Universal Orlando

Interesting Podcast about Light Sabers and Wands and our Search for Ritual

Hey there –

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, you might find the first part of The Holy Post, Episode 357 “Nones Love Nuns” very interesting in a weird Disney/Christian/Human Nature sort of way. The Holy Post comes from a Protestant Christian perspective and the show always starts with some humorous commentary on recent news or human interest stories. Their first story takes about 8-1/2 minutes and is about a woman growing a nose on her spine as a result of stem cell research but the second story, which starts about 8-minutes and 45-seconds into the episode, was very interesting because it was about non-religious Millennials moving in with old catholic nuns and it moves into a discussion of human yearning for rituals. Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales, is one of the hosts and he compares this to the rituals surrounding building your own light saber in Savi’s Workshop at Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the wand selection ritual at Universal Orlando. Then the story sort of pulls in elaborate Disney weddings where the wedding party dresses like Disney characters. I found it thought-provoking. That discussion ends at about the 25-minute point and then they have a guest interview which I have not yet listened to and probably should have before recommending the podcast. If this piques your interest at all, you can just search for “The Holy Post” on what ever podcast broadcasting platform you typically use or try http://thephilvischerpodcast.libsyn.com/ or ApplePodcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-holy-post/id591157388

The Holy Post, Episode 357 “Nones Love Nuns” -  interesting discussion that references Savi’s Light Saber Workshop at Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Wand selection experience at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter into the human quest for ritual and meaning.

The Holy Post, Episode 357 “Nones Love Nuns” - interesting discussion that references Savi’s Light Saber Workshop at Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Wand selection experience at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter into the human quest for ritual and meaning.

It was interesting to me because I was raised in a church context that rejected traditional religious rituals as without being aware that we we did not actually eliminate rituals at all, we just replaced them with our own practices. As an adult, I attended a Catholic funeral for a young person who died tragically in a car accident and could see where those rituals could help you find your footing again when the circumstances of life send you reeling. I was interested to hear how some non-religious Millennials were looking at the formation of rituals as away to sustain them as they pursue various causes. Since I am a travel agent who focuses on Disney and Universal theme park vacations, I was intrigued by the popularity of the wand or light saber rituals and it interesting that the experience is very meaningful to people.

Additional Information:

Guest Blog: Disney History - Iron Man Monorail Wrap

Disney History - Iron Man-orail: Disney World monorail with Iron Man 3 wrap / Stark Industries monorail

Disney History - Iron Man-orail: Disney World monorail with Iron Man 3 wrap / Stark Industries monorail

The Disney/Marvel film Avengers: End Game is shattering box office records this weekend, so I thought it would be good to take a little bit of trip back in time. The film was Iron Man 3 and the Walt Disney World resort unveiled their most spectacular monorail wrap ever when the Iron Man-orail made its debut. This Avengers themed monorail was sleek, fun, and gave Monorail Black one of the best makeovers ever. A golden nose on the train, branded with the familiar “Stark Industries” moniker and Iron Man flying down the side (Iron Patriot on the other) promoted the release of the movie.

The Stark Industries monorail took guests between Magic Kingdom and the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) Due to restrictions with Universal Orlando Resort, the Iron Man monorail did not ever venture from the TTC to Epcot. The reason is because the Walt Disney Company had to fly Iron Man in restricted air space. Confused? Don’t be – this all makes sense in the world of theme parks and legal contracts.

Marvel is owned by Disney, but Universal (the little theme park just down Interstate 4 from WDW) has exclusive rights to use certain characters inside the East Coast theme parks. Island of Adventure prominently features the Marvel, now Disney owned characters as part of their experience and themed land within the resort. So in some ways, you can see Disney characters inside Universal Studios….but that is another story.

The reason that the Epcot line was restricted air space is because the monorail actually goes over the main entrance to the theme park and loops around Spaceship Earth and then stops just beyond the main entrance at the Epcot monorail station. So if the Iron Man monorail ever traveled the Epcot line it would actually enter and exit the boundaries of Epcot breaking the rule of law…and so it could make the loop around the Seven Seas Lagoon because the monorail never goes beyond the main gates of the Magic Kingdom.

