Celebrating Earth Day with Disney

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and Disney has been honoring the important role that nature plays in igniting joy during these unprecedented times for the last month by sharing educational information about this extraordinary planet we inhabit.

And for over 30 years the Disney Parks have been dedicated to environmental and sustainability initiatives, implementing programs in support of waste and emissions reduction, and water and resource conservation.

They are continually exploring, testing, and implementing new ways to turn everyday occurrences into sustainable experiences.

These efforts have led to incredible progress towards conserving natural resources – protecting the magic of nature for the future of our business, community, and the planet.

This year also marks a special year for several anniversaries for The Walt Disney Company.

The Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) is proudly celebrating 25 wonderful years of supporting nonprofit organizations globally in their efforts to save wildlife, inspire action, and protect the planet.

The Walt Disney Company is also celebrating one year since welcoming National Geographic into the Disney family.

National Geographic recently launched NatGeo@Home to support families and caregivers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Nat Geo at Home Earth Day 2020

The hub is home to free educational resources and content to help parents and educators keep kids engaged while schools are closed, including an exciting neighborhood safari. 

The Earth Day Neighborhood Safari invites families to design their own “safari stop” with resources available on NatGeo@Home, complete with lessons from Disney Animation, Pixar, and Marvel Studios on how to draw your favorite safari animal. National Geographic is collecting a feed of “safari art” on NatGeo@Home to help bring neighborhoods all over the world together.

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FS Open Tournament for Charity

Full Sail Open Tournament FS Open

Are you tired of missing the outside world? Us, too.

That’s why Full Sail is bringing the fields to you! (Well, digitally anyway.)

On Thursday, April 23, 2020 you’ll have the opportunity to play in FS Open, a public Rocket League tournament where participants can compete for amazing prizes and raise money for communities affected by COVID-19.

Participants who enter won’t just be competing for glory and sweet gear. All proceeds from the tournament go directly to Feeding America.

It’s no fun being stuck at home, so why not join your fellow gamers for a good time, and a great cause?

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to put your gaming skills to the test and support your local community.

If you’re not quite ready to burn rubber in Rocket League you can still show your support by tuning into Full Sail Armada’s Twitch channel: twitch.tv/fullsailarmada on April 23, 2020.

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Local Businesses Find Ways to Give Back

Margaritaville Orlando Resort and AdventHealth staff delivering meals to first responders (Left to right): 

  • Jim Vespa, Hotel President, Margaritaville Resort Orlando
  • Scott Robbins, General Manager, Margaritaville Resort Orlando
  • Stacy Crawford, Advent Health 
  • John DeMarco, Director of Food & Beverage, Margaritaville Resort Orlando
  • Sonja Lezama, Director of Events, Margaritaville Resort Orlando

Right now the coronavirus is changing how we do things, and it seems like our days are filled with news updates on how COVID-19 is affecting society.

One thing that has been a welcome break from the barrage of news that can be scary and said, it is nice to find news to share on how local businesses are giving back to their communities!

Buca di Beppo Delivers Thousands of Meals to Hospitals Across the Country

Buca di Beppo has also been delivering meals to hospitals across the country including Advent Health Celebration Hospital in Orlando, Florida, Gardena Memorial Hospital in Gardena, California, West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in West Hills, California, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California and Keck Medicine of USC in Las Angeles, California. 

Wahlburgers launches #WhateverYouNeed Initiative to Support and Serve Communities

Wahlburgers recently launched the #WhateverYouNeed initiative, highlighting their commitment to supporting and serving their communities. Currently, Wahlburgers’ efforts are focused on feeding healthcare workers as well as first responders and accepting food donation requests.

Insomnia Cookies Partners with the Red Cross to Bring Back the Fan-Favorite Heart-Shaped Cookie Cake

These can be submitted HERE

Insomnia Cookies is partnering again with the American Red Cross to bring back the popular Heart-shaped Cookie Cake. $1 from every heart-shaped cake sale from April 13 – May 31 will be donated to the American Red Cross.

This fan-favorite cake comes in any 9 of their traditional cookie flavors and can be customized with a cake center image or icing. 

To place an order for local or national delivery visit www.insomniacookies.com.

Stay connected on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Local delivery is available until 2:45 a.m. for most locations.

And not to be left out…

On Saturday, April 11, Margaritaville Resort Orlando provided meals to AdventHealth Celebration Hospital to 100 first responders. The resort’s team was eager to do their part and provide meals for the hard-working medical staff during this critical time. 

In addition, many tenants at the resort’s entertainment district, Sunset Walk are currently offering discounts to first responders including Ford’s Garage, Capone’s and Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi. 

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Huey Magoo’s Offers Special Deals to Help Feed Families

Huey Magoo's


The Greatest Tasting Chicken Tenders Brand Introduces Special 20% Off Deals on Family Meals, Catering and Gift Cards

Now, families and neighborhoods can more easily enjoy a delicious, healthy meal they crave. 

Starting this week, Huey Magoo’s, the popular Southeast chicken tenders brand, will offer the following special deals on Family Meals, Catering and Gift Cards: 20% off Family Meals (20-piece tender and 30-piece tender options), 20% off Catering (meals individually packaged) and 20% off Gift Card orders ($100 minimum purchase). 

