New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World

New Year’s Eve is upon us and I’m sure some of you are wondering what to do for last minute plans. If you aren’t planning on braving the crowds to visit the theme parks at Walt Disney World, don’t worry, there are still options for you.

At DisneyQuest they are playing host to a New Year’s Eve party from 8pm until 1am for guests of all ages. The party is a hard ticket event with tickets for guests ages 3 and up for $61.03 plus tax. Included in the party ticket is unlimited access to DisneyQuest games, two DJ dance parties, unique character meet and greets with Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope as well as Chip and Dale, food, party hats, noisemakers, etc. are also included. Tickets are available for purchase online at  disneyworld.com, over the phone at 407-W-DISNEY, in person at DisneyQuest, Disney resorts, Swan, Dolphin, ESPN WWOS or any Guest Relations locations.

New Year's Eve
image copyright Disney

Some of the resorts at Walt Disney World are even offering their own activities for New Year’s Eve tonight. Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House is playing host to guests in the Sunset Savanna Lounge just off the lobby for a different kind of New Year’s Even party. You can learn from Cultural Representatives at the resort how they ring in the New Year at 5pm as it becomes the New Year in Africa. Guests can also learn what kind of resolutions they can make to help protect animals and the environment in the New Year.

Fort Wilderness is planning a whole evening of fun for their guests. The New Year’s Eve festivities begin at 6pm for two hours of beach games along the shores of Bay Lake. From 8 – 9pm they will have a New Year’s Eve photo both for family fun pics. Bingo is at 9pm, followed by 2013 trivia at 10pm. The countdown to the fun starts at 11pm, with the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks blasting off at 11:50pm.

Not to be left out are the Polynesian with their beach bash from 7pm until midnight and Port Orleans Riverside with a New Year’s Eve Bayou Bash from 9pm until 12am.

If you are a resort guest at Walt Disney World, it is a great time to be here. There are several options for fun outside the parks if you aren’t wanting to deal with the crowds. What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

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Our Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Staycation

We had the opportunity to have a really fun ‘staycation’ the weekend before Christmas together experiencing all great amenities and food that the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress has to offer, and it was an amazing visit.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Located in the Lake Buena Vista area, the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is one mile away from the Walt Disney World Resort, however as the centerpiece of the 1,500-acre Grand Cypress Resort you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.

When you first walk into the 18-story atrium lobby and are greeted by Merlot, the resident macaw, you know that you are in a really special place.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The rooms at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress are spacious at 360 square feet, and feature comfortable Hyatt Grand Beds, great amenities, and views you will love waking up to every morning!

Hyatt Regency Grand CypressHyatt Regency Grand CypressHyatt Regency Grand CypressHyatt Regency Grand CypressHyatt Regency Grand Cypress

We had a Pool View which was absolutely beautiful, and by night we were able to watch to fireworks at both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom every night without having to leave our room!

Hyatt Regency Grand CypressHyatt Regency Grand CypressHyatt Regency Grand Cypress

 Here’s a detailed look at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Room Amenities:

  • Separate work desk          
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron / ironing board
  • Coffee maker (Featuring Starbucks Coffee)
  • Cable / satellite TV channels
  • iHome™ alarm clock radio
  • Jack pack adaptor panel for multimedia plug n’ play
  • Voicemail
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Large, flat-screen television
  • Individual air conditioning control
  • Ceiling fans
  • Video checkout
  • In-room safe
  • Safety deposit box behind front desk
  • Mini-Fridge
  • Crib upon request
  • Maximum guests per room: 4
  • Chaise lounge
  • Spa toiletries

If you are looking for great food, you will definitely find it at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress!

We had an a wonderful dinner at Cascade American Bistro!

 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The restaurant setting is beautiful, the food was delicious, and the service was outstanding.

 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

I cannot recommend Cascade highly enough, especially their signature S’mores dessert! It was heaven in a Mason Jar!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

When we were relaxing by the gorgeous pool, we also took advantage of the pool-side service from the On the Rocks Poolside Lounge.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress My margarita was perfect and the Tri-Color Tortilla Chip trio was tasty with generous portions of each dip. The queso and guacamole were amazing!

