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Happy Earth Day! Are You Doing Your Part?

The creation of Earth Day, which started in 1970, is widely considered to be the beginning of the modern environmental movement. The goal was, and still is to increase awareness regarding our environment. It is a great way to urge people into action to do everything they can to help save our planet.  There are several local events taking place in Central Florida. The beautiful Lake Eola in downtown Orlando often serves as a venue for groups to hold awareness events. They commonly include a variety of vendors, as well as guest speakers and live music.

Earth Day at Our Local Theme Parks & Attractions

Our local theme parks are also very involved in Earth Day. Walt Disney World regularly supports volunteer efforts. Their “voluntEARS” are often found around the community gathering trash and debris from our lakes and neighborhoods. Disney fans also have several ways to celebrate Earth Day during the park-wide celebration called “Party for the Planet.” Learn what you can do to make your back yard wildlife-friendly and discover other ways to conserve wildlife and help our environment.  Special entertainment is usually included in this Earth Day event.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay hosts an annual Earth Day event. Learn about animals, nature, and how you can make an impact on the world around you. Meet the keepers and learn about gorillas, cheetahs, lions and orangutans while they enjoy Earth Day-themed treats. Plus, learn about some of Busch Gardens’ special projects like composting and recycling, the Rising Tide Conservation project and the Tampa Bay Watch Oyster Restoration project.

 

Another place in Orlando to for Earth Day events is at the Orlando Science Center. Earth Day vendors provide themed exhibits and information about topics like beach cleanup, recycling, water conservation, shark and bat conservation, invasive species, the environment and more! Enjoy live animal interactions and feedings in NatureWorks and get crafty with some up-cycling activities! Orlando Science Center’s Earth Day Party for the Planet is included with general admission.

Earth Day

Easy Ways for You to Help the Environment

The wise guys would like for you to consider how you can do your part in helping conserve and protect our planet. Here are 5 easy areas to help the environment in your part of the world.

  • Water Use: Opt for reusable water bottles; repair a leaky faucet; take shorter showers with a low flow shower head; cover your pool when it’s not in use.
  • Fuel Consumption: Leave your car at home. Walk or ride your bike to work, school and anywhere you can. You’ll be healthier for it!
  • Recycle. Take advantage of any recycling program your area offers. If it doesn’t offer one, look at ways you can do your own recycling (it can be a great money-maker for kids).
  • Compost. Spend less on mulch and use your own yard’s waste. Also, do not bag your grass clippings. Your yard will love having the nutrients put back into it!
  • Electricity: Turn off lights and other electrical devices when you don’t need them. The savings will benefit your pocketbook!

Disney World’s Holiday Events

Disney World’s holiday events start earlier than most other Orlando theme parks and attractions. During this time of the year, it truly is magical. Be sure to get a multi-park pass and plan on spending time in each park. Each has something special to offer.

After spending a day at the theme parks, be sure to save a night for Capone’s Dinner & Show. It is the best dinner show value you will experience in Orlando!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

© Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

Let the holidays begin! Last week marked the beginning of Walt Disney World’s holiday events schedule. The Orlando theme park is decorated down to the smallest of detail and the festivities are already in motion. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party began November 7th and continues  on select nights through December 22. Select from several special nights in which an additional park ticket offers delightful joys of the season. Families can sip cocoa, catch a “snowflake,” enjoy a holiday parade, fireworks and live entertainment. Tickets purchased online for this special event start at $91.00 for adults and $86.00 for ages 3 to 9. If you want to visit the theme parks during the day, you’ll need an additional ticket.

This after-hours party offers meet-and-greet opportunities throughout the park with favorite Disney characters. Enjoy complimentary cookies, festive treats and hot cocoa. An exclusive holiday fireworks show and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, with a special appearance by Santa Claus takes place. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be held on Nov. 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29, Dec. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22, 2016, from 7 p.m. until midnight.

Hollywood Studios

This year returning guests to Hollywood Studios will miss the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. However, if you love “Frozen,” you’ll be delighted to participate in the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. It is hilarious, yet heartwarming retelling of Anna an Elsa’s amazing Frozen adventure. Your standard admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park includes this show.

