Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Apollo II 45th Anniversary Celebration

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Bruce McCandless II Joins Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Celebration

at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

 

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will celebrate the 45thanniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20 with a special appearance by Bruce McCandless II, Apollo 11 capsule communicator and space shuttle astronaut.

McCandless is a veteran astronaut who served as the Apollo 11 capsule communicator for the first lunar spacewalk. During this momentous event, he was responsible for communication between Mission Control and the three Apollo 11 astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. McCandless began his NASA career in 1966, serving in numerous capacities until his opportunity for spaceflight during the Space Shuttle Program. He flew two shuttle missions, but is best known for his first, STS-41B, when he made the first, untethered free flight spacewalk. The iconic picture of McCandless using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) was taken by crewmember Robert “Hoot” Gibson.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

On July 20, guests can participate in a 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. meet-and-greet session with McCandless in Space Shuttle AtlantisSM. In addition, during a special Astronaut Encounter with McCandless beginning at 4 p.m. in the Astronaut Encounter Theater, guests will have the opportunity to relive the Apollo 11 moon landing and hear first-hand what it was like to communicate with the astronauts as they made that remarkable step in history. These events with McCandless are included with daily admission to the Visitor Complex. All Visitor Complex guests also will receive a special commemorative Apollo 11 pin recognizing one of humankind’s greatest achievements, landing on the moon.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is also offering an exclusive opportunity to annual passholders, who can join McCandless for a private tour through the Apollo/Saturn V Center as he recounts his experience communicating with the Apollo 11 astronauts during their extraordinary mission. This is a limited capacity tour designed exclusively for annual passholders and advanced reservations are required by calling 866-714-9795.

In addition to enjoying the Apollo 11 45th anniversary special events, Visitor Complex guests can relive the Apollo program at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Guests can explore and experience the tremendous accomplishments of the Apollo Program through dramatic multi-media shows and numerous hands-on displays that provide an inspirational and exhilarating look into America’s quest for the moon.

At the Apollo/Saturn V Center, guests experience the historic launch of Apollo 8 at the Firing Room Theater, where three screens ignite with original news clips from the early years of NASA and ends with footage from Apollo 8. The theater is an authentic representation of the 1960s Firing Room, containing the actual launch consoles NASA used during Apollo. Visitors then experience a re-creation of the Apollo 11 moon landing in the Lunar Theater.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

The centerpiece of the Apollo/Saturn V Center is a monstrous 363-foot long, fully restored Saturn V moon rocket, the most powerful rocket ever built and one of only three Saturn V rockets in existence.

The Apollo Treasures Gallery, also located in the Apollo/Saturn V Center, showcases treasures from the Apollo moon missions, including Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard’s spacesuit and Command Module, Kitty Hawk. The Apollo Treasures Gallery also features an extensive and rare collection of developmental spacesuits and other gear used by Apollo moon walkers on the lunar surface.

Admission tickets may be purchased at www.KennedySpaceCenter.com or by calling 877-313-2610.

 

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California Grill- finally my first visit!

California Grill

 

I have been wanting to dine at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for so long now, and I am always asked if I would recommend it. Of course, from what I hear I absolutely recommend it, but I had never actually been there myself. So it was my wedding anniversary this month, and we decided it was the perfect reason to go to California Grill as we had heard it was a very romantic restaurant. Plus it has recently been re-imagined with a new design inspired by mid-century modern California, featuring a new seasonal ingredients menu. The sushi bar was also extended and now features a 12-course omakase menu.

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We found out that the Wishes fireworks at Magic Kingdom were going off that night at 10pm, so we booked our meal for 9:40pm knowing that would give us time to sit, peruse the menu, order some drinks and possibly appetizers right by the time we should be thinking about going out on the balcony to watch them. One of the highlights of California Grill is the amazing view over Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks.