 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

And in the lobby, Perks was a great place to grab a cup of Starbucks and pastry in the morning and as it transformed to Trellises Lounge in the evening it was a great place to grab a quick bite!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

We even ordered in-room dining one night, and it was a great way to relax after a busy day at the resort! With so many (even vegetarian) menu options, we found that we had a hard time deciding what we wanted to order! The in-room menu is extremely affordable and convenient, and something that we would definitely experience again!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

However, the star for us during our stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was the outdoor amenities and recreation options we were able to enjoy as a family!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

There is an affordable extra Resort Services Program charge at the resort, and with that guests get access to 

  • Health Club Open 24 Hours
  • Rock Climbing Walls
  • 9 Hole, Par 3 Pitch N’ Putt
  • Water sports: Canoe, Paddle Boat, Hydro Bike, Aquacycle, Sailboat, and Kayak
  • Bikes: Adult’s, Children’s, and Surreys
  • Golf Driving Range
  • Court Time at the Tennis Racquet Club
  • Daily Scheduled Shuttle Transportation to Walt Disney World Theme Parks,
  • Universal Studios/ Islands of Adventure and SeaWorld-Be sure to pick up your
  • boarding pass from our Lobby Concierge.
  • Wired and Wireless Internet
  • Free Local and Toll Free Telephone Service  

Zoe wanted to do something on her own, so she participated in Camp Hyatt for the day and had a blast!

Camp Hyatt is an interactive program exclusively for our guests ages 3-12. Our activities focus on the flora, fauna and culture of this unique part of the Sunshine State and includes a Fish Feeding Frenzy, Arcade Challenges, Boats and Bikes, Rock Climbing, Kids Crafts, Marshmallow Roasts, Scavenger Hunts, Short Chef Creations, Video Games and Pool and Beach Games.

Zoe wants to go back to the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress JUST to go back to Camp Hyatt!!!

We had such an awesome time exploring the resort as a family! We took our first family bike ride after Dave’s knee replacement surgery, played games, and played on the beach together.

 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

We had so much fun, that we never left the resort!

Here are some of our favorite Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Outdoor Activities:

Boating

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

A white sandy beach runs along Lake Windsong where you will find canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, a volleyball court, and much more.

Boating Hours: 8:00am – return by 5:30pm

Boating Rules: 18 & older for sailboats. 13 & older to be alone on the water in all other craft.

Anyone under 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age.

Pool, Water Slides, and More

Water Slide Tower Pavilion at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress SMALL

Pool Water Slide Hours: 9:00 am– 5:30pm

Rules: There is a minimum 44 inch height requirement for the pool water slide. Life jacket required for children between 44-48 in.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Water Jet Pad Hours: 8:00am – 10:00pm

Poolside Recreation Desk and Pool Towel Service

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

You can stop here for daily activity information, slide wristbands, pool towels, floats, sunscreen that you may have forgotten, and more!

Daily Hours: 8:00am – 5:30pm

Pool Towels are available outside of the On The Rocks bar after operating hours with your resort room key.

Biking

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Bicycles for all ages are available including family bikes, bikes with training wheels and adult bikes with child seats. Enjoy 9.2 miles of jogging and biking trails throughout the Grand Cypress Resort.

Hours: 8:00am – return by 5:30 pm

Rules: 13 & older to go biking alone. At least 18 years of age to drive a Surrey Bike. Anyone under 13 must

be accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age. Anyone younger than 16 must wear a helmet.

Pitch N’ Putt

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Visit our scenic par 3 executive course on Lake Windsong. Complimentary club rentals are available.

Hours: 8:00am– return by 5:30pm

Rules: 13 & younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age.

Rock Climbing Challenge

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Come climb the towers at the Grand Cypress! Lanes are available for all skill levels.

Hours: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Rules: Minimum/Maximum height and weight requirements vary. See attendant for more

information. Closed toe/heel shoes are required.

Fire Pit

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Located on the beach! S’mores Kits are available for purchase in the Palm Cafe, Trellises, or through Room Service for $10.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Available Thursday thru Sunday at Dusk. Weather permitting.

You will also find tons of great ways to have some quiet time while you are enjoying the great outdoors!

At the pool there is a large grotto area full of super comfy chairs.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Then on the beach there are designated quiet areas and hammocks that you won’t ever want to leave!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The grounds of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress are lush, and full of amazing sculptures and statues. I had a really relaxing walk around the resort. It was so nice to steal a few moments for myself!

Photo Dec 21, 1 41 39 PM Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency Grand CypressHyatt Regency Grand Cypress

We had an absolutely amazing and wonderful staycation at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, and if you are looking for a family experience to plus your visit to the Orlando Theme Parks I would absolutely recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Disclaimer: Through a partnership with the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, I received accommodations and a meal at the Resort. All opinions are my own.

