Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SeaWorld Ends Residents Fun Card

Today was the last day for Florida and Georgia residents to purchase a Fun Card from SeaWorld Orlando or Tampa Bay Busch Gardens. The $80 ticket allowed residents to turn their one day visit into a multi-day ticket good through the end of the year.

The company is apparently satisfied that attendance will continue to trend upwards as the economy recovers. They will be pushing annual passes instead. Switching to an AP should be a relatively painless upgrade for most as SeaWorld offers monthly payment plans for the AP and it includes parking. When you added in parking for future visits the FunCard was less of a value anyway.

The AP has other benefits (including food and merchandise discounts and discounts on tickets for other Seaworld parks) and is good for 365 days from purchase too.

More about the SeaWorld Resident deals.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Orlando-Kissimmee the most dangerous pedestrian city in the USA

A group called "Transportation for America" has published a "Dangerous by Design" report (current for 2007-2008) and they isolated Orlando-Kissimmee as the #1 dangerous place to walk streets (especially the high-speed "arterial" roads) in the country. In second place was the Tampa Bay area.

Read the full report here:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dave & Buster's is coming to Orlando

Dave & Buster’s Orlando will open its doors on Monday, July 18, 2011, in the heart of International Drive adjacent to Interstate 4. If you don't know the concept, think DisneyQuest but for adults - many games (some are expensive) and also a bar-like atmosphere.

The Orlando location will accommodate more than 1,000 guests with 40,000 square feet of dining, entertainment and gaming space. Inside, the dynamic backdrop features high-tech accents and more than 170 interactive simulator and redemption games, including the popular Touch FX featuring the Fruit Ninja slicing game available for play on a 46-inch screen. There will also be Guitar Hero, NASCAR racing and more. Other games reward players with tickets redeemable for prizes like Xbox game consoles and iPads. Guests can also keep track of their favorite sports teams on dozens of flat-screen HD TVs.

The full menu captures the fun, playful energy of Dave & Buster’s with creative twists on familiar favorites like Philly Cheese Steak Egg Rolls, Pretzel Bites and Mountain O’ Nachos. There’s even something for the traditionalist like the fire grilled salmon and New York strip steak. With close proximity to the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center, the venue offers an ideal meeting space of more than 3,100 square feet for group events, meetings and corporate team building.

For more information about the company and its newest location, visit

# # #

About Dave & Buster's:
Dave & Buster's was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Dave & Buster's operates 56 large venue, high-volume restaurant/entertainment complexes throughout North America that offer a food and fun-filled experience to adults and families. The exciting environment of the Dave & Buster's complex also provides the perfect setting for corporate and group events.

Each Dave & Buster's offers an impressive selection of high-quality food and beverage items, combined with the latest games and attractions. Guests can play state-of the-art simulators and games of skill they can’t play anywhere else, as well as billiards and shuffleboard.

Monday, May 23, 2011

LEGOLAND Florida announces October 15th Opening Date

LEGOLAND Florida has revealed its official opening date to be Saturday, October 15, 2011. Park officials disclosed the date, a closely guarded secret since the park broke ground last year, to help families already planning vacations in the fall.

The new park takes over the former Cypress Gardens Adventure park in Winter Haven Florida, about 45 minutes south of the Attractions Area in Orlando. The new 150-acre theme park is expected to play to families with kids ages 2 to 12 and adults with a love of the classic LEGO blocks. It will feature more than 50 “pink-knuckle” rides – from roller coasters to race cars – as well as family focused shows and attractions.

“I’d estimate 80 percent of the inquiries we’ve received have been about our opening date,” said LEGOLAND Florida sales manager Todd Andrus. “Guests are all but begging to know the date, so they can book their flights and accommodations, and purchase admission tickets.”

LEGOLAND also unveiled a new online reservations program to make the vacation booking experience even easier. Travelers can now book tickets, accommodations, airlines and rental cars through the LEGOLAND Florida website.

