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Posts Tagged ‘Orlando’

Orlando Discounts for Travelers Stranded by Volcanic Ash Cloud

April 19th, 2010

It sounds like flights to some parts of Europe have resumed today, but others continue to be delayed. If you’re stranded in Orlando, then you should know about some of the local attractions reaching out to provide you some hospitality.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is offering free one-day admission to any United Kingdom, Irish or Continental European tourists stranded in Florida due to the interruption in international air travel caused by Icelandic volcanic ash.

The offer is valid starting Saturday, April 17, 2010 at SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica in Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Stranded tourists must present to the parks’ front gate Guest Services window a valid return airline ticket from Wednesday, April 14, 2010 through Wednesday, April 21, 2010 or until normal flight schedules resume.

One ticket will be offered at each park for each return flight ticket presented. Children under age 3 are free. Further information is available by calling 1-888-800-5447.

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Harry Potter’s Magic World Opening Soon in Orlando

March 15th, 2010

Hogwarts Express stands at the entrance to Hogsmeade
Hogwarts Express stands at the entrance to Hogsmeade

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will provide visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience complete with multiple themed attractions, shops and a restaurant. Set to open this spring the immersive experience will wow guests with three major rides and a host of smaller shops, attractions, and dining locations that will put you right into the world of Harry Potter.

From the front archway of Hogsmeade to the immensity of Hogwarts castle, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will feature the locations listed below:

  • At the entrance of Hogsmeade, billowing steam and an iconic whistle signal the arrival of the Hogwarts Express into Hogsmeade station
  • Across the way is Zonko’s, a joke shop with a collection of tricks and jokes, including Extendable Ears, Boxing Telescopes and Sneakoscopes
  • Honeydukes is next door and full of treats like Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans
  • The Three Broomsticks and adjacent Hog’s Head pub will feature traditional British fare and drinks including Butterbeer and pumpkin juice
  • Across from the Three Broomsticks is The Owlery, where owls roost and await their next delivery
  • The Owl Post sends letters with a certified Hogsmeade postmark and sells official stamps from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Ollivanders wand shop is an incredible interactive experience where the wand chooses the wizard
  • Completing Hogsmeade is Dervish and Banges, the magical instruments and equipment shop featuring Quidditch equipment, Triwizard apparel, Spectrespecs and Remembralls
  • The first attraction, Dragon Challenge, features a twin high-speed roller coaster with many iconic elements from the Triwizard Tournament
  • Next is Flight of the Hippogriff, a family coaster simulating a Hippogriff training flight over the grounds of Hogwarts castle
  • Located in Hogwarts castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a thrilling new state-of-the-art attraction that uses entirely new technology to bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before experienced
  • Before exiting back into Hogsmeade, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods is full of Ministry of Magic and magical creatures merchandise, Omnioculars, and even remote control Golden Snitches

If you’re excited about booking your own journey to Orlando to explore the magical world of Harry Potter, you’ll be happy to hear that Universal Orlando has set a date for which you’ll be safe to book — May 28th. Technically Universal has announced that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open in Spring 2010, but enough of the world should be open by May 28th to let you explore. Specific opening information will come as soon as it is available.

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Disney Parks ends Successful Volunteer Promotion

March 10th, 2010

When Walt Disney World and Disneyland rolled out the “Give A Day, Get A Disney Day” promotion, they announced a cap of 1 million volunteers, but wondered if they would reach that goal by the end of 2010. It’s been just over two months and that goal has now been reached.

The promotion aimed to get people volunteering in their local communities in exchange for a free ticket to a Disney theme park. Alternatively you could donate that ticket to a non-profit organization.

Disney announced that the promotion has now come to a close but they hope that doesn’t end the desire to go volunteer in your community or as part of your vacation plans.

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Orlando - Travel Like A Local

February 2nd, 2010

Websites where most of the content is user generated, like Yelp.com, Citysearch.com, Chowhound.com, are all good for getting several opinions about a restaurant, nightlife, shopping, etc., but these sites don’t ensure a local experience. As an Orlando local, I use sites like those to plan vacations – not to plan my Saturday in Orlando. Instead, if you want to paint your next trip to Orlando with a non-touristy brush, head to sites that locals actually use.

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Metromix: This site covers multiple cities with the claim, “Your one-stop local entertainment guide on where to go and what to do, from the hottest restaurants and bars, to the latest in music, movies, and entertainment.”
  • Convention & Visitors Bureau Websites: This seems like the ultimate “Don’t” when you are trying to have a local experience, but when I want to mix things up, I head to my Orlando CVB’s site- they usually feature activities that I wouldn’t immediately think of and feature events in areas of the city I don’t frequent. Bottom line – the people maintaining and updating these sites live in that city – they are locals.
  • Restaurant.com: Here you can get “gift certificates” (more like coupons) worth $10, $25, $50 for a fraction of the price. Be sure to read the restrictions of each coupon. Sign up for their emails and you will never pay over $2. This won’t tell you which restaurants are local favorites, but it will save you some money.

