BIG NOTE: Wherever you are in Florida DON'T feed the seagulls. If you do you will step right into a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie!
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
BIG NOTE: Wherever you are in Florida DON'T feed the seagulls. If you do you will step right into a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie!
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Monday, December 24, 2012
I didn't film this but found it very good and informative. Thanks to the YouTube viewer who posted it.
Get a Fast Pass for this one or go in the single rider line when you visit Disney Hollywood Studios because it's always a wait but well worth it. Sit back in your car and blast off into the California night. This ride will hurl you from 0-60 MPH in less than 3 seconds so take off your sunglasses because you will lose them. Enjoy the soundtrack of a medley of Aerosmith tunes and scream your way through the dark while passing street signs, landmarks, and locations familiar to the music set. It's not a long ride- lasts about 55 seconds but you'll love every second of it. I've always been a roller coaster junkie and I never get tired of indoor coasters where I can't tell where I'm going next. Never gets old!
Thursday, December 20, 2012
When you're in Orlando or Las Vegas, Basin is a definite stop. See what it's all about by visiting it on-line but we'd rather you come on down and visit in person. Thanks.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Splitsville, Orlando, will be two stories, 45,000 square feet of 30 bowling lanes, patio dining, dancing, drinking, and live music. It will also have sushi bars and outdoor seating.
Those who have been here before will remember the old Virgin Records store across from House of Blues on the west side. This is the location of Splitsville. The concept will be an upscale entertainment complex with everything for those who may want a new place to hang out but not necessarily interested in bowling.
Splitsville, Downtown Disney, opens on December 19th, 2012, so only a few days away. Reservations can be made at:
I've checked the site and the reservation page wasn't open at the time I wrote this but should be up soon. I also wasn't able to get inside when I went by there the other day. I wanted to get some photos to post but I'll put some up as soon as I get them. More to come!
Friday, December 7, 2012
Future plans for Fantasyland are the Princess Fairy Tale Hall and the Seven Dwarf's Mine. Not much information is available right now but the mine is probably a 21st Century version of the old Snow White and the Seven Dwarf's ride.
New Fantasyland is located at the back of the park behind Cinderella's Castle. There's still plenty of construction but what has been added is charming and you will surely love it. Have a great vacation!
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Rooms start at $279/dbl but they also have deluxe and luxury suites for those who can afford them. Presidential Suites are for the rich so most of us can't afford them but they are all available.
Room sizes range from 475 feet to 675 feet with the elite suites upwards of 2000 feet (Maybe someday). We've stayed there both in winter and summer and it's always a great experience. The staff is very gracious and treat everybody like a VIP. There is formal dining and cafe dining or you can order a pizza to take to your room. Pets are welcome (for a charge) and there is a nice kennel available for them while your family enjoys the parks.
Portofino Bay, like the other on-site hotels, also has the Fast Pass privilege that goes with your park tickets for no additional charge. There is also a one hour early in for Harry Potter for room key holders which is great for the kids. They have two great pools. The one pictured above shows the water slide and is more family-oriented while the villa pool (right) is a little quieter. They both have bars and food availability but the kids like the grand pool because of more activity.
Portofino Bay hosts a full service Convention Center which is great for business travelers and they can cater large events such as wedding receptions. This place has it all and it's always great to spend the day at the parks and walk straight to your room. We love staying there and will be going back soon.
Check their rates through Universal Studios web site but also compare to the other travel sites. I know I say it a lot but compare and save. It's money in your pocket. Have fun.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Tickets for this event are not included in regular park admission. You can purchase them at:
Enjoy the fireworks, complimentary cookies and hot chocolate (although it's a little warm some nights) and then see all your favorite attractions as they stay open til midnight.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Service was good but could have been better. Wait time after arriving prior to our reservation time was over 20 minutes and it took another 10 minutes for a server to arrive. Our server was affable and efficient but we didn't get anything but "cookie cutter" service.
Minus a few points I look for in a restaurant my family enjoyed the dinner. I give the place a "B" overall. It was very nice but I'm a little critical of theme park restaurants because I believe their standards are high. I can't help but notice the dinners and service I experience at Epcot are much higher that at Magic Kingdom or any of the other Disney parks. This may my perception but it's a consistent perception. Nonetheless, it was a nice experience but I'm not in a hurry to return.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Enter the spacious lobby with tropical appeal and be greeted by a professional front desk staff who aim to please. Check in is quick and painless. Once you get your room walk down the majestic staircase and out to the pool area surrounded by three towers hosting over 1, 200 one room suites ranging from $109 - $129/night during this season.
Caribe Royale has casual dining and a 24 hour deli where you can walk down in your pajamas and get whatever you want. Wander past the towers and view the Convention Center located adjacent the 2 bedroom villas raging from $134 - $149/night.
Spend some time at the pool and have a drink at the poolside bar. You can enjoy the 2 Jacuzzis and there is a kiddie pool/playground for the kids. They also have a fitness center (see picture to the left).
