What's New in Orlando,Florida today

Orlando, Florida, USA : Allan Oakley's Guide to What's New in the Vacation Capital of the World

Update : January   , 2013
Allan Oakley's Guide to What's New in Orlando,Florida
 
Hello from Sunny Orlando, Florida;

My name is Allan. I guess you can say  my family is comprised of the ultimate fans of Walt  Disney World. We first visited the Disney World days after it opened EPCOT.It took a load of visits before we decided in 1989 that Orlando felt more like home in comparison Canada. Yes, we moved from North Bay, Ontario  to Orlando in 1996.That was after we had enjoyed a lifetime of Orlando adventures.

 

I hope you enjoy our website. Living here offers you a unique perspective on life in the shadow of the mouse. Our house is literally 3 miles south of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. So close that we hear the fireworks almost every night of the week. During the cooler winter months we see them most nights. My intention is to document our adventures and post  new events of interest as they happen here. Kind of a memoir,somewhat of a history but at the heart of this a viewpoint you’d never see  or hear about living anywhere else.
 
Let's start with a BLOG I am creating http://lowcostfunatdisney.blogspot.com/   for fun.
 
Best wishes for today from Sunny Florida
Allan
 What's New in Orlando Since 2009
My Summary of Major New Attractions, Rides and Must See and Do's
Allan's Opinion: will tell you what I experienced. There is no intention to offend so please takes this as my private opinion. It may differ from your experience so you can always email me with your opinions or pictures.
 

In 2009, Orlando saw a rise in new attractions and changes at Orlando's major theme parks. SeaWorld Orlando unveiled a brand new roller coaster on May 22nd . It is named  Manta. It is a ride where riders  seamlessly transition from watching rays in underwater flight to the sensation of actually being one. Disney's Hollywood Studios now showcases vocal talent with its new American Idol attraction. Guests can watch, vote and perform just like on the actual television series. Universal Studios Florida will open Hollywood's Rip, Ride, Rockit roller coaster. The most technologically advanced roller coaster in the world.It opening in July 2009.

For 2010 the big news is at Universal Studios where in June the Wizarding World of Harry Potter  certainly captivated the immagination of millions of customers.

2011 saw changes at Disney's Hollywood Studios with the new Star Tours 3D adventure.

The biggest news is Legoland-Florida( details lower down this page )  on October 15th,2011.It's different and well worth a look. Time will tell if they have the right formula to keep them coming.

 

What's New in Orlando  for 2012  and 2013

For 2012 Disney's Magic Kingdom is getting a major facelift of Fantasyland but details are sketchy at present.

This weblink will tell you most of what is known about this exciting new expansion at the Magic Kingdom
Web: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/the-daily-disney/pictures/orl-disney-world-new-fantasyland-pictures,0,7455298.photogallery

Allan's Opinion: we've been to see the first stages of the expansion are they are exciting.

 

Here's a sneek peek at the building plans and survey

Final completion will be the spring of 2014 but it will be opened in phases between today and the spring of that year.
Opening Day was nothing short of Spectacular.December 5th , 6th and 7th the Disney Company invited the media of this world to witness the largest expansion in company history.

Celebrities and the worlds media were all here for this once in a lifetime event. Fantasyland is only half complete but it is grand even as it is.
WEB: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/new-fantasyland/?CMP=KNC-WDW13_NFL_FLR|G|4131503.MK.AM.01.01K3P
Two more years of yet to be completed new attractions and this grand addition will rival anything ever seen in Disney Theme park expansion.
At Downtown Disney there is Splittsville Luxury Lanes

The ultimate bowling experince located in Downtown Disney's Westside.

Located in the old Virgin Megastore across from Wolfgang Puck Cafe, the brand new space is a welcome addition to Downtown Disney’s WestSide. And with the promise of upscale bowling alley food — sliders, pizza, and sushi taking center stage — we were anxious to finally get a peek behind those construction walls.

Atmosphere

This place is massive. Two floors of bowling, dancing, and dining. You’ll be blown away by how much space there is in this place. Both inside and outside of Splitsville, the athmosphere  is completely retro and chic at the same time. Owners wanted to bring back the golden age of bowling. You will  experience a lot of mid-century modern touches throughout the building.

Trendy  “nuclear” chrome light fixtures mix with bold red, black, and white color schemes to make a decor statement that you'll never forget. Speaking of red, black, and white, plan on seeing a lot of that in the merchandise here, too.

You can even purchase your very own clothing sporting Splitsville’s signature bowling prints.

With seating areas, bars (sushi and cocktail), and pool tables scattered around, you might wonder at first where the actual bowling is located . This isn’t your standard American style bowling alley.

Bowling Lanes are grouped together in small sets.You’ll find them in all corners of the Splitsville complex.

Upstairs, you’ll find more seating areas and bars along with pool tables and more bowling lanes. If you’re starting to worry that this won’t be as family friendly as they’re touting, I’m hearing that the place will cater specifically to families downstairs always, and become a 21-and-over nightclub ONLY upstairs and ONLY after a certain time of night.

When you start to get thirsty, there are five ( YES 5 )  bars to choose from located both indoors and outdoors.

With truly friendly and knowledgeable staff, ask them to make you their favorite drink. There are several new and unique drinks created just for the Orlando Splitsville location.Be sure to sample a few.

MENU: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/splitsville-menu.jpg

By the way, if you DO bowl gutter balls, everyone will know it. Splitsville kindly showcases a “GUTTER” graphic on the lane flat screen TVs if that’s your unfortunate circumstance. 

The food is well worth a try when you visit. It’s what I like to call “chic comfort food,” — everything you know and love about your local bar menu, but dressed up with great ingredients and trendy additions.

And while it sounds like a party atmosphere, Splitsville will cater to families as well, separating the over-21 crowd onto their own floor at certain times of the week (or so we hear). Lanes will be sold in 90 minute blocks for &20/person, so reserve ahead of time. :-)

I think this place will be a blast, but with so many other options demanding your time at Disney World, will it just turn into another “rainy days only” adventure? We’ll soon find out

If you DO bowl gutter balls, everyone will know it. Splitsville kindly showcases a “GUTTER” graphic on the lane flat screen TVs if that’s your unfortunate circumstance. ;-)

The food is well worth a try when you visit. It’s what I like to call “classy comfort food,” — everything you know and love about your local bar menu, but dressed up with great ingredients and trendy additions.

And while it sounds like a party atmosphere, Splitsville will cater to families as well, separating the over-21 crowd onto their own floor at certain times of the week (or so we hear). Lanes will be sold in 90 minute blocks for &20/person, so reserve ahead of time. :-)

I think this place will be wildly popular.With so many other options demanding your time at Disney World there is the possibility  this will turn into another “rainy day only” adventure. Time will tell.

