celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks.

The user introduced himself by saying he has been member of Club 33, a secret feature of Disneyland located in the heart of the New Orleans Square, for more than 10 years – and that the membership has been with his family for more than 30 years. The private club was opened in the 1960s, and the waiting list for membership is rumored to be 14 years.

Describing the scene, the member noted that celebrities can often be spotted at the club. “I’ve spoken to Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks one on one while in the club,” he noted, adding that he tends to try and give celebrities their space.

He said a membership covers up to four family members. Besides access to the club, benefits include valet parking on a private lot, automatic upgrades at Disney properties, reserved seating at shows, a private car on the Disneyland Railroad, behind the scenes tours, immediate fast passes, invitations to special events and the ability to make reservations for friends and family members.

A former Disney Imagineer who was unable to access Club 33 asked if there were any of Walt Disney’s trademark gags inside. The member explained that there is an animatronic vulture in the Trophy Room, one of two dining rooms inside the club. He also noted Disney put an elevator that comes up from an underground garage so VIPs could be ushered in and out of New Orleans Square quickly and easily.

According to Wikipedia, the elevator is an exact replica of one Disney saw during a vacation in Paris. The owner of the original refused to sell, so Disney sent a team of engineers to the Parisian hotel to take measurements and a sample of the original finish for an exact replica.

Most of the people leaving comments on Reddit questioned whether or not the membership to the club was worth it. The member seemed undecided on the matter, pointing out that he mainly keeps his membership because it is a family tradition.

“While I make good money, I consciously pay the dues each year from some inheritance that was left to me by my parents,” he said. He also explained that dinner at the club comes at a cost of around $150 (without alcohol), and he only took advantage of his membership four times last year.

“If you’re a big Disney fan and want to enjoy 33 once, the price is worth the experience and memory,” he said, but he also pointed out that the best experiences he’s had because of the membership took place outside of the club.

The member also explained that Disneyland as a whole seems a little less magical than it was in years past.

“The attention to detail is fading quickly in the park,” he wrote, adding that maintenance and repair is also slipping. “[Twenty] years ago, something would be repaired the next day if the part was handy. Now things go for weeks before [they’re] replaced. If you ever meet an original Disney employee, ask them how often they saw a light bulb out.”

The member also offered a surprising tool for those looking to get into Club 33: Craigslist.

“Some members, especially the corporate ones, have been known to charge a hefty price tag to take guests,” he explained. “Alternatively, if you know any executives in the big well known brands in the [United States], ask them. Fewer and fewer corporate accounts are joining, but I’d have to assume it’s still the majority of the reservations.”

[Photo Credit: Creative Commons]

Insider Secrets No Secret To Disney World Cast Members

insider secret castle

Frankly, the best insider secret on how to get the most out of a visit to Walt Disney World is to go with a Disney cast member. They know exactly where to be at any given time for no wait on the best rides. They know what venues have the best food and, if something special is going on, when to be where for that. If a Disney cast member in your back pocket is not in the cards, Disney Insider offers the next best thing.

“Comfy sneakers, sunscreen, and jackets (for chilly nights) are must-haves, but before heading to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, you can learn the ropes from experienced Theme Park-goers – especially for first-time visits,” says Disney Insider and their tips ring true.

Giving details on what time of the day to go (afternoon on the weekends) and even which months are best to avoid crowds (October), Disney Insider tells how to get the most out of Extra Magic Hours, Disney’s FastPass service and more.Offering tips on everything from where to find recipes for Disney Gumbo, Mint Juleps or Walt’s Favorite Chili to what time is best to gather for Character Meet and Greets, Disney Insider is available by email subscription, RSS feed and Facebook.

Helping make the most of every magical moment, Disney Insider has the most current information. Almost as current as having a Disney cast member along for the ride.

