Orlando’s National Treasure Right Next Door at The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Travelers from around the world come to Central Florida everyday. Most visitors are not aware that Orlando has a very unique national treasure within an hours drive, the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. Mixed in with the Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, Kennedy Space Center was here before them all. When you say NASA to pretty much anyone on the planet, they understand what and where you are talking about. This was the place to be back in the late 1960’s as this was the place where we sent our brave astronauts to the moon,

The Kennedy Space Visitors Complex in Cocoa Beach, Florida is only about a 50 minute ride from the Orlando attractions. The entire experience can be visited in a day while some spend a few days engaged in their behind the scene’s adventures. If one was a science and space admirer, then there are a few very things one could do to make their dreams of spaceflight come true while staying here on good old terra firma. First and foremost the standard KSC ticket gets you pretty the whole shabang! This ticket will allow you to visit the welcome center where they have the rocket garden, IMAX-3D, Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit with the Shuttle Launch Experience as well gift shops and places to grab a bite to eat.

The next step of the adventure will take you on a restricted area tour that transports you by bus to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here you can stay as long as you like while observing a real life Saturn V rocket that is on display. Have you ever wanted to touch the moon? Here you can do just that. Touch the moon and talk with actual Astronauts about their experiences flying in space. If you are one of the lucky travelers on a special day of a rocket launch, the Saturn V building is the place to be. Check with the current calendar for these once in a lifetime opportunities!

If the general admission ticket is not enough, check out the upgrades and have lunch with an astronaut. Here you will have a buffet lunch all while listening to a guest astronaut speak of their space explorations. You can even ask that question you have always wanted to know about traveling in space! Next you can check out the KSC- Up-Close Tour or visit mission control at the KSC-Close Launch Control Center Tour. Whatever the experience is, the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex has a little bit of everything for everybody.


Early Arrival to the Orlando Theme Parks for No Lines

I get the same questions every day from my guests traveling out to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld. The question is, “How can we avoid the line at the parks”? The answer is short and sweet, get there early. If you get to the theme parks early, you will have accomplished the biggest task of your day. Getting there early before everyone gets there not only ensures that you won’t have to wait in long lines for the most popular rides, but it will also save you time from the hot Florida sun that will zap your energy level quick!

Most travelers like to wake up kind of early, stroll down to the lobby of their hotel or resort, have a cup of coffee, then head back up to get the rest of the family for breakfast. This takes up at least two hours in the morning and this does not even take in consideration the time needed to travel to the parks. Combine all of this with the crowds rolling in late and security checkpoint lines and bam, you are now in the thick of late morning traffic that everyone hates.

Getting there one hour before the park opens for example at Disney’s Magic Kingdom will not only give you a smooth and stress free experience, but will also get you a very special early morning performance from of all of Disney’s characters before being allowed into their park for the day. After the performance, greeters welcome guests in to enjoy Mainstreet USA for a short period before their rope drop. Many early morning guests then travel back to the top rides with no wait at all. One could ride at least four rides before really encountering any kind of real lines.

When it comes to the saying, “The early bird gets the worm”, this is exactly right when it comes to getting the most while at the theme parks. This method really works best for travelers who can get to bed early the night before and really try to hydrate the evening and morning before arriving at the parks. Waking up early really works best for travelers from Europe due to the time difference. A traveler from England has the clock on their side as they are five hours ahead of us, so the can wake up at 6 am and feel like they slept in until noon! Unfortunately this is not the case for us in the USA.

Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card – What Makes It So Special

Disney Parks Disability Access Service

Disney Parks Disability Access Service

Disney is committed to provide the most welcoming and friendly environment to its visitors. And the DAS – Disability Access Service Card is a true example in this regard. The Disney Parks DAS Card is indeed a unique effort on part of the company to ensure that the world’s most magical experiences are accessible to visitors with special disabilities as well. DAS is available at all Disney Parks in Orlando and in Disneyland California.

However, not all visitors with disabilities can have DAS. Such as guests whose disability is based mainly on the necessity of using wheelchair or scooter will not apply for DAS. They will either wait with the regular visitors in the conventional queue or can facilitate with a return time comparable to the current wait time depending on the attraction they have.

The special program is exclusively made available to visitors who really need the service – guests who are really un-fit to handle the conventional queue owing to special disability that includes not-apparent disabilities as well. The program will allot a return time comparable to the current wait time to guests with such disabilities. And the same is valid until redeemed. Guests are eligible for one active return time at a time. One can have another for the same attraction or any other attraction for that matter only after the redemption of the first. DAS can be used with other Disney services as well such as Disney FastPass+ Program.

