CENTRAL BLOG


Marketplace Co-Op: Walt Disney World's Newest Shopping Concept

Marketplace Co Op Logo

Several months ago, Dowtown Disney's Team Mickey, the sports store that sat between TrenD and Guest Relations, closed its doors. Shortly after, the Disney Parks Blog announced that the store would reopen as a market-type shopping experience. On June 6, Disney reopened the store's doors to a new shopping concept under the name Marketplace Co-Op. With movable walls and a bazaar-type feel, the Co-Op is a very different retail style. Here now, a photo tour of the Co-Op and what you can expect when you visit. 

The Co-Op is in the former Team Mickey location between TrenD and Downtown Disney Guest Relations. It's most easily accessed from Parking Lot B. The front entrance leads you to the smaller shops…

And a back entrance that opens directly into Cherry Tree Lane, the largest of the retail locations inside. 

Inside the building are six separate shops including D-Tech on Demand, a custom cell phone case and tech gadget location; Beautifully Disney, a cosmetics retailer; Zoey & Pickles, a girls' boutique; Cherry Tree Lane, a handbag and accessories location; Disney's Centerpiece, seller of themed dishware and home goods; and the Trophy Room, a sportswear and memorabilia retailer. 

The Co-Op is open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They accept all forms of standard payment including cash and cards, and take Disney gift cards and MagicBand charges as well. Annual Passholder discounts are applicable for most, if not all merchandise. 

D-Tech on Demand

The D-Tech on Demand shop is a small location that features custom-designed cell phone cases printed while you wait and other gadgets in the mobile device realm. 

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Cell phone cases are available for iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s, and 5c as well as Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4. Prices for custom phone cases are $36.95 for a custom graphic and $44.95 for custom graphic and personalization. 

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Phone cases are ordered at iPad kiosks. There are lots of parks and animated cases to choose from, as well as some custom DVC resort designs. You don’t have to be a DVC member to purchase those designs, but you do have to have your membership card to get the discount. 

DVC Resort phone case designs - not pictured are Disney’s Vero Beach and a general DVC design. 

Beautifully Disney

Beautifully Disney is cosmetics and skincare boutique that features makeup from the Beautifully Disney  line as well as fragrance and skincare from lots of different manufacturers including H2O+, the popular Disney amenities line. The shop has a mini-salon where guests can get mini-makeovers. This is the only place outside the Norway Pavilion at Epcot that sells “Laila” at Walt Disney World. 

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Zoe and Pickles

Zoe and Pickles is a girls’ clothing and accessory boutique catering to the ‘tween set and possibly some very small teens and adults. The boutique carries clothes and accessories and has a shoe wall with lots of styles you can’t find anywhere else in the parks. 

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Cherry Tree Lane

Cherry Tree Lane is the largest boutique in the Marketplace Co-Op. The shop carries the current selection of Dooney and Bourke Disney patterns as well as the latest Disney Vera Bradley designs and a special Mary Poppins print available only at Cherry Tree Lane. Be sure to ask the Cast Members which Dooneys they currently have - Cherry Tree Lane will be the only shop that carries the Haunted Mansion print but it’s usually kept behind the counter. 

Disney Vera Bradley bags are limited to two per style per guest and the boutique does carry the matching Vera jewelry for at least one of the patterns. Cherry Tree Lane is also the only retailer on property of Kate Spade sunglasses, which run around $150 per pair. 

Cherry Tree Lane Interior

Dooney and Bourke seleciton at Cherry Tree Lane

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Mary Poppins print items exclusively at Cherry Tree Lane

Mary Poppins Print Closeup

Disney Centerpiece

Centerpiece is a home goods boutique specializing in dishware with parks-themed artwork. The most popular items so far have been those with Orange Bird and vintage parks art, the trash can salt and pepper shakers,  and the chalkboard line with the Be Our Guest theme. Centerpiece also features wall signs, throw pillows, and kitchenware. 

