Star Wars & DIsney vs. Marvel, Harry Potter, The Simpsons , & More : A Vacation

Memorial Day weekend last week was my second time to Disney and Universal Studios Since December of 1990.  On one side you had Marvel Comics, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, The Simpsons, Fear Factor, Men In Black, Dr. Seuss, and so much more.  While on the other side, you had Disney, Pixar, Jack Sparrow, American Idol, Indiana Jones, and the rest of their Disney cast.

It came down to Marvel & The Simpsons vs. Star Wars Weekend in my eyes and as it turned out, the Force won.  It took their Star Wars Weekend to replace my last experience at Disney and replace it with one that left me a little emotional.  It took Star Wars for me to enjoy Disney.

I will get into that in a little bit.  The idea is to have you stay for a bit.  Not to give you the good stuff immediately so you can leave to play on Facebook and Twitter.  That is unless you are visiting my pages. I know, cheap plug.  Who else is going to do it? Anyway, some good attractions are coming to Universal and it was a very fun time with some participation from yours truly.

Universal Studios Vacation Day 1We left Newark from Gate 94, a good omen.  The Millennium Falcon was parked in Docking Bay 94 in Mos Eisley Spaceport on Tatooine in Star Wars.  Most of you Star Wars geeks like myself knew that.   When we arrived in Orlando on Wednesday, we unpacked and walked right over to Universal Studios.  The Hyatt Place we stayed at was about a half mile walk from both Universal parks.  It was a convenient location to spend as much time at Universal as we needed.  Plus, the Universal City Walk had shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and more.

Theme parks seem to morph and change over time to reflect the changes in pop culture and the target demographics that they set out to lure to their park away from their competition.  considering Universal Studios is planning on having an entire town of Springfield to showcase The Simpsons, consider me a return guest once it is completed.  From the Kwik E Mart to Krusty Burger to Moe’s Tavern, it will all be at Universal.

My first time at Universal in 1990 I went on the E.T. Experience, The Jaws ride where he pops out of the water, Earthquake, a Ghostbusters show, ate at the Hard Rock Restaurant, and met legendary DJ Wolfgang Jack.  Wolfgang was spinning records in Mel’s Diner, from the movie American Graffiti.  The countdown clock for the Back To The Future ride was still counting down.  I have pictures somewhere.

It was a fun visit the first time, and the second was no exception.  A day after the tornado in Oklahoma we decide to go on the Twister movie experience.  Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt talk about their experience working on the movie and the devastation of what an F5 tornado can do.  No jokes here.  Not something to joke about but the ride was cool.  They had a staged scene from the movie where the tornado comes into the drive-in movie.

From there it was off to Disaster Pictures featuring the Earthquake ride.  The idea here is the guests are “extras” and chosen for parts in a DIsaster Pictures movie.  The head of Disaster Films is played by a personal favorite, Christopher Walken.  Yours truly was picked to be one of the three villains.  A natural role.  So with a lab coast, goggles, and a hard hat we had foam rocks film on us.  That was the role, two seconds of film. Next everyone went on the Earthquake ride to finish the film.  It was funny and made everyone laugh.

Up next was Fear Factor Live.  Yes, they have Fear factor shows running in the park.  As soon as they said they were casting for the next show I was first to line up.  The girls casting had us play Simon Sez to see if everyone can follow directions.  I was not fooled as I learned and watched the master of the game at my Bar Mitzvah.  Give a three-second promo of why we are there, and other minor items.  I was picked for the last show of the day.  My enthusiasm was at a level I had not felt in a long time.

We get into Under Armour tops, wet suit pants, and aqua shoes before getting into our safety harnesses.  Six of us had to prepare for the first stunt.  Thirty five feet high above the set we were individually placed on platforms about 16 inches wide where we had to stand at the end.   Above us hung an inverted “V” metal bar.  On command, the platforms would drop out and we had to hang onto the bar, dangling high above.  The first two to drop take the walk of shame.

I was sweating from the moment we started walking to Universal.  It was humid and this Jew had not gotten used to Florida yet.  It is not my time.  So standing up there my hands were just sweaty still.  I was wiping them off on the harness, but once on the bar for a bit the sweat came back.  Yeah, nerves played into it a little bit being that high up on a short platform.  I just looked straight out, not down.  Nerve racking, but fun and exhilarating at the same time.

So we are told to hold on to the bars.  The command is said and the floors drop.  The girl to the right of me drops and I’m slipping.  I try to maintain but the sweat is proving it wants to win out more.  I am praying to see one person drop very soon so I can then release right after.  But, time was not on my side as I lost my grip and took the plunge, safely I may add.  So after giving my explanation I took the walk of shame.

Universal Studios Vacation Day 1It was fun even though I did not make it to the next two rounds.  No eating would have been involved in the next two rounds.  I was relieved to hear that.  They saved that for the park gusts to do in between rounds.  It was a great experience.  It made the first day in Orlando memorable.

Last up was this great Simpsons Ride.  They put you in the story as Sideshow bob attempts to destroy Springfield.  You accompany Homer, Bart and the rest of the family as you fight off Sideshow Bob and his dastardly weapons of animated destruction.  By next summer,   the town of Springfield should be in full swing.  That is a trip worth taking.  Destination: Springfield!

Out second day we ventured over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.  Great action themed park.  STarting off in the Marvel area I had to take in the Incredible Hulk roller coaster.  Had to have been one of the best coasters I have been on.  Great lops, corkscrews, turns, and a start that shoots you right off.  Was a highlight of the week.  Rode it three times.

The park is a giants loop.  From Marvel you walk to a classic newspaper comics section.  All the classics are there.  Flash Gordon, Beetle Bailey, Kathy, Boris and Natasha, Marmaduke, The Family Circus, Popeye & Bluto, Dagwood and Blondie, a Dudley Do Right log flume and more.  Then welcome, to Jurassic Park.  From the prehistoric era we enter the magical world of Harry Potter & the spectacle that lies within.  Speaking of magic, after Potterland you are suddenly in a bazaar of Sinbad and his voyages.  The only themed park left was the amazing kid wonderment of Dr. Seuss’ Seuss Landing.

Jurassic HarryThe detail put into both Jurassic Park’s Visitor Center and Harry Potter world was created with such amazing detail.  One could grasp the scope of the size of the dinosaurs standing next to the fossilized T-Rex.  It is staggering to see the detail put into the Visitors Center.  Walking though Harry Potter world was fun.  My wife LOVED the butterbeer.  There were long lines for this amazing beverage.  To see this world of imagination come to life was fun in itself.  All the little nuances made to a fun world top walk through constantly.

The Dragon Coasters and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey were the highlights of that section of the park.  The Forbidden Journey ride is worth the wait.  Great interactive experience everyone should ride.  With the Dragon coaster, you have a choice of either the Chinese Fireball which offers a faster ride, or the Hungarian Horntail which offers more loops and corkscrews.  I enjoyed the Hungarian Horntail more as I prefer the loops, twists, and 90 degree drops.

Universal creates great interactive rides and shows.  They seem to have a grasp on making each ride experience unique and entertaining.  Their attention to detail, background history of their respective story, and characters don’tt go unnoticed.  Both Universal parks offer great interactive rides and 4D movies.  I find myself wanting to go on these rides more than once.  Depending on the attraction, one can feel immersed in the world of your choosing along with Harry Potter or The Simpsons.

