Category: Travel

Why Toothsome Chocolate Emporium Is The Perfect Spot To Indulge During Chocolate Lover’s Month

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

You know how somewhere along the way there became a day or a week or a month for celebrating pretty much anything? National Bobblehead Day, National Play Catch Week, there’s even a National Accordion Awareness Month. I’m not exactly sure what we’re, as a society, expected to do during it, but I guess we’ll see this June.

With February wrapping up, it feels like as good a time as any to let you know that it is National Chocolate Lover’s Month! And I could think of no better way to commemorate the occasion than using it as an excuse to spend a whole lot of time at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen in Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. All in the name of research, I’ve met with the restaurant chef, Jonathan Abrevaya, and the General Manager, Rajiv Patel; I’ve convinced several loved ones to join me there for dinner, drinks, and (obviously) dessert; and I’ve even had the opportunity to interview the woman who made all the chocolatey goodness happen — Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome (and her robot companion, Jacques)!

Now here I am to make a strong case for you to pull up a chair the next chance you get and explore the many delicious chocolate offerings found at Toothsome!

But First, What Even Is Toothsome?!

It’s hard to miss the two towering smokestacks of Toothsome when you walk into CityWalk. The venue is an enchanting 19th-century themed, Steampunk-inspired dining establishment serving brunch(!!!), lunch, dinner, and so. many. desserts! The two-story restaurant — which includes two kitchens, a bar, a foundry, a dessert room, and a merchandise spot — is visible across the lake when entering CityWalk and conveniently located between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

“The location is ideal,” Chef Jonathan says. “It’s the first thing you see when you walk into CityWalk, and our creative department did an amazing job with all the details. It’s like you’re in a different world when you walk through those rotating doors.”

Now Onto the Best Part – CHOCOLATE!

Let’s start where my mother never let me — dessert. Toothsome has an extensive array of dessert options and they all are as delicious as they are extravagant. Each milkshake is more of a two-for-one dessert choice, as some even come topped with a cupcake, a brownie, or a cookie.

“There really is a woah factor with the shakes,” General Manager Rajiv says. “And since guests can take the mason jar with them, they’ll walk out with their shake and someone will see it and be like, ‘where’d you get that?’ And it’s, ‘that big building with the steam coming out of it!’ It’s a very unique, eye-catching venue and product that we’re delivering.”

“And we can do so much with chocolate here, it’s amazing,” Chef Jonathan adds.

They really can. The team at Toothsome has totally transformed the way I think of my old keep-your-sweet-away-from-my-savory lifestyle. The non-dessert chocolate options at Toothsome are extensive and each one I’ve tried has been great. And I’ve tried a lot of them!

My Recommendations


FAVORITE: Warm chocolate almond bread with salted caramel butter

HONORABLE MENTION: Pork Belly sliders with caramelized onions, mustard aioli, arugula, chocolate dipped bacon, served on a pretzel bun

And for those of you looking for it, a…

NON-CHOCOLATE OPTION: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, served with jalapeno mayo, cotija cheese, and ancho chili powder


FAVORITE: Gnocchi, served with grilled chicken, sweet peppers, rapini, and with a mole cream sauce with the subtlest hint of chocolate

HONORABLE MENTION: Cocoa-gremolata-topped aged short-rib served with cheddar grits and roasted carrots

And for those of you looking for it, a…

NON-CHOCOLATE OPTION: Brisket and Wild Mushroom Meatloaf, with roasted corn, crispy fried onions, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and bordelaise sauce


FAVORITE: The Mocha Old Fashioned, which is cocoa infused dark rum, sugar, and chocolate bitters, topped with shaved white chocolate

HONORABLE MENTION: The Too Chocolate Stout, a dark ebony with a rich chocolate finish (This beer was created exclusively for Toothsome!)

And for those of you looking for it, a…

NON-CHOCOLATE OPTION: Violette’s Dream, Big Gin, creme de violette, lemon and grapefruit juice

I asked the experts, too, for their favorite dishes. Rajiv prefers the crab mac n’cheese and Chef Jonathan is a big fan of the chicken and mushroom rissotto. Both Chef Jonathan and Rajiv also spoke to the sheer volume at Toothsome, both in number of guests and types of chocolate.

“There are just so many different varieties of chocolate that you can get here,” Rajiv explains. “Every day we have 37 different types of truffles. There’s 25 different types of chocolate macaroons. We have all types of shakes and sundaes. There are so many different avenues that guests can go to for chocolate and we’ve always got Penelope on hand who can talk chocolate all day.”

That was all the convincing I needed to ask if I could interview Penelope herself! Story has it that Penelope opened Toothsome to share her love of chocolate with the world, and I had met both Penelope and Jacques before, but every time we talked she was mostly trying to convince me to try the Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding (which, side-note, I’ve now tried and am currently craving just thinking about it). I was excited to learn more about her and the story of Toothsome!

