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jcrouse's Achievements


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  1. That park looks great! I love that the sky ride goes through the Bandit coaster. It's great for photos! And I want some of that Wild Grape Coke - that sounds amazing!
  2. Great update! Palo Brunch is my favorite! We made sure to book it every time we cruised. The kid spaces look fantastic! Maybe even Sarah would have gone to that teen club. Looking forward to the next update!
  3. This looks fantastic! Those fish extenders are crazy!! I love that people really get into that. I've always been a huge fan of Disney Cruises and these photos show why. The ship is gorgeous. Can't wait to see the next update and some of the Marvel stuff!
  4. Beautiful photos. I love the nighttime and fireworks shots!!
  5. A few days ago, we were invited out to attend a preview event for the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This is the 21st year for the Festival and Disney is making this year’s event bigger and better than ever. The 62 day long Festival starts on September 14 (That’s less than 80 days away if you’re counting!) and will run through November 14. To keep things fresh, about 47% of this year’s menu items are new or reimagined. New marketplaces include Chocolate Studio, Wine & Dine Studio, Hops and Barley, The Chew Collective, Islands of the Caribbean, and one more to be announced. New this year are special experiences that go beyond the borders of Epcot. Disney Resort experiences will take place at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. And for the first time, the festival will feature a special “Taste of Disney Springs” themed Party of the Senses on October 8. The daytime television show “The Chew” will also be returning to film a week’s worth of episodes. Event bookings open to the general public on July 21. Now that we got all of the details out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the food. We're back at Epcot - and even though its the middle of summer, one of our favorite times of the year is just around the corner. The 21st Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - September 14 - November 14, 2016. Korean-style BBQ Beef with Steamed Rice & Cucumber Kimchi - one of my favorite dishes. PJ serves up some of the Korean BBQ. Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots & Feta Cheese - new this year at The Chew Collective marketplace. Now that's a lobster roll! A New England Lobster Roll from the new Hops & Barley marketplace. Hazel serves up the Pork Tenderloin with Cannellini Bean Ragout & Zinfandel Reduction at the new Wine & Dine Studio marketplace. Bimini Twist IPA from St. Pete brewer, 3 Daughters Brewing was delicious. How about some dessert? This is the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel Sauce from the new Chocolate Studio Marketplace. And here is that truffle - fresh out of the liquid nitro. Another delicious item from The Chew Collective marketplace - Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle. This is the Peanut Butter & White Chocolate Mousse with the Greek Yogurt Vanilla Cake Soaked in Ouzo with Yogurt Whipped Cream and Pistachios - a brand new item from the Greece Marketplace. But my favorite dessert was the Quesito from the new Islands of the Caribbean marketplace. The Quesito is Puff Pastry with Sweetened Cream Cheese and Guava Sauce. It was fantastic! Thank you to Epcot for hosting us today. The Food and Wine Festival is one of our favorite events every year and we can't wait to get out there again this year. The Festival starts September 14, so mark your calendar and come hungry.
  6. Love the photos, Hanno! Thanks for sharing them. Can't believe the face I'm making on Blue Fall.
  7. Thanks for the comments! It was amazing! As far as the bug spray goes, it was highly recommended by our tour guides that we use the spray. In fact, we stopped in mid-tour to reapply. Our tour guides were very knowledgable and protective of the environment, so I feel pretty confident that they would not recommend its use if it was damaging.
  8. Last night, Jacqi and I had the opportunity to check out a Bioluminescent Kayak tour over on Florida’s Space Coast. We had heard about this phenomenon and were very anxious to see it in person. The tour takes place about an hour east of Orlando, on the Indian River Lagoon, just next to the Kennedy Space Center complex. Once we arrived, we were given our safety gear and our safety talk and we paired up and boarded our kayaks. The staff was incredibly helpful and very knowledgeable about the kayaks, the environment and the area wildlife. All participants wore glow sticks so that the staff could keep track of everyone. We headed towards a very dark, secluded spot and as we paddled the glowing effect became more and more apparent. Every bit a motion in the water – the paddles, your hands, fish leaping out of the water, even dolphins and manatees – lit up the surface. It was fantastic. We splashed around and watched streaks of light zip all around us. At times it was almost freaky how much was going on in the water in front of us. And, as a bonus, the night sky was filled with stars that are typically hidden from sight because of all of Orlando’s ambient lights. It was such a unique experience. We highly recommend making the trip out to the Space Coast. A few things to keep in mind… First, its buggy. I mean really buggy. Bring the spray. And use it a lot. There were mosquitoes everywhere. Second, you will get wet. You will have to walk through some ankle deep water and sea grass to get in and out of your kayak. Even though the paddles have splash guards, we seemed to pour a bunch of water into the boat with every stroke. My shorts were soaked in the first 10 minutes. Also, keep in mind that there is always the possibility that you might end up in the water. The guides told stories of rare experiences when kayaks were capsized by startled manatee. For that reason, know that any gear you bring - phones, cameras, electronic key fobs - may get soaked too. And finally, you’re going to be in that kayak awhile – and sometimes you really have to work those paddles to get through some current. The kayaks were pretty easy to maneuver and by the end of the tour, we were pretty good at it. But you do travel a decent distance and you will be tired at the end. Most tours last about 2 hours and there are no facilities at the launch point. But, if you keep all of this in mind, it is an amazing experience unlike anything I’ve seen before. The Bioluminescent season runs from the late summer months through October. Tours cost $36 for adults and $26 for children on Sundays and weekdays. Fridays and Saturdays are $3 more. Because these tours take place in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, only permitted guides and there tours are allowed on the water at night. For more information, visit adayawaykayaktours.com Now for the photos. Unfortunately, even though the effect is brilliant and effortless to see with the human eye, it is nearly impossible to do it justice with a photograph. It was just too dark for our cameras and they weren’t able to grab focus on anything. The PR team supplied us with one photo they were able to capture - just know that it looks even cooler in person. Bioluminescence in action. Photo provided by TW Squared. Our tour hosts. Our Kayaks await. Jacqi demonstrating the safety gear. The sun is about to set and we're ready to go.
