Maleficent Adventures

Travelling Around the World

Category: Orlando

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

This hidden gem should be done by all Magic Kingdom goers. There aren’t many things you can do inside the park without waiting in the queue or spending money. We found it perfect for the middle of the day when we had no FastPass and ride queues were long, you can experience this extra bit of magic whilst you are there and most people don’t even know it exists.

 

What is it?

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive game where you explore the Magic Kingdom on foot, defeating Villains using spell cards through magic portals.

Guided by Merlin (Sword in the Stone) you must quest to protect the Magic Kingdom from Hades (Hercules) who is hell bent to take over it by stealing magic crystals.

It is great fun and you find unique parts of the park you might not otherwise come across. You can do it at your own pace, taking breaks where needed and it is suitable for both kids and adults.

 

How to play

Head to Firehouse at Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom, this is located on the left as you walk into the park next to City Hall.

Here you wait in line to sign up to become Merlin’s apprentice and they set you up with instructions on how the games work and give you all the tools you need.

You’ll be given a key card (or they will link it to your magic band) which will access the magic portals. You are also given your own pack of spell cards (one pack per person in your party – see below), these are what you will use to fight the Villains. Each card has a different hero and spell on, which you use when told to at the portals.

The more you use one card the more powerful it becomes, if you look along the side of the card it will give you an indication of what the power will be.

Top Tip: Parents – make sure to get yourself a pack of cards too, each player gets a set, which is around 6 cards. If you don’t feel up to it (doubtful), it just means there are more cards to go around and more spells to try.

 

You’ll get a map marking where all the magic portals are found in the lands. Currently there are only four lands in which to play – Main Street USA, Liberty Square, Adventureland and Fantasyland.

Once set up and you’ve run through your training with Merlin himself, he will tell you where to go next. Simply follow the map to get there, be sure to use the building shapes on the map to help navigate to the portals, as some of them are tucked away.

When you get to the magic portal use your key (or magic band) to open it up to start the story or continue your previous mission.

There are symbols on the floor to show you were to stand to get the best experience possible.

There are 9 different stories, but you only need to complete four to become a “Master Sorcerer”. Keep a hold of your cards as you can reuse them again and again, some people collect them in special binders or boxes.

 

A few helpful hints from me to you

Each mission will take around 20-30 minutes, and you only do one mission per land before you move on to the next one,  you cannot move lands until your current mission is complete.

As I mentioned before, get as many spell packs as possible as there are loads of different characters to try. There are a few overlaps within packs, but you can always swop with fellow Apprentices.

You can play with as many cards and people as you want, but I would recommend maximum four people per group, due to size restrictions at some of the portals. You can hold up multiple spell cards at once and this will combine your spells together –  its awesome!

Register your spell card by pointing it at the window, there will be two cameras facing you which are used to capture it. Hold it around chest height and give it a little wave if it doesn’t register right away.

On our last trip one of the portals wasn’t working which meant we got stuck, unfortunately there isn’t much you can do other than inform a cast member (and presumably reset back at the firehouse).

There are 9 different Villains so if you keep going throughout the lands you’ll get to see them all. Also, don’t be surprised if you cross paths with other sorcerers who are on a different part of story or different villain, it is randomised to spread people around the park

 

I hope this was helpful and that you are successful in helping Merlin defeat Hades and save the Magic Kingdom. Good luck Sorcerers!

 

Top 9 Snacks to Have in Walt Disney World Orlando Florida

Last month we went to Walt Disney World for a week-long vacation to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday. Our package included a dining plan, which meant we enjoyed loads of snacks during our holiday (as there are two a day included in the plan). Obviously, we can’t include them all here, but we thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend using snack credits to buy food dishes during Epcot festivals.

Here are our top 9 snacks in Walt Disney World:

 

  1. Beef Brisket Burn Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider (Smokehouse – Flower and Garden Festival, Epcot)

Whilst I wouldn’t call it a snack because it was so big, it was snack credit eligible, and the tastiest treat I had all trip! Found near the American pavilion in the World Suitcase, this beauty was on my hit list after reading the Flower and Garden Festival food options and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint!

I got a lot of jealous looks whilst tucking in to it!

 

  1. Night Blossom (Pongu Pongu, The World of Avatar – Animal Kingdom)

Not only is this a very instagramable drink but it was also cool and refreshing, perfect for those hot days. I wasn’t too sure about the Boba balls, but it really worked. I’m a real slushy fan so this was right up my street.

