Special events

Washington DC – The Wildly Popular Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

by on February 28, 2017

One of the additional displays with a long line in the background

In case you missed the announcement, TouringPlans.com now covers Washington, D.C. as a destination. The city’s various attractions and touring style really lends itself to proper planning and that was no more evident than on my visit this past weekend to the Hirshhorn Museum to see the new exhibit Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.

Yayoi Kusama is an 87 year old Japanese artist who has been displaying her work in the United States (and globally) for 60 years. She tends to like polka dots and soft sculptures in her sometimes eccentric art, but Infinity Mirrors is an exhibit that even the artistically-challenged (which I sometimes can be) can love.

Let’s ask some important questions:

So What Is It?

Okay, here we go.

The basic premise of the exhibit is simple: There are 5 small rooms within the gallery that are completely lined with mirrors. Within the room are various objects that help give you the impression that you are in a vast landscape–what that landscape’s effect is varies with the room.

In addition to the rooms themselves, there were side displays, smaller infinity boxes, and room-filling atmospheric installations. It’s easier to show than to tell:

Infinity Room #1 — Phalli’s Field

This room contained thousands of the phallic soft sculptures that Kusama loves to use. It is probably the least photogenic, but one of my favorites to stand in. The effect of the sea of soft sculptures was actually very pleasant and I’m not going to go into a psychological examination about standing in a phallus field.

Infinity Room #2 — The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away

My favorite concept, although I didn’t love the execution as much. The hanging lights were a beautiful effect (although I did hit my face off of them more than once), but they flashed an pulsed almost continuously. I would have preferred a more gradual change than a strobe effect, but I am also not exactly artistic so what do I know?

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2017 Pro Bowl Week Schedule

by on January 22, 2017

The Pro Bowl Week is a week-long celebration that unites and inspires the entire football community – players, coaches, families, and fans for a full week of activities, challenges, and true football spirit.

During Pro Bowl Week, everyone has the opportunity to participate in or watch a variety of events, including youth football clinics, the NFL Flag Championships, Pro Bowl player practices, skill challenges, sessions for coaches, the Women’s World Football Championships, and a host of other festivities with the best players of the past, present and future.

Many events are taking place at Walt Disney World, and are free to attend. Practices are free and open to the public but fans can register for priority access here. Some events require a Fan Mobile Pass (FMP). 

 

NFL Pro Bowl Practices

 

Pro Bowl Practices at ESPN Wide World of Sports are not only a chance to see NFC and AFC teams in action, but also the epicenter of a three-day football festival. Practice combined with various fan competitions and activities will be open to the public beginning Wednesday, January 25 and concludes on Saturday, January 28.

AFC Team Practice Schedule

  • Wednesday, January 25: 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM
  • Thursday, January 26: 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
  • Friday, January 27: 11:20 AM – 12:20 PM
  • Saturday, January 28: 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM

 

NFC Team Practice Schedule

  • Wednesday, January 25: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Thursday, January 26: 11:20 AM – 12:20 PM
  • Friday, January 27: 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
  • Saturday, January 28: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

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TouringPlansTV: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016 + Video

by on November 22, 2016

© Disney

Ho-ho-hope you’re having a great day!

You may be thinking, “What’s with the holiday pun? It’s not even December yet!”

You see, I’m already in the Christmas spirit as I’ve just been to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World!

Allow me to share my tips and tricks below!

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A Frozen Holiday Wish – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016 + Video

by on November 15, 2016

Photo - Matt Stroshane

Photo – Matt Stroshane

For today’s TouringPlansTV, I’m bringing you with me to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

Watch Elsa freeze Cinderella Castle in A Frozen Holiday Wish.

Enjoy!

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A Parent’s Guide to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

by on September 13, 2016

2016-09-02 20.39.46Before school had started in some states, Disney was already ringing in the Halloween season with the 2016 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (often referred to by the unpronounceable MNSSHP). My husband and I had gone once in our child-free years, but with our daughter now six years old, we thought this would be the perfect time for a repeat of the party. In the end, it was a marvelous time for us, but we saw a number of families who were having a less than magical experience. Here’s some tips to make the evening truly not so scary.

 

Pick a Date that Works with Your Schedule

Staying up until midnight on a school night is not the best option for younger children. For this reason, we chose a Friday night leading into the Labor Day holiday weekend. (There are no Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties on Saturday nights.) This meant that our daughter was in school that day, and we had her take an hour of “attempted nap” between school and heading for the party. If you’re on vacation, you may want to skip visiting the parks altogether on your party night. At the very least, you’ll want to take most of the afternoon for down time to have your best shot at making it through the whole party with everyone in good spirits.

