The Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl

On one of those off-days from the parks or a rainy evening around Disney World, Florida, think about trying a Disney monorail ride….with a twist. The Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl is becoming a fun and different thing to do for adults visiting the Land of Mickey.

On a recent stay at Disney’s Saratoga Resort and Spa, my wife and I tried the monorail pub crawl for ourselves. And though we did a little research and set up a plan for the day, I’d like to share our itinerary and experience with you.

The Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl consists of stops at the three Disney resorts along the monorail route; the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary resorts. We started our day by taking a Disney bus from Disney Springs to the Polynesian Resort for a little late afternoon lunch at Capt. Cook’s poolside restaurant. The counter-service restaurant had a nice selection, and great atmosphere around one of the Polynesian’s pools.

After lunch we boarded the monorail at the Polynesian and headed for the Grand Floridian Resort for our first pub crawl stop. Though we had heard real good things about Mizner’s at the Grand Floridian, they were closed for the afternoon so Rachel and I headed for the Courtyard Bar. Set along side one of the Grand Floridian’s many pools, this location was ideal to take in our first cocktail and poolside sunshine. While my Strawberry Margarita was good and somewhat typical, Rach’s Pina Colava was sensational. This fruity spin on the Pina Colada, included red raspberry puree for a fantastic surprise taste!

Our next stop along the Monorail Pub Crawl was Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It was at the Outer Rim Bar that we found a breathtaking view of grounds from high above, and I found myself trying their version of a Pina Colava. And it didn’t disappoint. Rachel enjoyed their Bahama Mama concoction. Make it two for two! Located just off to the side of the hustle and bustle of the Contemporary’s main floor (second floor), the Outer Rim was air conditioned, had several large screen TVs, and played good music while we were there.

The final stop on our Disney World Monorail Pub Crawl was back at the Polynesian Resort. We had heard great things about Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, located on the bottom floor of the resort’s main building. As we walked through a windowless door, we entered a South Seas island environment, complete with active volcanos, shrunken heads, and a highly active wait staff. As patrons ordered their beverages, each selection would trigger the waiters or the bar itself to break into chants, rainstorms, or volcanic eruptions. Our choice was a drink called the “Uh-oa”, a drink made for two to share consisting of a variety of rums, fruit juices, and cinnamon; all of which is set on fire prior to drinking. What, you expected nothing less? And though the drink is delicious and highly recommended, the “show” that goes on inside this interactive tiki bar is well worth the visit.

Though our monorail pub crawl was over, we took the monorail one last time back to the Contemporary Resort, and visited the Disney Vacation Club’s Bay Lake Resort, located next door to the Contemporary. Once there we showed our DVC membership card and were escorted to the Top of the World Lounge for a premiere viewing experience of the Magic Kingdom’s “Happily Ever After” fireworks show from sixteen floors above. It turned out to be the perfect way to end our memorable day.

Whether traveling as a couple or with a group of family or friends, the Monorail Pub Crawl is a fun diversion from your typical Minnie-Mickey experience, and a great way to take in the many offerings of some of Disney World’s highly acclaimed resorts.

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Things to do in & around NYC during Super Bowl Week 2014

asiseeit_fayette_headshotOn Sunday, February 2nd the sports and entertainment world will be focused on the city of New York, as it plays host to Super Bowl XLVIII. Though the game will actually be played at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, NJ (home of the NY Giants & NY Jets) much of the pre-game hoopla will occur on and around the island of Manhattan. Though activities and events began during the first week of January, most of the high-profile companies as well as the Super Bowl Committee itself will open their venues during the week leading up to the big game.

The nice thing about “Super Bowl Week” is that even those who don’t have a coveted ticket to the big game can enjoy many of the free activities positioned around the city. And leave it to The Big Apple to haveNFLSB48 events galore scheduled leading up to the game. From shutting down Times Square to creating what will be known as the “Taste of the NFL”, NYC has entertainment covered for young and old alike. Here are some things to put into your planner if you are making your way to New York City during the last week of January and first weekend of February.

