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April 6, 2014

Flowers? Gardens? Not for me!

By AllEars Team Member Jack Marshall



Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

To me, that usually means hibernation until the fun festival - Epcot's Food and Wine Festival - opens. There's a good reason for that. I am not an outdoorsy kind of guy. Give me an indoor project like tearing out a wall or updating a kitchen and I'm all over it. Can't get started fast enough. But give me a yard project like planting flowers or landscaping and I'll put it off until it snows... and I live in Florida in the winter.

A little knowledge is a powerful thing. I did some research and found that this year's Flower and Garden Festival would once again present a different HGTV personality each weekend to talk about their field of expertise. I read the list of names and one jumped out at me: Taniya Nayak.

For those of you who don't know her, she is one amazing designer not to mention a fellow Bostonian. She cut her teeth on various TV remodeling shows (Knock First, Freestyle, Designed to Sell, etc.) where she had to redo a room or rooms with a limited budget. And I'm talking very limited as in $2000 to do three rooms on Designed to Sell. Not only did she rise to these challenges, she excelled in them. My wife and I used to watch every show and I don't think we ever saw a room that Taniya did that we didn't like.

So it was a no brainer when I saw her name. I knew I had to go see her. I set my alarm to be up early Friday morning so I could get to Epcot and see her first presentation.

She came out from the back of the room and held court on the floor in front of the stage. She didn't like being up there because she couldn't walk around like she could on the floor. I'm not one to be in awe in the presence of famous people but she had me hooked. She spent about 15 minutes dishing about Restaurant Impossible and Chef Robert Irvine, all of which I found very fascinating.



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But on to the design talk. She gave several tips for things like choosing room colors (find one paint sample strip you like and work with the darkest and lightest chips on it) and repurposing old furniture (turning an old desk or table into a kitchen island).



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Her presentation lasted about 45 minutes. She followed that with a meet and greet for the fans that wanted to meet her and get a picture taken or an autograph. It would have been downright rude for me to pass that up. So I had my picture taken with her. She is just so nice and easy to talk to. What a doll.



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So the first half of my day was done. A few hours later, the second part of my day started. Paul Revere & the Raiders were playing in the Flower Power concert at American Gardens Theater. So I got in line for the first show and sat in row 5, right near center stage. Great seats.



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The show started and my heart sank a little. Paul Revere, now 76 and using a cane, was assisted onto the stage to take his place behind the mock up of an old Ford Mustang front end. Once he was there, I never thought of his mobility problem until the set was over. He's billed as "The Last Madman of Rock 'n Roll" and that's a pretty fitting description. He never missed a beat on stage.

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The members of the group had changed over the years but he still had two guitarists who have been with him for over 40 years. His son now plays guitar in the group, too. His current lead singer, Darren Dowler, is very good. He even does vocal impressions of Bill Clinton and Tom Jones that were very good.



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They played all their hits in the 35 minute set. And while they do a great show and most of their fans don't know the difference, it wasn't the same as listening to those old 45's and hearing Mark Lindsay belt out the lead vocals. I was still glad I went though. I would highly recommend seeing them if you can.

So the day turned out to be one of the better ones I've had in a long time. Flower and Garden? No thanks. I'll take the "Home Improvement and '60's Band Concerts Festival " any day.

February 20, 2014

Testing.... Testing... 1... 2... 3

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Have you ever thought about what would make AllEars.Net better than it is?

We do, all the time.

That's why we periodically conduct reader surveys, and why we read each and every email we get, even though we can't possibly reply individually. We take our feedback seriously, and we are constantly trying to improve.



Our latest attempt at improving the site is nearly ready to be unveiled. Over the past year and a half, we've been working on a comprehensive dining database that we think will be a useful tool in helping you plan your Walt Disney World vacations. Our goal is twofold -- to make it easier for you to have all the information you need about Walt Disney World dining at your fingertips, and to make it easier for us to keep that information up-to-date.

