The Fifteenth Annual Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival Blossoms to 75 Days! Once again, Disney World’s Epcot blossoms into a beautiful and vast garden arrayed in color. The beauty of Mother Nature is displayed throughout the park, while guests are also treated with new experiences and added activities for extra fun.

Celebrating “Fun in the Sun,” the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival is packed with new experiences for the entire family. See millions of blooms and the largest collection of Disney Topiary anywhere! Interact with top horticulturists at Garden Town, a new festival addition, where you can get gardening tips, participate in demonstrations, plan your day, and more! Have a fun evening “under the stars” at the America Gardens Theatre and enjoy the music you grew up with during the Flower Power Concert Series. Celebrate a special mother’s day with mom at our scrumptious “Mother’s Day Brunch” on May 11th. Make your reservations early!

Dates: March 19, 2008 – June 1, 2008

Festival Highlights

Epcot®Experience the best of the fest by enjoying the Festival Highlights that are not to be missed!

Flower Power Concert SeriesEpcot®Relax under the stars and groove to your favorite music from the ’60s and ’70s.

Especially for KidsEpcot®Gardening isn’t just for grown-ups. Stop by to participate in fun family activities sure to tickle your pixies.

Themed WeekendsEpcot®Enhance your trip to the Festival by joining us during our Themed Weekends – packed with guest speakers, amazing hands-on experiences and entertaining activities for kids.

Easter and Mother’s Day BrunchEpcot®Feast among the flowers during our popular Easter and Mother’s Day Brunch.

Garden Town ProgramsEpcot®Stop and smell the roses — and then give your other senses a workout with some fantastic Festival Center programs for the entire family.

Lodging near Disney World is available, with a wide selection found on our hotel page. To browse our selection, visit our website, ReserveOrlando.com, or click on the hotel tab above.

Disney Parks guests will don 3-D glasses and enter a wild and wooly 4-D world of Woody the Cowboy and Buzz Lightyear when Toy Story Mania! premieres this summer. The attraction will debut on both coasts: at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and along the Paradise Pier midway in Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland Resort in California.
Celebrating the Disney•Pixar classics “Toy Story” and “Toy Story II,” Toy Story Mania! raises the bar for interactive ride-game attractions. It’s a high energy, immersive adventure that makes guests a key part of the action as their game play triggers special effects that provide a fourth dimension of fun. “Toy Story Mania!” engages guests in a whole new way with the delightful characters of the films. Upon entering the attraction, guests will be welcomed by Mr. Potato Head, more than five feet tall and looking like he stepped right down from the movie screen. The state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics Mr. Potato Head makes a perfect carnival barker for the immersive Toy Story Mania! experience, since he is the first attraction-based Audio-Animatronics figure who can engage guests in a two-way conversation.
Everyone gets a front row seat when guests put on their 3-D glasses, “shrink” to the size of a toy, and board the Toy Story Mania! carnival tram ride vehicles, whose fast travel and spinning add a huge amount of fun to the interactive experience. The exciting and colorful route takes guests through “Andy’s Bedroom” filled with oversized murals and toys. The vehicles spin to face Toy Story Mania! game booths – high-tech yet rooted in classic midway games of skill – and guests aim for 3-D animated targets using their own on-board “spring-action shooters.” Players pair up and sit side-by-side for a friendly competition that delivers an ever-changing variety of targets and surprises.
As they play, guests can actually see the “virtual” objects they’ve launched leave their “spring-action shooters” and hit the targets (or not). And thanks to 4-D special effects technology, they may sense objects whirring past them as they pop out of the 3-D scenes.
The Toy Story Mania! games – five of them, plus an introductory practice round – are designed to be enjoyed by audiences of all ages and skills, from beginners to serious gamers.
Play is energized by the spirit of the “Toy Story” characters cast in games that best suit their very animated personalities. First comes the “Pie Throw Practice” round in which guests can try splattering targets with “virtual” pies. Next Hamm the pig hosts a “Hamm & Eggs” booth in which players launch “plastic virtual eggs” at various barnyard targets. “Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop” presents a landscape full of balloon sheep, trees and other objects at which guests can launch virtual darts. But players had better be careful! A popped virtual water balloon might add an additional 4-D wet dimension to the game.
From there it’s on to “Green Army Men Shoot Camp” where the challenge is to break plates with baseballs. Next up is “Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers,” a ring-toss game hosted by everyone’s favorite space ranger, with Little Green Aliens as the targets. For the grand finale game, Toy Story Mania! players will ride through Wild West scenes launching virtual suction-cup darts at targets in “Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery.” A final “Woody’s Bonus Roundup” encourages guests to fire their “spring-action shooters” as rapidly as possible at one last super-target for extra points. When scores are tallied, players’ skill levels are identified with the reward of an onscreen “virtual plush.”
The game play of Toy Story Mania! is accompanied by ingenious musical variations of Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got A Friend in Me,” arranged by veteran music editor Bruno Coon, a frequent Newman collaborator, to compliment the games – for example, a military brass band version for “Green Army Man Shoot Camp.” No matter how many times guests return to ride and play, they can be sure every ride-through will be different.
Information courtesy of Magical Mountain and Disney

 

There are many reasons to visit Orlando, Florida. Home of the most famous mouse in the world, many people know of the fun that awaits them in Orlando. However, there are many things to do in Orlando that are unexpected gems. In fact, Orlando is a versatile array of activities and luxuries that comprise a vacation destination in which families, couples and friends can relax and enjoy everything about Florida.

