Thirsty Thursday: The Latest Holiday Craze… Pop-Up Bars

Now you see it. Now you don’t.

That’s how it is for pop-up stores, which fill a space for a short time and then pack up and close for good or move to another location. This holiday’s biggest pop-up trend is the pop-up cocktail bar, complete with winter themed drinks. Many of them have a charitable component, making doing good as easy as drinking something good.

A Midwinter’s Night Dream, New York City

The regular hotel bar inside NYC’s NYLO hotel on the Upper West Side is popping up as a Shakespearian/holiday themed bar with drinks like Puck’s Shadow and the Nymph’s Nectar made with gin, passionfruit, grapefruit and lime. The dream ends on Jan. 1 and when hotel guests wake up on Jan. 2, the hotel bar will go back to being just a hotel bar.

Miracle on Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh

This little Miracle is part of the franchise of Miracle pop-up cocktail holiday bars with locations in Paris, Athens, New York City, Atlanta, Seattle, and of course Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Some of the proceeds from Miracle go to charity, according to CBS Local. Festive drink’s like this Snowball Old Fashioned made with bourbon, Becherovka, spiced syrup and Angostura bitters are accompanied by simple foods like bologna sandwiches and fries. The pop-up holiday cocktail bar closes New Year’s Eve.

Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack, New York City

Warmer weather is what patrons of Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shop in the East Village in New York City want for the holidays. Through Dec. 24, drinks like Hawaiian Milk Punch made with bourbon set a tropical mood. You can even watch beach movies from the ’60s.

Christmas Village, Philadelphia

And some pop-ups go the more traditional route. The pop-up Christmas Village at City Hall in Philadelphia features authentic European food, ornaments and arts & crafts from all over the world. This temporary village also serves mulled wines from the local Chaddsford Winery served in Christmas Village collectors mugs. The Christmas Village runs through Dec. 24.

Disney World To Debut LED-Lit Dancing Drones

Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration granted Disneyland and Walt Disney World — both FAA-designated no-fly zones, mind you — with a special exemption that permits the parks to operate semi-autonomous drones. Essentially, the waiver, which expires in 2020 and can be revoked at any time, allows domestic Disney theme parks to maintain their cherished no-fly zone status while opening up the airspace above them to “multiple small unmanned aircraft systems” during the daytime and evening hours.

Since the announcement, the Mouse-devoted have been waiting anxiously to find out what exactly Disney plans to do with its newfound drone-approved status. How exactly will Disney Imagineers — the design, architecture and engineering wizards responsible for the “magic” at Disney Parks and Resorts — put drones to work?

As a method of happiness-enforcing aerial surveillance?

As a newfangled way of delivering Dole Whips and churros to famished park guests?

As a swarm of terrifying robo-Tinkerbell clones that regularly descend upon Fantasyland for awkward photo ops?

While Disney Drones won’t be fulfilling any of these roles (nor will they help to manipulated an army of nightmarish, blimp-sized marionettes envisioned by the company back in 2014), they will play a starring role in an upcoming choreographed aerial light show titled “Starbright Holidays — an Intel Collaboration.”

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This special nighttime “holiday experience” will involve 300 LED-equipped drones swooping and sailing through the air in unison above Disney Springs (née Downtown Disney), a lakeside shopping and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. According to the official Disney Parks blog, the performances will be “accompanied by an original Disney arrangement of classic holiday songs recorded by a full orchestra.”

It’s not yet known how frequently the Christmas music-soundtracked show — already likened to a “beautiful alien invasion” — will be performed or when it will officially debut. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, a five-minute “rehearsal” was staged at Disney Springs earlier this week.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen LED-equipped flying robots perform an intricate aerial ballet across a darkened sky. But this is the first time Disney has attempted such a feat and, as such, it promises to be quite the spectacle. It’s also certainly the first time that hundreds of unmanned flying machines have been used to form a giant Christmas tree.

According to a press statement issued by Silicon Valley-based semiconductor chip behemoth Intel, “Starbright Holidays” marks the first time that a “show-drone performance of this scale” has been staged in the United States. It also marks the public debut of the Intel Shooting Star, a newly developed lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) — “a quadcopter show drone” — festooned with built-in LED lights than can be programmed to illuminate the night sky in upwards of 4 billion color combinations. While Intel has designed drones and dabbled in large-scale dancing drone performances before, Shooting Star is the first drone designed by the company specifically for synchronized light shows like “Starbright Holiday.”

Disney and Intel reportedly spent five months working together to develop the show, although Shooting Star drones will not remain exclusive to Disney. The Sentinel notes that all 300 drones used in each performance of “Starbright Holidays” are controlled by a single computer. Launched from a parking lot behind the west end of Disney Springs, the total fleet consists of 700 drones. (Naturally, you need backups at the ready in case a drone overheats and needs to be taken out of service like a cast member dressed as Winnie the Pooh on a 110-degree Central Florida afternoon.)