So we've pulled together all the information we have about almost every Walt Disney World dining location -- location descriptions, dining plan and discount info, menus, restaurant and food photos, videos, even recipes -- all into one place.

We're nearly done, but first we want to make sure that it all works the way we -- and you -- want and need for it to work.

So we're asking for your help -- call it a "beta test," if you will.

What we want is for you to poke around and try the new database, kick the tires so to speak, and let us know what you think of it. Here are the links you'll need to get started:

Dining Location Index
http://allears.net/dining/location

Menu Index
http://allears.net/dining/menu/



I want to stress again that it's not 100 percent complete -- we realize there are a few pieces missing, like the search function, and maybe some of the menus are a little out of date. It is still a work in progress.

Still, we want to hear what you think. After you've tried it out a bit, leave us a comment at the end of this blog.

We won't publish your comments, but we will read every one and take them all into consideration, as we continue to build what we hope will be the most comprehensive and useful Disney dining database around.

Thanks in advance for all your help and your continued support!



February 11, 2014

All Ears Meet and Greet Photos from February 9th

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone -- about 30 of you! -- who stopped by to say hello at our Life is BREEZY Meet this past Sunday! We were so thrilled to meet up with folks from all over: New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Canada, and of course Florida! It was so much fun, we hope to do it again real soon!

AllEars team members Deb Wills, Deb Koma, Kristin Ford, Jack Spence, Jack Marshall and Linda Eckwerth were on hand to meet everyone!

Thanks to everyone who brought their duplicate AllEars Trading Cards to trade. Special thanks to Linda for the photos!

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December 31, 2013

Top 10 Videos from 2013 - Part 2

Yesterday we began our Top Ten Countdown of the most viewed Videos of 2013. Today we wrap up with the top 5!

#5 POP Century Resort Photo Slide Show

#4 True Love Week - Limited Time Magic Walt Disney World



#3 Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Virtual Ride from the D23 Expo


#2 Merida's Royal Celebration at Disney's Magic Kingdom


#1 Disney Junior Live on Stage Highlights!

We hoped you enjoyed our Top Ten Countdown! Let us know what kinds of videos you want to see in 2014 in the comments section below!

Thanks for watching!


December 30, 2013

Top 10 Videos from 2013 - Part 1

2013 also found AllEars getting heavily involved with producing videos on YouTube!

As the year comes to a close, we thought it appropriate time to share our top 10 videos of 2013.

Counting down ..... Today we share numbers #6- through #10.

Tomorrow we will have the top Five!

Tell us what kinds of videos you'd like to see in 2014 in the comments section below!



#10 Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas


#9 The First Look at Disney Springs - the new Downtown Disney

#8 Chip and Dale Pajama Dance Off at Magic Kingdom


#7 Frozen's Princess Anna and Queen Elsa Meet and Greet

#6 All Star Movie Photo Slide Show

Come back tomorrow for the Top Five Most Watched Videos of 2013!

December 29, 2013

Most Liked Instagram Photos of 2013

All Ears joined the Instagram craze in March of 2013. It was interesting to see what photos got lots of Likes and Comments and which ones different.

Here are the top 5 most liked AllEars Instagram Photos from 2013

#5 - Downtown Disney Festival of the Seasons Holiday Photo Op

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#4 The Magic Kingdom from high atop Bay Lake Tower

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#3 - The France Fountain in Epcot

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#2 The Beast's Castle in Fantasyland

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and the #1 most liked instagram photo of 2013

SOARIN'

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Do you agree these are the top 5? Check out the AllEars Instagram page and let us know which is YOUR favorite! http://instagram.com/allearsnet#

November 19, 2013

Theme Park Snapshots: November 11-13, 2013, Part I

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Even though I was just in Walt Disney World at the end of September for the opening of the Food and Wine Festival, I had the chance to sneak back down there again for a few days last week, so I jumped on it! While there, I realized that there were many things that have changed or opened over the last few months that I've missed, so I decided to run around and catch up on them as much as possible.

