Sunday, October 30, 2016

Water Rapids Safety Concerns

Recently, four people were killed at Thunder River Rapids in Dreamworld, a theme park in Queensland, Australia. It is still uncertain how two people were thrown from the ride and two others were pinned underneath as Australian authorities continue to investigate.

As a result of this incident, Walt Disney World and other theme parks have closed their similar river rides pending the result of the investigation in Australia.  No incidents of a similar nature have occurred at Disney, however, authorities want to be sure if an unknown hazard is present in Florida and California they want to correct it before a similar tragedy happens again.

Disney World, Islands of Adventure in Universal Studios, and the Six Flags parks all have rides relatively identical to the Australian version. I will post more information as it becomes available. 

Tourist safety is of utmost importance to all the parks and they all want to err on the side of caution for the time being.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Update - October 10, 2016

Folks, Florida was hit by Hurricane Matthew on Thursday, October 6th. It was a Category 3/4 storm which traveled up the east coast into the Carolinas before dissipating and becoming less of a threat. Florida's east coast beaches received progressively worse weather as it travelled north.  The roads sustained surprisingly little damage but Stat Road A1A in Flagler just south of Jacksonville was closed in places due to hurricane washout and still remain closed.  Daytona and Volusia got a little less weather damage but received a lot of flooding. Hurricane Matthew dumped massive mounts of water on the Orlando area but it has mostly subsided by now.

The good news for Florida is that the theme parks and attractions are virtually 100% operational as Florida recovers.  Travel in and out of Orlando International Airport as well as Sanford-Orlando Airport are up and running with wait times being a little longer than usual but dissipating slowly.

If you have plans to come to Florida from today forward you will experience somewhat cooler temperatures as Hurricane Matthew created cooler seas and surface temps. There should be no reason to change any plans from this point so check with your reservations first by all means but you don't need to change your plans.  Florida is open for business.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

If you are planning to come to Florida this week chances you are already here so you know the warnings about Hurricane Matthew. If you are sketchy on the updates I can give them to you now:

The southeastern coast of Florida is under hurricane watch from 5:41 PM, October 4th through 5:41 PM October 7th. The hurricane is expected to skirt the eastern shore and follow the coastline up past New England possibly never making landfall in the United States. Central Florida expects peak wind forecasts of about 50-65 MPH with gusts to 80 MPH. High winds and rain will accompany the storm which may bring damage to buildings and property. The window for tropical storm force activity is Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon. Hurricane Matthew is presently situated in the strait between Haiti and Cuba off the coast of Guantanamo Bay.

Those who are here for theme parks and hotels will received emergency preparedness instructions from their hotels.  The parks will advise them of their status throughout the week and local broadcasts will keep you updated through the duration of the hurricane. 

Check with your airlines and any reservations you may have made for the week. Most accommodations will give credits for unused hotel rooms and attraction tickets.  We want you to come back if you can't come this week. I'll post local updates as they become relevant.Try not to worry.  We're used to it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Florida Resident Discounts

There is never really an off season in Central Florida for vacationing families. Many years ago it was obvious that everybody went back north around Labor Day and returned at Thanksgiving but today we have a steady stream of travelers from all over our great country, Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia.

That having been said, there are brief lulls in the action and we are in one of those periods now.  So for Florida residents this is the time to enjoy deep discounts at the parks.  For example, Universal Studios offers up to $45 a day off gate prices, LEGOLAND gives $15, and Disney specializes in multi-day multi-park passes. One should consider package deals with all the parks if you want to spend more than one day as the discounts are much more enticing. Be sure to have your Florida driver license, voter ID card, utility bill, or some other form of ID when purchasing and entering the parks. Shop the Disney and Universal sites along with LEGOLAND, Sea World, and Busch Gardens for discount ideas.  The idea is to NEVER pay full price for anything and always ask for discounts at the parks and hotels.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Golf at Walt Disney World

When you visit Central Florida and you are on par for running the circuit of theme parks remember that there are world class golf courses here as well.  For example, the Walt Disney World complex plays host to four golf courses and one miniature gold course. Here we'll take a look at those.

First there is the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course located in the Disney Springs Resort Area. Having hosted the PGA, LPGA, and USGA golf tours, it is a well established landmark and well-known in the golf community. Although this golf course is of professional caliber, it plays host to teenagers and adults nicely.  The course is available to all so if you're not too proud of your handicap or are a scratch golfer, this course is for everybody.

Like most golf courses there is a dress code.  The fairways and holes are immaculately maintained and all conceivable amenities are available. Tee times can be made at (407) WDW-GOLF (939-4653).

If you travel from Disney Springs to the Magic Kingdom there are three equally great golf courses located near the grounds of the Grand Floridian Hotel. The Disney Magnolia Golf Course has everything a golfer could want. So does the Disney palm Golf Course and the Disney Oak Trail Golf Course. These courses, while good for the experienced golfer or the pro, are also geared for family members.  In fact, the Disney Oak Trail Golf Course is specially welcoming to the younger novices and preschoolers

All the courses have par courses and golf carts complete with GPS.  Coolers are not allowed but each cart has a cooler and they can be stocked with ice, beer, cold drinks, or whatever you want.  Pairing is standard as they like to send groups of four but more or less can be accommodated, especially if the group is a family.

