D23 DESTINATION D: ATTRACTION REWINDNOVEMBER 22 AND 23 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT Additional Talent Announcement
Disney Legends Charlie Ridgway, Ron Logan, Bill Sullivan, and a host of Walt Disney Imagineers join previously announced guest such as Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, and Alice Davis for the salute to beloved Disney attractions and entertainment of yesteryear.
The roster of talent continues to grow for D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind presented by H2O Plus. The event will take place November 22 and 23 at Walt Disney World Resort. D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will bring Disney archivists, Imagineers, Legends, and luminaries together to celebrate fan favorites suchas Adventure Thru Inner Space, If You Had Wings,and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with rarely seen concept art and images; vintage video clips; and hours of revealing stories. In addition, there will be a full day of presentations dedicated to Disney’s contributions to the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair.
Disney Legends Charlie Ridgway, Ron Logan, and Bill Sullivan have been added to the roster of presenters and panelists.
Plus, current Walt Disney Imagineers will take part in the two-day event sharing their stories and insights on Disney creations of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, including:
Gary Landrum, show awareness producer, who archives and preserves the history and stories of Walt Disney Imagineering
Jason Grandt, art director, whose projects include New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom Storybook
Dave Minichiello, executive director, creative development, whose art direction guided Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Pam Rawlins, show producer, whose projects include Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot’s Millenium
They join previously announced guests Disney Legends Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, and Alice Davis; Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline; Disney and World’s Fair historians Bill Cotter, Stacia Martin, and Michael Kelley.
In addition to over a dozen panels and presentations, the weekend will also include:
A special exhibit designed by Walt Disney Archives in honor of the event.
Pleasure Island: Rewind, an evening celebration themed around the Downtown Disney nightlife district.
A pop-up shop from Mickey’s of Glendale, the famed Walt Disney Imagineering store, featuring a selection of exclusive Imagineering merchandise as well as limited-edition pins, T-shirts, and collectibles themed to the event.
The weekend event will take place in the convention center at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Tickets are currently available to D23Gold and Silver Members at $190 each. Beginning May 28, tickets will be made available to D23 Free Members for $250 per ticket. All guests will receive a special gift.
More details about the program and tickets for D23DESTINATION D: ATTRACTION REWIND presented by H2O Plus, as well as a special offer just for members of D23,can be found at D23.com/Events. Additional schedule announcements will be made in the coming months.
The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his fledgling studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s 90-plus-year history. D23 gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication, Disney twenty-three; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts and special events for D23 Members throughout the year.
Fans can join D23 at Gold, Silver, and Free Membership levels at D23.com and at www.DisneyStore.com/D23. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow us @DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
It may seem like the exact opposite of what you should do, but everyone tends to stay up front while the back of the park is emptier.
As you walk past the front of the park you may feel like you are swimming upstream, but it gives you time to see where people are going in the park so you can start thinking of where you would like to head to next.
Then when you are done getting all the ‘bugs’, you can easily head back towards the front of the park or to The Simpsons area of Universal Studios Florida.
We usually end up going towards The Simpsons, because if we are hungry we will eat an early lunch or we will ride and shop before heading to our favorite lunch spot in Universal Studios Florida, Finnegan’s Bar & Grill!
Do you have a short, short tip that you would like to share? Drop Shelley a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Disney’s Pop Century Resort holds some great memories for Kelly Christine, and so she is back to share her favorite things and tips about staying here!
As I admitted last week, there are times I don’t stay at DVC resorts. One of those times tends to be when a large group of my friends get together for an event.
When events like this happen, we tend to rent out a block of rooms together at Pop Century. For the trips that you’re not going to spend much time relaxing, this is a great place for a quality experience at a reasonable price tag.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort just turned 10 years old this past December and is quite a large resort with almost 3000 rooms.
The resort is divided up by the later decades of the 20th century and all the pop culture that goes along with it. Originally there was going to be a second half of this resort but instead the buildings were converted into the resort we know as Art of Animation. There is a bridge that connects the resorts so you can see what the other half of the resort became instead.
Some of my favorite memories with friends were made at this resort, we would spend our days running around the resort and our evenings we would takeover a few tables by the pool and laugh until all hours of the night.
When I think back on my trips to Disney’s Pop Century Resort, I remember what happened outside of the parks more than inside the parks.
Tips for Enjoying Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Tip 1: Get a brownie sundae! I’m not a cheesecake fan so I can’t recommend the tie-dyed cheesecake but I can confirm the brownie sundae is delicious.
Tip 2: Play some ping pong! Grab a ping pong ball from the gumball dispensers next to Petals Pool Bar and have some fun!
Tip 3: Unwind by the pool! After the end of a long day, I recommend grabbing a cool beverage (Piña Colava or water are my favorites at Pop) and relaxing with friends. My friends and I didn’t go to a nighttime show most nights and instead enjoyed catching up with each other while unwinding from the day.
Tip 4: The Pop Century Resort has an AMAZING loop of songs that play, and you will find yourself singing whenever you are out! It is awesome!
Have you been to Disney’s Pop Century Resort? What’s your favorite part about staying here? Do you have a favorite tip or memory?