 

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Reading With Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Ambassadors of Laughter to 

CLOWN AROUND CENTRAL FLORIDA ON JANUARY 7

Reading With Ringling Clown Around Central Florida

Free Reading with Ringling Day for the Public

 

Get ready to giggle, Central Florida:  on Tuesday, January 7, clowns from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will make special appearances in the region to entertain and interact with the public. The Ambassadors of Laughter will ignite attendees’ funny bones with lighthearted antics that offer a sneak preview of LEGENDS!, the all-new 144th  Edition of The Greatest Show On Earth® playing the Amway Center this January.

On Tuesday, January 7, clowns will blend the magic of the circus with the importance of reading during Reading with Ringling Day, special presentations at two libraries in Orange County. After a lively rendition of a circus-themed book, they’ll engage the audience with juggling, plate spinning and other silly and dynamic demonstrations previewing The Greatest Show On Earth. The clowns will give away stickers and clown noses (while supplies last).

The Clown Around Central Florida library events are free and everyone is invited. 

The locations and appearance times for Reading with Ringling Day are:

Orange County Library System

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Downtown Branch – 101 East Central Blvd., Orlando, FL 32801

For more information, call 407-835-7481, or visit www.ocls.info.

 

Maitland Public Library

11:30 a.m. – 12 noon

501 S. Maitland Ave, Maitland, FL 32751

For more information, call 407-647-7700, or visit http://www.maitlandpubliclibrary.org/.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS at Orlando's Amway Center Clown Around Central Florida Reading with Ringing

Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in an all-new show – – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDSSM. Experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and the mysterious visions that have only existed in your imagination and now materialize before your eyes: the Unicorn, Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS! The all-new show is coming is coming January 9-12, 2014 to the Amway Center in Orlando. For tickets and more information, visit www.ringling.com

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SeaWorld Orlando New Year’s Eve Celebration

SeaWorld Orlando

Celebrating New Year’s Eve at SeaWorld Orlando

Ring in 2014 SeaWorld Orlando style by celebrating our connection to the sea, sea life and the world we share! A spectacular musical celebration with DJs and live bands, plus a bold fireworks display, send a wave of welcome to the New Year ahead.
SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration™ is splashing waves of holiday spirit over the park (now nightly) the rest of December, and New Year’s Eve is included! Here in a wintery, watery wonderland, guests of all ages will enjoy loads of frosty fun as they watch stunning live shows inspired by the natural world, journey to the North Pole to meet Santa himself, then share a smile with a playful penguin at the South Pole while visiting the park’s newest attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin®!
Enjoy added fun on New Year’s Eve as SeaWorld Orlando stays open until 1 a.m. and features additional entertainment. From a DJ spinning Latin-style tunes at The Waterfront, to top 40 hits playing at Wild Arctic, and local pop/rock artists Project DJ Slam performing at The Christmas Market, there’s plenty of music in the air.  And the night wouldn’t be complete without fireworks lighting up the night sky! Kick off the New Year with a bang while watching an extended fireworks extravaganza during Holiday Reflections: Fireworks & Fountains Finale immediately following the last Winter Wonderland on Ice show.
Wordless Wednesday SeaWorld Orlando
Additional show times have been added for extended New Year’s Eve park hours; times listed below for all shows at SeaWorld Orlando:
  • Clyde & Seamore Countdown to Christmas at 6:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
  • O Wondrous Night at 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Shamu Rocks at 9 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.
  • Shamu® Christmas Miracles at 7:30 p.m.
  • Winter Wonderland on Ice at 7:15 p.m., 9:45 p.m. and 11:25 p.m. (Extended Holiday Reflections: Fireworks & Fountains Finale immediately following 11:25 p.m. show.)
(All show times are subject to change.)
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Wordless Wednesday – Christmas in Orlando

Wordless Wednesday – December 25, 2013

We want to wish everyone celebrating today a very Merry Christmas!

We hope that you all have a day full of family, fun, and love!

Merry Christmas from Orlando!!!

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Pick Six: Universal Orlando Naughty & Nice Holiday

I always enjoy the holiday events at Universal Orlando. The celebration takes place in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure with a lot to see and do. This year I was able to take my nephew for his first time to take part in the festivities. Here are six highlights from that day and my previous visits over the past few of years.

 

1. Grinchmas – Islands of Adventure

Universal  Grinch

MeanOne  Finale

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite Christmas stories so seeing it brought to life on stage is so fun! The music is great and the Grinch is always fantastic. There are even a few surprises thrown in! The show runs several times a day. There aren’t any bad seats, but in my experience I like sitting on the right side of the stage for a good view of one of those surprises I mentioned.

