Tag Archives: Disney Springs

Happy Thanksgiving from Central Florida Top 5! Why are you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We are thankful to you, dear reader, for your continued support! This year has been a tough one for each of us at Central Florida Top 5, for a multitude of reasons. It goes without saying that 2016 has been very tough for our friends and neighbors in Orlando. However, we still have much for which to be thankful in (cheerful) spite of it all.

I asked our Top 5 Team, regardless of how they felt about the holiday itself, why they were thankful and for what. I also asked the team to share a Local/Holiday #ProTip, or a unique way that we in Central Florida spend the holidays; fun things that maybe those outside of Central Florida may not have heard of or have the opportunity to do in their areas.

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Here’s what they wanted to share with all of you;

 

Jen Lee BioAuthor and Top 5 Lake County Contributor, Jennifer Lee:

This year I am thankful for my health. I had my thyroid removed, I’m cancer-free, and doing well on medication, thanks to the online pharmacyhttps://www.ukmeds.co.uk/ which provides me with it. I’m also thankful to LEASH, Inc for the work they do to save pets in Lake County and for bringing our three new cats into our lives.

We’re not doing it this year, but a very Central Florida way to spend Thanksgiving is to enjoy the buffet at the Swan and Dolphin, then walk it off around Disney’s Boardwalk.

Holiday #ProTip: Take part in Small Business Saturday in Downtown Mount Dora! Lots of great shops, including an indie bookstore. Get a jump start on your Christmas shopping, then stay for Light Up Mount Dora!

 

 

Joe Thoma

 

CEO of Awareness Campaign and Top 5 Charitable/Arts Contributor, Joe Thoma:

I am most thankful for friends, family and colleagues.
* My true friendships in 2016 have transcended the strife and tumult of mere world, national and local problems, issues and politics.
* Family is more of a blessing each year. Partly because we all appreciate the precious gift of time with each other. (And partly because we’ve all gotten too old to start or maintain feuds!)
* Colleagues: I have connected with great new team members all over the world. My longtime teammates have strengthened our working ties and built on our combined strengths to do good work, have good fun and make good money.

Florida is blessed with a lot of casual attitudes. So Thanksgiving in Central Florida offers the opportunity to cherry pick the best traditions and dump the tedious parts. We’re such a diverse lot — Don’t like turkey? Do like many Italian families Up North and have lasagna, bracciole and even some pizza. Or go Puerto Rican with Pavochon, Mofongo stuffing and Arroz con Gandules. Or, like me, go out for a steak. If tragedy strikes, you can be sure to count on an experienced Nightclub Shooting Attorney in Clearwater

Holiday #ProTip: Great time to enjoy some lightly attended days at the theme parks before the Christmas rush. Google “disney world crowd calendar 2016” without the quotation marks.

 

Top 5 Contributors Carolyn Capern and Greg Trujillo (CT Social)

Top 5 Contributors Carolyn Capern and Greg Trujillo of CT Social

Digital storyteller at , Top 5 Web Team & Contributor, Carolyn Capern:

This Thanksgiving 2016, I am thankful for a healthy year and a year spent largely on projects that felt like they mattered. I’m thankful for the city leaders that are still working hard on issues like homelessness and making Orlando more green.

Spending Thanksgiving in Central Florida is the ideal time to get outside for a walk. Find a trail or a park or just head to a walkable downtown area like Lake Eola.

Holiday #ProTip: Don’t miss the Festival of Trees at Orlando Museum of Art! And after your Thanksgiving feasting, get in the festive mood by checking out the Orlando Philharmonic’s ‘Home For The Holidays’ concert this Saturday.

 

 

David B 1

 

Pro MLS Supporter and Top 5 Orlando City Soccer Club Contributor, David Blair:

Thanksgiving weekend is a good time for the family. I am thankful for my family. My beautiful wife and healthy little girl.

 

Local & Holiday #ProTip: If you have never been to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House in DeLeon Springs, go! They’re open Monday – Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm, and Saturday, Sunday, & Holidays from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Check out their website at: http://www.oldspanishsugarmill.com/.

 

 

 

Kari KleinCo-Host of Nerd Flix & Chill podcast and Top 5 Foodie Contributor, Kari Klein:

This year I’m thankful for friends who are more like family and a newfound ability to un-apologetically say ‘no’ as well as ‘yes’ – (see below)

I am celebrating Thanksgiving this year by getting a tattoo – no it’s not themed to the holiday and the date wasn’t planned, but when it’s a difficult place to get into and there’s an opening, you take it….or at least I did. It’s what the pilgrims would have wanted.  

