What’s your favorite type of getaway? Relaxing on a secluded tropical island? Exploring a historic European city? Seeing the sun dip into the ocean from your private cruise ship balcony?
Discover new places to love at the LA Travel and Adventure show. This past weekend, we delved into the Travel and Adventure show at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
I felt such a sense of community this year, with the Winter Olympics going on in Pyeongchang, South Korea. We talked to people from far- off lands, including Japan, Africa, and the Cook Islands. We even met the mascots from the Olympic Games.
For the same reason that I love Epcot’s World Showcase at Disney World, I truly enjoyed the Travel and Adventure Show. Like the Olympics, they gather cultures together to show off their best.
When you think of Epcot, you may recall fragrant florals from the “Flower & Garden Festival.” Or, perhaps, delectable dishes from the “Food & Wine Festival.” (I, too, love to ‘eat my way around the world.’) Most of all, I enjoy Epcot as a gathering place to meet friendly cast members from various countries. My last visit to Epcot’s Italy Pavilion did not disappoint.
Venice, Italy vs. Italy at Epcot
Through the years, I have come to love the “real” Italy, especially Venice. Epcot’s Italy Pavilion transports me back to Venice every time. Strolling through, I see architectural reminders of Saint Mark’s Square: the delicately intricate façade of the Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile (bell tower).
The entrance is guarded by two columns, topped with Venezia’s patron saints: Saint Mark’s Lion and Saint Theodore standing above a crocodile. (Though Epcot’s version is actually reversed)
Italy Pavilion at Epcot
Saint Marks Square in Venezia
Admittedly, Disney puts a spin on their presentation of each country. (Germany’s Bavarian region is famous for their large, scrumptious pretzels. But they certainly are not Mickey-shaped, nor come with cheese dipping sauce.)
Good advice is worth its weight in gold, especially when you’re traveling. Getting first-hand advice can save you time, ensure you don’t miss an essential moment, and help you make good decisions on how to spend your hard-earned vacation dollars. This is especially true for specialty locations like Disneyland Paris.
Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2017 (the park opened as Euro Disney on April 12, 1992), making this the perfect year to enjoy the festivities. The anniversary theme – “It’s Time to Sparkle!” – introduces new spectaculars to make your visit even more memorable. You’ll want to be prepared, so you won’t miss a second of the magic.
Here are my top 9 things you definitely won’t want to miss – gained from experience as a DLP annual passholder. Some are unique and found only at Disneyland Paris Resort. Some are delightful variations of classic Disney attractions. All are outstanding.
There are two parks at the Disneyland Paris Resort: Disneyland Park, and the Walt Disney Studios (now celebrating its 10th Anniversary). I divided this List into “family-friendly” and “wild side” features, with notations in which park they’re located.
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Paris, and wished upon a star to walk through Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle), this is the year to do it. Disneyland Paris – the sparkling European jewel in the Disney crown – celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2017. And they have been diligently preparing for you to ‘Be Our Guest.’
Park improvements progressed throughout 2016 to prepare for “It’s Time to Sparkle” the Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary celebration starting March 26, 2017.
This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on April 7, 2017.
The path wasn’t always sprinkled with pixie dust. “Euro Disney” – the fourth Disney castle Park – opened on April 12, 1992 to much controversy. There were protests against this invasion of American culture in France, including a one-day train strike that effectively cut off the Disney resort to anyone without a car.
This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on July 25, 2016.
Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 is in the books, but the shockwaves are still resonating like an ion cannon. Lucasfilm shared their latest news with fans from around the world who congregated in London July 15-17, 2016 for a Celebration to be remembered.
Rogue One was certainly THE highly-anticipated panel, and Kathleen Kennedy (President of Lucasfilm and Rogue One Producer) did not disappoint. Accompanied by Gareth Edwards (Director), Kiri Hart (Head of Story, LFL), and John Knoll (Executive Producer), Kathy welcomed us to the new world of stand-alone Star Wars films.
Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma, and our host for this panel) opened with a moment of silence for the lives lost the night before in the terror attack in Nice, France.
Rogue One, the first stand-alone Star Wars film.
The production team was initially concerned about whether there needed to be more introduction for Rogue One. It is the first of the planned “stand-alone” Star Wars stories (not part of the saga trilogies Episodes IV-VI, Episodes I-III, Episodes VII-IX).
From early screenings, Lucasfilm realized that fans understood immediately where Rogue One fit into the Star Wars timeline. This is the story of how the first Death Star plans were stolen; many lives were lost to get this intel to the Rebel base, to set up Luke Skywalker’s mission in Episode IV.
John Knoll (Executive Producer) developed the idea for Rogue One as a Mission Impossible-style story during the filming of Episode III in Sydney. While this story did not fit in with the live action Star Wars TV series planned back then, an opportunity arose when Disney announced a whole new set of Star Wars films.
Kathleen Kennedy described her visits to the set during the filming process of Rogue One. When she looked for director Gareth Edwards, she consistently found him with “a camera on his shoulder” trying to capture “different angles.” His style creates an “immersive” experience for the viewer unlike any other.
The Avalon Impression (2014) is a beautiful new ship in the Avalon fleet. I am reviewing this as a ‘hotel’ because it is your floating hotel along the rivers of Europe. Our cruise sailed from Budapest, Hungary to Amsterdam (14 days) in August 2015, and was filled with many surprising ups and downs.
The Small Ship Difference
This was our first river cruise. We had been on many ocean cruises, ranging from 3600 passengers to ‘small ships’ of about 650 passengers. This was much smaller.
The Avalon Impression holds about 166 passengers — there were 150 passengers on our sailing. The Impression has 67 Suites, and 16 outside staterooms with windows (lower, Indigo deck)
The front desk reception (also your Security team), knows each passenger by name and stateroom number. There is a lost and found, where things that are lost might actually get found!
You get to know your fellow passengers with only 150 people on board. River cruise passengers tend to be friendly, social people who want to get to know you. If you don’t enjoy meeting new people, then river cruising will be more challenging for you than ocean cruising.
We have all had some fantastic hotel experiences — whether it was the service, the location, or commemorating a special event …. and then perhaps some not so great hotel experiences.
In this series, I want to share with you some of the hotels that I have experienced.
It is a pleasure to share with you my review of The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice, Italy. This hotel is a gem in the heart of San Marco, and is conveniently located near museums and transportation options.
Westin Europa & Regina, Venezia
Last stay: May 2015
Rating Scale, for reference:
6=exceptional (rare ranking)
NE = no experience
Price — 4. Venice is expensive, and this is the best-value Starwood hotel in central Venezia.
Hotel Location — 6. Closer to Piazza San Marco than any other Starwood property, there are only 2 bridges to traverse from the Alilaguna stop to hotel.
Ideally located on the Grand Canal directly across from the iconic Santa Maria de la Salute church… It doesn’t get better than this.
Flying used to be more about an elegant journey – rather than just mere survival – especially for long haul flights. People used to dress up for an airplane flight. Now, it is more about functionality and endurance as airlines cut personal space to add more seats, and reduce the number of flight attendants in coach.
This has led to a different flight experience – one that I want to help you navigate. With some advance planning, your long haul international flight does not have to be a 10+ hour nightmare in a horribly cramped prison-like seat.