SeaWorld’s Bands Brew and BBQ Lineup

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Bands Brew BBQ SeaWorld

Despite a really rough ride battling disgruntled activists, concerned artists and even a seemingly biased OSHA inspector, the SeaWorld Orlando Bands Brew and BBQ Festival looks like it may yet burst into life in February!

So far the lineup looks modest, but we can expect to see a few more determined artists heading to Orlando soon!

  • Feb 1st  Alan Jackson 5pm
  • Feb 2nd Kid Rock 4pm

As more become available, we will add them as the releases are made by SeaWorld!

 

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Fastpass+ Arrives for Annual Pass Holders at Last!

As Disney steam full speed ahead with the MyMagic+ program, one notably ignored group is finally getting the attention it deserves!
We are talking about annual pass holders, and they are none too happy that they have been left until last to be able to sample the MyMagic+ services such as Fastpass+.

Bizarrely, you’d have expected Disney to hit this group first.  Safe hands and all of that.
Of all of the groups that would forgive almost any mishap, the annual passholders have even had to wait until after the parks had dumped the ‘old style fastpass dispensers’.

As I write, the trial is only for a limited number according to WDWMagic.com, but at least things are moving along.
For the trial, selected guests can order and set up their Magicbands for use with the My Disney Experience app and website.

Once done, pass holders are free to fidget away to see just what the exciting new system can do.  As part of the move, Disney will receive a discount card along with their Magicbands.  A Gold card denotes free parking and a Black card denotes that parking must be paid, dependant upon the level of Annual Pass purchased.
Once inside the parks, guests must show the named card along with photo ID whenever making purchases.

Some interesting rules apply to the Fastpasses beyond the regular ‘3 fastpasses per day’ that everyone appears to be held to.  A 7 day rolling allowance is tied to each annual pass account, effectively restricting the number of fastpasses in any given 60 day period to 21.

Note about the 7 day limit within 60 Days

This does not mean that you can only have 7 Fastpass+ visits in a 60 day period.
It means that you can have up to 7 days of actual current live bookings in a 60 day window.

Example

If you are going to WDW on May 1st 2014 for 10 days, you could book Fastpass+ for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th 6th, 7th from your app before you leave home.
On the April the 2nd, one of your 7 allocations is freed up, so you can reserve April 8th and so on.

The reason for the 7 day rule is to stop fastpasses being booked out continually over an extended period, ‘just on the off chance’ that a guest will visit the parks.
The rule goes some way to reduce the effects of that down to 7 days.
Even so, I can picture some guests heading into a weekend, not quite sure which actual day they will visit and they blast a ‘covering’ of Fastpasses over a 3 day period, knowing fine well that they will only be visiting for one of those days.

Bugs like these will be ironed out and as Disney collect more usage data, they will compensate for ‘no-shows’ in the allocation system.

SeaWorld Fight Back and OSHA Investigator Bias Claim

This week has seen a lot of activity surrounding the ongoing ‘Blackfish’ documentary.
SeaWorld issued a long awaited response to the documentary that berated the treatment of SeaWorld’s killer whales at their parks.

Seemingly a few months later than expected, SeaWorld attempt to put the record straight on a few key points raised in the documentary, but their Facebook page lit up with angry respondents that continued to berate the park’s use of Orcas for entertainment.

This isn’t going to be an easy year for SeaWorld, but at least now, the debate can begin.

OSHA Investigator pictured with the Blackfish team at the Sundance festival premier?

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Image reproduced from Micechat 

One amazing development revealed by Micechat readers this week appears to show one of the OSHA Investigators involved in the ongoing investigation into the tragic incident with Dawn Brancheau on February 24th 2010.
If their inspector, Lara Padgett, was the person in the picture taken with cast and crew at Blackfish’s premier, OSHA’s credibility in the case will be cast in doubt, further supporting SeaWorld’s claims that propaganda and bias is currently at play.