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The Trophy Room

The Trophy Room carries some of the sports merchandise formerly carried by Team Mickey. College and pro teams are represented on shirts, hats, and a line of small gifts for the avid fan. The location does not currently carry runDisney merchandise. 

The Trophy Room Exterior

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Star Wars Weekends Feel the Force VIP Dining Event: What You Need to Know

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In addition to the celebrity meet and greet offerings and special presentations of years past, Walt Disney World has added several new dining options to this year's Star Wars Weekends lineup. Among those is the Feel the Force VIP Dining Event, a package that includes VIP parade and fireworks viewing and a special dessert party. This year's events are sold out, but there are some handy tips for those who have purchased tickets and lots of information for those looking to try this experience if it's offered next year. 

WHAT IS IT, EXACTLY?

The Feel the Force VIP Dining Event is an activity package available on Star Wars Weekends dates (this year every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from May 16 to June 15) at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Event access (it was not hard-ticketed) could be purchased by calling the Disney dining hotline at 407-WDW-DINE. Admission was priced at $54 per adult and $32 per child, tax and gratuity included, and payment was due in full at time of booking. 

WHAT DO YOU GET? 

The package includes access to a special viewing area for "Legends of the Force Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome" (the parade) as well as for "Symphony in the Stars" (the fireworks) as well as beverages and frozen treats during parade viewing (bottled drinks and the park's standard offering of popsicles and frozen goodies) and a dessert party prior to the fireworks. Also included were autographed photos from all of the celebrities present for the weekend (they differ depending on which weekend you attend) and a special PhotoPass card with exclusive character photo downloads. 

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The special viewing area, facing the back of the park to show how much room you have. This was the full crowd for the day. 

Autographed photo cards given in a packet we received when we arrived. Autographed in ink, not copies.

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VIP PhotoPass card including 24 exclusive photo downloads. 

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One of the included digital download images. 

WHAT'S THE VIEWING LIKE? 

The VIP parade and fireworks viewing area is located just to the left of the parade route if you're facing the event stage. (see the circled portion of the map below)

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VIP Viewing area for both the Motorcade and the fireworks.

You can check in as early as 10:30 for the 11:30 a.m. parade. Check-in is at the entrance to the concrete pad just past Min and Bill's Diner. There is signage to direct you. We arrived at about 11:00 and stood on the left side of the area. It's my recommendation that you stand farther to the right, as the left side of the viewing area is actually right at the end of the parade route and, unless you do a lot of leaning out to take photos before the characters turn to go to the stage, you're going to get a lot of this:

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I would suggest getting there a little earlier than we did and taking up residence in a spot closer to the middle of the area which, by the way, is also shaded by trees. Viewing for fireworks is great from any spot in the VIP area (except under the trees) and looks like this (we were on the far right for Fireworks):

Symphony in the Stars Fireworks from the VIP viewing area

WHAT'S AT THE DESSERT PARTY?

The dessert party is normally held in the fireworks viewing area, but our party was moved inside because of the threat of rain. The indoor location is the Disney Junior soundstage and, quite honestly, it was really nice to have an indoor, air conditioned location to hang out in for a bit. 

The dessert party is set up in a series of identical stations so that the crowd is nicely distributed. The offerings are:

- A selection of mini-desserts including: 

          Cane Syrup Infused Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese parfait, Roona Lemon Tart with Raspberry Puree, Mini Darth Vader Cupcakes, Honey-Laced Pots de Creme, Rice Crispy Bon Bons, Yoda Chocolate Crunch Cupcakes, and Salted Caramel Ration Bars with Darth Maul Squares. 

- All-You-Care-to-Enjoy frozen treats including Mickey Bars, Frozen Bananas, Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches and a selection of popsicles (orange cream and strawberry). 

- Iced Tea, Blueberry Lemonade, fruit juice cocktail, Water, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Coffee. 

- A choice of specially-created cocktails (menu shown below). The alcoholic beverages are also all-you-care-to-enjoy. 

