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Jacob Sundstrom

Where to Eat (and Drink): Epcot's Rose and Crown

Published: May 26, 2015 at 8:17 AM

Food often reflects the culture that produced it — this seems to be the case with English food, which has as little color as northern England after the 10-month winter. What the Rose and Crown English Pub at Epcot proves is that the greys and brown of English cuisines can be damn tasty.

To start, we decided to try to be at least a bit adventurous — by our standards, anyway. The Scotch Egg is a fried hard-boiled egg wrapped in english sausage and served with a golden mustard sauce. The egg offers a base of filling protein while the sausage provides the flavor and the light golden batter takes care of the texture. The result is a filling, surprisingly shareable and absolutely delicious appetizer that offers a snack to go with your beer before the entree arrives.

Scotch egg

Right, the beer. It wouldn’t be a pub without it and as an avid-beer-consumer myself I was impressed with what R&C had to offer. Over the course of a week we tried every pub blend the restaurant sold and didn’t find one we didn’t like. I was a particular fan of the shandy which features a half Bass ale/half sprite mixture, while one of my traveling companions fancied the Half & Half, a half Harp and half Guinness mixture.

If you’re looking for something a little darker, the Black & Tan (half Bass and half Guinness) might be your cup of tea. There are no bitter IPAs to be found here, but I prefer something a bit smoother in the swampy Orlando air anyway. R&C also features a pair of half-cider mixtures which are great if you’re not big on beer — you can also order any of these beers as you would at any other bar, but what’s the fun in that?

Our main course was a platter of Bangers and Mash which the three of us shared. It’s probably better served as a shareable meal for two, but we were saving room for the beer, obviously. The sausage was delicious and well cooked — not chewy in the slightest, and it’s exceedingly difficult to mess up mashed potatoes if you know what you’re doing in the kitchen. The real star of the show, though, was the gravy. I’ve never been partial to gravy previously, but this isn’t like the gravy I’ve had in the past.

Bangers and mash

It’s a bit thinner than what I’m used to having with turkey and it’s certainly much darker. The flavor is robust but doesn’t overpower the sausage; instead it provides a perfect marriage between the sausage, onions and mashed potatoes. I was tempted to ask for another round of scotch eggs to dip into it, but my pride (and my wallet) won out.

We didn’t try dessert, opting for a second beer instead, which seemed the logical choice for a warm afternoon in Orlando. The cost of the meal was fairly priced, as far as theme park food is concerned, particularly because we shared the entree and appetizer. The pub also offers several specialty drinks which come in souvenir cups. My girlfriend tried the Welsh Dragon, which is listed as: “Peach Schnapps, Melon Liqueur, Crème de Menthe, Orange Juice, and Pineapple Juice served in a Souvenir Cup.”

It tasted fine, but was too sickly sweet for my liking. Still, the flavor was nice and it was certainly refreshing. If you’re sensitive to sweet flavors, I’d say opt for something a little For a (sort of) reasonable price, delicious food (and drinks) and a great view of the lagoon, the Rose and Crown is a great restaurant in a theme park filled with them.

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Robert Niles

Weekly Top 10: Things Not to Do on Your Vacation

Published: May 25, 2015 at 5:35 PM

Welcome to the unofficial start of summer. No doubt many of you began planning your summer vacations long ago. But no matter whether you planned every detail of your Disney or Universal vacation last winter (or earlier!) or you've just started thinking about which parks you might like to visit this summer, here are 10 things that you should make sure not to do on your next vacation.

10. Buy Your Tickets

Do you really want to wait in an extra line, and make a decision worth hundreds of dollars, the first morning you're at the parks? Buy your tickets before you leave home and you'll have the time you need to research the best deal. And with your tickets in hand, you also will give yourself a head start on getting into the park when you arrive. Now, if you happen to find some interesting roadside attraction that inspires you to stop, go ahead and buy your tickets for that when you're there. But don't wait until your vacation starts to buy the tickets for the major destinations on your trip.

