D23 Announces 2018 Gold Member Gift

DISCLOSURE: I am a member of D23 and passing along some great information in case you wanted to know about the 2018 member gift!

D23: The Official Disney Fan Club was established in 2009 for passionate Disney fans to celebrate their love of the Disney Parks to the legendary Walt Disney Animation Studios with special events, publications, online content, tours, and more.

D23 disney twenty-three Fanniversary D23 Destination D Disney D23 Expo

D23 was established to bring Disney fans closer to the “magic” through one-of-a-kind experiences, special events, unique merchandise offerings, quarterly publications, exclusive online content, and opportunities to meet others who share the same affection for Disney. D23 offers fans an insider look at every corner of Disney, from the parks, animation, television and film to the treasures of the legendary Walt Disney Archives.

There are several levels of D23 memberships, you can find them all here, and every year for those opting to purchase a Gold Membership they offer a special gift.

And just this week D23 has announced that its 2018 Gold Member Gift will center around Mickey Mouse in honor of his upcoming 90th birthday, on November 18, 2018. The D23 Team worked with the Walt Disney Archives to curate this collectible box set of 23 items, and it looks awesome!

2018 D23 Gold Member Gift

D23 Gold Member Gift 2018
1 – Steamboat Willie Original Script Pages (1928)
A star is born as Mickey dazzles audiences with antics set to animation’s first synchronized soundtrack. Predating the invention of the storyboard, this illustrated continuity becomes a treasured memento that Walt Disney keeps in his desk.
2 – Mickey Mouse Comic Strip Fan Card (1931)
Newspaper “funny pages” bring Mickey into homes, and millions follow his serialized adventures. When Mickey poses for a formal photograph, readers are encouraged to write in to see the finished result… and find tag-along pal Butch making a surprise appearance!
3 – Miniature Cel from Parade of the Award Nominees (1932)
Created for one showing at the 1932 Academy Awards dinner, Mickey appears in color for the first time on screen. Comic caricatures of the year’s Oscar nominees process alongside Minnie Mouse, Clarabelle Cow, and Pluto.
4 – Mickey and Minnie Doll—McCall Printed Pattern No. 91 (1932)
Huggable Mickey and Minnie toys become a national craze, and when official doll maker Charlotte Clark cannot accommodate the overwhelming demand, Disney authorizes a home-use pattern so mothers can make mice for their eager little ones.
5 – Hyperion Studio “Ickymay Ousmay” Crest (ca. 1933)
As the Disney Studio on Hyperion Avenue prospers and expands, a whimsical coat of arms appears on an interior door. With faux formality, a banner device in Pig Latin glorifies the source behind the success: Mickey Mouse!
6 – Carl Laemmle Scrapbook Page Art (ca. 1935)
Hollywood pioneer Carl Laemmle’s Universal Pictures once distributed Disney Oswald cartoons and, later, Mickey’s as well. In tribute to Laemmle, Walt sends this historic greeting—likely the only time Mickey and Oswald will “meet” until the lucky rabbit’s 2006 “homecoming.”
7 – Walt Disney Productions Logo (1940s)
The new, purpose-built Disney campus in Burbank allows increased productivity and possibilities. This elegant logo art appears on everything from electrical generators and location vehicles to mailroom bicycles and matchbooks.
8 – The Nifty Nineties Animation Drawing (1941)
Mickey is not only “taken by surprise” by a coquettish Minnie in this nostalgic cartoon short, but also drawn with enormous appeal by Disney Legend Fred Moore.
9 – Aircraft Worker Insignia Sticker (ca. 1942) 
With his wrench and propeller forming a “V” for victory, Mickey represents the “can-do” spirit of the American home front. Ultimately, Disney provides mascot and insignia art, buoying the resolve of thousands serving in military and civilian groups.
10 – “Walt Disney and Staff” Christmas Card (1947) 
For Walt’s traditional holiday greeting, artist Hank Porter depicts Mickey as another beloved joy-giver: Santa Claus! Inside, a galaxy of Disney characters toasts the new year, including Mickey’s feature co-stars from Fun and Fancy Free.
11 – Television Prop “Book” (1954) and Portrait Enclosure (1953)
In his first weekly television broadcast, Walt Disney not only introduces his innovative theme park concept but pays tribute to the mouse that started it all. Walt’s on-screen scrapbook contains Mickey’s portrait in oil by Disney Legend John Hench.
12 – Television Commercial Model Sheet (1954)
For a brief time, Disney creates animated television commercials featuring simplified “modern” stylings of characters designed to read clearly on early TV screens. Artist Tom Oreb is the first to re-think Mickey in these geometric, contemporary terms.
13- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Record Cover (Disneyland Records, ca. 1957) 
Dramatic art by Disney Legend Al Dempster shows Mickey at his magical best, accompanying the original Fantasia recording of Paul Dukas’ classical composition. To make sure young listeners can follow along, clever narration by Sterling Holloway is added.
14 – “Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club” Mouseketeers Fan Card (1957)
Featuring five themed days, catchy music, educational outreach, and unforgettable headwear, the Mickey Mouse Club is a broadcasting sensation. This card shows its young stars ready for their third season, along with “Mooseketeers” Jimmie Dodd and Roy Williams.
15 – Walt Disney World Mickey Mouse Revue Attraction Poster (1971)
Mickey conquers a new medium of animation—as an Audio-Animatronics figure—headlining his own show in the new Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Hollywood designers John DeCuir Sr. and David Negron’s dynamic poster has motion in mind (plus a few hidden friends)!
16 – Disneyland Backstage Cast Magazine—Commemorative Issue (Summer 1978)
Parodying Norman Rockwell’s famous Saturday Evening Post cover, Charles Boyer’s “Triple Self Portrait” fronts a celebration of both Walt and Mickey, including Mickey’s “own story,” a photo timeline, and a look at the wristwatch that became a generational icon.
17 – “Happy Birthday, Mickey” Button (1978)
This jubilant logo honors the 50th anniversary of Mickey’s debut. Inspired by familiar cartoon title card art, legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball sports his pinback throughout a commemorative “whistle stop” train tour and for many years thereafter.
18 – “We Are Doing It” WED/MAPO Poster (ca. 1981)
Based on art created for a Library of Congress exhibit, Disney Imagineers use this poster for inspiration as they hurry to build both EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland. The original heading is optimistically overprinted as the projects near completion.
19 – “Oh, What a Merry Christmas Day” Vocal Lead Sheet (1982)
After a 30-year absence, Mickey returns to the big screen in Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983). Disney greets Dickens with this song, by Disney Legend Irwin Kostal (Mary Poppins) and Frederick Searles, seen here in its nascent pre-production form.
20 – Tron Film Print (Hidden Mickey) (1982)
Only the sharpest eyes catch Mickey’s image as Flynn and Yori ride a “Solar Sailer” beyond the game grid of Tron. Within the electronic terrain, Mickey is on hand as computer animation makes magic that was unimaginable in the Steamboat Willie days.
21 – Tokyo Disneyland Souvenir Gift Bag (1983)
A colorful array of classic attractions beckons visitors to explore the new “Kingdom of Family Dreams” in Japan. Mickey welcomes the world and ushers in an era of international Disney entertainment experiences that extend beyond movie and television screens.
22 – Disney Channel Launch Party Napkin (1983)
When Disney inaugurates its premium cable service in April 1983, one of the first images broadcast is a mouse-shaped satellite—“ears” poised to beam entertainment to all. Launch parties celebrate another milestone (and medium) for Mickey.
23 – Shanghai Disneyland Mickey Avenue Seal (2016)
Flanked by pals Donald Duck and Goofy, Mickey greets the sunshine of new horizons on Mickey Avenue. The cartoon-themed thoroughfare transports visitors to a “one-reel town” that’s also a gateway to the newest in Disney wonders.
D23 2018 Gold Member Gift Cluster
If you aren’t a D23 member? What are you waiting for?
You can find out more about the benefits of joining here.
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Gatorland Opens New Off-Road Adventure

