Orlando City Lions Begin Postseason Play Saturday!

Orlando City Soccer Club
Photo: Allison Petro

Orlando City Lions Begin Postseason Play Saturday Night

Pittsburgh Riverhounds come to town for opening round of USL PRO playoffs

ORLANDO, Fla.- Orlando City SC (16-4-6, 54 points, No. 2 seed) welcomes the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (10-8-8, 38 points, No. 7 seed) for the opening round of the 2013 USL PRO postseason this Saturday, August 24, at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The Quarterfinal match kicks off the playoffs for the Lions, who will attempt to win their second USL PRO Championship in three years.

“I think the important thing is that anything less than our best won’t be good enough,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We have to bring our ‘A’ game this Saturday.”

Orlando and Pittsburgh have met twice this season, with the Riverhounds holding the series advantage with one win and one draw in 2013. The most recent match saw Pittsburgh top the Lions 1-0 on August 3 at the Citrus Bowl.

The Riverhounds are led by Forward Jose Angulo, who finished tied atop the league’s goal-scoring leaders with 15 in 2013. The striker shares the Golden Boot title with Sporting Kansas City loanee and Forward Dom Dwyer, who also totaled 15 scores. Angulo’s 15 goals are nearly half of Pittsburgh’s team total, which ended at 36.

Playoffs are knockout-format, with the No.1 seed facing No.8, No.2 v No. 7, No. 3 v No.6, and No. 4 v No 5. Seeds remain the same after each round. If the Lions should advance past the first weekend of playoffs, the Semifinals would also be in Orlando- with the date set for Friday, August 30.

On the injury front, Midfielder Jamie Watson and Goalkeeper Jon Kempin will be working over the upcoming week to get back to full health- but Heath stressed that rushing injuries can lead to worse results.

“Depending on where they are, they may be available for Saturday’s game,” Heath added. “The important thing is to not rush them back.”

The Lions are 3-1-0 in postseason play in franchise history, which includes a victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders in the 2011 USL PRO Championship match in Orlando. Heath’s side was upset by the Wilmington Hammerheads 4-3 in the second round of the playoffs last year.

Tickets for the playoff game are available by calling (855) ORL-CITY or by visiting OrlandoCitySoccer.com. Tickets start at just $15.

Orlando City Soccer

About Orlando City Soccer Club:

Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) is a premier professional soccer sports franchise in the United States and is a member of the USL PRO. The Lion’s pro team has won two regular season titles and one postseason championship during their short time in Orlando. Outside of the pro squad, OCSC also has their own youth club, Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) and a U23s team that participates in the PDL. For more information on the pro and youth clubs, visit OrlandoCitySoccer.com and OrlandoCityYouth.org.

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Wordless Wednesday: Happy Anniversary

Wordless Wednesday: August 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This week’s Wordless Wednesday I am going to do something a little different…

I thought that I would share one of my favorite personal pictures. This is Dave and I (Thanks to Todd for taking the picture) at the Magic Kingdom during New Year’s Eve a few years ago. It’s my favorite picture of us, because it really shows how he is always there to support me no matter how crazy or silly my idea is at the time.

Today we celebrate our 9th Wedding Anniversary, and I am the luckiest gal in the world!

Dave, you are the most amazing husband, father, best friend, and partner in crime that I could ever dream of having in my life!

I love you!

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Busch Gardens Welcomes Baby Giraffes

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa welcomed two baby reticulated giraffes last month. Within an hour of birth, the calves were standing and within two hours were nursing.

Cupid, a 15 year-old giraffe, welcomed her seventh calf on June 11.  The male calf weighed 188 pounds and was more than 6 feet tall.  Tesa, an 18-year-old giraffe, welcomed her sixth calf on June 19; a female weighing 145 pounds and standing 5 feet 8 inches tall.

Giraffes are the tallest mammal on Earth, with males standing close to 18 feet tall and females close to 16 feet tall.  The gestation period for a giraffe is between 14-15 months, and the female gives birth while standing.

The reticulate giraffe is one of nine subspecies of giraffe and are easy to distinguish because of their distinct “net-like” pattern, brown-orange spots and thick white lines.  They are found in southern Somalia, Ethiopia and down into northeastern Kenya.

The baby giraffes are now on the Serengeti Plain® at Busch Gardens. The best view is from the Serengeti train or the Edge of Africa area of the park.  For a closer look, guests can reserve a Serengeti Safari, which is an open-truck tour offering guests a unique look at the 65-acre Serengeti Plain® habitat where they will encounter African wildlife and even hand-feed giraffes with the help of an expert guide.

Busch Gardens Tampa logo

Busch Gardens is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™, one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a worldwide leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for one of the largest animal collections on the North American continent and has helped lead advances in the care of species in zoological facilities and in the conservation of wild populations.

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Disney Dooney and Bourke D23 Expo Launch

Disney Dooney and Bourke

Amid a ton of buzz and excitement, a new pattern of Disney Dooney and Bourke purses debuted at the D23 Expo Dream Store.

As you can see from the picture above, this pattern is a twist on a familiar favorite pattern! I was not a huge fan of the Disney Dooney and Bourke comic pattern in the past, so I was really interested in seeing this new addition in person.

The negative comic, no name has been formally given so this is what I am going with, is a very dark pattern. And while we have seen more patterns shift to a black background this bag takes it to another level.

I am always on the lookout for a black purse, and these bags are great! I really like the grey that they chose, and since the pattern features such a dark color palate it feels more sophisticated and ‘dressy’. But, I really think that these would look great with a red and white polka dot scarf tied to the strap to add a little whimsy and fun to the bag!Disney Dooney and Bourke Tassel Tote

The Disney Dooney and Bourke Totes are my favorite bags!

