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March 1, 2016

Preview 2016 Outdoor Kitchens at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

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Now in their fourth year, the Outdoor Kitchens at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival are as much a part of the festival experience as the beautiful blooms. With multiple dishes and drinks at 13 kitchens, there is a lot of sampling to be done!

I attended the Tables in Wonderland preview on Friday, where I was invited to taste many of the new foods and beverages that will be available to the public, beginning Wednesday. Here are my thoughts about what you will find. Of course, different people have different palates, but perhaps my suggestions will give you a starting point in your culinary journey and help ensure you don’t miss the best of what the festival has to offer!

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Jerk-spice Chicken

There are two new outdoor kitchens in 2016: La Isla Fresca and Cider House. La Isla Fresca is located on the World Showcase Promenade and will feature items inspired by Caribbean flavors. I tried the Jerk-spice Chicken with Mango Salsa Chayote and Green Papaya Slaw with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette and enjoyed it. Some guests at my table noted that the dish was a little spicy, but it did not seem overpowering to me. The booth also will have Jamaican-braised Beef with Pigeon Pea Rice and Micro Cilantro and, for dessert, Tres Leches with Guava Puree. Beverages will include Red Stripe Jamaican Style Lager and Frozen Simply Tropical Juice Drink (with and without Mango Rum).

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Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare


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Land-harvested Field Greens


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Cider House beverages

From Cider House, which is located in the United Kingdom, we could try the House-made Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare and the Land-harvested Field Greens with Apples, Dried Blueberries, Stilton Cheese and Apple Cider Vinaigrette. I’m not a big fan of fish so I skipped the salmon dish, but I really liked the salad and would purchase it at the festival. This kitchen also will feature Pear Cider-brined Shredded Corned Beef with Braised Cabbage and Pears and Branston Dressing and Freshly Baked Lemon Scone with Créme Fraiche and Mixed Berries. Cider House will, of course, have a selection of fruit-flavored hard ciders – pear, black cherry and blueberry – plus a sparkling cider. Guests also can try the Cigar City Brewing Tampa-style Lager by itself or mixed with McKenzie's Black Cherry Hard Cider to create a Snakebite. In addition, there is a beer and cider flight available.

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Currywurst with Paprika Chips


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Armer Ritter

Bauernmarkt: Farmer's Market is returning to Germany after a two-year absence from the festival. At the preview, we could sample two dishes: Currywurst with Paprika Chips and Armer Ritter (Egg-battered Toast with Cherry Compote and Powdered Sugar). I didn’t get a chance to try the currywurst, but I loved the Armer Ritter, which is like French Toast. The other new dish at Bauernmarkt is Chicken Fricassee with Green Asparagus and Peas served with Uncle Ben's Rice Pilaf. These items are paired with Hugo-Charles de Fere "Organic" Brut with Elderflower and Mint and a selection of lagers and beers and a beer flight.

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Florida Larder Board

The Florida Fresh kitchen has a new Florida Larder Board that contains all Orlando-sourced ingredients: Ricotta Cheese, Cahaba Farms Micro Onions, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic, Country Pate and House-Made Pickles. I was told by pate lovers that this combination was delicious. Florida Fresh also has a new Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds, Goat Cheese and White Balsamic Vinaigrette that will be available at the festival. New drinks include Watermelon Cucumber Slush with Hendrick's Gin (or without), Sea Dog Acai Berry Hefeweizen and non-alcoholic Fresh-squeezed Watermelon Juice.

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Mezze Lune Primavera


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Cremoso al Pistacchio

Primavera Kitchen in Italy will be serving up a new version of its perennial favorite, ravioli: Mezze Lune Primavera (Egg Pasta stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach in a Creamy Sauce with Spring Vegetables and Pecorino Cheese). I tasted this at the preview lunch and enjoyed the mild flavors, which are sure to appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. The new dessert, Cremoso al Pistacchio: Pistacchio Cream, Strawberries and Mascarpone Cream, also offered muted flavors, but in this case, I found them to be more bland than tasty. The other new Italian dish guests can try is Pollo alla Parmigiana: Breaded Breast of Chicken, Tomato, Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese.

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The Great American Wine Company Red Blend

Located at The American Adventure, The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews kitchen is always popular with festival-goers. There is one new meat dish this year -- Smoked Pork Ribs with Roasted Corn Salad. Sadly, the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake has been replaced with the Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans. I’m sure I will try this new dessert at the festival, but the combination of flavors in the Piggylicious cupcake was something to look forward to all year. There also is a new beer, Orlando Brewing Company Uncle Matt's Organic Grapefruit Pale Ale, and a wine, The Great American Wine Company Red Blend.

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Beef Teriyaki Udon

At Japan’s Hanami kitchen, be sure to try the new Beef Teriyaki Udon, which is thin-sliced beef, onions and noodles, tossed on the grill with soy and ginger. This dish was available at the preview lunch, and it was really delicious. Japan also is introducing Chicken Edamame Bun: Steamed Bun filled with Chicken and Edamame and topped with Curry Sauce and Suigei Sake this year.

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Macaron Chocolat Framboise

Even when it’s not time for Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, France is known for its mouth-watering desserts. But a new macaroon was so popular at the preview lunch that the station ran out before the end of the event! If you’re a fan of macaroons, you’ll want to make a beeline for the France kitchen to sample the Macaron Chocolat Framboise (Large Raspberry Macaron with Chocolate Fudge and Raspberry Jam). While you’re there, you also might want to check out the new Tarte a l'Onion Alsacienne: Alsatian Onion Tart with Sauteed Onions, Fresh Thyme and Rosemary on a Flaky Puff Pastry Crust.

At the Tables in Winderland event, we also were treated to returning menu items that have become guest favorites. Among them: Watermelon Salad with pickled Onions, B&W Gourmet Farms Baby Arugula, Feta and Balsamic Reduction (Urban Farm EATS); Shrimp and Stone-ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro (Florida Fresh); and Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapenos (the Smokehouse). My family and I also look forward to the return of Frushi - Fresh pineapple, strawberries and melon, rolled with coconut rice, topped with raspberry sauce, sprinkled with toasted coconut and served with whipped cream on the side (Hanami); Pulled Pig Slider with Crispy Onions and Coleslaw (The Smokehouse); Beijing Style Candied Strawberries (Lotus House); and Pineapple Soft-Serve (Pineapple Promenade).

