Sunshine Villa Florida

What To Do For Mothers Day In Orlando

mothers day in orlando

Treat Mom to something special on Mother’s Day.

 Are you spending Mother’s Day in Orlando?  We’ve got some suggestions that will spoil your mom!

 The Silhouette Portraits

For a unique & sentimental souvenir, the Silhouette Portraits cart in Disney Springs Marketplace offer gorgeous framed silhouettes. You and mom can pose for an artist who cuts a portrait of your profile from plain black paper, resulting in a shadow-like image.  Pricing starts from $12 and you can have up to a family of 4.  A truly memorable souvenir.

Brunch

Here are a few restaurants offering brunch a lovely in and around the Orlando area:

Island Grove
Island Grove Winery at Formosa Gardens have a Mother’s Day Brunch featuring scones, crepes, eggs benedict, chocolate dipped strawberries and bottomless Mimosas! The cost is $39.95

island grove brunch

STK is offering a lovely Mother’s Day Brunch 10:30-3:00 on May 12th. featuring Brunch Classics, Raw Bar, Dessert Playground, DJ, Vie Vite Rosé Garden, Flower Wall & More! Cost is $79 and includes cocktails.

STK brunch menu

Maria & Enzo’s a signature mother’s day brunch featuring a spread of classic Italian dishes and fan favourites including Brioche French Toast, a live-action carving station, and a chocolate fountain. Cost is $45

maria and enzos brunch

Disney Character Couture

Mom deserves to be treated like a Princess, so why not give her a Disney Character Couture Package for Mother’s Day. Disney stylists will transform hair, makeup and nails into designs inspired by classic characters.

Character Couture Packages:

  • Timeless Transformation– Character Inspired Hair, Makeup & Nails – Adults $120, Children 4-12 $90
  • StoryBook– Character Inspired Hair – Adults $80, Children 4-12 $50
  • Magical Makeover– Character Inspired Hair & Makeup – Adults $105, Children 4-12 $75

Here is a list of the Character Couture Locations:

  • Ivy Trellis Salon – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
  • La Vida Salon – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Ship Shape Salon – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Salon by the Springs – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Shopping

What mom wouldn’t enjoy a day of Shopping?  Lucky for mom, there are tons of fabulous shopping in the Orlando area!

Disney Springs

Disney Springs has come a long way since it was Downtown Disney. Still home to old favourites but with the addition of a great shopping experience. Shop at stores like Alex & Ani, Pandora, Lily Pulitzer, Zara, Anthropologie, Coach, Mac, Ugg, Sephora, and more!

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets 

You are bound to find great deals here at rock bottom prices at stores like Armani, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Diesel, Adidas, Nike, Gap, Lacoste and more!

Florida Mall

Here you can shop at stores like Adidas, Aeropostale, American Girl, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, BCBG, Billabong, Disney Store, Forever 21 and is also home to Carlo’s Bake Shop from Cake Boss.

The Mall at Millenia

Shop at stores like American Eagle, Holllister, Vans, Foot Locker, Under Armour Abercrombie as well as high end shops like Jimmy Choo, Versace, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, & Hermes

Cake Decorating Experience at Amorettes

Decorate your very own culinary masterpiece — in the form of a Signature Mickey Dome Cake while under the instruction of the talented Pastry Chefs at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs. It’s a hands-on class where mom’s walk away with a Signature Mickey Dome Cake that they have personally decorated. The 90-minute small group session is limited to just 14 guests, allowing for interaction and conversation with the Pastry Chefs. The experience takes place in Amorette’s Show Kitchen prior to the shop’s opening, and includes beverage refreshments (with alcoholic options such as mimosas and Bellini’s for guests 21-and-over).

Sundays through Thursdays at 9:00 am. 90 minutes

Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday classes decorate a Classic Mickey Dome Cake
Monday and Wednesday classes decorate the Artist’s Current Seasonal Mickey Cake

The cost for two people, including the cake and beverages during class, is $149 plus tax.

Book here

Happy Mother’s Day!

*Times and prices subject to change.

Plan Your Disney Trip With Our FREE Planning Itinerary

disney planner itinerary

With 4 parks filled with so many attractions, shows, and dining, it could get overwhelming trying to plan your Disney vacation.  We have created a simple Disney Planning itinerary that you can download here FREE!

disney planner itinerary

Before planning, it may be helpful to check crowd calendars.  We recommend checking here.  This site provides crowd times for each month.

A lot of time and effort goes into planning your perfect Disney vacation.  Here are some great articles that you should check out before you go:

Travelling with pets? Read here

Want some insta worthy snaps?  Don’t forget to look for the elusive #disneywalls here

Beat the Orlando heat!

