Animal Kingdom and Epcot Connecting Families With Nature

Animal Kingdom and Epcot

Connecting Families With Nature Series

Throughout the year Animal Kingdom and Epcot will be hosting Connecting Families With Nature Series of special events designed to bring attention to animals, their habitats, and what we humans can do to help them not only thrive but survive!

The events take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot. The goal of each is to provide kids and families with a special opportunity to connect with nature, talk to our animal experts, and learn more about some of the fantastic creatures with whom we share our planet. Here’s the list of our 2014 events. Watch the Disney Parks Blog for more detailed posts shortly before each one. We hope to see you at one or more of them!

We ventured to Rafiki’s Planet Watch for the first event in the year long series on March 4th to celebrate ‘Springing Forward’ a few days early by celebrating frogs, toads and other amphibians.

Once we arrived, we were greeted by Cast Members and found all sorts of great games, activities, and special examinations we could watch.

The first thing we did, as we listened to Guitar Dan, was to make our very own Toad Abode for the frogs and toads in our yard to be comfy as Cast Members told us about frogs that were native to Florida. You know that I HAD to have a few Mickey’s on there!

Connecting Families with Nature

Once inside we were able to try our hand at several games (who knew I could standing jump 7 ft!), watched an examination of a frog, and learned ways that we could do our part to help frogs.

Connecting Families with Nature

Did you know that, according to some estimates, as many as one-third of the known amphibian species are threatened by extinction because of loss of habitat, climate change, pollution and disease? To find out more about Disney conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/conservation

 Connecting Families with Nature

 

These Connecting Families With Nature Special Events are a great way to make your trip to the park extra special, and I know that we will definitely be going to more throughout the year. We had so much fun!

Connecting Families with Nature

If you want to join in the fun with us, here are the upcoming 2014 events for Connecting Families with Nature! You always want to keep in mind that dates subject to change:

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

    • March 4: Spring Forward for Amphibians Day — Just a few days before we adjust our clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time, we’re “springing forward” to celebrate frogs, toads and other amphibians.
    • April 22: Party for the Planet in celebration of Earth Day — Every day is a Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as guests and cast members join together to celebrate the wonders of nature, but, on Earth Day, there will be even more natural magic. Included is a celebration of the release of Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears,” in theaters April 18, which showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons.
    • May 6: International Migratory Bird Day — Time to celebrate of one the wonders of nature – bird migration – and the ways we can help protect birds on their journeys.
    • May 20: World Turtle Day — Turtles are fascinating creatures, and really cool dudes, too – just ask Crush! Both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate turtles with special activities.
    • June 10: Pollinator Day — butterflies, bees and other pollinators are the stars of this celebration.
    • July 29: Big Cat Day — It’s all about the largest cats, like lions and tigers – cats to whom you wouldn’t want to say, “here, kitty, kitty.”
    • August 5: Primate Day — The perfect place to find out what a 400-pound gorilla and a one-pound cotton-top tamarin have in common.
    • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day — Learn fun facts and important conservation information about magnificent and endangered elephants and rhinos.

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

    • April 22: Earth Day Celebration — It’s an ocean of fun at The Seas on Earth Day as this Earth Day celebration focuses on marine animals.
    • May 20: World Turtle Day — See the magnificent sea turtles swim by in the main aquarium and find out what each of us can do to keep turtles safe in the wild.
    • June 4: World Oceans Day — Join Nemo, Dory, Crush and the rest of the gang in celebrating the wonders of the oceans.

 

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Celebrating National Engineers Week In Epcot With Raytheon

National Engineers Week

Every year Raytheon, sponsor of Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions East, helps guests National Engineers Week in Epcot, but this year they have really taken it to the next level!

For the week of February 17-21, 2014, Raytheon is presenting ‘Science Thrills Live’ show in Innoventions West.

httpv://youtu.be/P9Uvz0AWRis

In ‘Science Thrills Live’, which is part of Raytheon’s Math Moves You program, Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle leads a group of three scientists who demonstrate various scientific concepts with experiments that involve and engage even the youngest members of the audience!

National Engineers Week

I had the chance to speak with Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle before the show, and this former Miss Massachusetts is also a Biochemist who founded Science for Scientists with a passion for education and firing kids up about STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) to show them the real world applications of science.

Dr. Angle said that ‘Our goal is to dispel stereotypes of science, while also showing kids that science and engineering are awesome, fun, and engaging.’

National Engineers Week

The energy of the show was really fun, and as an extra bonus they used a lot of music from Meet the Robinsons during the show.

