December 10, 2016

Celebrate Winter and Hope's rescue anniversaries this weekend at Clearwater Marine Aquarium


Clearwater Marine Aquarium is celebrating the Rescue Anniversaries of its famous dolphins, Winter and Hope, this weekend and you can join the fun.


Today (Dec. 10), visitors will learn how the CMA team rescues marine life with a mock stranding presentation at noon. Plus, each guest will receive a free Winter poster with paid admission. On Sunday (Dec. 11), each guest will take home a free Hope poster.

Winter was rescued in 2005 from a crab trap rope entanglement. Her story of determination inspired the popular film, “Dolphin Tale.” Hope was rescued five years and one day after Winter. She was found near the site where Winter was found at a similar age – just a couple of months old. After her rehabilitation, she was paired with Winter, and they have become the best of friends. Hope’s rescue in 2010 and her friendship with Winter inspired “Dolphin Tale 2,” the second film to be based on true events at CMA.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Guests can meet the human stars of the “Dolphin Tale” movies later in December when Nathan Gamble (Sawyer) and Austin Highsmith (Pheobe) visit Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s second location in downtown Clearwater, on Dec. 27 through 30. Admission to Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure is included in the prices of admission to CMA and complimentary transportation is provided between the two sites.


The actors have made several appearances at CMA during the last few years to promote “Dolphin Tale” and "Dolphin Tale 2.” My then-10-year-old daughter was fortunate to be able to meet them during one such trip two years ago, and she was thrilled with the opportunity to talk with the stars of her all-time favorite movies.

If the meet-and-greets work the same way as ours did, the actors had a limited time to meet fans, so no autographs were permitted. However, you could take photos, and CMA had one of its photographers there, as well. You have the option to purchase those images afterward. The meet-and-greets were included in the price of admission.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is just a 90-minute drive from Orlando. It's not a planned tourist attraction, so don't expect elaborate displays, shows and rides. What you will find at the working hospital is amazing in its own right -- volunteers and staff working to save animals, and you can visit the creatures and talk with the trainers. Plus, if you've seen "Dolphin Tale" and "Dolphin Tale 2," it's fun to recognize and walk through the places featured in the movie.

Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure shows images, recreations and actual props from the movie. My daughter was excited to see some of Hazel's actual clothes from the movie as well as recreated scenes. Especially realistic is The Hurricane Experience, a walk-through attraction in which participants go into a replica of Sawyer's house and feel it move from the force of the storm.


December 8, 2016

Moana stars in Disney's Hour of Code program for Computer Science Education Program


Disney is using its newest film heroine to help reach out to children during Computer Science Education Week this week through December 11. Disney has launched “Moana: Wayfinding with Code,” a free online tutorial that offers an introduction to the basics of computer science, featuring characters from the Disney animated film. In conjunction with the launch of “Moana: Wayfinding with Code,” Disney also announced other partnering initiatives.

All 487 Apple stores worldwide are hosting block-based coding for young coders workshops featuring “Moana: Wayfinding with Code” tutorials during their Hour of Code sessions through 11.

In addition, will feature “Moana: Wayfinding with Code” tutorial on its site and will educate thousands of teachers and community leaders about how to use the Disney tutorial in their lessons.


Created in close collaboration with, the “Moana: Wayfinding with Code” tutorial will be available in more than 180 countries and 23 languages, including Samoan Polynesian, giving children all over the world the opportunity to learn the basics of coding.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s storytellers and with this tutorial we’re working to introduce them to the technological skills they will need to bring their stories to life,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI). “By bringing together and Disney filmmakers, we’ve created a program that we hope will inspire kids all over the world to try coding for themselves.”

“Moana: Wayfinding with Code” will also be part of direct family engagement in home and school learning. Parents and educators eager to bring new coding education to their kids can sign up today to receive the free “Moana Family Code Night Event Kit,” shipping in January. Family Code Night is a delightful high-impact elementary school event at which children and their parents do their first hour of coding, together, as part of a whole-school evening program that any school can put on. Celebrating family engagement in Computer Science education, the Moana Family Code Night Event Kit will let any parent help their principal and school or youth group put on this family computer science learning event with a theme inspired by the film. Sign up for the free kit today at

Disney will promote the “Moana: Wayfinding with Code” tutorial across its global channels in an effort to reach millions of families. Tutorial and toolkit in English and Spanish found here: Global access direct to the tutorial is at

Over the past two years, Disney has hosted two Hour of Code tutorials, featuring characters from Disney’s Frozen and from Star Wars. In total, almost 40 million students have participated in these tutorials to learn the basics of coding.

