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Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

Orlando Eye to open in spring 2015

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

The Orlando Eye is a 400-feet-tall observation wheel that is a sister attraction to London’s world-famous London Eye. The Orlando Eye will give riders a sweeping view of Central Florida and on a clear day, guests will be able to see the east coast and the Kennedy Space Center. The cantilevered wheel will have 30 air conditioned glass capsules for passengers to ride in.

Orlando Eye

The Orlando Eye website lists ticket prices as $18 for adults and $13 for children. The Orlando Eye is located at 8401 International Drive.

New Seven Dwarf’s Coaster Ride Opens

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Seven dwarfs mine trainTourists crowding onto Walt Disney World’s new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction this week in Florida got a glimpse of a new direction for theme parks looking to upgrade old technology..

Walt Disney Co. has removed classic attractions such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Snow White’s Scary Adventures — with their creaky electric vehicles, decades-old mechanical figurines and glowing, painted backdrops — from the Fantasyland area in the Magic Kingdom park in Orlando.

In their place it built the mine train, an entirely new ride system that combines elements of a roller coaster and the classic themed dark rides, with audio-animatronic figures considered the most lifelike in the industry. Nearby, similar animatronic technology brings to life Lumiere, the candlestick character from “Beauty and the Beast,” in the new Enchanted Tales With Belle attraction.

Three endangered tiger cubs born at Busch Gardens Tampa

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Three Malayan tiger cubs — two males, one female — were born at Busch Gardens in Tampa on March 31.  The animals are part of an endangered species — about 500 Malayan tigers survive in the wild, and only in southern Thailand and the Malay Peninsula, the park says.

Three endangered tiger cubs born

Three endangered tiger cubs born at Busch Gardens Tampa

The newborns are the offspring of mother Bzui and father Mata, who are backstage with their firstborns, where there are being monitored by Busch Gardens’ animal-care team. The cubs will start being introduced to the park’s Jungala area in about a month.

The births are in conjuction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

Orlando International Airport Plugs into Green Energy

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Recharging your electric or hybrid vehicle while traveling is now a reality at Orlando International Airport. Under an agreement with the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) approved the installation of 20 charging stations to provide service to airport patrons with plug-in electric vehicles.

Orlando Airport car charging stations

Charging stations on the second level of ‘A’ parking garage

The charging stations are manufactured by ChargePoint and 10 are mounted on the walls in designated sections in both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ terminal parking garages. Funding for the equipment was provided by a federal grant and OUC assumes the cost of installation, operation, maintenance and electricity. Users will be charged for use by ChargePoint.

With the growing availability of alternative fuel source vehicles, GOAA is taking the lead on supporting green initiatives and reaffirming a commitment to enhance customer service.

Statement from Florida DHSMV on International Driving Permits

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended section 322.04, Florida Statutes, to require visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in Florida. This change took effect Jan. 1, 2013.

It has come to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ attention that this requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them.

Therefore, the Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of violations of the amended statutory section until a final determination of the alignment of the amendment with the treaty can be made. Non-resident visitors to Florida who wish to drive while here will be required to have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued in his or her name from another state or territory of the U.S. or from their country of residence. However, the FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit.

Legoland Florida’s water park doubles up on bricks

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

When the Legoland Florida water park reopenes for the season this weekend, guests will see even more figures and scenes constructed of Lego bricks. Two million bricks have been added since the Winter Haven water park opened last year, bringing its total to 4 million.

Legoland Florida Water park doubles up on bricks

Legoland Florida Water park doubles up on bricks

Sealife has strong representation among the new additions, including Moby Dick (made of more than 200,000 Duplo bricks) along the Build-A-Raft River and a shark (nearly 250,000) near the wave pool.

A 15-foot tall Lego Mermaid (176,000 bricks) now stands at the water park entrance amide water spouts and bubbles. Surfers, seahorses, clams and shells can also be seen.

Legoland has also added a hotdog vendor called Waveside Grill near the pool.

Legoland’s water park is only available as an add-on to a regular Legoland Florida ticket. (There is no water-park-only ticket.) A one-day pass to Legoland with water park is $91 ($81 for ages 3-12). There are discounts for Florida residents who pick a specific day and purchase tickets in advance. Floridians can also opt to buy an annual pass, which includes the water park, for $99.

Water park hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Legoland Florida calendar opens up a bit next week when it operates seven days a week during the Spring Break season. The park commonly is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays … and sometimes the water park only operates on weekends. To double-check the operating hours and days (and for other information), go to www.legoland.com.

Walt Disney World – MyMagic+ explained

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

MyMagic+ explained

Making “How” Guests Experience Disney Parks Even Better: MyMagic+ Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is taking another step forward to evolve “how” guests experience Disney Parks and is using technology to make it easier than ever before for guests to make the most of their Walt Disney World visit. Many of these efforts fall under the umbrella of MyMagic+, which has the ability to connect nearly all aspects of the guest experience and make it better for everyone, at no additional charge.