I tend to gravitate towards larger bags since I seem to NEED to carry everything I own in my purse! The inside features some great pockets and the inside compartment is roomy. The tassels on the side are a really fun touch, too!

Disney Dooney and Bourke Crossbody

The Crossbody Dooneys are starting to grow on me, but I have a hard time fitting everything I need for a day in the parks or shopping in this bag. I adore crossbody bags and while this is a vast improvement over previous crossbody bag designs, it just isn’t my favorite silhouette in the Dooney line.

Disney Dooney and Bourke

And this may sound really strange, but I am most excited about addition of the Pouch to this release! This pouch is a great price point for Disney Dooney and Bourke bags, and is incredibly flexible. At approximately the same size as a men’s toiletry bag, you could really use this pouch for any number of things! With that being said, I think it could also be a great gift for guy travelers to use, too! I am seriously kicking myself for not picking one of these pouches up!!!

Which new Disney Dooney and Bourke bag is your favorite? I know that I will be getting the pouch as soon as I can!

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SeaWorld Waves of Honor Special Offer

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Salutes Veterans with

Waves of Honor Special Online Offer

SeaWorld Orlando Waves of Honor
The Waves of Honor Program Allows Veterans and as many as five guests Receive
50 Percent off Single-Day Admission to SeaWorld,
Busch Gardens Parks, and Sesame Place

In addition to the current Waves of Honor military salute program offering complimentary admission to members of America’s armed forces,  SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is honoring all the men and women who have previously served as members of the U.S. armed services. Qualified service members and veterans include active duty, retired, honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military. The special offer provides 50 percent off single day admission to the SeaWorld®and Busch Gardens® Parks, and Sesame Place® for veterans and service members, and as many as five guests. Tickets must be purchased byNovember 11, 2013 and redeemed by December 20, 2013.

“We’re proud to extend this special offer to the 22 million U.S. veterans and their friends and families in celebration of their service,” said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “It has always been our honor to host members of the military and their families at our parks each year, and this extends that appreciation even further.”

Qualified U.S. service members and veterans must purchase discounted tickets in advance at www.wavesofhonor.com/specialoffer or at participating military bases and present valid military ID and/or proof of service.*

Active duty military who have visited the parks using the Waves of Honor complimentary admission can also take advantage of this special offer. The SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment military salute program, previously known as Here’s to the Heroes, was created in 2001. The parks have played host to more than 6 million service members and their families since the program’s debut.

SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and SeaWorld San Diego operate year-round. The remaining parks are seasonal. Each park’s operating schedule is available online. The program does not include Discovery Cove® in Orlando or Aquatica, SeaWorld’s WaterparkTM. Rules of eligibility can be found at www.wavesofhonor.com and are subject to change. Tickets have full paid value towards any upgrade. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment reserves the right to terminate the program.

* Proof of service can include military photo ID for active duty, retired, reserve or National Guard, DD214 form, Veterans Administration (VA) card or driver’s license stating “veteran.”


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Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets Debut at D23 Expo

Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets


At the D23 Expo Dream Store, new designs of the popular Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets debuted and they are awesome!

Alex and Ani creates eco-friendly, positive energy jewelry that is made in America are extremely well made! Designed by Carolyn Rafaelian to incorporate powerful symbolism and design into each (+) energy piece, Alex and Ani pieces are a great way to express yourself and show your love for Disney in a more sophisticated and personal way.

I am a HUGE fan of stacking bracelets, because you really get the chance to express yourself through your choices of charms and designs. And while I have seen the Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets around property, I never gave them a try. I have wide hands, so usually bangles are a problem for me to wear. However, since they are expandable the Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets are a great fit for any size wrist or hand!


At the Alex and Ani area inside the D23 Expo Dream Store, I had a chance to see some of the new Disney bracelets that will be hitting the parks soon!

Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets
It’s the Walt Disney World Alex and Ani Disney Bracelet.
Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets
The Alex and Ani Disney Disneyland Bracelets are really nice! The castle looks great!
Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets
While the Alex and Ani Disney Initial Bracelets aren’t overly ‘Disney’, they are a great addition to an Alex and Ani stack.
Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets
The new Alex and Ani Disney Birthstone Bracelets are really shiny and fun! I love them!
Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets
This was a D23 Expo Exclusive Alex and Ani Disney Bracelet Pouch.

Something to keep in mind about the Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets in the park is that they tend to fly out of stores! So if you are in the parks and see one that you want…Buy it now!!! There is absolutely nothing worse than wanting something that you can’t find later!

Here is where you can find the Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets in the Parks:

Walt Disney World Locations

Uptown Jewelry, Agrabah, Pirates Bazaar, Emporium, Once Upon a Time, Tower of Terror, Hilton Bonnet Creek, Ink and Paint, Mouse Gear, Calypso, Donald’s Double Feature, Everything Pop, World of Disney, and TrenD.

Disneyland Locations

Emporium, Pieces of Eight, Le Baten Rouge, Gone Hollywood, Treasures in Paradise, World of Disney, and Disney Vault 28.

The Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets are really are quite comfortable to wear, and I can’t wait to start my stack!!!


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Jack Hanna Returns to SeaWorld Orlando

Celebrity wildlife expert Jack Hanna returns to SeaWorld Orlando on September 14-15 for Jack Hanna Weekend, accompanied by many of the world’s most amazing animal ambassadors.

Jack Hannah with Penguin at SeaWorld

Included with park admission, this special limited-time series takes place at Nautilus Theater on Saturday, September 14, and Sunday, September 15. Shows will be at 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Recognized around the world for his boundless enthusiasm for animals and conservation, “Jungle Jack” helps us share in his wondrous connection to wildlife and the world we share. Hanna’s past “co-stars” have included clouded leopards, chatty kookaburras, penguins and majestic eagles.

NEW: Dinner with Jack Hanna – September 14 & 15, 5:00 p.m.