Huey Magoo's

See a personal message from Huey Magoo’s President and CEO Andy Howard here: https://vimeo.com/405140448/d7def000b5.

“In today’s unforeseen times, we want to do our best to continue feeding our families and our neighborhoods in the safest manner possible and make it easier and more accessible for everyone to enjoy our tenders,” Howard continues.  “Whether it’s a family, employers wanting to feed their employees, or any single person wanting a fresh and delicious meal, we look forward to serving all of our neighborhoods in every Huey Magoo’s restaurant across all of our locations in Florida and Georgia the best chicken tenders in America.”

Huey Magoo’s is currently offering take out, delivery through third-party delivery services, and curbside pickup (at participating locations). 

Customers will enjoy Huey Magoo’s signature grilled, hand-breaded or “sauced” premium chicken tenders, farm fresh salads, sandwiches, and wraps. 

Huey Magoo's

Each Huey Magoo’s tender is always made fresh, all natural, with no antibiotics ever, no hormones, no steroids and no preservatives.

For a list of all Huey Magoo’s locations and contact information to place an order, visit www.hueymagoos.com

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ICON Park restaurants offer meal donation programs

ICON Park Logo

First responders and healthcare workers to receive free meals from local food chains

ICON Park has launched a meal donation program to benefit the heroes keeping the Central Florida community safe during this unprecedented time while simultaneously supporting local hospitality workers. 

ICON Park will be collecting donations via a GoFundMe campaign to provide delicious meals to the first responders and healthcare employees working tirelessly throughout this pandemic.

Local hospitality workers at the ICON Park Yard House, Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill will use 100 percent of the donations collected to deliver meals to the Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Orange County Fire Department Station 57 and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sector 5 Substation.

ICON Park ICON Wheel Bowl Game Colors
PHOTO: ICON Park

Donating a delicious meal to local heroes has never been easier. Those interested in providing a meal can do so by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/f/iconparkorlando-firstresponders.

“ICON Park and our tenant partners are always looking for ways to add light to our community,” said Chris Jaskiewicz, ICON Park CEO and president. “We’re proud to honor our first responders and healthcare employees while supporting local hospitality workers by establishing a convenient way for caring residents to donate meals.”

While The Wheel is social distancing like the rest of us, every night, you can see it wearing its resplendent red, white and blue in support of the men and women on the front lines of this critical moment.

To our first responders and healthcare workers, look to The Wheel glowing in the night and know that you are seen, your sacrifices are seen, your families are seen, and they are appreciated by all who call Orlando home. You are the best in our city and our nation.

To learn more about ICON Park visit: https://iconparkorlando.com.

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Universal Behind the Scenes: Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Discover the Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Toys at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Two years before the orange doors of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes officially opened in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, Maria Kazaros and her team were already hard at work to bring novelty jokes and pranks inspired by those of Fred and George Weasley to life.

As a senior buyer on Universal Orlando Resorts’ merchandise team, Maria essentially is involved with product development, taking the idea of something and turning it into something tangible. Or, as is the case with her role developing merchandise for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, taking the idea of something and turning it into something magical. 

“One of the hardest parts in the beginning was just, how do you bring things to life from Harry’s world,” Maria explains. “We spent many months watching the movies, reading the books, brainstorming, doing work sessions. And we brought in some of the fans to see what they liked. Those fans care and they know what they want, so that helped us all in figuring out what the merchandise in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter would be.”

Of course, while the source material for the Wizarding World (as seen in the Harry Potter film series) is plentiful and rich in detail, it can be tricky taking something you see in a movie and figuring out how to make it into an operational toy. 

“One thing that I do is I rely on my product partners who are experts in the industry and know how toys can go from nothing to something,” Maria says. “I ask a lot of questions or just come to them and say, ‘I want to make this, can I?’ And then we’ll sort of reengineer it and I get to create my vision, so to speak.” 

Maria has been with the company since 1999, starting out as a store manager in a handful of merchandise locations until joining the merchandise development team in 2001. Maria says she enjoys working with toys because it allows her to be a problem-solver.

“It’s challenging to take something non-magical, like a pen, and make it magical,” Maria says. “Or something that is magical, like The Monster Book of Monsters, and make it something real for people to interact with.” 

Walking through Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, there is a lot to interact with. From the toilet-in-the-front-window flushing at the flick of your interactive wand, to all the Extendable Ears and Skiving Snackboxes your heart desires, the entire shop is packed to the ceiling (which, be sure to look up at for a surprise) with Weasleys-inspired items and tie-ins to the movies.

“I still watch the movies over and over because there’s so much that you can still catch from them that you haven’t seen,” Maria says.

To be honest, I also watch the Harry Potter movies over and over, so what’s the difference when Maria does? When I watch a scene with the Marauder’s Map, I am simply enjoying the magic of it all. Maria on the other hand…

“The Marauder’s Map was a fun one to figure out,” Maria says. “You hit it with the wand and the footprints go around, just like in the movies.”

