Posts Tagged With: Orlando

Funky Bananas Diner

Bananas Diner

TEDDY’s RATING: 

After taking in a show at the Orlando Fringe Festival, I thought it appropriate to take in a meal at Bananas Diner, near downtown Orlando. Why was it appropriate? Well, the shows at the Fringe Festival and the atmosphere at Bananas are kind of the same: funky, off-the-wall, unusual to say the least.

Bananas DineBananas calls itself a “modern American diner.” I don’t know if I would say that. They do have a lot of comfort food on their menu like burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, soups, ribs, chicken and waffles and their ever-changing macaroni and cheese which is different based on seasonal ingredients. They also have breakfast all day which includes biscuits and gravy, pancakes, waffles, eggs benedict, omelets, even Spam and eggs and their unique stuffed French toast coated with Rice Crispies and stuffed with strawberries and cream cheese.

The décor isn’t your traditional diner décor. Mainly because this place is owned and operated by drag queens. Yep, drag queens. (Another reason why it was appropriate to visit there after the Fringe.) The walls are decorated with huge poster-size photos of “women.” They even have drag shows at different French Toasttimes throughout the week and late night on weekends, the “girls” are servers. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and our server (not a drag queen) wasn’t that great. It wasn’t very busy in there, yet it took a long time to get the food. The waiter was friendly at first, but then became kind of aloof, which was odd.

I had the chicken and waffles which was good, but the chicken wasn’t very tender. Bananas is supposed to have amazing milk shakes, but that day they only had strawberry ice cream, so choices were very limited. You are also supposed to get complimentary cotton candy at the end of your meal. We were not offered any.  We’re giving this 3 paws instead of 2 only because of its uniqueness.

Bananas Diner is open Monday through Thursday 9am-12 midnight and Friday and Saturday 24 hours closing at midnight on Sunday.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

http://bananasdiner.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Orlando Fringe Festival

Orlando Fringe Festival

TEDDY’s RATING: 

The Orlando Fringe Festival has been held for 22 years now and I have never been before. Just another event in Orlando I had yet to discover. But now that I have, I definitely plan to return. Come to find out, the Orlando Fringe is the longest running Fringe Festival in the US.

Posters of ShowsMore than 20 years ago, I visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. I loved it. Plays, performances, comedy acts, you name it, they had it, and lots and lots of it. (So, why did I not attend the Orlando Fringe Festival in all this time? I’ll never know!)

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival started in 1947 when a group of performers, who were not part of the official Edinburgh International Festival, decided to put on their own performances in empty store fronts, basements, anywhere they could find space. They were staged “on the Fringe” and the idea was a huge success, now making the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the largest festival in the world.

The 14-day festival in Orlando, like in Scotland, offers all types of performances for all types of ages, and all of it uncensored. So, keep that in mind when choosing shows. They do have ratings Shakespeare Centeron each. In the beginning, the festival took place in empty storefronts, but now it takes place in lovely Loch Haven Park, utilizing the Shakespeare Center and other buildings.

Since this was my first year going to the Fringe, I chose two performances to see out of the hundreds offered. Like in Edinburgh, you kind of have to make your choices based on limited descriptions of each. (In Scotland, I made my choices based on titles, some of which had nothing to do with the actual content of the show.) I was, however, able to find more info about each online.

Jett Backpack

Jett Backpack and the Battle at the End of the Universe:

The Earth has been kidnapped and it’s up to dashing Jett Backpack and his crew to save the day! This comedy sci-fi play had fun costumes and props and over the top B-movie acting that made it quite entertaining. I also liked the references to Star Trek and Star Wars, including the pre-show audio of William Shatner singing David Bowie’s “Major Tom,” an all-time classic.

The Mud Flappers Variety Hour:

They billed themselves as “an entire hour of music, comedy and vaudevillian antics, combining music and sketch comedy into a spectacular never before seen on stage or screen.”  Okay. Why not give it a go? I watched their music video online and really liked their sound and I wasn’t disappointed by the music. Plus, I Mud Flappersliked the fact that they were a local band from Lake Mary, Florida. The variety part, short films and sketches, were not as great, but some of them were clever and amusing. And there was some unexpected full frontal male nudity. One of the lead singers came out wearing only shoes, socks, a bow tie and his banjo, and strummed a song about liking to sing in the nude. And the banjo revealed more than it concealed. This is why they rate the shows. They really are uncensored.

