Late afternoon post-sunset photo of couple kissing on The Wheel at ICON Park

Valentine’s Day In Orlando: Date Ideas For the 2020 Holiday

Love is in the air here in Orlando, The City Beautiful, and Valentine’s Day events are no stranger to the area. From Kissimmee to Downtown and from the thrill-seekers to the romantics, there’s an endless variety of date ideas for the 2020 holiday.

Valentine’s Day is only a day away and we know that there are a few (or a lot) of you who are still trying to choose the perfect place, reserve the best dinner, or book that out-of-this-world Valentine’s event that will wow your other half. Not to worry! We’ve compiled a lovely list of date ideas that are guaranteed to make your partner swoon and, hopefully, love you forever (because we’re striving for true love this new decade).

A Valentine’s Dinner at Eleven

“Elevate your love to Eleven” at Eleven inside of Reunion® Resort. On Friday, February 14th, dine from 5:30 – 10:00 p.m. with your partner and feast on a delectable four-course prix fixe dinner (view the menu here) prepared by Chef Sabrina Green with wine pairings chosen by Joel Vodola.

Interior of Eleven at Reunion Resort with view of the evening fireworks

Credit: Eleven at Reunion® Resort

Your dinner will be complemented with breathtaking rooftop views of the entire resort grounds, making for an intimate evening surrounded by the beauty of Orlando. Prices range from $59 to $75 per person, depending on entree choice. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online or by phone at (407) 396-5397.

Wine Bar George

Situated in Disney Springs®, Wine Bar George is celebrating a weekend full of Valentine’s dishes (view the menu here) for those who can’t make it on Valentine’s Day. Enter this urban-style bar and restaurant’s warm and inviting dim-lit atmosphere and enjoy anything from small plates to fan-favorite charcuterie boards.

Photo of indoor bar at Wine Bar George

Credit: Condé Nast Traveler

Choose from an assortment of over 20 different cocktails, beer, ciders, and frozen alcoholic beverages, or branch off of the Valentine’s Weekend menu by trying a wine from Wine Bar George’s award-winning list.

Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online, the My Disney Experience App, or by phone at (407) 490-1800.

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar

Join Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar in the “Tunnel of Love” this Valentine’s Day with a delectable dinner and dessert pairing inside of this intimate Italian restaurant.

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Credit: Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar

Located in Disney Springs®, share a meal for two of a Stuffed Baked Maine Lobster complete with Lumache Pasta and finished off with a Torta Setteveli for dessert. Your date will be amazed by the collection of flavors in this one-of-a-kind Valentine’s dinner.

Those who like to dine with a glass of fine wine, Enzo’s extensive beverage menu is sure to satisfy all guests that enter.

Reservations can be made online, the My Disney Experience App, or by phone at (407) 560- 3696.

Love Month at ICON Park

Share your love high above the city of Orlando during Love Month at ICON Park. Until February 29th, 2020, surprise your love with one of two romantic Valentine’s packages.

Late afternoon post-sunset photo of couple kissing on The Wheel at ICON Park

Credit: ICON Park

The “I’m Sweet On You” Package (starting at $110) lets your special someone know that you’re “sweet on them” with its delightful touches of a private capsule for two, a rose, two glasses of champagne, wine or soft drinks, and a box of chocolate truffles to give or share. If you’re on a group date, reserve for extra guests in the same capsule for only $25 per person (includes ride and beverage). Want to share a full bottle of wine or champagne? You can do so starting at as low as $30.

Upgrade your night with the Romance Capsule Package (starting at $185) and have your capsule romantically themed with your full bottle of wine or champagne and box of chocolate truffles included with your package. Additional riders can be added as well for $25 including the beverage.

Reserve your romantic capsule online anytime before the end of February to secure your romantic evening with your significant other.

2020 Epcot® International Festival of the Arts

If you’re going to visit any theme park during Valentine’s Day, you’ll have to stop by Epcot® for the 2020 Epcot® International Festival of the Arts.