“Science Thrills Live” show is 20 minutes long, and will occur daily all week with shows at 11 a.m., 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. in Innoventions West near the Great Piggy Bank Adventure.

National Engineers Week

I suggest showing up 30 minutes early, because it is not a huge space. While you are waiting there are experiments to do and a really great pre-show that gives you a taste of what you can expect once the show begins!

In addition to ‘Science Thrills Live’, Raytheon employees will be on hand to lead Guests in hands-on experiments, again located in Innoventions West, to share kid-friendly activities while they share their passion for education and engineering.

National Engineers Week

And after the show and experiments, you definitely have to take the chance to experience science first hand by designing and experiencing their own thrill ride at The Sum of All Thrills presented by Raytheon

We look forward to celebrating National Engineers Week every year with Raytheon, but this year is especially memorable so be sure to drop by Innoventions West this week! 

National Engineers Week

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Ocean Spray Bog Returns to Epcot for Food & Wine Festival

Ocean Spray Returns to Epcot For The18th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

The Ocean Spray Bog is back with tips on how to incorporate cranberries into everyday living

Ocean Spray Bog

At the 18th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival park guests have the opportunity to learn about how cranberries are grown and how every part of this versatile fruit is used at the cranberry bog near the Fountain of Nations.

httpv://youtu.be/FG6Nc_Gxz0E

I had the chance to take a dip in the bog, to talk to a few of the Ocean Spray growers, and to try several dishes from around the world that were created with cranberries and Craisins to kick of the Festival!

Ocean Spray Bog

This was my second year strapping on waders and heading into the bog, and it is was just as much fun as it was the first time around. The floating berries, chatting with people as they are walking by, and talking to Ocean Spray growers and hearing their family stories is a great way to spend an evening.

Ocean Spray Bog
Our menu of international dishes featuring Craisins

The international dishes we were able to sample were absolutely amazing! I would have never thought of some of these cranberry flavor combinations, but they were delightful!

My favorites were the Craisin glazed Pork Belly with white cheddar maple grits with cranberry and sea salt cured wild salmon with maple sugar crystals from Canada, the Craisin infused five spice char Kobe beef with Sriracha with Craisin vegetable fried rice from Japan, and the mole shrimp quesadilla with cranberry salsa from Mexico. The artisan cheese stuffed mini Craisin Brioche from France was also delicious!

Ocean Spray Bog
The pork belly from Canada was beyond tender and flavorful and the salmon had a sweet undertone that cut paired well with the natural taste of wild salmon.
Ocean Spray Bog
While the Kobe Beef was definitely the star of this dish from Japan, the cranberry and Sriracha combo of slightly tart and spicy was amazing!
Ocean Spray Bog
I am always a sucker for mexican dishes, but the sweet mole shrimp quesadilla filling that with a tart and spicy cranberry salsa made for a tasty pair!

Also until November 11th, chefs at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will showcase the delicious versatility of Craisins Dried Cranberries through select chef demonstrations and private events, at certain restaurants, and at the Hops & Barley Marketplace.

“The beauty of the cranberry isn’t just what you see on the outside, it’s how it makes you feel on the inside,” said Ken Romanzi, COO, Ocean Spray Global. “Through our sponsorship at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, we can illustrate the many ways cranberries can be incorporated into snacks and meals every day, and educate guests about the healthy origins of the fruit.”

The cranberry bog at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is filled with more than 1,000 lbs. of floating cranberries, and is manned with Ocean Spray farmers all to happy to share their heritage, passion for growing cranberries, and spread the word about the healt benefits from these tasty fruits!

If you are passing through Epcot during the Festival, make sure you stop by the bog for a bit to talk to one of Ocean Spray Bog farmers and I am sure you will be surprised at how versatile the cranberry really is and also make sure you try one of the many tasty Craisin dishes!

Ocean Spray Bog
Good night from the Ocean Spray Bog!

Can’t make it to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? Visit www.oceanspray.com for delicious everyday ideas and seasonal inspirations from around the world. Cranberry lovers eager to share their stories and recipes are encouraged to tweet @OceanSprayInc or post on Ocean Spray’s Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram pages.

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Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival Returns This Week

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Each year, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival continues to be one of the most anticipated special events for guests of Walt Disney World. Around World Showcase, kiosks are setup for the festival that feature food and beverages from countries and regions around the world. This year includes more than 25 kiosks with returning favorites, and new offerings from Scotland like the seared salmon, vegetarian haggis, and banoffee tart. The Scottish booth will also serve Innis & Gunn Original beer, which I recently discovered at the Grand Floridian, and what I may be most excited about, Scotch tastings from Glenfiddich with 12, 15 and 18 years included in the flight.

