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
Disney

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
Disney

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
Disney

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
Disney

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
Disney

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
Disney

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
Disney

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
Disney

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
Disney

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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Star Tours New Additions and Adventures

DISCLOSURE: I was invited by Walt Disney World to experience Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, but all opinions (and total geek out moments) are all my own. 

As guests board their Starspeeders at Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, they will find that several new additions have been made to the attraction packing it full of adventure!

Inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the latest film in the Star Wars saga that will be opening in theaters on December 15, 2017. Riders will now see new introductory and interstitial scenes featuring characters from the latest trilogy. But more exciting is that a new scene has been added that places them right in the middle of an epic battle that takes place on the planet of Crait, which we got a first glimpse of in the first Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser trailer.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer (Official)

But the most exciting part is that as the Star Tour journey is coming to an end, riders are now on a planet that can be found in the outermost rim of the Star Wars galaxy, an unexplored planet in the Star Wars saga known as Batuu, the home planet for the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansion that opens at both Walt Disney World in 2019.

star tours batuu Walt Disney World Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney/Lucasfilm

To give riders and explorers a better idea of what they will find on this new planet, Scott Trowbridge, Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, shared a bit of the history of Batuu on the Disney Parks Blog.

“This remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes, but its prominence was bypassed by the rise of hyperspace travel. Now home to those who prefer to stay out of the mainstream, it has become a thriving port for smugglers, rogue traders and adventurers traveling between the frontier and uncharted space. It’s also a convenient safe haven for those intent on avoiding the expanding reach of the First Order. While Batuu may be new to us, it is clearly already familiar to many characters from the Star Wars saga as a stepping off point for epic adventures.”

The additions to Star Tours – The Adventures Continue are just the first of many new additions expected to debut at Walt Disney World and Disneyland to give us a glimpse into what the world of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be like when it opens in 2019.

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2017 SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Overview

This holiday season, there are more reasons than ever to join the merriment of the SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration. Guests of all ages can delight over scrumptious food, stunning live shows, and joyful entertainment inspired by the natural world as they create treasured memories together.

Over 1 million sparkling lights will shine bright during the SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration, offered select dates fromNovember 23 to December 31, with an all new holiday experience beginning January 1, 2018.

SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Overview Pinterest

NEW SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Experiences

· Dine with Rudolph – Guests can now book an all-new holiday dinner experience with their favorite reindeer. Hugs and smiles are shared with Rudolph as guests enjoy the telling of his classic tale during a delicious feast featuring a menu filled with traditional holiday favorites served family-style. Advance reservations for this experience are encouraged.

· Santa Claus at Wild Arctic – All new this holiday season, SeaWorld is inviting guests to take a ride to the top of the world to meet the Arctic’s most famous resident, Santa Claus! Guests of all ages can share Christmas wishes and take pictures with Santa Claus as they experience amazing animal encounters during this special holiday adventure presented by Coca-Cola.

SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Highlights

Returning SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Holiday Favorites

· Rudolph’s ChristmasTown – Returning for another year of festive fun, guests can immerse themselves into the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Rudolph’s ChristmasTown. As guests stroll past life-size story book vignettes featuring the classic tale, they’ll have the opportunity to meet their favorite characters: Rudolph, Clarice, Bumble and Yukon Cornelius.

· Clyde & Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas – A returning classic, Sea Lion & Otter Stadium celebrates the season with a hilarious Christmas comedy show.  Clyde and Seamore, along with a few mischievous otters, a comical elf, and even a jolly walrus, invite guests to their fun-filled holiday celebration.

SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration O Wondrous Night
SeaWorld Orlando – O Wondrous Night

· Shamu Christmas Miracles – Shamu Stadium once again brightens the night with dazzling lights and glowing candles, while Christmascarols abound and Shamu splashes to celebrate the holiday season during the SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration.

· O Wondrous Night – Experience a live nativity only SeaWorld can bring to life, complete with more than 30 carols, life-sized puppets, and animals in a spectacular Christmas favorite based on The Christmas Story. Told through the eyes of the animals that were there, O Wondrous Night is a touching, light-hearted, and glorious celebration with a host of angels, animals, and the true glory of Christmas.

SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Clyde & Seamore's Countdown to Christmas
SeaWorld Orlando – Clyde & Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas

· Sesame Street’s Elmo’s Christmas Wish – The holidays have arrived, and everybody’s Sesame Street® friends have come to SeaWorld Orlando for a festive and fun musical celebration! Elmo’s Christmas Wish will soon become every child’s favorite show. Join Rosita, Grover, Zoe and Cookie Monster as they work together to help Elmo find his Christmas wish!

· Winter Wonderland on Ice – Christmas comes to life on a stage of ice, jewels and light as skaters dazzle and delight in this show-stopping, ice skating extravaganza.

SeaWorld Orlando Shamu Christmas Miracles
SeaWorld Orlando – Shamu Christmas Miracles

· Sea of Trees – Families will stroll through a wintery, watery wonderland as they are immersed in a sea of glistening holiday trees that sparkle to music as they light up the water. Dazzling images come to life on over 100 trees, including a giant glistening centerpiece that towers 70-feet above the water.

· The Christmas Market – Nestled along the park’s Bayside Pathway, The Christmas Market features festive entertainment and delicious culinary delights. Complete with playful elves, a charming model train village, and seasonal entertainment, the market is the centerpiece of SeaWorld’s Christmas event. Guests can also relax near the warm glow of the fire pit with a holiday cocktail while experiencing a wonderful view of the vibrant Sea of Trees.

 Best Way To Enjoy Holiday Cheer

SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Sea of Trees
SeaWorld Orlando – Sea of Trees

The best way to experience SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration and New Year’s with family and friends is with an Annual Pass. By purchasing a pass now, guests can get three additional months free. Pass Members receive park benefits and rewards, including priority access to new attractions, in-park discounts, exclusive pre-sale opportunities and much more.

Don’t forget that SeaWorld Orlando has an entire year filled with monthly celebrations and that there are going to be some amazing BLUE Friday deals!

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The SpectacuLAB Debuts In Epcot At Walt Disney World

The SpectacuLAB is an all-new interactive show at Epcot that can be found inside of Innoventions in Future World, and I was invited to attend the opening of the show and to be in the audience for the first show which was a lot of fun.

The SpectacuLAB Epcot - Pinterest

The SpectacuLAB, which lasts approximately 20 minutes, allows guest to join a duo of real scientists and their intern as they perform a series of experiments and demonstrations.

The SpectacuLAB Epcot - Cast

The audience participation portion of the show comes when the scientists need a hand during the scientific demonstrations which include Guests racing to change the colors of barometric pressure cubes by only raising or lowering the cube, using accelerometer sensors measuring the guest’s force when smashing a paper cup, and observing a scientist explain the principle of force by comfortably resting on a bed of nails with a twist.

The SpectacuLAB at Epcot

The Spectaculab space is extremely spacious with plenty of seating to enjoy the show. A lot of the experiments happen on the stage floor, but don’t worry if you have a clear view, because you will be able to see the action on the large monitors on the stage.

The SpectacuLAB show was developed with the show’s sponsor Murata, a global leader in the design, manufacturing, and supply of electronic components that are used to create consumer products such as mobile devices, healthcare equipment, and automotive electronics.

The SpectacuLAB Epcot - Grand Opening Moment

In addition to teaming with Murata, the Walt Disney Parks Creative Entertainment joined forces with Science from Scientists, a national, non-profit which promotes the importance of STEM education with a mission to empower youth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields.

The SpectacuLAB Epcot - Mickey and Dr. Erica

“Epcot is the perfect venue to help encourage STEM participation,” said Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle, founder and Executive Director of Science from Scientists. “Teaming up with Murata allows us to showcase scientific concepts in an exciting and hands-on fashion. We are thrilled to further STEM education at a place like Disney that inspires so many children and families.”

Showtimes for The SpectacuLAB show are 10:30 am, 11:45 am, 2 pm, 3:15 pm, and 4 pm daily, but these times are subject to change so when you arrive at Epcot make sure to check in

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Take A Sneak Peek Inside of ICE! At The Gaylord Palms

Disclosure: I was invited by the Gaylord Palms Resort to preview ICE!, but all opinions are my own.