Holiday #ProTip – Be patient and allow for extra time if traveling. Don’t let a few minutes of frustration (or more if you’re on I-4) ruin your whole day.

 

 

Allen Paschel

Central Florida Top 5’s Business and Tech Writer, Allen Paschel:

I am most thankful for scientists, engineers, and dreamers that brought us new technology in 2016.

A great, different way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Central Florida is to enjoy many of the great local restaurants that will be open for travelers visiting the area. If you haven’t bought your turkey or you’ve chickened out. Use Open Table to book a reservation!

Holiday #ProTip: his will be the first weekend with 300 DRONES flying over Disney Springs for an amazing light show called “Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration.” They’ll have nightly shows from now until January 8 at 7pm and 8:30pm. Check them out!

 

John DiDonnaCreator/Director of Phantasmagoria Orlando and Top 5 Arts Contributor, John DiDonna:

“Thankful for a community that can come together in times of fear and duress, thankful for families to support and love. Thankful that through personal and community tragedies that people are people – capable of so much love in the face of so much of the opposite.

Thankful for our community leaders like Buddy Dyer and Patty Sheehan who show us what commitment is – not just to budgets and planning – but to the hearts of all in Central Florida.”

 

 

 

Chris Collins

Filmmaker and Top 5 Guest Contributor, Christopher Collins:

“I am thankful to be alive. A year ago, I was in a car accident that could have ended my life. Obviously I survived, but the injury to my left foot & the trauma of the accident is something that has affected me even to this day, perhaps for the rest of my life, so I have to get the best Car accident lawyers to get compensation for that.
I have also the best Court Reporters from Naegeli Nationwide.
nationwide court reporters provide the most experienced and reliable court reporting in the country. We allowed NAEGELI to free you to focus on what you do best: Litigate your case.

With the help of my family & friends, I was able to recover from that accident, and this Thanksgiving I am grateful that I am still able to spend time with the ones I love.

 

 

 

Kelly Sharkey

Owner of SeaWorldMommy.com and Top 5 Contributor, Kelly Green:

I’m thankful for today. I’m not promised anything more than that. This year has been rough… for our community, for my family in some ways… and I’m reminded how brief this life is. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be kind to strangers, to forgive wrongs, and to press on to new beginnings.

Life #ProTip: Even if you aren’t thrilled with how you’re looking this holiday season, get in pictures with your friends and family! This is the only holiday season 2016 you’ll have. Remember it. Capture it. Relive it through photos. You’ll be glad you have those moments captured.

 

 

Jay DLSCinematographer and Top 5 Pop Culture Contributor Jay De Los Santos:

This year I’m just thankful to have a steady job! Florida’s entertainment incentive is next to non-existent right now, and finding film and tv work has been challenging not to mention next to impossible. My hope is that this will all turn around in the next few years so I can work in my field. In the meantime, I plan on joining Film Florida in 2017 so I can be part of this change.

Holiday #ProTip: Can’t wait for Amazon Prime to deliver? Shop Local Pop Culture! Hit up (not so) hidden gem Gods and Monsters at Orlando’s Anti Mall, Artegon Marketplace for unique and hard to find t-shirts, figures, comics, art, and more!”

 

Rich Bio

Co-Host of Over A Beer podcast and Top 5 Contributor, Rich Belsan:

I’m of course thankful for my family, friends, and amazing girlfriend. I’m also thankful for the continued growth and support of Over a Beer.

For a #ProTip? If you’re looking for some good beer for the holiday there are great breweries in town like Hourglass Brewing.

 

Host/Producer of FilmSlam at Enzian and Top 5 Managing Editor, Jen Vargas:

For the past two years, my reason for being thankful hasn’t changed. I am most thankful for my mom’s oncologist, Dr. Kalpesh Barot and his team at Southwest Cancer Center. They are the reason my mom is still around for another Thanksgiving, and words cannot pay enough tribute to Dr. Barot and his team for all they’ve done for her. Thank you, Dr. Barot!

Holiday #ProTip: If the elections come up at the dinner table, make sure to have Adele queued up.