Guests can enjoy a delicious buffet dinner at Dine with Shamu®, where they will mingle with Jack Hanna and meet his animal friends up-close. This VIP dinner offers a delicious menu, while “Jungle Jack” entertains guests with animal facts, tales of his adventures and answers questions from attendees.  Additionally, guests will receive one complimentary family photo with Jack, one complimentary adult beverage (for guests 21 and over) and special reserved seats at the 3:15 p.m. show.  Cost is $59 for adults, $49 for children ages 3-9. Children under 3 are free but require a reservation. Pass Members receive 10% discount.

Breakfast with Jack Hanna at Sharks Underwater Grill® – September 14 & 15, 9:00 a.m.

Meet Jack Hanna and his animal friends up-close during a special breakfast at Sharks Underwater Grill®.  This VIP experience features a hearty breakfast, while “Jungle Jack” teaches guests about some of his animal friends, speaks about his animal encounters and answers questions from those in attendance. Guests will receive one complimentary family photo with Jack and special reserved seats at the 1:15 p.m. show.  Cost is $49 for adults, $39 for children ages 3-9. Children under 3 are free but require a reservation. Pass Members receive 10% discount.

To learn more about Jack Hanna Weekend and all of SeaWorld Orlando’s events, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com and follow us on Facebook.

About Jack Hanna

Animal expert Jungle Jack Hanna’s hands-on approach has won him widespread acclaim as Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, conservationist, author, television personality, and lifelong adventurer. Recognized around the country as America’s favorite zookeeper, Jack has made countless television appearances since 1983 on shows such as Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman, Larry King Live, The Talk, The Maury Show, Fox News Programs, and CNN News Programs. He is the host of TV’s Emmy award winning Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. For more information, visit www.jackhanna.com

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Springfield Revisited

Simpsons Universal Orlando

DanaWalk: Springfield Revisited

I revisited Springfield to see the almost completed other side of the street, and I say almost completed because we were still waiting for Kang and Kodos’ Twirl ‘N’ Hurl ride to open when I was there.

Across from Kwik-E-Mart, Moe’s Tavern, and Krusty Burger you can now find Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck, Lard Lad Donuts, Duff Gardens, and plenty of Springfield’s finest to take a photo with.

Simpsons Universal Orlando
Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck

Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck is probably my favorite because of the food truck craze that is going on right now.  The tacos sound amazing and the next time I go to Springfield, I will either try the Chicken taco or the Carne Asada taco.  Anything with guacamole is a must for me!

Simpsons Universal Orlando
A closer look at the Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck Menu

Lard Lad Donuts is next door.  I love the Lard Lad statue, but I wish they would have made it more than just a walk-up window/cart.  I was a tad underwhelmed by it.Simpsons Universal Orlando

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Simpsons Universal Orlando
Lard Lad Donut Menu

Chief Wiggum is hanging out by Lard Lad Donuts, as usual, with his police car that he’s run into a fire hydrant.  The fire hydrant is also a small water feature for kids to play in on a hot day.  It was not working when I was there, but it was up and running the next day.

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Next to the Chief, and before you get to Duff Gardens, is the statue of Jebediah Springfield.  If you visit him, make sure to notice the real grass that surrounds him.  I loved that they used real grass instead of the fake grass that resides over by Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.  Some of you might not know, but I am a Kentucky girl and I miss my bluegrass and this was pretty close to it!

Simpsons Universal Orlando
Real grass!!!

For all of you Simpson fans, the plaque on the back of the Jebediah statue reads, “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Duff Gardens is an open-air bar that serves up three different Duff beers, the Flaming Moe, Squishees, as well as fountain beverages and bottled water.  They have a few small food items such as a fruit cup or nuts that you can purchase here as well.

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Out in front of Duff’s are the Seven Duffs, which forgive me, I had to look up because I am not too familiar with the whole Simpsons series.  I found out that their names are Tipsy, Queasy, Surly, Sleazy, Edgy, Dizzy, and Remorseful.  They are a parody on Disney’s the Seven Dwarfs in that they are complete opposites.

Simpsons Universal Orlando

On the side of Duff’s where the “brewery” is, is a Duff gift shop with Duffman hanging out right beside it for you to snap some photos with.

Simpsons Universal Orlando

The whole place is colorful and fantastic, but I personally feel like the focus is on too much of the food aspect of the Simpsons.  I realized this last trip to Springfield, that I want something more than just food, like a walk-through Simpson house.  Would that not be cool?

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Simpsons Universal Orlando

One last thing I noticed…Barney is back!  His beer stein is back to looking like he only has a drop of beer left in it and it’s great. Glad to have him back where he belongs in Moe’s.

Simpsons Universal Orlando

Simpsons Universal Orlando

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Thirteen Evils Take Over Howl-O-Scream 2013

Thirteen Evils Take Over Howl-O-Scream 2013

With More Sinister Surprises Around Every Corner.

 Busch Gardens Howl O Scream Logo 2013

Tampa’s No. 1 Haunt Attraction Returns with All-New Houses and Scare Zones

 Howl-O-Scream is intended for a mature audience. This year’s event contains intense adult content such as violence, gore and blood.

Once every century, on precisely the thirteenth year, evil comes out to play…

This fall, for 14 select nights,Howl-O-Scream® 2013 returns to Busch Gardens® Tampa with tormenting surprises around every corner and unexpected terrors.

Opening weekend for Howl-O-Scream 2013 is Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 and 28.  The event then runs Thursday through Saturday nights,Oct. 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26.  Operating hours are 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on all event nights.

Busch Gardens’ 335 acres will be overgrown with dark, sinister, adult-targeted fun, including new haunted houses, scare zones, a thrilling live stage show and the chance to ride adrenaline-fueled coasters in the dark, including Florida’s first triple-launch coaster, Cheetah Hunt. Even the streets themselves aren’t safe with all-new scare zones, led by the 13 evils that have been waiting a century to come out and play for the most horrifying Howl-O-Scream ever. It will leave you begging for mercy… and screaming for more.