WDW MyMagic+

WDW MyMagic+

My Disney Experience

A new website and mobile app called My Disney Experience provides a one-­-stop shop for all things Walt Disney World throughout every phase of a guest’s vacation. It will enable guests to:

  • Get more information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer, from resort hotels and attractions to dining and merchandise.
  • Design the overall experience they want, planning as much or as little as they wish.
  • Make dining and other reservations and FastPass+ selections.
  • Connect with family and friends to coordinate plans and share photos.

Disney FastPass+ service

Guests will be able to select FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences through My Disney Experience before they leave home and make changes on the go.

  • For the first time, guests will be able to reserve firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney Character Greetings and more, in addition to their favorite attractions.
  • For guests who don’t know where to start, Disney will recommend FastPicks – a set of three FastPass+ selections that serve as a starting point – and give guests the option to customize their selections.
  • Disney FastPass+ service is included with Theme Park admission.

MagicBand

Worn on the wrist, the colorful MagicBand is an all-­-in-­-one device that effortlessly connects all the vacation choices guests make online with My Disney Experience.

  • Guests can use their MagicBand to enter their Disney Resort hotel room, buy food and merchandise, and enter Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks. Plus, the MagicBand provides FastPass+ access to all the experiences selected and serves as the connection to Disney’s PhotoPass .
  • The MagicBand is initially available to select Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and guests who purchase other specific products. Other guests will be able to use their standard ticket to access the benefits of MyMagic+, such as making FastPass+ selections on My Disney Experience.
WDW MyMagic+

WDW MyMagic+

MyMagic+ FAQ

1. What does ‘MyMagic+’ provide?

‘MyMagic+’ comprises of 3 main components: My Disney Experience website and smartphone app, FASTPASS+, and MagicBand RFID bracelet. The MagicBand replaces traditional tickets with a bracelet that is worn on the wrist. MagicBand combines all tickets, allowing room entry, park entry, FASTPASS+ attraction entry, PHOTOPASS, and room charging.

2. When will ‘MyMagic+’ be available?

The system is in limited testing now, and Disney has said that it should be available to all Walt Disney World guests later in 2013.

3. How much does ‘MyMagic+’ cost?

The system will be available at no additional cost. The basic MagicBand RFID bracelet can be upgraded to a customized band, such as a Princess band, for an additional fee. This is only a cosmetic change however, and does not impact the actual experience.

4. Will you have to use ‘MyMagic+’?

No. The system is opt in, and is not required. However, if you do not use ‘MyMagic+’ you will not be able to use FASTPASS+.

5. Will Annual Passholders be able to use ‘MyMagic+’?

Yes, Disney has said that they will be contacting Annual Passholders to provide them with a MagicBand to take part in the program.

6. Will guests have to use a smartphone to use FASTPASS+?

No. Guests will be able to use kiosks inside the parks to choose FASTPASS+ experiences as well as using smartphones or websites.

7. Is the MagicBand bracelet secure?

Yes, just like a normal park ticket, the bracelet just contains a unique ID code. This code identifies guests in the Disney database. No information is stored on the bracelet.

8. Will MyMagic+ be available to non-Walt Disney World Resort guests?

Yes. Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, and Annual Passholders will receive a MagicBand, as well as those guests who purchase a photography package. Guests who stay at non-Disney hotels will receive an RFID enabled ticket with features of touch to enter the park, touch to redeem FastPass+ and touch to pay. These guests can participate in My Disney Experience and purchase a MagicBand if they wish.

Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs makes the official announcement of the Next Gen ‘MyMagic+’

Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, has made the first official announcement of the NextGen initiative ‘MyMagic+’. ‘MyMagic+’ is the combination of several technologies that we have been following over the past year, including FASTPASS+, the MagicBand RFID wrist strap, and the My Disney Experience website and apps.
Here is the full text from the official Disney Parks Blog as posted on 7 January 2013.

At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we continually push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to deliver the best possible experience for our guests. We’re always looking for ways to take what we do and do it even better. Over the past few years, we’ve devoted considerable time and resources to create a more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience for each and every guest who spends time with us. I know there’s been significant speculation about these efforts among our fans, so we’re pleased to give you a glimpse into the work we are doing to take the entire Disney guest experience to the next level.

Some of these initiatives are more apparent and can already be seen by our guests – like our interactive queues at Walt Disney World Resort and the Enchanted Art on our cruise ships – while others are more behind-the-scenes and are focused on “how” visitors plan, access and enjoy their experiences with us. Over the next several months, we’ll be rolling out a collection of tools at the Walt Disney World Resort called MyMagic+ that will give guests more opportunities to customize and personalize their entire visit.