2. Suess Landing – Islands of Adventure

SeussLanding LittleTree WelcomeChristmas

Garland Lorax

To get to Grinchmas, you must pass through Seuss Landing. This is the most decorated parts of the park with trees and garland everywhere! I love all the whimsical touches. There are even signs with lyrics to “Welcome Christmas.”

3. Macy’s Holiday Parade – Universal Studios

ParadeBanner Minions Hippo

CandyCane Santa SantaLights

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a must-watch for me every Thanksgiving morning for as long as I can remember. One year in college I was lucky enough to be able to visit New York and see it in person. I may not be able to visit New York each year, but I can get a little taste when some of the balloons and floats travel down for the parade here. It even features Santa Claus, who will light the Christmas tree set up in front of the Macy’s façade. How can you not smile while giant balloons float by? Some of them might even dance for you! One year I hope to be able to be one of the balloon handlers!

4. Giant Balloons – Universal Studios

Elf Grover Garfield

Cat George

Speaking of balloons, some of the larger ones from the New York parade are set up around the park. It’s fun going around and taking pictures with them. Garfield and The Cat in the Hat are my favorites!

5. Mannheim Steamroller Concerts – Universal Studios

FullStage Mannheim BlueStage

Mannheim Steamroller performs on Saturday and Sunday nights during the holidays. I’ve always enjoyed their Christmas music so it’s a treat to hear them live, especially “Carol of the Bells.” The concert does take a lot from the Grinchmas show, providing almost a recap with actors from the show. So it can get a little repetitive if you had watched that show earlier in the day. The music is still great though!

6. Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Island of Adventure

Snowman BerryWreath Wreath

I’m putting this one last because not much changes here from a normal day that’s not during the holiday season. But I had to include it because the snow covered roofs and snowman seem so much more festive and fitting when there are wreaths on the doors!  I’ve also heard the Frog Choir sing a few Christmas songs.

 

Have you been to Universal Orlando during their holiday celebration? What are you favorite things to see and do? It’s definitely become a tradition to go each year to take part in the festivities!

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A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Details

Harry Potter Stars James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, and Evanna Lynch

to Appear at A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort

Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

3-Day Event to Feature a Harry Potter Tribute, Cast Member Q&A’s,
Wand Combat Masterclass, Pottermore Demonstrations and More

 

Harry Potter film stars James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Evanna Lynch are slated to appear at “A Celebration of Harry Potter” – a special event hosted by Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment that will celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books to the feature films.  Creative talent also set to appear includes KazuKibuishi, the award-winning artist who recently re-imagined the Harry Potter book covers, and Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina ofMinaLima, who established the visual graphic style of the Harry Potter films.

From January 24 – 26, 2014 at Universal Orlando, fans will enjoy unforgettable experiences – including a Harry Potter Tribute on Friday night, a Harry Potter Expo, panel discussions with film talent and crew, and more.  Additional details about “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be released early next year.

Access to “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is included with regular theme park admission or with an annual pass.  Those without an annual pass can experience the full offering with a 3-day park-to-park ticket.  Admission into panel events will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Event Details

A CELEBRATION OF HARRY POTTER PANEL DISCUSSIONS

The panels will be held in a theater-style setting and will include discussions and Q&A’s with Harry Potter film talent and crew.  Admission into the theaters will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Specific panel times will be released at a later date.

  • A Harry Potter Tribute

“A Celebration of Harry Potter” will kick off with a special evening event starring several cast members of the Harry Potter film series and award-winning artist Kazu Kibuishi, who recently re-imagined the Harry Potter book covers for Scholastic and beautifully captured pivotal scenes from the enchanting Harry Potter stories.  Guests will enjoy film clips, Q&A sessions with cast members, and get a glimpse of new details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, opening summer 2014.

  • My Life on the Harry Potter Film Set: Talent Q&A’s

Actors from the Harry Potter films share what it’s like to work on a major motion picture and be part of film history.

  • Duelling Demonstration & Wand Combat Masterclass with Paul Harris

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter will present a spellbinding masterclass with the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer, Paul Harris.  Paul choreographed the epic battle scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and will be on hand to teach you the technique behind wielding a wand.

  • Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima

Graphic designers Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina from the studio MinaLima will discuss their ten-year involvement in establishing the visual graphic style on the film productions of Harry Potter and present some of the iconic props they created for the films, including the Marauder’s Map, the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler.

