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26
Jan 15

7 New Things Coming to the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Mickey Topiary Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Spring 2015 will burst onto the scene at Walt Disney World Resort with a fresh take on lush gardens, inspired flavors and lively entertainment during the 75-day Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 4th – May 17th.

Here are some of the new additions to the festival this year:

Ana and Elsa Topiaries

“Frozen” will melt hearts at the park’s World Showcase Plaza: Disney’s first Ana and Elsa topiaries will appear in a garden vignette from the Oscar-winning film’s finale. The garden will pop with color as the icy “Frozen” world, illustrated with white and silver blooms of delphinium, alyssum and other flowers, transforms to a brilliant spring palette featuring Gerbera daisies, petunias, Sweet William and other flora.

Chip & Dale Topiaries

Other brand-new Disney character topiaries will be Chip and Dale taking a turn in two whimsical Epcot front-entrance “Goofy About Spring” floral vignettes. Topiary Goofy, Daisy and Pluto will be in on the fun.

New Menu Items in the Outdoor Kitchens

Fresh new menu items will debut at the festival’s 11 Outdoor Kitchens. The new Bonitas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions will showcase treats like Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and Seafood Ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado. Guests can sip the new La Tizana, a non-alcoholic punch finished with fresh fruit that can become an adult beverage with a splash of Santa Teresa RHUM Orange Liqueur. For the third festival year running, guests can taste garden and spring inspired tapas-sized food and beverages, see how the ingredients are grown and have their complimentary Garden Passports stamped as they stroll the World Showcase promenade.

10 New Gardens

Ten new gardens will surprise guests around every corner. Guests will discover a new healing-and-health garden, a pepper garden, a dinosaur-plant garden, a Southwest desert garden and a Shakespeare garden, among others, each designed with a storytelling element.

Butterflies on the Go Exhibit

Guests can follow the story of the Monarch butterfly’s epic journey across the continent and see butterflies emerge from their chrysalises to flit from plant to plant at the Butterflies On the Go exhibit in Future World.

Flower Power is Rebranded to The Garden Rocks Concert Series

The Garden Rocks Concert Series will keep crowds rockin’ every Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the park’s America Gardens Theatre stage. Little River Band, Pablo Cruise, Gin Blossoms and Village People join the lineup of top bands representing four decades of pop music. See the complete lineup here: 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival {Flower Power} Garden Rocks Concert Dates and Times

Special Weekend Lineups

Special weekend festivities are slated: March 13-17 Spring into Spring Weekend with a nod to St. Patrick’s Day; March 27-29 Art in the Garden Weekend with outdoor art displays; April 17-22 Earth Day Weekend with nature activities for kids and families, Disney’s Animal Kingdom specialists April 17-19, and a sand-sculpture creation to showcase Disneynature’s soon-to-be released “Monkey Kingdom” film; and April 24-26 Florida Fresh Weekend featuring a bounty of edibles and other plants that thrive in Florida.

Disney gardeners will lead weekend how-to Gardening Seminars and workshops at the Festival Center, where guests also can pick up signature festival merchandise.
When the sun sets, illuminated topiary and play gardens will glow brightly for an after-dark festival experience.

As park guests nibble on inspired Outdoor Kitchen goodies, they can wander among multiple themed gardens and children’s play areas. Nearly 100 expertly crafted topiary characters, including Snow White, Bambi, Mickey Mouse and Peter Pan, will animate the landscape when Epcot transforms to a vibrant wonderland of sweeping floral beds and exhibits. Children can clamber around play gardens featuring state-of-the-art climbing equipment and hands-on activities in Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden and The Living Desert Road Rally Garden with Mater and Lightning McQueen topiaries.

A Healing & Health Garden near The Land pavilion in Future World will display ancient medicinal plants including garlic, aloe, chamomile, fennel, mint and others. Plants used to develop modern prescriptions will be papaya, periwinkle, turmeric, yew, thyme and valerian. And the new Shakespeare Garden at the United Kingdom pavilion will feature roses to represent Romeo and Juliet. Also in the garden: rosemary from Hamlet, lavender from The Winter’s Tale, plus representations featuring poppy, lily, honeysuckle and willow.

Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms will add to the floral splendor of the park’s landscape. At least 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.

For more information about the 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639).  The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.


