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Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Disneyland’s Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened officially May 31st! It’s finally here and we’re so excited. We’ve been waiting for this day for four years. Last night, our entire all things Disney and all things Star Wars obsessed family gathered around the television at 10 p.m. to watch the reveal live. Yes, we are that family.

Our trip is already planned. We will be arriving at Walt Disney World on September 1st to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. What better place for the couple who were introduced at their reception to the Star Wars theme and who honeymooned at Walt Disney World than Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge?

In 2015, when Walt Disney Company revealed plans to build “Star Wars” lands at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, legions of Star Wars fans collectively held their breath. When Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, revealed that one of the rides would allow us all to live out our childhood fantasy of piloting the Millennium Falcon we thought we were dreaming. We’ve been waiting with bated breath ever since.

READ ALSO: Galaxy’s Edge Opening Day Revealed

Disneyland’s “Star Wars” expansion is the biggest in the park’s history with 14-acres of complete Star Wars immersiveness for as far as the eye can see. Just imagine, you and your family at a trading port on Batuu in Black Spire Outpost on the edge of the wild wild west of space. It looks incredibly immersive and interactive and we can’t wait to experience it for ourselves this fall at Walt Disney World.

I’ve done some research and here is everything you need to know before you visit Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

 You will feel like you are in a galaxy far far away

 When you enter Galaxy’s Edge, you will be on a planet called Batuu. You might remember it from the “Star Wars” comic books and television series. Disney describes Batuu as “on the frontier of Wild Space — the uncharted region beyond all known star systems.” Welcome to Black Spire Outpost, a port on Batuu.

Black Spire Outpost is a trading village built on a dry riverbed on Batuu in the center of Galaxy’s Edge. It absolutely looks otherworldly with rock spires towering before visitors.

There is no overt signage to be found around Black Spire Outpost. It’s all coded.  But here is some inside info:

Savi’s Workshop ( where you can make your own Lightsaber) has a flag with a stylized lightsaber on it.

The Docking Bay 7 Restaurant has a 7 on the building.

Each market place shop has a sign on the building.

It’s a fun hidden code to figure it out and you can do just that using the app. But I’ll tell you more about that later.

Know the Star Wars lingo before you go to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

Rumors

Bright suns: Hello

Till the spire: goodbye

How much does something cost? They will answer in galactic credits, not dollars.

For example, a creature counter might be 70 credits.

Don’t ask anyone where to buy or build a “Lightsaber” because they won’t tell you. Hello, it’s contraband, You’ll have to inquire about the “scrap metal”.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Guests only have four hours to visit Galaxy’s Edge, so plan ahead.

If you have a Galaxy’s Edge reservation, you can’t just show up whenever you want. Guests are assigned specific, four-hour windows during which they can visit. Each guest with a reservation will receive a wristband for their assigned time from the “Star Wars” films will escort you out of the land. I don’t know but I think it would be pretty cool to get escorted out by Stormtroopers. If for some reason you leave earlier than your four hours, you cannot come back in. So don’t do that unless it’s an emergency.

It’s been suggested to use your time in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge very wisely. We read that the 4-hour reservation is plenty of time to do it all but you have to prioritize. The suggested order was to first visit Savi’s workshop to build your lightsaber ( which takes an estimated 15 minute wait time and 20 minutes to build your lightsaber), next visit Oga’s Cantina ( which currently has a 2 drink and 45 minute maximum), then Smugglers Run: Millennium Falcon experience, merchandise and then food.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing your Walt Disney World Vacations

I’m planning on building my own droid at the droid depot so I need to a lot of time for that. I’ve also heard that a visit to Dok-Ondars Den of Antiquities is a must see with high-end souvenirs. It’s also been said that you can probably hit Smugglers Run more than once if you wait to go again at the end of your 4-hour window. I’ll test the theory in September and let you know.

Once you’ve experienced all of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge main attractions, take some time to immerse yourself in the citizens and environment. Soak it all up, you are in a galaxy far far away after all. How many people can say that?

How to be one of the first to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

To get inside Galaxy’s Edge between its grand opening and June 23, visitors will need a reservation in addition to park entry tickets. Disney is anticipating beyond-capacity crowds. Even with your reservation, you are capped at 4 hour increments. There are no spots left unless you are staying at one of the Disney-owned hotels. Prices are currently starting at $500 a night. An identical version of Galaxy’s Edge will be opening at Walt Disney World in Orlando on Aug. 29. I will be there with my family on September 1st, ready to get my Star Wars on.

In anticipation of the new attractions’ popularity, Disney has taken steps to better equip Disneyland to handle massive crowds. As part of the Project Stardust initiative, Disney has added new parking and expanded pedestrian walkways throughout Disneyland Resort.

Ride queues have been reconfigured to put guests in the shade, and extra seating was added to the Adventureland and Tomorrowland sections of the park. The reservation system for Galaxy’s Edge may also help control crowds in Disneyland.

You can be part of the Resistance or the First Order experience.

Disney parks usually offer passive experiences.  I love riding the rides and watching as everything happens but that is not Galaxy’s Edge. Galaxy’s Edge is taking it to the next level.  It’s role-playing where you are part of the action. Disney’s employees have always been cast members, but the staff at Galaxy’s Edge go a step further. They are Batuu residents who greet you by saying “bright suns” and never break character.

The story of Black Spire Outpost is new and set after the events of “The Last Jedi.” Therefore, don’t expect to run into Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader or Yoda. They’re dead so it wouldn’t make sense for them to be walking around the park. It’s an entirely new place and everyone is experiencing this for the first time.

READ ALSO: What’s New at Walt Disney World

One thing that I think is really cool is the atmospheric encounters instead of character meets with Rey, Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers and Chewbacca. No crazy lines because the characters are walking around the land interacting because that’s where they belong. Also, spontaneous atmospheric entertainment.

If you come across one of your favorite characters, I’m looking at you Chewie, they will stay in character while photo pass photographers take a “scan of you”.

The Galaxy’s Edge Rides.

Galaxy’s Edge will include two thrill rides, Rise of the Resistance, a visit to a Star Destroyer that includes a face-off with the ruthless Kylo Ren and the Smuggler’s Run where you can pilot the Millennium Falcon.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run recreates the experience of flying the spacecraft piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Each ride vehicle seats six people, and the ride is designed to be interactive so guests will use controls to either pilot the ship, use blasters to defend the craft or keep the ship running smoothly as flight engineers.

