by Michael LaPaglia | May 8, 2017 | Disney, Disney Food, Disney Restaurants, Disney Springs, Walt Disney World
Shop and Dine at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World
Our amazing week on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas was followed up with a day long stop at the now nearly completed Disney Springs in Walt Disney World. As a shopping and dining complex (similar to CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort), Disney Springs can be a one-stop location or an all-day venue. It’s a great place to hang out on your Disney Arrival Day!
Transformation at Disney Springs
It is astounding to see the difference a little less than a year makes. During our last visit in 2016, the renovations and additions to Disney Springs were about three quarters of the way complete. Visits up until that time allowed us to enjoy the recently completed Orange Parking structure, dine at The Boathouse, sip drinks at Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar, and gain an overall appreciation of the scope of the project.
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar.
This visit in early February 2017 allowed us to savor even more of Disney Springs. While the list of new eateries and retail outlets is certainly too lengthy to review here, we’ll continue to take a closer look at individual Disney Springs’ offerings in future articles. Sign up here!
The primary highlight for us was enjoying the architectural and design details that have been added and integrated into the area (okay, we enjoyed some tasty eats too 😉 ). We parked in the Lime Garage and walked out into Town Center. What a pleasant surprise! The Landing was completely obstructed by construction walls last year.
Convenient parking at Disney Springs.
We shopped at the UNIQLO retail outlet to take a look at the much ballyhooed T-shirts and other exclusive offerings. I was able to get my hands on a unique Marvel Iron Man shirt! Yep, I highly recommend browsing this store for themed shirts.
Mickey shirts at UNIQLO.
By far, the most impressive aspect of the Town Center area lie in its design and architectural details. Those details allow for an immersive experience into the entirety of the Disney Springs thematic approach to shopping and dining.
Plenty of stores to browse at Disney Springs.
The retail outlets located here can be found at most upscale shopping centers and other areas, but it is the visual impact related to the details and design that make it special. It is clear that you are on Disney property.
Gorgeous fountain at Disney Springs.
Love the architectural details at Disney Springs.
One highlight of this area was the D-Living store. At the time, this store was all decked out in Beauty and the Beast decor and merchandise. It was a fun store to browse through! Note that D-Living is closed until May 11, 2017 when it will unveil a new theme and matching merchandise.
D-Living featured a Beauty and the Beast Theme.
Wolfgang Puck Express
For lunch we had an unadventurous, but thoroughly enjoyable pizza at Wolfgang Puck Express.
One of our favorite lunch stops is Wolfgang Puck Express.
Delicious cheese pizza at Wolfgang Puck Express.
Next, we headed over to Amorette’s Patisserie. The rave reviews that this establishment has boasted since opening is certainly well deserved. An absolute joy to experience and our choices — a Mickey Dome Cake and Raspberry Eclair– were memorable. 😉
Raspberry Eclair and Mickey Dome Cake. Yum!
Star Wars and Rogue One Merchandise
It should not be surprising to anyone that I was most eager at finding Star Wars and Rogue One merchandise. I was very pleased to see the entire middle wing of Once Upon a Toy dedicated to Star Wars and Rogue One merchandise!
Star Wars Merchandise.
In fact, Rogue One icons, posters, and other visuals were in display all across Disney Springs. As if there wasn’t any doubt, it is now entirely clear that Star Wars will be a huge influence over all that is Disney for the foreseeable future. I will not voice any complaints about that!
Star Wars Displays at Disney Springs.
There will be lots more to see, eat, drink, and purchase at Disney Springs during future Walt Disney World visits. I am most looking forward to returning and dining at The Edison when it opens later this year. For now, our family plans to spend a day at Disney Springs in early June. Yes, I’m counting the days!
Looking forward to The Edison!
Plan a visit to Disney Springs in Walt Disney World — and don’t be afraid to bring the kids!
What do you enjoy most about Disney Springs in Walt Disney World? Do you plan to stop by Disney Springs on your next vacation to Walt Disney World?
by Michael LaPaglia | Mar 19, 2017 | Entertainment
Ten Rogue One Observations
The digital release of Rogue One is less than a week away. It has now been several months since its initial theater debut and I’m finding the need to share some further thoughts about the film. Yes, it’s time to take a look at some Rogue One observations!
Rogue One Readings
It’s meaning and overall impact upon the Star Wars experience is getting clearer for me. A busy work schedule, family events, a Royal Caribbean Cruise, and a bout of bronchitis prevented me from seeing Rogue One for a third time in the theater. However, I was able to spend several hours reading and reviewing a few of the guides and other texts that have been published since December. By the time I (and probably most of you!) was itching to really sit down and absorb its visual impact once again, the announcement for the digital and Blu-ray releases were made! I guess I can wait a few more days! 😉
During these months of contemplation, I’ve developed these Rogue One observations that I want to share.