The kiosks will presumably, like in years past, take Disney Dining Plan snack credits for payment for most of the food and some non-alcoholic beverages. This is a fantastic use of your snack credits if you are on the dining plan as some of these individual items can often cost upwards of $6 or $7 like the lobster dishes at the Hops & Barley kiosk. The festival will definitely have me going back to some of my favorites including the escargot in France, Fisherman’s pie and cheese plate in Ireland, kahlua pork sliders and tuna poke from Hawaii, Florida shrimp ceviche, and Schinken nudel in Germany.

Ceviche
Ceviche
Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll

Another great thing about the Food & Wine Festival is that  you get the opportunity to try some of the featured menu items from some of Epcot’s restaurants that you may not be able to get into very easily, like Le Cellier in Canada. For those not fortunate enough to get a reservation, don’t despair. You can sample the restaurant’s cheddar cheese soup and filet mignon with truffle sauce at this year’s festival booth.

In addition to the kiosks, the festival plays host to celebrity chefs and representatives from vineyards and other spirit companies. Many special events are offered over the festival’s almost two month span from September 27 through November 11 this year. Seminars and mixology classes along with tastings are among some of the more affordable extras that can start as low as $10 or so for some (occasionally passholder discounts are offered for select events). Other special parties, like the Party for the Senses, can go to upwards of $200 per person. Check out the festival page to see more details or call (407) 939-3463 to book.

One of the most fun parts of the festival is the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. This year new acts join some of the favorites that have been coming back for years. Last year I got to see both Sugar Ray and Boyz II Men put on great concerts. This year’s lineup (subject to change and courtesy of Disney) is as follows:

9/27-9/29 STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
9/30-10/1 NEW! The Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat”
10/2-10/4 Air Supply “All Out of Love”
10/5-10/6 Sister Hazel “All for You”
10/7-10/9 Sugar Ray “Fly”
10/10-10/11 NEW! Edwin McCain “I’ll Be”
10/12-10/13 NEW! The Manhattan Transfer “Boy From New York City”
10/14-10/15 NEW! Wilson Phillips “Hold On”
10/16-10/17 The Pointer Sisters “I’m So Excited”
10/18-10/20 Night Ranger “Sister Christian”
10/21-10/23 Boyz II Men “End of the Road”
10/24-10/25 Survivor “Eye of the Tiger”
10/26-10/27 38 Special “Caught Up in You”
10/28-10/30 Smash Mouth “Walkin’ on the Sun”
10/31-11/1 NEW! Spin Doctors “Two Princes”
11/2-11/3 NEW! Christopher Cross “Sailing”
11/4-11/5 Hanson “Get the Girl Back”
11/6-11/8 Dennis DeYoung
original member of the group STYX
“Come Sail Away”
11/9-11/11 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Go Daddy-O”

 

Concerts take place in the America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00pm each night. Some of these performers can be very popular and guests have been known to line up hours in advance to try to get seats for the show. If there is someone that you really want to see, try to get there an hour or so ahead of time to give yourself the best chance to get into the theatre. If you don’t get in, rest assured, you can still see/hear the music and the band from elsewhere in the American pavilion.

I cannot wait for the Food & Wine Festival to start! This is one of my favorite events of the year, I often try to spread out my visits over three or four days to sample a few items each time. This gives me time to digest between booths and also to give my wallet a rest since you can literally spend hundreds to thousands if you were to purchase each item at each booth of the festival. I won’t be able to go for a few weeks, but I know many who are going this weekend.

Fisherman's Pie
Fisherman’s Pie

Have you been to Epcot for the International Food & Wine Festival? If so, what are some of your favorite items? Have you done any of the special events or tastings? What are you most looking forward to? Let us know!

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Epcot’s Eat To The Beat Concert Series Line-Up

Eat to the Beat

With this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival right around the corner, September 27 – November 11, it’s time to look at the line up for the Eat to the Beat Concert Series!

I am really excited about the new acts that will be joining this year’s lineup! The new bands include the Go-Go’s, Edwin McCain, The Manhattan Transfer, Wilson Phillips, Spin Doctors and Christopher Cross. And I am even more happy to see that so many of my favorites like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Sugar Ray, and Boyz II Men are returning!!!

