Archive | Orlando: Other Side

Miscellaneous information covering sports, transportation and more.

Bike Week in Central Florida Revving Up

Bike Week in Central Florida is revving up! Many tourists may not have realized they planned their vacation at the same time as Bike Week. Years ago they probably wouldn’t have even noticed, but as the event has grown and the activity area has spread throughout Central Florida, it’s hard NOT to notice. Even though the cold weather and tough economy have kept the numbers of bikers lower than in past years, there are still motorcycles everywhere.

Bike Week in Central Florida

If you are attending theme parks, your vacation will most likely be “business as usual.” Bikers primarily attend events created for them elsewhere. While the Daytona area attracts most of the crowd, DeLand, Orlando and other areas are luring the bikers away with great events. This also allows bikers to get in some great seat time (longer rides).

Events are not for bikers only, so feel free to drive your “cage” to any event. I recommend riding the loop, the roads to & from Mt. Dora and around Lake County. Places to check out are Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Old School Chopper Show, the many events and concerts at Destination Daytona, the concerts and events at Orlando HD, or the legendary David Allen Coe at the Ironhorse Saloon. If you want to see something a little on the wild side, there is coleslaw wrestling at the Cabbage Patch. Roads nearer to the events tend to become highly congested, so plan accordingly and PLEASE drive with safety in mind.

Safe Driving during Bike Week in Central Florida, Please!

Once Bike Week in Central Florida is throttled down, a transformation from bikers to spring breakers begins. Hotels will empty out, then fill back up, but one thing is for sure – the roads will be very busy. When learning to drive, I taught my kids to LOOK for the motorcycle. You’ll see the car. You’ll see the truck. You’ll see ALL of the other vehicles on the road, as long as you are LOOKING for the motorcycles (and bicycles).

Yes, I know a lot of motorcycle riders drive recklessly – so do cars! Please give bikers the same respect that you give any other vehicle. Don’t follow too closely, don’t cut them off, don’t stop suddenly in front of them, etc. This applies to the vehicles towing the bike trailers as well. The roads will be filled for the next two weeks with both, riders and trailers.

As always, Capone’s Dinner & Show welcomes bikers and all groups that want to have a great evening out at an Orlando dinner show. Whether you ride 2-up or come with a big ol’ biker gang, the wise guys and beautiful dancing girls will entertain and show you a great time. In fact, some motorcycle clubs make Capone’s Dinner & Show an annual event. Meet up as a group and ride on in. Parking is free for everyone. You only need 15 adults to get a group rate. Ride safe and enjoy Bike Week and all that is offered here in Central Florida!

Bikers Welcomed in Central Florida

For many businesses, Bike Week in Central Florida is welcomed with extra staff on hand, extended hours and additional inventory. Tourists are a huge part of our economy and bikers tend to spend a lot of money. Please be safe. Allow ALL of our tourists a return visit to these yearly events. Look twice, save a life!

Biketoberfest in Central Florida – Fun on 2 Wheels

If you are visiting Florida October 13th thru 16th, you will be in town for the 24th annual Biketoberfest motorcycle rally. What does this mean? A surge of motorcycles is expected in the Central Florida area, although not at the theme parks. Bikers generally stick to the biker-themed events going on.  That’s why they’re here!

Organizers of the 24th Annual Biketoberfest® motorcycle rally, Oct. 13 to 16, report that the countywide event is proceeding. Clean-up from Hurricane Matthew is in full swing and hotels, restaurants and event venues are working around the clock to get ready. Venues, such as Riverfront Park in downtown Daytona Beach and Main Street, are reporting vendor set-up is underway. The status of individual properties is changing rapidly as power is restored throughout the area. Visitors with lodging reservations in the area are urged to contact their hotel directly by email and phone to confirm their reservation status.

What is Biketoberfest?

This motorcycle rally is an extended weekend of fun and sun. Due to the fact that Biketoberfest centers around motorcycles, there are plenty of motorcycle shows, live music and scenic rides. There are also demo rides at Daytona International Speedway and vendors offering everything from the latest models to parts and accessories. Biketoberfest is a people-watching event. You never know what you will see.  There are some very unique motorcycles, and just as many unique people.

Daytona Beach is the main location for Biketoberfest, however, there are many other motorcycle-related celebrations going on all around Central Florida.  Enjoy FREE concerts and custom motorcycle shows, as well as other biker-related events including games and contests.  Many of these events are NOT designed for children to attend. Most responsible parents do not have a desire to take their child to a wet T-shirt contest, best buns contest, or pudding wrestling!

If you are interested in attending Biketoberfest, there are several places you can rent a motorcycle.  Two popular vendors are EagleRider rentals and most Harley-Davidson dealerships.  If you don’t ride a motorcycle, that’s okay. You are welcome to come in a car (a.k.a. cages), although the parking may be difficult. Some events offer bike-only parking and most charge for parking whether you are on a bike or not.

Events You Don’t Want to Miss

There are many events during Biketoberfest. It is impossible to attend them all. Here are a few that you do not want to miss.