From the depths of a basement to the eerie bogs of the Bayou, Howl-O-Scream 2013’s new haunted houses are designed to prey on every element of your deepest fears:

  • NEW! The BASEMENT—From Momma’s secret ingredient to Granny’s bone-ground flour, Momma’s Meats’ award-winning recipe has always been a family affair that’s only created in the BASEMENT. Escape the depths of the BASEMENT before she and #4 The Butcher turn you in to the secret sauce! She always said it took blood, sweat and tears!
  • NEW! Death Water Bayou—Deep in the bayou the #6 Voodoo Queen mystically transforms lost wanderers into her minions of evil with black magic. Here, her night servants roam with a zombie-like hunger and seek to grow her collection. The darkest evils lurk in shadows. Get out before you fall victim to her spell.
  • NEW! The Experiment—Researchers challenge your fear tolerance and mental endurance in this never-been-done-before Experiment. In this exclusive study, “test subjects” endure psychological tests and must face top fear-inducing elements, from roaches and snakes to needles and darkness. How far is too far in the study of fear? Will you survive The Experiment?

Note: The Experiment is a unique, interactive experience that challenges your threshold for fear for an additional fee. Reservations are required, and each reservation can accommodate you and up to three additional “test subjects.” Pass member discount does not apply.  Not included with any other VIP tour or upgrade product.  Howl-O-Scream admission is required, but not included.  The Experiment admission is $50 for the first test subject and $10 for each additional test subject in the same reservation.

Some of the most demented houses ever are back by popular demand with some horrifying new twists:

Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens
Blood Asylum
  • Circus of Superstition 3-D—You’ve tried to avoid black cats and sidewalk cracks, but all those years of bad luck caught up with you! The #13 Clown challenges you to survive 13 superstitions in their 3-D Tent of Terror, but it will take more than luck to escape this whole new dimension of fear.
  • Blood Asylum—As lightning rages and thunder crashes outside, “The Creature” escapes from his holding cell in a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. Now this sadistic deviant is running rampant, skinning his former cellmates and turning the mental hospital into his own torture chamber. This serial killer’s bloody playground will drive you out of your mind with fear.
  • Zombie Mortuary—No one remembers how the epidemic started, but now, the #9 Zombie and his undead friends live here. They infest this small town funeral home and feed on the fresh flesh and brains of mortuary mourners to satisfy their insatiable hunger. Avoid the walking dead or you may find yourself deeper than six feet under.
  • Ultimate Gamble: Reversal of Fortune—Under sleek Vampire reign, the once-vibrant Ultimate Gamble casino glowed. Now werewolves have overthrown their mortal enemies and are running rampant in the casino. The carnivorous beasts have caught on to the scent of fresh blood inside the closed casino. Will you make it out alive before your luck runs out?
  • Nevermore—Beating hearts, swinging pendulums and a raven’s cries haunt the manor of Lenore, creating a demented and twisted nightmare. Step inside to experience the gothic terror that maddens the lord of the house and feel delusion overcome reality. Find your way out of this horror story before paranoia authors your final chapter.

At Howl-O-Scream, even the sidewalks aren’t safe from the things that go bump in the night.

Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens
Circus of Superstition 3-D

ALL-NEW scare zones will keep guests watching their backs as they explore 335 acres of fright:

  • The 13—Once every century, on precisely the thirteenth year, evil comes out to play. Thirteen evils, to be exact. The #7 Surgeon, #4 Butcher, #11 Psychopath, #13 Clown, #6 Voodoo Queen and their demented friends will torment and terrorize you the moment you enter the gates. This your chance to find out: Who are the 13?
  • Harvester’s Haunt—An unnerving soundtrack of banjos, fiddles and harmonicas fill the fields with haunting bluegrass music. Something just doesn’t feel right. You realize you’re not alone when you discover a hoard of sadistic scarecrows. They’re looking to harvest a few lost souls. Will you escape their reach or be theirs forever?
  • Pain Lane—Torture, torment and pain line this sinister street as the #2 Torturer and #12 Hangman stalk their prey in the shadows of this dark and disturbing alley. Here, pain-inducing devices are the toys of the twisted and screams are surrounded by haunting silence. Will you escape this playground of pain before the #2 Torturer and #12 Hangman find you?
Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens

After braving bone-chilling coasters in the dark, such as Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, Montu, Gwazi and Kumba, you can catch your breath atHowl-O-Scream’s signature show, Fiends, or keep the party going all night in Howl-O-Scream’s signature club and shops.

  • Fiends—The classic monster mash-up Fiends will be performing nightly at the Desert Grill in Timbuktu. Captivating creatures of the night will infect you with dance fever and keep your pulse pounding with their deranged dance party. But when Dr. Freakenstein’s naughty nurses start operating, the diagnosis is always “code pink.”
  • Club 13—Escape the hordes and head to the transformed Marrakesh Theater to drive yourself mad partying at Howl-O-Scream’s dance club.  This nighttime dance playground keeps the energy pumping all night long with non-stop music, premium signature cocktails, drink specials and Taco Bus food.
  • Howl-O-Scream Shop of Horrors— This year, the Howl-O-Scream shop of Horrors has been transformed into The Butcher Shop. Find GOREgeous apparel and trendy tees featuring Howl-O-Scream favorites, including the 13 and the infamous Naughty Nurses.  You can also purchase or pick up your Front-Line Fear Passes here. Visit this year’s new Voodoo Village Market, located next to The Experiment in the Egypt area of the park by Montu for even more Howl-O-Scream gifts.
  • Howl-O-Scream Photo Ops— Snap the perfect party pics at exclusive photo opportunities with our Pin-Up Scream Girls in Moroccan Village and the Naughty Nurses in the Desert Grill.
  • Darkhearts’ Games of Skill—Test your luck in this unlucky thirteenth year in Darkheart’s Games of Skill.