2017 ICE at the Gaylord Palms Preview Image

ICE! at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee has become a staple of the holiday season of events in Orlando, and this year they are celebrating their 15th Season with ‘Christmas Around the World’ with more entertainment and holiday activities than ever.

“We’re excited to offer this theme in Central Florida, a destination welcoming millions from around the world every year,” said Johann Krieger, General Manager for Gaylord Palms Resort. “This year’s ICE! theme also inspired our creative team to add new activities and live shows that celebrate cultures and highlight diversity during this special time of year.”

The festivities begin on November 21st, and I had the opportunity to step into the tent to see how the work was progressing.

The artisans from Harbin, China, home of the world’s largest ice and snow sculpture festival, travel more than 6,000 miles to hand-carve more than two million pounds of colorful ice into larger-than-life sculptures.

Take a sneak peek inside of Gaylord Palms ICE!

The ‘Christmas Around the World’ theme for ICE! celebrates the world’s diverse holiday traditions, representing United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany and more. So when guests enter the nine-degree attraction this year, they will discover holiday scenes from various nations and two-story ice slides surrounded by sculptures and international tidings, all before ending with a trip to the North Pole to experience Santa’s toy workshop. The ICE! experience ends with the Frostbite Factory live ice carving showcase and the traditional Nativity created with crystal clear ice.

It was amazing to see them at work and to see the attraction take shape!

I’ll be bringing you more from ICE! at the Gaylord Palms Resort next week, and you can find additional information and to book packages or tickets by visiting ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com.

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BLUE Friday Savings At SeaWorld Orlando

Holiday shoppers are invited to dive into SeaWorld Orlando’s biggest sale of the year as early as Thanksgiving day with new Blue Friday deals.

From tickets and passes to unforgettable park experiences, guests can take advantage of limited-time pricing and save big with these exclusive online offers that you definitely won’t want to miss out on.

SeaWorld Orlando Blue Friday

Blue Friday deals kick off the holiday shopping season by providing the best value to experience all that SeaWorld has to offer year-round, including SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration and other special events coming soon in 2018.

Online-only deals include the following buy one, get one (BOGO) offers as well as two additional ways to save:

BOGO (Buy One Get One) Blue Friday Offers

  • BOGO Free: SeaWorld Orlando Single-Day Ticket
  • BOGO Free: 2-Park Tickets  (SeaWorld and Aquatica)
  • BOGO 50% off: SeaWorld Orlando/Aquatica One-Year Annual Pass
  • BOGO Free: Beluga and Walrus Up-Close Tour, which now includes a special opportunity to see Ginger, the baby walrus born at SeaWorld this summer.
  • BOGO Free: Quick Queue Unlimited at SeaWorld
  • BOGO Free: Dine With Shamu
  • BOGO 50% off: All-Day Dining

Additional Blue Friday Offers

  • Save up to $110 on Discovery Cove Gift Admission Packages
  • Save 30% on all merchandise from SeaworldShop.com

To learn more about this year’s Blue Friday deals, shoppers can visit seaworldorlando.com/bluefriday and become an email subscriber for early access to these limited-time offers. Fans must subscribe by Wednesday, November 22 to gain early access at noon on Thursday, November 23.

These online-exclusive deals are available to the public starting from 6:00p.m. on Thursday, November 23 and will end on 11:59p.m. Monday, November 27, 2016.

If you want to make sure to remember to take advantage of these fantastic Blue Friday deals from SeaWorld Orlando, you can subscribe to their email list for reminders and other great offers.

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SeaWorld Orlando Releases 2018 Calendar Of Events

With 2017 drawing to a close, SeaWorld Orlando has released the 2018 calendar of events that includes more festivals, concerts, and new ways to enjoy the park every month of the year.

Next year’s lineup includes the following exciting, inspiring and family-friendly events, which are included in park admission:

2018 SeaWorld Orlando Event Calendar 

SeaWorld Orlando 2018 SeaWorld Orlando Event Calendar Announcement

NEW Three Kings Day: Daily, January 1-6

During the all-new Three Kings Day celebration, families are invited to help commemorate the arrival of the Three Wise Men. The new event brings SeaWorld’s holiday season to an incredible close with festive cuisine and celebratory experiences that honor the cherished traditions of Latin cultures.