Meet the Chocolate Proprietor and Her Trusty Robot Friend

KATIE: Penelope and Jacques, it’s nice to see you both! Do you remember me?

JACQUES: I’m a literal robot, I remember everything.

KATIE: Well I wanted to meet with you both because I’m writing a story on this place.

PENELOPE: [Shouting out over balcony] Did you hear that Emporium?? She’s writing a story about you!

KATIE: Can you tell me the story of the Emporium?

JACQUES: Well, we’re time-travelers, you see. We were separated from mother and father and we thought what better way to find them than to build this monument, this castle to chocolate.

PENELOPE: Yes, when I was younger, 18 to be specific, I did leave to discover everything I possibly could about chocolate. And when I returned my parents had actually left at that exact same time to join me in my travels. But they did leave a note saying that they would look wherever chocolate was to be found. We thought what better place to look than the world’s best chocolate emporium and we were puzzling over where we were going to build it…

JACQUES: And you see the climate in Central Florida is quite conducive to the growing of cocoa beans.

PENELOPE: And Orlando is a cultural hub and so many —

JACQUES: There are so many people here!

PENELOPE: Yes! What we do hope is that when our guests come to visit and go back to wherever their families are, that they spread word about the Emporium. Strictly speaking there are only so many people in the world so someone is going to run into our parents out there and tell them we’re here and they’ll know where to go.

JACQUES: And when to go!

PENELOPE: Yes, you see we’re staying in the linear timeline.

KATIE: Got it. And what year are you actually from?

PENELOPE: I believe you’d call it the Victorian era, but we don’t want to give away too much on a lady’s age.

KATIE: Of course. What is your favorite dish served here in the Emporium?

PENELOPE: My goodness, why would you ask me THAT? I rotate them every single day so they do not get jealous, however, if we’re talking about the dessert, I would have to give it to the chocolate brownie bark. My apologies, actually, I do need to go and take the brownies out of the oven.

KATIE: Before you go, why do you love chocolate so much?

PENELOPE: It’s one of the most delicious things ever created. In truth, I do think my love is because of the positive memory attached to it. I remember my mother first introduced me to chocolate. It was in our lovely kitchen and she was stirring it in a large silver bowl. She pulled out the spoon and said, ‘will you try it?’ It was just the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. And honestly, how can it not be the most amazing thing? It goes with everything!

You heard the Professor Doctor! Chocolate is the most delicious thing ever created, so when are you coming to visit Penelope and to try one of her many chocolate concoctions?

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

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

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According to Allianz, Cancun ranks #1 for international destination visited the …

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

From our friends at Funjet Vacations. Call us to get your reservations made today! 810 877 1814


According to Allianz, Cancun ranks #1 for international destination visited the weekends immediately before and after Valentine’s Day. NYC ranks #1 for domestic destination. Wherever you are this week, happy #ValentinesDay!


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.

Your bliss is waiting for you on Maui. #LetHawaiiHappen

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

From our friends at Visit Hawaii.

Call us to get your reservations made today! 810 877 1814


Your bliss is waiting for you on Maui. #LetHawaiiHappen


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.

A Day in St. Patrick’s Country

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

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


Follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick on this fascinating trek through Belfast and Ireland’s intriguing northern countryside.


A Day in St. Patrick’s Country

Delve into the fascinating history of Ireland’s patron saint

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.

How To: A Day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

Let me start by saying, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is downright magical. Whether it’s your first time visiting or your 100th, the experience of being dropped into the story of Harry Potter will give you chills (and quite a few thrills, for you roller coaster fanatics).

We don’t all get gifted Time-Turners from Professor McGonagall, though, so if you find yourself short on time and wanting to get the most out of your trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I’ve got some top tips to make sure you’re set for an incredible day. I’ll even come along with you because, let’s be honest, I could always use another day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


Just like how the wand chooses the wizard, you must choose where your adventure begins. It’s important to know there are two unique wizarding world lands that offer completely different experiences at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Diagon Alley

Nestled in the heart of ‘London’ within Universal Studios Florida, Diagon Alley is home to must-see experiences like Gringotts bank, Carkitt Market, and Knockturn Alley.



This picturesque snow-capped village is located within Universal’s Islands of Adventure at the foot of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Starting in either park guarantees you a great day — obviously, you’re at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you really can’t go wrong — but we recommend starting at Hogsmeade, catching the train over to Diagon Alley mid-day, and then coming back to Hogsmeade to finish the night.

The day I tried this adventure, I headed straight to Hogsmeade. The best part about starting your day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Shorter wait times because, as you’ll see on your map, it’s near the back of the park. My fellow Hogwarts students and I strolled into Hogsmeade and it only took us  half the time it would have been to ride during peak park hours to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. And, bonus, since the whole ride queue is an immersive experience, the line feels shorter and the time passes itself as you try to spot all the fun, hidden gems throughout the attraction.

