Monday, April 30, 2012

PhotoFinds 4/30 - More FL construction.

There are incremental changes as always in the parks (more pylons for Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster, a new play area for kids outside Innoventions' Vision House, railings installed at Big Thunder along the track), but the big news this week will be the test of Fastpass Plus, the reserve-rides-from-home technology previously called xPass internally. Part of the Next-Gen initiative to add interactivity and customization to the parks, Fastpass Plus may change much, but we don't know operational details yet. It is starting testing this week.

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dumbo #2 elements now visible over the wall (pics)

Parts of the second Dumbo are now visible over the wall, and it's not your father's Dumbo! It looks very much like the new Dumbo and not the old Dumbo. Have a look!

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.

Tutto Gusto Menu Revealed

Tutto Italia, the older of the restaurants in Epcot's Italy pavilion, is set to re-open on May 1. Presumably on the same day, Tutto Gusto will open right next door. This new location is a wine cellar, which will also serve small snacks.

The construction walls have come down, and the menus are now posted. Here is the Tutto Gusto menu:

The facades have been repainted and rebuilt. What do you think?

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.

Friday, April 27, 2012

New "double rider" line at Toy Story Mania

The former Single Rider line at TSMM (in DHS) is now being used for doubles, parties of two who wish to roll the dice and maybe be seated faster than otherwise (and then again, maybe get shafted and take longer).

We're talking only about the split staircase at the very end of the standby line, after the merge with FastPass. The right-hand stairs used to be used for single riders, since a seat going to waste is a terrible thing (or so they say). That didn't sit well with guests, though, to have to share close quarters with strangers, so the idea has been dead for a few years.

The staircase is in use again, though, but now for parties of two. Why would they need parties of two? Because in theory there could be one row left in the eight normal lanes, but the next party in line is a party of four. In prior days, they would count back in the line until they found a party of two. Now they just grab for the double-rider line.

Sounds great, but it also sounds like a way to get shafted. The staircase is really the very last part of the line. The 'regular' wait here is not long. If there is any line of substance in the double-rider line, you could end up waiting longer. A lot longer. Making matters worse, when you have to choose which line, you are blind to how long the double-rider line actually is at the moment.

Perhaps because of the inherent unfairness, we watched the loader tonight take multiple people out of the double-rider line for no apparent reason (it wasn't to fill up the last row in the train; she loaded sets into rows 4, 5, and 6, and then asked the next 'normal' party how many they had). So this is very much a hit or miss thing, I suspect. I plan to not take any chances; I'll just stay in the regular line. Like I said, it's a short wait once you hit those stairs... unless you're in a nonmoving "special" line.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Parks Say Good-bye to Plastic Bags

[Press Release]
Orlando, Fla. (April 25, 2012) – Paper or plastic? Soon there will be just one choice at the 10 theme parks of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment -- paper -- as the company eliminates plastic shopping bags within the next year. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will be the largest theme park operator to make this commitment.

Park gift shops will offer paper bags made from 100 percent recycled paper or guests can choose to purchase reusable bags.

“This is a significant change for our company, one we hope will provide a model for our industry overall,” said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Eliminating plastic bags is an important statement about our commitment to the environment, as well as the need to help protect marine animals from debris. It also allows our guests to play a direct part in making a difference on our planet.”

This move will keep an estimated 4 million plastic bags from entering landfills and the environment each year. Approximately 1.4 billion tons of trash, including plastic bags, enters the ocean annually. Wildlife such as endangered sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods.

The company began exploring the concept at SeaWorld San Diego in 2011, when the park discontinued the use of plastic gift bags to mark the opening of its new Turtle Reef attraction. SeaWorld Orlando is eliminating the bags this month in conjunction with the opening of its new attraction, TurtleTrek.

Opening April 27, TurtleTrek combines naturalistic habitats (sea turtles and manatees) with the world’s first 3-D, 360-degree dome theater film. The film immerses guests in a sea turtle’s extraordinary journey.