Eat to the Beat

Here is the full Eat to the Beat Concert schedule:

  • Sept. 27-29 – Starship starring Mickey Thomas
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – Go-Go’s
  • Oct. 2-4 – Air Supply
  • Oct. 5-6 – Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 7-9 – Sugar Ray
  • Oct. 10-11 – Edwin McCain
  • Oct. 12-13 – Manhattan Transfer
  • Oct. 14-15 – Wilson Phillips
  • Oct. 16-17 – The Pointer Sisters
  • Oct. 18-20 – Night Ranger
  • Oct. 21-23 – Boyz II Men
  • Oct. 24-25 – Survivor
  • Oct. 26-27 – 38 Special
  • Oct. 28-30 – Smash Mouth
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1 – Spin Doctors
  • Nov. 2-3 – Christopher Cross
  • Nov. 4-5 – Hanson
  • Nov. 6-8 – Dennis DeYoung
  • Nov. 9-11 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

The Eat to the Beat Concert Series is free with admission to Epcot, and takes place in the American Gardens Theater in World Showcase nightly at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8:00 pm. The concerts are about 30 minutes long, but you will want to be prepared to line up extra early if it is one of your favorite bands!!!

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Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sneak Preview “Taste Your Way Around The World”

2013foodandwinebanner

Tables in Wonderland Food & Wine Festival Special Event

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sneak Preview “Taste Your Way Around The World”

Odyssey Pavilion at Epcot®

Saturday July 27, 2013 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Price: $133.13, tax and gratuity included

 

Counting down the days to the Festival?  Looking forward to international marketplaces featuring tasty tapas-sized dishes and refreshing beverages? Eager to try your hand at mixology?  Ready for some Culinary Demonstrations? Excited to enjoy an exhilarating outdoor concert?

With the 18th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival just around the corner, we would like to invite Tables in Wonderland members only to a “sneak preview” of this year’s Festival! Join us as we sample the food and hear speakers talk about the new and exciting things we have in store for you this year! Learn what new marketplaces will be added, as well as new special events. Be one of the first to be “in the know” as we taste our way around the world! 

Please visit the following website www.disneyurl.com/SneakPreview for self-booking and instant confirmation. 

The website will go live and begin taking reservations on Monday, July 1, 2013 at 10:00am. 

 

When you go to the website please have the following information ready:

Tables in Wonderland Ticket Number (number beginning with a W and includes a date)
First and Last Name of everyone in your party (you may purchase up to 10 tickets)
Home address
Phone number
Credit Card Number
Billing Address of the Credit Card
Personal Email Address
Food Allergies (if any)

Things to note about this event: 

The event is limited to 150 Guests, and is exclusive to Tables in Wonderland members.  Park admission not required. 

The menu for this event is inspired by the International Marketplaces:

Buffet Reception:

Florida Local: Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with White Cheddar and Sweet & Hot Pickles
South Korea: Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce and Kimchi

Terra: The Vegan Vine Red Blend
Cheese: Once Upon a Vine’s The Fairest Chardonnay
Brazil: Carnaval Moscato White Sparkling
Craft Beers: Sierra Nevada, Torpedo® Extra IPA
Poland: Frozen Szarlotka (Frozen Polish Apple Pie) featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka

Plated Dinner

Appetizer

Brazil: Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro

Brazil: Cerveharias Kaiser Brewery, Xingu Black Beer

Salad

Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival Rewind
Florida Fresh: Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

Florida Local: Florida Orange Groves Hurricane Class 5, Florida White Sangria

Entrée

Canada: “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce
Scotland: Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette
With Baby Root Vegetables

Africa: The Wolftrap Red (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Viognier)
New Zealand: Mohua Sauvignon Blanc

Dessert Trio from Desserts & Champagne:

Chocolate Orange Cupcake
Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake
Morello Cherry Pistachio Mousse

Desserts & Champagne: Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé

Soft Drinks, Water, Coffee, Tea

If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, which you have not already told us about, please send an email to WDW.Tables.In.Wonderland@disney.com to give us time to accommodate your needs.

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Sounds Like Summer Concert Series Brings Classic Hits to Epcot Through July

Sounds Like Summer

Summer sizzles at Epcot as some of the world’s greatest tribute bands rock the stage on select summer nights. Classic hits U2, The Bee Gees, The Police, and many more will rock during Sounds Like Summer concert series. The high-energy performances for Walt Disney World Resort guests take place at the open-air America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase.

