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Disney theme parks have now reopened following lockdown, but with some new procedures and rules in place.  We talk you through what you need to do now to enjoy some Disney magic.

 

The main difference you’ll notice at the Disney parks is the lack of the usual crowds.  Disney has put in place some strict social distancing measures that limit the number of guests.

 

Regulations affect:

 

Following the lockdown, attendance figures were right down, but they are now starting to pick up again.

 

How is Disney managing attendance at its parks?

 

Disney World has introduced a new scheme to help it manage the attendance at the different Disney parks.  From now until January 14, 2022 you will need to use the new system if you wish to visit a Disney park.

 

Essentially, Disney has introduced a new park reservation system in order to manage park attendance.  This requires you to not only have park tickets but also make a reservation for the day on which you wish to visit the park as well.

 

The new regime affects everyone.  Whether you have Disney Resort Hotel reservations, whether you are an annual passholder or whether you have purchased theme park tickets, you will need to make a reservation using the new system.

 

 

How does the new Disney park reservation system work?

 

It’s really simple to use the new system.  You simply purchase your park tickets, then when you have your valid admission details use the new Disney Park Pass System to reserve your spot on the day of your choosing.

 

There are a few other things you need to know:

 

 

What do I need to do if I want to visit a Disney park?

 

If you wish to attend a Disney park, these are the steps you’ll need to follow:

 

We recommend that you reserve your Park Passes as soon as you get your tickets, so you have the widest possible selection of dates available to you.  You don’t want to leave it so late that the parks have reached capacity for the days you wish to visit.

 

Before you visit the Disney park, review the new park safety rules so you can be COVID-19 secure and help to protect yourself, your friends, your family and the other theme park guests.  The rules focus on physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and reduced contact.  All guests over the age of two will be expected to wear a mask and park staff will be wearing masks too.  Read the new rules in full here.

 

Ready to book?

 

View our selection of Orlando vacation homes ideally located to visit Disney World:

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Want more Disney tips?  Read our top ten Disney hacks here:

Orlando Hacks

 

As always, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun to be enjoyed in Orlando’s theme parks this year.  But there are several real-life spooky stories associated with the area too!

 

The Ellis Exclusive Villas team has been looking into some of the real-life, local ghost stories about the haunted locations around Orlando’s theme parks and the wider Orlando and Central Florida area.

So, if you’re interested in going beyond the theme parks to find out about Orlando’s ghoulish and unnerving goings-on, check out the locations on this spooky list.

 

#1. Walt Disney’s apartment ghost story

While Disney World, Orlando is our favourite Walt Disney theme park, it seems that the man himself might have stuck around in the California park!  In July 1954, Walt Disney moved into a small apartment on the Disneyland site so he could oversee the theme park’s construction ahead of its grand opening in July 1955.  According to local legend, it’s possible the legendary cartoonist never left!

One evening, a cast member turned off the lights and locked up only for the light in the apartment’s front window to come back on again.  She went in, turned off the lights again and, when she again tried to leave, the light was on again.

It’s now a tradition to leave the light on in an apartment above the Firehouse on Main Street at Disneyland every night as a tribute to Walt… spooky!

 

#2. Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride

Meanwhile… back in Orlando… Like the rest of the attractions at Disney World, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride is no stranger to screams of enjoyment.  But legend has it that, if you don’t tread carefully, some decidedly more frightened screams could result.

No one’s certain whether the story of a local welder called George who was killed during the construction of the attraction is really true, but believing in him might be a good precaution if you’re going to ride this attraction!

 

It’s said that the cast members who work on the ride in the day or close it up at night like to bid George good morning and good night.  It’s said that failing to keep him appeased in this way has resulted in some very strange occurrences… and, whatever you do, don’t say that you don’t believe in George while you’re on the ride… it’s said George will stop the ride if you do!

 

#3. Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando

If you’re looking for ghosts, it’s almost common sense to head to the local cemetery… and Greenwood Cemetery certainly adheres to that notion.

As well as being home to the tombs and mausoleums of some of Orlando’s most prominent families, the cemetery has several spooky stories attached to it.  Local legend has it that in certain areas of the cemetery, you can hear the disembodied sounds of children’s laughter.

