Tag Archives: Walt Disney World

Top 5 things to know about Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando!

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When His Royal Highness, Prince Harry of Wales, announced last July that the Invictus Games were coming to Orlando, we were immediately onboard.  What an honor! [And in case you hadn’t heard, the Invictus Games are coming to Central Florida!] This inspiring adaptive sports event for wounded warriors of all kinds will begin at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex this Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 8th beginning with a grand Opening Ceremony on May 8th at 6pm and is almost SOLD OUT!

[Click here for full schedule]

We’ve been sworn to secrecy about the details but what we can tell you… the Invictus Games’ Opening Ceremonies are going to HUUUUGE. Alongside military performances and shared stories from Veterans and Active Duty members from around the world, Prince Harry, First Lady Michelle Obama (What up, FLOTUS?!), James Blunt, Laura Wright and more surprise guests will be in attendance at this one-of-a-kind event.

Also very cool to note, the Invictus Games will be preceded by The Invictus Games Symposium on Invisible Wounds, presented by the George W. Bush Institute. (Former President Bush also serves as Honorary Chairman for the Invictus Games Orlando 2016.) The symposium will focus on understanding the multiple facets of invisible wounds and how the warriors, caregivers, general public, providers, and influencers each play an important role in helping servicemen and women succeed. Many see the visible wounds of combat but many never think of the psychological ones – PTSD and brain trauma among them – that follow these folks home, and for the rest of their lives.

Athletes, caregivers, medical and policy experts, and providers will discuss such topics as; Understanding the Impact of Invisible Wounds, Recognizing the Need for Help, Overcoming the Barriers to Seeking Care, Navigating and Improving the Systems of Care and Addressing Invisible Wounds.  You can sign up to livestream the symposium here before Sunday’s Opening Ceremonies.

Invictus Games Orlando 2016 Map

Fourteen nations will be competing this weekend including; Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States! (Iraq was supposed to as well but could not attend.) Of the 500 competitors, 115 Servicewomen and men will represent the United States!

The first Invictus Games began in 2014 after His Royal Highness, Prince Harry of Wales, took a trip to the Warrior Games here in the United States. After seeing how the power of sport could help Servicemembers with life-changing injuries (visible or otherwise), he decided London would host the Inaugural Invictus Games internationally.

The word ‘invictus‘ is a Latin adjective which means unconquered. As Prince Harry has said, “These Games have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of service men and women and their families and their ‘Invictus’ spirit. These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit.

InvicTip: Check out English poet William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, which was written while the author was in the hospital battling tuberculosis.

As if this all of this wasn’t enough of a reason to attend, watch and support the Invictus Games Orlando 2016, here are five more:

1. Sports!

Longtime fans of sports in general already love to watch sports and attend games in person. Of the ten competitive events at Invictus Games 2016; archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, track and field, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis, we’re sure you’ll find a new favorite.

2. #MoreThanThankYou is more than [a] hashtag

Anytime one sees a Servicewoman or man in uniform, we’ve all grown accustomed to thanking them for their service to our country. Of course these more than just words, and we’re sure those in uniform (and their families) thank you for the gratitude. A gentleman named Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation, challenges all of us to say more than ‘thank you’ by attending the Games and sharing the story of a friend or family member, Active Duty or Veteran, on Instagram using the hashtag #MoreThanThankYou.

InvicTip: Read my exclusive interview with Fisher House Foundation CEO, Ken Fisher, on wearables4good.org!

3. The Competition is REAL – ask the UK and Canada!

Uh oh. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dropped the mic, and the gauntlet. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth and His Royal Highness, Prince Harry have something to say about this…

As does Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau

Oh SNAP! It’s ON like Donkey Kong.

4. Ticket prices are very reasonable

A single event ticket for adults is only $18, and Seniors are only $13. Children ages 3-9 are $13. (Under 3 is FREE) Active Duty military and Veteran tickets are only $13. Tickets for Opening Ceremonies on May 8th cost $65, and Closing Ceremonies on May 12th at 6pm cost $45. Keep in mind, the ticket prices we’ve listed are per event. You will need more than one ticket if attending more than one event. General Parking at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex is FREE, valet services will be available for an unconfirmed fee. [Click here for WWoS Guest Services and further information.]

For those wanting to stay over, Walt Disney World Resort room reservation agents are available from Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern time, along with Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 AM to 5 PM Eastern time by calling (407) 939-4686. Rooms are available at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort for $178 per night plus tax and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort for $113 per night plus tax bit with TurboTax.Intuit.com, you get a groupon discount on taxes.

InvicTip: Archery Finals, Sitting Volleyball Semis & Finals, Wheelchair Rugby Semis & Finals, Wheelchair Tennis Semis & Finals, and Wheelchair Basketball Finals are very close to selling out according to Ticketmaster’s site. Act FAST!