A unique way to spend Thanksgiving in Central Florida? There are so many! We don’t have snow but if you’d like to see it, catch Now Snowing in the Town of Celebration from now through December 31st! Or catch ICE! at Gaylord Palms featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas! I’m a lifelong Snoopy fan and cannot gush enough about this year’s Peanuts theme. Bring gloves, a hat, and a scarf though – it’s only 9 degrees in there!

 

Brian might bring his Blogger Award from Give Kids The World!

Brian and his Blogger Extraordinaire Award from Give Kids The World!

And finally, Top 5 Owner (who we all miss!) and Contributor, Brian Wilson:

This year I am most thankful for my health, my parents, my brothers, and their families. So happy I get to be close to them right now.

A unique thing to do Central Florida I’d suggest making time to get to a national park or trail or something historic or special to you and yours.

My holiday #ProTip is to make time to do something with a friend or family member this season, or make something, whether it is a card, a letter, or go to a local arts event vs buying a gift – so something vs buying something – I love candles but a coffee date with a friend can be priceless.

 

THANK YOU, TOP 5 READERS!

Orlando, you are #TRULYLoved

It’s been a heavy month for the world, and in Orlando specifically. Our local City and County government, as well as our LGBTQ and Latinx communities have been working through their grief non-stop since the tragedy at Pulse. People here are slowly healing but still, we can’t forget. But we can make it better, all of us.

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

As a citizen and resident, I knew I wanted to do something. More than just saying ‘thank you,’ more than just a friendly tweet of encouragement. Smiles were the first thing that came to mind. They’re free, and anyone can inspire one, anywhere and at any time.

Many individuals and Orlando agencies have had to work through their grief, non-stop, over the past month including; City of Orlando and Mayor Buddy Dyer‘s office and communications teams, City of Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Orange County and Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ office and communications teams, Orlando Police Department and Chief John Mina, Orlando Fire Department and Chief Williams, The Center, Orlando’s LGBT Community Center of Central Florida, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Metro Orlando.

So… what’s the plan?

First things first – the smiles. I don’t know about you, but when I see one of Truly Nolen’s Volkswagen Bugs driving down the road, I immediately smile. From the ears on the roof to the tail on the back, I could be sitting in the worst traffic ever, see that mouse car, and smile. Did you know that Truly Nolen also has a Mouse Limo? It’s true! If seeing a huge, yellow Mouse Limo roll down the road doesn’t make you smile, I’m not sure what else will.

Truly Nolen Limo Side

Another thing that makes me smile? CUPCAKES. Win! Little cups of cake and icing, and enough joy to fit in the palm of your hand. Who doesn’t love a good cupcake? Even when they’re bad, they’re good. (Note: I have never had a bad cupcake, even ones I’ve baked myself. And I don’t cook.) 

So… I decided to combine the two, and thanks to Truly Nolen and Sprinkles Disney Springs, tomorrow’s JOYride will be a little sweeter!

How did I come to cupcakes and Mouse Limos?

At last month’s Mascot Games at the Amway Center, Jack Martin, who drives Truly Nolen’s Southeast U.S. Mouse Limo all over the country, offered to take me for a ride in the limo – and of course I said yes! After the attack on Pulse happened on June 12th, I knew I wanted to do more than just take a joyride around town in an unusual, but really cool limo.

Wait. JOY… ride. JOYride!! Makes PERFECT sense. 

Luckily Truly Nolen is as active in their communities (all over the United States) as Central Florida Top 5 and I are here in Orlando. In fact, we’ve teamed up a few times before. We received a not-as-scary-as-it-sounds bug education at Truly Nolen University and they also introduced us to a young quilting expert named Faith-Christina Duncan and her friends at the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

After brainstorming with Truly Nolen’s Community Events, Social Media, and PR Manager, Toby Srebnik, we came up with a plan. Why not share smiles with everyone in Orlando (including those on the road) on our Mouse Limo JOYride through Orlando?

Next, I needed to locate cupcakes… dozens of delicious, colorful cupcakes. The first company that came to mind, who was equally as community-minded, was Sprinkles Bakery.  Sure, they have an amazing new Cupcake ATM at Disney Springs, but could they fill a very tall order of 5 dozen cupcakes? A quick call to Sprinkles Los Angeles and Sprinkles Disney Springs sealed the deal! The answer was an immediate YES!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

[To learn more about them, read our 5 Things You Never Knew About Sprinkles Bakery post!]

So, tomorrow, I will be hand delivering smiles and Sprinkles cupcakes, via Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo (the Official JOYride Vehicle!) to – just a few – of the people who have tirelessly kept our Orlando community safe and loved; City of Orlando, Orange County, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and The LGBT Center of Central Florida!