First of all, Main Street Daytona offers a great variety of bars, vendors, food, and live music.  Visit the famous Boot Hill Saloon, The Bank & Blues Club, Dirty Harry’s, The Full Moon Saloon and more!  They all have events going on throughout this 4-day party.

Biketoberfest at Iron HorseNorth Daytona events include Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona where they will have plenty of live music and vendors on hand. The Iron Horse Saloon in Ormond Beach features the famous David Allen Coe in concert, along with many other bands. This is a great location to witness a good ol’ burn-out in their famous burn-out pit.  Willie’s Tropical Tattoo (also in Ormond Beach) will host their annual old-school bike show on Oct. 13 from noon to 4pm. While you’re there, you just might get some new ink!

Additionally, places outside of Daytona to visit during Biketoberfest include Hogtoberfest at Orlando Harley-Davidson. Here you can enjoy free concerts, vendors and the daring Wall of DeathSopotnick’s Cabbage Patch Bar in Samsula will have lots of vendors and Coleslaw Wrestling.  Another must see is the famous Rat’s Hole custom bike show. It takes place on October 15th in Alachua – a nice excuse to get out and ride.

As you can read, there is a lot to see and do. Biketoberfest offers many great places to ride motorcycles in Central Florida, and usually great weather.  Please see individual sites for schedule of events, and remember most all events are not suitable for children.

Finally, PLEASE watch out for motorcycles, whether you are on 2 wheels or more.  Look twice, save a life!

Back to School Time in Central Florida Counties

It’s back to school time in Seminole, Lake and Osceola Counties beginning August 10. The next week, schools in Volusia County will start back on August 15. Following that, school will begin the week of August 24 in Orange County. It’s back to school time everybody!

Tourists that remain in the area will need to be aware of the hundreds of school buses on our roads – many are near the tourist attractions. This added traffic can create longer than normal travel times, so plan accordingly. Be especially aware of bus stops and SLOW down and STOP for children crossing the street and getting to school.

Back to School Bash

Area students and teachers may want to attend the Back to School Bash this Saturday, August 6 from 10am to 1pm at Camping World Stadium (Citrus Bowl). Hope Now International organizes this event which hosts the largest health fair in the State of Florida. Over 25,000 people are expected to attend. Why? Primarily for the freebies!

Back to School bash

Included in the FREE event are give-aways including:

  • back packs
  • health screenings
  • vision screenings
  • school supplies
  • haircuts

All services, back packs and school supplies are offered on a first come first served basis. Everything is free, because it is all donated. Everyone working at this event is a volunteer. Hope Now International asks that you return one good deed with another and perform an act of kindness. This way the cycle of compassion and goodwill continue indefinitely.

Help Our Schools

If you are wondering how you can help out our schools and teachers this year, donate your time and/or money to this VERY worthwhile event. To learn more about being a part of this event, visit Hope Now International @ www.hopenowinternational.org.

Help out or take advantage of this great opportunity for our school children. Have a great school year and learn a lot!

Buyer Beware of AmericanExpressTravel.com and Orbitz.com

I almost always book travel online through different sources. I have never encountered a problem until I decided to use some of my American Express points to book two reservations for the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. It was a total disaster!

The day of my first booking I attempted to check in, and I was told that there wasn’t a reservation booked for me. I called AmericanExpressTravel.com and the desk clerk contacted the hotel reservations department. After I had spent more than a half hour trying to get the situation fixed, I asked the representative of AmericanExpressTravel.com powered by Orbitz.com if I could check in, personally pay for my room and deal with resolving the issue when I got home. He answered yes.

When I attempted to resolve it, I was told the reservation was nonrefundable. I attempted to reason with them explaining the situation. Bottom line was they would not correct the situation. Exasperated I said there was no reservation, there will be no billing from The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and you’re not willing to reimburse me?

american-express-travel.com

My next move was to contact American Express Rewards trying to get my miles reinstated. Agreeing with me, the representative credited me back the points. You might think that would be the end of the story, but no, AmericanExpressTravel.com billed my American Express card for the reservation that I was not able to use for $368.81!

I again tried to resolve it with AmericanExpressTravel.com and got the same answer as the first time – it was nonrefundable. My next move was to start a dispute with American Express. To my total surprise I was checking on the dispute online, and I could find anything about it. So I started a conversation with an online representative who informed me that the dispute had been closed. I had not received, and have yet to receive, anything in writing or by phone that I had opened or lost the dispute. The online representative reopened the dispute. I received a letter about that dispute being open.

Later I got another letter saying they had reinstated the charge to my account. In one paragraph they acknowledged the reason for my dispute, and in another paragraph they stated that AmericanExpressTravel.com stated the reservation was nonrefundable. They attached documents with the terms of service and a response saying that the reservation was there for me to use. Totally untrue – why would I pay on my own if there was a prepaid reservation I could have used? The whole point of using points is to not spend the cash.

