Win 2 Tickets to See Lenny Kravitz in Miami 8/26! #WMsoundcheck

I’ve been a fan of Lenny Kravitz for a long time…ever since I saw a Jimi Hendrix-esque dude tearing up the guitar while singing, “Are you gonna go my way?” back in the 90′s.

Yes, I know that I just dated myself. It’s okay, I’ve accepted the fact that I am not exactly a spring chicken anymore.

One of the many benefits of “getting older” is that hello, I was a teen in the 90′s. Lenny Kravitz was one of the best musicians to come out of the 90′s era and it thrills me that he is still around making great music! It thrills me even more that I am going to go see him play a private session as a complimentary guest, courtesy of #WMsoundcheck - that’s right, PRIVATE, as in you can’t buy tickets – next week!

Do you want to come too? Because you totally can! Well, two of you can, anyway! I am giving away two tickets to see a private session with Lenny Kravitz next week!

Lenny Kravitz will appear in Miami at the Ice Palace Film Studios, with doors opening at 7 PM and the show beginning at 8 PM.

WIN 2 TICKETS TO SEE LENNY KRAVITZ IN MIAMI!

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Disney Junior’s Sofia the First Enchanted Feast

My niece Roxanna is absolutely infatuated with Disney Junior shows, especially Sofia the First! Sofia is such a little darling and Roxanna just loves watching her and her adventures. I was offered a review copy of Sofia the First Enchanted Feast and knew that Roxanna would be thrilled to add a new title to her Sofia the First Collection, so of course I said yes. I am totally working on my Aunt of the Year nomination.

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In Sofia the First Enchanted Feast, the wicked fairy, Miss Nettle, disguises herself as a powerful sorceress and attempts to steal Sofia’s magical amulet.

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With the help of Snow White, Sofia has to learn to trust her instincts and speak up when she suspects someone is not who or what they say they are.

This is a lesson that I think is really important for kids to learn at a young age. While it’s important for children to be respectful of adults, there is a really fine line between teaching kids to never be disrespectful and respectfully voice their concerns. It was done in a way that kids can really relate to it, which is one of the reasons why Sofia the First is so popular with kids – and parents alike!

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Original Song:  “All You Desire” performed by Sascha the sorceress

Featured Characters: Snow White (Katie Von Till); Sascha, a sorceress and Miss Nettle (Megan Mullally “Will & Grace”); Rosey, an enchanted rose (Pamela Adlon “Louie”)

TalentAriel Winter (ABC TV’s “Modern Family”) as Sofia; Sara Ramirez (ABC TVs “Grey’s Anatomy”) as Queen Miranda; Wayne Brady (TV’s “Let’s Make A Deal”) as Clover; and Tim Gunn (TV’s “Project Runway”) as Baileywick

Executive Producers: Jamie Mitchell (“Special Agent Oso”) Craig Gerber (“Pixie Hollow Games”)

Director: Jamie Mitchell (“Special Agent Oso”)

Street Date: August 5, 2014 (Direct Prebook: 6/10; Distributor Prebook: 6/24)

Packaging: 1-Disc DVD +FREE Enchanted Mirror

Run Time: Approx. 110 minutes

Rated:                                   TV-Y (US)

Aspect ratio:                      1.78:1 Widescreen (Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions)

Sound:                                  2.0 Dolby Digital

Languages/Subtitles:     English, French & Spanish

You can catch a glimpse of Sofia the First Enchanted Feast in this clip! I bet your kids will love it just as much as my niece!

Movies are Better With Ice Cream!

This is a sponsored post in partnership with One2One Network and Mars Ice Cream.

I know that we all love eating popcorn during our family movie nights, but have you ever thought of indulging in a little ice cream instead? Especially during the hot summer months, ice cream makes a fantastic movie night treat! Mars Ice Cream offers all kinds of delicious treats for your family movie night, and we stocked up during our recent vacation in North Carolina. Ah, the benefits of renting a vacation home instead of a hotel – we had a full kitchen with a fridge and freezer! YAY!

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Some of my favorite Mars Ice Cream Products are DOVEBAR® Ice Cream Bars, M&M’S® Brand Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, SNICKERS® Brand Chocolate Ice Cream Bars, TWIX® Ice Cream Bars.

I love that all of my favorite Mars candies are also available in ice cream form! No more freezing my Snickers in order to savor a frozen treat; now I can have a REAL Snickers ice cream bar!

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And who doesn’t love this sweet combination of M&Ms and Ice Cream Sandwich? You’ll never look at a regular old ice cream sandwich the same way…

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When it comes to enjoying the perfect treat this summer, the choice is simple: eat real ice cream. With candy. Duh. It’s the best of both worlds!

Mars Ice Cream frozen novelties pairs delicious, REAL ice cream with all of the flavor of our favorite candy brands. I know that we all love eating candy along with our popcorn while watching movies, but let’s skip the popcorn (and the need to floss the kernels out of our teeth afterwards) and try Mars Ice Cream products!