Say "Hi" to some of our Florida wildlife. I met these red-crested cranes ambling through the parking lot.
We've stayed here many times over the years and always enjoy the stay. It's close to the parks and shuttle service is available. Visit their website at www.CaribeRoyale.com and take the virtual tour. You won't be disappointed. Thank you for reading.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
Needless to say you can have any drink you like or make something up. Reservations come highly recommended because there is no room after 7:00 pm. Call 1-407-WDW-DINE or go on line at www.disney.go.com.
Visitors can choose from Sunset Guest Rooms, Emerald Guest Rooms, or Luxury Suites and Presidential Guest Suites that range in price from $199-$850/night. They also have rates for Florida residents, seniors, AARP, military, and more. Remember to bounce their deals against the travel sites. Believe it or not, you may find a better rate at another site.
I thought it would be good to display the layout of the place. It's that big!
This fall there are several events that will attract folks from up north and Floridians alike. Christmas at Gaylord's is a decorative celebration of the season that includes a 54 foot tall tree and over 2 million lights inside and out of the resort. There are Dream Works characters from films like Shrek, Madagascar, and KungFu Panda which also accompany the character dining events.
The incredibly popular "ICE" premiers from Nov 10-Jan 31. This one appeals especially to Floridians whose kids never get to see ice and snow. They can play on and slide on a 2 million pound ice sculpture. Packages start at $189 per night but you can also attend the event separately starting at 13.99/Child and $22.95 /Adult Visit the website for more information, tickets and reservations:
We certainly plan to attend this year and hope if you do that you will enjoy it!
Sunday, November 4, 2012
The menu can be viewed on the Disney web site or off Google. We had the spinach dip appetizer followed by the chicken finger plate and Pastalaya which I always seem to get. Not as good as the Jambalaya at the Cheese Steak Factory but very good nonetheless.
You can make reservations at Disney.go.com or visit RainForestCafe.com to see the menu. I have never had a bad lunch or dinner and the atmosphere is spectacular. Our service was great and although the prices are up there ($58.00 for two of us) it's a memorable place to go especially when you go to Animal Kingdom.
They accept the Disney dining plan but what they don't tell you is that you get discounts for your annual pass as well. I had to ask. Also ask if they give military discounts because the restaurants at the theme parks do at various times and it seems to me they do it sporadically.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Inside the restaurant you can have the "Cheeseburger In Paradise", a whopping patty with anything you would like topping it. I always get this but you also have a good selection of steak and seafood. There are also Caribbean-style dishes like calypso chicken pasta or conch fritters for starters.
If you want the nightlife and enjoy mixed drinks and good company, come down in the evening , sit outside, and enjoy the music. It's like being at a concert but you'll feel like you're on your own private island far from shore where you can just relax and enjoy living.
If you're not in a hurry grab a pager and have a drink. If you're like me reservations are available at 1-407-224-2155.
Hope you enjoy the experience!
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Hard Rock Orlando is situated on the lagoon between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the famed City Walk. Boasting three stories of food, entertainment, and music (including the largest gift shop anywhere) this place is not to be passed up when visiting Orlando. Have a great lunch or dinner starting with the Hard Rock Nachos, hickory smoked chicken wings, or Santa Fe Spring rolls. Do you like giant burgers? Or would you rather have steak or seafood? Their menu is explosive and the cooking is always top notch.
Service there is provided by an energetic staff of servers who know it's there job to not only take your order but to make you feel as though they want to party with you. They move fast serving drinks and menu items as well as I've eve seen. There is always music playing and you can view the impressive display of Rock and Roll memorabilia. It's almost like being in a museum except it's a lot more upbeat.
There is no casino here but Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa (75 miles west) has all the gambling if that's what you want. Also consider staying at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal just a short boat ride from the Cafe. It's always a good time so see for yourself. You won't be disappointed except when you have to leave!!
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
They started screening ticket holders at about 5:45 pm even though they weren't to open until 6:30 pm. We were screened, scanned, and in the park by 6:15 pm and hit the streets full of goblins, ghouls, zombies, and chain saw guys bent on terrifying anyone walking the street. We hit a few of our favorite rides such as the Mummy and Rip Rocket Roller Coaster. We also went on the Despicable Me ride which is new this year replacing Jimmy Neutron. If you haven't been to Universal for some years that one was originally a Flintstone's ride. Although it was the same type of virtual roller coaster they did a great job and it was nice to have something new to see.
After that we hit the haunted houses. Silent Hill, which was billed as the most popular attraction, was excellent. I may have enjoyed it more if I was more familiar with the video game culture but it was certainly awesome. My favorite houses were Penn & Teller, Alice Cooper "Welcome To My Nightmare", and Gothic. Gothic had a flying gargoyle that stood out for me as the best character in the entire park. The other houses, Walking Dead, House of Horrors, and Dead End were all great and nothing was short of fantastic.