Praise Wave: Saturdays, Jan 20 – Feb 10

Praise Wave SeaWorld Orlando Logo

With the return of Praise Wave, guests can celebrate Christian fellowship and fun at SeaWorld Orlando. Uplifting, live concerts from the hottest names in Christian music will light up the stage at Nautilus Theater.

Seven Seas Food Festival: Weekends, Feb 17 – April 15

SeaWorld Orlando Seven Seas Food Festival 2017 Logo

After a delicious debut last year, the Seven Seas Food Festival is returning to SeaWorld this spring for a second course. 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 each weekend.

NEW Just For Kids: Weekends, April 21 – May 13

SeaWorld Orlando

Families will enjoy dancing to the beat and learning together along with everybody’s favorite furry, finned and flippered friends during these special weekends crafted with young guests in mind.

Electric Ocean: Select nights, May 26 – September 3

2017 SeaWorld Orlando Electric Ocean Logo
Photo: SeaWorld Orlando

As the sun goes down, the park comes alive with the glow of Electric Ocean at SeaWorld, returning next year for another summer of fun. With exciting nighttime shows and electrifying music, guests are immersed in a sea of wonder that ends in “Ignite”, a spectacular fireworks finale.

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular: September 29 – October 28

SeaWorld Orlando Halloween Spooktacular Logo

During Orlando’s premier daytime Halloween event, guests of all ages can join everyone’s favorite furry friends from Sesame Street as The Count, Elmo, Abby and others take the stage in “Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween.” Families will also enjoy a Halloween Dance Party, trick-or-treating around the park, and the opportunity to meet whimsical characters inspired by the sea.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration: Select Dates November 23 – December 31

SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration Logo

At SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, guests experience the joys of the holiday season complete with Rudolph’s ChristmasTown and returning favorites sure to inspire traditions for years to come. During SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration guests of all ages can delight over scrumptious food, stunning live shows, joyful entertainment inspired by the natural world and much more.

Best Way to Play:

With fun-filled events all year round, the best way for guests to experience seasonal opportunities at SeaWorld Orlando is with an Annual Pass. For a limited time, guests who purchase a full paid SeaWorld Annual Pass will get three months free.

For more information, park hours and to purchase tickets, visit the official website.

To keep up to date on park hours and events, follow SeaWorld’s social channels on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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The SpectacuLAB Will Debut At Epcot Next Month

This November Epcot will welcome an all-new interactive show called The SpectacuLAB showcasing inside of their Innoventions space in Future World.

The Spectaculab

During this new show guests will be invited to join a group of real scientists and their tech-savvy intern to participate in a series of experiments and demonstrations to put scientific principles like ultrasonic pressure, barometric pressure, acceleration and force to the test to see how they have inspired the amazing technologies we enjoy today.

The audience participation in the demonstrations with the on-hand scientists will include Guests playing ultrasonic sensor drums, simply with the wave of their hand, changing the colors of barometric pressure cubes by only raising or lowering the cube, using accelerometer sensors measuring the guest’s force when using a hammer, and observing a scientist explain the principle of force by comfortably resting on a bed of nails.

The SpectacuLAB show was developed with the show’s sponsor Murata, a global leader in the design, manufacturing, and supply of electronic components that are used to create consumer products such as mobile devices, healthcare equipment, and automotive electronics.

“The SpectacuLAB will spark the intellectual curiosity of children and adults alike,” said Tsuneo Murata, President of Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd, a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of electronic components. “We are excited to share this with guests visiting Epcot at Walt Disney World.”

In addition to teaming with Murata, the Walt Disney Parks Creative Entertainment joined forces with Science from Scientists, a national, non-profit which promotes the importance of STEM education with a mission to empower youth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields.

“Epcot is the perfect venue to help encourage STEM participation,” said Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle, founder and Executive Director of Science from Scientists. “Teaming up with Murata allows us to showcase scientific concepts in an exciting and hands-on fashion. We are thrilled to further STEM education at a place like Disney that inspires so many children and families.”