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Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade


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Sparkling Pineapple Wine & Key Lime Sparkling Wine

I also tasted three returning beverages that I somehow missed last year, and I won’t make that mistake again when I’m strolling around World Showcase this year. Two of them are conveniently located at Pineapple Promenade at the front of the Showcase. Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade is a non-alcoholic drink that is presented with a real, edible flower garnish, and the Sparkling Pineapple Wine was appealing to someone who isn’t a regular wine drinker. From the same winery, Florida Orange Groves in St. Petersburg, Fla., comes the Key Lime Sparkling Wine at Florida Fresh. Both wines were refreshing and sweet without being cloying.

Epcot Executive Chef Gregg Hannon gives his recommendations for guests with different food preferences in the video below:

Find out how to pair beverages with the dishes at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, as well as what not to miss this year, in the video below:

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World for its Tables in Wonderland Epcot Flower and Garden preview event. My opinions are my own.



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March 2, 2016

Animal kingdom in Disney's 'Zootopia' needed fresh perspective, filmmakers say

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It’s no industry secret that Hollywood films undergo test-audience trials during production to see what works and what doesn’t. With Disney’s latest animated feature film, a mid-production analysis really seems to have helped elevate the film creatively and help it better grapple with some serious topics.

Disney’s newest animated movie, “Zootopia,” wasn’t always going to be presented from the perspective of an optimistic bunny from a small town. Despite the years of research, set-building and character development that had been invested in the film, it wasn’t until halfway through the process that Judy Hopps became the leading lady, Director Byron Howard said.

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Filmmakers recently spoke to writers and bloggers, including me, about the development of “Zootopia” during roundtable interviews at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. They each explained how critical it is that the audience’s introduction to the city of Zootopia – home to 64 species of animals who could “be anyone or anything” – be a positive one.

Originally, a slick con-artist fox named Nick Wilde was the main character. But the problem with that, Howard said, was that a test audience at Pixar Animation Studios couldn’t connect with the movie. “[One executive] said, ‘Because you’re introducing the city through Nick’s eyes, and Nick’s a cynic and he doesn’t like the city, I can’t like the city. I can’t root for it. I want to escape from it rather than see it healed.’ “

Even Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter encouraged the filmmakers to think of the city itself as a character, urging them to make it more vibrant than just a backdrop.

“We realized we had a major issue there, so we said ‘Let’s take a chance and just for a moment, see what happens if we flip the main characters’,” Howard said. “We put the more idealistic Judy in the driver’s seat so the audience learns about Zootopia through her more optimistic eyes and then bring in the cynicism and the challenge to her philosophy later. And that really did the trick.”

Zootopia is comprised of neighborhoods that celebrate different cultures and they co-exist peacefully. That’s vital to the plot of “Zootopia,” Howard said.

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Directors Byron Howard (left) and Rich Miller introduce 'Zootopia' at a press screening in Orlando.

“We never started with a political agenda. It all came from the research: Mammals are 90 percent prey animals and 10 percent predators. We thought that was a really interesting fact. That if mammals evolved and built this metropolis, would they leave the mistrust completely behind or does it lurk under the surface somewhere?” he said.

“We’ve seen animal worlds where they all live together in peace and harmony, but how did it get that way? Do they ever arrive at a place where a lion and a deer can live together side by side when we know a lion eats a deer? How did it happen? Even better they’ve come to a place of trusting each other and then the social contract is broken. What would happen to society if the fear of a predator was ignited?”

Those questions all lead to the exploration of the themes of bias, stereotypes, inclusiveness and diversity in “Zootopia.” And the themes are delivered in the animals’ actions, rather than an obvious message, which is more appealing to audiences.

“And it's the beauty of animation, I think, in that you can create fables that resonate on multiple levels, and in the case of this one, I think we're gonna have families talking and thinking about the world in a slightly different way or I hope so, anyway, after seeing the movie,” said screenwriter Phil Johnston. And that's really gratifying when that happens.”

DISCLAIMER: I took part in a “Zootopia” press junket, during which I attended an advance screening of the movie, a party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and round-table interviews with actors and filmmakers. Although coverage of the movie was expected, my opinions are completely my own.



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March 4, 2016

Disney movie review: 'Zootopia'

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With far too many movies these days, the trailers showcase the films’ best moments. After you’re enticed into the theater, though, the movie usually cannot live up to the hype. Not so with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 55th animated feature, “Zootopia.” If you’ve seen the hilarious “Zootopia” trailer that features Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde and the slow-moving sloth employee at the DMV, you’ve seen just a slice of the comedy in store for you.

“Zootopia” is easily one of the most entertaining animated movies released recently. It offers – as clichéd as it sounds -- laughs for all ages, with the antics of a bunny and fox in a whodunit caper filled with pratfalls, slapstick and action comedy. But it also surprises adults with clever references to pop culture and film noir, as well as a few wry asides at even Disney, itself. And it offers important and timely messages about some serious real-world topics without a heavy handed delivery.

We are first introduced to Judy (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), a glass-is-half-full, larger-than-life personality who is not willing to settle for being a carrot farmer like her parents and 275 brothers and sisters. Instead, she aspires to become the first bunny police officer, a job usually reserved for the larger animal species in the idealistic community of Zootopia.

Parents can’t help but laugh when Judy’s father, who doesn’t want his little girl to move far away, says, “Ever wonder how we got so happy? We gave up on our dreams and settled.” And later, “It’s great to have dreams as long as you don’t believe in them too much.”

But Judy presses forward and moves to Zootopia, home to 64 different species who mostly play to type. In other words, she encounters a brave lion as the mayor, an industrious otter, a weasel selling bootleg videos, a graceful gazelle as a sultry singer and, of course, a sly fox as a con artist. Through a series of encounters, the fox, Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), becomes her friend and partner on a case that takes them into the underbelly of the mammal metropolis.