20
Jan 15

10 Reasons to Book Your Next runDisney Race Vacation at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort King One Bedroom Suite

Last weekend I completed my second Dopey Challenge at the Walt Disney World Resort. If you’re not familiar with the Dopey Challenge, it’s a 48.6 mile 4-day race challenge that consists of a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon completed on successive days. For the half marathon and full marathon portions of the race weekend I called the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort home. The Waldorf and attached sister property, the Hilton Bonnet Creek are my “go-to” race resorts for runDisney events. Here’s why…

1. Complementary Race Transportation

There are very few non-Disney owned and operated hotels that are going to offer free race transportation to your runDisney race start line and then back to the resort at the finish of the race. (Transportation departs from the attached Hilton Bonnet Creek)

2. 10% off of your food and beverage purchases at 12 locations on property

waldorf astoria orlando resort bonnet creek walt disney world hotel bull and bear short rib

With 12 restaurants and lounges spread out between the Waldorf Astoria and attached Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort there is something to satisfy the strongest runger you might have.

The resorts offer up Marathon Weekend exclusive carb load pasta dinners at the Hilton Bonnet Creek’s La Luce as well as Harvest Bistro.

This trip I was sharing a room with a fellow runner with a very restrictive food allergy. The evening before the full marathon she was able to order a room service dinner of baked chicken and a plain baked potato. This is something that she eats before every race. I jokingly refer to it as prison food since it’s so plain but it’s what works for her. The resort doesn’t even offer a baked potato at any of their restaurants but room service was happy to accommodate her request and baked one special for her. Now that’s first class service! The following evening, after she ran the full marathon, she was able to pig out on delicious gluten free bread and pasta at La Luce in the Hilton.

3. Free Race Day Morning Breakfast

Bonnet Creek Hilton Marathon Weekends Runner Breakfast at Walt Disney World

The complementary spread the resort put’s out for runners on race day morning is extensive and includes coffee, tea, bottled water, energy bars, muffins, bananas, oatmeal, granola bars and bagels with spreads.

4. A Chance to win a free return weekend stay

waldorf astoria orlando resort bonnet creek walt disney world hotel hilton lasy river pool

Hotel guests who are running during Marathon Weekends can join the “Runner’s Challenge” where they will have a chance to win a return weekend stay at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek by predicting their expected finish time. Ballots are given out in your runner welcome bag upon checkin. You simply fill out your anticipated finish time and drop it in the ballot box on your way to the free race transportation. For the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend one winner was selected from the half marathon and one from the full marathon as well.

5. A Special Marathon Welcome Amentity

runDisney Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World - Runners Amenity

Feel like a real VIP when you check into your room!

6. A Special Marathon Rate for Runners

Rack rates start at $149 a night at Hilton and $279 a night at the Waldorf, but during Marathon Weekends a special Runner Rate is offered (based on availability). The quoted rate is exclusive of taxes, resort fee and daily parking and/or valet fee.

7. Text the valet for you car

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Marathon Weekends

Seriously! This was a dream after running 48.6 miles. To know that I wouldn’t have to park my car and walk a mile to my hotel room. Just zip up to the front of the resort and let valet handle everything else. At 3 am when I needed my car delivered to leave for my race I simply texted valet and when we walked downstairs there my vehicle was waiting for me.

8. Huge Soaking Tub for an Ice Bath

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Marathon Weekends Ice Bath

Waldorf bathrooms, besides being ridiculously spacious, are equipped with both a stand up shower and huge soaking tub. Fill that puppy up with ice and recover like a pro.

9. Complementary Adult Beverage Vouchers

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Marathon Weekends Drink Voucher

Upon check-in at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort you will receive two complementary adult beverage vouchers. What better way to toast your successful runDisney race finish than a nice glass of wine in Peacock Alley Lounge.

10. Employees are top notch

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekends

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The service at both Bonnet Creek Resorts is impeccable. There’s a reason that the Hilton Bonnet Creek received  the Connie Award, Hilton Worldwide’s highest achievement for an individual property, in 2014. The singular award given by the global hospitality company annually honors the best of the best within the Hilton brand. And Hilton Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort are definitely the best when it comes to their treatment of runners during Marathon Weekends!

Ready to book here for your next Walt Disney World Racecation? Here’s the skinny on this resort.

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort
WaldorfAstoriaOrlando.com
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
Orlando, FL 32821
407-597-5500

I was a guest of the Waldorf Astoria and was provided with complementary accommodations over the race weekend. I was not required to write this post and no monetary compensation has been received. If you click the link above and book a room I will earn a small commission to keep my servers running. And as always, all opinions are my own.


