October 16, 2017

What you need to know about Disney's Party for the Senses at Epcot International Food and Wine Festival


The focus of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is the marketplaces throughout World Showcase to be sure, but foodies also will find plenty of extra opportunities for specialty tastings. One such popular event each year is the Party for the Senses, which takes place inside World ShowPlace on several Saturday evenings during the festival.


This past weekend, I was invited to attend a Party for the Senses at Epcot for the first time, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. The party basically is a more upscale version of the festival concept. It features appetizer-size dishes from Disney and celebrity chefs and wine and beer pairings. Various stations are set up around the room and guests are able to peruse and sample as much as they want during the two-and-a-half-hour event.

Southern Chicken Pot Pie


King Crab


Seared Sea Bass

The menu changes at each Party for the Senses so no two are alike. During the night I attended, party-goers could find new takes on familiar dishes, such as the Braised Beef Short Rib Roulade with Sunchoke Puree and a Salad of Sunflower Seeds, Mushrooms and Herbs and the Southern Chicken Pot Pie served in a Flaky Brioche “conewich.” There were seafood specialties, such as the Seared Sea Bass with Sweet Potato Bacon Hash, Orange Soy Glaze and Beef Kimchi; the Scallop en Croute; and the King Crab with Lovage Puree, Smoked Egg Cream, Pickled Red Onions, Gooseberries and Garlic Ash. More adventurous diners could try the Seared Elk Loin with Pomegranate and Romanesco Broccoli; the Smoked Duck Sausage, Duck Liver Bechamel, Duck Fat Biscuit and Sweet Fall Preserve; and the Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Belly.

Mediterranean Style Braised Mangalitsa Pork Belly


Verlasso Salmon with Mickey Waffle

My favorite dish was the Mediterranean Style Braised Mangalitsa Pork Belly served with Tri-color Polenta and a Petite Salad of Cahabo Cabernet Greens with Spicy Herb Aioli from Disney’s Boardwalk Resort Catering. Hands down, the most interesting combination had to be the Verlasso Salmon served with a mini Mickey waffle topped with Maple syrup, Onion Glaze and Maple Butter Sauce. Almost everyone at my table tried this dish, and we all agreed the two flavors didn’t sit well together. Some of us thoroughly enjoyed the salmon while others unexpectedly got their Mickey waffle fix.

Tropical Indulgence

Those with a sweet tooth had plenty of choices -- from a White Bean Yuca Cake to Assorted Macarons to Vintage Chocolate Bon Bons. My favorite was the Tropical Indulgence, which was a Milk Chocolate Custard with Mango Passion Coulis and Ginger Chantilly from the Four Seasons Resort. The combination of flavors was just delightful.


Each food grouping was paired with wines from all over the world. Some stations also offered craft beers. Water was readily available as well as a coffee and tea station from Joffrey’s. In addition, guests could request soft drinks or anything that a typically stocked bar would serve.


But taste and smell are not the only senses that Disney is trying to stimulate. Sight and sound came into play with the stunning performance by the Femmes of Rock, a “rock” violin act with video, lights and choreography. The group played many favorites from the '70s and '80s and as the night progressed, guests joined others on the dance floor. Each Party for the Senses has different entertainment, as well.


One notable change to this year’s party is that everyone has a seat. In the past, only the most expensive tickets came with seating, while others had tables similar to those out in the marketplaces for standing with their food and beverages. This year, Guaranteed Seating gets you a seat at a table with other guests; Reserved Seating is a private table on the main floor; and the Wine View Lounge has private tables in the lounge with artisanal cheeses and a specialty cocktail plus early admission at 7:15 p.m. and transportation to and from the main Epcot entrance. All tickets to a Party for the Senses come with reserved seating at that day’s Eat to the Beat concert and a souvenir wineglass. Prices range from $179 to $329 plus tax and including gratuity per person. Epcot admission is not included with a Party for the Senses ticket.

There are two remaining dates for this year’s Party for the Senses events: Oct. 21 and Nov. 11. Oct. 21 is one of two themed parties. “Chefs from Disney parks around the globe will come together to create an evening of international tastes – this has been a super-popular event the last couple of years. Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disney, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani and Disney Cruise Line chefs will join our Walt Disney World chefs to showcase the best of their cuisine,” wrote Pam Brandon on the Disney Parks Blog. The entertainment that night is Grace Kelly, an American musician, singer, entertainer and songwriter.