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This story-within-a-story is where “Zooptopia” pays homage to film noir with a surprising mobster boss and allusions to classics such as “The Godfather” and “Chinatown.” Adults will appreciate those particular plot references, and even if most kids are too young to understand that humor, they will laugh at the face value of the mini story.

There are lots of clever animal jokes along the way: “Let’s address the elephant in the room” – and the elephant stands up; a bunny says “we’re good at multiplying” while doing math; and a character wonders if sheep count themselves. And who doesn’t appreciate the self-deprecating humor of Walt Disney Animations Studios when Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba) says, “Do you think that this is some cartoon musical where your insipid dreams come true? Well, let it go.”

“Zootopia” uses the humor to explore themes of sexism, racism and bigotry in the society of anthropomorphic animals, which we clearly are to understand is a metaphor for humanity. We see this early on when Judy explains that she’s “not just some token bunny” and rebuffs a new acquaintance, stating that only a bunny can call another bunny “cute.” But Judy reveals herself to have some deeply ingrained prejudices, too, when she succumbs to her fear that all predator animals cannot escape their need to hunt their prey. Her flaw illustrates for audiences that tolerance cannot be taken for granted.

“Zootopia” is directed by Byron Howard ("Bolt," "Tangled") and Rich Moore ("Wreck-It Ralph") whose commitment to making the movie the best it can be visually is evident everywhere from the richly detailed sets to the subtle yet clever likenesses of the characters to their voice actors. As Moore pointed out in a recent interview, the concept of the detailed animal habitats was rooted in the illustrations of the Richard Scarry books of his childhood, but he wanted to make them more realistic. For example, animators spent more than a year researching animals so they could create separate and accurate types of fur for each of the 64 species. And Disney’s new Hyperion production-rendering software made the creation of the individual strands of fur and other characteristics much easier to design and preview.

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“Zootopia” is a fast-paced, layered movie with elements that will appeal not just to children and Disney fans, but to parents and casual moviegoers, as well. Moreover, “Zootopia” leaves viewers of all ages with a collection of positive messages from a comedy-adventure movie that isn’t necessarily trying to lecture its audience. And Michael Ciacchino’s (“Inside Out”) film score and Shakira’s original song “Try Everything” add to the film’s upbeat energy.

“Zootopia” is rated PG for “for some thematic elements, rude humor and action.”

DISCLAIMER: I took part in a “Zootopia” press junket, during which I attended an advance screening of the movie, a party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and round-table interviews with actors and filmmakers. Although coverage of the movie was expected, my opinions are completely my own.



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March 8, 2016

What you need to know about Disney's PhotoPass staffing runDisney events

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Beginning next month, runDisney is changing how photos at its events will be taken, viewed and purchased at Walt Disney World. Disney’s PhotoPass service will be stepping into the role that MarathonFoto has filled until this point.

The change takes effect at the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Dark Side, which is April 14-17 at the Orlando resort.

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I spoke to cast members at both runDisney and Disney’s PhotoPass yesterday when the news of the change surfaced. They said they don’t have all details yet, but here are answers to some of the most common questions:

How will be photos be compiled by runDisney?

A cast member said that bibs, not MagicBands, still will be used to gather photos. That has not yet been finalized, however, so stay tuned for more details in the next two weeks, I'm told.

How do I view my runDisney photos under the new system?

You can view your photos for free, just as you do theme-park photos, on the PhotoPass section of MyDisneyExperience.com or on the My Disney Experience app.

How do I purchase my runDisney photos?

You will have three choices. You can purchase Memory Maker, which includes all the photos taken in a 14-day period. That means you could include the race photos with any other photos taken during your Walt Disney World vacation. If you purchase Memory Maker at least three days in advance, the cost is $149. You also can purchase Memory Maker for immediate use for $169. The second option is to purchase 1-Day Memory Maker for $59. This option only will be available on the My Disney Experience app, I was told. Finally, you can select individual photos to purchase for about $15 per download.

How do these prices compare to the current provider, MarathonFoto?

MarathonFoto’s packages start at about $75 to download all race images for one person or $80 to download all images for one runner plus a 30-second video of crossing the finish line and premium content, such as race highlights. Purchasing an individual photo costs about $25 for the download. However, each of these purchases comes with a $20 credit on Shutterfly, presumably to print your photos (but you can use it for whatever you want). So, assuming you will use the Shutterfly credit, the prices to compare really are $55, $60 and $5, respectively.

Will Disney’s PhotoPass offer the video clip of each runner crossing the finish line like MarathonFoto does?

Cast members did not know the answer to this question at this time. PhotoPass does offer ride videos and moving photos from the theme parks, so it could be possible.

Besides the price and video option, are there other differences in the photo companies?

With MarathonFoto, you are required to purchase each runner’s photos separately. With Disney’s PhotoPass, you can collect all the race photos for friends and family who are linked to you in My Disney Experience and purchase them with one Memory Maker entitlement.

Will runDisney photos be included with the free PhotoPass downloads that Walt Disney World annual passholders receive?

Yes, if you are a Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus or Premier Walt Disney World passholder, the photos will be included as a benefit. If only one person in the group is a passholder, he or she can compile the runners’ photos as long as they are linked in My Disney Experience as Friends & Family.

How long will my race photos be available in Disney’s PhotoPass?

In Disney’s PhotoPass system, the images expire after 45 days, unless you purchase an extension. That means you must finalize your Memory Maker before the 45-day mark. The exception is for Walt Disney World passholders with Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus or Premier passes, whose photos remain in their accounts for 365 days from the dates they were taken. (MarathonFoto retains photos for two years after each race, and you can purchase them any time during that period.)

Will there be PhotoPass photographers at other events during race weekend, such as Pasta in the Park, reunion breakfasts, etc.?

Staffing for events outside the courses has not yet been announced.

Will Disneyland be converting to Disney’s PhotoPass for its runDisney events?

