Tag Archives | Fun things to do for free

Fun Things to do in Orlando This Weekend

Shopping in Orlando this weekend? There are only 3 weekends left before Christmas, and the malls will be packed. It is nice to do something fun in between trips to the outlet malls and shopping centers. Most local residents avoid the theme parks on the weekends. We tend to let the tourists take over during these days. If you are looking for activities the entire family can enjoy, yet don’t take up an entire day, we have some suggestions. Following are just a few of the local, non-theme park, holiday special activities you can check out this weekend.

Celebration Florida HolidaysThe town of Celebration has it’s annual “Now Snowing” event. Nightly Snow Falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 PM. Photos with Santa, strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriages, a train, an ice rink and more! The 15th Annual Now Snowing event will run through January 3, 2014. Other special events are planned each weekend. For more information visit celebrationtowncenter.com.

Ice! at Gaylord Palms ResortGaylord Palms’ has its massive ICE! display, with two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures.  Check out our previous post for more information about this family-fun event. It is definitely a fun thing to do.

Lighted Boat ParadeIf you are in Astor, Florida (Lake County) on Saturday 12/7/13, enjoy a morning parade or at dusk, the annual lighted parade of boats! The St. Johns River provides a beautiful scene with floating lights on boats of all types. For more information call 407-290-9244.

Light Up UCFIn east Orlando, Light Up UCF continues nightly through January 5, 2014. Your family can enjoy a winter wonderland complete with snow, ice skating, rides and other holiday attractions. Tickets range from $4.25 to $27.55, however, many activities are free, including the Holiday Light Show and the Holiday Film Festival presented by SeaWorld. Go to www.lightupucf.com for more information.

Winter in the ParkWinter Park offers great shopping opportunities, so why not take the kids and let them ice skate while you do your shopping?! The City of Winter Park has bundled up once again with their annual holiday ice skating rink located in Central Park West Meadow (corner of New York Avenue and Morse Boulevard). Cost is $10 per skater (skate rental included). Group discounts are available. For more information, call 407-599-3203 or visit cityofwinterpark.org/witp.

Singing TreesOn Sunday, visit the 40-foot-tall Singing Christmas Trees at First Baptist Orlando, 3000 S. John Young Parkway, Orlando. Tickets are $5-$18 for the 5 p.m. performance where you can enjoy a huge choir, full orchestra, worshipful dance, powerful drama and a beautiful display of 250,000 lights. A dinner and show package is also available for certain performances. Other event dates are Dec. 13, 14, 15. For more information call 888-461-9824 or to purchase tickets visit singingtrees.org.

Once all of the shopping is complete for the day, reserve tickets for an Orlando dinner show. As posted earlier this week, Arabian Nights Holiday Show, “Amirah’s Wish,” is being performed through December 31. As expected, trying to get a reservation might be tough, as many locals will try to see the show one last time before they close their doors permanently. Expect long “hold” times when ordering your tickets.Capone's Santa LogoIf you can’t get in to see the horses and still want to catch a dinner show, make reservations to see Capone’s Holiday Show online at half price. Celebrate the holidays 1920s Chicago style any night of the week through January 1st. The entire family will enjoy this fun thing to do in Orlando, and you won’t believe how affordable it is!

Whatever you decide to do this weekend, there is no shortage of fun things to do. Get all of your shopping done so you can relax for the rest of the season. If you find you need a great last-minute gift, order gift certificates to the show at Capone’s Dinner & Show. It is a gift suitable for anyone on your list!

Orlando Shows – Quacky Final Performances

Writing about the final performance of the anniversary show at Capone’s Dinner & Show got me thinking about another final performance. This “show” is one that has been a fun thing to do in Orlando and has fascinated hundreds of people twice a day since November 1986. The ducks at the Peabody Orlando hotel will perform for the last time this coming Monday, September 30, 2013.

Peabody Ducks

The tradition of the Peabody ducks parading from their penthouse to the luxurious Orlando hotel’s fountain for a swim every day at 11:00 a.m., then back to the $100,000 Royal Duck Palace at 5:00 p.m. has mesmerized guests and visitors for 27 years. Back when the Orlando hotel was built, there wasn’t a lot to do in the I-Drive area as there is now. However, tourists flocked (pun intended) to see the ducks each day. The performances also helped the Orange County Convention Center extend their focus to include concerts, circuses and other special events in Orlando.

So how did this tradition begin? Well, it started in Memphis, where the first Peabody hotel was built in the late 1920s or early 30s. Seems the hotel manager, Frank Schutt, and his friend, Chip Barwick, had been out hunting ducks (and staying warm in the duck blind with an adult beverage or two) and upon their return, they placed their decoys in the Peabody’s fountain. Without any other pressing news in Memphis, it created a lot of attention, and the Peabody got a lot of publicity for this stunt. Frank figured if decoys could get them this much attention, just think what real ducks would do! So he met with a local farmer and brought in ducks, treated them with the same attentive service and fine furnishings as his guests, and the rest is history.