Gatorland has just completed their largest expansion since the park’s opening in 1949, and it features a brand new (and super fun) off-road adventure that  Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure ride and Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost.

For the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure, guest climb aboard one of three, 12-foot-high custom-made, off-road monster vehicles for a 15-minute rugged and hilarious adventure like no other theme park ride anywhere. This exciting ride is chocked full of wacky new Gatorland characters, singing tour guides, swampy adventure, and, of course, lots of alligators.  Each vehicle is specially branded and named after iconic real alligators and crocodiles at Gatorland, including Bonecrusher, Cannibal Jake, and Swamp Ghost.

' Gator Gatorland Bonecrusher on hill 2

Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure’s story line is a journey into the world of Gator Gardens, a fictional rival park that takes over a swamp buggy business from a new Gatorland character named Swampy Sal. Tour guides take riders off-road for a very different adventure of unexpected twists and turns, including an alligator graveyard and a plunge through a pond of hungry alligators.  A comedic plot played out between monster vehicle drivers and on-board personal guides is played out in the wild search for Swampy Sal.

“This is great entertainment and loads of fun,” said Gatorland President & CEO Mark McHugh.  “Our new ride is a perfect addition to all our featured adventure activities throughout the park.  The fact is, there’s not another ride like this anywhere.  We showcase beautiful Florida swamps, piney woods, and alligators with a rough, bouncy ride featuring our very own style of country humor.  This is a great ride.”

Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure vehicles depart from the brand new Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost building, home base for all of Gatorland’s add-on adventures such as Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, Gator Night Shine, Adventure Hour, Trainer For The Day and more.  It also serves as a second gift shop for the park, selling Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure exclusive merchandise, snacks and beverages.

' Gator Gatorland guests look at Graveyard

Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost is named after Ernest “Gator Joe” Brown, who was hired by Owen Godwin Sr., Gatorland’s founder, to work at the park.  Brown was known all over Central Florida, especially throughout Kissimmee and Osceola County, as Gator Joe because of his great love and expertise with alligators.  Gator Joe raised thousands and thousands of baby gators at Gatorland.  He had a special knack for getting them to eat and grown quickly.  When he hollered “GATOR! GATOR BOY!” across the lakes, every gator would swim as fast as they could to meet him.  Gator Joe worked at Gatorland from 1958 until shortly before he passed away in 2013. For almost 60 years, Gator Joe and his family’s influence on Gatorland has run long and deep, with some of his family still working at Gatorland today.

Cost for adults and children to ride Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure is $10, in addition to park admission.  Minimum height of 36 inches is required to ride.   Tickets can be purchased at the park admission gate or at Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost.

 For more Gatorland information visit their official website, by calling 800-393-JAWS, Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram .

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Aloma Bowling Centers Winter All Access Pass

Aloma Bowling Centers offer savings, fun with Winter All Access Pass

Guests can save up to 40% off retail prices
The kids are out of school. Parents are off work. Family is in town. Luckily for them, Aloma Bowling Centers have the solution for Central Floridians looking for something to keep their crew entertained this winter.
Aloma Bowl, Boardwalk Bowl Entertainment Center, and Airport Lanes are offering huge savings on all things entertainment with the Winter All Access Pass.

Aloma Bowling Centers

For just $15 plus tax per person, guests will receive two games of bowling and shoe rental and a $10 arcade card or arcade tokens. That is up to 40 percent off retail prices.
Boardwalk Bowl is offering the pass in December and January, with Aloma Bowl and Airport Lanesjoining in to offer the pass in January.
The deal is the perfect way for families and groups to experience all the entertainment centers have to offer, and it’s a great way to keep everyone entertained this winter break.
In addition to entertainment, all of the Aloma Bowling Centers offer a full bar with delicious drinks and food options, including fresh sandwiches, pizza, salads and more.

Aloma Bowl is located at 2530 Aloma Avenue in Winter Park. Boardwalk Bowl Entertainment Center is located at 10748 E. Colonial Drive in Orlando. Airport Lanes is located at 190 E. Airport Boulevard in Sanford.

For more information, visit AlomaBowlingCenters.com.
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New Cirque du Soleil Show Coming To Disney Springs

In 1998 Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts teamed up for the first to bring La Nouba to life on stage, and twenty years later Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts have announced that they are working together on a new project to take the stage in the iconic building located on the West Side of Disney Springs.

Cirque du Soleil and Walt Disney World Logo
Cirque du Soleil / Walt Disney World

The new show will be created by Cirque du Soleil in collaboration with Disney, and will draw its inspiration from Disney’s heritage of animation. It will celebrate Disney’s legacy of storytelling in Cirque du Soleil’s signature way, with a tribute to the one-of a kind craftsmanship that makes Disney so extraordinary.

“This long-standing relationship is built on mutual esteem and the success achieved by our two creative businesses throughout the past two decades with La Nouba,” said Tiffany Rende, Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances and Operating Participants, The Walt Disney Corporation. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with Cirque du Soleil in developing this new show that will honor Disney animation’s rich history.”

After paying homage to some of entertainment’s greatest artists, such as The Beatles and Michael Jackson, Cirque du Soleil will leap into the iconic world of Disney.

Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, added “We are incredibly inspired by Disney’s immense creative universe. We are convinced that bringing Disney’s magic to life on stage will touch audiences and bring them back to their childhood.”

The curtain falls on La Nouba for their final performance on December 31, 2017, but its impact on the Walt Disney World has left an impressive legacy. Since its première, La Nouba has entertained more than 11 million guests, has performed close to 9,000 shows, have flipped 2.8 million times in the PowerTrack act, and the wardrobe department has handled over 21 million costumes and headpieces. Tickets are still available for your chance to watch the show one more time before it takes its final bow.

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Vice President Joe Biden Brings American Promise Tour to Orlando

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Bill Blumenreich Presents announced that Vice President Joe Biden: American Promise Tour will be at the venue’s Walt Disney Theater on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 7 pm.