 

WEB: http://www.splitsvillelanes.com/

 

 

 

Over at Disney's EPCOT the reopening of Test Track by Chevrolet


A reworking of the original Test Track this attraction integrates everything you'd ever imagine in a fast paced car ride. As you enter you walk through an automobiole design center.You then enter a room where you design your very own car of the future. Once that is done you leave the room and prepare to ride your car. It culminates in a very high speed race that tests your cars performance. This ride will test the wildest of teenagers.

Get revved up for the exciting, re-imagined Test Track Presented by Chevrolet—the exhilarating driving experience, now designed by YOU! Feel like you're part of the Chevrolet design studio as you create your own virtual custom-concept vehicle. Then, put your design through its paces (at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour) on the exciting hills, hairpin turns and straightaways of the Test Track circuit.

And that's just the beginning of your adventure! After your "test drive" is over, you can:

  • See how well your car performed
  • Produce and share a TV commercial starring your "dream ride"
  • Explore a Chevrolet showroom, complete with shiny new cars on display

You won't want to miss this interactive experience!

Allan's Opinion: Disney is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on taking their parks in to the future. While some will comment that Fantasyland iis just for young children the magic of Disney makes sure that everyone enjoys their experience. EPCOT's test Track will cater to  teenagers and thrill seekers and Splitsville will appeal to all ages.

News Flash 2013  Avatar is coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom .

We have great news to share today. At a press conference today at Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Iger and Tom Staggs just announced a long-term creative partnership with James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the fantasy world of AVATAR to life at Disney Parks. And it’ll all begin at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

James and his producing partner Jon Landau and their team at Lightstorm Entertainment will serve as creative consultants on the project and will work side-by-side with our Walt Disney Imagineers as we dream up experiences that will take our guests deep into worlds of AVATAR like never before. There are also two sequels to the record setting first film in the works, which will offer more fascinating stories, characters and locations to explore in the AVATAR universe. Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort is planned as the site of the first AVATAR-themed land with construction expected to begin by 2013.

We believe Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great fit for this project because it was created to give guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in new ways. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR.

The design phase on the Disney’s Animal Kingdom project has just begun so stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details.

Sea World-Orlando,Discovery Cove and Aquatica are also introducing several new attractions but there to details are limited at present.

TurtleTrek is making waves in the news across the country in the days leading up to the grand opening.  On Wednesday, April 25, tune into ABC’s Good Morning America to see world renowned animal expert Jack Hanna LIVE underwater surrounded by dozens of sea turtles in TurtleTrek’s turtle habitat. He’ll be joined by weathercaster and host of the new Sea Rescue show, Sam Champion, and will be sharing information about turtles and details about the park’s newest attraction.  You’ll also have a chance to watch Jungle Jack in action from TurtleTrek on The Weather Channel’s “Wake Up with Al” program during the 6 a.m. broadcast and Fox & Friends morning show during the 7 a.m. hour.  In addition, Jack was seen on many local news stations in cities such as Chicago, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, and more.


SeaWorld Rescues, Rehabilitates and Returns Sea Turtles

SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue Team is on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to care for injured animals. In the news recently was SeaWorld’s aquarium team’s tremendous efforts to rehabilitate a 100-pound loggerhead turtle that swallowed a 4-inch fishing hook. Click here to watch this turtle’s incredible journey. And earlier this spring, SeaWorld’s aquarium team received two hawksbill turtle hatchlings. The hatchlings were approximately two months old at the time, weighed less than three ounces and were only three inches long.  Both were brought to SeaWorld for examination and continued care, including giving round-the-clock care for feedings and fluids.  They are now doing very well but still have a long journey ahead.  To date SeaWorld’s animal care team has rescued 11 turtles and returned 4. You can read more about SeaWorld’s animal rescue
Allan's Opinion: Sea World never fails to  surprise guests. What could have been just another marine exibit is actually one more of those mermerizing attractions.Well worth the effort to try.Especially on a hot and humid day when all you can muster is some energy to sit back and be enjoy these lovely creatures of the sea.

Local Orlando Area Attractions in General:

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/ The lines were hours long.The illusions beyond belief.Non one would have guessed that universal could give Disney a run for their money but they did.As  of January 8th,2011 you can still expect to wait hours to get in and hours more to enjoy the entire attaraction. They even sold their one millionth glass of Butterbeer between Chrsitmas and New Years eve.Will it last? If not  we will certainly see a few years of pure excitment as "Harry" keeps them coming.

Allan's Opinion: as good as it is Universal has not invested in that much more. Walt Ddisney World changes by the season and continually upgrades and changes their parks. Once the Magic Kingdom opens its new Fantasyland in 2012 my guess is that the days of Harry Potter will be numbered.

Cypress Gardens Adventure Park has closed again for a second time. This time forever as Legoland has purchased this historic park.
WEB: http://www.theledger.com/article/20100120/NEWS/1205067?tc=ar
Official Website: http://florida.legoland.com/

Allan's Opinion:It will take a lot of changes to capture an audience for this park. In other markets there is very little competition. In Orlando only time will tell if Legoland will be a success.The grand opening was in late October 2011.

Fantasy of Flight features a new multi-media celebration of gutsy, barrier-busting female pilots of World War II in its new exhibition," WASP - A Passionate Pursuit." The exhibit features displays and video from the 1940's and present day that depict the spirit and inner strength of women who reached beyond themselves. Guests can explore the exhibit in four separate areas that feature historical, anecdotal and inspirational video footage, photos and storytelling panels. The exhibit is included in Fantasy of Flight's regular admission which is $28.95 for adults, $14.95 for children ages 6 - 15 and free for children 5 and under.
fantasyofflight.com; 863-984-3500
Allan's Opinion: this place is actually fun for all ages. Allocate a half day but there truly is a lot to see and experience.There is nothing else like it in the Orlando market.

Florida Eco-Safaris at Forever Florida opened the first and only Zipline experience in Florida last  January. The new Zipline Safari takes guests on a treetop nature tour reaching heights of 55 feet (16.8 meters) and speeds up to 20 mph (32.2 kph). Tickets for the Zipline Safari are $85 for adults and $75 for children ages 12 and under who meet the minimum weight requirement of 70 pounds (31.8 kilograms).
floridaecosafaris.com; 407-957-9794
Allan's Opinion: another local treasure. Hard to find but well worth the effort. Zip lines? I say you take them or leave them.They are the current hot trend but I predict a few years from now no one will actually care. Kind of like the 2009 bungee thrill.Wildly popular till everyone had them. Watch for their over night adventures.That is truly something to experience.

Fun Spot Action Park replaced their stationary lights with a 100-foot (30-meter) Ferris wheel presentation of light and motion. Visitors can see a myriad of colors through seven different four-minute presentations. The presentation uses 85 percent less power than the older stationary lights. The Ferris wheel features seasonal presentations and is open until 11 p.m. The park offers free admission.
funspot.tutengraphics.com; 407-363-3867
Allan's Opinion:  Love the noise and action. Grandmom and granddad may find it a little too noisy but what a way to blow $50 in an hour?