 

  1. Cinnamon Rolls (Gaston’s Tavern, New Fantasyland – Magic Kingdom)

For those of you who don’t know I’ve recently added cinnamon rolls to my list of favourite foods, so much so that for the first 5 days in Disney I had a cinnamon roll everyday… I don’t regret it! My favourite had to be the giant one from Gaston’s Tavern, they heated it up and drizzled icing all over plus the theming at Gaston’s was incredible.

Sunglasses for scale

These were more bread-like compared to the pastry versions sold in Starbucks which really made it stand out from the rest, the pastry to sauce ratio is better on the Starbuck’s versions, but I still found them to be quite dry.

 

  1. Corn on the Cob (Harambe Fruit Market, Africa – Animal Kingdom)

Now I know what you are thinking, why am I putting something healthy in this tasty treat #top9 but honestly it was amazing! And I’m a bit of a corn connoisseur so you know it’s true! Located near the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris, they flame-grill the corn on the cob right in front of you. Definitely order it with the spices on it, it’s so soft and fresh, I’m already thinking about getting this again when I next go back.

 

  1. Premium Mickey Bar (Majority of ice cream locations and stands)

It wouldn’t be a Disney snacks top 9 without some mickey shaped foods in the mix, and the premium Mickey ice cream bar is a clear winner. This offers something sweet and cold on a hot Orlando day, and gives you exactly what it says on the tin.

 

  1. Strawberry Slush (Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn, Frontierland – Magic Kingdom)

True these are found throughout the park I’d recommend this refreshing drink. Be careful not to give yourself brain freeze but this one came with a free Disney straw.

 

  1. Dole Whip (Aloha Isle, Adventureland – Magic Kingdom)

While I didn’t get a chance to have any this trip rest of my family did and seems to be a fan favourite with everyone including my sister Lucy! She was “convinced” into having one with dark rum on (in Africa – Animal Kingdom) and she looked pretty smug about it. “When the Dole whip melts to the right consistency you have once very tasty cocktail” direct quote from our whip connoisseur.

 

  1. Werther’s Caramel popcorn and chocolate flavoured drizzle (Karamel Küche, Germany Pavilion – Epcot)

Another snack Lucy swears by (read: dedicates her life to), it was so tasty she wouldn’t save any to share with me! Found in the Germany pavilion, home to other tasty treated these are freshly made in house too, available in the white bags on the counter in either large or small.

 

  1. Coffee and Hot chocolates (Starbucks – all parks and Disney Springs)

We took advantage of our snack credits by getting a Starbucks coffee most days, situated in each of the Disney parks, this gave us Brits a lovely respite from the horrors of “half and half”. I just want milk in my coffee! You can also find Orlando locals – Joffrey’s in each of the parks and at Disney Springs, which was just as delicious (Let us know your opinions on the Starbucks/Joffrey’s debate!).

 

Like what you see? We also have a Top 9 Snacks in Disneyland Paris article, so be sure to check it out and message us on social if we have missed out your favourite park snack!

Top 9 Tips for your Walt Disney World holiday

As it is only 120 days till we head to Orlando Florida and to Walt Disney World with the family, we thought we’d put our top 9 tips for things to you should consider when booking and before you head off to the happiest place on earth

  1. Shop around for the best deal before booking
    Booking a trip to America can be expensive, especially for a family but be sure to shop around to get the best deal. If you book 18 months before, between April and November, Disney often have deals which include $200 Disney dollars and free dining plans included in your package price.

We shopped around and have booked with Virgin Holidays this year, and they even threw in free access to their V-room at Manchester airport. It pays to compare deals and push your rep into a bargain!

 

  1. Get your food reservations in early (180 days before)
    180 days may seem like overkill, but if there are certain places you want to eat at when you go to Walt Disney World you need to book that far in advance. We managed to walk straight into ‘Be Our Guest’ (the beauty and the beast themed restaurant) when it was still new in 2013, at Holly’s last trip they were laughed out the door. Knowing we were going to be a party of 10 this time round, we booked in advance (and still have to eat at 16:15 on a Wednesday!!).If you have a meal plan booked, be sure to look to see what is included and where this is accepted. We’ve watched a lot the videos from the Disney Food Blog as they are easy to watch and full of great tips!

 

  1. Arrange Fast Passes (60 days before)

For some of the popular rides, you can skip the queue with Disney’s FastPass system. This can now be done through their app, My Disney Experience, up to 60 days in advance.