Meanwhile, just outside the mausoleum of Fred Weeks, you may spot the cemetery’s most famous long-dead resident.  There have been several sightings of Fred lurking just outside his final resting place.

 

#4. Ceviche restaurant, downtown Orlando

If wandering around cemeteries isn’t your particular idea of fun, dining out at Orlando’s popular Ceviche restaurant used to be a much more appealing way to get your ghost story fix.

Ever since the tapas bar opened for business, tales of spooky goings-on have been reported – mostly linked to the building’s former roles as city hotel and, before that, a local church.  Most of the sightings centre on a woman wearing nineteenth-century clothing who is said to linger by the bar.  But some report unseen hands that pull at clothing.  And some mention a ghostly priest!

However, in June we heard the sad news that Ceviche Orlando is closing its doors permanently, as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

You’ll now need to head over to St Pete to enjoy Ceviche’s delicious tapas – and while the food should be as tasty, you can’t expect the ghostly sightings!

 

#5. Motel ghost, International Drive

Staying in your own vacation home with a private pool (and, at the moment, the easy social distancing) is always better than staying in a hotel in our humble opinion (although we might be slightly biased!)… but nowhere is this more true than in room 206 of the Super 8 motel on International Drive, Orlando.

Room 206 is said to be impossible to heat and the room feels cold in the heat of day – even with the air conditioning turned off!  Guests have also claimed to see an imprint of a human body appear on the sheets, even when nobody has been there!  And some guests have been woken by the feeling of someone else in bed beside them or by the bed suddenly shaking violently in the night!

We definitely prefer the good night’s sleep of our own vacation homes!

 

#6. Princeton Hospital, Orlando

Ok, so it’s an unlikely vacation destination (we hope!) but this hospital is definitely part of Orlando’s spooky folklore!  The psychiatric hospital is said to be haunted by the spirits of patients by the doctors, nurses and other staff who work there.

The second and third floors, in particular, are said to be host to strange paranormal goings-on, with lights flickering on and off, unexplained knocking sounds, freewheeling wheelchairs drifting along corridors and disembodied moans and voices.

 

#7. Cassadaga, Florida

Cassadaga is famous for its paranormal activity.  The town is home to a local spiritualist camp.  Located just off the I4 on the way to Daytona, Cassadaga is the place to go to meet healers and spiritualists, but it also has its fair share of spooky stories.

In the centre of town, the Cassadaga Hotel is supposedly haunted, as is the eerily named Devil’s Chair in the Lake Helen Cassadaga cemetery.  It seems only natural that the place named locally as “the psychic capital of the world” should be particularly attractive for visitors from beyond the grave…

 

#8. St Augustine, Florida

There are many compelling reasons to make a day trip to St Augustine from one of our vacation homes in Orlando: the food, the seasonal events, the history, the beaches… The town was once the state capital of Florida and its historic sites are well worth exploring.

The iconic St Augustine lighthouse is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Pettee girls.  Their father was working on the lighthouse construction when they drowned in the sea a short distance away.  Today, visitors to the lighthouse report hearing sounds of the children’s laughter and footsteps on the lighthouse’s many stairs.

 

Meanwhile the sprawling site of St Augustine’s seventeenth-century Castillo de San Marcos fortress has a number of ghost stories attached to it.  Visitors report seeing a lovesick woman in white.  While others report seeing the ghost of a Seminole man who leaps from the fortress walls.

 

#9. Tampa Theatre, Tampa, Florida

Beautiful old buildings seem to attract tales of hauntings and the Tampa movie theatre is no exception.  This gorgeous theatre building was built in 1926.  It is said to be haunted by one of the projectionists who worked there from 1930 until 1965, when he died of a heart attack in the projection room.

Since then, employees have reported many spooky and paranormal events that have happened, especially when they are alone in the theatre!

Although the theatre isn’t open at the moment, you can do your bit to support this local non-profit institution by streaming movies from its website.  In honour of the season, there’s a whole range of ghostly, ghoulish and downright scary movies to enjoy.