General admission is $89 plus tax. Reduced advance-purchase rates and special offers are available for Busch Gardens pass members at HowlOScream.com. Guests can save $39 on general admission tickets in advance at participating Publix Supermarkets and AAA locations or with promotional codes found at participating Taco Bell, Applebee’s locations in Central Florida and on Fanta products in participating Walgreens.

Take advantage of the best way to see Howl-O-Scream with all-inclusive VIP Packages, which include event admission, a tour guide and your choice of three levels of terrifying special treatment: The Super experience is a three-hour group tour of haunted houses that includes front-of-the-line access. The five-hour Mega experience adds reserved show seating, front-of-the-line access to several roller coasters and preferred parking, and the Ultimate experience adds the Fright Feast dinner buffet and an exclusive tour guide for your private group. All tours include commemorative photos, merchandise discounts and complimentary beverages. Packages start at $65, and pass member discounts are available.

For those who prefer to self-guide themselves through the event but want the front-of-the-line perks, there’s the Front Line Fear pass for $40, which grants no-wait access to seven houses, excluding The Experiment. The Front Line Fear Extreme pass ups the access and also lets guests skip the line at five freaky coasters for $50.

The Thrills & Chills Weekend Pass lets true Halloween fans face their fears over and over again with a long weekend (Thursday throughSunday) of unlimited access to Busch Gardens’ thrills by day and Howl-O-Scream’s chills by night – all for just $89! Or, if you need to keep your adrenaline pumping all month long, the Recurring Nightmare Pass offers unlimited Howl-O-Scream visits on Thursday and Friday nights for just $89 (available only at the ticket windows.)

For out-of-town guests, Wicked Weekend Vacation Packages include Howl-O-Scream admission for two, plus one-night accommodations at one of Busch Gardens’ preferred partner hotels. Prices start at $89 per adult, tax inclusive, based on double occupancy. Stay two nights as part of the Thrills and Chills Weekend Package, and get in to Busch Gardens day and night, and enjoy two nights of accommodations. Prices start at $175 per adult, tax inclusive.

And if there’s one thing worse than being terrified, it’s being terrified on an empty stomach. Fright Feast is the most deranged dinner show in town, featuring a buffet of monstrous main courses and devilish desserts, plus an exclusive performance of Fiends. Fright Feast guests are also the first to brave the dark with a half-hour of early access to the all-new haunted houses and front-of-line privileges until 8:30 p.m. Fright Feast is $26 per person, with group rates and discounts for pass and Fun Card members available.

Howl-O-Scream is a separate ticketed night event. No costumes are allowed. For guest information, visit HowlOScream.com or call 1-888-800-5447.

Follow Howl-O-Scream on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to learn about promotions and insider information first.                                                                                                                                                        


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Running My First Non-Disney Race

Beach to Beacon 10K
Beach to Beacon 10K

Recently I participated in my first race outside of Walt Disney World. I don’t consider myself a serious runner, but have done eight 5Ks previously, so this wasn’t my first race either. My running adventures started after I had major knee surgery five years ago. I set a goal for myself to do a race two years after I was up on two good legs again. I completed this goal by participating in my first runDisney race in October of 2010, doing the Mickey’s Halloween 5K through the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Since that first race, I have completed several more 5Ks, all at Disney, and even did all of the 5Ks that they offered in 2011. This secondary goal was challenging, especially since I ended up running a couple not knowing I had bronchitis at the time. I thought at some point I should continue to test myself by increasing my distance and that I should do a 10K. When I lived in Cape Elizabeth, Maine there was a race that was founded there by Olympic marathon runner Joan Benoit Samuelson who was from the town. In the back of my mind I planted the seed that I wanted to do this race sometime as my first 10K. I had cheered before and seen friends from high school return home to participate in the race as it passed just blocks from my dad’s house.

Fast forward to 2013 and I decided to follow through with this goal and registered for the Beach to Beacon 10K. I have subsequently registered for the inaugural Minnie 10K at Disney during marathon weekend of January 2014. I knew Beach to Beacon was the biggest race in the state of Maine, but didn’t know exactly what I was getting in to. I tried asking friends who had run the race before or knew someone who had. I tweeted at the race account on Twitter and wrote on their Facebook wall to find out things I couldn’t see on their website. I verified that they do not sweep runners and that there was no required pace to participate. This helped assuage my fears a bit.

The race registration is rather insane, even more so than Disney races from what I’ve experienced. It filled up in 4 minutes for the over 4,000 slots that were available and then another 1,950 went to lottery winners. Fortunately, I set my alarm and was up early in March when registration opened around 6am. I’ve gotten up early for races before and even to cheer, but never before just to register. Within a minute I had confirmation of my entrance in the race after I paid the $45 fee. This is one of the major differences between Disney and non-Disney races: the fees. I usually pay in excess of $50 just for 5Ks at Disney, and I think I paid $110 for the 10K coming up in January.

I’ll skip over my training, because I didn’t really do enough of it to say the least. My work schedule has me unavailable from 1:30pm – 12:30am including commute and I’m not much of a morning person. I suffered for this, trust me. I got to Maine the Thursday before the Saturday race. That afternoon the expo and packet pickup were held from 4-8pm at the high school I attended. It was also on Friday from 2:30 – 8pm. This was a similar setup to what I was used to at Disney races in that you got your bib and pins based on your bib number. Based on bib numbers it appeared that over 6,800 runners eventually registered. The odd thing to me at the packet pickup and expo was that I didn’t have to show photo id or present a waiver.