You’re all set to have a magical holiday!

Legoland Florida Ticket Discount Benefits Autism Speaks

legoland

Legoland Florida is offering discount pricing during the month of April in support of World Autism month.  You can purchase print at home theme park tickets at a discount rate of $42.50 plus tax or combo tickets offering same day admission to the theme park and water park for $65.50 + tax.  $10 of each ticket sold will be donated to the North and Central Florida markets of Autism Speaks.

Over the past couple years, Legoland Florida Resort has made ongoing efforts to make their resort a more welcoming place for guests with autism spectrum disorders.  Here are some of the ways Legoland Florida is accommodating guests on the autism spectrum:

  • To assist guests who have difficulty waiting in line, they have created a pass specifically for guests on the autism spectrum. The no cost “Blue hero pass” allows the guest and their family to bypass the standby line at popular attractions.legoland blue hero pass
  • Multiple “quiet rooms” located throughout the resort offer a private space where guests on the autism spectrum can relax with noise cancelling headphones, weighed blankets and soothing toys.quiet room legoland florida
  • “Social stories” where guests can see an illustrated step by step walk through of every ride and show, so guests won’t be surprised by periods of darkness, loud noises, bright lights or other elements that may be frightening or overwhelming. legoland social stories
  • The resorts newly hired Model Citizens now receive specialized training to prepare them with skills and sensitivities needed to more effectively interact with guests on the autism spectrum

The parent company Merlin Entertainments operate under a set of values that includes “we care”, and by working in partnership with organizations like Autism Speaks, they are committed to ensure that the place built for kids is truly built for all kids.

You can purchase tickets here. The offer is available now through April 30. Tickets must be redeemed by May 31, 2019.

*Photos courtesy of Legoland

Epcot’s Easter Egg-stravaganza

Every year during Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot hosts an annual scavenger hunt for Easter eggs.  This year the hunt runs until Sunday, April 21.

To join the scavenger hunt, you will need to first purchase a scavenger hunt map. The map costs $6.99 and you can find them at Disney Traders, Pin Central, or World Traveler.

*

The eggs on your sticker card are the eggs you are looking for around the park.  Keep your eyes peeled as some are tricky to find.

Place the matching sticker on your map after you have spotted the egg.  Once you have found them all, head over to Disney Traders to submit your map and receive your prize, the choice of one themed egg!  New this year is that the eggs themselves have a surprise inside!

Eggstravaganza is on through April 21st during Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival.  If your looking for an Easter service, Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers church services on Easter Sunday.

Hint:  Some eggs are located inside

*Image courtesy of All Ears

Gator Night Shine – Are You Brave Enough? Beyond The Parks Edition

When you think of Florida, what comes to mind? Sunshine? Oranges? How about gators?  In this edition of Beyond the Parks, we talk about Gatorland.

Gatorland lets you get up close and personal with the Florida natives in a nighttime experience- Gator Night Shine.

Gator Night Shine adventure takes you deep into the domain of Florida’s most famous reptile, the alligator!

Armed with only a flashlight and gator food, you bravely make your way along the winding wooden walkways of Gatorland’s Alligator Breeding Marsh. The sounds of the night come alive around you as the rustle of feathers overhead and the splashing of water nearby signal that you are not alone.

Turning your flashlight towards the water, you suddenly become aware of hundreds of hungry, glowing, red eyes slowly making their way closer…

Tour Length: 1 – 1.5 Hour (Tour begins at dusk, please meet at the far south end of the parking lot)

Number of People: Minimum 5, Maximum 25

Admission Policy: This guided tour is an after-hours special Gatorland event and is restricted to Gatorland’s Breeding Marsh. Gatorland will provide the flashlights, insect repellent, and some alligator food.

Tickets are $24.99 + tax

Of course Gatorland has plenty of day time encounters as well.  You can see alligators, crocodiles of all sizes along with the extremely rare white leucistic alligator.  They also have a free flight aviary, & petting zoo.

Gatorland Experiences:

Stompin Gator off road adventure: Board one of three, 12-foot-high custom-made, off-road monster vehicles for a 15-minute rugged and hilarious adventure like no other theme park ride anywhere.

Screamin Gator Zip Line: Soar across five intense zip lines ranging in length from 230 feet to more than 500 feet, and carefully cross a swinging bridge over the park’s main walkway.  Fly over alligators and crocodiles at speeds near 30 miles per hour.

Animal Shows: Thrills and chills abound as some of the largest alligators in the world jump four feet or more out of the water in this one-of-a-kind show. Learn more about alligators and crocodiles and their awesome powers.