“We’ve found that kids are much more likely to try computer science if it contains topics they are interested in, like their favorite Disney stories and characters,” said Hadi Partovi, CEO of “Our work with Disney over the past two years has helped Hour of Code reach record numbers, inspiring millions of children of all ages to try coding and pursue an education in computer science.”


December 6, 2016

Chef Morimoto and Chef Art Smith host progressive dinner at Disney Springs


It was a night for foodies to celebrate – and eat and drink, of course! And I was fortunate enough to join them to cover the first progressive dinner between two top Disney Springs restaurants with their celebrity chefs as the hosts.

On Saturday, guests took part in the Sake and Shine dinner that started at Morimoto Asia and finished next door at the Shine Bar portion of Homecoming Kitchen. Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Chef Art Smith not only oversaw the meal, but they circulated among diners and even gave each other cooking lessons that served as demonstrations for the participants, as well.



We began our evening at 7:30 p.m. at Morimoto Asia, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary at Walt Disney World. We gathered on the upstairs terrace, taking advantage of the cooler Florida temperatures, to sample a three-course Pan-Asian feast.


The fun began when Chef Morimoto announced he would be teaching Chef Smith how to make sushi. First, he showed Chef Smith how it was done, slowly laying out the ingredients on the seaweed before rolling and slicing. Then, Chef Morimoto waited for Chef Smith to take a stab at it. He good-naturedly did so, before Chef Morimoto informed him that he would be teaching the diners how to make sushi, too. Eight lucky participants took turns stepping up to the table and learning from the chefs.



Then we all got to sample some of Chef Morimoto’s delicacies. Paired with the restaurant’s sake, we tasted Spicy Tuna, Shrimp Tempura, California and vegetable rolls, as well as a variety of Nigiri, including Tako (octopus), Hamachi (yellowtail), Kanpachi (amberjack), Maguro (Tuna), Mizudako (live octopus), Sake (salmon) and Lion Fish. I had never tried sushi, but I decided that if I were going to take the culinary plunge, this would be the place to do so. And I’m happy I did because I actually enjoyed the rolls and ate all the pieces I was given. I was less inclined to finish the Nigiri, largely because it prominently featured large strips of raw fish.



Our second course was Alaskan King Crab and Nantucket Bay Scallop “Ankake” over crispy noodles. The contrast of the textures in the thick seafood sauce and the crunchy paper-thin noodles made this dish really appealing. And the large portion size was more than I could eat. I wish this were on the regular dinner menu at Morimoto Asia. The second course was paired with Morimoto’s Sobe Ale, which is available as a draft in the restaurant.



Our third and final course was a Five Spiced Braised Beef Short Rib with Sansho Peppercorn Sauce and Wilted Dou Miao. This short rib was so tender that it fell apart on the fork and was just delicious. Although this particular dish is not on the Morimoto Asia menu, the chef does offer Morimoto Spare Ribs (pork ribs with cilantro and hoisin sweet chili glaze). Our beef short rib was paired with a Primus red wine blend.



By this point, it was 9:30 p.m. and the progressive dinner originally was scheduled to end at 9 p.m. The chefs seemed to be in no hurry to end the evening, however, and we all walked across the courtyard to Chef Smith’s Shine Bar that is connected to his Homecoming Kitchen restaurant. On our way out, we each were handed the evening’s menu, which had been autographed by Chef Morimoto and Chef Smith. What a thoughtful and much-appreciated gesture!


At Shine Bar, Chef Morimoto and Chef Smith mingled with guests, posing for photo after photo. We were invited to sample the varieties of Moonshine-based cocktails at the bar, including MoonShine Mash (made with Mrs. Sutton’s Watermelon Likker), Sweet Tea Shine and MuleShine (made with White Lightning).


