O-Town MacDown Competition This Saturday

centerpiece2

Saturday, August 23
11am – 4pm
Orange County Convention Center
Hall D2 West Concourse

Online Ticket Sales End Friday at 5pm
($10 Adult, $5 Kids)
Tickets Available at the Door
($15 Adults, $10 Kids)

*There is a discounted community parking fee of $9.00 if you choose to park at the Convention Center.

Come see the O-Town MacDown, a delicious “food fight” cooking competition featuring professional chefs and restaurants as well as home cooks and non-profit organizations who will duke it out to the very end to be named Orlando’s Mac-n-Cheese Champion.

Prizes will be awarded in various categories, and the event will include live entertainment, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, live performances, a kids’ fun zone including face painting, bounce houses and macaroni art station, theme park character meet-and-greets and vendor booths.

Presenting sponsor SeaWorld along with Give Kids The World invite the general public to come sample the cheesiest mac-n-cheese that area culinary combatants have to offer at this cooking challenge.

Attendance and participation benefits Give Kids The World Village, a 70-acre, nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provides weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

For more information visit the website.

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

SeaWorld’s 50th Brings a Sea of Surprises

image copyright SeaWorld
image copyright SeaWorld

SEAWORLD’S 50TH CELEBRATION WILL BE A SEA OF SURPRISES

Eighteen-month celebration kicks off on March 21, 2014 at all three SeaWorld parks

 

Orlando, Fla. (June 11, 2013) – SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ announces a multi-park celebration to commemorate a key event in the company’s history. The original SeaWorld® park opened its gates for the first time in March 1964 on Mission Bay in San Diego.

 

SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration will feature a Sea of Surprises™ starting March 21, 2014. SeaWorld parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio will share the excitement throughout an 18-month celebration that highlights some of the most memorable SeaWorld experiences. 

 

For nearly five decades, SeaWorld has surprised and amazed guests with unique entertainment, thrilling rides and up-close encounters with marine animals. During SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration visitors will be invited to take part in the celebration through new interactive experiences, shows and pathway performances, even more up-close animal encounters throughout the park and the SeaWorld “Surprise Squad” treating guests with prizes every day.

 

Just a few weeks ago, SeaWorld Orlando opened Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™, an all-new realm that combines 30-degree temperatures, upclose encounters with more than 250 penguins and an all-family adventure ride to create the coldest theme park attraction in Orlando and a thrilling, chilling experience of a lifetime.   

 

SeaWorld Orlando will continue to make news later this year when the park announces what’s new for 2014.  Details will be shared this fall.

 

SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration Sea of Surprises Highlights

 

  • SeaWorld San Diego will celebrate 50 years with a new interactive entrance plaza. The area will be called Explorer’s Reef and will open in March for the celebration kick-off. The 16-month construction project will transform the existing front gate area through sculptural and design elements inspired by waves crashing over a reef, as well as up-close encounters with marine life. The new front gate concept will replace existing ticket booths with a beach-themed, concierge-style ticketing area that will provide guests with a single location to purchase admission, as well as sign up for tours, animal interactions and dining experiences.

 

From the moment they enter the park, guests can connect with the sea through multiple touch pools featuring shark pups, stingrays and cleaner fish. Explorer’s Reef encompasses more than three acres, including new and innovative retail and culinary opportunities for guests. The multi-million dollar renovation effort will not only make entering the park faster and more efficient, but will significantly enhance the arrival experience.

  • As part of SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration, there will be more surprise encounters with animal ambassadors throughout the day. A pair of Magellanic penguins, a lemur, or even a parade of flamingos could surprise guests at any moment at all three SeaWorld locations.

 

  • What’s a celebration without surprises? The SeaWorld “Surprise Squad” will roam the SeaWorld parks giving away prizes and special gifts. Guests could receive exclusive access to rides or behind-the-scenes experiences, celebration t-shirts or Shamu-themed merchandise, reserved show seating and more.

 

  • SeaWorld is known for amazing animal shows and each park will have something new for the 50th celebration. Even park pathways will come to life with spontaneous entertainment at unexpected moments, including performers with sea-inspired costumes and props, a bubble brigade and splash mob.