“Planning a family vacation can be daunting, especially for families with very young children,” said Andrus, a father and frequent traveler. “Packing alone is enough to overwhelm even the most organized parents. That’s why we designed our online system to be both user-friendly and convenient, allowing parents to book the essentials and then print out everything they’ll need right at home.”

The other key benefit of the program, Andrus explained, is that it features 13 preferred hotels in Central Florida that are officially endorsed by the park. Part of the “Bed & Brick” program, the hotels are all family friendly and collectively provide a range of price points and assets to accommodate different styles and budgets. Each of the hotels in the program will offer special rates and ticket/room packages.

For more information:; and Twitter @LEGOLANDFlorida.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Star Tours - Tributes and Remnants list

Part of what makes the new Star Tours so awesome, for me at least, is the incredible level of inside jokes, remnants, and homages. Here’s what I’ve been able to find so far, listed “chronologically” as we progress through the queue and ride:

THX1138. On the terminal boarding announcements, watch the bottom of the screen for Flight 1138 to Chandrila.

Captain Rex. As you cross into the second queue room, look to your left to spot Rex, our former pilot. He’s now marked “defective” and is being sent back for repairs. Listen for a while and you’ll hear some audio from the original ride. I love this tribute, but I’m aware that it’s anachronistic. We’re in the time frame between Episode 3 and Episode 4, so the Rex pilot we know and love hasn’t even been installed yet—having a joke about him is a bit “out of time.” I suppose this is an “even earlier” version of Rex we’re looking at? It’s weak, but it’s the only way to make sense of it.

Robot Birds. In the original Orlando queue, robotic birds sat atop the entry door just after the second G2 droid—they looked a bit like Salacious Crumb, the lackey “monkey” near Jabba in the movies. They are now encased in a cage near Rex, no longer animated.

TK-421. The Stormtrooper who “wasn’t at his post” in the original Star Wars movie is honored here with a sign just above Rex and the other droids.

Star Tours-Anaheim’s Opening Date. Star Tours in Anaheim opened on January 9, 1987 (I was there!), so the mention of 109.87 is no accident! This number appears on the front side of the “suitcase tube” behind G2-9T (the “take a picture it will last longer” droid).

Movie references. The suitcase scanner looks inside baggage to illuminate what’s inside, and there’s often a joke here, like C3PO’s head, Wall-E’s eyes, the Aladdin lamp, or the Incredibles outfit.

K-DROID. In the original Star Tours queue in Anaheim, a radio sat opposite G2-9T on the first upramp, displaying “107.9” (it was different in Orlando) with the announcer calling it K-DROID every few moments. In the new queue, wait until you are on the second platform, looking down at G2-9T, and you’ll spot a panel labeled KDRD 107.9.

Alison Janney. Ali San San’s name can be traced to its voice: actress Alison Janney (the ‘sound’ of the name is similar).

Crazy haired safety spiel lady. The lady with the wacky hairdo in the old ride's preshow is still around, as party of the group getting onto the speeder in the safety video, though she doesn't have a speaking role.

WDI Street Address. We’re on Flight 1401. Sound familiar? WDI is located at 1401 Flower St in Glendale, CA.

PeopleMover. Vehicles at the start of the movie moving luggage are shaped like Orlando’s PeopleMover TTA cars, but they are colored white (with a blue stripe) like Anaheim’s PeopleMover.

Rex’s Death Star run. In the original movie, Rex claims “I’ve always wanted to do this! We’re going in!” In the new movie, C3PO says something similar in Tatooine: “Oh a podrace! I’ve always wanted to do this!”

Rex’s lack of brakes. In the original movie, Rex ends by screaming “Brakes! Brakes! Where are the brakes?!” C3PO says the same exact phrase at the end of the Naboo sequence.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Leia’s famous phrase is here relayed as “Help me, Star Tours. You’re my only hope.”

What message? C3PO’s famous phrase is also repeated here (and Threepio is still talking to R2D2!)