Race packet pickup
Race packet pickup
Picking up bibs
Picking up bibs
Race expo
Race expo
Race shirt front
Race shirt front
Race shirt back
Race shirt back

The expo was familiar with shoe and clothing vendors, Cabot cheese, Gatorade gel blocks, massages, people getting taped up, etc. Shirts were picked up in the expo when you presented your bib and they marked on the back that you got your tech shirt. ESPN Boston had a booth present and there were several local news crews there during the expo, which was a little different. Outside the expo a local Italian restaurant was making free small plates of choose your own pasta for anyone who wanted to wait in line. My brother tried this and said it was really good.

When I was at packet pickup I asked if they had the finisher’s medal on display. This is where I learned there was no medal for the race participants, only prize money for the winners in each category. I had spoken with friends who ran last year and got medals, but didn’t find out til this point that the medal was a special thing just to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the race. I have to admit I was more than a little upset/disappointed. Many runners will admit that they continue to run for the bling. While I was doing the race to achieve a new personal distance goal, I was also doing it for the medal.

I tried to rest the day before the race and get to bed early. I woke up every hour pretty much because I was making sure I wouldn’t get dehydrated. Just the week before the temperatures in Maine were in the 90s and had crazy humidity. There had been a half marathon in Portland the previous week where numerous participants were hospitalized for dehydration. I wasn’t going to end up in the hospital on this trip (been there, done that).

Gear ready to go
Gear ready to go

The race didn’t start until 8am, but they recommended that everyone be at the start between 6:30 and 7am, so I was up at 6am ready to go. Like most races, I had all of my gear and clothes out and ready to wear the night before. Start line was a bit before Crescent Beach State Park and the finish line was at Portland Headlight at Fort Williams (hence the Beach to Beacon title). Most runners park at the high school or get dropped off there, and then are shuttled by school buses to the start line a couple miles away. I was warned that the high school parking lot fills up quickly, so I opted to park at the adjacent middle school and walk a few blocks to the buses.

Now, I knew going into this race that it was usually won by elite runners from Kenya who were often Olympic medalists or marathon winners from prestigious races like Boston. I was not prepared for what I encountered on the bus or at the start. While riding from the high school to the start I heard a few ladies in front of me discussing how they were upset at 9 minute miles on their recent training runs. Several of my friends are capable of this, but I typically train at a 15 minute mile. This is when I started to get apprehensive that I was way in over my head. Then we got to the start.

At the start I saw the typical line for bag check, portapotties galore, and then the signs for the corrals, which were self placing. I walked toward the front, since I had over an hour and 15 minutes before the race, and saw the last corral for the slowest time was a 10 minute mile. This did not help my nerves. Like Disney races, the wheelchairs started about ten minutes before everyone else. As I got closer to the start line, I saw that the corral behind the elite runners was for a 5 minute mile. It isn’t that there aren’t elite runners in the Disney races, but this was almost exclusively elite runners. There were no Sunday joggers in this race.

The race was started by a runner who was injured in the Boston Marathon, and we were off. There were no fireworks, which I’ve grown accustomed to, but there was a DJ that I could hear as I approached the start line. I had driven the course the day before and knew it well from living in the town for years. I was on pace for my 15 minute mile, but towards the end of the first mile I pulled my left hip and felt a pinch. I tried jogging some more, but the uneven plane of the road only aggravated it, so I slowed to a walk.

Sun rising before the race
Sun rising before the race
Noticed increased police presence
Noticed increased police presence
Dropped off at the start
Dropped off at the start
In the corral
In the corral
Waiting to start
Waiting to start
Start line
Start line
Mile 1 with the inn I worked at in high school behind
Mile 1 with the inn I worked at in high school behind

I was so discouraged and realized I was in dead last place only 18 minutes and a little over a mile into the 6.2 mile race. Tempted to quit, I came around a bend to people cheering me on. The other runners closest to me were already out of sight, so they were all cheering for me. Dozens of people outside their homes were there waiting just for me. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion since I’ve never been close to a position of being last in a race with my Disney fun runs. Then I went by one of my high school friend’s houses and she and her mom were out there cheering. Her mom, who was our high school nurse, came running out to me and gave me a big hug saying how proud she was of me. It was at that moment that I knew I wasn’t going to quit. No matter how long it took me, I was going to finish.

Shortly after this, I passed my old neighborhood and kids came running up to me wanting to give me high fives as I passed by at my walking pace. I’ve participated in eight races prior to this and never before have spectators and people cheering along the course meant so much to me. Unlike Disney races, which often take place in a park or places where most people can’t cheer, this race is through neighborhoods and through the center of town. There are literally hundreds, if not more, people along the race route standing in groups of dozens at a time at the end of their street or on their front lawn. To have people there still when I was a good 10-15 minutes behind everyone else at this point was so incredible. More than a few times I cried, completely touched by everyone’s support.

There was a truck following me to indicate the end of the race and I slowed up between mile two and three to make sure he wasn’t going to pull me from the course. I knew that I would make it before the road closures listed were scheduled to open back up, but again, I’m used to Disney sweeping on longer races if you don’t keep pace. He said he was there as long as I was moving, so don’t worry. This was reassuring, but I was still in a lot of pain and wasn’t even to the halfway point.

My dad, his wife, and my brother were waiting for me just after the 3.1 mile marker and they asked if I wanted to quit or if I wanted them to walk the rest of the way with me. I was not quitting. I was in pain, but that wasn’t going to stop if I did, plus I’d have to deal with the failure. I declined their offer to accompany me and I kept on moving. As I kept on, the crowds continued to be extremely supportive and called out my name as I neared. Around mile 4 I started seeing runners heading back towards me since it was quicker for them to run back to the start than to wait for the buses.