Does all of this sound goofy or sweet? I’m okay with either. As long as smiles are smiled tomorrow, it’s a good day. We’ll have to play it by… ear. (Ha! Mouse… Ear.)

I will also make a small delivery of wheelchair afghans and cuddly stuffed frogs for an out-of-state friend to Give Kids the World at some point on Wednesday! Please, I-4, be kind to us!

You can follow my Orlando JOYride on Google Maps! I will also post a link tomorrow beginning at 1pm from the app Glympse, so you can follow our JOYride in REAL TIME, and maybe catch a glimpse of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo. (More puns! Okay, I’ll stop.)

Want to join in on the fun? When you’re out tomorrow, if you see us on the road or at one of our ‘sweet’ stops, snap a picture of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo and hashtag it #TRULYLoved!

Not in Central Florida? No problem! Snap a picture of you and your friends smiling or forming a heart (with your hands, arms, pencils, a drawing – anything you like) and share it on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook using #TRULYLoved! We’ll be sure to share them all!

Also, be sure to follow @TrulyNolen, @CentralFLTop5, and me, @jenvargas on Twitter for live, on the road and inside the Mouse Limo updates!

 

About Truly Nolen
Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family-owned pest control company in the United States. Our East Coast Operations Office is proudly headquartered in Orlando and is visible off Interstate 4. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and over 60 countries. To learn more about Truly Nolen, visit www.trulynolen.com or follow us on Facebook(www.facebook.com/TrulyNolenand Twitter (www.twitter.com/TrulyNolen).

About Sprinkles Cupcakes
Sprinkles Cupcakes opened “the world’s first cupcake bakery” in Beverly Hills, as reported by the Food Network, and is credited by the Los Angeles Times as “the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze.”  Founded by Candace Nelson, judge on Food Network’s hit show “Cupcake Wars,” and husband Charles, Sprinkles has inspired long lines of devoted Hollywood stars and serious epicureans alike.  From Tom Cruise to Oprah Winfrey, Blake Lively to Ryan Seacrest, celebrities are abuzz about Sprinkles!  Baked fresh in small batches throughout the day, Sprinkles Cupcakes are handcrafted from the finest ingredients and contain no preservatives, trans fats or artificial flavors.  Sprinkles has 20 locations nationwide, a traveling Sprinklesmobile – the world’s first cupcake truck, and sells its cupcake mixes at over 250 Williams-Sonoma stores throughout the US and Canada.  In 2012, Sprinkles debuted the world’s first Cupcake ATM and continued its foray into classic American desserts with the launch of Sprinkles Ice Cream. For additional information and a list of future locations, please visit www.sprinkles.com.

5 things you never knew about Sprinkles Bakery

Locals may be quick to confuse Sprinkles at Disney Springs, with Sprinkles Custom Cakes in Winter Park. Cake, er, make no mistake – they are quite different. One has been around the Central Florida area for 27 years and makes custom cakes, while the other opened as “the world’s first cupcake bakery” and sports a pink Cupcake ATM outside.

Yes, you read that right. CUPCAKE ATM. And it’s dangerous(ly delicious). Let’s discuss…

Photo Credit: Sprinkles Bakery

You have been warned, Central Florida. [Photo Credit: Sprinkles Bakery]

Eleven years ago Candace Nelson (seen by many as a judge on all 10 Cupcake Wars seasons) opened the first Sprinkles in Beverly Hills (that is), California. Celebrities love Sprinkles. Angelenos and their dogs love (gluten-free and sugar-free) Sprinkles. They’re “a thing” all over the United States and Canada thanks to their 20 locations, mobile Sprinklesmobile (the world’s first cupcake truck), and Williams-Sonoma where you can find their cupcake mixes for sale for worswhipping-at-home or late, late night cravings.

In 2012, something magical happened… the birth of the world’s FIRST Cupcake ATM. Some people think of the Cupcake ATM as its own entity – and it IS – but Sprinkles made it happen, and made it happen first! Candace explains how the Cupcake ATM works here.

Sprinkles NY

Words of warning from Sprinkles in New York City

Those already familiar with them already know that Sprinkles uses the finest ingredients with no preservatives, artificial flavors or trans fats. They’re also baked fresh daily, handcrafted to order and, come with a nifty care guide and labeled flavor rows (on the inside top of the box).