Mission Space homage. The finale of the Mission Space ride at Epcot includes a moment where the spaceship teeters at the edge of an icy canyon, and our host Gary Sinise says “Don’t move a muscle.” The exact phrase is used when our Starspeeder-1000 teeters on the edge of an icy canyon on Hoth.

FUEL Truck. We almost crashed into a truck labeled FUEL (all caps) in the original movie, and a similarly-named truck can be seen at the end of the Coruscant sequence.

Hidden Mickeys. Look to the back wall in the last scene of Coruscant for a whole row of Hidden Mickeys.

What’s missing? Well, there used to be a Hidden Kermit in the queue—it was a 3 foot robot shaped like the famous frog. I couldn’t find hide nor hair of him in the new queue… I hope he’s preserved somewhere!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Star Tours is open! Made it into the line. Will report later #startours

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First WDW Ambassador Debbie Dane Brown speaks at Destination D #D23

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AMC Dine in Theater Review #AMCDIT

I scored a press invite Wednesday night to the new AMC dine-in theater, and man, was it impressive. I think I’ll be doing this full-time from now on. In short: expect to pay $2 more per seat, but you’ll reap the benefits of a much larger chair, a guilt-free recline in a disturb-free zone you can truly call your own, a fantastic footrest, and—oh yeah—the chance to order food and unlimited drink refills directly to your theater seat.

Backing up a bit, let’s explain the set up. AMC at Downtown Disney still has ‘regular’ theaters available, but half of the facility has been converted to the “Dine In” format. Think: Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at DHS, but done in a standard movie theater format (sloping ‘stadium’ style seating).

In short, it’s a real restaurant experience. You order, they bring it to you. Pretty fast, too. Because they use PDA-style electronic tablets, the back kitchen hears the order before the server leaves your area. That’s not to say glitches can’t happen—my drink was apparently forgotten—but my server noticed it eventually.

There’s a button on the table in front of you, very much like you might use on an airplane to summon a flight attendant. Whenever you want a refill (or to pay your bill), you click this on, and instantly a display lights up at the back of the theater, summoning your server to you.

There are low-level lights on, even during the movie, but they didn’t bother me one iota. My wife, who is shorter than I am, reported later that she found the lights distracting. One strategy could be to block the lights with your menu, which stays on the table even after you order.

The seats are roomy in the extreme. They are comfortable. More to the point, they recline and you can put your feet up on the handy footrail provided. Best of all, no one behind you will kick your chair—because they are unlikely to reach your chair in the first place. Their own table gets in the way. In essence, you have your own cocoon space, and you won’t be disturbed.

Speaking purely for myself, I’ll be happy to pay the extra cost for such a seat in the future, even if I don’t order much from the menu. And it’s not as if the menu is substandard. Here’s the list of food items:

Crab Rangoon Dip - $7.99
Loaded Potato Skins - $2.99
Wings and Things Sampler - $12.99
Veggie Triple Feature - $7.99
Parmesan fries - $6.99
Queso Blanco Dip and Chips - $6.99
Homestyle Chili Bowl - $7.99
Sweet Onion Loops - $6.99
Buffalo Chicken Wings - $8.99
Double Cheese Batons - $7.99
Wedge Salad - $8.99
Fruit Salad - $9.99
Caesar Salad - $8.99
Asian Chicken Salad - $10.99
Thai Coconut Chicken Tenders - $11.99
Chicken Tenders - $11.99
Buffalo Chicken Tenders - $11.99
Fried Shrimp - $12.99
Chicken Mac and Cheese - $10.99
Fish and Chips - $11.99
Country Fried Steak - $11.99
Chicken Alfredo - $11.99
Smoked Brisket Quesadillas - $10.99
Chicken Quesadillas - $9.99
Veggie Quesadillas - $8.99
Southwest Fajita Chicken Wrap - $8.99
Lime Chicken Griller - $8.99
Roast Turkey Club - $8.99
BLT Cheese Griller - $8.99
Prime Rib Griller - $9.99
Smoked Salmon BLT - $10.99
Blue Max Burger - $9.99
Mushroom and Baby Swiss Burger - $9.99
Bacon Cheeseburger - $9.99
Cheeseburger - $9.49
Buffalo Chicken Flatbread - $9.99
Tuscan Pepperoni Flatbread - $9.99
Italiano Flatbread - $10.99
Margherita Flatbread - $9.99
Kids Meal - $6.99 – choice of cheese quesadilla, chicken quesadilla, chicken tenders, grilled cheese, flatbread pizzetta.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dine In Theater looks like Sci Fi theater at DHS