Then, Chef Smith challenged his friend and fellow chef to learn how to properly ice one of his Hummingbird Cakes. Chef Smith is known for his version of the popular Southern dessert, which is a pineapple-banana cake with cream-cheese frosting. When he was the personal chef for Oprah Winfrey, she gave many of his creations to friends as birthday cakes. Chef Smith’s Hummingbird Cake also was the most popular dessert at his Chicago restaurant, Table Fifty-Two.



Despite that daunting history, Chef Morimoto took on the task of playfully icing a Hummingbird cake and then we all sampled slices. Guests also were invited to taste Chef Smith’s signature Shine Cake, a butter cake that is soaked with Moonshine syrup, and visit a strawberry shortcake bar. (Florida strawberries typically start their short harvest season in December.)


The evening wrapped up at about 10:30 p.m., making what was scheduled for 90 minutes a three-hour event. The first Sake and Shine dinner was lively and leisurely at the same time. Both chefs said they would like to pair up again for another progressive dinner, so be sure to follow them and their restaurants on Facebook, which is where these types of announcements typically will be made.

The cost of the event was $225 per person (including tax and gratuity). The tickets were available on the Patina Group’s website, which is another resource for food news.

DISCLAIMER: I was a media guest at the Sake and Shine dinner. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.


December 3, 2016

Star Wars fans can see Rogue One unlimited number of times with Regal's Ultimate Ticket



Talk about knowing your audience! Regal Cinemas is offering Star Wars fans the opportunity to see the upcoming “Rogue One” as many times as they want while it is in its theaters with one all-inclusive ticket.

Limited to 1,000, the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Ultimate Ticket costs $100 plus shipping and allows its owner to see “Rogue One” one time each day through June 15, 2017, or the end of the movie’s run in Regal theaters -- whichever comes first. The card will be accepted for all film formats, including 3D, RPX and IMAX.

The Regal Ultimate Ticket is only available for sale online at (Crown Club members can cash in their credits to enter for a chance to win a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Ultimate Ticket by visiting The collectible ticket features the movie title laser cut through anodized steel, plus gold etching and the distinctive black gloss Rebellion insignia. Each card is personalized, with the cardholder’s name inscribed permanently on the back.

Here is the fine print:

** Allow 2 to 3 weeks for personalization and shipping.

** Limit one card per order. Due to personalization, multiple cards require separate transactions.

** Your "shipping" contact name will be the personalized name etched on the card.

** Photo ID matching that name will be required for redemption.

** Cards are not transferable to another individual.

** Present card at the box office for admission ticket. Not valid for online ticket purchases.

** Replacement cost is $50 plus shipping and handling.

** Regal Crown Club members earn 10,000 credits (per ticket) with purchase. As long as you use the email address associated with your Regal Crown Club account, points will be added to your Regal Crown Club card 3-4 weeks after your receive your Rogue One Ultimate Ticket.

Directed by Gareth Edwards, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in theaters Dec. 16. The official description reads, “In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something bigger than themselves.”


December 1, 2016

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is part land, part sea in 2017


Many mom bloggers received an unexpected gift last week that inspired even more gratitude than usual during the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s because highly sought-after invitations to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration were sent out – months earlier than they have been in the past.


This year's conference takes place Feb. 7 to 12, and it features a first – half of the conference takes place on a Disney Cruise Line ship. The first two nights are spent at Port Orleans Riverside at Walt Disney World and the following three nights are onboard the ship. The conference day is scheduled for when the ship has a day at sea. Next year will be the eighth year for the conference, with all but one held in Florida. (The exception was a year when Disneyland hosted the conference.)

Participation in “The Most Magical Social Media Conference of the Year” is by invitation only, although there might be some ways to increase your odds. (More on that below.)

The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is a conference for bloggers who get professional communication advice from a range of speakers from national companies. Some of the past speakers have included wedding designer David Tutera; Matt Jacobson, head of market development at Facebook; Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, New York Times best-selling author and consultant; Ridley Pearson, the author of the "Kingdom Keepers" series for young adults and many other novels; and Rene Syler, former CBS' The Early Show Anchor and webmaster of

The multiday event also includes elements of a press junket, allowing conference attendees to experience what's new at the Disney Parks and, this year, Disney Cruise Line. Plus, it's a celebration that includes many fun family dinners and experiences. Participants pay their own way to the conference and a discounted registration fee that typically includes a stay at a Walt Disney World resort, theme park tickets and dinners for the family, and meals for the blogger. This year, it includes a three-night stay in a cabin with a veranda. The cost this year is $1,400 for the invitee and one guest. The invitee may bring up to two additional guests at a cost of $400 per guest.