Simpson collageFace it, once Springfield is completed everyone will want a Krusty Burger or a Clogger.  A chance to step up to the bar at Moe’s & see Homer passed out drunk.  Buy comics from Comic Book Guy while the uses sarcasm to insult us all.  The chance to interface with a town of characters that have come into our lives for close to a quarter of a century.  Springfield will truly be a destination and a reality.  We’ve watched them for so long and bought the merchandise, the only thing left is to visit.

So after two great days or a three-day pass enjoying what Universal has to offer, we decided to head to Disney Hollywood and Epcot on Friday.  We had to wait until Friday as Disney is running Star Wars Weekends throughout the summer.  We did not know until a few weeks ago that it would be a weekend filled with Star Wars characters, merchandise, and more.  It made my second experience at a Disney park more memorable than my first visit.

As soon as we get inside Disney Hollywood we headed straight for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith.  After our wait in line though a recording studio, we find ourselves in the studio with Aerosmith.  Not the real band but a great CGI interface they recorded.  Still fun and a great way to enhance the interactive experience.  We receive “backstage passes” from the band and their manager has to get us transportation.  So our coaster was a nice stretch limo.

We sit in the coaster, waiting, expecting.  After Steven Tyler counts down we are shot off like a cannon.  One can faintly hear the screech of wheels as we pull away.  Next thing you feel is being twisted, turned, and looped around though street signs, drive thru’s, highway markers and other road side items zoom[ast in neon.  All the time listening to Aerosmith music.  It was the kind of ride Hunter S. Thompson would have felt right at home on.  Gina and I loved it.

Right off the ride was Darth’s Mall.  A take on the Star Wars Sith Lord, Darth Maul combined with a mall filled with Star Wars and Disney merchandise.


DarthSeriously, good play on words.  The Disney characters were captured in everything from action figures and Legos to shirts, bags, hats, paintings, and Sith Lord knows what else.  Plus, they had standard George Lucas inspired Star Wars memorabilia and artwork.  Some really great pieces can be found on the Disney website.  One could even build their own lightsaber (toy version).  They even had the Muppet characters for sale in their Star Wars costumes.  Wanted your Star Wars Angry Birds merch, it was there as well.  They had everyone covered.

One piece that caught my eye were the characters from Disney Pixar’s Cars as Characters from the Star Wars Universe.  It was a great mix of the two worlds.  It just so happened two of the men responsible for this were on hand to autograph the Hot Wheels sized Cars people purchased for $10.95.

With no one up there, I had a great chance to talk to Ron Cohee and Quynh Kimball.  Both Disney Animators and have worked on numerous animated films for Disney like Mulan, Hercules, The Princess and the Frog, Lilo & Stitch, and other feature-length films as well as other Disney animation projects.

Behind them hung concept art they put together for a presentation they prepared for the decision makers.  The artwork depicted the Cars characters in a full Star Wars environment.  Each was shown in a Star Wars scene based on their character, but in a Cars world.  An example would be the IT-O interrogator droid on the Death Star.  Instead of it having needles, it has wrenches and screwdrivers.  Great depictions and the subtleties are great.

Talking with them felt like I was conducting an interview for the extras section on a Blu Ray Directors Edition.  They were forthcoming with when they were presented the idea to the point of detail in the prototypes.  You can sense it was a labor of love.

There were ideas of combining the two worlds as far back as 2008.  The idea was to merge both Star Wars and Cars characters without diminishing either sides character depth.  They wanted to merge them at an even level.  So when you look at Mater as Darth Vader, Sally as Princess Leia, Lightning McQueen as Luke Skywalker, Fillmore as Yoda, the Tractor as a Stormtrooper, and Luigi and Guido as C-3PO & R2-D2 you see the Star Wars character they portray but still themselves.

Disney AnimatorsIn 2011, they were finally asked to develop the characters for toy production.  In 2012, they had the prototypes and finished the project that they had casually been working on for years.  Once Disney purchased Star Wars, it was only a matter of time before this project became reality to the animators.  They even said to not be surprised by a Cars/Star Wars animated movie in the future.

So far talking with them was a highlight.  They had some printed copies of the concept art that hung behind them.  I asked if I could get one autographed, but was informed by Quynh Kimball he printed them out to show people the characters up close who wanted to buy the toy cars and have the cars autographed.  I had no issue with that.  I understood it was all about selling the merchandise.

But, Quynh Kimball said they were only there until noon, about 45 minutes from that point.  He said if I came back a few minutes before they left, he might be able to sneak one over to me.  He also said he would deny that I had a copy or one autographed for that manner.  We had a laugh and I understood.  They wanted to adhere to policy and not give out freebies.  I said not to worry as my lips would be shut.

I wait patiently.  Not really, I kept looking at the time so we could move on with our day and not just stand in a Dath Mall.  As I walk over to their counter Quynh slides a copy in front of him and Ron and I get my autographed copy of their concept art.  Once again, he said he would deny any part of this signed artwork.  Once again, we all laugh.  I said no one will see this outside a close friend and my brother.  So I rolled the sucker up and headed out quietly.  But inside, the fireworks were going off rapidly.

Here I hold this concept art combining the characters from both Cars and Star Wars autographed by the men who designed them.  I hold a piece of Star Wars memorabilia, autographed by its creators, that no one else has.  It may not be a George Lucas Star Wars based item, but it is a piece of Star Wars based memorabilia I know no one else has or will ever have.  I own a one of a kind item that will not be found on anyone else’s wall.

I was elated for the rest of the day.  That moment alone made my first visit at Disney nonexistent.  Clutching my signed art made me feel like an 9-year-old.  I coddled that item to the best of my ability.  SInce I could not ask anyone working in the mall for something to put it in, we carried it around as best as we could amongst our other souvenirs for the day.  Aside from minor pressing on it, it came home in great condition.

To keep the Star Wars momentum going we headed next to Star Tours.  The original Star Wars ride in a Disney park.  When we arrived at the attraction, the wait time posted was 30 minutes.  Considering that a small wait time we got right on line.  Little did we know the true wait we were in for.  DIsney offers a Fast Pass option per attraction or ride.  For an extra $20, one can purchase a Fast Pass to come back at another time and bypass the standard line to immediately move past everyone to get on that ride.  I am not sure of other Fast Pass pricing options.

The momentum as we were moving in line was diminishing.  As we stood waiting, the Fast Pass entrance was picking up steam.  We started to move more infrequently and stood more as the Fast Pass line was filling up and moving rapidly.  Our wait got longer and longer.  You could count the 150 plus Fast Pass holders moving by.  As they all paid to get right up to the front of the line so the rest of us could wait longer.

It took about an hour and a half just to reach the front to find out what tour ship we would be seated in.  Disney gets enough for the tickets to their parks it is amazing to see the vast numbers who will lay out the extra cash just to get to the front of a line.  I understand it is a hassle to wait on line.  Majority will wait.  Others want to maximize time to get as much in and will pay extra to not wait.  Others will use means to hire handicapped guides to get them to the front of the line.

I did not even enjoy Star Tours.  It was too short of a ride and it focused on Episode I.  As a Star Wars fanatic, I would have preferred a ride regarding the original trilogy.  The wait from the Fast Pass made me not want to ride that ride ever again.

Universal Studios offers an Express Pass on most rides and attractions, not all.  They offer a one price Express Pass to cover one park or both.  Certain Universal rides they let you out in the front of the line, but the other waiting lines still move faster than Disney.  Other rides, like the roller coasters, they let the Express Pass people merge into the regular waiting line about 85% of the way through.  Then they have to wait with everyone.  It appeared Universal was more organized and the wait times on lines moved faster than DIsney.  The lines always kept moving.