Reservations can be made online or by calling 407-939-3378 for Guaranteed Seating. Tickets to the Wine View Lounge or Reserved Seating must be made by phone.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at its Party for the Senses. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.

October 14, 2017

Headless Horseman returns to Disney's Fort Wilderness with movie screening and meet-and-greet


The Headless Horseman has long had a place at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. After all, that is where his horse is stabled.


It used to be that the only place at Walt Disney World to see the famed Headless Horseman from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” story was at the Magic Kingdom before Mickey’s Boo To You Parade at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This year, the party added a PhotoPass Magic Shot with the Headless Horseman that can be taken in front of the train station. (Guests will pose with both surprised and happy expressions and the Headless Horseman is edited in afterward.)


Then, years ago, Haunted Carriage Rides were introduced at the campground. Guests began their adventure at the Blacksmith's Shop at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, where four open carriages lined up on the half hour for a 25-minute journey. They headed out past Pioneer Hall and the Settlement Trading Post and into the woods. The driver started the telling of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and then a recorded narrator picked up the tale, as the carriages traveled through the trees and along the shore of Bay Lake, stopping at key places mentioned in the story. The Headless Horseman made a surprise appearance during the ride.

My family and I loved that experience because it was just the right amount of thrill without being too scary for our then-7- and 9-year-old kids. We were disappointed when the Haunted Carriage Rides were discontinued five years ago despite their immense popularity.


Now, a new Headless Horseman experience has debuted at Fort Wilderness called Return to Sleepy Hollow. During the month of October, guests can attend a viewing of the 1949 Disney animated classic film inside the resort’s Tri-Circle-D Ranch stables. Expect the unexpected during the event, we’re told. Afterward, guests will have the opportunity to take a photo with the Headless Horseman. (This is not just a Magic Shot; the actual Disney Headless Horseman is there.)


Two types of tickets are available: General seating is $22 per person and premium seating, which includes first access for photos and a Halloween treat bag, costs $38 per person. Guests in both seatings, ages 3 and older, also receive an exclusive limited edition pin. Guests ages 2 and younger receive complimentary admission with their families, but are asked to sit in a parent’s lap.

Remaining screenings take place at 8 and 10 p.m. on October 14 to 16, 19 to 23 and 26 to 31.

Unfortunately, this experience has been fully booked since before Sept. 1. I bring it to your attention because, like with any experience at Walt Disney World, cancellations do occur. Guests have until 11 p.m. the night before the date of their Return to Sleepy Hollow experience to cancel without a penalty. So, a cast member told me the best time to try to catch an open spot is to call 407-WDW-TOUR between 10:30 and 11 p.m. This event can only be booked by phone; there are no online reservations.

Or, if you’re going to be at Walt Disney World in the fall of 2018 and are interested in this event, make a note to see if the Headless Horseman will be returning. This event was first announced in March this year so I’d check in March next year, as well. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance.

October 12, 2017

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is again part land, part sea in 2018


If you're an avid follower of family bloggers on social media, you likely saw the hashtag #DisneySMMoms show up quite a bit in your news feeds this week. That's because invitations for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration were sent out on Oct. 10, and the ecstatic and the disappointed were ready to talk about the most magical of gatherings.


The conference takes place Feb. 20 to 26, 2018, and it repeats last year’s format – half of the conference takes place on a Disney Cruise Line ship and the other half at Walt Disney World. Next year will be the ninth 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 goodenoughmother.com.

The multiday event also includes elements of a press junket, allowing conference attendees to experience what's new at the Disney Parks and 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. (Last year, the trip included two nights at Port Orleans Riverside and a three-night stay in a stateroom with a veranda. The cost wass $1,400 for the invitee and one guest. The invitee could 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 around 200 bloggers and their families attend.

Although most of the invitations for 2018 have gone out -- there may be some last-minute emails if some participants are unable attend -- those interested in attending in 2019 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: @DisneyMoms @DisneyParks @WaltDisneyWorld @WDWToday @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 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. The 2018 dates have not yet been announced, but when they are, you can bet you will them on social media channels!

October 10, 2017

Town of Celebration (Fla.) invites public to celebrate Oktoberfest near Disney World


Regular readers of my blog probably have read about my family’s annual excursion to the winter festival, Now Snowing, at the town of Celebration just outside Walt Disney World. That’s right around the corner – already?! – but to tide us over, Celebration Town Center has its Oktoberfest that offers fun fall favorites in much the same format as the winter festival.