For years, the big question has been how to get invited to the conference. And, unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, except that it involves a lot of pixie dust.

I was among those fortunate enough to be invited to the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, and I learned as much from my fellow bloggers as the amazing speakers. Moms who blog about Disney and other Orlando theme parks (like me) actually were in the minority. Most participants were mom bloggers who write about their daily experiences with their families, while some had specialized blogs for travel and other niches. It's a small group -- somewhere between 150 to 200 bloggers and their families attend.

Although most of the invitations for 2017 have gone out -- there may be some last-minute emails if some participants are unable attend -- those interested in attending in 2018 might be able to increase their chances by getting involved online and in person.

** Begin by following and interacting on social media (when appropriate) with Maria Bailey, who helped create the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. She is known as "the" authority on marketing to moms. She and her company, BSM Media, Inc., still are very involved with the conference. You also can connect with her by registering as a mom blogger at MomSelect.

** Be sure you are following on social media the Disney organizers behind the magic: @DisneySMMoms @DisneyParks @WaltDisneyWorld @DisneylandToday @DisneyCruise @DisneySports @runDisney @leannej (Leanne J. O'Regan, Walt Disney World Director of Social Media) Follow the hashtag #DisneySMMC to see what’s happening at the conference.

** Try to attend a Disney Social Media Moms Celebration on the Road. These mini conferences take place during the summer in a handful of cities throughout the United States. They are a good way to network and promote yourself to the organizers of the big conference at the Disney Parks. Although the 2017 dates have not yet been announced, keep checking the official Disney Social Media Moms Celebration site.


November 29, 2016

SeaWorld's 2016 Christmas Celebration sparkles with Rudolph, expanded Sea of Trees and return of Clyde and Seamore


SeaWorld Orlando kicked off its Christmas Celebration this past weekend with new characters Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends, new features added to its Sea of Trees light show and the return of Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas show. My children and I were ready to get in the holiday spirit and leave the decorating to someone else, so off we went to check out the opening weekend decorations and entertainment.


Rudolph and his friends from the beloved Christmas classic are making their debut this year at SeaWorld in its new ChristmasTown area, which is accessible from the Christmas Market located along the Bayside Pathway. Once inside ChristmasTown, visitors can choose to meet Rudolph and Clarice together in one area or go to another spot that alternately hosts Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snowman. On the day we attended, we found the line for the reindeer pair consistently to be about 45 minutes from the time the area opened at 5 p.m. until it closed at 10 p.m. By contrast, the wait for Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snowman was only about 10 minutes, though the snowman did seem a bit more popular than the arctic prospector.


Tip: Both spots do have professional PhotoKey photographers, but you also can use your own camera or cell phone for pictures.

In addition to the character meet-and-greets inside ChristmasTown, visitors will find games of chance (for a nominal fee) that have Rudolph-themed prizes, a gift shop dedicated to Rudolph souvenirs and a holiday snack shop.


Back out in the Christmas Market, guests can take advantage of some of the best views of SeaWorld’s Sea of Trees light show, which takes place on the nearby water. The trees light up in various color schemes, which is synchronized to music. This year, the Sea of Trees show has been expanded to include a 70-foot Christmas tree that serves as a canvas for various images of Rudolph while songs from the classic television show are heard. The Sea of Trees “dance” at multiple times each night, so be sure to check the printed show schedule or SeaWorld Orlando website for times each day.

Tip: Each Sea of Trees show only lasts a few minutes and is visible from the perimeter of the lake. There are so many good viewing spots that it is not necessary to line up way ahead of time. However, most of the shows are preceded by snow flurries near the Shops at Waterfront if you choose to watch from that vantage point.

With the departure of the Polar Express overlay at the Wild Arctic attraction, Santa Claus has moved from that simulation of the North Pole to a new location in the park. Santa’s Workshop presented by Coca-Cola is located near the Pass Member Lounge not far from Shamu Stadium. Santa’s Workshop is open from 11 a.m. to park closing through Dec. 24 during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration.

