I’m so excited to see this in person tomorrow night, I had no idea Sea World had this amazing holiday experience. Check out the video below:
Florida Theme Parks & Attractions
Universal Orlando Resort is the only place you can come face-to-face with The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville, watch a cheerful holiday parade filled with big, colorful Macy’s balloons and sing along to the classic sounds of the season as you stroll through a holiday-trimmed theme park with your loved ones.
The Holidays fanfare runs from December 3, 2011 through January 1, 2012, offering guests incredible entertainment themed for the season at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
At Islands of Adventure, adults and children alike will be entertained when the popular Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is brought to life in Grinchmas. Guests can see the heartwarming live stage show, “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular,” starring The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville with an original recorded musical score by Mannheim Steamroller. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet The Grinch and the Whos, and on select dates, purchase a spot at a special character breakfast with the mean, green one himself.
At Universal Studios, the Macy’s Holiday Parade will celebrate its 10th Anniversary of partnership with Universal Orlando by filling the streets every evening with some of the same iconic elements seen winding through New York City each year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The beloved event features colorful holiday characters, fantasy-filled floats – including one specially-designed to commemorate the 10- year milestone – a tree-lighting ceremony by Santa Claus and dozens of larger-than-life balloons. The Macy’s Holiday Parade also welcomes select park guests to participate in the procession as real balloon-handlers guiding the helium giants, a truly unique and exclusive experience to Universal Orlando.
Returning this year with more concerts than ever before is Mannheim Steamroller – the masters of Christmas music with more than 40 million albums sold worldwide. The acclaimed musical group will take to the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios six times this year to play their memorable holiday hits for guests, performing on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18.
Also at Universal Studios, guests can enjoy special holiday-themed versions of their favorite shows, and nightly a capella holiday music in the nearby Holiday Village, which is filled with hand-blown glass ornaments, caramel apples, hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and a cupcake decorating location.
The celebration continues at Universal Orlando’s three on-site hotels – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort – all of which will glisten with holiday decorations. Hotel guests will be immersed in the spirit of the season with tree-lighting ceremonies, special musical performances, holiday pool-side “dive-in” movie presentations and holiday buffets and dining events. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel kicks off the season on Friday, November 25 with ‘Holiday Harbor Nights’, a wine tasting, food and jazz celebration on the piazza, along with a tree lighting ceremony. Hard Rock Hotel welcomes Santa to The Kitchen restaurant on Fridays in December and Loews Royal Pacific Resort rings in the new year with a family-friendly dinner and celebration.
All holiday entertainment – including the Mannheim Steamroller concerts – is included as part of any annual pass, two-park or multi-day admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. There’s never been a better time to start a new family tradition at Universal Orlando’s Holidays event, as guests can take advantage of special Florida resident offers.
Special ticket offer to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents DRAGONSSM
And a chance to win four free tickets!
Looking for a holiday gift that is sure to thrill? Ready for something BIG to arrive this January? Don’t miss DRAGONS, a once in a millennium event that honors The Year of the Dragon. Circus performers from the farthest reaches of the earth have assembled for Ringling Bros. Presents Dragons to showcase their astounding acts of bravery and astonishing athleticism. Ringling Bros. Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson presides over this fantastical celebratory tournament of circus champions that brings together mystic dragon lore with authentic circus feats. DRAGONS is a never-before-seen blend of renowned spiritual and real life legends that can be found only at The Greatest Show On Earth! ®. Playing the Amway Center Jan. 12-16.
Get tickets for just $12 (plus facility and handling fees) by using promo code MOMMY at checkout on ticketmaster.com. This offer is available for all tickets except Circus Celebrity, Front Row and VIP. The offer is valid for the following performances: Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 11:30 am and 7:30 pm; Sunday at 5 pm; and Monday (MLK Day) at 5 pm.