I called American Express again, and I finally spoke to a supervisor named Jerry in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida who attempted to resolve the situation by getting me to call AmericanExpressTravel.com yet again. I saw no point to this and asked to speak to a higher ranking supervisor. I held for a while and was eventually disconnected. Jerry did call me back and left me a message saying someone would contact me within 24 hours. When this did not happen I called American Express again, and I was told the record said someone was supposed to call me within 48 hours. Surprise… I never heard from anyone.

I give up. I will pay the charge. On very few occasions as a card member for 26 years have I disputed charges, but when I did prior to this dispute, I had always won. In my opinion if the situation was with a company not affiliated with American Express I would have won the dispute.

If you will recall I said I had booked two reservations for The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. When I had the first problem I asked the front desk clerk to confirm my other reservation, which she did. I arrived at the hotel for my second reservation and attempted to check in, but the desk clerk informed me Orbitz had cancelled my reservation. I then inquired if they had any rooms available and the answer was no.

I got on the phone with AmericanExpressTravel.com attempting to resolve the situation. After approximately half an hour I decided to head back home. I was on the phone with a representative of AmericanExpressTravel.com for the hour and a half it took me to drive home. Shortly after I arrived home the representative from AmericanExpressTravel.com informed me the situation was corrected and they had a room for me. In this case when I told the representative I was home and was not willing to drive back, she did reimburse me for that reservation.

Needless to say I will never book a trip with AmericanExpressTravel.com or Orbitz.com. I have been an American Express card holder since 1989. My company Capone’s Dinner & Show has a corporate account, and I have accepted American Express as a business owner for over thirty years. I have already stopped accepting American Express as a payment option, cashed in nearly 900,000 miles on restaurant gift cards, will be closing my personal American Express and corporate account. I will be moving my business to my two thankyou PREFERRED Citi Cards.

After the problems I decided to compare American Express Rewards to Citi Cards Rewards, and I found out that on travel, my points went further with Citi and there is no annual fee. In the end, my issues with American Express opened my eyes and will eliminate the annual fees they charge. I also will benefit from my points going further with Citi Cards.

I urge you to check out your credit card reward programs and choose the one best suited to what you want to spend your rewards on. Also if you can avoid paying an annual fee, just do it!

Fun Things to do in Orlando: Visiting Museums

Aside from theme parks like Walt Disney World – a huge theme park for families where you can do various things like Orlando shopping, dining and more, in particular, Orlando, Florida is known for its museums and nature parks. You should add up visiting these places in your list of fun things to do in Orlando. If you want to go to Orlando, Florida not just for Walt Disney World but for the culture, art and history it offers, then you should visit the museums.

One of the good museums to visit in Orlando, Florida is the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Not only does this garden and museum in one offer sculptures that are rare and beautiful, it is also a place to relax because of its various flora and fauna that are often found in lush gardens. If you are tired of doing some shopping for half the day, this is one place you can go to in order to relax and bask in the sun and the peaceful shores that Lake Osceola is known to have. One of the fun things to do in Orlando is to relax while viewing the romantic, peaceful shores that Lake Osceola has by way of Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens.

Polasek Museum in Orlando

Photo by Randy Smith

Works of local artists can be found in the City of Orlando Public Arts (located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of City Hall). If pop or contemporary art is what you are into and you find that looking at such paintings is one of many fun things to do in Orlando, this is the place to be. You may even be able to go shopping for some one-of-a-kind pieces of local artists’ work here and support the charities they support. This is a place where known local artists use it as a venue to fund the charities. If you shop here, you are likely to be helping locals in Orlando, Florida who may be living below the daily regular wage and perhaps even disabled kids and more.

Banana Blossom in Orlando GardenAside from the romantic view one can get of Lake Rowena, Harry P. Leu Gardens is another exquisite garden to enjoy the flora and fauna. It’s relaxing to take a stroll in its gardens and random pats lined by old oak trees and perhaps a lunch out with your family or your traveling companion.  Harry P. Leu Gardens also has a museum, the Leu House Museum where one can find various historical artifacts with the restored home that has been around since the nineteenth-century. You can go on guided tours in this museum and the old restored house that first started as a farmhouse typical of Florida. Once you are finished shopping in a nearby mall, you can come by this place to relax and marvel at the beauty of nature. It is, after all, one of many fun things to do in Orlando as well.

If you fancy things pertaining to the holocaust, there is the Holocaust Memorial Center Museum that you can visit while in Orlando, Florida. You should visit this place as one of the fun things to do in Orlando if you want to know more about the Holocaust. It has a 6,000 volume library and is also known for holding traveling exhibits around the country from time to time. This place is pleasant as it assures families that there are no disturbing, graphic images there. Kids would learn a few things here about the holocaust which happened a long time ago and devastated a large part of the western world.

There are other museums to visit around Orlando and these are some of the best you can find. Orlando isn’t simply all about theme parks and the gratuitous Orlando shopping experience you may enjoy there. You can also add studying and appreciating its arts, culture and history in the list of fun things to do in Orlando.