Cast members said they expect that to happen, but there has been no announcement of that at this time.



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March 10, 2016

Why was #DisneySMMC trending on social media last week?

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On Tuesday, March 1, the hashtag #DisneySMMC was trending in the United States -- and with good reason. For many mom bloggers, that day had the potential to be a roller coaster of emotions. That's because invitations to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration were sent out, and everyone wanted to talk about their joy or disappointment and try to figure out just how to get on the coveted list.

The short answer is that attendance at "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.) This year's conference takes place May 5 to 8 -- Mother's Day weekend -- at Walt Disney World. This is the seventh year for the conference, with all but one held in Florida. Last year it was at Disneyland.

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 four-day event also includes elements of a press junket, allowing conference attendees to experience what's new at the Disney Parks. 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 three nights at a deluxe resort, theme park tickets and dinners for the family, and meals for the blogger.

The big question is, of course, 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 when I worked at the Orlando Sentinel, and I learned as much from my fellow bloggers as the amazing speakers. Moms like me who blog about Disney and other Orlando theme parks 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 this year's conference invitations have gone out -- there may be some last-minute emails if some participants are unable attend -- those interested in attending in 2017 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)

** 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 2016 dates have not yet been announced, keep an eye out because they could be any time now. (Last year, the On the Road dates were announced shortly after the invitations for the main conference were sent.) The On the Road notice will include a link to express your interest in one of the events, and then invitations will be sent out.



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March 11, 2016

Changes to runDisney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend bring mixed reactions

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Earlier this week, astute runDisney participants suspected that the format of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November would be changing, and on Thursday they found out they were correct. Some were excited about the new offerings, but others were bitterly disappointed by the schedule changes – and quite a few were vocal in online forums.

It started on Monday when runDisney changed some of the wording for the upcoming races on its website and then later in the day postponed the registration dates for the Wine and Dine weekend. Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members were ready for early registration on Tuesday, which is a big deal because runDisney races sell out so quickly that the opportunity to register early is one that runners will not pass up if they can help it.

Two days later it was announced that Wine and Dine weekend would add a 10K and Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge to the kids’ races, 5K and half marathon already on the schedule. No complaints there – runners were excited to have more opportunities to collect Disney bling. But what did upset a lot of runners was that in order to accommodate the new 10K, runDisney moved the half marathon from Saturday night to Sunday morning and the after party from Saturday night to Sunday night. The 5K, renamed Mickey’s Holiday 5K, was moved to Friday morning, which means the health & fitness expo is Thursday. The race weekend will run Nov. 3-6.

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The Wine and Dine Half Marathon was the last nighttime race on the Walt Disney World schedule; the Expedition Everest Challenge finished after the 2015 race and Tower of Terror 10-miler ended after the 2014 race. Some say this schedule change makes the format of the Wine and Dine weekend just like any other runDisney weekend instead of keeping it unique. Others appreciated that a nighttime race meant not having to get up by 3 a.m. to make it to their corrals on time. And another frustration was a course change that decreases the amount of time running in the theme parks, a reason many say they are willing to pay the higher entry fees. The course no longer includes Hollywood Studios – just ESPN Wide World of Sports, Animal Kingdom and Epcot.

Those in favor of the change point to the storms that disrupted the night-time half marathon for the past two years and what they perceive as a better chance of the weather cooperating. They also like the idea of having time to go back to their hotels to recover, rest and clean up before the after-party at Epcot. (Admission to the party is included in race registration for the half marathon, and friends and family members who are not running can purchase tickets.)

Whether runners are in favor of the changes or not, those who have planned ahead with travel arrangements are now most likely having to modify transportation and hotel stays. (It’s still too early for Disney dining reservations.) Many of those who thought they were running a Saturday night half marathon and going straight to the after-party planned to travel home Sunday so they wouldn’t miss another work or school day, and that is no longer possible. With the 5K a day earlier, those runners who are not locals will need to arrive in Orlando sooner. And anyone who likes to purchase race-specific runDisney merchandise knows that it usually is best to be at the expo on the first morning before it sells out; that translates to an earlier arrival for another segment of runners, as well.

Along with the changes in race formats, prices for the weekend events also were announced Thursday: half marathon, $190; Lumiere’s Two-Course Challenge, $330; 10K, $120; 5K, $70; kids’ races, $20; 1-mile run, $30; after-party tickets, $79.

Early registration for Walt Disney World and Disneyland passholders and Disney Vacation Club members for Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend is March 22. Registration opens to the public March 29.

Have the changes to the schedule prompted you to change your plans? Tell us in the comments.



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March 15, 2016

Get newest 'Kingdom Keepers' book early and meet author Ridley Pearson at Walt Disney World

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Fans of the “Kingdom Keepers” series will be happy to know that the latest installment from author Ridley Pearson will be released this month, and he is kicking off his national book tour at Walt Disney World on March 25. Pearson again will be signing the books at two events at the resort – both in new locations -- where readers can purchase “The Return: Legacy of Secrets” before its official U.S. publication date.

The "Kingdom Keepers" books take place inside Walt Disney World and Disneyland and aboard Disney Cruise Line ships. The final novel in the original, seven-book series was published in 2014, but last year, Pearson released the first book in a new young adult trilogy that would keep the beloved characters alive. In "The Return: Disney Lands" the five Kingdom Keepers had to solve a puzzle of the past or face a new force of evil. Now, in “The Return: Legacy of Secrets,” Finn, Charlene, Maybeck, Willa, and Philby travel back in time to experience the opening of Disneyland in 1955 and the start of the magic we know today.

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Pearson sums up the plot this way: “But like all things Disney, nothing is as it seems. The early days of the Tower of Terror, the origin of the Overtakers (Disney villains), and the real power of magic unfold in an unexpected series of events that propel both the Keepers and Disney itself into a darkness no one saw coming. Along the way, the Keepers visit Walt Disney's hilltop home, Disneyland's opening day and reception, and find themselves separated from friends sixty years away. The three Fairlies, young women in Disney's School of Imagineering, girls with astonishing powers of their own, have unmasked a long-buried secret that threatens the lives of their friends as well as everything Walt Disney worked for.”

