May 18, 2018

Don't miss: Last weekend for SeaWorld's Look Inside event and start of free beer for guests

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If you haven’t made it out to SeaWorld Orlando yet this month, you might not want to let this weekend pass without a visit. That’s because it’s the last of the new “Inside Look” weekends, which invite guests learn more about the animals at SeaWorld and meet the team who cares for them.

On Saturday and Sunday, guests can learn more about the inspiring day-to-day care SeaWorld’s animal experts provide, as well as the life-saving operations of the SeaWorld Rescue Team. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of SeaWorld veterinarians, rescuers and animal experts while encountering animals.

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Guests can find eleven “Inside Look” locations throughout the park by picking up an Explorer’s Guide at the SeaWorld Rescue store. Parkgoers who collect at least six stamps in their Explorer’s Guide will earn a SeaWorld Expert Explorer's pin, while supplies last, at the SeaWorld Rescue store. The times and locations are as follows:

** Dolphin Care and Behavior (at Dolphin Nursery): 12:45 and 2:30 p.m.
** Penguin Care and Conservation (at Antarctica Underwater Viewing): 12:30 and 2 p.m.
** SeaWorld Rescue Center (at North Support): 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
** Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation (at Manatee Pool at Turtle Trek): noon and 3 p.m.
** SeaTurtle Rescue and Rehabilitation (at Turtle Trek above-water viewing): 10 a.m.
** Pelican Rescue and Rehabilitation (at Pelican Point): 1 p.m.
** Bird Rescue and Rehabilitation (at Bird Aviary by Shark Encounter): 3:30 p.m.
** Shark Myths and Misconceptions (at Shark Shallows at Sharks Underwater Grill & Bar): 1:30 p.m.
** Pilot Whales Rescue and Care (at Dine With Shamu venue): 3 p.m.
** Killer Whale Care and Research (at Shamu Stadium): 4 p.m.
** Walrus Care and Conservation (at Walrus Attraction inside Wild Arctic): 2:30 p.m.

The SeaWorld Rescue Center is the only “Inside Look” location that takes guests behind the scenes. The other ten locations are in public areas throughout the park.

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As an in-park exclusive, SeaWorld also is offering 20 percent off purchases at the SeaWorld Rescue store and a buy one, get one free offer on animal tours and interactions at the park on event days. Choose from these experiences (as described by SeaWorld):

** Dolphin Encounter: See how we care for our dolphins, participate in a training session, then touch and feed a dolphin on this approximately 15-minute program.

** Animal Ambassador Tour: Visit with our Animal Ambassador team and the exotic and rescued animals they care for, plus hear some of the incredible stories of rescue and conservation that these animals represent every day!

** Behind-the-Scenes Tour: Touch a shark, interact with a penguin, and explore how our park works on this Behind-the-Scenes Up-Close Tour!

** Beluga and Walrus Up-Close Tour: Ever dream of interacting with a walrus or beluga whale? Discover what makes animals from the coldest areas of the planet amazing on this unique interactive behind-the-scenes tour.

** Dolphins Up-Close Tour: Have you ever dreamed of meeting the ocean’s most playful ambassador? Find yourself face-to-face with bottlenose dolphins during this incredible hands-on tour.

** Killer Whale Up-Close Tour: Are you left speechless after one of our killer whale shows? Then go beyond what you see and get up-close to our most amazing ocean ambassador!

** Penguins Up-Close Tour: Don’t miss your chance to chill out with the coolest birds at SeaWorld. During your adventure at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin®, you will meet one of our incredible birds and learn all about their care from our animal experts.

** Private VIP Tour: Enjoy a seven-hour guided, private group tour including a meal at Sharks Underwater Grill®, front-of-line access to rides, VIP seating at our signature shows, animal interactions and more!

** Sea Lions Up-Close Tour: Find yourself face-to-face with our personable pinnipeds for a special photo opportunity followed by an exciting feeding session at Pacific Point Preserve.

** Sharks Up-Close Tour: Separate fact from fiction as you explore the incredible diversity and design of sharks. Dare to peer down into our 700,000-gallon aquarium to discover how we care for these perfect predators. Then, touch a small shark and find out why these ancient species need our help now more than ever.

To take advantage of the BOGO offer on animal encounters and tours, they must be booked inside the park at the SeaWorld Rescue Store, the Information and Reservation Counter, or Guest Services. The other event activities take place during normal park operating hours on May 19 and 20 and are included with park admission.