19
Jan 15

B Resort AVEDA Spa at Walt Disney World – The Place to Get a Massage After a runDisney Race

Today we have a guest post from my girlfriend Heather who just completed her first full marathon at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishment. Take it away Heather…

B Resort Aveda Spa Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Last weekend I had a fantastic time running my first marathon… the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon. While planning the trip my friend suggested we get massages the day after the marathon. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to do this. My only past experiences with massages was with physical therapy, and I most certainly did not enjoy those. I thought since I was running my first marathon, I may as well try my first relaxing massage.

We had massages at the B Resort & Spa in their B Indulged® by AVEDA Spa and wellness center. I chose to have the 50 minute Runner’s Recharge Massage. Usually the massage costs $135 , but during race weekend they had a special price of $90.

When entering the spa we were warmly greeted and shown to the locker and changing area. Inside the lockers were velvety, plush super soft robes and nice salon sandals to put on. I melted into the robe and wished I had one at home. We were told to meet our massage therapist back out in the hallway after we changed. I noticed as I was changing there was a large private shower stocked with Aveda shampoo, conditioner and body wash. There was a sink area with blow dryer, vent brushes, razors, shaving lotion, tooth brushes, toothpaste and mouth rise. Everything you would need to freshen up after a massage.

B Resort Aveda Spa Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

For me, race weekends are packed with activities and I knew I wouldn’t have time to enjoy theses amenities. I made a mental note to enjoy them next time, if I came back for another massage. I met my female (you could request if you wanted a male or female) massage therapist in the hall and was shown to a nice dimly lit room. The first part was a short warm foot soak and rub. Then she told me to do the following after she left the room: place my robe on a warmer and lay on the warmed bed in between the sheets and blanket on my stomach. After I was snug in my warm bed (which felt wonderful since it was cold out) there was a rap on the door and she came back in.

First to be massaged were the backs of my legs, one at a time. Only the leg that was being worked on was uncovered. The rest of me was tucked in and warm. She did use the hot stones on my legs. At first the stones were too warm, but after they cooled off a bit I really did end up enjoying them. Then my back, shoulders and neck were massaged. When she was finished there I was covered back up and asked to roll over. Then one at a time the front of my legs were uncovered and massaged, the same thing with my arms. At no time during the massage did I feel overly exposed or uncomfortable. Before I knew it, the 50 minute massage I wasn’t sure I was going to like or not was over all too soon! Did I enjoy it? Absolutely! I’d recommend this massage to anyone who may not be sure about getting one like I was.

B Resort Aveda Spa Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

During the massage the massage therapist used the Aveda Active Composition oil for sore muscles. I really liked it and bought a bottle to use at home. Princess Half Marathon Weekend is coming up and if you are looking for a way to give yourself some non Disney royal pampering, I’d encourage you to consider a massage at the B Resort & Spa in their B Indulged® by AVEDA Spa and wellness center.

B Resort and Spa
1905 Hotel Plaza Boulevard
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
407.828.2828
BHotelsandResorts.com/WaltDisneyWorld

Big thanks to B Resort and Spa Lake Buena Vista for providing Heather with a complementary massage for the purpose of this review. While the spa treatment was complementary all opinions are Heather’s own.


16
Jan 15

2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival {Flower Power} Garden Rocks Concert Dates and Times

Taylor Dayne Epcot Concert 2015

Performances are at America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the 2015 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (March 4 to May 17) and are included with Epcot admission. Here is this year’s lineup (subject to change without notice):

March 6-8: Gin Blossoms “Hey Jealousy”
March 13-15: Pablo Cruise “Love Will Find a Way”
March 20-22: En Vogue “Free Your Mind”
March 27-29: Starship “We Built This City”
April 3-5: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”
April 10-12: Village People “Y.M.C.A.”
April 17-19: Jon Secada “Just Another Day”
April 24-26: The Guess Who “These Eyes”
May 1-3: Taylor Dayne “Tell It to My Heart”
May 8-10: Little River Band “Lady”
May 15-17: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am”


15
Jan 15

What Were Musicians Hayley Williams and Chad Gilbert Celebrating at Walt Disney World?

Musicians Hayley Williams and Chad Gilbert Celebrate Their Engagement at Disney World

Yesterday Hayley Williams, lead vocalist of Paramore, and Chad Gilbert, lead guitarist of New Found Glory, posed with Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb” characters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The couple visited the theme park to celebrate their recent engagement.