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08/23/2017

 

 

 

 

It's Honey for the Sweet Win! 

Local Task Force Nominates Main Ingredient in Quest for 
Orlando Signature Dish

 Competition kicks off Oct. 2, to include both public votes and food experts' panel

 ORLANDO, Fla - Like any good recipe, the search for a dish that represents Orlando is starting from the beginning: A signature ingredient has been decided - local honey - representing the diversity, sweetness and unique attributes of Central Florida.

A group of area chefs and food and beverage specialists met with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Visit Orlando destination experts to consider exploring a signature dish for the region. The idea to focus on a culinary competition to showcase local honey grew from that initial challenge.

"A signature dish doesn't happen overnight; ultimately it grows organically over time. This initiative is a first step in starting the conversation as to what dish the community thinks represents Orlando. In the process, we continue to expand people's awareness of the rich and unique culinary offerings found throughout our region," said Mayor Jacobs. "We are an incredibly diverse destination, which makes this both a challenge and an opportunity for everyone."

Why honey?

Due to its temperate climate and agricultural origins, Central Florida has long had an abundance of local crops and plants that contribute to numerous flavors of honey, including gallberry, saw palmetto, blueberry, Brazilian pepper, and - of course - popular orange blossom from the region's once-flourishing citrus groves.  The state produced 17 million pounds of honey in 2016. 

"Florida has the largest variety of honey - more than any other state in the U.S.," said Orange Blossom Beekeepers Association's communications director Beth Fox. "The diverse ecology in Central Florida, in particular, yields a wide variety of nice honey flavored by different wildflowers."

"Our climate is conducive to nearly continual honey-making, as Central Florida has lots of flowers and botanicals blooming all year long for the bees," said John Rife, the founder of local-sourced food hub the East End Market in Orlando (and a philanthropic beekeeper himself). "And it's part of our history - growing up with orange trees in the back yard, watching bees pollinate." It's also a way to help fight the trend of declining honey bees nationwide, Rife notes.

Because of this mild climate, beekeepers from around the country also migrate to the state every winter to rebuild their colonies - trucking in about 280,000 colonies each year. The number of registered beekeepers in Florida has more than quadrupled in the past decade (4,500 in 2016), with about 500 new beekeepers registering each year, many in Central Florida, according to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.  

From a chef perspective, honey also was a natural choice agreed Chef Julie Petrakis, co-owner of several local restaurants, including award-winning The Ravenous Pig, and a participant on the task force. "We use local honey in so many ways; it's so versatile, has many flavor components and is locally sourced and authentic to our region. It's been an inspiration for many of our dishes, as it can be both sweet and savory."

Destination executives will use the challenge to showcase Orlando's culinary offerings. "The significant depth and breadth of Orlando's dining experiences have grown and become a vital part of the destination for visitors," said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. "This initiative celebrates the culinary talent in our region, unites the community through a friendly competition, and allows us to create some great  ‘buzz' about Orlando's dining scene and chef artistry."

Competition criteria

The culinary competition kicks off this fall and is open to all Orlando restaurant chefs. Dishes can be submitted now through Oct. 1 on VisitOrlando.com/Dish, and public voting takes place Oct. 1 through Nov. 3.  The public will determine the top candidates and a panel of national and local food experts will it narrow down to the final winner. Dish criteria are:

  • local honey must be a key ingredient;
  • the dish must be a dessert;
  • it is available to the public in a restaurant or food venue;
  • only one entry per restaurant.

 

Let the voting begin!

Beginning Oct. 2, diners will find a list of participating restaurants and their respective honey dish "candidates" on VisitOrlando.com/Dish.  The dessert will be featured on each restaurant's menu, and the public is encouraged to try each one and vote for their favorite throughout the campaign (Oct. 2 - Nov. 3). Votes will be cast and tabulated on VisitOrlando.com/Dish.

Visit Orlando will promote the competition with ongoing social media, and the public can join the conversation through the hashtag #MyOrlandoDish.

And the winners are...

In November, the field will be narrowed down to the Top 10, based on the desserts that received the most votes.  The finalists will then re-create their dish for a panel of food expert judges, who will choose the winning dessert. The winner will be announced in December.

 

Find more information at VisitOrlando.com/Dish.

 

About Orlando Dining

From internationally renowned chefs to home-grown venues, Orlando is a destination where the culinary possibilities are both fresh and seemingly endless. Theme parks restaurants and a diverse variety of award recognized independent restaurateurs across Orlando, bring fresh concepts and experiences to the table throughout Central Florida. Whether locally owned or part of expanding franchises, many of the destination's newest restaurants mirror the national trends: American cuisine, farm-friendly menus and simple food with regional accents. Nationally, Orlando has emerged as a prominent dining destination, and continues to grow in both quantity and quality of flavors.

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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08/23/2017

Orlando's Good Eats and Holiday Treats: 
2017's 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. For a full schedule of fall happenings, year-round events, insider attraction tips and vacation planning guides, go to VisitOrlando.com.

Orlando's Food & Wine Feasts

The destination's growing reputation for superb dining meets a seasonal surge 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 through November.

  • Guests can dine on haute cuisine without burning through their budget during the 12th year of Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month (Aug. 25 - Oct. 1), when more than 100 of Central Florida's top restaurants feature three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for $35. Joining the lineup of this year's participating venues are six restaurants from Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
  •  
  • At the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (Aug. 31 - Nov. 13), taking place 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 World Showcase. New this year, guests can enjoy tastings from the Coastal Eats Booth and Cheese Studio, as well as delicacies from India, Thailand and Spain in the Global Marketplace.
  •  
  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek's Food & Wine Weekends (Sept. 8 - Nov. 12) celebrate fine wine, spirits and the culinary arts. Now in its seventh year, the event takes place on a series of weekends throughout the fall and features a variety of distinct menus and pairings curated by the executive culinary team. Open to resort guests and the public, the program will include a macaron bar, traditional Royal Tea and Bar du Chocolat with Champagne tasting.
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  • The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic (Oct. 27 - 28) features wines from around the world and a variety of culinary dishes prepared by award-winning chefs. Educational seminars range from wine-blending to pasta-making from scratch. A special Sunday Bubbles Brunch returns this year on Oct. 29, featuring a variety of cured meats, imported cheeses, an array of sushi and of course, Champagne. 

  • America's Halloween Destination

    The Theme Park Capital of the World® transforms into a Halloween Capital during the six weeks leading up to Oct. 31, where the celebrations are mild, wild and wonderfully themed to capture the fun and thrills of the Halloween season.

  • At Walt Disney World Resort during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Aug. 25 - Nov. 1), guests have an extra week to enjoy trick-or-treating 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 (Sept. 23 - Oct. 29) 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.
  •  
  • Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights (Sept. 15 - Nov. 4) at Universal Studios Florida 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 are inspired by the hit television show American Horror Story, horror movie classic, The Shining, and much more.
  •  
  • Brick or Treat (Oct. 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 31) at LEGOLAND Florida Resort promises the spookiest and kookiest Halloween event. Celebrate weekends in October with larger-than-life LEGO models, a costume parade, trick-or-treating, a Halloween-themed fireworks show and much more.
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    Holidays at Orlando's Theme Parks
    Orlando 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. 9 - Dec. 22), including the transformation of Cinderella Castle into a glistening ice palace at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party; the Candlelight Processional at Epcot features an exciting line-up of new celebrity narrators including Neil Patrick Harris, Pat Sajak, CCH Pounder and Trace Adkins; and a free-entry holiday wonderland at Disney Springs showcases carolers, performances and a meet-and-greet with Santa.
  •  
  • Universal Orlando Resort invites guests (Nov. 18 - Jan. 6) 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. New to this year, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be transformed with wondrous, holiday spirit.
  •  
  • Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration (Nov. 24 - Dec. 31). 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 beloved Christmas character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.
  •  
  • LEGOLAND Florida Resort offers families one-of-a-kind photo opportunities with a life-sized LEGO Model Santa Claus and 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree during Christmas Bricktacular, taking place 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: Find high-resolution downloadable images here.