Another Refreshing…and Renewable Change:

Also adding to the ways park guests can consume responsibly, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and The Coca-Cola Company introduced paper cups for guests made with 85 percent renewable resources as part of a new 10-year partnership. Guests use more than 13 million paper cups each year throughout the 10 parks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Universal Orlando’s new Third Day Free offer gives Florida residents a 2-day, 2-park ticket plus a third day free for only $99

Florida Residents Enjoy an Exclusive Third Day FREE this Spring – Offering Special Value  As They Experience the Brand-New
Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular and Universal’s Superstar Parade

Florida Residents Also Get Special Value on Blue Man Group Show Tickets 

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 17, 2012) – Universal Orlando Resort is unveiling an exclusive Florida residents offer, just in time for guests to experience the next round of new entertainment being created at Universal Orlando during 2012.  

Universal Orlando’s new Third Day Free offer gives Florida residents a 2-day, 2-park ticket plus a third day free for only $99 – giving them more value and more time to enjoy everything Universal Orlando has to offer – including the newly re-launched, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man attraction. They will also be among the first to experience Universal’s Superstar Parade and Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure now features all-new 4K digital high definition animation, a new music score and new high-tech 3-D glasses. And starting May 8, guests can enjoy two all-new entertainment experiences coming to Universal Studios: Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular and Universal’s Superstar Parade. 

Narrated by Academy AwardRegistered trademark symbol-winning actor Morgan Freeman, Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular celebrates Universal Pictures’ iconic films. The most powerful and emotional moments will be shown in crystal-clear clarity on cutting-edge waterfall screens within the Universal Studios lagoon – surrounded by colorful, dramatically synchronized fountains and pyrotechnics, all set to a memorable musical score. The experience will take guests on a journey through epic cinematic moments filled with heroes, horror, laughter, good versus evil and triumph.

Universal’s Superstar Parade will offer an entirely new form of interactive entertainment that will give guests and entire families the opportunity to join in the fun with some of their favorite characters – including the minions from the blockbuster animated adventure Despicable Me, E.B. from the hit comedy Hop, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora & Diego. The parade features larger-than-life floats, state-of-the-art technology and hundreds of energetic street performers.  

Tickets must be purchased online by May 31 and used by June 30. For more information about Universal Orlando Resort’s Third Day Free offer, visit

Florida residents can also take advantage of a new special offer from Blue Man Group which will save them up to $35 off regular adult ticket prices.  Child prices continue to start at $29.  This offer is valid for all performances from April 16, 2012 through June 17, 2012.  The newly re-launched Blue Man Group show combines new music, new technology and a new finale with their classic comedy and multimedia theatrics to produce a totally unique form of entertainment.  For more information about Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando Resort or to purchase tickets visit

Monday, April 16, 2012

American Pie Festival returns April 28-29

Press Release

ORLANDO (March 21, 2012) -- The countdown is on for the American Pie Council® (APC) — America’s only organization dedicated to preserving America’s love affair with pie — as it gears up for its 18th Annual APC/Crisco® National Pie Championships to be held Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29 at the Caribe Royal All-Suite Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando and its 11th Annual APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco® on Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, in nearby Celebration, Fla.

The APC is now accepting entries from amateur, professional and commercial bakers, as well as budding junior chefs, for the National Pie Championships. Last year, the prestigious pastry bake-off drew more than 447 commercial, 142 professional, 301 amateur and 6 junior entries for an astounding total of 896 pies in the quest to find America’s top bakers. Commercial winners took home bragging rights and the promise of greater sales, while winners in all other categories received plenty of dough, as is cash and prizes, including a Sears Kenmore range. This year’s competition is expected to be even more heated. Entry forms and pie categories for each division are available on the APC website, Entry is free for junior chefs and $15 per pie for amateur APC members, $35/non members and each entrant receives an Emile Henry pie dish; see website for professional and commercial entry costs. APC members receive discounted entry costs; membership information is also available online.