We really enjoyed our ice cream treats while catching up on a few new releases during vacation. After spending the days outside in the hot summer sun, it was so nice to sit back and relax in the air conditioning and just spend some quiet time together as a family!

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Have you tried the Mars Ice Cream treats yet? If not, then you are going like what I say next…

I am giving away 5 full-value product coupons so that you can try these for yourself!

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Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return Blu-ray Giveaway

FHEI disclosure

Have you seen Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return yet?

Kids of all ages will love this musical, animated journey back to the magical world of Oz that features a legendary cast, including Lea Michele from TV’s “Glee,” Dan Akroyd, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammar and more. A devious new villain, the Jester, rules over Oz and Dorothy must return from Kansas to rescue her old friends: the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. Set to irresistible new songs from Academy Award®-nominated singer/songwriter Bryan Adams and featuring a host of delightful new characters, this animated return to Oz is sure to be a family-favorite filled with fun and laughs for generations to come!

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return Blu-ray Giveaway

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return Special Features

Legends of Oz: The Music of Oz
Legends of Oz: The Legacy of Oz
Sing Along the Yellow Brick Road
Legends of Oz: Activity Sheet
Theatrical Trailer

You can pre-order Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return on Blu-ray on Amazon for just $19.96 right now!

When Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return came out in theaters, I made these really easy Yellow Brick Road Shortbread Cookies to celebrate! Why not try your hand at making them when you watch the movie? They are so fun and super easy to make, the kids can even help!

Yellow Brick Road Cookies Recipe Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return Activity Sheet Printables

Legends of Oz Dorothy's Return free printable activity sheets

Legends of Oz Dorothy's Return free printable activity sheets

Legends of Oz Dorothy's Return free printable activity sheets

Oh, and did I mention that you can enter to win your very own copy of Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return right here?

 

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Premier Thoroughbred Horses Races at Gulfstream Park

If you’re tired of the same boring dinner and a movie for a date, an afternoon out at Gulstream Park is a fun alternative. And you can actually win money! My wife and I were shown a good time at the park by Vince Matthews, who is Miami’s ambassador for horse racing and whose job it is to raise awareness of the sport. The goal no doubt is to increase exposure, but it’s also to lower the median age of its fans. Living in south Florida, we’re fortunate to have several great tracks, something most of the rest of the country doesn’t have.

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Okay, so I mentioned this being a pretty cool date. It is! Maybe not a first date lest one of you think the other is a degenerate gambler. I mean, I’m a degenerate gambler, but I’ve been with Mrs. Degenerate Gambler for six years. I have nothing to hide. Gulfstream’s Ten Palms Restaurant offers a yummy Sunday brunch for $35.00. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet with Eggs Benedict, an omelet station, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and all manner of breads and bagels and pastries. Breakfast not your thing? (Weirdo). That’s no problem. They’ve also got carved turkey or ham, fried chicken, ribs, cocktail shrimp, lentil soup, and a variety of desserts such as flan, different puddings, tres leches, bread pudding, and the best cheesecake in the form of a cupcake I’ve ever had. A mimosa is included in the price, along with coffee, of course. Oh, and there’s fruit and salad, if you’re one of those people. What my wife and I did was eat breakfast and then lunch a few hours later (don’t judge us!). This is all perfectly fine with the wait staff, who are very attentive. They must’ve refilled my coffee and water ten times. So while you’re stuffing your face, you can watch the races from the restaurant which overlooks the track. Of course, you don’t have to get the brunch buffet while watching the races, but if you plan on being there any amount of time, get yourself some brunch.

Brunch at Gulfstream Park Race Track in Miami

If you go to the track just to watch the horses and not to gamble, then… Yeah right! You want to win money! It can be a little overwhelming if you’ve never wagered on horses before. I hadn’t. But everyone at Gulstream Park is really helpful and really patient. The most common wagers are Win, Place, and Show bets. Win means you’re betting on the horse to finish first. Place, first or second. Show, first, second, or third.

Gulfstream Park Race Track

Payouts are based on what the Win price, Place price, and Show price, respectively, are. And these prices depend on the odds of a particular horse to win. For example, bet $2 on a horse with 10-1 odds and it wins, you win $20 plus your original $2. A horse with long odds, say 20-1, will make you more money, but there’s a reason they’re 20-1. The favorites, horses with the best odds, tend to win these races more often than the others. But just betting on favorites to win won’t make you much money, though there is something to be said for having a good time and not losing money.