      

     



    08/04/2017

    Orlando Labor Day Deals

     

     

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Signaling the end of the summer travel season, Labor Day weekend is the ideal time for travelers seeking a last-minute getaway at great prices. In Orlando, Labor Day weekend is traditionally the most affordable holiday weekend of the year offering savings on average of 10-30 percent over other holiday weekends such as Christmas, New Years and the Fourth of July.

    Check out the deals and events for Labor Day Weekend below. For year-round deals, special offers on attraction tickets and vacation planning tips, go to VisitOrlando.com, the website for Orlando's official tourism association.

    DINING: LABOR DAY WEEKEND DEALS

  • Food lovers can experience Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month, sponsored by American Express, celebrating Orlando's emerging culinary scene and offering prix fixe dinners at more than 100 of the area's hottest restaurants for just $35 per meal. Participating restaurants can be found across Orlando, including International Drive and close to theme parks.
  • HOTEL: LABOR DAY WEEKEND DEALS

  • Rosen Shingle Creek - "Labor of Love" special package: three nights and four days for $480 plus tax, between Friday, Sept. 1 and Tuesday, Sept. 5. This package also includes discounts at the resort's breakfast buffet, bars, spa, golf club and select dining options.
  • Crowne Plaza Orlando - "Labor Day Shop and Stay" package, featuring overnight accommodations with a $25 AMEX gift card per night, up to $100 per stay. It also includes complimentary shuttle services and retail discounts at The Florida Mall and other outlets.
  • Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel - Two Labor Day weekend deals: 25 percent off Labor Day weekend rates, or a stay with breakfast included for Labor Day week and weekend. Find rates and package online, or enter promo code "S4B" for the free breakfast offer.
  • CoCo Key Hotel And Water Resort - Receive 15 percent off the best available rate with an upgrade to a pool view room for Labor Day weekend.
  • ATTRACTIONS: LABOR DAY WEEKEND DEALS

  • Escape Room Entertainment - Book online with code "TOPHAT." Book online with code "TOPHAT" for $8 off standard ticket prices during Labor Day weekend. Play between 1 - 5 pm on Sept. 4 to join the Labor Day Party with food, soda, and trivia for prizes.
  • Wild Florida - Free park entry for all on Labor Day, Sept 4.
  • Harry P. Leu Gardens - Free admission all day on Labor Day, Sept. 4.
  • Kayak Central Florida - Receive 25 percent discount on a guided kayak tour for four during Labor Day Weekend.
  • Crayola Experience - To thank "True Blue Heroes" over Labor Day weekend, veterans, active and retired military members receive freeadmission with militaryID, Sept. 1-4. Immediate family members also get 25 percent off general admission.
  • SPECIAL EVENTS:  LABOR DAY WEEKEND

  • Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant - The sixth annual "Great Irish Hooley" Sept. 1-4, combines a social celebration and high voltage music festival with Irish song, dance, food, hand-crafted cocktails and live music performances starting each day at 3 p.m. There is no cover charge for entry into the event.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Orlando is hosting a special event, Labor Day at Highball & Harvest, the resort's signature restaurant with a buffet featuring Southern-inspired cuisine, Florida craft beers, cask wine, hand crafted cocktails and live entertainment. The event takes place Sunday, Sept. 3 from 5:30-10 p.m. Tickets are $55 for adults; $20 for children 12 and under. Tax and gratuity not included. Reservations are required.
  • The Central Florida Film Festival - Showcasing films from around the world, Sept. 1-3 in nearby Ocoee, the festival is celebrating its 12th year. Tickets start at $35, single film tickets and VIP packages are available.
  • Sak Comedy Lab is offering a "Pre-Labor Day Show" on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $17 for General Admission, $14 for Florida residents and $10 for military/student/hospitality discount tickets.
  • 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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    07/06/2017





    Record 100+ Restaurants Join Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month Sponsored by American Express

     

    Walt Disney World Resort restaurants participate for the first time 

     

    Orlando, Fla. - Try Orlando's haute cuisine at a hot price this fall. Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month, sponsored by American Express, returns Aug. 25 - Oct. 1 with an unprecedented number of restaurants - more than 100 - each offering a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for just $35 per person. Celebrating its 12th year, the popular dining initiative provides a variety of options for local foodies or visiting gourmands who are looking to try out a local favorite or one of the hottest new venues added to Orlando's growing culinary scene. For the first time, six restaurants from Walt Disney World Resort hotels join the program's growing line-up.