5. If you can’t attend physically, you can watch & support virtually!

We’d love to see you here in Orlando but understand if you or your family can’t physically make this year’s Invictus Games. You can still watch the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 LIVE online and on ESPN 2 & 3 via the app or on TV. You can also participate by following #InvictusOrlando on their official social channels: 

We also encourage you to support the Games beyond their visit to Orlando, and learn more about the Invictus Games Foundation by clicking here. Next year’s games will be in Toronto, Canada! Perhaps we’ll be visiting readers in our Neighbors to the North next year?

2016 Invictus Games viewing schedule:

Date Time (ET) Event/Commentators Network
Sun, May 8 8 – 10 p.m. Opening Ceremony ESPN2
Mon, May 9 8 – 11 a.m. Powerlifting Finals  ESPN3
  1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Rowing Finals  ESPN3
7 – 10:30 p.m. Archery Finals  ESPN3
  7 – 8 p.m. Day 1 Primetime Show  ESPN2
Tue, May 10 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Track & Field Finals  ESPN3
2 – 4:30 p.m. Sitting Volleyball Semifinals  ESPN3
  7 – 9:30 p.m. Sitting Volleyball Gold & Bronze Matches ESPN3
7 – 8:30 p.m. Day 2 Primetime Show  ESPN
Wed, May 11 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Swimming Finals  ESPN3
2 – 4:30 p.m. Wheelchair Rugby Semifinals  ESPN3
  7:30 – 11p.m. Wheelchair Rugby Gold & Bronze Medal Matches & Exhibition  ESPN3
7 – 8 p.m. Day 3 Primetime Show  ESPN2
Thur, May 12 8 – 10 a.m. Wheelchair Tennis Final  ESPN3
  10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Wheelchair Basketball Semifinals  ESPN3
  2 – 4 p.m. Wheelchair Basketball Gold & Bronze Medal Matches  ESPN3
  7 – 10 p.m. Closing Ceremony ESPN2
Sun, May 13 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Encore Presentation Primetime Show ABC

See you this weekend!

 

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.

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.

Top 5 Interactives I Want at The NBA Experience

It’ll be the end of an era when DisneyQuest closes in 2016 to usher in The NBA Experience. Personally, I will be saddened by the void it will leave in my nostalgic heart. I’ve been attending DisneyQuest since it opened, and visiting nearly once a year since 2009.

Sure, the technology in the place is outdated, but the fun isn’t. But I get it. Until it closes next year, we can enjoy the virtual reality and the fully immersive and interactive activities as much as we want.

That being said, I’m a big NBA fan and excited for what’s to come which, as the Orlando Sentinel reports, will include “high-tech experiences, a restaurant and a store.”

As we await more details, in the true spirit of Disney, I imagined what we could see when The NBA Experience opens in the not-so-distant future.

Virtual Game of 5-on-5

Likelihood of *potentially* happening: 80%

By offering interactive basketball experiences, your first thought would be to actually play some basketball. Since injury liability from a san diego personal injury attorney, among other factors, prevents the facility from holding pickup games, I suggest a virtual alternative.

To visualize, I point to the Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam, a long-time fixture at DisneyQuest. In this game, 11 players take the controls of a pinball in digital form, which is projected before them on a giant screen.

In my version, you’ll take the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One controller and, well, assume control of an NBA player in the latest game of either 2K Sports’ NBA 2K or EA SPORTS NBA Live series and play it on a giant screen. It’s not likely that you’ve played against nine other competitors in the same room. Call picks, shout “I’m open” and even talk trash a la Michael Jordan and it’s the next best thing to playing at the playground — and as NBA superstars to boot.

VR Pop-a-Shot

Likelihood of *potentially* happening: 25%

We’ve all played the pop-a-shot games at the arcade and they’re always a ton of fun. There’s nothing but you, a ball and a basket as you attempt to knock down as many shots as possible.

But we’re talking about The NBA Experience, a building that will assume the spot of the virtual-reality laden DisneyQuest, so we need some VR up in here!

So imagine donning a HMD (head-mounted display) and some motion capture gloves and doing the same thing but here’s the twist — now you’re trying to shoot over NBA players. Think of it as a reimagining of Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride.

Immersing yourself in a video game environment (like the aforementioned NBA 2K or NBA Live games) and having a LeBron James dare you to score on him could be the closest thing to a one-on-one contest with The King.

Of course, if you win, LeBron gives you props and suggests he might tell NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about you.

Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest

Likelihood of *potentially* happening: 50%

The night before the annual NBA All Star Game features a plethora of activities including the Skills Challenge. How cool would it be to perform the same drills course as the select group of NBA players every year? And what’s more, comparing your times to that of your favorite player, of course.

You could also do the same with the 3-Point Contest. Run the rack as you race the clock to drill as many treys as possible. Don’t forget the money ball!

Can you make it rain more than this past year’s winner, Steph Curry?

Do You Have the Inside Stuff?

Likelihood of *potentially* happening: 90%

NBA players are among the most elite athletes in the world, but nothing puts that quite into perspective like directly comparing yourself to one.

Test your vertical leap and reflexes as well as measure your height to see how you rank among the globe’s best basketball players.