 

In addition to these bets are more exotic kinds of wagers. You can wager on a particular horse to finish first and another horse to finish second. That’s called an Exacta. Or, you can bet on two horses to finish first and second, regardless of order. That’s called an Exacta Box. You can do this for three horses (Trifecta) and four horses (Superfecta) and so on. The payouts for these bets are really high, even on modest wagers, but the more horses involved, the more difficult it is for the best to come through. On this particular Sunday, the first race began at 1:15 PM. That’s called the post time. Races are measured in furlongs, which are equivalent to roughly 1/8 of a mile. All this information can be found in the daily program. Get yourself one. In there, you’ll find what time each race begins, the horses’ past performances, jockeys, trainers, owners, and all kinds of stuff. My wife and I pretty much stuck with the what horse names we like best route. Not the most profitable, but still fun.

Eric

 

Prior to the race, the horses are brought out from their stables to the fountain area for the public to see. In the third race, a maiden race (for horses who’ve never won a race), I notices a feisty three-year-old named Guarimbero who was giving his handler a heck of a time. I decided to bet $20 on him to win at 14-1 odds, and he did! By two lengths! Unfortunately, we weren’t as lucky on the other races, but still ended up with more money than when we’d started. I think a successful strategy for not losing would be to bet favorites to show. You won’t make much, but you won’t lose much, and you’ll be able to watch the races with a rooting interest. If you’ve ever wanted to go to the track, or you’re looking for a fun, different way of spending the day, visit Gulfstream Park. You won’t be disappointed.

eric at Gulfstream Park Race Track in Miami

The races are at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, FL and take place in the afternoons every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The first race is at 1:25 PM and the last race is at 5:30 PM.

Visit Gulfstream Park to find out more about the thoroughbred horse races, dining and their casino!

 

Disney’s Into the Woods Movie Trailer is on iTunes!

Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests.

Disney's Into The Woods Movie Trailer

This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

Disney's Into The Woods Movie Trailer

Catch a sneak peek with this Into the Woods trailer on iTunes!

Cast: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine, Baranski and Johnny Depp, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, MacKenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Frances de la Tour, Simon Russell Beale, Richard Glover, Joanna Riding, Annette Crosbie.

Director: Rob Marshall
Producers: Rob Marshall, John DeLuca, Marc Platt, Callum McDougall
Screenplay by: James Lapine
Based on the musical play by: Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine

Disney's Into The Woods Movie Trailer

Rob Marshall, the talented filmmaker behind the Academy Award®-winning musical “Chicago” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” helms the film, which is based on the Tony®-winning original musical by James Lapine, who also penned the screenplay, and legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, who provides the music and lyrics. Produced by Marshall, John DeLuca, “Wicked” producer Marc Platt and Callum McDougall, “Into the Woods” hits theaters Dec. 25, 2014.

Special Notes about Into the Woods

Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway on Nov. 5, 1987, at the Martin Beck Theatre.  The production, which ran for 764 performances, won Tony® Awards for best score, best book and best actress in a musical. Among other awards, the musical received five Drama Desk awards, including best musical.  “Into the Woods” has been produced around the world, including a 1988 U.S. tour, a 1990 West End production, Broadway and London revivals, in addition to a television production DVD recording and a 10-year anniversary concert.

The big-screen adaptation welcomes songs from the stage musical, including “Children Will Listen,” “Giants in the Sky,” “On the Steps of the Palace,” “No One Is Alone” and “Agony,” among others.

The award-winning production team includes Dion Beebe (“Collateral,” “Chicago,” “Nine”), Oscar® winner for the Marshall-helmed “Memoirs of a Geisha,” as director of photography. Dennis Gassner (“Skyfall,” “Quantum of Solace”), who won his own Oscar for “Bugsy,” serves as production designer, and three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Chicago,” “Alice In Wonderland”) is costume designer.

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INTO THE WOODS opens in theaters everywhere on December 25th!

Guardians of the Galaxy is the Casablanca of Talking Raccoon Movies

{S P O I L E R   A L E R T}

The Avengers was funny and charming and an overall good time, and while I understood the process leading up to it, it doesn’t mean I had to like that process. Because Thor and Captain America didn’t feel like movies unto themselves so much as pieces of a larger puzzle. So I’m grateful to not have had a Star-Lord: The First Guardian or The Adventures of Rocket and Groot to sit through. The film begins in 1988 with an eight-year-old Peter Quill in a hospital waiting room listening to “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc on his Walkman. The most unbelievable thing about Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t the talking, gun-toting raccoon or the sentient tree. It’s that an eight-year-old kid in ’88 would be listening to 70s era English soft pop. We later learn he’s in the hospital to see his dying mother and she’s the one who made the mixtape he’s listening to. “Awesome Mix #1.” My mom’s mixtape to me would’ve been chock full of Engelbert Humperdinck and Barry Manilow. Thankfully, Mrs. Quill’s musical tastes are more palatable and we get a pretty cool soundtrack (the Quicksilver scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past set to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” remains the highlight of the summer movie season). She gives one final gift to her son, which he does not open. Like the old adage goes, show an unopened gift in Act I, that gift had better be unwrapped by Act III. So how does an eight-year-old earthling become an intergalactic obtainer of space antiquities? Why, by getting abducted by aliens whose leader is Blue Merle Dixon, of course.