In order to apply for a DAS Card one must visit the nearest Guest Relations locations. If you are visiting Disney World Orlando you will register for DAS in any of the guest relations office at the Main Entrance locations – City Hall at Magic Kingdom, The Guest Relations lobby at Disney Animal Kingdom, The Guests Relations lobby at Disney Hollywood Studios, and The Guest Relations lobby at Epcot.

Magic Kingdom City Hall

Magic Kingdom City Hall

Guest will go through a registration process where a photo of the guest is taken, valid park tickets need to be presented for each member so as to electronically associate the same with DAS. Those with annual passes can obtain DAS up to 60 days. One cannot apply for DAS prior to his or her visit. Everything on this is done after arrival on site at Guest Relations. If you think that DAS doesn’t addresses your specific disability concerns, then Guest Relation staff are always ready to discuss special accommodations for special circumstances such as people whose disability limits their visit duration or limit the available attraction options.

Catching Up With Universal Orlando’s CityWalk

If you have ever been out to Universal Studios CityWalk, you will probably remember that it was a pretty cool place to eat, dance and just be merry! Lately though, it has been under a transformation and for the better. The theme of CityWalk seems to be that of the old Downtown Disney entertainment district. People can come here after the parks and grab a bite to eat before heading home or back to their resort, or make it a special night out while visiting their night time clubs, watching a movie or having dinner and drinks.

The most visual transformation has to be the all new NBC Sports Grill & Brew. This was the old NASCAR Cafe that was such an eyesore. But now it is a shiny new jewel among CityWalk’s bustling new skyline. Here one can choose from over 100 beers all while catching sports games from around the world. The other day we were there cheering on some soccer team while drinking beers with our brothers from across the pond. This place is such a great opportunity to meet people from all around the world sharing a pint all the while!

If you are on the fly and need a quick bite to eat, try stopping by the all new Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Here you can taste all of the most famous hot dogs from every stadium in the good o’le USA. Try anything from the famous Chicago hot dog with all of the toppings or a steamer from New York, it doesn’t matter because this place has it all. You will not find any other location like this in Orlando. You can eat authentic shoestring fries and taste authentic topping like actual pinto beans for the famous Arizona dog or sauerkraut for you New York dog! This place even has brats so the menu is absolutely mesmerizing.

Lastly would be my little favourite, The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. This little gem is for everyone who love sushi and burgers. Here you can dine on some of Orlando’s most delicious sushi and burgers of fuse them together and feast on their signature dish the “Burgushi®“. Trust me it is delicious especially when you wash it down with one of their 10oz exotic martinis. If martinis are not your thing try one of their signature hand spun milkshakes. If you can’t make up your mind, I recommend their Bento Box. This is a sampler of all of their most famous dishes but on a small sampler scale.


Universal Studios Springfield USA Serves Up Some Tasty Treats

Have you ever wanted to have a Krusty Burger and be able to wash it down with a beer from Moe’s Tavern? What if I told you that there was a real live place where you could do exactly that! The place I’m talking about is Universal Studios Orlando’s Springfield USA. Here you can rub elbows with Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie and even your most favourite side characters like Moe, Mr. Burns and even Apu at the Quickie Mart. Probably the best of it all are all of the delicious foods and treats that we have all watched time and time again on the television.

Universal Studios spared no expense when they created Springfield and my most favourite little dive has to be Moe’s Tavern. Here you can sit at the very bar where Homer spends most of his spare time at. The famous beer of all here is Duff beer. Nothing like a good cold Duff beer to start your day or if beer is not your thing try the Flaming Moe instead! It is just orange soda with dry ice, but is on par in sale to Harry’s Butterbeer. Here you can have your picture taken with Moe’s patron saint Barney Gumble who has a statue at the end of the bar.

By now you should be feeling pretty hungry so peel yourself off of your bar stool and walk to the back where you will find 4 counter service dining options. On of my favourites has to be Cletus’ Chicken Shack. Here you will find big o’le chicken sandwich platters with fries. Cletus’ is sure to fill the biggest of appetites. Also you will find The Flying Dutchman that serves up fried foods, Luigi’s Pizza and Lisa’s Teahouse of Horrors. Lisa’s would be the place for any vegetarians in the group!