Piloting the Millennium Falcon

Once aboard the Millennium Falcon, you hang in the main hold, which looks identical to the Falcon from the films. Once it’s time for your mission, strap in the Falcon cockpit. Each person is assigned one of three roles and you work as a team.

You can ride stand by, single rider or fast pass but fast passes aren’t available yet. We’ve read that the queue is shorter at the end of the 4-hour time frame.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Galaxy’s Edge’s second ride won’t open until later in 2019.

The Food at Galaxy’s Edge.

Oga’s Cantina will be the first place to ever serve alcohol in Disneyland. The bar serves already mixed cocktails and beers in souvenir glasses. This is not a full bar so don’t expect to order whatever you want. A fun bit of musical entertainment is provided by D.J. Rex.

I’ve heard the drinks are fun and creative but quite pricey if you want the cool souvenir mugs and who doesn’t? A regular cocktail at Oga’s Cantina can cost around $17, not including the price of a souvenir mug. Single beers cost $12 each, or $75 for a flight of 4 beers. The one I’m most looking forward to trying id the Fuzzy Tauntaun. It is Ciroc peach vodka, rolls peach schnapps, simply orange with tangerine, pure cane sugar and buzz foam ( be warned it will make your mouth tingly and numb) and cost $15.

READ ALSO: Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families

Several restaurants serve “Star Wars” themed food, including a Ronto Wrap which is a sausage, pork gyro topped with coleslaw.

The Milk Stand serves the famous Blue and Green Milk frozen beverages. They’re coconut milk based frozen drink with the blue one tasting fruity and the green one tasting more citrusy. Blue and Green Milk drinks cost $8.

There is one free souvenir in Galaxy’s Edge and that’s the cardboard coasters at Oga’s Cantina. They’re single-use and free to take home. We hear you can even ask for a fresh one if yours gets mucked up by your drink.

How to navigate Stars Wars Galaxy’s Edge like a native.

Download the Disneyland and Play apps before your visit. They’re free! The Play Disney Parks app, adds a deeper level of storytelling to your Galaxy’s Edge experience by turning your smartphones into an interstellar “datapad.” You can use the app to activate droids, scan cargo crates to see what was inside and translate shop signs written in Aurebesh, the “Star Wars” language.

You can also use the app to interact with other guests in a game called “Outpost Control,” where you choose to play for the First Order or the Resistance. Earn galactic credit if your side starts to win.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

The Market Place at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

This is the place where you can find and purchase all things Galaxy’s Edge except for anything labeled Star Wars or Galaxy’s Edge including workshops where you can build your own lightsabers or functioning droids. If you are wanting anything labeled Galaxy’s Edge or Star Wars you’ll have to buy that outside the land. But there is plenty of cool stuff to buy in Galaxy’s Edge.

Galaxy’s Edge has nine stores offering roughly 700 items, almost none of which are available for purchase elsewhere. Want to take a pet home from Batuu? Check out the creature stall in creature corner where you can adopt pets like the Kowakian Lizard Monkeys (very similar to the banshees of Pandora.)

The Black Spire Outfitters is where you can buy costumes.

Jewels of Bith is a souvenir shop.

First order cargo: bat Allison order

Droid depot is where you can buy and build your own BB8 or R2-D2 type droid. It comes with remote control and talks to other droids. Various personality chips are available.

Build Your Own Lightsaber

Savi’s Workshop is where visitors can build and purchase their own lightsabers for $199 plus tax. But don’t ask, “where do I buy my lightsaber?” because the locals won’t tell you. After all, lightsabers are contraband. If you want your very own famous weapon used by Jedi fighters like Luke Skywalker and Yoda you’ll have to ask where to find the “scrap metal.” There are over 120,000 possible lightsaber combinations.

All these amazing Star Wars immersive experiences to be had within your 4-hour reservation. I can’t wait for our trip to Walt Disney World this fall to experience Star Wars; Galaxy’s Edge for ourselves. I’ll be sure to bring you all along.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney CruiseWhat are you most looking forward to experiencing most at Star War’s Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland or Walt Disney World?

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Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

I’m not going to lie, I was expecting to be disappointed by Aladdin. I was very excited to see Disney’s Aladdin live-action movie since the moment I heard it was a thing but at the same time, the original Aladdin animated film is such an iconic film that I wasn’t sure anyone could live up to the hype of it. Below is my family friendly, no-spoiler Aladdin review.

In my mind, Robin Williams is the Genie. I couldn’t make myself believe that the Fresh Prince, Will Smith, was up to the task, no matter how much I love him. How can you fill those shoes? You can’t and I just felt like even trying was going to be a disservice to the original.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

I also wasn’t sure if I was going to love Rajah and Abu in the live action films because sometimes live-action animals look cringey and so unrealistic that you feel like the producers are just assuming we are all stupid but this was not the case.at.all.

READ ALSO: New Aladdin Live-Action Film First Trailer Release

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

Then there was the matter of Aladdin and Jasmine. As many of you know, they are two of my daughters’ favorite characters. Animated, they were perfection but how would it all translate to live action? I’m sure that you have been asking yourself the same questions. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to worry about any of it. The Disney Aladdin live-action movie surpassed every expectation I had and made me fall in love with the story all over again. In fact, dare I say, I may even love it more than the animated version.

First off, the cinematography was stunning. I felt transported somewhere between Agrabah and Bollywood and it was absolutely magical. The rich vibrant colors were as upbeat and optimistic as most of the songs. Speaking of songs, “I can show you the world” is one of my favorites in the animated film and I loved it even more in the live-action film. It felt more real and tender and hopeful. I’ve been singing it ever since.

Then there was “Speechless” which left me without words in the best possible way. As an outspoken feminist and a mother of daughters, I loved this female empowerment aspect of the movie. We’ve always known Jasmine, Naomi Scott, was and independent, strong-willed and fierce woman. She wasn’t the kind of Disney princess who needed to be rescued.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: Aladdin on Broadway

Yet, in the animated film, it feels a lot like the street rat saves her. In the live-action movie, you can see that she doesn’t need saving. She can save herself and anyone else who needs to be rescued simply by following her own instincts. She loves and respects Aladdin, they are partners. Love is a beautiful surprise to them both.