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Cut to a nice homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark and a now grown-up Peter Quill, the self-appointed Star-Lord, having to navigate alien booby traps to steal some sort of blue orb. Star-Lord employs all kinds of neat technology like rocket thrusters on his boots and a mask which allows him to breathe in any kind of atmosphere. So he steals the orb, but is soon intercepted by Kree soldiers. The Kree are a race of blue alien baddies (so much blue!). One of the Kree, Ronan, wants the orb because of its power to… destroy? … make him all-powerful?… something. Suffice it to say, Ronan getting the orb is bad news for the good guys. Ronan dispatches sisters Gamora (green Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (blue Amy Pond; so much blue!), who just happen to be Thanos’ daughters, to collect the orb. Thanos has a cameo in Guardians, and the theater I was in went nuts when he appeared! My friend and I looked at each other like, “Really? Thanos? Cheered?” To paraphrase Ben from Parks and Rec, nerd culture truly is a part of the zeitgeist. Star-Lord takes the orb to an orb broker, because this is the kind of movie where being an orb broker is a thing, but Star-Lord’s turned away when said broker finds out Ronan wants the orb. I told you that dude’s bad! You know just how bad because he makes beef jerky of the scenery with dialogue like, “Send necrocraft to every section of the quadrant.” What are you even talking about, Ronan?

But back to Star-Lord. Gamora tracks him down to Planet Nova and attempts to take the orb from him. She’s not without cool dialogue of her own. “Whatever nightmares the future holds are dreams compared to what’s behind me.” I’m guessing she’s got a lot of Mazzy Star on her Walkman mixtape. But she ain’t the only one after them. Groot (tree) and Rocket (raccoon) are after the bounty on Star-Lord. These two are easily the best part of the movie, and it’s the most enjoyable Bradley Cooper’s ever been. For real! The jokes don’t always land, but when they’re coming as quick as the rounds from Rocket’s weapons, that’s okay. The four are quickly rounded up for being public menaces by the Nova Corps (the planetary police force) and shipped off to the prison space station of Kyln. There’s no mention of a trial so I can only assume Kyln is some sort of interstellar Guantanamo where prisoners are sent without due process. Inside, they meet Drax the Destroyer. He’s got a personal beef with Ronan and wants revenge. The team now being assembled, the prison break can commence, and it’s the movie’s best set piece. Once aboard Star-Lord’s ship, the team plans their next step, which is to visit a mining colony and meet with The Collector.

These moments on board the ship offer a respite between the action and provide opportunities for the actors to play off one another. Like when Gamora tells Star-Lord his ship is filthy, he responds that under a blacklight it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. You mothers of teenage boys can take this joke to its natural conclusion. So they approach the mining colony set to David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” I’d have gone with “Starman” off the same album, but maybe the former song held more importance to Mrs. Quill, playing the first time she tripped acid at the laser light show at the planetarium. Who knows? Another big set piece in the mining colony. Bad guys show up, take the orb, and the heroes have to recover the orb to save humanity. Always with the saving humanity. If us regular folk only knew…

Ronan and the Kree attack Planet Nova, and it’s up to the Guardians, the Nova Corps, and blue Merle and his people to save it. This is the biggest set piece in the film, intercutting between aerial dogfights, action in the Kree ship, and reactions of the people on the ground. Guardians sets the new standard for spaceship dogfights, and in 3D it’s gorgeous. The 3D here is crisp, fine details like Rocket’s fur looking sharp. Many times, one’s eyes have to perpetually readjust to the screen in 3D in other films. Not so here. Didn’t happen once. The good guys eventually confront Ronan, and Ronan destroys the Guardians… and, if you believe that, you’ve never seen a comic book movie. So does Peter Quill finally open Mom’s present? Well, all I’ll say is her tastes shifted from English pop/glam-rock to Motown, with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and the Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back.”

So should you see it? What do you want in a summer movie? Action? Check. Laughs? Check. Something the kids will enjoy? Check. See it on the big screen too. It’s not one of those wait till Redbox deals. And with Marvel now seemingly pouring resources into every one of its projects, it’s more Avengers than Fantastic Four. It’s the Casablanca of talking raccoon movies.

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OFFICIAL BOILERPLATE:

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens in theaters everywhere on August 1st!

The Inspiration Behind Piston Peak in Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue

I would have never imagined how much detail and planning goes into creating the location for a Disney animated movie. When we sat down with Toby Wilson at Disneytoon Studios to learn about the process of creating Piston Peak, the location of Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue, I was astounded at the attention to detail that went into this movie! I had recently been to Yosemite National Forest, and I recognized a few places while watching the movie, so I knew that they relied on that incredible scenery for inspiration…but I really just had NO IDEA of the magnitude!