Protect the Rim

Likehood of *potentially happening: 60%

Much like number two on this list, you’ll virtually go one-on-one with a NBA player except this time you’re on defense. Utilizing technology like that in the Kinect, you’d assume a defensive stance and swat away shots fired by players like Kevin Durant and James Harden.

It’s easy to score, but putting the clamps on your competitor is just as, if not more, satisfying.

I’m no attraction engineer, but I tried to create experiences that could theoretically be achieved by today’s technology. Whether any of these come to bear or not, I’m sure The NBA Experience will have a lot of game.

#TBT: What was Orange County, Florida like before Mr. Disney came to town?

It’s Throwback Thursday and we saved an interesting snapshot of Orange County’s yesteryear just for you, courtesy of news legend Mike Wallace and CBS’s long running news magazine, 60 Minutes!

Central Florida natives (yes, they exist!) will know of an Orange County before Mr. Disney and his magical world of characters and adventure became neighbors. Nowadays, like cassette tapes, pagers and pay phones, this concept is completely alien to most visiting, and yes even living here, but not all.

Courtesy: Life Magazine

Courtesy: Life Magazine

I am not a Florida native (nor was I alive in 1972) but my family has a long standing history in Orange County and they, as residents, have seen a lot of changes firsthand.

In the late 1950s my grandfather, Walter Steib, was recruited by Martin Marietta, now Lockheed Martin (still located on Sand Lake Road). He worked for American Bridge Company and helped build Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which Walt Disney World’s website still describes as ultra-modern!

[Fun Fact: My grandfather was also one of the first Presidents of the Tangelo Park Civic Association, which was MUCH different in the 1960s but is growing again thanks to the help of another longtime Orlando resident and philanthropist, Mr. Harris Rosen.]

On June 18th, 1972, Mike Wallace filed a report on Orange County, Florida called “Will Mickey Mouse Eat Up Orange County?” The headline may seem a bit foreboding however, the report itself shared how, $400 million dollars later life was drastically changing in Central Florida.

In the report below, you’ll get a glimpse of a fledgling yet mature Orange County – and some really nifty fashion trends of the time.

In 1972, Walt Disney World was a year old and, as Mike Wallace reported, “It will be the most prosperous summer that Orange County Florida has ever known. Hotels are booked solid for months ahead, land prices are soaring there and more new tourist attractions are on the way.

Here, Mr. Wallace describes a pre-Disney era Orange County as a quiet town. “He could sail slowly through the unspoiled wilderness of its inland waters and not have to see a soul all day. It was the kind of place the chamber of commerce used to tout as ‘the perfect retirement community.’ Ranch country, orange groves, cheap living, ideal weather and best of all it hadn’t really caught on the way that beach resorts and retirement towns had.”

He goes on to foreshadow an Central Florida we are all familiar with, forty four years before the fact. “But then in the early sixties, a fella named Walt Disney began to buy up land in this part of Central Florida,” he reported. “It was going to be the biggest Disney enterprise of all, dwarfing the famous Disneyland out in California. Twenty seven thousand acres of Florida Scrub Pine to be transformed into the world’s largest resort complex. It would put Orange County, Florida on the map.

And it DID.

According to a Walt Disney World 2014 fact sheet, “Disney is the largest taxpayer in Central Florida, paying approximately $566 million in state and local taxes each year.

However back in 1972, from residents to politicians, not everyone was excited about this venture. Unending traffic and delays, lack of hotel rooms for visiting families, tax increases for locals were all unfortunate headaches.

Orange County Commissioner Paul Pickett, a customer of H&R Block himself  said, “I have to speak for ‘Mrs. Smith,’ meaning that hypothetical taxpayer who’s been here for fifteen or twenty years minding their own business in a little house she owns, going to work every morning and just paying a lot of taxes.” A valid argument, especially for the time.

Then Orlando Salvation Army head, Major Sydney Lynch, also shared concerns. Despite being only a year old, Major Lynch felt Walt Disney World wasn’t doing enough for the local community.

When Mr. Wallace asked him, “Has the Disney dollar reached you?” Major Lynch replied, “The answer is no. I understand their policy is they’re going to make contributions to local charities such as ourselves.” Major Lynch went on to surmise, “I’m sure this may change as they get into their profit situation a little bit better.” Remember, this was 1972.

Now, in 2015, Disney is heavily embedded in our Central Florida community, from a philanthropic standpoint and more. According to their website, “approximately 100 Disney Cast Members serve on boards of local nonprofit organizations.” Walt Disney World is also “the largest corporate contributor to the Heart of Florida United Way,” which serves Orange, Osceola and Seminole county residents.

Former Orlando Mayor Carl Langford, seen in the video sitting quite smugly in front of a Mickey Mouse clock, said, “I will tell you, the chambers of commerce in Florida for fifty years have had paid executives who have gone out and said to people up north, ‘Come on down!’ What I’m telling you, they all got here at one time. So, we don’t need to send paid executives to have to tell people to come on down. They’re here in droves and they bring money, and they bring happiness – and they bring jobs – and they bring opportunities for people.

