Tag Archives: orlando

Swim with sharks and feed the stingrays!

Sharks often bring fear to your mind. You are often warned to stay away from waters where sharks are at large. News of fatal shark attacks often come from beaches down under. But are all sharks so dreadful? How would react to an opportunity o swim with sharks? Have you ever envisioned yourself swimming amongst sharks? If not then you can, or you should try it once. Guests visiting tropical day resort Discovery Cove in Orlando can now do just that – if they wish.

In celebration of Shark Awareness Day guests at Discovery Cove can now take part in exclusive new animal experiences at the park. Discovery Cove has always been known for its memorable dolphin interactions, and now guests can enhance their visit with one of-a-kind, hands-on encounters with sharks and stingrays. The awe-inspiring Shark Swim program provides closer-than-ever encounters with legendary predators. While guests have always been able to view park’s sharks, the new program takes them on a daring next step – swimming freely among five species: Pacific blacktip, reef whitetip, nurse shark, zebra shark, and a spotted wobbegong.

The immersive session is divided into two unique interactions and begins as guests meet with the park’s shark team and head into the water. Through hands-on interaction, guests learn about shark anatomy and the threats the animals face in the wild. Guests can also join the sharks in the deeper part of their habitat and embark on an exhilarating snorkel experience.

Discovery Cove works to dispel myths about sharks and to inspire guests to learn more about these mysterious creatures. As top predators, sharks play an essential role in maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems worldwide by monitoring fish populations. Sadly, shark finning and overfishing threaten many shark species and disrupt that natural balance. Guests who take part in the new Shark Swim program will walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for these fascinating ocean ambassadors.

The Shark Swim experience is available to Discovery Cove guests ages 10 and older. The cost is US$85 per person. For every shark swim package purchased, SeaWorld will donate 5% of the proceeds to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) in support of shark conservation and research.

In addition to the Shark Swim program, Discovery Cove has launched a new Ray Feeding experience. This exclusive opportunity gives guests the chance to feed the stingrays during a private tour of the Grand Reef. Guided by one of the park’s aquarists, guests ages 6 and older spend their session in the Grand Reef learning all about the species of rays as they hand-feed the incredible creatures. The Ray Feeding program is US$50 per person. The new interaction programs require a Dolphin Swim or Day Resort reservation at Discovery Cove to participate. Space for each program is limited and guests are encouraged to book in advance.

Discovery Cove® in Orlando is an all-inclusive day resort where guests can enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, and encounter playful otters and curious marmosets. At the park, guests can relax and explore rocky lagoons surrounded by lush landscaping, tropical reefs, winding rivers and white, sandy beaches. Freshly prepared meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day and swim gear are included, plus unlimited, 14-day admission to SeaWorld® Orlando and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark®. Guests will experience the most exciting animal encounters the world has to offer in a breathtaking tropical atmosphere.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

Want to see a video of tourists swimming with sharks? Watch it on my channel by clicking the thumbnail below-

Advertisements

Get up-close and personal with killer whales!

These are close encounters of different kind. Visitors to SeaWorld Orlando in US now have the opportunity to experience the park’s majestic killer whales in a brand-new way. The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour gives guests the opportunity to meet the park’s killer whales in ways never before offered at the park. The 45-minute tour includes learning from the park’s killer whale trainers, meeting the whales and understanding their unique personalities and even taking part in an interaction with one of the whales.

During the tour, which takes place daily, SeaWorld’s trainers share stories and information about the killer whales, demonstrate how the whales take part in voluntary husbandry sessions and discuss their healthcare, feeding habits and more. The engaging and interactive tour also gives participants the chance to try their hand at a session with the whales alongside a trainer. Throughout the entire experience, guests can take photos to help forever preserve the memory of the one-of-a-kind experience.

Also read: Seaworld returns two more Sea Turtles to the Ocean

The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour is the latest in the SeaWorld’s collection of memorable, educational and inspirational tours. Popular guest experiences, including the Dolphin Up-Close Tour and Penguin Up-Close Tour provide hands-on interactions with some of the park’s most popular animals while encouraging guests to care about all of the animals found in the oceans. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour, a guest favorite, provides an inside look at the park’s amazing animal rescue operation and ends with the opportunity to touch a shark and meet a Magellanic penguin. The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour begins at 10:00 a.m. and lasts approximately 45 minutes. Space is limited, and guests are encouraged to make reservations online in advance. Prices start at $79 per person.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

SeaWorld returns two more Sea turtles to the Ocean

Two loggerhead sea turtles are back home in the wild thanks to SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team. In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the turtles were returned to the ocean at Pineda Beach Park on Wednesday morning.