Vice President Joe Biden Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

During his American Promise Tour events, Vice President Biden has discussed the big political moments of his career, the life-altering choices he made, and the key traits that have helped him persevere through challenges often with guest moderators.

PROMISE ME, DAD chronicles 2015, the most momentous and challenging year in Vice President Biden’s extraordinary life and career. For twelve months, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his family while his son Beau battled brain cancer. Never far away was the insistent question of whether he should seek the presidency in 2016. Writing with poignancy and immediacy, Vice President Biden allows readers to feel the urgency of each moment, to experience the days when he felt unable to move forward, as well as the days when he felt like he could not afford to stop.

Tickets start at $68 and go on sale to the general public on Friday, December 22, 2017 at 10 am and include a copy of his new book, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (on sale now, $27, Flatiron Books). VIP Meet & Greet tickets are also available. General audience tickets and VIP tickets may be purchased online at drphillipscenter.org, by calling 844.513.2014 or by visiting the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office at 445 S. Magnolia Avenue between 10 am and 4 pm. Monday through Friday, or 12 pm and 4 pm Saturday. Online and phone ticket purchases are subject to handling fees.

“Over the last month I’ve traveled around the country to share the story of my son Beau. I have been incredibly touched by countless stories of resilience and hope that so many people have shared with me – stories of enormous loss, and yet, in defiance of that loss, they get up every morning and summon the strength to live a life of purpose. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to continue this tour and hear from so many more people,” says Vice President Biden.

Vice President Joe Biden is represented by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which developed and will continue to oversee the American Promise Tour.

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SeaWorld Orlando Announces 2018 Praise Wave Artists

Christian music fans can kick off their year in high gear with a day of fellowship and fun at SeaWorld Orlando’s Praise Wave. The live concert event series takes place every Saturday from January 20 to February 10, 2018.

Guests can enjoy live musical performances by some of the hottest names in Christian music and celebrate in an atmosphere filled with Christian friendship, thrilling rides and inspiring animal attractions.

SeaWorld Orlando 2018 Praise Wave Artists

2018 Praise Wave musical performances include:

SeaWorld Orlando 2018 Praise Wave Artists Steven Curtis Chapman
SeaWorld Orlando
  • Saturday, January 20 Steven Curtis Chapman: In a career that has spanned 30 years, Steven Curtis Chapman is the most awarded artist in Christian music history with 58 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, five Grammys, an American Music Award, 48 No. 1 singles, selling over 11 million albums, with ten RIAA-certified gold and platinum albums to his credit.
SeaWorld Orlando 2018 Praise Wave Artists LECRAE
SeaWorld Orlando
  • Saturday, January 27 – Lecrae: Lecrae is a two-time Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist whose 2014 album, “Anomaly,” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, Rap, Digital, Christian, Gospel, and Independent charts. His seven studio albums and mixtapes have sold more than 1.9 million copies and he has co-headlined some of the best-selling tours in the U.S.
  • Saturday, February 3 – TBA
SeaWorld Orlando 2018 Praise Wave Artists Mercy Me
SeaWorld Orlando
  • Saturday, February 10 – MercyMe:  Grammy-nominated, multiple American Music Award and Dove Award winners MercyMe have sold more than 8.5 million units in CD, single and DVD sales, garnered 27 No. 1 multi-format Christian radio singles and four consecutive mainstream radio hits with “I Can Only Imagine,” “Here With Me,” “Homesick” and “So Long Self.”

Live concerts take place at 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. each Saturday in the park’s Nautilus Theater and are included with park admission. Reserved seating packages for all performances are available online at SeaWorldOrlando.com and start at $19.

Live musical performances at the park continue in February with the return of SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival. As guests sip and sample their way through the park, they will discover globally-inspired flavors while enjoying local craft beers and culinary marketplaces. The fun goes beyond the food with live performances from top country, rock and Latin music artists for 9 consecutive weekends, February 17 – April 15.

The best deal for guests to experience Praise Wave, and all of SeaWorld’s special events throughout the year, is with a SeaWorld Fun Card which includes unlimited admission with no blockout dates thru December 31, 2018. For more information and to purchase tickets visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

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Celebrating The Season At Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays

DISCLOSURE: I was invited by Walt Disney World to attend a day of exploring Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays, but all opinions are my own. 

Celebrating and exploring the customs of the holidays around the world has always been a staple of Epcot’s rich history, but this year they are kicking off the first Epcot International Festival of the Holidays with even more entertainment, food, and activities for the entire family from now until December 30th.

What makes celebrating the holidays at Epcot so fantastic is that this journey is included with your admission to the park, and celebrating is an entire day (or two) experience that takes you from morning to night that you won’t want to miss.