Star Wars Reading Materials
Rogue One Observations
1. Gareth Edwards is an extraordinary filmmaker.
It is clear that he was destined to have a lasting impact on the Star Wars experience. It really does not matter if the ending or other aspects of the film were reshot. Gareth’s love for the Star Wars cinematic experience runs deep and it is demonstrated throughout the film making process and the finished product of Rogue One. I am wholly impressed at his dedication to bringing a new story and chapter into the Star Wars experience. Yep, I am a huge fan!
Oh, another store at Disney Springs!
2. Rogue One very clearly stands within the upper most tier of the Star Wars films.
Its visual style, storytelling, and heart make it so when placed among the other seven films. It’s so well done, that it feels as though it was meant to be made. Although I refuse to resort to the pointless efforts at ranking the Star Wars movies in any way, Rogue One should be extremely high on anyone’s list.
3. Rogue One significantly alters one’s perception and understanding of the Star Wars cinematic experience.
It’s ingenious execution adds an astounding level of meaning to the entire saga.
More Star Wars Shopping at Disney Springs
4. Death Troopers are indeed awesome.
The mystery of their existence and their frightening appearance will ensure their legacy in Star Wars from this point forward.
5. Michael Giacchino’s film score is outstanding.
It has been a staple in my playlist rotation since December!
6. The third act of this film could possibly be one of the most exhilarating ,visually stunning, and emotional 20 minutes that I have ever seen on film.
Additional multiple viewings are in order to fully comprehend and appreciate the impact of those final 20 minutes.
7. Disney is demonstrating to be a responsible and competent steward to the Star Wars experience.
Regardless of how you feel about Disney as a company, it cannot be denied at this time that its acquisition and subsequent management of LucasFilm has been nothing short of extraordinary for the Star Wars fandom.
I love the Rogue One promo signs at Disney Springs!
8. My appreciation for Rogue One notwithstanding, I am somewhat hesitant to embrace the upcoming Han Solo film.
Something tells me I’m not alone in this, so time will tell if my uneasiness is warranted.
9. I am now breathlessly awaiting December and the release of Episode VIII.
A trailer will be dropping at any time and that will only fuel the anticipation.
10. Rogue One surely did not assist me in overcoming my “problem” related to Star Wars merchandise.
Yes, I continue to pick up merchandise throughout my travels — much to the dismay of my family!
Star Wars Merchandise at Disney Springs
Bravo LucasFilm and Disney!
Now it’s your turn; share your Rogue One thoughts in the comments below!
by Michael LaPaglia | Dec 21, 2016 | Entertainment
An Initial Look at Rogue One with No Spoilers
My first viewing experience of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story occurred earlier this week. With family in tow, we arrived early enough to be the first viewers let in the theater. Hey, I like my choice of seats!
For most of its fandom, the reactions related to the entire Star Wars saga on film has been an evolutionary process. After all, multiple viewings are often needed to fully comprehend the merits of each movie. And its shortcomings. Sometimes, delving in to those hit or misses, takes time.
Overall opinions and perceptions of each Star Wars film may also go through several transformations. I can personally attest to that. And although that can be said for any film in the history of cinema, Star Wars remains unique. Arguably, the Star Wars film saga might be considered the first in cinema history that created an environment necessitating multiple viewings across time for its devoted fan base.
Therefore, it is impossible for me to provide a comprehensive review a few short days after first experiencing Rogue One. I think many will agree that multiple viewings of the Star Wars films is a strongly reinforcing stimulus — personally and socially.
First Thoughts on Rogue One
Rogue One is an excellent addition to the Star Wars film saga. Of course, I must admit that my strong bias towards the Star Wars universe would make it difficult to find any movie on this topic less than satisfying or enjoyable. Furthermore, the year-long anticipation of this stand-alone film, along with the repeated viewings of trailers and featurettes, definitely pushes me toward a positive response.
That being said, it really is an extremely well-made and exciting movie.
Gareth Edwards and the Disney/Lucasfilm team have created a Star Wars story that can stand on its own as a wartime science-fiction adventure. It also is a stunningly effective piece that fits snugly into the other chapters of the saga. Being able to successfully deliver a film whose initial storyline began as the brief preamble to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope forty (40!!) years ago is impressive.
It is certainly a film that has a more “adult” tone to it, but in reality that isn’t necessarily a revolutionary aspect to a Star Wars film. Since the more adolescent representations of the Star Wars story seen in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the Star Wars film universe has decidedly become more “adult” in tone and presentation.
Rogue One introduces a new set of characters that are solid supplements to the saga. Other than Jyn Erso, and similar to the prequel films, the exploration of their individual attributes, histories, and motives are somewhat thin. This doesn’t detract from the film as a whole, since the objective of the storyline does not require extensive storytelling in this way. It does more than a satisfactory job at explaining what is motivating Jyn and that’s what matters.