Rescued in December 2016, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle was transported to SeaWorld Orlando from Massachusetts, where the animal received initial treatment from the New England Aquarium. Upon intake, the turtle had a dangerously low body temperature and a large wound under its right flipper. As a part of the turtle’s wound care, SeaWorld utilized radiographs, antibiotics, and laser therapy to heal the injury.

The second turtle released, a sub-adult loggerhead, came to SeaWorld in March after it was found upside down in the surf at Port Canaveral. The animal was covered in barnacles, emaciated, and lethargic. At SeaWorld, the veterinary team discovered blockage in the turtle’s digestive track caused from seashells. Through fluid therapy, the team helped the animal pass the impaction and gain 28 healthy pounds.

With two more sea turtles back in the ocean, SeaWorld has now returned 14 total turtles this year. In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued nearly 2,000 sea turtles since 1980.

It is critical that beachgoers are mindful of the impact they leave on Florida coastlines as sea turtle nesting season is in full swing now through October. Debris and trash left on beaches can threaten the survival of sea turtles during this vulnerable time of year.

The successful rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles is another great example of SeaWorld’s commitment to protecting sea life. For more than 50 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. More than 30,000 animals have been rescued by the expert animal rescue team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

Want to see the video of the release? Please click to link below on my YouTube channel-

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

Celebrate the Holiday Season in the Sunshine State

This season, the state of Florida will shine extra bright with holiday spirit as millions of Christmas lights delicately cover the land and water, and the smell of delicious delicacies fill the air. As angels illuminate the bow of magnificently decorated boats and tiny lights decorate palm trees, locals and visitors alike will enjoy Florida’s unique and magical holiday season.

StAugustine-nights-of-lightsHistoric Holidays – While it may not snow in St. Augustine, the Nation’s oldest city turns into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. As the Annual Nights of Lights celebration takes over the city from November 21 to January 31, 2016, the historic district will be lit with more than 3 million white lights from the ground up to the rooftops. Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting display reflects the city’s 450-year history and illuminates the beautiful ancient city. Holiday music and the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree add to the splendour of one of the world’s greatest holiday light displays.

There are many ways to enjoy Nights of Lights, including on foot, by bicycle or pedicab, on the Old Town Holly Jolly Trolly, aboard Ripley’s Red Train or by horse and carriage. Local attractions also offer special Nights of Lights tours, in which visitors can appreciate the remarkable display from the water aboard the Schooner Freedom, the Osprey or with Ripple Effects Eco Tours, or by air with St. Augustine Bi-Plane Tours.

Historic Fernandina Beach-Centre Street, Books Plus Bookstore and Palace Saloon
Historic Fernandina Beach-Centre Street, Books Plus Bookstore and Palace Saloon

Santa & Sweets – Further north of St. Augustine, not quite to the North Pole, is another historic district belonging to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island where visitors will go back in time to old Victorian Christmas traditions. With Chestnuts roasting, carolers strolling and Saint Nick arriving, an enchanted Victorian experience awaits visitors on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach. Satisfy holiday cravings and catch the spirit of the season at the Annual Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast Holiday Cookie Tour on Saturday, December 12, 2015. During this delicious tour, guests will sample a signature cookie from each Inn, take home a beautifully printed recipe card and gather inspiring decorating ideas just in time for the Holidays. With so much to do and see, visitors can extend their Amelia Island Holiday experience with these great Holiday Stay Packages.

SeaWorld-Polar ExpressSplash, Skate, Celebrate – Spend the Holidays with your favorite sea creatures during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. Gather with the family to hear the classic Christmas story, as told through the eyes of animals, followed by a wondrous journey to the North Pole aboard The Polar Express to visit Santa Claus. Guests can sit back and relax as they watch Winter Wonderland on Ice, a show-stopping ice-skating extravaganza of skaters gliding across a stage of ice, jewels and light.

Guests can also take a leisurely stroll through The Christmas Village where artisans, festive entertainment and delicious culinary delights create a bustling market that lines Bayside Pathway. Guests can discover one-of-a-kind gifts, enjoy scrumptious holiday treats, encounter playful elves and holiday characters, sing-a-long with musicians, and marvel at a charming model train village.

Circus Nutcracker-SarasotaTraditions with a Twist – The Nutcracker ballet is already a worldwide Christmas tradition on its own; however, the Sarasota Ballet is adding a new twist to the famous performance in their Circus Nutcracker. Bringing the spirit of the holidays to Sarasota, Matthew Hart’s John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker will enchant audiences at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score by the Sarasota Orchestra, John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker entwines the history of John and Mable Ringling and Sarasota’s connection to the circus with Hoffman’s classical Nutcracker.