But whether there were boundaries or not, the Iron Man monorail as you can see from the pictures was spectacular. And although there were problems in making this happen at WDW because of the restrictions, they really were just opportunities loaded with potential that had to be embraced so a solution could be found.

So it goes as you soar through life. Learn to see potential and learn to look beyond problems.

About the Author: This article, which first appeared on Facebook, is by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, Storming the Kingdom, and as mentioned and linked above Terror in the Kingdom. He is also the author of The Disney Driven Life, a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered. He is also a storyteller that transports readers into a world beyond their imagination.

Have you thought about visiting Universal Orlando?

If you haven’t been to Universal Orlando lately, you are missing out! Universal Orlando is full of amazing and innovative experiences that try for yourself. This is not a theme park - it is a full-fledged resort with hotels to fit most budges, two incredibly fun theme parks, a beautiful water park and the CityWalk entertainment district with shopping, dining, and the Blue Man show.

Thursday 3: Comparison of Disney & Universal Family Suites - Value Resorts

Reservations are now being accepted at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites for dates beginning August 1, 2019. We recently compared the standard hotel style rooms so, today, I will cover the family suites to two Disney World value resorts that have both standard rooms and family suites: Disney’s All-Star Music and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. We can help you plan a vacation that includes your stay at any of these resorts so request a free, no-obligation quote today.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

How do the rooms compare?

Capacity: All of these suites can accommodate up to six (6) adults plus one infant in a Pak ‘n Play crib.

Kitchenettes: All three options include a have a kitchenette with microwave, coffee maker and mini-refrigerator

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Size:

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: The 440-square-feet

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: The 520-square-feet

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: The 565-square-feet

Beds:

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: three queen beds with one bed in a separate room and the other two beds in the main area.

  • · Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: one bedroom with one queen-size bed; one double-size convertible TableBed; one double-size sleeper sofa.

  • · Disney’s All-Star Music Resort family suites: bedroom with one queen-size bed; a living area with a double-size sleeper sofa; a sleeper chair; a sleeper ottoman.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Bathrooms:

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: one bathroom that has two compartments with the toilet and tub/shower in one section and a separate section with two sinks and a vanity

  • · Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: two full bathrooms

  • · Disney’s All-Star Music Resort family suites: two full bathrooms

Seating

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: Concept art shows an adorable picnic table with a bench on one side and two chairs on the other.

  • · Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: There is the sleeper sofa and the table with seating for four.

  • · Disney’s All-Star Music Resort family suites: Sleeper sofa, chair with ottoman, and a small round table with two chairs. There is also a chair in the bedroom.

Official Disney Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Disney resort gives you some great benefits like airport transportation at no additional cost, Extra Magic Hours not available to the general public, complimentary bus transportation to the Disney theme parks and the ability to book FastPass+ reservations 30-days ahead of the general public when you have tickets or a vacation package that includes tickets. Disney Magical Express transportation between the Orlando International Airport and these resorts is also available at no extra cost.

Official Universal Orlando Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Universal Orlando hotel gives you benefits like Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and complimentary bus transportation to the Universal Orlando theme parks. A neat perk of the official Universal hotels is that you are allowed to use the pools at any of the other official hotels, where Disney does not allow “pool hopping” in most cases.

2019 Cost comparison: Pool view rooms are available about Universal’s Surfside for an additional $20 per night. Finding Nemo suites at Disney’s Art of Animation typically cost more than the Cars and Lion King suites. Disney’s all-Star Music resort does not offer any upgrades for their family suites. For consistency, the lowest priced, undiscounted suite available was used for the cost comparisons below. Prices do not include tax.

Parking: Universal charges $12 per night and Disney value resorts charge $13 per night for self-parking.

August 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $184
Disney’s All-Star Music - $309
Disney’s Art of Animation - $406

September 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $184
Disney’s All-Star Music - $310
Disney’s Art of Animation - $405

October 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $154
Disney’s All-Star Music - $300
Disney’s Art of Animation - $395

November 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $184
Disney’s All-Star Music - $306
Disney’s Art of Animation - $395

December 15
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $189
Disney’s All-Star Music - $339
Disney’s Art of Animation - $425

Getting two standard location connecting rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort or any of the value resorts is usually cheaper than getting a family suite and can sleep up to eight adults. On August 15, 2019, the cost of two connecting rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music is $270 which is $39 cheaper than the family suites. You can get guaranteed connecting rooms if you only have two adults in the party and more children age 17 or younger than one room can hold.

