ParkStop Podcast: Episode 11 – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opens and Listener Questions

We talk about some of the first impressions of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, now open at Disneyland Park. Plus, we get to your questions in an extended listener segment! The podcast is available in a video and audio version below. The video version includes additional visuals.

Video Version

Audio Version

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has officially opened at Disneyland, and we discuss our reaction to the first reactions to the new land. We talk about what people are saying about some the merchandise, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, and how Blue “Milk” tastes. Plus, we get to your questions in an extended listener segment!

Check out:
ET Candles & More
VincentVision Galaxy’s Edge

The ParkStop Podcast is brought to you in part by Destinations in Florida. Contact our travel partner Elizabeth for your free vacation quote today. She’ll help you plan the perfect vacation with the best rates on ticket packages and on-site hotels, and her services are totally FREE to you.

Support on Patreon for early podcast releases: https://www.patreon.com/ThemeParkStop

Sources and References

Music: Port of Entry

Alicia Twitter: https://twitter.com/AliciaStella
Ian Twitter: https://twitter.com/OfficialTADB


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LEGOLAND Florida Update: New Refresh & Refill Stations Debut and More

It has been a while since we had the opportunity to take a look around LEGOLAND Florida. This beautiful theme park offers more than 50 rides and attractions as well as a magnificent garden that includes a massive Banyan tree. Join us as we walk around the park to see what’s new:

First of all, we noticed that the park recently added some new "Refresh and Refill" stations that serve cold

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Endings, Beginnings, and Spaghetti

August already. How did that happen?

However it did, it sure happened quick. One minute it was spring, with each long, languid day offering the promise of infinitely more to come, and the next it’s late August, and each warm breeze feels like the closing act. Even if the temperature hasn’t dipped too much yet, the evenings are becoming noticeably shorter, and as early pumpkins and apples start appearing beside the peaches, corn and tomatoes, I know it’s just a matter of time before we’re digging out the parkas and extra socks.

Of course it’s still a while before that happens, and when I stop to think I remember how the end of summer means the beginning of fall, a season I love almost as much. This year the sense of August as the harbinger of an ending seems particularly acute, though, since, well… it is. Not to over-dramatize things, since all the changes are positive and welcome, but as much as I’m looking forward to them, beginning something new always means ending something old, and when that something old has brought good things, leaving it behind is hard.

In my case, the end of this month is bringing about some significant life changes. We’re moving again, for starters, though this time luckily not across hemispheres, but just across the country—to Stuttgart, capital of the southwest. Known as an industrial powerhouse, and cradle of the formidable German automobile industry, I’ve been thrilled to learn that Stuttgart is also Germany’s gastronomic capital. It makes sense, actually, as the city is located barely an hour from both France and Switzerland, is smack in the middle of German wine country and is surrounded by the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in the republic (61 in the region, at last count). I daresay we couldn’t have chosen better if we’d tried.

And then there’s the reason for the move. I’ve been offered a job down there, a really, really great job, one that combines my background in language and writing and public relations and offers me the chance to work for one of the most well-known and well-respected companies in Germany. It’s like nothing I’ve done before, but somehow it’s perfect for me—well, as perfect as something that doesn’t involve food can be. It will mean big changes, though, in everything from how I spend my days to what I spend them thinking about to how much time and energy I’ll have to potter around the kitchen at their end—to, of course, how blogging will fit into the picture.

But let’s not worry about that now. First, I have a promise to fulfill. Last time we spoke I told you I’d share a treat from Sicily with you, and I don’t intend to let you down. In fact, it would be criminally negligent of me to not share this particular recipe with you, since it offers one of the best vehicles for sweet, juicy late-summer tomatoes (i.e. the kind in your markets NOW) ever devised. In fact, I’ll even go out on a limb and suggest it makes one of the best pasta sauces ever devised. I’ve seriously been tempted to spend this month eating nothing else.