As far as the casting for Aladdin goes, I felt the main characters were spot on. I love that they used real people of color rather than white-washing the characters. For me, as a woman of color, cultural authenticity is everything.  The fact that Guy Ritchie made the effort to cast, produce and maintain the authenticity and representation of a hybrid Middle Eastern-South Asian world in the movie is commendable. He did the right thing.

Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine was perfection. The perfect balance of beauty, grace, independence, strength and determination. I found myself, several times throughout the movie, wanting to stand up and applaud. It surprised me in the most pleasant ways.

Mena Massoud’s Aladdin was the living embodiment of the spirit of the animated film’s character. He played the part with a quiet, humble endearing demeanor even when he was being flip, he was lovable. There wasn’t one time I wasn’t rooting for him to succeed.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: How Disney’s Coco Got Mexican Culture Right

Will Smith’s Genie was not Robin Smith’s Genie, nor do I think it was supposed to be. That being said, it was a spectacular performance on its own. He made the genie his own. The genie was an unforgettable, witty and affable character who could sing, rap and dance with a side of hilarity. The story of friendship between Genie and Aladdin is a beautiful, tangental love story, as meaningful and important as the one between Jasmine and Aladdin.  I think Robin Williams himself would have been impressed by Will Smith’s performance.

The characters I would’ve loved to have seen be bolder were Marwan Kenzari’s, Jafar, and his sidekick, Lago. I felt that their performances were both a little underwhelming considering their potential. For me, their characters felt less menacing and more annoying. I wasn’t afraid of them so much as just aggravated. However, in our current political climate where xenophobia runs rampant, perhaps making a Middle Eastern villain seem less menacing than his animated counterpart was the better choice.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast a Family Review

I also loved the addition of Dalia, Nasim Pedrad, Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante. She brought a humanity to Jasmine and Genie. The addition of the character gave the characters a softer more relatable feel.

If you loved the original Aladdin animated film, you will love Aladdin the live-action film. You don’t have to feel guilty about betraying Robin William’s Genie legacy because Will Smith’s Genie is not the same. It is something completely different. As for the rest of the cast, they told the story of Jasmine and Aladdin with a quiet beauty and ethereal feel. Your children will find new heroes in Jasmine and Aladdin and you, parents, will love what they’ve done.

Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

I actually love the new Aladdin, maybe even more than the original.

But we’re split as a family. Bella and I fell in love with the new movie, the feminist empowerment was just the cherry on top. However, the Big Guy and Gabs are Disney purists and they adore the original Aladdin while saying the live-action is great but they prefer the animated classic to the live-action film.

Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: Disney’s Nutcracker a Must See for Ballerinas

My advice to you, go and see Aladdin for yourself and decide. You won’t be disappointed. Even if in the end you prefer the classic, you will be glad to have seen Disney’s Aladdin the live-action movie. I promise. Then come back here and tell me which one you loved more. Really, it’s like trying to choose a favorite child. We love them all so much.

Disney’s Aladdin playing in theaters now starting May 24th. I’m ready to go see it again. I bet you’ll want to too. Also, the soundtrack is amazing.

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Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Cirque du Soleil’s Volta is coming to Soldier Field in Chicago this summer. I am so excited. Let’s be honest, every time I get the chance to experience a new Cirque du Soleil, I’m thrilled. Our family loves Cirque du Soleil. We go as often as time and distance allow us. Each show is different and magical in its own way.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

The Cirque du Soleil’s iconic Big Top will be raised for the first time at a brand new location for Volta: Soldier Field!

Cirque du Soleil has had a special place in my heart since the Big Guy and I  saw our first Cirque show on our honeymoon, 20 years ago. Since then, we love to share the experience with as many people as we can. I feel like every time we leave a show, we’ve grown in some way; our hearts and minds have been expanded beyond disbelief. The name VOLTA refers to a sudden about-face, a change in emotion or idea often used in poetry. It also speaks to the jolt of energy delivered through the show.

 

READ ALSO: Cirque du Soleil Corteo and Amazing Experience for the Family

We’ve seen Cirque du Soleil in Chicago but never at Soldier Field. My daughters have never been to the Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears but thanks to the generosity of Cirque du Soleil that is all about to change this summer.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Cirque du Soleil is excited to add two weeks of performances of VOLTA’s Chicago engagement this spring. The show will be presented under its signature Big Top at the Soldier Field South Lot, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, May 18 – July 6, 2019. Tickets, starting at $49, are available for purchase by visiting cirquedusoleil.com/volta or calling 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Volta the show

Energetic, urban and contemporary, VOLTA is a captivating voyage of discovery that showcases never-before-seen under the Big Top acrobatics in a visually striking world. Driven by a stirring melodic score and inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of street sports, VOLTA is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and recognizing one’s own power to make it possible. Ultimate freedom comes with self-acceptance, and with the liberation of the judgment of others.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

BMX & Street Sports

The creators of  VOLTA drew inspiration from the spirit of adventure that pervades the world of BMX, street sports and acrobatics. Whether they are on a bike, hopping from rooftop to rooftop, or double dutch rope skipping, urban sports enthusiasts constantly challenge themselves and defy convention.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment 

Sure to be a Chicago crowd pleaser, VOLTA features a full-blown BMX park mounted on stage in front of the audience’s very eyes for the breathtaking BMX finale as riders invade the stage to deliver a jaw-dropping, fast and furious performance of nonstop acrobatics on wheels. The riders go up the jump boxes and perform air tricks before landing and leaping off the ramps again, crisscrossing and spinning their bikes in midair in a spirit of brotherhood.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

READ ALSO: Luzia~ A Vibrant Waking Dream of Mexico

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Volta Costumes

The stunning costumes of VOLTA have been designed by Zaldy Goco, famous for his work with Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani and for TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Volta Ticket Information

VOLTA will be presented under the Big Top at the Soldier Field South Lot, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, starting May 18. Tickets can be purchased online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta. Discover our VIP package – a cocktail reception with open bar and hors d’oeuvres inspired by the show, access to the best seats for greater comfort, complimentary parking and more!