Orlando specifically
It’s easy to tell you where the locals hang out, but I prefer to share local resources– you know the “teach a man to fish” saying. You can either check out their websites, or follow them on Facebook in the weeks leading up to your trip – you can always de-friend when you get back

ScottJosephOrlando.com: a guide to Orlando restaurants from someone who is paid to know. Scott Joseph is the former restaurant critic for the Orlando Sentinel. He’s since hung out his own shingle and hosts an active forum with news you can use about the Orlando dining scene.

Guyswithties.org: This philanthropic organization has chapters in 3 cities: Jacksonville, Orlando and Charlotte. They run everything from happy hours to full out parties. Most events require a donation, cash or toy, etc to enter. Some highlights include The Disco Ball, Annual White Party, Costumes for a Cause.

OrlandoEventSeries.com: This site host events around Orlando most of which raise money for charity. They have run everything from Wine-Walks, to Casino Nights, to an annual Bachelorette/Bachelor Action auction – all for charity. Typically these events have an upfront cost, $20 gets you a free drink and raffle ticket.

OTownHappyHour.com: Promotes special events in conjunction with local bars and restaurants. Typically, there is no cover or cost for OTown events – instead each event offers discounted drinks and food. Most recently the site is promoting a happy hour with a free buffet and drink specials.

I hope next time you’re in Orlando you take some time to escape the theme parks and see The City Beautiful like a local does. I’ll see you there.

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Legoland coming to Central Florida

January 20th, 2010

Family vacationers get ready to enjoy one more option for fun on your next trip to Orlando. Merlin Entertainment will be building a new Legoland theme park at the Cypress Gardens location in Winter Haven, FL. Winter Haven is about a 45 minute drive from the attractions area.

While technically the announcement wasn’t supposed to be made until tomorrow, Merlin did Polk County a favor and gave them a heads up via email. Since in Florida all emails are public record, The Lakeland Ledger requested a copy and Merlin’s plans were unveiled.

Legoland operates four parks around the world, but Merlin Entertainment, along with its owner the Blackstone Group, is the second largest owner of amusement and theme park properties in the world. The first being The Walt Disney Company.

It’s unclear exactly what form the new Legoland will take or if it will incorporate any of the remaining rides on the property. However, there is a water park at the location and that is assumed to be one of the features that make this purchase attractive for Merlin.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremymiles/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

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Most Popular New Year’s Eve Destinations

December 18th, 2009

2010 is shaping up to be a New Year’s Eve like no other! It’s not too late to book a trip and get in on the fun. To help you decide, LastMinuteTravel.com presents North America’s most-popular destinations for ringing in the New Year!

Using our proprietary technology, we’ve collected destination data from our website to find out where North Americans are going to celebrate this New Year’s Eve. The top 5 are:

Orlando
Nobody parties like Mickey and Minnie – and recently Shamu and Spiderman have been getting in on the act too! The Orlando parks go all out for the important night with special fireworks spectaculars and great food and dancing. If crowding into the theme parks will thousands of your closest friends isn’t your thing, there are plenty of fabulous New Year’s parties all across central Florida. Right now flights to Orlando are very affordable, so why not experience some of Disney’s magic for yourself.

Las Vegas
One of the most exciting and colorful places to celebrate New Year’s, Las Vegas attracts the wildest people to their growing number of clubs. There are so many options for the New Year in Vegas; toast the “nouvelle année” from the top of the replica Eiffel Tower, party with thousands of others on the Strip as midnight approaches, or watch the festivities from a private suite in your favorite resort. Any are great locations to watch the massive fireworks show that will launch from the rooftops of seven hotels along the Strip.

New York City
The traditional place to ring in the New Year is Times Square. The Big Apple is the center of attention if you want to experience the festive throng and the famed “ball drop”. If being outside in NYC’s winter weather isn’t your thing, there are thousands of great parties to join after you take in a Broadway show or catch the Radio City Rockettes.

Chicago
New Year’s revelers flock to Chicago for the great food and the fun parties. Whether its luxury you want or a party in a penthouse club, you’ll find it in the windy city. Just bundle up as it can get a bit chilly out there. Other popular parties include a river cruise or a concert at Grant’s park. Both provide you with a front-row view of the fireworks.

Los Angeles
Westcoasters in the know flock to the city of fun and sun for one last fling before the New Year begins. Popular places to party include Disneyland in Anaheim, the Together As One festival to dance into the next decade, and any of the hundreds of trendy clubs in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills where you can see or be seen. My favorite LA parties let you ring in the New Year twice, once at 9pm when NYC drops the ball and again at Midnight west coast time.

Other hot party cities include Miami, San Diego, New Orleans, Myrtle Beach, and San Francisco.

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