Now Busch Gardens Lose Bands – Who Cares Anyway?

Well what do you know?  Blackfish didn’t get an Oscar Nomination.

This week it is Busch Gardens that lost some bands from its Bands, Brew & BBQ festival that runs over February and early March of this year.
Why?  Well,, Busch Gardens is managed under the SeaWorld Parks organisation.  That’s why.

Hardly surprising, but a bunch of old ‘has beens’ which in my mind were actually pretty cool until this week despite the effects of time, have announced that they are pulling out of the festival.  Now I don’t want to be unking to Busch, but this is one of those instances where we all go ‘big deal’.

Although many of the acts were top headliners in their day, the live shows are hardly worth booking a flight for, or making a special drive across state.  If you are there when they are playing, then hey, get over to the theater and enjoy some fun!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trivializing this event, just putting a balanced view on it.
A few years ago, the Osmonds were there.  Believe me, they were there and I was too, with about 50 other people in the rather chilly February air!  It was nice to say I’d seen them and that was about it.

So now that the Beach Boys, Pat Benatar and no doubt more to come have left the stage, lets just think about what probably happened:

Their Facebook pages and fan sites received negative comments.  They pulled out.

OK, so the performers think they win by avoiding controversy and receiving a little kudos for caring.   Well maybe not actually.
In 2012 a whopping 5,358,000 of us attended Tilikum’s SeaWorld Orlando residence.
Over 5 million guests a year makes SeaWorld a bigger following than just about any 60’s and 70’s acts that I can think of.
Don’t forget all of the other SeaWorld and Busch fans that aren’t going to have too much respect for these fickle musicians!
On the subject of SeaWorld fans, I doubt we’d find many, if any park guests that actually act harmfully towards creatures.  By definition SeaWorld fans are curious and caring.
By entering the gate, are we really contributing to the problem?
Being honest, yes, in a very localized small scale, yes.
In the bigger picture though, I repeat my genuine thoughts that SeaWorld does more good than harm by raising awareness.  They have reached my family in a powerful way and I suspect they did a good job on 5 million others.

Come the day that animal rights campaigners see the world in a balanced way, the world might respect their good work too.

As a responsible person, I’m not going to ‘troll’ their fan sites though.
Most of us have lives to lead and kids to take care of.  Our kids are fortunate enough to have parents that have a balanced and unbiased mentality, particularly when it comes to dealing with difficult subjects such as an Orca in captivity.

Many of those that have spoken up against SeaWorld are in the ‘Don’t like it, don’t understand it, so let’s kill it!’ brigade.
While the world becomes more and more polarized in opinions about many aspects of life, those that can see with two eyes and hear through two ears, but only speak proportionately through one mouth, will indeed be at a huge advantage!

On that point, before anyone mentions it, I have probably read 8 articles before writing this LOL (just to make sure that I stick to my own advice!

Who would have thought that running a theme park was such a messy game?

Support SeaWorld By Heading To Universal Studios!!!

Universal Studios Orlando is getting ready for Mardis Gras!

Universal Studios Mardi Gras 2014 As  usual, a dozen or more leading artists will take to the stage Music Plaza beneath the Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster for an evening of top class live music.
With headline artists, the free to regular admission guests is one of the highlights of the theme park live band calendars and always draws a lot of attention, offering a different feel entirely to the parks.  Sure those amazing attractions are still beating away, but the surreal mixture of some of the best US artists playing live on stage seems almost seems rude to ignore!

If you love music, the Mardi Gras music lineup for the 2014 Mardi Gras is unmissable!
Check out the official Universal Studios web page for more information!

Something Fishy about 2014’s Mardi Gras Line Up!

Over the winter months of 2013/14, a little fuss surrounded the Barenaked Ladies.  It seems that they were pushed by fans not to attend the SeaWorld Bands Brew & BBQ festival.  Concerned by the Blackfish Movie, fans pushed the band into a corner.
The result?  They pulled out of the SeaWorld concert series.  Like a set of dominos, others followed, effectively leaving SeaWorld without a lineup.
Barenaked Ladies however, decided to appear instead at this year’s Mardi Gras.