Selfie stick

9. Use a Selfie Stick

Want to get a picture of you, taken at more than arm's length? Ask someone to take it for you. Theme parks are filled with thousands of cast and team members whose job descriptions include taking your photo, when asked. And theme parks attract thousands of like-minded, potentially friendly visitors like yourself who probably would take a moment to tap that screen for you, too. Why, then, should you haul a selfie stick into the park, just to get in people's way on crowded paths? Every major theme park now bans the sticks on rides and during shows, too. Leave the stick at home.

8. Get a Sunburn

Sure, you want to get out into the sun after that nasty winter. But vacation is supposed to provide relief from the rest of the year — not more suffering. Take a few moments and spread on some sunscreen before going out into the parks for the day. Your skin will thank you later.

7. Carry around Souvenirs

If you decide not to leave your souvenir shopping until the end of the day, you don't need to carry your haul around the park with you until you go. Many parks have a free package check service for people who buy souvenirs in the park. Either the store can hold your purchases for you until you leave, or they can direct you to the place in the park that will do that for you. If you are staying at an on-site hotel, chance are you can have your purchases delivered to your room, instead.

6. Buy Stuff You Could Have Brought

When you spend money in the park, make sure that you are getting something unique that you could not find elsewhere. Don't pay theme park mark-ups for that plain Mickey plush you could have gotten at Target at home for several dollars less. Bring your sunscreen, pain relievers, diapers, baby wipes or whatever other supplies you will need during the day. (Or make plans to head back to the hotel to take a break and restock at some point.) Sure, parks have just about everything you might need available for sale, often behind the counter upon request, but you'll pay a premium. Save your money for something special, instead.

5. Spend Money You Don't Have

...Not only on supplies, but also on tickets, vacation packages or other upcharges that you can't afford. As part of your vacation planning, make a realistic budget that you can keep. Then do. Parks will try to entice you with upcharges for front-of-line passes, all-you-can-eat meal deals, character experiences, extra attractions, collectible souvenirs — anything imaginable to lure your money from your pocket. If you can afford it and want it, go for it. But don't leave yourself with credit card debt that will suck the money from your bank account to pay interest charges for months, maybe years, to come.

4. Force Children to Go on Rides

Yes, you want to get full value for the money you've spent. But trying to force your child on a ride isn't creating a happy memory for anyone. When your kids are crying, ride operators can't let you on the ride, or dispatch your ride vehicle. That holds up the line for everyone behind you, and creates a risk that the entire ride will have to shut down for your stubbornness. Step aside and let everyone in the family come to an agreement before getting on rides. And obey all posted ride restrictions, including height limits. They are there for everyone's safety.

An angry queen

3. Yell at People

Don't get mad at cast and team members who are trying to do their job. Don't get mad at other guests, who are simply trying to enjoy a vacation without having to hyper-analyze every moment. Not every moment on vacation will go as planned, and with so many people in a confirmed space trying to do the same things, conflicts are inevitable. But getting angry doesn't make anyone more inclined to help you. Being angry only makes you more miserable. If something goes wrong, try your best to remain calm and treat other people as you would like to be treated.

2. Push Yourself to the Breaking Point

Here's the key to staying calm in trying moments: Don't push yourself so far that you become too exhausted to maintain control. Take a break. Hit the high-capacity, indoor, air-conditioned, sit-down shows during the middle of the day. Make sure everyone has had enough to eat and to drink. If everyone's getting too run down, leave the park and head back to the hotel for a nap or a swim. Vacations are supposed to be fun. If you get to the point where everyone's getting miserable, it's time to walk away for a bit.

1. Accept a Bad Time

Here's our best piece of advice for visiting a theme park — cast and team members are there to help you. If anything is going wrong on your vacation, ask for help. Stay in control of your emotions (see #3 and #2), be nice, and ask for advice. Don't make demands. Ask for advice, instead. You'll get better results that way. If someone you ask cannot help, they likely will direct you toward someone who can. If someone in your family is sick or feeling ill, employees can help you to the park's First Aid station, where you can get free, basic care and treatment. Having trouble navigating your way through the park? Employees will help you craft a plan. You don't need to accept a bad time on a theme park vacation. Even on the most crowded and difficult days, there's fun to be had in theme parks, and the people who work there can help you find it.

What's your best advice on things to avoid on a theme park vacation?

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Robert Niles

Battlestar Galactica Reopens This Week at Universal Studios Singapore

Published: May 25, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Good news for coaster fans — the owners of Universal Studios Singapore have announced that its Battlestar Galactica coasters will reopen on Wednesday.

Battlestar Galactica are launched, dueling Vekoma coasters: "Human," a sit-down coaster, and "Cylon," an inverted. The ride closed at the end of July 2013 "for review" and has remained closed since. When the ride returns Wednesday, it will feature new trains that seat two across, rather than the four-seat rows on the previous trains.

Battlestar Galactica trains
Photo courtesy Resorts World Sentosa

This has been the second extended closure for the ride. Battlestar Galactica opened with the park in early 2010, only to close a week later due to what was later revealed to be cracks in the seat-post supports on the Human side. The ride remained closed for 11 months before reopening with reinforced seats on both sides.

When it was open, Battlestar Galactica provided one of the highlights on a visit to Universal Studios Singapore. Offering wonderful views of the park, not to mention multiple fly-bys with the dueling train on the other track, Battlestar Galactica offered nonstop action that got your adrenaline pumping. All that's changed on the coaster now is the new trains. The tracks remain the same.

Here's a preview video of the newly refurbished ride, from Resorts World Sentosa, the integrated resort on Sentosa Island that is home to Universal Studios Singapore.

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Robert Niles

The Month in Reviews: Let's Take Another Look at 2015's New Theme Park Attractions

Published: May 23, 2015 at 7:21 PM

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Robert Niles

Post-Mortem: Three Things Disneyland Could Have Done Better at the 24-Hour Party

Published: May 23, 2015 at 11:49 AM

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Robert Niles

Disney 24-Hour Party Crowds Lead to Frustration at Disneyland (*With Updates)

Published: May 22, 2015 at 4:09 PM

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Robert Niles

Raptor Encounter Invades Universal Orlando's Jurassic Park

Published: May 22, 2015 at 3:51 PM

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Robert Niles

Vote of the Week: It's Party Time at Disney!

Published: May 22, 2015 at 7:46 AM

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Matthew Gottula

'Disneyland Forever' Takes Fireworks to Dazzling New Heights

Published: May 22, 2015 at 7:15 AM

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Matthew Gottula

Disneyland Recharges its Electrical Parade with Paint the Night

Published: May 22, 2015 at 1:12 AM

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Robert Niles

A New Yeti Moves in on Disneyland's Matterhorn

Published: May 21, 2015 at 6:21 PM

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Robert Niles

First Look at Wizarding World of Harry Potter Merchandise from Universal Studios Hollywood

Published: May 21, 2015 at 1:00 PM

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Matthew Gottula

World of Color – Celebrate!: A [Somewhat Spoiler Containing] Review

Published: May 21, 2015 at 1:58 AM

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Samantha Glavin

Wicked Cyclone Storms into Six Flags New England

Published: May 20, 2015 at 7:45 PM

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Russell Meyer

Laff Trakk Debuts at Hersheypark (*Updated)

Published: May 20, 2015 at 7:44 PM

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Robert Niles

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Now in 3D

Published: May 20, 2015 at 6:24 PM

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Robert Niles

Six Flags Magic Mountain Makes the Old New Again with Twisted Colossus

Published: May 20, 2015 at 2:19 PM

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Robert Niles

An Insider's Look at Disney's New World of Color - Celebrate

Published: May 19, 2015 at 10:28 PM

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Robert Niles

Universal Studios Hollywood Promises Wizarding World of Harry Potter News on June 2

Published: May 19, 2015 at 1:08 PM

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Robert Niles

Six Flags Challenges Disney, Universal at Their Own Game with Justice League: Battle for Metropolis

Published: May 19, 2015 at 11:01 AM

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