MM Travel and Tours

The Bourne Stuntacular is Now Open at Universal Studios Florida

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

EDITOR’S NOTE: The imagery shown throughout this blog post does not represent current operational and safety guidelines at Universal Orlando Resort.  Please refer to our safety guidelines. 

“HOLY SMOKES! How did they do that AND can I see it again?!” – Me, during my first time seeing The Bourne Stuntacular.

Walking in, I knew there was going to be all the action that the Bourne film franchise is so well known for and real stunts blended with cinema. What I didn’t expect was my eyesight tricking my mind in the most delightful way possible.

I know what you’re probably thinking – what does that even mean? Well, for example, in one of the first scenes that I saw, there was a group of performers on the stage…or so I thought. In reality, there were only a few performers physically on the stage, while the rest of the group was in the cinema on the screen. But for the first few minutes, I didn’t even realize the difference until a show producer pointed it out to me!

And that’s just one example.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me share the good news that you can now experience everything I did, and trust me, you need to see it to believe it.

The Bourne Stuntacular in Universal Studios Florida delivers a hybrid form of entertainment that has never been seen before. Here are all the details about the all-new live-action stunt show.

You’ll Be Surrounded By Your Favorite Scenes AND Actual Props From The Bourne Films

As you walk into the queue of the attraction, one of the first things you will see are images of your favorite scenes from “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.” My favorite scene is featured as a real prop from the films – the car from an iconic chase down several flights of stairs from the “The Bourne Identity.” You will also see Jason’s go-to form of transportation in “The Bourne Ultimatum” — his motorcycle.

Experience An Original Storyline That Takes Place Within The Bourne Universe

You’ll pass through security scanners into mission headquarters where you’ll be welcomed and briefed by my favorite character in the franchise, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), Jason Bourne’s main confidant who helps him remember his past. Nicky, who can’t be in the field, will ask for your help tracking Bourne to ensure he does not get fooled by rogue double agents.

Then, as you enter the theater, you’ll join Jason Bourne as he travels across three continents and the cities of Tangier, Washington D.C. and Dubai, to uncover classified information all while trying to evade capture at every turn. Being a bit of a travel nut myself, I loved this part of the show, with Dubai being my personal favorite. I felt like I was really in the city and there’s even a chase scene through the desert!

Extreme Stunts = Extreme Action

The Bourne Stuntacular

Ya’ll, believe me when I say the stunts in this new show are next-level and here are a few reasons why:

  • The principal stunt trainers have doubled for A-list celebrities in some of the most popular action films and TV shows of all time. They have been working closely with the cast to deliver stunts that rival what can be seen in blockbuster films.
  • By the time the show opens, the performers and technicians will have trained and rehearsed for more than eight months to prepare and learn the intricate technical systems and maneuvers.
  • Two high free-falls – one reaching 22 feet from atop a Dubai apartment building.
  • There is as much action behind-the-curtain as there is on stage, with performers interacting with high-tech props beneath the stage on lifts, from the sides on automated traveling scenery like an apartment high-rise, and from overhead on a helicopter, a wrecking ball, ladders, and much more. It got to the point where I realized I kept turning my head in every direction just to keep up with the movements.

Without giving away too many spoilers, there is a scene where the character of Jason Bourne is being chased on a motorcycle when suddenly both the screen and Bourne go from normal speed to slow motion. At first I thought the performer was in the cinema of the show, but no…the live actor was holding himself up and moving in slow motion in a way that still gives me goosebumps.

Cutting-Edge Technology You Have to See to Believe

The Bourne Stuntacular Technology

The Bourne Stuntacular features some of the most advanced technology of its kind, like automated vehicle-tracking-systems, pinpoint-accurate projection mapping, and more. Fun-facts about the tech:

  • There is an immense LED screen measuring 3,640-square feet at 130-feet wide and 28-feet tall. This is code for one really, really, really BIG screen.
  • Advanced projection mapping works seamlessly alongside the cinema of the show, projecting pin-point accurate images on top of moving scenes.
  • One of the largest action show structures ever created for a Universal show – the car lift – sits beneath the stage and measures nearly 20 feet tall. The lift is capable of lifting and rotating two vehicles 280-degrees and raising and lowering each car independently from seven feet beneath the stage to above stage level. Putting this into perspective, when I watched the show the first time I had no idea there was anything beneath the stage, let alone two cars and a 20-foot wide structure that they operate on. All I saw were two cars suddenly racing, which left me wondering, “how did those get on stage?!”