We never waited over an hour for any ride at Universal.  Even with the Express Pass people one never noticed how a line had to stop completely for those who purchased an Express Pass.  SO after Star Tours we had enough with Disney Hollywood and spent the rest of the day at Epcot Center.

We took a brisk walk around the countries that make up Epcot as well as Tomorrow Land.  I got a good idea of Epcot but not too much to write about.  More time is needed at Epcot to truly visit each respective country and grasp what they have to offer.  But from my overview, I would like to have at least two days there to take it all in.  My wife has been to Epcot before and did the International bar crawl.  A drink in every country.  Sign me up when I return!

Our last day in Orlando was spent between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  A couple rides remained to be experienced.  First stop, back to Universal Studios.  Up first was the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.  With a top speed of 65 miles an hour and a record breaking loop, it made for an awesome thrill ride.  The wait was only fifteen minute at 10:30 AM on Saturday.  Didn’t take longer than that.

The one extra that made the ride go to 11 was the opportunity to pick YOUR OWN MUSIC for the ride!  You pick the music you want to hear from their list of genres to make your ride that push over the cliff you need.  Gina and I both chose Kickstart My Heart by Motly Crue.  Even now I can remember the ride because of the music I listened to.  In my opinion, hard rock and metal make any coaster ride that much more heart pumping and head banging.  I held up “the horns” the entire ride.  It is a perfect combination of music and mayhem.  Rock on!!

Another ride on The Simpsonss was due but we figured we would try the Men In Black Alien Attack ride.  Not a bad wait, twenty minutes.  Unfortunately, the ride broke down.  They ushered us to the exit as others were still helpless on the ride.  Stuck they sat, waiting in whatever part of the ride they were halted in.  Not a fun day for those people.  Off to The Simpsons for another great ride.

The last exhibit was looked at was Lucy – A tribute.  A great tribute to Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy.  Displaying the shows Emmys, several scripts, costumes, Set floor plans, and so much more.  One could watch an episode of their choosing or an eight plus minute highlight reel of the show.  Gina even sat on the floor as the show tribute video played.  It had every classic moment over the shows long run.  A great way to end the day at one Universal park.

Back to Islands of Adventure for another showdown with the Incredible Hulk coaster.  This time, Gina was with me.  Even for a second time, being shot off the like a cannon will always make me howl with energy.  As soon as we got off the coaster Gina was tearing up from the excitement she just endured.  Expressive signs of elation and even jumping like a kid who just rode the first coaster of their life.

We ventured onto one of the Jurassic Park rides.  It’s a large flume ride while going through Jurassic Park.  It was fun to see the dinosaurs in their “natural habitat”.  At the end, the raptors had broken loose.  As we hard through a facility there is a big one staring us all down.  Just when you think he is on top of you, down the boat goes for a major splash.  It was fun and worth the wait.

Disney may not be the number one theme park in Orlando for me, but Star Wars makes it a destination none the less.  Disney has something for the kid in all of us.  Some of those items were purchased by Disney over time.  Their theme parks are the best places to view these valued non Disney memories.  Face it, however you formulate it, Disney has you in one form or another.

I had a better time at Disney this time.  Obtaining a collectable is better than losing your wallet.  But the winner goes to Universal Studios for the better theme park experience.  My Fear factor experience, The Simpsons, and their roller coasters outweighed Disney and their roller coaster.  The highlight was the Star Wars collectable, no influence on park decision there.  Universal spoke to the adult in me as well as my nostalgia.  Disney just felt watered down.

Universal Studios Vacation Day 1I am willing to go back, give it its due and spend more time exploring what Disney has on its property.  The wife and I have discussed details about going back, even to Universal.  There is always something new to discover each time you visit, that is what makes the Orlando theme park area a destination to explore often.  I enjoy the variety from both brands.

If you would like me to go over the food choices at both parks as well as close to Universal Studios, let me know!!  The NASCAR Cafe and Margaritaville at Universal City Walk offer great light fare for some midday energy.

Universal will be the first choice to me, DIsney has some work to do to fully grasp my attention to captivate me in the way they would like.  It is time to move on to the next trip.  The one that will leave an ever lasting memory.  The one that involves a lonfer than usual plane ride.

That trip also begins today. More on this very soon.


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Eight Hours In Disney World Never To Be Forgotten

Every once in a while I think about a strangely, particular day in my life.  This day was fun, unfortunate, unbelievable, lucky, worrisome, strange, and relief all rolled into one.  A series of events that unfolded to the point that  if Las Vegas odd makers were taking bets on this one day and I put everything on it, I would be a multimillionaire.  Just when you think the odds are stacked against you and all is lost, a light can shine down and provide good fortune from an unknown source at “the happiest place on Earth“.

This all happened back in December of 1990.  I was a part of USY‘s International Convention in Orlando Florida.  I went as part of Northern New Jersey‘s Hagalil region of USY.  I am not sure if the Orlando area was ready for such a large Jewish contingent to come down during Christmas week.

As part of the convention we had one day to spend in any of the Walt Disney World theme parks.  Since I had never been to Disney before, or since, I decided to go to the Magic Kingdom over Epcot and MGM Disney.  The total time we had was eight hours in the park.  Definitely not enough time to do everything I wanted, but enough time to get to the main rides and attractions.  Or so I thought.

After departing the Orlando Hyatt and arriving at Disney World, everyone went their separate ways.  I went with a few guys I barely knew.   After taking some obligatory pictures around the entrance and in front of the Castle, we proceeded to go on the Runaway Train.  I loved this ride in every other amusement park I have been to and Disney kept the momentum going.

While standing on line, there was excavation being done next to the ride to make room for the Animal Kingdom. So I snapped some pictures. We end up chatting with a few girls from elsewhere on line. As the girls move on, we talk to a few guys behind us on line laughing at some of the lines we were using. More on them later.

deltadreamflightOur next ride was in Tomorrowland, Delta Air Lines sponsored Dreamland, the former Eastern Air Lines  “If You Had Wings“. Once again, we chat with a few girls but they were from our youth organization. So we invite them on the ride with us. We venture on this look into tomorrow, sponsored by Pan Am, and then the girls say they need to meet other friends. Not a big deal at least that is what we told ourselves.

I then notice I lost my wallet. In Disney World, I lose my wallet. Cash, American Express travelers checks, ID, everything.


What a joy the rest of the day was going to be. I head over to Town Hall as that is where “Lost and Found” is. They said they would keep a watch for it. This was around 11 AM. I hadn’t eaten, the guys I was with left me, and it felt horrible being alone in this situation.

I did a lot of wandering; just walking around the park focused on an outcome I was hoping would turn in my favor. I wandered in the same areas. I treated Town Hall like base camp. This was the epicenter I needed to come back to. The employee inside must have been thrilled to see me every so often.

Even as I walked around the park, I did not see a single person I knew from my youth organization. I was not a single rider on any rides. I did not go on any rides or watch any attractions at this time. My mind was so focused on my wallet I forgot to have fun while on the quest to retrieve my lost wallet.

I was starting to get hungry. Not a good feeling when there was only lint in my pocket. As time went on, my confidence and attitude were getting lower and lower.

classic-main-street-photo-1-5I must have window shopped every store along Main Street. If Foursquare was around in 1990, I would have been the Mayor of Town Hall& every store on Main Street in less than five minutes. I wandered around like my ancestors in the desert but I had less than 40 years to retrieve my wallet.

Things were starting to look bleak. About four hours had gone by and nothing. I trudged my way back to Town Hall and asked again if my wallet had been returned. To my amazement, it had!

Not only did I get my wallet back, but all my money, American Express traveler’s checks, and ID had been in there. A full wallet. Nothing was missing. Someone was looking out for me that day. I guess it was a good thing I was on a religious convention.