Ticket prices ranged from free to about $11.00, all of it going to the performers. (The Fringe itself makes money from selling mandatory Fringe buttons to each patron.)

I wonder what next year’s Fringe will offer. I’m anxious to find out and will definitely check out more performances.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

http://orlandofringe.org/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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The Architecture of EPCOT

Japanese Torii

TEDDY’s RATING: 

For those of you who have been following my blog for the past year, (Wow! A year already. Thank you to everyone!) you know that my favorite Walt Disney World theme park is EPCOT. And my favorite part of EPCOT is World Showcase. I’ve always loved to travel and around World Showcase you can visit 10 foreign countries all in one afternoon.

To pay tribute to those countries around the lagoon and to give you a taste of what those countries are really like, the Disney Imagineers did a beautiful job of recreating the architecture of each country when they designed the different pavilions. I’ve gathered some photos from both EPCOT and the countries to give you a comparison. EPCOT photos on the left, real places on the right.

Canada is patterned after a 19th century French chateau in Quebec City.

Canada Pavilion            Canada Quebec City

The toy store in the United Kingdom pavilion is designed to look like Hampton Court Castle.

UK Toy Store    Hampton Court Castle

And, of course, there’s Paris, France’s iconic Eiffel Tower.

France Pavilion  Eiffel Tower

Morocco features a replica of the Koutoubia Minaret in Marrakesh.

Morocco pavilion            Minaret in Marrakesh

Japan’s pagoda is representative of many pagodas of the Far East.

Japan Pavilion           Pagoda in Japan

The US pavilion’s colonial-style was inspired by Independence Hall, Boston’s Old State House, Jefferson’s Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg.

American Adventure      Independence Hall

Italy looks just like the Doges Palace in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

Italy Pavilion     Italy Doges Palace

Germany’s architecture pays homage to the German town square, or Platz, from the 16th century.

Germany Pavilion   German village

The centerpiece of China is the Temple of Heaven. The original is in Beijing.

China pavilion            Temple of Heaven Beijing

Norway harkens back to the days of Vikings and includes a Stave Church.

Norway pavilion            Stave Church

And Mexico was designed to look like the Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl.

Mexico pavilion            Aztec temple

I’m sure a lot of people don’t really consider the architecture of the theme parks, but when these buildings were designed, as with all the buildings at Walt Disney World, a lot of thought was put into them to make them as realistic as possible, giving park guests a truly immersive experience.

Dates of Visit:  Various

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/epcot/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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The New Fantasyland

Prince Eric's Castle

TEDDY’s RATING: 

I know that this is old news. So many people have already posted about the opening of the new Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. But I wanted to wait a while before heading over to check it out, wait for the crowds to die down a bit.

The Magic Kingdom has been open for 41 years (Wow!) and this is the largest expansion it has ever undergone. Fantasyland will now be twice its original size, now 21 acres. It was built on the site of the original 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction.

The new Fantasyland is opening in stages. This first stage includes the Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus.

In the Enchanted Forest, you’ll be immersed in the worlds of the Disney films Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. The centerpiece of the Enchanted Forest is the Beast’s Castle, high atop the mountain. Gaston’s Tavern, Bonjour Village Gifts and the Be Our Guest Restaurant are also in the Beauty and the Beast area.

Beast's Castle          Be Our Guest Restaurant

The Be Our Guest Restaurant has three unique dining rooms, all featuring themes from Beauty and the Beast. This restaurant serves French-inspired cuisine, like salad Nicoise, croque monsieur and French onion soup. It is also the first restaurant in the Magic Kingdom to serve alcohol.

Attractions within the Enchanted Forest are Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid, where you board giant clamshells and ride through Ariel’s world; Ariel’s Grotto, where you can meet all the characters from The Little Mermaid; and Enchanted Tales with Belle, a doorway into the story of Belle and the Beast.

Ariel's Grotto          Gaston's Tavern

Storybook Circus is now where you can find The Barnstormer roller coaster and the new and improved Dumbo ride. There are actually two Dumbo rides now, one that goes clockwise and the other counter-clockwise.

Mine train artwork

The next stage of the new Fantasyland, opening in 2013, will include Princess Fairytale Hall where you’ll be able to meet all the Disney princesses. And then, in 2014, you can experience the thrills of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a roller coaster that swings side-to-side while the train is in motion.