You Won’t Just Watch The Action Unfold – You Will Feel It

The Bourne Stuntacular Flying Stunt

Rounding out the experience are captivating practical effects that will make you feel like you’re right by Jason Bourne’s side through the use of fire, smoke, wind and more, including:

  • Eight moving set-pieces ranging from a three-wheeled motorcycle, a tower in a Tangier marketplace, and the front entrance of a grand mansion.
  • Gusts of wind as a helicopter travels overhead, the blast of a steam boiler, and several other explosions, including flames reaching a height of 20 feet.

Plus, our Entertainment and Creative Teams have been working hand-in-hand with the filmmakers and producers that worked on the Bourne film franchise to create an authentic and action-packed experience that will fully immerse you in the world of Bourne.

Let us know in the comments below what you’re most pumped to see. The chase is on!

Click here to learn more about the current operational adjustments that have been made to ensure safety measures are in place during your upcoming visit.

Hailey Fitch
Hailey Fitch

Hailey Fitch is a Public Relations Representative for Universal Orlando. When she isn’t obsessing over when to use the oxford comma, you can find her geeking out over super heroes, planning her next travel adventure and drinking wine on the couch. Hailey is a coffee addict and a proud New Yorker.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

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MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack: Defending the Galaxy for 20 Years and Counting

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

EDITOR’S NOTE: The imagery shown throughout this blog post does not represent current operational and safety guidelines at Universal Orlando Resort.  Please refer to our safety guidelines here. 

“You can choose from these three rides.”

“Let’s go with Men In Black,” I said. “I can rock a necktie.”

This was 10 years ago when I interviewed for a job at Universal Orlando Resort. I was given the choice of which attraction to work, and I chose MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack. Admittingly, I based my choice solely on what wardrobe I thought I would look best in. Little did I know that this would become one of the biggest life-changing moments for me…but more to come on that later.

Fast forward 10 years and I find myself now writing for the Universal Orlando blog about this attraction turning the big 2-0. 20 YEARS. It’s no wonder to me how this ride has endured and remains one of the fan-favorites at the parks. I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of joining a secret agency that defends Earth and the universe from alien scum? And with new movies released over the years, the viral sensation of storming Area 51, and the recent confirmation of unidentified objects, it only continues to remain relevant.

Join me on a trip down memory lane (if you haven’t been wiped by a neuralyzer) to see how this attraction first came to be, all the way to present day as the fandom continues to grow. Here’s why MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack is one of the best of the best of the best in Universal Studios Florida.

It Opened at the Right Time

Photo Credit: Steven J. – UOAP Facebook Group

On July 2, 1997, the first Men in Black film hit theaters with wild success. It had the perfect formula; an incredible cast, great comedic and action-packed writing, and a storyline that hooked into the age-old question of does intelligent alien-life exist? It was just begging to be made into a theme park ride, and who better to make that a reality than a destination that touted the tagline “Ride the Movies!”

Five years later on April 14, 2000, the ride opened to a wave of fanfare. Following the grand opening of Universal’s Islands of Adventure the year before, it was great timing to open a new ground-breaking themed attraction to Universal Studios. But you may be saying, “Deni, there were other laser-shooter style dark rides before this one. What makes this one so special?”

Well, let me tell you.

When the ride opened, it was the most ambitious in regards to animatronics at Universal Orlando. It had the largest one in the parks with the big bug you defeat at the end.

And not only did it bring an interactive element by hooking into the competitive nature in all of us, but it expanded upon the universe of Men in Black with a unique storyline and theme.

Welcome to The Universe and You!

After seeing the movie in theaters, I think we all wanted to believe there’s a secret alien agency that monitors and protects us from extraterrestrial activity. I also think we all wish we could be one of those agents in the black suits, rocking a pair of shades and giant bug-blasters. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack makes that real, but the storyline behind the attraction makes you believe you’re experiencing something completely different… at first.

As you walk through the World Expo through the ride entrance, you see posters advertising  The Universe and You. This is the entertaining “ride” you think you’re about to experience where you discover the truth about what lives beyond our solar system. But that would-be experience is over before it begins when it’s interrupted by Agent Z, and you’re recruited to train as a MIB rookie.

MEN-IN-BLACK-Alien-Attack-in-Universal-Studios-Florida

In the queue, you’ll see familiar scenes like the “worms” having coffee in the breakroom, the main headquarters where you see the two recognizable twin aliens, and even a weapons room, complete with the Noisy Cricket.

After you board the ride and your training begins, you’re interrupted again and told that your help is needed with an alien invasion that has hit New York. It’s your job to zap those alien bugs and save Earth! The more aliens you defeat and the more points you get, the closer you are to earning your very own MIB suit.