The two-night event takes place Friday, October 20, and Saturday, October 21, and is free and open to the public. Hop on a hayride, dance to live music, paint a pumpkin, or just stroll and enjoy the crisp fall air and enjoy the great savings at the lakeside promenade during the celebration of all things autumn.

Instead of the town’s signature snowfall, visitors can experience falling leaves on Market Street multiple times each night. The experience works the same way as the snowfall: Simply step into the street at 7, 8 or 9 p.m., and the leaves will begin to swirl around you. No need to stake out a spot or line up early!

Dan Witucki & Heimatland Musikanten

On Friday, Oktoberfest will be celebrated in the old-world German tradition with music from Dan Witucki & Heimatland Musikanten. The interactive live show includes yodeling and crowd sing-a-longs. On Saturday, Celebration will host “Rocktoberfest” with party band Lovestruck Robot, which is also family friendly.

DJ Tami kicks off Friday’s event at 5:30 p.m., which is also when pumpkin painting begins. Dan Witucki & Heimatland Musikanten first take the stage at 6:10 p.m. On Saturday, DJ Tami and pumpkin painting begin at 5 p.m. Singer Tracey Coryell will perform at 6:05 p.m., and Lovestruck Robot starts at 7:15 p.m.

Celebration’s 11th Annual Oktoberfest features hayrides from Misty Blue Acres Carriage, the same company that does the carriage and wagon rides during Now Snowing. In the past, the wagon and hayrides gave been $5 per person. The hayrides begin at 6 p.m. and last until 10 p.m. when the festival ends for the evening. (Misty Blue Acres Carriage also provides horse and carriage experiences for Make A Wish children at Give Kids the World Village.)

There are a variety of restaurants in Celebration to fit a range of budgets and tastes. Our family outing usually consists of eating dinner and then enjoying the entertainment. There are some wonderful places to dine, such as Cuban treasure the Columbia Restaurant, but for an inexpensive family meal, try Upper Crust Pizza or . Through the years, we have learned that planning to have an early dinner helps avoid a long wait for a table (and also makes street parking, which is free, easier) on weekend nights during events. The later it gets, the more crowded the streets become and the harder it is to find a close parking spot.

Celebration’s downtown is a traditional retail and business district modeled after those found in small American towns and built by The Walt Disney Company. Retail shops, restaurants, a town hall, post office and offices are among the downtown businesses. Many of these buildings are situated along a wide promenade circling a lake.

October 7, 2017

ABC's The Chew serves up fun and surprises for audience at Walt Disney World


If you visited Epcot this past week, you couldn’t miss the huge stage set up in the center of the World Showcase promenade. That’s because the cast and crew of The Chew television show were filming at Walt Disney World as part of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. The group of relatable chefs and hosts offered audiences a glimpse into what such a successful production requires while bringing their own sense of magic to The Most Magical Place on Earth.


As a member of the local media, I was invited to view the taping of the cooking show and participate in a group interview with the cast afterward. Our questions ranged from favorite foods and rides at Walt Disney World to advice for parents of picky eaters and aspiring restaurateurs. You can watch Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Mario Batali answer our questions here:

This was my second time to view The Chew in production, and it was just as much fun as the first time. Our group of bloggers was seated close to the stage about a half hour before the taping was scheduled to begin. Once the other audience members filed in – keep reading to learn how you can get tickets -- the show’s comedian, R.C. Smith, began to warm up the crowd. Smith did a great job keeping the crowd excited about the show. He told jokes, he interacted with the audience, and he even got people to clap and sing along to high-energy songs both before the taping began and on the commercial breaks.


Before the cast segments began, the audience had some “work” to do. We were asked to clap and laugh at different intervals while the cameras filmed crowd shots that would be edited into the final program. The cast came out on stage and greeted the audience before heading down the pathway they would use for their entrance with a few special guests at The Chew’s start. The backdrop to the stage was Spaceship Earth and the monorails passed by frequently.


Then it was time for the show, which focuses on cooking shortcuts, to begin. The episode’s theme was “Treat Yourself!” The hosts demonstrated in short segments how to prepare White Russian Banana Pudding Pie, Grilled Citrus Salad, and Orecchiette with Pork Sausage and Broccoli Rabe. During the first cooking lesson, Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White visited the set and chatted with Kelly about her show’s 35th anniversary, which parallels Epcot’s milestone that was just celebrated on Oct. 1. Audience members at the Fiber One Tasting Table were, of course, sampling the dishes as they were presented. Chef Carla’s mother was among these special guests for our show!