I limited the above comparisons to official theme park resort hotels but it is worth mentioning that DoubleTree Suites, one of the Disney Springs Good Neighbor hotels offers a less expensive suite option that runs about $245+ tax per night for the nights listed able and includes some great on-site benefits like Extra Magic Hours, bus transportation to the parks, and the ability to book FastPass+ reservations 60-days prior to arrival when you have a package that includes tickets. This hotel does not participate in Disney’s Magical Express airport transportation so you may need to include transportation costs into your comparison.

DoubleTree Suites - Disney Springs - An official Disney World Good Neighbor hotel / Walt Disney World Resort - Florida

DoubleTree Suites - Disney Springs - An official Disney World Good Neighbor hotel / Walt Disney World Resort - Florida

In summary, the suites at Universal’s Surfside family suites are significantly cheaper than the Disney value resort family suites and they’ll be shiny and new when they open next August but they’re smaller and only have one bathroom. The Universal resort hotels do not offer complimentary airport transportation so that, if needed, will affect total cost. The Disney family suites are bigger and having two full-bathrooms is definitely a big advantage when you’ve got a lot of people all trying to get ready to get out the door in time for park opening. Families who need separate beds may find the two twin sized pull-out beds helpful at Disney’s All-Star Music resort. I didn’t dive too deeply into style and theme because Surfside only has concept art at this point but it should be noted that, although the most expensive, the suites at Disney’s Art of Animation are delightfully and adorably themed. Disney’s complimentary airport transportation may offset the higher price of the Disney resorts for larger families.

Don't Get Overwhelmed By The Details - Let Us Help!

Vacation planning is always a lot easier when you have one of our travel agents on your side because we specialize in Disney and Universal Orlando vacation destinations and we can help you manage things like crowds, park hours, entertainment schedules, and dining options.  It can be a lot to think through but Imagine how much better your vacation will be when we:

  • Give you a "Best Days" itinerary that puts you in the best theme park for each day of your trip

  • Book dining reservation on your behalf (subject to availability) at times that don't interfere with parades and fireworks

  • Give you excellent theme park touring plans that keep lines to an absolute minimum.  

You get all of this expert service at no extra charge when you book your Disney vacation through Build A Better Mouse TripClick here for more information.

Let’s start planning a great vacation!

Our “Quote Request” form is the easiest way to start planning your trip. Just fill in as much or as little information as you know at this time and one of our agents will be in touch soon. There’s never any pressure or obligation.

Get A Quote

Thursday 3: Comparing 3 Value Resorts - Universal and Disney Standard Rooms

Comparison of Disney & Universal Standard Hotel Rooms - Value Resorts

A comparison of Disney World and Universal Orlando Value Resort Rooms

Reservations are now being accepted at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites for dates beginning August 1, 2019. This Universal Orlando value resort features standard hotel rooms with two queen beds and 2-bedroom suites so I am going to compare them to two Disney World value resorts that have both standard rooms and family suites: Disney’s All-Star Music and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. We’ll cover the standard hotel style rooms this week and the family suites next week. We can help you plan a vacation that includes your stay at any of these resorts so request a free, no-obligation quote today.

How Do the Rooms Compare?

Beds: The standard rooms at Universal’s Surfside Inn and Suites have two queen beds and a full bathroom. Rooms have mini-refrigerators but they do not have microwaves.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites Standard room Opening August 2019

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites Standard room Opening August 2019

At this time, the standard rooms at both Disney’s All-Star Music and Disney’s Art of Animation resort have two full-size beds. Couples or 2 guests + one infant can request a room with one king-size bed instead of two double beds; requests are not guaranteed but Disney tries to honor them when possible. Disney’s Pop Century resort, another value hotel, has recently undergone a renovation where it now has one queen bed and one full-size pull down bed; Disney’s All-Star Movie’s resort is currently undergoing the same type of renovation and we suspect that all of Disney value resorts will someday have this type of bed configuration. Rooms have mini-refrigerators but they do not have microwaves.