Cocktail and Kid Cocktail menu. 

WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?

1) Wristbands - You'll get a special paper wristband when you check into the parade viewing area. DO NOT TAKE THIS OFF and do not let your kids remove it. It's your "ticket" to the dessert party and to re-enter the viewing area. 

2) Special Food Requests - if you have special dining needs related to allergies or other concerns, let the Cast Members know early in the day so that they can have appropriate treats on hand for the dessert party. Any CM at the viewing area can help you. 

3) Weather - the Motorcade will not run if it's raining at a good clip or storming. Fireworks will show unless it's storming or raining heavily. Bring an umbrella (it's good to have them for shade).

4) Motorcade - after the motorcade comes up the street and the characters go to the stage, the crowd gets to move forward to take photos. If you don't have the viewing spot you want, move when the crowd goes up. They will be moved back after the photo op and the Motorcade will travel back down the street without walking characters. This is a great opportunity to get photos of the celebrities. 

IS IT WORTH IT?

I've been going to Star Wars Weekends since they began and if there's anything I'll pay money for, it's to keep from having to stand for hours on the convection-oven streets of Hollywood Studios waiting for a parade or show. To me, the cold beverages and treats and special Motorcade viewing would have been worth the price of admission alone. The dessert party was excellent. At this time, this is the best dessert party on property, hands-down. It can't be beat in terms of kid-friendly and tasty desserts and the unlimited alcoholic beverages served. The extra PhotoPass card and autographs were a really nice surprise (hey look! These photos don't have other people's kids on their shoulders!) and I was excited to get them. This event was definitely worth the price and if they do it again next year, we'll be there.  1

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast: A Collection of Tips

Galactic Dine In Sign On the Go in MCO

The Star Wars Galactic Dine-In opened this morning at Walt Disney World's Sci-Fi Dine-In Cafe and some information that will be helpful to those who have booked it is coming from the bloggers who were on the front lines.  (Entrance sign photo courtesy of OntheGoinMCO.com). 

The Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast can be booked by phone only at (407) WDW-DINE. It runs from May 4, 2014, to June 15, 2004, from 8:00 a.m. to noon daily. Price is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for children and no discounts are accepted. For guests using the Disney Dining Plan, each breeakfast will use two (2) adult table service credits. 

First, a little about the menu. Tom and Scarlett at WDWNT posted photos of the menu this morning (this is their photo below). They noted that the service was slow and the food wasn't the best. Hopefully this will improve as the staff gets used to the new hours and menu, but if you've got reservations over the next couple of weeks you may want to be aware. 

Sci Fi Star Wars Breakfast

Drinks include blue milk (colored with a hint of blueberry) as well as regular and chocolate milk, soft drinks, juices, coffee, and a Bellini and Mimosa for an additional cost ($8.75 and $8.50 respectively). 

There is a photo opportunity (with photopass photogs and a special photopass card) as soon as you enter the restaurant with Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and a special backdrop. Storm Troopers, Jawas, and Greedo meet and greet during breakfast, but the nature of the restaurant is that it's dark enough to see movies and the general consensus from this morning is that environment is making it really hard to get good character photos. At the very least, bring a camera with a flash.

The overall opinion from this morning is that the Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast experience isn't in line with the price point. This could improve as the location's staff settles into a new mealtime and menu, but if you have reservations within the next couple of weeks you may want to consider the value in light of the way your group dines. 



Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Introduces Executive Chef, Announces Dining Concepts

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World is in full preparation mode for its August opening and has just introduced its Executive Chef as well as several dining concepts. Chef Fabrizio Schenardi has joined the resort's opening team and will oversee the culinary operations for the five on-property restaurants as well as in-room dining and catering culinary operations. Schenardi has worked for the Pelagia Trattoria at Tampa Hotel International Plaza; the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa in Dana Point, California; Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, in Los Angeles, California; and numerous other fine properties around the world. He is from Rivoli, Italy, and speaks English, Italian, French and Spanish. He received his Culinary Arts Diploma from the Instituto Alberghiero Ravizza in Torino, Italy and specializes in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

What kind of dining will Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World and Chef Schenardi bring guests? Five concepts covering everything from a world-class steakhouse to family-style Italian have been announced.