Among the offerings; cupcakes, mini cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, espresso, ice cream cookie sandwiches, the Sprinkles Sundae (imagine a full-on or mini cookie or brownie sundae in the middle of your cupcake!), milkshakes…

ProTip: Follow Sprinkles on Facebook and/or Twitter for secret menu hints! Oh, and do not refrigerate your cupcakes.

5 things to know about Sprinkles

1) GIRL POWER: Sprinkles was founded by a female entrepreneur, and is operated by 90% female managers. These ladies know their flavors. Ask ’em anything!

Sprinkles Assorted Tower

2) DIETARY FLEXIBILITY: Normally, when most venture to a bakery, the last thought on their minds is the word “diet.” Some of us do not have a choice when it comes to food allergies and sensitivities. After all – dogs are finicky eaters, and if you’ve ever answered the question “can I give my dog oranges” with a small test and a bunch of vomit on the carpet, you know it’s true. Sprinkles is aware of this and takes extraordinary care in making sure they bake up offerings to accommodate every palate, even slobbery ones. Here’s a head’s up for those who need to know:

*Gluten Free:  Red Velvet Cupcakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Vegan:  Mango Sorbet, Red Velvet Cupcakes
*Sugar Free:  Red Velvet Cupcakes (for the dogs!)

Note: Dog friendly cupcakes are also available via the Cupcake ATM!

ProTip:  Sprinkles offers frosting shots. This is not a mirage… FROSTING. SHOTS. Buttercream, fudge, salted caramel… the world is your sweet, sweet oyster. Lick it up!

3) CHARITABLE HEART: Since opening in 2005, Sprinkles has donated over $7 million in cash and cupcakes to charitable organizations in local communities and around the world. Causes dear to their frosting filled hearts; fighting hunger, helping children and shining a light on women’s causes with a sweet emphasis on women’s cancer. They’ve partnered with the Girl Scouts, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Hunger Busters and other local community organizations and food banks around the country. Once they’re in the neighborhood, Sprinkles wants to get to know you and your neighbors, so drop by and introduce yourself!

Sprinkles also donates all leftovers each night to a local organization in need. Here in Central Florida, Sprinkles at Disney Springs have already committed to donating to A Grateful Mind, an Orlando 501c3 charitable organization which provides emergency crisis assistance and educational resources to homeless and impoverished men, women and children in Central Florida. A cupcake may not singlehandedly save the world, but it might bring a smile to the face of those are trying their best.

Sprinkles LV

Sprinkles high rollin’ at The Linq in Las Vegas

4) SPRINKLES PERKS & APP: [Android/iOS] Who carries cash these days – or cards? Pre-register at home for your own, free Sprinkles Perks account. Download the app and take your perks anywhere! Sign up for Sprinkles Perks free by clicking HERE! Speaking of high techie stuff, you can also email your favorite cupcake addict a Cupcake Card!

5) SPRINKLES IS UP FOR ANYTHING: Need custom messages, designs or decorations for your wedding, corporate event or other special occasion? Want to propose to your gal or guy via the Cupcake ATM? Want to reveal the gender of your baby to the family in the sweetest way possible? Interested in fundraising for your favorite local cause? Feeling like a red velvet waffle cone to go with your Red Velvet ice cream? Have an urge to sync your personal calendar up to Sprinkles’ flavor calendar? Bring it! Sprinkles welcomes the challenge.

 

Sprinkles Tower

The Lowdown on Sprinkles at Disney Springs (near Raglan Road):

Address: Disney Springs Town Center, 1676 Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830

Phone Number: (407) 560-9192

Store Hours: 10am – 12am (daily)

Cupcake ATM: 8am – 2am (stocked daily, 400 cupcakes max)

Delivery availability? YES. Online and phone! (within 100 mile radius)

Welcome to Central Florida, Sprinkles!!

Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney Springs Evolves

La Nouba has been going strong at Disney Springs for over 8,000 performances and 17 years, but don’t let their solid history and impressive longevity fool you. This contemporary circus that melds dreams with reality has recently introduced their first major change in 8 years, an infusion of new acts and a wash of brilliant colors, that revitalizes what was already a a feast for the senses.