Also this weekend, SeaWorld will begin giving away free beer to each parkgoer age 21 and older. Through Sept. 2 from 10:30 a.m. to one hour before park close, complimentary domestic and seasonal beers will be available at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio. Each adult guest can receive two 7-ounce beers per visit. The park will rotate beer offerings throughout the summer, starting off with SeaWorld’s own Mako Red Ale. Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, Yuengling and more will also be featured throughout the summer.

Park guests also are invited to enjoy Happy Hour daily at SeaWorld starting at 4 p.m. Happy Hour will feature buy one, get one free offers on all drink and food items at Flamecraft Bar and Sharks Underwater Grill Bar. Both locations feature a variety of domestic and craft beer, mixed drinks and sharable appetizers. Additionally, guests purchasing any pin from a SeaWorld Pin Trading location during Happy Hour will receive a free lanyard with their purchase.





May 17, 2018

Walt Disney World now offers character makeovers for adults

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I think my teenage daughter’s wish just came true.

Walt Disney World has announced that its three hair salons are offering Character Couture Packages, which are the next best thing to a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for adult women.

My 13-year-old daughter has been infatuated with the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for about a decade now. Over the years, she has visited the Fairy Godmothers in Training to prepare for birthdays and days that we were attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Two years ago, she even visited the children’s salon onboard the Disney Dream. For the last several years, however, she has lamented the fact that once girls pass age 12, they can no longer receive these magical makeovers.

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But now there is a new option to fill that void at Walt Disney World. Children, teens and adults can book Character Couture Packages at Ivy Trellis at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, La Vida Health Club at Coronado Springs Resort and Ship Shape at Disney’s Beach Club. There are three packages:

Storybook Style: Classic character-inspired hairstyle -- $50 for a child ages 4 to 14 and $80 for an adult. This service takes 25 minutes.

Magical Makeover: Classic character-inspired hairstyle and makeup -- $75 for a child ages 4 to 14 and $105 for an adult. This service takes 55 minutes.

Timeless Transformation: Classic character-inspired hairstyle, makeup and nails -- $90 for a child ages 4 to 14 and $120 for an adult. This service takes one hour and 25 minutes. Nails will be painted in a color appropriate for the character chosen or the guest may choose character nail art for an additional $3 per nail.

All three packages include a tiara for the participating guest.

Of course, the first thing my daughter asked was what characters are available for these makeovers. A cast member in the Ivy Trellis salon told me that the cast members in the salons have the ability to create any classic Disney character for each guest. This is a custom experience and they will work with guests to fulfill requests. Note that hairstyles may be limited to the type and cut of hair that each guest has. Among the makeovers are princesses, villains, the Fab Five, galactic styles and hero and heroine styles.

Walt Disney World salons are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments are strongly recommended. To make a reservation, call 407-WDW-SPAS. The booking window is much longer than for other experiences on Walt Disney World property; a cast member told me she has already booked an appointment for 2019.

If the guys in your party are feeling left out, The Pirates League in the Magic Kingdom offers makeovers for both children (starting at age 3) and adults. Guests can choose to be transformed into pirates, empresses or mermaids with a variety of packages that range from $18.95 to $99.95. Reservations for The Pirates League can be made up to 180 days in advance and are highly recommended. For booking, call 407-WDW-CREW. The Pirates League is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.





May 13, 2018

Everything you need to know about Aquatica Orlando's new Ray Rush ride

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Aquatica Orlando’s newest attraction, Ray Rush, is not like your typical family raft ride. Forget tame. This ride is full of thrills without being too scary for even the youngest park-goers.

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The water slide officially opened over the weekend, and I was invited to preview it with my teenage daughter. AllEars.Net has been following the progress of this attraction, which replaced Hooroo Run.

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Ray Rush shares the same tower – and 60 feet of stairs – as Walhalla Wave, another family ride. (Walhalla Wave had been closed during Ray Rush construction and is now open, as well.) The tower is adjacent to the large children’s splash area, Walkabout Waters. Guests who want to set up their home bases for the day in this area will find 200 new lounge chairs. Plus, lockers and bathrooms are conveniently located right next to the queue entrance.