The book signings at Walt Disney World take place from 4 to 6 p.m. March 25 at Art of Disney at Disney Springs Marketplace and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 26 at Mouse Gear inside Epcot. Park admission is required for the Mouse Gear event. This is the first year for Pearson to make an appearance at Epcot, and that signing is longer than the one held at Hollywood Studios in past years.

"The Return: Legacy of Secrets" will be available to purchase at the Walt Disney World events for its list price of $17.99. Disney Vacation Club and Walt Disney World annual passholder discounts will be honored.

A wristband, which is required to meet Pearson, will be distributed to guests with each book purchase. Wristbands are available as soon as each store opens. For Art of Disney, that's 10 a.m. March 25. Mouse Gear opens at 10 a.m. -- although Epcot opens at 9 a.m. -- on March 26. Each wristband allows the guest to get two books signed. Once the wristbands have been distributed, the line to meet Ridley Pearson will close.

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My 13-year-old son is a longtime “Kingdom Keepers” fan, and we have attended many book signings over the years. Our tips: Don't underestimate Pearson's popularity. Get a wristband early if this is a must-do event for your group. Also, your time with Pearson is brief, so be prepared. If you'd like him to write something special in your book, jot it down ahead of time.

Even with the limited time he has to spend with each reader, Pearson strives to make each interaction memorable. At several events we attended, the author surprised fans by walking through the queue and greeting every person in line and even stopping to pose for photos before he started signing books. Afterward, he usually posts photos from each event on his website, which is a thrill for young readers.

Pearson also will be signing books at Disneyland on April 15 and 16. Details have not yet been announced.

The official U.S. release date for “The Return: Legacy of Secrets” is March 29, 2016.



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March 17, 2016

Florida artists help Walt Disney World showcase sustainable food at Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

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Which came first, the chickens or the eggs?

At this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, it was a tie. The gardens surrounding the Urban Farm Eats outdoor kitchen demonstrate methods for growing sustainable food in your own backyard, including raising different types of chickens and the eggs they produce. The display, which also explains the ecological benefits of chicken coops, was designed and built by two Florida artists who have been spreading pixie dust at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival for years.

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Sisters Vikki Yarborough and Ronda Maseman already are known for their dedication to using natural and recycled materials in their creations, so this assignment of building an Earth-friendly vignette was not a foreign concept. Still, they did research their subject by visiting a friend’s farm, where their desire for accuracy led them to measure the height of the chickens to be sure their own two-dimensional figures matched. The egg colors and size of the nesting boxes are spot on, too.

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Urban Farm Eats, which is located on Imagination Walkway just past the Music Garden Melodies, embraces the concept of fresh foods with dishes made from produce grown right at Epcot in The Land’s hydroponic gardens. The popular Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, B&W Gourmet Farms Baby Arugula, Feta and Balsamic Reduction can be found at this outdoor kitchen, as well as the new Avivé Natural Peach Sparkling Wine. (You can find the full menu on our AllEars.Net page.)

Yarborough and Maseman are better known as the “fairy house ladies,” having created miniature fairy houses for the festival that were displayed next to topiaries of the Disney Fairies. This is the first year since the houses debuted in 2008 that none are on display in the gardens at Epcot. But for one special weekend, Yarborough and Maseman will have a booth at the festival so you can meet them and purchase unique pieces – and fairy houses! -- from their company, the Prop Duster Dept. Their artist tent will be located on the World Showcase promenade during Art in the Garden weekend, April 1 to 3, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. all three days.

The pair work just like the Disney Fairies do -- by recycling objects that humans have discarded and by collecting things from nature for their creations. “We love looking all over for supplies,” Vikki said. “We always have a bag to gather stuff, plus friends are always on the look out for us. We have things from as far off as Europe and Hawaii. Thrift stores and flea markets are always fun.”

Vikki and Rhonda told me about their company's origins: "We are sisters that have been feeding off of one another's ideas and imagination, creating things together for many years. Our current path began with making various props for gardens -- wind chimes, stepping stones, scarecrows, bird baths, mosaic garden animals, topiaries covered in seeds and homes to attract fairies. The Prop Duster Dept. was born when someone said we make props dusted with pixie dust. The fairies then asked for more, so we took a side path to create these fantasy homes."

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The sisters also have styled props for other areas at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival: spice balls in Morocco; three pollinators - a bee, a snail and a butterfly - in a garden outside The Land; and small dinosaurs peeking through the foliage in the Prehistoric Garden near the Festival Center.

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The Prop Duster Dept. is responsible for this year's miniature gardens in Japan, as well. Yarborough and Maseman developed a Zen Garden, a Tea Garden and a Mountains Garden based on actual sites.

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Can't make it out to Epcot for Art in the Garden weekend? Yarborough and Maseman will be showcasing their fairy houses at Animal Kingdom during its Earth Day celebration April 21 to 24. You also can contact the The Prop Duster Dept. at Fairyhouseladies@gmail.com.

Maseman lives in Central Florida and teaches art to children during the school year and summer art camp at the Mount Dora Center for the Arts. In her spare time, she loves to paint miniature watercolors.

Yarborough lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband of 36 years and five dogs. She has two grown sons, one of whom works at Disney's Animal Kingdom. When she's not creating pixie dust, she enjoys working with stained glass and other home projects.



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March 19, 2016

Why you shouldn't miss 'Tangled: The Musical' aboard Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic

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Disney Cruise Line’s newest Broadway-style show, “Tangled: The Musical,” is the first time the 2010 animated movie has been adapted for the stage, and it has been well-received by critics, bloggers and passengers since it debuted aboard the Disney Magic in November 2015.

On Thursday, I was invited to see the show while the Magic was docked at Port Canaveral, Fla., between cruises. Normally, “Tangled: The Musical” is performed twice in one night during each voyage the Disney Magic makes.

