So for people looking for somewhere different and a bit more off the beaten path to do for Halloween, you might want to consider visiting A Petrified Forest – Musuem of Mayhem in Altamonte Springs. The main attraction is a haunted trail, where you are literally walking through a forest with scare actors hiding along the way! There is even a real cornfield along it! Some areas feature elaborate scenes, some are just in nature. The fact that you are walking through a forest, tripping on tree limbs and rocks, feeling branches and leaves on your head and arms, all play to heighten your senses. You know you are in a real forest so instead of the typical haunted house, you feel exposed and vulnerable. Some parts of A Petrified Forest were so dark you start imagining people there!
There is one scene where they use fog and lasers to create a misty lake where the actors hide underneath and jump out as if from no where, it was such an amazing effect and one I’ve not seen used before! You have one more night to go and experience A Petrified Forest this way, or for the really brave there are two special nights to go. November 1st and 2nd are known as Total Eclipse Nights! Basically on these nights, your group is given ONE glow stick per group, and the whole forest is plunged into complete darkness! They tell you that if a monster should steal your glowstick, another one will NOT be provided! I had a hard time enough seeing through this forest WITH the lights, but with no lights?! This would be the creepiest experience ever, and I’m not sure I’m brave enough to do it. Not this year anyway!
If you have never been to A Petrified Forest, I urge you to try it. It was very scary and the forest element really made everything so much creepier!
They also feature laser tag, which we tried out, it was more silly and funny than anything, and not something I’d do again but it was 10 minutes of giggles and laughter!
Another feature is their laser maze, where you have to dodge the lasers to collect artifacts from different rooms for prizes. We didn’t try this one as it didn’t look as fun, but people seemed to be enjoying it.
They had a live band on stage throughout the night, and food and drinks available for purchase. On the whole it was quite a fun night at A Petrified Forest, and I’m so glad we went as it’s something I had never experienced before. I am very very curious about the Total Eclipse night, the actors can even touch you then too, If anyone goes please report back, as we are not brave enough this year!
You can buy your tickets online before the event, or you can pay cash only when you get there.
So it’s almost upon us, Halloween! If you haven’t already made it over to the 23rd Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, fear not (lol) you still have some time! There are still three more days of fear to enjoy, the last night being November 2nd. This year’s theme is zombies, with The Walking Dead being the main theme, but also featuring houses such as Resident Evil, Havoc, Cabin In The Woods, Resident Evil, Evil Dead, La Llorona, Afterlife and American Werewolf In London.
Without giving too much away about Halloween Horror Nights, my favorite house this year was, by far, American Werewolf In London! I think it’s because it gave me the most scares! I literally screamed my way through this house from start to end, the effects were just so lifelike and the werewolf felt so real! The scenes were very well set up also, and I found myself pushing my way through to get away from it all! Loved it!
I also really enjoyed the Cabin In The Woods house, as having seen the movie, it was really fun being able to walk through the scenes and feel like i was actually on the set, it was so elaborate!
Halloween Horror Night’s scare zones this year were all the same theme, zombies. Which was quite gory but not really very scary in my opinion, as they don’t move very fast and tend to just groan or scream in your face. I miss the variety of scare zones they used to have with roller skating aliens and creepy pumpkin men! But if you are into the whole zombie theme then it is perfect for you, it feels like they are everywhere!
I didn’t do the Rocky Horror Picture Show this year, but I always catch The Bill & Ted Show every year, and this year was no exception. I felt this year it had more pop culture references that I understood, so I found it very entertaining, and the music is always so fun and upbeat. Its certainly worth taking a break from the Halloween Horror Night houses to do!
I actually really enjoyed being able to do some of the new rides too, as most of the large rides are open during Halloween Horror Nights and you’ll find they have decent wait times as most people are going into the houses, so many are just 10-15 minute wait times! I enjoyed eating a Krusty Burger (a vegetarian version, which was yummy!) at Moe’s and checking out the huge pink donuts on sale in Springfield!
The tickets we chose this year were the Rush Of Fear passes, which gave us access to the first 3 weeks of Halloween Horror Nights. This we found was a great deal, as the first 3 weeks are much quieter as they start in September, and they include Saturdays, so we will be doing this for next year also. The Frequent Fear passes are another good option if you are planning on going multiple days, these last longer but block out most Saturday nights, which tend to be busier anyway so they are a great deal also.
Parking at City Walk is $16 up until 8pm, after 8pm it’s $5 and after 10pm its free for Florida Residents.