When visitors come to Orlando, Disney World is generally a must see. Their exciting theme parks, uniquely designed to provide Disney experiences, bring out the kid in all of us. Universal Orlando Resort is also a must see, especially for those that love roller coasters and nightlife. There are many rides and activities within Universal, suitable for those of all ages. As the weather warms up, people flock to Wet ‘n Wild Orlando, where the waves and thrills are enough to whet anyone’s appetite. Cypress Gardens, a family favorite embracing traditional fun, is also a nice addition to any vacation.

While visiting the area, there are many entertaining Orlando dinner shows to see. Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show and Pirate’s Dinner Adventure are popular among guests, and are always a hit with kids. Other attractions in Orlando worth a visit include Wonderworks, Gatorland, Magical Midway and don’t forget to take a ride on Boggy Creek Airboat rides.

Orlando Lodging offers guests a multitude of options. SunLake Resort, Blue Tree Resort, Radisson Resort, Runaway Beach Resort, Mike Ditka Resort, Days Inn Maingate, Floridays Orlando, and the Galleria Palms hotel are just a few of the properties available.

Visit Orlando today! You’ll be glad you did!

Adrenaline pumping and music thumping, you find yourself heading straight toward the sky. Suddenly, you are doing 65 mph, 17 stories over Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Gasping with excitement, you rock out to a song you picked before strapping in. And, it’s all on video. Once the adventure is over, you edit the video to send to your friends.

This is true high-tech, customizable, multi-sensory entertainment. Scheduled to open in spring 2009, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit will stake its claim as the most technologically advanced roller coaster in the world. The Universal Creative team is combining audio and special effects engineering, sophisticated on- and off-board video and one-of-a-kind guest personalization to create a roller coaster experience unlike any other.

“This is the perfect intersection of the digital age and theme park entertainment,” said Mark Woodbury, President of Creative for Universal Parks & Resorts. “Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit blends roller coaster intensity and guest interaction in a way where no two experiences will be the same.”

Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit touts six near-miss moments and first-ever thrills including a record-breaking loop. Ride vehicles feature the brightest and most innovative color changing LEDs in the world. High-energy visual displays fill the queue line. With up to four ride vehicles on the tracks at any given time, and with concert lighting and special effects mixed in, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit will be a true high-intensity, multi-sensory experience that is unmatched.
Guests can customize their ride experience by choosing what song will play while they’re on the roller coaster. LED boards in the queue lines will display song options from five genres (classic rock, rap, country, pop and soundtracks). Once on-board, guests can choose their song or let the coaster’s digital sound system choose for them. When the ride is over, guests will be able to customize footage from their experience and compile it into a take-home music video.

Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit will be located near the Jimmy Neutron attraction traveling the southern perimeter of the Universal Studios theme park, over to the CityWalk lagoon and back.

Information and Image courtesy of Universal Studios

Universal Studios is replacing its Back to the Future ride with the new Simpsons ride, based on the popular animated TV series and motion picture, at both its theme parks in Hollywood and in Orlando. The new ride will open at both parks this spring.

Specific details about the new attraction are being kept secret however we know it will be a simulator ride using 80 foot IMAX screens to give the rider a virtual-reality trip through a cartoon theme park called Krustyland built by Krusty the Clown. Guests will go on a wild tour with the Simpsons family in an effort to save Bart from Sideshow Bob.

A press release from Universal Studios on April 24, 2007 stated: “Guests will be rocketed along with the Simpson family on a hysterical, almost unimaginable adventure. They’ll experience a side of Springfield previously unexplored as they enjoy the new ride’s interpretation of thrill rides, dark rides and ‘live’ shows that make up a new fantasy amusement park dreamed up by the show’s cantankerous Krusty the Clown.”

The ride will be located at both Universal theme parks — in Hollywood, California and in Orlando, Florida. In preparation for the renovation, the Florida version of Back to the Future closed on March 30, 2007. In addition, the Hollywood version closed on September 3, 2007.
“The ride is designed to duplicate the Simpsons home-viewing experience, only at high speed and with lots of screaming,” said Matt Groening in a press release.