Dates of Visit:  December 2012

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/new-fantasyland/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Happy 30th Anniversary, EPCOT

TEDDY’s RATING: 

I’ve posted before that my favorite of the four Walt Disney World theme parks is EPCOT. There are lots of reasons, but mostly because you can travel around the world, visiting 11 countries all in one day. When EPCOT first opened 30 years ago, I never thought I’d still be visiting the park today, having just as much fun there as I did the very first time I went.

Back in 1982, before EPCOT even opened, you could take the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to EPCOT’s construction site to get a sneak peak of what was to come. At that time, it was the largest construction project on the face of the Earth. Back then, the park gave out a full color artist’s rendering book with artwork depicting each pavilion and attraction. I still have that book and have included photos from it here.

        

        

It’s very cool to look at it and see how the park turned out. It’s pretty much as the Imagineers envisioned. Although, some attractions never made it past the “coming soon” stage like World Showcase pavilions for Israel, Africa and Spain. (Africa is represented by a refreshment station, but is of course a huge part of Animal Kingdom now.)

EPCOT is an acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” Although it’s not called that anymore, it describes Walt Disney’s original vision for the site that is now the entire Walt Disney World Resort. He envisioned a community of the future, even before the Magic Kingdom was built. But after his death, the company decided to take another direction and give EPCOT a feeling more like a World’s Fair.

So, here we are approaching October 1, 2012, when EPCOT will celebrate its 30th anniversary. I do admit that some of the attractions are a bit outdated, but they are refurbishing and reimagining new attractions all the time and I’m sure will continue to do so.

Card Walker, the CEO of Walt Disney World at the time of EPCOT’s opening, said at the park’s dedication, “May EPCOT Center entertain, inform, inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world.”

I hope EPCOT has done that at least a little bit. To me, it’s more than a theme park. It’s an opportunity to learn about different cultures through the people, the music, the food; to look at the future and see something positive. Okay, that may sound corny. But for sure, I always have a fun time when I visit EPCOT.

Happy Anniversary!

Dates of Visit:  Various from 1982 until present

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Giddy Up to the Apopka Food Truck Roundup

TEDDY’s RATING: 

Rustle up some tasty vittles at the Apopka Food Truck Roundup!

The food truck craze has really exploded all across the country. You can sample all types of food in one place. Kind of like a traveling food court. I’ve even toyed with the idea of opening up one myself. Teddy’s Tantalizing Treats?  Hmmm.

Anyway, the Apopka Food Truck Roundup takes place the first Thursday of every month at Kit Land Nelson Park in downtown Apopka, Florida from 5:30pm to 9pm. This food truck event has been so successful that in August they’ll be celebrating their 1st birthday.

Several of the food trucks are regulars at the Roundup and others take turns making an appearance. Here are the trucks that were there when we went:

Burger Culture, Sunset Ice, TJ’s Seafood Shack, The Crooked Spoon, Monsta Lobsta, Yum Yum Cupcakes, Brisket Bus, Jimmy’s Meatballs, Kerri Out, Fat Tortillas, Korean BBQ Taco Box, Big Wheel Truck, The Crepe Company, Shipyard Brewing.

       

Each of them has their own Facebook page and you can follow them on Twitter so you know where to find them each day or weekend. Some have website, some even do catering.

Here’s the food that we tried:

The Crooked Spoon: Macaroni & Cheese, with bacon, yellow and red peppers, fresh basil and crumb topping.
The Brisket Bus: Pulled brisket sandwich with cole slaw.
TJ’s Seafood Shack: Fish & Chips.
The Crepe Company: Red, White and Blue Crepe (strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream).
Sunset Ice: Banana and strawberry Italian ice.

And we rounded off the meal with half a dozen cupcakes from Yum Yum Cupcakes: Root Beer Boom Boom, Orange Cream Dream, The Ballad of Churro, Peanut Butter Choco-Rama, Red Velvet and Lady Bird (gluten-free hummingbird cake).

Everything was very good, especially the cupcakes. Of the six, there wasn’t one that I didn’t like, but my favorites were Root Beer Boom Boom and Peanut Butter Choco-Rama.

