December 9, 2014

Florida Leisure Blog Returns!

After taking a couple of months off to devote time to rejigging FloridaLeisure.com and FloridaLeisureVacationHomes.com, FloridaLeisureBlog.com now returns!

It will take a slightly different angle now though so you are forewarned!

Previously the blog was used to inform guests, visitors, clients, friends and family about everything going on in Central Florida and elsewhere in the Sunshine State but now it is going to take a more personal angle.

By that, I mean the blog will now be full of my own views and outlook on life. Uh Oh!

FloridaLeisure.com will continue to have details on everything going on in Florida and FloridaLeisureVacationHomes.com will have vacation rental information when visiting Central Florida.

So, from now on, this blog will contain my own opinions and thoughts on a whole range of things going on in our world. It will naturally talk about how you can get the best from a Florida vacation, it will contain some real estate information and it will be heavily populated with my views on all the great events we have going on in our part of the world.

We’ll be talking about theme parks, water parks, smaller attractions, some of the odd things you can find off the beaten track, food, wine, beer and whole array of topics that will ensure you have a great time when visiting us. You can also expect a lot of blogging on sport. From the gentle noble game of golf to the ever expanding game of soccer in the USA. The Beautiful Game will certainly be prominent on here as we watch with interest Orlando City Soccer Club’s entry into Major League Soccer as well as the development of the game in general.

That’s a whole load of topics to talk about and we’ll be starting tomorrow as we look ahead to the Christmas period in Orlando in 2014. There’s an awful lot of ground to cover… hope you enjoy the ride.

C’ya in the morrow!

Nigel

 

October 1, 2014

New Look For FloridaLeisureBlog.com

Filed under: Florida News,News,Orlando Events,Orlando News — ngw101 @ 9:00 am

The day has arrived and having worked on a new look for FloridaLeisureBlog.com for sometime, I’m pleased to announce that today, we are formally announcing the launch of FloridaLeisure.com. FloridaLeisure.com will now become the main media site for Florida Leisure and will eventually replace FloridaLeisureBlog.com

In an effort to expand our operation and to bring you all the latest news on events happening in Central Florida, we felt the time was right to expand our blog and to offer a more professional website to assist in that goal. This blog will remain for a while but we’d encourage you to visit FloridaLeisure.com and bookmark our new home!

Thank you and we hope you enjoy the new site.

September 24, 2014

Corey Hertzog signs for Tampa Bay Rowdies

Filed under: Tampa Bay Rowdies — admin @ 10:11 pm

Corey Hertzog - Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Orlando City Soccer Club - I4 Derby -  - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg,6 July 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced Wednesday the signing of forward Corey Hertzog on a deal through the 2015 season, with a club option for 2016. Per club and league policy, further contract details were not disclosed.

Hertzog, 24, spent 2014 with Orlando City SC, netting four goals in 21 league appearances as Orlando clinched the USL PRO title.

A Pennsylvania native, Hertzog played college soccer at Penn State for three years before turning professional and signing a Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer. He was drafted 13th overall by the New York Red Bulls in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.

After a year with the Red Bulls, Hertzog was loaned to the Wilmington Hammerheads in 2012, where he became one of the premier scorers in USLPRO. During his time at the club, he netted nine goals in 17 games to lead the Hammerheads to an appearance in the championship game.

Hertzog then signed with Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2013 and scored a goal before being loaned to FC Edmonton. Hertzog, 6-foot-0, brings speed and a high work rate to the Rowdies’ front line. He will wear the No. 81 jersey. He’s a player Rowdies fans will know something about as he scored against his new team in the second leg of the I-4 Derby and also in the third round U.S. Open Cup match between the sides.

“Corey’s work ethic is impressive both on and off the ball,” Rowdies General Manager Perry Van Der Beck said. “He plays with his heart and makes intelligent decisions. Coming from a club that has achieved success in a short period of time, Corey understands what it takes to contribute to a winning team. We anticipate that he will make a quick impact with us. He’s got a steely focus on making the postseason and contending for The Championship.”