Hagrid's Ride

Shortly after you choose the sidecar or motorbike, you’ll be twisting and turning deep into the Forbidden Forest. It’s an incredible experience joining Hagrid on this all-new thrilling roller coaster ride!

Letter or not, you have been formally accepted to bask in the incredible sight of the Hogwarts castle. Seeing it in real life is incredible. I still get chills walking toward it, no matter the weather!

Once we’re inside the castle, let’s ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden JourneyYes, we really can walk inside Hogwarts, and we’re going to. See the magic come to life as you enter through the towering castle gates, experience countless relics from the story and walk past iconic classrooms, all in preparation to soar above the castle grounds on a life-changing adventure and incredible multidimensional thrill-ride.

Now we’re heading to ride Flight of the Hippogriff. This family-friendly coaster is my personal favorite since I can gather up all my “Gryffindor bravery” to conquer this ride. As you move up on this coaster track, you’ll see Buckbeak, the Hippogriff, as he bows down. When you get to the top, make sure to look around and take in the view as this ride offers unique sights of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. Before you know it, you’ll spiral past Hagrid’s hut and over the pumpkin patch. What an adventure!

If you’re anything like me and Ron Weasley, all this excitement has probably helped you work up quite an appetite. Time to grab a bite at the Three Broomsticks. Once you walk in, your nose will enjoy scents of delicious delicacies. This spot offers the chance to enjoy authentic food that your favorite characters also enjoyed. This rustic tavern serves breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s full of delicious, hearty, British food and world-famous can-not-miss Butterbeer. As I prefer sweets for breakfast, I think I’ll order the fluffy Pancake Breakfast.

“OK now that we’ve eaten, it’s time to catch the Hogwarts Express,” is just one of those casual sentences you can say when you’re at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Walk over to Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station and we can head to King’s Cross Station in London, at Universal Studios Florida. This isn’t just any regular old train ride, so be prepped for an incredible experience as we ride with our friends (real and fictional) over to Diagon Alley. (Just make sure you have the park-to-park ticket!)

After you deboard the scarlet engine, you’ll find yourself on Platform 9 ¾ in the bustling Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station

Time to enter Diagon Alley. Make a left from King’s Cross Station and you’ll pass through the brick archway to enter into the bustling streets of Diagon Alley. Now you’ll really want to take a second to soak it all in. The magic of the hustle and bustle is all around you. You are standing where aspiring witches and wizards begin their journey to another semester at Hogwarts.

Every witch or wizard knows you can’t start a shopping spree in Diagon Alley without a trip to Gringotts bank. Let’s stop by Gringotts Money Exchange, because, honestly, how often do you get the chance to ask a Goblin a question? Come on in and ask away! You can even exchange U.S currency for Gringotts bank notes that can be used for purchases throughout both lands.

Now we can head deep into the vaults at Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Walk through the bank’s grand marble lobby, then journey through underground passageways as we experience a multi-dimensional thrill ride. If you’re like me and love The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but maybe your Gryffindor bravery stops at roller coasters, you can still walk the queue with your thrill-seeking friends. I definitely recommend doing this, as walking these lines feels like you’ve jumped straight into the story.

Next, head to Ollivanders and experience how a wand chooses its wizard… you may even be selected to be paired with a wand of your own to purchase and take home! As you walk through the shop you can also browse an array of wands stacked floor-to-ceiling by the thousands. We recommend getting the interactive wand for next-level wizarding fun….

While I know it’s hard to stop yourself from looking up at all the details around you, try not to miss the details at your own feet. You may notice gold medallions placed throughout the streets. These help indicate where you can practice your hand at casting spells with your interactive wand. Every interactive wand comes with a map that marks these spell-locations throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. All you’ll need is a gentle flick of the wrist, the right incantation, and your interactive wand to create your own magical experiences.

Visit the shops and build your wizarding wardrobe at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All OccasionsWhether you’re Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, or Ravenclaw, this is a great spot to find the gear to proudly represent your House colors. Shoutout to all those rocking the red and gold.

Hungry again? Me. Too. Let’s grab a bite in the Leaky Cauldron. This is an iconic eatery of the wizarding world, so let’s take a break from all that wandwork and enjoy some authentic British cuisine! Might I suggest the Ploughman’s Platter?

Is there a better way to pass the time while our food settles than watching some wizarding world entertainment? There are two incredible shows at Diagon Alley’s Carkitt Market, so we recommend sticking around for both.

The Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees show is a bewitching live performance with sweet, smooth melodies by this wizarding world sensation (she’s also Molly Weasley’s favorite singer).

The Tales of Beedle and the Bard is a show presented by the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts, retelling two famous 15th-century stories from wizarding fairytales, including The Fountain of Fair Fortune and The Tale of the Three Brothers. Be sure to stick around for the end of this show in particular — the ending blew my mind the first time I saw it!