There is something about the acknowledgement wave or nod of the head from another runner that is some of the best encouragement one can ever get. No matter how slow I was going up and down the winding hills, I was still moving and people seemed to be impressed that I hadn’t given up yet. Between mile 5 and 6 a police officer pulled up beside me to let me know that I could keep going, but to stick to the right lane since they were going to open traffic from the other direction. One of the paramedics jumped out of her ambulance and asked if she could walk with me for a bit, and I let her for about half a mile before I entered Fort Williams and left her behind. As I climbed the last hill, I knew my friend Cindy was still amazingly waiting for me at the finish. She had driven over from Vermont for the weekend for a getaway, but also to cheer me on. She got there around 6am, and was now there at the finish with a homemade medal for me after 10am.

Mile 6
Mile 6
Finish Line
Finish Line
Race photo
Race photo
Medal Cindy made me
Medal Cindy made me

There were literally no other spectators other than Cindy. The photographers were there to capture my finish, along with the medical tent staff just to make sure I didn’t need any medical attention. I didn’t feel the sense of accomplishment that I had hoped, but more perseverance. I had been off of twitter and facebook since mile 1, but had been texting with Cindy to let her know I was still alive. When I finished I was completely overwhelmed by the amazing support from friends near and far who had been cheering me on. I took my time walking almost another half mile or so to get to the bus back to the high school I stopped and had a breakfast of orange slices, watermelon and a lime popsicle.

Portland Press Herald with race coverage
Portland Press Herald with race coverage
Dead last finish, but I did it
Dead last finish, but I did it

This was one of the most humbling and emotional experiences of my entire life. I didn’t know what I was getting in to. I didn’t train well enough, and I suffered for it. I did it, and I don’t ever need to do it again. I finished, but barely. My time of 2:17.34 was a personal record, and I ended up doing about 8 miles all in with getting to start everything. What I think meant the most to me was later that day and the next day getting messages from two friends in particular that said I inspired them. I don’t know that I have ever been an inspiration to anyone before, and this made me feel incredible that I helped them not give up. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way. It was an amazing experience I don’t ever care to duplicate. I do look forward to doing better in January and breaking my PR, but with a lot more training under my belt. If I can hobble through this race, anyone can do it! Train properly and reach your goals.

No matter what, always remember DLF>DNF>DNS.

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Rock The Universe At Universal Orlando Resort Details

Universal Orlando Resort’s Rock The Universe Returns This September

With Two Days Of Powerful Christian Rock Performances 

Rock the Universe

 Tickets are On Sale Now for the Biggest Christian Music Festival in Florida, Featuring Concerts by Switchfoot, Casting Crowns, Lecrae and More


On September 6 and 7, guests at Universal Orlando’s Rock the Universe 2013 will enjoy a faith-filled weekend featuring performances by 18 of Christian Rock’s most popular bands – such as Lecrae, Switchfoot, and Casting Crowns, inspiring guest speakers, access to unparalleled theme park entertainment and more.

 Rock the Universe

There are a variety of ticket options available for Rock the Universe 2013. The best way to experience the event is with the “Rock Your Weekend” ticket, which includes admission to both nights of Rock the Universe and three days admission to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This ticket is available for purchase online through Aug. 30, 2013 and will not be available at the park entrance. See below for all ticket options.



 (prices do not include tax)

BEST OFFER“Rock Your Weekend” Ticket Must Be Purchased On or BeforeAug. 30

  • Groups of 10 or more:$103.99 per person
  • Individuals:  $108.99 per person
  • Three days park-to-park admission to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure
    Sept. 6 -8
  • Admission to both nights of Rock the Universe 2013
  • Access to Sunday Morning Worship services
Rock the Universe 2013 Two-Night Ticket Advance Pricing

  • Groups of 10 or more: $74.99 per person
  • Individuals:  $79.99 per person

Day-of$88.99 per person

  • Admission to Rock the Universe 2013 onboth Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7
Rock the Universe 2013 One-Night Ticket Advance Pricing

  • Groups of 10 or more: $49.99 per person
  • Individuals: $54.99 per person

Day-of:  $62.99 per person

  • Admission to Rock the Universe 2013 oneither Friday, Sept. 6 or Saturday, Sept. 7


Rock the Universe 2013’s lineup features some of the biggest names in Christian music, including Lecrae – who won Best Gospel Album at the 2012 Grammy Awards; three-time Grammy award-winning group Casting Crowns; Grammy nominated artist and winner of 20 Dove AwardsChris Tomlin; and rock band Switchfoot, who has sold millions of albums worldwide. The full line-up is below.


Friday, September 6

Saturday, September 7

Switchfoot Casting Crowns
Chris Tomlin Jesus Culture
Crowder Lecrae
Tenth Avenue North Relient K
Family Force 5 Red
Colton Dixon Everfound
Kyle Sherman Crave
Dara McClean Dara McClean
Love & The Outcome Love & The Outcome
Alma Vertical Alma Vertical

** Names in bold indicate headlining acts.


Rock the Universe 2013 guests will also enjoy the wildly popular Coca-Cola fan zone – where they can experience live music by additional artists, autograph sessions with the bands, karaoke and more – and access to Universal Orlando’s thrilling theme park rides, including the new blockbuster mega-attraction, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D.


For more details about Rock the Universe 2013, visit www.RocktheUniverse.com.

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Wordless Wednesday: Feed the Birds

Wordless Wednesday: August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday D23 Expo

This week’s Wordless Wednesday takes us to one of my favorite things from the D23 Expo that was held this past weekend in Anaheim. This is the  St. Paul’s Snow Globe that was used in Mary Poppins, and it was on display in the D23 presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit.


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Biking in Celebration, Florida

One of my favorite places that we ride is through out the Celebration, Florida bike trails.