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The queue for Ray Rush winds under the serpentine tube slide and is somewhat shaded by the ride and lush tropical foliage. Once riders conquer the stairs – which probably won’t seem as bad when you’re inching forward in the line rather than trying to hurry up them as we did – they will step onto a platform where a hidden scale weighs each group of riders. Ray Rush requires a minimum of two riders and no more than four, and the total weight cannot exceed 700 pounds. (Don’t worry: If the weight limit is exceeded, only the ride operator sees a red light flash and then adjustments are made without embarrassment to guests.)

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Guests are then asked to sit in the circular raft with their legs crossed, and handles are within grasp on the lip and floor of the tube. The tube launches down a short drop and is propelled forward with the Master Blaster feature, which encompasses many powerful jets of water. Most of the ride keeps the raft inside a closed tube, but it’s not boring at all. Riders will see shapes of manta rays and rings in translucent sections of the tubing.

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Ray Rush features a combination of three special elements, which make the attraction a first in Florida. The first of these elements is a giant AquaSphere, an enclosed globe that looks like an oversized version of a hamster trail toy, if you will. Inside it, we washed up against the sides when it was just the two of us. When a friend joined our raft, we really flew around. On that second voyage, I got a surprise when a huge shot of water doused me in the face while I was sitting backward in the raft.

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Next, it was on to the most thrilling element of Ray Rush: the halfpipe that was designed to look like a Manta ray’s wings (and hence the name of the ride). In this area, the raft soars up high on the halfpipe multiple times. When we first launched out of the tube and into the halfpipe, I was nervous about how close I felt to the side of the ride but the thrill was enough to overpower my fleeting concern. This area of the ride gives visitors that hang-time feeling, and those on the ground are likely to hear lots of delighted screams. It certainly felt like we traveled higher on the halfpipe with more people in our raft.

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From the halfpipe we descended back into a closed tube for a straightaway run to the splashdown. This is where the natural daylight comes through on the translucent rings and gives riders a feeling of acceleration, which is the final special element.

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My 13-year-old daughter who has never met a thrill ride she didn’t like really enjoyed this ride. Of course, she loved the halfpipe, but she said she also like the little details like the manta ray shapes in the translucuent tubing. The best part, she said, was that there are jets and sprays throughout the entire slide, which means riders are continuously getting wet.

The height requirement for Ray Rush is 42 inches, which means the ride is quite family friendly.

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While we were at Aquatica, I noticed a few new pieces of merchandise with the Ray Rush logo. The restaurants and snack stands carry the reusable cups, which are $10.99 and include free refills on the day of purchase. These cups can be used at SeaWorld Orlando, too. Ray Rush also is represented in the Aquatica 10th anniversary merchandise: T-shirts, mugs, tumblers and magnets.

Check out our ride POV

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando for a preview of its Ray Rush attraction. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.





May 12, 2018

Electric Ocean to light up SeaWorld Orlando for 2018 summer season

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SeaWorld is ushering in summer over Memorial Day weekend with the return of its Electric Ocean event.

Beginning May 25 and continuing through Sept. 2, Electric Ocean is a nighttime party with shows, lights, dance music and longer park hours.

“[We asked ourselves] what would happen if we dove deep in the water and the bioluminescent animals all started talking to us with light and it transformed the park as it transitioned from daytime to dusk to nighttime,” said Brian Morrow, vice president of theme park experience design for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. “And it wouldn’t be a great night festival if it didn’t have a great finale. You’re going to get to participate in an electric dance party on our lake, surrounded by fountains with a finale of fireworks like you’ve never seen come from this organization.”

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As the sun goes down, the party gets going at Club Sea Glow. Featuring 35 electrifying performers and larger-than-life neon sea creatures, Club Sea Glow is an all-ages dance party with DJs, dancing lights and laser displays.

New for 2018, the Orlando park will be introducing “Touch the Sky” a high-energy celebration of the sea and sky featuring majestic bottlenose dolphins, beautiful macaws and an original musical score.

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Each evening concludes when “Ignite” erupts across the park’s lake. This fireworks display includes synchronized water effects that shoot up to 100 feet in the air choreographed to a powerful musical score.

Other returning entertainment includes:

** SeaWorld and Bubble Legendary Present “Pop” – This live performance takes inspiration from bubbles found in the sea and brings them to life in an amazing artistic display. This show blends music, lights, lasers and bubbles to create a one-of-a-kind experience.