  9. Great Report! I'm very excited to see all this in a few days. I've never seen World of Color, so I had no idea they projected onto the Mickey wheel for the show. Is that new to this version? Looking forward to the other parts of the report!
  10. Love this trip report Craig. It was a blast hanging out with you and seeing some of these parks through the eyes of a first time visitor. We can sometimes forget how awesome some of these rides are here in our backyard. Glad you liked Busch Gardens and its great to hear a first timer agree that they have a kick ass collection of coasters. And Falcon's Fury is worth the trip alone.
  11. Legoland 2015 Media Event Legoland Florida invited us out on Thursday to attend their 2015 Press Announcement. As the Legoland hotel gets closer to opening, Legoland Florida is rebranding itself as Legoland Florida Resort. The hotel opens to guests on May 15, 2015. Many of the features are similar to existing Legoland Hotels - but this one will have a few exclusive amenities. This 152-room hotel will be the first to feature VIP Suites that will allow guests the option of upgrading to an in-room character dining experience. Also exclusive to this property, the Master Model Builders Workshop will take up permanent residence in the Hotel allowing Hotel Guests the opportunity to watch and learn from Legoland's Master Model Builders. The other big announcement was the addition of the Lego Friends Heartlake City land to the theme park. This expansion will open Summer 2015 and will feature the girl-centered Lego Friends product line. The land will include a live stage show, character meet and greets with the Lego Friends, shops inside the "Heartlake Mall", and Mia's Riding Adventure, a Zamperla Disk'o Coaster themed to horse riding. This new land will be located near the front of the park behind the existing Magnolia Mansion. The full press release and photos are below. LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Sets May 15 Opening for LEGOLAND® Hotel and Announces New Land for 2015 WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (Jan. 15, 2015) – LEGOLAND® Hotel at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is officially opening May 15, 2015! The announcement came today from General Manager of LEGOLAND Hotel, Kevin Carr, during a press event at the Hotel site, located just steps away from the theme park entrance. LEGOLAND Florida Resort General Manager Adrian Jones also announced Heartlake City, the newest land based on the popular LEGO® Friends line of toys, is opening this summer. Both additions are expected to boost the local economy. Carr expects to hire 150 Model Citizens (employees) to support the Hotel. “LEGOLAND Hotel offers a unique experience unlike any other in Florida,” said Carr. “Imagine how excited children will be to wake up in a giant toy box full of LEGO bricks and to be the first to enter the theme park each day.” Jones also announced a Master Model Builder Workshop being offered exclusively to Hotel guests. “LEGOLAND Hotel is an extension of the theme park experience and the stars of our Park are our Master Model Builders,” said Jones. “We’re moving the Model Shop into our Hotel and guests will be able to learn and build with our Model Builders daily in the Master Model Builder Workshop.” Today’s event at the Resort included a hard hat tour with a behind-the-scenes look at the Hotel. Media and VIP guests were taken to one of the fifth floor suites to experience the spectacular views of Lake Eloise, the theme park with its 50 rides, shows and attractions, and the site of the future expansion, Heartlake City. “When it opens in summer of 2015, Heartlake City will be a colorful and vibrant new land offering adventures for all ages,” said Jones. “The centerpieces will include a fantastic horse-themed disc coaster called Mia’s Riding Adventure and an interactive show, ‘Friends to the Rescue’ as well as new shops inside Heartlake Mall. Between our constant expansion, the new LEGOLAND Hotel opening in May and the Water Park re-opening in March, LEGOLAND Florida Resort is definitely a multi-day destination.” To book a room, visit: LEGOLANDHotel.com. Legoland Florida is now Legoland Florida Resort Back at Legoland for the 2015 Announcements. We'll be going behind this fence today. This bellhop is the hotel's mascot and the first model to be built for it. There will be over 2000 models in the hotel and at least 8 in every room. Here's the current state of the hotel. Officially opening for guests on May 15, 2015! Exterior rendering of the finished hotel. Photo: Legoland Florida Resort The Kingdom themed room. Photo: Legoland Florida Resort The Pirate themed room. Photo: Legoland Florida Resort The pool