So what are you waiting for? Go check out Halloween Horror Nights 23 before November 2nd, but be prepared to scream, jump and run your way through the night!
We recently heard about a local ecotourism zoo in Dade City called Wild Things, where you can get up close and personal with animals normally only admired from afar! The zoo (in conjunction with Stearns Zoological Rescue & Rehab Center, Inc) is located on 22 acres of land in the heart of Paso County and prides itself on rescuing animals and providing a natural botanical landscape.
When you visit the Wild Things Zoo, you can choose to either go on a tram ride of the grounds or a walking tour where you can see up to 200 animals!
If you want to get more of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can even chose to do some personal animal encounters where, accompanied by a trainer, you can sit with some of the animals and hold or touch them. You could pick from a bunch of different experiences to do after the tour, so we took full advantage of our day, and chose to do 3 encounters!
The main reason we decided to go to the Wild Things Zoo, was to do the baby white tiger cub encounter as neither of us had ever got that close to a tiger cub before. Also, once the cubs reach 40 lbs, they don’t allow encounters anymore. The cub was already at 25 lbs at 2 months old, so it wont be long until he is too big. We also chose a coyote experience as neither of us had even seen one in the wild yet, and then we chose to feed black bears, as we thought interacting with them would be really unique.
There are another number of encounters you can chose throughout the year, including swimming with the tiger!
We were told from the beginning that photos are not permitted at any time, but that they do offer a fair priced photo package where a professional photographer takes photos of the encounters that were available to download later.
Our visit started with the tram tour we chose, our driver was so friendly and knowledgeable it made for a fun tour! I really wish they let you take photos on this tour, as I have never seen some of these animals so close before!
They had quite a few species of monkeys, including Cornelius, a rhesus macaques who was captured in St. Petersburg, putting an end to a four-year search where he avoided capture as he made his way around Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
The monkey’s origins are unknown, but speculation has been that he traveled from the Silver Springs area near Ocala, where a group of rhesus macaques had made its home for decades.
We were able to get as close as 3 feet away from the tiger and lion enclosures! We witnessed our tour guide interact with them through the fence while giving us their backgrounds. The tigers even rubbed up against the fence purring at us!
We were able to get off the tram to feed the buffalo they had on the tour! I got to feed the mother Jessica carrots, and I can say its something we didn’t expect but it was such a cute experience!
We also saw kangaroos, parrots, miniature ponies, foxes, raccoon, lemurs, panthers, ferrets, zebras, emus, and so many more!
Then it was time to have our baby tiger encounter! We were able to pose for a photo with him first (his name was Remington) we were given our instructions then sat down to interact.
The trainer entertained him with toys and milk while we were able to pet him from the neck down only, for safety reasons. He was so soft and fluffy with such bright blue eyes!
She gave us a little bit of history about him, and even showed us how his paws are webbed to enable him to swim efficiently, a little fact I had never heard of.
I have to say it was such a wonderful experience that I, for one, will never forget!
Next up was our coyote interaction!
Growing up in England we didn’t have coyotes, the closest we had to them would probably be wild foxes. So I found this experience fun! He really did look like a dog but with a much longer nose and coarser hair.
He seemed to really love Simon’s laces on his sneakers, and even when the trainer would try deter him he would lean toward them pretending not to care and then at the last minute start nibbling at them again, so cute!
Our last encounter was with the black bears, these you cannot go in to the enclosure, its illegal unless you’re trained. I’m assuming this may have something to do with the fact they are in the wild so close to our homes, that it may desensitize people to them, and the threat they can pose in the wild.
We were able to feed them marshmallows on sticks through the fence, which they loved! The male would stand tall, and the female would remain seated but was far more vocal in expressing her love for marshmallows!
After our experiences we were given the link to the site to download our pictures from home. I am not really a fan of zoos personally but I loved this place as there was such a sense of family here, and all the animals are either rescued or born there. I was concerned what the animals might be treated like but they looked so healthy and happy, and sometimes you felt like you were watching them in the wild!
I would definitely recommend the photo package as it’s such a wonderful experience you don’t want to forget! They are also getting bigger all the time and even plan to build an aerial ride going across the tiger enclosure! Hmmm I MAY just give that part a miss!
Next time you are wanting to plan a local day out, with an experience to remember I suggest you book a day at Wild Things, I hope to go back myself soon!
The new site launched a few weeks ago to great reviews, and is much more user friendly.