Our top suggestions for FastPass are:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Space Mountain
  • Dwarfs Mine Train

Animal Kingdom:

  • Expedition Everest
  • Avatar Flight of Passage

EPCOT:

  • Test Track
  • Soarin’
  • Frozen Ever After

Hollywood Studios:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours

 

  1. Make a rough plan of what park to do on each day
    This is something Holly normally puts together to keep the family in check. She looks at park opening hours and makes sure there are rest days by the pool to make sure we don’t over do it. If you are in a large party this will give you some structure, so if some of you take it easy one day, you know which park everyone else has headed off to to catch up later.

 

  1. Add a bit of Disney Magic to the trip
    Is it someone’s birthday? Or anniversary? Disney have loads of ways to make your trip extra special. First off, head to city hall or guest services at the front of the park to collect a ‘First Visit’ or ‘I’m Celebrating’ badge. You can even arrange to have a special treat put into their room with Disney’s reservation line.

Booking a tour is definitely something we would recommend; we have done a few at Disneyland Paris, and Holly has been on the backstage tour at Walt Disney World, which shows you the hidden magic that goes into the Disney parks.

Not just backstage gossip, but special edition pins too!

 

  1. Download the ‘My Disney Experience’ App
    This app is great to get you started, you can access your hotel bookings, book restaurants, FastPass reservations and more!

 

  1. Plan to experience more than the Disney parks
    If you are staying for a week at Disney there is much more you can do than just the theme parks. There are three great miniature golf courses: Fantasia Gardens by the Swan and Dolphin hotel and Winter Summerland at Blizzard beach.

Over the last few years Disney Springs has been updated to home loads of great shopping outlets, bars and restaurants, well worth an afternoon of browsing followed by dinner.

Want more adrenalin? Just a short 30-minute drive from Disney is Universal Studios Orlando Resort home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Or further afield, in Tampa, is Busch Gardens.

Another day trip we would recommend, is going on a fan boat to see some alligators and the Kennedy Space centre.

 

  1. Accessories for the parks
    Most highstreet brands (H&M, Primark, Next etc) are chock full of Disney merchandise, giving you the opportunity to style yourself appropriately on a budget. Whilst in the park you’ll want to pick up the latest merchandise, but save yourself a little dough by getting all your holiday clothes before you go. For our recent trip to Disneyland Paris, Lucy has made us all personalised Minnie ears, she enjoyed making them so much she has opened an Etsy shop MaleficEars! We are all putting our orders in ready for May!

 

  1. Customize your Magic Band
    If you are staying a Disney hotel whilst in Florida you will be provided with a Magic Band included in the price, which will function as your room key and park pass. You can also attach a card and use this as a payment device, and it stores all your food credits (if you have a dining plan) as well as FastPass entries. Up to 7 days before you go you can pick the colour of the band and the name on it. There are up to 8 different default colours you can choose from for free, or buy yourself a limited edition one… Holly has her eye on a Haunted Mansion wallpaper one!

Best of luck planning your holiday! Any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media!

 

Looking forward to the Future of Orlando Theme parks

You may or may not have been following the D23 expo which took place last month but there were lots of Disney theme park announcements which has got us excited for our Trip to Florida next year.

We love going to Orlando, visiting both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, so we thought we’d highlight what exciting changes are coming next to the parks:

  • Opening Spring 2018 Fast & Furious – Supercharged is heading to Universal Orlando
    Expect high speed car chases, special character cameos and a thrill ride with cutting edge technology taking over from the Disaster Ride. Holly visited Universal Studios Hollywood in January and caught a glimpse from the Tram tour, and if this is anything to go by, it will be spectacular!

    Photo Credit: Universal Orlando

  • Summer 2018
    • Toy Story land opens in Orlando
      Not necessarily a new announcement but something we are eagerly anticipating. Opening in just over a years’ time, Toy Story land shrinks you down to size to allow you to play in Andy’s back yard. Rides include Slinky Dog Dash, a rollercoaster, and Alien Swirling Saucers. We are big fans of this area in Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris, as it is so well designed with lots of intricate details.

      Photo Credit: Disney Parks

Slinky Dog definitely looks like our kind of rollercoaster, we are not huge fans of being shaken about or going upside down (think Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain – Florida, as some of our favoruites). Check it out here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK8gDmZS6c8

  • Hotel Aventura: Universal Orlando’s 6th on-site hotel
    Opening in August 2018, this 16 floor hotel will host 600 rooms and will sit adjacent to Sapphire Falls hotel. The building will tower over the Universal park, making it ideal to sit back and relax in their rooftop bar.