Pie lovers are also invited to apply to be a judge at the prestigious competition. Last year, 174 esteemed pie aficionados from all over the world lent their time and taste buds to nibble on nearly 900 pies. No previous judging or baking experience is required; applicants need only explain why they would like to be a judge. Potential pie judges may fill out an entry form online at through March 30, 2012.
Hundreds of volunteers are also needed to make the championships and the APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco® run as easy as, well, pie. Volunteers may indicate the shifts or duties they prefer to work by filling out an application online at by Tuesday, April 24, 2012.

The Caribe Royal is offering a special rate of $129 per night for those competing in or attending the APC/Crisco® National Pie Championships or the APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by

Crisco®. To receive this special rate, guests must mention the event by name. Reservations may be made by calling 800-823-8300. For more information about the Caribe Royal, visit

“Preparations are heating up at the American Pie Council for this year’s championship and festival. Right now, all around the country, bakers of all skill levels are putting the finishing touches on their best recipes,” said Linda Hoskins, Executive Director, American Pie Council. “Each year tops the last in terms of creativity, enthusiasm and dedication to the art of pie baking. We absolutely cannot wait to see what this year’s festivities will bring.”

More than 32,000 pie lovers from across the globe are expected to transcend upon Celebration, Fla. on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 for the APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco®. The increasingly popular, free admission festival returns to Celebration with all the activities that have made it a family favorite, including the Crisco® Creation Station, the pie tinart activity for art lovers of all ages, and the Demonstration Stage sponsored by Village Inn and Bakers Square Restaurants, featuring entertainment and baking demonstrations with chefs from across the country. Always a crowd favorite, the kids’ and adults’ pie eating contests return this year, once again sponsored by Private Selection. Meanwhile, the Book Nook will expand this year to feature even more choices by pie authors, many of whom will be competing in the championships, including Michele Stuart of Michele’s Pies in Norwalk, Conn., who recently released her cookbook, “Perfect Pies: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes from America’s Pie-Baking Champion.” All festival events will be held both days.

The highlight of the festival is the Never Ending Pie Buffet, which last year featured an astounding 87,000 slices of pie as well as ice cream, toppings and beverages from America’s best known commercial bakers. The Never Ending Pie Buffet has grown each year, from 83,000 slices in 2010 and 70,000 in 2009. The buffet and the children’s activities are the only paid events at the festival. All stage entertainment and demonstrations are free. Tickets are the Pie Buffet are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors over 65 and children under 5 to enjoy all they care of eat and drink.

Those interested in keeping up to date on the latest news concerning the pie championships, pie festival or pie news can follow the American Pie Council on Facebook and Pinterest and on Twitter at FYPie.
The festival will be held at Lakeside Park at 631 Sycamore St. in downtown Celebration, Florida 34747. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, April 28; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 29. Admission to the festival is free. Costs for the Never Ending Pie Buffet are: $10 adults, $5 ages 65 and up; $5 ages


For more information, visit the Front Porch Celebration Community at or the American Pie Council®

Crisco® is a registered trademark of The J. M. Smucker Company. For more information, visit

The American Pie Council® is the only organization committed to maintaining America’s pie heritage, passing on the tradition of pie-making and promoting America’s love affair with pie. The APC offers personal, professional and commercial memberships. For more information, please visit

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Universal's 2012 Summer Concert Series

Press Release:

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 10, 2012) – This June, Universal Orlando Resort’s 2012 Summer Concert Series will feature a diverse lineup of powerhouse performers, beginning with some of the biggest names in the music business. Orlando’s hottest summer event will kick off with live concerts by the talented cast of Nickelodeon’s hit TV series, “Victorious,” on Sat., June 9, and rock bands ZZ Top and 3 Doors Down on Sat., June 16. Additional performing acts will be announced at a later date.

Cast of “Victorious” To Perform June 9

The cast of Nickelodeon’s smash hit TV series, “Victorious,” will get the party started at Universal Studios Florida on June 9. Theme park guests will also have the opportunity to preview upcoming episodes and participate in live Q&A sessions with members of the cast. The event will culminate with an incredible music performance by the entire cast – including Victoria Justice, who plays the show’s main character, Tori Vega.