The Sounds Like Summer Concert Schedule:

Entertainment subject to change without notice

  • June 9 to 15: Stayin’ Alive ~ A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • June 16 to 22: Hotel California ~ A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 23 to 29: Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot ~ The Ultimate Billy Joel Tribute Show
  • June 30 to July 6: Slippery When Wet ~ The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
  • July 7 to 13: SouthBound and Company ~ A Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • July 14 to 20: The Police Experience ~ A Tribute to The Police
  • July 21 to 27: 2U ~ A Tribute to U2
Sounds Like Summer
Stayin’ Alive ~ A Tribute to the Bee Gees kicks off the Sound Like Summer Concert Series on Saturday, June 9 at the America Gardens Theatre in the Epcot World Showcase

Show times are 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m. – except on July 4 when show times are 5:15, 6:30, 7:45 and 9 p.m.

Sounds Like Summer concerts are included with Epcot admission.

 

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The Eat To The Beat 2013 Concert Series Line Up

Eat to the Beat

This year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will return to Epcot this September 27 – November 11, and while the food is spectacular I always look forward to the Eat to the Beat Concert Series which features some great new additions!

While I am SUPER stoked to see that Big Bad Voodoo Dady, Sugar Ray, and Boyz II Men are still part of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, I am excited for updated series to take to the festival stage this year!

This year the concert series new comers include the Go-Go’s, Edwin McCain, The Manhattan Transfer, Wilson Phillips, Spin Doctors, and Christopher Cross.

Here is the entire Eat to the Beat Concert Series Schedule!

  • Sept. 27-29 – Starship starring Mickey Thomas
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – Go-Go’s
  • Oct. 2-4 – Air Supply
  • Oct. 5-6 – Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 7-9 – Sugar Ray
  • Oct. 10-11 – Edwin McCain
  • Oct. 12-13 – Manhattan Transfer
  • Oct. 14-15 – Wilson Phillips
  • Oct. 16-17 – The Pointer Sisters
  • Oct. 18-20 – Night Ranger
  • Oct. 21-23 – Boyz II Men
  • Oct. 24-25 – Survivor
  • Oct. 26-27 – 38 Special
  • Oct. 28-30 – Smash Mouth
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1 – Spin Doctors
  • Nov. 2-3 – Christopher Cross
  • Nov. 4-5 – Hanson
  • Nov. 6-8 – Dennis DeYoung
  • Nov. 9-11 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

I seriously cannot wait!!!

I hope that we see you at one of these concerts!!!

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David Bromstad at the Flower and Garden Festival

David Bromstad takes the stage
David Bromstad takes the stage

I don’t know if you all know this, but I am a certified HGTV junkie! I can watch it all day every day from designs, to landscaping, buying and selling, to remodels. So when I heard my favorite HGTV star, David Bromstad, was going to be featured this year at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival, I knew I’d be there. I have been coming to this spring special event for almost fifteen years, but have never been to any of the speaker series since the recent collaboration with HGTV over the past few years.

David Bromstad, HGTV’s first Design Star, and host of his own show Color Splash, has ties to Disney and Florida. He is a former Cast Member who attended Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design (just minutes from where I live). I love the bright, bold colors David uses in everything he does and especially his one of a kind paintings that he often contributes to his redesigns. I was so excited to learn this presentation was entitled the Power of Color since I love bright colors in my design and clothing.

I met my friends Carol, Danny and Jodi at Epcot and after a quick ride on Test Track we ventured over to the Wonders of Life pavilion early to get our seats. I was so glad we got there almost 45 minutes early as the seats were almost full at that time! This only goes to show how popular David Bromstad is. His personality on his shows is as big and bold as the colors he loves to use! This showed in his fantastic presentation about color.

The Power of Color presentation featured about ten colors or so and discussed common representations of the color. For instance blue is often associated with serenity and peacefulness, but David also brought up the negative of each color, like blue can represent depression. In addition, he went over some of the holistic properties of each color and the characteristics of those who typically like each color. After each color was described, he would show slides of the color used in three very different ways to bring out hues and shades to represent different themes.

I absolutely loved the presentation and David Bromstad’s sense of humor was so personable. He was so down to earth, even shouting out to his friends and parents who were in the audience, making it feel like he had invited us in to his living room for a fun chat. Even my friends who didn’t know who David Bromstad was before Sunday and who aren’t fans of HGTV seemed to really enjoy the presentation. It was very accessible to everyone and I think most people walked out thinking of all the new possibilities for design or even for dressing themselves in the morning. My friends even decided that they will now not be painting the nursery yellow for their yet to be born baby because it is the hardest color for the eyes to focus on (gray is the easiest subsequently).