If you’re the type of person who likes to sit outside and people watch while you eat, try out the local food truck fair at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck. Here you can grab a cold Duff’s beer and chow down on some tacos or nachos! If savory dishes are not your thing then I have just the treat for you. Lard Lad Donuts are famous in Springfield. Sit down and savor the taste of the Big Pink. This donut is about as big as a open man’s hand wide and about four inches thick of sweet decadent goodness! Tell Mayor Quimby I said hello!


Universal Orlando Registers the Biggest Increase in Attendance in 2015, Report

Well there is no doubt that the Walt Disney World Resort is easily the most visited theme park destination today. But when it comes to the biggest annual jump in attendance Universal Orlando tops the list, followed by the Disney World Parks and SeaWorld Orlando.

Universal Orlando attendance 2015

Universal Orlando attendance 2015 Report

I know that the much popular Mouse is comparatively larger and bigger in all aspects of theme park entertainment Industry, but the Wizard boy is smarter as well, pulling crowds for Universal like never before. Indeed credit goes to the incredibly popular Potter World (responsible in bringing a revolution in Universal Orlando’s attendance history), and more importantly the multi-park experience of late with the real Hogwarts Express ride and all the new Diagon Alley adventures and the Gringotts rides for sure.

According to the latest report released by the Themed Entertainment Association – TEA and the economics division of engineering firm AECOM Universal Studios Florida registers an all-time high, scoring almost 16 percent jump in its attendance with an estimation of 9.6 million visitors in 2015 as compared to the previous year. Sister Park Islands of Adventure scores an 8 percent increase with an estimated 8.8 million visits as compared to the previous year of 2014.

For the much larger Disney World Parks it’s quite a cheerful jump in the attendance score card as well. And like always, leading from the front is the world’s most visited Magic Kingdom Park, reported to have drawn the highest number of people – around 20.4 million visitors in 2015 with a very convincing 6 percent jump in attendance. While Epcot drew 11.8 million visitors with a 3 percent jump in attendance, Disney Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios is reported to have around 10.9 million and 10.8 million visits with each registering 5 percent jump in attendance respectively.

The SeaWorld Orlando on the other hand is good enough to pull in an estimated 4.8 million visitors to its Park with a jump of about 2 percent in attendance from 2014 to 2015. Orlando’s leading water parks – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon also enjoy their share of gains, ranking 2 and 3 in terms of attendance with a 5 percent jump. While all the Orlando Parks are marked with increasing business, the Sea World San Diego seems to be the only one that is left out with a 7 percent decline in its visits.

‘Inside Disney Parks’ Newscast – A New Way of Receiving Updates Straight from the House of Mouse

The all new ‘Inside Disney Parks’ newscast is intended to bring all the top stories from the Disney Parks for the viewers in exclusive and surprising storytelling formats episode-wise.

It’s always a daunting task to stay in touch with each and every development and happenings at the world’s most magical Parks. When it comes to the House of Mouse the stories and updates are increasingly awesome, but the pace at which they keep taking place in the parks is awesome too. To keep track of stories in such overwhelming numbers is never an easy affair. Given the increasing nature of changes to popular attractions and rides, including plans of bringing to live new blockbuster fantasies every now and then, news of expansions and makeovers, also the frequent inclusion of new and exciting programs to the special annual events every time they return, I think it’s a never-ending blast of information.

With so much going around in the WDW (Walt Disney World) Resort of late that often we end up missing interesting stories and developments about the places and attractions we loved most. While not every single change and happening makes sense for some, there are others, including big time Disney loyal and admirers for whom a change to their favorite Parks means a lot. And why not, often it is seen that an announcement about a new plan or even the rumors about that announcement can create unprecedented fuss in the Disney communities, forums and groups across the globe.

Authentic real-time sources such as the official Disney Blog and news site- wdwnews.com or other news providers such as The Orlando Sentinel including many other Disney related news and media services for that matter offer great opportunities for us to stay connected with the latest about the Parks. All these news sources serve us with valuable information about important and interesting happenings, plans and announcement of upcoming attractions and offer day to day reports and views of major developments and expansions taking place inside. However, to make things even more interesting and exciting for fans Disney had recently came out with another first-of-its-kind news alternative – namely ‘Inside Disney Parks’ newscast.