Recipes for dishes made on the show are posted online an hour before the show airs. “Treat Yourself!” will air at 1 p.m. EST (noon PT) Monday, Oct. 9 on ABC affiliates. The other shows filmed at Walt Disney World will be aired Tuesday through Friday (Oct. 10-13) of next week.


Viewers and audience members also will see a pre-recorded video of some of The Chew staff visiting Disney Springs, which has undergone a multi-year transformation into a shopping and dining destination. Audience members were surprised with $50 Disney Springs gift cards at the conclusion of the taping so they, too, can explore the entertainment district. Plus, three audience members were chosen based on their answers on a questionnaire they filled out prior to the taping to receive tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. These generous giveaways were something different from the taping I attended last year, so I don’t think you can go into a television production (other than a game show) expecting to receive prizes.

Wish you had been able to attend a taping of The Chew at Epcot? Here is what you need to do for 2018 – if the show returns to Walt Disney World. Audience tickets were given away for the Epcot shows through contests and The Chew’s website. This year, it was announced in June that The Chew would be taping again at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. If that is the case next year, watch for an announcement on the Disney Parks Blog and then check The Chew’s website to sign up for tickets. Audience members must be at least 14 years old. You can read other rules and restrictions relating to audience participation at the link above. Audience members who are chosen to attend Epcot shows do receive complimentary admission to the theme park. If you do not receive tickets, there is a standby queue for each show, and Epcot guests who have their own admission to the park can join it in case there are extra seats at the tapings.

In the meantime, The Chew fans who visit Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival can taste dishes inspired by the talk show at the Earth Eats marketplace in Future World. Look for Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese; Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce; and Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle. These dishes are all returning from last year’s festival. My children and I have sampled each one this year and found them to be full of flavor. The beef skewer and the dessert were our favorites. These dishes can be paired with Kurt Russell's Gogi Wines Chardonnay Gogi "Goldie" and Pinot Noir or the Redstone Meadery Black Raspberry Mead, which are also sold at the marketplace.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival runs through Nov. 13, and admission is included with any Epcot ticket or annual pass.

October 5, 2017

SeaWorld Orlando offering 3 extra months free on Fun Cards and annual passes



If you are considering purchasing annual passes for SeaWorld Orlando, this month or next might just be the best times to do so, given the deals the theme park is offering.

Unlike other Orlando theme parks, SeaWorld doesn’t offer Florida resident passes. Anyone can purchase its annual passes, and for some out-of-town guests, an annual pass makes more sense than a Fun Card or vacation package.

First, what is the difference between a Fun Card and a SeaWorld annual pass?

A Fun Card is good for unlimited visits during the calendar year in which it was purchased. So, whether you buy a Fun Card in January or October, it still expires on December 31 of that year. There are no blackout dates for either Fun Cards or annual passes, which means the Halloween parties and Christmas entertainment is included with regular admission. Unlike annual passes, Fun Cards do not include parking, which is $20 per day for most vehicles.

Annual passes also give the member a discount on just about everything in the park – from beverage refills to merchandise to special events. Plus, pass members receive other perks, such as a Christmas ornament and a car magnet, the opportunity to bring a friend for free and previews of new attractions. With annual passes, Florida residents have the option to pay in monthly installments. Annual passes expire one year from the purchase date, not the end of the calendar year.

So, depending on your plans and the frequency of your visits, having an annual pass may make more sense than a Fun Card. Here are the current deals: now through Jan. 3, 2018, SeaWorld is giving pass members three months free with the purchase or renewal of annual passes. For $168 plus tax – which must be paid in full at the time of purchase – pass members will receive 15 months of admission. Vouchers for this offer must be redeemed within 90 days of purchase. The “3 Months Free” deal also can be applied to combination annual passes that include Aquatica water park, Busch Gardens and other out-of-state parks owned by SeaWorld Entertainment.

SeaWorld Orlando also is offering to add three months to its Fun Cards. If you purchase a Fun Card during the rest of this year, it will be good through Dec. 31, 2018. A Fun Card costs $99.99 plus tax for ages 3 and older.

Not ready to buy yet? For the past several years, SeaWorld has offered “Blue Friday” deals on popular shopping day Black Friday in November. Last year, theme-park-goers could purchase a SeaWorld and Aquatica one-year combination annual pass and get another for half off. (It had to be redeemed by Jan. 31.) In previous years, shoppers could purchase the combo annual pass and get a second for free (BOGO) or also choose a SeaWorld-only annual pass for the BOGO offer. Of course, there is no guarantee SeaWorld Orlando will make either of these offers available this year on “Blue Friday.”

