Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tips on How To Plan a Florida Vacation

This is an email I received from a friend of a friend.  Thought it was worth passing on.

Hi Kevin!
I work with a friend of yours in Princeton, NJ. He gave me your card and said I should
contact you.
My story is a bit unusual but wonderful. My son is 28 and not long ago weighed close
 to 400 lbs. All the lecturing in the world was totally ineffective to get him to lose weight
 until I promised him a trip to Disney World if he could lose 100 lbs. A challenge for
But since last January, he’s lost 108 lbs through good diet and exercise. He did this
 all on his own, all I did was find the best incentive for him and off he went!
When we started planning this trip, he decided that he’d much rather go to Universal
Studios. So that’s where we’re going.
Can you help us plan it?
We’re looking towards February,2013 to go. We want to spend 4 days and three night
 there, perhaps right on the premises if we can afford it. Due to his autism, we would
also like the quick pass so there won’t be long waits on lines. Bill said this is right up
 your alley!

Thank you for reading our story and thank you in advance for any help you may provide.



It's cool to hear about your son's extraordinary success with the weight loss.  It's a
 major obstacle but I've heard stories in the past of people who tackle mountains
 and win.  Congrats to you both.

I'm guessing from your content either the trip was the incentive  to lose the weight
 or just something you're both planning on doing.  One way or the other our theme
 parks can only be the best vacation you've ever had.  The memories are priceless.

There are several ways to plan your trip and are remarkably painless.  I strongly
suggest vacation package deals which are available on all 3 major park sites:,, or Look for the package
 that fits your stay including lodging.  Universal has FastPass privilege built in to their
lodging as all 3 hotels are on Universal property.  Sea World has participating hotels
 that give discounts and transportation but Fast Pass is extra.  The same with Busch Gardens.  Walt Disney World doesn't have front of the line charge but you can use
 any ticket combo by scanning your ticket at one ride, ride another, then return at
the time they give you to bypass the regular line.  

Also look at dining deals such as pay one fare and eat all day.  Food prices in the
parks are high so to not worry about shelling out every 3 hours is worth the headache.

If you want all-inclusive packaging, to include airfare, then the travel sites are for you.  Expedia, Orbitz, and Kayak can book everything on one site including transportation
to and from the hotels and parks. I'm partial to expedia but they all operate the same
way. If you do your homework and compare all the site deals you can actually save
 on car rental by reserving at the right hotel and be transported to your daily venue.  

The key here is to shop and compare.  I can't emphasize this enough.  Orlando is the
 number one tourist destination in the world.  A lot of people are interested in your
business and competition is fierce.  If you look at several sites and it seems as though
 they are all the same don't be fooled.  They all have a slightly different deal so see
 which one best fits you and your son's needs.  I would research for at least a week.
 It could save you a lot of money.  Also stick to mainstream sites.  There are a lot of
 folks who want your money.  If you find a site and are not sure of their validity please
 contact me and I will verify their authenticity.  I'm certain I know most of them.

I hope this helps.  Enjoy your vacation.  I know you will love it.  



Thank you, Kevin. This is just what I needed! I’ll start looking this weekend.
Thanks so much.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville - Universal City Walk

Remember this place?  At Universal Studios City Walk,  Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville is the place to go for food and drinks with great atmosphere and fun.

Step into the world of Margaritaville, the imaginary play land Jimmy crafted way back in the 1970's.  The restaurant is a perfect depiction of his themed song.  You can enjoy some fantastic food while watching some entertainment.  Or sit out by the tiki bar on the lagoon that was built into the float plane from the book "Tales From Margaritaville".

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!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hard Rock Cafe Universal Studios Orlando

Want to visit the biggest and best Hard Rock Cafe in the world?  We have it right here in Orlando at Universal City Walk.  London to Amsterdam, Biloxi to Las Vegas, you won't find a bigger, better one anywhere but here.

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.
Step up to the round bar in the rotunda where there are TV screens everywhere showing all the rock legends in action and have a stiff drink.  Sit by the rotating Pink Cadillac and immerse yourself in the shrine to Rock music.

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

Halloween Horror Nights 2012

We visited Halloween Horror Nights this past Saturday night and had a great time as usual.  The folks at Universal are never short of "wow" factor when putting together a theme but I expect no less from the people who make the movies.

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

Howl-o-Scream Busch Gardens Tampa

                                            (photo provided by Busch Gardens Tampa)

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 for all the details and view some cool pics and video.  It's definitely worth it for a memorable Halloween celebration.