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

READ ALSO: Running Away with Cirque du Soleil Kurios

To follow along and see what exciting and new experiences Volta will deliver, follow along on Social Media:

Facebook.com/VOLTA

Twitter: @Cirque #VOLTA

Instagram: cirquedusoleil #VOLTA

Have you been to a Cirque du Soleil show? Have you seen Volta? What’s your favorite Cirque du Soleil show and why?

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Corteo, Cirque du Soleil

This weekend, courtesy of Cirque du Soleil, we will be experiencing Corteo in Dayton, Ohio. It is opening on May 8th and running through May 12, 2019. Then Corteo will continue touring. If you are in the Ohio area, I strongly advise you to get your tickets. Cirque du Soleil shows are magical and your family will love them.

The Big Guy and I saw our first Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba, on our honeymoon at Walt Disney World. It was mesmerizing and started our love affair with Cirque du Soleil.  Since that first show, we’ve seen several more with our girls including Dralion, Kurios, Luzia and we even took them to see La Nouba. It’s something we love to experience as a family and a gift I love sharing with my children.

Corteo, the latest and most enchanting Cirque du Soleil’s arena production is now touring in North America. The show will visit Dayton at the Wright State University Nutter Center from May 8 to 12, 2019 for a limited run of seven performances. This unique production, directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, first premiered in Montreal under the Big Top in April 2005. Since then, the show has been a great success and has amazed 8 million people in 19 countries on four continents.

Corteo, Cirque du Soleil

Tickets are available at cirquedusoleil.com/corteo.

Corteo, which means cortege in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth.

 

Corteo, Cirque du Soleil

 

The clown pictures his own funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere, watched over by quietly caring angels. Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, the show highlights the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, to illustrate the portion of humanity that is within each of us. The music turns lyrical and playful carrying Corteo through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.

 

Corteo, Cirque du Soleil

 

The concept and disposition of the stage bring the audience in a theatrical atmosphere like never seen before in Cirque du Soleil arena shows. The set curtains, inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and the central curtains, which were hand-painted, give a grandiose feel to the stage. This sets the tone for the poetry of Corteo.

 

Corteo, Cirque du Soleil

The cast of  Cirque du Soleil Corteo includes 51 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors from all around the world.

If you’ve never been to a Cirque du Soleil, let me tell you, it is like nothing you have ever experienced before. The music is live and otherworldly. The talent is extraordinarily brilliant and the moment you leave you will be wishing that you could stay forever. We’ve been taking the girls to Cirque shows since they were 4-years-old and it is something we always look forward to as a family.

Corteo, Cirque du Soleil

For more information please follow Cirque du Soleil Corteo on there social media channels/

Social media

Facebook: facebook.com/Corteo

Twitter: @Cirque #CORTEO

Instagram: @cirquedusoleil #CORTEO

Corteo, Cirque du Soleil
Ticket information

Show Schedule:

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 – 7:30 pm

Thursday, May 9, 2019 – 7:30 pm

Friday, May 10, 2019 – 7:30 pm

Saturday, May 11, 2019 – 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm

Sunday, May 12, 2019 – 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm

Have you ever been to a Cirque do Soleil show? If so which one? What’s your favorite one?

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Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay on your next family vacation., walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

Going to Walt Disney World on vacation is one of a kind experience. There is nothing else like it in the world. However, staying in Walt Disney World Resorts takes that vacation to an entirely new level. Aside from being fully immersed in the Disney experience, there are lots of perks and extra magic involved in staying on property. Can you say Free Disney Dining Plan? Yes, some magical promotions include free food. If you are wondering which are the best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at, I’ve got you covered.

We’ve vacationed to Walt Disney World several times and no trip has been the same. That is part of the magic of a Disney vacation. You can have a different adventure every single time. We’ve gone as newlyweds, as a couple and with our daughters. We’ve stayed in several of the Disney Resorts and we’ve stayed off grounds and, for us, staying on property is our favorite way to vacation at Disney World.

READ ALSO: Secrets To Use Disney Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

I imagine for first-timers, you may ask yourself, “Why stay on property when there are so many affordable resort options so close?” You make a valid point, on paper but once you’ve spent a Disney vacation staying in Walt Disney World Resorts with your family, you will know why you’ll never want to stay off grounds ever again.

Aside from convenience, early Magic hours, early access to fast pass and dining reservation plans, free transportation to and from parks and full immersion into the Walt Disney World experience for your family, there is the incomparable Walt Disney World resorts customer service. It is unbelievable and it doesn’t matter if you’re staying in the Grand Floridian or Pop Century; the warmth, helpfulness and general disposition of the characters are always the same…top notch. The best thing about Walt Disney resorts is that they have something for every budget.

READ ALSO: Tips to Beat the Heat at Disney

Here are my recommendations for the Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at

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Yacht Club

The Yacht Club where we stayed on our first trip to Disney World on our honeymoon. I was dazzled by the grand, turn-of-the-century Martha’s Vineyard summer home vibes that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort was giving off. It’s a deluxe-category hotel at Walt Disney World Resort and it felt romantic and whimsical for these honeymooners.

It’s conveniently located and guests can easily walk or travel by water taxi from the resorts to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars Land is coming sooner than you think). Convenient bus service transports guests throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

The luxury club hotel is on the shores of a 25-acre Crescent Lake. The resort’s décor will transport you back to the 1890s.

That east coast beach vibe continues throughout in Stormalong Bay, a 2 ½-acre water recreation area reminiscent of a Nantucket beach. It has a life-size shipwreck with water slides, snorkeling in a sandy lagoon and a lazy river swimming area that feels like it flows into the lake. The kids will love it and so will you. There is something about a sand-bottomed pool that induces relaxation. Also bonus, a standard room can fit up to 5 people with 2 queen beds and a twin daybed.

We love it so much; we will be staying there this fall for our anniversary trip.

Disney Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club resort is right next to Disney’s Yacht Club and they are both awesome in our book. Start your morning at Cape May Cafe for a delicious southern-style breakfast complete with Mickey. Then make your way over to Stormalong Bay. I told you it was awesome.

Tired of swimming? Take a break and grab a snack at the cabana or Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Feel like hitting the parks? Epcot is a mere 5-minute walk away or jump on a water taxi and hit Hollywood Studios.

At night, you can watch a movie under the stars with your kids at the pool or you can take advantage of the onsite childcare and enjoy a romantic meal with your spouse at one of the resort’s 6 dining locations.