Woman, left, and man, right, walking and laughing at Epcot® International Festival of the Arts. Man is carrying wrapped painting.

©Disney

From now until February 24th, 2020, walk from country to country with your special someone as you try a variety of festival booths with small plates designed for the art enthusiasts of the world. You may even discover a piece of art too beautiful to pass up, making for a memorable and unique gift for your loved one.

Capture the moments with fun and exciting photo-op spots, visit stunning art galleries and so much more at the 2020 Epcot® International Festival of the Arts! Get your tickets with us here and add color to your heart this Valentine’s Day.

Cinderella at the Orlando Ballet

Enchant your date with the timeless tale of triumphant love at Cinderella, the ballet performance being held by Orlando Ballet at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. With live music by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, this magical evening will take you back to your childhood while adding a sophisticated twist to the story.

Promotional poster of Cinderella ballet at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Credit: Orlando Ballet

Watch the art of ballet come to life with your partner from February 14th to February 16th, 2020. Times may vary, so please check the website for more details. Tickets start at $24 per person. Book in advance online or by calling (407) 426-1733.

Valentine’s Day at Island H2O Live!

While some look forward to a romantic evening, others plan for a day of thrills. Island H2O Live!, Kissimmee’s newest Water Park is offering a 2-for-1 special this Valentine’s Day.

Woman piggybacking on man in wave pool in front of Island H2O Live! wave pool tc screen

Credit: Island H2O Live!

Purchase a single-day ticket to the park by February 14th and receive one for your date for free! It’s a great way to enjoy the sun, relax down the lazy river or zoom down the slides together. Add some spark to your romance by spending your Valentine’s Day at Island H2O Live!

With these special places to visit and more beyond words, your Orlando Valentine’s Day, weekend, or month is sure to bring the magic of love to the two of you.

Looking to book a long-weekend getaway for your partner as your Valentine’s Day present? Make sure to swing by our website and see all of the Magical Vacation Homes we offer for your much-needed romantic vacation.

Until the next blog post, have a magical week and an enchanting 2020 Valentine’s Day!

Holiday Events in Orlando For 2019

Can you believe that we’re almost at the end of 2019? The holidays are vastly approaching and holiday events in Orlando are popping up at every corner. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year, to travel of course.

We took the liberty of narrowing down the BEST holiday events in Orlando for 2019, so if you’re planning your vacation as we speak, keep reading along for your next go-to attraction!

Theme Parks

You didn’t think we’d skip our area theme parks, did you? With Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, and more all in Central Florida, there’s an ENDLESS list of events that have the sleigh bells ringing and the jingle bells jamming. From Christmas to Haunnakuh, there’s something for everyone to get into the holiday spirit.

Walt Disney World® Resort

Magic Kingdom® Park 

The most iconic of them all, the Magic Kingdom® Park is hosting its annual Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! On select nights from November 8 to December 22, 2019, experience a holly jolly Christmas dazzled with thousands of Christmas lights, a festive holiday parade, a fireworks display that fills the night sky with cheer, and the list goes on. Collect your cup of hot cocoa and stroll down the picturesque Main Street U.S.A. and experience a magical Christmas like no other.

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Epcot®

 Lucky for all of us, Epcot® seems to have exciting events year-around! If you’re planning on traveling to Orlando within the next month, you can experience the 2019 Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays. At select times nightly from November 29 through December 30, enjoy special kiosks situated around the World Showcase while admiring the lights that decorate the countries and the twinkling Christmas tree.

Learn of the biblical tale of a savior born in Bethlehem from a celebrity narrator as they are accompanied by a choir and a 50-piece orchestra. The spirit of Christmas comes alive on stage through the Candlelight Processional at the world showcase at this yearly Epcot® tradition.

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Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Studios Florida

 Get ready for the merriest time of the year with Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s! Don’t be saddened if you cannot make it to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, because Universal Studios Florida is here to share it with you all season long. On select days from November 19 and December 30, gaze at the merry and mayhem as Minions join the infamous Santa Claus and other popular characters as they float down the streets of the park.