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The production is a full hour -- the longest of any such stage show on a Disney Cruise Line ship -- but it does not leave room for even the youngest audience members to get antsy. The pacing of “Tangled: The Musical” keeps the story moving, alternating slower numbers with peppy ones, while still staying true to the animated movie.

Without giving away too many spoilers, here are some of the reasons Disney Magic passengers should make seeing “Tangled: The Musical” a priority when they are on the ship.

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** You will fall in love with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider all over again. The actors are so convincing – Rapunzel with her 200 feet of braided blond hair and spunky attitude, and charming Flynn who earnestly confesses his real name is Eugene Fitzherbert while trying to win over the lost princess.

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** Rapunzel’s adoptive parent, Mother Gothel, is a master of back-handed compliments, which leave the audience laughing out loud.

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** Who can think of Tangled without picturing the beautiful floating lanterns scene? “Tangled: The Musical” has made that scene even more magical, if that’s possible. Let’s just say that audience members throughout the theater will feel as if they, too, are surrounded by the floating luminaries.

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** Maximus, the guard horse, steals the show. I couldn’t help but watch the puppeteer every time he came on stage to try to see how he managed to have such perfectly timed reactions. The puppet itself was designed by Michael Curry, whose work can be seen in the Tony Award-winning musical “The Lion King” on Broadway.

** Three new songs were created exclusively for the show by Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken and Grammy Award-winning lyricist Glenn Slater: "Flower of Gold," "Wanted Man" and "When She Returns." Don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming "Wanted Man" after you leave the theater; it’s that catchy!

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** Speaking of wanted men, the Thugs take over O’Gill’s pub on the ship on the night “Tangled: The Musical” is performed. Lots of little details, including clever signs (“Slug a Thug and Get a Free Mug – sorry all out of mugs”), projections and special drinks complete the overlay. The takeovers happen at 7:45 and 10:15 p.m. The pub is open to families until 9 p.m., and then guests have to be 18 or older until closing time at midnight.

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** Like any great Disney attraction, “Tangled: The Musical” has its own merchandise. There was a blue show T-shirt and a Flynn Rider Wanted T-shirt in one of the gift shops we passed not far from the Walt Disney Theatre.

Disney cruises have always been a fun way to relax and let your hair down. And now there’s even an onboard musical that achieves this feat quite literally.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Disney Cruise Line onboard the Disney Magic for the day to see “Tangled: The Musical” and have lunch. My observations and opinions are my own.



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March 22, 2016

Deadline this week for contest that will award 1 female high school student an internship at Marvel Studios

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Female Avengers, assemble! You could win an internship at Marvel Studios, but to be eligible, you must enter the Girls Reforming The Future Challenge by Saturday night.

The contest is a tie-in to the new movie “Captain America: Civil War” that will be released on May 6. In the movie, former Avengers allies Captain America and Iron Man find themselves facing off over differing opinions about how the Avengers should operate – with or without government oversight. Both sides, however, still believe it is the Avengers’ purpose to make the world a better place, and that’s the theme of the contest Marvel is sponsoring.

Girls ages 15 to 18 (in grades 10 through 12) are invited to create a project that has the potential to change the world and submit a video detailing the project and its significance. Each project must use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) principles. The project may be one that had previously been developed for a class, for a science competition, or just for fun.

To enter, each participant must fill out the application at www.captainamericacivilwarchallenge.com/home After completing the form, the participant will receive an acceptance e-mail and instructions for completing and uploading a video submission of your project. The video can only picture the entrant, can be no longer than five minutes and must include answers to these questions:

- What is your project?
- How did you use STEM to create your project?
- How could your project bring positive change to the world?
- What did you learn while developing this project?
- How did working on the project empower you to explore your own strength of character?
- What next steps do you plan to take with your project?
- Why are you interested in an internship with Marvel Studios?
- What would you like to learn from an internship with Marvel Studios?

Additional rules regarding the video submissions can be found here.

Entries will be judges on the following criteria:

- Project (60%): Originality of idea (50%), Potential for positive change (20%), STEM skills used (15%), Practicality of project (15%)

- Internship (20%): Quality of reasoning (65%), Expressed understanding of Marvel Studios (20%), Demonstrated enthusiasm for opportunity (10%), Expectation of experience (5%)

- Personal Growth (15%): Strength of “next steps” plan (60%), Lessons learned from the project. (40%)

- Creativity and Video Production of Submission (5%)

Five finalists will be chosen, and they receive a trip to Los Angeles to present their projects to a panel of judges April 10-13. While there, the finalists will have other experiences, such as attending the movie premiere of “Captain America: Civil War” and tours of Walt Disney Studios and a Dolby facility.

The Grand Prize winner will be awarded the one-week internship, which will take place at a mutually agreed upon time and must be completed by Dec. 24, 2016.

Participants must be legal residents of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia as of 9 p.m. PST March 26, 2016, which is the deadline for entries to be received. Winners will be notified on or about March 30.



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March 24, 2016

Buy SeaWorld Orlando annual pass, get Aquatica annual pass for free

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SeaWorld Orlando fans looking for a deal have one month to claim the theme park’s latest offer – and it’s perfect spring break and summer. Visitors who purchase a SeaWorld annual pass receive a year’s admission to Aquatica for free – if they purchase the pass before April 24.

The cost of the two-park pass deal is $168, which is the current price of a SeaWorld Orlando annual pass. A separate Aquatica annual pass costs $108, so that’s a significant savings. Visitors must pay the total at the time of purchase, but Florida residents also have the option to use the monthly payment program, which does not require a down payment for this deal. (It’s the norm for Orlando theme parks to require an amount equal to one day’s admission for a down payment on annual passes. The balance then can be financed through a monthly payment plan.)

This is the best deal for the SeaWorld Orlando-Aquatica combo pass since Blue Friday, otherwise known as Black Friday to most shoppers, in November. At that time, the combo pass was offered for $180, but it was a Buy One, Get One deal, so customers could purchase two combo passes for $180.