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MacGuffins Bar greets you inside AMC

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Dine in Theater First Look

It's opulent in this lounge. And the food looks yummy. More soon #AMCDIT

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AMC dine in theater tonight!

I'll be sampling the new AMC Dine In Theater tonight at Downtown Disney. More info soon! #AMCDIT

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Disney 40th Anniversary Posters, unofficial

Fan Stefan Lawrence created these unofficial posters to honor WDW's 40th. Enjoy!

May 20 wine/dinner at Rosen Centre

Rosen Centre Pairs Wines that Rock with Legendary Cuisines in "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame" Themed Vine & Dine Dinner: Six-Course Dinner Features Rockin' Wine Collection Inspired by Woodstock, The Police, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and "The King"

ORLANDO (May 4, 2011) - The stage is set and the stars are ready to shine at the third installment of Rosen Centre's Vine & Dine 2011 wine pairing dinner series, "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame." For one night only, Friday, May 20, Rosen Centre's award-winning chefs will prepare a gourmet six-course meal inspired by the legends of rock & roll and pair each course or "track" with selections from the Wines That Rock collection developed by "rock star" winemaker Mark Beaman of the Mendocino Wine Company. Normally a five-course event, this special music-themed extravaganza comes with a bonus track - an additional course for the same price, just $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

The opening act begins at 7 p.m. with a "Pre-Party Party" in Everglades Bar where guests can mingle and unwind with a glass of Rock & Roll Wine Punch. The group then adjourns to Everglades restaurant, offering a comfortable, yet refined setting that evokes the natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere of the Florida Everglades, for a six-course, gourmet dinner highlighted by fresh, seasonal ingredients and wines expertly selected to complement the cuisine. During dinner, guests may engage in casual conversation about wines with an experienced wine maker or knowledgeable sommelier chosen for each event. Guests can also enter to win exciting raffle prizes, such as bottles of wine, wine-related items or hotel stays. An intimate dining experience, each Vine & Dine event is limited to no more than 40 guests, ensuring personal attention for each attendee.

Track One pays homage to Woodstock with a Flower Power Salad of Gravlox, Organic Greens and Edible Flowers, complemented with a Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette, paired with the Woodstock Chardonnay. Called "sunshine in a bottle," the wine features rich pear, mineral and papaya aromas complemented with fresh flavors of Asian pear apple, citrus and tropical fruit.

Track Two channels the magic of Sting and company, with THE POLICE Synchronicity Red, featuring aromas of fresh rose petals and wild berries and flavors of juicy strawberry and bright raspberry with a lush lingering finish. The refreshing red is paired with Wild Boar Sausage, Wild Mushroom Polenta and Grilled Ramps.

Track Three cleanses the palate with a Psychedelic Sorbet in preparation for the headliners -Tracks Four and Five... Track Four, the Orange Duck Ravioli with Meyer Lemon Ricotta, sautéed Snow Peas, Carrots and Red Peppers, garnished with Candied Orange, is the perfect partner to ROLLING STONE'S Forty Licks Merlot, which features aromas of black cherry with hints of mint and robust notes of plum, brown sugar, cinnamon and cedar. Track Five is sure to top the charts with a Sundried Cherry Glazed Venison Chop, served in a Port Wine Sauce and accompanied by Full Moon Beets and Granny Smith Apple Doughnuts. The main course is paired with PINK FLOYD'S Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, featuring aromas of black currant and cherry, followed by rich flavors of cassis, toasted vanilla bean and hints of chocolate.