Currently in its third season, “Victorious” follows teenager Tori Vega as she navigates life at Hollywood Arts, a prestigious performing arts high school. The show, a co-production with Sony Music, features original songs performed by Victoria Justice and the show’s ensemble cast. The show’s first soundtrack, “Victorious: Music from the Hit TV Show,” debuted at the no. 5 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart and features the show’s theme song “Make It Shine,” as well as the hit singles "Beggin' On Your Knees," "Freak the Freak Out" and "Best Friend's Brother." For the month of March 2012, “Victorious” ranked as the #1 show across all TV with kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14. Most recently, the series won the Favorite TV Show award at “Nickelodeon’s 2012 Kids’ Choice Awards.”
ZZ Top and 3 Doors Down to Perform June 16

On June 16, Universal Studios will be rocked by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top. With more than 25 million albums sold, the multiplatinum Southern rock legends have released classic rock staples such as “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” Their album, “Eliminator” achieved diamond status, and ZZ Top’s worldwide success even earned a declaration of “ZZ Top Day” in Texas, the band’s home state. Named by VH1 as one of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock,” the band is currently working on their next album.

Also performing on June 16, alternative rock band 3 Doors Down will take the stage at Universal Studios. Originally from Mississippi, 3 Doors Down has scored 12 Top Ten singles, including “Kryptonite,” “Be Like That” and “Away from the Sun.” Their most recent album, “Time of My Life,” debuted in the top three on the Billboard 200.

Access to all Summer Concert Series performances is included with admission to Universal Studios Florida. On Saturday nights from June 9 to July 14, guests can top off their day of theme park thrills with a live performance by a top-name musical artist, such as the cast of “Victorious,” 3 Doors Down or ZZ Top.

For more information on this year’s event, visit

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Final Mardi Gras this year at Universal Saturday - KC and the Sunshine Band

Press Release



Universal Orlando’s 2012 Mardi Gras Celebration Concludes Saturday, April 14

WHAT: It’s time to hit the dance floor and “Shake Your Booty” to the funky sounds of KC and The Sunshine Band this Saturday for the last night of Universal Orlando’s 2012 Mardi Gras celebration.

One of the most recognizable names in music, KC and The Sunshine Band has been bringing people to the dance floor for more than 35 years. Guests will become part of the ‘70s dance revolution as the group takes the stage with their popular disco hits such as “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It)” and “Boogie Shoes.” The group has sold more than 100 million records and earned nine Grammy nominations, three Grammy Awards and an American Music Award. KC and The Sunshine Band continue to be a major influence in the music scene as some of today’s biggest artists sample their music and introduce new generations to their groovy dance beats.

This Saturday is the last chance to experience Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2012 celebration. It is the biggest and most authentic Mardi Gras celebration outside the Big Easy, combining unparalleled theme park entertainment with an elaborate Mardi Gras parade, dozens of colorfully costumed performers, authentic New Orleans bands, delicious Cajun cuisine and live concerts by some of today’s most popular artists.

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration is included in regular admission to Universal Studios Florida. For more information, visit

WHEN: Saturday, April 14, 2012
WHERE: Universal Studios Florida

MARDI GRAS Saturday, April 14, 2012

SCHEDULE: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Big Al & The Heavyweights

9 p.m.: Mardi Gras Parade Starts

9:30 p.m.: KC and The Sunshine Band

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dark Sky Festival (free) in Harmony, Florida

Press Release:

The Town of Harmony is hosting our 9th Annual Dark Sky Festival this Saturday, April 14, 2012. Last year we had around 5,000 attendees and each year the numbers have grown. This is a FREE event and it gives Central Floridians a good look at stars and planets in our sky.

HARMONY, FL – Saturday, April 14, 2012 the Town of Harmony, the largest Green Certified Community in Central Florida, will be hosting their 9th Annual Dark Sky Festival in the Harmony Town Square from 6-11pm. Festival admission is free and open to the public. Last year’s attendance was estimated at around 5,000 people; with many more expected this year.