Take to the Streets of Universal Studios – in a silent way!

It occurred to me that a kind of response would be cool for those of us that don’t like the fact that a minority had gathered against SeaWorld to alter people’s enjoyment.
Before I continue, I must make it clear, that SeaWorld need to keep improving their animal program, but as written in other posts, I value any organisation that works hard to raise awareness of our environment.  SeaWorld isn’t perfect, but it is by far the biggest and best voice of awareness when it comes to protecting the ocean on a wider scale.  A stronger SeaWorld will probably do more good than harm.

So, when the Mardi Gras Concerts are running, head to Universal that day and wear your SeaWorld T Shirts and Caps with pride and post every selfie you can on social media!

Overwhelming Choice makes it a One in Three Meal Success!

You know how it is, your kids are tetchy and your husband gets distracted and you are one hour past your normal meal time.  Not great huh?

If there’s one thing that moms always seem to feel the full pleasure of responsibility for, it’s a mealtime!  Dare suggest picking the next family car, and you are toast.  Despite being the main user of this family vehicle, and for years, the expert in its repetitive routes to the school, store, and to pick him and his friends up from the bar, I apparently know nothing about cars!

Imagine then, visiting a place I have long dreamed of, yet know so little about and all of a sudden I am VP of catering and dining!
Armed with weeks of research, I enter into Orlando.  Clueless.

All of those amazing places to eat that I’d read about are securely out of the ‘hard drive’ in my brian and are their brand names are rushing around the ‘random access memory’ like bullets in a steel drum!

Two days into the vacation, we are ‘burger bound’.  That’s a medical term that my husband uses for a certain consequence of eating too many burgers.   I know that you knew that already, but I thought I’d give you a little insight into the crap I have to put up with lol.

So, back to business, yes, two days in and not one of those recommended restaurants has fallen into sight and I want to know why.  Every forum, every book I had read had bummed these places so hard, they would surely be overloaded with guests by now!
Finally we caught up with one that I recognised, the NASCAR Grill at CityWalk.

On the sidewalk that links the parking lot to Universal Studios theme park, there it was.  Like a beacon, my first recommended restaurant on the list!
90 minutes later, we were back on the sidewalk in the now searing heat, hands washed of the grease and a smiling husband, trying to be nice, but clearly not actually being nice in his own head.  A kind of smug ‘Ha!’ floating around in one of those comic strip bubbly things.

It wasn’t until a few days had passed that his sickly grin had gone, clearly he must have had other things on his mind, such as that bright red neck that had fried nicely in his factor 8 (Ha!).  It wasn’t until around that time that we’d landed in the Raglan Road Irish Pub, and a few courses later, I felt that at least some of the advice was worthwhile!

We chatted with the Brits on the table next to us.  Nice Brits in fact.
They clearly were experts, not too enthusiastic, not too knowledgable for me to fall into a yawning frenzy, but nice Brits.  (What is it though with Brits and Crocs?  Stop it right now!)

We noted a few tips of theirs down and checked a few of their websites out that they felt were more realistic than most.

First up is the Disney Food Blog, and we didn’t disagree.  Perhaps this most comprehensive of food sites, the dedicated AJ, certainly knows her stuff about Disney park food.  The only mistake I did make was read a fantastic article about a restaurant in Disney Land Paris.  It took me several paragraphs of reading it to Mr (Ha!) before that smirk appeared again on his ruby red freckly face.
Great site though and definitely one to work your way through.

The next site we wrote down, but appeared to have lost for a while.  We didn’t discover it again until I started writing this blog post.  A quick search for Best Restaurants Near Disney in Google and there you have it!  Top of the pile came a good list of restaurants that were worth seeking out.  A few were out of our price range, and a few were out of town a little, but some big treats were on there that we will actually be trying next time!
There’s also a link to an article on there for the Cheapest Places to Eat Near Disney.
Watch out for a post from Mr (Ha!) on that one!