And he was, and is, correct. Forty four years later, visitors to Orlando still ‘come on down.’ Over 62 million of them in fact!

Photo Courtesy: Mayor Jacobs

Photo Courtesy: Mayor Jacobs

In April, Orlando set a new record for tourism in the US, becoming the first destination to surpass 60 million visitors. Current Orange County Mayor, Teresa Jacobs, said, “The impact of tourism on our community is remarkable, and in fact, the travel and tourism industry is the largest generator of jobs and economic impact of our region.

Orlando and Central Florida are historic for many reasons, good and not so, with tourism having lead the way for a long time. Nipping at the heels of tourism is Orlando’s tech scene, which will continue to grow and evolve in huge ways over the next few years!

And, even though my personal history doesn’t go back as far as my grandfather’s, there are things I genuinely miss like, Polar Cup frozen lemonade near Conway! And the smell of eclairs and pumpernickel bread from the bakery at Ronnie’s Restaurant in Colonial Plaza Mall.

ProTip: If you haven’t already been,

Feeling throwbacky Thursday nostalgic too? The Facebook group, “If you grew up in Orlando, FL… then you remember” is WONDERFUL online comfort food for these feels! (Take in a quick history lesson from real Florida native, Bess Auer, in her Top 5 guest post, “Orlando – Please don’t redefine us.“)

I believe longtime Orange County Agricultural advocate Henry “Green Belt” Swanson, who died in 2012 with more than thirty years of service with Orange County, wins cheekiest anecdote. He said, “For years Orlando was known as ‘The City Beautiful.’ It’s changed it’s title to ‘The Action Center.” If you want a piece of the action, this is where to come.

I wonder what Mr. Swanson, Commissioner Pickett and Mayor Lynch would think of Central Florida now…?

New Marilyn Monroe spa to debut at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Ladies, can I get an AMEN from the femmegregation?? Fans of the Marilyn Monroe Nail Lounge in the Mills 50 area and the Glamour Room at Isleworth in Windermere I’m sure will love this! A spa is coming! A spa is coming!!
The new Marilyn Monroe Spa location will open this December inside the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, and I am in serious need of a spa day! I’m not a fancy girlie girl, l but I am a HUGE fan of manicures, pedicures, facials and massages specialy at TranquilMe because they are the best. Gents, don’t worry. You can hang with Marilyn too. MANicures, pedicures and Wingtip Relief are available for your tootsies. In fact, a full menu of services may be downloaded HERE.
Follow the online adventures and get more sneak peeks by following @HRGrandCypress and the hashtag #NewGirlInTown!
Party at Marilyn’s? Let’s GO!
Marilyn Monroe Spa Coming to Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress December 2014
Marilyn Monroe™ Spa unveils its successful resort spa concept in Florida, offering the full breadth of signature spa services in one resort location.
 
Known and awarded for its long-standing grandeur, pristine outdoor recreation, privacy, and uncompromising standard of service, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress elevates the guest experience with the addition of Marilyn Monroe™ Spa, a national company that transforms traditional spa and salon concepts under the iconic Marilyn Monroe™ brand.
Design and redevelopment, estimated to total $1.5 million, is now underway for the 5,200 square-foot, full-service spa to feature a variety of glamour services for nail, face, hair, and body, bringing all of the Marilyn Monroe™ signature services to Orlando’s original luxury resort.  On the services menu, guests will discover more than 100 treatment options, including favorites such as Marilyn’s Signature Manicure/Pedicure, Marilyn’s Signature Fassage™, Gemstone Massage, Steamy WonderfulTM and many more.
We know women like to stay beautiful, that’s why the spa offers different beauty treatments that you can complement with a thrive diet, besides going to the spa. Because for many people is important to lost weight, they even try methods like tummy cinchers, that control waist.
The spa will be easily accessible from the main hotel lobby or dedicated portico entrance in front of the hotel and will feature:
  • Seven spa treatment rooms
  • A couples’ suite
  • Relaxation room
  • Full service men’s and women’s locker rooms with full height lockers, wet and dry grooming area, rain showers, and a full amenity offering
  • Glamour Room with three luxury “Nap and Nails” mani/pedi lounges, six pedicure stations,
  • Five blow dry bar / styling stations, a three-seat manicure bar, makeup bar, and brow wax bar
  • Exclusive Marilyn Monroe™ Spa retail products
“The partnership with Marilyn MonroeTM Spas elevates the resort experience once again for our loyal guests in search of a full array of pampering amenities.  Our company missions and leadership styles are both grounded by the rich tradition of exceptional service in a seamless and approachable manner,” said Pat Engfer, area vice president and general manager of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. “Together, our dedicated teams will continue to offer leisure and business travelers the highest quality resort and spa experience in one of the nation’s most popular destinations and make you think about buying the best home foot spa machine after you’ve experienced it.”
Led by Orlando hospitality industry veterans, Niki T. Bryan, founder and CEO and Allen “Al” R. Weiss, executive chairman, Marilyn MonroeTM is both a national and global icon, synonymous with timeless glamour and style.
“Marilyn continues to have a massive fan base that identify heavily with her beauty and star power.  We believe we are honoring her glamorous legacy and engaging personality by infusing them into every guest experience,” said Weiss.  “We have reenergized the spa model to be one of engagement, luxury, approachability and fun, which is aligned with Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – it’s the right spa, the right size, the right location and the right synergy.”
“Guests of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress will find that the fun, flirty, fabulous experience offered at Marilyn Monroe™ Spa lavish, yet an affordable luxury,” shared Bryan.  In true Marilyn Monroe fashion, the brand sets itself apart with its appealing aesthetics. “We are offering a fresh approach to spas.  The decor is sleek and chic and decidedly social.”
Updates will be available online. Guests may also visit www.marilynmonroespas.com for a full menu of services, online reservations, and event announcements for the December 2014 grand opening. For more information; call 407.239.1234; visit GrandCypress.Hyatt.com; like Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress on Facebook; and follow on Twitter @HRGrandCypress.