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An actual photo I took in Yosemite National Forest in April…

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And the place Toby’s team went to get inspiration  Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue set of Piston Peak.

Disney's Planes Fire and Rescue Yosemite National Park #FireandRescueEvent

 

I knew that Piston Peak looked familiar!

Toby Wilson told us that he and Bobs Gannaway spent time exploring Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park taking photos and jotting down their ideas of what they wanted Piston Peak to look like – it’s always more “real” if a movie set seems like a real place, and what better way to accomplish that than by modeling it after a real place?

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUEThe Grand Fusel Lodge in Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue is modeled after two different hotels: the Ahawani Resort in Yosemite National Park and the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The inside is modeled after the Old Faithful Inn and the outside of the building is modeled after the Ahawani. Isn’t that cool? There is so much detail in the Grand Fusel Lodge, which is one of the main locations in the Piston Peak National Park, where everyone comes to meet up and spend the night in one of the 327 hangers.

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE

As you watch Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue, watch for places that you recognize from both Yosemite National Forest and Yellowstone National Park – it will give you a new appreciation for all of the time and dedication the Disney creative team puts into bringing us these incredibly realistic and powerful movies!

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Go see Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue in theaters now!

 

 

Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue Film Review #FireandRescueEvent

I attended a screening of Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue as part of an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles, but all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. 

I have to be honest, when I watched Disney’s Planes, I thought it was a cute movie, but it didn’t really stand out to me in a way that made me want to add it to my top ten Disney movies…so when I was invited to a screening of Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue while in LA a while back, I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t like it. Well, not only did I like it, but I LOVED IT! Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue was awesome in so many ways, where do I begin?

Planes Fire and Rescue Movie Poster #FireandRescueEvent

About Disney’s Planes” Fire and Rescue

Planes: Fire & Rescue” is a new comedy-adventure about second chances, featuring a dynamic crew of elite firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfire.

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When world-famous air racer Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting.

Dusty joins forces with veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris) and his courageous team, including spirited air tanker Dipper (voice of Julie Bowen), heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter (voice of Wes Studi), ex-military transport Cabbie (voice of Captain Dale Dye) and a lively bunch of brave all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers.

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Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.

Why I loved Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue

First of all, the scenery was really spot on and so accurate for the location – I had recently been to Yosemite National Park and I recognized so many places in the movie! It was beautiful to watch!

In the beginning of the movie, I wasn’t a big fan of Dusty. He seemed a bit egotistical and when he went to Piston Peak, you could literally watch him changing and becoming a better plane/person in the process. He learned so much and I was really rooting for him in the end!

Like every great Disney movie, there was a love story…but it was pretty one sided between Dipper and Dusty. It provided for a lot of laughs throughout the movie!

The message behind Planes: Fire and Rescue was one of second chances, teamwork and sacrifice. I don’t want to give it all away, but let’s just say that you might cry a little – and walk away from the movie theater with a new-found respect for firemen across the country!

I WANT ALL OF THE TOYS!

There are so many really cool Planes: Fire and Rescue toys in the Disney Store right now, like my favorite, the Windlifter Deluxe Die Cast Helicopter!

PicMonkey Collage

Check out my favorite toys!

Disney PLANES: Fire & Rescue Exclusive Deluxe 10 Piece PVC Figure Play Set [Pontoon Dusty, Blade Ranger, Windlifter, Lil' Dipper, Mayday, Dynamite, Avalanche, Blackout, Drip & Pinecone]

Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Oversized Windlifter Vehicle

Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Dusty with Pontoons Die-cast Vehicle

Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue opens in theaters nationwide TODAY! Go see it – in 3D!

Party it Up With a Rio 2 Blu-ray Combo Pack Giveaway! #Rio2Insiders

FHEI disclosure

Get ready to shake your tail feathers and venture deep into the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest for the most fun you’ll have all summer, as Rio 2 (3D Blu-ray)is now available in stores and online! Just in time for a little extra excitement during your summer vacation, this hilarious family-friendly animated adventure will samba its way into your home with exciting bonus features and extras everyone will enjoy. 

Rio2_BD_Oring

The cast of the animated hit comedy Rio returns — along with a new flock of all-star voice talent, including Bruno Mars, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Garcia and more — in this high-flying sequel for the whole family. The party continues when Blu (Oscar® nominee Jesse Eisenberg1), Jewel (Oscar® winner Anne Hathaway2) and their three kids take a walk on the wild side and embark on a colorful, comical, music-filled journey through the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit into his new surroundings, he goes beak-to-beak with the villainous Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all: his father-in-law!