** Sea Lions Tonite – Guests can laugh along to a hilarious, off-the-wall parody of a trip to SeaWorld through the eyes of sea lion superstars, Clyde and Seamore. The infamous SeaWorld Mime returns for the summer in this classic antic-filled show.

** Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up The Night – This is a seasonal, high-energy presentation of SeaWorld’s majestic killer whales.

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Electric Ocean also has its own menu of specialty foods, including craft beers, beverages, “Totchos” and Bao Bun Sandwiches. Plus, extended hours mean the park stays open to 9:30 p.m. on many nights.





May 10, 2018

runDisney announces 2019 Star Wars Rival Run Weekend at Walt Disney World

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This year was the last year for runDisney’s Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Dark Side at Walt Disney World. And, presumably, 2017 was the last year for Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Light Side at Disneyland. runDisney has just announced that in 2019 it will host Star Wars Rival Run Weekend at Walt Disney World. Runners will be able to choose which side of the Force they will run for during the race weekend.

The dates have been moved up from the third weekend in April to April 4 through 7. Some runners are speculating that the change in date is to avoid Easter weekend, which is April 21, 2019. Typically, the weeks before and after Easter are among the most crowded at Walt Disney World, so it makes sense that runDisney would want to bring its thousands of runners and spectators during a different time.

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Star Wars Rival Run Weekend will offer kids races, 5K, 10K and half marathon plus two multi-race challenges. Runners who complete the 10K and the half marathon will have run the Star Wars Rival Run Challenge. The Kessel Run Challenge requires runners to complete within the pacing requirements the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort and the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon at home. The virtual half marathon must be completed between Jan. 3 and March 31, 2019. The Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon takes place on April 7.

You must register for the runDisney Kessel Run Challenge plus the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon or Star Wars Rival Run Challenge in order to participate in the runDisney Kessel Run Challenge. Kessel Run Challenge participants will receive their Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon medals and Star Wars-themed keepsakes at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo during the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. Upon completion of the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon within the pacing requirements, participants will be awarded the Kessel Run Challenge medal.

Otterbox will continue to sponsor runDisney’s Star Wars races.

Registration for 2019 runDisney races is on hold until June 1, while the process is being revamped.





May 8, 2018

Walt Disney World offers annual passholders deals and freebies in May

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For annual passholders, May brings not just flowers but new offers, deals and freebies to Walt Disney World.

Beginning May 18, passholders each can pick up a new, free magnet at Hollywood Studios. This one features Donald Duck for the first time. A location has not yet been announced, but each passholder will need to show his or her annual pass card to be scanned plus a valid ID. The magnets will be available through June 29.

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A tip: One person can collect all the magnets for the family if that guest has proper ID and all the annual pass cards in hand to be scanned. One magnet will be given to each passholder, regardless of who collects it.

And if annual passholders haven’t picked up their second magnet at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, those are available through May 28, which is the last day of the festival. That magnet is the first one depicting Minnie Mouse. The pick-up area is located in the Fountain View Hallway at Epcot, just behind Club Cool.

On the second Saturday of each month, annual passholders can attend an exclusive shopping experience at World of Disney, The Disney Corner and Ever After Jewelry at Disney Springs. Passholders will have the stores to themselves for an hour during which they can use their 20 percent discount. There will be surprises that could include food and beverage samples, sneak peeks at new offerings and guest speakers.

This month, passholders will preview the new DisneyStyle store before it opens to the public at 10 a.m., and there will be a Rebecca Hook handbag release event at Ever After Jewelry during the magical hour. Terralina Crafted Italian will be serving complimentary samples of homemade meatballs in marinara over creamy polenta and finished with shaved parmesean. Singer-guitarist Phillip Bonanno will provide live entertainment. Throughout the day, which happens to also be Mother’s Day, other stores will have specials, including Vera Bradley. That store is offering $30 off a purchase of $125, plus free monogramming.

Passholders will be notified by email to register for each Super Saturday experience. The next event takes place from 9 to 10 a.m. May 12 at World of Disney. These events fill up quickly so you must respond immediately if this interests you. The next Passholder Super Saturday is June 9.

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There is a second passholder shopping event in May. This one marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of Pandora -- The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom. From 7 to 8 a.m. May 27, before the park opens to the public, passholders can attend a special shopping event at Windtraders, where they can purchase a new, limited-release banshee toy. No price has been announced, but the special banshee released for Animal Kingdom’s 20th anniversary a few weeks ago was $99.99. No registration is required for this event; simply enter the park through the passholder turnstile and head to the store.