Review | American Q serves up tasty farmhouse chic BBQ

By @jenvargas

Central Florida Top 5 was invited to a media roundtable dinner at American Q. Dinner was provided, pillows sadly were not. Opinions and images/video are my own.

Admittedly, I was a little iffy when we were invited to try the farmhouse chic stylings of American Q. I’m not a big red meat eater. I rarely eat barbecue anything; ribs, steak, sausage, brisket. In fact, before American Q, I’d never tasted brisket before. I normally stick to poultry, chicken and turkey being my main go-to meats, if I eat meat at all.

Taking one for the Top 5 team, I ventured over to the B Resort and Spa in Lake Buena Vista to experience this 21st century bend on the traditional barbecue feast. And I must say, I was unexpectedly surprised at how much I enjoyed it AND how many options there were for people like me. The weirdoes who don’t salivate at the word “bacon.”

American Q’s tagline is “BBQ and beyond,” and boy was it! Between the salad and sides on the Flatbed Buffet and the copious amounts Tableside Cowboy Carvings choices, I think I may still ‘B’ in a food coma! Add four tasty house made sauces, cocktails, drafts, wines and yummy desserts and you definitely have more than just your average barbecue meal.

Our tasting menu for the evening was handpicked by Executive Chef Justin Leo, and just a ‘small’ sampling of the offerings you can choose from at American Q.

Among the bar snacks we sampled were; Swine Candy (a smoked bacon roasted in molasses and spiced until crunchy), Housemade Tater Tots with bacon salt and Deviled Crab Stuffed Eggs with blue crab and rémoulade. My clear favorite was the tater tots! Along with the tots was a tangy housemade ketchup, which was a great companion. (I’m allergic to seafood, so I didn’t try the stuffed eggs but heard great feedback from those who sampled them.)

Appetizer choices were; Virginica Oysters grilled in shell with bacon jam, Alligator Boudin with roasted tomatoes, peppers and okra and Mahogany Glazed, Slow Braised Pork Belly. I only tried the pork belly, which I enjoyed, as well as the watermelon salad.

Our entrées for the evening consisted of Hot Smoked Wild Salmon with grilled asparagus in blackberry butter, St. Louis Spare Ribs smoked for six hours with American Q’s own sweet Kansas City BBQ sauce and Texas Bark Beef Ribs, also smoked for six hours with house slaw, Garlic Texas Toast and a tasty corn relish. All of which were great choices. Sometimes, you can spot the chefs using portable gas stoves in different locations, impressing guests with their creativity and willingness to inspire. The food is memorable and will keep you coming back for more, that much is certain.

Every five to ten minutes or so, Cowboy Carvers (Hi James!) appeared with a new Tableside Carving item for us to try. Brisket of Beef with Texas Bark, Bacon Wrapped Boneless Chicken Thighs, Smoked Pork Shoulder with Spiced Onions, Turkey Thigh with Turkey Chorizo Stuffing, Carolina Style Flank Steak, Picanha of Beef, Slow Smoked Tom Turkey with Mahogany Glaze, Housemade Argentinian Style Sausage – all cut fresh from a very large serving skewer!

Granted, I am not a ‘sweets person.’ I don’t like chocolate and, to be honest, I rarely eat dessert because too much ‘sweet’ (no matter how simple) is flavor overload for my mouth. However, all the desserts I sampled I really enjoyed! My favorite was the Salted Caramel Vanilla Cheesecake with salted caramel drizzle.At first the salted caramel was a bit much for me but as I kept going, the sensation subsided. Also on the menu was S’mores Pie layered in graham crackers, flourless chocolate cake and toasted, so-puffy-you-want-to-cuddle-with-them marshmallows and a warm Berry Cobbler with vanilla ice cream. The S’mores Pie had a great taste but was a little sweet for me (the weirdo). For me, I enjoyed the Berry Cobbler a little more.

Verdict? I really liked this experience! Comfortable atmosphere, it’s buffet style so you can eat at your leisure, family and date friendly. Oh! Speaking of dates, if you’re not super hungry, American Q’s Bar is open daily for bar snacks and cocktails (click here for menu). M-F: 2p – 12a, Sat-Sun: 12p – 12a.