Capa

The resort's dining crown jewel will be the 17th-floor rooftop steakhouse and bar, Capa, featuring Spanish influenced cuisine in a romantic setting. Capa’s diverse offerings will range from freshly shucked oysters and Florida seafood to incredible small plates and expertly grilled cuts. An open kitchen and wood-burning grill will allow diners to get close to the action, while those dining on the outdoor terrace will enjoy views of the nightly fireworks at Walt Disney World. Spanish for a matador’s red cape, Capa will feature an interior of black and white with bold crimson accents.  An abstract painting conveying the movement of dust as it rises during the matador’s performance will hang near the bar and six traditional matador jackets will flank the entrance to the private dining room while a flowing red art installation travels across the ceiling. Capa, serving dinner only, will open in September 2014.


Ravello

Named for the Italian seaside town situated above the Amalfi coast, modern Italian cuisine will be the specialty at Ravello, the all-day dining restaurant at Four Seasons Orlando. Breakfast offerings will include an omelet station and traditional breakfast favorites while dinner will feature fresh pizza and bread from the wood-burning oven, regionally influenced Italian specialties, and the open kitchen’s pasta bar. Ravello will offer a “Goofy & Pals” Disney Character Breakfast on Thursdays and Saturdays, and select Tuesdays during peak school break periods. Reservations for both Ravello and Capa will be available in the Walt Disney World Dining system, with booking going live some time in July, about a month before the August opening.

Plancha

Whether taking a break from hitting the links or seeking a serene retreat guests who discover Plancha will delight in its fresh, boldly flavored Cuban-American cuisine.  Located at the Golf Clubhouse, Plancha - Cuban for grill - offers a picturesque lakeside setting.  Signature dishes such as the Cubana sandwich, empanadas and chorizo burger feature authentic tastes of Cuba, and vibrant cocktails from the Mojito to the Hemingway Daiquiri are sure to please.  Plancha will open in September 2014.

Lickety Split

For guests on the go, Lickety-Split will provide delicious quick bites throughout the day. Café lattes and breakfast pastries, savory quick bites, gelato, and more will be offered at the colorful dining venue.

PB&G

The Pool Bar and Grill will feature a lively, fun and casual atmosphere with premium American barbecue dishes, fresh salads, frozen cocktails and mocktails, and extensive kids’ and teens’ menus with lots of healthy options. This smokehouse and rotisserie will serve up pulled pork, rotisserie chicken, smoked brisket and house-made hot dogs and burgers with plenty of Southern charm.  Brightly painted picnic tables, teak floorboards, and whimsical lighting elements such as lanterns and stringed lights will give the space a fun vibe.

Stay tuned to Central Blog and our Facebook Page for all the news on The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World! 

Festival of Fantasy - Details on Magic Kingdom's New Parade and What Makes it so Amazing

Since late last year, Walt Disney World has been releasing hints here and there about Festival of Fantasy,  the new daytime parade coming to the Magic Kingdom mid-March. This blog post is going to be a long one, but by the end you'll have the most comprehensive look at what this parade has in store for guests and why it's unlike anything Walt Disney World has ever seen before. 

What It Is 

Festival of Fantasy is a totally new (no more recycled floats!) daytime parade that will fill the "3 o'clock parade" slot at the Magic Kingdom. Innovative design is the hallmark of this parade from the music, to the float designs, to the costume concepts. Festival of Fantasy will feature at least seven parade floats (and maybe one or two we don't know about yet), more than a hundred costumed characters and dancers, custom music featuring some of your Disney favorites, brand new parade technology, and a color scheme that can only be described as brilliant. 