OK, who’s ready for dessert? Let’s make a stop at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. If you thought you liked Butterbeer, wait until you try it in ice-cream form. Here you can taste a variety of unique flavored soft-serve ice-cream including Chocolate Chili, Salted Caramel Blondie, and Earl Grey and Lavender. They’re all excellent, but my favorite is the chocolate raspberry with vanilla bean in a waffle cone and topped with sprinkles.

If you’re a Gryffindor like me, you may be more suspicious of the Dark Arts. But let’s explore the Darker side magic in Knockturn Alley and visit Borgin and Burkes, known for inviting shady patrons, including Draco Malfoy. While this place literally gives me the chills, here you can explore malevolent relics, items of Dark Arts, and other oddities. Don’t be surprised if your Slytherin friends drag you to this side of Diagon Alley. Not only will you be able to shop unique merchandise only found in this dark alley, but you’ll also be able to cast special incantations and find hidden gems here.

Outside of Diagon Alley in London, we can talk with the Knight Bus Conductor. Passers-by like us can look inside the purple, three-storied Knight Bus and hear chatter from the talkative shrunken head hanging over the steering wheel.

One of the lesser-known must-dos in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a stop at the Magical Telephone Booth. At first glance, it might seem like an ordinary booth, but you’re with me and I just so happen to know how to use the right “M-A-G-I-C”.

All right, time to catch the train again. Let’s walk to the station where you can walk through a solid brick wall onto Platform 9¾ — Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station. On this train ride, we can enjoy the urban outskirts of London into the British countryside while we catch up on all the fun we’ve already had and deliciousness we’ve already eaten.

Back in Hogsmeade, let’s take a break at the Hog’s Head. After back-to-back thrilling rides, shopping, and casting spells, relaxing inside this pub located behind Three Broomsticks sounds perfect. We can even enjoy traditional drinks, as well as Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and Gillywater.

Time to stock up on delicious delectables at Honeydukes. This delightful shop has legendary wizarding world sweets including Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, and Exploding Bonbons.

The sun may be setting, but our day is definitely not over. At night, Hogwarts castle transforms into a beautifully themed experience that changes depending on the season:

  •  The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle: Enjoy this dazzling spectacle where you see projections against the majestic Hogwarts castle, celebrating the four houses.
    • Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle: This powerful story of light vs. dark shows Hogwarts castle being taken over by dark magic and then — well, why spoil it? Catch it for yourself during the fall season.
    • The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle: The holidays in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spring to life through this incredible display when Hogwarts castle is transformed for the Christmas season.

These shows are the perfect way to end your epic experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

WHAT a day! Of course just one day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not nearly enough to experience all the magic it has to offer! We’ll see you at the Three Broomsticks tomorrow morning.

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

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Mardi Gras 2020: Behind-the-Scenes of 25 Years of Party

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

I recently attended my first Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort and it. was. awesome. Between the stunning performers in all their glittery glory, the delicious food that had me wondering how much jambalaya is too much jambalaya, and the thrill of catching as many beads as humanly possible — the entire experience was one heck of a party!

While the 2020 Mardi Gras is my first, it is the twenty-fifth for Universal Orlando. To celebrate the occasion, I took the time to sit down with three members of the Entertainment Art & Design team who have worked the Mardi Gras event for several of those 25 years: Lora Sauls (Senior Manager of Creative Development Show Direction), Curtis Hopkins (Scenic Manager), and David Nadolski (Senior Costume Designer). They took the time to share with me (and now me with you!) the stories behind 25 Years of Party.

KATIE: First, just tell me a little about yourselves and how you came to be at Universal.

LORA: I started as a singer and dancer here as the Bride of Frankenstein, but I also had done choreography for a few shows at Universal Orlando. So I soon left that performing world and became a choreographer, which led me to parades, then onto become a show director. My first Mardi Gras was 2001 and I’ve been here ever since.

CURTIS: I started as an intern in 1999 and then in 2000 my boss, who is still my boss, he brought me in for six months of work. That parlayed into freelance for two years, full time as a scenic designer, and then scenic manager. So I’ve been here 19 years, and involved with Mardi Gras since 2005.

DAVID: I started in 1997 and they actually hired me to be a dresser for Mardi Gras, so the performers would come and I’d just give them their costume and they’d go perform in the parade. I had applied to be the costume designer, but I was told they didn’t have that position at the time. I figured I’d get my foot in the door, though, and then in 2000 I had my first opportunity to actually design for Mardi Gras.

KATIE: Could you all kind of explain what your titles mean and what your job actually entails?

Lora Sauls (Senior Manager of Creative Development Show Direction)

LORA: I’m the senior manager of creative development, show direction. So in Art & Design, there is a show direction team — we call ourselves the Creative Development Group — and we create the content for events like Halloween Horror Nights, Holidays, and Mardi Gras.