  • Bringing the Harry Potter Films to the Theme Park – Set and Prop Design of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter film and theme park Set Designer Alan Gilmore and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Prop Master Eric Baker will present a look at how ideas move from the books to screen, and then become real-life theme park experiences.

  • Go Behind the Scenes of Pottermore.com from J.K. Rowling

Pottermore’s Creative Director gives an exclusive insight into the creation of Moment artwork for Pottermore.com, and a look at the next installment of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Plus, get ready for an exclusive reveal as he shares his favorite upcoming new entry from J.K. Rowling. 

A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Expo Booths

The Harry Potter Expo will be held inside a Universal Orlando soundstage and will be open to guests throughout the weekend.  The expo will include booths and exhibits that will give guests deeper insight into the various manifestations of the Harry Potter series.

  • Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Guests will get an up-close look at the artistry and craftsmanship that went into creating the iconic costumes that have appeared throughout the Harry Potter film series. They will also have the opportunity to get sorted into Hogwarts houses during a Sorting Hat experience.

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

This interactive experience will feature a duelling presentation by the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer, Paul Harris.

  • MinaLima

Limited edition artworks and reproductions based on original prop designs will be on display, including iconic pieces, such as the Marauder’s Map and the Daily Prophet.  A selection of original graphic props from the films will also be on display, and on-hand to meet guests will be Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.

  • Pottermore from J.K. Rowling

Go behind the scenes of Pottermore.com from J.K. Rowling.  Find out how Moments from Harry’s story are created from the first sketch to the final splash of color, get an exclusive look at artwork that has not yet been released, and experience Pottermore.com for yourself – defeat your opponent in a wizard’s duel or try your hand at brewing magical draughts and potions.

  • Scholastic

Celebrate the 15th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and share your message about what Harry Potter means to you.  Award-winning artist Kazu Kibuishi, who recently reimagined the Harry Potter book covers, will be signing posters at limited times throughout the weekend.

  • United States Postal Service

Guests can check out the limited-edition Harry Potter collection of 20 new Forever stamps, featuring images of Harry Potter, the extraordinary boy wizard, and the adventures he encounters with the friends, heroes, villains and creatures that make up his world. Also, see collectible products featuring the stamps, meet the stamp art director, and get special cancellation postmarks commemorating this celebration.

For more information about the event and tickets, visit www.universalorlando.com/celebration.

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SeaWorld Orlando hosts Reindeer Run

Reindeer Run before the start
Reindeer Run before the start

Recently I participated in my second non-Disney race at SeaWorld with the Vanessa Welch Reindeer Run. This three mile fun run was a great Christmas themed race through SeaWorld Orlando. It was a nice morning to start the Reindeer Run at 7:15am with a temp in the low 60s and slightly overcast skies. Not really knowing how this was going to be organized in comparison to most of my other races, I decided to get to the race at 6:30 so I could find my way around and meet up with my friend Doug. We found each other about half an hour before start time and got in the corral for joggers. There was also a corral for walkers scheduled to start about 15 minutes after the jogging participants.

Tons of people dressed up for this race, possibly a greater percentage of runners than for any other race in which I’ve participated. There were especially a lot of reindeer antler headbands for the Reindeer Run. This made for a fun atmosphere at the start of the race, which was a bit quieter than I was used to without a DJ to warm up the crowd and play music.

The first mile of the Reindeer Run was in the SeaWorld parking lot, then the rest of the three mile run was almost entirely in the park itself. There were so many cool things to see throughout the park like the Sea of Tree lights and the fountains, Santa Claus was there for pictures and there were decorations and lights on the course.

Race registration is only $25 and a portion goes to charity. There is no medal for this race, but you do get a long sleeve shirt with the Reindeer Run logo. I would definitely do this race again. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of great things to see along the way. This was a great way to see SeaWorld and to get in the holiday spirit while contributing to charity. There were also costume contests after the race as well as a free kids run. I highly recommend this race if you’re looking for something fun to do next December. Have you done the Reindeer Run before? What were your thoughts?