I do have to say that the prices were a bit steep ($8.50 for the mac and cheese, $13.00 for the six cupcakes), but you’re paying for the experience. And it was a fun experience. There was live jazz music. The city sets up tables and chairs, which a lot of other food truck sites don’t do. We got there early before there were any long lines. Food is made fresh to order, so you should be prepared to wait. And even though most trucks take credit cards, it’s faster if you have cash.

So, why not lasso a great meal at the next Apopka Food Truck Roundup? But get there early, before the stampede!!

Dates of Visit:  July 5, 2012

http://www.facebook.com/ApopkaFoodTruckRoundUp

http://www.apopka.net/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Tops in Topiaries

TEDDY’s RATING: 

Every year I love to go to the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. 2012 marks the 19th year of the festival and I think I’ve been going since the beginning. Though there are many facets of the festival that I like, I think the marvelous topiaries are at the top of my list.

This year’s show features over 100 topiaries, 75 of which are Disney characters. This is the largest collection of Disney character topiaries in the world (of course it is, it’s at Walt Disney World) Now, I didn’t count all of them, so we’ll have to take Disney’s word for it. Here are just a few:

                    

                   

                  

There is always a brand new showcase topiary display at the park’s entrance. This year it’s Fantasia. This scene is actually made up of 28 topiaries including three ostriches, two hippos, eight mushrooms and of course Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Disney topiary specialists created this display with both new materials and recycled pieces from past years.

                  

The topiaries are made up of many different plant materials including grasses, mosses, lichens, ficus, air plants, palm fibers and various flowers like begonias and impatiens.

                

               

              

The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs March 7th through May 20th and is included in your park admission.

Dates of Visit:  March 2012

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/special-events/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/

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Mitchell’s Fish Market – Even if you’re not a seafood fanatic

TEDDY’s RATING: 

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’m not a big seafood fan. So why would I go to a place called Mitchell’s Fish Market? Well, there were expiring gift cards involved, so I kind of had to go. But I definitely was not disappointed. Of course, I made sure ahead of time that they had several “Turf” choices on the menu.

First off, I’d like to shout out to our wonderful waitress, Aline. She was top-notch, making some excellent suggestions. She recommended the Elderflower and Pear cocktail. It sounded unusual, but Aline said it was very good. And it was. So much so that I wasn’t willing to let anyone else in my party take a sip! This signature drink contains Absolut Pear Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, champagne and fresh lemon juice. I love champagne drinks. This was light and bubbly, very refreshing.

Since I’m totally a Turf girl, I chose the pot roast for my entree. (Decided to forego the appetizer, soup or salad to save room for dessert.) It is served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It was delicious, very tender and tasty. The rest of my family tried the Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta, the Lemon Chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables, and the Cod and Shrimp with Hush Puppies and coleslaw. All entrees were highly rated by all.

So, now we come to the dessert. Yes, the best part of every meal. Aline recommended two desserts, the towering 7 layer Carrot Cake and the “Sharkfin” pie. We got one of each. These desserts are gigantic. More than enough for sharing – with 27 of your closest friends.

The Carrot Cake was quite moist and sweet, but I have to say that my favorite Carrot Cake is still baked by The Dessert Lady.

“Sharkfin” pie, what a crazy name for a dessert, but when you see it, you’ll know why it’s called that. This dessert is a huge wedge of vanilla ice cream layered with chocolate fudge, peanut butter, a chocolate cookie crust and honey roasted peanuts. You’ll be hooked after your first Great White bite.

Mitchell’s has over 80 different menu items which change daily based on the availability of fresh seafood. Their website says they’re “absolutely, positively obsessed with freshness.” If it’s not 100% fresh, right off the boat, they don’t serve it. Their motto is “Fish any fresher would still be in the ocean.”

And to ensure their seafood is the freshest and the best, Mitchell’s is “chain of custody” certified. I had never heard of that before. It means that Mitchell’s has a screening process for their suppliers, so they know exactly what they’re getting and where it comes from.

I noticed that there are a lot of blogs out there devoted to gluten-free diets. All of you out there will be pleased to know that Mitchell’s has a gluten-free menu.

Mitchell’s has several locations across the eastern and central US including Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Date of Visit:  February 26, 2012

www.mitchellsfishmarket.com

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It’s Blooming Magical at EPCOT

TEDDY’s RATING: 

Spring has sprung early and it’s already time for the 2012 EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. It starts today, March 7th!