American Q itself is open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast hours go from 7a – 11a, Dinner hours from 5p – 10p, seven days a week and is open to the public.

Breakfast MenuDinner Menu | Kids Menu | Dessert Menu

For a more in depth look at my experience, check out my Google Story below…

I must also note that the B Resort and Spa is not only conveniently located, modernized and also very ‘B’eautiful! A welcome update to the property it once was. For our South Florida readers, there is also a sister ‘B’ resort, B2 Miami Downtown, located close to the American Airlines Arena. Maybe, one day, Top 5 will journey down south for a staycation?

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World(R) Resort opens

Florida’s Newest Wedding Destination

“Brides and grooms are going to love everything Four Seasons has to offer for weddings,” says Laure Hitzig, Director of Catering. “From intimate lakeside gatherings to lavish receptions, guests will be amazed not only by our spectacular setting, but also by the cuisine, and our signature Four Seasons guest service.”

Two event lawns and ballrooms with private outdoor terraces offer a stunning setting for ceremonies and cocktail receptions. Whether guests say “I do” under the sunshine or under the stars, the outdoor capabilities at Four Seasons Resort Orlando enable guests to have a truly amazing experience.

Disney Details: For fans who wish to have that extra special Disney touch incorporated into their big day, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort can offer services provided through the Disney Event Group to add some extra magic.

Event Space: The Grand Ballroom, on the Resort’s lobby level, offers 14,000 square feet (1,300 square metres) of event space. The Grand Ballroom foyer includes an elegant, inviting gathering space perfect for a cocktail reception. A gorgeous glass atrium ceiling provides ample natural light, and palm trees, surrounded by flowerbeds and potted plants, create a striking “winter garden” design. The Grand Ballroom offers soaring 21-foot (6.4 metre) coffered ceilings, and crystal chandeliers create a stunning ambiance. A second ballroom, the Palm Ballroom on the garden level, offers immediate access to the Lady Palm Lawn and King Meadow Lawn, ideal for outdoor ceremonies or receptions. Offering 6,200 square feet (576 square metres) of event space, the Palm Ballroom features 16-foot (4.9 metre) ceilings and abundant natural light. In shades of taupe, ivory and pale grey, the neutral palette is perfect for the bride to decorate with her chosen wedding colours.

 Florida’s newest wedding destination Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort opens on August 3, 2014 via travelprnews.com

Florida’s newest wedding destination Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort opens on August 3, 2014 via travelprnews.com

For smaller gatherings of up to 30 people, Lakeside East and Lakeside West are private, free-standing buildings situated right on the lake. The perfect setting for a quaint celebration, each of the two Lakeside rooms offers 400 square feet (37 square metres) of space, arched windows with awnings overlooking a terrace complete with a fireplace, and views of the lush grounds.

Wedding Packages: Numerous wedding packages are available, for receptions to rehearsal dinners or a celebratory post-wedding brunch. The Wedding On a Weekday W.O.W. package offers value pricing for weekday weddings. The Intimate Wedding package is intended for 30 or fewer guests, and is ideal for a small ceremony or elopement, offering an officiant, photographer, bridal bouquet and boutonniere. Wedding packages at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort include a bridal room for day-use on the wedding day, a guestroom amenity for the bride and groom, choice of Chiavari chairs, and more. Select packages include accommodations on the wedding night.

The full-service Spa will provide head-to-toe pampering for the entire bridal party. Special packages will be available for groups, or the bride and groom can indulge in a pre-wedding couples massage, and hairstyling and makeup application will also be offered. Their neck massagers and makeup application are one of the best services they offer.

Honeymoon Destination: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort also will be an ideal honeymoon destination. Featuring the largest guestrooms in Orlando, each with a furnished balcony, the Resort’s couples-centric amenities include an adult pool for ages 21 and up; an amazing Spa to indulge in couples spa treatments; world-class golf; tennis; and gourmet dining at restaurants including Capa, Ravello, Plancha and more. Couples can savour a glass of wine on the rooftop terrace of Capa while enjoying the nightly Magic Kingdom® Park fireworks spectacular. For honeymooners who enjoy Disney Theme Parks, the Resort provides convenient access and complimentary luxury transportation for newlyweds to enjoy all the parks have to offer. The Stay Longer- Third Night Free Package is a value-added introductory offer available through 2014, while the Advance Purchase Package offers a 20 percent savings for guests who reserve their 2015 stay at least 90 days in advance and pre-pay at the time of booking.

Check out this great video from Visit Orlando:

Jr Ride Along at Disney Speedway Features CARS

The Speedway at Walt Disney World welcomes two characters from the Academy Award-nominated Disney Pixar movie “CARS” as they race to life for the Junior Ride-Along program. Almost like being in the “Piston Cup,” children ages 6 to 13 (and at least 48 inches tall) have the chance to ride shotgun with a professional driver in specially equipped race cars. Aiken Axler and Sage VanDerSpin ride right off the big screen and onto the track for a truly magical element to the Junior Ride-Along program already in place.