Until next time!

This article was written by Guest Blogger Mrs (Ha!)

 

 

Bands Brew and BBQ – The biggest Joke in Orlando?

One Ocean SeaWorld

OK I am now officially bored of the ongoing farcical battle between activists and SeaWorld.

In the Blue Corner:   SeaWorld
In the Red Corner:   Campaigners
Referee:                   Not Present
Audience:                Disinterested

OK, so even ‘the replacement acts’ are dropping out of SeaWorld’s once popular Bands Brew and BBQ series.  Screamscape announced this week that Trace Adkins, has dropped away from this year’s schedules appearance on March 2nd, with his rep citing “Trace prefers that the focus of his performances be on music, not on controversy,”

Considering that the Country singer’s dates had never been officially announced, I can’t help think that the singer has gained some valuable publicity by leaving a show that he was never publicly in.

The Blackfish Movie released in October of 2013, has certainly hit SeaWorld’s Bands Brew and BBQ event, but further reports this week indicate that gate attendances have soared to all time record levels of revenue this year.

With so little information available right now, it is impossible to say precisely why SeaWorld are doing so well, but that old Phineas T. Barnum saying of ‘no such thing as bad publicity’ kind of springs to mind.  Ironic that a circus owner and showman’s phrase might still be so relevant, in a fiercely aggressive digital age.

Perhaps the prospect of the Shamu Stadium in mothballs has spurred interest in SeaWorld?  Perhaps guests aren’t as shocked as the Blackfish documentary’s producer; Gabriela Cowperthwaite might have hoped.
I have every respect for documentary producers.  Also for animal rights campaigners.
Both do an important job that keeps society and politicians in check and their efforts raise awareness of issues that often get ignored.

The problem with the argument against SeaWorld, is that everyone knows that the animals should really be in the oceans.  As I watch them perform, I have always been in awe, tinged with guilt.  Much in the same way that I talk adoringly to my now teenage daughter’s ageing pet rabbit (that I fiercely objected to buying over 10 years ago).
As its custodian, I love the furry rodent, but desperately feel responsible for its current state.

Polly‘Polly’ is a great, if somewhat surprising comparison to Tilikum and his colleagues.
Rabbits are easy to find in pet stores, aren’t endangered and don’t weigh 12,000 pounds but both are of course confined to unnaturally tiny spaces.

We need to raise awareness of the world’s ecological crisis.

Just as much as we would never buy another pet rabbit, and neither would our kids buy their children one, we as a family have evolved through the experiences of our miserable little Polly.
Shamu and SeaWorld we guess, have done the same we hope.
SeaWorld are very unlikely to return to the Ocean again to capture another wild Orca.
That, I feel is progress.

There is a more important point to SeaWorld’s creatures though.
Of the 5,202,000 visitors that poured into Orlando’s Ocean based theme park during 2012, it is very likely that a fair portion took a little extra care with the environment as a sign of understanding and respect for Shamu.  It is very likely that Tilikum’s ironic existence is saving hundreds of thousands of land and sea creatures around the world.

My theory is genuine.  I’m not connected to SeaWorld one single bit, other than the fact that I love being there, but I sincerely feel that there is a positive side to captivity if it is managed well and for the right reasons.

I personally believe that SeaWorld will positively change a little over the coming year, and that Shamu will continue to be a big, if perhaps unexpected ambassador to the Ecosystems that mankind seems so hell bent on harming.

Whether we like Blackfish or not, whether we believe in the SeaWorld PR, or lose faith in the objectivity of those that speak for or against SeaWorld, the show must go on.
(If anything for the good of those amazing creatures that still remain free!)

One person that sadly would offer a far more balanced insight is no longer able to share her thoughts.  Dawn Brancheau.