 

  • To underscore SeaWorld’s commitment to the environment and passion for protecting the ocean, a series of giant sea life sculptures will be displayed throughout the parks. SeaWorld commissioned environmental art group Washed Ashore for the large-scale art created from ocean debris. The works serve as a reminder that our animal friends need healthy environments.

 

  • As part of its continuing commitment to new technology that enhances the guest experience, SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration will include new ways for fans to connect to the parks and each other though digital devices. The parks will be launching a variety of enhancements, from interactive apps that provide fun new ways to experience the park to new games and video content.

 

For more information and continuing news about SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration and the Sea of Surprises, visitwww.seaworld.com/celebration.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6h9kfUQ5O2g

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Sea World’s Viva La Musica

Viva La Musica
Viva La Musica

Last week I was able to visit Sea World to experience some new attractions and special events for me. Viva La Musica is a Latin music festival that takes place in the spring at both Sea World and Busch Gardens. Last year I went to Busch Gardens and got to try some great food, but missed out on the concerts. I made a point when this year’s schedule came out to make sure that I caught at least one concert between the two parks. I was beyond ecstatic when I discovered my favorite salsa band, El Gran Combo, was going to be playing at Sea World and Busch Gardens for Viva La Musica this year!

I scheduled my entire weekend around attending the El Gran Combo concert at Sea World on May 4th. The weather wasn’t exactly gorgeous when I arrived at the park, so I decided to see if I could do a few rides before grabbing lunch and waiting for the concert to start at 3pm. I really hadn’t done any of the rides at Sea World before and had mostly focused on the animals and shows on my previous visits over the past year and a half. It was far past time, so I made a beeline for Manta hoping the dreary and drizzly weather was scaring off the tourists. To my luck I was able to walk on to Manta, Kraken and Journey to Atlantis all in less than an hour. I had never been in the aquarium at the exit of Journey to Atlantis and loved it!

Jellyfish
Jellyfish
Moray eel
Moray eel
Fish
Fish
Tropical fish
Tropical fish

Like most special events at Sea World, Viva La Musica is focused around the Bayside Pathway between the entrance and Bayside Stadium, where the concerts are. Vendors setup booths with Latin American and Hispanic artwork and merchandise. Then there is my favorite part: the food and drinks! I love the variety of options for food that are different than the normal park food. I opted for a fantastic grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and sweet plaintains along with a tamarind flavored shaved ice treat for dessert. The food was great and I loved sitting and listening to the warmup salsa band on the secondary stage and watching all the guests getting out on the dancefloor. You even had the opportunity to get your picture taken with Shamu and his friends in their Salsa outfits!

Skirt steak with chimichurri and sweet plantains
Skirt steak with chimichurri and sweet plantains
Shamu
Shamu
Me
Me
Salsa dancers
Salsa dancers
Grandma dancing
Grandma dancing
Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders
Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders
El Gran Combo
El Gran Combo

Since I know from experience the concerts at Sea World special events like Viva La Musica fill up early, I went directly to Bayside Stadium to get a seat as soon as I finished lunch. I got there about an hour and a half early, which is way earlier than I would usually, but when I noticed the steady flow of guests heading that way, I was glad I did. I have never seen the stadium as full as this for any events before. It was amazing! El Gran Combo took the stage after a warm up act by the Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders. The concert was one of the best I’ve been to in a theme park and it was fantastic performance by my favorite salsa band. I’ve never seen as many guests up and dancing in the aisles at any of the dozens of concerts I’ve been to in my life.

Bayside Stadium panorama
Bayside Stadium panorama
Dolphin Cheerleaders
Dolphin Cheerleaders
El Gran Combo at Viva La Musica
El Gran Combo at Viva La Musica
Fountains salsa dancing to the music
Fountains salsa dancing to the music
Couples dancing
Couples dancing

On the way out of the park I had to swing by the Dolphin Nursery, which is one of my absolute must dos each trip to Sea World. I had a great afternoon experiencing Viva La Musica. This special event is over for the season, but when next spring rolls around, make sure you don’t miss Viva La Musica, which takes place at Sea World and Busch Gardens! Have you been to Viva La Musica before? Which bands have you seen?

