Disney Announces Major Changes to Musical Entertainment Options at Epcot

Epcot - Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin’Are you a fan, like us, of Epcot‘s current musical entertainment, including Off Kilter and Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps? Then we have some bad news from you.

Walt Disney World announced today that as of next month, Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin’, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, and World Showcase Players will no longer perform at Epcot.

Disney says replacements will include a traditional Berber music and dance troupe in Morocco, a corps of dynamic flag-waving performers in Italy, a lumberjack-inspired show in Canada, and a Celtic folk music ensemble at the United Kingdom. More acts may be announced at a later date.

What do you think of these changes at Epcot? For me, seeing Off Kilter was one my highlights in visiting the park, and it’s sad to see so many hardworking people lose their jobs.

There is still a little time to see them before they’re gone. World Showcase Players will have their last performance September 25. Mo’Rockin’, Off Kilter and Spirit of America will be giving their final performances September 27.

DoubleTree by Hilton Opens New Orlando Location Near UCF

DoubleTree by Hilton UCFThe DoubleTree by Hilton lodging brand announced it has opened a new Orlando location near the University of Central Florida main campus on August 13.

Located at 12125 High Tech Ave, this hotel underwent an multi-million dollar eight-month conversion process from the former Holiday Inn that occupied the spot. The six-story building features 246 renovated rooms with an updated exterior and lobby as well.

The guest rooms and suites are equipped with an ergonomic desk, Serta Perfect Sleeper beds and contemporary electronic door locks, along with DoubleTree by Hilton brand exclusives, including an assortment of gourmet in-room tea and coffee choices from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and CITRON body care products by Crabtree & Evelyn.

Guests can enjoy a complimentary 24-hour fitness center, a large outdoor swimming pool, a complimentary 24-hour business center, and complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel.

It is also home to the upscale Mingos Restaurant & Lounge in the Orlando area. Executive chef Luis J. Negron, originally from the downtown location, is shaping the menu, which will offer popular steak and seafood dishes prepared with a creative flair and using locally-sourced ingredients, including fresh seafood brought in daily by local day boats.

For more information, or to make a reservation, visit orlandoeastucfarea.doubletree.com or call 407-275-9000.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Offers Free Admission to Florida Educators This Fall

Educator Appreciation Days returns to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, offering free admission to Florida K-12 School Employees from September 2 to October 19.

Ripley's Believe It or Not!Teachers, administrators, counselors, and support staff are eligible for free admission by showing a current pay stub and photo ID when they visit the attraction.  Additionally, up to five guests can get 50% off their admission, as long as they are accompanied by the educator.

This offer is available at all Ripley attractions in Orlando, Panama City Beach, St. Augustine and Key West.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando is located at 8201 International Drive, and is open daily from 9am to midnight (last entry nightly at 11pm). Tickets are regularly $19.99 per adult, though they are discounted if purchased online. There is also free parking.

For more information, please visit ripleys.com/orlando or call 407-345-0501.

Shake Shack Offers Labor Day Weekend Specials August 29 – September 1, 2014

If you’ve been thinking about enjoying some Shake Shack for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, these special offerings may convince you to go.

Shake Shack Labor Day Menu ItemsFrom Friday, August 29 to Monday, September 1, customers can enjoy the following deliciousness:

  • Shack Corn Dogs – A Vienna all-beef hot dog dipped in Shack-made corn batter, cooked golden brown and served with Rick’s Picks sweet corn relish for $4.50
  • Peach Pie Oh My Concrete – A vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of delicious Shack-made peach pie. Single: $4.25/Double: $6.50

The Labor Day Weekend also marks your last chance to enjoy a pint of Shack X IPA, a special edition collaborative beer brewed by longtime partner Brooklyn Brewery. $5.25 will get you a 16oz glass.

Shake Shack is located at 119 N. Orlando Ave in Winter Park. For more information, visit shakeshack.com or read our review.

Monster Jam Returns to Orlando’s Citrus Bowl January 24, 2015

Do you love Monster Trucks? Then you’ll want to get tickets to the 2015 Monster Jam when it returns to the newly rebuilt Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Saturday, January 24.

Monster Jam Grave DiggerHeadlining the bill for this event are four-time World Champion, Grave Digger, and 12-time World Champion, Maximum Destruction, among several others competing for this year’s title.

Monster Jam is one of Orlando’s most popular and largest, annual single-day stadium events, attracting capacity crowds of over 60,000 fans, so I highly recomment you get your tickets as soon as possible to avoid a sell-out.

Tickets are $15. $20 (Endzone seating), $25 (Corners seating), $35 (Gold Sideline seating), and $45 (Platinum seating), and go on sale August 27 at 10am. Buy tickets at Chase Box Office at Amway Center, Ticketmaster retail locations, charge-by-phone at 800.745.3000 or at Ticketmaster.com.

For more information, visit MonsterJam.com.

Walt Disney World Cancels Festival of the Masters for 2014

One of my favorite annual events at Walt Disney World is the Festival of the Masters, held in the fall, so I’m sad to report that the event will not be held this year.

Festival of the MastersThe reasoning given by the theme park is that with all the construction going on coverting Downtown Disney, where the festival is held, to Disney Springs, much of the area that hosts the arts festival will be unavailable.