CURTIS: I’m the scenic manager and what that entails is, I am responsible for taking what the show direction team and concept development comes up with and putting the artwork to that and seeing the designs all the way through production and installation. So I oversee the design of the floats and make sure that they look and get built the way they’re supposed to.

DAVID: I’m the senior costume designer and my responsibilities are to design any new costumes or to help develop costumes for any characters that are brought into the park.

KATIE: What is some of the process that happens behind-the-scenes of pulling Mardi Gras together?

CURTIS: We take a trip out to New Orleans every year and work with Kern Studios, which is the company that builds our floats and pretty much 90% of the floats for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We’ll take a team and go out to their giant warehouses and explore their space looking for props. We basically have to duck down, climb up, crawl over — because these warehouses are just jammed with pieces that we end up designing the floats around.

Curtis Hopkins (Scenic Manager)

DAVID: And I wait for him. My  inspiration comes from the floats so once the floats are designed, I usually get the concept drawing of the float and from there I take the colors and the concept of the floats and the theme that the show direction came up with and that’s where the costumes start coming to life.

LORA: Over the course of the years we really have gotten inspiration from a lot of different things. We’ve done seasons of the year, colors, jewels, animal party… we’ve been inspired by all kinds of things, but the biggest thing to be inspired by is the party.

KATIE: What would you say makes Mardi Gras a unique event at Universal?

CURTIS: It’s the one time of year we get to throw a lot of glitter.

LORA: It’s ours! We’re doing our own concept and it’s our own story and so we can tell a story that’s unique to Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration.

KATIE: You all have obviously worked on Mardi Gras for a majority of the years we’ve held the event. How would you say you’ve seen it evolve?

LORA: We’ve seen it get bigger, better, and longer.

DAVID: I see a refinement as well. Everything is much more put together and themed. Back then, like the year colors was a theme, I designed for orange. I designed these big orange bells and girls with pumpkin sleeves. It didn’t make any sense! It was just whatever was orange.

David Nadolski (Senior Costume Designer)

CURTIS: I’ve been on Mardi Gras for 15 out of its 25 years and I’ve seen it get more elaborate and more extravagant and more detailed. Kern Studios has even incorporated some of our pieces into their floats in New Orleans, and that’s one of the things I’m very proud of. And then from a fan standpoint, watching my kids over the years chucking beads out into the crowd. As a parent, you can’t help but smile that your kids are loving something you helped create.

KATIE: What are you guys most looking forward to for this year’s event?

LORA: The theme! Treasures of the Deep. We had a lot of fun with it.

CURTIS: The new floats look good and we’ve done some enhancements to some of our stock floats that are really neat.

DAVID: There are some deep sea creature stilt walkers, an octopus, and a squid that are all kind of fun—

LORA: He’s so underplaying right now, they’re fantastic.

KATIE: So you all have been working on this event between 15-23 years. Do you guys have a favorite year?

LORA: Seasons. It was the first time we incorporated smells onto the floats. So when fall went by, it had this apple-cinnamon-pumpkin-pie smell.

CURTIS: There are two years that I feel like we really amped up the level of detail — the storybooks year and then the kind of modes of transportation year. It had a kind of steampunk element to it.

DAVID: Those were my favorites, too. There are so many different float designs those years that I could pull costume ideas from, yet it still felt cohesive because of the theme going throughout all the floats.

LORA: Every year you feel like you can’t think of anything new or different, but as soon as we go to New Orleans, it’s like, ‘there it is.’ It’s just fun working with such creative people. We can see a prop at Kern Studios and I never in a million years would be able to think of how Curtis will be able to use it in a float, but he brings it to life in this unique way. And then David will come up with these creative costumes and bring it all together. It’s pretty amazing. We get to work on so many cool events, but it’s the fact that we get to work on them together. And that may be really sappy, but we’re a family. We’ve been to each other’s weddings and we’ve been around for so much of each other’s lives. Mardi Gras is just one of the things that we get to take on as a team.


Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2020 takes place every night from Feb. 1 – Apr. 2. Get more details and join us for a night of party soon!

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

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Coronavirus travel advice for visitors to Hawaii in 2020 – Go Visit Hawaii

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

With all the coronavirus headlines in the news, you may be wondering what sort of effect it’s had on Hawaii and should you be concerned about traveling to the Hawaiian Islands. Naturally, we’re all concerned and paying attention.

So far, a husband and wife who visited Hawaii from Japan have been confirmed to have the coronavirus (COVID-19.)  Both were confirmed to have the coronavirus after returning to Japan from their visit to Hawaii. They visited Maui and Oahu over the period of January 28 through February 3. 2020. The Department of Health does not believe that they caught the virus while in the Hawaiian Islands. For more information about this story, see this link.)