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If you’re more of a “witchcraft and wizardry” kind of human, celebrate the holidays as London and Diagon Alley get dressed in festive décor and deliver seasonal treats that embrace the spirit of Christmas.

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Universal’s Islands of Adventure

 The Grinch, Harry Potter, whichever appeals to you most, you’re sure to find it here for the holidays! At the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, travel through Seuss Landing as it dazzles the walkways with Christmas charm, and maybe even meet the Grinch himself for the most “grumpy” Christmas photo and autograph of the season (we mean this in the best way, we promise).

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Keep walking toward the back of the park to find yourself surrounded by Christmas galore inside of Hogsmeade. As the sun goes down and the stars are high in the sky, keep looking up at the Hogwarts Castle as you’re in for quite the presentation. Revel in the dazzling projection of holiday magic during The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. It’s definitely one of the merriest shows around.

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SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando

Travel through over 3 MILLION lights, experience six sensational shows, and more at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. From November 23 through December 31, see the park transformed into a wonderland like no other as holiday cheer lights the way. Meet Santa Claus and other festive characters and join your friends at Sesame Place for a magical, ALL-NEW Sesame Street Holiday Parade. There’s so much to do with so little time, so make every winter wonderland moment count at SeaWorld.

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Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa

 Yes, we know we said Orlando events, but we HAD to throw in Tampa for a second! Every night from November 16 through January 6, experience the magical Busch Gardens Christmas Town, voted USA Today’s “10 Best Theme Park Holiday Event”. This yearly wonderland features a Christmas Town Village with Yuletide carols, delightful shows with twinkling lights, and exciting meet & greets with some of your favorite holiday characters. Closing times may vary, so be sure to check out the website for all event times!

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Around Orlando

If you’re looking for something other than a day at the parks, there’s plenty around Orlando to enjoy! Despite maintaining a warmer climate, Orlando is a prime place to be to celebrate the holiday season, both budget-friendly and free.

Now Snowing

 There’s always a magical aura inside the town of Celebration, and during the holidays, the magic truly comes to life. From November 30 through December 31 and just minutes from Walt Disney World® Resort, Now Snowing features hourly presentations of faux snow, holly jolly train and carriage rides, plenty of entertainment, and special photo-ops with both Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Don’t forget your ice-skating techniques because you’ll need them here on the synthetic rink. $10 for 30 minutes is one of the few things you’ll have to spend any money on at this event, and skates are also included!

The Grove’s Winter Wonderland

On Saturday, December 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., join The Grove for its free Winter Wonderland celebration full of festive train rides, stilt walkers, face painting from Santa’s little helpers, and REAL snow! It’s a perfect way to experience the cheer of the holidays without breaking a budget!

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail

We love free! Free parking AND free admission welcome you to travel through an endless sight of festive Disney-inspired holiday trees. This location is wonderful for family photos and decorating ideas for your own tree at home.

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Gaylord Palms ICE! 

Be absolutely wowed inside of Gaylord Palms as you travel through a maze of glistening ice sculptures themed by the beloved classic holiday movie, The Polar Express. Make sure you have your coat and mittens in handy because this chilly experience is one you’ll want to spend PLENTY of time in. Tickets start at $14.99 per child and $28.99 per adult!

 

With all of the holiday activities around Orlando, you’re bound to have a holly jolly getaway with the entire family! Make sure you have all the accommodations ready for your vacation by booking your Magical Vacation Home and get ready for the greatest, merriest, most magical holiday season yet.

 

Until next time, happy holidays, and have a magical day!

Inside the NBA Experience at Disney Springs

With the Orlando-area growing at the speed of light, there’s nothing better than discovering new attractions! Recently, we at Magical Vacation Homes got to see all of the excitement inside NBA Experience at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

After enjoying HOURS of entertainment inside of this two-story complex, we were ready to get behind the keyboard and type away about all of the activities we enjoyed during our visit. Here’s OUR list (in no particular order) of our favorite attractions inside of NBA Experience!