The purpose of the Dark Sky Festival is to expose the general public to the marvels of astronomy and the importance of protecting dark skies - not just for astronomy purposes, but also for the values that darkness provides to area wildlife. This festival will include Stargazing on “Telescope Hill,” NASA Exhibits and Speaker, Local Astronomers, Science Exhibits and Demonstrations, Starlab Mobile Planetarium, Live Music and Entertainment, Food/Drinks, Cosmic Kids Zone, “Glow Golf,” and much more! The event is family-friendly and enjoyable for all ages. Thank you to our main supporters; WUCF-TV, Central Florida’s PBS Channel; Starwalk Interactive Astronomy Guide; Osceola News Gazette; Seminole State College Planetarium; Clancy and Theys Construction; Waster Services INC. and the Education Foundation of Osceola County.

Harmony is located on US 192 in Osceola County, 30 minutes from Disney and Melbourne, and 20 minutes from Lake Nona Medical City. For more information on the event, please contact the Harmony Festival Director at or visit To find out more about life in Harmony, visit

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fantasy of Flight's Collection of Real WWII Bombers Provides Compelling Backdrop for Part Three of 2012 "Legends & Legacies" Symposium April 13-14

Press Release:

POLK CITY, Fla. (April 11, 2012) - Everyone knows how World War II ended, but many people have never before heard personal, firsthand accounts of the men and women who lived through it. On Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14, Fantasy of Flight once again brings the general public the opportunity to do just that as its Legends & Legacies Symposium Series continues with "Unspoken Valor: The Bomber Crews of World War II."

World War II bombers including the B-25 Mitchell, the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator featured amazing strengths but also potentially catastrophic weaknesses. Throughout the two-day symposium, several brave veterans who manned behemoth bomber aircraft share tales that only the insiders - and survivors - could know. The veterans will interact with guests in open forum/question-and-answer sessions, followed by meet-and-greet/autograph signing sessions. Not only will guests be able to hear firsthand from these daring airmen and patriots, they will be able to walk through an authentic B-17 Flying Fortress and imagine what it was like to participate in a bombing mission over hostile Germany as one of the bomber's 10-member crew. Visitors will also get an up-close look at the fierce P-51 Mustang, the fighter escort for the B-17.

Fantasy of Flight is one of the only attractions in the country to play host to legendary WWII and Vietnam War heroes as they share their compelling personal accounts, as well as their family members and descendants, who are able to offer their own unique perspectives. The series also includes heroes from WWII who served on the ground protecting and supporting the men and women in flight.

"We are truly honored to welcome these distinguished airmen to Fantasy of Flight to share their incredible stories about flying bombing missions in the B-17 and others," said Kim Long, General Manager of Fantasy of Flight. "The opportunity to hear firsthand from our World War II veterans is truly a gift and we hope that all of Central Florida will come out to support these true war heroes while learning more about their amazing aircraft."

Upon the entry of the United States into World War II, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress played a vital role in the bombardment of Germany. Flying out of American bases in England, as many as 1,000 B-17 aircraft at a time were staged and deployed in daring daylight raids. In the earliest days of the war, the long distance bombers flew steadfast to their targets, even when their fighter defense had to turn back for fuel, which required the bombers to operate in tight formation for protection - and resulted in a loss rate up to 25 percent. Even so, enemy fighters attacked the legendary, durable B-17 knowing that thirteen .50 caliber guns awaited them. Eventually, the development of the long-range P-51 Mustang granted the Flying Fortress a fierce escort at its side, allowing the bombers to deliver their payloads with greater safety to the crews and to truly turn the tide of the war in Europe.

Upcoming events in the 2012 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series include: "D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy," May 11-12; "Reflections of Vietnam," June 8-9 and "Letters Home: Love, Courage & Survival," Oct. 12-13. Fantasy of Flight welcomes inquiries from all those who may be interested in participating in the symposium series.

The series events are included in the price of Fantasy of Flight general admission of $28.95 plus tax for adults, $14.95 plus tax for youth (age 6-12) and five and under are free with full paying adult. The symposiums are free for all Annual Pass holders. Group rates are available. Call 863-984-3500 or go to for more information.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Taste of Pointe Orlando April 29 ($30)

Press release:

On Sunday, April 29, Pointe Orlando invites you to enjoy samplings of food from our award-winning restaurants amidst equally delectable ambiance. Come relax and savor an afternoon full of delights, from stromboli to sushi, at the Taste of Pointe Orlando.

