inline imageThirteen pop bands with hits spanning several decades will play the Garden Rocks Concert Series at the 23rd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 2-May 30, 2016. This year’s festival expands from 75 to 90 days, adding two additional concert series weekends to the lineup and extending the final weekend of performances to Memorial Day.

Blood, Sweat & Tears, BRIAN HOWE, former lead singer of Bad Company, Darlene Love and Georgia Satellites will rock Epcot audiences for the first time. Night Ranger, a fan favorite band that’s played the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, will make a Flower & Garden Festival debut. The Orchestra starring former members of ELO, who topped charts in the 1970s and ‘80s, will kick off the concert series March 4-6.

Guests can dance in their seats each festival weekend to classic tunes at the park’s America Gardens Theatre. An eclectic mix of Flower & Garden Festival fan favorites includes the Village People, who debuted at the festival in 2013. With a nod to the 1960s, Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone will rock the house April 1-3. On Memorial Day, The Spinners will close the 90-day festival on a high note, extending their weekend performance to Monday.

Performances are at America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and are included with Epcot admission. Here is this year’s lineup (subject to change without notice):

March 4-6 The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”



March 11-13 Starship starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”


March 18-20 Little River Band “Lady”


March 25-27 Village People “Y.M.C.A.”


April 1-3 Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am”


April 8-10 The Guess Who “These Eyes”


April 15-17 NEW! Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice “Spinning Wheel”


April 22-24 NEW! Brian Howe, former lead singer of Bad Company “Can’t Get Enough”


April 29-May 1 NEW! Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”


May 6-8 Gin Blossoms “Hey Jealousy”


May 13-15 NEW! Darlene Love “Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home”


May 20-22 Night Ranger “Sister Christian”


May 27-30 The Spinners “Working My Way Back to You”

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inline imageAhead of the upcoming major remodel of the Flying Fish Cafe, more changes have been announced for Disney's BoardWalk.

Seashore Sweets will permanently close on February 1 2016. Located next door to Flying Fish Cafe, the old fashioned store sells cookies, salt water taffy, crisp rice treats, chocolates, candies, ice cream, and candy gifts.

Also now permanently closed is the Yard Arcade and ESPN retail store, located between The ESPN Club and the BoardWalk Bakery.

Disney has not yet revealed what will be replacing the closed stores, but the location of Seashore Sweets would perhaps suggest it will be used to expand Flying Fish Cafe. That refurbishment is expected to be complete in November 2016.

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inline imageThe United States today began implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) welcomes more than a million passengers arriving to the United States every day and is committed to facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security and border protection. Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at their embassies or consulates. For those who need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. embassies and consulates stand ready to process applications on an expedited basis

Beginning January 21, 2016, travelers who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with one of the four countries listed above on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked.

Under the new law, the Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States. Categories of travelers who may be eligible for a waiver include:
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of an international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty; and
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria as a journalist for reporting purposes;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran for legitimate business-related purposes following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 14, 2015); and
  • Individuals who have traveled to Iraq for legitimate business-related purposes.
Whether ESTA applicants will receive a waiver will be determined on a case-by-case basis. In addition, we will continue to explore whether and how the waivers can be used for dual nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

Any traveler who receives notification that they are no longer eligible to travel under the VWP are still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate. Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the United States.

The new law does not ban travel to the United States, or admission into the United States, and the great majority of VWP travelers will not be affected by the legislation.

An updated ESTA application with additional questions is scheduled to be released in late February 2016 to address exceptions for diplomatic- and military-related travel provided for in the Act.

Information on visa applications can be found at travel.state.gov

Current ESTA holders are encouraged to check their ESTA status prior to travel on CBP’s website at esta.cbp.dhs.gov

Information copied from http://london.usembassy.gov/mobile/ukpapress165.html

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inline imageStar Wars: The Force Awakens has quickly become the highest grossing film in American history, and soon guests at Disney Parks will be able to interact with one of the film’s most intriguing and chilling new characters, Kylo Ren.

Every day at Disney Parks, guests step into Star Wars experiences such as Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple and Star Wars Launch Bay, where they come face to face with some of the greatest heroes and villains of the saga. Starting in February, a visit to Star Wars Launch Bay at either Disneyland Park in California or Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will transport guests to the Star Wars galaxy for an encounter with Kylo Ren on the bridge of his First Order Star Destroyer.

As seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is a dark warrior with a mysterious past. Kylo Ren is strong with the Force and serves as a leader of the First Order, seeking to destroy the New Republic, the Resistance and the legacy of the Jedi.

Star Wars Launch Bay is designed to showcase a variety of Star Wars characters over time. In addition to Kylo Ren, guests may also come across a garrison of First Order Stormtroopers or the heroic Wookiee, Chewbacca, holed up in a secret Resistance base.

The Force has awakened at Disney Parks with the addition of new and reimagined Star Wars experiences, just in time for fans of the blockbuster new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to step into the Star Wars saga every day.