Little Mermaid Standard Room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / / Walt Disney World

Little Mermaid Standard Room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / / Walt Disney World

Standard Rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort / Walt Disney World

Standard Rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort / Walt Disney World

Official Disney Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Disney resort gives you some great benefits like airport transportation at no additional cost, Extra Magic Hours not available to the general public, complimentary bus transportation to the Disney theme parks and the ability to book FastPass+ reservations 30-days ahead of the general public when you have tickets or a vacation package that includes tickets.

Official Universal Orlando Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Universal Orlando hotel gives you benefits like Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and complimentary bus transportation to the Universal Orlando theme parks.

2019 Cost comparison: You can upgrade to a preferred location room at Disney’s all-Star Music resort for an additional $30 per night. Pool view rooms are available about Universal’s Surfside for an additional $20 per night. The Little Mermaid standard rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation resort have been excluded from every discount since they opened.

August 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $109
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $135
Disney’s Art of Animation - $185

September 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $99
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $136
Disney’s Art of Animation - $184

October 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $134
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $126
Disney’s Art of Animation - $173

November 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $129
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $135
Disney’s Art of Animation - $174

December 15
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $99
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $150
Disney’s Art of Animation - $195

Parking fees for overnight guests:
Universal’s Surfside Inn & Suites: $12 per night + tax
Disney Value Resort: $13 per night + tax.

In a nutshell, Universal’s Surfside Inn and Disney’s All-Star Music resort are pretty comparably priced most of the time though that can vary by date. If Disney continues to offer their Free Dining promotion in September, Disney’s All-Star Music will probably be the better value for most families of up to four people (or five, if the fifth person is an infant) when that promotion is available. The Little Mermaid rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation resort are quite a bit higher and, so far, those rooms have been excluded from all promotions since the resort opened. The queen beds are a plus at Universal’s Surfside Inn. We only have concept art for the Surfside pool yet so it is hard to say which pools will ultimately be the best but, at this time, the three pools at Disney’s Art of Animation resort are absolutely adorable!

Click here to learn more about Disney’s All-Star Music Resort

Click here to learn more about Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

This video tells you a bit about Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Keep in mind that standard hotel rooms are only available in the Little Mermaid section though guests may use all of the pools and other resort amenities.

This short video gives you a good overview of Disney’s All-Star Music resort though the standard rooms no longer have the colored bedspreads. They’ve switched to the all white

Don't Get Overwhelmed By The Details - Let Us Help!

Vacation planning is always a lot easier when you have one of our travel agents on your side because we specialize in Disney and Universal Orlando vacation destinations and we can help you manage things like crowds, park hours, entertainment schedules, and dining options.  It can be a lot to think through but Imagine how much better your vacation will be when we:

  • Give you a "Best Days" itinerary that puts you in the best theme park for each day of your trip

  • Book dining reservation on your behalf (subject to availability) at times that don't interfere with parades and fireworks

  • Give you excellent theme park touring plans that keep lines to an absolute minimum.  

You get all of this expert service at no extra charge when you book your Disney vacation through Build A Better Mouse TripClick here for more information.

Let’s start planning a great vacation!

Our “Quote Request” form is the easiest way to start planning your trip. Just fill in as much or as little information as you know at this time and one of our agents will be in touch soon. There’s never any pressure or obligation.

Get A Quote

Marvel Super Hero Character Dinner at Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando has introduced a fun new Marvel Super Hero dinner at Cafe 4 in Universal's Islands of Adventure park.  

Dine with your favorite Marvel Super Heros at the Marvel Character dinner at Cafe 4 in Universal's Islands of Adventure park at Universal Orlando.   

Dine with your favorite Marvel Super Heros at the Marvel Character dinner at Cafe 4 in Universal's Islands of Adventure park at Universal Orlando.   

Dine with: 

  • Captain America
  • Spider-Man
  • Wolverine
  • Cyclops
  • Storm
  • Rogue
  • Character subject to change without notice

These Marvel Super Heros will come right up to your table to sign autographs and take photos with your group so start practicing your best super hero pose today! 