Gatorland opened a new exhibit featuring the world's largest collection of white alligators on Feb. 13, 2009. The rare white alligator collection includes four of the largest white leucistic alligators known to roam the planet. The exhibit is  2,500 square feet (232 square meters) and allows guests to view the reptiles from just a few feet away.
gatorland.com; 407-855-5496
Allan's Opinion:  It is what it is. Inexpensive family fun and to be honest you will wonder why you didn't  put this on your list a lot sooner.Family fun at an affordable price.Watch out for the guy who puts his head inside the gators mouth.Gatorland is now featuring more and more hands on experiences.Well worth 4 to 6 hours of your time. Don't forget to try gator meat in the snack bar.

Walt Disney World Speedway at Walt Disney World Resort is now home to the Indy Racing Experience. Race fans and thrill seekers have the opportunity to drive and ride in actual cars that were used in past Indianapolis 500 events. After suiting up in authentic driver fire suits and being strapped in by a pit crew, guests can feel the speed, g-forces and pressure of true IndyCar racing. Drivers and riders must be 18 years of age or older. The price to ride three laps is $109 plus tax and the price to drive eight laps is $399 plus tax.
indyracingexperience.com; 317-243-7171
Allan's Opinion:  $$$ and not for everyone.My brother tried it and loved it.I scratched my head in wonderment but then I don't like fast cars or Nascar.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex debuted its "Eye on the Universe: The Hubble Space Telescope" exhibit, which features powerful Hubble images showcasing the science of deep space discovery, while allowing visitors to step into the universe and walk the pathway to ancient stars, nebulas and galaxies. Admission is $38 for adults and $28 for children ages 3 - 11.

Star Trek Live  Expereince : Join Starfleet Academy only to be unexpectedly whisked into an adventure steeped in the grand tradition of Star Trek. Mad Science® presents STAR TREK LIVE, a live 30 minute interactive show combining cutting-edge special effects, unmatched audience interaction, cool science and on-screen appearances from Captain Kirk and Spock themselves to create an exhilarating and unforgettable theatrical experience.
kennedyspacecenter.com; 321-449-4444
Allan's Opinion:  you have to be in the mood but this is one of lifes must see places.Try and avoid it on a hot sunny day as there is lots of out of doors activites which can drain your energy. If you can time, it near a shuttle launch. Getting close to those platforms is truly  an experience you will never forget.There is a long day of  sights to see so don't arrive after lunch. TIP: their new Shuttle Launch experience is worth the trip.It is a simulator ride that you and many others in the same cabin get to experience what it is like at take off. If you tried and enjoyed Mission Space at EPCOT this takes that experience to a whole new level.
As for Star Trek need I say more ? This is the ultimate  trekkie experience and everyone will love joining Star Fleet Academy. This is a must see  attraction.

Orlando Harley-Davidson Historic Factory Dealership added a new program to their event venue. The Orlando Harley-Davidson (OHD) Precision Drill Team. Organized by OHD's Rider Education, the Precision Drill Team features skilled riders who have a combined riding experience of more than 400 years. Guests can hear the team rock, roll and rumble as they make difficult maneuvers look easy both on and off their seats during the 20-minute show.
orlandoharley.com; 407-423-0346
Allan's Opinion: rent a Harley for the day and life will never be the same.

SkyVenture Orlando remodeled their observation area with tables and chairs, making group events easier to facilitate. The indoor skydiving attraction is set up for catering and bar services for private parties. The observation area can seat up to 48 people for dining or 75 people cocktail style.
skyventureorlando.com; 407-903-1150
Allan's Opinion:  my son dared me to try it with him.This is absolute adrenelin rushing terror ....but a whole lot of fun

Universal Studios, Florida : it opened new roller coaster, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, in the late summer of  2009. The high-tech, multi-sensory experience will include audio and special effects with on-and-off-board LED-screen videos to create a unique experience by choosing which song they will hear while they are on the roller coaster and compiling it into a take-home music video when the ride is over.
universalorlando.com; 407-363-8000

Walt Disney World Resort

Flamingo Crossings : Disney's big secret ? Well kind of as there was loads of information  online last year but now it is really silent.It's been a few months since I updated the construction progress on Flamingo Crossings.Walt Disney World is moving closer to building its own shopping center, anchoring the new western entrance to the park, but the land itself will be turned over to third-party developers.

The project, which also will include several "value" priced hotels, will rise mostly west of the interchange of State Road 429 and Western Way, a western entrance to Disney World that opened in 2006. Early marketing materials declared the shopping area to be "outside the western gateway to Walt Disney World," but in fact all of the land is and will remain within the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the government agency that the Florida Legislature created for Disney in 1967.

That prospect creates a first chance for third-party owners to buy and develop land inside Reedy Creek. Disney has previously allowed numerous private developments of hotels, stores and restaurants within Reedy Creek, but always through long-term land leases that have kept the real estate deeds in Disney’s hands.

Here are two pictures from the site as of mid  May , 2009

 Work is still ongoing, with construction crews on site daily. The most noticable progress from the outside is the addition of some of the roadways and traffic lights. Don't try emailing John W. Smith unless you have mega dollars.Not since  the town of Celebration has Disney ventured this far in to the creation of a new town. Why all the secrecy ? Partially to maintain total control but also the ability to change the resort town with little interferance. Locals know very little about this new town.It's location is right behind the Orange Lake  timeshare resort and west of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. When the details are finally announced tis may turn out to be the hottest piece of real estate in all of the United States. 

As of March last year all that Disney would announce in the Orlando Sentinel was: The project, which will be developed in phases over the next 8-10 years. It will eventually feature 4,000–5,000 low- to mid-rise value-priced lodging units and 300,000–500,000 square feet of commercial space. Asked if the planned hotels will receive the same official status/privileges as the Downtown Disney Hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, all they would only note, "The project is still in the early planning stages."

2010 News: Disney delays completion of Flamingo Crossings 2 years http://thedailydisney.com/blog/2009/11/sagging-economy-slows-plans-for-flamingo-crossings-at-disney/

Allan's Opinion: watch out for this place. It is going to be hotter then hot when construction actually starts !

Golden Oaks at the Magic Kingdom: everyone said it was impossible.he first 34 families will ive in the lap of luxury and privledge .

An incomparable community debuting at Walt Disney World® Resort, where the recognizable whistle of the Magic Kingdom® Park train can be heard. A glorious place to share time together, Golden Oak offers the opportunity to create new Disney traditions entwined with treasured ones, and invest in your family legacy. To call Golden Oak home is to enjoy elite concierge services and privileges at Walt Disney World® Resort and to step into a realm reserved for just a fortunate few.

See it for yourself : http://disneygoldenoak.disney.go.com/

Allan's Opinion: watch out for this place. It is going to be hotter then hot when construction actually starts ! Prices start at just over one million dollars UPDATE: on August 15th the first family moved in. So far this tightly controlled neighborhood http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2011/08/first-look-inside-golden-oak-homes-at-walt-disney-world-resort/ and it is impressive !