So let’s take a peek at what you won’t want to miss during the first Epcot International Festival of the Holidays!

Celebrating The Season At Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Celebrating the Holidays Around the World

There’s no better way to get caught up in the holiday spirit than by traveling to the 11 countries in Epcot’s World Showcase to see the wondrous sights, sounds, and stories of the season as they celebrated by cultures near and far.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

In addition to the traditional holiday decorations and music in each nation’s pavilion, you can find the following story tellers:

  • Canada – Holiday Voyageurs sing seasonal tunes,

  • United Kingdom – Father Christmas discusses local holiday traditions,

  • France – Pere Noel tells a story about the French tradition of children leaving their shoes out for Christmas,

  • Morocco – A cultural representative tells tales of Moroccan festivals and other traditions,

  • Japan – The story here is focused on the Japanese New Year, O-Shogatsu, with the story of the origin of the Daruma dolls,

  • America – You can hear the story of Hanukkah, Kwanza, see the Voices of Liberty perform holiday favorites, & meet traditional Santa and Mrs. Claus,

  • Italy – La Benafa, the good witch, tells the story of the Epiphany,

  • Germany – Helga tells us the origin story of the Nutcracker,

  • China – Dragon dancers excite the crowd to celebrate the New Year,

  • Norway – Sigrid tells the tale of the gnome Julenissen, who makes an appearance later in the show, and

  • Mexico – Fiesta de Navidad with Mariach Cobre and traditional dancers bring to life the traditions of the Mexican culture with music, dances, and stories during this holiday fiesta.

There are SOOOOO many storytellers to see, so if you can spread out your day you will find that you are bouncing around World Showcase less. Make sure to keep a keen eye on your times guide for how to best schedule your day!

There are also two new groups that are beyond fantastic that you won’t want to miss!

El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia

In the Mexico Pavilion you can find a new celebration of Día de los Muertos inspired by Coco, the new animated feature from Disney•Pixar, as the El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia perform songs from the film.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

The show is full of fun & heart that lasts a little over 10 minutes, and runs several times a day until January 6, 2018.

Mostly Kosher

There is no better description of Mostly Kosher than the one they give themselves on their Facebook Page.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

“Mostly Kosher, a Los Angeles based indie-global-collective, radically reconstructs Judaic and American cultural musical roots. Through ravenous post-klezmer beats and arresting Yiddish refrains, Mostly Kosher is a musical feast that explodes into a global food-fight of Jazz, Latin, Rock, Hip Hop, World and Folk. These fearless soundsmiths highlight the architecture of heritage music and yet raze it to the ground.”

While this is a celebration of traditional Hanukkah songs and Jewish musical traditions rooted in klezmer music, their music is universal as it taps into several genres. You’ll be dancing and tapping your toes before you know it!

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season brings a blend of inspiring gospel with jazz, R&B, and more to create a brand new show that showcases Christmas and Kwanza traditions several times a day on the Future World Fountain Stage. The spirit of this show is fantastic, and once the show starts you will find that you won’t be able to walk away.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Then on December 26th there will be a festive and JOYFUL Kwanza experience that you will want to catch.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Holiday Kitchens

Let’s grab that complimentary Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Holiday Passport that available throughout the park for a peek at the new (and delicious) holiday kitchens serving up tasty treats until December 30th!

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Throughout the park there are 15 holiday markets spread throughout the park offering up traditional fare from around the world. My favorite dishes are the Cheese Fondue (The Bavaria Holiday Kitchen in the Germany Pavilion) that is served with bread and steamed vegetables, the Roasted Pork with Smashed Yucca and Pickled Green Bananas (Feast of the Three Kings Holiday Kitchen in Showcase Plaza), and the Gingersnap Cookie with Cream Cheese Icing and Cranberry Jam (The Cookie Nook – The Odyssey).

In addition to Holiday Kitchens, each of the four Joffery’s Coffee and Tea Company kiosks throughout the park have a signature beverage.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Merchandise

As with any special event at Walt Disney World, there is a large assortment of merchandise to commemorate the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. And I especially love that it features Chip & Dale!!!

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

In addition to the official event merchandise, you can find special holiday merchandise at many of the countries in the World Showcase. Make sure to drop in as you are exploring the park for some traditional cultural gifts.

Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree

Becoming a staple of the festivals at Epcot are the family-friendly scavenger hunts, and during the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays the hunt features two familiar and mischievous friends.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Chip and Dale are collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree—and they need your help! To get started, simply purchase a map and sticker from select merchandise locations including Pin Central, Disney Traders, and World Traveler at International Gateway.