This year, brave souls can also sign up to SpiritsFest – an exclusive online Halloween event.  Sign up to receive a code to access an exclusive evening of LIVE-streaming entertainment, starting at 7:00pm Saturday night.  And you can also purchase SpiritsFest sampling-to-go boxes for $95 featuring four spirited seasonal cocktails.

 

#10. Complex 34, Kennedy Space Centre, Florida

Now that SpaceX has revitalised the local space industry, heading over to the east coast to see a rocket launch is a must-do while in Orlando: you’re guaranteed a really amazing day trip from one of our Orlando vacation homes if you time your trip right.

It’s around a 50-minute drive to get to the East Coast beaches and, while you’re there, a trip around the Kennedy Space Centre is an absolute must!

 

However, the location isn’t without its share of spooky stories either.  The terrible tragedy of the three astronauts who died in a cabin fire on the launch pad of Complex 34 is well known.  The launch pad was immediately closed down and now Launch Complex 34 is maintained as the memorial site for the crew of Apollo 1.

In normal times, you can visit the site on official tours.  Visitors who do have reported a variety of paranormal activity taking place there, including a mysterious screaming.  Many who have visited the site report a feeling a sudden and overwhelming sense of dread.

 

Want to live the Orlando adventure for yourself?  Book your visit!

 

Spooky stories abound – as you can see!  If this has whet your appetite for some spooky Halloween fun, read our guide to the Halloween fun that’s happening at Florida’s theme parks this fall season.

Halloween 2020

 

Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

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The Halloween fun has begun in Orlando’s theme parks!

The parks are a little different right now, thanks to the social distancing measures that are in place to keep guests safe. That isn’t affecting all the fabulous fall fun there is to be had though!

SeaWorld’s fun-filled Halloween event, the SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular, is back this year.

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular

This year, Spooktacular is running on Saturdays and Sundays, from September 19th through November 1st.

You’ll notice some differences: the frequent hand-sanitising stations, the obligatory mask wearing and a few tweaks to the programme.

Plus, on the Trick-or-Treat Trail this year:

The Spooktacular events are all included in park admission. This year’s attractions for your little ones include:

Plus! Enjoy a nostalgic drive-thru experience

New this year, SeaWorld have introduced a fab drive-thru movie experience as part of their Halloween events.  Now, you can enjoy a spooky film night under the stars while complying with social distancing requirements.

You can buy treats before the movie from the local food trucks that will be parked up nearby. Then sit back in the comfort of your own vehicle and enjoy the movie!

Saturdays, Sept. 19 – Oct. 31 and Friday, Oct. 23 & 30

Family-friendly Halloween film: 7:45 p.m.
Fright-filled Halloween film: 10:30 p.m.

It’s $40 to park your vehicle and this includes all seated passengers in it to view the movie.

Book your Halloween fun now!

Halloween is one of the most fun times of year in Orlando’s theme parks. We’re so pleased that this year, you can still experience and enjoy the magic.

You can find out more about SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular here.

If you’d like to book your stay in Florida to enjoy a visit to SeaWorld Orlando or any of the fun-packed fall events that are happening in central Florida and its wonderful attractions this year, please check out our homes here.

Ellis Exclusive Villas has always worked hard to ensure our homes are pristine, well maintained and spotlessly clean. It’s a vital part of our commitment to ensure guest comfort.

With the travel industry still reeling from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, we know that restoring people’s faith in travel is going to take careful and sustained effort.  We believe that rebuilding this trust must be based on safeguarding our guests in the best possible way.

For this reason, we have decided to introduce further enhanced cleaning regimes for all our properties to ensure our practices meet the latest recommendations for guest protection.

The new SafeHome scheme for vacation rental properties

We’ve decided to follow the guidelines of the SafeHome initiative.  This is a new scheme designed to ensure safe cleaning standards in response to the pandemic which has been launched by the two vacation industry associations: the Vacaton Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA).

Our enhanced cleaning measures include:

We have introduced a new cleaning checklist to help our staff adjust to the new cleaning procedures and embed the new practices.  We are happy to share this with you on request.