Now here’s where I have to admit a bit of a convoluted background to this dish. Ostensibly it’s a slight modification of the famous pesto trapanese, a tomato, basil and almond sauce hailing from the northwestern city of Trapani. I actually didn’t eat this in Sicily—I wasn’t near Trapani, and it wasn’t the right season anyway—but shortly after I returned home I found the recipe in one of the newest Sicilian cookbooks on my shelf, Made in Sicily by London restaurateur and author Giorgio Locatelli. What initially caught my eye in Locatelli’s version was his substitution of mint for the more common basil, something I may have been dubious about once upon a time, but certainly not since traveling to Sicily this spring and falling in love with the intense Sicilian mint that perfumes everything there. The second thing that struck me was that instead of grinding everything together to the usual homogenous mass that characterizes a pesto, he left the various components chunky and distinct, juicy nuggets of tomato interrupted by splinters of almond and curls of fresh mint.

Or at least that’s what the luminous photo next to the dish showed. And for some reason, after admiring that photo and quickly scanning the list of ingredients, I ran off to make the dish without, well, actually reading the recipe itself.

It was, however, as spectacular as I expected: the sweet bursts of tomato, like half-melted rubies clinging to the hot pasta, the toasty crunch of almonds, the peppery slick of olive oil, and the ribbons of spicy mint, which is so unexpectedly sublime with tomato and garlic, so clean and fresh and bracing, I might never touch a sprig of basil in their presence again.

Unfortunately it was also wrong, as I discovered after I’d made the sauce this way two or three times. Don’t ask me what the photographer was smoking, but the instruction was clear as day in the recipe, when I actually bothered to read it: grind everything to a paste in a mortar.

Oops. But by then it was too late; I had fallen so in love with my accidental version and its rustic, toothsome chunks that I simply couldn’t fathom doing it any other way. And since it’s the version I love, it’s the version I’m giving you—though to nip any confusion in the bud I’ve changed the name from ‘pesto’ to to the more generic ‘salsa’. Even if you’re a fan of the original I urge you to give this one a try; though I should warn you, you may soon find yourself trying to sneak tomatoes, almonds and mint into nearly everything you eat. Not that this qualifies as a problem in my book.

I just hope the good people of Trapani will forgive me for my freewheeling approach to their gastronomic heritage. And I hope you, dear readers, will forgive me for another stretch of silence around here. On the bright side, a belly full of spaghetti should tide you over nicely.

Spaghetti with Salsa Trapanese

You may have noticed that I mentioned making this dish shortly after returning from Sicily early this spring, long before any edible tomatoes were on the market in this hemisphere. I was, in fact, so eager to try it that I gave it a shot with canned San Marzanos, drained, rinsed, seeded and chopped. I have to say, it honestly wasn’t half bad—in fact I’d rate it as significantly better choice than out-of-season (i.e. hothouse) fresh tomatoes. Of course candy-sweet summer heirlooms are in a league of their own, but should you find yourself craving this in the off-season, there’s no shame in substituting the contents of three 400g/14oz cans for the amount of tomatoes given here.
p.s. I know peeling tomatoes is a chore, but please don’t skip this step or the pieces won’t get that luscious, half-melted texture when they hit the hot pasta.
p.p.s. This sauce certainly doesn’t only go with pasta; try it over sauteed fish or chicken too.

Source: adapted from Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Sicily
Serves: 4-6

500g (1 generous lb.) juicy, ripe plum or heirloom tomatoes
75g (1/2 cup) blanched almonds
1-2 cloves garlic, mashed or grated on a fine Microplane
40g (1 large handful) fresh mint leaves, shredded
50ml (scant 1/4 cup) olive oil
salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
pinch of sugar

500g/1 lb. dried spaghetti

Cut a shallow ‘X’ in the bottom of each tomato and place them in a deep heatproof bowl. Bring a kettle of water to a boil, then pour enough over tomatoes to submerge them all. Leave for 10-20 seconds, or until the skin at the cut part of the tomatoes starts to curl. Drain and fill the bowl with cold water. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, and dice the flesh. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let drain in a sieve while you prepare the other ingredients.

Toast the almonds in a 350F/175C oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Cool, then chop medium-fine.

Combine the chopped almonds and tomatoes in a large serving bowl with the garlic, mint and oil, mashing the tomatoes slightly with the back of the spoon, and season to taste with more salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Let sit while you cook the pasta, or up to several hours.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti just until al dente. Drain it well, and immediately add to the bowl with the sauce, tossing to coat. Correct the seasoning if necessary, and serve.

I don’t feel this needs any cheese, but Locatelli suggests that if you want some, dice some young pecorino and toss it in before serving.