999,999. That’s the magic number. The precious sequence of digits that gives you bragging rights for “maxing out” on the ride. I’ve gotten it a few times, although I’m lucky if I break 700k nowadays as I’m a terrible shot. You can check out my tips blog post if you’re looking for how to get a high score. But no matter what you do, don’t forget to push that red button!

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack Ride

The theming and storyline don’t stop with the ride. It extends to MIB agent characters that will periodically make their presence known in-park for meet and greets. You can also enjoy a special tour of the downstairs level of the main headquarters room if you ask one of the agents working (pending availability).

Details That Are Out of This World

Have you ever stopped and really appreciated the level of detail put into this ride? Well, I have and it’s AMAZING. The creative teams developing the ride made the perfect blend of iconic scenes and details from both the film and our very own Universal designs. You may recognize the sleek, futuristic design of the architecture from the movie, complete with the iconic towers from the New York World’s Fair. And keep an eye out for the posters advertising The Universe and You in the beginning of the ride. These were designed by our creative teams, as well as the lyrics for the song playing in the attraction (I got the song stuck in my head all the time when I worked!). You can also find fun notices, news clippings, and advertisements on the bulletin board in the break room where the worms are grabbing their coffee.

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack - Green Blue Alien

The ride also expands on the diverse MIB universe of alien species, many of which were exclusively designed for the ride. You may recognize the little green and blue guy with the long arms below, the giant tentacled eye alien waving the ray gun, and of course the giant bug at the end. We’re talking a whopping 120 different kinds of aliens, with a large number of them being the animatronics I mentioned earlier. Something I loved to do when I walked the track after closing is look for a new alien I hadn’t noticed. Some of my favorites are just the eyes you see hidden in the bushes or on the walls, but of course, my all-time favorite is Frank the Pug.

Men In Black Alien Attack Easter Egg

You can even find fun easter eggs cleverly disguised. In the main headquarters room, if you look down at the desks, you can find unique paperwork and alien phenomena on the screens. Our horticulture team shapes the trees outside to resemble UFOs. There’s even an alien using a certain famous filmmaker’s head as a disguise reading a newspaper in the New York area of the ride.

20 Years and Counting of Training Agents

Many of us have a Universal attraction that holds a special meaning in our lives. Whether it was the first ride you ever did as a kid during your family’s first vacation to the parks; stepping into your favorite fantasy world you’ve only ever seen on the big screen; or even making lasting relationships with friends or loved ones that you met there. For me and many other fans, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack is that favorite attraction.

Men In Black Alien Attack Fan Photo
Photo Credit: Chelsea W. – UOAP Facebook Group

Throughout its 20 years, there have been guests who’ve gotten engaged there, designed shirts and outfits themed to the ride, and countless couples or friends who ride to settle bets or prove who’s the best. And it continues as the fan base grows! I just recently learned about a group of fans who call themselves the MIB 900 Club and meet up to ride. I even met my husband during my year of working the ride, and we took our pregnancy announcement photos there.

Men In Black Alien Attack Fan Photos
Photo Credit: Denielle R.

Even the Team Member agents get caught up in the fandom, bringing a passion and dedication that gives our guests a unique experience. From offering tips on how to get a high score to epic elevator spiels to even joining guests on the ride for some 1-1 training. I have fond memories of taking breaks and hanging out downstairs in the main headquarters room at a desk, or work friends who would take theming to the next level by carrying around a Noisy Cricket or having a little bug perched on their shoulder.

So, here’s to many more years of laughter, competitive banter, zapping bugs, saving the universe on a daily basis, and forever earning the last suit you’ll ever wear. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, you make 20 years look good.

Men In Black Alien Attack Entrance
Photo Credit: Mikey M. – UOAP Facebook Group

What’s your favorite memory from MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack and when are you coming to make new ones? Share below and on social by tagging us on Twitter @UniversalORL and Instagram @UniversalOrlando.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

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17 Fairytale Destinations In Europe

By MM Travel and Tours in Destinations to Travel


Had enough of the real world? Looking for a taste of something a little different? Check out these 17 fantastic fairytale destinations in Europe.

1. Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is located in the municipality of Wierschem in Germany. This fabulous medieval castle has actually belonged to a single family since the 1100s. Historians report that this is quite rare in Europe. It is one of the only castles located on the Rhine River that has not ever been destroyed.