Cruise ship Norwegian Getaway leaves building dockThe folks at Budweiser in recent years have taken over a resort or large hotel in the Super Bowl host city and declared it the Bud Light Hotel, as it threw a week-long party for contest winners and various guests. This year Bud Light has upped the ante and gone big, real big! Instead of taking over a hotel, the beer king will be bringing in a cruise ship and calling the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier home from January 30- February 3. Located at the west end of 47th St., along the Hudson River, the Norwegian state-of-the-art cruise ship “Getaway” and US Navy icon will be the venues of meet and greets, concerts from top name artists, and over-the-top parties. Those looking to be guests in the “Super Bowl hotel” can take their chance at winning by downloading the FanZone app and taking it from there.

Jersey City will host “Football Fashion Week” with established and rising stars in the fashion industry. Former NY Giant great Carl Banks will actually be on hand to feature some of his latest designs from his company, Gillfootball-fashion-week-logo Sports. Several former NFL players and entertainers will be walking the runway in this event running from January 23-25.

For video game aficionados, The Museum of Moving Image will be the location in Astoria (Queens), as EA Sports presents an exhibition called “Madden NFL Football: 25 years and Running!” Visitors will be able to take in this interactive exhibit and see the evolution of one of the most popular sports video games of all time. 

TasteOfSB48Foodies Unite! The “Taste of the NFL” comes to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Pier 12 on Saturday, February 1st. This “foodfest” event will feature a chef from each NFL city serving their signature dish, alongside a current NFL player or legend.  So bring your hungry tastebuds and a camera for this unique celebration of sport and food. Visit http://www.TasteOfTheNFL.com for more information and get tickets.

The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ will host the Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day on Tuesday, January 28th. Tickets must be purchased prior to the day of the event at SuperBowl.com, and the event will begin at 10:30am with seats reserved.

At Chelsea Piers- Pier 60, The NFL-Celebrity Bowling Classic will take place on Saturday, February 1st. Amateur bowlers will be teamed with NFL players, members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and America’s Wounded Warriors Project in a fun for all bowling event.  Each bowler will  receive a limited edition Super Bowl XLVIII  commemorative bowling ball, pin and shirt. Participants as well as guests/spectators will be entitled to a “NY/NJ Neighborhood of Foods” buffet, soft drinks and auction. Entry fees for this event start at $200.

Starting on January 29th the “Crossroads of the World”, aka Times Square, closes down! That’s right, from 34th St. up to 47th St. on Broadway, “The Great White Way” will be transformed into “Super Bowl Boulevard”.super11n-1-web Beginning at Herald Square on 34th St. venues like the ‘Super Bowl Theater’ and the ‘NFL Rush Zone’ kick off the 13-block sports fan nirvana. On 40th St. from Noon to 5pm daily, the Autograph Stage will offer free autographs from NFL stars. Then at 8pm, the Concert Stage comes alive with some of the best talent New York has to offer. Throw on an extra layer, embrace the cold, and enjoy the show! Though photo ops will be around nearly every corner of NYC during Super Bowl Week, perhaps no one block will better serve as a perfect backdrop than that located between 43rd & 44th Streets on Broadway. 20-foot high lampposts with the Roman numerals of the previous forty-seven Super Bowls will be the perfect place to snap that picture for the photo album. The Vince Lombardi trophy will also be on display in the same area for fans to capture that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the trophy. At the northern end of Super Bowl Boulevard fans will get the chance to kick a field goal through actual NFL goalposts near the Fox Broadcast set. Other media outlets will have booths scattered through the area like CNN and the NFL Network. Every block of the Broadway tribute to the NFL will be sponsored by companies such as McDonalds, M&Ms, XBoxOne, and more.

super-bowl-boulevard-new-york Other events during Super Bowl Week will include:
-The Waldorf Astoria hosting the Super Bowl Friars Club Roast of Boomer Esiason on Thursday, January 30th.
-The world-famous Apollo Theater celebrating Black History Month and Super Bowl Week with a two-night musical tribute event on Thursday the 30th and Friday the 31st.
-Knicks and Nets NBA home games and Rangers, Islanders, Devils NHL home games throughout the week.

And oh yeah, don’t forget that the actual Super Bowl game kicks off on Sunday evening (around 6 EST), February 2nd.