Epcot's Candlelight Processional

Epcot’s Candlelight Processional (©Walt Disney World)

Epcot

Also in November, the Holidays Around the World Candlelight Processional begins November 25 – December 30 in Epcot. The event retells the story of Christmas with a celebrity narrator, 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir. This unforgettable spectacle is held 3 times a day (evening) during the holiday season at 5pm, 6:45pm & 8:15pm. To ensure you have a seat, purchase a Candlelight Dinner Package which includes a lunch or dinner, and most importantly, a guaranteed seating section for the Candlelight Processional and fireworks.  This will most definitely get you in the spirit!

Guest Narrators for 2016 include:

  • Steven Curtis Chapman – November 25 to 27, 2016
  • Neil Patrick Harris – November 28 to December 1, 2016
  • Whoopi Goldberg – December 2 to 3, 2016
  • Edward James Olmos – December 4 to 6, 2016
  • Anthony Mackie – December 7 to 9, 2016
  • Robby Benson – December 10 to 12, 2016
  • Meredith Vieira – December 13 to 15, 2016
  • Jim Caviezel – December 16 to 18, 2016
  • Joe Morton – December 19 to 21, 2016
  • Ming-Na Wen – December 22 to 24, 2016
  • Jodi Benson – December 25 to 27, 2016
  • Cal Ripken, Jr. – December 28 to 30, 2016

Animal Kingdom

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park you can meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost. This is one of the best opportunities for a perfect Christmas card photo. Of course, Mickey and Minnie are dressed in their holiday best!

Disney Springs

With many new stores open at Disney Springs, visitors to this free Disney experience will get a first peek at many popular gifts offered this year. The holiday décor is sure to be spectacular too. Bring the little ones to see Santa at the Marketplace.


Disney World’s Holiday Events

It’s a great time of the year to visit Disney. Watch Cinderella’s Castle transform into a glistening ice palace for the holidays. It is sure to be a memorable holiday. Let the celebration begin!

KidsTown at Orlando Science Center Expanded

The Orlando Science Center (OSC) has expanded KidsTown, a popular attraction for kids of all ages. It is now three times bigger at 11,000 square feet, offers new activities and appeals to a wider age group. With the grand opening happening just this past weekend (Oct. 22-23, 2016), your kids will want to revisit KidsTown again.

Now Open! KidsTown at OSC

KidsTown has moved to the second floor making easier access from the parking garage. Walk over the pedestrian walkway and the new attraction will be on your left. The entrance is also the only exit, making it safer for parents to monitor active children. The entire area is roomier and visually appealing. You can move through various sections spending as much or as little time in each experience.

If your child has a favorite activity at OSC, don’t despair. Nature Works, All Aboard, Science Park, Engineer It, DinoDigs and Our Planet and other popular attractions are still present. The 7 new hands-on zones include:

  • Orange Grove presented by Dr. Phillips Charities
  • Isaacs Family Climb Time
  • Harriett’s Kidstown Theatre
  • Kidstown Studio presented by Florida Hospital for Children
  • Toddler Town presented by Community Based Care of Central Florida
  • Drip Drop Splash presented by James M. Cox Foundation
  • Explore It presented by Publix Super Markets Charities

Activities at KidsTown

The first activity you’ll be able to experience at KidsTown is called Orange Grove. This popular activity as been a favorite for years. Now, however, you not only get to “pick” the “oranges,” you also get to see how they move from the factory to the market. This part of KidsTown is a great tribute to Dr. Phillips’ first orange factory in Orlando, which still stands on the corner of Princeton Street and Orange Avenue.

Family ClimbTime is another great activity. Who doesn’t love to climb? This multilevel course has something for every ability focusing on kids between the ages of 4 and 7. There are rope bridges, slides, stairs and other obstacles. Older kids and parents may need to duck while climbing but will find the activity a lot of fun.

Other Fun Things to Do

Down the “shadow” hallway (15 colorful lights throw shadows on the opposite wall) is a large room divided into four distinct activities. First is Drip Drop Splash. This area includes a water table where your child can rearrange obstacles changing the path of the water’s flow. Make it rain with a simple turn of a wheel. While this isn’t necessarily a splash zone, do expect a lot of dampness.