Participating Restaurants Include:

  • Adobe Gila’s
  • B.B. King’s Blues Club
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Copper Canyon Grill
  • Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
  • Funky Monkey Wine Company
  • Hooters
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy
  • Pizzeria Valdiano
  • Taverna Opa
  • The Pub
  • Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar
Date April 29, 2012

Start Time 2 p.m.
End Time 5 p.m.

Location Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819

The Taste of Pointe Orlando will help raise funds for the Esophageal Cancer Program at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.
Tickets will be $30 per person and can be purchased in advance online.

Bike MS Citrus Tour April 21-22

Press Release:

ORLANDO (April 5, 2012) – Cyclists looking for a challenging ride, a scenic route and a great cause to support are invited to take part in 2012 Bike MS: The Citrus Tour, a two-day ride held Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 benefitting the National MS Society Mid Florida Chapter.

Registration is now open for both teams and individuals for this two-day event which begins and ends at the historic Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Fla. On day one, riders may choose from a 50, 75 or 100-mile route from Bok Tower Gardens, through scenic orange groves and pastoral terrain, to arrive at The Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, where they are invited to participate in a celebration dinner held in their honor. On day two, the route reverses with a choice of a 50 or 75 mile return route to Bok Tower Gardens where the two-day event culminates in a Finish Line Victory Picnic.

Bike MS: The Citrus Tour is recognized as one of the best two-day fully supported cycling events in Florida, annually attracting more than 1,500 cyclists of all skill levels from across the country. Now in its 25th year at the Mid Florida Chapter, Bike MS takes place in more than 100 cities nationwide and is one of the largest fundraising bike events in the United States.

Bike MS: The Citrus Tour, along with Walk MS, are the two biggest annual fundraisers for the National MS Society’s Mid Florida chapter. Bike MS: The Citrus Tour generated an astounding $921,569 in 2011, but this year’s goal is even higher at $966,000. Together, in 2011, Bike MS: The Citrus Tour and the eight Walk MS events generated more than $1.3 million in the fight to cure MS.

Registration is $55 for individual cyclists and $45 for members of a team. Cyclists must raise a minimum of $250 per person to participate in Bike MS: The Citrus Tour. A variety of incentives are available for those who meet and exceed the $250 goal, starting with a 2012 25th anniversary Bike MS T-shirt and a finish line medal. Fundraising tips and tools, as well as tips for training and cycling safety are available online at

“This is an exciting year for Bike MS as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the event for the Mid Florida Chapter and the third year of our increasingly popular Citrus Tour route,” said Carroll Franklin, President, Mid Florida Chapter. “We’re so thankful to the Florida cycling community for making this one of the premier cycling events of the year and for so generously supporting our fundraising efforts. With every dollar we raise, we are one step closer to ending MS.”

The Mid Florida Chapter also holds eight Walk MS events annually. Beginning March 10 and running through April 14, Central Florida cities including Lakeland, Orlando, Tampa, Sarasota, Lady Lake, Largo and Ormond Beach, as well as Brevard County (Melbourne), will welcome thousands of walkers in support of the fight to cure MS. The Mid Florida Chapter also offers a Virtual Walk option for those who live too far from scheduled Walk MS events or are unavailable on their city’s scheduled date.

To register for Bike MS: The Citrus Tour, Walk MS, or the Virtual Walk, or to make a donation or volunteer, visit For more information about Bike MS: The Citrus Tour, contact: Cody Yerian, Development Manager, 813-889-8363, ext. 201.For more information about Walk MS, contact Gaby Casado, Development Manager, 407-478-8880, ext. 27.

Multiple Sclerosis Facts

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an incurable, chronic disease of the central nervous system. MS interrupts the flow of information between the brain and body, causing unpredictable symptoms that can include numbness and blurred vision, as well as paralysis. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with twice as many women as men affected.