As soon as I had money in my hand I proceeded to get something to eat. A pulled pork sandwich, fries, and a drink for about $12 sounded good, but seemed expensive. I was hungry; at that point the cost was insignificant and secondary to my hunger.

My mind kept reiterating the good luck that had fallen on me. How a stranger in Disney could find my wallet and not take a thing. Something so easy to do and take found money. But one person just wanted to do the right thing and return it all.

After eating and feeling better about myself, I was not prepared for the surprise that came next. While casually walking I heard “Excuse me, are you David Levy?” This woman then proceeds to tell me she was the one who found my wallet.

With thousands upon thousands walking through Disney in one day, what are the odds I would encounter the person who had found my wallet? I was amazed by the possibility of this. Coming across the one person among thousands of strangers in Disney.

I thanked her several times. I even offered her $20 for her kindness but she refused. I even asked how she knew it was me. She remembered my picture from my school ID. Duh, of course!

I was just in amazement of coming across the person who had found my wallet. I knew I had a great story to tell the others. I could not even calculate the odds in my head. Somewhere, someone in Las Vegas made out like a bandit on those odds.

After a long, tiring day everyone met back up in the parking lot by the busses around 5 PM. Once I was back at the hotel, I knew I had to call home to explain what had happened in Disney. I figured my family would love to hear about my fortunate luck.

imagesI make the call home and I say to my mother “Mom, you will next guess what happened”.

She replies back “Did you lose your wallet?”

Stunned and in disbelief I can only answer “Yes, I did.”

My mom proceeds to say that the woman who found my wallet left a message on our home answering machine that she had found it.


All I kept thinking was the series of events I did not see. The kindness one person showed amongst the thousands in Disney that would have emptied the sucker and tossed the wallet in the garbage. In a true Scarlet O’Hara moment, I relied on the kindness of a stranger.

Repeatedly, I kept trying to process what the possible odds were on wandering across the one person amongst thousands in Disney that found my wallet. I figured that was a once in a lifetime event. That there could be no possible way I would run into someone that random again.

I was wrong.

I had to leave the convention a day early. At the time, I had earned a varsity spot on the wrestling team at 189 pounds. We hosted a Christmas tournament every year. In order to qualify to wrestle, one must attend practice the day before any scheduled tournament or meet.

That is how important wrestling was to me. It took precedent over the convention in Florida. To be quite honest, I was glad to be out of there.

As I am riding in the shuttle to the airport I was thinking of the events at Disney and the upcoming tournament. Caught in thought about amazing odds and my first varsity wrestling match.

I check in and sit waiting for my Continental flight back to Newark. After finding my seat on the plane and getting situated, I hear a comment being thrown my way:

“Hey there, so what ever happened with those girls?”

The comment comes from one of the guys I met on line for the Runaway Train ride at Disney.


Are you kidding me??

Here is this guy I only talked to for a few minutes on line for a ride at Disney and he is also on my plane back to Newark?

Can someone please check the odds on that one too?

I chuckle and answer his question. We had another good little laugh. All I kept thinking was here are two separate incidents from Disney where certain odds had to be enormous.

What could the odds possibly be for meeting someone on a line ride at Disney and then several days later seeing them again on the same plane back to Newark, NJ?

I kept throwing the two incidents back and forth the entire plane ride back. Two separate incidents with mind boggling odds in each case. At this point, I knew this could not happen again.

I am always thankful that the one person who found my wallet was a kind hearted, thoughtful individual who returned everything. Then when offered a reward, wanted nothing.  Acts of kindness like these are rare in this day and age.

disneys-hollywood-studios-vader-small-15346This week I am headed back down to Orlando for the first time in over 20 years.  More time will be spent at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, but will be venturing to Disney Hollywood Studios for their Star Wars Weekend.

It will be a better experience this time.  The company with me is an improvement and very welcome while having Star Wars as a park theme makes it even more memorable.  There is no way I can lose this time around.

We won’t even have to hire a Handicapped Guide to help us cut into lines.

This trip is going to be fun, details to come.  The real excitement is yet to come…….

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NFL Play 60 Youth Football Festival/NFL Draft Media Event @ Chelsea Waterside Park

My first editing project! Last week’s NFL Play 60 event from the NFL Draft media day. A great event at Chelsea Waterside Park that was attended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci, and former Dallas Cowboys Lavar Arington, Tony Casillas, and “Prime TimeDeion Sanders. All the top Draft prospects shared their time with the kids for a wonderful event. We get up close with Steve Mariucci, The Miami Dolphin‘s pick Deion Jordon, St. Louis Rams pick Tavon Martin, and the New York Jets pick Geno Smith. Also a few words from Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders.

NFL Play 60 Media Day April 24, 2013NFL Play 60 Media Day April 24, 2013NFL Play 60 Media Day April 24, 2013

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NY Jets Need To Deliver, For Their Fans Sake

I was originally asked to write this piece for the Football Reporters Online NFL Draft guide.  Unfortunately, the guide was not put together for release.  The piece focuses on the New York Jets, their fans, MetLife Stadium, and PSL’s in regard to the Jets.  The idea that a PSL is “an investment” is discussed in contrast to those who want them for future generations.  This is a topic I have covered countless times.

I did not want this piece to sit in limbo for eternity.  Every Jets fan has their opinion on the PSL’s.  They are also outspoken in regards to other teams possibly entertaining the PSL idea.  The story never changes, but every once in a while new pages need to be added for a deeper in depth story.


Since 1996, football has watched itself grow beyond the typical funding, state grants, and loans that it takes to create and furnish a new stadium in the NFL.  The advent of the PSL has created opportunities for some but has also turned off many depending on the team you are a season ticket holder for.  When it comes to MetLife Stadium and the New York Jets, what was supposed to be a worthwhile “investment” turned into turmoil for many.

When the New York Jets announced that they were going to use PSL’s to help finance the new stadium, it was met with mixed reactions.  Especially from those long time season ticket holders who had been with the franchise since the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium.  Many fans have been with the Jets, supporting them in every situation and season longer than any staff member associated with the team.  That shows dedication while Jets’ employees will always move on.

The term “investment” has been used loosely when it comes to the purchase and ownership of a PSL.  People are split on this concept.  Many long time season ticket holders want to hold onto their seats.  Like many before them, retaining them in order to pass them along to a younger generation to enjoy.  Others “invest” in a PSL and sell the season tickets in hopes of making a profit selling the tickets either on a game by game basis or the entire season.

Jetsseasontix-592x274As many Jets fans know today, that is nearly impossible.  This past season, tickets were being sold for a fraction of their face value.  Some went through Stub Hub and purchased seats for each game, sitting in the same seats as if they owned a PSL.

Since the Jets introduced the PSL’s, I have related them to holding stock.  A flat value paid to a company in hopes that they value of said “stock” would rise due top the performance of the team.  No one owns one PSL, the minimum would be two seats or two shares in the team.  That PSL money helps to fund the stadium along with other “seat investors” and the Jets organization itself.

After that flat investment was paid, for example, 5,000 per seat just to be able to have the right top purchase season tickets.  The PSL only give you a license to purchase your tickets in the lower and middle tiers of the stadium while the upper part of the bowl is a complete NON PSL section.  So after you have your seats and tickets for that flat price, it is now up to the Jets and their team performance to determine what the future value would be for those PSL’s.

Just like any public company who offers any form of public stock, that stock value is determined by that company’s performance.  Google continues to actively trade at a high price many are willing to pay while Facebook is struggling to even keep its shares at a reasonable price.  There are many variables that determine what the stock price would be worth.