With the source of the coronavirus believed to be from Hubei Province, China, as of February 2, 2020, flights to Hawaii from China have been suspended. Additionally, the Hawaii Department of Health reports that federal authorities are screening passengers at Honolulu Airport. Passengers who have a recent travel history to Hubei Province, China, will be placed in mandatory quarantine until 14 days since they left the province. Travelers that have been to other areas of China in the past 14 days will be allowed to travel to their home or final destination and will be asked to monitor their health at home with public health supervision.

Also per the HDOH, “the U.S. Coast Guard will deny entry to the U.S. any passenger vessels carrying passengers that have been to mainland China (which excludes Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau) within the past 14 days. Non-passenger commercial vessels that have been to, or have crew that have been to, mainland China, with no sick crew members will be allowed entry to the U.S., but crew must remain aboard the vessel (U.S. Coast Guard bulletin).”

Recently, Hawaii News Now took to the streets in Waikiki to see what tourists are thinking and feeling about the risk of getting the coronavirus. Per their story, though people are concerned, they’re going on as normal. You can read that report here.

The following Hawaii Department of Health’s flyer provides information about the virus and the precautions everyone should take.


The risk of catching the coronavirus is relatively low, but it is a dynamic situation. For the latest information, check the following resources:

Hawaii Tourism Authority alerts related to the coronavirus COVID-19 Note that this alert page lists many resources.

Hawaii Department of Health advisories page for the coronavirus

Center for Disease Control page for the coronavirus


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Your Travel Guide to Theme Parks

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

For Millennials, theme parks top the list of attractions interested in visiting on vacation. This is according to MMGY Global’s 2018-2019 Portrait of American Travelers, which also shows strong interest in this regard among Gen Xers. It’s no surprise then that new thrill rides based on such generational icons as the Harry Potter and Star Wars movies series are among the hottest tickets around.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will become Universal Orlando Resort’s first “story coaster” when it debuts June 13 in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The ride’s thrills include seven launches, dropping nearly 17 feet unexpectedly, a free-fall vertical drop and being catapulted 65 feet in the air and then immediately dropping backward in one movement. Measuring nearly a mile in length, the long roller coaster will ascend above the nearby trees, accelerate through ruins and speed forward and backward, while guests ride in a motorcycle or in its adjacent sidecar.

Guests will enter through ruins in the Forbidden Forest, which were imagined and brought to life by Universal’s creative team in collaboration with the Harry Potter films’ production designer, Stuart Craig, and art director Alan Gilmore.

As they go to the motorbikes, guests will see materials from Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class, including dragon eggs on the verge of hatching and a nursery where Hagrid kept his blast-ended Skrewts, a creature that appears to be a cross between an elongated crab and a scorpion, with no discernible head. Guests will also encounter characters from the Harry Potter films, including Arthur Weasley, Hagrid, and his dog, Fang, through a pre-show experience brought to life with digital projections and special effects. During the show, guests learn about their impending trip into the Forbidden Forest as part of their lesson for the day.

Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened May 31 at Disneyland Resort in Southern California and will debut on August 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Advise clients to arrive early; access to the park, land and experiences may be restricted or unavailable depending on guest demand and other factors.

Guests hop aboard the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride to “jump into hyperspace” and engage in missions, games and in-queue experiences. They can also build their own custom lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop; design, assemble and activate their own mechanical creations at Droid Depot; dine at Oga’s Cantina, Kat Saka’s Kettle and other Star Wars-themed food outlets; and shop at the Black Spire Outpost and Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities.

Advise clients that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will not be available during Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning at Disneyland Park and that Disney FASTPASS service and Disney MaxPass are unavailable for Edge’s attractions. The Disney Parks will launch Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, later this year.

Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth — billed as the world’s tallest pendulum ride — is the newest thrill ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. Riders on floorless seats spin around while swinging to and from at speeds of up to 75 mph, 172 feet above the  ground. Jackson is about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia and less than two hours from New York City.

Coming this summer, Steelers Country is a collaboration between Kennywood Park and the Pittsburgh Steelers that celebrates the hard-hitting heroics of the players, putting the fans at the center of the action. The centerpiece will be The Steel Curtain, a 220-foot-high roller coaster that will speed riders through 4,000 feet of track at 75 miles per hour while navigating nine inversions — the most in North America. One, at 197 feet above the ground, claims the world record for tallest inversion. Kennywood is in West Mifflin, PA, about 12 miles southeast of downtown Pittsburgh.

Not a theme park in the traditional sense, but New York’s Liberty Island and its iconic 151-foot-tall torch-bearing resident has been thrilling people for 133 years. Now, the brand new, 26,000-square-foot Statue of Liberty Museum has opened with three gallery spaces and the opportunity for an up-close view of Lady Liberty’s original torch. The museum also affords visitors panoramic views of Lady Liberty, lower Manhattan, and all of New York Harbor. Access to the museum is free of charge with the purchase of a Statue Cruises ferry ticket to Liberty and Ellis islands. The new museum is part of a $100 million Liberty Island-wide beautification effort.