Adventure Hour: Hand feed giant gators. Home to hundreds of alligators, you’ll have the opportunity to safely venture within a few feet of hungry, giant alligators and create a thrilling feeding frenzy.

Meet a gator: Get up close and personal with a gator for a photo opportunity

gatorland

Gatorland is open everyday from 10-5 rain or shine.

14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837 (407) 855-5496

10 Fun Disney Facts You Probably Don’t Know!

10 fun disney facts

10 fun Disney Facts you probably don’t know

Did you know that Disney employs over 66,000 cast members spending 1.2 billion on payroll each year? The largest single-site employer in the United States, Walt Disney World has more than 3,700 job classifications.  Here are some other Disney fun facts that you may have not known:

  1. All Disney World employees are called cast members. Even Walt Disney was a cast member.
  2. Cast members will always point with two fingers or an open palm. Pointing with one finger is considered “rude” and isn’t allowed on Disney property.
  3. Cast members who play characters are taught how to sign autographs so that it matches the original.
  4. Cast members are not allowed to leave their “land” or area. The reason is to not affect the scene. A Frontierland costume would be out of place in Tomorrowland.
  5. Cast members love to talk to guests! Ask for their advice or just ask them about where they’re from. It’s usually on their nametag.
  6. A Cast Member is never supposed to say “I don’t know,” if he or she doesn’t know the answer, they are supposed to get on the phone and find out. They are also never supposed to react to silly questions.
  7. The background music continues, even after the last guest has departed.
  8. Cast members are encouraged to pin-trade with guests. Feel free to approach any cast member wearing a lanyard.
  9. Backstage photos are not allowed, both for cast members and guests on backstage tours.
  10. Seniority is a big deal with Disney. The longer you’ve worked for the company, the better your chance of advancement. Many high-level cast members, such as executives, once worked in the parks.

Did you know all of these? Do you know of any other fun Disney facts that we have missed? Please share!

 

Visiting Orlando With Pets? The Perfect Pet Daycare For Your Pet

Many people travel to Florida with their beloved fur babies but where do they go when you want to visit the parks?

Best Friends Pet Care is pet centre near Walt Disney World is a 27,000-square-foot pet care center offering boarding, daycare and grooming for dogs, cats and other family pets in a safe, healthy and fun environment. 

Choose from a range of accommodations and extensive menu of activities. While you explore the parks, your pet can enjoy playgroup, special treats and a movie!  After park-hopping, spend time with your pet playing in our private dog park or taking a walk around the grounds.

Best Friends Pet Resort welcomes all pets, regardless of where the family is staying. They do offer special discounts for Walt Disney World® Resort guests.  They are open 365 days a year and they follow Walt Disney World’s Extra Magic schedule for resort guests.

  • All Indoor Accommodations:These climate-controlled accommodations are up to 32 square feet, and provide a pet cot for your dog’s comfort. Dogs have unlimited access to their patio area, except during cleaning.

Accommodation sizes are 4’ x 7’ and 4’ x 8’. All rooms have 3 feet of clearance. The larger accommodations are comfortable for all medium sized breed dogs and some large sized breed dogs.

Our all-indoor accommodations include two potty walks with a staff member each day. Guests may visit to take their pet out into the dog park or the walking trail at any time during our normal operating hours.  $44 Standard/ $41 Resort Guest/ $37 Daycare

  • Indoor-Outdoor 2-Room Accommodations:These accommodations include a climate-controlled indoor bedroom with a pet cot, and an outdoor patio, which is protected from the elements. Dogs have unlimited access to their patios during the daytime for most of the year. During peak summer temperatures, however, to protect the dogs from the heat, the patio doors are opened four times during the day for access to the patio.

Bedrooms are 4’ x 4’ and 3’ x 4’. All bedrooms have a minimum of 3 feet of clearance. Patios are 3’ x 8’   and 4’ x 8’. Patios have more than 9 feet of clearance. The larger accommodations are comfortably sized for most dogs, except giant breeds.