For those looking for something really special, try the VIP Family Four Pack, which includes 4 VIP tickets, 4 small Lemonades, 4 small Popcorn Boxes, and 4 jumbo Lollipops. The package is $170 and is a savings of over $50! To get this package use promo code FAMDEAL at checkout.
For more information on the show, visit www.Ringling.com. We’ll see you at the show!
Here’s your chance to win four ticket vouchers good for any performance of DRAGONS:
Comment below with your favorite part of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performance. I know I have such fond memories of seeing Gunther Gabel Williams and his tigers at my first visit many years ago! Contest runs from now until December 15, 2011. Winner chosen at random and announced December 16 and will need to contact me with your mailing address to receive the vouchers for any Orlando performance.
For additional entries, LIKE my facebook page facebook.com/zannaland or tweet about the contest, feel free to copy and paste the text below to tweet:
” I just entered to win 4 tix to the Greatest Show On Earth in Orlando @zannaland and you can too! bit.ly/txAiE0 “
Congrats to our winner Becky Browne Allen!
Good luck and On with the Show!
In exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.
LEGOLAND® FLORIDA – JUST ADD WATER!
Central Florida’s Newest Theme Park Announces Water Park Details and Unveils All-New Premium Annual Pass
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (November, 28, 2011) – Just six weeks after its official grand opening, LEGOLAND Florida today released details of its first expansion – LEGOLAND Water Park. Scheduled to open in time for summer 2012, the water park will feature a wave pool, Build-A-Raft lazy river, tube slides, body slides and an interactive water-play structure – DUPLO® Safari.
“We’re very excited to share plans for this amazing new attraction,” said LEGOLAND Florida General Manager Adrian Jones. “True to our mission, the water park attraction has been designed for families with children ages 2 to 12 and will add hours of water play to an already full day and move LEGOLAND Florida into a multi-day experience for vacationers. The additional also adds another great value proposition for our Annual Pass members.”
Admission to the water park attraction is included with an all-new LEGOLAND Premium Pass, which offers 12 months admission to LEGOLAND Florida and seasonal access to the LEGOLAND Water Park. Single-day LEGOLAND Florida guests may upgrade to a water park attraction ticket for an additional $12 per person (children under 3 are $3). The Premium Pass is now available for purchase at www.LEGOLAND.com or select AAA Auto Club Group branches.
Key areas of LEGOLAND Water Park attraction include:
· LEGO Wave Pool – Families can catch a gentle wave or simply cool off in this perfectly sized wave pool where the waves are just big enough for all ages to enjoy
· Twin Chasers – Friends ride tubes 375 feet down an intertwining pair of enclosed water slides before plunging into a refreshing pool below
· Splash Out – The thrill seekers of the family can ascend to the tallest point of the water park attraction and choose from one of three unique slides, then speed down a 60-foot drop and “splash out” into the water below
· Joker Soaker – A fun, interactive playground with various lengths, heights and types of slides that offer something different for every member of the family. Guests can wade in the surrounding pool and be surprised with a torrential spill from a 300-gallon bucket
· Build-A-Raft River – Families can imagine, design and build a unique LEGO vessel and set afloat on a maiden voyage around the 1000-foot-long lazy river, set amongst playful LEGO Friends, flowering vegetation and palm trees
· DUPLO® Splash Safari – Toddlers will rule at this water play area with shorter slides and interactive, larger-than-life DUPLO creatures
“This newest attraction is just one of many ways we will continue to evolve LEGOLAND Florida over the next several years,” said Jones. “Creating a multi-visit proposition for families adds another dimension to the LEGOLAND Florida offering. Adding the water park attraction will fulfill this criteria as well as offering a unique attraction in Central Florida. ”
**Important: Please check operating schedule at www.LEGOLAND.com for park days and hours.
This will be our first Christmas as Celebration residents and I couldn’t be more excited. Last year, as we visited friends, the holidays were what convinced us to make this move happen and set things in motion. Now, a year later, we’re here and it’s all real. Continuing the Thanksgiving gratitude for a moment, I couldn’t be more thankful.
Last year, crowded as it was on the first night, seeing the horse-drawn carriages, hearing the bells from the church as we walked with our friends downtown, it was truly magical. I’m so happy we’ll be experiencing it in a different way this year, heading back to our home a mile from downtown at the end of the night. I thought maybe some out-of-town visitors or locals would like to have info on tonight’s festivities, so here’s the schedule from CelebrationTownCenter.com:
Help Kick off Now Snowing with the first snowfall of the season, a special arrival by the big man himself-Santa Claus, strolling Carolers, and a whole lot more.
Here is the run-down for the nightly snowfall activities:
Snowfall and Events EVERY Night through December 31st (including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) Nightly Snowfall 6, 7, 8 and 9 PM November 24th through December 31st, 2012.
Join Celebration Town Center as they kick off 14th Annual Now Snowing event with a Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 34th from 5:30-9 PM. This special tree lighting event will feature live music, a special entrance by Santa Claus himself, and family fun for everyone.
Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers an all new ice rink and a schedule filled with surprises. Now Snowing is a month long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides: Wagon Rides- $5.00 per person Horse and Carriage Rides- $25 for the first 2 passengers, $10 each additional, the Celebration Express train, and nightly snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM.
The ice rink will be open daily from 4:00-10:00 PM through January 2nd – If you are a resident, make sure to ask about Resident Skate Passes or multiple-day skate passes for guests. Endless Ice-Ice Skating Rink $10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate (skate rental included) 4:00-10:00 p.m. daily
In addition to the everyday fun at Now Snowing Nightly, join us for the Orlando Sentinel Celebration of Voices on December 1st and you can catch a special Radio Disney Holiday concert and filled with surprise performances on December 8th.
My family first visited the Gaylord Palms and its ICE! event back in 2007. We loved it back then and I’ve been lucky enough to attend the last two ICE openings at a media sneak peek. This year was the first time I brought my littlest guy, now 3, to experience the fun. I wondered what he’d think of the extreme cold temperatures, but despite his initial resistance to wearing the puffy blue parkas the hotel provides for ICE visitors, he was excited to see everything!
As you enter the Gaylord Palms convention center, you are greeted by the “Holiday Halls” where ICE!, Snow, Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating, and the DreamWorks Experience are held. In addition to the free elements of the Gaylord Palms holidays, the special ticketed events include ICE! with over 16,000 square feet of 9-degree weather – quite the contrast to the 80 degree temperatures we are experiencing.
This year, ICE! is Shrek-themed with perfect representations of your favorite characters including Shrek, Fiona, Puss in Boots, Donkey and more. It is amazing how much the huge blocks of colored ice look like their animated counterparts. Also within the experience are the slides made entirely of ice, which my big kids (and my friend and I) loved sliding down! It’s such a fun way to experience winter in central Florida!
Kung Fu Panda Awesome SNOW is another play area with a separate admission. Inside there are more slides and playground equipment and 130 tons of freshly made snow. No parkas are needed in here, it’s around 50 degrees, but snowball fights abound as you play in a courtyard themed to the Valley of Peace from Kung Fu Panda. The whole family loved making snowballs and playing in the snow – without the shoveling and scraping ice off your cars!
New this year is Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating. This area was not open last night but will be now. There guests can purchase and decorated gingerbread houses, cookies or a tree ornament cookie and meet with Gingy himself!
The DreamWorks Animation 3D Theater Experience is also now open, where guests can walk the red carpet with Puss in Boots and enjoy gourmet theater food and beverages with Shrek and Princess Fiona before enjoying Puss In Boots on the big screen, in 3D!