Tip: Santa and Mrs. Claus also greet guests at Santa’s Fireside Feast. My son and I enjoyed that experience several years ago. You can read all about it here. (For current pricing, visit the SeaWorld Orlando website.)


Finally, the popular show, Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas, returns after a two-year hiatus during which Sea Lion & Otter Stadium was being renovated and a new year-round show developed.

Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas is, like all their other themed shows, filled with plenty of laugh-out-loud theatrics as the loveable sea lions, their human friends, otters and even a walrus get ready for Santa's visit. The jokes are corny, and the pratfalls and physical humor are really just a variation of what the characters do in other shows -- yet the audiences love it as always, and for good reason. It's a show that doesn't take itself -- or, in this case, any holiday tradition -- too seriously.

Tip: Be sure to arrive at Sea Lion & Otter Stadium at least 15 minutes before the start of each show to get a good seat and to see the return of a fan-favorite mime before each show. The mimes don’t have a role in the regular sea lion and otter show, so this is a limited-time engagement.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration takes place Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 25 through December 11 and then runs daily December 16 through 31. To read more about the many other events that are part of the Christmas Celebration, see my previous blogs here and here. (Remember that The Polar Express has traveled away from SeaWorld and been replaced with the Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer franchise.)


November 26, 2016

16 easy Disney-themed ideas for your Elf on the Shelf


16 easy Disney-themed ideas for your Elf on a Shelf |
16 easy Disney-themed ideas for your Elf on a Shelf |
16 easy Disney-themed ideas for your Elf on a Shelf |

This week is a week that many of us parents have been simultaneously dreading and looking forward to since Christmas Day 2015: It’s the return of the Elf on the Shelf shenanigans. Yesterday marked the start of Elf Scout Return Week, the time when most families welcome back their scout elves or adopt new North Pole helpers. Our elves, Sugar Plum and Blizzard, usually arrive the day after Thanksgiving and true to form, they showed up for our North Pole Breakfast yesterday. You’re never too old to have the elves help kick off the start of the Christmas season!

For those who have somehow missed this very popular recent Christmas tradition, allow me to give you a brief explanation. The plush elves are sent by Santa to keep an eye on the children of the family and to report back each night whether they should be on the Naughty or Nice list by the time Christmas arrives. But the elves like to have a little fun, too, so when they return in the morning from their trip to the North Pole, they move to a different spot in the house. Often, they get into some mischief, which surprises the kids when they wake up.

The official rules: “First, a scout elf cannot be touched; Christmas magic is very fragile and if a scout elf is touched it may lose that magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole. Second, a scout elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake! A scout elf's job is to watch and listen.” The only exception to this rule is that children may gently play with their elves on Christmas Eve because they do not need magic to get back to the North Pole that night; they ride with Santa on his sleigh.


I love seeing photos of the elves’ endeavors at different houses! When I was perusing recently, it occurred to me that our Sugar Plum and Blizzard have not shown their Disney Side enough. That seems unforgiveable given our family’s love of Disney!

There are so many clever Disney-themed ideas on Pintrest, Etsy and other online sites. Here are some of my favorite Disney-themed ideas that the elves set up:


** Elves like to recreate attractions from the Disney Parks.

** Mickey Mouse hat ornaments make great elf hats.

** An elf might want to dress up as a Disney Princess.

** Give a new elf a “My First Visit” button from one of the Disney Parks.

** A plush Olaf might pose with Snowgees made of two big and two little marshmallows. (Faces can be drawn with markers.)

** Elves can announce or count down a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line.


** Set up a meet-and-greet with a Disney plush character complete with an autograph book.

** Elves like to draw red reindeer noses or mustaches with a dry-erase marker on the glass of a framed photo of your family at Disneyland or Walt Disney World.

** Allow Elf to sit on the couch to play Disney Infinity.

** An elf might leave a message on an extra cheer card from a runDisney event.

** Even elves like to go on Disney vacations. Sometimes they snap photos of themselves on attractions or by Disney icons.

** Elves like to play Disney board games, too.

** A Disney bedtime story might be just what an Elf needs to get to sleep in the morning.

** Elves love to bring small gifts, like a Disney sweet or a Disney ornament.

** You could find your family’s elf sitting on the couch with Disney plush and popcorn buckets with a note explaining there is to be a Disney movie night at your house.