    This year's restaurants, from downtown Orlando to Restaurant Row and beyond, offer a menu and setting for every occasion. A full list of all participating restaurants, menus and OpenTable reservations are available now at OrlandoMagicalDining.com:  

     

  • What's Hot - Bulla Gastrobar*, Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen*, DoveCote Brasserie*, Earls kitchen + bar*, Luke's Kitchen*, Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar*
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  • Walt Disney World Resort - Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge*, The Wave at Disney's Contemporary Resort*, Boatwright's Dining Hall at Disney's Port Orleans Resort*, The Turf Club at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort*, The Grand Floridian Café at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort*, Olivia's Café at Disney's Old Key West Resort*
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  • Big Night Out - Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (Orlando, Winter Park), Morton's The Steakhouse, Ocean Prime, Prato*, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (Lake Mary, Orlando & Winter Park), Slate, Spencer's for Steaks and Chops, STK, The Capital Grille (I-Drive, Mall at Millenia)
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  • Romantic - Boheme Restaurant (Grand Bohemian Hotel), Chez Vincent, Christinis Ristorante Italiano, Le Coq au Vin Restaurant, Luma on Park, The Melting Pot (Orlando, Longwood)
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  • Family Friendly - Amatista Cookhouse at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando, Benihana (Orlando, Lake Buena Vista), Brio (Winter Park Village, Mall at Millenia)*, Copper Canyon Grill, Kobe Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse, Mitchell's Fish Market, Paddlefish*, Seasons 52, Shogun Japanese Steak House*, The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando
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  • Dinner With A View - Canvas Restaurant & Market, Eddie V's Prime Seafood, Eleven at Reunion Resort, Lakeside Bar + Grill, Ravello, SeaWorld Orlando Sharks Underwater Grill
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  • Girls Night Out - Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant*, KASA Restaurant & Bar, RusTeak at College Park, The Stubborn Mule*, Vines Grille & Wine Bar
  •  

  • Notable Chefs - Luma on Park (Brandon McGlamery), The Rusty Spoon (Kathleen Blake), The Ravenous Pig (James and Julie Petrakis), Todd English's bluezoo (Todd English)
  •  

  • Staycation - A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek, American Kitchen Bar & Grill at B Resort & Spa, David's Club at Omni Orlando Resort, Forte at Reunion Resort
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  • Exotic - Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, Dragonfly - Robata Grill & Sushi, Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse, kabooki sushi, Mango's Tropical Cafe*, Morimoto Asia, Tapa Toro
  • *First year in Magical Dining

     

    Each year a local charity benefits from Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month, receiving $1 from each meal served. This year, due to the immense growth and popularity of the program, Magical Dining Month will benefit two Orlando nonprofit organizations: Freedom Ride, Inc. and BASE Camp Children's Foundation. Freedom Ride, Inc. offers therapeutic horseback riding programs that enrich the lives of children and adults with physical, emotional and learning disabilities. BASE Camp Children's Foundation provides a base of support for children and families who are facing the challenge of living with cancer and other life-threatening hematological illnesses.

    Last year, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining raised a record $195,125 for the Russell Home for Atypical Children enabling the organization to modify and refurbish the girls' dorm as part of the home's major renovation project. The dorm will be named after Visit Orlando and Magical Dining Month.

    About Orlando Dining

    From internationally renowned chefs to home-grown venues, Orlando is a destination where the culinary possibilities are both fresh and seemingly endless. Theme parks restaurants keep Central Florida on the map with award-winning dining, and independent restaurateurs bring fresh concepts to the table. Whether locally owned or part of expanding franchises, many of the destination's newest restaurants mirror the national trends: American cuisine, farm-friendly menus and simple food with regional accents. Nationally, Orlando has emerged as a prominent dining destination, and continues to grow in both quantity and quality of flavors.

    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. 

     



    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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