Our pre-arrival home inspections are continuing, so you can be sure that your vacation property meets your expectations.  These will be conducted by staff wearing the appropriate PPE and sanitising door handles, light switches, etc. as they go.

New virtual processes for safe, socially distanced contact with our team

In addition to the new cleaning regime, we have also made some changes to the way we communicate with our guests.

We have now switched to a virtual meet and greet process.  You simply need to schedule a welcome call with our team at a post-arrival time to suit you and we will talk you through all the great features of your rental home over a virtual team meeting.

We’re also shifting all first responses to maintenance issues to a virtual system.  This means we can troubleshoot issues with you over a virtual video call, rather than coming out to the property.  Many issues will be resolved over this video chat.

For those issues that do require a visit to your vacation home to resolve, our staff will be enforcing strict social distancing rules.  We ask that you help them to do this and remain at least two metres (six feet) away from them at all times.

While there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread through pools or hot tubs, our staff will use clean gloves whenever they are conducting maintenance in these areas.

Please help us to keep you safe

Please respect our staff if they do need to visit your property and remain the safe distance away at all times.

It is important that you also strictly adhere to the standard check out time of 10am.  Prompt guest checkouts are vital if we are going to maintain these higher cleaning standards for all our guests.  They also play an important role in enabling us to ensure a 72-hour vacant period before check-in for our guests.

If you know that you are likely to want a late checkout, this must be booked and paid for in advance.  Please show consideration to our team and the guests that follow you by checking out promptly.

Thank you for consideration.  We look forward to hosting you in Florida soon.

There can be few places better to spend the Christmas and New Year than Orlando.

Here’s the Ellis Exclusive Villas run down of the very best ways to celebrate the holiday season.

 

#1. Disney’s Magic Kingdom: Micky’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a warm-hearted family celebration featuring all your favourite Disney characters.

It is a specially ticketed event running over select nights between Nov 8 and Dec 22.

This year’s event features a Frozen-themed Disney castle and a special Christmas Parade and lightshow.

 

#2. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has seen a slew of new openings in recent years, including the new Star Wars world and Toy Story world.

Its Christmas celebrations this year include the Jingle Bel, Jingle BAM firework spectacular and a special show on Sunset Boulevard which includes falling snow.

 

#3. Epcot: International Festival of the Holidays

Discover Christmas traditions from all over the world at Epcot’s Christmas celebrations.

The highlight is the Candlelight Processional with a 50-piece orchestra, which takes three times each night. Plus, enjoy delicious festive treats at the food stalls and a festive cookie stroll.

 

#4. Universal: Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This festive season, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have both had a holiday makeover.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you haven’t been this year, do make a trip to the Universal parks a part of your holiday season schedule because Universal has also had a fantastic new opening in its Harry Potter world this year: a new rollercoaster called Hagrid’s magical creatures motorbike adventure.  Plus, there’s a new lightshow featuring Dementors, Death Eaters and the Dark Lord Voldemort at Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure.

Elsewhere in the Universal parks, you can enjoy a Macy’s Holiday Parade and a Who-liday Spectacular featuring Dr Seuss’s Grinch.

 

#5. Snow falling in Celebration

We’re big fans of the town of Celebration, just outside the Disney Parks. It’s well worth a visit anytime of year, but Christmas time is particularly special.

As well as horse-drawn carriage rides around the town as it is all dressed up for Christmas, carol singers on the streets, and a really buzzy Christmas feel in the shops and restaurants, the town also boasts a temporary ice rink and even has its own snowfall every evening!

 

 #6. Legoland Florida Resort

If you have young children in your party, don’t miss a trip to Legoland this festive season.  Your little ones will love the special Christmas activities at the theme park.

As well as special fireworks shows on select nights leading up to Christmas, there’s also a child-friendly new year’s party this holiday season.

 

#7. Festival of Trees at OMART

If you aren’t travelling with little ones, the Festival Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art is perhaps a more age-appropriate way to celebrate the holiday season.  This highly regarded event is a bit of an Orlando Christmas institution. It’s a great way to stock up on truly unique gifts made by local designers and artists, while supporting the museum’s programmes for lifelong learning.