2. Mont-Saint-Michel

Nestled within the picturesque island community of Normandy in France, the famous Mont-Saint-Michel survived a century of tumultuous wars. This famous erstwhile abode of Saint Michel’s ancient monastery is surrounded by water and is surrounded by huge walls once used for strategic defense purposes. Take a guided tour of this historic UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is a magical municipality found in Catalonia, Spain. Specifically, it is situated on the coast of Costa Brava, roughly 103 kilometers north of the city of Barcelona. It features beautiful beaches complete with fine sand and blue waters. This lovely locale is highlighted by a verdant forest and stolid, medieval walls too.

4. Dark Hedges

Distinctive Dark Hedges is said by some travelers to be fascinating. This exceptionally atmospheric tunnel of sturdy beech trees is situated on Bregagh Road between the villages of Stranocum and Armoy in Ireland’s County Antrim. A great place for nature lovers, it became famous following its use in the hit HBO TV series “Game of Thrones.”

5. Colmar

Known to some as “Little Venice”, Colmar is a fairytale commune and city in France. The best time to visit is debatable. Many travelers come here in winter to experience the charms of its traditional Christmas market. Others prefer to visit in spring to participate in its seasonal celebration and browse the numerous spring markets.

6. Neuschwanstein Castle

The elegant Neuschwanstein Castle is one of Europe’s most visited. It is nestled in Bavaria’s stunning Alps in Germany. Erected in the 1800s, it’s not technically a medieval castle. Still has a majestic, magical appeal. Currently coupled with world-class technology, this popular place presently plays host to more than 1 million travelers every year.

7. Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber

The picture-perfect, postcard destination, Rothenburg ob der Tauber can be found in Germany. This village is ensconced in the Franconia region of Bavaria. You can visit this quaint village almost any time. Frequent flyers favor visiting this spot during the month of December. For it’s only then that you can take in the town’s authentic Christmas market.

8. Bled

Found in Slovenia between the Karavanke and the Julian Alps’ highest peaks, Bled is the country’s most popular resort town. This little fairytale village of approximately 9000 residents. You really must see lovely Lake Bled, and the popular Vintgar Gorge too. Feeling adventurous? Brave the 1893-constructed 5,249-foot wooden walkway that crosses the rushing Radovna River.

9. Riquewihr

Riquewihr can be found about 13 kilometers from Colmar, in Grand Est, France. Having escaped the bombings during WW II, it has not changed much since the 1500s. Thus, this medieval city is quite picturesque. This magical destination is perfect for history buffs. It also includes scenic landscapes and vineyards and noteworthy eateries for foodies.

10. The Castle in Love with the Wind

You’ll discover the famous Castle of Ravadinovo, also known as the “Castle in Love with the Wind”, in the old seaside village of Sozopol in the Republic of Bulgaria. Some claim that it’s “one of the most beautiful castles” in all of Europe. It certainly is one of Bulgaria’s most visited monuments.

11. The Orcus Mouth

The awesome Orcus Mouth is ensconced in the great Gardens of Bomarzo in the Viterbo province in Italy. This attraction may help to remind visitors that sometimes true fairy tales can be frightening. These gardens are the centerpiece of a park created in the 1500s. In the 1950s, artist Salvatore Dali directed a film about it.

12. The Popeye Village

Situated in the beautiful town of Mellieha on the isle of Malta, Popeye Village is both vibrant and ruggedly beautiful. The numerous, small, colorful houses in the village were created especially for shooting the musical Popeye. While the Robin Williams’ movie was not a big hit, the well-preserved village itself has become a popular tourist spot.

13. Prague

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is another famous fairytale destination worth “Czeching” out. It features a unique atmosphere complete with medieval streets and Prague Castle complex too. Visit anytime you can as it’s always inexpensive and, if you’re healthy, it’s walkable too. The food and drink are cheap and hearty as well.

14. Kaysersberg

Kaysersberg is a small, beautiful town and former commune in Alsace in Northeastern France only 12 kilometers from Colmar. In English. Kaysersberg means the emperor’s mountain. History buffs will like the towering fortress that symbolizes both Kayersberg’s warlike past and its strategic importance. Shopaholics should visit during December so as not to miss the famous Christmas market here.

15. Alcázar of Segovia

fairytale

Also known as Segovia Castle, this stone stronghold can be found in the city of Segovia in Spain. This stunning castle-palace is perched high up on a crag close to the neighboring Guadarrama mountains. It’s distinctly shaped like the bow of an old ship. It was one of the structures that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

16. Isola Bella

Located in southwestern Italy, Tropea is reportedly a real paradise. Here visitors can enjoy the blue water and pleasant, warm climate. It features fairytale-like narrow streets and an olden atmosphere to boot. Be sure you plan your trip so you can see the Aeolian or Stromboli Islands as well.