Ticket prices vary by date and you can also look into a one or two-night DreamWorks Experience package to stay at the Gaylord Palms and get some amazing amenities, including interactive Character Meals, Meet & Greets and more. Check out pricing and more info at ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com Be sure to check in on foursquare for a special treat too – free hot chocolate! Those on twitter can follow the action using the #GPICE hashtag and you can upload your photos to the group flickr account too. Speaking of flickr, for more photos from me check out my Gaylord Palms ICE set on flickr. As you can see below, photographers are on hand to capture your family’s experiences and allow you to bring home memories to last a lifetime.
Some of the free events within the hotel include Luminescence, a musical journey into the spirit of Christmas, Christmas Wonders and Majestic Christmas Tree Lighting and Visits with Santa. I can’t wait to bring the family back again and check out all of these beautiful events in person.
LEGOLAND Florida is getting into the holiday spirit with the first annual Christmas Bricktacular. Festive decorations and sounds of the season will fill The Beginning and Fun Town through the holidays, Dec. 8-31, followed by Kids’ New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31. With more than 50 rides, shows and attractions all dedicated to families with children age 2 to 12 and one of the widest selections of LEGO® products available, LEGOLAND Florida is the best place to celebrate the season and pick up the Christmas gifts that are on every child’s wish list – LEGO!
The Beginning is home to a truly spectacular, Bricktacular sight – a more than 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree made with a combination of 270,000 forest green LEGO and DUPLO® bricks. The park’s first-ever tree lighting ceremony takes place on Dec. 5 with a special master of ceremonies. Through Dec. 31, a special family will be chosen to help light the Bricktacular tree each night. I can’t wait to see this in person!
Santa Claus even makes special daily appearances in the historical botanical gardens making a picture perfect spot to capture family memories sure to be treasured for years to come.
Kids’ New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31 let’s kids rock out and watch the sky explode with LEGO fireworks at just the right time for them, midnight KST (Kid Standard Time) – otherwise known as 7 p.m. EST.
Holiday events are included in park admission. Tickets and Annual Passes for LEGOLAND Florida are available at www.LEGOLAND.com
I have driven by this house for a month now, watching Neil Motti with Tri County Maintenance turn the home of Kim Hawk into this spooky pirate-filled masterpiece. This is an annual tradition here in Celebration and just one of the many homes that go all out for holiday decor. If you are able to drive through the neighborhood (preferably before the trick-or-treating starts because traffic will be insane once 5pm hits!) be sure you check out all the neighborhoods. I’ve heard there is a house that does music synched to lights like the Halloween light show videos I posted last week, and I know of quite a few spooky residences I’ve driven by. One street got together and did themed scarecrow-like characters all paying homage to spooky or horror movies throughout the years. I thought that was brilliant and such a show of neighborly spirit around Celebration. I know I consider myself extremely lucky to count myself among Celebration’s residents and wanted to share a bit of the experience here: (click to enlarge)
I had some friends along with my family at the Grand Opening of LEGOLAND Florida back on October 15, and my good friend Nicole recorded some of our experiences that day. This is just one short example of the many sights to enjoy at LEGOLAND. I’ll still be spotlighting a few of my favorites in the coming days here on Zannaland but until then, enjoy this video from Nicole!
Being an extreme Disney Parks fan, I set out to the grand opening of LEGOLAND Florida with a pretty critical eye. As much as my 11 year-old daughter is a thrill-ride junkie, we are not really “other theme park people.” And while I am certainly not alone in my Disney devotion, there is much fun and enjoyment to be had at the new LEGOLAND park in Winter Haven, FL. [Click to enlarge all photos below.]
I was invited down to a media preview of the park, as well as the grand opening celebration. Timing and other commitments only allowed me to attend Saturday’s festivities, but I was thrilled to be there opening day and feel the excitement along with other guests. Block-shaped confetti in traditional LEGO primary colors rained down as songs like “Celebrate” and Sting’s “Brand New Day” played in the background. Helpful “model citizens” (park employees) were on hand to assist with tickets at the gate and pass out park maps.