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Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Guests at Disney’s Beach Club Villas receive exclusive access to Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Disney’s Beach Club Villas also provides the Sandcastle Club, a supervised activity center for kids. Villas are equipped with kitchens and, in some cases, room for up to eight people. There are also nightly clambakes, volleyball and campfires at the Beach Club villas for added family fun.

Disney’s the Animal Kingdom

Want some adventure on your Disney World vacation? The Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to 4 wildlife savannas which you can watch from the lobby, visit with animal specialists, or tour as part of the Wanyama Safari and Dinner.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has the option to stay in a villa, which can sleep up to 9 guests, if you’re traveling with the whole family. No need for separate hotel rooms.

While you’re in this beautiful hotel, be sure to check out the 11,000-square-foot Uzimi pool with waterslides and whirlpool spas. Or get your fitness on at the onsite fitness and massage center. Did someone say massage center? Yes, please. This mom desperately needs a massage.

Disney World’s Polynesian

Aside from being beautiful and having Moana, you can get a Dole Whip on site.  The lush Polynesian Village Resort has both traditional rooms and villas to choose from. The villas have kitchenettes, private back decks with barbecues, a plunge pool and room for up to 8 people.

This is perfect for big families or splitting costs with friends. If you’re like this mom, you heard the word kitchen and thought “Dishes. No thank you,” But if you stay at the villa, Mousekeeping takes care of washing the dishes. No dishes for you! I told you the customer service was amazing.

The resort has 9 restaurants, a nightly luau, and a character breakfast where kids can meet Lilo & Stitch. Lilo’s Clubhouse offers on-site childcare so you can enjoy a peaceful meal, visit to the spa, or a day at the pool while the kids are safely taken care of.

Bonus, the Polynesian Resort is on the monorail, making it super easy to access all of the parks, especially Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary

Bay Lake Tower has rooms with views of the fireworks, so in case you have little kiddies, you won’t miss the magic. And believe me, it is magic. It is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom and easily accessible via monorail. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort features an unparalleled backdrop that includes Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain.

Bay Lake is a Disney Vacation Club Property. The resort offers up to three-bedroom villas with kitchenettes that accommodate up to nine people. It also has a restaurant and pool with a waterslide, so you and your family can relax when not at the parks.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

This is my husband’s favorite resort on property. Our favorite feature of staying at the Boardwalk Inn is the actual boardwalk. Situated along Crescent Lake, the boardwalk features carnival games, restaurants, shops and surrey bike rentals. The Boardwalk also has a really fun pool with a waterslide and standard guestrooms that sleep up to five or six guests.

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

At Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, families staying there share amenities with guests at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. However, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas provide more amenities like full kitchens and balconies.  Villas are larger and sleep up to four or eight guests.

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

Port Orleans properties are divided into two resorts, the French Quarter and Riverside. Disney’s Port Orleans is a PG13 way to experience Mardi Gras all year round. Our favorite is the French Quarter because it feels just like being in New Orleans. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter has 1,008 accommodations, most sleep up to four or five guests.

Guests have access to bikes, boats, horse-drawn carriage rides, cane pole fishing and a pool, live jazz and beautiful architecture all make this resort located on 325 acres that feel worlds away from the theme parks. Don’t forget about the amazing Louisiana-style cuisine and beignets.

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Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Staying at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is like being in a beautiful, pristine national park cabin. While you might feel like you are off the grid in the serenity of your lodge, the Wilderness Lodge resort features added perks such as a beautiful pool and children’s activity center. Enjoy relaxing with your family at this rustic, luxurious rooms that sleep up to four guests, some even include bunk beds.

READ ALSO: Breaking News Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Opening Date Revealed

Just announced Free Disney Dining Plan Day this Summer!

This summer, enjoy a little extra flavor during a fun-filled stay that’s sure to delight little ones and grown-ups alike. Receive a FREE meal per person (ages 3 and up), per night at a select Walt Disney World Resort quick-service dining location when you purchase a non-discounted, Walt Disney World Travel Co. Package that includes a room for 4-nights at a select Disney Moderate or Value Resort Hotel and a 5-day theme park ticket. Offer valid for arrivals most nights from May 28 through August 21, 2019.
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The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package. Advance reservations are required. Theme park tickets valid for admission beginning on the date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on the length of stay and ticket. Visit disneyworld.com/usage for more details. Each quick-service meal includes one entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage (or if age 21 or over, one beer, wine or cocktail). 

These are just a few of my favorite Walt Disney Resorts for families. What is your favorite place to stay in Walt Disney World? And where is your favorite place and thing to eat on the Disney Dining Plan?

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Finding Neverland, Finding Neverland Giveaway, Giveaway, Morris Performing Arts Center, Peter Pan, Captain Cook, J.M. Barrie, Broadway musical, Disney

As you know, my family loves the theater. Broadway shows are some of our favorites. The next show on our list is Finding Neverland. Spoiler alert (disclosure) through the generosity of the American Theatre Guild, I’m hosting a Finding Neverland giveaway. You can win a family 4 pack of tickets.

Finding Neverland is the Broadway Musical that tells the fascinating story of how Peter became Pan. Based on the Academy Award®-winning film of the same name, this breathtaking show follows playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer – and the man – he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter.

READ ALSO: Les Miserables a Must See

I fell in love with the story of J.M. Barrie when I saw the movie with Johnny Depp. Finding Neverland is a charming account of the period in the life of author J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) that reveals the real relationships and events that served as the basis for the author’s most iconic work, “Peter Pan.” After Barrie developed a platonic relationship with the widowed Sylvia (Kate Winslet) and her four sons, he was inspired to write a play about a group of children who don’t want to grow up. The work proves a hit and winds up bringing Barrie and the children together in a way he had never expected.

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Finding Neverland is the beautiful backstory of Peter Pan that everyone needs to know.

My daughters have never seen the movie Finding Neverland but they are very familiar with Peter Pan, the lost boys, Nana and Tinker Bell from countless times watching the animated movie. In truth, just last summer we saw Peter Pan the Musical as part of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s family series. It was remarkable. It’s time for my girls to know the whole story of how Peter became Pan.