Phillip Phillips: American Idol’s Next Great Thing

American Idol’s 11th season kicked off on Wednesday night with auditions from Savannah, Georgia. Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Jennifer Lopez went about their prelim business of saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the hopefuls’ trip to Hollywood. Ryan Seacrest carried the show in his typical professional manner, though this year a ‘wannabe’ Seacrest showed up and delivered the famous line, “Thisssss is AMERICAN Idol!” in impressive style.

There was the 15- year old daughter of former Cardinal pitcher, Joe Magrane, that stood six-foot tall and belted out an eight-foot tall bluesy number. Then there was the 24- year old girl who couldn’t afford a hotel room, and had been camping outside in a tent during the week-long auditions. And for the male-demographic, we were introduced to the NFL cheerleader, who not only had the “it” look, but sang pretty well too, not that the men listened that much.

Of course no first week of Idol would be complete without the absolute performance disasters. Yes, we had the young man from Africa who could barely speak English, but wanted to be the first African Country music star…really? Where are your friends and parents when you are thinking about this? And yes, we had our over-confident young men and women, that were apparently tone-deaf as well, that acted like they were heading to the electric chair when they weren’t given the famous ‘Golden Ticket’. Note to the American Idol viewer- if the pre-performance interview segment of the next contestant shows an over-the-top, diva-like person, you will likely see them bomb in the next few minutes.

Then came the last contestant of the Savannah auditions. The 20-year old son of a pawn shop owner, Phillip Phillips. Yes, so nice, they named him twice. Phillips casually walked onto the platform, wearing jeans, a plaid shirt, and sandals and shyly introduced himself with his charming southern accent. However from that point on there was nothing shy or ordinary about Phillip Phillips. He started by singing Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” with the flailing, electric energy of Joe Cocker, James Brown, and Dave Matthews all rolled into one. Though the song’s melody was still there, the arrangement was completely different and fresh. After his performance Jennifer Lopez stated that he appeared to perform with electricity running through his body. Steven Tyler just shook his head in awe, while Randy Jackson told Phillips to pick up his guitar and “give us more”. It was at this point that most of America knew that we were watching a star being born right before our very eyes. Phillips strapped on his guitar and jumped into his acoustic version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. It was one of those ‘goosebump moments’ when you knew you were experiencing something special. His sound was again very Dave Matthews-like, his confidence years ahead of his time. Phillip Phillips had performed his amazing rendition of “Thriller” in pure superstar fashion.

Obviously it’s far too early to tell if Phillips will win this season of American Idol, but there is no doubt that his father should be looking for more help down at the family pawn shop, because his son Phillip is going to be to busy in recording studios and concert venues to work there anymore.

Food Network ‘Unwraps’ Summer Fun TV

So it’s a summer night, you’ve just finished watching the nightly news or a rerun of Seinfeld or Friends, and you ask yourself, ‘Is there anything worth watching that is fun, and maybe even educational at the same time?’ Well, try turning to the Food Network for a surprising change of pace.

Throughout the week Unwrapped airs in half-hour segments. Hosted by Marc Summers, Unwrapped takes you for a behind-the-scenes look at the wonderful world of food. From snack foods to gourmet restaurants, each episode takes a look at one niche of the food world, in three or four video segments.

In recent shows Unwrapped explored the world of soda pop, cookies, amusement parks, and fast food. Watch to see how Mountain Dew got its start, and how it’s manufactured and distributed around the world. View another episode and learn about national conventions that are held annually for amusement park owners to test and buy new food products, such as deep-fried Oreos or the latest line of Dip-n-Dots.

Quite often the show will be theme-based, depending on the season of the year. At Halloween time you can see how those childhood-favorite wax fangs are made on Halloween Unwrapped. During Easter season you can watch Easter Unwrapped to see how those always-popular marshmallow Peeps are made. And most recently the show examined the history of the hotdog.

Unwrapped is guided by Summers from segment to segment, usually from an old-fashioned 50’s soda parlor. He is quite personable and always quick-witted; not afraid to toss out predictably corny puns at the drop of a hat.