As I’ve mentioned before in some of my posts, I love the X-Men. Wolverine is one of my favorite characters in Marvel movies, but he hasn’t always had the best screen time, especially of late. I am not a comic book fan, but adore the X-Men movies. I have seen them all and own all except the two Wolverine movies oddly enough.
What I like best is when the X-Men are working together as a team. This might be why I don’t find the two Wolverine films as compelling as the ensemble ones (excluding The Last Stand). The new film, X-Men: Days of Future Past came out this past week and was set up with a cut scene at the end of the last Wolverine film. The premise is that there is a war in the near future that will take place and effectively eliminate all mutants, imprison humans who help them, and even humans who will eventually have mutant children or grandchildren.
Without getting into too much of the plot so I don’t completely spoil the movie for you, it falls upon Logan/Wolverine to go back in time through his subconscious and prevent the war from happening. In order to do this, Wolverine must unite Charles Xavier/Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto in a quest to find Raven/Mystique as she plays a key role in the development.
If one recalls, at the end of X-Men: First Class, Charles and Erik were not exactly the best buddies they had previously been. After Erik accidentally paralyzed Charles with a bullet he deflected, he also ran off with Mystique, who Charles loved like a sister. I really liked incorporating the First Class actors, especially Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Ian McKellan as Magneto from the original films. The way they handled the “time travel” was cool and I liked the new and old group of X-Men.
All in all I was happy with the movie. It left me asking questions, but in a good way, like where do they go from here. I got everything out of it that I wanted without knowing that’s what I wanted. I even shed a tear towards the end. Nothing had really been spoiled other than what happened (not how) to one character, but it didn’t ruin the story for me at all. I will definitely buy this when it comes out on blu ray and may even catch it again in the theater. It didn’t hurt that Hugh Jackman was in almost every scene either.
As far as where I would rank this movie in with the other X-Men films, I would put it in the middle. I go back and forth between the first and second films as my favorite, then First Class, then the Wolverine, Last Stand and Origins. I would put this either 3rd or 4th behind either X2 or First Class. For those who have seen it, what did you think of X-Men: Days of Future Past? Where does it rank for you? Where would you like the series to go from here with all that happened in this movie? Let me know in the comments.
Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is well under way, and with so many great things happening during this special event I thought I would summarize what you will find going on!
Admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is required for Star Wars Weekends, and availability is limited for some events so get to your destination early! Also listen for updates throughout the day as events may be cancelled at any time!
A highlight of Star Wars Weekends is having the chance to get an autograph from an actual Star Wars Celebrity around Echo Lake! Be warned though, this is not something everyone will be able to do so make sure you choose your celebrity wisely and get there extremely early!
Disney FASTPASS Ticket Required
An extremely limited number of FASTPASS tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first served basis at the main entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, to the right of the turnstiles. Based on demand, distribution may begin prior to Park opening. Please note: You must have a FASTPASS ticket to receive an autograph.
To receive a FASTPASS ticket:
Join the line of the celebrity you would most like to meet. You may not save a place in line for other party members.
While in line, you will receive a wristband. Your wristband along with your theme park ticket or pass will entitle you to receive one autograph FASTPASS ticket. Only one autograph FASTPASS ticket will be distributed per Guest. Each Guest must be present to receive a FASTPASS ticket. You may not get FASTPASS tickets for other members of your party.
After receiving your FASTPASS ticket, continue to wear your wristband. You will need to be wearing your wristband to get an autograph.
Your FASTPASS ticket will have a designated autograph return time. Until that time, you may enjoy other Star Wars Weekends activities. At your designated time, proceed to the Celebrity Autograph Location at Echo Lake to show your wristband and present your FASTPASS ticket.
Once FASTPASS tickets for visiting celebrities are distributed, we may distribute a limited number of “stand-by” tickets with a return time. “Stand-by” tickets do not guarantee you an autograph.
Please note: Receiving a FASTPASS ticket for an autograph at Star Wars Weekend will not restrict you from reserving access with FastPass+ for additional attractions, entertainment and more at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The Star Wars Weekends celebrities for May 30 – June 1, 2014 are:
Ray Park (Darth Maul – StarWars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace)
John Ratzenberger (Major Bren Derlin – StarWars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)
Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger – StarWars Rebel)
Character Meet and Greets
In addition to an awesome variety of Star Wars Characters that you can find walking throughout the Star Wars Weekends crowds, you can find special meet and greets at the following locations:
Meet Disney Pals as Star Wars Stars in Darth’s Mall
Meet the Heroes of the Clone Wars Near the Premiere Theater
Meet the Dark Side near Darth’s Mall
Meet Members of the Jedi Council near Premiere Theater
Meet Members of the Rebel Alliance Near Star Tours® – The Adventures Continue
Throughout Star Wars Weekends there are some AMAZING opportunities to interact with characters, participate in great shows, and see fireworks that will blow your mind!
Stormtroopers at the Gate – Hollywood and Vine Intersection: Watch out for this duo, as their mission is to keep the ‘Rebel Scum’ in line.
Boba Fett Patrol: Boba Fett patrols the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage, and this is your chance to get up close and talk to the universe’s most relentless bounty hunter.
Stormtrooper Patrol: In addition to Boba Fett, you can find Stormtroopers patrolling and guarding the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage. They might ask you a few questions, so be cool!
Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade – 11:30 am: The Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade is filled with Star Wars celebrities, characters, and lots & lots of Stormtroopers! The motorcade begins at the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and makes its way to the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage with an awesome welcome and photo opportunity.
DJ Lobot Dance Party – 7:00 pm: Dance to the tunes that DJ Lobot is spinning in front of the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage.
Symphony in the Stars – 9:30 pm: If you haven’t seen fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you are missing out! This year Hyperspace Hoopla (I am crying as I type this) has been replaced with this spectacular fireworks show, and if you have ‘Glow with the Show’ ears you are going to want to bring them along!
Padawan Mind Challenge – 1:00 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:15 pm, and 6:30 pm: Younglings ages 4-11 will enjoy the Padawan Mind Challenge where your intergalactic hosts ask some fun and interactive Star Wars trivia challenges with a few surprises.
Jedi Training Academy – 8:45 am, 9:20 am, 10:05 am, 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, 1:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:00 pm, 4:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:00 pm, and 7:30 pm: Kids under 12 can hone their lightsaber skills at the Jedi Training Academy with extra opportunities than normal during Star Wars Weekends.
During Star Wars Weekends, the Premiere Theater plays home to some exceptional experiences that include the celebrities visiting the celebration for the weekend.
Make sure that you check to see if there are any FastPass+ available for the following shows!
Some of the scheduled presentations include:
Behind the Force – Star Wars: Rebels – 1:45 pm
Ashley Eckstein, who is the voice behind Ahsoka Tano, and special guests give a behind-the-scenes “sneak peek” of the upcoming TV show Star Wars: Rebels.
Stars of the Saga – 3:30 pm
James Arnold Taylor, the Star Wars Weekends 2014 host, and special guests share 30 minutes look into the fascinating lives and movie-making adventures with some of the stars from the Star Wars saga. It’s a talk-show format that is full of fun and surprises!
Make sure you head to the Premiere Theater15 minutes prior to Stars of the Saga for a unique and immersive pre-show featuring several Imperial Stormtroopers on a special assignment. I always make sure to get to the Theater early to catch this!!!
Visit to the Maul starring Ray Park – 5:15
Learn film and martial arts techniques from the actor who brought Darth Maul to life – the man, the Sith, the legend…Ray Park. In this unique presentation, the martial arts master performs impressive demonstrations as he reveals his journey to action-star fame.
Obi-Wan and Beyond starring James Arnold Taylor – 7:00 pm
James Arnold Taylor, from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, gives us a glimpse into the world of voice acting. James performs over 200 popular and iconic characters, and Zoe LOVES this show!
Special Food and Beverage Options
What would a special event at Walt Disney World be without special food and beverage offerings???
Star Wars Weekends have some pretty awesome ones this year that are only available during event weekends!
Darth Vader Cupcake: Available at Sunset Ranch Market, ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Company, Pizza Planet Arcade and Darth’s Mall
Yoda Cupcake: Available at Backlot Express, Starring Rolls and Darth’s Mall
Darth Vader Souvenir Popcorn Bucket with Caramel or Regular Popcorn: Available at Popcorn Carts and Darth’s Mall
Stormtrooper Souvenir Mug with Fountain Beverage: Available at Sunset Ranch Market, ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Company, Pizza Planet Arcade
** The Stormtrooper Souvenir Mug was temporarily sold out last weekend, so you may want to check for its availability in the park**
Admiral Ackbar’s Snackbar in Darth’s Mall featuring a variety of snacks and refreshments.
Throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios you will find additional food, beverage, and alcoholic beverage locations have been added.
Star Wars Weekends event merchandise can be found in Darth’s Mall sponsored by HP which will be located between Toy Story Mania and the Studios Backlot Tour this year.
Again, be prepared for some crazy lines!!! But the treasures inside are worth the wait!
Once inside you will find limited edition pins, specialty gift cards, artwork, collectibles, and commemorative apparel for the entire family!
In addition to Star Wars Weekends logo’ed items, you will also find the Her Universe line of apparel by Ashley Eckstein.
I know that we are all stoked about Star Wars Weekends, and can’t wait to share all of the fun! So make sure you are following our adventures on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!
I expect the show to be taken to the next level after the success of the first NXT Special ArRIVAL on the WWE Network where the show had 21 worldwide Twitter trends and was ranked 3rd in overall social mentions for primetime programs on both cable and broadcast with more social mentions than American Idol, the Vikings premiere on History Channel, college basketball on ESPN, and Vampire Diaries on CW.
On Wednesday, May 28, at 10:00 pm EST, the NXT Takeover Preview on the WWE Network will take an in-depth look at the rivalries behind the matches with Renee Young.
During this preview, viewers will also be able to watch exclusive interviews with WWE Hall of Famers Bret “Hit Man” Hart and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, as they prepare to be ringside for the NXT Women’s Championship Match between Natalya and Charlotte. I am really excited to hear these two WWE Legends talk about their families past, present, and future!
NXT Takeover Preshow begins at 7:30 pm EST on May 29th, as Renee Young and a panel of experts including Christian, Paul Heyman, and Cesaro who will be analyzing each match of the night ahead. You never know what you can expect, so I hoping that there are some special guests that will be joining them!