The Details 

Each float in this parade brings with it a thoroughly detailed mini-world of dancers, props, and characters. Themes are carried through each "unit" from float to music to costume, sometimes to an almost unbelievable degree. Let's take a look at the floats we've been able to sneak a peek at so far. 

Tangled 

Based in Punzy's world with something of a viking flair, the Tangled float features Rapunzel and Flynn taking to the high seas on a 36-foot-long ship float that has everything from woven tresses to floating lanterns to ruffians and giant swinging pendulums. 

Accompanying this float unit are Ruffians, thugs, and even some ladies in waiting. All the Tangled cast has elaborate costuming comprised of leather, fur and gold trim, sturdy belts and arm cuffs, and studded headpieces for the thugs and lace, tulle, woven ribbon, and floral details for the ladies.  

While I think the Thugs and Ruffians look awesome and really on point, the maidens confuse me a little. I  would love to have seen the flowers that were worked into their costumes look more like those braided into Rapunzel's hair and something without so much white. But I'm hoping they look awesome in the context of the overall unit. I think the choice of a sailing ship for Rapunzel was, frankly, really weird. I would have liked to have seen something that worked in her tower or the village or…something related. If I try really hard, I can imagine it's the ship she and Flynn sailed to Arendelle on. 

Peter Pan

With two separate architectural elements bridged by a giant  rainbow and suspended pirate ship/anchor combination, the Peter Pan float is certainly one of the most impressive. The ship's Jolly Roger flies nearly three stories above the ground and your favorite Pan characters are all aboard. 

The lost boys complete this float's unit and I was surprised to find out their costumes were inspired by Newsies. I have what is likely an unhealthy obsession with the movie and the Broadway play and the crossover of characters into this parade unit absolutely thrills me. I hope it does the same for others. I think the costumes also give a nod to Hook and I can't promise I won't be yelling "Roof-i-OOOOOOO" at some point. 

The float itself has some added effects like cannon smoke and likely some others they're not telling us about just yet that make for what I think will be a great unit in this show. 

Little Mermaid

It probably wasn't much of a stretch to get the whimsy and color into this unit's floats and costuming given the vibrant underwater scenes created by the animators in the first place. The Little Mermaid unit consists of a fun sea friends music box float driven by an animatronic (or at least puppet) Sebastian and an accompanying cast dressed in fantastic seashell dresses, seahorse suits, and various exotic fish costumes. 

A number of the costume elements in this unit including the seashell maiden hats and the coral costumes were made with 3D printers. The costumes for the entire unit are incredibly intricate and are made to play on the bright Florida sunlight with their brilliant color schemes.

I'm certain that this will be one of the most popular units in the parade if for nothing more than the eye-popping costumes. I think that the theming in the Fantasyland ride that was added just last year is fantastic and I don't have any doubt that this parade unit's presentation will top it. 

Brave

It's not often that you see people riding on a giant bagpipe, but Festival of Fantasy brings you just that with Princess Merida's Brave parade unit. The float is accompanied by a cast of Scottish dancers moving to iconic music, a feature that's sure to be a big hit with the audience. 

I'm a bit sad that more of Merida's family isn't featured in this unit, but I think that if the music and dancing is done well, this float unit will be a popular one. 

The Princess Garden

Inspired by (and designed just like) Tokyo Disneyland's Princess Garden float that you can see here thanks to InsideTheMagic, the Princess Garden float concept art hasn't yet been released, nor have we been able to sneak a peek. Disney did debut the costumes from the Swan Court dancers that will accompany the float and let us know that the float will feature Cinderella, Tiana, and Belle with their princes in a garden of topiaries with some fun effects. The coolest thing about this float? Anna and Elsa will be joining their princess friends. I have questions about how they're going to work them in, but let's hope it will be seamless. 