The new experiences further expand the Star Wars presence ahead of the new Star Wars-themed lands coming to the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.

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inline imageThe first steps of Disney's Hollywood Studios expansion to add a Star Wars-themed land and a Toy Story land will be happening soon. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and nearby locations around Streets of America will be closing on 2nd April, 2016.

The Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show attraction will continue its daily shows until the closing date.

Photo © Disney


http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blo...ywood-studios/

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inline imageThe famed “New Orleans” celebration is back and better than ever at Universal Orlando Resort on select nights starting 6th February through to the 16th April.

Headliners include one of rock music’s best-selling bands, Fall Out Boy, teen pop sensation Shawn Mendes, legendary singer Diana Ross, GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Jessie J and country singer-songwriter Hunter Hayes. For the complete line-up, see below.

Headliners (performing in the Music Plaza)


February 6: Hunter Hayes
February 13: Diana Ross
February 14: Barenaked Ladies
February 20: Nate Ruess
February 27: Fall Out Boy
March 5: Kool & the Gang
March 12: The Fray
March 13: Adam Lambert
March 19: Shawn Mendes
March 20: 3 Doors Down
March 26: REO Speedwagon
April 2: T-Pain
April 9: Jessie J
April 16: Yandel

New Orleans Bands (performing in the French Quarter)


February 6: Rockin’ Jake
February 13: Mississippi Rail Company
February 14: Mississippi Rail Company
February 20: Naughty Professor
February 27: Cha Wa
March 5: Beth McKee & the Sliders
March 12: Soul Project
March 13: Soul Project
March 19: The Big Easy Playboys
March 20: The Big Easy Playboys
March 26: Gravy
April 2: Dirty Bourbon River Show
April 9: Daddy Mack Blues Band
April 16: Big Al and The Heavyweights

Along with the authentic food & music, you’ll enjoy a rockin’ parade with floats engineered by Blaine Kern Artists—the same company that has been hand-crafting floats for the iconic New Orleans celebration since 1947. This year’s parade features five new floats that celebrate different cultures and festivals from around the world—Venetian Carnival, Oktoberfest, 4th of July and Rio de Janeiro Carnival.

The excitement of Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration is included with admission to Universal Studios Florida.

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inline imageDisney’s Hollywood Studios will soon begin the largest expansion in the history of the park, including the highly anticipated Star Wars-themed land and Toy Story Land.

In order to prepare for the expansion, character greetings with Phineas & Ferb and Lightning McQueen & Mater will not be available after 4th January 2016. Additionally, the merchandise cart and the Joffrey’s kiosk located near Premiere Theater will be closed after 4th January 2016.

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Park Hours - Friday 12/02/2016

WDW & Other Florida Park Hours
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
9:00am
Extra Morning Hours~to~
12:00am
Epcot
Epcot
9:00am
~to~
9:00pm
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
9:00am
~to~
7:30pm
Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios
9:00am
~to~Extra Evening Hours
8:30pm
Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach
10:00am
~to~
5:00pm
Typhoon Lagoon
Typhoon Lagoon
Closed
~to~
Closed
Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure
9:00am
~to~
8:00pm
Universal Studios
Universal Studios
9:00am
~to~
6:00pm
SeaWorld
SeaWorld
9:00am
~to~
5:30pm
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
10:00am
~to~
6:00pm
Aquatica
Aquatica
10:00am
~to~
5:00pm
LEGOLAND
Legoland
10:00am
~to~
5:00pm
Extra Morning Hours +1 Hour Early Entry for Disney Hotel Guests.
Extra Evening Hours +2 Extra Late Hours for Disney Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of Florida Park Hours

Disneyland Resort Park Hours
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park
8:00am
~to~
12:00am
Walt Disney StudiosCalifornia Adventure 8:00am
Extra Morning Hours~to~
10:00pm
Extra Morning Hours +1 Hour Early Entry for Disney Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of West Coast Park Hours

Disneyland Paris Park Hours
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park
10:00am
~to~
8:00pm
Walt Disney StudiosDisney Studios 10:00am
~to~
7:00pm
Extra Morning Hours +2 Hours Early Entry for Disney Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of DLP Park Hours

US Dollar Rates
Cash/Travellers Cheques
Covent Garden FX  $1.4302
FAIRFX  $1.4185
M&S  $1.4002
Travelex  $1.4173
Prepaid MasterCard Rates
CaxtonFX  $1.4140
FAIRFX  $1.4179
Travelex CP  $1.4173
Updated: 09:30 12/02/2016
Print Quick Conversion Sheet

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Euro Rates
Cash/Travellers Cheques
Covent Garden FX  €1.2665
FAIRFX  €1.2525
M&S  €1.2294
Travelex  €1.2515
Prepaid MasterCard Rates
CaxtonFX  €1.2540
FAIRFX  €1.2532
Travelex CP  €1.2515
Updated: 09:30 12/02/2016
Print Quick Conversion Sheet

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