While I can understand this, surely Disney could’ve accommodated the event elsewhere, such as the Epcot resort area, with the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club stepping in for Downtown Disney.

Disney Springs construction is set to continue until 2016, so there’s a possibility the Festivals of the Masters won’t take place again until then. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for cool art festivals in the Orlando area this fall, The 41st Annual Winter Park Autumn Art Festival will take place October 11-12 at Central Park in downtown Winter Park.

The Great Irish Hooley Returns to Raglan Road at Walt Disney World August 29 – September 1, 2014

The Great Irish Hooley at Raglan RoadOne of the best ways to end summer in Orlando is with The Great Irish Hooley at Raglan Road, which is held Labor Day weekend at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney.

This year’s event runs August 29 through September 1, and includes all things Irish – food, music, dance, and drink. Best of all, it’s free to attend.

Among the bands scheduled over the 4 day Irish festival are Scythian (with a new album), Drops of Green, The Raglan Rebels, The Brayzen Heads, and The West Coast Trio.

The weekend will also feature renowned Irish dancer and choreographer Ronan McCormack, of the original Riverdance cast, with “From Roots to Riverdance.” Guest participation is encouraged. The Raglan Road Dancers will be performing all weekend, too.

Raglan Road’s food and drink menus will be available the entire weekend, and they will also offer Celtic face painting from noon until 10pm Saturday through Monday.

For more information, or to make a dining reservation, visit RaglanRoad.com.

Collective Culture Local Music Showcase at The Brink Lounge Orlando Opens August 28, 2014

Collective Culture Local Music Showcase Grand Opening at The Brink LoungeThe Brink Lounge in downtown Orlando will host the grand opening of “Collective Culture,” a new local music showcase, on August 28 at 8pm.

This weekly showcase will celebrate Central Florida’s most talented local musicians, lyricists, and other artists. The opening night artists are Everyday I, Hadley’s Hope, Shout London, and The Cold Start.

Admission is $10 at the door, and there are $2 drinks until 9pm. 18+ to enter, 21+ to drink. There is lit and secure parking for $6 behind the venue.

The Brink Lounge is located at 47 Amelia St, and is part of the Firestone Live Entertainment Complex. For more info, visit brinkorlando.com.

Out and About: Grand Opening of Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill at Rosen Centre

Harry's Poolside Bar & Grill at the Rosen Centre

Earlier this week, we were invited to join other area bloggers to witness the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill at the Rosen Centre.

The event started with a soiree in the newly re-christened Sam and Bubbe’s, named after founder Harris Rosen’s maternal grandparents, Sam and Rose “Bubbe” Rosenhaus. In addition to drinks, this lounge located near the lobby also offers light bites.

Sam and Bubbe's at the Rosen Centre
Reflecting the family’s Lower Eastside of New York City upbringing, the menu has deli-style noshes like mini-Corned Beef or Pastrami sandwiches, Latkes, and Potato Pierogis.

We then moved out to the pool area, and after a few introductions, Harris Rosen himself took over and regaled us all with stories of his upbringing, including those of Sam and Bubbe, along with his paternal grandfather Harry Rosenofsky. Harry was another immigrant who settled in NYC’s Lower Eastside, and he is the namesake of the new poolside venue.

Harry's Poolside Bar & Grill at Rosen Centre

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Gatorland Orlando Offers $9.99 Florida Resident Rate Through September 30, 2014

GatorlandIn honor of kids heading back to school, Gatorland is offering a special Florida resident rate of $9.99 through September 30.

That’s only $9.99 (plus tax) for every Florida resident, regardless of age. That’s a saving of $15 off the regular adult rate! Adults must have a valid Florida I.D.

Florida residents will also be allowed to apply the cost of their admission towards the purchase of an annual pass with extended benefits that include 30% admission discounts for accompanying guests, 50% off the Adventure Hour, 20% off Rookie Wrestling Experience & in-park photography stations, 20% off Gift Shop purchases and 10% off food & beverages within the park.

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The Heavy Pets to Rock Orlando at the House of Blues August 30, 2014

The Heavy Pets

Fans going to see Umphrey’s McGee at the House of Blues Orlando on August 30, would do well to get there early to see the openers, South Florida’s The Heavy Pets.

To call this quintet a “jam band” doesn’t quite do justice to their sound, which takes a classic rock sound and mixes in jazz, funk, R&B, reggae, and more. They’ve been called “a living, breathing force of nature” by Relix Magazine, and their live performances have gotten them raves at festivals ranging from Bonnaroo to AURA.

The Heavy Pets have recently released the latest in their EP series, Rags and Aces, and its three songs sound great, but are quite different from each other. “Movie Star” is a light summery reggae-influenced pop tune. “Dewpoint” is a jazzy little funk number that segues into disco territory. “Chew” wraps up the release with an indie rock ode to long nights of indulgence. The EP is available to stream and purchase at http://bit.ly/THPRagsAces.

For more information on the band, visit TheHeavyPets.com.

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Free National Park Entry In Honor of National Park Service Birthday on August 25, 2014

As part of its annual National Park Service Birthday celebration, the US Park Service is waiving entry fees to all national parks, including those in Florida, August 25,2014.

Canavaral National Seashore and Wildlife RefugeAmong those within a day trip of the Orlando area are:

Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise

For a list of the national parks waiving their fees, visit nps.gov.