As you travel around World Showcase, be on the lookout for Chip and Dale as they gather ornaments from holiday decorations in each World Showcase pavilion. Once you spot them, add the corresponding ornament sticker to your map. Once you have found all the ornaments, you simply take your completed map to Disney Traders and exchange it for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip and Dale!

Maps are $6.99 plus tax, and are available throughout Holidays Around the World at Epcot while supplies last.

Candlelight Processional

The heart of any day at Epcot during the holidays is the Candlelight Processional in the American Gardens Theater in front of the American Pavilion in the World Showcase.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Each night until December 30th, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem with choral pieces woven into the production as a fifty piece orchestra and stage filling choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy.

This year, an exciting line-up of celebrities—including a few new faces and voices—are set to lend their talents. Still left to present this season are:

  • Neil Patrick Harris – December 18 to 21, 2017

  • NEW! CCH Pounder – December 22 to 24, 2017

  • Jaci Velasquez – December 25 to 27, 2017

  • Chandra Wilson – December 28 to 30, 2017

Admission to the Candlelight Processional is included with your theme park admission, and showtimes are nightly at 5:00 pm, 6:45 pm, & 8:15 pm. However, you will absolutely want to arrive early to queue up for a seat. While seats are not guaranteed, you can secure a seat with a Candlelight Processional Dining Package.

Candlelight Processional Dining Packages

Candlelight Dining Packages are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and include a 3-course meal or full buffet (depending on the location), and guarantee priority seating at at Candlelight Processional show that same day.

You can find a full list of restaurants and prices here, but as with anything there are a few things to keep in mind before you book your Candlelight Processional Dining Package:

  • Tax and Gratuity are not included with the prices listed,

  • Meals do not include alcoholic beverages in the price but they are available for purchase,

  • You will be given your Candlelight Processional badge from your chosen restaurant location at the end of the meal,

  • and while you are guaranteed seating you will still want to arrive early to queue up for a seat.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Every night IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth lights the Epcot sky above The World Showcase Lagoon, but during the holiday season park goers are in for a special fireworks tag treat that has so many shells your bells will be jingled from now until December 30th!

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

Featuring holiday greetings in native languages from the countries of World Showcase, along with the beloved sounds of the classic song “Let There be Peace on Earth,” this festive finish leaves you with a joyful message of “peace on earth and goodwill to men.”

My best tip for watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is to watch which way the flames from the torches are blowing before the show, because if they are blowing towards you so is the smoke so you will want to move. There really isn’t a bad spot to watch from around the World Showcase Lagoon.

2017 Epcot Festival of the Holidays

The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays expanded entertainment, food, and activities make it a welcome addition to the holiday celebrations in Orlando!

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Holiday Deal For Florida Residents From Ripleys Florida Attractions

 Ripleys Ripley's Believe It Or Not Oddtoberfest Florida Resident Florida Attraction
Ripleys Believe It or Not! is always full of fun, but they have a special holiday treat for Florida Residents this holiday season!
From now until December 20th, Ripleys Florida attractions are offering half price tickets for Florida residents.

Participating Ripleys attractions include:

  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! St. Augustine Odditorium, daytime Red Train Tours and Ghost Train Adventure
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Panama City Beach Odditorium
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Key West Odditorium
Residents will need to show a local photo ID in order to receive the discount. All adults in the party will need to have proof of residency in order to receive the discount.
Ripley’s Orlando Odditorium has a special ‘Must See’ this holiday season, they have the World’s Most Expensive Dress on display.
Ripleys Ripley's Orlando Odditorium Marilyn Monroe dress 2017
Photo: Ripley’s
What dress is it? Why it’s the rhinestone encrusted gown Marilyn Monroe wore to serenade President John F. Kennedy during his birthday celebration in 1962 is on display at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! until just after the New Year. Ripley’s purchased the dress for nearly $5 million dollars, making it the most expensive dress sold at auction.
Ripley’s Orlando Odditorium is located at 8201 International Drive, and you can find more information by visiting their official website.
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Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back In Concert Coming To Orlando

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts announces Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

The live-to-picture performance of Oscar-winning composer John Williams’s musical score will arrive in the Walt Disney Theater on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

Star Wars Concert Dr Phillips Center For the Arts February 2018

Since the release of Star Wars 40 years ago, the saga has had a seismic impact on both cinema and culture, inspiring audiences around the world with its mythic storytelling, captivating characters, groundbreaking special effects and iconic musical scores composed by Williams. The Empire Strikes Back took the series down a darker, more romantic, and heavier path, a sad second act with a cliffhanger ending. Williams followed suit, plumbing new emotional territory and adding iconic new themes to his expanding musical tapestry.

Legendary composer Williams is well-known for scoring all seven of the “Star Wars” saga films, beginning with “Episode IV: A New Hope” in 1977, which earned him the Academy Award for Best Original Score. His scores for “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” were each nominated for Oscars for Best Original Score.