Jets Cut PSL PricesBut the main question remains, is this investment the best value for my money?  Will I get a return on my investment?  Is the company’s performance in the short-term and the long-term enough to be worth my time and money?  New York Jets fans ask themselves those same questions.  Since the beginning, the Jets have restructured prices & PSL structures in an effort to keep seats filled for more than one game.

The Jets performance has been sub par at best.  Performance has been below expectations.  The organization and the team have not risen to the occasion that their investors (fans) would have hoped for.  Especially in this new Roman Colosseum they built for the VIP’s and corporate sponsors.  The Jets have done nothing to raise these values with a New York Super Bowl less than one year away.

When a company is not performing to expectations, investors have certain rights to make changes in a company to ensure their investment does not hit bottom.  But the Jets are not a public company.  PSL holders can complain but the ultimate decision still lies within the Jets executive offices.  Even though the Jets on field performance has not met expectations from investors, all they can do is sit back and hope the decision makers in charge do the right thing.  Not just to increase performance and value, but for their fans as well.

Recently, the Cleveland Browns did away with their PSL structure.  Starting this season, new season ticket holders only have to pay for their tickets.  Current PSL holders will have the opportunity to add-on new seats without having to pay for a new PSL and still maintain their PSL holder privileges.  The Browns organization is doing this to help raise attendance and draw fans back to live games.  The Jets and Woody Johnson can learn from other teams examples and not just leave an upper bowl with Non PSL seats..

PSL holders for both the Jets and Giants are offered opportunities to purchase tickets for other events at MetLife Stadium.  It may not be in their seat or section, but they do get offers first before non PSL holders or the general public.  The true test of this benefit will come during next year’s Super Bowl.  Will these PSL holders be offered any kind of seat, even if their respective team is not in the Super Bowl?  How will the Jets and Giants handle ticket disbursement for the Super Bowl to their PSL holders?

There are so many questions and not enough answers when it comes to PSL’s and the benefits it covers, regardless of the team.  But one thing is clear, the more you pay for your seat location, the better your benefits and the better you are treated y that respective organization.

4708201386_c84096e02a_zOn June 16, 2010, the Jets held an open practice at the still being constructed MetLife Stadium.  Many tables with sales representatives we strewn about talking up season tickets and PSL packages.  They were in their collar shirts and khakis and offered up the usual brochures to passing fans who wanted more information.  The sales representatives for VIP sections, Coaches Club sections, and luxury boxes had a very different approach.

Clad in suits and offering up sales pitches to those who want to spend at least six figures per season were treated very differently.  As I followed one such sales agent, I heard him tell his prospective client the following: “you would receive the same treatment we reserve for Woody Johnson.”  Was this a part of the sales pitch?  Was it right to tell this prospective luxury box ticket holder he would be treated differently than those fans who or for a PSL in the lower bowl or even a NON PSL holder in the upper deck?

It does appear the Jets do not treat all their fans as equals.  In one such case with luxury box holder, Jack Usman, who I interviewed in the past said that “his sales representative had  been dressed so provocatively in the shortest, tightest skirt and the highest heels he had ever seen”.  He was amazed how a sales agent would dress like that just to talk about a luxury box.  All because he wanted to spend close to 1 million over three years on a box to bring clients.  If he was just another fan, it would just be a phone call and a package sent to his house.

In this age of “he who spends the most wins”  has taken its toll on professional sports.  One used to be able to bring a family of four to a football game.  These days, parents sometimes have to decide which child goes to which game.  Forget about the cheap seats in the upper deck.  What kind of experience is that for a childs first football game.  To those in charge of those decisions, it does not matter.  The only thing that matters is the bottom line,  regardless of who occupies those seats.

PSL’s may be a necessity for certain NFL teams to build their new stadium, but at what cost to their fans? Depending on the market you enjoy your favorite team in can also determine the cost of the PSL’s.  So many factors affect price structures.  The New York Metropolitan area just happens to be the most expensive market for professional football.

tommywilsonWhen the Jets rolled out their PSL’s there was a tremendous fan base shift.  Many older, dedicated fans from the days of Shea Stadium and the Polo Grounds never stepped foot in MetLife Stadium.  Some even passed away after making their initial PSL paymentt like Tommy Wilson.  The man paid for the seats in October 2009 and only saw them from above.

Professional sports have always kept up with the times, especially the NFL.  With the modernization of new stadiums & being able to offer cutting edge amenities, comes a hefty price tag.  One that gets passed to its fans in certain cases.  None has been in a higher profile situation more than the New York Jets and their fans.  This past season  added more fuel to an ever going bonfire.

The Atlanta Falcons have just been approved to be the latest franchise in the NFL to build a new stadium. A team on the cusp & capable of a Super Bowl appearance.  Will PSL’s be used in the building of the new stadium?  Will there be enough viable funding options to not lay a burden on the fans with PSL’s?  Time will tell.  If the Falcons organization needs to do marketing research to determine the fans options, Jets fans are always willing to share their opinions.

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Video From The 1st Annual Fantasy Football Fest in Atlantic City, N.J.

This past August, I was in Atlantic City to cover the inaugural Fantasy Football Festival, a one-of-a-kind fantasy football experience according to the organizers, ReedPOP.  This was the first time any festival or convention was organized and catered around fantasy football.

DSC_4086ReedPOP, the production company behind New York Comic Con (the largest pop culture convention on the east coast), PAX, PAX East, UFC Fan Expo,  & Star Wars Celebration organized the festival.  ReedPOP is dedicated to producing celebrations of popular culture throughout the world that transcend ordinary events by providing unique access and dynamic personal experiences for consumers and fans, is organizing the festival.

It took a while to get the videos edited as my editor was finishing up college and graduating.  I should be able to edit videos faster in the near future so everyone can experience the events closer to when they happened.  When the NFL Draft comes around in a few months, you will not have to wait long to see and listen to the 2013 NFL Draft prospects.

We has to break the footage into two videos.  The first video features NY Giants Super Bowl MVP and Super Bowl XXV Champion Otis Anderson as well as teammate Howard Cross from that Super Bowl.  We get a few words from employees at Fathead, the makers of sports wall clings, some fans, the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders, HGTV star of Man Caves & Baltimore Ravens Tony Siragusa, and so much more.

The second video features an interview with ESPN Fantasy guru Matthew Berry and former NY Giants and Jets player Billy Taylor.  You can see a fantasy draft in progress and action from the passing and field goal interactive station.  Plus as a bonus added extra, a joke shared with former New York Giants QB and CBS sportscaster Phil Simms.Fun was had by all that attended and if ReedPop has this event later this year, I am sure they will get a similar turnout.

DSC_4254Also on the second video is an interview with the head chef who drives and operates Johnsonville’s Big Taste Grill.  This thing is the size of an 18 wheeler.  The ideal item for that July the BBQ.  Johnsonville was there as part of the tailgating section of the event.

Thank you to Dr. Bill Chackes, Managing Partner of Football Reporters Online for asking me to cover the event and to incorporate my own unique style of sports media coverage into this fun, humorous, and a little sarcastic video.  Dr. Bill only asked for the first part.

Now keep in mind, these videos were shot in August of 2012 the weekend of the Jets vs. Giants preseason game.  So the topics range from preseason form, the Jets acquisition of Tim Tebow, Chad Johnson, Eli Manning, and so much more.

So enjoy watching the Fantasy Football Fest.  There was some footage not added, that could be used to create more videos in the next few months.  Come back often to find out.