J.M. Barrie was born in 1860, the son of Margaret and Alexander Barrie, in the Scottish town of Kirriemuir. He had an older brother, David, who was known to be one of those beautiful children who everyone adored. In the winter of 1867, David was hit by a fellow ice-skater while skating. He fell, hit his skull and died. Barrie’s mother never recovered from the loss, and was said to find comfort in the fact that David would remain a boy forever. This is where Barrie’s lifelong obsession with boys and the preservation of their innocence became anchored in his psyche.

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Photo: Jeremy Daniel

How Peter Pan came to be.

Barrie moved to London, and, in 1894, married an actress named Mary Ansell. As a kind of wedding present, he gave her a St. Bernard dog ( Nana). The couple never had children. The marriage between J.M. and Mary did not last, and they divorced in 1909.

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Photo: Jeremy Daniel

 

In 1898, Barrie met a pair of little boys in Kensington Gardens, near London’s Hyde Park. George and Jack Llewelyn Davies, aged 5 and 4-years-old, were walking with their nurse. Barrie saw the boys there frequently and befriended them. Soon after, he met their parents, Sylvia and Arthur. Three more sons were born: Peter, Michael, and Nico. The Davies family let Barrie into their lives, and gradually he became their beloved “Uncle Jim.”

 

READ ALSO: Phantom of the Opera Tour Needs to be Seen to be Believed

Finding Neverland at the Morris Performing Arts Center, May 3-5,2019. But no fear, if you can’t make it there, it will be touring through a city near you.

Bring the whole family to experience Finding Neverland, the story of how Peter Pan came to be. Packed with mesmerizing visuals, irresistible songs and plenty of laughs.

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Photo: Jeremy Daniel

If you’re in the South Bend area, I’m giving away a family four-pack to the May 3 performance. All you have to do to enter my Finding Neverland giveaway is leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Broadway Musical is. Enter via the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win 4 tickets to Finding Neverland.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disney's the Lion King, LIve action movie, Disney Movie, The Lion King, The Lion King Trailer, Disney Studios

Disney’s The Lion King live action movie is coming to theaters this summer and we are here for it. Disney studios is bringing so many great movies to the theaters this year and Aladdin, Toy Story and the Lion King are just a few that we are looking forward to. But right now, we’ve got a surprise for you…a first look at the official trailer for The Lion King.

As a family, we’ve watched The Lion King movie at least 100 times. The story is one of our favorites. Hakuna Matata is my 14-year-old daughter’s favorite thing to say. Both girls still crack up at Timon and Pumba. It’s one of those heartwarming Disney movies that we watch together and feel closer after doing so. It’s super glue for families.

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READ ALSO: Disney’s the Nutcracker a must see for all Ballerinas

When we heard that they were remaking Disney’s Lion King into a live action version in 2019, we were ecstatic. I can’t wait to see how they parlay the story from animated animals to live action. Then again, after seeing Disney’s Dumbo, I have faith that there is little that Disney studios can’t do. I’m hoping it’s going to be as magical of some of Disney’s other live-action remakes like Maleficent, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

If the new official trailer is any indication of the quality of Disney magic we can expect, I’m excited…jump up and down, can’t wait to take my girls and the Big Guy to see it, excited. My expectations are high because it’s such a beloved film but I don’t believe that Disney is going to disappoint.

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Here is what you’ve been waiting for, Disney’s the Lion King official trailer:

From Disney Live Action, The Lion King will be a drama film produced by Walt Disney Pictures, written by Jeff Nathanson, and directed by Jon Favreau. It is a photorealistic computer animated remake of Disney’s traditionally animated 1994 film. The film features the voices of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa.

Plans for a remake of The Lion King were confirmed in September 2016 following the success of Favreau’s remake of Disney’s 1967 animated film The Jungle Book. Much of the main cast signed on in early 2017 and principal photography began in mid-2017. The film is scheduled to be released on July 19, 2019.

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READ ALSO:  What is Disney Creator Days and How to get Invited

Director Jon Favreau’s all-new “The Lion King” journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

Who else is excited to see the new Disney’s the Lion King?

THE LION KING opens in theatres everywhere on July 19th, 2019

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Eugenio Derbez, Nicholas Coombe, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden, Isabela Moner, Paramount Pictures' , Dora, Dora the Explorer, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Boots, Dora the Movie

Swiper, no swiping. Anyone who has a child between the ages of 0-19, especially those of us who are Latino, knows all too well what those words mean. Did you hear the news? Dora the Explorer is coming to the big screen in a live-action feature-length film Dora and the Lost City of Gold. We are here for it.

I spent the better part of the first 6 years of motherhood watching Dora the Explorer. In fact, I remember our first Christmas as parents, the Big Guy tussled with a granny over a Dora the Explorer dollhouse for Bella. She has a special place in our house and our hearts.

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Dora is no longer a little explorer in the jungle with Boots. She’s moved to the city to attend high school with her cousin Diego. No worries, it’s not long before she’s back to her old ways solving mysteries, having adventures and even hanging out with Boots and saving the day. Dora the Explorer has grown up and become Indiana Jones 2.0.

READ ALSO: I Speak Baby, do You?

Her first mission as an adorably awkward teen is to save her parents and solve the mystery of a lost Inca civilization. Bringing this beloved Nickelodeon series to the big screen in the most adventurous way possible. Personally, I’m getting a live-action Scooby Doo vibe and I’m here for it.

 

Paramount unveiled the Dora and the Lost City of Gold preview during the Kids’ Choice Awards.

In the trailer of Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Dora (Isabela Moner) is sent off to live in the city with her cousin Diego (Jeffrey Wahlberg), separating her for the first time from the jungle she calls home and her parents (played by Eva Longoria and Michael Peña).

High school is an adjustment from the life she’s always known. There are no Boots the sidekick, crime-fighting weapons are not allowed on school property and a large purple backpack is a hazard when it tends to get stuck in school bus doors.

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READ ALSO: Girls and their Daddies

No fear, the big city doesn’t completely gentrify our heroine. Her explorer skills kick in when she’s forced back to the jungle to save her parents and solve the mystery of the long-lost city of gold. Her sidekick monkey, Boots, voiced by Danny Trejo, is also along for the ride.

The film stars Eugenio Derbez, as Alejandro, a mysterious jungle inhabitant trying to protect Dora and her friends.