October 3, 2017

Where and when to see Disney's Hocus Pocus before it's re-imagined


If you’re a Disney Halloween fan, surely you’ve heard the news. You have, haven’t you? Well, just in case you’re one of the few who hasn’t: It’s finally been confirmed after years and years of rumors that Disney is remaking its cult classic 1993 movie “Hocus Pocus.”

The TV movie will have a new cast and new director, so say “goodbye” to Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and Kenny Ortega. “Deadline” reports that David Kirschner will be the executive producer, and Scarlett Lacey will write the script. Plus, the movie will be “reimagined” for Disney Channel.


But before that happens, you can enjoy numerous screenings of “Hocus Pocus” this month on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) during its 13 Nights of Halloween programming event, including a marathon on October 31:

Thursday, October 19

7 a.m. - Last Man Standing
7:30 a.m. – Spooky Buddies
11 a.m. - The MIddle
11:30 a.m. - The Middle
12 p.m. – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
2:35 p.m. – The Haunted Mansion
4:40 p.m. – The Addams Family
6:45 p.m. – Addams Family Values
8:50 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
12 a.m. – ParaNorman

Friday, October 20

7 a.m. – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
11 a.m. - The Middle
11:30 a.m. - The Middle
12 p.m. – The Haunted Mansion
2:10 p.m. – The Addams Family
4:15 p.m. – Addams Family Values
6:20 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
8:30 p.m. – Sleepy Hollow
12 a.m. – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Saturday, October 21

7 a.m. – Edward Scissorhands
9:30 a.m. – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
12:30 - Fun Size
2:35 p.m. – Matilda
4:40 p.m. – Sleepy Hollow
7:10 p.m. – The Addams Family
9:15 p.m. – Addams Family Values
11:25 p.m. – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Sunday, October 22

7 a.m. – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
10:05 a.m. – Matilda
12:10 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
2:20 p.m. – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
5 p.m. – The Addams Family
7:05 p.m. – Addams Family Values
9:15 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
11:25 p.m. – Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Monday, October 23

7 a.m. - Last Man Standing
7:30 a.m. – Frankenweenie
Tim Burton Marathon
11 a.m. – Edward Scissorhands
1:35 p.m. – Alice in Wonderland
4:10 p.m. – Dark Shadows
6:50 p.m. – Sleepy Hollow
9:20 p.m. – The Nightmare Before Christmas
12 a.m. – Frankenweenie

Tuesday, October 24

7 a.m. – Edward Scissorhands
11 a.m. - Fun Size
1 p.m. – The Haunted Mansion
3 p.m. – The Nightmare Before Christmas
4:40 p.m. – The Addams Family
6:45 p.m. – Addams Family Values
8:50 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
12 a.m. – Teen Witch

Wednesday, October 25

7 a.m. - Last Man Standing
7:30 a.m. – Teen Witch
11 a.m. - The Middle
11:30 a.m. – Twilight
2:25 p.m. – The Addams Family
4:30 p.m. – Addams Family Values
6:35 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
8:45 p.m. – Men in Black
12 a.m. – Bewitched

Thursday, October 26

7 a.m. – Last Man Standing: Halloween Special
7:30 a.m. – R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls
11 a.m. - The Middle
11:30 a.m. – Bewitched
1:30 p.m. – The Haunted Mansion
3:35 p.m. – Sleepy Hollow
6:05 p.m. – Men in Black
8:20 p.m. – Dark Shadows
12 a.m. – The Haunted Mansion

Friday, October 27

7 a.m. – Dark Shadows
11 a.m. - The Middle
11:30 a.m. - The Middle
12 p.m. – Sleepy Hollow
2:25 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
4:35 p.m. – Men in Black
6:50 p.m. – The Addams Family
8:55 p.m. – Addams Family Values
12 a.m. – Hocus Pocus

Saturday, October 28

7 a.m. – Spooky Buddies
9:05 a.m. – R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls
11:10 a.m. – The Addams Family
1:20 p.m. – Addams Family Values
3:30 p.m. – The Nightmare Before Christmas
5:10 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
7:20 p.m. – Disney-Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.
9:25 p.m. – Disney-Pixar’s Monsters University
11:55 p.m. – ParaNorman