One exciting new feature is that you can now order any of Disney Floral’s Magical In Room Celebrations directly from the site, which was previously not possible.
When choosing your gift you can even add that extra magical touch by personalizing your gift with embroidery on many of the items. Disney Floral and Gifts have even added thread color and font styles to the options now, so you can be sure to achieve the exact look you’d like.
If for some reason you don’t see a gift that’s exactly what you’d like, you can create your own basket now. Just use the “Custom Gift Builder” tab, and from there you can select the type of bag or container you’d like to use. Then you can go ahead and fill it as you desire, they have also added lots of snacks and little extras so you can now customize your gifts and create the perfect basket!
New items for fall and Halloween have already been added for you to order, and their Mickey’s Spooktacular In Room Celebration is not one to be missed! This year Disney Floral even added Halloween pillow cases, which can be embroidered, so guests can take these home and use them each year!
One exciting new item is their Cinderella slipper! This slipper is actually crystal and now has a little heart on the front that has a blue light underneath, so when switched on the slipper glows blue like Cinderella’s dress!
Soon enough they will be adding their Winter offerings for Christmas and Hanukkah so be sure to check back regularly to Disney Floral and Gifts for new exciting gift ideas!
Saturday night we had the opportunity to go and see the dinner show Arabian Nights in Kissimmee. It was one of the last nights in June where they were offering a discounted rate if you worked in hospitality, so naturally we had to jump on this offer after having never been before!
We went in a large group and were told to reserve on the phone, then we can all pay separately once we picked up the tickets on the night of the show. However, once we got there we were informed that in order to sit together we must all pay together and only 2 forms of payment can be used. This was a little challenging as not all of us brought cash, so if you go as a group just keep in mind that bringing cash is definitely recommended!
As you enter the Arabian Nights building they take your photograph in front of a green screen to then sell to you later in the show. We were told our group of 11 was too many for one picture so we all went separately. it turned out later that you could indeed go in a big group, which was a shame as we would have bought the group photo. So remember to ask for a group one if that’s what you really would like, as many other families had even more members in the same picture and it looked great.
We then walked through the gift shop, which is very tempting, and past some workers selling flashy light up hats, lanyards and pins etc…of course I had to get a photo of them as it looked pretty cool!
You walk into the pre-show area to walls painted with murals of horses and cowboys. In the center of the room is the appetizer buffet. This buffet consisted of chips and salsa, and raw vegetables with dip. It was only a small table, but if you like that kind of finger food it was a nice start to the show.
Options at the bar before you enter include a few alcohol packages such as $10 for unlimited Bud light or rose wine, or $15 for unlimited spirit cocktails. These had to be purchased at the bar before you entered the show.
It was time to go to our seats, so we were led up the stairs to our section, which despite being further back had a great view of the whole arena, it seems anywhere you get seated would be a good view.
Once we were seated we chose our meal and complimentary soft drinks. They had a decent selection of dishes and provided vegetarian options as well as Kosher. They also suggest if you require any special dietary needs to call at least 24 hrs in advance to discuss the options with them.
As the show started they began by introducing some of the horses, and showed how tame they were by bringing down pre selected children to come pet the horse. They then showed how their performers were able to do acrobatics on top of the horses, by using a technique that meant they landed softly and evenly upon the horse’s back.
Now the main part of the show started, featuring their current production, American Princess. It features Princess Scheherazade on her 21st Birthday and her genie Abracadabra, who set forth on a mission to find her Prince!
During the show we are shown many different Princes, from many different countries and cultures. One of my personal favorites was when we were shown the Gypsy camp, as we were treated to some amazing acrobatics! We saw them riding standing up, one foot on each horse!
Some rode in tandem, upon 2 horses performing dance moves normally seen in ballrooms as opposed to on horseback!
One of the most visually stunning parts was seeing one rider jump through a hoop of fire only to land back perfectly on his cantering horse!
A crowd pleasing moment was getting to see the mystical Unicorn enter the arena! The music and the lights really added to the elegance of the moment, all you could hear was gasps as the unicorn majestically walked in!
Another favorite of mine was when the Native American entered on his horse! The horse was painted in day glow markings, so when they shone the black light spot light on to it, it lit up so beautifully. Smoke covered the arena floor and the track they played, “End Of Innocence” by Enigma, created such a powerful visual! Easily my favorite part of the whole show, I literally did not take my eyes off the horse! it was stunning!