David Bromstad put on a great show and it was a great combination of education and entertainment. After the show ended, he even took a good amount of time to meet and greet with his fans. He didn’t rush anyone along and greeted everyone with a hug and a sincere thank you for coming. Guests asked design questions, gave him gifts and just chatted with him. It was nice to see someone down to earth matching the personality they put out on tv. I have to give a shout out and huge thank you to David Bromstad’s social media manager Augie for making a meet and greet happen for me even though I missed the line cut off. Coincidentally, I ran in to the guys later that night at our resort in the elevator.

If you enjoy design and decoration as much as I do, or even if you are new to the game, I strongly suggest checking out David’s shows Color Splash and HGTV Design Star, which returns June 9th. You are almost guaranteed to learn some new design techniques and you will be entertained each episode for sure. Also, when next year’s International Flower and Garden Festival rolls around, make sure you check out the presentations by some of the best HGTV personalities. Check out David’s blog post about his time at Disney World here.

Designers Stage Presented by HGTV
Designers Stage Presented by HGTV
Greeting the crowd
Greeting the crowd
He was looking right at me
He was looking right at me
Cooling off between meeting guests
Cooling off between meeting guests
A fan made this quilt of pictures of David
A fan made this quilt of pictures of David
He was so sweet to take time with each guest
He was so sweet to take time with each guest
I made him laugh
I made him laugh
We almost matched
We almost matched
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18th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Details Released!

Sip, Savor, Repeat! Fresh Global Tastes Tempt the Palate

at 18th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 27-Nov. 11

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2013
Guests can sample wine, cheese and ethnic tastes from regions around the world Sept. 27 – Nov. 11, 2013 during the 18th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Scotland Marketplace Debuts, Brazil Flavors Return for Encore

Disney guests can sip and savor fresh flavors from six continents during the 18th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 27-Nov. 11, 2013 at Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney chefs will debut the authentic tastes of Scotland at the celebrated 46-day festival known for innovative food, wine, beer, cocktails, music and entertainment.  The sizzling aromas of more than 25 ethnic and specialized marketplaces including Africa, Brazil and Florida Local will tempt guests strolling the World Showcase Promenade.  Celebrity chefs like Warren Brown and Jamie Deen will bring culinary cachet to special festival events and demonstrations.

Festival planners will present a delectable menu of premium programming, plus daily wine tastings and mixology seminars.  Nightly Eat to the Beat concerts will keep the party rockin’, and five bands will make their festival debut this year.  In Future World, the iconic Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog will return for a third year to introduce families to the cranberry’s rich agricultural heritage.

Fresh for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in 2013:

New marketplace debuts; favorites return -Traditional flavors with a twist will pair with beers, meads and Scotch at the new Scotland Marketplace designed by Walt Disney Imagineering.  Scottish officials were so impressed with the hit Disney film, “Brave,” that they contacted festival planners about participating in this year’s festival.  The Brazil Marketplace returns by popular demand with an exciting new menu following a one-year hiatus.  Hawai’i is back with its flavorful Kalua Pork Slider, and Terra, which debuted last year, returns with vegan favorite Trick’n Chicken Curry.

Fan favorites rock the house at Eat to the Beat! Concerts – “We Got the Beat” with the Go-Go’s (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) and four other musical acts are set to make first appearances at Eat to the Beat nightly concerts.  Also new to the festival stage: Edwin McCain (Oct. 10-11), The Manhattan Transfer (Oct. 12-13), Spin Doctors (Oct. 31-Nov. 1), and Christopher Cross (Nov. 2-3) Nineteen bands are slated, with STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas kicking off the concert series Sept. 27-29.  Returning fan favorites include The Pointer Sisters, Smash Mouth, Boyz II Men, Sister Hazel, Air Supply, Hanson and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2013

Celebrity chefs cook and dish – Renowned chefs like Warren Brown, Paula DaSilva, Gale Gand, Jamie Deen, Robert Irvine, Dean Max, Rock Harper, Jeff Henderson, Art Smith, Buddy Valastro, Allen Susser, “Cake Boy” Eric Lanlard, Duskie Estes and John Stewart, Donald Link, Bryan Voltaggio and Emily Ellyn share their talents during culinary demos and premium events.

Festival Welcome Center buzzes with activities – Guests can make the most of complimentary Authentic Taste seminars.  Culinary demonstrations and wine seminars feature new tastes and sips for a nominal fee.

Reserved culinary events draw foodies — Special culinary programs showcase a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs and speakers like Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson as they participate in elegant dinners, luncheons, seminars and wine schools.