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DRAFT COMBINE

This should be your first stop when entering the NBA Experience (after some photo-ops, of course. We’ll get to that later). The Draft Combine is where you showcase your “skills and abilities through a series of drills, tests, and measurements”. We absolutely loved this spot because it actually helps you learn about yourself!

You run through three tests, wingspan, vertical leap, and shooting. Our personal favorite test was the vertical leap as it shows you how high your reach is when you jump and shoot, which can be well close to 7ft high (mind you, our group was an average of 5’7)!

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This spot is ideal to visit before any other engaging basketball activities since it gives you the chance to practice some shots. Once you finish here, you’re ready to take on everything else!

SLINGSHOT!

Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is. No, it’s not as easy as it looks. Situated on the second floor of the NBA Experience, this activity features a row of (you guessed it) slingshots! With these, you’ll be timed to make as many shots into the hoop with your basketball as you can while you compete alongside other players.

The concept is simple, place your basketball into your slingshot and aim correctly to make the basket! It takes a lot of concentration with a dash of skill, and I will admit, I could not get a single point!

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Why is it one of the best, though? Although it may be one of the harder activities, it’s definitely unique and keeps you wanting to come back and play over and over again.

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PLAYERS

Newbie to basketball? We were, too! Don’t let that discourage you, though. On the first floor, you can learn about practically any team you can think of on a variety of touchscreens inside of the PLAYERS room. NBA_Players.jpg

This is the perfect spot to gain plenty of knowledge on wins, losses, team players, team colors, and more!

You’re also greeted with the uniforms of nearly every team possible as you walk around the room. It almost feels like a museum of sorts as you’re walking around this oval-shaped corner.NBA_Players_2.jpg

NBA Trivia

Wow, we couldn’t get ENOUGH of this room. From the moment you walk in, you’re surrounded by 25 touchscreens with MagicBand-scanning abilities. Ready or not, here comes the trivia!

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Everyone in the room is set to a timer where they have to answer any trivia questions that pop up on the screen. This room not only gets you thinking but gets you extremely engaged with everyone else. We thought this spot was ideal for larger parties, families on reunions, and even a group of friends! It’s an awesome way to play with everyone at the same time and track your score. Will you be the MVP of NBA Trivia?

Photo-Ops

Who could EVER pass up a good photo-op? We sure couldn’t, and that’s why it was one of our favorite things to do! What’s so great about your NBA Experience is that you can still utilize Photopass your entire way through. Simply scan your MagicBand or card onto the Mickey, watch it glow green, and get ready to pose.

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The particular photo spot pictured above is extra special, as it shows off your customization upon entering the experience! As you begin your NBA journey, your ticket is your customized key to you as a player. There are multiple customization stations inside of the complex that allows you to create your own nickname and select your favorite basketball team. Once these are chosen, it stays with you during your visit and these custom pieces pop up at the best places, like this photo op spot!

Once you scan your card or MagicBand, watch as your favorite team is showcased on the screens behind you, along with your nickname, to show that you have just been drafted! It’s a special little touch that we fell in love with and it gives each person a unique photography experience.

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We remember seeing four photo spots throughout the experience that were PhotoPass ready, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take photos anywhere else. There are plenty of locations that are great for memorable pictures for the entire family!

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SHOOT!

It wouldn’t be an NBA Experience without the crowds cheering you on as you dribble on the court. In SHOOT, get immersed in the world of NBA as an instructor coaches you on the court, helping you with your shots as time drops on the clock. This spot is both exhilarating and challenging as you’re being “watched” by everyone in the stands rooting for you to bring points on the board.

Again, this is another spot to notice the small detailing of your favorite team projected onto the floor as you enter! From start to finish, you have the opportunity to represent who you love the most, and what better way to finish it off than by being on a real-life court?

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We have to say, as guests who did not know much about basketball, we truly learned a lot and had so much fun doing so. The NBA Experience isn’t just for those die-hard fans of basketball as it easily appeals to anyone of all interests and ages. Need a place to have fun with the family before checking into your Magical Vacation Home, after a fun day at the parks, or while spending a day at Disney Springs? Look no further than NBA Experience!