At 8:00 p.m. EST/5:00 p.m. PST, NXT Takeover begins, and it is sure to be a night packed full of action and great matches.
Speaking of matches, let’s look at what is lined up for NXT Takeover!
NXT Championship Match – Adrian Neville (c) vs. Tyson Kidd
I am going to admit that I am EXTREMELY biased on this match, because I am huge fan of the Man That Gravity Forgot Adrian Neville.
Tyson Kidd, the last graduate of the legendary Hart Dungeon, arrived on the NXT scene and has been gaining wins to help propel him to Takeover the NXT Championship from Adrian Neville.
But even with momentum on his side, Tyson Kidd is going to have a battle on his hands as Adrian Neville is a highly efficient wrestler both on the ground and in the air with his signature finisher he calls the ‘Red Arrow’ (corkscrew shooting star press).
I expect this match to be a ‘slobberknocker’ (thank you JR for the perfect term) full of action and memorable moments.
I am hoping that Neville keeps the NXT Championship, but a loss could set up an amazing rivalry!
NXT Women’s Championship Tournament Finals – Natalya vs. Charlotte
Natalya and Charlotte both come from legendary WWE families, and the intensity of their match is sure to be taken to a new level as family members will be in their corner during this NXT Women’s Championship Tournament Final.
The Flair and Hart families have always had an on and off screen rivalry, so seeing these ladies continue in their family’s legacies is exciting.
Natalya, a third generation WWE Wrestler who’s father is Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhartand uncle is Bret Hart who will be accompanying her to the ring, is sure to be tasked with carrying a large majority of this match. Natalya is, again in my opinion, the backbone of the WWE Divas as she is a solid wrestler with her feet firmly on the ground and eyes towards her future.
Charlotte, daughter of WWE Legend Ric Flair who will be in her corner of the ring, is an extremely talented gal who’s star is definitely on the rise. With strong mic skills, an athletic and gymnastic competitor, and will to win Charlotte is going to be a worthy opponent.
Natalya has a lot to gain from helping Charlotte not only win this match, but to help her emerge as a shining diamond among the growing field of NXT Divas. I think that Charlotte takes the NXT Women’s Championship belt, but Natalya wins bigger as she firmly takes a grasp on her role within the WWE.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match – The Ascension (c) vs. El Local and Kalisto
The Ascension has brought a new level of competitiveness that can’t be matched to NXT since they won the Tag Team Championship in October 2013.
The team’s gothic theme plays well, and Konnor and Viktor work extremely well together as a team because their skills and strengths compliment each other well and they always hit a great rhythm in the ring.
Conversely, El Local and Kalisto are a new Tag Team that seem to be confidently putting one toe in the ocean against this NXT powerhouse team. Individually, these two have a lot to offer and watching them put their skills together and grow as a team will be fun.
I don’t think that El Local and Kalisto stand much of a chance against The Ascension, but I do think that the match will give some insight as to where the NXT Tag Team Championship may go in the future.
#1 Contender Match – Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze
WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME??? How can I possibly choose in a match between Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze!!!
Sami Zayn is a powerhouse of a wrestler, who because of his size and build is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Sami Zayn is electric in the ring with a vast repertoire of moves, likeable personality, and strong will to perform to the next level even when he has outdone himself in a match.
You can never count Sami Zayn out, because you don’t know where he will strike from next as he is as fast and deliberate on the ground and accurate when he is jumping from the post.
Tyler Breeze, the self-proclaimed King of Selfies, who’s gimmick has a tendency to overshadow his aggressive and athletic feats in the ring is a great match for Sami Zayn.
Tyler Breeze, again not a big guy, thrives in matches that are fast paced however when he can slow down and grapple his athleticism shines through.
In a battle of these two fan favorites, we all win! Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze are two great competitors who have a knack for drawing audiences into their matches, so this match is sure to have people chanting and screaming the whole time. I can’t wait!
Adam Rose vs. Camacho
Camacho may have skipped out on his last match with Adam Rose, but the Exotic Express is chugging along and heading right towards him!
Camacho has stumbled a little since parting from Hunico, but his rage and aggression play to his advantage as they are in stark contrast to Adam Rose. He’s a solid wrestler, but he needs to own his anger and let that propel his confidence in the ring. I hope that the crowd really gets involved during this match, as it helps him move the match along with a new fire.
Adam Rose brings back a sense of fun that has been noticeably absent from the WWE for quite some time, but the difference is that he can back up his act with solid performances instead of slapstick.
Adam Rose comes to the ring with an infectious entrance and charismatic personality, but once the bell rings he isn’t there to party he is there to win. Adam Rose is an extremely strong and solid wrestler who performs with intensity and aggression.
I think that Adam Rose is going to execute a solid match to ‘Choo Choo’ right over Camacho to help solidify his role of being more than a party animal and gimmick.
If you were lucky enough to grab a ticket to NXT Takeover, there are a few things that you may want to keep in mind.
Tips for Attending NXT Takeover at Full Sail University
Arrive at the Full Sail Live Venue early!!! There will be a lot of traffic going in and out of the Full Sail Live Venue with more television equipment and stages than usual, so you can expect parking to take a bit longer. I like to drive down to the end of the rows to find a space, because you can usually score a closer spot that way.