So if you’re tired of watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns, and not interested in the latest faux jewelry on the Shopping Network, channel-surf your way to the Food Network or foodnetwork.com and take in the latest Unwrapped episode. You may end up making it a weekly or even nightly part of your viewing or DVR-ing schedule. Currently, Unwrapped airs on Monday nights at 8pm, with reruns airing all over the schedule.

EA Sports release Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters

The Augusta National Golf Club has long been viewed as the mecca of modern-day golf. Sure you have St. Andrews across the pond, and the breathtaking panorama of Pebble Beach, but there has always been something magical about Augusta, home of The Masters golf tournament. And for decades Augusta National has only allowed a select few to actually play its course; and that may never change. But what we have to celebrate in the golf world this week is the release of EA Sports’ annual release of the Tiger Woods golf video game. This year Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters will feature the prestigious Augusta National as one of its courses. So while most of us mortals will not be able to actually ever play the famed course in person, the wonderful world of technology and EA Sports will let us experience it through the virtual world.

I just finished reviewing my copy of Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters for the Nintendo Wii platform, and it truly is spectacular. Though I mainly got the game for the Augusta National feature, I am happily surprised with the new features and incredible graphics. The laser scanning technology that the folks at EA Sports used to create the Augusta course is “eye”-mazing. This technology allows players to experience every ripple of water at Amen Corner, every whispering pine, and every twist and turn of the famed-Georgia greens.

Available for PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, and Wii, Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters doesn’t throw you on the course by yourself. New to the game this year is the use of a caddy to help you analyze your next shot, right down to the direction of the Augusta breeze and break in the green. With the game’s Career Mode players can progress through the game at their own pace, saving their games as they go. Players can also select to play as one of nearly two dozen PGA tour professionals.

Aside from the spectacular graphics and playability of the new Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters, EA Sports has added long time CBS Sports announcer (and former college roommate of PGA pro Fred Couples) Jim Nantz as the voice of the game this year.  Also new to this year’s release is the ability to replay the great moments at The Masters and attempt to match Tiger’s four winning tournament scores against the champion himself.

Though I can’t imagine myself getting tired of playing the Augusta National course, after waiting for over a decade for this day to come, Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters does feature other classic layouts such as the Atlanta Athletic Club, the Royal Melbourne Club (in Australia), and yes, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews as well.

Though Tiger Woods himself may be in a slight slump, EA Sports once again proves that it is at the top of the golf gaming world with their latest release Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters.

Vacation Destination: Myrtle Beach, SC

For decades northerners have been flocking to the sandy ocean shores of the Atlantic coast to escape the chill of early spring. Over the years one of the most popular destinations has been Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

Getting to Myrtle Beach is rather easy these days. Flights from Central NY get vacationers there in about 3 hours for around $250, while others may choose to endure the 15-hour drive, sometimes stopping in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, or Washington DC to break up the trip. 

When finally at Myrtle Beach, the stretch of beachfront hotels seems endless, the restaurants infinite, and golf courses plentiful. Never can anyone claim that there’s nothing to do while visiting the Myrtle Beach area. The “Grand Strand”, as it is called, runs from North Myrtle, south to Surfside Beach. The strip along the coast is known as Ocean Boulevard, with the main drag being Kings Highway. Both roads contain restaurants, stores, and family entertainment galore.

 Miniature golf courses are seemingly around each corner, and touristy attractions overflow block after block. Just a few blocks from the ocean sits two real neat attractions. One is Barefoot Landing, containing unique shops, attractions and dining experiences. When I last visited the Myrtle Beach area I enjoyed a great afternoon dining experience at T-Bonz Gill & Grill. The House of Blues, Dick’s Last Resort, and Joe’s Crab Shack are just a few of the other great places to eat. The second neat tourist ‘must visit’ is found at Broadway at the Beach. With over 100 shops, 20 restaurants, 10 nightclubs, and 3 on-site hotels, Broadway at the Beach is the place to be when staying in Myrtle Beach. With a half-dozen themed neighborhoods meandering around the Broadway Cove, even window-shopping can become a fun experience. Ripley’s Aquarium, the IMAX Theater, and the NASCAR Speedpark can all be found scattered throughout Broadway at the Beach. I was especially impressed with the Ripley’s Aquarium. The ability to become emerged in what seems to be an underwater world is amazing. The glass viewing tunnel is spectacular! To your left, right, and even above you, there are sharks of all sizes within inches of you. For food, Broadway at the Beach has it all. During my day long visit there I had lunch at Bill Murray’s Caddyshack, dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and cooled off at the Hard Rock Café. 