Disney has thought of everything when it comes  to their guests including golfers. Not everybody goes to the parks every day and when you're on vacation, the idea is to relax and do what you want to do. This is Florida.  We're ready for you.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Theme Park Security

In the wake of the tragic Pulse Night Club shooting 2 months ago the Orlando area theme parks have heightened security measures such as metal detectors and additional personnel. The new security measures are designed to make large crowds safer while doing everything to not hinder the pleasure of the visitors on which Orlando relies so heavily.

In conjunction with the Orange and Osceola County Sheriffs, Fish & Wildlife Commission, and various emergency response agencies that are accustomed to processing large amounts of guests every effort is being made to guarantee a happy and memorable vacation for the millions of people around the world who choose to visit our great state.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong on-ride footage at Universal Orlando

Skull Island Reign of Kong opened in 2016 as Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure as it's newest and most promising attraction in some time. Skull Island is the remastered product of Universal engineering that replaces the old King Kong ride at Universal Studios that closed some years ago. It's popularity brought it back with modern day technology. Watch and see!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights 26

So it's almost that time of year again for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando! Beginning September 16th through 31 October Halloween Horror Nights will host seven haunted houses: American Horror Story, The Repository, Krampus, Halloween (Hell Comes to Haddonfield), The Walking Dead, The Exorcist, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They will put on three original houses: Lunatics Playground 3-D, Ghost Town, and Tomb of the Ancients along with 23 Scare Zones.

           (Visit for details)

Ticket price for a single day is $104.99 (Florida residents visit the web site for resident rates). Add-on prices will range from $55.99 (gate price) to 82.99 depending on which day you choose to go. You can also receive a $49.00 online discount as this ticket will be an add-on to a regular park ticket. 

Also explore Flex ticket pricing and Frequent Fear (multiple nights for one price). There are package rates available for overnighters and if you don't want to stay in one of Universal Orlando's four superb hotels or it's just not in the budget there are a variety of less expensive hotels just outside the gate or International Drive. Enjoy!

                                    (Photos are property of Universal Studios Orlando)        

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Gator's Dockside - Melbourne

When you're on vacation in Central Florida and you make the trip from Orlando to Cocoa Beach via the BeachLine, a good place to eat is Gator's Dockside., on Wickham in Melbourne.

Gator's Dockside is a Florida-style restaurant that features all kinds of food from burgers and fries to steak, seafood, and a variety of appetizers including Florida's specialty - gator tail. Enjoy over 30 television screens and drinks from a full service bar. I took the family there today and we enjoyed it immensely. The food, atmosphere, and service were awesome. The manager visited us and remained visible the whole time. Even though it's hot here in the summer, some folks like to sit outside and relax with a drink.

Pricing is affordable and keeping families in mind they have a great kids menu. They also have a gluten-free menu. This restaurant just opened on June 29th, so it has the "new car" smell to it but it also has a festive, lively image which makes it a fun place to eat. Enjoy!

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Orlando Eye

(photo copyright of Merlin Entertainment Group)

 The Orlando Eye is a 400 foot tall Ferris wheel structure which has glass observation gondolas instead of carriages. Located on International Drive, Orlando, in the heart of the largest tourist corridor in the United States, the Eye stands high above everything around it. From the top one can view the City of Orlando, citrus groves, and the Space Coast along with the Atlantic Ocean (on a clear day).

Tickets start at just $20.00 per person but there are several options that bundle it with other attractions such as Orlando Sea Life, Madame Tussaud's Museum, and LegoLand.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at the website. Handicapped accessible and security friendly, the Orlando Eye is a great experience beyond the theme parks. Due to it's structure and design, bad weather is a well-monitored concern but notices are given and tickets are honored at later dates. Take a ride and the kids will love you for it. Welcome to Orlando, Florida!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mako On-ride Front Seat (HD POV) SeaWorld Orlando

Sea World Orlando's newest roller coaster.  I haven't been on it myself but it looks great.  Also looks a little like the Kracken.  what do you think?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Theme Park Tickets

When planning a vacation in Orlando, Florida, any family is likely to go to at least one theme park. As the number one vacation destination in the U.S., Orlando hosts major league theme parks and the greatest amount. Visitors can spend time at one of four Disney theme parks and two water parks. They can also see Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Orlando is famous for Sea World and just west toward Tampa they can see Lego Land and Busch Gardens, Tampa.

These vacations can be very expensive if not planned carefully.  Consider what year and time of year you want to come. Are you going to fly or drive? Where do you plan to stay? There are a variety of options but do your homework.

1)  Buy multi-day, multi-park tickets.  This may concern some people but if you calculate the cost of 1-day park passes and value that against the combo packages there is a lot of money to be saved.

2)  Stay on the property.  Disney and Universal Studios  have many benefits and savings for "all inclusive reservations".  Sea World doesn't have a hotel on site but several hotels adjacent the park have excellent savings.

3)  When possible, fly - don't drive.  Transportation is world class from hotels or theme parks. They can be booked from reliable booking sites like Expedia or Orbitz.  In fact, booking sites can plan all your reservations including shuttle service to and from the airport.

The parks want you to stay with them. It seems like a more expensive option but you are on vacation.  Let others do the work. The more you bundling you do the more money you save and the more fun and relaxation you have.  That's why you're here!  Don't forget to review older posts by clicking the icon at the bottom.  Thank you.