My article from August about the Fantasy Football Fest.  More details about the event and pictures can be found there.


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2012 New York Jets Fans Fiscal Year Report

After the events of today, the Jets have ended their season in glorious fashion.  Jon Gruden said it best on the Jets final play against the Titans.  It was just ugly.  Their season was ugly and how fitting that their season should end on a fumble by Mark Sanchez.  The Jets have 50 turnovers over the past two seasons, the most of any NFL team.

Ugly, huh?

2012 has truly not been a banner year for the Jets organization.  For the fans, it has been even worse.  Year after year of promises, free agent signings, and supposed surprises, the fans have really had enough.  The Gang Green Piper needs to change his tune in order to get the fans back on board.  At a point fans were energized about the team’s future, investing in PSL‘s.  After this season, many are looking for a loophole to get out of their commitments or sell them outright.

This is not every fan.  Many dedicated Jets faithful will be back for another season next year.  Sending out their payments in mid 2013 to make sure they are in attendance for the start of another roller coaster ride.  Others I talk to have had enough and want off.  They have had enough of the ups and downs and just want to be a casual observer from their couch.

I know you may be shaking your head in regards to a fiscal year when it comes to the New York Jets.  They are not a public company.  No records to show on sales or growth.  Not even on which Jets season ticket holders have been with them for years and which ones are first time PSL holders.  There is little to no information on what true numbers the Jets organization has on their books by the end of the 2012 fiscal year.

The PSL is the stock Certificate and tickets are options.

You need to view this from a different perspective.  From the outlook of the fan investor.  The one who takes his hard earned money and decides each year that this recreational activity is worth the time and the investment.  Was the money laid out received back in a way that could rival a stock split or dividend.  Did you get full entertainment value for that dollar? 

In essence, the Jets fans fiscal year begins and ends with the NFL season.  Sixteen weeks, four months, four quarters to analyze the product and its value by the fans.  Their investment into a franchise that needs ticket income in order  to survive.  Just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars how important ticket sales are.

Every investor varies.  There are those with enough disposable income where this can be afforded as a luxury and necessity.  The choice to indulge in one’s favorite pastime as football is a life source of socializing and networking for a certain ticket holding investor.

Then you have those who have to save for a bit to enjoy days tailgating and getting frenzied up hard-nosed action.  The investor who puts years in and sees no ROI.  Each time seeing their hard-earned money, being invested in a product that raises expectations and then lowers their future outlook.  Somehow, to a few of these fans held over from Shea Stadium, “New and Improved” always feels like “Old and Inferior”.

Before the season even started, the Jets made their presence known with the signing of Tim Tebow.  We do not gave to go into a back story on his signing, activity, and his on field play.  It has been well documented by the media since the start of the season.  Expectations were high on Tim Tebow.  The Wildcat talk and much else kept his stock and overall use high. 

But as we all know, his on field play and use angered many and overall value made fans sigh with disappointment.  Weather his acquisition was because of Woody Johnson wanting to sell tickets or because Tony Sporano wanted him to help the Wildcat, it did not sell tickets.  But it did sell quite a bit of Jets merchandise & focus quite a bit of cameras on Gang Green.  In a way, Woody got a little of what he wanted.

Bottom line, the investment in Tebow did not equal the output expected by the team and the fans.  This added to  Jets fans having a bad fiscal year.

It seemed the Jets suffered more injuries than Evel Knievel.  Sorry Travis Pastrana fans, he still has a way to go to catch Evel! But from the start of the season when Darelle Revis went down then Santonio Homes, it seemed more and more kept piling up on the IR or PUP lists.  The revolving doors affected the Jets all season.  Dustin Keller could not find his groove with Mark Sanchez as in seasons passed to put points on the board. 

A sure sign of a Jets down economy

Jets performance in the first and second quarter were volatile.  There was no indication of a strong rebound to bring certain investors back to MetLife Stadium.  Projections for the second half remained optimistic, but with a team built more like a fantasy team than a NFL franchise with depth, many annalists were projecting a Wild Card at best.

Once the second half of the Jets fans fiscal year came about there was a slight climb in their value.  Once Thanksgiving showed its head, the team fell back into a slide.  Mark Sanchez and his play made that stock almost seem worthless.  His removal felt like a company taking out its CEO and getting someone in their fast to turn the ship around.  Greg McElroy stepped up in a loss to only receive a concussion which brings Sanchez back to a chorus of boos.  S

Stub Hub, the NFL Ticket Exchange, and other third-party ticket websites offer a certain market for season ticket holders.  A “stock exchange” of sorts where fans will sell their tickets for a certain value.  During the month of December, Jets tickets were being sold for less than $10.  The Jets received face value for those tickets.  The Jets season ticket holder would be considered lucky to even get 25% of face value in the month of December.  A month where fans might hope to make a profit on their tickets, can not.

What Woody Johnson has done to the season ticket holders  is beyond reproach.. The Jets have the highest average, non-premium ticket price in the league at $117.94, according to Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index. That is on top of personal seat licenses for all of those except the upper deck. 

If you look at the individual average per PSL holder assuming a minimum of two seats and a parking pass, the average season ticket holder is laying out an average of 275 per game, based on the above numbers,  before they even get to the stadium.  Lump in their PSL payment for the year  and APR if they decided not to pay for their PSL in full. 

The Jets are handling the financing of their PSL’s.  So that 6.5% or 8% that you pay to finance your PSL’s, goes right to the Jets as well.  Getting their little extra.

What exactly have Jets fans received back as ROI for that?

A preseason with no touchdowns. Regular-season losses by 34, 30 and 21 points. Parking aggravation. Cursing in the stands being seen on YouTube. And the biggest distraction in the league at backup quarterback.  None of this did anything to raise the value of on field play for fans to get behind the performance.

Not to mention Johnson begging the NFL to give the Jets a home game on Thanksgiving, ruining the holiday for his fans.   It is no wonder the Jets have been pushing advertising and commercials all over every piece of media they could to sell tickets.  Radio, television, websites, and more try to get fans interested in being a season ticket holder investor.

To the long time season ticket holder who gave their seats up to be armchair quarterbacks, the lure of penny stock  seats in the 300 section was not enough to make them venture out and be a part of what they once loved to do in the blazing heat and freezing cold.  To them, the tide changed, it is not the same.  It will never be the same and they did not want to move ahead with the change.  Instead opting to watch from a distance and spend their hard money elsewhere.

The Jets were 3-5 at home.  37.5% of their games were won at home.  Not a far return given the product on the field and the layout fans make each year in the country’s top market.  This with the highest ticket rates per average does not add up to a worthwhile venture. 

To the grizzled, tough skinned, dedicated fan, it still is though.  Still going so they can say they were there in the bad and the good.  The ones willing to pay any price to support their team in the flesh.  Patiently standing on the sidelines, in the hopes this turnaround happens in their lifetime.

It will, just a matter of when.  Do not make us wait longer than Rangers fans.

In today’s final game of the season, Mark Sanchez looked like a man with no confidence.  How could one make the best decisions in clutch situations in that frame of mind?

 Is that the kind of individual one would want leading a public company while the company’s stock is plummeting?  Someone not up to the task to the best of the ability needed to hold such a position?

I think not.

Do not let this happen, Woody.

Then the fans who have invested time and hard-earned money year after year should not put up with it.  At least stockholders have a voice in who should be leading that company.  It is time Woody Johnson had an open forum to listen to his stockholders.

The Jets have a large mountain to climb to turn this franchise around for the better.  It will not happen overnight, but more correct decisions sooner rather than later.  For the sake of your fan investor and the ones who hold off investing, do what is right for them.  Maybe then, that on field product might be enough to attract those fans rather than the blast style marketing. 