Sunday, October 29

7 a.m. – R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls
9:10 a.m. – ParaNorman
11:20 a.m. – The Nightmare Before Christmas
1 p.m. – Hook
4:15 p.m. – Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story of TERROR!
4:45 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
6:55 p.m. – Disney-Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.
9 p.m. – Disney-Pixar’s Monsters University
11:30 p.m. –Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story of TERROR!
12 a.m. – Frankenweenie

Monday, October 30

7 a.m. – Sleepy Hollow
11 a.m. The Middle
11:30 a.m. – Dark Shadows
2 p.m. – Sleepy Hollow
4:30 p.m. – The Addams Family
6:40 p.m. – Addams Family Values
8:50 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
12 a.m. – Hocus Pocus

Tuesday, October 31

7 a.m. - Last Man Standing
Hocus Pocus Marathon
7:30 a.m. – Hocus Pocus
11 a.m. - The Middle
11:30 - The Middle
12 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Hocus Pocus

September 30, 2017

Tickets on sale now for Disney Junior at the Movies – HalloVeen Party!



Young Disney fans are invited to celebrate Halloween with special screenings at local movie theaters in October. The “Disney Junior at the Movies – HalloVeen Party!” is taking place in the Orlando area, including at Walt Disney World, as well as other cities through Fathom Events.

This special event for pre-schoolers will feature four Disney Junior episodes including “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” and a never-before-seen episode of "Vampirina" on the big screen. “Vampirina” is Disney Junior's new animated series that stars Lauren Graham, James Van Der Beek and Isabella Crovetti as a family of vampires who have recently moved from Transylvania to Pennsylvania.

Kids and their families are encouraged to come to the party dressed in costumes. During the screening, kids can get up and sing and dance with the Disney Junior characters. The party also offers games and spooktacular activities featuring the Disney Junior series Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Puppy Dog Pals, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins and The Lion Guard.

The one-hour HalloVeen party takes place on Oct. 21, 26 and 28 in nearly 400 select cities. In Orlando, guests and residents can attend parties at 10 a.m. Oct. 21 and 12:55 p.m. Oct. 28 at Cinemark Orlando Festival Bay, Waterford Lakes 20 and Winter Park Village 20 theaters. On Oct. 26, the parties take place at 10 a.m. at Cinemark Orlando Festival Bay, Disney Springs 24 (at Walt Disney World) and Merritt Square 16 with IMAX.

Tickets went on sale this week and are priced at the usual movie rates for each theater for children and adults. Click here to find locations in your city and to purchase tickets. Tickets also can be purchased at the box office, if they still are available, on the date of the party.

“We are excited to once again team up with Fathom Events to bring the Disney Junior experience of magical, musical and heartfelt storytelling to preschoolers and their families nationwide through this unique in-theater experience," said Jennifer Rogers-Doyle, Vice President of Franchise Management at Disney Channels Worldwide, in a press release. "And we are eager to introduce this audience to our newest character Vampirina (aka "Vee") and her spooky fun adventures."

September 28, 2017

Disney reveals new store prototypes with theme park experiences


If you’re missing your last trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, Disney Store locations soon will be providing a taste of “home,” as frequent theme-park visitors like refer to the theme parks.

This week, The Walt Disney Company has announced further plans for the rollout of its new Disney Store prototype, and they include live-streaming afternoon parades from Orlando or California on new movie-theater-size screens in the stores. Mats will be brought out to encourage shoppers to stay for the viewing. And, get this, store employees will mimic the theme-park experience with a rolling cart that has typical souvenirs for sale, such as cotton candy and light-up Mickey Mouse-ear hats. Every store in the 340-store chain also will have a digital fireworks display each night before closing time.


Along with the added theme-park experiences, the re-imagined Disney Store locations will have a new focus on appealing to fans of all ages and not the kid-centric emphasis of the past. Co-branded products will be featured from brands such as Coach, Le Creuset, Spyder, Steiff and rag & bone. New and exclusive capsule collections from fashion-forward brands will be introduced regularly on the site’s shop-in-shop “The IT List,” launching with denim from SIWY featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Disney Princess and Villain nail wraps from NCLA.

The look of the prototype stores is light and contemporary, designed to better showcase products from the different worlds of Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel as new content comes to market.

There are a handful of the prototype stores open now in Century City and Northridge, Calif.; Nagoya, Japan; and Shanghai, China. Company spokesmen said the new design and will be rolled out slowly with a new prototype store opening today in Miami and one in Munich, Germany, later this year.