Dolphin Nursery
Dolphin Nursery
Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Spring into Adventures

Spring is in the air. Hopefully the pollen and my allergies will clear up soon and it is heating up and starting to feel like summer here in Florida. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the things I’m most looking forward to over the next couple of months instead of doing that spring cleaning that I probably should be doing. Now that I’ve found out my schedule for the rest of the spring and beginning of summer, I thought I’d start planning some weekend adventures. The parks across the area have some fantastic special events this time of year, and before the kids are out of school it is a great time to get away while the crowds are lower.

Spring in bloom at Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival
Spring in bloom at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

At Epcot we are already more than halfway through the International Flower & Garden Festival. I love this event each year and have been attending since 1998! I dearly miss Davy Jones of the Monkees, as his was always my go to concert for the Flower Power Concert Series. The thing I think I am most excited about (aside from the newly added food and beverage kiosks) is that my favorite HGTV celebrity, David Bromstad, is going to be hosting presentations May 17 – 19 and I’m now off that weekend!

Star Wars Weekends
Star Wars Weekends

Another of my favorite things that I will get to do for the third year in a row is Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This fabulous event has quickly become a must do for me! I still have so many things I haven’t done yet that are on my to do list. I need to get up early enough and get to the park to see the Stormtroopers on top of the entrance to the park above the turnstiles. Also, I really want to get my picture taken with as many of the characters as possible and go to some of the presentations and shows. And then, of course, there is Hyperspace Hoopla, my favorite of all! My apologies to anyone who now has that song stuck in their head (Hoooooooopla, Hyperspace Hoopla…).

Viva la Música
Viva la Música

Busch Gardens and Sea World are playing host to an awesome special event that I got to experience last year for the first time: Viva la Mύsica! This great offering is one that features Latin American food, merchandise, cuture, and of course, music. I got to go just for an hour or so to Busch Gardens after work last year and got to try to some amazing food, but was too late for the concert. This year I was hoping to catch at least one weekend at Busch Gardens and Sea World each. I was so excited when I found out that my favorite salsa band, El Gran Combo, was going to be playing at both parks. I know where I’ll be that weekend!

One of the greatest things about these three events is that they are all included in park admission. Food and beverages of course are extra, but the entertainment and most of the presentations are free of charge with your ticket. These add tremendous value to your vacation or even just a day in the park for us locals.

Water parks are definitely on my list for the next few months. I’ve lived in Florida for almost 20 years and I’ve only been to Typhoon Lagoon for a couple hours and did the lazy river and snorkled with the sharks before the park closed due to weather. This needs to be rectified. I’ve visited Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach for functions, but haven’t done a single water slide. This is a travesty! I also would love to check out some of the other area water parks like Sea World’s Aquatica and Adventure Island in Tampa.

Now we all know that sometimes with the spring come those showers that we need for those pretty flowers. What to do when it isn’t exactly park weather? Why not catch a film? Two movies I am ridiculously excited to see this spring are Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University (visit this site if you haven’t already – it is hilarious!). I am a huge Avengers fan and loved the first Iron Man movie, enjoyed the second one, and adored the Avengers, so I cannot wait to see what they have in store for Tony Stark in this next installment. Monsters Inc was a great, feel good family flick and I think that this will be very entertaining to see some of Mike and Sulley’s adventures before they were best buds.

What are you looking forward to this spring? Did I miss any of your favorite spring special events? Have you been to any of these before? What are some of your favorite things to do in spring when the weather doesn’t cooperate? Hit us up and let us know.

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Turtle Trek opens at Sea World Orlando!

On Friday I was lucky enough (to head to Sea World Orlando for the Opening of their new experience called Turtle Trek! It is SUCH an amazing attraction. Probably one of the best ones I have seen in a while. It is not a ride, it is a total experience and let me tell you, it is top notch!

From the Desk of Sea World:

TurtleTrek, SeaWorld Orlando’s newest attraction, comes to life with SeaWorld’s unique blend of up-close encounters with manatees and sea turtles and state-of-the art entertainment, making for a real adventure and a first-of-its-kind 3D 360 degree dome theater film that is completely surrounding and immersive.

Guests first visit two massive naturalistic habitats, home to gentle manatees and gliding sea turtles, learning what makes each species so precious. Families then enter a domed theater and what happens next has never before been seen and is a first at any theme park in the world.