Meal includes one digital photo taken during the dining experience (via My Universal Photos).   The digital photo ticket must be exchanged for a My Universal Photos card at the Marvel Character Dinner.   Guests must go to any My Universal Photos location to view and gain digital access to photo.  Click here for more information on My Universal Photos

Marvel Character Dinner Details: 

The menu may vary but the buffet will include fresh salads like orzo and mozzarella and tomato along with entrees like roasted rosemary chicken, shrimp scampi, chicken sallopini, Penne Bolognese, stuffed jumbo shells and specialty pizzas.  A selection of delicious desserts will able be available. 

  • Dinner only
  • Thursday - Sunday
  • Begins at 5PM
  • Cost: Age 10 & up - $49.99 + tax / Age 3 - 9 - $24.99 + tax

Reservations are required and must be made up to 24 hours prior to arrival.  This restaurant is located inside Universal's Islands of Adventure park and separate theme park admission ticket is required.  Ask your travel agent to make your reservation or call 407-224-3663.   

Click here for a free, no-obligation Universal Orlando Vacation Quote

More helpful information: 

Universal's Volcano Bay Water Park Will Open May 25, 2017

Universal Orlando has announced that you can "live the carefree island life at Universal’s Volcano Bay™. It’s an all-new water theme park like no other where thrills and relaxation flow in perfect harmony. With the power of the TapuTapu™ wearable there’s no standing in long lines, wrestling with tubes, or waiting for the fun to begin. It’s a tropical paradise just steps away from everything Universal Orlando Resort™ has to offer. Your clients will want to include an additional day to their vacation and experience a water park different from any other.

Universal's Volcano Bay Water Park Will Open May 25, 2017 / Universal Orlando - Florida.

A Full Day of Tropical Thrills & Relaxation

  • The park boasts 18 incredible attractions, including some that take you right through the iconic volcano.

  • Unique daytime and nighttime experiences make it an entire day’s worth of fun.

  • Guests can rent two-story cabanas, enjoy concierge services and other resort-like amenities.

World-Class Theming & Storytelling

  • Only Universal’s award-winning designers, the same team responsible for creating the incredible environments of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, could create such an immersive experience.

  • The culture and architecture of the fabled Waturi islanders are brought to life amid the park’s lush tropical landscaping.

  • Guests can play and relax in four unique areas of this South Pacific paradise where “Water is life. Life is joy.”

  • Towering high above the island is the mighty volcano Krakatau™, which cascades water by day and illuminated lava effects at night.

Technology & Design to Make the Most of Your Stay

  • The park has been designed so there’s no standing in long lines or carrying inner tubes from ride to ride.

  • It’s ideal location within Universal Orlando Resort™ makes it easily accessible to guests of the resort’s on-site hotels.

  • On-site hotel guests enjoy early park admission* (valid theme park admission required).

  • With the power of the TapuTapu™ wearable, there’s no standing in long lines, wrestling with tubes, or waiting for the fun to begin.

Don't Miss Out on Great Experiences at Universal!

We want to help you have the most wonderful, most memorable Universal theme park vacation possible. We know that giving you good, up-to-date information and a few simple tools will make a huge difference in your Universal vacation. Long lines become short lines and you will have great memories of shared experiences instead of missed opportunities.  

Here’s how we help you have a great vacation:

  1. Your travel agent – You have one agent from start-to-finish who knows your name and your priorities and who wants to do everything possible to help you have a wonderful experience.

  2. “Best Days” Itinerary – We’ll help you build an itinerary that includes your priorities for fireworks, parades, crowds and shows. Then we help with dining.

  3. Saving Money – Of course we watch for discounts and promotion and automatically apply the best available offer to your reservation but we also help you avoid up-sells and options you won’t use.

  4. We Are Fee-Free - We book directly through Disney and we never charge a service fee so you never pay any extra to use our services when you book your trip through us. You can have all the benefits Disney offers PLUS all the services we offer. You can also purchase planning services through us if you've booked on your own or through another travel agency.

Let’s start planning a great vacation!

Our “Quote Request” form is the easiest way to start planning your trip. Just fill in as much or as little information as you know at this time and one of our agents will be in touch soon. There’s never any pressure or obligation.

Get A Quote