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READ ALSO: Calling Little Girls the B-Word is how we Empower Strong Women

We had many a play date acting out scenes from Dora the Explorer. We had dress up costumes, Boots the monkey and even the purple backpack. Figurines and dollhouses, if they made it we had it. I remember the birthday parties and playing Dora the Explorer edition Chutes and Ladders. We even saw Dora and Diego live on stage. My girls loved her and I loved having a strong, inquisitive, bilingual female character that my little girls could grow up watching.

Eugenio Derbez, Nicholas Coombe, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden, Isabela Moner, Paramount Pictures' , Dora, Dora the Explorer, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Boots, Dora the Movie

Dora the Explorer is thrilling us with her evolution. I love that my daughter, grew up loving Dora, and now gets to see Dora on the big screen. My daughter starts high school next August. My girls can’t wait to see Dora and the Lost City of Gold and neither can I.

The all-new adaptation Dora and the Lost City of Gold will hit theaters Aug. 2. I’ll be seeing it, will you?

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Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

Earlier this week, we took the girls to see Les Misérables, the musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo. This has been one of my favorite musicals since I first watched it on PBS as a child. When I watched the movies with my daughters and the Big Guy, we all sung along and laughed and cried. But nothing beats seeing Les Misérables from any seat in the house at the theater. The voices on stage transport your soul back to a time of civil unrest during the French Revolution.

With glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking production of Les Misérableswhich broke box office records during its pre-Broadway tour, has left both audiences and critics awestruck, cheering “Les Miz is born again!”

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption-a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Featuring one of the greatest scores of all time, with thrilling and beloved songs including “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” “Do You Hear the People Sing” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. Along with the Oscar-winning movie version, it has now been seen by more than 130 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages around the globe. Les Misérables is still the world’s most popular musical, breaking box office records everywhere in its 33rd year.

READ ALSO: Phantom of the Opera a Family Review

Nominated for three Tony Awards, this latest Broadway production is a more than worthy chapter in Les Miserables’ long history. It debuted at the Imperial Theatre in 2014 and ran for two years, drawing huge acclaim for its stripped-down storytelling, which jettisons some of the bloat attached to previous productions, and the atmospheric video projections that lend the show a hugely cinematic backdrop.

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Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton and original adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. The original Les Misérables orchestrations are by John Cameron with new orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker.  The production is directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, designed by Matt Kinley inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo with costumes by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter, musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt and projections by Fifty-Nine Productions. Music Supervision is by Stephen Brooker and James Moore, with casting by Kaitlin Shaw for Tara Rubin Casting.

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

Speaking of the cast, Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean, was probably the best I’ve ever heard. He moved everyone in the theater the way he told the story of Jean Valjean with his amazing voice. He presented Jean Valjean in an underdog way that made you really want to take him in and help him out. You rooted for him. You wanted to see him get the redemption he so desperately seeked. Another big voice was Paige Smallwood’s, Éponine. I would say she was equal to Cartell’s Jean Valjean. Her voice gave you all the feels and, even though we all know how it turns out for Éponine, I found myself wishing for a plot twist.

READ ALSO: Wicked, Good for the Entire Family

Josh Davis was a powerful and unrelenting Javert and while you want to hate him, you felt this underlying sympathy for him. Josh Davis’ performance was stellar. J Anthony Crane and Allison Guinn, Thénardier and Madame Thénardier, were hilarious and perfectly cast. They masterfully delivered every joke to perfection with bold, vibrant voices and impeccable timing. Other stand out performances were delivered by Matt Shingledecker, as Enjolras, Mary Kate Moore, as Fantine, Joshua Grosso, as Marius, and Jillian Butler, as Cosette. Really the entire cast was stellar. I could watch and listen to this casts’ production of Les Misérables over and over again.

One last cast member that I need to mention, Parker Weathersbee, as Petit Gervais, Gavroche, captivated me. He is making his national tour debut with Les Misérables and he brought the house down with his performance. He is such a big personality in such a young performer.

The new production is currently playing to sold-out houses across North America, Mexico City and on tour in the U.K. To date, Les Misérables remains the 5th longest-running Broadway production of all time. If you’ve never seen Les Misérables, I highly recommend that you go see it on tour.

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It has something for everyone; drama, a revolution, history, a love triangle, unrequited love, humor, tenderness, parental love and, my personal favorite, a man doing his best to survive the human condition while chasing redemption with a passion. A theme I think everyone who’s ever lived can relate to some degree. It’s hard to find the words to encompass such an amazing production with such a powerhouse cast. I was moved to tears throughout the show and it wasn’t just me, the Big Guy and my girls were tearing up several times. We were absolutely blown away.

READ ALSO: The Aladdin Experience

For me, giving my girls the gift of the theater is one of my favorite things aside from travel. But in a way, aren’t we transported to different spaces and times when we see a Broadway show? The memories of laughing, singing and crying in the theater together, looking over and sharing a smile, giving a standing ovation to a well-deserved group of performers, there is nothing quite like it. We will share those memories forever and one day, when I am gone, my girls will hear Fantine’s Death and think of me and the time we saw Les Misérables together when they were children, well, somewhere between children and women.

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

I encourage you to share these experiences with your children if they are able to stay up, stay still and mature enough to appreciate the themes. My girls are 11 and 14-years-old but we’ve been taking them to Broadway shows and the ballet since they were preschoolers. This is how their love of the theater began.

Les Misérables will be at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend from March 19- March 24, 2019. If you miss it there, check out the Les Misérables website for future dates.

I do know that the Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon Les Misérables will return for its much anticipated Chicago engagement at Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W Randolph) July 9-27, 2019, direct from a celebrated two-and-a-half year Broadway engagement.

Individual tickets for Les Misérables will go on sale at a later date.  For more information, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

IfLes Misérables teaches us anything, remember always, that where there is love, there is hope.

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Austin, Texas, How to stay weird like a local, DIrty Sixth, East 6th street, Things to do in Austin Texas, places to eat in austin, places to drink in Austin Texas, Places to listen to live music in Austin, How to enjoy Austin like a local

Have you ever visited Austin, Texas?  Do you know all the things to do in Austin, Texas? I haven’t been but it’s one of those places that I’ve always wanted to visit. Any city whose catchphrase is “Stay weird” is my kind of town. The Big Guy and I are big foodies, we love live music and trying new craft beers is sort of our thing. What’s not to love?