There will be a ‘Block Party’ outside of the Full Sail Live Venue, so the normal entrance off of University Park Drive (Near McDonalds and Ale House) will be closed so you will want to use the entrance off of 436 (South Semoran Blvd) near Winghouse and Chili’s. There will be signage to help direct you on how to enter the area to park.
NXT Takeover Preshow is held outside of the Full Sail Live Venue on campus, and if you aren’t close to the stage you don’t have to worry because there is a huge screen and sound system so you won’t miss a thing!
At the ‘Block Party’ surrounding the Preshow Stage, you will be able to find WWE & NXT merchandise, food, and other offerings from vendors.
Make sure you know what you can and cannot bring with you into the facility, because you will have to go through bag check. If you are bringing in a poster, they are going to take a look at it to make sure it isn’t obscene. You are allowed to bring in outside food and drink, however if your drink has a screw top you will be asked to throw away the cap.
The Picture and Video Policy at NXT is strictly enforced by ushers. Photos of the event are permitted, but video is prohibited. If you are caught taking video, you will have to delete it and will be asked to leave. It’s no joke, so don’t even try!
Don’t forget to tune into the WWE Network to catch NXT Takeover with the Preview show on May 28th at 10:00 pm EST, the Preshow on May 29th at 7:30 pm EST, and for the matches of NXT Takeover on May 29th at 8:00 pm EST!
Westgate River Ranch Offers Weekend With James Rogers Weekend Deal
Weekend with James Rogers package combines patriotic country music,
cowboy-themed accommodations and a serene setting
After performing for nearly 30 years at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park in Tennessee, renowned country music singer James Rogers is bringing a weekend of entertainment to Florida. Westgate River Ranch in Lake Wales will host A Weekend with James Rogers, June 6-8, offering guests a chance to enjoy the music which thrilled guests for three decades.
Surrounded by the natural beauty of Old Florida’s cowboy country, guests will unleash their inner cowboy as Rogers’ folk tunes evoke nostalgia and American pride during performances Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 7, at 5 p.m.
In addition to single tickets – $50+tax for adults and $25+tax for children 10 and under – the ranch is offering a weekend getaway offer. Packages for A Weekend with James Rogers start at $269 per night and feature two tickets to his performance, a catered dinner for two during the performance by the resort’s award-winning Smokehouse Grill and a stay in cowboy-themed accommodations.
Throughout the weekend, guests can enjoy a variety of recreational activities at Westgate River Ranch, including an adventure park with an array of options such as rock climbing and zip lining, as well as horseback riding, golf, nature hikes, trap and skeet shooting, hayrides, cookouts and a full-service marina.
Weekend getaway packages start at $269 per night and feature two tickets to a performance, a catered dinner for two by the resort’s award-winning Smokehouse Grill and a stay in cowboy-themed accommodations.
About Westgate River Ranch
Rooted in the history of the nation’s first cowboys, Westgate River Ranch lies on 1,700 lush acres in the heart of Florida’s cattle lands and is surrounded by approximately 400,000 acres of state and federally protected wetlands. The ranch offers Florida cowboy-themed accommodations, ranging from campgrounds to glamping (glamour+camping) tents to two-bedroom cabins. Westgate River Ranch boasts a multitude of recreational activities, including horseback riding, swimming, golf, a petting farm, nature hikes, trap and skeet shooting, hayrides, cookouts and a full-service marina complete with boating, and fishing, and airboat and swamp buggy rides. Westgate River Ranch also features a 5,000-foot paved and lighted runway, award-winning Smokehouse Grill, River Ranch Saloon and the longest-running Saturday night championship rodeo in the United States, featuring trick riding, bull riding and barrel racing at a 1,200-seat rodeo arena. A herd of grazing buffalo and Watusi cattle (known for their long, distinctive horns) makes its home at Westgate River Ranch. For more information, please visit www.wgriverranch.com or call (863) 692-1321.
Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Makes Its Intergalactic Arrival at Disneyland Resort in 2015
May The Course Be With You!
Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend is a four-day race weekend is first collaboration with Lucasfilm; Aerospace company Sierra Nevada Corporation to be inaugural event’s presenting sponsor; Race registration opens June 10
The Star Wars event is the fourth runDisney race weekend scheduled for 2015 at Disneyland Resort, doubling the number of races held in 2013. The new race weekend offers runners a variety of race experiences for all levels, from Padawans to Jedi Masters – kids races, a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon. And for those who show an event greater strength for the Force, there will be a two-race challenge involving the 10K and the half marathon with a commemorative medal awaiting every finisher.
In addition, there will be a slew of family-friendly events throughout the weekend, including a Health and Fitness Expo and a Star Wars-themed pre-race party, plus popular Star Wars and Disney characters and other entertainment. Registration opens June 10 at www.runDisney.com.
The Star Wars event at Disneyland Resort joins the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, the recently announced Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend.
“This melding of the iconic Star Wars franchise and the runDisney brand creates an ideal race experience that will resonate with core running groups as well as attract new runners to the sport,’’ said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “We will continue to identify opportunities to collaborate with other Disney franchises and partners to develop more unique runDisney race weekends that will appeal to an increasingly wider range of runners across the country and beyond.’’