Along the journey, Abracadabra must protect the Princess from the evil Prince Vaneer, who’s outlook appears to be “if I can’t have her, no one can”.
Toward the end of the show, we are brought back to America, and a visually beautiful performance was put on filled with a lot of patriotism, but also a salute to other nations around the world.
The food we had during the show was average at best, including the dessert. But the service was friendly and they were very much on top of keeping our drinks filled up throughout.
After the show was a lot of fun as they let all the horses out into the arena, and it was so cute to watch them frolic around and rub on the floor! I had no idea horses did the rubbing on the floor like dogs and cats do! It was so precious to watch! It also gave the audience a chance to take photos alongside some of the performers and to pet the horses. As we were seated further back it was fun to come down and see the horses up close.
When you leave the arena you are given an opportunity to line up and take a photo with some of the lead characters if you wished. There was no intermission during the show so my advice is don’t go to the first restroom you see, the line was terrible. Go to the next one back in the appetizer pre show room, much quieter!
On the whole we really enjoyed this show, and although the food provided isn’t great, the show is really unique and we really had fun seeing it! A fun group activity also!
Sunday we got to visit Seaworld Orlando as they premiered their Summer nights 2013! After signing in we were split into two groups, one group were to go experience the recently added Antarctica: Empire Of The Penguin, and the other group was invited to try the new Expedition Cafe.
We were part of the group to eat first, so we were led to the cafe to see our options. Being a vegetarian I was quite happy to see quite a few options for a range of different diets! There was plenty of seating and guests were able to chose to sit outside or inside with AC.
Once dinner was over we were lead by our guide over to the Antarctica: Empire Of The Penguin ride. We were so excited as we had not had the opportunity to ride this yet, so we had no idea what to expect from it! As we were walking to the ride, the surrounding skies seemed perfect, as they were getting a little gray so walking amongst the ice berg scenery seemed pretty magical juxtaposed amongst the gray gloomy sky!
Our guide told us that after the ride is when you get to see the actual penguin habitat. She informed us that the whole queuing system has been specially designed to help moderate guests body temperature as they go through the different stages. Guests are typically hot and possibly a bit damp from the humid Florida weather in summer here, and the penguin habitat can be quite shocking at a mere 30 degrees. So without ever really noticing it, each stage of the ride’s queue actually gets progressively cooler to dry you off and cool you down bit by bit, so that when you finally enter the habitat at the end, your body wont be as shocked.
The ride features a penguin family and more specifically a baby penguin named Puck, and it is Puck that we follow on his adventures into adulthood throughout the ride. At the beginning guests have the option to chose the “mild” version, or the “wild” version, which really just controls how much you rotate and spin during the ride. We chose the wild version as we wanted to feel the full experience for the first time on there.
Without giving away any spoilers, we really enjoyed the ride, it was a different technology that hasn’t really been used anywhere else yet. Its a cute little ride, that ultimately leads you to the most exciting part, the habitat.
The habitat is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, as instead of being behind glass panels, you are actually IN the habitat, experiencing the same temperature and environment. The penguins are literally right in front of you in their enclosure, one little guy was even resting right under the wall we were leaning on! There are signs everywhere telling you not to touch the penguins….I can’t emphasize enough how much it makes you want to touch them with them being in touching distance! But there are handlers all around watching over them, and they were needed, as the amount of people using flash on their cameras was crazy, stop blinding the penguins people! LOL.
You can walk around the enclosure and see not only the ones resting out of the water, but even the ones swimming too! So you really do get an all-round look at their life here in the habitat.
For guests not wanting to ride, there is an access door that will take you directly in to the habitat once you get to the ride boarding area. You may find yourself waiting a moment, as these doors, just like the ride queue, help adjust your body temperature down for entering the habitat.
After the ride, we were taken to the a lake side area where we were treated to a dessert party, and a chance to talk to the other guests and to hear from one of the organizers there about their Summer Nights events.
Once we had relaxed at the dessert party, we were taken to our seats in the Sea Lion and Otter Theater to see the Clyde and Seamore Show. While waiting for the stadium to fill up, we were treated to watching their Mime entertain the crowd while they were entering, which was so hilarious and really got us in the mood & ready for the show.
The Clyde & Seamore show was so much funnier than we remembered it in previous years! The show now focuses on parodies of the other attractions and shows at Seaworld currently, such as Pets Ahoy, One Ocean and even The Kraken Ride! The way they used the walrus as their “Shamu” was so entertaining and such a hit among the crowd!