Loch Haven Park, where the Orlando Museum of Art is sited, is about 10 minutes from downtown Orlando.  So, while you’re visiting downtown Orlando, combine a trip to the Festival of Trees with tickets to enjoy another Orlando cultural Christmas tradition: Orlando Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker at the Dr Philips Centre for the Performing Arts.

This year’s performances run from Friday, December 13 through to a matinee performance on Monday, December 23, 2019.

 

#8. ICE! At Gaylord Palms

 

If you don’t want to make the trip downtown, then you might want to try another local favourite a bit closer to home. This year, the popular ice sculpture show at the Gaylord Palms hotel and resort features a Polar Express theme.

The walking tour around the ice sculptures is a real holiday treat and your kids will love the ice slides at the end!  Running: November 25, 2019 – January 5, 2020 at the resort at 6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee.

 

Remember! If you need help purchasing tickets for any of these wonderful holiday celebrations, please speak with our ticketing partner, Kissimmee Guests Services.

With Christmas inspiration, now book your visit!

 

Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

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Talk to our ticket partner for the best deal on tickets – guaranteed!

Buy Tickets

 

Read our best-ever hacks for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure:

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It can sometimes be confusing about who gets a tip and how much that tip should be. Guests can really struggle with the minefield of tipping restaurant and hotel staff in Florida.  That’s why we’ve created a handy guide on tipping in the USA to help remove any uncertainties travellers may have.

In the USA, restaurant staff waiting tables often rely on tips to make up a significant proportion of their wages.   Staff are really motivated to go that extra mile because tipping is so important to their overall take-home pay.

Today, the federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13. (The main federal minimum wage is $7.25).  Only seven states mandate that all workers, regardless of tips, must be paid the full state minimum wage before tips, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

This means, if you don’t tip, it can represent a big loss of earnings for your server.

Take a look at the handy guide on tipping in the USA

Here’s our pick of some of our favourite heart-warming, inspiring and, sometimes, shocking tipping stories…

The Tipping Jackpot!

When police detective Robert Cunningham chose to offer his server a deal instead of settling the tab on his usual meal of linguini and clam sauce at Sal’s Pizzeria in Yonkers, New York, she agreed.  By 1984, Phyllis Penzo had waited on tables six nights a week at the restaurant for 24 years.  Cunningham suggested they split the lottery ticket he had in his pocket, so Penzo duly sat down and helped Cunningham choose the numbers.  This $1 entry into the New York State Lotto Competition won the pair $6 million dollars!

Their story was later dramatised (with some artistic licence) in the 1994 film It Could Happen to You starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda.

A Family Remembers

Aaron Collins left a rather unusual instruction in the will his family found on his computer after he died: to leave a $500 tip to a server in a pizza restaurant.

His older brother Seth Collins, his younger sisters and his parents decided to make a website for friends and family to contribute to Aaron’s last wish.  Donations quickly racked up to $48,000 within three weeks and the family began following Aaron’s instructions to leave their servers $500 tips. The family have said all of the donations will be distributed in $500 tips to restaurant servers.

Seth Collins said, “It doesn’t seem to be about the money.  It’s about the random kindness — that unexpected kindness from a stranger, not just people who have gotten the money, but people who have watched it.  And I think that really surprised me.”

Changing Tipping Habits

Another Kentucky resident has taken a similarly generous approach to tipping.  Russ Johnson, a retired septuagenarian manufacturing executive in Louisville has decided to start tipping 50 percent of the bill.

His decision followed a conversation with a golfing buddy which inspired him to stop donating to charities and start tipping generously instead.  Johnson told MarketWatch: “I have convinced many of my friends to reduce donating to charities.  I would rather put money in the hands of people on the low end of the scale working their way up the ladder than in some bureaucrat’s hand who works for an organised charity.”

Generous Celebrities

If a particularly generous celebrity walks through the restaurant doors, servers can be in for a treat.  Johnny Depp’s $4,000 tip after an enjoying an evening with friends and several $500 bottles of wine is legendary.  And Thrillist recounts a wonderful story about Bill Murray, who not only left his server a hugely generous 120 percent tip he then went on to teach the same server how to make their lemon wedges juicier by rolling them on a cutting board before slicing them!