Other festival highlights include:

  • More than 270 chefs including Disney chefs and culinary stars from across the country
  • A complimentary Marketplace Discovery Passport to be stamped at each international marketplace visited for the perfect scrapbook souvenir.
  • Party for the Senses grand tasting events Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26, and Nov. 2 featuring tempting bites from eminent chefs, more than 50 wines and beers and live entertainment.
  • Premium events including “3D” Disney’s Dessert Discovery on select Fridays, Cheese Seminars on Saturdays and Sweet Sundays on Sundays.

What’s Included with Epcot Admission:

Authentic Taste seminars, Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, special book signings, Eat to the Beat! concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2013

Special Programming by Reservation:

The Party for the Senses grand tasting events and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission.  Guests will be able to call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) to make reservations after an August date is announced.  Information and reservations for select events and programs will be at www.epcotfoodfestival.com.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2013

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Spring into Adventures

Spring is in the air. Hopefully the pollen and my allergies will clear up soon and it is heating up and starting to feel like summer here in Florida. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the things I’m most looking forward to over the next couple of months instead of doing that spring cleaning that I probably should be doing. Now that I’ve found out my schedule for the rest of the spring and beginning of summer, I thought I’d start planning some weekend adventures. The parks across the area have some fantastic special events this time of year, and before the kids are out of school it is a great time to get away while the crowds are lower.

Spring in bloom at Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival
Spring in bloom at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

At Epcot we are already more than halfway through the International Flower & Garden Festival. I love this event each year and have been attending since 1998! I dearly miss Davy Jones of the Monkees, as his was always my go to concert for the Flower Power Concert Series. The thing I think I am most excited about (aside from the newly added food and beverage kiosks) is that my favorite HGTV celebrity, David Bromstad, is going to be hosting presentations May 17 – 19 and I’m now off that weekend!

Star Wars Weekends
Star Wars Weekends

Another of my favorite things that I will get to do for the third year in a row is Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This fabulous event has quickly become a must do for me! I still have so many things I haven’t done yet that are on my to do list. I need to get up early enough and get to the park to see the Stormtroopers on top of the entrance to the park above the turnstiles. Also, I really want to get my picture taken with as many of the characters as possible and go to some of the presentations and shows. And then, of course, there is Hyperspace Hoopla, my favorite of all! My apologies to anyone who now has that song stuck in their head (Hoooooooopla, Hyperspace Hoopla…).

Viva la Música
Viva la Música

Busch Gardens and Sea World are playing host to an awesome special event that I got to experience last year for the first time: Viva la Mύsica! This great offering is one that features Latin American food, merchandise, cuture, and of course, music. I got to go just for an hour or so to Busch Gardens after work last year and got to try to some amazing food, but was too late for the concert. This year I was hoping to catch at least one weekend at Busch Gardens and Sea World each. I was so excited when I found out that my favorite salsa band, El Gran Combo, was going to be playing at both parks. I know where I’ll be that weekend!

One of the greatest things about these three events is that they are all included in park admission. Food and beverages of course are extra, but the entertainment and most of the presentations are free of charge with your ticket. These add tremendous value to your vacation or even just a day in the park for us locals.

Water parks are definitely on my list for the next few months. I’ve lived in Florida for almost 20 years and I’ve only been to Typhoon Lagoon for a couple hours and did the lazy river and snorkled with the sharks before the park closed due to weather. This needs to be rectified. I’ve visited Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach for functions, but haven’t done a single water slide. This is a travesty! I also would love to check out some of the other area water parks like Sea World’s Aquatica and Adventure Island in Tampa.

Now we all know that sometimes with the spring come those showers that we need for those pretty flowers. What to do when it isn’t exactly park weather? Why not catch a film? Two movies I am ridiculously excited to see this spring are Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University (visit this site if you haven’t already – it is hilarious!). I am a huge Avengers fan and loved the first Iron Man movie, enjoyed the second one, and adored the Avengers, so I cannot wait to see what they have in store for Tony Stark in this next installment. Monsters Inc was a great, feel good family flick and I think that this will be very entertaining to see some of Mike and Sulley’s adventures before they were best buds.

What are you looking forward to this spring? Did I miss any of your favorite spring special events? Have you been to any of these before? What are some of your favorite things to do in spring when the weather doesn’t cooperate? Hit us up and let us know.