Passholders still have a few more weeks to take advantage of complimentary dedicated seating at the Garden Rocks concerts, which take place every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday during the festival through May 28. Distribution of wristbands for the reserved seating begins when Epcot opens each day and continues while supplies last through:

** 4:30 p.m. for the 5:30 p.m. shows

** 5:45 p.m. for the 6:35 p.m. shows

** 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. shows

The wristband pick-up area is located in the Fountain View Hallway at Epcot, just behind Club Cool – the same place the magnets are given out. Each passholder can get up to three additional wristbands when showing a valid annual pass and photo identification. Note that wristbands are only good for the specific showtime and date they are issued.





May 5, 2018

Review: Baja seasonal menu at Frontera Cocina at Disney Springs

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If you think you know Mexican food, you might be surprised – and delighted, as I was – to dine at Frontera Cocina at Disney Springs. Chef Rick Bayless, who has spent years studying and innovating Mexican cuisine, offers guests a modern take on authentic Mexican dishes at his newest restaurant.

Bayless lived in Mexico for six years while writing his first cookbook, “Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico.” From those early experiences, he built his career, which has included many Mexican restaurants, cookbooks and the Frontera line of salsas, cooking sauces and organic chips. Bayless is probably best known for winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and his PBS television series, “Mexico–One Plate at a Time,” which has earned him multiple Daytime Emmy nominations for Best Culinary Host.

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Bayless also has received a great number of James Beard Award nominations in many categories, and he has won seven: Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Who’s Who of American Food and Drink, Best Podcast, plus two for his cookbooks, according to his website.

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I share this background to illustrate that Bayless has spent a lifetime perfecting his interpretation of Mexican cuisine – and it’s delicious. I recently was invited to sample Frontera Cocina’s new seasonal menu, a Taste of Baja, which is available now. The restaurant will be supplementing its regular menu with a new seasonal menu representing cuisine from a different region of Mexico every three months.

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The Baja menu offers two cocktails: Baja Michelada (Modelo especial beer, Avion blanco Tequila, cucumber-tomatillo, jalapeno and lime) for $12 and the Blue Corn Old Fashioned (Pierde Almas white corn whiskey, blue corn cordial, Italicus liqueur, mole bitters) for $15. My tablemates and I sipped both and found the Old Fashioned to be smoother and sweeter. The Michelada had a strong taste that I didn’t care for. On the plus side, it was a generous pour, for sure.

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We started nibbling with the Spicy Ahi Tuna Tostada (chilled spicy ahi tuna, chipotle mayo, honeycrisp apples and cucumbers), which is priced at $16 with three tostadas in the serving. This was my favorite dish of the meal. The crispy tostada paired perfectly with the tuna and other ingredients. I normally am not a person who chooses to eat fish, but I would order this again in a heartbeat. It was that good. At $16, the Spicy Ahi Tuna Tostada is the most expensive appetizer on the menu. However, it would be a bargain as a main course, and the serving size would satisfy many diners, including myself.

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Our table also sampled the Toasted Pumpkin Seed “Hummus,” which is an appetizer on the main menu. It is creamy Yucatecan pumpkin seed-habanero dip with crispy cucumber and jicama sticks and warm tortilla chips for dipping. It was quite tasty!

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Next, we tried the Baja Shrimp Tacos (crispy pink shrimp, Baja cabbage slaw, garlicky red beans refritos, cilantro crema and arbol chile salsa). This dish is served with warm tortillas and the guest is able to combine the ingredients however he or he pleases. It, too, was delicious. The shrimp are fried in a tempura batter, but this dish doesn’t leave you with that heavy feeling after eating fried food. The Baja Shrimp Tacos cost $24, and it is a generous portion. (Note to those with allergies: the Baja Shrimp Tacos contain gluten, dairy, pork, and of course, shellfish.)

Our main course was a pork dish served with greens and rice with plantains. It was made specially for our dinner by Bayless, who was in the restaurant for the launch of the Baja menu. Unfortunately, this dish is not on the regular menu or the Baja menu. The Arroz con Plantains with cilantro is, however, offered as a side dish for $6.

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Just when I thought I couldn’t eat one more bite, we each were presented with a Paloma Tart (grapefruit and lime mousse, Avion Blanco Tequila, lime whipped cream, graham cracker crust and candied citrus zest.) Priced at $9, this dessert was light and airy and the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth. (Note to those with allergies: This dish contains dairy and gluten.) I tend to favor chocolate or berry-flavored desserts, but I enjoyed this very much.