Boat parades-Palm beachWinter Waterland – What would a Florida holiday be without water and boat parades? This season, Florida’s waterways will be festively aglow with the holiday spirit as boats twinkle with dazzling Christmas lights and displays. Boat parades can be enjoyed across the entire state, from Naples to the Palm Beaches. Along Florida’s Paradise Coast, guests can enjoy a series of boat parades throughout December on Marco Island, Naples Bay and theVillage on Venetian Bay. Moving up the Gulf Coast and across the state, there will be boat parades in Venice, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Stuart and the Palm Beaches, among many other destinations.  With free admission, guests can view the parades from their favourite spots, whether it be a waterfront restaurant or hotel, a park, a bay walk or a cozy chair on the water’s edge.

Canal Cruise-FloridaPrefer to be on the water? Visitors in Punta Gorda can enjoy nightly Christmas Light Canal Cruises from December 4 – 31, 2015. A tradition for more than 30 years, these popular, family-oriented cruises tour the residential canals to view Christmas lights, displays and decorations on homes, boats, seawalls and docks. Guests can even experience the joy of a private Catamaran Christmas Canal Cruise aboard the 47’Smoke and Roses.

From historic districts and theme parks to boat parades and ballets, Florida’s festivities provide unforgettable Holiday experiences for every type of visitor.

(All images courtesy respective owners)

KING KONG ROARS TO LIFE AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

Skull Island Reign Of Kong Main Image_LRKing Kong will rule at Universal Orlando Resort next year in the groundbreaking attraction, “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.” The new attraction will open in the summer of 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – and will be an intense, all-new adventure brought to life in a dramatically themed environment.  Skull Island: Reign of Kong will pull guests into a powerfully told story where they become part of the next generation of the Kong legend.

It begins as guests are transported deep into a wild and mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin – but where they are soon fighting for their own survival. Their journey will take them through an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures, a foreboding underworld of caves concealing unspeakable terrors – and face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.

Skull Island Reign of Kong key art_LRUniversal Creative is working closely with Peter Jackson, famed director of 2005’s blockbuster movie, “King Kong,” to immerse guests in this incredible adventure.

“King Kong is a Hollywood movie legend and a huge part of both our history and our future,” said Mike West, Executive Producer, Universal Creative. “He gives us the opportunity to tap into everything that makes our film history so special and everything that makes our theme park attractions so spectacular.  We can’t wait to bring him to life in such an epic way.”

Skull Island Reign of Kong Entrance_LRKnown as “the eighth wonder of the world,” Kong has been called “the experience for which movies were invented.”  Since first appearing on screen in 1933, “King Kong” has been re-made twice – each time on a tremendous scale – earning seven Oscar and three Golden Globe nominations.

And now – in even grander and more realistic form – the Kong story continues to grow.  “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will open in the summer of 2016.

Universal Orlando’s fourth on-site hotel, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is now open! The retro-inspired hotel features incredible amenities for endless family fun including a 10,000 sq. ft. zero-entry pool with iconic dive tower waterslide, 10-lane bowling alley, the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio, family suites that sleep up to six and much more. This summer, guests will be able to enjoy even more family fun, including a second 8,000-square-foot zero entry pool, Universal Orlando’s first lazy river at an on-site hotel, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, and additional moderately-priced family suites and value-priced standard guest rooms. © Universal Orlando Resort. All Rights Reserved.
Universal Orlando’s fourth on-site hotel, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is now open! The retro-inspired hotel features incredible amenities for endless family fun including a 10,000 sq. ft. zero-entry pool with iconic dive tower waterslide, 10-lane bowling alley, the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio, family suites that sleep up to six and much more. This summer, guests will be able to enjoy even more family fun, including a second 8,000-square-foot zero entry pool, Universal Orlando’s first lazy river at an on-site hotel, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, and additional moderately-priced family suites and value-priced standard guest rooms. © Universal Orlando Resort. All Rights Reserved.

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two incredible theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure; four magnificently themed on-site hotels:  Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the newest addition, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort; and Universal CityWalk, the one place that is the intersection of dining and entertainment for every member of the family. And located just minutes from Universal Orlando Resort is Wet n’ Wild, Orlando’s premier waterpark.

Vacation like you mean it at Universal Orlando Resort – where every heart pounding, jaw-dropping, goose-bumping second counts.  It is the only place where you can turn spending time with your family into spending time as a family.  Together, you can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, become a Minion in the hilarious and heartwarming Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, and join Optimus Prime in the fight to save mankind on TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D.  And now, you can step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

ORLANDO becomes first destination to surpass 60 million visitors

More than 62 million people visited Orlando in 2014. It marks a new all-time record for the U.S. travel industry, solidifying Orlando’s position as the most visited destination in the US. Visitation grew five percent from 2013 as visitors from around the world came to experiencOrlando Eyee all that is new across the ever-expanding destination. A record 32 million room nights were sold in Orlando in 2014, resulting in bed tax collections topping $200 million for the first time in Orange County, Fla., home to the Central Florida tourism district.