I can’t remember how many times I’ve been to the festival, but since this is the 19th one, I must have gone 18 times! And I know that I will definitely keep going for years to come. There’s always something new to see. The displays are beautiful and you can’t help but take a million pictures. (Alas, not all million are posted here!)

Every year the entrance to the park and the entrance to World Showcase are redesigned with topiaries that showcase Disney characters or movies. This year will feature Fantasia at the park’s entrance.

In the past, they’ve featured Toy Story characters, Cars characters and our favorite Disney standards. The Disney landscapers and horticulturists always do a fantastic job designing over 100 different topiaries that are featured throughout the park. I’ve just included a few here, but will highlight more in a special story about the festival’s topiaries later this month.

I always take the Rose Walk, which goes between World Showcase and Future World.  If you time it right, there are hundreds of roses in bloom of all different varieties and colors. It may be a cliché, but I do always stop and smell these marvelous roses.

Make sure you take a stroll through the butterfly house which has grown in size over the years. Hundreds of butterflies all flying freely around you. It’s lovely.

HGTV will have their cavalcade of stars at the Designer’s Stage in the Festival Center including Jason Cameron from Desperate Landscapes, Monica Pedersen from Designed to Sell and Carter Oosterhouse from Million Dollar Rooms.

The Flower Power Concert series will feature performances by music legends from the 1960s and 1970s: Jose Feliciano, The Guess Who, The Turtles, The Spinners, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits and more.

This year we will surely miss the beloved and extremely entertaining Davy Jones of The Monkees, who passed away last month. He usually opened or closed the Flower Power Concert series. He was scheduled to appear May 18 through 20. We love you and miss you Davy!

The festival runs every day at EPCOT from March 7 until May 20, 2012. Flower Power Concerts take place at the America Gardens Theatre at 5:15pm, 6:30pm and 7:45pm each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the festival.

Dates of Visit:  Yearly

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/special-events/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/

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An Extra Day to Enjoy the Magic of Walt Disney World

For the first time ever, Walt Disney World kept the gates of the Magic Kingdom open for a full 24 hours. What a special way to spend that extra day of this leap year!

I have a weekday season pass, so I can go to any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks pretty much anytime. I thought it would be a fun to check out the Magic Kingdom on this special day, this extra day of the year, to see what it would be like and who would be there.

Now, I’m not one of those diehard, mouse ear-wearing, pin collecting Disney fans, so I wasn’t there at 6:00am with plans to stay the whole 24 hours, although I’m sure there were many people who did just that. They were probably the ones walking around in their pajamas and fuzzy slippers. No kidding, I saw several people dressed like that.

11:30pm – Arrive at Magic Kingdom.

I was very surprised to see so many people still at the park. And not just adults. There were little kids wide awake and raring to go. I did catch some people sneaking in a few yawns, though. Most of them were weary parents.

Some of the rides still had long wait times. But since it was a special day, I waited 30 minutes to ride something I had never ridden before, the Astro Orbiter. Flying high in a spaceship – whoohoo! From there, back down to earth on the PeopleMover. It was kind of a long wait for that too.

It had been quite a while since I’d seen Mickey’s PhilharMagic 3-D movie, so caught that. Took Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride. And then ventured into the Enchanted Tiki Room. I can’t even remember the last time I saw that show. But I tell you, it’s pretty surreal watching those animatronic birds at 2:00am!

Before heading out, rode Pirates of the Caribbean, which was only about a 5 minute wait. The Haunted Mansion is always a favorite, but the wait was 35 minutes, even at 2:30am. And believe it or not, at that time of night/morning, the wait for Peter Pan’s Flight was 40 minutes.

A special commemorative t-shirt saying “I Took a Leap and Didn’t Sleep. I Pulled an All-Nighter at the Magic Kingdom” was for sale, but when I was ready to buy one, they were sold out. The shirts would be available online, but only through March 1, 2012.  I put my order in!

3:30am – Leave Magic Kingdom

So, a mere four hours of extra magic for me. But it was a fun experience. If this turns out to be successful for Disney World, which I’m sure it was, there are plans to do it again in four more years. Let’s start the countdown…

Dates of Visit:  February 29 – March 1, 2012

Categories: Disney, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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