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Halloween Disney Junior Play Date at the Florida Mall

The Florida Mall, a Simon property, has announced an exciting new family programming series created in collaboration with Disney Junior called Disney Junior Play Date that will kick off with an event that will be held on Tuesday, October 31st from 5 to 8 pm during their Mall-o-Ween event.

Vampira Disney Junior Play Date The Florida Mall Mall-o-ween Halloween 2017
Photo: Disney Junior

During the Disney Junior Play Date Halloween celebration, The Florida Mall will have a viewing station in the Macy’s Court for guests to watch Disney Junior’s newest animated series “Vampirina,” about a young vampire girl and her family who have recently moved from their home in Transylvania to Pennsylvania.  There will also be Vampirina activities that included a coloring station, a mad science station, a crafts station, and more.

Guests will also have the opportunity to take part in the Mall-o-Ween Trick-or-Treating event at the Play Park.  Children of all ages are encouraged to sport their best Halloween costume* to haunt The Florida Mall in search of candy. There will also be face painting, a photo booth, Mad Science experiments, special character experiences, and more.

*Costumes should be worn only during event hours and masks are allowed only on children 12 years old and younger.

The Disney Junior Play Dates’ events will be featured throughout the year and include on-mall activities around Holiday, Easter, and other seasonal celebrations.

“The Florida Mall has long championed a commitment to delivering family-friendly programming,” said Andrea Bjornlie, Director of Marketing and Business Development at The Florida Mall, “and teaming up with Disney Junior is the latest fulfillment of that pledge. We couldn’t be more excited to join forces with the world’s leading entertainment company on these exciting family events and themed play areas.”

Not in the Orlando area? Many of Simon’s best-known properties around the country are participating in this program including The Westchester (New York), Northshore Mall (Boston), Opry Mills (Nashville), Grapevine Mills (Dallas), Woodfield Mall (Chicago), The Florida Mall (Orlando), Del Amo Fashion Center (Los Angeles), Stanford Shopping Center (San Jose), and King of Prussia (Philadelphia).

 

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Enjoy A Chef Inspired Thanksgiving Buffet At The Alfond Inn

While the Thanksgiving holiday is all about spending time at home, there is a certain freedom that comes with taking the holiday ‘off’ from the kitchen and starting a new tradition with your family & friends.

One way to you can do this is by joining The Alfond Inn at Rollins, in Winter Park, at their table for their popular Thanksgiving Buffet on Thursday, November 23rd, 2017.

The Alfond Inn Thanksgiving Buffet 2017 Winter Park

Depending on your family’s preference, you can choose from two seatings at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The cost to attend The Alfond Inn’s Chef Inspired Thanksgiving Buffet is $69 adults, $29 children ages 5 – 12, and children ages 4 and under are free. And you will also enjoy complimentary valet parking during your dining experience.

Featured items on The Alfond Inn Thanksgiving buffet are:

Beginnings

  • Traditional Wedge Salad
  • Garden Greens with Seasonal Toppings
  • Baby Spinach, Eggs, Bacon, Mushrooms, Red Onions, Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh Fruit Display
  • International Cheese Display
  • Pumpkin-Cranberry Quinoa Salad
  • Garden Beets and Roquefort
  • Assorted Muffins and Freshly Baked Breads, Flavored Butters and Oil
  • Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup, Porcini Croutons

Side Notes

  • Classic Stuffing
  • Whipped Potatoes and Gravy
  • Candied Sweet Potatoes
  • Truffle Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Garlic Aioli
  • Green Bean Casserole, Crispy Onions
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Mains

  • Whole Carved Turkey, Cranberry Relish and Giblet Gravy
  • Carved Ham, Rum-Raisin Glaze
  • Braised Wagyu Beef Short Ribs
  • Southern Shrimp and Grits
  • Faroe Island Salmon, Sage Brown Butter

Sweets

  • Classic Pumpkin Pie
  • Southern Pecan Pie
  • Apple Cobbler
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Truffles

You will absolutely want to make reservations in advance online at www.eventbrite.com.  And you can find even more details about the Thanksgiving Buffet by visiting www.TheAlfondInn.com

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