Tickets are on sale now and start at $49.50 and may be purchased online at drphillipscenter.org, by calling 844.513.2014 or by visiting the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office at 445 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. Online and phone ticket purchases are subject to handling fees.

Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards and 22 GRAMMY Awards. With 50 Academy Award nominations, he is the Academy most-nominated living person and the second most-nominated individual in history, after Walt Disney. In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams’s score to 1977’s “Star Wars” as the greatest American film score of all time. The soundtrack to Star Wars was also preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame in 2000, and he received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004, the National Medal of Arts in 2009 and the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2016. Williams has composed the scores for eight of the top 20 highest-grossing films at the U.S. box office (adjusted for inflation).



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Nine Ways To Have A Flurry Of Fun At Disney’s Hollywood Studios

DISCLOSURE: I was invited by Walt Disney World to experience a Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but all opinions are my own.

There is a festive holiday spirit in the air at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a Flurry of Fun has been added this holiday season that includes new decorations, shows, treats, and more that can be experienced every day from now until December 31st!

The fun goes from day to night, so let’s take a look some of the highlights of holiday fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Nine Ways To Have A Flurry Of Fun At Disney’s Hollywood Studios

1. Take a stroll around Echo Lake

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Echo Lake, just off of Hollywood Boulevard, has received a retro and merry makeover that includes extra-large ornaments on the water, colorful garlands and medallions on every light pole, a few woodland friends, decorated umbrellas, and the centerpiece of the decorations is a giant Christmas tree centered on the water that is a perfect backdrop for photos. Dinosaur Gertie is also excited for the fun, and is festively dressed for the holidays.

Don’t forget to visit Echo Lake at night, as the area comes alive with lights. A stroll around Echo Lake is a great way to end your day in the park.

2. See a new holiday tag For the First Time in Forever

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

The ever popular For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration fills the Hyperion Theater with holiday fun and songs as the royal historians, Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff welcome Olaf to the show for the holiday season to share all-new songs from Disney’s new animated short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”.

The holiday addition fits seamlessly into the existing show, and having Olaf in the show is a holiday present for the audience.

3. Make sure you are on the right list with Santa

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

You can’t celebrate the holidays without a visit to see Santa, but during the Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios there are TWO ways to meet the big guy!

The Once Upon a Time store, located among the star-studded stores all along Sunset Boulevard, you can get in those holiday requests and photos in person with Kris Kringle from November 9 to December 24, 2017.

Jolly Old Saint Nick will be greeting good girls and good boys in an area decorated just for the occasion with Christmas trees, ornate garlands, and even a lovely red and gold rug.

But remember! Santa will only be available to meet until Christmas Eve. Be sure to visit him during his limited appearance dates, taking place from November 9 to December 24, 2017!

After Christmas, “Yule” laugh your way right into the New Year when Goofy takes over for the big guy from December 25 to 31, 2017.

Once Christmas morning arrives, Santa Claus will be well on his way back to the North Pole… but don’t you worry it’s Santa Goofy to the rescue! Don’t miss your chance to ring in 2018 with a hearty laugh and even a picture too as you spend time with the goofiest holiday Character in history.

Please keep in mind that all entertainment and appearances are subject to change without notice, and if you are looking for information on meeting Santa or Santa Goofy check with a Cast Member when you arrive at the park, Guest Relations is located to the far left of the entrance as you are facing the park.

4. Grab a sweet treat

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

The holidays aren’t the holidays without sweet treats, and The Disney Parks Blog shared a look at the fun for foodies!

My favorite treat was the over-the-top red velvet whoopie pies that are piled hight with icing garland, ornament pearls, and holiday sprinkles that are tree-shaped and available at Sweet Spells and Fairfax Fare.

Fans of Olaf will be overjoyed, because he stars on several desserts around the park! Olaf can be found dancing on cupcakes at ABC Commissary, Rosie’s All-American Café, Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare and Sweet Spells. There’s an Olaf Pop at Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction along Echo Lake, an Olaf Sundae at Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Boulevard, and Sugar Frosted Fruit Bites at Pretzel Palooza on Sunset Boulevard. For even more fun, there is even an Olaf-themed sipper that comes filled with a fun “Frozen” beverage that can be found in several locations around the park.

5. Festive beverages for adults

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

For the holiday season, guests over the age of 21 can look forward to a selection of specialty beverages themed to the celebrations.

It isn’t always hot in Florida, and you may find that you want to warm up with a spiked hot chocolate that can be found at both Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner along Echo Lake and Fairfax Fare on Sunset Boulevard. The selection of hot chocolates includes a hot chocolate martini, Bailey’s Salted Caramel hot chocolate, black cherry bourbon hot chocolate, and there is even a hot chocolate flight where you can sample all three if you can’t choose just one to try.