My new experiences started with my first opportunity to use the Magic Bands. While all of the reports we've been receiving from our readers have been overwhelmingly positive, I have to tell you that my experience was not so great.


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I was sharing a room this trip with Deb Wills, who made the hotel reservations, and try as we may, we could not get my My Disney Experience account to link up with hers. She sent me repeated emails inviting me to join, I sent her several emails as well -- and never the twain did meet. I did get my own pretty blue Magic Band, which allowed me to enter our room and make charges, but there was no way for me to set up FastPass+ and arranging my Magical Express trip took three separate phone calls.

Deb Wills told me that she had already gone through similar issues, and had been unable to link other friends to her reservations -- seems to work fine for families, but not for unrelated parties staying together. After trying to resolve this issue both over the phone and online, I decided not to waste any more precious vacation time dealing with the new technology. I'll give them a few more months to work all the bugs out and try again. So for this trip, Deb had the room reservations on her account, I had the restaurant reservations on my account, and I gave up on using FastPass+ until next time.

That aside, I was able to see quite a few of the new-to-me things on my to-do list.

In Epcot, I made my way over to the Norway pavilion to see the new "Frozen" meet-and-greet, featuring the princesses Elsa and Anna. The line to see these two new stars was quite long, and believe it or not, there were little girls dressed in "Frozen"-style outfits, some having already gone for the "Frozen" makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. There is a spot, though, where you can simply view the princesses as they greet their fans -- go into the shop whose entrance is to the right of "Prinsesse Plass," the meet-and-greet location, then make a left and walk all the way to the end of the building. There you can peek in and get some nice shots of the princesses in action.


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While in Epcot, I took a stroll around the Morocco pavilion to see how the new waterfront eatery, Spice Road Table, is progressing. It's definitely coming along, but no one is saying exactly when this new spot might open. Loving Middle Eastern food as I do (and, who am I kidding? most all food!), I can't wait.

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Another thing on my list to check out in Epcot was the new restroom location in the American Adventure pavilion. I never thought I'd be writing about a bathroom, but this spot is worth getting a bit excited over.


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The new restrooms, situated to the right of the shop, are spacious, bright, and very clean, with gleaming cream-colored tile and purple accents. Best of all, there seem to be adequate stalls, at least speaking for the women's room. There are conventional paper towel dispensers, as well as very modern Dyson Airblade hand dryers, which noisily blow your hands dry. This restroom is truly a welcome addition to the area, which previously only had restrooms located down an out-of-the-way hallway along the far side of the Liberty Inn. Oh, one other note -- there's also a companion restroom here.


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My final stop in Epcot was in the France pavilion, where I wanted to try for myself a new offering they have in the ice cream shop, L'Artisan des Glaces (located where the bakery used to be).


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Called a Croque Glace (a play on the name of a popular grilled French sandwich, "Croque Monsieur"), this new taste treat is an ice cream sandwich in its own class. My friend AJ over at the Disney Food Blog wrote about this a few weeks ago, and I knew it sounded like something for me to try. AJ had sampled the sandwich with the caramel fleur de sel ice cream, which was my intention also, but when the lovely cast member behind the counter suggested that I try the Coconut White Chocolate with chocolate sauce -- well, how could I refuse? (I love coconut!).

It was a great recommendation -- Merci, Chloe! To make this mouthwatering concoction, they take a fresh, buttery French brioche, halve it, pile on a scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor, drizzle it with chocolate or raspberry sauce, top it with the other half of the brioche, then put it in a sandwich press for a few minutes. Voila! You have a perfect dessert: warm on the outside, cool and creamy inside. I haven't had anything quite like it -- worth every penny of the $6.10 it costs!

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After ticking off this last thing at Epcot, I needed to make sure that I spent some time over at the Magic Kingdom -- quite a few things there I hadn't seen, as the last time I was in that park was back in May! (I know, I know, it's not THAT long, but that's a long time for me.)