Dress Sensibly

It is perfectly acceptable to go to the party without wearing a costume, or just wearing a Halloween-themed t-shirt. For some people, wearing a costume is part of the experience. Hurricane Hermine had pushed through the state less than 24 hours before our party, and thankfully we had selected costumes that could be scaled back for the possibility of rain. Knowing the weather in early September in Florida trends towards hot, we also made sure our costumes would be comfortable in 90-90 weather (90 degree heat, 90% humidity). In the end, we were able to keep a bare minimum of our costume intact and get huge amounts of laughs and love for our simple costume idea. We went as a game of Duck, Duck, Goose basically by two of us wearing white shirts with large wooden signs around our neck saying DUCK (with a small duck figurine) and one wearing a white shirt with a sign saying GOOSE (with a small goose figurine).

On the flip side, I saw many families wearing heavy, bulky, and downright uncomfortable costumes–or having their children dressed up in costumes that had no breathability. The heat and humidity will sap your energy faster than anything. Think about your costume choices as if you were going to run a race in it. How will it look and feel when hot and sweaty? Those cute specialty shoes with the costume might be great for going around the block, but how will they feel after putting on several miles of walking? If you must have a certain costume for some of the experience, consider bringing a change of clothes and renting a locker.

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Disney After Hours – Is It Worth the Money?

by on April 25, 2016

Disney After Hours Event Guide

Disney After Hours Lanyard Front and Back

Update – April 27, 2016 – Disney has announced that Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members may now purchase Disney After Hours tickets for $75, half price.

Last month when Disney announced its late night event at Magic Kingdom, Disney After Hours, I was pretty happy. It coincided with a trip I’d already planned (thanks for nothing, Rivers of Light), so I figured – what the heck? If you haven’t heard about Disney After Hours, and given ticket sales, that may be a near certainty – more on that later, here’s the lowdown: Disney After Hours is a hard ticketed ($150 per person) event at Magic Kingdom in April and May. As of today, April 22, two of the parties have already happened with five yet to come. After Hours is three hours in Magic Kingdom for guests after park close with much shorter lines, most attractions open, and complimentary bottle drinks and ice cream novelties. Sound like Extra Magic Hours, but ticketed? Yeah, kinda.

Ticket purchased, I looked forward to a fun night at the park. Until reports of the first night started coming in with tales of tickets being given away, cast members outnumbering guests, and empty Main Street vehicles, that is. I was already doing this alone (solo trip) – was I going to be walking through a deserted park with desperate cast members forcing Mickey bars on me until I couldn’t eat any more? I tried bribing someone to come down to Florida just for the night to keep me company (thanks for nothing, Len). I watched social media to see if anyone I knew was going (or would admit to buying a ticket). No dice. News started coming in that Disney was giving away more tickets for that night too. I imagined myself in the narrative of Kingdom Keepers. Well, I’d be alone, but maybe I’ll save the park from Maleficent. But I’m a pro and wanted to see how the night unfolded.

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Universal’s Summer Concert Series

by on April 8, 2016

To celebrate warm summer evenings – and to help empty out the rest of Universal Studios Florida during the extremely busy month of June – Universal holds the annual Summer Concert Series. While it’s not as well-known as Halloween Horror Nights, it is still a fun and well-attended event – and considering that it’s absolutely free (well, included in regular Universal Studios park admission, that is), it’s more than worth checking out.

Universal Summer Concert Series banner

Image © Universal

We’re already anticipating this year’s Concert Series; in 2014 it was cancelled, thanks to a little something called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opening up (can you imagine two massive crowds vying for space in the park?), and last year’s was temporarily renamed the 25th Anniversary Concert Series, due to Universal Studios Florida, well, turning 25-years-old last summer. That means 2016 should be a return to standard, old-fashioned form, and we couldn’t be happier about it.

There is a caveat we have to issue here, however: although the company doesn’t typically make its Summer Concert announcements until the end of its Mardi Gras annual event (yes, we think that’s cutting it a little too close, as well), there is the small possibility that Universal opts to skip out on 2016, just as it did two years ago; there is a trio of brand-new openings occurring this summer at Universal Orlando, starting with Skull Island: Reign of Kong and the overhauled Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure and ending with Sapphire Falls Resort, the fifth on-site hotel. If so, then consider this an extremely early bout of vacation planning, and be sure to return here for when the 2017 Summer Concert Series rolls around. (Although it should be noted that we think the concerts will go on as usual. The Diagon Alley opening was at the same park, where this year’s new openings are at Islands of Adventure.)