Gift shops were opened at both parks in October 2007 in support of the new ride. The shops carry the name “Kwik-E-Mart” as they appear in the TV show. The stores sell memorabilia from the show including edibles such as fruit snacks, energy drinks and much more.

“Universal takes the most popular characters in blockbuster movies and hit TV shows and creates fun, exhilarating entertainment experiences,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts. “With its unique sense of humor and enormous popularity, The Simpsons is a perfect complement to our brand of entertainment.”

In Hollywood, construction for the new ride began last September. The old Back to the Future ride was demolished then. Painting for the Simpsons ride started in January. It is nearing completion at this moment. Workers are making the final touches on the ride to get it open for theme park visitors. The opening date is slated for May 24, 2008.

In Orlando, the construction started earlier in May 2007 after the announcement of the new ride. In February of this year, concrete was laid for the Simpsons ride. By March, a Krusty the Clown head was already finished. The Orlando version of the ride could open as early as the end of this month.

Visitors to Universal Studios will have something new to look forward to later this Spring…a new ride featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. All of your favorite Simpsons characters are coming together for this new attraction at Universal Studios.

Information courtesy of AmericaJR

During the past decade, Orlando has matured into a culinary destination, and the latest batch of restaurants to enter the market certainly bears this out. From high-end seafood, supper clubs and sophisticated taverns, to Greek, Cuban and Brazilian entries, these establishments will happily surprise visitors seeking something new and adventurous. Reservations are generally recommended at all eateries.

Pointe Orlando

The Oceanaire Seafood Room’s high-energy atmosphere is reminiscent of the great seafood supper clubs of the 1930s and 1940s featuring a spacious dining room complete with traditional table-style and horseshoe booth seating. The Oceanaire offers more than 25 types of seafood and shellfish flown in daily from around the world.

Opening during the fall, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar is part eatery, part dance club. Dinner service focuses on modernized Cuban fare like grilled skirt steak, ropa vieja, honey-mango glazed salmon and mojo-marinated roast pork, among other highlights. However, as the evening goes on, Mojitos are poured, tables are cleared and the massive 18,000 square foot space transforms into a late-night Latin destination complete with DJs, floor shows and salsa dancing.

B.B. King’s Blues Club is a supper club-style restaurant and live music venue features cuisine that ranges from ribs to Carolina glazed salmon. It showcases four full-service bars, a mezzanine level and open-air patio. B.B. King’s also has three VIP rooms for private dining. Live music is performed nightly by the B.B. King All Star Band, an 11-piece house band.

Redrock Canyon Grill specializes in Southwest and American cuisine served in a casual, energetic atmosphere. The menu features fresh items such as their signature wood-fired rotisserie chicken, grilled or smoked fish, ribeye steak and St. Louis ribs.

Taverna Opa features traditional Greek cuisine and festive entertainment including belly dancing and Greek music. Specialties include tzatziki, spanakopita, kebabs and numerous variations on lamb. A family-style menu is available for parties of six or more. While lunch is served at Taverna Opa, dinner time provides a unique, lively experience as patrons are encouraged to dance on the tables and napkins are routinely tossed into the air.

International Drive
Gol! The Taste of Brazil, a recently opened Brazilian-style Churrascaria steakhouse on International Drive, is changing its name to “Nelore” to reflect the high-quality beef it prepares, as well as its more upscale surroundings. The restaurant features 17 cuts of beef, pork, chicken and seafood that are grilled over an open pit. These items are then served table-side by a steady stream of “Gauchos,” who slice the meat to-order. A unique salad bar that includes 46 hot and cold items is also available.

Downtown Orlando

Citrus Restaurant emphasizes fresh American cuisine with a definitive Latin influence. Located on Orange Avenue, the restaurant provides a contemporary atmosphere with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes blue crab cakes, marinated skirt steak, bacon-wrapped Maine scallops and yellow fin tuna. Operated by Urban Life Management Restaurant Group, Citrus was presented with a Golden Spoon Award as one of the “Top 20 Best New Restaurants in Florida” by Florida Trend magazine.

Metro Orlando

The Village Tavern, located on Conroy Road near The Mall at Millenia, celebrates freshly prepared, classic American food in a chic and modern atmosphere. All menu items are made from scratch, with its aged beef cut onsite. Favorites include bacon-wrapped scallops, Maryland-style crab cakes, steak frites, grilled Ahi tuna, marinated flank steak and wood-oven pizzas and flatbreads. The tavern also serves specialty cocktails and martinis, micro-brewed beer and fine wines. A brunch menu is available on Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. that features a complimentary glass of sparkling wine or a mimosa, in addition to modernized classics like steak Benedict, a southwest frittata and an Italian quiche.