SeaWorld Best Theme Park in Orlando for the Budget Traveler

Being in the theme park ticket business I am bombarded on a daily basis with questions about budget traveling. Many people know that Orlando is not very budget friendly! One part stands out above the rest and that park is Seaworld Orlando. It’s very expensive to go to Disney or Universal these days and average ticket costs can be over $120 a day. The worst thing about that is you’re paying that much money to be in a crowded environment where people don’t seem to be very happy. Now take SeaWorld for example, here you can go for a day for around $83 per person and have some of the most beautiful scenery to enjoy throughout your day.

Not only do they have the most beautiful parking Central Florida but they also have some of the coolest animals on the planet here! I wish try to tell people to take a good look at the Sea World parks. They actually have four here in Central Florida. The first and most popular of course to see world, followed up by Busch Gardens in Tampa and now they have two awesome water parks to cool off at on a hot Florida summer day. The biggest and most popular one is Aquatica and the other one is Discovery Island which sits next to their Tampa theme park Busch Gardens.

A budget traveler who wanted to get the most out of a vacation would probably take a look at their all new 14 day unlimited ticket that includes free parking. This would get a person into all four of their parks with free transportation to Tampa and free parking at any other of their parks. This ticket is only $148. I’ll take a good look at Disney and Universal and see how much they’re charging and this doesn’t even include a water park or parking fees. Current parking fees at the other parks are up to $20 a day.

For that kind of money I better be whisked off like a pharaoh from Egypt. When you stop and do the math this is only about a dollar 50 a day and comes with free transportation to Busch Gardens. So at the end of the day, the folks over here have really made it possible to have a great and memorable vacation on a budget.

Animal Beauty Abounds at SeaWorld Orlando

I have thousands of travelers each week ask me what I think the best parks are for their small children. SeaWorld in Orlando is one of my top choices and here are the reasons why. First and foremost I have four children and I have taken them to every park here in Central Florida dozens of times. Being in this industry is a great blessing and it has exposed my children to some very beautiful and magnificent things. Whenever I look back at photos and reminisce about times gone at the parks, the things that stood out the most were animals. Animals can have huge impression on children. For some reason they look at them in amazement and remember them more than they remember a plastic animatronics.

I feel SeaWorld understands this, and being great stewards to these creatures, you can see the beauty in every animal at their park. I was once invited by my SeaWorld representative to take a few of their rescued sea turtles to release back into the wild. They had rescued them from South Carolina and had rehabilitated them back to health over a year. Most of their animals have been rescued that they have in the park and now they call it home there. The beauty and compassion is everywhere you look there. Just when walking in and seeing their first flamingo, I would always stand back and watch my kids gaze in amazement. It’s like they are for seeing something that they’ve only read about in their books.

I love to sit watch the looks on their faces. Sure other local theme parks have animals as well, but SeaWorld probably has the most beautiful and memorable ones at their park. Where else can you see an alligator, manatee, dauphin and killer whale in one part? The answer is you can’t! Exploring this park for one day with kids is perfect. Don’t forget to pack their bathing suites as well. There are many little animal themed splash areas all around their park. So when contemplating a vacation here to Orlando and you’re bringing children, take a good look at this central Florida treasure.

Stopping to Smell the Flowers at SeaWorld Orlando

There are some great theme parks in Central Florida but SeaWorld Orlando sticks out for its price. If you’re traveling to Florida on a budget and are looking for something that will entertain you for a whole day while giving you the most visually beautiful backdrop, in this park is for you. See world has been around for a long time here in Orlando, and has been around for almost as long as Walt Disney World. People have been coming to see dolphins, ride roller coasters and witness a real live orca since 1973.

And this has given this very unique theme park plenty of time to grow beautiful plants and exotic trees. If you’re the kind a traveler like I am, I like a little bit of both worlds. I like a little bit of excitement followed up by natural beauty. There is nothing like walking in and smelling this sweet smells of gardenia, plumeria and other exotic flowers that seem to always be in bloom. The landscaping and attention to detail is absolutely magnificent. I have never seen anything close to it at any of the other local theme parks including Disney.

They must have an army of horticulture experts because everything there looks so beautifully manicured and spot on. Among the hustle and bustle of some of their pathways, they have managed to make little Zen areas for one to go off and escape the masses. All one has to be as a lover of beautiful things in the will to look. Many times I have taken my family over; I take my camera and just take beautiful pictures of flowers. They have some of the most beautiful hibiscus plants I have ever seen and thousands of the sweetest gardenias I have ever smelled.

Maybe the plant these plants in order to keep the smell down of travelers and the occasional sardine from the sea lion area. Nonetheless it is one of the most beautiful parks for one to go to who wants a little bit of both worlds.