They also had Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween and 20 Penny Circus, supposedly a remnant of the old carnival shows. We didn't participate in those because we weren't interested but I spoke with some party goers by the bars and they all liked them so each to his own.
I noticed something different this year. Last year we went on Friday night and the crowd was moderate until about 10:00 so we were able to do a lot more. This year we went on Saturday and the crowd was loaded and ready to go at opening time. They were rowdier and definitely more of a party crowd but we didn't witness any trouble. If you go with your kids like I do you may opt for a week night or Friday but if you go with friends or couples Saturday is probably more for you. I also recommend investing in the Fast Pass option because the lines after only an hour were 60-90 minutes long. That's a lot of standing.
There are still plenty of nights left so hit it if you can. I promise you won't leave disappointed.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Not to be outdone by the other parks, Busch Gardens, Tampa, is hosting it's annual Howl-o-Scream bash. It started on 27 September and is featured every Thursday through Saturday night between now and Halloween. There will be haunted houses such as Circus of Superstition, House of Blood, and Nevermore (my favorite because I'm an Edgar Allan Poe nut).
This year features scare zones highlighting 13 years of this event where a lot of scenes and characters from past years converge to give the right effect. Also featured are Howl-o-Scream Shop of Horrors and Club XIII where the adults can party away the night.
Tickets can be purchased several ways. There's always the gate price - don't do that!. At $79.99 you're paying mini-bar prices. On-line tickets are $54.99 and Pass Members get in for $34.99. See how fast the price goes down? There is also a Promo to check out at your participating Taco Bell, Applebee's or Walgreen's carrying Fanta products and I believe the price with the promo is $44.95.
Included in your admission price are all the great Busch Gardens rides and shows. The event starts at 7:00 pm and goes until 2:00 am. If you want front line access you can get access to a variety of houses, shows, and other exclusive offers but be careful. It's like ordering drinks and appetizers at a restaurant - you can double your initial investment very quickly. I sometimes get the advance passes to events but usually I figure I'm there for the night and not in a hurry anyway so I don't usually bother.
Visit www.howloscream.com/Tampa for all the details and view some cool pics and video. It's definitely worth it for a memorable Halloween celebration.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
There are also shows starring all the Sesame Street characters and kids can be selected to be part of the show. Children's costumes are encouraged so dress them up and their photo can be part of the virtual costume parade at the Bayside Theater.
It's not Halloween without trick-or-treat. Throughout the park are 15 or more trick-or-treat stations where kids can safely enjoy the traditional candy grab we all grew up on. There is a lot of strolling entertainment such as characters, gifts, and places to eat. It's a great alternative to walking around the neighborhood! If you really want to bump up your experience for additional prices you may consider Count Von Count's Spooktacular breakfast, the Family Fun Tour, or the Halloween Sleepover for kids Kindergarten - 5th Grade.
Check out www.SeaWorldOrlando.com for park hours and pricing as they tend to change. Our kids love it and we think you will too. Mine are a little older now so we go to other venues but this one is a lot of fun.
(NOTE: The above image is courtesy of www.SeaWorldOrlando.com)
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Six stories tall with an observatory on top the themes of the different floors changes periodically. Dino Digs and Lights & Lasers are two of the exhibition themes where kids can do hands on exploration with physics and chemistry. They can also visit the lab and look at things under microscopes. There are also electrical and water experiments with which they can amuse themselves.
My favorite exhibit is the Dino Digs. Dozens of fossils behind glass are displayed in this room. There are employees and volunteers all over who are there to speak with visitors and to discuss or explain the science and history of the dinosaur periods.
Also check for admission and pricing. If you're from the area the best price is the annual family pass for $135/year. This price includes a free parking garage and discounts at the gift shop and cafe.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Sunday, September 9, 2012
The girls at the reception desk are quite nice and hospitable. We arrived early and were seated right away. The food was perfect and we loved the atmosphere. Unfortunately, our server wasn't the best and, while she was pleasant, was not very helpful. Other servers paid more attention to us so it was still a nice dinner.
Dinner was perfect in every way. We started with a potato ball with meat stuffing appetizer. Cuban fried rice and fried pulled pork were also delicious. The drinks were awesome and the children's menu had a good variety. I recommend the pollo with yellow rice or the fried pulled beef which is a great choice every time.
The dining room is typically bustly and it's a little hard to hear everybody but not annoying. The bar area is nice although we visited the dining room and entertainment on weekends is worth filming. There is a small gift shop attached if you're a souvenir hunter. It's often too hot but this time of year you can sit outside and eat as well as on the balcony overlooking the sidewalk at Disney Village. At night when the street music is playing and the street is lit the feeling is awesome and you never want to leave.
I give the experience an "A" although our server left something to be desired. Everything else was great for us so we recommend this as a dining experience and hope to return as soon as we can.