Hertzog’s first match for the Rowdies could be this weekend, when Tampa Bay hosts the rival Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The winner of the 2014 Coastal Cup, the rivalry trophy the teams play for, will be decided by this match. For tickets, call (877) ROWDIES or click here.

Orlando City Selects First Pick in MLS Expansion Draft and SuperDraft

Filed under: Orlando City soccer — admin @ 10:10 pm

Orlando City MLS Logo

Orlando City Soccer Club took a significant step toward building its 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) roster today, selecting the first picks in the MLS Expansion Draft and SuperDraft.

“Overall, it’s been a really good day for us,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “The draw went exactly as we hoped it would because we received everything that we wanted. We thought that the Expansion Draft was the right one to go with first and fortunately we were able to get it.”

Set to occur on December, 10, 2014, the MLS Expansion Draft allows incoming teams the opportunity to select 10 unprotected players from existing clubs within the league. During the Expansion Draft, Orlando City and New York City FC (NYCFC) will take turns alternating picks, bolstering their rosters with proven MLS players.

The MLS SuperDraft will take place in January 2015, providing each MLS team the chance to acquire players from various universities across the United States. Orlando City will have the first pick and NYCFC will have the second in the SuperDraft, strengthening their squads with premier young talent.

Orlando City received the first pick in today’s Expansion Priority Draft over New York City FC, after a draw was conducted by supporters from each team in the first of many match-ups between both organizations.

Following the draw, Heath and NYCFC Head Coach Jason Kreis alternated selections for priority among eight player acquisition mechanisms, beginning with the Expansion Draft.

In addition to the Expansion Draft and the SuperDraft, Orlando City opted for priority in the USL PRO/NASL ranking and the Lottery ranking. As a result, the New York-based club received priority in the Allocation ranking, Discovery ranking, Waiver/Re-Entry ranking and the Designated Player ranking.

Universal Orlando announces special rates for Active Duty & Retired Members of Military

Filed under: Universal Orlando — admin @ 8:13 pm

Universal Orlando Resort has revealed an all-new offer exclusively for active duty and retired members of the military. Military personnel can now purchase a one-day, park-to-park ticket and receive two complimentary days to experience the extraordinary thrills and heart-warming moments that can only be found at Universal Orlando Resort. Plus, they can also upgrade with a 3-nights stay at the brand-new Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort with a discounted vacation package.

Military

 

These all-new military offers are available with valid identification on participating bases at ITT or Leisure Travel Service Offices. For additional details on these offers, see below or visit www.universalorlando.com/military.

Members of the military and their families and friends will experience the trip of a lifetime at Universal Orlando’s two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. A world of excitement and adventure awaits with all-new experiences, including the awe-inspiring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, the blockbuster attraction TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D and Springfield, home of America’s favorite animated family “The Simpsons.”

At Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, guests will be transported back to a time of relaxation and endless family fun in this classic, retro-themed resort. Cabana Bay guests can experience incredible amenities throughout the hotel, including a 10-lane bowling alley, retro arcade, Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio, a zero-entry pool and Universal Orlando’s first-ever lazy river.

September 23, 2014

SeaWorld Orlando Veterinary & Aviculture Teams Work with Local Animal Eye Clinic to Remove Cataracts from Four Penguins

Filed under: SeaWorld — admin @ 10:12 pm

Rockhopper_eyes_examined_by_the_veterinarian

A total of four SeaWorld Orlando penguins — one rockhopper and three gentoo – are healing nicely after receiving a specialty surgery on August 28, 2014 to remove cataracts at Animal Eye Associates in Maitland, Fla. The surgery was performed by veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Heidi Denis, who specializes in animal ophthalmology.

“As penguins get older they begin to show age-related health issues, just like humans,” said Dr. Lara Croft, SeaWorld Senior Veterinarian. “One of these signs is cataracts – a clouding of the eye lens that affects their quality of vision and quality of life. Thanks to this surgery, these four penguins will eventually regain vision and can return to normal behaviors, including eating on their own and swimming.”