One of Maria’s top priorities when developing merchandise for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is ensuring everything feels authentic — taking the notch up on what people expect from an everyday toy. And as for the merchandise in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, there is a unique chaos she aims to capture.

“When you think of that scene in the movie, everything is moving. Dolores Umbridge on the unicycle moves in their store and moves in ours. So that’s one we actually created and brought to life from the movies.” 

What’s your favorite piece of Wizarding World merchandise? Let us know in the comments below and show it off by tagging us on Twitter @UniversalORL and Instagram @UniversalOrlando.

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Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13 at home

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Apollo 13 Space Shuttle Atlantis Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Fly With an astronaut

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13 Mission with Virtual Watch Party

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission – made famous for its “successful failure” by the 1995 film named for the mission, starring Tom Hanks, Kathleen Quinlan, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation want the country to come together for a virtual celebration of these brave men and their families.

Join in by tuning in to watch the classic film at the time of launch in 1970 – 2:13 p.m. EST on Saturday, April 11 – via a favorite streaming service, and share your watch party pictures by tagging @kennedyspacecenter on Instagram and following #Apollo13inquarantine on Twitter.

The real men behind the Apollo 13 mission are astronauts James (Jim) Lovell Jr. (Commander), Fred Haise (Lunar Module Pilot) and John (Jack) Swigert Jr. (Command Module Pilot). The crew launched via a Saturn V rocket at 2:13 p.m. on April 11, 1970 from the iconic Launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Though the mission of reaching the moon, and conducting moon walks was not realized, the mission was successful in its safe return of the crew and learnings applied to future missions.

“The Apollo 13 mission has been an inspiration to generations of space explorers – and continues to inspire future space explorers today,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “The crew’s story of resourcefulness and perseverance in a time of distress is especially meaningful today as we deal with this global pandemic.”

For more information visit www.kennedyspacecenter.com.

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New At Home with Disney Magic Series

Disney Magic Moments

Millions of people around the world are at home and looking for ways to spend time together (and apart!) and the Disney Parks have been thrilled to see how fans and families are creating their own “only Disney” moments in their daily lives.

And it has now inspired the parks to bring Disney to you in new ways, from livestreamed Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, to the virtual viewing of the “Magic Happens” parade from the Disneyland Resort, to singing along with the Dapper Dans. There’s even been drawing Olaf with Disney Animation and reading along with Disney talent for storytime!

Now the parks are thrilled to share an even easier way for kids, families, and fans to access #DisneyMagicMoments like these, all from the comfort of your own home.

Disney has launched www.DisneyMagicMoments.com, a website where you will find fun and engaging Disney content, stories, and resources for free from Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars, to Walt Disney Animation Studios, National Geographic, Disney Parks, and beyond.

Keep an eye out for even more virtual pixie dust, and make sure to use #DisneyMagicMoments to show how you’re bringing the Disney magic to your life at home!

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RECIPE: Confetti Milkshake from Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen

Confetti Milkshake Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

Whose taste buds are ready for a party right about now? I know mine are and what better way to treat yourself than with a milkshake from Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen.

Penelope and Jacques have opened up their recipe vault and shared one of their most popular creations, the Confetti Milkshake.

It’s easy to prepare at home and perfect for a birthday, milestone moment, a random Tuesday dessert, or dang it, just because you deserve it. Enjoy!

Confetti Milkshake Recipe

Serves: 1 if you’re looking to treat yourself, 2 if you like to share

Ingredients:

  • 3 large scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • ¾ cup milk (any kind will work!)
  • 3 teaspoons of rainbow sprinkles, divided
  • 2 slices of rainbow vanilla cake (box mix is great!)
  • 2 teaspoons buttercream frosting (recipe below if you don’t have premade)
  • ¾ cup whipped cream
  • 1 jumbo straw!

Directions:

  1. Bake the cake according to box instructions and set aside (cake should be fully cool)
  2. Now, make the buttercream frosting (recipe below) and set aside
  3. Grab a fun cup and spread one teaspoon of frosting on the rim of the glass (bonus points if you have a Toothsome glass!)
  4. Using one teaspoon of sprinkles, rim the frosted glass with sprinkles
  5. Next, grab your blender and place 3 large scoops of ice cream inside
  6. Pour 1 teaspoon of sprinkles, milk and 1 slice of cake into blender
  7. Blend on medium high until everything is mixed and smooth
  8. Pour milkshake into cup and top off with whipped cream
  9. Place remaining slice of frosted cake on top of whipped cream 
  10. Garnish with remaining sprinkles and place straw into the shake to ENJOY!

Note: You can follow this recipe and use any combination of ice cream, cake and sprinkles!

Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Yields approximately two cups

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

  1. Cream ½ cup of room temperature butter with a hand mixer, paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy
  2. Gradually mix in 2 cups of powdered sugar until fully incorporated
  3. Mix in 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
  4. Pour in 2 tablespoons of milk and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes or until everything is smooth and creamy

We here at Universal Orlando (especially Penelope and Jacques!) would love to see your milkshakes.

Make sure to share your whimsical creations with #UniversalAtHome and by tagging Twitter @UniversalORL and Instagram @UniversalOrlando.

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