About the National MS Society Mid Florida Chapter

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society Mid Florida Chapter serves more than 70,000 people in a 23 county area, including family members, friends, caregivers, employers, and an estimated 10,000 people in Mid Florida living with MS. Founded in Nov. 1958, the mission of the Mid Florida Chapter is to end the devastating effects of MS. With a wide range of services, including educational programs, self-help groups, research, medical equipment, loan closets, transportation, literature, referrals, information and advocacy. The Mid Florida Chapter is proud to be a source of empowerment for those living with the disease.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

MS Stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. We do this through our home office and a 50-state network of chapters by funding more MS research, providing more services to people with MS, offering more professional education and furthering more advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world. We are people who want to do something about MS, now. Join the movement at

Book Review: After Disney—The Other Orlando

Kelly Monaghan has a long history of publishing about Orlando. He wrote “The Other Orlando” many years ago, and this update not only changes the title to “After Disney,” it also vastly expands the scope and scale of the book (disclosure: I was provided a review copy). The coauthor on the new volume is Seth Kubersky, an old hat at covering theme parks and no slouch himself. The cover image of Hogwarts castle is sure to excite Harry Potter fans, but the true value lies inside.
The affordable cost gets you 408 pages of Orlando goodness. The scale is staggering. These 408 pages in small font must have been hard to fill, you’re thinking, but as an interested local, I can testify that there really is that much to do in Orlando. You’ve got the obvious stuff like Universal and SeaWorld parks, and the guide does not skimp here. We’re on page 165 by the time we get to Gatorland, and then turn attention to other parks like Holy Land Experience, Kennedy Space Center, Legoland, and Busch Gardens Tampa. You’ll find info about zoos, gardens, water parks, sports, dinner theater, shopping, and other roadside things that only proliferate in places like Orlando and Las Vegas.

I cannot imagine the work that went into writing and revising this book. Take an example from the middle of the book, Capone’s Dinner & Show. We hear the prices and showtimes, directions, and then five paragraphs on what to expect, with a healthy dose of actual review mixed in. I wish I’d had this book when I moved to Orlando almost a decade ago. It’s kind of a checklist, in fact, of things for new residents to experience.
I like that they don’t take the easy road and offer bromides without qualification. The write-ups took actual time to compose. For example, think about this line from the review of Medieval Times: “[the show] tells us more about American tourism than it does about eleventh century Europe. The emphasis here is more on showing visitors an old-fashioned good time than on chivalry and historical accuracy. The medieval theme is merely a convenient excuse on which to hang a display of horse-riding skills.”

For a visitor from out of state, the book should offer fantastic value in deciding and decoding the “big” attractions to do that are not Disney. For a local, though, the book is invaluable at providing ideas and inspiration for the next thing to experience. It confirms my already-held belief that there are decades of things to do here (and I say that without exaggeration), and I plan to thumb through this book regularly for ideas on what to do next.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

SeaWorld Orlando Now Caring for Orphaned Sandhill Crane Chick

SeaWorld Orlando’s Aviculture team recently received the first sandhill crane chick of the year -- an orphan, brought in by a concerned resident from St. Cloud, Fla.
Once SeaWorld’s veterinarians thoroughly examined the bird, it was determined to be in perfect health. However, at an estimated 3-4 days old at the time it was brought into SeaWorld’s care, it was simply too young to survive on its own. The chick was then paired with a rescued adult crane, in order to learn the specific crane behaviors essential for life in the wild.
While sometimes difficult for orphaned chicks to be tolerated by older cranes that are not familiar with them, the adult crane accepted the orphaned chick, which is now thriving. Eric Reece, SeaWorld’s Supervisor of Aviculture, adds, “The chick is doing fantastic. It’s eating on its own and gaining weight”.
It is the intent of SeaWorld’s Aviculture team to return both cranes to their natural habitat together once the chick has fledged, or grown the feathers necessary for flying.
SeaWorld's animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. So far in 2012, SeaWorld Orlando has taken in 11 rescued cranes.