Did you know that pin collectors can trade with any cast member as long as they don’t already have the same pin? See this new video for more:




Flickr photo by Christian Lambert (DVCphoto92)

5 Free Things To Do In Orlando That Are Not Theme Parks

things to do in orlandoTravelers planning a trip to Orlando usually have plenty of things to do – for a price. Central Florida attractions draw millions of visitors every year spending billions in travel dollars. Often saving up for years to make a magical Florida vacation reality, families visit the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, Sea World and others. But while there is no shortage of attractions charging a hefty admission fee, there are quite a few that are free, many of which are close by the expensive Orlando attractions.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of many parks in Florida with no admission fee. This one is less than an hour from most Central Florida attractions. Wekiwa Springs State Park lets visitors take a break from the busy, loud theme parks and enjoy a picnic or take a swim in the cool spring. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent and 13 miles of trails are great for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.

Lake Eola Park
is a popular downtown destination that has many people taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings, perfect to walk at lunch or the evenings. Admission is free but renting swan-shaped paddleboats or electric gondola boats will cost $30 per hour. Visitors feed the live swans, see a free concert or play in the Walt Disney Amphitheater or just enjoy a spectacular view of Orlando’s skyline.

Winter Park Farmers Market happens on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features everything from fresh produce to local handcrafted gifts and artwork. Also in Winter Park, is the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens featuring world-class sculptures and paintings and the Cady Way Bike Trail, a 3.7-mile greenway joining Orlando and Winter Park. Bike, walk, roller blade, stroll or run seven days a week.Ocala National Forrest is a year-round recreational option. There are huge springs, twisting streams and lakes for fishing and water skiing. The cool crystal-clear waters of Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs draw snorkelers. Canoeing, kayaking, hiking and boating are available every day and secluded cabins are available that will hold up to 12 people.

Snowhill Mountain Bike Trail is located in the Little Big Econ State Forest. Snowhill trail has single pine needle-layered trails, some sugar-sand parts and river crossings by suspension bridge, as well as some steep drops. Admission is free here too.

Why Visit Orlando, Florida


[Flickr photo by erin leigh mcconnell]

Skyscraper as theme park: Architect re-imagines thrill rides on a vertical scale

Can you imagine a theme park in the middle of Manhattan? Finding the capital to acquire the land and raise the buildings on it to create the necessary open space would be nearly impossible.

But what if that theme park could be built vertically, as a theme park skyscraper?

Skyscraper theme parkThat’s the idea behind architect Ju-Hyun Kim’s vertical theme park prototypes. Kim says in order to be eco-friendly and save the world from more sprawl, the theme parks of tomorrow need to be built in the middle of cities:

Instead of sprawling parks with giant footprints, stack the park into a skyscraper. The altitude will only add to the speed and excitement of rides, and the view of the surrounding dense urban environment will be incredible. There’ll be so much more to see from the top of the carousel and roller coaster on the perimeter. Best of all, it will be easily reached by public transportation, and the environmental impact will be minimal. Now is the time to build the joyful destination for families’ perfect day out at the center of cities.

Kim’s vertical theme park would be broken into five sections:

  • Vertigo World, which would include a carousel and observation deck at the top of the theme park skyscraper
  • Fast Land, including a flume ride and a rollercoaster
  • 360 World, with a Ferris Wheel and sky promenade
  • Abyss City, a bungee jumping platform
  • Elsewhere Universe, a geodesic dome with a gravity-free zone

Though very different from Kim’s vision, theme-park pioneer Walt Disney also considered building a vertical theme park in a city’s downtown. Fifty years ago, Disney was planning a River Front Square on the banks of the Mississippi in St. Louis. The five-story indoor attraction’s plans are said to have included a walk-through pirate ship, audio-animatronic exhibits and a haunted house.

But the St. Louis plans for a metropolitan Disney theme park were scrapped, and the second Disney theme park — the Magic Kingdom — was built outdoors, horizontally, on part of a sprawling 40-square-mile swampy area now known as Walt Disney World.

You can see all the prototypes from Kim’s vertical theme park proposal at ArchDaily.