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Introducing Grand Formosa located at Formosa Gardens

WEB http://www.floridasunshine.com/emmettFG.htm
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Hot News : an adventure in cinema .Dining and a movie for a modest cost.Coming May 2011 at the Downtown Disney West side AMC 24 Cinema
Allan's Opinion: very popular in other markets this is for certain going to be a very popular renovation of four of the original 24 cinemas at DTD

Characters in Flight : This attraction at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World opened on  April 10, 2009. It is is located next to the bridge on the West Side near Planet Hollywood. The ride offers an affordable alternative to pricey local hot air ballon rides. It operates in a controlled enviroment on days when the weather is somewhat tame.Breathtaking views of all or Orlando and Disney World are possible.Time it right and what a view of the fireworks not only at Disney World but also Sea World and Universal Studios.
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/downtown-disney/attractions/characters-in-flight/
Allan's Opinion:  very tame but what a view.If you are travelling with children they will be thrilled. My only tip is you can almost see the same sites for free from the roof top deck of Fulton's Crab House.There you can order drinks and enjoy the scenary.If you time it right you can see the fireworks at EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom.

Disney's Hollywood Studios opened its American Idol attraction, which brings the television and pop culture phenomenon to life. The attraction allows guests to experience the challenge of auditioning, the rush of performing on stage in competition or the thrill of judging the performances in a live, interactive entertainment setting similar to the "American Idol" set. The sound system is world class and they actually film each show. Audience participation is what you would expect.A lot of lights,action and family fun for all ages.Guest performers with the highest votes compete in an end-of-day Grand Finale show at 7 PM .The winner receives a guaranteed reservation for a future "American Idol" regional audition.
disneyworld.com; 407-939-2469
Allan's Opinion:  Can't get enough of it .Been there 20 times and each time it is a lot of fun.Try and make the final show as you get the best of the best  for that day. As good as experiencing the tv show in Hollywood.

Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Mania ; now opened almost a year it still brings in the crowds Web http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/disneyparks/en_US/minisites/toystorymania/index   What can one say? it's a ride, a visually stunning entrance line and best of all good for all ages. This is a Fast Pass must but do not wait too late.Generally by 12 noon all the fast Passes for the day are gone..

Disney's Holywood Studios - Star Tours 3D http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/hollywood-studios/attractions/star-tours/

Rocketing into your galaxy on May 20, 2011, Star Tours is back with new destinations, new characters and new adventures—now presented in brilliant digital 3-D! Board a Starspeeder 1000 for a thrilling journey through George Lucas' Star Wars universe. A galaxy of trouble awaits, but don't worry, the Force will be with you, always!

Different Adventures
You never know where the Force might take you. Many different Star Tours adventures await you—including multiple storylines and locations. Riding once is not enough!

New Destinations

Glide among the trees with Wookiees on Kashyyyk, kick up some desert sand in a podrace on Tatooine, dive into the lakes of Naboo, weave through the bustling city-planet of Coruscant, blast through the blizzards of Hoth or even help attack the heavily defended Death Star!

Star Wars Characters

Fly with some of your favorite Star Wars characters! C-3PO is aboard as your new pilot. Plus, you might encounter some of your other favorite characters, including:

  • R2-D2
  • Darth Vader
  • Stormtroopers
  • Jedi Master Yoda
  • Admiral Ackbar
  • Princess Leia
  • Chewbacca

You'll also meet brand-new Star Wars characters, like Star Tours Pilot Ace (AC-38), Spokesbot Aly San San and the lethal new Imperial Skytroopers!

Your Flight

Star Tours uses state-of-the-art technology—including a flight-motion simulator vehicle, digital 3D video, Audio Animatronics characters and in-cockpit special effects—to transport you to a "galaxy far, far away." There's nothing else like it on Earth . . . or any other planet!

Who is the Storm Trooper here ?

Allan's Opinion: you can't get enough of this ride. Good for all ages.Over 50 different variations and the most incredible line at Disney World.

Disney's Magic Kingdom's Crystal Arts store on Main Street, U.S.A.was remodeled and now features a live glassblowing demonstration. Artisans with Crystal Arts have amazed guests for years by sculpting Disney figurines out of glass with a lamp-working method. Each demonstration lasts between 15 - 45 minutes, depending on the piece. The artists engage the crowd with a short lesson in glass history and the demonstrations can be seen daily. Pieces of the blown-glass artwork can be purchased for $19.50 - $2,000.
arribas.com; 407-828-4840

Special and Unique fun at the Magic Kingdom: To ride down Main Street in style, get to Disney’s Magic Kingdom early. It’s no secret to parents that young children are fascinated with various methods of transportation. By extension, that makes getting around Walt Disney World even more appealing for families. Who can resist monorails, steam engines, ferries, water taxis, buses and even parking-lot trams?

Recently, my family discovered a transportation opportunity near the entrance to the Magic Kingdom that we had yet to encounter — police cars, a firetruck, a double-decker bus, motorcade cars and the Main Street Trolley parked around Town Square. Guests are invited to climb aboard and check out the old-time vehicles. They can pose for photos in the driver’s seat, honk the horn or take a ride to Cinderella Castle and back. Children are  given firefighter hats when they explored the firetruck.

The Town Square vehicles are most often seen in the mornings, before the the first Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party. Because the Main Street Trolley has long been a favorite for my family, we knew seeing the trolley parade and riding the trolley meant rolling in before lunch. We just hadn’t arrived early enough to see the collection of other modes of transportation.

The unpublished times for the trolley parade this week are 7:30, 8:20 and 9:15 a.m. daily.
Allan's Opinion:  make the effort to see the opening of the Magic Kingdom.The park opens with a special parade and show outside the main  gates followed by these restored modes of transportation being available. It is harder to get there early but worth the effort. Best of all the lines for the most popular rides do not exist before 11 AM.
TIP: the idea of getting to the opening of each park is ominous to most guests. Insiders spend half a day at their favorite parks, go back to their villa or hotel for several hours and return after a good rest and  meal. Most Disney parks have extended hours each night. Double TIP : get their real 
early and the shooting galery is free.If you head over to Tom Sawyers island and find one of the several magical paint brushes your family will be awarded the ultimate Fst Pass good for that day.

Walt Disney World Resort introduced Disney's Online Check-In service. The complimentary service allows guests to register and check-in to their resort hotel from the convenience of their own home. Guests who take advantage of the service can login and complete their check-in 10 days prior to their scheduled arrival date. Guests can also confirm their reservation, add room requests and enter information about special occasions they are celebrating during their visit.
disneyworld.com; 407-934-7639

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge :One of Disney World's finest hotels doubled in size on May 1st,2009 Now divided in to two sections .The older lodge is  Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas- Jambo House while the new lodge is named   Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas -Kidhani Village      http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/animal-kingdom-villas-kidani/ While the hotels both offer  family sized rooms they  both are unique attractions in their own respect. A free shuttle bus connects the hotels.I suggest you park at Kidani Village as there is free under ground parking protecting your car from that relentless Florida sun.