“This historic milestone is the latest testament to Orlando’s leadership in tourism,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. “It’s a tribute to the steadfast commitment and continued investment by our tourism community, the special brand of service that greets our visitors and the global marketing and sales efforts of our Visit Orlando team and member companies.”

“The impact of tourism is remarkable, and in fact, the travel and tourism industry is the largest generator of jobs and economic impact for the region,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “In addition to delighting visitors and families from aroBob's Balloon Flights, in Orlandound the world, travel and hospitality industry helps to support a great quality of life for Orlando’s residents, including amazing new performing arts center and outstanding sports venues.”  To meet the needs of a growing number of visitors, Orange County has made investments in infrastructure, including investing in an important expansion and renovation of the nationally recognized Orange County Convention Center.

“Passing the 60 million annual visitors mark is a significant achievement for Orlando and the U.S. travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion for the U.S. economy each year,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Thanks to the close partnership among members of Orlando’s tourism community and strong leadership by public officials and Visit Orlando, this popular destination known around the world is well positioned to continue setting records in tourism.”

Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, FloridaIn 2014, Walt Disney World Resort completed New Fantasyland, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort opened. Visitors to Orlando in 2015 will experience the first full year of these exciting expansions that opened in 2014 and be the first to see several new attractions, including I-Drive 360, featuring a trio of new attractions from Merlin Entertainments, as well as a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs.

SeaWorlds CelebrationIn recent years, the Orlando experience has also become more diverse, attracting an increasingly wide range of visitors. Foodies find a surprisingly sophisticated culinary destination, recognized with more “Best of the South” chef nominations by the prestigious James Beard Foundation than any city in Florida for three straight years. Luxury travelers are drawn to the five-star service at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando that opened six months ago, as well as the Ritz-Carlton Orlando and Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Visitors are also discovering exciting new venues in which to enjoy the arts and professional sports, like the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts and the Major League Soccer stadium coming to Downtown Orlando in 2016.

New and exciting at Orlando, Florida

Attractions

Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, FloridaThe I-Drive Four Pass is a new offer allowing guests to visit four of Orlando’s most popular I-Drive attractions for one price. The pass includes entrance to CSI: The Experience; Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition; Ripley’s Orlando Odditorium and WonderWorks. An adult ticket costs $74.99 (plus tax).

Walt Disney World Resort will expand two of its most popular attractions, Soarin’ in Epcot and Toy Story Mania! in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, to better accommodate guests. The expansion includes another theater at Soarin’ and more midway tracks at Toy Story Mania!. These expansions are expected to be complete by late 2016.

Shopping

Orlando-ShoppingThe Florida Mall is adding two new stores to the available retail options. Desigual, a Barcelona based clothing retailer, will open in the spring. The 2,372-square-foot (220.4-square-meter) boutique will be located near Victoria’s Secret. Additionally, accessory brand Vera Bradley will open a boutique this summer offering handbags, travel collections, jewellery and various gifts.

Dining

The Golden Knife Chop House is now open on East Pine Street in Downtown Orlando. The restaurant features American Steakhouse classics paired with the city’s finest ingredients. Apart from high-quality steaks, the restaurant offers a variety of seafood and vegetarian options.

Events & Festivals

Photo: Busch Gardens
Photo: Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa will celebrate the fifth birthday of Sesame Street March 27 – 29. The festivities will include a sidewalk parade featuring a kid-friendly DJ, character meet-and-greets and a cake-cutting. Guests can also enjoy the Sesame Street hit show A is for Africa, along with Big Bird’s 123-Smile with Me portrait studio. Event is included with park admission.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Art will celebrate the beginning of spring with a three-day open house held in conjunction with the annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. For five consecutive Friday evenings March 27 – Apr. 24, visitors can enjoy free admission from 4 – 8 p.m. with live music, in addition to tours of the Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall exhibit.

Transportation

OrlandoOrlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) and Allegiant Air announced scheduled, nonstop, low-fare service from Memphis, Tenn., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. to Orlando. All three services will initially operate two days per week beginning in May and June.

Orlando International Airport (MCO) and LAN Peru will begin offering nonstop flights to Orlando from Lima, Peru starting in June. The airline expects to transport more than 80,000 passengers each year from South America to Orlando via Lima.