The RIO 2 Blu-ray™ and DVD brings everything you loved from the first Rio, but with even more laughs, excitement and music! Not only will kids get nearly an hour and a half of bonus features on the RIO 2 Blu-ray™, but they’ll also get their groove on with two downloadable bonus songs from the RIO 2 soundtrack: “I Will Survive” and “Poisonous Love,” both performed by Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth) and Nigel (Jemaine Clement). For even more fun, every Blu-ray™ comes with 15 exclusive levels for Angry Birds Rio™ and Music Machine Sing-Along and Dance-Along songs for a whole family party! There’s also Janelle Monáe’s “What is Love” lyric video, a deleted scene, character auditions and much more!

Rio 2 Blu-ray 3D  Special Features

Deleted Scene – Practice
Rio Refresher
Boom, Shake, Snap: The Local Sounds of Brazil
The Bodybeats of the Barbatuques
How to Play the Barbatuques!
Rhythmic Rio
The Upbeat Uakti JamBehind The Scenes
Birds and Beats: The Singing Talents of Rio 2
Nigel the Shakespearean Cockatoo and Friends
Music, Dance, Sing-Along Machine
“I Will Survive” Multi-Language Sequence
Still Gallery, Theatrical Trailers and much more!

You can actually buy Rio 2 (3D Blu-ray) combo pack on Amazon for just $22.99 right now!

Or you can head to Best Buy, pick up your copy of Rio 2 and get a special edition Rio 2 lunchbox!

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Don’t just watch Rio 2 when it arrives on Blu-ray – live it! Try this super fun recipe for the kiddos to snack on while watching their new favorite movie!

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And of course, you can enter to win your very own copy from me and the good folks at the The Fox Home Insiders Team.

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The New #DisneyMoviesAnywhere App Makes Summer Travel With Kids Easier!

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Disney Movies Anywhere blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Summer is all about travel and If you’ve been following along with me on social media the past month or so, you’ll see that we kicked off our summer travel season early this year! Now, Angeline is a teenager, but we face a lot of the same traveling dilemmas that families with young children face…namely, keeping her entertained during the to and from and during downtime.  With the new Disney Movies Anywhere app for iOS, parents lives are made a little easier because our kids have access to all of their favorite Disney movies anytime, anywhere!

Disney Movies Anywhere #DisneyMoviesAnywhere App

Each year, we take a family road trip to Western North Carolina, which is about a 14 hour drive. We have done this almost every year since Angeline was 2 and I think now that she is 16, we finally have that long stretch of driving down to a science!

I grew up visiting my grandparents in North Carolina and attending our annual family reunion, and I am so happy to be able to give Angeline that same experience. We are now preparing for a first for our family…we are taking along Angeline’s boyfriend on our NC Road Trip! He will accompany us to our family reunion and we plan to show him some of the places that we have been going to as a family since forever; for instance, Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah Forest has been a favorite sunny day spot since I was a kid, and we always take Angeline there to splash around on hot days!

North Carolina Road Trip

With two teenagers in the backseat for a 14 hour drive, I am so grateful to modern technology – thank goodness for the Disney Movies Anywhere app for iOS, otherwise we would have two very bored kids in the backseat!

The Disney Movies Anywhere app is perfect for summer travel because you can view your favorite Disney movies streaming when connected to wifi, but you can also download them to view when you are offline. After you download the app, just sign up for Disney Movies Anywhere and connect your iTunes account. You can enter the special codes from your Disney DVD/Blu-ray purchases to save your movies to your account or buy them from the iTunes store (and earn Disney Movie Rewards off those new purchases!) and they are always there in your account when you need them. There is also free content available in the app, including new original programming, exclusive clips, fun movie factoids, and you can preorder Disney movies that are in theaters or returning from the Disney vault.

The Disney Movies Anywhere app is available for iOS and works on the iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and Apple TV as well. You can check out this video to get a better idea of how it works.

Right now, when you download the Disney Movies Anywhere app, register, and connect your iTunes account, you will receive a free copy of Pixar’s The Incredibles! A new Pixar movie will be released each week at the special price of $14.99 for a limited time – they are regularly $19.99, so now is the perfect time to stock up on your favorites! 

4 Tips for a Better Family Road Trip

Bring LOTS of Entertainment - Kids get bored so easily in the car, and there is nothing worse than a child crying “I’m bored! Are we there yet?” from the backseat. Make sure you download the Disney Movies Anywhere app on each child’s iOS device and have them choose a few movies to download so that they are available offline during your road trip.

Travel Tip: Electronics are no fun when the batteries die. Invest in an inexpensive back up battery charger with multiple USB ports so that your kids can keep their devices charged on long road trips without using up all of the outlets in the car!

Schedule Bathroom Breaks Into Your Travel Plan – When we map out our route, it’s easy to overlook things like gas station stops and bathroom breaks. At the end of the trip, those 10 and 15 minute stops can really add up and set you back, so plan accordingly. Count on stopping once every 200 miles for a gas refill and make sure the kids go to the bathroom each time you stop for gas. Even if they are sleeping or say they don’t have to go – wake them up and take them to the bathroom. It’s Murphy’s Law that as soon as you get back on the highway, the kids will all wake up with an urgent need to use the restroom!