The grounds include free roaming African animals and the restaurants are world class. At Jambo house the Boma ( flavors of Africa)  restaurant offers a South African style buffet. Jiko ( the cooking place )  is a fine dining experience. Over at Kidani Village the Sanaa restaurant offers a unique combination of both styles of restaurants. You do not need to be a guest to enjoy the features of both these resorts. I do suggest diner reservations for these three poplular restaurants.
Allans Opinion: we love these two hotels and head there on the right night when the weather is perfect and the stars shine down on the open savannah.Always tell the hotel gate keeper you are there to do one of these 3 things. Visit the bar, heading to the Mara ( fast food self serve diner ) or  looking for a unique gift shop .Disney likes you to spend money . The gate attendant will welcome you with a 3 hour visitors pass as long as you have photo ID. Once in the hotel lobby ask the attendants where the guides are located with the night vision goggles. What an experience looking out in to the dark night and then seeing  hundreds of animals through the goggles. Both Jambo and Kidani have open fire  pits with rocking chairs. Every so often a guide from Africa comes along and tells a story from his or her homeland.  The visitng guides always enjoy being asked questions about their homes.

These hotels make you think for a moment that you are actually in Africa. 

Walt Disney World Resort is offering many new special experiences for its guests including:

  • Magic Kingdom'sTinker Bell meet-and-greet experience, where guests enter a magical forest inspired by Pixie Hollow and meet the fairy herself and four of her best friends.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground's new archery range, where guests from novice to expert marksmen can get archery training and tips on how to hit the bull's eye. The 90-minute activity is offered on select afternoons and open to both resort and non-resort guests. It costs $25 per person and can be booked ahead by calling 407-939-7529.
  • Hollywood Studios'"High School Musical 3: Right Here! Right Now!" features a high energy cast of 14 singers and dancers. Guests are treated to six original songs from the movie, including the rousing finale, "High School Musical."
    disneyworld.com; 407-939-6244
Legoland Florida : it's new and quite different http://florida.legoland.com/   Ideal for the ages 6 to 12 group but fun for all the family anyway. There are only brief glimpses of the previous Cypress Gardens them park http://www.floridasunshine.com/oakleyflorida/OakleyFamily_SubPages/2003/Last_Day_Cypress.htm  for pictures

Allan's Opinion:
  there are many challenges ahead for this park. Although a lot of fun at it's October 15th,2011 opening  there were concerns.
  • Too far from Disney. Anticipate a 45 minute drive south of Orlando along highways with poor signage as of today. include a couple of 2 to 6 year olds and you may be haunted by the typical "are we there yet" cries from the back seat.
  • Expensive: factor in food, gas, parking  and souvenirs and Disney World costs the same.
  • Bad weather ? Wacth out.This park thrives on out door attraction.With a good rain you couldn't experience two hours of fun
  • Google Legoland Pepsi deal and you can save a lot of money downloading a coupon code on that webpage
  • Teenagers to 20 somethings may hate this place. It really targets younger childrens and retired couples. Gates close soon after 6 PM and their website indicates no evening plans of any sort in the near future.
  • Keep an eye on local tv commercials that promote other deals you can't find on their website. TIP: may be best to Google Legoland-Florida deals and discover there is no reason to pay the full gate price. Seniors 60 + will ove their under $75 annual pass that includes parking.

    Incredible city size models of major USA cities

  • Time will tell if they can get their park attracting the numbers they hope for and appeal to a broader base of clients.

Worlds Of Discovery
(SeaWorld Orlando / Busch Gardens Africa / Discovery Cove and Aquatica)

SeaWorld Orlando will open Manta on May22nd,2009.  It is  a new roller coaster attraction that transitions riders from air to sea in the summer. Guests will experience underwater animal habitats, soar face-down in a horizontal position to nearly 60 mph (66.6 kph), and come within inches of the ocean. Visitors can choose not to ride and instead experience the attraction itself, which provides floor-to-ceiling window views of more than 300 rays, including shark rays, spotted eagle rays and leopard rays.
SeaWorld.com; 407-351-3600
Allan's Opinion: the coaster experts rank this as the world's finest " Must Try" coaster. This will rank Sea World in a whole new league. Try Kraken  the same hour and you may have to go and lie down...
TIPS:  Sea World at Night ? A whole new experience although it only happens at certain times of the year and all summer. The park itself is magical in the day but at night the shows and landscapoing add a whole new element to the fun.  Arrive early, head home afternoon for a break and return free of charge after dinner for a night of continued magic
Second day free at Sea World: this program is still running in 2010 but don't expect to get the second day without asking. Just before you leave the parks there is a small office with an even smaller window to the right of the gates.It will say" Second Day Free" .Turn in your first ticket and they give you another one that is good for one return visit within a week.

 

SeaWorld Orlando introduced a new, theatrical performance, "A' Lure, The Call of the Ocean,"an aquatic tapestry combing powerful athleticism, high-energy acrobats and mesmerizing electronic visuals in October. The 30-minute production takes guests on an enchanting journey through the ocean's depths and mysteries, telling the tale of the Sea Sirens, whose hypnotic calls have lured fishermen into their underwater lairs for centuries.
SeaWorld.com; 407-351-3600
Allan's Opinion : if you need a rest this is the place.Quiet and relaxing to the senses.If the summer heat is getting to you  head to this attraction.Don't sit up front as a lot of the action happens over the audience.

SeaWorld Orlando is selling their 2010 Fun Card. The 2010 Fun Card lets Florida residents enjoy unlimited, year-long visits to SeaWorld Orlando or Busch Gardens Africa without any blackout dates. Fun Card holders also gain access to special performances and signature events at both parks throughout the year, including: Bud & BBQ, Viva La Musica, SeaWorld AfterDark and Busch Gardens Summer Nights. Valid through Dec. 31, 2010, the Fun Card price starts at $74.95 for adults and $64.95 for children ages 3 - 9.
SeaWorld.com; 407-351-3600

Worlds of Discovery launched initiatives to tackle environmental challenges in the areas of waste, water, food and fuel. All seafood is now purchased from sustainably-managed fisheries; coffee and chocolate is purchased from growers who meet demanding social and environmental standards; plates, forks, knives and spoons are made from renewable resources; more than 50 percent of their waste is recycled; water is reused and two new hydrogen-fueled guest shuttles are available. Discovery Cove also donates feathers shed from their birds to the Feather Distribution Project.
4adventure.com; 407-351-3600
Allan's Opinion:  It's green and very popular but who really cares. Most of central Florida does not recycle anyway.