Veterinary_teams_working_together_to_remove_cataract_from_penguin

The four penguins range in age from early to late 20s, which exceeds the life expectancy of their wild counterparts. Older penguins in the wild with compromised vision would most likely succumb to predators or starvation.

SeaWorld aviculturists noticed some of the older penguins in the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin habitat weren’t eating and needed to be hand-fed. The vets arranged a consultation with eye specialists, and the ophthalmology team at Animal Eye Associates cleared the penguins for the procedure.

Cataract_removed_from_penguin

“Cataracts are very prevalent in our more than 20-year-old birds, and we now have regular ophthalmology consults for all of our older birds. Including these recent procedures, 17 penguins have been given restored sight with this surgery,” Dr. Croft said.

September 22, 2014

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Space Shuttle AtlantisSM with Atlantis Astronaut Adventure Oct. 9

Filed under: Kennedy Space Center — admin @ 10:15 pm

image003

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the $100-million Space Shuttle AtlantisSM attraction with Atlantis Astronaut Adventure on Thursday, Oct. 9 featuring 12 NASA astronauts, all of whom flew on the historic orbiter.

The 12 Atlantis astronauts – Clayton Anderson, Bo Bobko, John Creighton, Charlie Walker, Hoot Gibson, Fred Gregory, Ken Ham, Mike McCulley, Jerry Ross, Brian Duffy, Bob Springer and Dan Tani – will participate in a first-of-its-kind Lunch with an Astronaut from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on Oct. 9. Visitor Complex guests who purchase special Lunch with an Astronaut tickets will have one of the astronauts sitting at their table and receive a space shuttle keepsake signed by that astronaut and a Kodak photo with the astronaut as well. Lunch with the Atlantis Astronauts is $39.99 for adults and $29.99 for children, in addition to daily admission. Please call 855-378-0169 for reservations, as seating is limited.

In addition, the astronauts will be featured throughout the day in Astronaut Encounter at the Visitor Complex. Each astronaut will give a 30-minute “Mini Mission Recap” highlighting their missions aboard Atlantis. Astronaut Encounter is included in daily admission.

The 12 astronauts also will participate in signing opportunities in the Space Shop throughout the day with lithographs and books available for sale and signing.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex annual passholders can attend a special presentation featuring a question and answer session with the astronauts in Space Shuttle Atlantis from 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

Space Shuttle Atlantis (Photographer: Nigel G. Worrall)

Space Shuttle Atlantis (Photographer: Nigel G. Worrall)

Space Shuttle Atlantis has become a “must-see” experience for Central Florida tourists following its grand opening on June 29, 2013. Guests experience the inspiring accomplishments of the U.S. space shuttle program at the unique 90,000-square-foot attraction where visitors get nose to nose with a real spaceflown orbiter. The Atlantis orbiter is displayed as if floating in space as if departing from the International Space Station – the only space shuttle orbiter in the world exhibited this way.

Guests also can train on various realistic Space Shuttle Atlantis simulators: take a simulated spacewalk, land the space shuttle on the shuttle landing facility, operate the robotic Canadarm or dock with the International Space Station. Shuttle Launch Experience®, part of Space Shuttle Atlantis, is an incredible journey of vertically launching into space and orbiting Earth aboard the space shuttle. Guests also strap in for an all-too-real simulation, which immerses visitors in the sights, sounds and feelings of a space shuttle launch, including simulated weightlessness.

Since Space Shuttle Atlantis opened, the Visitor Complex has added the new Great Balls of Fire interactive exhibit which allows guests to discover the risks that asteroids, comets and meteorites present to our planet. The exhibit explores how we keep track of near-Earth objects while examining the effects of possible impacts. Within the Great Balls of Fire exhibit is Asteroid Encounter, where guests can climb aboard a “spaceship” and blast off to the asteroid belt and Jupiter while compiling data about asteroids and comets. Guests also can explore what would happen if one of these celestial bodies were to hit their hometown, determine Science Fact or Science Fiction of Hollywood movie clips and much more.