A great new droid character, K-2SO, makes his appearance in Rogue One. His presence and his “personality” is a significant addition to the sagas trio of established droid characters.
Trying hard not to sound redundant or utilizing clichéd adjectives, it is difficult to not describe the visual effects and the cinematography of this film as being outstanding. As the weeks go by, I will expound further upon these subjects.
The film is somewhat long on exposition at the start, but once it shifts into the middle act, Rogue One is an exhilarating experience. Similar to what I stated shortly after my first experience of The Force Awakens, Rogue One has met my expectations and exceeded them on several levels.
I will be seeing Rogue One again within the next week to experience it from a perspective that differs from the excitement of the initial viewing. This will allow me to develop additional responses that I will periodically provide in this forum.
by Michael LaPaglia | Dec 13, 2016 | Entertainment
Avoiding Rogue One Spoilers this Week
On 12/10, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had its Hollywood premiere. Exciting times for Star Wars fans indeed.
For the past two weeks, the primary alert on my phone has been continuously reminding me that tickets for my initial viewing of Rogue One have been purchased. And that I will be at an IMAX theater in Franklin, Tennessee on 12/18 for the experience. I can not wait.
As the week progresses, not only will I continue to eagerly anticipate arriving at that IMAX theater, I will also be facing the dilemma of how much information about Rogue One is too much to be exposed to. Last year at this time I faced a similar plight with The Force Awakens premiere.
Storm Trooper from The Force Awakens
Star Wars Social Media Timeout
I will most likely attempt to replicate last year’s strategy by voluntarily placing myself on some sort of a social media timeout. This will minimize the potential damaging exposure to dreaded spoilers. It worked for me last year. We’ll see if I’m strong enough to resist the temptations once again. If I hear or see a spoiler, please send help.
The Force of the Merchandise
The stimuli that I will be unable to avoid this week will be the voluminous amount of Star Wars branded merchandise present wherever I go. I have a distinct weakness to those temptations and find myself quickly moving towards any merchandise display branded with that amazing Star Wars logo.
My family has determined that I need professional help for this. As a Behavior Analyst, I argue that the Star Wars logo and Star Wars merchandise operate as discriminative stimuli that signal the availability of reinforcement. Technical words to describe my behavior; I will be further exploring and describing what this means in more simple terms within future posts.
Coming up next week: the Rogue One review with no spoilers! I promise.
by Michael LaPaglia | Dec 8, 2016 | Entertainment
One Week Until Rogue One
The anticipation for the release of the very first standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One, is something I am enjoying. Much like last year at this time, where the anticipation for Episode VII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was ongoing, it is a time to look forward to a new chapter in the Star Wars films.
Although there has been a significant amount of both positive and negative chatter within and among the fan base, I am trying not to prejudge the film in any way. The re-shoots, the Gareth Edwards issues, the alleged changes in the tone of the film, the change in score composer from Alexandre Desplat to Michael Giacchino, and any other various ”controversies” are only adding to my anticipation. I can’t wait to watch Rogue One in IMAX 3-D at my favorite cinema location this month.
Dark Side vs Light Side Icons
As has become an integral aspect to my history (and yours too!!) with Star Wars, there will surely be a fair share of iconic images, sounds, characters, and scenes in Rogue One. Based on my observations of the trailers, photos, and other media representations, it is the Death Troopers that seem to be intriguing me the most at this point.
For the vast majority of my fandom for Star Wars, I have always tended towards the “good” or the light side. Some of the important references to the Light Side are the Jedi, the Rebellion, Han Solo, R2-D2, and X-wing Starfighters.
R2-D2 and Princess Leia
Beginning with Episode III and its relentless portrayal of Anakin’s transformation to the Dark Side, the icons related to the Dark side became more appealing to me. (I am not sure what that is saying about me as I am getting older. Perhaps a consult with a therapist is in order!)
Within Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith are images that are epochal for the entire Star Wars saga. These include: the appearance of General Grievous, the scene where Anakin takes out Mace Windu’s lightsaber (and his arm!), Anakin’s eyes turning red, the not-so-subtle imagery associated with the light saber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin along with the film score in the scene, and Anakin physically transforming into Darth Vader with the placement of the mask and the breathing. In The Force Awakens, it’s Kylo Ren and all that he represents and what he does. Of course, it’s also the voice in the mask that is really cool!
Right now the images of the Death Troopers in Rogue One are having an impact on me. We will see if that holds true and if any additional ones appear while viewing the film.
In your opinion, what are the two most iconic aspects (images, scenes, sounds, characters, etc.) of the Star Wars films and why?