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Walls Down at Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Today, the work walls have come down around the entrance to Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Hurry up and get your Universal Orlando tickets now, because this new roller coaster attraction is scheduled to officially grand open June 13th at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

With work walls down it’s of course possible we could see guest previews in the days leading up to the grand opening. Let’s take a look at photos of the new entrance now without walls, and talk a little more about the possibility of soft openings below. UPDATE: Check out the video for more details.

The entry area to the ride is littered with props and objects blocking our way in. There also appears to be a stage area with lighting and speakers set up, most likely for a dedication ceremony of some sort.

Walls are down for the first time around the ride (Photos by @Epcyclopedia)


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The new ride will require loose articles and bags be placed into a locker, similar to Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts. The new ride will not require you to empty everything from your pockets however, like the former Dragon Challenge. Also, new lockers have been installed on the left side of the ride entrance, as well as the original locker location in the train depot area on the right.

Original locker area on right

New locker area through archway on left


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Will There Be Soft Openings?

Often times in the days leading up to an official opening date we may see Technical Rehearsals, also known as soft openings, where regular park guests get an opportunity to experience the attraction prior to the official opening date.

With the work walls down now, the chances of a soft opening have certainly increased, but that does not mean they are inevitable. Only if everything is working smoothly, and the ride, as well as other operational elements, are completely ready will we see a preview for the ride.

Rumors have team members getting a chance to ride first, and only if those tests go well will regular guests have a chance to ride. It’s always possible that we may not see soft openings at all. And, even if there are soft openings, there is no guarantee for how long the ride will remain open. Also, some elements of the attraction may not be operating during this testing period. Stay tuned to the website for more updates on possible soft openings.

The only way you can be absolutely sure to get your chance to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is to purchase your Universal Orlando tickets now and schedule your visit for June 13th or later, when the new coaster is scheduled to officially open. Riders must be at least 48″ tall to ride.

SEE ALSO: COASTER STATS | RIDE RUMORS | OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE

Stay tuned for details about this ride as they happen. Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email below to never miss an update. Photos: @Epcyclopedia / Official Images: Universal

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What to Wear in Vancouver Year Round

  Wondering what to wear in Vancouver year-round? Here are some local-approved outfits for day, night, and anytime!   What to Wear in Vancouver Written By: Sebrin Elms & Soheila Yalpani   Vancouver is, without question, a beautiful city, with tall, glassy buildings, framed by mountains, forest, and ocean. The city itself, especially the downtown, […]

The post What to Wear in Vancouver Year Round appeared first on Travel Fashion Girl.

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LEGOLAND Florida Update: New Refresh & Refill Stations Debut and More

It has been a while since we had the opportunity to take a look around LEGOLAND Florida. This beautiful theme park offers more than 50 rides and attractions as well as a magnificent garden that includes a massive Banyan tree. Join us as we walk around the park to see what’s new:

First of all, we noticed that the park recently added some new "Refresh and Refill" stations that serve cold

Read More

More Membership Rewards Program Changes (AMEX Gold 4x Restaurants Worldwide & Loyalty Accounts of Authorized Users)

Good evening everyone.  I was checking my American Express Blue Business Plus Credit Card statement and spotted some important changes to the American Express Membership Rewards program terms.  Doctor of Credit already wrote about the most exciting program change (American Express Gold Card Will Now Earn 4x at Restaurants Worldwide – Not Limited to USA), but I thought I would cover the other, less exciting, but still important changes.  There are 4 pages of changes and details, so I will go through each page of the changes.  Here are the main points from the first page:

Effective immediately, you will not be able to add authorized users and have your authorized users have their own Membership Rewards account (separate from the primary Membership Rewards account).

Starting on Thursday (June 6, 2019), the American Express Gold Card will now earn 4x at restaurants worldwide (instead of just restaurants in the United States).  All other card bonus categories and caps remain the same.

The Blue for Students Card will no longer earn Membership Rewards Points (I can’t even find any info on this card).  You should convert this credit card to an AMEX EveryDay Credit Card.

Effective September 1, 2019, you will need to pay your bill by the payment due date, otherwise you may forfeit any Membership Rewards Points earned that period.