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My Perfect Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Day

This year’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is full of some great new additions, as well as some of my old favorites. I thought I would take you along as I look at what makes a perfect day at the 2013 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

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When you walk in the main entrance to Epcot, it’s hard to miss the new Fab 5 Topiary ‘Party with Mickey & Friends’ as they celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Also as you walk around Spaceship Earth towards Future World, make sure you check out the Phineas & Ferb Topiary.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

I am a big fan of the new ‘Radiator Springs’ interactive play area! Make sure you take a few extra minutes to become a Private Detective with Tow Mater. This area is sure to make the Cars fans in your family happy!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

After taking a stroll through Radiator Springs, it’s a great time to head to the Festival Center. Here you can find all of the great Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival merchandise, see a presentation in the HGTV Theater with some of your favorite DIY gurus, take a class, or even ask an expert a question about your garden at home.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
This year’s Festival Pins!
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
The upcoming release of the Disney Vera Bradley purses are on display in the Festival Center, too!

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Another area that I could spend all day in is Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House. This year Tinker Bell and her friends play host to a wonderful world of butterflies, and if you look closely you might even find some of their Fairy Houses! For a special treat, make sure you stop by around 11:00 am to watch the butterflies emerge from their cocoons.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
One of the many Fairy Houses in Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House.

You can visit the Land of Oz in the new children’s play area presented by the new Disney film ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’. In this area you can play midway games for prizes, take a break and play for a bit on unique play structures, and relax under a hot air balloon.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

While you’re in this area, a fun activity for the little ones is to decorate a flower pot for their seeds from The Land of Oz at the Water Wise Herbs & Vegetable exhibit.

Luckily the Pineapple Promenade is right next to The Land of Oz Play area, so it was time to grab a Dole Whip (I opted to get one without spiced rum) and a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  What a great treat!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

This year there are 12 food booths around the World Showcase Lagoon offering a Taste of Spring. While these booths look similar to those used for the International Food & Wine Festival in the Fall, that is where the similarities end. For the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, each booth features fresh foods prepared in the booth with plantings around each one of ingredients used in the foods. The Cottage in the United Kingdom Pavilion was my favorite, but the candied strawberries of Lotus House are unique and worth a try!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
Shrimp and Grits from the Florida Fresh booth.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
Candied Strawberries from the Lotus House Booth.

 

Also, you will definitely want to pick up one of the Disney Gift Cards on a wristlet to make buying items at the booths super easy! It can be loaded with as little as $5, and is accepted as payment for nearly anything! Plus this year, they are themed to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! Super Cute! You can get them throughout Epcot at ticket booths, Guest Relations, the Festival Center, and almost anywhere they sell Disney Gift Cards!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

And it wouldn’t be Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival without topiaries, and both World Showcase & Future World are full of some great ones! I definitely wouldn’t miss…

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

  • The new Disney-Pixar ‘Monsters University’
  • The Moose in the Victoria Gardens of the Canada Pavilion
  • Hook, Tic Toc Croc, and Peter Pan in the United Kingdom Pavilion
  • Beauty and the Beast in the France Pavilion
  • Woody & Lotso in the American Adventure Pavilion
  • Buzz in front of Mission Space
  • The Troll in the Norway Pavilion

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The Backyard Play Garden is full of whimsical touches that you can add to your garden at home (with instructions), as well as a really nice play area for the kiddos. This is a great place to take a break since the kids have a place that is covered to play on with restrooms close by.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
This little guy can be found, with directions, in the Backyard Play Garden

Two of my perennial favorites are the bonsai on display in the Japan Pavilion and the large terra cotta pots of Italy that are overflowing with beautiful flowers.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Now would be about the time to start queuing up for the Flower Power Concert Series performed at the American Gardens Theater near the American Adventure Pavilion. STOP TO AT LEAST HEAR ONE CONCERT! I know that these are older performers, but once they start going you will be surprised to see how many songs you know. We saw Micky Dolenz, of The Monkees, and he was amazing. I am personally stoked for The Village People to perform later in the festival.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

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Make sure you take a moment to take in the Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard & Shirley Kinsey inside of the American Adventure Pavilion. This new exhibit allows you to see authentic documents, books, artifacts, and are art including landscapes and flora in one of the largest collections of African American Art. I had the amazing chance to speak with the Kinseys, and their passion for this collection is breathtaking. We are truly lucky to have such an exhibit visiting Epcot!

After you watch Illuminations, a mandatory watching is included in a perfect day at Epcot, make sure you check out the topiaries as they are illuminated and pixie dust powered at night.

And that would be my perfect day at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival. It’s a great time of year to visit, and I can’t wait to hear what your perfect day at the Festival would be like!

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