When not at the ocean, Barefoot Landing, or Broadway at the Beach, try visiting one of Myrtle Beach’s most popular tourist stops. Studebaker’s has long been a favorite destination of many tourists. Great food, atmosphere, and music has always been the draw to this local landmark. Other great attractions not to miss in the area are the Carolina Opry, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, and the Carolina Prime Outlets. 

Finding a place to stay at Myrtle Beach is never a problem. Ocean Blvd. has miles of beachfront hotels; many with beach access and elaborate pool areas. During a recent stay I was quite pleased with my accommodations at the Sandcastle at South Beach Hotel. The room was clean, it had an exterior entrance, and waking every morning to the roar of the Atlantic Ocean was something close to paradise. 

With warm temperatures being felt from March through November, Myrtle Beach, SC is a perfect vacation spot for those that are looking for something a little different than the typical Florida vacation. From dozens of golf courses to hundreds of attractions, there’s always something to do at Myrtle Beach. For more information about vacationing in Myrtle Beach, visit http://www.discovermyrtlebeach.com.

Jagger Steals 53rd Grammys

On Sunday night (Febraury 13, 2011) the best of the best in the music biz gathered in Los Angeles for the 53rd Grammy Awards. The night started with a diva-studded tribute to the “Queen of Soul”, Aretha Franklin, who was recovering from an illness back at home in Detroit. As the evening continued the show was filled with great performances. In fact, viewers often had to remind themselves that they were watching an awards show, and not a ‘Grammy-palooza’. Three cheers for this year’s producers of the show for giving us more ‘substance’ than ‘style’. However if you wanted style, there was Lady Gaga and CeeLo. We’ll get to them in a bit.

Acts such as Lady Antebellum, Muse, and Bruno Mars all performed their hits to near perfect form, while Usher and Justin Bieber got the crowd to their feet with an inspiring duet. Their performance began with a video clip of Bieber performing for Usher a few years ago, then moving into Bieber’s acoustic version of “Baby, Baby” .

Without a doubt the night was a celebration of Lady Antebellum winning for their smash hit “Need You Now” and the Grammy organizers turning the show into more performances and less ‘blah, blah talk’. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry turned in what would have been the performances of the evening on any other Grammy night, but it was first-time performer, Mick Jagger, (that’s right, I said, “FIRST-time performer”) that took the designer dresses and tuxes by storm. His tribute to the late “King of Rock ‘n Roll”, Solomon Burke, was a masterpiece! His rendition of Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” got the entire audience on their feet, and then at the end, with a 10-second pause, he and the band continued for another minute or two to the crowd’s delight!

Though the 53rd Grammy’s may go down as one of the most memorable in quite some time, the evening did have a few surprises and slip ups. In the surprise of the night, Justin Bieber did not win the New Artist of the Year award, That went to Esperanza Spalding. However, to all you ‘Bieber Fever-ites”, don’t worry too much about Justin. The opening weekend of his concert/movie, “Never Say Never”, raked in over $30 million! Lady Gaga and CeeLo had the most flamboyant performances of the night, with Gaga hatching from an egg, and CeeLo “G-rating” up his “R-rated” hit “Forget You” in an outfit that could only be described as a new millenium version of Sir Elton John. In the ‘Ooops” category the nominees were Bob Dylan and the low-mic volume during his performance (however after they turned it up, maybe there was a reason for it being down), Christina Aguilera’s near plunge off the stage after the show’s opening performance (she has Jennifer Hudson, and her smokin’ hot Weight Watchers body, to thank for catching her), and Glee stand-out, Lea Michele, who flubbed up her lines during her presentation with Super Bowl stand-out, Clay Matthews.

And though Katy Perry was outstanding in her six-minute performance of a Valentine’s Day themed “Teenage Dream”, there is no doubt that the buzz around Monday’s watercoolers will be Mick Jagger and the stellar performance he pulled off at this year’s 53rd Grammy’s.