Like most people who visit Walt Disney World Resort, my family and I have our “must-do” attractions, and as the father of three boys, those attractions often end with the word “mountain.” Now, rather than dashing as a group, or even splitting up to gather FastPasses, imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.

A major component of MyMagic+ is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which gives guests planning their trip the latest information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer. We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously. No matter where guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want. They can book dining and other experiences and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more through an enhanced FastPass system, FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit.

Linking the entire MyMagic+ experience together is an innovative piece of technology we developed called the MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, it will serve as a guest’s room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one. We’ve began testing certain aspects of MyMagic+ in Florida last month and the early reactions we’ve gotten have been fantastic.

This collection of tools is another step forward in the ongoing evolution of our guest experience, giving us even more ways to help friends and family create the unforgettable Disney memories that they want most. We’ll be testing, adjusting and adding features to MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience over time and will continue to make improvements based on our guests’ feedback. We look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead!
Thank you to www.wdwmagic.com for providing this information.

Atlantis exhibit to open at Kennedy Space Center in June

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The Kennedy Space Center Vistor Complex will unveil its exhibit that showcases the space shuttle Atlantis on June 29, it was announced Thursday.

The $100 million project is under construction around the orbiter, which has been lifted off the ground and placed at a 43-degree angle to simulate its position in space when leaving the International Space Station.  Space center guests will see Atlantis’ payload doors open and its robotic arm extended.

Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Sapce Center

New Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit to open at Kennedy Sapce Center

The 90,000-square-foot exhibit will include 60 interactive stations outlining the history of the space-shuttle program.

A logo for the attraction also was revealed Thursday. In it, an orange silhouette of the shuttle  — as seen from above — forms the A in the word “Atlantis.” The NASA logo (meatball style) is at the end of the word, with “Kennedy Space Center” below. The exhibit will be known simply as “Space Shuttle Atlantis.”

“Although the multimillion-dollar interactive exhibit encompasses much, much more than the display of Atlantis, there is no denying, she is truly the star of the show,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Also coming soon to the visitor complex will be an attraction called Angry Birds Space Encounter, based on the popular game and characters. The kid-friendly element is scheduled to open this spring.

For more information, go to www.kennedyspacecenter.com.

Florida tourism hits new high

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

89.3 million people visited Florida in 2012, a new tourism record for the state.  In 2011, there were 2.3 percent less visitors, with the numbers coming in at 87.3 million.  These numbers were compiled in an annual report from the state’s tourism marketing firm, Visit Florida.  Interestingly, the report even goes so far as to break down the numbers by domestic and overseas visitors.  10.2 million of the tourists visiting Florida came from overseas and there were 1.2 percent more domestic visitors than last year.

Visit Florida Board of Directors Chairman Glenn Hastings said, “Surpassing the 10 million overseas visitor mark for the first time ever is a significant milestone for Florida’s tourism industry.  With over 10 percent of all Canadians traveling to Florida last year, we are exceedingly grateful for the loyalty of our friends and family to the North.”

British holidaymakers in Florida embroiled in bureaucratic bungling as they’re told they’ll need International Driving Permit – but won’t be punished if they don’t have one

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

As the main half-term holiday rush gets underway, British holidaymakers heading to Florida and planning to rent a car could find themselves embroiled in bureaucratic bungling.

Last month Florida’s legislature broke ranks with the other 49 American states and made it mandatory for overseas visitors to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as their national licence. Earlier this week, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles warned that any British driver who broke the new rule would face a mandatory court appearance and possibly jail.

Florida U-turn on International Driving Permit

Florida U-turn on International Driving Permit

Few British motorists carry the IDP, because the vast majority of holidays and business trips are to places that do not require it. The permits are issued by the AA and RAC by post, or in person at Post Offices – but only by 88 branches in the entire UK, which is less than one per cent of the total.

Leading car-rental companies changed their policies to reflect the new rule, and refused to hire vehicles to motorists who did not have the right paperwork. But last night officials in Florida said that while the law would remain on the statute, drivers who broke it would not be punished.

The department said: “The Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of a law that requires visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit to drive lawfully in Florida”.

A foreign motorist without the IDP will still technically be breaking state law, and there are fears that anyone involved in an accident could face difficulties with insurance cover as a result. The AA is still recommending that travellers obtain the permit.

The official explanation given for the sudden change of heart was that “the law may potentially conflict with an international treaty”. It is widely believed that pressure from local tourism officials, the Foreign Office and motoring organisations triggered the abrupt change of mind. “The Sunshine State is doing business as usual,” the statement added. “Florida’s doors and roadways are open as usual to all visitors.”

About one million UK citizens visit Florida annually. Rosie Sanderson, who runs the AA’s International Division, said the new law “has thrown the fly-drive market into chaos, with a lot of conflicting advice”.

Rental companies are expected to revoke their rule changes, though the process of informing customers and staff may not take place quickly enough to benefit British families flying to Florida this weekend.