Also new is the KSC Up-Close Explore Tour, which gives an insider’s view of the U.S. Space Program, from the launch sites of today at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to the past and future of space exploration at Kennedy Space Center. The KSC Up-Close Explore Tour includes up-close views of the massive, 525-foot-high Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) (one of the largest structures in the world) and the Shuttle Landing Facility. The tour stops in between the Kennedy Space Center launch pads for a close-up photo opportunity, in front of the VAB, and on the NASA Causeway where guests are surrounded by a panoramic view of launch pads at Cape Canaveral that are currently accommodating rocket launches by NASA, SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance.

The Visitor Complex also provides some of the closest public launch viewing areas for the ongoing schedule of rocket launches taking place at Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station each year. Guests can experience the sights, sounds and ground-shaking vibrations as rockets launch, carrying not only NASA science missions and government satellites, but also commercial space endeavors, such as SpaceX.

September 18, 2014

Downtown Disney Construction Update

Filed under: Disney,Downtown Disney Orlando — admin @ 8:45 am

Downtown Disney Redevelopment  - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

We popped along to Downtown Disney yesterday to take a look at the latest construction work that is taking place to get the venue ready for Disney Springs.

Construction is moving along at a decent pace and the new monster sized parking garages are taking shape. The $85 million parking garages will eventually be able to take some 6,000 vehicles and there will be an I4 entrance and exit ramp coming off of the existing State Road 535 ramp. The expansion of Buena Vista Drive will see the present seven lanes increase to ten as part of the complex’s transition.

Downtown Disney Redevelopment  - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

The funds for the improvement are coming from Disney’s own Reedy Creek Improvement District and this means they will save huge dollars in terms of not having to pay sales tax on materials. Reedy Creek also has the ability to finance the garages with tax free bonds and that means the company has a huge advantage over other theme parks and resorts in Florida.

It’s a unique arrangement that was created by the Florida Legislature over 40 years ago and in theory, it’s one that could see Disney build it’s own airport and nuclear power plant! It’s fascinating to see how Disney is effectively its own Government and can make its own rules.

Downtown Disney Redevelopment  - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

The reason for the new parking garages is to prepare for Disney Springs, scheduled to open in 2016. Disney Springs will eventually be made up of four areas, Town Center, The Landing, Marketplace and West Side … and if you do a search on this blog, you’ll find more details on all of them!

The first parking garage is set to open later this year and that will house approximately 4,000 vehicles on it’s four floors. The second parking garage will be a smaller three story facility that will take some 2,000 vehicles. The garages will also have two pedestrian bridges installed to help lead guests into Disney Springs. One will be located near the current Marketplace side and the other will offer access through the West Side.

The Landing is the first phase of Disney Springs that is scheduled to open and that will happen sometime in 2015. It will offer lakefront shopping and dining.

September 17, 2014

Frozen Summer Fun draws to a close at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Filed under: Disney,Walt Disney World — admin @ 1:52 pm

Frozen - Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)Frozen - Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

On 28th September, the “Frozen Summer Fun” events at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will come to an end. That only leaves visitors a precious a few days to pay a visit to see the daily Anna and Elsa Royal Welcome character procession, sing-alongs with lovely duo, fireworks, a polar playground and a nightly party featuring a live band.

Here’s a reminder or everything that’s on offer before it closes:

Olaf on Summer Vacation – Olaf the snowman is having the time of his life on his very first summer vacation! He chimes in throughout the day to keep everyone updated on all his adventures.

Frozen - Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome – At 11:00 a.m. each day, Elsa and Anna arrive in Hollywood as part of their goodwill tour of neighboring kingdoms, making their way down Hollywood Boulevard in a horse-drawn sleigh. Kristoff is along for the fun, too, joined by a flurry of skaters, skiers, ice cutters and more! The entire procession culminates in a special moment at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage to officially welcome the visiting royalty to this kingdom of Hollywoodland.

For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration – Cool down inside the Premiere Theater, where Anna and Elsa join the Royal Historians of Arendelle for a fun and comedic retelling of the unique history of their Kingdom, filled with delightful, sing-along moments from “Frozen.”

Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & “Frozen” Funland – Inside Soundstage One, Oaken and his cousins have created a “Frozen” Funland filled with cold weather activities, unique photo opportunities, and more! There’s a frozen pond with ice skating demonstrations, wintertime fun for kids in the “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” play area, a “big summer blowout” with plenty of “Frozen” merchandise, and special “Frozen” — inspired food and beverage offerings.

Frozen - Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

“Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party – Starting at 5:30 p.m. each day, a dance party takes over the area around the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage, with a DJ, live band, and more! The band plays a variety of classic and contemporary summer rock & roll hits, as well as a cool, rocking medley of “Frozen” favorites. It’s going to be hot!

“Frozen” Fireworks Spectacular – Everything wraps up at 9:45 p.m. when Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf come together at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage for a grand finale to the day’s festivities, kicking off an awe-inspiring fireworks display set to the glorious music of “Frozen!”

From Sept. 2 – 28, “Frozen” Fireworks Spectacular will take place only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Frozen - Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - 17 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

“Frozen” Summer Fun Premium Package
While packages have sold out from July 5 to Aug. 22 and Aug. 24 to Sept. 1, 2014, your you can still enjoy a premium “Frozen” Summer Fun experience on the following weekends: Sept. 5 – 7; Sept. 12 – 14; Sept. 19 – 21; and Sept. 26 – 28.

Each “Frozen” Summer Fun Premium Package includes:

  • Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome Procession Viewing – Watch and wave during an enchanting daytime ceremony — complete with royal refreshments! Enjoy Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome procession, beginning at 11:00 a.m.
  • For the First Time In Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration Seating – Get ready to “Let it Go” like never before — enjoy one (1) sing-along experience featuring favorite tunes from “Frozen” at a time of your choosing.
  • “Frozen” Fireworks Spectacular Viewing with Dessert Party – Indulge in an unforgettable fireworks showcase, paired with “Frozen”-themed desserts as well as specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

September 16, 2014

Farewell and Thank You Orlando City players…it’s been a privilege.

Filed under: Orlando City soccer — ngw101 @ 12:57 pm

Orlando City Soccer vs. Harrisburg City Islanders, USL PRO Play Off, 13 September 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

Today, the brutal harsh reality of being a professional soccer club hit home for many fans and supporters of Orlando City Soccer Club.

Since forming in 2011, Orlando City has hardly missed a beat in giving its supporter base a constant diet of outstanding success and jubilation. From the amazing excitement of being announced as the 21st MLS franchise last November, the ecstasy of signing Brazilian superstar Kaka, through to the outstanding achievement of 3 league titles and 2 championships in four years, it has always been a success filled road for Orlando City supporters enjoying one victory after another.

That is, until today. Today is the day where the rubber meets the road, the shit hits the fan, so to speak, as the tough decisions have been made and we are forced to say a fond farewell to so many who contributed in a short time to helping the club reach its lofty goals of membership of Major League Soccer.

It’s a hard day as we learn that some of those who have been with us from the outset must move on as the club takes the next stage forward. It’s brutal. It’s cold and frankly, it doesn’t feel right. But, it has to be done.

At times like this, words never seem enough.

We have been fortunate to cover Orlando City Soccer literally from day one. We have been there for the successes and the few lows. Ultimately, we knew this day would come. A day we dreaded. A day where we had to say “Thank You” and “Good luck in the future.”

So, that moment has arrived.

“Thank you and good luck in the future” to all those players who today are moving on from life as an Orlando City Soccer player. We will miss you but we will always cheer you on wherever you may go next. We will always welcome you back as part of our family.

“Thank you” … Rob Valentino, Miguel Gallardo, Dennis Chin, Anthony Pullis, Corey Hertzog, Brad Rusin, Brian Burke, Carl Woszczynski, Justin Clark, Giuseppe Gentile, Austin da Luz, Aodhan Quinn, Bitielo Jean Jaques and Rafael Diaz. It has been a privilege to watch you play.

Farewell