MyJrRideAlong

Daniel, age 7, is ready to race!

Advanced reservations are not required or accepted. To participate, show up at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway during regular operating hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Gates open at 7:30 a.m.). After filling out requisite paperwork, your child will be queued up for a ride he or she will never forget! Racing suits (including a kid-sized Hans device!) will be provided to wear over clothing. Don’t forget closed-toed shoes, which are required. Cost is $59.

Piston Cup riders will enjoy three exciting laps around the track with a professional driving instructor in either the Number 28 Nitroade Aiken Axler car (Vitoline Rookie of the Year for his first full season of Cup competition), or Number 80, Sage VanDerSpin the “youngest winner of the Junior Piston Cup Pro Series.”

Gift cards are available that can be redeemed day-of, or tickets can be purchased on-site. On related post about cars, please checkout this review of the best foam cannon.

Disney’s Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest = Grand Prize of $1 Million!

A HOT ARM COULD LEAD TO A COOL MILLION!

We know it almost sounds too good to be true- but it is!

Disney is giving amateur baseball pitchers in the nation a chance to compete for a $1 million prize in the Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest. The Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest is being held to celebrate the opening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm,” an incredible true story about two young men who went from never throwing a baseball to getting a Major League tryout.

Presented by SUBWAY® restaurants, the three qualifying events will take place on April 25 and 26, from 7 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at both Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif. and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World® and on April 26 only, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day during the Tribeca Family Festival in New York City. Contestants will throw three pitches, each tracked by a radar gun, in an attempt to throw the fastest pitch. All participants will receive tickets for themselves and a guest to see an advance screening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” at an AMC Theatres location later that evening.DisneyMillionDollarContest

Amateur baseball pitchers—male or female, who are legal United States residents at least 18 years of age or older—are invited to qualify to compete in the preliminary rounds of the Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest at either Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida, Disneyland® Resort in California or at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day at the Tribeca Family Festival in New York City. The three contestants from each location who throw the fastest pitches will advance to the finals and have a chance to compete for a $1 million prize at the world premiere of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” in Hollywood, California. Official rules are available on Disney.com’s “Million Dollar Arm” homepage at http://disney.com/PitchingContest

ABOUT THE MOVIE
Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds that business has changed and things aren’t going well for his career. In a last ditch effort to save his livelihood he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” With the help of cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin), he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18-year-old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India, the boys, who have never left their rural villages, are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball, JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell), learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.
Directed by Craig Gillespie from a screenplay written by Tom McCarthy, Disney’s drama “Million Dollar Arm” stars Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell and Alan Arkin. The producers are Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray and Joe Roth. The executive producers are Palak Patel, Kevin Halloran, Bill

Follow on Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/milliondollararm/

Preview:

Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival: Flower Power Concert Series 2014

2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Bands Details

From our friends over at Walt Disney World: 

Be sure to visit their Disney Parks Blog and tell them who you are most excited to see! Go: DisneyParks.Disney.Go.com/blog

The Flower Power Concert Series showcases the music of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, with concerts taking place Friday – Sunday at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m., at the America Gardens Theatre. This year’s lineup includes two new acts – Gary Lewis and the Playboys (“This Diamond Ring”) and the Alan Parsons Live Project (“Eye In The Sky”) – as well as returning favorites like the Village People. Check out the full entertainment schedule (subject to change) below:

  • Photo from http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog

    Photo from http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog

  • March 14-16 – Gary Lewis and the Playboys NEW
  • March 21-23 – The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO
  • March 28-30 – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • April 4-6 – Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • April 11-13 – Village People
  • April 18-20 – The Grass Roots
  • April 25-27 – Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone
  • May 2-4 – STARSHIP Starring Mickey Thomas
  • May 9-11 – Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
  • May 16-18 – Alan Parsons Live Project NEW

*Times and Artist subject to change!

Epcot Jammitors Comeback for Flower and Garden Festival 2014 #EpcotInSpring

 

Full details and update @ http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/02/flower-power-concert-series-adds-new-acts-returns-to-epcot-march-7/

 

Wreck It Ralph Walt Disney World Meet and Greet!

 

Wreck-It Ralph Characters are at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!!!

Have you seen This Movie?!

Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz, from Disney’s newest animated adventure comedy “Wreck-It Ralph,” in theaters in 3D Nov. 2, will soon make their debut in a new character greeting experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests visiting The Magic of Disney Animation attraction will be invited to step through Game Central Station, a key location from the film, where they’ll catch glimpses into various game worlds on their way to a meeting with Ralph and Vanellope in the candy-coated cart racing game, “Sugar Rush.” Look for Ralph and Vanellope to join the Disney’s Hollywood Studios family of stars this November.

About the characters:

Ralph:As the bad guy in the ’80s-era, 8-bit game “Fix-It Felix, Jr.,” Ralph is tired of being overshadowed by the good-guy star of the game. Ralph sets out on a game-hopping journey across the arcade to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero.