17. Sintra

Once the home to Portugal’s numerous monarchs, the town of Sintra is a quick train ride out of Lisbon. See the Castle of the Moors, the National Palace of Pena, and the Palace of Regaleira. Study the historic architecture of the buildings. Take a romantic stroll through the woods and too.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

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Norwegian’s Staycation – Glacier Blue

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

From our friends at Norwegian Cruise Line. Call us to get your reservations made today! 810 877 1814

 

Get ready to chill out with our Glacier Blue cocktail, a nod to Alaska’s spectacular landscapes. You’ll go wild for it! #NorwegianStaycation #CruiseNorwegian

 


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The 10 Oldest Man-Made Structures On Earth (Still Worth Visiting)

By MM Travel and Tours in Destinations to Travel


The Oldest Man-made Structures

If you look at the Tide pod eaters and condom inhalers of today and lose faith in humanity, fret not. There’s still hope for the human race. In fact, in this piece, we will allay your fears as we demonstrate what thousands of years of true human ingenuity look like. Without further adieu then, here are the 10 oldest man-made structures on earth that are still worth visiting today.

1. Wiebbe Hayes Stone Fort, Australia

man-made

There’s little more than a stack of coral and limestone blocks remaining of Australia’s oldest structure. Found on West Wallabi Island, it dates back to 1629. What’s most fascinating is the history here.

It’s a dark, torrid tale of murder, mutiny at sea, and a shattering shipwreck. Spend some time at the popular Museum of Geraldton and learn of this wreck and the bloody battles that ensued. You can also charter a boat and sail to the fort just off the mainland and experience history for yourself.

2. Fortaleza Ozama, Dominican Republic

man-made

Famous explorer Christopher Columbus was once a prisoner here at this fort completed in 1508. It is located at the official entrance to Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial. The fortress overlooks its namesake, the Ozama River.

It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you will travel back through the mists of time after the first stone was set in 1502. Explore all the various chambers, dungeons, and tunnels that remain of this Spanish castle-like fort. Thus, it’s officially the very first “permanent military structure” anywhere in the Americas.

3. Acoma Pueblo, USA

man-made

Situated in Albuquerque,  New Mexico and originally thought to have been founded in 1150, this historic pueblo was designated to be the “oldest continuously inhabited community” in the USA. It has, however, been the subject of more recent excavations that lend credence to the possibility it could date back even earlier. Now almost 50 members of the Acoma tribe live in “Sky City.”  It’s thus named because it seems to be precariously perched atop a 367-foot mesa. They have no smartphones, no electricity or running water and live as their ancestors did.

4. Cuicuilco, Mexico

man-made

This ancient ceremonial center and archaeological site is located on the shore of well-known Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico, in famous Mexico City. The moss-covered lava blocks and stones of this temple are in danger of being reclaimed by the earth as the weeds and green grass peeking out between the stones indicates. The Cuicuilco Pyramid harkens back to 2000 BC. (Cuicuilco is Nahuatl for “place of songs.”) The residents of this place were the first to record the sun’s movements, thus initiating the creation of the first calendar.

5. Borchgrevink’s Hut, Antarctica

man-made
Image courtesy of Oceanwide Expeditions

This structure is noteworthy for both its significant place in the exploration of this continent and because it was the very first man-made structure built here. Because of the strong offshore winds and heavy surf Cape Adare is one of the most inhospitable landing sites in Antarctica. It was in 1899 that Norwegian Commander Carsten Borchgrevink erected two huts so that he and his team could be the first expedition to spend the night in Antarctica. Visitors can still see the original huts and their remaining contents there today.

6. Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt

man-made

Also known as the Step Pyramid, this pyramid is located in the ancient Saqqara necropolis, northwest of Memphis. It predates the world-famous Great Pyramid of Giza by several hundred years. It’s also the planet’s “oldest still-standing stone building.”

The man-made pyramid was constructed between 2667 and 2648 BC for the Egyptian pharaoh Djoser who ruled during the nation’s third dynasty. This step pyramid has a total of six layers that have been restored over a period of 14 years. Finally open to the public, travelers can now wander through the pyramid.

7. Caral-Supe, Peru

man-made

The sacred city of Caral-Supe (or simply Caral) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 150-acre plot of homes, plazas, and pyramids is located on an arid desert terrace that overlooks the valley of the Supe River. Archaeologists unearthed a reed carrying bag that dates back to the Late Archaic period which started in 3000 BC.

Therefore, it’s the Americas’ oldest civilization, and one of the oldest on the planet. The previously-mentioned river determines how easily travelers can get to this place according to the country’s wet or dry season.