Accommodations next to Disney World : Vacation Homes with your own pool

Alexander Florida Holiday Homes at Disney World are celebrating 30 years  in business .They understand families and why not? They are literally a family buisness with three generations of Alexander's and Oakley's serving the need of over 4000 families a year.All reservations require a modest $300 US dollar deposit with the balance paid upon arrival .With locations in South Orlando,Kissimmee and Celebration area neighborhoods there is always a 1 to 7 bedroom home available for your needs. They are AAA 3 Diamond rated and have been in business since 1981.They have over 200 homes featured on their website.Why rent a hotel room when you can afford an entire home?
WEB: www.floridasunshine.com  is their home page. Watch for seasonal hot deals. 407 932 3683 or  800 621 7888from the USA,Canada and Puerto Rico or UK Tel: 0871 7115371 from the United Kingdom or Europe.
Allan's Opinion:  a best Orlando value and they truly make you feel at home.We stayed wityh them many times till we bought our own home.They run a very clean operation and host thousands of family guests each year. When we Googled their name there is a whole lot of  information about them online.

 
Disney's Contemporary Resort renovated its guest rooms and public spaces and unveiled new restaurants and lush landscaping. New restaurants include The Wave, which serves healthy American cuisine and offers a private dining room that can accommodate 52 people, and The Contempo Café, which features quick and casual dining. The 400-square-foot (37-square-meter) guest rooms offer an ergonomic work station, flat-screen televisions and in-room computers with free Internet.
disneyworld.com; 407-939-7429
Disney Vacation Club announced the development of two new resorts, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort scheduled for opening  in the early fall 2009. The Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa l opened during the summer of  2009. Bay Lake Tower will have 295 two-bedroom villas and be the closest resort to the Magic Kingdom. Views from the tower will feature undeveloped stretches of Bay Lake as well as incredible views of the Magic Kingdom. The Treehouse Villas, near Downtown Disney, will have 60 three-bedroom homes, all elevated 10 feet (3.04 meters) off the ground blending into the forest environment like real tree houses. These cabins will sleep nine people and will feature cathedral ceilings, granite countertops and flat-screen TVs.
disneyvacationclub.com; 800-500-3990
Allan's Opinion:  Tree House villas :amoungst the oldest rentals at Disney World, these villas were used recently as student housing for the International program. Disney recognized the potential and has been renovating them since 2008. The allure of living in a tree will certainly be popular.
 
 
 
 
 Bay Lake Tower : location, location, location translates in to one thing. Better bring along your credit cards as these will not be  inexpensive hotel rooms or condo's. We toured Bay Lake Tower in July,2009. This is a first class resort with the ultimate Disney swimming pool.Guests will have the ability to use a private roof top terrace and bar to enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks.Disney has thought of everything.From this spectacular roof top you can hear the sounds that make the evening fireworks so magical.
 
 
Allan's Opinion: expensive but 5 Star. The only disdavnatge is that for such a high cost you must rent a car as they have no shuttle to the non Disney  parks. The resort itself matches and rivals most everything in the Orlando market. Taxi companies will collect you if you want to visit Sea World or Universal Studios but their very expensive  one way fees may have you wondering if you want to go to these other parks.
 
Ginn Reunion Resort unveiled two distinct outdoor venues for both formal and relaxed weddings. A 5,000-square-foot (46.5-square-meter) tiled patio and accompanying tent offer a view of nearby golf courses and natural wetlands. The new venue can accommodate up to 300 guests. Brides and grooms can also enjoy the rooftop pool complex and adjacent restaurant, Eleven, which is a South Beach-inspired café serving tapas and small plates. The deck provides cabanas and lounge chairs, adding to the South Beach feel. Both venues offer views of the resort and fireworks displays at Walt Disney World, just six miles (9.6 kilometers) down the road.
ginnresorts.com; 407-662-1000
New for 2011 : Reunion Resort and Spa now is open to the general public for fine dining. Located inside the Reunion Grand and neighboring  buildings in the resort. Included are these fine dining options:
Forte : Located on the main floor of the Reunion® Grande, Forte combines the essence of Italian flavors with prime cuts of beef and fresh seafood. Delicious homemade pastas and hand-tossed pizzas provide rich, authentic flavors, creating an inspiring blend between food and family.Forte is currently closed until November 2010.
Eleven: Sitting atop the Reunion® Grande on the 11th floor, Eleven is Orlando's unparalleled stargazing destination. This glamorous, year-round indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge with pool offers stunning views, handcrafted cocktails and great music to liven the spirits.
Clubhouse Restaurant: Serving a wide variety of traditional American breakfast and lunch options, the Clubhouse is the perfect place to get together and grab a bite to eat, have a few drinks or just talk about your day on the links. Dine indoors or out – either way you’ll get a spectacular view of the driving range and the first and 18th tees of Watson’s Independence Course. The Clubhouse is located adjacent to the Reunion® Grande.
Grande Lobby Bar : Perfect for an afternoon snack or evening cocktail, the Grande Lobby offers a variety of seafood influenced appetizers and a global wine list.

Reunion Resort and Spa suggests reservations for all of its restaurants.
Allan's Opinion:  This understated destination restricts portions of the resort to their own guests.The water park is off limits to outsiders.Eleven is in our opinion one of the finest opportunities to enjoy a superb meal while seeing all the fireworks at the Walt Disney World resort.  Arrive early and enjoy cocktails  on their open air roof top patio. Follow this by your meal and what a night you will experience?

Special Exhibits / Programs and Theatre

Broadway Across America-Orlando will present four performances in the spring through early summer broadwayacrossamerica.com; 407-423-9999

Mad Cow Theatre, a small theatre company presenting contemporary and classic plays and musicals in downtown Orlando, will present eight performances in early - mid 2010 . Tickets range from $15 - 25.
madcowtheatre.com; 407-297-8788

The Mount Dora Theatre Company will present feature shows all year longTickets are $20 for adults and $12 for students.
icehousetheatre.com; 352-383-4616

The Orlando Museum of Art has several new exhibits opening in 2010 omart.org; 407-896-4231

The Orlando Science Center unveiled a new film, "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure," which will play through spring 2009. The film brings visitors face-to-face with some of the most bizarre, ferocious and awe-inspiring creatures to inhabit the ocean. Admission is included in the center's regular ticket price, which is $23 for adults and $18 for children ages 3 - 17.
osc.org; 407-514-2000

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Artwill open its "American Arts and Crafts from the Morse Collection," exhibit on Feb. 17, 2009. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for students and free for children ages 12 and under.
morsemuseum.org; 407-645-5311

The Gallery at Avalon Island opened in downtown Orlando in the city's oldest building, dating back to 1886. The gallery features monthly rotating art exhibits held on the third Thursday of the month, where there is a cultural event to unveil new exhibits. The space can accommodate groups up to 200 and features an 80-seat movie theatre.
galleryatavalonisland.com; 407-803-6670