The first thing that hit me as I pushed through the turnstile was the harmony of LEGO with the nature of Florida. There were two huge LEGO displays before us, but mature trees flanked them. It instantly put me at ease, given the history of the Cypress Gardens park that first opened as a botanical garden with waterski shows back in 1936. Way before a Mouse had inspired a theme park on either coast, Cypress Gardens was the biggest Florida attraction of its era. I remember going there once or twice as a child and have fond memories of the Southern Belles that adorned the botanical gardens, waving to visitors. While Cypress Gardens was purchased and turned into an “Adventure Park” back in 2004, most of the original charm remained. I am very happy to report that is still the case under LEGOLAND’s ownership.
Because of its history and the grounds themselves, this particular LEGOLAND park is a bit different from the other 4 parks around the world. The kid-themed rides along with the impeccably detailed MiniLands which LEGOLAND is known for are definitely still there but now set in a backdrop of centuries-old Cypress trees, a beautiful lake and the botanical garden area, which was kept with the Cypress Gardens name. Locals and visitors of the original park can still see the awe-inspiring banyan tree within the garden path. For me, it was an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the theme park rides, mid-way games and vendors.
That is not to say I did not enjoy the rest of the park. I was actually pleasantly surprised at many aspects and details found within the park. Aimed at guests aged 4-12, the rides themselves are smaller and shorter in length but even bigger guests can still get in on the fun. Two adults may not fit comfortably within the Coastersaurus, but you can definitely still ride and enjoy. It is very difficult for me personally to not compare the level of theming to that of a Disney park, but on its own, LEGOLAND did not disappoint and is chock full of delightful details for you to seek out.
I most enjoyed the Safari Trek, which is really fun for any age. I’ll be writing about that attraction separately because there are so many fun aspects to it. I also loved Miniland USA, which one could literally spend all day exploring and probably still not find all the details. I think, having seen and now taken photos of Miniland USA, it’s hard to convey their detail and scope in pixels, it must be experienced in person.
There is more to the park than roller coasters or attractions where you passively sit and look. There three separate areas full of rides where parents and kids are part of the attraction, making cars move, boats sail and more. There are also several play areas for kids to burn off energy and be a part of a LEGO or DUPLO environment. My three, ages 12, 11, and almost 3, loved every corner of the park. We spent the entire day there and there were still some things we did not get to experience, so we’ll be making a return visit for sure.
One area of disappointment within the park were the food options. Snack carts only take cash (not sure if this will change in the future) as do the mid-way games, so be prepared and hit an ATM before you arrive. We ended up at the Lakeside Sandwich Co, which actually offered very little in the way of choice and 3 of our group of 6 ended up getting salads, at $7.50 or up for just the salad, which contained nothing special at all, we weren’t too thrilled. Other choices were pre-made and pre-packaged (freshly made on site we were told) wraps (wrapped in foil with no mention of ingredients) and one or two generic sandwich choices. There were other dining options of burgers, chicken and a pizza and pasta buffet which we’ll have to check out next visit. Bottled water and sodas go for $3+ each, so our lunch quickly added up. I’m hoping these options and possibly prices improve in the coming weeks.
That was really my only complaint. Now to answer my own question, is it worth the price of admission ($75 for adults and $65 for kids and seniors)? My answer – yes. It is a steep fee, but if you have kids in the age range, I am confident you will have a day full of entertainment that you won’t regret. If you are a local to the area or visit Florida more than once a year, I think an annual pass is your best value. I honestly wish I’d bought some when they were available for $99. Now at $129 for adults ($99 for children 3-12 and seniors 60+), it’s still the best bang for your buck and you can return again and again to see your favorites or discover something new. At right about an hour away from Walt Disney World, it’s a very doable day trip. The park does close at 5pm but there are some days in upcoming months where they may open an hour or two later. Be sure to check the calendar before you plan your visit. Stay tuned for some more spotlights on my favorite parts of LEGOLAND Florida.