Celebration is located near Disney World and it was actually developed by the Walt Disney Company itself. I mean, it’s literally connected to Disney World through one of Disney’s main roads, World Drive. So yeah, it’s got a small town feel to it and it’s really nicely designed and very well kept up.

While there aren’t any set trail paths per say, there are numerous boardwalks and paths all over the place!

We normally start out having lunch/early dinner at Thai Thani before our ride so that we have some fuel. While it may not be the best of fuel, it serves it’s purpose for us 🙂


There are numerous places to park in Celebration and pretty much wherever you park you can start your ride from there.


We normally go around a couple of the neighborhoods and check out some of the amazing houses and lakes. And then head to the boardwalks.

Whatever path you take, either around the lakes or the sidewalks throughout the street, you’ll find a boardwalk sooner or later.


When you come to one, just take it.


Who knows where it’ll lead you, but I can bet that you’ll find your way back to your car after your ride.

The past couple of times we rode around Celebration we ended up going around the golf course via a sidewalk.


We normally do between seven and eight miles and I always feel like I want to do more around there because it’s so nice, but we tend to start biking later in the afternoon and by the time we finish it’s getting dark.


If you don’t have a bike to ride, there is a bike rental place near the Bohemian Hotel. You can rent all different kinds of bikes!

IMG_1117 IMG_1118 IMG_1116

Do you have a favorite activity to do while hanging out in Celebration?

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Universal Orlando Hosts Harry Potter Special Event

“A Celebration of Harry Potter” will Feature Exciting Activities Across Both Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure from Jan. 24 – 26

Harry Potter 

Vacation Packages with Exclusive Benefits, Including Access to a Private Evening Reception in
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,

Go on Sale Thursday, August 22 at Noon EST

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. announced today that they will host “A Celebration of Harry Potter”– a special event for fans of all ages that will celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books to the Warner Bros. feature films.

Beginning January 24, 2014, fans will enjoy three days of unforgettable experiences – including interactive Q&As with Harry Potter talent and more.  Special event vacation packages will go on sale August 22 and will include exclusive benefits such as access to a private evening reception held in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.   Full vacation package details are below.

Guests will have the opportunity to:

  • Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter talent, filmmakers, and other special guests (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
  • Revisit some of their favorite Harry Potter film moments during a film tribute with Harry Potter talent and filmmakers (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
  • Learn the art of “duelling” at a wand masterclass that’s featured at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and hosted by Paul Harris – the choreographer who trained the cast of the Harry Potter films
  • And much more!

Guests will also have access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where they can soar above Hogwarts on the thrilling attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, sip Butterbeer at the Hog’s Head pub, see a wand choose a wizard inOllivanders, explore iconic shops like Honeydukes, Zonko’s, and more.

While most of the activities for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be open to all Universal Orlando park guests and annual passholders, only guests who purchase the special event package will enjoy exclusive benefits and reserved seating for select events.  Packages are extremely limited and go on sale at noon EST on Thursday, August 22.  See below for full package details.

Packages for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando Resort

On Sale at Noon EST on August 22, 2013

On-Site Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at $675 per adult, tax inclusive ·       3-night accommodations at one of Universal Orlando’s award-winning on-site hotels – including complimentary Universal Express access to select rides and attractions·         3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida·         Access to the exclusive evening reception held in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

·         Reserved seating for select events – including the Harry Potter film tribute, Q&A sessions and the wand masterclass

·         Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and breakfast at the Three Broomsticks

Off-Site Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at  $395 per adult, tax inclusive ·         3-night accommodations at a Universal Partner Hotel near Universal Orlando·         3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida·         Access to all celebration activities– including reserved seating for select events and access to the exclusive evening reception in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

·         Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and breakfast at the Three Broomsticks

·         Note: This package does not include complimentary Universal Express access

Access to select events within “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is included in regular admission to Universal Orlando or with an annual pass.  For more information about the event, tickets and vacation packages, visit www.universalorlando.com/celebration.

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WIN Disney On Ice: Princesses & Heroes Tickets!

Disney on Ice

As we posted last week, Disney on Ice: Princesses & Heroes is coming to the Amway Center and now is your time to enter to win four (4) tickets to see the show on either Friday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m., OR Saturday, September 14 at 11 a.m.!

Enter a world of wonder where heroes and hearts prevail as Disney on Ice presents Princesses and Heroes at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida September 13-15, 2013.


Join Ariel as she yearns to explore the world above the waves and Prince Eric breaks Ursula’s slithering spell to reclaim his one true love. See Prince Philip defeat the evil Maleficent as she transforms herself into a fire-breathing dragon in a race against time to rescue Sleeping Beauty’sAurora. Be there to discover a whole new world with Jasmine and Aladdin. And, watch in awe as the dreams of Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Rapunzel and Tiana all come true. High flying jumps, daring acrobatics, breathtaking skating and lovable Disney friends are just a wish away!

Disney on Ice
Join Jasmine & Aladdin
Photo: Feld Entertainment

You can also use this special offer to get $4 off per ticket! When you go to purchase your tickets, all you need to do is enter the promo code MOMDOI. Please note that this offer is not valid on Front Row or VIP tickets and is valid only for Sat. 11 a.m., Sat. 7 p.m. and Sun. 5 p.m.performances.

Entering the contest is extremely easy and there are even ways to enter the contest every day! The contest starts today, and ends at 12:00 am on August 21, 2013!

There are few things to keep in mind when you’re entering the contest!

  • We will be giving away one (1)  four pack of tickets to see Disney on Ice Princesses & Heroes at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
  • The winner will be able to attend Disney on Ice Princesses and Heroes on either Friday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. OR  Saturday, Sept. 14 at 11 a.m.
  • Winners must be 18 and older and you will need to present ID to pick up your tickets at the Amway Center Box Office.
  • Please note that these tickets do not include parking at the Amway Center.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Through a partnership with Disney on Ice, I received tickets for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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