Secondly, this area includes Harriett’s KidsTown Theatre and KidsTown studio. Hear stories and see performances in this area. Arts and crafts and other activities will take place in this section as well. If your child loves to play dress-up, check out the costume shelf. This is a great way for your child to express themselves and pretend.

If you have younger children (infants to 2 years), ToddlerTown will be a great treat. Let your little one crawl, push, pull, lift and experiment. The peek-a-boo activity is great fun and will definitely entertain your little one.

Explore It

KidsTown Explore It at OSCWithin the Explore It area, children can put science to work. An 18-foot-tall structure with wind pipes dominates this area. Colorful scarves are sent through see-through vacuum pipes. Once they exit, they gently glide down to the floor. Kids of all ages love to watch and participate.

An oversized Lite Brite is also featured in the Explore It area. Light up the room with the kaleidoscope-projection board with lights that you twist on and off as well as change colors. It will light up any child’s face!

Orlando Science Center Information

OSC is located at 777 E. Princeton, Orlando, FL 32803 and is open daily (except Wednesdays) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Membership allows entry at 9:00 a.m. The cost is $19.95 for adults and $13.95 for kids 3-11. While KidsTown is re-experienced for the next several weeks, “timed tickets” will be issued to keep the area from being over-crowded. You can reserve your time at the admissions desk, or if a member, in advance online. Call 407-514-2000 or go to osc.org for more information.

Kissimmee Ghost Tour: Year-round Attraction

A ghost tour featured in a major theme park during Halloween may vanish like, well, a ghost. However, in Kissimmee a year-round attraction may be even scarier.  Haunted Kissimmee offers a ghost tour of the unexplained spirit world.  This night-time walking tour boasts that there is enough REAL paranormal activity here, there is no need for special effects or props. Your informative guide will explain to you all about Orbs, and you are very likely to come back from this tour with actual Orbs in your photos.

ghost tour photoThe guides will take you on a 90-minute walking ghost tour to visit some very historical, very haunted places. Places such as The Kissimmee Library, Susan’s Courtyard Café, the Orange County Regional History Center, the train station, the playground and more!

The Kissimmee Library is thought to be one of the most active sites in downtown for the paranormal. Faucets turn on and off by themselves, and books fly off shelves. As it turns out, the building was a sawmill. Three women were murdered there in the early 1900’s.  A great place to eat is Susan’s Courtyard Café. It is a lunchtime favorite of many locals. However, you may notice a woman staring out one of the café windows. This is thought to be a ghost of a woman murdered there by her husband.  The local playground is believed to be haunted by young Isabella, a 7-year old girl who used to love to play on the swings.  Many people have reported seeing the swings swinging when there is no wind at all.

Well, I don’t want to ruin it for you by telling you ALL of the haunts. You need to check this out for yourself.  If you’re not a believer now, this tour may change your mind. At the very least, it will be intriguing.

Be sure to bring a camera with extra memory and batteries. Take several photos right in a row. When you look at them later, you may see an Orb in one, but not the other one. Also, take photos with people in them. Supposedly spirits need our energy to appear.

Times and days of the ghost tour vary upon the season. Be sure to make a required reservation. Their office hours are 6:30-8pm at 321-251-5204, or you can go to their website to reserve your spot. Parties of 6 adults or more reserve a private tour most nights!

Details About the Ghost Tour

Cost:
Adults $19, Children 8 to 12 years old, $9
7 and under free
An adult MUST accompany children 17 and younger

  • Wheelchair & scooter friendly
  • Special tours available, which include hearse tours and rentals, private tours, midnight tours, group tours.
  • Please Note:  They reserve the right to cancel a tour due to weather, lack of participation or special events in the downtown area.

Remember, this Kissimmee attraction is only 10 minutes from Capone’s Dinner and Show, so on certain dates, you may be able to catch Capone’s matinee or early show and then go to the Kissimmee Ghost Tour afterwards.  Check Capone’s website for show times.  Both attractions will give you something to remember!

Spotlight: Fun Spot America – Great Entertainment

Fun Spot America has offered great a entertainment value in Orlando since 1997 when the first of two locations opened. The International Drive location go-kart tracks became a famous attraction for local residents and tourists alike. A second location on Highway 192 in Kissimmee opened in 2007 with other rides, such as the SkyCoaster. Both locations offer plenty of arcade games, thrill rides and family fun.