Sleeping Beauty

Maybe the most anticipated float and unit in the entire parade is the Sleeping Beauty float that features Prince Philip locked in a battle with a fifty-three-foot-long, twenty-three-foot-tall Maleficent Dragon created with Steampunk design. It's reported that the Dragon will breathe smoke and fire, which fits the spooky feel of the costumed thorn dancers and impressively-wingspanned raven cast that fills out the unit. 


Finale and Mickey's Airship

There is actually a trio of floats that closes out the parade - a 90-foot-long party of characters including Dumbo, Pinocchio, The Seven Dwarves, The Mad Hatter, Pluto, Snow White and more escorted by over-the top dancers and cast in costumes that range from the strange (big top dress?) to the phenomenal. Throw in some Pegasus horses, a few dancing hippos, and some "zany" new costumes for Mickey and Minnie, and you've got a truly fantastic end to what will be an eye-popping parade. 


With so much inspiration drawn from the Tokyo parades and innovative design by the engineers and designers in this parade, whether you like it or hate it, it's going to be a new era of entertainment at Walt Disney World. I think it's going to be a really amazing show, but if you can't say anything nice about it, be reassured that we're finally getting rid of that hideous mirror float. 

The images in this post are courtesy of Walt Disney World and Disney 

An Open Letter to U.S. Men's Lacrosse

Gentlemen,

As the publisher of an e-magazine about Disney trip planning, I cover sporting events at ESPN Wide World of Sports. This weekend I had the privilege of press access to the Champion Challenge, an event that in the past has been something of an exhibition, but this year was a career changer for all 51 of you. 

I did not grow up with lacrosse, but instead was introduced to it by a friend who coaches and, subsequently, my 10-year-old son who has decided to become a lifetime devotee to “the flow”. It is for him that I am writing to you today. 

Steele Stanwick takes time to take a photo with Ben. 


As a single mother with a young son, I spend a lot of time monitoring. I watch talking oranges on YouTube, check for errant text messages on iPhones, eavesdrop on SportsCenter just in case, preview cable television shows, and last week I launched myself across the living room at the mute button when a football player went on a rant after an NFL playoff game. It’s not that I’m a helicopter parent, it’s just that much of today’s world needs to be explained in a context that my kid doesn’t understand yet. Until he can build those frames of reference, I work really hard to regulate what comes into his wheelhouse. As the gatekeeper of what sometimes seems like an endless stream of junk, as a mom, and as a fan, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you.  

Thank you to the U.S. Men’s Lacrosse team for being entirely classy on and off the field. Thank you for letting our children “sneak” to your practice to watch you work with each other and comport yourselves in the most respectable of manners. Thank you, U.S. Men’s Lacrosse, for coming to dinner on the eve of what would be one of the most important games in your careers, and for leaving that at the door while you laughed and talked, took photos and signed posters for kids like Ben. Thank you for going 110% during the entirety of the game and for being gracious afterward in signing autographs for the throng of young lacrosse players who rushed what was surely an emotionally charged meeting. 

Thank you also for the smallest of things that made the biggest of impressions: the constant support you audibly gave each other during the match, the table manners you used while you put away what my son characterized as “more food than he thought guys could eat”, and the language you did not use when you took a shot to the chest plate during the first minutes that rattled my kidneys halfway across the field. Because while you were locked in a battle that would see more than half of you getting cut from the national team, my 10-year-old kid was watching. And listening. And processing. While you and your coaches broadcasted positivity and excellent sportsmanship, my son was constructing an idea of what it means to be an elite athlete. I could not be more proud to say that he had all of you as examples. 

To those of you who continue on with Team USA, we will cheer for you from wherever we are as you compete in Denver, and when you return to your respective teams. You are truly representative of an America I want to raise children in. For those of you who did not make the cut, continue playing admirably; your time is coming and no matter your status on this team, we will be lifelong fans. To each  of you who attended Champion Challenge this weekend, thank you. You have been role models and in doing so, have made my job as a mom easier. That, in these times, is saying something. 

Most Sincerely,

Morgan Crutchfield



© Morgan Lindsey Crutchfield 2014