The Limited Time Magic was dedicated to honoring our veterans, and I really wanted to see the special ceremony they were holding each day as part of the Flag Retreat. Unfortunately, I didn't get there in time to get a great viewing spot, but I did manage to capture the lowering of the flag as the Voices of Liberty sang The Star-Spangled Banner.

Very emotional, especially when I looked around and noticed several former servicemen and women nearby tearing up. There's something about hearing the Voices of Liberty sing the National Anthem that can't help but bring out the patriot in you. I'm glad I managed to see at least that much of the program.

I'll share more of what I found that was new and new to me in the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Downtown Disney later this week!



October 27, 2013

Reimagined Disney Magic Photos Part 2

Laura and Lee were part of the media team on the Disney Magic. Here are more photos of the ship. Look for more photos and videos in the coming days.


Check out the first set of photos HERE!

ANIMATOR'S PALATE

Drawn to Magic show in Animator's Palate rather than the Animation Magic show from the Fantasy.

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Drawn to Magic is more like a "tech refresh" of the original show, where the room goes from black and white to color

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On the screens pencil sketches progress from simple shapes to character drawings, and come to life when complete.

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Later in the meal color is introduced, and then all the screens come to life for the show.

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AFTER HOURS - ADULT DISTRICT

Coco Royale - a new drink in Keys made with Moet Ice Imperial (plus 1800 tequila and coconut shavings)

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Chilled Leprechaun in O'Gill's Pub

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A Ricordea from Fathoms. Honey was decoratively drizzled inside the glass

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CARIOCA'S

The new restaurant Carioca's, inspired by the Saludos Amigos characters

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Decor inspired by marketplaces in Rio de Janeiro. It's a great improvement over Parrot Cay.

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All new menu with South American-inspired dishes. Thie is the Peruvian Causa - three layers of different potatoes.

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Lobster, shrimp, mahi skewer over mango quinoa. The menu looks great - we had a hard time choosing.

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Coconut Tres Leches cake. NOT too sweet. Really delicious

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October 26, 2013

Re-Imagined Disney Magic Photos!!!

Laura and Lee are part of the media team on the Disney Magic. Here are photos they sent in from October 25th. They will have much more photos and videos in the coming days.

Bon Voyage!

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This cabinet replaced the trunk that was in the staterooms.

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The Captain just announced that they are still working on the ship and spreading pixie dust.

The Cabin has a Dual Trash receptacle for trash and recycling.

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Lunch - From Daisy Delights (was Goofy's)

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New Stateroom - Category 5B

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Senses Spa now offers hair coloring, barbershop, and acupuncture, Chill Spa for teens, tile beds in the Rainforest.

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Entrance to Animator's Palate

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After Hours Adult District Rest Rooms

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After Hours Adult District - Fathoms Club

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After Hours Adult District - O'Gills Pub

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Re-Themed Small World Nursery

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New Atrium Chandelier

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The Wacky Wall

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Marvel Avenger's Academy

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Andy's Room

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Daisy's Delights

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Oceaneer Lab

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Senses Spa Couples Villa

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Really Tiny Kids Splash Zone

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Pete's Boiler Bites

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Cabanas

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Palo

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Cove Cafe

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Senses Spa

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Kid's Swim Vests in Water Areas

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Frozone

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Eye Scream

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New Shade Areas Deck 9

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Adult Pool

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Family Pool

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AquaLab New Kids Play Area

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New Slide Aqua Lab

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Cariocas

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The AquaDunk:

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October 1, 2013

Pirate Week - Limited Time Magic

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ARGH!

Pirates were the theme of the week September 23-29, 2013 at the Magic Kingdom as part of Limited Time Magic.

In addition to the Rusty Cutlass pirate band, special meet and greet appearances were available featuring Pirate Goofy, Captain Hook, and Jake from the Neverland Pirates.

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There was also a special pre-parade each afternoon with Pirate characters and adults and children who participated in the Pirate League makeovers that day!

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