Pack a Cooler Full of Snacks – Gas station stops are known for their aisles stocked with junk food and there’s something about a road trip that stimulates the appetite! Instead of spending a fortune and filling up on junk food during your road trip, plan ahead and pack a small cooler (or big one, depending on the size of your family) with juice boxes, bottled waters and healthy snacks that your kids will enjoy. Think cheese and pepperoni, carrots and small ranch dressing containers and apple slices. Of course, no road trip is complete without a little bit of munchies, so bring along a big bag of pretzels, granola bars or other snacks that won’t leave your kids with a sugar high!

Bring a Comfy Blanket and Pillows – There’s just something about being in the car for long stretches of time that makes us doze off. Bring along a pillow for each child, as well as a blanket so that they can cozy up if you crank the AC.

Go download the Disney Movies Anywhere app now and get your copy of Pixar’s The Incredibles!

 

You can also Like Disney Movies Anywhere on Facebook to stay up to date on their current promotions!

Julie Bowen Dishes on Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue #FireandRescueEvent

While in Los Angeles for the screening of Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue, I had to opportunity to meet and interview Julie Bowen! I know, I know, right? It was crazy!! I am a huge Modern Family fan, and Claire is one of my favorite characters on the show. When we found out that she was starring as Dipper in Planes: Fire and Rescue, I was so happy – but when the folks at Disney confirmed that we would actually meet Julie Bowen and talk to her about her part in the movie, I about had a heart attack!

Julie Bowen was referred to by the casting directer as “over caffienated” and after meeting her, I can say that was a completely accurate portrayal. Her bubbly personality was so parallel to the character of Dipper, it’s no wonder that they wanted her for this part!

This lady is go go go – and then go some more! She was practically bursting with energy during our interview!

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Unlike most interviews I’ve been involved with (there haven’t been that many, so maybe this happens all the time?), our interview began with Julie Bowen asking US a question!

So did your guys see the movie?

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well you have to say that to me anyhow. I haven’t seen it, but I know that it’s gonna hit the sweet spot in my house. With three boys. Four with my husband, too. We obviously don’t always go on the Princess Alley, although we will visit Frozen.

Is this your first time playing an animated character?

For a movie, yes. I did like a couple little quickie things. Cheap & Dirty, but it brought a lot out of it for my kids for like Scooby-Doo. Because they’ve never seen Modern Family. Plus you know, kids, the world is about them and according to my therapist, that’s totally normal, for awhile. So I’m like really? They don’t want to see me on screen that much, but they like the voice thing. So when I got an opportunity to do this, I saw how much mileage I got off Scooby-Doo. I couldn’t believe how much mileage I got from them. They were like worshipping me. So I’m genuinely excited to show off to my children.

How was it to do animated versus Modern Family?

So different. I am not a trained voice actor. I’m keenly aware of my weaknesses and that may be because there’s something that obscure or high, there’s no I think we might have seen your boob there. You know what I mean? It’s just your voice, and if you aren’t getting across clearly, the humor, the message, the real sentiment, you can’t deny it. You can’t go like your hair looks nice, so maybe no one will notice. So I was keenly aware of it. Luckily they are perfectionists and they are so pro that they very quickly figured out that the best way to work with me was just let me go. And then some poor editor had to sit somewhere going, oh my god. I mean I was leaping around, swearing. The original Dipper had quite a mouth on her. But to get to the sassiness of the way that she thinks, I kind of needed to spout some garbage.

There are gonna be girls watching this film that are gonna come away going, yeah, I totally wanna fly planes or do something?

You know, there’s always a little digital thing rolling and I was shocked to see how specific they made the plane. I mean a plane doesn’t have a front grill like cars did. They didn’t have even a bumper to do mouths and stuff with, or hands. They were really limited and they made it look really human and kind of like me. I think it’s all in the mouth, but  I didn’t meet anybody about that kind of a job and I only recently discovered what I’m called. Because I didn’t realize I had to be a real thing, you know. I underestimated the level of research that they had done and I thought I was just, you know, one of those planes that picks up water. You know, it’s much more than that.

Do you watch the film first and then voice it?

They draw it.  It’s kind of like what you would imagine as far as there’s a rough sketch copy. Like pencil drawing, and then sometimes it’s more than that. It’s the pencil drawing against the backdrop because I guess the backdrops are more static, or those are painted in. I’m not exactly sure how that happens but what I see is just mostly some loose drawings in the very beginning. Moving around and kind of marking the major things. Then I come back like six months later and they’re drawn more. The cool thing is, six months or eight months later, they’ve taken all that spouting that I did in the booth, and running around and sweating, and they incorporate it into the character. And now they’ve started to draw her movement and her mouth and everything to fit that. That was very cool to see. Somebody had to work very hard. The last things I’ve seen have been, to my eye look finished. I’m sure a professional will have tweaking to do or something.