The Restaurant that Tried to Ban Tipping

A few years ago, Joe’s Crab Shack experimented with the idea of eliminating tips.  In November 2015, the casual seafood chain announced it was trying out a “no tipping” policy in 18 of its restaurants.  With more than 100 locations nationwide, it was the first major restaurant chain to test out a no-tipping policy.

However, by May 2016 the company began rowing back on its no tipping approach.  Its customers had complained of higher food prices and poor service.  The restaurant’s research showed that around 60 percent of customers disliked the policy because it took away an incentive for good service and because they didn’t necessarily trust that management was passing the money to workers.

Tipping to Show Appreciation of a Good Job

When the New York Times asked its readers for their tipping stories, they were inundated with stories that ranged from the horrifying to the heart-warming.

Reader Sheri Albrecht of Walford, Iowa’s story definitely falls into the heartwarming category.  She told the paper about a time when she and her husband had dined at a local restaurant with another couple who had picked up the check but left a paltry tip.

“My husband returned to the restaurant the next day, found the waitress, apologised for our friend’s poor tip (she remembered it) and handed her enough cash to make 20 percent.  She stared at the money for a few seconds, stunned, then threw her arms around my husband’s neck and started to cry.  THAT’S how much tips mean to servers.’’

We’d love to hear your experiences about tipping in Florida and in and around Disney World and the other Orlando parks.  Share your stories with us below.

Last Minute Deals for Stays in October and November 2019 are sure to excite you!

Book your Florida Vacation Home and SAVE 20%!!

Use Promo Code:  LastMinute20off

With Ellis Exclusive Villas, you can find the perfect home for your last minute vacation.

View our homes below and book now to take advantage of this great 20% off promotion using Promo Code:  LastMinute20off

 

3 Bedroom Home:

 

 

4 Bedroom Homes:

 

5 Bedroom Homes:

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We look forward to having you stay!

For any queries please email us at:  reservations@ellisexclusivevillas.com

Call:  UK: 0333 332 1411 / US: +1 321 710 8779

Terms and Conditions apply to this promotion.  20% discount applies to the room rate only.  This discount can not be used in conjunction with any other discounts or specials.  The discount applies for stays in October 2019 and November 2019.  Minimum stay of 5 nights or more.  Vacation homes are subject to availability at time of booking.  No refunds for cancellations apply.  Date amendments which fall outside of the discount promotional period will be allowed, but the 20% promotion discount will not be carried forward.  

Orlando really is one of the best places to travel this season.  The theme parks are frightfully full of thrilling fun for all ages!  Here’s what we’re looking forward to in Orlando for Halloween 2019.

A Halloween Party for Your Littlies

Disney has got the tricks and treats for your little ones all wrapped up.  At Magic Kingdom the annual fun of Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween can be enjoyed by kids from the age of three and up.

Highlights include the “Boo to You” Halloween Parade with new floats and characters for 2019.   There is also a Halloween fireworks spectacular which is brand new for 2019 which will be hosted by Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

You little ones will love seeing their favourite Disney characters dressed up for Halloween.  Plus, there’s treats to be collected throughout the park.  Add to the magic and come in costume!

Find out more: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_GB/events-tours/magic-kingdom/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party/

Find Your Costume at Disney Springs!

The shops, bars and restaurants of Disney Springs are always a great place to head to if you want to pick up a few extra Disney treats.  At Halloween, it’s also an ideal place to go costume shopping.

You’ll find them in stock at DisneyStyle; the Dress Shop at Marketplace Co-Op – Cherry Tree Lane; Star Wars Galactic Outpost; Super Hero Headquarters; and World of Disney.

Once you’ve picked up a costume, head to one of the face painting kiosks which you’ll find around the Disney Springs site and have them add the finishing touches to your scary Halloween look.

Find out more: https://www.disneysprings.com/

Sweet Treats at SeaWorld Orlando this Halloween

Besides Disney’s Micky’s not-so-scary Halloween party, the trick or treat trail at SeaWorld Orlando is another great option for little ones at this time of year.