Lots of costumes
Lots of costumes
Loved this stocking
Loved this stocking
Saw quite a few Buddy the Elf costumes
Saw quite a few Buddy the Elf costumes
Looking back in the corral
Looking back in the corral
Looking forward
Looking forward
Doug and me waiting to start
Doug and me waiting to start
Kraken at sunrise
Kraken at sunrise
Sea of Trees
Sea of Trees
Penguins
Penguins
Santa
Santa
Sea of Trees selfie
Sea of Trees selfie
Band
Band
Snowman
Snowman
Tree
Tree
Dolphins playing with a ball
Dolphins playing with a ball
Polar Express
Polar Express
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Saving Mr. Banks Free Behind-The-Scenes iBook

Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks iBook gives fans

a behind-the-scenes look

at the making of the timeless classic Mary Poppins

Saving Mr. Banks

Featuring Rare and Exclusive Archival Treasures, Recording Sessions from the Academy Award®–Winning Composers, an Interactive Timeline of Historic Walt Disney Studios Milestones, Storyboards, Video and More

 

Walt Disney Studios announces the release of SAVING MR. BANKS: The Official Multi-touch Book, based on Disney’s highly anticipated film “Saving Mr. Banks,” in theaters December 20, 2013. Exploring the previously untold story of how Walt Disney worked his magic on author P.L. Travers to secure the rights to her book, “Mary Poppins,” the book includes a foreword by Academy Award®-winning composer Richard Sherman; never-before-seen correspondence between Walt Disney and P.L. Travers; rare storyboards and scripts from the Disney archives; an interactive timeline of historic Walt Disney Studios milestones; original recordings of the Sherman Brothers, performing their “Mary Poppins” hit songs; facts and profiles on the key characters in “Saving Mr. Banks”—all created by Apple’s  digital book creation app, iBooks Author.

httpv://youtu.be/uOkXTPg1Yoc

The Saving Mr. Banks book is available for free, exclusively on iBooks at www.iTunes.com/SavingMrBanks.

 Saving Mr. Banks iBook PL Travers

Using Apple’s iBooks Author, the UK digital agency, Brandwidth was able to include video, audio and multi-touch interaction to create a robust storytelling experience. Readers can watch interviews featuring the cast and filmmakers, browse extensive photo galleries and explore the original storyboards and concept art—all in full retina detail. ‘Mary Popovers’ deliver fascinating facts throughout the book.

Saving Mr. Banks

Two-time Academy Award®–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen.

When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.

 Saving Mr. Banks

For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge.  He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.

It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

Disney presents Saving Mr. Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, produced by Alison Owen, Ian Collie and Philip Steuer, and written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Executive producers are Paul Trijbits, Christine Langan, Andrew Mason and Troy Lum.

 

Download book here:

www.iTunes.com/SavingMrBanks

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On the Go Gift Guide – Oakley Reducer Tank

Oakley Reducer Tank Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie Doc McStuffins All Better Game

If you are anything like me you have two things on your mind as Christmas is less than a week away, how am I going to find the best gift for everyone left on my shopping list and how am I going to work off all these cookies!

Today for our On the Go Gift Guide we look at a product that helps answer both of those questions, the Oakley Reducer Tank.

I know that I feel awkward going to the gym or out on a run when I don’t feel comfortable and confident in what I am wearing, and the Oakley Reducer Tank is designed with a little extra room to help you focus on your workout.

Oakley Reducer Tank

The O-form fabric is comfortable to wear, because it stretches four ways for complete mobility. The tank maintains its shape and is supportive for every step, bend, and jump without riding up or shifting. It was so great to have a tank that I wasn’t constantly tugging at!

The Oakley Reducer Tank also has a generous built in bra and crossback design that is flattering to any shape.

All of these great details combined with super reflective logo details, UV protection built into the tank’s fabric, a mesh overlay for ventilation, anti-bacterial action fabric, and more make the Oakley Reducer Tank my new go-to workout favorite!

If you are looking for a great last minute gift, you can order the Oakley Reducer Tank online or you can head to their store to pick one up!

If you are headed to the Florida Mall Oakley Store, which is my favorite, you are in luck because they have some great deals for last minute gifts for your list or for yourself to help kick off your New Year’s resolutions!

Oakley Reducer Tank
Oakley Reducer Tank in Georgia Peach
  • O–Form fabric maintains your shape and stretches four ways for superb mobility
  • Built–in bra with molded cups supports and controls bounce
  • Mesh overlay in back provides excellent ventilation
  • O Hydrolix fabric reduces the effects of sweat
  • Anti–bacterial action reduces odor–causing microbes
  • Reflective features stand out during early morning and night regimens
  • 86% Nylon, 14% Lycra

Oakley Reducer Tank

Disclosure: I received a Oakley Reducer Tank courtesy of the Oakley Store at the Florida Mall. All opinions, thoughts, and enthusiasm are my own. 