“This is an ideal intersection of family, fitness and Star Wars fun for our global, cross-generational audience and runDisney fans’’ said Howard Roffman, executive vice president of Franchise Management at Lucasfilm. “Star Wars is all about reaching deep within to realize your true potential and runDisney embodies that message in a very real way.”
As presenting sponsor of the race weekend, Sierra Nevada Corporation will have a presence throughout the event. Sierra Nevada Corporation, based in Sparks, Nevada, provides rapid, innovative and agile technology solutions and is best known for its Dream Chaser spacecraft, the company’s solution for providing the United States with human spaceflight capability.
“With the passion and creativity of runDisney and Lucasfilm, this race weekend is going to be out of this world, which makes it a natural fit for Sierra Nevada Corporation because we are in a race of our own to take humans into space with our Dream Chaser spacecraft program,’’ said Sierra Nevada Corporation president and chairman Eren Ozmen.
As with other new runDisney events, the inaugural Star Wars event sponsored by Sierra Nevada Corporation is expected to be an instant hit. The new Avengers race at Disneyland Resort sold out in less than two hours. In general, runDisney race weekends have regularly sold out in record time, and last year attracted more than 163,900 runners to Walt Disney World and Disneyland – a 40 percent increase over the previous year, making the runDisney series one of the largest in the nation.
The surging popularity of runDisney events has created significant economic impact on the surrounding communities. For example, in Anaheim it’s estimated that the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend drives approximately $20 million to $30million in additional economic activity locally by attracting thousands of runners to Southern California. In suburban Orlando, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, which is considered to be the largest race weekend in the country, attracts more than 50,000 runners and 50,000-plus spectators, for a total attendance of more than 100,000 in Central Florida.
runDisney, one of the largest race organizers in the nation, hosts a series of nine event weekends providing runners unique opportunities to run various distances through Disney theme parks. Race participants earn Disney-themed medals, experience legendary Disney entertainment and guest service and ultimately celebrate their accomplishments with a Disney vacation. The original event in the series, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, takes place in January followed by the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in February, Expedition Everest Challenge in May, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler in October and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November. Disneyland hosts the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend presented by Sierra Nevada Corporation in January, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend in May, the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend during Labor Day Weekend and the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend in November. More than 163,900 running enthusiasts participate in runDisney events each year. For more information, visit www.runDisney.com and follow us on Facebook (runDisney) andTwitter @runDisney.
About Lucasfilm Ltd.
Lucasfilm Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production. In addition to its motion-picture and television production, the company’s activities include visual effects and audio post-production, cutting-edge digital animation, interactive entertainment and the management of the global merchandising activities for its entertainment properties, including the legendary STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES franchises. Lucasfilm Ltd is headquartered in northern California.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), headquartered in Sparks, Nevada, is one of America’s fastest growing private companies based on its significant expansion and reputation for rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions in electronics, avionics, aerospace, propulsion, micro-satellites, aircraft, and communications systems. For over 30 years SNC has been under the leadership of CEO, Fatih Ozmen, and President, Eren Ozmen, the company’s sole owners. SNC is also the top woman-owned federal contractor in the United States. Among SNC’s most revolutionary advancements is its Dream Chaser® spacecraft, SNC Space System’s answer to the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle. The primary mission of the Dream Chaser is transporting up to seven crew members and cargo to the International Space Station. With a workforce of over 3,000 personnel in 30 locations in 16 states, SNC has six unique business areas dedicated to providing leading-edge solutions to SNC’s dynamic customer base. For more information on SNC visit www.sncorp.com and on SNC’s Dream Chaser visit www.sncspace.com/ss_about_dreamchaser.php
Some of you may have noticed my *slight* t-shirt problem. Or, you may have noticed us tweet out some of our favorite shirts occasionally. Most of these are due in thanks to a great website and mobile app called Day of the Shirt. This app is available for iphone only at this time, but they also have a great website, facebook and twitter account.
The premise of the app and the Day of the Shirt website is that there are quite a few t-shirt sites out there and it is hard to keep track of them all. The app updates on a daily or weekly basis with feeds from dozens of different shirt sites. This way, instead of having to go to a bunch of websites each day, you can get one push notification daily with all the updates. Most of these sites offer shirts at affordable prices for a very limited period of time, ranging from 24 hour to a week. Some of the sites start as low as $6 for their shirts and average around $10-12, with shipping ranging from free to around $3.
I find this app to be a great addition to help me keep track of the latest and greatest shirt designs. Most of the sites feature what’s hot in pop culture or may run a theme of a classic movie/tv/game. Today’s shirts include things like Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Star Wars, Sleeping Beauty, Captain America, Indiana Jones, Monty Python, Pac-Man, He-Man, Stitch, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harry Potter, Frozen and even more that I don’t get without looking them up.
When you click on the picture of a particular shirt, a window pops up and shows a close up of the shirt with a link to the site selling the shirt and the price. There are options to click to go to the site or to share the shirt right from the app. The settings for the push notifications are pretty straightforward with the option to sort by normal order or newest shirts first. You can also set push notifications on or off and what time you want them sent.
The sites I’ve ordered most frequently from are TeeFury (which their shirts often run small), Pop-Up Tees, Ript, Unamee and Woot! Each site usually shows their individual sizing charts, so be sure to consult these before ordering. And if, like me, your cat happens to jump on you and change your shirt size while you are checking out, maybe email the company right away explaining what happened and they may fix it for you. The good news is, often if you miss out on the time window for one of your favorite shirts, they offer them at higher prices from the vault at like $18 instead of $10.
Shout out to our friend Scarlett for introducing me to this site. I figured it was about time I shared the love. I have a love/hate relationship with this app. I love the awesome shirts that I have now because of it, but hate how much money it makes me part with. Have you used it before? Will you now you know about it? Good luck and happy shopping!
New Vacation Package Available Now for Travel Beginning June 29 –
Giving Guests the Opportunity to Experience the Incredible New Land
Universal Orlando Resort is announcing an all-new exclusive vacation package giving guests the opportunity to enjoy this year’s most anticipated theme park experience: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Travel for the vacation package begins June 29.
The new travel offer starts at $135 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for a four-night stay on-site at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and includes multi-day Park-to-Park tickets to experience both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. As part of the vacation package, guests will enjoy access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, plus exclusive benefits like Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. They will also receive a specially themed Welcome Parcel delivered to their doorstep.
Additional vacation package details can be found below.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Exclusive Vacation Package
The Wizarding World of
Harry Potter Exclusive Vacation Package
~ Starts at $155 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for travelJune 29 to Aug. 16
~ Starts at $135 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for travelAug. 17 to Oct. 2 and Nov. 30 to Dec. 18
– 4-night on-site hotel accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – an all-new hotel inspired by the iconic beach resorts of the 1950s and 1960s
– 3-day Park-to-Park tickets
– One breakfast per person at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and the all-new Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley
– Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme parks open
– Special themed Welcome Parcel
– Complimentary on-site transportation to both theme parks and Universal CityWalk
– Book by July 31
– Upgrade to one of three AAA Four-Diamond deluxe on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort to receive complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access to skip the regular lines at select attractions in both theme parks all day (a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day)
– Vacation package also available at Universal Partner Hotels
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida will double the size of the Harry Potter experience offered at Universal Orlando Resort – expanding it across both of Universal’s theme parks. Guests will pass through London and the iconic brick wall archway into Diagon Alley – a bustling, wizarding hub within a Muggle city. The new land will offer one-of-a-kind adventures where guests can:
Experience the next generation thrill ride – Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – where guests are propelled into a pivotal scene from the final Harry Potter book and film
Stroll along the streets of Diagon Alley and stop inside well-known shops like Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Magical Menagerie and Quality Quidditch Supplies
Experience the darker side of magic in Knockturn Alley
Witness the magical experience of a wand choosing a wizard at Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC
And, just like in the books and films, guests can ride the iconic Hogwarts Express to travel between King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure. The scenic, breathtaking journey will transport guests through the British countryside as they encounter magical creatures and familiar Harry Potter characters.
In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which opened in 2010 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, guests can experience Hogsmeade village and Hogwarts castle – which houses the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction.
I thought it was long overdue that I resurrect this fun series I started a couple years ago. Patriotism in the Parks is meant to focus on Americana in the Disney parks. You can check out my previous posts about Victory Gardens, the Hall of Flags and the Hall of Presidents. This time around I’ll be taking a look at the American Adventure in Epcot.
The American Adventure is a three part experience if you want to do it right. The five story building in Epcot’s World Showcase is built with forced perspective to make the colonial style building only appear to be three stories tall. Housed inside, the American Adventure attraction is the primary reason most people visit this pavilion. To me, it is a fantastic show, and one of my favorites, but if you don’t check out the other two attractions here, you are missing out!
The American Heritage Gallery is probably the part of the American Adventure that is most easily overlooked. It is situated along the right side of the lobby rotunda and has played host to revolving exhibits over the years. Currently, the exhibit is based around the Kinsey Collection, primarily consisting of African-American art and artifacts. You can read more about it in the press release here. I highly recommend taking at least a good 10 – 15 minutes to browse this beautiful gallery.
Voices of Liberty is the second attraction located in the American Adventure. This for me, may be my favorite by a slight margin over the American Adventure attraction. These a capella singers take on primarily traditional Americana and colonial songs. Occasionally they will mix in some newer material, but for the most part their material is comprised of songs most of us are familiar with from school if you grew up in this country. At the holidays they change their set to cover mostly Christmas carols with a few other holiday songs interspersed. My favorite time to see them all year is the Fourth of July! Their military medley and rendition of Golden Dream from the American Adventure move me to tears each time.
The American Adventure attraction is about a 30 minute show featuring dozens of audio animatronics on stage taking guests through the history of this great nation. Ben Franklin and Mark Twain acts at hosts/narrators as the story of the founding of America progresses into the 18th, 19th, 20th and even 21st centuries. We learn about the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Westward expansion, World War II, up to today, and a lot in between. This is one of my favorite shows featuring audio animatronics and features some great music, as well as video and radio clips of famous events throughout America’s history. The attraction focuses on several snapshots in time to give a broad overview of how America became the country it is today.