Younger children are encouraged to come in costume and collect sweets from the candy stations around the park.  The trick-or-treat trail features some favourite candy treats, including Swedish Fish, Smarties, and Airheads.

There’s also a Halloween dance party for your little ones, character dining options including Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast and, new this year, a Sesame Street themed Halloween parade.

Find out more:  https://seaworld.com/orlando/events/halloween-spooktacular/

More Family-Friendly Fun at Legoland!

The Halloween Bricktacular at Legoland is right up there with Micky’s not-so-scary Halloween party for Halloween fun in Orlando with your little ones.  It’s a real family-friendly affair, with plenty of treats around the park to enjoy.

As with Disney, younger children are encouraged to come in costume – which all adds to the sense of Halloween fun.

Find out more: https://www.legoland.com/florida/planning-your-visit/special-events/brick-or-treat-event/

Not for the Faint-Hearted: Universal’s Horror Nights

Orlando’s scariest Halloween adventure is to be found at Universal.  At this time of year, evenings at the Universal parks are not for the timid of disposition!  If you love nothing more than a good ghoulish scare, then do not miss this event!  The run of Horror Nights at Universal is one of the highlights of the Orlando year!

This year, it features a number of different themes, including the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, classic horror characters including Dracula and Frankenstein in Universal’s Monsters, and the ghoul-filled film classic, Ghostbusters.

Do bear in mind, as you might expect, Universal’s Horror Nights are adult-only affairs; they’re not suitable for kids under 13 years of age.  Costumes and masks are not allowed.

Find out more: https://orlando.halloweenhorrornights.com/site/

Further afield: Altamonte Springs

If Universal’s Horror Nights has got you in the mood for a good Halloween scare, then head north of Orlando to the town of Altamonte Springs, where you’ll find another of Central Florida’s scariest Halloween events.

The Petrified Forest has been running Halloween events here for years and they have a reputation for delivering some serious chills and thrills.  This year, there are three trails to walk, but be warned – there are shocking surprises around every corner!

Find out more: https://www.apetrifiedforest.com/

New for 2019: Halloween & Other Fall Traditions at Gatorland

The Ellis Exclusive Villas team are big fans of Gatorland.  So, we are especially pleased to learn that this year, for the first time, Gatorland has some special Halloween events happening.

As well as hosting special Halloween-themed shows over several days towards the end of October, Gatorland is also celebrating another fab fall tradition: Oktoberfest.

Find out more: https://www.gatorland.com/events-2/halloween/

Want to live the adventure for yourself?  Book your visit!

Check out our vacation homes in Orlando:

Ellis Exclusive Villas – Vacation Homes

If you fancy visiting for the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, read up on our best-ever hacks for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure:

Universal Orlando Hacks

As Hurricane Dorian makes its way closer to Florida’s coastline, you may be feeling somewhat nervous.  This is especially the case should you be coming from a country that doesn’t experience hurricanes or tropical storms.

Your first concern will be the airline.  Confirm if your flight has been cancelled, delayed or scheduled to be diverted to another airport.  Airlines will hold off providing any information until the last minute. Keep on top of your airline to ensure that you are made aware of any changes to your flight plans.  This will enable you to prepare before you set off.

If you are staying in a hotel, the staff are well trained and will be prepared for what’s to come. Thereby keeping you informed and ensuring that all their guests staying in the hotel are well looked after and safe.

If you are staying in a vacation home you may be feeling slightly out of your depths. Don’t worry.  Your Vacation Home Property Management team are at hand to ensure that the home is made secure and that all guests staying in the homes are well informed on the precautions they need to take.

Here are some points to highlight should you be staying in a Vacation Home:

Stay Informed – Follows instructions issued by the local authorities, including evacuation orders should it come to it.

Prepare before the Storm – Stock up on the following items: Water (usually 1 gallon per person).  Non-perishable foods.  Medicine and first aid kit (kept dry in a zip-lock bag).  Batteries and flashlights.  Cash (US currency – as post storm some stores may only be able to accept cash due to disruption in power).  Emergency bag (packed with pillows, blankets, change of clothes, cash, passports and toiletries).  Games and puzzles to keep the family occupied during the storm (try not to use mobile phones or tablets as you will want to keep the batteries to these devices fully charged in case of an emergency).  Fill your car up with gas/petrol.