area once completed. Photo: Legoland Florida Resort The hotel has "Disco Elevators" - dance music and disco lights in every elevator. You can almost hear it... everything is awesome... Photo: Legoland Florida Resort The Bricks Family Restaurant features buffet style dining with lower leveled food stations so that younger kids can help themselves. Hotel guests are also treated to complimentary buffet breakfasts. The Master Model Builder Workshop. Exclusive to hotel guests, kids can sign up for sessions to learn and build with the parks own Master Model Builders. This is what the interiors look like now. Before we headed into the park, this convertible pulled into the construction site with the Lego Friends... ...to announce Heartlake City at Legoland. This is the rendering for the new land featuring the Mia's Riding Adventure Coaster. This garden area behind the Magnolia Mansion will be the home of Heartlake City. That's it from Legoland. Looking forward to the new projects! (And I still have "Everything is Awesome" stuck in my head.)
  12. We had an awesome day too. I can't believe we did a full open to close day at the Studios - and we really didn't ride anything. I think the guests are going to love this event. It was just the right mix of celebrating the phenomenon that is Frozen with a bit of humor poking fun at is as well. It's is practically a park-wide overlay that will definitely create some new energy this summer. It was a very fun day and Robb captured it perfectly in his report. It's not for everyone - but most will find Frozen Summer Fun a blast. Plus there were cupcakes!!
  13. Today, Legoland Florida had us out for the grand opening of their brand new Duplo Valley. This area is an expansion of the toddler area near the front of the park. The theming was bright and colorful - perfect for Legoland Florida's younger guests. The new attractions include 2 train like rides, a kiddie splash zone, and play areas that complimented the existing Duplo Barn indoor (air-conditioned!) playground. Congratulations to Legoland on this wonderful addition. The kids on hand seemed to love it. Here is the complete press release... LEGOLAND® Florida Celebrates Opening of DUPLO ® Valley New expansion gives toddlers ages 2-5 an entirely new way to play at LEGOLAND Florida WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (May 22)— LEGOLAND® Florida today celebrated the opening of its newest expansion, DUPLO ® Valley. DUPLO Valley brings the LEGO ® DUPLO line of preschool building toys to life with new farm-themed attractions, an air-conditioned indoor play area and a water play area all geared to toddlers ages 2 to 5. “We couldn’t be more excited to officially open DUPLO Valley,” said LEGOLAND Florida General Manager Adrian Jones. “Our newest expansion gives toddlers (and parents) a completely new way to play, adding to our already fantastic lineup of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions here at LEGOLAND Florida.” Opening on May 23, park guests will find that DUPLO Valley is the ideal place to play and relax with their toddlers. New attractions coming to the expansion include DUPLO Train, DUPLO Tractor and DUPLO Splash & Play. Another key element will be the reopening of the DUPLO Barn, which features significant enhancements to allow kids to play indoors in the comfort of air conditioning. Guests can also purchase the new ‘Preschool Pass’, including weekday (Monday-Friday) admission to LEGOLAND Florida and standard parking for both one child under five and one adult for a full year at $90, plus tax. Assigned to the child, the pass allows an adult parent or guardian to attend the park with the toddler. The pass is transferrable to multiple adults in the family, allowing, for example, a mother to visit one day, and a grandparent the next, making it ideal for families to bring their little ones to LEGOLAND Florida during the week. For more information on DUPLO Valley and everything LEGOLAND Florida, please visit Florida.Legoland.com. And here are the pictures... This is the entrance to the new Duplo Valley. Park General Manager, Adrian Jones Park GM Adrian Jones is joined by a family to declare the new land open. Guests explore a colorful farm on the Duplo Tractor. The new Duplo Train. We're here at Legoland Florida! Thank you Legoland! Good to know... Duplo Splash & Play Everything was very cute, colorful and looked like a lot of fun. One final photo - not Duplo related - but I thought it was pretty cool. This Star Wars tumbler had a handle on the side that played music on a keyboard like an old music box. The Star Wars scenes were placed so that they activated the notes as it turned. Pretty cool.
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