You can purchase tickets online for only $34 (plus tax) for adults and $29 (plus tax) for children ages 3-9. Visit anytime as they are open 7 days a week and from 12 p.m. to as late as 11:30 p.m. on Friday’s and Saturday’s (Sunday-Thursday, 12 p.m.-11 p.m.).

Keep an eye out as we cover more exciting things from Disney Springs and beyond during this holiday season in Orlando. There are many more exciting things in store, we promise you that.

And as always, until next time, have a Magical day!

Halloween 2019 at the Theme Parks

Autumn in Central Florida comes with plenty of Halloween excitement at the theme parks. From friendly boo’s to frightful scares, people of all ages can find something to enjoy from September to November. We conjured up a list of EVERY Halloween-filled theme park festivity you can attend this Halloween season, so hold on to your headless horseman as we dive into what’s in store for Halloween 2019!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

©Disney

One of the most popular events you CANNOT miss has to be Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party hosted inside of Magic Kingdom® Park. On select nights from August 16 to November 1, 2019, get dressed up in your best costume as you trick-or-treat your way down Main Street U.S.A®. Perfect for children and adults alike, this spooktacular event features Halloween-ified attractions, a Halloween parade, spell-binding fireworks, and more! Set your sights on the friendliest frights with the little ones this year and learn more about this exciting evening in our previous blog here!

Universal Studios® Halloween Horror Nights

Publicity, HHN Team Member Preview, HHN29, Universal Studios Florida, USF

With the hype around the 1980’s nostalgia, Universal Studios® Halloween Horror Nights is perfect for your classic 80’s scare. On select nights from September 6 to November 2, 2019, face your fears through Orlando’s most intense nighttime event. Experience 10 TERRIFYING haunted houses, 5 hair-raising scare zones, and thrilling entertainment throughout the night. This event is suited for those 13 and over as it may frighten the little ones. Ready to walk through the Upside Down, fight ghosts with the Ghostbusters, and take on some Killer Klowns from Outer Space? Then head over to #HHN29.

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream 2019

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc.

Get ready for Tampa’s premier Halloween event at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream! On select nights from September 20 to November 2, 2019, prepare yourself for the endless haunts and thrills throughout your visit. Make your way through 6 haunted houses and 9 chilling scare zones as you are faced with murderous mutants, haunted asylums, and your worst nightmares. It’s also the perfect time to hop on one of your favorite roller coaster attractions! This event is suitable for adults as it may be frightening for children. Put on your brave face for the most horrifying attraction in the Tampa-area as it celebrates 20 years in the scare industry.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular®

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

Get the kids ready for exciting dance parties, trick-or-treating, and more with their favorite friends from Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular®. On weekends from September 21 to October 27, 2019, this kid-friendly Halloween daytime event will be sure to bring joy and plenty of candy to everyone! Enjoy the all-new Sesame Street Halloween Parade with Elmo, Big Bird, The Count, and others as they dress up for the Halloween festivities. There’s so much to do and even more to see. So, what are you waiting for? Experience the autumn fun today!

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Brick-or-Treat

© 2017 LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland

On select nights from October 5 to 27, 2019, celebrate the spookiest time of the year with LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Brick-or-Treat! Collect piles of candy in your own Brick-or-Treat candy bag as you trail through the park. Take part in the exciting scavenger hunts, meet exclusive LEGO characters, and even watch the sky light up in fireworks at the end of the night with the tale of Pirate Cove. This event is ideal for children as they can dress up and enjoy all of the Halloween festivities, catered specifically to them.

There’s so much to do with so little time in Central Florida, so plan out your trip in advance to make the most of every Halloween festivity! Needing a place to stay while you prepare for scares? Check out some of our available Magical Vacation Homes to complete your ideal Halloween vacation.

 

Until next time, have a (frightfully) Magical day!