Prepare the home – With regards to the home itself, the Property Management team will be out preparing the home for the storm. They will remove all outdoor furniture, BBQ’s, plant pots etc and place them inside the home or garage. Please remember that they are doing this for everyone’s protection as all these items can become flying debris. Do not start to unpack the items. The Property Management team will be back once it is safe to do so and replace all items to their original positions.

Take Shelter – Your safest place during the storm is in your vacation home. Find a safe room in the centre-most part of the building on the ground floor with as may walls between you and the storm as possible.  Approximately 2 hours before the storm is due to hit your area, start making your way to your designated safe space in the Vacation Home along with pillows, blankets, food, water, first aid kits, emergency bags along with games and puzzles.

During the Storm – Don’t be tempted to go outside during the storm in order to get “the most epic hurricane video of your life”.  This is only putting yourself in danger and can result in very serious consequences.

Now, the most important thing of all is once everything has calmed down and you think that the storm is over, DO NOT venture outside. As you are aware the eye of the storm can bring calm conditions and can trick everyone into thinking that the storm has past over. This is not the case, the worse is yet to come as the next part of the storm moves in with winds now circulating in the opposite direction usually causing more damage then the initial part.  Stay indoors until you have been given the “all clear” by the local authorities.

After the Storm – There is a possibility that electricity and water supplies will be disrupted. Flooding may occur due to the storm surge and heavy rainfall. Asses the home and notify the Property Manager of any damage you may notice. Be aware of debris and fallen trees in the roads causing road closures. Should you need to get out and about listen to the local traffic advice.

Stay and keep informed on every aspect of the storm and ensure you are prepared. Keep safe!

The latest new Harry Potter Adventure!  Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride is opening at Universal on June 13th.

The latest addition to the World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure is sure to delight coaster freaks and Harry Potter fans alike.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike ride boasts some thrilling white-knuckle stats:

* The longest rollercoaster in Florida

* The first coaster in the USA to feature a free-fall vertical drop

* The most launches of any coaster in the world

Fun Fact:  It combines some of the most high-tech animatronics and input from the creative team behind the Harry Potter films.  Universal’s creative team worked with Stuart Craig, the films’ Creative Director and Alan Gilmore, the Art Director.

Immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter

Thanks to this exciting new ride, visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hogsmeade at the Universal Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando will be ushered into a new world of magical creatures

It’s the first time that visitors to the park will come face to face with one of the series’ best loved characters.  Universal has pulled out all the stops to create its most advanced and realistic animated figure yet.

Fun Fact:  The team worked directly with Robbie Coltrane, the actor who plays Hagrid in the films, to develop facial expressions and body movements for the animated Hagrid figure that introduces visitors to his magical creatures.  New voice recordings by Robbie Coltrane where produced for more authenticity.

Meet the magical creatures of Hagrid and Harry’s world

Enter through Hagrid’s hut prior to venturing on to the abandoned ruins, on the edge of the Forbidden Forest.

A pre-ride show featuring digital projection technology will entertain you as you meet Hagrid, Arthur Weasley and Hagrid’s pet – Fang.

You’ll then be able to decide whether to ride Hagrid’s motorbike or travel like Harry in the sidecar alongside.

Buckle up and the ride will plunge deeper into the Forbidden forest – where you’ll meet some of the wizarding world’s rare and wonderful magical creatures.

A rip-roaring ride

It isn’t only magical creatures that will be taking your breath away. Hadrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride launches at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Fun Fact:  The ride track measures in at 5,053 feet long.  This makes Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride the longest roller-coaster in Florida.

The ride includes the first free-fall vertical drop in the USA.  Drop 17 feet vertically down for an adrenaline-spiked, stomach-losing free-fall, before in one movement being catapulted 65 feet into the air at a 70-degree angle and dropping back down again.   A really wild and hair-raising adventure!

Want to live the adventure for yourself?  Book your visit!

Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

Ellis Exclusive Villas – Vacation Homes

Read our best-ever hacks for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure:

Universal Orlando Hacks