About the size of and weighing a little less than a standard volleyball, the foam and plastic Shooting Star drones can fly for up to 20 minutes — that’s almost twice as long as the Magic Kingdom’s beloved Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show.

Which brings us to the big question: will drones ultimately replace fireworks at Walt Disney World and other Disney parks?

Not to fret Disney purists — the nightly fireworks aren’t likely going anywhere anytime soon. But as Josh Walden, general manager for new technologies at Intel, explains to Quartz, buzzing ‘bots do have distinct advantages over traditional pyrotechnics:

Walden told Quartz that Intel’s Shooting Star drones won’t necessarily replace traditional fireworks displays — they offer something different, and can be used in conjunction with fireworks. But, he said, they are more environmentally friendly in the long run, as they can be used multiple times. They’ll also likely set fewer things (or people) on fire than fireworks tend to.

On that note, Sally French at MarketWatch notes that Intel’s show drones could indeed prove to be safer than fireworks, which sent 10,500 folks to emergency rooms across the country in 2014. Although a number of freak — and sometimes fatal — incidents have occurred at Walt Disney World over the years, very few have involved fireworks. However, falling embers from the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular show did spark a fire that lead to the evacuation and a brief shut-down of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in November 2014. In a gruesome roundup of deaths and accidents at Walt Disney World, the Orlando Sentinel also notes that exploding fireworks burned six park-goers during a New Year’s Eve celebration in 1999.

Of course, most visitors to Walt Disney World in the coming weeks will likely spend little to no time worrying about the scant possibility of being maimed by a malfunctioning quadcopter. After all, they’ll be too busy gazing upwards above Lake Buena Vista, eyes agog and mouths hanging open in wonderment as hundreds of robotic orbs paint the sky with festive holiday color.

Retailers Roll Out Holiday Ads Earlier Than Ever as Shoppers Prepare to Spend More This Year

Retailers are making a real effort to reach their Holiday season shoppers early this year, hoping to bring in some customers ahead of the Black Friday craze. This year’s earliest Holiday ad was run by Kmart back in September.

A new report by Accenture—a multinational management consulting company—published by The Wall Street Journal has found there’s a good reason for this. Forty percent of holiday shoppers are planning to spend more this year due to increased optimism about their personal finances, compared to 25 percent of shoppers who felt that way last year. With a fifth of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion coming in during the Holidays, stores will be competing for a significant piece of the pie.

Make sure you know what to buy for yourself or your close ones ahead of time this year, as everyone will be more informed about the best deals around.

How To Preserve a Carved Pumpkin

Whether your spend three minutes or three hours carving your Halloween pumpkin, wouldn’t it be nice if it lasted longer before melting into a puddle of mold on your porch?

Never fear, there are plenty of tricks you can use to keep your pumpkin looking stellar all season long.

In the battle to preserve your Halloween pumpkins, you’re fighting both mold and dehydration. Here’s how to prevent them from ruining your creations:

Clean. The best way to clean your pumpkin after carving is to use bleach. Bleach kills mold and will prevent it from attacking your pumpkin. You can either completely submerge your carved pumpkin into a solution of three tablespoons bleach to three gallons water, or you can use a spray bottle filled with water and a small amount of bleach to treat the carved areas. Let the pumpkin air dry after bleaching. Interestingly, in an experiment posted on My Science Project, the bleach-treated pumpkin showed only minimal decay even 10 days post-carving.

Lubricate. Unless you want your pumpkin to look like a shrunken head, you will also need to apply a water-repellent lubricant to the cut areas to keep them from drying out. Petroleum jelly, vegetable oil and even WD-40 work wonders to keep the moisture in and keep your pumpkin looking good.
Another option is to use a store-bought pumpkin preservative spray like “Pumpkin Fresh,” which contains fungicide (to kill the mold) and lubricants (to keep the pumpkin from drying out).

Want to preserve an uncarved pumpkin? Try shining it with floor wax to keep it looking fresh.

But a word to the wise: If you plan to eat your pumpkin after carving, skip the bleach and use a natural lubricant — like veggie oil or olive oil — instead. Carve the pumpkin close to Halloween so that it won’t sit out for too long. And carve away any spots that look moldy before you add it to your recipes.

You Can Eat Christmas Dinner At Hogwarts, For A Price

This year, platform nine and three-quarters is opening up to the public for Christmas dinner. That’s right: you can dine at Hogwarts this winter, if only for a small fee.

So the dinner is actually on December 3rd, and a ticket will get you access to the great hall of the Harry Potter franchise fame. It’s the latest event to be added to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and it’ll cost you. One ticket is $349. Yikes. But, for the hefty cost of admittance, you’ll get butterbeer, access to Diagon Alley, a custom wand, and a view of “the breathtaking Hogwarts castle model (covered in a layer of filmmaking snow especially for the festive season),” as the studio tour website details. 

I guess it’s time to figure out that “accio $350!” spell I’ve been working on for a smooth five years, huh?