B-Boys breakdancing at La Nouba

B-Boys breakdancing at La Nouba

Cirque du Soleil’s resident show in Orlando opens with an all-new act of B-Boys (break dancers). The international trio, Dmytro Li, Josh Ortiz and Jean Carlos Lloret, present a powerful, urban wake-up call in a show that melds dream with reality. Li, the “Flying Buddha,” was born in the Ukrane (former Soviet Union). Jean Carlos Lloret, aka Bebo, comes to Cirque from Boston by way of Puerto Rico. New Yorker Josh Ortiz is known as “Incredible Josh.” Their powerful and physically demanding routine was choreographed and introduced in a matter of weeks by the breakers themselves and Matthew Sparks, head coach and dance captain, and Daniel Ross, Artistic Director. Audiences will be amazed at their body-bending, beat pounding routine.

Alexander and Ekaterina Abramova, Bamboo Aerialists

Alexander and Ekaterina Abramova, Bamboo Aerialists

The most awe-inspiring change is the switch from the high wire act to the new Aerial Bamboo starring Moscow natives Alexander and Ekaterina Abramova. The performers balance, twirl, spin and execute a myriad of graceful, mind-blowing acrobatic maneuvers on a steel beam contraption (that was bamboo in its historical Chinese form)… all from HIGH above the stage floor. In one part of the act, Alexander holds Ekaterina by his teeth via a thin cable while she spins at blinding speed. Note: I had the opportunity to walk up IN “the grid” up inside the La Nouba theater recently, and “dizzying heights” doesn’t even begin to describe it,  much less being up that high AND spinning like mad!*

Even the song for it, Liama, is kept fresh as the talented Seloane Nkhela infuses varying inflections and melodic surprises to each performance. She also has the ability to improvise when necessary. As explained in a recent interview, her theater background “trained” her to expect a consistency in the performers. At Cirque du Soleil, anything can happen! If someone falls or jumps “too” high, it used to throw her off. Now she’s astute at filling in or adjusting to the necessary parts with her voice, creating riffs. “It’s really a scream, though” she says, amazed how the performers bounce back from intimidating “non-rehearsed” maneuvers.

La Nouba transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, engaging the imagination from beginning to end with opulent sets, brilliant choreography, theatrical lighting and  provocative live music. See all the new performers in addition to the, musicians, vocalists, acrobats, jugglers, bikers, clowns and the rest of the acts that make La Nouba the premiere live entertainment production offered at Disney Springs. Your family, like mine, will be thrilled by the spectacle and wonder at the talent, the beauty, and creative explosion that is… LaKelly Green on Silks Nouba.

Visit their website for tickets and more information on their New Year, New Acts.

Contributor’s note: Not only did I get to go up in the grid at the La Nouba theater,
but I got the
chance to “fly” on the silks back stage. Coolest bucket list item
I didn’t even know was ON my bucket list!

 

The Boathouse at Disney Springs – Your Ship has come in!

If you haven’t been to Disney Springs lately, you’re missing the boat!  To be more precise, you’re missing The Boathouse.

The Boathouse Orlando is one of Disney Springs‘ latest additions to their culinary offerings at the newly expanded entertainment and shopping complex we used here to refer to as Downtown Disney.

If this is all news to you, then you really need to take a trip out to Disney Springs and experience the magic first hand. There are a lot of great dining options and one of my favorites is The Boathouse Orlando, with their delicious offerings and ambiance of this gorgeous new restaurant!

Boathouse Orlando, Burger

You can dine indoors or dockside enjoying their award-winning menu of steaks, chops, fresh seafood, and out-of-this-world desserts. You’ll find the best selection of Oysters in Florida at The Boathouse and something for everyone on their menu. Since I was there for lunch, the Boathouse Double Cheddar Cheeseburger seemed like the winning choice and believe me, it didn’t disappoint! They custom grind the meat for this classic burger using 50% chuck and 50% brisket for a truly delicious combination!

Boathouse Orlando

Along with your dinner, you can enjoy classic craft cocktails and an extensive offering of wines from iconic American vineyards at three distinctive bars: The Captain’s Raw Bar, Admiral’s Club Bar and The Dockside Bar, built over the water and attached to over 300 feet of boardwalk and docks. It’s also a great spot to just unwind with your favorite beverage. And while you’re there check out their vintage amphicars and The Venezia, a 40-ft. Italian Wooden Water Taxi for a relaxing cruise on the lake with a guided Captain’s tours of Disney Springs.

Boathouse Orlando

Of course The Boathouse offers beautiful dining rooms inside, as well as their fun bar area at the entrance, as well as a ships store for souvenirs to commemorate your visit. I also heard from the staff that their appliances and mechanical systems are well maintained through the help of home warranty companies in florida.