    Photo Credit: Universal Orlando

  • Walt Disney World is getting a new form of transportation
    If you have ever been to Walt Disney World, you’ll know how far apart the parks are. To get from your hotel to the parks can take a 10 minute wait at a bus stop followed by a hot bus ride to your destination. Disney is tackling this by providing an gondola system – Disney Skyliner. This will connect Disney’s Hollywood Studio Park and Epcot (which you can walk between relatively easily) to the following hotels: Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach and Riveria Resort. Each capsule will be designed after Disney characters and it is schedules to be opened in 2018.

    Photo Credit: Disney Parks

  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
    D23 saw the unveiling of the official name of the Stars Wars land at Walt Disney World, opening late Summer in 2019. One ride announced will involve flying the Millennium Falcon. I wouldn’t be surprised if the system replicates the Spaceship Earth over in Epcot, where you and three others work together as a crew to fly the ship.

See details from Disney Parks here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP1jcbPRxc8&feature=youtu.be

  • New Disney Vacation Club Resort
    Disney Riviera Resort will sit between Epcot and Hollywood Studios and will be home to the newest property to join the Disney Vacation Club. For those who don’t know, think of Disney Vacation Club as a time-share programme which allows you to pay for your Disney vacation over the year. Riviera Resort is said to host “unbelievable views of the night time spectaculars” of both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, and is scheduled to open late 2019.

    Photo Credit: Disney Parks


  • Dragon Challenge is finally closing
    On September 5th this year, Dragon Challenge (formerly Duelling Dragons) located in Hogsmeade Universal Orlando will close down to make way for a thrilling new Harry Potter e-ticket attraction. This “highly-themed” roller coaster which will hopefully breathe new life into the land. Don’t get us wrong, it is an incredible land, but since Diagon Alley opened it is hard to compare the two. You won’t have to wait long for the new ride as they say it will open in 2019, we are heavily anticipating further ride details to be announced.

  • Disney Announce a highly themed and immersive Star Wars Hotel
    Complete with story lines and cosplay, Disney have just announced a Star Wars hotel which will revolutionise hotel experiences as we know it. Opening near Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World in 2020, this hotel is expected to have high room rates but play home to once in a life time experiences.

    Photo Credit: Disney Parks

  • In 2021 there are lots of exciting things to see around both Universal and Disney parks
    • Guardians of the Galaxy ride opening in Epcot
      At the beginning of this year Disneyland Anaheim unveiled the Guardians of a Galaxy make over to the Tower of Terror, and we are finally starting to see this franchise come to the Florida parks. There is no clear indication as to what the ride will be yet but we know it will open in 2021 and replace the Universe of Energy ride in Epcot.

      Photo Credit: Disney Parks

    • One of Hollywood Studios’ original rides to close
      The Great Movie Ride opened with the park on the 1st of May in 1989, and is set to close on 13th August 2017 after an almost 30 year run. To be honest we never really got the deal on this one and so are looking forward to the new attraction: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This will be based on the new Mickey Mouse shorts seen on the Disney Channel and boasts a “2 ½ D” experience… whatever that entails.

      Photo Credit: Disney Parks

    • Ratatouille coming to World Showcase
      Anyone who has been to Disneyland Paris in the last three years has probably been on its newest ride, Ratatouille: The Adventure. This immersive ride shrinks you down to the size of a rat as you assist Remy in making his favourite dish. This ride is coming to the France pavilion at Epcot and as one of our all-time favourite rides, we are sure will be well received.
    • Tron Lifecycles Power Run coming to the US
      This announcement is Holly’s favourite: Tron Lifecycle is coming to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. This ride was first seen in the Shanghai park. This ulta sleek looking, coaster-style ride pulls riders in as they race around the track.

      Photo Credit: Disney Park

    • Is Super Nintendo world coming to Universal Orlando?
      The real question is when is it coming? Universal have just broken ground for the land at Universal Studios Japan which will open in 2020, conveniently in time for their Olympic games. The main attraction announced is a Mario Kart ride experience, which sounds a-ma-zing. They have also announced there will be expansions to both Hollywood and Florida Universal parks.

      Photo Credit: Universal Orlando

With so many rides and expansions in the mix, both Disney and Universal Studios Orlando will race to get everything done and the kinks worked out by 2021. Just in time too, as this will be Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration which falls on 1st October, and we hope to be there for it. Best get saving now!