Other adult beverages available this year include a Peppermint White Russian, a Winterberry Cooler and a Let It Glow drink consisting of vodka and blue-raspberry frozen carbonated beverage with your very own glow cube at various locations around Echo Lake and Sunset Boulevard.

6. Watch as the streets of Hollywood come alive during Sunset Seasons Greetings

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

On Sunset Boulevard, just off of the main entrance’s Hollywood Boulevard, as night falls a ‘snowy’ holiday celebration takes place as billboards above the street move into motion with appearances from some beloved characters who are sharing their love of the holidays.

The billboards above direct you to look at the iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, as it is magically transformed, courtesy of some cutting edge projections, bringing to characters’ stories to life and into motion.

The Disney character moments during Sunset Seasons include:

  • Mickey and Minnie reminiscing about a hometown Christmas as the scene shifts into a romanticized, Norman Rockwell-inspired town—starting in black and white before slowly changing into color.
  • The Toy Story characters guessing which new toys are coming this Christmas as the scene becomes covered in holiday wrapping paper.
  • The Swedish Chef from The Muppets babbling as only he can while the scene turns into giant gingerbread houses.
  • And finally, Olaf pining over his holiday wish as iconic music plays and the scene freezes over into a Frozen winter wonderland—complete with dancing Aurora Borealis lights and projected falling snow.

Each of these scenes lasts for almost 3 minutes, and play on a loop. So you are invited to slow down your pace and enjoy the show as you make your way to the attractions and restaurants or grab a spot to watch them all. If you do decide to grab a spot for a bit, please make sure you are considerate to other guests who might be making their way down the Boulevard.

7. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is back this year with even more BAM!

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a nighttime spectacular full of fun and hijinks that features traditional holiday tunes, state-of-the-art projections from Disney Animation classics, special effects, fireworks, a little snow, and unexpected surprises.

It’s “Kringle Level 9” for the stars of ABC’s Prep & Landing Wayne and Lanny as they search for Santa who has gone missing. You will get caught up in the adventure as the Chinese Theater, as well as the surrounding buildings and rooftops, come alive to immerse you into scenes from Mickey’s Christmas CarolBeauty and the BeastPluto’s Christmas TreeTim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more. The festive finale is a snowy, visual wonderland that is a must-see for the holiday season.

For the best viewing spot, make sure you arrive early and have a sight line that includes as much of the Chinese Theater and surrounding buildings as you can. Most of the firework bursts happen on the right side of the Theater, but even more effects and fireworks are launched from the surrounding areas.

8. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

If you want to really amp up your Flurry of Fun, I suggest booking the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party.

During the party you can enjoy specialty sweets and sips from around the park before you move to a special reserved viewing area to enjoy Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! The viewing area, weather and condition permitting, is located in the Chinese Theater courtyard.

Among the desserts offered are candy cane brownies, holiday Mickey and Minnie sugar cookies, warm pumpkin pie spiced bread pudding, and sweet Yule Log.

And at the end of the party you get to take home a special ornament as a gift to remember your evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

The Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party is a premium event that is not included with admission that takes place nightly through December 31. Pricing does change based on date, and from now to December 15, pricing is $79 for adults and $45 for children ages 3-9; and December 17-31, adults are $89 and children are $49 (gratuity and tax included).

Reservations must be made in advance either online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

9. Minnie’s Holiday Dine-In

Flurry of Fun Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

You can deck the halls at a dazzling dinner party filled with holiday cheer and amazing food at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Minnie’s Holiday Dine-In.

Minnie Mouse is the hostess-with-the-mostest, and she is throwing a fantastic feast that features a mix of fun music and décor with a seasonal menu that is full of the joy of the season.

Minnie greets you at the door for a special photo opportunity, and while you are dining you can meet Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they stop by your table to pose for pictures and holiday hugs.

And before you leave, make sure you pick up your gift from your thoughtful hostess!

Minnie’s Seasonal Dining events cost $50 per adult and $30 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made online or using the My Disney Experience App. Some dining plans accepted, so check before you go.

If you are not planning on attending at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, this is a great time to get photos with some of your favorite characters in their holiday finest while enjoying a great meal. I have had the chance to go to several of Minnie’s holiday get togethers, and I look forward to them every time!

And while this is a buffet, don’t feel like you can’t dine here if you have allergies because they go above and beyond accommodating guests with allergies and dietary concerns!

Spending the holidays at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always been a great way to kick off our holiday celebrations in November, but this year it is even better with all of these new additions! It truly is a Flurry of Fun!

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