Jets fans were good this year.  They deserve a great gift to be proud of.  One that they will remember receiving the rest of their life.  Not a big shiny, well decorated, ornamental, box that it all comes in.

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What Makes One a Die-Hard or Dedicated Sports Fan

It has been an amazing season in the NFL.  I have not seen so many quarterback injuries and line up changes as I have seen this year.  The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons have been leading the way not seen by their own fans let alone football fans in general.  RGIII and Andrew Luck providing their fans with a level of rookie excitement to fuel their desire to remain devoted to their team.

Every fan knows what it feels like for their team to endure a losing season.  Some fans know this better than others.  Look at the Cleveland Browns fans.  I think they have been waiting longer than many NFL fans for their team to shape up and make some run for a playoff game.  The Cleveland Browns have one of the most storied franchises in football.  I think they have waited longer than many.

We New York Jets fans have been though losing season more than we have witnessed winning seasons.  Every year we shake the Etch-A-Sketch in hopes that this year will be OUR year.  The year we make it into the playoffs and go all the way.  A chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy and show our big brother Giants that the Jets are capable of winning it all.

We have been through worse.  Jets faithful have been through a 1-15 season during the Rich Kotite era that ended in disaster.  Things could always be worse, but we expect them to be better.

This has been a tumultuous season for Gang Green and their fans.  Many felt let down by the team in their performance while other continue to support them and attend games, even in the face of jeers, boos, and the hope that the Jets will pull one out at home.  Which, they did this past Sunday against the Cardinals.

Even at the Cardinals game, before McElroy came in the fans let their presence be known.  Every fan voiced their opinion in that game.  Even though the stadium looked like Swiss cheese it was still a loud stadium.  The noise of Jets fans was something to be noted as it went in both directions.  From those who wanted to see them win while others figured these “same old Jets” would just lose.  I am glad they did not lose.

Even through fans disappointments and accolades, some believe they are more of a fan than others.  I keep hearing how some believe they are a “die-hard” fan.  That because they bleed green and show up to every game, that makes them a die-hard fan.  Sorry to say but it does not.

Here is a true definition of the term  “die-hard”:
die-hard also die·hard (dhärd)

adj.  Stubbornly resisting change or clinging to a seemingly hopeless or outdated cause.

n. One who stubbornly resists change or tenaciously adheres to a seemingly hopeless or outdated cause:

In regards to the true definition, One who believes they are a die-hard fan of the Jets could be using the term out of context.  I found this in a certain case.

On Facebook with a Jets blogger, he said that because he purchased his season tickets year after year does not make him stupid, it makes him a die-hard fan.

Does it?

No, It doesn’t.  If you buy tickets year after year in hope of change and that the team will be better means you are dedicated, not a die-hard fan.  A die-hard fan would be in support of the current product as it is.  Resisting how things could be better but in turn, keeps cheering along its current path.

They may wear bags, but they have tickets. Dedication?


A dedicated fan would buy tickets year after year, support changes in the organization, and be a rock where others slowly fade away.  A dedicated fan of the Jets have been their backbone since the 1060’s.  The one’s who come back even in the face of adversity and losses.

Here is the true definition of “dedicated”:

ded·i·cat·ed  [ded-i-key-tid]

adjective    1. wholly committed to something, as to an ideal, political cause, or personal goal: a dedicated artist.

So in actuality, if you support the Jets in their present form and you keep looking for change to be positive, you are a dedicated fan.  If you want to see Mark Sanchez remain the starting QB from now until the end of his contract, you are a die-hard fan.

I believe some fans need to know the difference before they decide what term describe them most.

A person who is a fan of the Baltimore Colts or Brooklyn Dodgers today is a die-hard fan.  Being a fan of both teams from then until present days makes you a dedicated fan.

Remembering all the stats from the past fifteen years makes you a dedicated fan.

Creating a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page to update fans in real time about the team you have been a childhood fan of for years makes you a dedicated fan.

Dressing up in paint and nothing else in 20 degrees below zero weather makes you a dedicated fan.

Packing your tailgate with your teams merchandise, wearing your teams colors every game, and buying seats year in and year out makes you a dedicated fan.  It does not mean you are more dedicated than someone else because you opt to spend more.

Anyone  who is still a Jets fan through all the team’s ups and downs, no matter who is on the field, makes everyone a true dedicated fan.  We need to be considering the roller coaster they have had us on for over forty years.  Only true, dedicated fans would stay behind a New York team like the Jets.  Ask Mets fans about dedication.

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Tailgate 4 The Tri-State Before Jets/Cardinals This Sunday

Tailgate 4 The TriState
held the first part of their cause this past Sunday at the Giants/Packers game to moderate success. Thank you to both Charles from Top Shelf Tailgate and Dave at The Fan Van Party Bus for helping us on the first part of T4T. Pictures can be found on our Facebook page along with details for Sunday.

This Sunday will be the Jets portion of Tailgate 4 The Tri-State. We welcome back The Fan Van this weekend and “Flagman” Frank Conway in Yellow lot L11.

Like this past Sunday’s Giants event, we will be raising funds for Hurricane Sandy relief during tailgating before the Jets/Cardinals game. All donations will go directly towards The Mayor’s Fund for NYC Hurricane Relief & the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

The Fan Van Party Bus will be stacked and loaded in Yellow Lot L6 and Frank Conway and his flags along the median by the Track in Yellow lot L11

FRO will be donating 50% of proceeds from Tailgate 4 The Tri-State to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in support of hurricane relief efforts. The other 50% will go to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund. The Mayor’s Fund retains no administrative fee, and one hundred percent of donations are being dispersed to relief efforts and organizations. Funds will support immediate aid needs – including, food, water and hygiene supplies – as well as long-term relief and restoration.

The Fan Van Party Bus will help us raise donations with some raffles of Jets jerseys and possibly some former Jets players may show up as they have in the past. At our Giants event Sunday, former Giants player Steven Baker the Touchdown Maker made an appearance. They offer a buffet style tailgate with one price covering all, including the DJ.

Those tailgating groups helping out have been affected by Sandy themselves. It says a lot to help others in need when you are one of those as well. Dave Matteo from the Fan Van Party bus is from Ocean Grove, NJ. He has his own issues from Sandy but is willing to help us raise funds for those less fortunate. That to me is the epitome of selfless.

Charles Mulea has been taking his Top Shelf tailgate to wherever he can to provide food, television, and a welcome distraction to many still cleaning up and for those responders in welcome need of comfort while assisting others. The best gifts comes from those who seek nothing in return.

If you attend the Fan Van tailgate, one cost covers all food and drink. Frank’s tailgate is very friendly, all are welcome. Just look for the Tailgate 4 The Tri-State signs at each location.

It is very easy to participate. Just do what one normally does before any home game, tailgate!! Have fun! Invite friends and family to make it a t rue game worth remembering. That is 90% of what we would like to accomplish. There are a few options to do your part for Tailgate 4 The Tr-iState:

A group or individual could make one lump sum donation from everyone in that tailgate.

Purchase some raffles or while enjoying some great BBQ, make a donation to T4T since these tailgates are offering up their services to help us raise money.

The CELEBRITY APPRENTICE donation. This is for very few willing to make the kind of donation that speaks volumes.

The Fan Van Party Bus is the Party City Tailgate of the Day.  Pictures was on the Jumbotron

The Fan Van Party Bus is the Party City Tailgate of the Day. Picture was on the Jumbotron

Many will laugh at the last one, but you never know how generous someone will be. But obviously, any kind of donation is accepted. Bring your checkbook and make a donation that can go a long way to helping those in need this holiday season.

However you would like to raise donations for these causes, we leave that up to you. Just keep it fun and legal for everyone.

Big thanks to Dan Vollmayer of The JETway for putting the graphics together for out Facebook page. He gave his time when he really did not have any to make sure we had something colorful to entice others to join T4T.

If you are interested in participating as one of our tailgating locations, e mail us at or through our Facebook page.

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Tailgate 4 The Tri-Staate Today Before Giants/Packers Game

Tailgate 4 The TriState
will be raising funds for Hurricane Sandy relief before today’s Giants/Green Bay Packers game as some tailgating crews have joined the cause.  Many have not just been chomping at the bit to help, but to chomp into some great BBQ as well.

Two groups have stepped up to offer their tailgating services to help us raise funds for  The Mayor’s Fund for NYC Hurricane Relief & the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

The Fan Van Party Bus will be stacked and loaded in Red Lot G16.  Our latest addition, Top Shelf Tailgate will have their professional rig set up in Red Lot E26 just across from the turnpike off ramp.

FRO will be donating 50% of proceeds from Tailgate 4 The Tri-State to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in support of hurricane relief efforts.  The other 50% will go to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund.   The Mayor’s Fund retains no administrative fee, and one hundred percent of donations are being dispersed to relief efforts and organizations. Funds will support immediate aid needs – including, food, water and hygiene supplies – as well as long-term relief and restoration.


The Fan Van Party Bus will help us raise donations with some raffles of Giants jerseys, Cheerleaders at the Giants game, and possibly some former Giants players may show up as they have in the past.  They offer a buffet style tailgate with one price covering all, including the DJ.

Top Shelf Tailgate is the country’s first franchise tailgating opportunity.  Top Shelf offers trailers that are state of the art & built by them from the ground up to accommodate any possible need.  Catering to both children & adults the versatility is sure to please everyone. The kids can play the latest video games as the adults watch the big game on HD thanks to our DIRECTV satellite,
while our sound system keeps the music going & party alive.  A private bathroom is a luxury in the parking lot as well as the back yard.  The double keg taps conveniently serve guests the beverage of choice.  The possibilities are endless!

Top Shelf Tailgate will be accepting donations for T4T, for those seeking food and a chance to win Giants jersey’s can go to The Fan Van Party Bus

Also on hand by the Fan Van will be GMEN Shirts.  GMEN Shirts will have their shirts, sweats, hoodies, and more.  Portions of those sales today will go towards T4T.  So one could enjoy some music, food, beer, and grab some GMEN swag to show off your Big Blue pride.

It is very easy to participate.  Just do what one normally does before any home game, tailgate!!  Have fun!  Invite friends and family to make it a t rue game worth remembering.  That is 90% of what we would like to accomplish.  There are three options to do your part for Tailgate 4 The Tr-iState:

A group or individual could make one lump sum donation from everyone in that tailgate as well.

The CELEBRITY APPRENTICE donation.  This is for very few willing to make the kind of donation that speaks volumes.

Many will laugh at the last one, but you never know how generous someone will be.  But obviously, any kind of donation is accepted.

However you would like to raise donations for these causes, we leave that up to you.  Just keep it fun and legal for everyone.

Big thanks to Dan Vollmayer of The JETway for putting the graphics together for out Facebook page.  He gave his time when he really did not have any to make sure we had something colorful to entice others to join T4T.

Those tailgating groups helping out have been affected by Sandy themselves.  It says a lot to help others in need when you are one of those as well.  Dave Matteo from the Fan Van Party bus is from Ocean Grove, NJ.  He has his own issues from Sandy but is willing to help us raise funds for those less fortunate.  That to me is the epitome of selfless.

If you are interested in participating as one of our tailgating locations, e mail us at or through our Facebook page.



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Tailgate 4 The Tri-State Shaping Up, Giants Tailgaters Needed

Since we announced our plans to have Tailgate 4 The TriState raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief, the reception has been moderate.

After consideration internally and from the opinions of others, we have decided to change the relief fund we are donating to.  Instead of the Red Cross, all donations will go to The Mayor’s Fund for NYC Hurricane Relief & the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

FRO will be donating 50% of proceeds from Tailgate 4 The TriState to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in support of hurricane relief efforts.  The other 50% will go to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund.   The Mayor’s Fund retains no administrative fee, and one hundred percent of donations are being dispersed to relief efforts and organizations. Funds will support immediate aid needs – including, food, water and hygiene supplies – as well as long-term relief and restoration.

We would like to thank The Jets Press, Turn on the Jets,, and SBNation’s & for helping us get the word out on T4T.  Without the support of the fans and websites like these, the word of Tailgate 4 The TriState can not spread to others.  We appreciate the interest of wanting to gather others for a worthy cause.

After reaching out to various tailgating groups for both the Jets and Giants, we only have a combined 4 location at both games.

For the Jets game we have Frank Conway in Lot L11, Dave Fier in lot L5, and the Fan Van Party Bus in Lot L6 for the Jets game and VIP lot G16 for the Giants.

The Fan Van Party Bus will help us raise donations with some raffles, Cheerleaders at the Giants game, and possibly some former Jets and Giants players.  They offer a buffet style tailgate with one price covering all, including the DJ.

We are still looking for Jets and Giants tailgating groups to participate in the cause.  We thank those who are selfless and look to help those who do not have the means to help themselves due to Hurricane Sandy.

Tailgate 4 The Tri-State will take place Sunday, November 25th at the
Giants/Green Bay Packers game & Sunday, December 2nd at the Jets/Arizona Cardinals game.

It is very easy to participate.  Just do what one normally does before any home game, tailgate!!  Have fun!  Invite friends and family to make it a t rue game worth remembering.  That is 90% of what we would like to accomplish.  There are three options to do your part for Tailgate 4 The TriState:

1-Many tailgating groups charge a fee to be able to partake in their tailgate.  We ask if these tailgate groups could donate a portion of those fees towards the Tailgate 4 The Tri-State effort.

2-A group could also make one lump sum donation from everyone in that tailgate as well.

3-The CELEBRITY APPRENTICE donation.  This is for very few willing to make the kind of donation that speaks volumes.

Many will laugh at Number 3, but you never know how generous someone will be.  But obviously, any kind of donation is accepted.

However you would like to raise donations for these causes, we leave that up to you.  Just keep it fun and legal for everyone.

For those wanting to gets their morale boosted before the Jets take on the Arizona Cardinals, Firemen Ed will be making an appearance at Tailgate 4 The TriState on December 2nd to help us raise funds and fire up the Jets faithful before kick off.  Ed is passionate about giving his time for the right cause so we thank him in advance for his time.

Big thanks to Dan Vollmayer of The JETway for putting the graphics together for out Facebook page.  He gave his time when he really did not have any to make sure we had something colorful to entice others to join T4T.

It irks me to have great support from the Jets fans and not the Giants fans.  I personally have reached out to so many individuals I have met tailgating, as well as other groups to only get very minimal response in return.  It shows me some tailgating groups only care about their own publicity & exposure rather than using that attention to do something right for those in need.

Those tailgating groups helping out have been affected by Sandy themselves.  It says a lot to help others in need when you are one of those as well.  Dave Matteo from the Fan Van Party bus is from Ocean Grove, NJ.  He has his own issues from Sandy but is willing to help us raise funds for those less fortunate.  That to me is the epitome of selfless.

If you are interested in participating as one of our tailgating locations, e mail us at or through our Facebook page.

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