Titanic the Experience moved from its temporary exhibit space at the Orlando Science Center to a two-story, 19,780-square-foot (1,838-square-meter) building on International Drive. Titanic the Experience allows visitors to tour full-scale re-creations of Titanic's most famous rooms, including the Grand Staircase, First Class Parlor Suite, Boilers and Promenade Deck. Tickets are $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children.
titanictheexperience.com; 407-895-2610
Leu Gardens : http://www.leugardens.org/events.html  Spectacular private gardens and much more
Cypress Airboat Rides http://www.cypresslakeairboattours.com/  Orlando is known for its very popular airboat rides but this one ranks as being the best if you want to see the real Florida.  Its routes show you the wild side of Florida with very few homes along the way.
Haines City Theatre http://www.hainescitytheatre.com/  While Orlando enjoys world class theatre never under estimate small local theatre troops.Affordable family fun  in season.
Osceola County Performing Arts Centre http://www.ocfta.com/index.html   entertainment of all sorts at an affordable price.
Winter Park Boat Tours: http://www.scenicboattours.com/home.htm    Long before Disney this attraction took you through the scenic lakes and canals of historic Winter Park
After an hour  on the boat stroll through the charming shops and restaurants of Winter Park in downtown Orlando


Dining & Nightlife

Downtown Disney opened a new restaurant, T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure. The restaurant features dining and shopping in a 600-seat interactive prehistoric environment. Guests are greeted with life-sized dinosaurs that live among waterfalls, geysers and a fossil dig. The dinosaur theme is also found in the menu with items such as Caesarsaurus(Caesar salad) and Triassic Tortellini (tri-colored cheese tortellini). The restaurant accepts requests for private events and buy-outs, based on availability. The space is 20,000 square feet (1,858 square meters).
trexcafe.com; 407-939-3463
Allan's Opinion: have you been to the Rainforest Cafe ? Same company- similar experience. Very noisy but a lot of fun.

Enzian Theater opened the Eden Bar. An outdoor, 2,000-square-foot (186-square-meter), 70-seat bar and restaurant located at the theater. Themed after the Garden of Eden, the bar combines authentic Viennese specialties such as brook trout smoked with pine needles and an almond and hazelnut torte with original cocktail creations. Adding a creative twist to the atmosphere is a large mural depicting a playful interpretation of a Floridian Garden of Eden commissioned by Oscar-nominated animator, Bill Plympton.
enzian.org; 407-629-1088

ICEBAR Orlando, the first and largest permanent bar made of ice in the United States, opened on International Drive. The ICEBAR experience takes guests through the Chill Lounge, a 3,000-square-foot (279-square-meter) bar featuring live entertainment, caviar flights and premium beverage service in an upscale Nordic setting. This lounge is open to the public free of charge. Before entering the 1,000-square-foot (93-square-foot) air-locked ICEBAR, guests are provided with a cape and gloves to stay warm during their 45-minute experience. The exhibit is kept at 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.8 degrees Celsius) and the walls, tables, seating, sculptures and bar are made from 50 tons (45 metric tons) of ice. Every six months, ICEBAR Orlando's interior is transformed into a new theme. Admission is $30 and includes a premium Vodka beverage in a glass made of ice for guests 21 and older and a non-alcoholic beverage for younger guests. The Chill Lounge is open Sunday - Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. - midnight and Thursday - Saturday from 4:30 p.m. - 2 a.m. The ICEBAR is open daily from 5 - 11 p.m. The Chill Lounge can also accommodate special events and groups up to 475.
icebarorlando.com; 407-426-7555

Ocean Prime at the Rialto opened on world famous Sand Lake Road's "Restaurant Row," bringing back the classic supper club dining tradition. Developed by restaurateur Cameron Mitchell, Ocean Prime features a large seafood menu, but contains many other signature dishes from fresh fish and steak to hand-crafted cocktails and world-class wines. The restaurant offers an electric and sophisticated vibe from the 40s, 50s, and 60s with live piano music setting the mood. Ocean Prime is open Monday - Thursday from 4 - 10 p.m., Friday - Saturday from 4 - 11 p.m. and Sunday from 4 - 9 p.m. The restaurant has a total capacity of 335 guests with outdoor and lounge seating available. There are two private dining rooms, seating 15 and 45.
ocean-prime.com; 407-781-4880

Portobello Yacht Club was renamed Portobello. It is a  classic Italian restaurant in Downtown Disney.Portobello features a new menu offering suppli alla telefono and pork tenderloin over creamy polenta and themed design changes giving the restaurant a more authentic feel.
portobellorestuarant.com; 407-934-8888
Allan's Opinion:  first class restaurant .Not to be wasted on young children but sad to say it participates in the Disney Dining plan. You can be enjoying a quiet romantic meal and along comes a horde of noisy children who waste food. We enjoyed it but will never return a second time .
 
Taverna Opa  Orlando  http://www.opaorlando.com/home.php

Taverna Opa Orlando welcomes you to loosen your ties, and have an unforgettable experience while enjoying great food and entertainment.  We offer an assortment of traditionally prepared dishes of fresh seafood, premium cut meats, and a unique wine selection to complement our menu.  Our unique take on dining incorporates celebration and good times to our delicious Mediterranean menu. We encourage you to participate!  Jump in the Zorba, our traditional line dance, or dance alongside the belly dancer while a confetti of napkins surrounds you.  As the hours pass the night transcends to a more sophisticated nightlife, led by our live DJ spinning a variety of Greek, Spanish, and Top 40 Hits.

                 
                                           
                                                                                                          

Fresh seafood and steak along with our nightly entertainment has made Taverna Opa the top destination dining venue in Orlando. Remember, the night is not over until the ouzo runs out!

Allan's Opinion: great party place. Not ideal for romantic couples unless you really want to party. Opa is like one great big Greek Wedding  and everyone is expected to get up and dance.
 
HAMBURGER MARY's in downtown Orlando  http://www.hamburgermarys-orlando.com/  It's fun, affordable and a little naughty at times
The menu is diverse  but the entertainment hysterical.
Reservations a must on Saturday night
Allan's Opinion: we had no idea what to expect and went as a group of friends. They host several monthly events http://www.hamburgermarys-orlando.com/specialevents.php but Saturday night beats them all. Although children are not turned away you may want to call ahead. There is a lot of inuendo going on and for some parents this may not be suitable.  If oyu are looking for a fun and very affordable date this is the place.
Saving the Best for Last:
Celebration, Florida: http://celebrationtowncenter.com/  First introduced in 1996 this Disney inspired town  is full of shops, restaurants and old fashioned neighborhoods where the best of American life is celebrated  in all of its glory. This is one town where you feel perfectly safe to wander but never forget it is still a controlled enviroment.Security is not apparent but it is there.Over 5000 families now call this utopian like town their home. Electric cars are as popular as gas powered ones. The library at the entrance area Watertower mall is a free WIFI hot spot.You can be certain that between Disney and Osceola County very little is tolerated if it impacts that near iddylic image.
TIPS: don't miss dining in the downtown restaurants that include almost every sort  style of food.Take in a matinee at the downtown cinema or just go for a stroll around Lakeside Park. You may fall in love with it so much you may want to move here. 
A Segway Tour of Celebration : http://www.zetours.com/  You have heard about them.They look complicated but are effortless. This tour will take you to parts of Celebration you never knew existed. Tis is the future of urban transportation so why not try it today.
 