Peabody Orlando was purchased by Hyatt Hotels Corp for $717 million, and they have no desire to keep the ducks on the roof, or in the fountain. It is believed that most of the current staff at the hotel will stay on as employees of Hyatt. The ducks will retire to an undisclosed farm and live out their days in less luxury than they’ve ever known. In the past, all ducks after 5 years of service are retired to a farm to then be release into the wild. Knowing how many animals are schedule-conditioned, it kind of makes you wonder what the ducks will think or do when 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. rolls around…

If you are in the I-Drive area in the next few days and want something fun to do (you might even make a special trip), go see the ducks perform one last time. Listen to John Philip Sousa’s King Cotton March and watch the ducks exit the elevator and step up into the fountain, or exit the fountain and march back to the elevator. Then say “goodbye” and purchase a discounted duck souvenir from the Orlando gift shop. Traditions are hard to come by these days, and Orlando will certainly miss the Peabody ducks.

After you watch the ducks, uphold another tradition and make a reservation at Capone’s Dinner & Show. This dinner theater is just down the road from the Peabody Orlando on Highway 192. If it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday, you’ll be able to see another show that will soom be retiring. “Marvel Strikes Back” is a production that has only been performed for a little over a year, in celebration of Capone’s 20th anniversary. This Orlando dinner show has been a tradition for many guests who return again and again for many celebrations, or for a fun thing to do. So if you haven’t seen this particular show with its new story line, you still have a few more opportunities. After October 11, the cast will perform the original sequel, “Bugs Creates Chaos” every night while preparing for the holiday show which opens on Thanksgiving Day.

Whether it’s the ducks at the Peabody or some quacky characters at Capone’s, or both, check out these traditions while you can. If you want to keep these Orlando shows around, let your duck calls be heard! There is an online petition at Change.org that many people are signing in support of the ducks, and as always, you can leave your comments about Capone’s Dinner & Show right here on Al’s Blog. Don’t ruffle too many feathers, or your comments may not be posted!

Free Attractions in Kissimmee/St. Cloud

If you are like most people, you like getting something for free. If you are visiting the Kissimmee/St. Cloud area, you may not know that there are free attractions in this area. You could spend hundreds of dollars at the major theme parks, but there are some jewels to be found at the free attractions in Central Florida.

Free Attractions in the Heart of the Tourist Area

Right in the heart of tourism is one of the best local free attractions around. Old Town provides shopping, dining, and entertainment – with many free things to do! This is a fun and free attraction to people watch, enjoy nightly live music, and on weekends Old Town hosts classic car shows. Wild to mild carnival-style rides, go-carts and other amenities are all reasonably priced. Fast food and table service dining is available. Be sure to check out the shops for souvenirs, clothes, jewelry and more!  Visit myoldtownusa.com to learn more.

Additionally, historic and charming downtown Kissimmee offers a fun-tastick variety of free things to do! Visit www.kissimmeemainstreet and discover the Monument of States, a delightful lakefront park, restaurants and an eclectic mix of shopping.  Numerous festivals are held throughout the year too. You can also experience a self-guided tour and other tours at this free attraction in Kissimmee.

Similarly, the City of Celebration was developed by the Walt Disney Company and is a mixed-use development anchored by a mix of houses, condominiums, and apartments. Celebration is nostalgically designed in an old Florida style with a downtown district featuring retail and dining. This attraction is always a great choice for outdoor events, including a farmer’s market, free concerts and festivals. Learn more at celebrationtowncenter.com.

Free and Worth the Drive

Do you like to hike? If you are a person who likes to explore, a free attraction south of Kissimmee (located in Poinciana) allows you to hike on elevated boardwalks over swamplands and see wildlife. There are many trails to choose from and a wide variety of environmental choices to observe. Open to the public on weekends, you are sure to enjoy this free attraction. For more information visit floridahikes.com.

St. Cloud Hotel - a free attraction

The St. Cloud Hotel (1922 postcard rendition) was first built in 1909. The hotel burned and was rebuilt with fireproof walls in 1910.

Downtown St. Cloud is a top spot for antique shopping and is home to the St. Cloud Hotel a designated historic landmark. It is a beautiful free attraction in St. Cloud.  While visiting this small quaint town, be sure to dine at Chimento’s Spaghetti House my personal favorite St. Cloud Restaurant serving lunch and dinner. Another mainstay of dining is The Catfish Place which has been around since I can remember.  A short stroll takes you to Lakefront Park, walking trails on the lakefront and boat ramps. Enjoy cooking on grills, free parking, a covered pavilion, picnic area, playgrounds, and more!  And the best thing is it is a FREE attraction!

In conclusion, hit the expensive theme parks in Central Florida if you want. Just know that there are many options for free attractions in the Kissimmee area. You are bound to find something your entire group will enjoy, especially at this price – FREE!

Remember, Capone’s Dinner Show offers a buy one, get one free for every ticket purchased online. It is a fun dinner attraction the entire family will enjoy!