 

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2017

Every year Orlando Florida hosts a 3 day event, dedicated to celebrating the world of Harry Potter. This January, Holly and her friend Tom decided to time their trip to Orlando to coincide with this and Holly has written a round-up of her favourite things from the event:

In its fourth year running, A Celebration of  Harry Potter brings fans not just from around US but the world. I can guarantee you’ll get sucked into the incredible atmosphere and magic which surrounds this event.

I booked a vacation package through Universal (hotel only) which meant I got added extras as part of the Harry Potter celebration, which included:

  1. A stay at the Hard Rock Hotel for 5 nights
  2. Early access into the park
  3. Free Express Pass for the rides
  4. Access to an exclusive Q&A with film stars
  5. Three Broomsticks breakfast
  6. Exclusive evening event at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  7. Commemorative Merchandise Item
  8. Commemorative Pin and Lanyard

Commemorative Lanyard

Commemorative Pin

Commemorative Merchandise Item

I found when I was researching my trip the price for a vacation package was similar to just booking accommodation, and with the added benefits (listed above) I couldn’t resist. The exclusive lanyard which allowed me to fast track queues for the expo also allowed access to a special area for the demonstrations which were less crowded.

One thing to note: If you are travelling from the UK and planning to get an Orlando package deal, e.g. with Virgin Holidays, you aren’t able to get this special vacation package as it’s only available when booking direct with Universal.

I booked the basic vacation package (£800PP), there was also a premium vacation package which costed more, but included unique experiences such as an exclusive autograph and photo session with the film talent.

Arriving

Shortly after arriving we headed over to the Group Sales counter in Islands of Adventure to pick up our passes. Then we were ready to start enjoying all the festivities.

The parks was not that busy on the Friday, possibly because most people were coming after work and there wasn’t much on. It wasn’t until 7pm during the Opening Night Event when it started to get busy. Here we got our first glimpse of the Harry Potter  stars which were present for the entire weekend: Warick Davis (Flitwick and Griphook), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy).

Here is a round up of things you can expect to experience during the course of the weekend:

 The Expo

Set across two sound stages, we saw a range of companies showcasing Harry Potter merchandise.

Lego showcased their new Harry Potter characters on their Lego Dimensions games.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London broke the news that they were opening up a new forbidden forest section. #FollowTheSpiders showcased at the expo and this opened on March 31st this year. We even managed to get a sneak preview of Aragog and get an insight into how the prop and design team made this monstrous creature.

The Exhibition
Touring around the world to fans across the globe, the collection of Harry Potter props was showcased at this event. This included Hermoine’s wax figure (used in the second film), as well as Quidditch supplies, Quaffles and more.

Check out this mosaic this was created by using photos from the event using the hashtag #HPCelebration.

Hundreds of artists were used to help bring the books to life, and much of this work was on display during the course of the week. I particularly enjoyed seeing some of the amazing live pastel sketches around the park.

Inside the expo, artists were working on a Fantastic Beasts montage

Outside on the pavements:

Exclusive Q&A with Film Talent

One of my favourite moments out of the entire weekend was the exclusive Q&A with the actors. It was early on Saturday and located in the Toon Lagoon amphitheatre. We got an intimate catch up with the stars. Funnily enough, myself and my friend Tom were sat behind the VIP section, and when Matthew Lewis came on he was heckled by his friends from the crowd in front. Jason Isaacs also shared that if Lucius had a Patronus it would have been Donald Trump’s hair.

Props showcase with acclaimed prop maker Pierre Bohanna

This was a talk about the props and prosthetics created and used for the films hosted by Warwick Davis. Pierre is also part of the team behind the #FollowTheSpiders Forbidden Forest.

Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima

Probably one of the lesser known companies used by Warner Bros in the making of the films, but this design company is behind all the graphic design in the films; including the new Fantastic Beasts franchise. They also designed all of the merchandise for this year’s Harry Potter celebration.

Currently they now have a permanent ‘pop-up shop’ in SoHo London which you can visit, details of which can be found here.

Examples of graphic design work from the Harry Potter films

For some Top Tips if you are planning a visit to A Celebration of Harry Potter see my article in the link above

I had a really good time at the event and the Q&A with the stars as well as the expo were definitely my highlights. I wouldn’t say it merits going every single year but I’ll definitely be heading back in a few years-time.

 

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