Shopping

Forty VII Clothing opened in downtown Orlando in The Plaza. The store specializes in fashion-forward clothing representing boutique lines, street wear, surf/skate, sneakers, denim and contemporary men's and women's. Forty VII showcases deejays and musicians to give the shopper a new kind of shopping experience.
fortysevenclothing.com; 407-557-3134

Orlando Premium Outlets opened 40 new name brand and designer outlet stores. The stores are located in the new 114,000 square foot (10,591 square meter) expansion area, making the mall a total of 550,000 square feet (51,097 square meters) with more than 150 stores. New stores include Aldo, Converse, Guess Accessories, LaSportsac and Oakley Vault. In addition, a new children's play area and four-level indoor parking garage are now open at the mall.
premiumoutlets.com; 407-238-7787
Allan's Opinion:  simply the best deals in town. If staying at Disney World it is worth the small cab ride.

Prime Outlets International Orlando opened eight new stores including: Facconable, a French retailer that specializes in men's and women's tailored clothing; The St. John Outlet, an American store featuring luxury knitwear collections; Judith Ripka, a high-end women's jewelry store; Janie and Jack, a children's clothing store; For All Mankind, designer denims; American Apparel and Forever 21. It also opened Kafé Kalik, a full-service Caribbean eatery.
primeoutlets.com; 407-352-9600
Allan's Opinion:  same stores and experience as Premium Outlets. hardly worth the visit unless you happen to be staying along International Drive or in a Universal Studio area  hotel.

The Florida Mall opened four new retailers and has plans for two more to come. Recently opened stores are: Pink, a new concept by Victoria's Secret; Tilly's, a surf-themed store and Alexi Andriotti Accessories, a Greek-based company specializing in handbags, jewelry and Adidas Originals.
simon.com; 407-851-6255 (public)
Allan's Opinion:  very large and you'll never run out of shops to look through. Nothing unique here unless you come from a town with no shopping of any sort. There is always something on sale .I'd save this as a rainy day event.

Transportation

I-RIDE Trolley announced new fare prices. Single fare is $1.25 per ride, seniors and International Drive resort area employees ride for $.25 and children ages 12 and under ride free with paying adult. Unlimited Ride Passes are also available:

  • One-day: $4 per person
  • Three-day: $6 per person
  • Five-day: $8 per person
  • Seven-day: $10 per person
  • 14-day: $17 per person

Transfers are free and passes are always consecutive day use.
iridetrolley.com; 407-248-9590

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the only airport in the state to house an onsite walk-in urgent care. Solantic, a leading provider of walk-in urgent care across Florida, offers travelers an average of $517 savings per patient compared to going to an emergency room while on vacation. The newly opened airport clinic features time-conscious technologies, such as cell phone pages and lobby wait time monitors, to let patients know when they will be seen, and a kid's playroom. Solantic is open daily from 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. solantic.com; 321-319-0349

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) began a six-month project to repave its 9,600-foot (2,926-meter) primary runway. The work will be done in phases and is expected to be completed by the end of spring 2009 or before the start of the airport's 2009 summer season. orlandosanfordairport.com; 407-585-4000

New Airline Service

AirTran Airways began offering nonstop service to Orlando International Airport (MCO) from:

  • Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio
  • Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) in Harrisburg, Pa.

airtran.com; 678-254-7999

Allegiant Airlines began nonstop service to Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) from:

  • Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR) in Hagerstown, Md., twice weekly on Monday and Friday, starting at $109 one-way.
  • Blue Grass Airport (LEX) in Lexington, Ky., twice weekly on Thursday and Sunday, starting at $89 one-way.
  • Elmire Corning Regional Airport (ELM) in Horseheads, N.Y., twice weekly on Thursday and Sunday, starting at $109 one-way.
  • Outagamie County Regional Airport (ATW) in Appletown, Wis., twice weekly on Wednesday and Saturday, starting at $109 one-way.
allegiantair.com; 702-505-8888
New for 2010: Watch for this airlines most incredible deals.In late April flights were found on their website for as little as $29 return + tax from certain gateways.

Direct Air began nonstop service to Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) three times weekly on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from:

  • Worchester Regional Airport (ORH) in Worchester, Mass.
  • Kalamazoo/Battles Creek International Airport (AZO) in Kalamazoo, Mich.

visitdirectair.com; 877-432-3473

Mexicana airlines began daily, nonstop flights from Mexico City International Airport (MEX) to Orlando International Airport (MCO). Flights leave each day from Mexico City at 10:30 a.m. and arrive in Orlando at 2:15 p.m. The return flight leaves Orlando at 3:15 p.m. and arrives in Mexico City at 5:25 p.m.
mexicana.com; 800-531-7921

 

Coming Soon:  Summer 2012  tips and information

Email me your thoughts or experiences at oakleyallan@hotmail.com
I always enjoy hearing from other fans about  any of their Walt  Disney World  experiences.
 

More Disney World Fun and News

 

Allan’s Guide to Bay Lake Tower at Walt Disney World

https://sites.google.com/site/orlandonewsfamily/Home/epcot-2009

 

Allan's Guide to Horseback riding at Disney World - a day at Fort Wilderness 
https://sites.google.com/site/orlandonewsfamily/Home/allan-s-guide-to-horseback-riding-at-disney-world

 

Allan's Guide to Mitsukoshi Tokyo Dining at Disney's EPCOT theme park https://sites.google.com/site/orlandonewsfamily/Home/allan-s-guide-to-mitsukoshi-tokyo-dining-at-disney-s-epcot-theme-park

 

Lake Buena Vista,Florida: where Disney World all started   https://sites.google.com/site/orlandonewsfamily/Home/lake-buena-vista-florida

 

Allan's Guide to Disney Hollywood Studios Star Tours 3 D https://sites.google.com/site/orlandonewsfamily/disney-s-holloywood-studios-star-tours-3d

 

Allan's Guide to Luggage ( Gun and Knife )  Lockers at Walt Disney World https://sites.google.com/site/orlandonewsfamily/Home/luggage-gun-lockers-at-walt-disney-world

 

Weeki Wachee Springs,Florida https://sites.google.com/site/orlandonewsfamily/Home/weeki-wachee-springs-florida

 

Disclaimer:
These images and comments are not intended to offend anyone.They are honest opinions and images collected between friends and associates and are for personal enjoyment only. Should you have any comments please email me at oakleyallan@hotmail.com to discuss the concerns