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A Spoonful Review Of Saving Mr. Banks

savingmrbanks1

For the past few years Disney and Mary Poppins fans have been anticipating the arrival of the movie Saving Mr. Banks.  There is a tremendous amount of words being set to page about this movie right now, and it is generally well liked – though it does have its detractors.  I can’t begin to tell you how good that is for a film like this.  I’ve seen Mary Poppins countless times (Star Wars: A New Hope being the only movie I’ve seen more), read the book (though not in some time, that needs to change), and even read some works about P. L. Travers herself.  That said, this isn’t a movie about Mary Poppins and if you think it is before having seen it, then you’re going to see quite a different movie then you’re expecting.

This is not a subtle movie in any way.  It will beat you senseless with its message while trying to mask itself with the appearance of subtlety.  Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t make it a bad movie at all.  In fact, I think it’s a fantastic movie.  One third of the movie is told in flashbacks to the life of P. L. Travers growing up as Helen Goff in Australia.  They are portrayed as wispy and almost dreamlike – thanks in part to the filter used on the camera.  Much like a dream.  Combine that with the way the relationship between Walt Disney and Travers is told and you can begin to see the magic of this film.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nijccxWvyXU&feature=share&list=PLTnR43JTLNs97g-zsOTqyBczgqxzuzxnt

As my brain groked what I’ve seen on the screen I realized that the story itself is an illusion.  It’s a dream.  And, as with most dreams, the roles that you see people portraying are not necessarily the people they represent.  Shift around the roles of the players a bit and you’ll realize that the more correct title for this film is Saving Mrs. Travers.

Saving Mr. Banks

Getting two actors who are well known character actors and setting them against each other was a stroke of genius.  Tom Hanks as Walt Disney is by no means perfect, but his mannerisms, stance, and appeal are all captured and I do not think another actor could have done as well a job with such a beloved individual.  Emma Thompson does an amazing job as Travers. Having spent numerous hours listening to the archival studio session tapes of meetings between Travers and various Disney employees, she tried to capture the emotional distress of Travers.  She even had her own hair styled to match Travers rather than using a wig.

Saving Mr. Banks

What really brought it all home for me though was listening to an interview with Jason Schwartzman and Richard Sherman.  Unlike Hanks and Thompson who had to study their roles by studying the past, Schwartzman was able to sit down and talk with the man he’d be portraying.  The two had spent countless hours together throughout the making of this film.  In the studio, Sherman was a consultant for all the “script room” scenes in the movie.  He has talked about how surreal and emotional many of the scenes were for him – seeing moments from his own life recreated.

Like is so often true for movies about topics and historical moments that have already been picked to pieces extensively, this film will not be for everyone.  In fact, it’s probably not a movie for the most hard core of fans – they’re not even the target audience.  Saving Mr. Banks is meant to tell the tale of how Mary Poppins almost didn’t get made in a way that is meant to appeal to the most general of audiences.  Keep in mind that this is not a family movie by any means, and you probably do not want to bring your small children to see it as there’s little in it for them – hence the PG-13 rating.

Saving Mr. Banks

In addition to doing the web design and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast. You can join him and his fellow hosts for Episode 156 where they will discuss the movie Saving Mr. Banks.

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Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Some of my favorite Christmas trees in all of Walt Disney World are the Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees that can be found in Animal Kingdom’s Camp Minnie-Mickey, and with Christmas less than a week away and the closing of this area coming up quickly I wanted to make sure I shared these Character Christmas Trees with you!

Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Scattered around the Camp Minnie-Mickey, these Character Christmas Trees are designed to include iconic details and ‘personal’ touches from characters that meet (or have met) in the Camp Minnie-Mickey area of Animal Kingdom.

What I especially love about these trees is that they aren’t as polished and perfect as most Christmas trees you will find around Walt Disney World! They really make you feel like the characters chose these decorations personally and on purpose to represent them and their story.

The  Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees ‘homemade’ feel and attention to detail make them feel authentic and genuine instead of staged and perfect. I always feel like I find new details, a new favorite ornament, and even a new favorite tree every year.

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

I love how Pluto’s tree is full of ornaments made of dog bones, his collar, some of his favorite toys, and even his dog house!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Goofy’s tree is sure to warm your heart with memories from some of his iconic shorts and special ornaments from Max, This tree is adorable!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Mickey’s tree is full of some of his favorite things about Christmas! You will even find his Santa Ears!
 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Minnie’s tree is topped with her polka dot bow and full of red and white details and her iconic white daisies. I’m absolutely biased when I say that this is my favorite tree!!!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

The Lion King inspired Christmas Tree is full of masks from the story and details that make The Lion King show at Animal Kingdom so fabulous!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Meeko’s Christmas Tree is full of his favorite treats and a portrait of him. It’s a cute tree!!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Timon and Pumbaa’s tree is a definite mix of their personalities! You’ll find portraits of them on ornaments throughout the tree and some of their favorite grubs and insects crawling on the tree’s bows and branches.