Overall, I would recommend everything I sampled, minus the Baja Michelada drink. My tablemates didn’t care for it, either, but that may be our personal preferences. Frontera Cocina offers fresh-tasting Mexican food with a modern twist that is sure to appeal to many palates. Reservations can be through opentable.com or the My Disney Experience website or app.

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There’s still time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Frontera Cocina. Drink specials and live music continue today (May 6). Next weekend, the restaurant will be honoring mothers with a free glass of wine with the purchase of a full-priced entrée on Sunday. Plus, each mom will receive a flower, and everyone can enjoy live music with a Spanish guitarist.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Frontera Cocina to taste its new Baja menu. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.





May 3, 2018

LEGOLAND Florida to celebrate May the Fourth with kickoff of Star Wars Days

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LEGOLAND Florida is offering Star Wars fans a unique way to celebrate May the Fourth (May 4) with a special unveiling and the kickoff of its Star Wars Days this month.

Visitors can see the intricate LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens MINILAND model display, which will feature memorable moments from Episode VII of the popular Star Wars saga enhanced with lights, sound effects and animation. The model addition includes the 16-foot-long Star Destroyer Finalizer, made of more than 350,000 LEGO bricks.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens MINILAND model display includes six exciting scenes set on the planet of Jakku, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren’s capture of Poe; Rey’s rescue of BB-8; Poe and Finn’s escape from the Star Destroyer Finalizer; The wreck of Finn and Poe’s TIE Fighter; Rey, Finn and BB-8’s escape from Niima Outpost; and the escape from the Starship Graveyard.

Plus, a new Star Wars character has arrived at LEGOLAND Florida. The fearsome First Order Stormtrooper, LEGO Captain Phasma, was spotted inspecting the model to ensure perfection ahead of its installation. She will be meeting guests during Star Wars Days.

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The giant new model is the highlight of LEGO Star Wars Days, which begin May 5 and run for three consecutive weekends – more event days than ever before. All activities are included with all forms of park admission.

Event activities include:

** Tour the newest addition to the LEGO Star Wars area in MINILAND USA with a Master Model Builder and learn exclusive model tips and insights.

** Meet-and-greet opportunities with LEGO characters Captain Phasma and Darth Vader.

** Find the missing LEGO lightsabers throughout Imagination Zone for a chance to win LEGO prizes.

** Use The Force and build a Star Wars-themed model during the Galaxy Competition Build.

** Snap a photo with the world’s largest LEGO Yoda model, LEGO Chewbacca and LEGO Rey.

** Explore the LEGO Star Wars universe through the lens of talented fan photographers in an exclusive exhibit. Then enter for a chance to win a photo.

LEGOLAND Florida features more than 50 rides, shows and attractions inspired by popular LEGO and DUPLO brands, including experiences based on “The LEGO Movie,” “LEGO NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu,” LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS, LEGO City, LEGO Technic and LEGO Friends, plus LEGOLAND Water Park and on-site accommodations at the 152-room LEGOLAND Hotel and the 166-room LEGOLAND Beach Retreat.

Throughout the year, LEGOLAND Florida has many special events including Brick or Treat (select dates in October), KIDZ BOP Weekend (Nov. 10-12), Christmas Bricktacular (select dates in December) and Kids' New Year's Eve Party (select dates in late December).

Want to experience it all? The LEGOLAND website is advertising that on May 14 an annual pass offer will be revealed.





May 1, 2018

SeaWorld Orlando brings back Just For Kids Weekends this month

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After about a five year hiatus, SeaWorld Orlando is bringing back its Just For Kids Weekends, and the fun starts Saturday. For the next two weekends, the theme park is offering families special entertainment, and many of the offerings are included with regular park admission.

Children (and their parents) can hear concerts by some of today's popular kids' performers. On May 5 and 6, it’s Choo Choo Soul with Genevieve and on May 12 and 13 listen and sing along to Shopkins Live! Performances take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Nautilus Theater.

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Tickets for the concerts will be distributed at the Welcome Center located in the Waterfront beginning each day at 9 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. A ticket is required for entry into the concerts, and one ticket will be issued to each guest. All guests must be present to receive concert tickets. There is no additional charge for these tickets. The queue and the theater doors will open 1 hour prior to concert start time.