Would these additions get you to spend time in a physical store rather than shopping online?

Whatever your shopping preference, The Walt Disney Company has it covered. It also is overhauling Disney Stores’ online counterpart; DisneyStore.com was converted to ShopDisney.com this week. (The name is more in line with the Shop Disney Parks app.) The merchandise on the website has already expanded and features collaborations with Coach, Nixon, Lego and Ethan Allen. Plus, fans will find twice the amount of authentic Disney Parks merchandise and ‘Create Your Own’ customizable products as previously available.

“No one creates experiences like Disney and our pilot stores will be testing grounds for interactive features that will differentiate the Disney shopping experience in the changing retail landscape,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive, in a press release. “Online, shopDisney is the ultimate destination for the most extensive collection of curated merchandise from our stores, parks, and licensed partners. This combination creates a powerful omnichannel experience that represents the next generation of Disney retail.”

September 26, 2017

Travel through 2017 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival with one local family


As my children -- ages 13 and 15 as of later this week -- have gotten older, they have come to look forward to the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival almost as much as my husband and I do. So, as local Walt Disney World passholders, we plan several visits to the festival each fall.

This year, we have been to Epcot twice specifically to make our way around World Showcase for dinner. Once was during opening weekend (so crowded!), and the second was days after Hurricane Irma passed through Central Florida (very uncrowded!). Each time, we knew we only had a few hours and we knew we would not be able to try everything, so we didn’t attempt a strategy. We didn’t study the menus, and I had not been to any media previews this year so I did not have any insider insight. Instead, we did what many festival-goers do: We followed our stomachs from marketplace to marketplace.

To begin our adventure, we purchased festival gift cards with wristbands at one of the festival kiosks. The gift cards also are available in the Festival Center in Future World. You cannot purchase the cards in World Showcase, but you can reload money onto them at any festival marketplace. Over the years, we have found these cards to be really useful for this event; it’s so much easier to swipe and eat than to have to dig out cash or credit cards at each marketplace.

Plus, we allow the kids to wear the gift cards and pay for the food our family is sharing, which they like to do. We usually only add $50 at a time on each gift card to limit losses if a child misplaces the gift card. But Disney World has a system in place to help you recover lost gift cards, as well, so be sure to ask when you purchase yours. Also, know that if you have money left on your gift cards when you are finished eating and drinking, it can be used anywhere gift cards are accepted on Disney properties, and the cards do not expire.

We also grabbed a few of the complimentary Epcot International Food & Wine Festival passports. These pocket-size booklets have the menus for each marketplace, plus stickers for guests to keep track of when they have visited each country. Kids and adults alike seem to enjoy this do-it-yourself souvenir.


Gift cards on our wrists, we walked a few yards ahead to the Hawaii marketplace, the first on the right of the central walkway to the promenade. There, we each had what has become an annual favorite: The Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise.

Tip: Picky eaters and those with food restrictions should not be afraid to ask if a dish can be altered to suit their needs. I had the Kalua Pork Slider as is, but my son asked for the meat “naked,” and my daughter asked for the mayo on the meat and the chutney on the side. Cast members were happy to oblige. Usually, you will pay at the register and then ask the cast member who is serving the food if your request can be accommodated.

While we were there, my husband tried the Teriyaki-glazed Spam Hash with potatoes, peppers, onions and Spicy Mayonnaise and the Maui Brewing Company Bikini Blonde Lager. He loved the Spam Hash – saying it was one of the more filling appetizers offered at the festival – and also praised the Bikini Blonde Lager, which he said was light enough not to overpower the taste of the food selections.

Next, my son, who swims competitively and is always hungry, ran to two nearby booths to get favorites from last year: a Beef Empanada from the Patagonia marketplace and the Jamaican Beef Patty from the Islands of the Caribbean marketplace. I’m not sure how much he tasted based on how quickly they disappeared into his stomach, but he proclaimed them “great, like last year!”

Tip: If you are looking for foods that children are likely to enjoy, kid-friendly items are marked with a symbol in the festival passport. The Beef Empanada and the Jamaican Beef Patty are both examples.


Then, it started to rain, so we decided it would be the perfect time to try the new offerings at the Epcot Legacy Showplace and Craft Beers marketplaces housed inside the Odyssey Center while taking shelter. We all shared the Chilled Scotch Egg wrapped in Sausage with Mustard Sauce and the Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich. My daughter, who is an adventurous eater, said she liked the egg dish, but it just wasn’t one that she would return to for seconds. All of us agreed that the Handwich was pretty bland. My husband compared it to a “plain Hamburger Helper” dish.