Jungala water park is landscaped with walls of rock, sky-high tree formations and water sprouting from natural pergolas and “lost ruins.”

Just in time for summer, Mexico’s Riviera Maya has a new, luxury boutique water park: Jungala. Created by tourism developer Grupo Vidanta, the new park is open to guests staying at Vidanta Riviera Maya resort, as well as the public, seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Designed to call to mind a mystical voyage through the jungle, the park is landscaped with walls of rock, sky-high tree formations and water sprouting from natural pergolas and “lost ruins.” Guests will also have the chance to spot native animals and birds as they explore caves, waterfalls and bridges.

In terms of rides, thrill-seekers will be able to enjoy attractions such as the Aqua Drop, Aqua Loop, Flatline Loop, and Whizzard, while families may opt for the family slides or children’s areas, including the Kids Waterslide Complex and Aqua Play Rain Fortress, which Grupo Vidanta says is the largest interactive play structure in the world. There will also be a lazy river — billed as the longest in Latin America, with a length a little over half a mile — as well as a Wave Pool, which will incorporate natural sand.

There are several on-site bar and dining options, as well as boutiques and stores, and visitors can rent amenity-laden VIP cabanas. Group buyouts are also available, with special benefits available for groups of 15 tickets or more. Travel agents booking a group can block out a private area or even the entire venue, which can hold up to 2,000 guests. Customizable group packages are available.

Related Stories

Now Open: Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland

Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Debut New “Story Coaster”

Taking the Kids — What’s New at Theme Parks This Summer

Jungala: A New Luxury Waterpark in the Riviera Maya

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Preventing and Treating Sunburn on Your Cruise

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

Book your cruise vacation today with M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

Preventing and Dealing with Cruise Sunburns

If you’re getting ready to set off on an epic cruise adventure, you might already know that there are a few things to take into consideration before you go. One of them is the likelihood of sunburn, especially if your cruise is booked for a hot and sunny location like the Bahamas or the Mediterranean.

Sunburn is extremely common among those on cruise ships because the sun is reflected powerfully off of the ocean, creating a sort of mirror effect that makes the rays much more powerful. Thus, it’s crucial for you to take extra steps to prevent and treat burns, no matter what your skin type is! Read on and we’ll tell you how.

Avoid the Sun Between 10 and 4

If you are in the sun between 10am and 4pm, you are at the highest risk of burning! The sun’s rays are strongest at this time, so you should take extra caution if you will be outside during these hours. Regularly apply sunscreen cream to yourself and your children, or find indoor activities to enjoy during the day (hello, spa!) and leave in-sun fun for later in the afternoons, just like you’d do in NY City or any other place that gets extra hot at times.

Remember Your Shades

Sunglasses are very important when it comes to cruises, especially if they have polarized lenses. They assist in protecting your eyes from irreparable sun damage, and if you are on the water, you could be at high risk because of the bright glare reflecting off the sea. Plus, your shades will also protect the delicate skin around your eyes from wrinkles and premature ageing.


Pack a Strong Sun Cream

In order for sunscreen cream to work at its best, you need to know which one to buy! Your best bet is a broad-spectrum cream with an SPF of 30 or more – although experts recommend wearing SPF50 for most folks. Reapply your cream generously throughout the day, especially if you are in the sun; aim for reapplication every 2 hours, or every time you enter the pool as it will be washed off, water resistant or not.

Cover Yourself Up

You might be tempted to whip out that sexy string bikini or those board shorts to show off while you’re tanning and playing on your mobile phone by the pool, but you are leaving yourself at risk of sunburn that way! Covering up is the best way of reducing your chances of burning, so choose woven clothing like long t-shirts and jeans if you are especially prone. You could even invest in outdoor clothes with ultraviolet protection (UPF) if need be.

Stay Hydrated

As always, drinking enough water is essential. Be sure you are getting in at least 2 litres every day – and if you do burn, drink even more! You should also have a few packets of oral rehydration solution handy to drink in case of burns to rehydrate your body and aid in its recovery.

Treat Burns with Care

Are you already dealing with a stinging sunburn? Remember to take good care of yourself. Avoid additional sun exposure by any means while your burn is healing, and treat it with gentle, non-irritating products like pure aloe vera gel. Do not bathe in iced water directly after a burn, but stick to lukewarm baths and showers or avoid water completely for a while. 

You might also want to take it easy, kick back and play some online pokies NZ on your phone or tablet for a few days while your body bounces back from the shock. Stay hydrated, eat lots of fruit for extra hydration power, and be sure to take the steps next time to protect your precious skin!

Brought to you by Cruise Compete.


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Six Honeymoon Cruise Ideas You Must Consider

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

Book your cruise vacation today with M & M Travel and Tours! (810) 877 1814

Choosing a honeymoon destination is no easy job. In fact, many couples have fiery conflicts because they can’t decide on a destination. But in the heat of the moment, you might want to take a moment, take a deep breath, and think of some of the best honeymoon destinations and vacation ideas. There are plenty, and the best seems to be the cruise type of incursion. If you can’t decide where to go, we have some suggestions for you below.