8. Dholavira, India

This archaeological site is situated at Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District, in Gujarat in India. It’s a man-made Harappan city isolated from modern-day civilization by the well-known salt plains of Rann of Kachchh. It was rediscovered in 1956.

It’s named after a contemporary village only 1 kilometer to the south. Researchers agree this ancient locale was probably occupied from 2650 BC to 1450 BC. The defensive fortifications, grid-like streets, and advanced drainage systems might very well be one of the first examples of early city planning.

9. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey

man-made

Located in Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Region, this archaeological site is roughly 12 kilometers or seven miles away from Şanlıurfa. Experts say this is the first man-made temple on the planet. First discovered some time in the 1960s, it was originally dismissed as being little more than a medieval cemetery.  In 1994, a German archaeologist named Klaus Schmidt visited this place and found that it went all the way back to 9500 BC. It actually predated metal tools or pottery. That makes these huge intricate carved stones even more marvelous.

10. Tel es-Sultan, Palestine

man-made

Also known as Ancient Jericho or Tel Jericho, this is the location of biblical and ancient Jericho. Ensconced in the well-known plain of Palestine’s Jordan Valley, it is now a UNESCO-nominated archaeological site. Remains here date back to 9000 BC.

Researchers report it was first inhabited in the 10th millennium BCE. This place, known to some as “the oldest town in the world”, played an important role in Levantine archaeological history. It’s also known to be the longest continuously inhabited city on the planet. You can tour the ruins on foot or via bicycle.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

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Aloha! Holoholokai Beach – Go Visit Hawaii

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

 

Mahalo to Bob Lafond for sharing this beautiful shot with us!

Bob took this shot while visiting the Big Island of Hawaii in September. This area fronts the lovely Fairmont Orchid Resort.

The blazing tiki torches, palm trees and sunset sky just make us want to sigh. Such a delightful scene!

 

Just as a reminder, Hawaii is not open for tourism at this time as incoming travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days. Follow our site for ongoing updates.

Book your Hawaii vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

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Welcome Back | A Letter From Universal Orlando’s President, Bill Davis – Discover Universal

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

Dear Universal Orlando Guests,

When we first made the decision in March 2020 to close Universal Orlando Resort in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we didn’t know how long it would be for. We didn’t know what the future held or what a reopening would entail. However, we did know that whenever we did make the decision to reopen, we’d want to make sure we’re letting our guests enjoy everything they love about our parks in a cautious and thoughtful way.  And we knew that we’d be stronger, more resilient, and even more eager to welcome our guests than ever before.

Today we are excited to invite you to see that for yourself. Today Universal Orlando Resort ends its two-and-a-half month period of closure as we begin a phased reopening to the public.

Getting us here has been an in-depth process, and I am incredibly proud of the ways our Team Members have listened to experts and implemented new operational guidelines for the safety of our guests. At Universal Orlando Resort, we are following what we’re calling the three Ss. That’s screening, meaning we’re taking everybody’s temperature before they enter; sanitization, because we are constantly sanitizing areas and high-touch surfaces in the parks; and spacing, providing markings and reminders throughout our resort so guests can socially distance themselves from other parties.

Things are going to feel a little different, and I encourage everyone to become well-versed in our updated operational guidelines, but know that everyone at Universal Orlando is looking forward to having you back. We’ve got a bit of a service mentality around here — whether we’re serving you food, getting you on a ride, selling you a T-Shirt — serving our guests is what we do and our Team Members are grateful for the opportunity to go the extra mile on your behalf.

Personally, I’ve missed the parks, too. Since I started at Universal Orlando in 2006, I have taken a weekly walk around the parks on Saturday mornings. This is how I stay in touch with our product, stay in touch with our Team Members, and get to know guests like you. Seeing people in our parks enjoying themselves and making memories with their families is energizing and invaluable to me. These past few months I’ve still gone for that weekly walk a couple times, and I can tell you with confidence that the parks just aren’t the same without you.

BillWalking

If you are ready and set to come back, to let loose in our parks and enjoy all our destination has to offer, we are more than ready to welcome you. If you are hesitant for any reason to come back now, we will be just as thrilled to welcome you through the arches when you’re ready as we are today.

On June 7, Universal will be celebrating its 30th anniversary here in central Florida.

We’ll be here. We hope you will be here soon, too.

Sincerely,
Bill Davis

BillWithGlobe

Universal Orlando Resort is adhering to the safety guidelines found here. To prepare for your upcoming visit, please read through these new guidelines, download the Universal Orlando App, and set up an account for ease once you get to the parks.

Bill Davis
Bill Davis

Bill Davis is president and chief operating officer for Universal Orlando Resort.