 

So we checked in at the California Grill desk on the second floor in the Contemporary, and were told to take the elevator upstairs to the restaurant. Upon getting out of the elevator, there’s a secondary check in desk in front of a very impressive wine selection of 1,600 bottles housed in a climate controlled showcase. It has been reported that they have about 250 wine selections, 80 by the glass!

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While you wait for your table to be ready, you are invited to sit in the lounge area, where tables are a first come first serve basis. Some people without reservations actually dine here as the entire California Grill menu is available to order from the lounge also. We had only just been given our menus when our buzzer was already going off, so the wait was very short. The nice thing about when they take you to your table is that they walk you by the open kitchen, so you can see all the chefs and what dishes they are coming up with. The person who seated us actually pointed some items out that we were looking at, which later on helped me decide on which dessert I was going to order!

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We ended up being seated in a quieter room toward the side of the California Grill. I want to say she called it the Monorail Room, but as there was no view of the monorail I must have misheard her. From what I gather this used to be the old wine room, but it was very intimate as the ceiling is lower here, and there are only around 10 tables inside. The view was very relaxing as although you couldn’t see Magic Kingdom, you could see the lake and the electrical water pageant very well.

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I was told the drinks are wonderful at California Grill, so of course we had to try them out. Our favorite was the Sake Martini recommended by a friend, it was so delicious! The Cucumber Fizz was my second favorite, but I don’t doubt that had I tried more, that they would have all quickly become my new favorites!

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By this point they had announced that in 5 minutes Wishes fireworks were going to be starting, so they give you time to get outside on to the balcony to find your spot. Of course, you don’t have to go outside, if you remain inside California Grill they dim the lights and play the music inside the restaurant for you. As we couldn’t see them from our room, we decided to head outside for them. We got a great spot, and they have speakers out there playing the same songs and sound effects as the ones in the park.

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Despite living close by, there’s nothing like watching them from high up, going off over Cinderella Castle! Feels quite romantic too if you tune out the rest of the people around you and just face forward. This was truly a highlight of the meal at California Grill, and I’m sure it looked and felt just as beautiful from inside the restaurant if you had a lovely view.

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We got back to our table and the server brought out our appetizers immediately, they must have been holding them ready for when you return from the fireworks. For our starters, my husband had sushi which he loved as it was such a generous portion for an appetizer! I had the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli, which was nice but I wasn’t expecting it to just be one piece, at least I wasn’t too full for my main course.

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For our main course, Simon had the grilled pork tenderloin, and he said it was so delicious and cooked perfectly to his liking! I chose something that wasn’t on the California Grill menu, I chose to go with the Vegetarian Unplugged, a dish that is always different. Basically you never know what you are going to get, as the chefs pass a dish around the kitchen and they put a part of whatever vegetarian side dish they are creating at that time. So you end up with something different each time you go, they also do a Vegan Unplugged dish too with the same idea.

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My server wasn’t quite sure what my items were but they were pretty easy to figure out. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that there didn’t seem to be much to each plate, so it wasn’t very filling and had a lot of similar tastes, which was a shame as it had sounded so promising. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my dishes at California Grill.

 

I would say the best part of the meal at California Grill was the dessert! Simon ordered the Seasonal Tasting featuring Peach themed desserts, and I ordered the Sundae Sampler. My favorite being the Reverse Root Beer Float, which featured root beer ice cream with a little tiny cute glass bottle of vanilla soda to pour on top! Very cute!

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Overall we did really enjoy our food at California Grill, but for me, as a vegetarian I wasn’t that impressed with the dish I had. I was also a bit disappointed no one acknowledged that we were on our anniversary despite letting them know at the podium and telling our server. I’m not sure if they just don’t do anything special here, but a simple “Happy Anniversary” would have been lovely. I might not be rushing back to dine here, but now I can recommend it to others and I will certainly encourage them to try the Sake Martini and Reverse Root Beer Float!