Have you visited the American Adventure in Epcot? What is your favorite part of this pavilion?
Find out about LEGOLAND Florida’s new family area and enter to win two LEGO Duplo Play Sets!
DUPLO Valley will be opening at LEGOLAND Florida today, and we got to take a tour of this great new addition that is a great place for toddlers and their families to play in the park together.
DUPLO Valley brings the LEGO DUPLO line of preschool building toys to life with new farm-themed attractions, an air-conditioned indoor play area and a water play area all geared to toddlers ages 2 to 5.
“We couldn’t be more excited to officially open DUPLO Valley,” said LEGOLAND Florida General Manager Adrian Jones. “Our newest expansion gives toddlers (and parents) a completely new way to play, adding to our already fantastic lineup of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions here at LEGOLAND Florida.”
DUPLO Valley has all new attractions for this expansion that include DUPLO Train, DUPLO Tractor, and DUPLO Splash & Play.
Another key element will be the reopening of the DUPLO Barn, which features significant enhancements to allow kids to play indoors in the comfort of air conditioning.
Guests can also purchase the new ‘Preschool Pass’, including weekday (Monday–Friday) admission to LEGOLAND Florida and standard parking for both one child under five and one adult for a full year at $90, plus tax. Assigned to the child, the pass allows an adult parent or guardian to attend the park with the toddler. The pass is transferrable to multiple adults in the family, allowing, for example, a mother to visit one day, and a grandparent the next, making it ideal for families to bring their little ones to LEGOLAND Florida during the week.
We’ll be bringing you more coverage of the new DUPLO Valley area at LEGOLAND Florida next week, so stay tuned!
And now for the really fun part!!!
A giveaway to celebrate the opening of DUPLO Valley!
Our contest is open to Residents of the United States who are eighteen(18) years and older. Void where prohibited by law. We use rafflecopter to choose one lucky winner at random, and each & every contest entry will be verified. The winner of our contest will be contacted by email (so be sure to double check your entry) and will have 48 hours to respond to the email or a new winner will be chosen. Any questions? Contact email@example.com!
Continuing in our new series of videos on our YouTube Channel called Short, Short Tips, I thought that I would share with you a little think I like to call my ‘Bag of Necessity’.
My ‘Bag of Necessity’ is just my fun name for the bag of things that I like to keep with me when I’m carrying a smaller bag in the park that has all the things that make me more comfortable having on hand just in case.
I feel like Mary Poppins, because I keep a lot of things in the bag. I like the Lesportsac Rectangular Cosmetic Bag, because it is lightweight and holds a lot of stuff!
In my ‘Bag of Necessity’ I keep the following things:
The Special Olympics Florida 2014 State Summer Games were held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports this weekend, and over two days more than 3,100 athletes, coaches, and family members came to the Special Olympics Florida State Summer Games, and the energy that ran through the Wide World of Sports Complex was electric with positivity.
At a private reception before the Opening Ceremonies, we were treated to a look at some of the new sports, initiatives, and partnerships coming to Special Olympics Florida this year as well as hearing from Athlete Ambassadors.
Starting this year there are some great new sports coming to Special Olympics Florida! Surfing Invitationals with Ron Jon in 17 counties, Unified Flag Football, Cheerleading, and 3 Stand-Up Paddling Invitationals are going to be held this year.
We also heard more about the expanded programs of Project Unity to create more unified sports, the Healthy Athlete Program which utilized volunteer Doctors and Medical Professionals, the Special Olympic Florida Youth Programs, and the expanded Athlete Leadership Program. It is great to learn about all the awesome things that Special Olympics does for the counties of Florida!
The WWE is a Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games to be held in New Jersey from June 14-21, 2014, and we got to hear a little more about their support locally and spoke about the Unified Training Day that they held at the WWE Performance Center in town.
But, before the Opening Ceremonies began we were able to walk with the WWE & NXT Superstars and Divas that were in attendance and the 128 members of Team Florida who will be traveling to the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games as they staged to walk into Champions Stadium.
It was awesome to see everyone talking, taking pictures, and reflecting on what was about to happen.
Then it was time for us to make our way to Champions Stadium to get ready for the Opening Ceremonies to begin.
Walking into Champions Stadium from right outfield entrance was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had. The stadium was full of athletes, coaches, volunteers, and their families all singing and dancing and getting excited about an awesome night.
The Opening Ceremonies started with the individual counties being welcomed, and then there was a presentation of colors and the raising of the Special Olympics Florida Flag.
Attorney General Pam Bondi then took to the stage to talk about her personal involvement with Special Olympics Florida, and then Publix donated $2.2 million dollars to Special Olympics Florida.
The highlight of the evening was the culmination of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, where over 300 law enforcement officers guided the torch into the stadium and then passed it off to Special Olympics Florida athletes to light the Flame of Hope to officially start the evening.
As the fireworks went in the air and the lights from the law enforcement vehicles were going off, I couldn’t help but shed a tear to celebrate these athletes, their coaches, their families, and most importantly their success.
It was an absolutely beautiful evening, that definitely ignited a spirit within me to do more!
We will be bringing you more Special Olympics Florida events and ways to get involved, and I hope that you will join in with us!