** Sometimes Hidden Mickeys are formed when an elf spills something in the house, such as M&Ms, Legos or some other small household object.

Has your elf shown his or her Disney Side? Tell us about it in the comments!


November 23, 2016

Disney movie review: Moana takes audience on entertaining voyage


Disney’s “Moana” was worth the wait.

My 12-year-old daughter had been anticipating this animated movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios since she heard about it more than a year ago. Not only does she like the Disney princesses but she also loves all things related to Hawaii. This seemed like the perfect marriage of her favorites.

But you don’t have to have an interest in either, as in the case of my 14-year-old son, to thoroughly enjoy “Moana.” That’s because the story is engrossing and the animation breath-taking. Plus, much of the original music has been developed in collaboration with “Hamilton” composer and actor Lin-Manual Miranda.


The story fully develops the growth of a Hawaiian princess (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) –- though not yet an official Disney Princess – who resists her role as a leader expected to do what her predecessors have always done. When her people are in danger because their Hawaiian island of Motunui is not able to produce enough food, Moana must set out to break her father’s rule of “not going beyond the reef” in order to save them.

We see early in the movie that Moana has a mind of her own, and indeed she is a strong female role model throughout the movie. Moana is determined and courageous. She may be a princess, but Moana sure doesn’t want to be treated like one. She very much takes offense when Maui (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), the demigod and shapeshifter she must confront, says, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a Princess.” But perhaps what I like best about the example Moana sets is that her character is one that does not need a prince (or romance) to be successful. Writer Jared Bush crafted her from the same mold as the plucky Merida in “Brave.”


One of things that sets Moana apart, though, is her special bond with the ocean, and it’s those scenes in which the animation really shines, thanks to directors Ron Clements and John Musker. To say the ocean is an actual character in the movie would not be an overstatement. It certainly has a sparkling personality of its own. And, we discover, Moana comes from a long line of sea-voyaging navigators who all have had an ongoing relationship with the ocean, though perhaps not as special as hers.

The previously mentioned Maui is a central character because he inadvertently caused Motunui’s food shortage, which was the revenge of the lava monster Te Ka. About 1,000 years ago the demigod stole a magical object, and Moana needs his assistance – and that of his fishhook that allows him to shapeshift – to return it and restore balance to her island.

This movie has a lot of funny moments, many of which are brought about by Pua the pig and Hei Hei the unbelievably dumb chicken. At our screening, adults and children alike laughed frequently throughout the movie.

“Moana” is rated PG for “peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements.” The images in question involve the reappearance of the lava monster, but they really are not that frightening, in this parent’s opinion.

By the way, make sure to stay in your seat through the credits or you will miss out.

Disney has attached the short “Inner Workings” to “Moana.” The official description is that this “is the story of the internal struggle between a man’s pragmatic, logical side and his free-spirited, adventurous half.” Of course, those of us who have seen Pixar’s “Inside Out” immediately will make comparisons. Although the short is mildly entertaining, it doesn’t compare to “Inside Out” or other recent shorts, for that matter. “Inner Workings” blends computer-generated and traditional hand-drawn animation.

DISCLAIMER: I viewed “Inner Workings” and “Moana” at a media screening before its official release. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.


November 22, 2016

LeSportsac introduces Wave Reader bag collection based on Disney's Moana


As a fan of collaborations between The Walt Disney Co. and designer bag manufacturers, I was excited to see the newest line from LeSportsac. The Wave Reader Collection features Moana from the animated movie of the same name that will be released this week. But you can get the LeSportsac bags now.

LeSportsac is known for its lightweight, durable bags. The brand features lines not just of handbags, but also backpacks, baby essentials and travel systems. They all are convenient for packing because they can be folded up inside each other, or a suitcase, and brought out as needed. I love that idea for travel that might include souvenir shopping!


The new Moana collection Wave Reader is a store exclusive, meaning that it must be purchased at a LeSportsac store rather than online, and some pieces are exclusive to Hawaii retail locations. However, you can call the Santa Monica, Calif., store, which is the only store in the continental United States to carry the collection, at 310-899-6876 to place an order for the items that are not Hawaii exclusives. Products can be shipped within the continental United States and Alaska. Plus, LeSportsac is offering free ground shipping for the rest of November.