My daughter did enjoy the Bright Horizons non-alcoholic drink, which was Sprite mixed with Multi-flavored Boba Pearls in a glass that lighted up different colors. My husband tried the Western Florida Beer Flight, which included JDub’s Passion Wheat from Sarasota, Central 28 Trekkerbier Farmhouse Ale from DeBary and Cigar City Guayabera Citra Pale Ale from Tampa. The beer varieties weren’t ones he’d typically pick out, he said, but he enjoyed them nonetheless. And although my husband said he likes almost anything from Tampa’s Cigar City Brewery, he was most impressed with JDub’s Passion Wheat sample.

Tip: If you’re not sampling the specialty drinks or alcohol, bottles of water are available at all of the marketplaces. If you prefer a fountain drink, don’t pass by the Refreshment Cool Post or the Refreshment Port, which are on opposite sides of the promenade. They, too, will give guests complimentary cups of ice water. We often bring our filtered water bottles and fill them with these cups of water at each side of World Showcase to supplement the other drinks we are buying.


We couldn’t wait for the rain to pass, so we braved a quick walk over to the Canada marketplace, where my daughter sampled everyone’s favorite Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce.


Another must-do for our family is the Belgium marketplace, where you can get Belgian waffles, of course. They are served with either berry compote or warm chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Both versions are equally delightful, though younger kids may opt for the chocolate topping over the berries. While there, we also shared the Beer-Braised Beef with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes. It was perfectly acceptable, but we decided we prefer a similar dish at the France marketplace.


Next stop: The Hops & Barley marketplace at the American Adventure. The guys revisted another favorite, the Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast, while my daughter and I shared the Freshly Baked Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing. I normally do not like carrot cake, but this one I look forward to each year.

In Germany, my husband wanted to have a Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll and the Brewer’s Collection beer flight of Radeberger Zwickel Pilsner (infiltered), Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse Naturtrub and Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate Beer. He enjoyed the entire trio, but the Hefeweizen Pomegranate was his favorite.

At that point, it was time to head out because none of us could eat another bite.

On my second visit to the Food & Wine Festival with just the kids, we again sampled a combination of favorites and new dishes.


We started at the new Flavors from Fire marketplace. My daughter was interested in the Piggy Wings, Roasted Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds, and my son wanted to try the Smoked Corned Beef with Warm Crsipy Potatoes, Pickled Onions and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue featuring BelGioioso Romano and American Grana Cheese. Neither made our favorites list, unfortunately.


Nearby is the Earth Eats marketplace, inspired by The Chew. There, we decided to sample and share all three dishes being served: Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce; Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese; and Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle. My pasta-loving son was disappointed with the heavy vegetable taste in the ravioli dish. It was not something he could overlook, but other palates may find the zucchini taste suits them. My daughter declared the Grilled Beef Skewer one she definitely would revisit. We all liked the Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse, too, which had a very smooth blending of flavors.

Even after two visits, my family and I have not sampled all the new foods at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. We’ll be heading back again, I’m sure, before the last day on Nov. 13.

You can see complete menus (and pricing) for the Global Marketplaces on the AllEars.Net resource page.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017 T-Shirt for Adults

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017 T-Shirt for Adults

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017 T-Shirt for Adults

Figment Acrylic Magnet - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Figment Acrylic Magnet - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Figment Acrylic Magnet - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Figment Chef Hat - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Chef Hat - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Chef Hat - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Poster - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Poster - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Poster - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Mug - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Mug - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Mug - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Figment Tote By Dooney & Bourke - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017

Figment Tote By Dooney & Bourke - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017

Figment Tote By Dooney & Bourke - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017 Tote By Dooney & Bourke

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017 Tote By Dooney & Bourke

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017 Tote By Dooney & Bourke

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Wine Glasses - 2-Pc.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Wine Glasses - 2-Pc.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Wine Glasses - 2-Pc.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Stemless Wine Glasses - 4-Pc.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Stemless Wine Glasses - 4-Pc.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Stemless Wine Glasses - 4-Pc.

Remy Mug - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Remy Mug - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Remy Mug - Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

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Fantastic merchandise previously available only at Disney Parks can now be purchased exclusively at the online Disney Store.

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