The famFun Spot Americaily-owned and operated amusement parks have used the tag line, “It’s HUGE!” for years. Now more than ever, that statement rings true. Their International Drive location has recently expanded from 5 acres to 15 acres with even more room for growth. This expansion includes a food court, new flat rides, a new go-kart track and two new roller coasters.

Fun Spot America Highlights

Fun Spot America has bragging rights in a couple areas. For one, the Kissimmee location SkyCoaster ride is the tallest in the world at 300 feet. The Orlando location’s SkyCoaster is second at 230 feet. This thrill ride provides a great view of the attraction area, as you are lifted high up into the air. Hang on! You’ll be swinging and swaying as you drop down to your original location.

Secondly, the White Lightning roller coaster is Orlando’s only wooden coaster. It is a steep, twisting ride with drops and plenty of airtime. Located at the International Drive location, it is paired with another coaster called Freedom Flyer, a suspended steel roller coaster with inverted rolls. Kissimmee’s location has plenty of thrill rides too. Included in their lineup is the Rockstar Coaster that contains sharp tight corners producing plenty of G-forces. One ride found at Kissimmee and not Orlando is the fun Bull Ride. Perfect for the cowboy-wanna-be in your group.

Fun Spot America Roller Coaster

Attraction Ticket Deals

In addition to a wide variety of rides and arcade games, Fun Spot America offers a unique ticket deal. It offers free admission! Buy a single day pass which includes most of the go-kart tracks and rides ($40.95), then pay as you want for additional arcade games and the SkyCoaster ride. ($40 for a single rider, $35 each for double riders and $30 each for triple riders.) If you are unsure or have a limited amount of time, you can simply pay as you ride. Another unique ticket deal is their Chauffeur pass. This is perfect for a little one that needs to ride with an adult on certain rides. The cost is only $9.95 for an adult to ride along. The rest of the time, sit back and watch with free wi-fi. What’s not to like?!

In celebration of the recent grand re-opening a special ticket deal is being offered. For only $74.50 per person, you can attend either park for the rest of this year with no black out dates! While this deal does not include the SkyCoaster ride or Bull Ride, it does include Gator Spot and all other thrill rides at both parks. Hurry! This deal expires September 5th.

Other Offers

Fun Spot America offers ticket deals a few times a year. They often offer a great birthday deal in June. Speaking of birthdays, they offer a free single day pass on your birthday. If you want to have your birthday party at Fun Spot, they offer special packages for groups (rides/food/party space). They can also host group and corporate events.

Compare Fun Spot Locations

The two locations have many similarities. Both parks are usually open from 10:00 a.m. to midnight. This makes it a fun thing to do after the major theme parks have closed. It also provides a great half-day attraction if you are looking to fill your schedule. Here are the two location’s particulars:

International Drive Fun Spot America

  • White Lightning- Orlando’s Only Wooden Roller Coaster
  • 4 Go-Kart Tracks: 3 multi-level, 1 speed track
  • 7 Family/Thrill Rides including Paratrooper, Rip Curl and Revolver
  • World’s Second Tallest SkyCoaster at 250 Feet
  • Cadet Go-Kart Track designed for 4, 5 and 6-year-olds
  • 8 Kid Spot Rides for Preschoolers
  • Over 100 Arcade Games 2 stories of indoor fun

Kissimmee, Highway 192 Fun Spot USA

  • World’s Tallest SkyCoaster
  • Bull Ride
  • 4 Go-Kart Tracks: 2 multi-level, 2 speed tracks
  • 10 Family/Thrill Rides including Rockstar Coaster and Screamin’ Eagles
  • 8 Kid Spot Rides for younger ages
  • Over 60 Arcade Games – indoor fun

For half the cost of the big theme parks, Fun Spot America is a great bargain. It is a lot of fun and will remind you of what attractions used to be decades ago.

Another attraction at half price is Orlando’s best dinner show deal at Capone’s Dinner & Show. Tickets are 50% off when purchased online. It is another unique attraction that is fun for the entire family. Either attraction will “hit the spot” for fun at a bargain price.