All indoor-outdoor accommodations include one potty walk with our staff per day. Guests may visit to take their pet out into the dog park or the walking trail at any time during our normal operating hours.  $49 Standard/ $45 Resort Guest/ $40 Daycare

  • Vacation Villas:Our fourteen two-room villas provide an 8ft x 9ft (72 sq ft) tiled bedroom, with a raised platform bed and doggy-eye-level flat panel TV.  Each villa also has a private outdoor 4ft x 7ft (28 sq ft) relief patio.  The Vacation Villa boarding experience includes 1 Potty Walk, 1 Playgroup Session and Turn-Down Service each day all overseen by a personal pet concierge. $93 Standard/ $86 Resort Guest/ $93 Daycare
  • VIP Luxury Suites:For the ultimate in pampered pet boarding, we offer our four 226 sq ft super luxury suites.  These suites provide a 16ft x 9ft bedroom, with paw print floors and tile walls, glass doors, a raised platform bed and flat panel television, programmed for your pet’s entertainment.  Each suite also comes with a private covered outdoor play yard, where pets can enjoy private play time with their family, or with their personal “pet concierge”.  This all-inclusive boarding experience includes a wide range of daily complimentary activities: 2 Potty Walks, 2 Playgroup sessions and Bed Time Story each day, all overseen by a personal “pet concierge”.  Guests in our Super Luxury suites may also enjoy a complimentary “Go Home Fresh” bath after a 3-day minimum stay.  $109 Standard/ $101 Resort Guest/ $109 Daycare


  • a la carte for Doggies:
  • Play & Stay- $22  
  • (Four hours of play with other dogs)
  • Playgroup- $15    
  • (30 minutes of play with other dogs)
  • Playtime- $8    
  • (10 minutes of play with an associate)
  • Cuddletime- $8
  • Walk & Explore- $8
  • Bedtime Story- $6
  • Ice Cream Break- $4
  • Holiday Meal- $5
  • Premium Bed- $5
  • Kitty City is designed to be a sanctuary for our feline friends.  Housed in a separate wing of the building, it is protected from the sights, sounds and smells of dogs. We have accommodations for up to 24 kitty guests, who can relax in your choice of a two-room or four-room condos, and watch the world through their windows.  Each condo has a separate, private relief area; and all condos are individually vented to outdoors for the health of our guests.  Two Level Kitty Condo

$28 Standard/ $26 Resort Guest/ $26 Daycare / Four Level Kitty Condo $40 Standard/ $38 Resort Guest/ $35 Daycare

  • a la carte Kitties:
  • Playtime- $8
  • Cookies & Milk- $3
  • Tuna on a Ritz- $3
  • Activity Toy- $3
  • Deluxe Kitty Bed- $5

Pocket pets: facility provides a safe little haven for “pocket pets” such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.  Pet parents must provide their own housing/cage and all supplies (food, bowls, litter, etc.) for their pocket pet. Small- $13 Standard/ $11 Resort Guest

Medium- $17 Standard/ $15 Resort Guest

Large- $22 Standard/ $20 Resort Guest

X Large- $25 Standard/ $23 Resort Guest

 Reservations are strongly recommended.  Visit their website for up to date rates, terms and conditions.

Why And How You Should Book Your Next Vacation Rental Direct

6 reasons to book direct

February 6 is National #bookdirect day.  How did this come about? Within the last few years, big listing sites such as Homeaway started to charge travellers booking fees on top of the owners fees to list on their sites. They also made it so that contact information between guests were blocked so there was no communication outside of their booking platforms.  Many vacation rental owners took a stand and started to build their own websites and social media pages in order to take direct bookings and save on extortionate fees.

Travel sites like AirBnB, HomeAway/VRBO, and TripAdvisor/Flipkey have added booking fees to either the traveler, the owner and sometimes both when you reserve a vacation property through one of their sites.  These fees do NOT go to the owners, but rather to corporate giants such as Expedia.  Book with confidence? Payment protection? The sites claim to offer protection but in reality, they will ask the traveler to initiate a charge back if the rental is inhabitable or does not exist. You get that with your credit card anyway so what are you really paying for?  They claim to find you another place but it’s not always possible in peak season when majority of properties are booked or, you may end up in a sub-par property or in one miles away.  If you could book directly with the owner, you could save these large fees and use them instead toward activities, souvenirs or meals.

The large sites have eliminated owner contact info, and they withhold your contact info from the owners making it challenging to book direct.  They also monitor emails so if you try to enter your contact info in your message, it will be blocked out so the owner will not see it.  Not only that, the sorting algorithms are designed to push travelers to book properties that will help THEIR bottom line, not yours. This is all done to ensure that they get their greedy fees.

Why should you book direct?

  • Save the booking fees you are charged. In some cases, this could be in the hundreds!
  • Direct contact with the owner or property manager will expedite any questions or issues that may arise.
  • The lowest price will not be on listing sites.  Owners may increase their rates on these sites to account for the fees they are charged.
  • Many rental property owners have removed their homes from these sites. You may miss out on a great property.
  • Owners have intimate knowledge about the destination and the property itself. Ask your questions like best restaurant or beach.
  • Take comfort in knowing that the house you booked is the one you will be staying in.  Many big listing sites allocate your property on arrival.