#1. The French Riviera

What can be a more romantic honeymoon idea than a cruise on the French Riviera? Fortunately for you, there are a lot of cruise packages for newly-wedded couples who want a taste of the unique atmosphere, romanticism, and why not, some authentic French delicacies and wines. 

Some of the best cruises on the Riviera starts from the port-city of Nice. The warm sunshine and the sights offered by the port, the local heritage, and the Citadella area will fill you with joy and energy. The villas scattered across the Cap the Nice coastline, the locals soaking up in the sun, and the perks offered by the package will guarantee a smooth, extraordinary honeymoon experience. 

French Riviera cruises usually last a couple of hours, but for those who prefer, there are also available packages for more days.  

#2. The Mexican Riviera 

Mexico is lately one of the very popular honeymoon destinations, and rightfully so. With scenic coastlines, beaches with fine sand, and Mexico’s gold coast, the destination checks all the boxes of a successful first vacation as a newly-wedded couple. And this is what you should expect from a cruise on the Mexican Riviera

The Mexican Riviera extends from the Baja Peninsula to Mexico’s Gold Coast, and the small group of islands in the area. 

Traditionally, these cruises include stops on the coastline’s golden sands, kayaking, a stop at the Mayan Ruins, nightclub events, and plenty of opportunities to meet and interact with the locals. Count in the local food, and you’re in for an extraordinary experience. 

#3. Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Cruise Line is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, and you know what you’ll get here: a truly magical and unique experience.

Disney Magic in Galveston(Matt Stroshane, photographer) (PRNewsFoto/Disney Cruise Line)

Although the Disney Cruise Line offers services for both adults and children, you will find adults-only areas, as well. For instance, there are adults-only pools, nightclubs, restaurants, and so on. If you two are avid Disney fans, you should consider a similar cruise for your honeymoon. 

The amazing thing about Disney cruises is that there are included a lot of perks and gifts, some just perfect for couples who recently had their wedding: roses, chocolates, personalized robes, and champagne. The packages also feature special beverages for people with a strong dislike for alcohol. Some of the best itineraries of the Disney Cruise Line are seven-night cruises spent on the peaceful sea waters of Castaway Cay. If your time is short, think about booking a three-day cruise in the Bahamas. 

#4. Asia Cruises

Bali weddings have grown in popularity, lately, so why not hop on a cruise boat on your way to your wedding destination? 

The pre-wedding honeymoon idea comes as a big advantage for couples who travel from afar to reach their wedding location. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the rich cultural experience and heritage with a wedding like this. There are a lot of Bali wedding packages that both the couple and their guests will enjoy, considering the luxurious destination, the wedding venues available, the seamless wedding planning packages offered by leaders in the industry. This will be the climax of your cruise, the final stop. 

But until you reach Bali, you will enjoy breath-taking views, tropical forests, a rich cultural experience, and some of the best foods and beverages, in destinations like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and so on. 

If you’re the type who prefers to have their peace of mind before the big day, you could switch the timeline a little. Have your breath-taking Bali wedding, and then start your cruise around Asia. 

#5. Norwegian Fjords Cruises

If Norway is notorious for anything, then it must be the Fjords. And for honeymooners who want to experience the Northern Lights together, this is the ideal honeymoon experience. Alternatively, couples can always choose a cruise along the breath-taking Fjord line. 

Typically, these cruises include stops in Oslo, Bergen, Kirkenes, North Cape and Hurtigruten. The cruises are extensive, usually lasting for about 11 nights. Although the prices are relatively high, the experience itself makes the monetary aspect insignificant. 

#6. Bermuda Cruises 

We promise you don’t vanish into thin air during this cruise, although with that name, you will be tempted to think so. 

The pink sand beaches and crystal-clear waters in Bermuda will take your honeymoon up a notch. Apart from the potent history of the area, couples will be able to experience adrenaline-filled adventures and relaxation oasis at the same time.  

The pristine waters of Bermuda are filled with rich coral reefs, but also with wildlife. Take a dive with barracudas, parrotfishes and angelfish. But nothing will compare with the colourful species of coral. The paradise nestled into the West Whale Beach and the Horseshoe Bay Beach will definitely be one of the highlights of your honeymoon in Bermuda. But a cave dive will also do the trick. The Crystal and Fantasy Caves in Bermuda are notorious for such activities. These are part of a network of caves decorated with crystals, calcite and quartz formations. 

Taking a cruise previously or right after your wedding is a good way to establish a common line for future adventures with your significant other in the future. But these are also a great way to escape the chaos of your daily life, your job, and let’s be honest, your entire family. This is a time only for the two of you to enjoy each other’s company.

Brought to you by Cruise Compete.



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