Having annual passes to both SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica means not having to pay for parking at either park, which can really add up. It’s normally $13 per car per visit at Aquatica and $17 per car per visit at SeaWorld for general parking. If you are an annual pass member, you also receive 10 percent off food, beverages and merchandise at both parks and summer camps for children. Plus, Aquatica pass members can get up to three guests admission for half off the regular gate price of $58 throughout the year. SeaWorld pass members also can get their guests a discount on admission, but it usually is not quite as much. However, in recent years, SeaWorld pass members each were invited to bring a friend for free (January and September) and experience other perks throughout the park. See the 2016 perks here.

Pass members also receive other exclusive offers, such as the opportunity to preview new attractions, such as the Mako roller coaster scheduled to open this summer; reserved seating at special events, such as the Fourth of July fireworks; and the gift of an annual Christmas ornament. There are no blockout dates for either park, and regular admission includes the Halloween and Christmas celebrations, as well as other special events, such as Wild Days and Bands, Brew and BBQ.



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March 26, 2016

Disney Soccer Academy to offer new Elite Player clinic this summer

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Heading into its sixth year, Disney Soccer Academy -- the summer camp at Walt Disney World that focuses on soccer for players ages 5 to 18 – is undergoing some changes. Perhaps most notably, the academy will offer a new Elite Player option in addition to its established four-day clinics for players of all skill levels.

Disney Soccer Academy takes place at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World for two weeks at the end of June, and registration is now open. The four-day clinics, which are open to players ages 5 to 18, are scheduled for June 20 through 23 and June 27 through June 30. Parents can register their children online or in person from 8 to 9 a.m. June 20 and 23. There is no limit on the number of players who can attend each session.

The new Elite Player option, which is only open to players ages 13 to 18, extends each clinic by a day -- June 20 to 24 and June 27 to July 1. Registration is available now online or it can be completed from 6 to 7 p.m. June 19 and 26.

Both programs will be run by UK Elite Soccer this year, a change from the previous organization in charge, Midwest Soccer Academy. However, the objective the four-day clinic seems to be the same: Athletes are put in groups on the field, where they are taught by licensed coaches from around the world. The focus is on technical development and playing games with small teams; kids practice their shooting, dribbling and defending skills.

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In addition, they have the benefit of playing alongside champion soccer players. Lindsay Tarpley, a two-time Olympic gold medalist with the United States Women’s National Team, has been confirmed for the 2016 Disney Soccer Academy.

The new Elite Player option is described this way on the ESPN Wide World of Sports website:

All the traditional elements of the Disney Soccer Academy plus a unique customized curriculum for the elite player:

** 5 days of professional instruction
** Full field tactical sessions
** Video analysis
** High competition level
** High level professional coaching staff from around the world plus U.S. college coaches
** Small group interaction with professional players
** In-depth player analysis
** Puma "DSA" jersey
** Welcome reception

The four-day clinics begin at 9 a.m., and players have an option to finish at 3 p.m. or 5 p.m. Warm-up and the first training session take place from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Then, kids break for lunch, which is included in the camp cost, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. They head back out onto the field for a second training session from 1 to 3 p.m. With the extended schedule, campers will spend the time from 3 to 5 p.m. relaxing, watching movies or playing games. The will receive a drink and snack.

The cost of the camp with shorter days is $399 for four days. The extended-day camp is $459. The Elite Player option, which runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is $595. Parents can use the code EAS1620 for a $20 discount for any of the camps when registering online by March 28. Team and group discounts may be available by contacting the program manager. If there is inclement weather, alternate activities may be planned and refunds will not be issued.

In addition to the instruction and lunch, the price of each camp also includes an event T-shirt and a ball for each athlete.

Friends and families are invited to watch the clinics, and they pay a separate admission charge. Daily admission is $17.50 for adult guests (ages 10 and older) and $12.50 for children (ages 3 to 9). Spectators also can purchase a Length of Event pass, but those prices have yet to be announced.

Athletes who are 17 and younger must check in with their legal guardians on the first day of camp. Everyone who is participating - athletes and coaches - must sign waivers and turn them in the first day before they will be issued their credentials.

For questions about Disney Soccer Academy, email soccer@ukelite.com or call 844-893-1200.

Athletes and their legal guardians are required to book camp accommodations at Disney's Athlete Housing program and through Disney's Sports travel provider, GET Sports, unless certain conditions are met, such as living within a 90-minute drive or having reservations at a family-owned timeshare. For more details, visit Get Travel.



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March 29, 2016

Don't miss: Upcoming Outdoor Family Fun Weekend at Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival

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The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom, with two more months left to enjoy festival favorites. And although there are plenty of activities every day of the festival to entertain children, a new upcoming Outdoor Family Fun Weekend offers families visiting Epcot free activities that also have an educational component. How could learning at Walt Disney World be anything but fun?

The Outdoor Family Fun Weekend takes place April 8 through 10, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom cast members will be in several of the gardens at Epcot interacting with guests in multiple activities, according to Kyle Huetter, education manager of Animals, Science and Environment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

“In the Backyard Habitat garden, we’ll show guests how to find the appropriate plants to go with the region. Guests are asked to place the correct plants in the environment they live in. Multiple families can participate at once, and there can also be one-on-one interactions,” he said.

The sorting game is played on a 3-foot by 3-foot magnetic board that includes wetlands, deserts, grasslands and forests. The Backyard Habitats garden is located along Imagination Walkway near the new Backyard Garden Melodies.

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At the Pollinator Paradise near The Land pavilion, guests can take part in a Butterfly Citizen science project. They receive a handout showing photos of butterflies common in Florida, mark off the butterflies they saw at the garden, and hand it in to cast members collecting the data. “It’s very easy for guests to follow, and they will actually be participating in a project for horticulture and Disney science,” Huetter said.

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In the center of Future World, along the central walkway to World Showcase, guests will find the new Ranger Mickey Garden, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Parks Service. The topiaries make a beautiful photo backdrop, and each day, actual U.S. rangers will be on hand to answer guests' questions. During Outdoor Family Fun Weekend, guests can put together puzzle pieces as they discover, through park photos, how diverse the national parks are.