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

The Brother Bear tree is full of bears, paw prints, and their favorite foods and details. It’s a great tree!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Lilo’s tree is full of records, her dolls, and a Hawaiian flower garlands. This tree is definitely the most colorful!!!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Chip and Dale’s tree is full of acorns and details from the shorts that have made them so lovable! These mischievous chipmunks really outdid themselves!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

You’ll find all sorts of great details from the 100 Acre Wood on this Tiggerrific Christmas Tree!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Baloo and King Louie share a tree that is sure to make any Jungle Book fan smile!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

The Country Bear’s tree is full of moonshine, portraits of performers from Country Bear Hall, and music notes.

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Pocahontas has decorated her tree with her favorite flower, mocsasins, and more of her favorite things!  Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

There’s no doubt as to who this Character Christmas Tree belongs to!!!

Animal Kingdom’s Camp Minnie-Mickey will be closing in January to make way for construction to continue for Avatarland, and I can only hope that is not the last time that we see these Character Christmas Trees!

For some of my other favorite things about Animal Kingdom, make sure you check out the video we made earlier this year for the park’s 15th Anniversary!

httpv://youtu.be/C5dW5GkTMlw

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On the Go Gift Guide: Jake And The Neverland Pirates Game

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie Doc McStuffins All Better Game

And closing out the selection of Disney games for our On the Go Gift Guide is Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt from Wonder Forge!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt is a really interactive and fun game that takes your normal ‘matching’ game to the next level!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Yo ho, let’s go! Captain Hook has buried pirate booty all over Shipwreck Beach. Flip over the gold doubloons and use Jake’s spyglass to decode the secret clues. When you get a match, get up and go! Snag the correct treasure with the foam sword and hurry back to score!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt At A Glance

Players:
  • 2 or more players ages 3+
Promotes:
  • Matching
  • Memory
  • Physical Dexterity

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Product Contents
  • 5 Treasures
  • 5 Treasure Bases
  • 12 Doubloons
  • 1 Treasure Map Storage Bag
  • 1 Foam Sword
  • 1 Spyglass Decoder
  • 1 Sand Timer
  • 1 Game Rules Manual

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

A really cool feature of Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt is that the game board is actually the bag where you store all of the pieces for the game!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Zoe really loved using the Spyglass decoder to help her make pairs! It was such a fun twist on matching that kept her involved in the game.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

We found that the timer included with the game provides more than enough time to pick up the treasures of Shipwreck Beach!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

As a family, we really enjoyed playing Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt and Zoe can’t wait to play with her friends over their holiday break!

Disclosure: Through a partnership with Wonder Forge Games, I have received a promotional item in exchange for this post. All opinions and thoughts are my own!

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On the Go Gift Guide: Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Next up for the On the Go Gift Guide is Doc McStuffins All Better Game from Wonder Forge Games!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Doc McStuffins All Better Game is a really adorable game starring all of your favorite characters from the extremely popular Doc McStuffins show on Disney Junior.

Make the boo boos go away like Doc McStuffins! Each slap bracelet bandage is a different mystery ouchie. Take turns trying to figure out which doctor tool will make things all better! It’s a fun game of pretending and playful problem-solving!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Doc McStuffins All Better Game at a Glance

Players:
  • 2 or more players ages 3 and up

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Promotes:
  • Matching
  • Memory skills
  • Turn-taking and playing together

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Product Contents
  • 1 Storage Bag
  • 6 Slap Bracelet Bandages
  • 6 Foam Tools
  • 8 Scoring Tiles
  • 1 Spinner
  • 1 Game Rules Manual

Zoe is a HUGE Doc McStuffins fan, so we had a ton of fun playing this game!!! She really loved the slap bracelets and feeling like she was really helping her friends!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

What I really love about this game is that all of the game pieces fit neatly into Doc McStuffins’ bag making for clean up that even the youngest players will find easy!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

We really had fun playing the Doc McStuffins All Better Game, and if you are a fan of the show you will, too!!!

Disclosure: Through a partnership with Wonder Forge Games, I have received a promotional item in exchange for this post. All opinions and thoughts are my own!

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