Next month, I’m attending Mom 2.0 and it’s in Austin, Texas this year. The conference falls the week before the Big Guy’s birthday. We haven’t been on a trip alone since having our girls. It’s long overdue. I’m bringing him with me and we are going to experience Austin like a local because this gal has a cousin and a few amazing friends who live in Austin, Texas. I’ve asked for some best of recommendations and made a few play dates for the Big Guy and I.

READ ALSO: Things to Do in Portland

Favorite places to eat in Austin, drink in Austin, listen to live music and stay weird like a local in Austin Texas

Jester King Brewery

Jester King Brewery is a world-renowned brewer of farmhouse ales and barrel-aged wild ales located on 165 acres of farmland on the outskirts of Austin, TX. Established in 2010, Jester King is an authentic brewer of farmhouse ales whose philosophy is to work in partnership with nature to create beer unique to our natural surroundings.

Whisler’s

Whisler’s is a rustic-chic watering hole featuring handcrafted cocktails & a patio with frequent live music shows. For a really authentic visit, venture upstairs for some Mezcal tasting.

The Last Straw
“Serving vacation by the hour on East Sixth,” is the mantra of  The Last Straw. I may have to move to Austin with philosophies like that being thrown around. Last Straw is a first come, first serve establishment so get there before you can’t. Rumor has it from locals that the Last Straw has amazing tiki drinks and snacks.

Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden

Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden features specialty coffee, locally brewed beer, craft cocktails, food trucks + live music in a permaculture inspired garden setting. Kids welcome before 9pm (21+ after 9pm please). Pets always welcome.

Radio Coffee and Beer

Radio Coffee and Beer was voted best coffee shop 2016, 2017 and 2018 by a local reader’s poll. It is known to the locals for a good beer selection but the highlight is the Vera Cruz tacos. I also hear that you must get yourself the mole taco because it is amazing.

Easy Tiger

Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden feature artisan bread, locally roasted coffee, house made meats, a full bar and more than 30 local and boutique draft beers. All of their breads, meats, sausages and charcuterie are prepared in house, as well as is their accompaniments, from Sauer kraut to mustard.

Craft Pride

Craft Pride is a unique Texas-only craft beer bar serving up the highest quality beer from regional breweries. Promoting the community’ commitment to supporting local business and sustainability, everything from the design, décor and construction to the local beer and wine selections. Craft Pride is a fun space for dedicated beer lovers and casual drinkers alike. It has an impressive 54 taps featuring Texas craft beers. The selection is said to be great. Also, Via 313 truck is in the back and has some of Austin’s finest pizza.

Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden

Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden has 30 House made Sausages and 200+ Beers on tap. At the end of the day, Banger’s is all about being a wonderful place to eat, drink and hangout. Not too rowdy, not too laid back, just a good old fashioned good time.

Homemade sausage, craft beer, pig roasts, beef jerky, pickled vegetables, spring days in Texas, Sunday brunch, and all forms of Americana and country music are a few of our favorite things.

They have a commitment to excellence and believe in the principle of hospitality. Located just a couple doors down from Craft Pride.

Licha’s Cantina

Licha’s Cantina is located in the heart of East 6th Street. Licha’s was named after the owner, Daniel Brook’s mom, Alicia “Licha” Rivera who was raised in Mexico City. The atmosphere is casual and familiar, like going home. When you’re there, they take care of you.

Inspired by the Mexican soul food that he grew up eating, Daniel Brook delivers fresh, thoughtful and authentic meals. According to my source, she’s obsessed with this place and everything on the menu is great. She recommends the queso fundido and vouches for the authenticity.

Suerte

The menu at Suerte combines local ingredients, thoughtful cooking techniques and the flavors of Mexico.  If you love authentic Mexican, Suerte is worth checking out. The set-up is charming with a full bar and a patio overlooking East Sixth Street. Suerte is the perfect place for everything from date night to big fiesta.

Hospitality prevails above all else, homemade masa reigns supreme and every day at Suerte is a lucky day.

Brewers Table

Brewers Table has beer as good as food as good as beer. It starts and ends there. Brewer’s Table aims to provide a place where food and beer share the spotlight.

With a considerate approach to the food and beer experience, creating a conversation between chef, brewer, and community, Brewer’s Table features 26 guest taps starring a few friends and favorites, a thoughtfully selected wine list and a full bar punctuated by craft cocktails inspired by the kitchen and brewing process. Sounds amazing to me and the locals agree.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

“Every bowl is like a warm hug from your mama telling you life is going to go your way.” – Kelsie Laing

Kemuri  Tatsu-Ya is winner of the 2017 Eater award for restaurant of the year.

Chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto know what they’re doing when it comes to Japanese food. The evidence? Soothing warming bowls from Ramen Tatsu-ya. I have a foodie friend who said this is a MUST EAT.

For their follow-up trick, they decided to marry what they know best: Texas and Japanese techniques and ingredients. The result was funky, fun, and thoughtful Texan izakaya Kemuri Tatsu-ya, home to mash-up dishes aren’t gimmicky at all, like the rich Frito pie made with octopus fritters. As an homage to the address’ former tenant Live Oak Barbecue (whose smoked-stained walls remain part of the decor), the duo ventured into smoked meats. Because of Kemuri’s roots, that means everything from brisket (which even gets dressed up in a bowl of ramen) to ginormous fish collars. The restaurant rightly captured the attention and stomachs of Austin.

St. Elmo’s Brewery

St. Elmo’s Brewery was started by Tim Bullock and Bryan Winslow. Self-proclaimed not beer bigots, who like ALL the beer. They believe that every style of beer has a special place in life. St. Elmo is Bullock and Winslow’s effort to take you to all of those in places, in your mouth. Their motto is every day is made better with beer.

Soursop food truck is here for food. Soursop specializes in Pan-Asian bites.

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There’s lots of live music on East 6th Street or the “Dirty 6th” as the locals call it. This street is best on Thursday and Friday night. There are lots of rooftop bars and they shut down the street to traffic. Also, I’ve got it on good authority that The White Horse is a good time if you like country/bluegrass music with lots of dancing. From what I’ve been told by the locals, if you’re looking for a good time, Austin is the place to be.

What’re your favorite places to eat in Austin, drink in Austin, listen to live music and stay weird like a local in Austin Texas?

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