Where is it?

Like nearly every other Universal Orlando annual event, you’ll find the festivities located at Universal Studios Florida.

Universal Music Plaza Stage

The Universal Music Plaza Stage, where the concerts are held

When is it?

Typically late May to late June, running for select nights (just like with nearly all of the resort’s other annual events). Last year’s Summer Concert Series had six artists performing – you guessed it – on six nights, starting on Saturday, May 23 and ending on Saturday, June 20 (there was one Sunday in there, too, for all those playing along at home).

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Spring Dapper Day at Walt Disney World

by on March 15, 2016

Let me start by saying that I am a Tom-girl, a country girl, or a self identified frump.  I like wearing jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, and tennis shoes.  You won’t often find me in a dress or skirt; and if you do it is probably for a wedding or a funeral.  I don’t do make-up and my hair skills are very limited.  A quick run through with my fingers or a ponytail suits me just fine.  That being said, even this Tom-girl has day dreams of a softer side.  I dream of breaking the mold I have built for myself; wearing cute little skirts, having a perfectly curled up-do, and being able to create magic with eye shadow and mascara.  I dream of being dapper.

Being dapper is defined as having a neat and trim appearance or being very spruce and stylish.  Both men and women can be dapper.  It usually describes clothing that is attractive and of high quality.  It makes me think of years gone by when men and women were sharply dressed anytime they left their house.  I romanticize of a more innocent world where men were gentlemanly and women had that air of innocence and mystery.  I think of Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Greta Garbo, and Rudolph Valentino.  Even Walt Disney has appeared quite dapper in several old photos I have seen.

In the everyday world I live in there is not much room for being dapper.  Leaving the house usually entails work clothes of some sort, not fashion.  It simply is not normal in my neck of the woods.  So, I am a product of my surroundings, left to merely dream of the day I can be more.  And more I will be.  This coming April 16th at the Magic Kingdom, I will get my chance to be stylish and sophisticated.  I will fit right in at Dapper Day.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever February 4, 2016: Legoland’s The LEGO Movie 4D Premiere

by on February 4, 2016

Unless you live in London, New York, or L.A., you probably don’t see celebrities walking the red carpet in person every day. But for this Best Week Ever, we are taking a road trip to a movie premiere in the well-known cultural capital of…Winter Haven? Legoland Florida (which we cover in-depth in the new edition of Beyond Disney) recently hosted the global debut of the newest installment in their hit cinematic franchise, and I was lucky enough to get an invite to last weeks’s premiere of The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure.

 

Rain or no, it’s a Best Week Ever when we’re at Legoland’s premiere of The LEGO Movie 4D (Photos by Seth Kubersky).

 

Legoland counldn’t have picked an unluckier day for their big blowout, because the wind was blowing and rain was coming down in buckets as dusk fell. The storm was slacking by the time I arrived at the park, which is about a 75 minute drive from my home, mostly along poky Highway 27.

 

 

Check-in for the event began around the park’s closing time. While the media huddled under the entryway to stay dry, we were handed color-changing LED wristbands to wear. They would turn out to play a part in the presentation later on.

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Universal Orlando Releases 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter Schedule

by on January 24, 2016

2016 Celebration of Harry Potter schedule

Plan you Wizarding weekend with the 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter schedule

If you’ve been anxiously awaiting an official 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter schedule of events from Universal Orlando, you can relax because your owl has arrived! Universal has just announced the full rundown of public happenings during their annual Wizarding World weekend, which runs January 29-31, 2016.

Activities over the three day Celebration of Harry Potter include Q&A sessions with cast members from the hit movies, panels with artists who worked on the films and parks, and special demonstrations and exhibits relating to Potter lore. In 2016, the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios Florida will be dedicated during the day to kids activities, in addition to hosting the headliner events in the evenings, while Toon Lagoon amphitheater in Islands of Adventure will reopen during the daytime for sessions aimed at adult fans.

All of the below listed activities are open to all park goers, including annual passholder, without needing an extra ticket. One thing you won’t see on the list is autograph sessions with the film stars. After the intense demand for limited autograph tickets last year, Universal has restricted the signings solely to those who purchased special hotel packages (which sold out long ago).

Here is the full schedule of 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter activities:

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