You can choose to reserve concert seats for ages 3 and older in advance by paying $19 per person online.

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Another type of concert will be held at SeaPort Theater each day. During “Elmo Rocks,” visitors join Sesame Street friends Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Zoe, Bert and Ernie as they form their own rock n' roll band and give a concert. Music, dancing and lots of audience participation are what you'll find in this song-filled stage show. It takes place at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m. each event day.

You also can choose to reserve Elmo Rocks seats for ages 3 and older in advance by paying $10 per person online.

Can’t get enough of Elmo and friends? Great news: A dance party will bring them out to interact with young guests. A kid-centric DJ will spin a delightful mix of your child’s favorite party songs several times throughout the day at SeaWorld’s Waterfront.

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You can even start your day with a little one-on-one time with the Sesame Street characters. Breakfast with Elmo and Friends takes place all four event days. Starting at $14.99 for kids and $29.99 for adults, the price also includes reserved seats to the first “Elmo Rocks” show of the day. (Pass member discount does apply.) Reservations can be made online, at the Information Counter or by calling 407-545-5550.

The menu, which is subject to change, includes baked ham, scrambled eggs, corn beef hash, biscuits and sausage gravy, bacon, sausage, potato tots, grits, waffles, seasonal fresh fruit, breakfast pastries, yogurt with topping bar, cereal, milk, juices, coffee, and assorted Coca-Cola products.

Children younger than 3 years old are always free at SeaWorld Orlando, but the theme park is also offering its Preschool Card program, which give kids 5 and younger free admission to the park. For the Preschool Card, you must register the child online by May 20 and bring your registration confirmation, your child’s birth certificate or passport and your Florida resident ID to a ticket window to redeem for the pass. The Preschool Card is good through Dec. 31, 2018, with no blockout dates.





April 28, 2018

Florida residents have time left to enjoy inexpensive Discover Disney tickets

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Florida residents who aren’t quite ready to buy Walt Disney World annual passes still have time to take advantage of a multi-day ticket deal that is usually the least expensive offered each year.

The Discover Disney Tickets give Florida residents three days of admission to a theme park for just $159 plus tax per person. Or for $179 plus tax, make it four days’ admission. That comes out to $53 and $44.75 per day, respectively. Compare that price to a single day’s admission at the gate -- which starts at $104.50 and increases, depending on the theme park and date -- and you can see what a great deal this is. Annual passes start at $439 for Florida residents.

What makes it even better is that Discover Disney tickets can be used through June 24, which is well into the summer season. In the past, these special tickets had to be used by the start of the summer. There are no blockout dates between now and June 24.

Each ticket is good for one day’s admission to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios or Epcot. This offer does not include park hopping, which means you are granted admission to only one park per day. However, you are not required to visit different parks on different days; you can use each day’s ticket at the same park three or four times, if you choose.

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Although Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios does not open in time for this promotion, there are other new summer shows at the Walt Disney World parks. Look for The Incredibles Take Over Tomorrowland, a Super dance party at the Magic Kingdom;The Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live; and the Party for the Planet celebration, including the new UP! A Great Bird Adventure, taking place now at Animal Kingdom.

To make the most of your day, be sure to create a My Disney Experience account, where you can link your tickets and book FastPasses. You can see park hours and show times to help you plan your days. Remember that there now are four parks that stay open into the evening hours and have nighttime shows.

Guests who purchase the Discover Disney tickets may be interested in a purchasing their professional Disney PhotoPass photos. You have a choice of Memory Maker One Day or the Memory Maker package that includes all photos from your Walt Disney World vacation. Memory Maker One Day is $59 and can only be purchased through the My Disney Experience app. (Click on the three bars at the top left of the screen and then choose “PhotoPass,” not “Memory Maker.” Tap a photo and your choices will appear.) Memory Maker One Day begins at 6 a.m. ET on the day you select. The Memory Maker package is $169, but guests who purchase it online at least three days in advance of their arrival at the resort will save $20. The Memory Maker package starts at 12 a.m. on the day you first download or unlock digital content and lasts for 30 days.

To take advantage of this offer, Discover Disney tickets must be purchased by June 20. Adults must show proof of Florida residency at a Walt Disney World ticket window. Guests have the option of upgrading to an annual pass by applying the cost of the Discover Disney tickets to whichever pass they choose.





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