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12 Perfect Private Isolated Islands

By MM Travel and Tours in Destinations to Travel

Image courtesy of www.roya-belize.com


Have you decided you actually enjoy being alone? Whether you want to rough it like Robinson Crusoe or lose yourself in the pleasures of a pampering private resort, we have the isle for you. Here then, are 12 perfect private islands perfect for self-isolating.

1. Royal Belize, Dangriga, Belize

islands
Image © Muy’Ono Resorts

Feel like royalty at Royal Belize. With a price tag of $11,500 per night, this five-star PADI dive resort is designed for only “one booking at a time.” Your stay includes three villas that accommodate 16 people, an island chef, managed staff, and more. You can go kayaking, paddleboarding, or snorkeling. Sign on for some conch diving. Go on an excursion to spear your own lobster and discover what fresh seafood truly is.

2. Fowl Cay, The Exumas, Bahamas

The Fowl Cay resort features only six villas across its full 50 acres. Each villa includes its own golf cart and a small motorboat (complete with a driving lesson). You can swim with the popular swimming pigs and visit Thunderball Grotto, featured in the classic James Bond movie. Go feed wild stingrays and nurse sharks, then kick back at the well-known Staniel Cay Yacht Club, made famous by frequent celeb visitor singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffet.

3. Brother Island, El Nido, Philippines

You can rent this island in El Nido for $350 nightly. Also known as Small Darocotan, the island is surrounded by a natural coral reef. It includes a bamboo forest, preserved jungle, and a beach that reportedly changes its shape each season.  You’ll stay in a building that sleeps 16 people. Since they only handle one booking at a time, the only other humans on the isle are your host, the staff, and a chef.

4. Necker Island, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean

For $102,000 a night you can vacation on the islands like David Beckham, Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon, Oprah Winfrey, and Kate Winslet. Mind you, for that kind of money you get the entire island complete with “Beach Olympics”, fitness classes, a floating sushi bar, four different restaurants, spa treatments, tennis, water adventures, and yoga too. You can check out flamingos, giant tortoises, iguanas, and lemurs too. During “celebration weeks”, you can rent a single individual villa.

5. Båtholmen Island, Hvaler, Norway

islands
Image © Båtholmen

You can rough it a little here in Norway’s archipelago of Hvaler. This 2.5-acre island has a small red cabin that sleeps five people. There’s no running water (although you can get free water at a nearby grocery store prior to your visit). It does include candles, books, games, and an outdoor playhouse. There’s also little private beaches and a small motorboat for fishing. You can cook your food in the garden’s fire pit and barbecue.

6. Urraca Private Island, Punta Laurel, Panama

Image © Urraca Private Island Eco-Lodge

Off the coast of Panama, this private isle has six stilted solar-powered bungalows made of mangroves. This eco-lodge is near the well-known Zapatilla Cays. Animal lovers will simply go ape at the educational Monkey Island Foundation, a special home for orphaned monkeys. You will be looked after by women from the nearby Ngäbe village, and dine on the seasonal fruits and fresh seafood from Ngäbe farmers and fishermen.

7. Pločica Island, Dalmatia, Croatia

image courtesy of adriasoul.com

You can live out your lonely lighthouse keeper fantasies here off the coast of Croatia. Among the 1,185 islands off the coast only four dozen have lighthouses. Built in 1887, the lighthouse here highlights the low, flat terrain. You can relax or read under the shade of numerous fig trees, go diving, swimming, sport fishing and visit the multiple beaches there. At dusk, you can see the nearby lighthouses shining brightly too.

8. Fregate Island Private, Inner Islands, Seychelles

islands

This secluded paradise has 16 mahogany villas. Enmities include a spa, butler service, a jacuzzi, personal golf carts, powdery white sand beaches, private infinity pools, and a wine cellar. Here you can visit a sanctuary for the Seychelles Magpie Robin and search for Giant Aldabra tortoises with the resort’s naturalist. You can also sign on to spot dolphins and whale sharks or dive into the Indian Ocean and help the locals cultivate coral.

9. Lizard Island, Queensland, Australia

islands

This is the only resort in Lizard Island National Park. Located on the Great Barrier Reef, it’s beautifully fringed by natural coral and a blue-green lagoon. Explore the two dozen beaches, and go diving. If you’re into nature, go hiking, snorkeling, or go glass-bottom kayaking and see the tropical fish, and giant clam gardens too. Finally, have a spa treatment and relax in one of the 40 villas and suites complete with floor-to-ceiling windows.