Inside the dome, they’ll be surrounded by a hyper-realistic, 3D 360 degree film that takes them on the amazing life journey of a special sea turtle named Nyah. The experience is all around guests and even above them – not just in front of them or only on one screen. It’s this all-new and immersive way of showcasing a sea turtle’s epic adventure that is the heart of TurtleTrek. And for the first time, SeaWorld guests are given a turtle’s eye view of the ocean’s wonders.

 

So when you walk into the Queue you go right into the underwater viewing area for the Turtles, Manatees and Fish! All around you see everything floating and living and eating and it is AMAZING! The view is crystal clear and you can see EVERYTHING!

After you go thru there you are brought into the Egg shaped Dome where the 3D 360 Show takes place. You Put on your 3D Glasses and you become Nyah the baby sea turtle and we follow her on her journey through her life. We are in the egg and we hatch with all of our brothers and sisters. Because the dome is egg shaped you really do feel like the baby sea turtle. From there You have an encounter with a Crab and a Seagull, You swim with your family in the ocean thru coral. You meet Manatees and bigger gliding turtles and sting rays. You swim in the coral with the Jelly Fish in a sunken treasure ship. You meet up with Sharks and dolphins. You get caught in a net but because of the special release net, you escape. The whole thing happens around and above you and makes it a one of a kind movie!

Once you exit the attraction you get to go to the top of the 360 degree viewing area and see the animals at the very top of the habitat. You also get a chance to play ” Race for the Beach” video game that plays out on massive video screens. It teaches people what and how Turtles eat and what kinds of dangers await them in the ocean.

This Attraction is such a wonder. It is a story that everyone needs to be part of. With the Grand Opening of this event Sea World has decided to eliminate plastic shopping bags. The eco-friendly move will save an estimated 4 million plastic bags per year from both entering landfills and impacting wildlife. SeaWorld routinely rescues marine wildlife such as endangered sea turtles that sometimes mistake plastic bags for a favorite food such as jellyfish.

Please make sure that visit Turtle Trek on your next visit to Sea World Orlando to learn all about These wonderful animals and how they live their lives!

Thank You to Sea World President Terry Prather for the opportunity to compliment him on such a fantastic attraction and snap a picture, Todd Faison Manager of Human Resources for taking the time to ask me my opinion and Dustin for letting me take a picture of his T shirt!

 

 

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Visit Key West and Feed the Stingrays at Sea World Orlando

Upon entering the five acre section of “Key West at Sea World” from the main entrance, you will come upon Stingray Lagoon. The brightly colored shacks and vibrant music let you know that this is going to be a fun and quirky experience!

The Lagoon is home to over 200 rays that are all waiting to be viewed, touched, and most importantly fed! Also part of the area is sectioned off from the larger rays and humans to showcase stingray pups as they learn to interact with the world around them.

A Stringray near the feeding/touching ledge.

Stingray Lagoon is usually super busy, but there is always a Sea World expert on hand to give you tips, answer questions, and to help give an extra boost of confidence as you think about putting your hand in to touch and feed the rays.

Hey....Feed Me!!!

First things first, you will notice that these guys (and gals) are NOT shy. They will swim right up to the ledge and start flapping it with their fins to let you know that they are ready to play. You will definitely want to be careful, because their tank is filled with salt water which is super harmful to electronics!

They will splash A LOT!!!
If you want to feed the rays you can purchase a tray of five small fish from a nearby counter. The first tray costs $5.00, and you get a discount if you buy more trays.
They look super gross in this pic, but they really weren't that bad to touch.

The best way to feed the stingrays is by placing the small fish between your fingers and submerging your hand under the water so your fish is jiggling above your fingers. (Yes, jiggling is a purely technical term! J ) You want to feed them like this for two reasons. The first is that their mouth isn’t where you think it is, because they are bottom feeders their mouth is on the underside of their body. The second is that there are always a ton of birds around waiting to grab fish out of your hand. And the birds are definitely the most aggressive thing that you will find around Stingray Lagoon!!!

Don't feed 'em like this...but it does make for a cool picture!

These stingrays are super docile, and feel like a velvety sponge. At first little ones may be weirded out by the idea of sticking their hand elbow deep in water to feel this oddly shaped animal, but after they get their first “high five” they’ll be hooked.

We absolutely loved watching, feeding, and touching these beautiful and friendly stingrays! It is definitely something that we will do again!!!

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram