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05/23/2017


 

 

Orlando's Newest Openings Offer Something for Everyone This Summer

Orlando Named AAA's Top Destination for Memorial Day Travel,
Led by Major Theme Park Expansions This Week

 

ORLANDO, Fla. - Recently named AAA's Top Destination for Memorial Day Travel, Orlando is unveiling some of the largest expansions in theme park history this week, from the enchanting alien world of Pandora to the island paradise of Volcano Bay. These historic openings are the culmination of a year filled with new offerings including phenomenal dining options and brand new resorts. It's one of the most exciting times to be in Orlando, where all-new adventure, thrills and family fun await visitors looking for an unforgettable summer vacation.

Find more information, including exclusive insider tips, opening dates and the latest news on Orlando's summer happenings, at VisitOrlando.com/blog

 

NEW ATTRACTIONS: THEME PARKS AND MORE

  • Universal Orlando Resort Volcano Bay, a brand new tropical island water park, will open May 25, 2017, featuring innovative, thrilling attractions and TapuTapu wearable technology for virtual queuing. The new ride, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, opened as well at Universal Studios Florida.

  • Walt Disney World Resort: Pandora - The World of AVATAR will open as a new land at Animal Kingdom on May 27, 2017, which is the largest expansion in the park's history. Also at Animal Kingdom, Rivers of Light is an innovative experience combining live performances, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. "Happily Ever After," a new nighttime spectacular, debuted at Magic Kingdom Park. Also new is Miss Adventure Falls, a family-style raft attraction, which opened at Typhoon Lagoon.

  • SeaWorld Orlando: SeaWorld's first digitally-enhanced ride experience will open June 16 when the legendary Kraken roller coaster is transformed into a virtual reality (VR) roller coaster.  Electric Ocean, a new end-of-day spectacle event, will take place June 17 - Aug. 5. An all-new stadium show called Dolphin Days is now open, immersing guests into the world of the ocean's most playful ambassadors.

  • LEGOLAND Florida Resort: LEGO NINJAGO World, a new immersive land, is a training ground for future ninjas. LEGOLAND Beach Retreat is a new property with 83 single-story duplexes, a themed pool and sandy play area.

  • iFly Orlando Indoor Skydiving opened a new facility next to WonderWorks on International Drive, which is equipped with two all-glass wind tunnels in an open single-story floor plan that allows I-Drive passersby to see skydivers in action.

  • Andretti Indoor Karting & Games is a brand new $30 million indoor go-kart facility on Universal Boulevard near the convention center, opening June 2017. The new facility will feature electronic go-karting, zip lines, bowling, racing simulators, a ‘sky bar,' rock climbing, laser tag and a full-service restaurant.

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened Heroes and Legends, showcasing the heroism of America's early space pioneers by inviting guests to vicariously experience the thrills and dangers of America's earliest missions through high-tech elements and special effects.

  • Fun Spot America will debut a new wooden coaster this summer, dubbed the Mine Blower. The $6 million new ride will be 82 feet tall, run nearly 50 mph and include a barrel roll inversion, a rare element for a wooden coaster.

  • A brand new Multipurpose Soccer Stadium opened in a developing entertainment center a block away from the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. The 25,500-seat stadium serves as home to the Orlando City Lions soccer team.

  • Orlando became the new home of American tennis, when the United States Tennis Association (USTA) opened a campus in the Lake Nona area of Orlando. The 63-acre complex encompasses more than 100 courts (hard and clay) and a multi-use building with a pro shop, fitness center, locker rooms, cafeteria and players' lounge.

  • Main Event Entertainment at Pointe Orlando is a new dining and entertainment complex with more than 100 virtual and interactive games, state-of-the-art bowling and the first free-roam multi-player VR game in the U.S.

  • NEW DINING & NIGHTLIFE

  • Disney Springs: Two James Beard Foundation winners have joined the line-up of dining options at this newly-renovated entertainment complex: Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' Florida Kitchen and Chef Rick Bayless' Frontera Cocina. The new Planet Hollywood Observatory features fare from Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, while Paddlefish offers contemporary, seafood-centric cuisine. The Polite Pig boasts a variety of wood-fired, smoked and grilled items as well as drinks on tap. Upscale steakhouse, STK Orlando also opened.

  • Ace Cafe Orlando, the first US outpost of the iconic London, England-based motor-diner opened May 19. An American roadside diner inspires the menu, with made-from-scratch comfort food, some British favorites and locally-sourced and green options, all at an affordable price point.

  • Uncle Julio's Fine Mexican will join the dining offerings at I-Drive 360 this summer. The Texas-based restaurant chain will sit near the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, with a patio around the building for a view of the wheel. The Tex-Mex menu items will include a range of options, like honey chipotle salmon or cowboy queso.

  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen is a new full-service restaurant at Universal CityWalk that offers unique takes on classic steak, seafood, pasta and more, plus an array of gourmet chocolates and desserts.  

  • NEW ACCOMMODATIONS

  • Universal Orlando Resort: The Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is the fifth onsite hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, featuring 1,000 rooms and suites with a casual Caribbean theme, built around a lagoon and towering waterfall. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort will also open two new towers by late May, featuring 400 additional guest rooms and suites.

  • Just five minutes from Walt Disney World Resort, The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando which opened in March 2017, will open an additional 108 rooms this summer. The resort offering two- and three-bedroom residential-style suites with full kitchens, washers & dryers and multiple bathrooms to provide all the comforts of home.
  • Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is opening a new resort recreational area in late-May. Adding to the resort's current 15-acre recreational space, the new 23,000 square foot area will include 16 new pool-side cabanas, 400 more lounge chairs as well as an expanded kid's pool area. The hotel is currently undergoing a $40 million expansion project, which will be complete by the fall.

  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge will soon include new amenities. The accommodations formerly known as "The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge" have already assumed a new name - "Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge," and a sweeping re-imagination of the former Hidden Springs Pool area is scheduled for competition in summer 2017. Called Boulder Ridge Cove, it will feature an expanded sun deck and zero-depth-entry pool in what appears to have been an abandoned rock quarry.
  • The Orlando Destination
    Home to seven of the world's top theme parks, Orlando - Theme Park Capital of the WorldSM is the No. 1 family vacation destination and the most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels.

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    Editor's Note: Find additional high-resolution downloadable images here.

     



    05/11/2017

    Orlando Thanks Visitors in a Big way for Making it No. 1 Destination in U.S.

     Sets Guinness World RecordsTM Title; Sending Thousands of Hand-written "Thank You!" Cards to Visitors 

     

    ORLANDO, Fla., (May 11, 2017) - Orlando took the concept of appreciating its visitors to unprecedented heights today as it achieved a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM title, gathering thousands of hand-written thank you cards from local attractions and hotels to mail to actual visitors who supported the destination in 2016.

    The event was launched in conjunction with the announcement of the annual number of visitors who came to the destination. The destination announced a record 68 million visitors.

    Dedicating this announcement to these individuals, Visit Orlando and the tourism community set out to show their appreciation by saying "Thank You!" in a grand way.

    Visit Orlando unveiled its new milestone visitation number by setting the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title Most greetings cards collected in 24 hours during a gathering of more than 900 members of the tourism community. The event was held to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week.

    "Orlando's visitation number represents the emotional connections we make with millions all over the world. The love they show us never ceases to inspire us, and led us to launch a year-long campaign around two important words: thank you," said George Aguel, President and CEO of Visit Orlando.

    As a way to say thank you to Orlando visitors in 2016, the Orlando tourism community came together to handwrite 3,144 thank you cards for #OrlandosBIGThankYou. This new campaign will run through the remainder of the year to thank millions of guests for their support through hand-written cards, Visit Orlando's social media channels, marketing communications, destination websites and member programs.

    "Orlando and Orange County continue to be the number one vacation destination in the nation," said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. "But this wouldn't be possible without the many millions of guests who choose to come here year after year for our world renowned attractions and entertainment options. However, what truly makes their experience here better than any other community is our culture of hospitality combined with our front-line hospitality workers and welcoming residents."

    "Having had the pleasure of visiting Orlando, Florida on multiple occasions in recent years for GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title attempts, we can fully appreciate the positive sentiment behind this extraordinary collection of Thank You cards. With great pleasure we declare Visit Orlando, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title holders and OFFICIALLY AMAZINGTM," said Philip Robertson, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Adjudicator.

    About Visit Orlando
    Visit Orlando is the tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents the area's leading industry.

    About Orlando
    Home to seven of the world's top theme parks, Orlando - Theme Park Capital of the WorldSM is the No. 1 family vacation destination and the most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels.

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    12/14/2016

     

    Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month Sets New Record
    Raising $195,125 to Benefit Russell Home

     


    ORLANDO, FL (December 13, 2016) - Through the generosity of Visit Orlando, 96 local restaurant and thousands of diners, the Russell Home for Atypical Children received a record donation of $195,125 today. Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month sponsored by American Express generated an unprecedented contribution for a local charity that cares for special needs children and adults. Since 2009, the program has raised more than $650,000 for local charities.

    "This program changes lives," said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. "Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month is one the best examples of tourism coming together to help at a local level."

    Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month takes place each September, offering locals and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy Orlando's nationally recognized culinary scene through three-course prix-fixe dinners for $33. As the charitable beneficiary, the Russell Home received $1 from every meal served.

    "The restaurants and Central Florida community who participated in this year's Magical Dining Month are our heroes, along with Visit Orlando for planning and coordinating this incredible event each year," said Vantrease Blair, executive director of the Russell Home for Atypical Children. "The day we received the call that we were chosen as the beneficiary, a flood of joyful tears came to all of us. We were honored to be the charity of choice."

    The Russell Home is the first non-profit institution in the country to provide a home atmosphere with a family structure for special needs children and 'child-like' adults. In continuous operation for more than 60 years without any government support, the home also provides 24 hours of free respite care and free day care for the local families with special needs dependents.

    The funds raised by Magical Dining will enable the Russell Home to modify and refurbish the girl's dorm as part of the home's major renovation project. The dorm will be named after Visit Orlando and Magical Dining Month.

    "Magical Dining Month has been the largest fundraising event we have ever experienced and it is life-changing for the girls who are receiving new dorm rooms and bathrooms. Words cannot express our gratitude." added Blair.

     

    Additional information about Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month, including a complete list of restaurants that participated, is available at www.OrlandoMagicalDining.com.

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    12/14/2016

     

     

    Orlando's 17 New "Must-Sees" Coming In 2017

     

    ORLANDO, Fla. - With some of the largest expansions in theme park history and a year packed with new sporting venues and events, Orlando - Theme Park Capital of the World SM - is ramping up for another landmark year of new reasons to visit. 

    7 THEME PARK THRILLS

    • Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort, opening June 1, 2017, is an all-new water park inspired by postcard-perfect tropical islands promising innovative, thrilling attractions made even more enjoyable with new technology eliminating long lines or wrestling with tubes.

    • "Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Universal Orlando Resort invites guests to join the Tonight Show's studio audience on the ultimate race through the streets - and skies - of New York City.

    • Pandora - The World of AVATAR, the largest expansion in Disney's Animal Kingdom history, will feature floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and a Banshee flying attraction, as well as new after-dark entertainment.

    • Miss Fortune Falls at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon is a new family-style raft ride that is among the lengthiest at both Disney water parks with a ride time of two minutes.

    • SeaWorld Orlando's Kraken roller coaster will transform into a virtual reality roller coaster experience, taking guests on a deep sea mission alongside sea creatures.

    • SeaWorld Orlando's Electric Ocean, opening summer, is a new end-of-day spectacle event with bioluminescent lighting, immersing guests in a glowing sea of wonder.

    • LEGOLAND Florida Resort's LEGO NINJAGO World, a new immersive land opening in early 2017, features an interactive dark ride where guests can blast fire, lightning and ice with their hands. In addition, LEGOLAND Beach Retreat opens mid-2017.

    4 SPECTACULAR SPECTATOR SPORTS

    • Orlando's 25,500-seat Multipurpose Soccer Stadium, home to the Orlando City Lions and Orlando Pride soccer teams, is scheduled to open prior to the 2017 MLS season.

    • Orlando hosts the NFL Pro Bowl game at the Camping World Stadium on January 29, 2017. The new Pro Bowl Week includes accessible team practices and a variety of youth football and family fun activities across Orlando.

    • Orlando's Amway Center welcomes the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship on March 16 & 18 for the tournament's First and Second Rounds.

    • Orlando becomes the new home of American tennis as the United States Tennis Association's new state-of-the-art headquarters' facility opens in January, featuring over 100 courts.

    2 NEW HOTELS

    • Downtown Orlando's new 54-room boutique property, The Delaney Hotel, opens by late spring 2017 and offers high-tech conveniences such as remote check-in, in-room digital tablet-based concierge services and smart phone room keys.

    • Margaritaville Resort Orlando, opening in late 2017, will be a waterfront destination resort with 187 rooms, 1,000 Margaritaville-themed vacation homes and 300 timeshare units, along with a new dining and entertainment district and 12-acre water park.

    4 DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEXES

    • Disney Springs adds more new dining experiences including: The Edison, themed around a 1920s-era electric company with live entertainment, classic American food and craft cocktails; The Polite Pig, sister restaurant of The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, led by local celebrity chefs James and Julie Petrakis; Planet Hollywood Observatory featuring a Guy Fieri sandwich menu; and Wine Bar George, the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida.

    • Circo Orlando, part of the Le Cirque Restaurant brand, is slated to open on International Drive in mid-2017 offering high-end Italian cuisine and rooftop views.

    • Top Golf Orlando, opening fall 2017, will offer more than 100 climate-controlled hitting bays with advanced technology to track accuracy and distance of players' shots.

    • Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, opening spring 2017, features high-speed electric superkarts on a two-level track, over 120 arcade games, a rock wall, zip line and more.

     

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    11/17/2016

     

     

     

    Orlando's Holiday Events Shine with Creativity

    ORLANDO, Fla. ­­­­­­­- With candy cane hunts, a life-size chocolate Santa, Macy's Holiday Parade and marching toy soldiers - imagination comes to life in an Orlando vacation this holiday season.  Starting as early as Nov. 7 and running through New Year's Day, Orlando makes the most out of every Yuletide day. Visitors can discover insider tips on an Orlando holiday getaway alongside Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals at visitorlando.com/holidays or download the new Visit Orlando App in the Apple App and Google Play stores.

     

    Theme Park Holiday Events

    Walt Disney World ResortSelect nights Nov. 7- Dec. 31

  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party presents a winter fairytale, as Queen Elsa covers Cinderella's castle in glittering ice. Lively stage shows feature Disney characters in their holiday best, and a festive holiday parade sends toy soldiers and snow flurries dancing on Main Street, U.S.A. Guests can even enjoy complimentary cookies and hot cocoa around the park.
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  • Disney's Hollywood Studios debuts a new show this year, "Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!" The explosive event features spectacular fireworks, special effects and infectious holiday music every night, beginning Nov. 14.
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  • The Candlelight Processional at Epcot is a beloved Disney tradition. This joyous retelling of the Christmas story features a celebrity narrator, 50-piece orchestra and several magnificent choirs. Narrators this year include Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg.
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    Universal Orlando ResortSelect nights Dec. 3 - Jan. 1  

  • At Universal Studios Florida, the Macy's Holiday Parade fills the streets every evening with the same larger-than-life balloons seen in Macy's famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Elaborate floats, dancers and other entertainment will dazzle and delight as well.
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  • At Universal's Islands of Adventure, Grinchmas descends on Seuss Landing with a live retelling of Dr. Seuss's beloved holiday tale during, "Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular," featuring the Whos from Who-ville and an original musical score by Mannheim Steamroller.
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    SeaWorld OrlandoSelect nights Nov. 25 - Dec. 31  

  • Waves of holiday spirit splash in during SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration. Here in a wintery, watery wonderland, live shows inspired by the natural world light up the park with majesty and cheer, including a charming nativity show with live animals. New this year, guests can meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends, and enjoy Rudolph-themed attractions.
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    LEGOLAND Florida ResortDec. 17-18, 24-30  

  • At Christmas Bricktacular, families can block time to marvel at the more than 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree, made with 270,000 LEGO and DUPLO bricks, and pose for a perfect holiday picture with a life-size LEGO Santa, reindeer and sleigh.
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    Holiday Cheer at Orlando Resorts

    An Orlando holiday getaway wouldn't be complete without a holly, jolly place to stay, and the destination's wide variety of resorts join the festivities. The holiday spirit is shared in events, dining and entertainment, creating comfort and cheer around every corner.  

  • The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort features lavish holiday offerings and décor Dec.1 - Jan. 3. Festive events at the resort include candy cane hunts or sleigh decorating for children or adults-only wine tastings. Opt to host a personal holiday party with Mickey and Minnie or Anna and Elsa from "Frozen," upon request. Those who stay in top suites even get a butler to help wrap holiday gifts, decorate the suite and arrange a hot cocoa and cookie decorating party.
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  • The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel offers sweet holiday treats this year, including a Life-Size Chocolate Holiday Santa Scene in the Swan lobby, constructed with 2,000 pounds of real chocolate. The Dolphin hotel lobby will offer even more holiday magic, with an indoor-snow fall and 45-ft tall Christmas tree. For the most amazing Night Before Christmas, guests can invite a fully-costumed elf to deliver milk and cookies to their room for a Christmas Eve bedtime story and tuck in.
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  • Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center returns with an Orlando holiday classic: ICE! At Gaylord Palms, featuring an elaborate tableau of interactive hand-carved ice sculptures and displays, Nov. 18 - Jan. 1. This year, ICE! has a new theme: Charlie Brown by Charles Schulz. Guests can follow along as Charlie Brown discovers the meaning of Christmas and bask in the chilly, award-winning splendor carved by a team of 40 skilled artisans.
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  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort's Mediterranean yule time experience includes holiday carolers and a Hanukkah Candle Lighting Ceremony. For a unique celebration, the resort recreates an evening in seaside "Italy" with live holiday music, wine tasting and the grand illumination of the Christmas tree.
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    A Unique New Year's Eve in Orlando

    Ring in 2017 in a big way at one of the destination's many New Year's Eve events. Some of the year's biggest firework shows light up the night as fine dining, entertainment and champagne flow below.  

  • The "Disney Countdown to Midnight" at Disney's Contemporary Resort sets a thrilling tone for the New Year, with a live DJ, dancing and libations, culminating with Magic Kingdom Park fireworks viewing and a champagne toast.
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  • Five Star New Year's Eve at I-Drive 360 will gather local celebrities and Orlando's most influential people to celebrate in style beneath the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. The exclusive event features world class DJ's rotating through the night as visual entertainment of fireworks and fire shows entertain. General admission offers a full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whiskey and Prosecco.
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  • Those looking to party hard into the new year can head to Universal CityWalk for jam-packed celebrations, including unique party zones, live music, unlimited gourmet cuisine and a pulse-pumping outdoor dance floor.
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  • Families can ring in the New Year before bedtime At "Kids' New Year's Eve" at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. Move and groove at an exclusive dance party, catch the giant LEGO brick drop at a kid-friendly hour and wind down the year with LEGO-inspired fireworks - all before midnight.
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    The Orlando Destination
    Home to seven of the world's top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, THEME PARK CAPITAL OF THE WORLDSM, and most visited destination in the United States.  An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels. 

     

     

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          Editor's Note: Find high-resolution downloadable images here.

     

      

     



    11/17/2016

     

     

     

    Orlando's Year-Round Wizarding World Experiences Go Beyond the Screen

    JK Rowling's newest book-turned-film "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is out in theaters across the globe. Amid this ever-growing Harry Potter craze, Orlando offers fans magic beyond the silver screen, with new and exciting Harry Potter attractions and events. Muggles, witches and wizards from around the world can immerse themselves in a line-up of spell-binding adventures, including these unique events, which complement Orlando's year-round wizarding world experiences at Universal Orlando Resort:

  • A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is a three day event taking place Jan. 27 - 29, only in Orlando. Set against the backdrop of Universal Orlando's amazing theme parks, muggles and magic folk alike can enjoy film talent Q&A sessions, panels, demonstrations and a Celebration of Harry Potter Expo. Best of all, these events take place among Universal's Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, and even the Hogwarts Express.
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  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in Concert With the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra offers an experience unlike any other: to listen to The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra perform every note from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, while enjoying the film in high-definition on a giant screen. John Williams' unforgettable score is brought to life for audiences, Feb. 18- 19, with tickets starting at $45.
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  • US Quidditch Cup National Competition is not to be missed for true fans. From April 8 - 9, 60 of the US League's top Quidditch teams come together for more than 150 live games. Guests can cheer on their favorite teams, participate in youth quidditch clinics and check out demos, a fan festival and merchandise.
     
  • Orlando's year-round wizarding offers are unique to any other destination as two Universal Orlando Resorts feature dedicated Harry Potter-themed lands showcasing both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade connected by the Hogwarts Express. With the addition of several special events celebrating Harry Potter, Orlando is the ideal destination for a wizarding adventure in 2017.

     

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    09/16/2016

     

     

     

    Orlando's Good Eats and Holiday Treats: 
    Must-see Events for Fall and Winter 

     

    Orlando, Fla. - This fall and winter, there is more to see and do in Orlando than any other time of year. With numerous food and wine feasts, unparalleled Halloween thrills and merry holiday theme park events, the excitement in Orlando is warming up even as the weather cools down.

    Orlando's Food & Wine Feasts

    The destination's growing reputation for superb dining meets a seasonal explosion of events for a food-lover's dream vacation in the fall. From a month-long affordable fine dining program to theme park and resort smorgasbords, there are flavors for all palates September to November.

     

  • At the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (Sept. 14 - Nov. 14) at the Walt Disney World Resort, guests can sip, sample and savor treasures from some of the world's most famous wineries and celebrated chefs as they circle the World Showcase. New this year is the Islands of the Caribbean booth and a Chocolate Studio.
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  • Guests dine on haute cuisine without burning through their budget during the 11th year of Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month, when more than 90 of Central Florida's top restaurants feature three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for $33, Aug. 29 - Oct. 2. Joining the lineup of this year's participating venues is Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs, Cask & Larder in Winter Park and Slate on Restaurant Row.
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  • Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria Orlando (Sept. 16 - Nov. 13) celebrates fine wine and culinary arts. Taking place on a series of weekends, the events include a variety of chef created menus and pairings.
     
  • The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic (Oct. 28 - 29) features wines from around the world and a variety of culinary dishes prepared by award-winning chefs. Educational seminars range from wine blending to how to make the perfect margarita at "Tequila University". New to the event this year is a special Sunday Bubbles Brunch on Oct. 30, featuring a variety of cured meats, imported cheeses, an array of sushi and of course, champagne.
     
  • Halloween Capital of the World

    Halloween celebrations in Orlando are like nowhere else in the world, with more than 130 individual events during the six weeks leading up to Oct. 31.

     

  • At Walt Disney World Resort during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Sept. 2 - Oct. 31), guests can trick-or-treat throughout the Magic Kingdom, catch the "Boo-to-You" Halloween parade or Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular and stay for the bewitching "Happy HalloWishes" fireworks.
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  • SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular (Oct. 1 - 31) at SeaWorld Orlando invites youngsters to trick-or-treat among friendly sea witches, octopuses, mermaids and pumpkin fish in an underwater "fantasia." Cookie decorating and candy galore make this a sweet Halloween event for families to splash into.
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  • Universal's Halloween Horror Nights (Sept. 16 - Oct. 31) at Universal Orlando Resort allows guests to face their deepest fears in themed haunted houses, "scare zones" and mazes inspired by critically-acclaimed movies and television series. This year's terrors include American Horror Story, The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more.
     
  • Holidays at Orlando's Theme Parks
    Orlando, the theme park capital of the world, celebrates the most magical time of year with balmy weather, special events and spirited live entertainment, creating an unforgettable and festive setting for a winter getaway that trades snow for sunshine.

  • Walt Disney World Resort offers an array of holiday fun (Nov. 25 - Dec. 30), including a transformation of Cinderella Castle into a glistening ice palace at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party; the Candlelight Processional at Epcot; and a free-entry holiday wonderland at Disney Springs, with carolers, performances and a meet-and-greet with Santa.
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  • Universal Orlando Resort invites guests (Dec. 3 - Jan. 1) to the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios, where the streets are filled every evening with the same larger-than-life balloons seen in Macy's famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Meanwhile, at Universal's Islands of Adventure, families will light up with holiday cheer as Grinchmas comes to life throughout Seuss Landing. 

  • Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration (Nov. 25 - Dec. 31). Here in a wintery, watery wonderland, guests of all ages will enjoy stunning live shows inspired by the natural world, a glittering sea of lit Christmas trees and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.
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  • LEGOLAND Florida Resort offers families one-of-a-kind photo opportunities with a life-sized LEGO Model Santa Claus or 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree during Christmas Bricktacular, select dates in December.

  • The Orlando Destination

     Home to seven of the world's top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, theme park capital of the world, and most visited destination in the United States.  An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels. 

    About Visit Orlando
    Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents the area's leading industry.

     

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    Editor's Note: For additional press information or high-resolution downloadable images,
    please visit VisitOrlando.com/Media

     

     

     

     



    09/16/2016

     

     

     

    Orlando Transforms into 
    "Halloween Capital of the World" 
    in a two-month Celebration with 130+ events

     From Extreme Adult Scares to Kid-Friendly Frights

     

    ORLANDO, Fla. - This fall, Orlando goes from being not only the "theme park capital of the world", but also the "Halloween capital of the world", with over 130 Halloween theme park event nights - plus destination-wide festivities - that range from extreme scares for adults and teens to frights for the family.  Uber-popular villains from both big and small screen - including "American Horror Story," "The Exorcist" and "Hocus Pocus" descend into Orlando for the holiday. Plus, this year the destination also welcomes the national's largest horror convention, Spooky Empire, featuring the actress who plays Eleven in the Netflix hit series "Stranger Things".

    To learn more about Orlando's Halloween events -- both inside the theme parks and beyond -- check out VisitOrlando.com/blog all season long.

    Sinister Celebrations for Teens and Up

    Some may be surprised at the breadth of adult- and teen- focused frights in this destination known for family-friendly fun. Haunted houses with cutting-edge technology, cinematic-grade scares, an outdoor haunted forest, and a zombie walk are just a few of the adrenaline-pumping options guaranteed to send even the biggest "kids" screaming, and then coming back for more.

  • Halloween Horror Nights 26 at Universal Orlando Resort, bringing nightmares to life for hair-raising entertainment. On select nights Sept. 16 - Oct. 31, visitors can explore nine all-new haunted houses, featuring characters from fan favorites like "The Exorcist", "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and the popular television show "American Horror Story". Even outside the houses, guests aren't safe from spooks, as monsters prowl the streets between in "Scare Zones". This year, Universal takes the horror experience even further with a new add-on virtual reality horror experience, "The Repository".
  •  

  • Spooky Empire, the largest horror convention in the nation, taking place Oct. 7 - 9. Bigger than ever, this year's lineup of celebrity guests includes Millie Bobby Brown from the hit Netflix series "Stranger Things," and popular comedian and musician, Weird Al Yankovic. Other thrills and chills at the convention include a tattoo festival, costume contest, zombie walk and film festival.
  •  

  • A Petrified Forest, bringing the demented to life with two outdoor scare trails, live music, food, and more on select nights, Sept. 30 - Oct. 29. This year, the unsettling haunt invites guests to relive their childhood fears, from monsters under the bed to the darkest "scary" tales imaginable. A demented dream land beckons visitors in, but when - or if - they return is anyone's guess.
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  • Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, select nights Sept. 23 - Oct. 30. For those who can't get enough of menacing mayhem, Howl-O-Scream is just a quick trip outside Orlando. Offering haunted houses, creepy characters and a lot of dark corners, this year's "Evil Encore" theme includes two new haunted houses and the eerie fantastic Fiends Show.
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  • Orlando Ballet: Dracula at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Oct. 28 - 30. Michael Pink's internationally renownedDraculacombines the fascinating horror of Bram Stoker's 1897 classic with expressive, dramatic choreography, well-placed theatrical effects, a colorful score by Philip Feeney and intriguingly dimensional sets.
     
  • Ghoulish Events for All Ages

    Orlando's family fun reflects a mischievous mood in the fall with a boo-nanza of events where kids can celebrate with monsters and villains, dress in costume and trick-or-treat in some of the world's most beloved locations.

  • Mickeys Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort. On select nights Sept. 2 - Oct. 31, the Magic Kingdom comes alive with jack-o-lanterns, special characters and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Encouraged to come dressed for the occasion, visitors can trick-or-treat throughout the park and encounter favorite Disney characters. Guests can groove with Disney-Pixar film characters from Monsters, Inc. at the Scream-O-Ween Dance Party, sing along at the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular and end the night with a fireworks show nothing short of boo-tacular.
  •  

  • SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular, where guests are immersed in an underwater "fantasea" that includes up-close animal encounters, trick-or-treating, playful pumpkin fish and sea-themed arts & crafts. Guests can also reserve seats for Sesame Street's Countdown to Halloween for the chance to interact with beloved characters. The fun takes place every weekend in October.
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  • Brick or Treat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, select nights from Oct. 1-31. At this spooky, kooky celebration, guests can trick-or-treat, participate in LEGO building activities and even join a scavenger hunt through the park. Other highlights include the world's largest LEGO jack-o-lantern, LEGO Halloween characters like Vladimir the Vampyre and a bewitching Halloween-themed fireworks show at Pirates' Cove.
     
  • The Crayola Experience, featuring "Screamin' Green Hauntoween," where guests can enjoy monster-oriented crafts, character photos, themed scavenger hunts and weekend trick-or-treating in addition to the regular lineup of hands-on activities, from Oct. 7 - 31.
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  • Zoo Boo Bash at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, offering a night full of ghoulish fun in the wildest neighborhood in town. Guests can trick-or-treat, enjoy face painting and participate in costume contests on select nights, Oct. 22- 30.
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  • I-Drive 360 will cast an orange illumination on the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye in celebration of Halloween Oct. 29 - 31. In addition, trick-or-treating, a live DJ and costume and dance contents create fun for the entire family.
     
  • The Orlando Destination
     Home to seven of the world's top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, theme park capital of the world, and most visited destination in the United States.  An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels. 

     

    About Visit Orlando
    Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents the area's leading industry.

     

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    Editor's Note: Find high-resolution downloadable images here.

      

     



    09/12/2016

     

     

     

    Visit Orlando Releases New Edition 
    of Orlando Gay Travel Guide for LGBTQ Visitors 

     

    ORLANDO, Fla., (September 12, 2016) - Visit Orlando, Central Florida's official tourism organization, has published a new edition of the Orlando Gay Travel Guide that compiles the best of Orlando's events, attractions, dining and more for LGBTQ visitors. The guide comes out just in time for the fall travel season - and the region's popular annual Come Out with Pride celebration on November 12.

    Home to world-class theme parks, dining and entertainment, Orlando - the most visited destination in the United States - offers LGBTQ events and venues year round.

    Now in its third year of production, the Visit Orlando Gay Travel Guide is a helpful resource for trip planning, offering insights into the destination's magical theme parks and attractions; LGBTQ-themed special events; world-class shopping; trendy neighborhoods; sophisticated dining; popular nightlife complexes and well-known LGBTQ clubs. Those planning a vacation can access a digital version of the guide at VisitOrlando.com/lgbtq, pick up a printed copy in-market at Visit Orlando's Official Visitor Center or request a mailed hard copy.

     

    Fall Events

    Fall travel to Orlando offers many benefits including a wide range of travel deals and a packed schedule of events including LGBTQ activities, food, fashion, the arts and Halloween events.

     

  • Come Out With Pride (Nov. 12) - Now it its 12th year, this annual pride event is a celebration of local LGBTQ+ culture with spectacular parties, fireworks and a signature parade. This year the event is predicted to draw more than 150,000 LGBTQ community members and friends.
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  • At the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (Sept. 14 - Nov. 14) at Walt Disney World Resort, guests can sip, sample and savor treasures from some of the world's most famous wineries and celebrated chefs as they circle the World Showcase. New this year is the Islands of the Caribbean booth and a Chocolate Studio.
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  • Universal's Halloween Horror Nights (Sept. 16 - Oct. 31) at Universal Orlando Resort allows guests to face their deepest fears in themed haunted houses, "scare zones" and mazes inspired by critically-acclaimed movies and television series. This year's terrors include American Horror Story, The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more.
  • The trendy area of Winter Park hosts Park Avenue Fashion Week (Nov. 1-5).
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  • The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, a new multi-theater home for Broadway productions and the Orlando Ballet, welcomes several electrifying shows in the heart of downtown including "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" (Nov. 1-6) and "An American in Paris" (Dec. 13-18).
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  • Art and culture lovers can catch one of the many art and craft festivals of the season, like the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival (Oct. 8-9). These events feature work by outstanding Florida artists, live entertainment and food provided by local restaurants.


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  • Editor's Note: For additional press information or high-resolution downloadable images,
    please visit VisitOrlando.com/Media

     

    The Orlando Destination
    Home to seven of the world's top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, theme park capital of the world, and most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels.

     

     



    08/25/2016

     

     

     

    Visit Orlando's New Mobile App a First for Travelers 

    App Embeds WayBlazer's IBM-Watson Technology for Tailored
    Travel Recommendations; Also Features Augmented Reality

    ORLANDO, Fla., (August 25, 2016)  - The No. 1 most visited destination in the U.S. - known for innovative vacation experiences - unveiled another "first" for visitors today with the beta launch of a destination mobile app that uses WayBlazer's IBM Watson-enabled technology. The new app taps Watson's artificial intelligence to understand conversational language from users and offer personalized recommendations of Orlando experiences that best fit an individual's needs and preferences.

    In addition, the Visit Orlando App also features augmented reality experiences for visitors to explore, have fun and earn savings throughout the destination.

    The app was created by Visit Orlando, Central Florida's official tourism organization and trusted source of visitor information. It is now in public beta and can be downloaded in Apple App and Google Play stores.

    How it Works:

    Travelers begin their app experience by speaking or typing in natural language into their mobile device, the same way people normally ask questions in conversation. The Visit Orlando App uses Watson's Natural Language Classifier and AlchemyLanguage services to enable this personalized and natural language experience. Because of WayBlazer's Watson-enabled machine learning capabilities, the app also continuously learns from previous interactions and gains knowledge about user preferences, helping further refine its recommendations over time.

    Once a user asks a question, the app narrows available options based on individual-specific factors such as the traveler's interests, time of day, location and weather. It then further refines the final recommendations by applying insights from numerous data sources such as media stories, consumer and expert blogs, trusted third-party travel resources such as TripAdvisor, and Visit Orlando's extensive database.

    Sample natural language questions a traveler could ask the app include:

  • Where can I find a scenic view of Orlando?

  • Where can I eat that has live music?

  • What's something adventurous to do?
  • (Editor Note: See accompanying graphic illustration)

    Additional interactive features:

    In addition to artificial intelligence, the Visit Orlando App includes other interactive features to assist and entertain travelers including:

  • Augmented Reality "Around Me" Capabilities - Easily locate and learn about relevant dining and entertainment experiences in your immediate vicinity as the app adds an overlay of augmented reality information to your phone camera's view.

  • Augmented Reality "Magical Orb" Game - Unlock Orlando deals by hunting and capturing Magical Orbs that appear throughout the destination via augmented reality on your phone camera. Collect all to enter a sweepstakes for prizes.

  • Interactive "Selfie Scavenger Hunt" - Earn savings for taking selfies throughout the destination such as Orlando-themed photo filters, discounts, and a unique virtual souvenir to remember your trip: a 3-D "photo cube" of all your selfies.

  • One-Touch Destination Specialist Service - For an even more personalized experience, you can instantly connect to a helpful (and human) Orlando Destination Specialist with just one touch.

  • Ability to Purchase Attraction Tickets
  • "As the first destination to create a mobile app using this advanced level of cognitive computing, our goal is to help visitors maximize their Orlando vacation in a way that is personally meaningful to them," said George Aguel, Visit Orlando president and CEO. "Visitors to Orlando can be awed and sometimes overwhelmed at the array of unique attraction, dining, shopping and entertainment options. It can actually take 67 days to do everything! This innovative technology is like having your own personal Orlando expert 24/7. It analyzes numerous options, extensive data, and insights from destination experts and fellow travelers to create a recommended experience that is just right for you."  

    According to Terry Jones, Chairman of WayBlazer, "Personalized and relevant insights are becoming crucial to the future of travel. By integrating this cognitive platform in a destination mobile app, Visit Orlando is pioneering an invaluable tool for visitors - one that gives recommendations that fit the visitor's actual preferences and profile."

    "WayBlazer with Watson delivers a more personalized and engaging experience for Visit Orlando customers, allowing them to experience and take full advantage of all the destination has to offer," said Stephen Gold, Vice President, IBM Watson. "Visitors can interact in a more natural, intuitive way, seamlessly navigating the wealth of information available about their destination, delivering a better outcome."

    About WayBlazer

    WayBlazer is the world's first cognitive travel platform focused on delivering artificial intelligence to the travel industry.  Bringing together IBM Watson and proprietary cognitive computing technology, WayBlazer's AI analyzes cues and triggers from the traveler's search to yield personalized travel and hotel recommendations. WayBlazer is led by seasoned travel and tech entrepreneurs, including the Founder of Travelocity/Founding Chairman of Kayak.com, the former GM of IBM Watson, and the former President of Sabre Hospitality Solutions.

    About IBM Watson: Pioneering a New Era of Computing
    Watson represents a new era in computing called cognitive computing, where systems understand the world the way humans do: through senses, learning, and experience. Watson continuously learns from previous interactions, gaining in value and knowledge over time. With Watson, organizations are harnessing the power of cognitive computing to transform industries, help professionals do their jobs better, and solve important challenges. Watson is open to the world, allowing a growing community of developers, students, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to easily tap into the most advanced and diverse cognitive computing platform available today. For more information, visit: ibm.com/Watson and ibm.com/press/watson.