Next we made it over to the Shamu Stadium for “Shamu Rocks”. This show holds a very dear place in my heart, as my Husband had proposed to me at the Shamu show on the big screen there back in 2003! This week actually marked the 10 year anniversary of when he proposed back when we lived in the UK and were just out here vacationing. So the memories came flooding back on entering the stadium, and although they don’t do proposal packages anymore on the big screen, they do still show the crowd dancing while waiting for the stadium to fill up so it felt really great to be back on that week!
The show is completely different to the one we remembered from back then, and it has obviously changed significantly over the years. The show now is very dance/rock music orientated, with many of the trainers actually participating in dance routines now as opposed to interacting with the whales. The whales have a lot of fun tricks and amazing moves, paired with all the water cannons and bright colors it really is a rock and roll show for everyone to enjoy. I do, however, miss elements of the older show where the trainers were more focused on the whales, as opposed to synchronized dancing by a guitarist on the stage and fireworks.
After the show we were invited to go experience Antarctica: Empire Of The Penguin one last time, which was really fun to now do at night time as well.
On the way out of the park we walked by the “Party with Shamu and Friends”, which had recently just ended, but normally they have a DJ and characters available for photos before you leave for the night.
We were so grateful to be a part of this new celebration that Seaworld now offer this summer through to August 11th 2013. It was a lot of fun for the whole family and i plan to go back to experience more of Seaworld’s Summer Nights 2013 soon, when will you go check it out?
Our adventures on Saturday June 15th took us to the very first Hard Rock Cafe Orlando’s “Social Media Rock Party”, exclusively for @Hardrockorlando ‘s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook fans.
Guests were told to meet at the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando at 6:30, and despite all the rain that night, there was even a red carpet to welcome us on arrival!
We were guided upstairs to a private room just for us social media fans. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by the friendly staff and asked to sign in to receive our name badges. Looking around it was a great turn out, some familiar faces, and lots of new ones to meet and mingle with!
We were told to help ourselves to the food and soft drinks provided, which not only looked like a nice selection but was presented so uniquely too.
Being a vegetarian I was so pleased to see they had considered their guests’ different tastes, and offered plenty for non meat eaters also!
The food was delicious, and it was made even sweeter by their cupcakes for dessert! I personally highly recommend their tiramisu cupcake, had to resist to only eat one so as not to appear greedy!
The room we were seated in was full of rock memorabilia of all eras, so offered great talking points for the guests and fun items to see.
After a bit of mingling and, of course, a photo opportunity with their social media mascot Rocky Bearboa, we were introduced to some of our hosts for the evening.
One of which included the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando VIBE Host, which every Hard Rock Cafe has at least one, who really specializes in rock and roll and Hard Rock’s history.
We learnt so many interesting facts that we didn’t know before tonight, and guests who were able to answer trivia questions were rewarded with Hard Rock Swag bags!
Our night was really topped off when we found out that next we would be attending the show at Hard Rock Live to see Classic Albums Live Featuring Queen’s “A Night At The Opera”!
But before heading to our seats we were taken on a tour into the Lennon Room! This is a special room designed to replicate Lennon and Ono’s apartment in the Dakota, which one can only gain access to upon being taken to via a tour or by invite.
The room was largely white, but filled with memorabilia all around! One of my favorite pieces was the couch that John actually used to compose some of his songs on!
After touring this room, and getting to see the beautiful views from the patio, we were lead upstairs to our upper balcony VIP leather seats!
The show was amazing, and the second set featured many Queen classics from Bohemian Rhapsody, and Under Pressure, to We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions!
From our seats it was obvious to me that everyone was singing along with the words and dancing. They were even given a standing ovation at the end, best Freddie Mercury tribute singer I’ve had the pleasure to hear!
That night we left feeling like we were treated like true VIP rock royalty! We met some amazing new people, and got to see a side to Hard Rock Cafe that most don’t get the chance to.
But next time you are here, be sure to ask for a special tour if you’re early enough, and you too may get to see the famous Lennon Room!
If you have never eaten at a Hard Rock Cafe before, be sure to stop by, and if you have the pleasure of being served by @justmikeyhrc then you are indeed in for a treat! Not only is he a passionate music fan, but he was also the one responsible for putting together this wonderful event for us!
So thank you Mikey, the sponsors and the workers of the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe Orlando! What a fantastic event, showing us that Orlando truly does ROCK!