Theme World: 6 park openings and happenings

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6 Park Openings & Happenings
October 23, 2015

An eventful time in Theme World. Here are some things you may have missed.

1. NBC Sports Grill & Brew


The latest (and one of the largest) of CitytWalk's restaurants opened today. The decor features more than 100 HDTVs playing non-stop sports from around the world. There's even a 100-foot long screen wrapping the outside of the building.  As you might expect, the menu is big on sports bar fare: wings, burgers & fries.  But here the wings are grilled, not fried. The burgers are enormous (one features a full pound of beef patties plus bacon).  But the restaurant also serves up New York Strip, ribs, grilled grouper, salmon, and a Truffle Mac & Cheese some people are already raving about online.  Entree prices appear to range from around $13-$40.

Want beer? There are 38 different drafts, including its own brand of beer: 862. That's named after the project code Universal used internally to track the project. There are also 67 types of bottled beers.

2. Disney Springs gains a third celebrity chef


Ths week, Disney announced  Chef Rick Bayless will open Frontera Fresco, next year.It will feature authentic Mexican cuisine and will stress locally sourced ingredients.
 Bayless  joins Masaharu Morimoto & Art Smith as big names. Morimoto, of course, is behind the newly opened Morimoto Asia. Smith recently announced he is opening "Homecoming: Florida Kitchen & Southern Shine" next year. More on both restaurants here.

There's a very good reason why more big names are signing on to Disney Springs.
All of them green. This week, Restaurant Business named two of the oldest Disney Springs tenants as among the 100 top-grossing independent restaurants in the U.S.


Number 13: Fulton's Crab House at $21,200, 000.


Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe: $16,500,000. Puck, of course, was the first celebrity chef to gamble on the mouse.

3. Gaylord Palms ICE Announcement


Late today, Gaylord Palms announced this year's theme for the coldest attraction in town: The Night Before Christmas.
Also today, the master carvers arrived at the resort from China.


They're going to be busy. In all -- 2 million pounds of ICE will be carved into an amazing display.  It's the centerpiece of the Gaylord Palms Christmas celebration: Nov. 24 - Jan. 3.

4. SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular


Before we get to Christmas, I want to remind you SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular is going on this weekend and on Halloween. Unlike Disney and Universal's better-known parties, Spooktacular is included with SeaWorld admission. Costumes are encouraged. There will be sea-themed trick or treating, arts & crafts, Penelope's Party Zone, and Halloween versions of Pets Ahoy & the Sesame Street show.

 5.  Design your own Magic Band  (for a price)


The arcade closed months ago in the  Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland Light & Power building. As of today, it has a new purpose:
a D-Tech on Demand boutique.


This one lets you design your own  MagicBand. Add your name, pick one of 8 colors, or 40 Disney Designs. The bands cost between $22 - $30.

6. Ribab Fusion comes to Epcot


For a different kind of band, head to World Showcase. Ribab Fusion has debuted as a limited-time act in the Morocco Pavillion.

Disney says the band "celebrates Morocco's Amazigh culture with everything from smooth grooves to high-energy funk, fusing the traditional sound of the single-stringed ribab with a contemporary, Afropop style."

Catch them Wednesdays through Sundays through January 2nd.

Expect a crowd if you go, though. For the few who don't know, Epcot's insanely profitable... oops, I mean popular 20th  International Food & Wine Festival  continues through November 16th.

Have a great weekend!