Effective September 1, 2019, your authorized user will need to wait at least 90 days before you can link their airline/hotel loyalty account to the primary Membership Rewards account.  I believe this is American Express’s attempt to crack down on members selling their Membership Rewards Points by adding a buyer as an authorized user, then adding their airline/hotel loyalty account to the primary Membership Rewards account and then transferring Membership Rewards Points out of the primary account.

Effective September 28, 2019, authorized users that have their own Membership Rewards account will have until October 31, 2019, to redeem their accumulate Membership Rewards Points.  In addition, after September 28, 2019, all purchases made by authorized users will have their points post to the primary Membership Rewards account.

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High Line di New York, la ferrovia si trasforma in una piazza

Si conclude il parco lineare di New York realizzato su una sezione in disuso della ferrovia sopraelevata chiamata West Side Line. È stato trasformato in uno spazio aperto, che riproduce il concetto di piazza europea, che manca completamente nelle grandi città americane. L’ultimo pezzo di questa ferrovia inaugura oggi e si chiama The Spur, ovvero lo sperone.

Per chi ha voglia di visitare High Line, deve sapere che la passeggiata è lunga circa 2 chilometri e mezzo, da Gansevoort Street sulla 14esima strada fino alla terza, curva all’altezza della 30esima strada e decima avenue, diventando parte di Hudson Yards per finire all’ingresso di un ufficio postale.

Come mai è stata chiamata The Spur? È per la forma delle rotaie, che diventano un semicerchio, su cui passavano i treni merci per arrivare fin dentro l’ufficio postale. Al centro della piazza un enorme piedistallo (The Plinth) su cui è stata collocata una scultura alta quasi 5 metri. L’opera, ‘Brick House’, raffigura una mammy, una caricatura della donna afro-americana, ed è stata realizzata da Simone Leigh, originaria di Chicago ma trapiantata a New York. Cecilia Alemani, curatrice dell’arte dell’High Line e di origini milanesi, ha così commentato all’Ansa:

“E’ la prima volta che l’arte viene integrata nel disegno dell’High Line. Abbiamo totalmente rubato l’idea a Londra e al Forth Plinth di Trafalgar Square e abbiamo lanciato un programma di arte pubblica che consente ad un artista selezionato tra vari di esporre la sua opera sul Plinth. Ogni 18 mesi ci sarà un lavoro diverso e non sarà necessariamente di carattere monumentale come Brick House”.

High Line di New York, la ferrovia si trasforma in una piazza pubblicato su Travelblog.it 05 giugno 2019 08:30.

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More Membership Rewards Program Changes (AMEX Gold 4x Restaurants Worldwide & Loyalty Accounts of Authorized Users)

Good evening everyone.  I was checking my American Express Blue Business Plus Credit Card statement and spotted some important changes to the American Express Membership Rewards program terms.  Doctor of Credit already wrote about the most exciting program change (American Express Gold Card Will Now Earn 4x at Restaurants Worldwide – Not Limited to USA), but I thought I would cover the other, less exciting, but still important changes.  There are 4 pages of changes and details, so I will go through each page of the changes.  Here are the main points from the first page:

Effective immediately, you will not be able to add authorized users and have your authorized users have their own Membership Rewards account (separate from the primary Membership Rewards account).

Starting on Thursday (June 6, 2019), the American Express Gold Card will now earn 4x at restaurants worldwide (instead of just restaurants in the United States).  All other card bonus categories and caps remain the same.

The Blue for Students Card will no longer earn Membership Rewards Points (I can’t even find any info on this card).  You should convert this credit card to an AMEX EveryDay Credit Card.

Effective September 1, 2019, you will need to pay your bill by the payment due date, otherwise you may forfeit any Membership Rewards Points earned that period.

Effective September 1, 2019, your authorized user will need to wait at least 90 days before you can link their airline/hotel loyalty account to the primary Membership Rewards account.  I believe this is American Express’s attempt to crack down on members selling their Membership Rewards Points by adding a buyer as an authorized user, then adding their airline/hotel loyalty account to the primary Membership Rewards account and then transferring Membership Rewards Points out of the primary account.

Effective September 28, 2019, authorized users that have their own Membership Rewards account will have until October 31, 2019, to redeem their accumulate Membership Rewards Points.  In addition, after September 28, 2019, all purchases made by authorized users will have their points post to the primary Membership Rewards account.

Read More