 

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From Dusk till Dawn: The Series Coming to Halloween Horror Nights

From Dusk Till Dawn Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights Logo

Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort join Forces with

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez to Bring Supernatural Television Show,

From Dusk till Dawn: The Series To Life At Halloween Horror Nights Events

 

From cult horror film to breakthrough television series on El Rey Network, “From Dusk Till Dawn” will add terrifying maze to its credits when filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s acclaimed supernatural show debuts as a menacing new “Halloween Horror Nights” experience at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort, beginning Friday, September 19.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqS58htaeeM

This all-new maze, inspired by the critically acclaimed television series, will thrust guests into the deviant world of “From Dusk Till Dawn,” where they will encounter sordid mythological creatures known as “Culebras,” serpent-like vampires who have tormented the earth for centuries.  Residing within the elusive and sinister nightclub, “The Twister,” located just over the Mexican border and above cursed ancient ruins, the “Culebras” prove to be a band of immoral and depraved beasts with a deadly agenda. As guests navigate the maze and venture deep within the bowels of “The Twister,” they will find themselves face to face with a cast of perverse characters, including exotic dancer, Santanico Pandemonium, a mysterious and irresistible “Culebras” femme fatale and Queen Vampire.

Based on the film of the same name, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” is a supernatural crime saga centered around bank robber, Seth Gecko and his violent, unpredictable brother, Richard “Richie” Gecko, who are wanted by the FBI after a bank heist leaves several people dead.  While on the run to Mexico, Seth and Richie encounter former pastor Jacob Fuller and his family, whom they take hostage. Using the family RV to cross the border, chaos ensues when the group detours to a club populated by vampires and are forced to fight until dawn in order to get out alive. The series deepens the tone of the film, From Dusk Till Dawn, upon which it is based, adding new characters and backstories that expand the Mesoamerican mythology behind the creatures inside the club.

From Dusk Till Dawn

“Universal Studios’ ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ event is the ideal platform to take fans of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ to literally experience the terror of stepping into the show,” said Robert Rodriguez.  “It has been an incredible opportunity to work closely with the Creative teams at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort to bring this maze to life with such detail and authenticity.  This maze will capture the visceral excitement and thrills of the series, and I can’t wait to experience it myself.”

A versatile and award-winning filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez is renowned for directing a variety of successful and groundbreaking film sagas, including such cult horror classics as Planet Terror, Machete, Grindhouse and From Dusk Till Dawn, upon which El Rey Network’s hit television show, “From Dusk Till Dawn:  The Series” is based. Rodriguez is also the Founder & Chairman of El Rey Network, a 24-hour, general entertainment English-language cable channel which debuted in the U.S. in December 2013.

“Robert Rodriguez’ genius in pushing the boundaries of the horror genre is a perfect pairing for ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ as we continue to intensify our event with the most credible horror voices within the entertainment industry,” said John Murdy, Creative Director for Universal Studios Hollywood and Executive Producer of “Halloween Horror Nights.” “This radical new maze will give fans of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ an unprecedented opportunity to experience the show’s Mesoamerican mythology and will come to life with the same attention to detail and production value that Robert’s work is known for.”

“Robert Rodriguez’s vision of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ has translated so well into a maze experience,” said Michael Aiello, Director of Entertainment – Creative Development, Universal Orlando Resort.  “We will feature the over-the-top gore that the show does so well and our guests will come face-to-face with Robert’s unique and wickedly cool take on the vampire mythos that is completely authentic to the show. From the Nightclub interiors to the inner sanctum of its tombs, these bloodthirsty beasts will be everywhere and have a thirst that can’t be quenched.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aab5vK7RD9Q

Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” events have a more than 20-year history of creating incredibly entertaining, horrifying Halloween experiences that are consistently rated the nation’s best. The events on each coast feature highly-themed, disturbingly real, haunted mazes based on everything from films to nightmares – and streets filled with hundreds of specially trained “scareactors.” In addition to the “From Dusk Till Dawn” maze, other announced mazes include, “The Walking Dead:  The End of the Line.”

 

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