Boathouse Orlando

If you’re looking for a romantic evening, make sure to visit The Boathouse at night. That’s when Disney Springs comes alive and the The Boathouse with its spectacular night views of the lake is the perfect location for your next date night.

The Boathouse Orlando is a family friendly restaurant too, with a special kids menu (delivered in their own Boathouse Car kids meal box) . So don’t anyone at home when you visit Disney Springs, everyone will love the Boathouse Menu!

The Boathouse is located at Disney Springs
1620 East Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 939-2628

Sun – Thurs 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Sat & Sun 11:00 a.m. to 2:00

The BOATHOUSE® offers private dining for special events & large groups. Their team of culinary experts will design a menu and create a celebration for memories that last a lifetime.

Baby It’s Cold… In Orlando (Somewhat)

It’s the last week of fall and here in Central Florida we’re experiencing temperatures 10 degrees higher than average. What’s an Orlandoan to do when they’d like a taste of a Winter Wonderland? Here are my top five:

1) Ice Skating
I remember skating on a pond outside our house in Michigan as a child. It was a tiny little thing, and you couldn’t really get up enough speed to do even an arabesque, much less any kind of twirls. Luckily we have rinks here in Orlando like RDV Sportsplex that has public skating hours, and in Kissimmee there’s  The Ice Factory where they also have open skating AND you can skate with Santa this Friday night (December 18, 2015)! Light Up UCF has an outdoor (albeit warm) rink plus lots of other holiday activities including a film festival and light show. Other synthetic ice rinks include and I-Drive 360  and the Orlando Science Center both warm yet (pardon the pun) COOL!

If watching ice skating gives you a shiver, SeaWorld Orlando’s Winter Wonderland on Ice is a show-stopping, ice skating extravaganza. Though far from making one think of ice, “Hot Chocolate” is my favorite production number. Check it out! (♫ Oh We Got It! ♫) Best of all, all #SeaWorldChristmas events are included with admission.

2) Ice Bars
Ice Bar on International Drive is one “hot” spot (pun intended) where you can “taste the cold” along with your drink! Visit during happy hour every Sunday through Thursday from 7–9p for discounted admission (drinks extra).

At Minus5 Ice Bar at Pointe Orlando everything is made of 100% ice including the bar, tables, benches, walls and even the glasses guests drink from. Check their calendar for events and specials.

Though both bars are marketed to the tourists, locals can have a night of cold fun if to just imagine what it would be like to live in a cold clime, or to remember the days when they “used to” live up north.

Another option is On The Block, a “pop up” VIP ice bar inside ICE! at Gaylord Palms (read more about ICE! below). This add-on experience is for guests 21 and over.

3) Frozen Treats
Can’t get TO the snow? How about a snow… cone?! Or ice cream? Orlando is home to great restaurants and shops with delicious frozen treats. Vivoli Gelateria in Disney Springs offers a variety of Italian frozen creations including seasonal flavors. Also at Disney Springs, Downtown Snow Company (near Fulton’s Crab House and across from Portobello), offers shaved ice and a multitude of festive flavors. Thinking French instead? Check out L’artisan des Glaces at Epcot’s France Pavilion. Kona Ice serves up shaved ice at multiple locations and you can’t go wrong with a Concrete from Shake Shack (not very “holiday”, but I LOVE the Key Lime!) or Freddy’s Frozen Custard (they have a Pumpkin Pie one seasonally that’s OH so good).

Want to make a frozen drink at home that tastes like the holidays? Emily Ellyn created some of my all-time favorites. (Her Eggnog Martini is my go-to holiday drink with spirit!)

4) Snow and Ice IN Florida
You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in Florida colder than ICE! at Gaylord Palms. It’s a chilly 9 degrees inside! Enjoy ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas carved out of over two million pounds of ice. After your chilly stroll through a true Winter Wonderland, add to the fun with Alpine Rush! Who knew you could snow sled in the Sunshine State?! My son has been down the slides at least 50 times (conservatively). This is by far my favorite Florida cold spot, though remember to bring your touch-pad gloves for the walk-through if you intend to take pictures or Instagram your #CAGP15 trip. My phone froze up before I made it to the last room, the Nativity.