Are you ever with other actors in the booth or always by yourself?

No. I was always by myself except for when I did Scooby-Doo it was in a room with a bunch of people. But, those are serialized. You know, it’s weekly or however they do it. So they’ve got a much faster production piece. I don’t think you can afford to bring one person in at a time. I was completely alone. But luckily Dane Cook was done. It was completely done. So I could hear him, I could hear Ed Harris, I could hear everybody else.

At the end of the day did you walk away feeling different?

You know, I think when I actually get to see the whole movie it’s gonna be really exciting. I’m not very good at watching myself, but I’m okay at listening to myself. It also feels so collaborative, it doesn’t feel like I’m raising the ‘I am awesome’ flag, which always makes me cringe a little. I can look at this and go, wow, I was part of something that was so awesome so it’s easy when you’re done to embrace the whole thing.

Did you get to ad-lib any?

Yeah, like a lot of adlibbing. I’m not super great at joke telling or reading a line. Usually I have to lay the pipe a bit. That’s the person who gives you the story. Sometimes it’s not the exciting stuff, it’s not the jokes, but they’re laying it out. They’re like, Luke has the flu and Alex is here, and then Phil gets to go, oh…and my butt is frozen. Or whatever the funny line is.And this was, everybody else for the most part, were laying pipe and I had to come in with exactly this romance in my head. So really the possibilities were endless because they weren’t necessarily a hundred percent connected to what was going on. Like one thing, we’re gonna go here and then I would take that to, well what do you want me to tell him? It’s a date, it’s our third date? Our second date? I don’t know anything. I still am not sure a hundred percent what’s in there. But I’m sure it’s very, very perfect for children.

How intensive was the process for the animators compared to your work on Modern Family?

I mean this was so great and short. Even though I sweat a lot and get really anxious whenever I had to go in, I didn’t have to go in that many times. Bob was so great that they just let me go, instead of trying to…let’s get the line. Stop. Let’s get the line. They just were like, just do whatever you want and we’ll tell you if we need something else. So they had a lot more material probably than they needed. I just went in to like polish up bits, or change it for legal reasons or whatever. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s actually coming out as a movie. It seemed like a fun place to go where I didn’t have to wear makeup. [LAUGHTER] Modern Family is you get there- it’s a process, but I’ve been doing TV for a long time so you’re getting there at six a.m. and somebody makes you look  much better and, by the time you get to the stage at seven thirty in the morning it’s been hours and it’s like go team. This was very different.

Julie-Bowen-

Go see Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue on July 18th – I promise that you are going to love it!!

Planes Fire and Rescue Movie Poster #FireandRescueEvent

 

Be a Part of the Mooo-Dy Summer Mania!

I spent many a summer afternoon in my childhood and tween years reading the day away, and even now that I am all grown up, I still love to read! If you have a budding bookworm in the family, then I have some exciting news for you! Right now, when you buy Borden half gallons of milk, you will find a unique code on the container that you can enter gain access to downloadable exclusive items and activities from Mooo-dy Summer Mania!

The Mooo-dy Summer Mania began on June 27th and ends on July 31st, 2014, so you still have all month to take advantage of this fun promotion! There are nine different downloadable items in the Mooo-dy Summer Mania, and each code can be redeemed once for one item.

Moody Summer Mania

What is Moody Mania all about? Megan McDonald created the Judy Moody series as a summer reading campaign, and it features the nine-year-old Judy and her brother, Stink.  The siblings will join Borden Dairy’s mascot, Elsie the Cow, on over a million half-gallon Borden milk containers with easy to remove, peel-away labels. Printed on each label is a unique code that you and your children can enter on the Moody Mania website.

The site contains way-cool prizes, activities and stories about Judy Moody and Stink that you can download. There’s even an original, brand new story!

About the Judy Moody™ Book Series

The Judy Moody book series, targeted at 6-9 year olds, is written about a feisty and independent-minded girl who finds herself in fun and adventurous scenarios in each individual book of the series. Judy Moody has more than 17.5 million books in print and has won over 30 children’s literature awards!

Enter to WIN BIG in the Way-Cool Sweepstakes!

Do your child love reading and want to win Way-Cool prizes? Then head over to Moody Mania and enter the Way-Cool Sweepstakes and you could win one of four awesome prizes!

Grand Prize is a complete Judy Moody and Stink library signed by the author/illustrator

First Prize is a signed copy of New Judy Moody and Stink Book

Second Prize is a Mystery Judy Moody and Stink Book

Third Prize is a Uber-Awesome Temporary Tattoo

Way Cool Sweepstakes

Get Social with Elsie the Cow!

For more fun tips from Borden Dairy follow Elsie on Pinterest and Like the Elsie the Cow Facebook page!