10. Song Saa, Koh Rong Archipelago, Cambodia

islands

The eco-luxury on-the-water and jungle-ensconced villas here were made by local builders with local materials. They feature thatched roofs, linen-draped canopy beds, repurposed furniture, noteworthy decor, and private pools. So stroll hand-in-hand, pause to take in the romantic sunset view then go to dinner. The overwater eatery and casual bar will serve up some local burrata made at the nearby mainland dairy farm.

11. Petit St. Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

islands

This 15-acre tropical isle has 22 two-bedroom villas and one-bedroom cottages. There are no telephones, Wi-Fi, or TV. Flags are used to communicate with staff. You can go scuba diving, engage in yoga, and enjoy the Balinese-run luxury spa and wellness center. Dine on the local seafood and award-winning wine at both of the restaurants then have an exotic cocktail at Goatie’s, the beachside bar that comes complete with a memorable view of the pristine waters.

12. Pangkor Laut Resort, Lumut, Perak, Malaysia

islands

Finally, this luxurious 300-acre island resort is ensconced amidst an olden rainforest and bordered by white sand beaches. Amenities include gardens, jungle trails, swimming pools and romantic little spots to watch the sunset. Much of the island is still raw and undeveloped.

You’ll need to take a four-hour car ride and a 20-minute speedboat ride to reach this spot from the Kuala Lumpur Airport. Famous singer Pavarotti hosted its Spa Village opening in 2002 and you can stay in the suite named for him.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

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RECIPE: Universal’s Volcano Bay Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

With temperatures warming up and sunshine making a daily appearance as we get closer to summer, I think we could all use an at-home vacation experience right about now? Right?!

I am imagining something that evokes palm trees, warm wave pools, and soft sand underneath my toes …the exact experience my family enjoys when we visit Universal’s Volcano Bay.

Those tropical memories came flooding back when I baked and tasted this Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Volcano Bay.

This recipe is pretty easy to master with a layer of sweet tropical fruit baked underneath a simple cake, then flipped over to reveal an eye-appealing classic treat with a chocolate twist.

It is the perfect virtual vacation solution for the entire family.

Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Makes 12 mini cakes or one 9 x 13” cake

Baker’s Tip: Read the recipe thoroughly so you understand the steps, get all your ingredients prepped and “Mise en Place” (or fancy French for “putting in place”) before you start.

COCONUT SMEAR:

  • 1/2 cup room temp butter
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup

In an electric mixer using a paddle attachment, combine above ingredients, mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until a coarse paste is formed, set aside.

CHOCOLATE CAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (Or 1 cup of milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar)
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ cup water
  • 12 canned pineapple rings
  • 12 maraschino cherries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Coat 12 three-inch round mini cake pans with non-stick baking spray. (If you don’t have mini cake pans, try using a large ramekin, a large non-stick muffin tin or making a 9×13 cake instead of individuals.)
  3. Place 1 pineapple ring in the bottom of each pan, OR arrange all 12 rings in your larger cake pan. Then place 1 cherry inside each pineapple ring and drop 1.5 tablespoon of coconut smear on top of each pineapple ring, using a teaspoon to spread the smear evenly.
  4. To make the cake, combine all dry ingredients, sift or whisk together and set aside.
  5. In an electric mixer using a whip attachment, combine eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla; mix on medium speed until combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients, mix on low speed for 1 minute, stop mixer, scrape sides of the bowl, mix for an additional 3 minutes on medium speed. Stop the mixer, scrape sides of the bowl, add water, mix on low speed for an additional 1 minute.
  7. Place mini cake pans evenly on a baking sheet
  8. Pour equal amounts of batter on top of each pineapple slice.
  9. For mini cakes, bake 350℉. for approximately 20 minutes or until the cake is set.
  10. For a 9×13 pan, bake 350℉. for approximately 40-45 minutes or until the cake is set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool approximately 20 minutes before removing cakes from their pan(s) and flipping onto a platter or plate.

When removing the cakes from their tins, make sure the pineapple slice is facing up.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

Can be served warm or cold.

Can be served with fresh fruit, or fruit compote, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or your favorite ice cream.

Share your Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake creation with us in the comments below or by tagging us on Twitter @UniversalORL and Instagram @UniversalOrlando.

Julia Stewart

Julia Stewart is a food loving mom of four and sometimes food and lifestyle blogger based in Florida. Her happy place is hanging out with her family enjoying spectacularly comforting food.

Book your next vacation today through M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

Source link
All content is property of the owner, unless otherwise specified. This content is not owned, or maintained by M & M Travel and Tours, and is used only for informational purposes. Please visit the content owners link via the source link for more information.