Future World is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. all three days of Outdoor Family Fun Weekend.

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Visitors who stop by Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival Center during the weekend can get an up-close view of bugs, such as tarantulas, centipedes, Madagascar cockroaches, spiders and other arachnids. Animal Kingdom cast members who take care of the creatures will be on hand to interact with families. The Festival Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

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Finally, at the African outpost in World Showcase – across from “The Jungle Book” sand sculpture -- there will be a matching game. Guests will try to guess which animal facts belong with each photo of an animal from “The Jungle Book.” The remake of the movie premieres April 15.

World Showcase is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day during Outdoor Family Fun Weekend.



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March 31, 2016

Cirque du Soleil's trapeze artists attempt rare tricks at tonight's performance of La Nouba

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Tonight, members of the Cirque du Soleil trapeze troupe will attempt two difficult and rare tricks during the 6 p.m. EST performance of La Nouba at Disney Springs. The “Double Double & ½ Layout to the Legs” is a 2 ½ backward layout with a twist performed in seconds before the trapeze “flyer” is caught by his legs. The second trick will be a “Quadruple” somersault, which is rumored to be completed less than 20 times in the 150-year history of trapeze.

To allow as many people as possible to share in the excitement of the attempts, tonight’s trapeze performance will be streamed live on Facebook and Periscope through a partnership with Experience Kissimmee. Follow along at Facebook.com/ExperienceKissimmee and @Kissimmee on Twitter.

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Members of the media, including Deb Wills and I, were invited to the troupe’s practice on Tuesday to see what goes into the training for these feats and to talk with the athletes about their preparation and life as a member of a circus, albeit one of the most prestigious arenas for performers of a traditional circus act. Here are some of the questions the performers were asked during a group question-and-answer session:

What is it like to be part of this trapeze troupe at La Nouba?

Coach Miguel Vargas: We have a talented team, and we’re having fun right now. Everybody is working on something. These two young ladies [Victoria Ponce and Zane Frazier] are doing triple somersaults, which is rare. Sandro [Ojeda] did 3 1/2, which is also rare. My friend Jonathan [Gonzalez] is one of the few people here to have caught the quadruple somersault. … And Renatos Fernandes from Brazil is probably the only one who has done a “Double Double and ½ to the Legs,” which is two somersaults in a layout position with two twists and not just to the hands but to the legs.

Everyone is excited. I’ve been around trapeze for a long time, so whenever you can get a group of people with such talent together and motivate each other, it definitely makes our job a lot more fun and a lot more exciting.

For the show on Thursday, we’re going to start with a triple and then “Double Double & ½,” which is the rare trick, and also the quadruple somersault. And hopefully everything can come together, and it will be something very special for everybody to be a part of.

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Is it harder to catch somebody or to fly [perform the tricks]?

Justin Chodkowski: I started out as a flyer. I flew for a little over 10 years and caught the double, double-double and triple. I had a really good catcher, and I learned with that family. I took some time off, and then I became a catcher a little over six years ago now. They say that good catchers all start out as flyers because they can see the tricks a lot better. With that being said, I like catching a lot better than flying; it’s a less bit less stressful. They have to put their tricks the best that they can so we can catch them.

Tell us about the training process that you go through on a daily basis.

Miguel: Right now, for example, we have two catchers and all these flyers so we go through rotations. … Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then switch the rotation. That way everyone has the opportunity to stay fresh, stay active, stay motivated. And so, really depending on who’s flying – like for example, today, Sandro will be the first solo and then Renatos – we’ll focus on getting them ready for the show. And then everybody has something they’re working with.

I can imagine it’s really a bonding experience working together, so do you socialize a lot outside of the performances?

Miguel: Very much. It was actually Victoria’s 20th birthday on Sunday. There’s always something going on, but everyone has their routines, or their lives. Some people have families, so it depends on the season or what’s happening.

We understand that many of you are from trapeze families, but are all of you? Or how do you get into this line of work?

Miguel: Trapeze is a very traditional circus act like high wire … It’s considered a specialty act, whereas some of the other acts have a wider base of backgrounds, where gymnastics, tumbling, etc. [apply]. But all of us except Zane and Victor [Bouriak ] and Justin … [have a family history of flying trapeze.]

Zane: I actually started trapeze at a summer camp that had a circus program, and then I came up through trapeze schools. … But it’s a very traditional circus act, like Miguel said, so you really need some circus exposure to really get into it. So I got a couple gigs in more traditional circus, and I was lucky enough to work with some trapeze families. … When I started working with them, I started understanding what it is to train for shows every day, and not just training at schools. I needed both to get here, for sure.

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Is there cross-training that you do to get ready for the next level?

Miguel: Everybody has their own routines that they do in order to maintain. We’ve all been doing it for a long time so we feel when we need to maybe step up a little more if we’re trying to accomplish a skill that’s that much more difficult. We have to push a little harder.

Jonathan: It’s like me. I love McDonald’s a lot, but [I have to give it up when I’m training.]

How often do the tricks in your daily show change?

Miguel: The actual tricks don’t change so much as the people that do them. Our finishing trick is always the triple somersault … and then we have the double layout, which is the first solo trick … and the double to start the act. The catchers change, too.

What are the odds you’ll be able to complete these two maneuvers on Thursday? Is it going to be tough?

Miguel: I’d like to think I’m a very optimistic person, but I’m also very realistic. Having said that, I feel very confident. We’ve all had conversations, and I don’t think we’d be doing all of this if we didn’t feel that our chances were that great. Obviously, just [Lucian da Silva] opening with a triple is a lot of pressure on its own because he’s got to start something and you want to have that good start. As a whole, for it to come together, it’s going to be an amazing thing to be part of and to witness. I really think we’re going to do it.

Renatos: Usually you finish the act with your biggest trick, but he’s so confident, he’s going to open with it. He’s very, very confident.

Here's a look at the trapeze troupe's practice:



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About March 2016

This page contains all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in March 2016. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2016 is the previous archive.

April 2016 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.