A rock & roll dinner wouldn't be complete without a course inspired by "The King." The dessert course inspired by Elvis - a Peanut Butter and Banana MilleFeuille, or Napoleon pastry -will most certainly have guests saying, "Thank you, thank you very much."

Each wine in the Wines That Rock collection was created by Beaman with the albums and artists specifically in mind. For instance, Beaman explained PINK FLOYD's Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon this way, "It needed to be a wine that was haunting...There's going to be other things that you probably never recognized before that are in this wine just because it's so jam-packed with complexity, like the album it can take and transport you to different places."

Remaining "Vine & Dine" events for 2011 include:

· Friday, May 20 - "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame" - A backstage pass to dinner inspired by Rock legends.

· Friday, July 22 - "All American Campfire" - Summertime comfort food goes gourmet.

· Friday, October 28 - "Vine & Dine Spooktacular" - A costume party with a surprise menu (The Trick) and the best wines from the cellar (The Treats!) for an amazing value, just $75 per person.

The cost of each Vine & Dine dinner is $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity, with the exception of the Halloween "Spooktacular," which is $75 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Diners may make their evenings even more special by spending the night in deluxe guest room for a special rate of only $89 plus tax. As with all Rosen Centre dining experiences, valet parking is complimentary.

For Vine & Dine reservations and more details, call 407 996-8560. For more information, visit or

Universal Orlando's summer concert series


Guests Can Have A Blast At A Live Performance By One of Today’s Music Superstars
As Part Of Admission To Universal Studios Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 3, 2011) – This summer, Universal Orlando Resort’s 2011 Summer Concert Series will feature the most dynamic lineup in the event’s history. Six hit artists – including Drake, Boys Like Girls and Trey Songz – will take center stage every Saturday night from June 11 to July 16.

With a combined total of 30 platinum albums, this year’s concert lineup features artists who have each led the U.S. music charts. The list of performers includes: Drake – one of only two musical artists to have his first two Top 10 songs occur in the same week; Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Nelly; legendary female rock band Go-Go’s – who have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and multi-platinum rockers Third Eye Blind. The full lineup, including performance dates, can be viewed below.

In its third year, the Summer Concert Series has become one of Orlando’s most popular summertime events. By day, guests can enjoy world-class thrills found only at Universal Studios, such as The Simpsons Ride – featuring America’s favorite animated family – and Revenge of the Mummy – the world’s first psychological thrill ride based on the popular “Mummy” films. By night, guests can dance along to a live concert at the Music Plaza Stage in the glow of colorful LED lights from Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit – Universal Orlando’s most radically-innovative roller coaster ever created.


June 11

June 18

June 25
Third Eye Blind

July 2
Trey Songz

July 9
Boys Like Girls

July 16

The Summer Concert Series is included with regular park admission to Universal Studios. Guests can upgrade a one-park ticket to include Universal’s Islands of Adventure – featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the most spectacularly themed environment ever created.

For more information on the Summer Concert Series or special offers available to guests, please visit
May Events outside Disney:

May 14-15 will be a big weekend at Disney. In addition to the D23 "Destination D" convention (and scavenger hunt), there's the Pixar Weekend at Epcot's Flower and Garden. But there's other stuff happening nearby, too:

Fantasy of Flight:
"D-Day: Invasion of Normandy" symposiums will take place May 13 and 14 in an open-forum, question-and-answer type setting with a meet-and-greet to follow.

Zumbathon Fundraiser for Japan Relief

To help raise funds for Japan relief, the Harris Rosen Foundation is hosting a Zumbathon class at Rosen Shingle Creek.

Event Name Zumbathon Fundraiser for Japan Relief

Date Saturday, May 14

Start Time 5:00 p.m.

End Time 7:00 p.m.

Location Rosen Shingle Creek
9939 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL

Registration (required or not) No

Event Description Come join the fun for a special two-hour Zumba class to benefit Japan Relief. All proceeds will go to the Harris Rosen Foundation to then be donated to Japan Relief. A $10 minimum donation is suggested.