So how do you book direct and save yourself hundreds of dollars?

  • First, look at the sort. On HomeAway/VRBO, do not use the default sort.  Instead, sort by number of reviews.  And in the filters, select Owner Operated if you truly want to book with an owner rather than a realty company.  On TripAdvisor, likewise sort by reviews.
  • Use Google search. On the listing itself, look for clues.  Many owners will highlight the name of their company or their business, for example “Sunshine Villa Florida- Your house near the Mouse” or “Another Day in Paradise Chincoteague.”  This can lead you to their Google listing, their own website, or the property’s Facebook page.  Also, if you Google the owner’s name, their contact information is often readily available on the web.
  • What if the owner hasn’t dropped any of these subtle hints? Try StaySavr.com, which has contact info for 70% of the VRBO listings that were in effect in 2016 or earlier.
  • Check if the owner has a social media page like Instagram or Facebook and contact them through there
  • Support the smaller no fee booking sites like: Houfy.com, Homeescape.com, or Floridarentalowners.com

How to rent safely:

  • Check the owner’s online reviews. Also, try to determine ownership.  Many counties have tax records available online.
  • Google search the owner’s name, the property name, and any other information you may have gathered about the owner. This will help you to rent safely.
  • Ask for a rental agreement. Many owners will also allow you to pay by credit card or PayPal.  Ask to do that if paying by check makes you uncomfortable.

#BOOKDIRECT

Why This Should Be Your First Stop When Visiting Orlando

There is so much to do and see when visiting Orlando, it can get overwhelming. If you follow our blogs, you’ll know we are all about saving you time and money on your holiday.

That is why the Orlando Official Visitor Center should be your first stop when visiting Orlando.  From expert advice to discounted attraction tickets the multi lingual staff can help save you time and money.  The visitor center is open year round to help visitors find information about things to do in Orlando as well as provide currency exchange services, planning assistance, free maps, visitor guides and destination information.

You can purchase tickets to Walt Disney World, Universal, Seaworld, Legoland and many Orlando area experiences such as airboat rides dinner shows and much more.

The Visit Orlando Facebook page is currently offering an additional 10% OFF some of their already reduced attraction tickets by mentioning this offer.  Terms and conditions do apply.  For more information and to purchase your discounted tickets visit:

Orlando Official Visitor Center:
Address: 8102 International Dr., Orlando, FL 32819  Discount ticket sales: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. daily
Phone: 407-363-5872

 

Disney Walls. The Newest Trend And Where To Find Them

disneywall

“Disney Walls” have become an unofficial fan favourite photo location for many guests visiting the parks.  These “Disney walls” have become the latest trend with those who seek an insta worthy pic against these vibrant backdrops. Some walls even have their own guest created hashtags.  We are going to outline where you can find these photo op’s but fair warning-  some more adventurous guests like to try and find them all on their own as sort of a photo scavenger hunt.  If you’re one of these, then you might find this blog post useful.

Magic Kingdom #Purplewall: The #Disneywall trend started with a purple wall located to the right of Tomorrowland entrance at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Walk down the ramp from Tomorrowland Terrace toward the entrance to Tomorrowland. Right when you hit the turn in the land, you will see the #purplewall on the right.

#purplewall

Epcot’s #Bubblegumwall: You can find this wall by simply turning right or left just outside the exit of Spaceship Earth. Reminiscent of a bright wad of bubblegum, the #Bubblegumwall glows with shades of pink, blue & fuchsia offering a great spot to snap a pic.

bubblegumwall

Epcot’s #Blueberrywall: When you leave the #Bubblegumwall, take two more steps to find the bright #Blueberrywall. This wall offers vibrant blue hues in a sweeping motion.

blueberrywall

Epcot’s #Toothpastewall: Head to the The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavillion. You’ll find the wall while exiting the pavilion.

toothpastewall

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s #Mosswall: Head into Pandora – The World of Avatar and walk towards Satu’li Canteen.  Just opposite the restaurants front door is the newest Disney wall.

mosswall

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s “You are most beautiful” wall: While this wall doesn’t have a hastag yet, its still a popular spot for guests visiting Harambe’s Marketplace. Look for it on the park side of a cast members only doorway.

youaremostbeautifulwall

There is another wall located by Harambe Marketplace that offers quotes, and a great painting of Mickey Mouse.

harambewall

Any of these walls make great Instagram worthy shots. Look for them on your next visit to Walt Disney World.

*Lovely photos courtesy of Disney, the talented Disney Photo Snapper & Steven Diaz:   http://www.stevendiazphoto.com/