Replacing the former Dan Marino’s space at Veranda Park, Tavern on the Lake emphasizes fresh seasonal ingredients and an international wine list. Its menu serves indulgent, yet lighter fare such as roasted salmon, grilled quail, skirt steak, jumbo sea scallops and rack of New Zealand lamb. The wine list offers nearly 60 selections by the glass or the bottle. Tavern on the Lake has also been remodeled to include an enhanced interior color palette and re-styled ambient lighting, in addition to incorporating environmentally friendly practices such as using as recycled paper and glass products.

Hotel/Resort

Serving U.S. Prime and aged Midwestern corn-fed beef, PorterHouse at the Orlando Airport Marriott thrives on generous portions and attentive, old-school service. The menu, developed by Executive Chef Anthony Hull, features 100 percent natural Angus beef that is also certified “Humane” by Humane Farm Animal Care, an independent, non-profit organization that monitors the ethical treatment of feed cattle. From a 12-ounce N.Y. strip steak or a 36-ounce Porterhouse big enough for two, to pan-seared breast of duck and grilled Atlantic swordfish, the eatery sets a new standard for hi-end steakhouses.

Located at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort, Il Mulino New York Trattoria is an award-winning Italian eatery features fresh seafood, steaks and imported ingredients. Diners may select from wild mushroom risotto, grilled ribeye steak or tortellini alla panna, among many other classically prepared dishes.

Information courtesy of Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau

From Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, to Paris and Milan, every great city has distinctive shopping. And while some might not be aware, Orlando is certainly no exception. Just minutes away from the city’s sprawling convention center, mouse-eared hats and souvenir T-shirts, visitors will find The Mall at Millenia, a must-visit, total shopping experience unlike any other retail center in Florida. And now, The Mall at Millenia is offering an exclusive package that allows travelers visiting Central Florida to discover what distinguishes it from other area attractions – the Mall offers a luxurious, sumptuous, unexpected and one-of-a-kind experience.

With more than 1.5 million visitors shopping and dining at The Mall at Millenia last year, the luxury retail center has quickly established itself as one of Central Florida’s most popular tourist attractions by providing an unforgettable vacation experience. The center features a blend of luxurious retailers, such as Chanel, Gucci, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Tiffany & Co., today’s most in-demand brand concepts, including Betsey Johnson, Anthropologie, Chico’s and Marciano, as well as award-winning décor, popular dining options and a variety of guest services in an upscale atmosphere.

“When visitors first step into The Mall at Millenia, they immediately recognize we are much more than your typical shopping mall,” said Steven Jamieson, general manager of The Mall at Millenia. “With 150 shops, a variety of restaurants, an abundance of guest services and dramatic architecture, we’ve created a full-day, all-out experience not to be missed when visiting Central Florida.”

For those who’d like to fully experience all that The Mall at Millenia offers, including one-on-one image consultation, personal shopping, valet service and star treatment at the center’s most upscale retailers, visitors should reserve the “Millenia Experience” package.

The “Millenia Experience” begins with a personalized on-site image and styling consultation with Lisa Maile of Lisa Maile Professional Image, Modeling & Acting. Veteran consultant Maile, who has previously worked with scores of actors and models, including actress Mandy Moore and two Miss Americas, will coach the discriminating shopper on finding clothes that work best for their body type and provide tips on simple wardrobe tricks, as well as ways to enjoy the overall wardrobe shopping experience when they return home.

Maile then puts visitors’ new-found knowledge into practice during a personal shopping session at the Mall’s most luxurious retailers, followed by a customized make-up lesson at MAC Cosmetics. To round out the exclusive experience, also included in the “Millenia Experience” package is a $1,000 Mall at Millenia gift card for purchasing new looks, $150 for a sumptuous lunch at one of the Mall’s popular dining establishments, such as P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, The Cheesecake Factory and Brio Tuscan Grille, as well as a cocktail at Blue Martini, the Mall’s entertainment lounge, to cap off the full day of events.

The “Millenia Experience” package is priced from $1,900 (which includes the $1,000 Mall at Millenia gift card) and can be customized for groups of two or more. For booking information, please contact The Mall at Millenia’s tourism marketing manager at (407) 363-3555. For more info on Lisa Maile and image consulting services, please visit www.LisaMaile.com/image.

About The Mall at Millenia: Conveniently located just minutes from every major attraction in Orlando, the Mall at Millenia’s overall shopping experience includes the opportunity to take advantage of a wide range of experience-enhancing services and amenities, including personal shoppers, trunk and fashion shows, special signature events, salons, a day spa, valet parking, a full-service concierge, currency exchange, multi-lingual staff and VIP “meet and greet” program, as well as an onsite U.S. post office.

Daily shopping hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Sunday, noon until 7 p.m., with many restaurants open through midnight. For more information, call (407) 363-3555 or visit the Mall’s Web site at http://www.mallatmillenia.com/.

Information courtesy of Press Release Newswire