Vanellope: A feisty misfit from the candy-coated cart-racing game “Sugar Rush,” Vanellope Von Schweetz wants nothing more than to join the ranks of the “Sugar Rush” racers.

More details Here on on Disney World Blog!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2012

At Walt Disney World, it begins to look a lot like Christmas as early as November 8. Santa’s elves bedazzle every corner of the Vacation Kingdom for a seasonal spectacle filled with heartwarming stage productions, enchanting parades, garlands and wreaths, millions of sparkling lights and even the first flakes of winter.

And with a ho, ho, whole lot of cheer being spread over more than a month, guests have more choice as to when they join in the magical, one-of-a-kind celebration.

Check for updates here! 

Celebrate the magic of the holiday season with your family at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special event held select nights in November and December at Magic Kingdom theme park!

This festive celebration is filled with spectacular fireworks, a very special holiday parade and live entertainment featuring your favorite Disney Characters. Purchase of an additional event admission ticket is required to attend this event, and tickets sell out quickly.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party features:

  • The enchanted Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle
  • Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, complete with a special appearance by Santa Claus himself
  • An exclusive holiday fireworks extravaganza — Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season
  • Live entertainment featuring Disney Characters
  • Meet and greet opportunities throughout Magic Kingdom theme park with some of your favorite Disney Characters
  • Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
  • A magical snow fall on Main Street, U.S.A.
  • Special access to many of the most popular Magic Kingdom attractions

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight on select nights.

Also check out their facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/DisneyWorldHolidays

Coca Cola Freestyle: Soda Machine of the FUTURE!

[Guest Post by Jen Vargas]

I love Coca Cola. I also love its tasty incarnations, Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke. All of these flavors, swishing around together make for a Cocapalooza in my mouth – this make me VERY happy! Enter, Coca Cola Freestyle. We have history…

My first discovery of this smile dispensing soda machine happened during the IAAPA Expo at the Orange County Convention Center here in Orlando. My curiosity began in 2010. [I wanted to go back in 2011 but our Relay For Life in Hunter’s Creek was happening the same weekend and I couldn’t make it.] But I never forgot about ‘the Freestyle Machine.’ I walked into the exhibit hall, saw a HUGE line and wondered, “What’s that all about?”

I came back two hours later and the line had gotten LONGER! “Ok, I HAVE to find out what the fuss is all about here,” I thought. So I waited… and waited… and waited in the line. After an hour or more of looking at the backs of other people’s heads, I saw it. This standalone, shiny, red touchscreen of awesomeness. A gentleman demoing the machine handed me a small, paper Coca Cola cup and asked me what I wanted to try. Baffled by all the choices (and flashy lights!), I asked for recommendations based on what I knew already. He recommended two flavors; Raspberry Coca Cola and Orange Vanilla Coca Cola. The thought of both sounded gross, to be honest, but I tried them anyway. I figured the guy knew what he was talking about, him being a seasoned mixologist and all. 106 (at the time) flavors to choose from… I needed more time to taste!

To my surprise, the Raspberry Coke was pretty good! The Orange Vanilla Coke however… WOW! That was my favorite! I wanted to try some more flavors, I was so stoked!! Then I looked behind me. It’s like the line never moved! The Coke booth was the place to be at IAAPA 2010! At the time, I still had a few hours left to roam the floor and chat with vendors, so I did. About 30 minutes before the event closed, I took a chance and hopped back in the Freestyle line to sample more flavors. The line was shorter but not by much. Others in line behind me didn’t want to wait and left. The people running the booth were cleaning up while the end of event announcements played over the PA system. As they continued to close, they kept the line moving, allowing people to try samples. I was literally the LAST person that year to Freestyle! I had to try another Orange Vanilla Coke! This time I was recommended to try Grape, Vanilla and Strawberry Sprite. Strawberry Sprite was tasty. I wasn’t a fan of the Sprite Grape or Vanilla flavors but they were worth a shot. After closing, I grabbed a Vanilla Coke for the road, I left IAAPA wondering when I’d see one again (outside of Disney or the other theme parks).

In 2011 and 2012, Coca Cola Freestyle machines started showing up in Burger King, Firehouse Subs, Moe’s Southwest Grills, Hess Gas Stations, even my local Pei Wei Asian Diner! Convenience, thy name be Freestyle!!! Now, I can’t walk a mile or so without seeing one, or even two, in my favorite local restaurants. My next hope is that Sweet Tomatoes (Souplantation for you Left Coasters) gets a Freestyle machine. Perfection on top of perfection… all would be right with the world. More nerdiness? I also love the Push + Play app for my iPhone! You can find a Freestyle machine near you AND play Coke’s snazzy version of Simon!! (Just don’t PUSH!+Play and drive, please.)

 

 

 

If you get a chance, you should check out the Coca Cola Freestyle webpage and Facebook page. They are very active on Twitter too, if you are so inclined (and I know you are)! Maybe I’ll see you at a local watering hole soon?
OMG! #CCFreestyleTweetup! Can we Brian, can we!?