The Wave Reader collection includes the following sihouettes: Rectangular Cosmetic ($28), 3-zip Cosmetic ($28), Travel Cosmetic ($29), Lily Wallet ($65), Basic Backpack ($118), Medium Weekender ($138) and Large Weekender ($144). In addition, the Mini Crossbody Picture Tote in Bold Adventure features Moana ($78). The Hawaii exclusives include a Small Cleo Crossbody, Mini Basic Backpack, Classic Hobo, Deluxe Everyday Bag and EveryGirl Tote. In addition, the Hawaii stores carry a Rectangular Cosmetic bag in Ocean Spirit, which also feature a single image of Moana.


Moana is not the first Disney character that has inspired a collaboration with LeSportsac. It’s not even the first Polynesian print! One of the most popular collections was one based on Mary Blair’s it’s a small world attraction at Disney Parks that came in many different prints, including Polynesian Paradise.

Currently, the LeSportsac Minnie Mouse prints Vacation Paradise, Sing and Sway, Minnie’s Paradise, Love in Paradise, Hula Hibiscus and Minnie Hula, Mickey Loves Minnie, Love Check, Springtime Outing and Love at First Sight are on sale.

Already intrigued by Moana? Check back tomorrow for my movie review.


November 19, 2016

Shop for SeaWorld Orlando's 2016 Blue Friday deals from home


SeaWorld Orlando is preparing to celebrate "Blue Friday" (its version of Black Friday) and is offering quite a few deals to save you some green. There are a number of Buy One, Get One offers, and new for the first this year, shoppers can give the gift of Discovery Cove with discounted admission packages that allow the gift recipient to choose their own reservation date. The offers are available online beginning at 12:00 a.m. Friday, Nov. 25.

To take advantage of the Blue Friday deals, guests must register to receive SeaWorld Orlando's e-mail updates or already be subscribed at Fans can subscribe any time between now and Nov. 25 to participate. The deals are available through 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 28.

New this year for Blue Friday:

** Save up to $110 on gifted Discovery Cove admission packages

** SeaWorld/Aquatica Dining Plan for pass members (Must use by March 6, 2017.)

** BOGO SeaWorld All-Day Dining Deal

** 30 percent off your total purchase at

** 50 percent off 1 Year PhotoKey

Other offers include:

** SeaWorld & Aquatica Orlando 1 Year Annual Pass Buy One Get One 50% Off Ticket (First visit must occur by Jan. 31, 2017.)

** SeaWorld Orlando Buy One Get One 50% Off Ticket (Must use by Jan. 31, 2017.)

** Aquatica Orlando Buy One Get One 50% Off Ticket (Must use by June 30, 2017; some blockout dates apply.)

** BOGO Quick Queue Unlimited (Must use by March 6, 2017.)

** BOGO Any Animal Up-Close Tour (Must use by Dec. 31, 2016.)

** BOGO 50 percent off Large Shamu Plush

Some of the new offers look great for Orlando visitors, but I’m a little disappointed by the admission offers that would appeal to locals and repeat visitors. The annual pass deals just are not as good as the past two years. There is no offer for BOGO annual passes to SeaWorld Orlando only. And the combination SeaWorld and Aquatica annual passes are being offered at a Buy One, Get One 50 percent off rather than just Buy One, Get One as they were in the past.

If the Blue Friday offers don’t meet your group’s needs, there are two other admission deals that are good until the beginning of January. Visitors who purchase a Fun Card or annual pass through Jan. 3, 2017, will receive an extra three months free. So, a 15-month Fun Card costs $99.99 plus tax for adults. A SeaWorld Orlando annual pass – with three months free – costs $168 plus tax for an adult. Fun Cards and annual passes do not have blackout dates. However, the Fun Pass must be redeemed with a first visit by Jan. 31, 2017. Both offers must be paid in full at the time of purchase and are not eligible for monthly EZpay service.

Sesame Place Christmas Ticket + Meal - Furry Friday offer

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Annual Pass + 3 Months Free

Finally, guests who visit SeaWorld on select days through Dec. 31 also can experience SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration for the price of regular admission. This is a wonderful value, especially when you consider that other area theme parks require separate tickets for holiday events. Holiday events take place Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 25 through Dec. 11 and then run daily Dec. 16 through 31. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends are new to SeaWorld properties this Christmas season.


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