ProTip: Keep your phone or camera as close to your body as you can between shots and by all means wear closed-toed shoes. (I did not during one of my walk-throughs this year and I found myself doing a Prancer imitation as I went from room to room.) ICE! featuring ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas runs through January 3, 2016. Season passes are available, too, so you can enjoy the Frozen Fabulousness over and over. It’ll be like you live in snow country. But without the tire chains.

This Friday (Dec. 18), guests age 21 and older can visit Gaylord Palms Resort to zoom down the Alpine Rush Snow Tubing hills and jaunt through the 9-degree ICE! attraction wearing only a bikini or board shorts (shorts and a T-shirt can also be worn)! Their one-night-only Polar Bear Plunge 2015 is $50 plus tax and processing fees and include access to Alpine Rush Snow Tubing and ICE!, appetizers and two drink tickets to be redeemed during the event. A portion of all ticket proceeds from the Polar Bear Plunge will be donated to Special Olympics Florida.

The City of Winter Haven is holding Snow Central. Play in 70 tons of snow and go down 3 lanes of the Snow Slide,  meet Santa and more, all for free, Thurs. Dec. 17 from 6–9pm.

5) Fake It ‘Till You Make It
While there are no places to build snowmen (though you can sing along to the family frozenDisney Frozen soundtrack…), you can close your eyes and imagine the attraction industry’s soap-bubble concoction or tissue paper cutouts are snow. Theme parks have snow nightly now through the end of the year (Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld all have Florida-friendly “snow” nightly; check park maps for details), and it’s “Now Snowing” at Celebration Florida, too!

I only lived in Michigan for a couple of years. The rest of the time I lived in my birth place of Central Florida. It did snow here one year when I was a kid. I hadn’t seen snow prior to then and it seemed other-worldly. I think we managed to scoop up enough for a single snowball, but in that moment it was winter here in Orlando. There are no forecasts for flurries this year, but I can “feel” winter just a little more though fun frozen activities and treats all around town.

Everyone’s Irish at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

There’s just something extra cheerful about an Irish Pub and Raglan Road in Downtown Disney (aka Disney Springs ) is no exception! But Raglan Road isn’t just your average Irish Pub, it’s authentic Ireland.  Built entirely in Ireland, then shipped, lock, stock and beer barrel to Downtown Disney.

While the food is sure to please ,my advice is to start with a taste of the local beverage while you’re looking over the menu. In my case I started with a flight of Irish beers – Guinness Irish Stout, Smithwicks Irish Ale, Harp Irish Lager and Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale gave me a real taste of Ireland without breaking the bank.

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney

If you don’t fancy a flight of beers, just ask for a pint of your favorite liquid refreshment. In Ireland, pouring the Perfect Pint is considered an art form, and they’re darn serious about art at Raglan Road. In fact along with the building they brought their own unique Irish beer dispensing system with them, which enhances quality, freshness, and structure of the beers.

Of course if you’d like something a wee bit stronger or non alcoholic your server will be happy to oblige your request.

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney

One of my favorite dishes at Raglan Road is their very popular Scallop Forest, consisting of Georges Bank scallops in a golden batter served with citrus lime dipping sauce & sweet chili jam. They have an eclectic Irish menu with delicious tastes of their homeland, so don’t go expecting Corn Beef and Cabbage. Be adventurous and try some of re-invented Classic Irish dishes they serve as well as what I like to call Irish Fusion Dishes. If you still have room for dessert try Chef Dundon’s gift to America the Dunbrody Kiss.  Chef Dundon uses chocolate, chocolate and then more chocolate to make this dessert……sigh

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney

And what would an Irish Pub be without entertainment. Every night whether you dine inside or out you’ll be treated to a variety of Irish entertainers including dancers, troubadours and bands playing jigs, reels, pub favorites and traditional Irish songs.  According to management at Raglan Road since the pub is so authentic, the entertainers have no idea they’re not still in Ireland and they ask for your help keeping the secret.

So you need to act really Irish to keep them from catching on – that means drink, howl, dance on the tables, drink some more and sing as you’ve never sung before”

Raglan Road is located at The Landing, Disney Springs, 1640 East Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando FL 32830.  They are open from 11 am until 11 pm. serving lunch and dinner followed with a bar menu from 11 pm until 1 am .  The Rollicking Raglan Brunch Menu is served from 10 am to 3 pm Saturday & Sunday.   (gluten free menu items are available)

Live Music starts at 4 pm till late, with an Irish band and Irish dancers performing 5 pm  – 10 pm 7 nights a week. Open till 2 am every night.