Buzz Lightyear’s dream will come true on May 31 when Disney Parks and NASA send the 12-inch-tall action figure “to infinity and beyond!” The beloved character from the Disney-Pixar “Toy Story” films will blast off aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 and spend several months at the International Space Station as part of NASA’s “Toys in Space” program. Through the online educational initiative, which is designed to excite elementary school students about science and math, Buzz will have his own online journal and participate in an experiment testing the limits of zero gravity. Buzz’s groundbreaking mission into space coincides with the opening of the Toy Story Mania! attraction at Walt Disney World® Resort on May 31 and Disneyland® Resort on June 17. Buzz is scheduled to return home later this year. Click here to read the entire story and view the podcast.
May 30, 2008
The world’s No. 1 family vacation destination and the worldwide leader in sports have joined forces to re-brand Disney’s Wide World of Sports™ Complex with the ESPN® brand. “This is a natural and exciting pairing of two powerful brands to create a one-of-a-kind, immersive sports venue that will enable athletes, coaches and guests to experience sports in a whole new way,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts. Plans for the re-branding initiative are still in development, but initial concepts involve renaming the sports complex and incorporating the signature elements of ESPN throughout the 220-acre venue, which annually hosts nearly 2 million athletes, coaches and spectators.
May 28, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando police are at Universal Studios Wednesday morning, looking for a black bear seen taking a dip in the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel. Reports said a security guard at the hotel called police when he spotted the bear on a security screen. The bear got out of the pool and was roaming the property. Crews with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservations Commission joined police in a search of the area for one or more bears.
May 21, 2008
I was a lucky guy yesterday as I got to meet the host of the Travel Channel’s “Great Vacation Homes“, “Sam’s Disney Favorites“, “Girl Meets Hawaii” and the soon to be aired “Passport to Great Weekends“… the lovely Samantha Brown.
Samantha said something that made me stop and think… she was talking about the reasons why people travel and why they take vacations. She said “most people take a vacation to tune out but what they really should be doing is tuning in… to their family, their partner, their friends and to themselves.”
I have to admit it stopped me for a moment and then I thought “wow…she’s absolutely right”. It also made me realize that what we do at Florida Leisure Vacation Homes is exactly that. We provide people with fantastic vacations and fantastic vacation homes so that they can spend quality time with the people they love the most… so they can “tune in” to each other.
It occurred to me that even though hotels can provide the same experience to a degree they can’t quite provide the intimacy that a vacation home provides. Hotels, you see, have other people involved. Other people at the pool, other people in the dining room, other people wandering around the corridors and hallways… and other people in places you just don’t want to see them.
Vacation homes, on the other hand, provide a completely relaxing and totally private atmosphere for all the family to enjoy. Everyone gets their own space…ie., 1) their own bedroom (no cramped hotel room where everyone falls over each other… or fights for the tv remote… yeah, I know… I have that battle with my kids every time we have to stay in a hotel room ) , 2) their own living room where they can watch TV as a family or they can retreat to their own bedroom and watch something else, 3) they can cook or eat what they like in their own fully equipped kitchen with no lines… no bad service to encounter… and they can save heaps of money…. big bonus…eat what you want, when you want and at a price you can afford! 4) and best of all, their own private swimming pool to do exactly what they wish without having to worry about perfect strangers getting in the way.
Yeah that’s right. People vacationing in a home get all that… time to “tune in” to their loved ones and time to “tune in” to themselves”.
The other thing that Samantha said was “How does a place make you feel… what is the emotional value of a place?” and that set me thinking of some of the great feedback and comments we have had from our guests and members. Comments like this from Geneva Ormond from Illinois, Chicago who said:
“I love retirement & that is why I love Florida Leisure Vacation Homes. We come down to relax, rest & recreation. The house is so large, all the family can enjoy without being stacked on top of each other. Some can swim, others can cook or BBQ, watch TV in each room. I just love it & the house is awesome.”
or Pat Scott from Columbus, Ohio who said:
“We really love the house & location to Disney World. The house has all the comforts of home & my family truly enjoyed the time we spent there. All and all it was fantastic. When our friends see our vacation pictures I expect you will be getting bookings.”
or Jack Greenhalgh from Williamsburg, VA who commented:
“The house was perfect for the family. The location was terrific, allowing us to easily bring the kids to the house for lunch & a pool romp before going back to the park.”
and it’s when you read comments like this… plus the hundreds and hundreds of others we have collected… that you really realise what this company and what the people who work for it are all about. We’re giving people wonderful experiences and memories that will last forever. Sometimes when we’re going about our normal lives we forget that… so today, thanks to Samantha Brown… I’ve had a jolt that brought me back to my roots… it’s great to do something in life that makes other people’s lives better. Thanks for the reminder Samantha… it was great to meet you.
So, finally justice is done and we have a worthy winner of American Idol.
Congratulations David Cook!
After watching last night I had a sneaking suspicion that David Archuleta would win America’s vote but thankfully, it wasn’t even close in the end. Archuleta had his finest night on Idol last night and performed amazingly well for one so young but in the end 12 million more votes in Cook’s favor sealed the deal.
The final tonight was the usual affair but the actual highlight for me was Jason Castro’s rendition of “Halleluhah”. It was the second time he’d performed the song but yet again it was simply “brilliant” to borrow the words of Simon Cowell previously.
But back to the winner… throughout the series the man from Blue Springs, Missouri has stood out and the man who’s favourite quote is “Pain don’t hurt” (Patrick Swayze in “Roadhouse” if you must know) is feeling no pain whatsoever. A fantastic career now beckons and his first album will be eagerly anticipated, particularly if he can produce the performances that he’s managed over the last three weeks with songs such as “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
Well done David Cook and well done American Idol… the 7th series was the best yet.
May 9, 2008
At the end of last week I was fortunate enough to take a day out of the office to visit Kennedy Space Center. It had been around 14 years since I last went and the memories of that visit were still pretty strong… as I walked away all those years ago I was struck by man’s awesome achievements and the sacrifices that some people had made in order for the world to become a better place to live in.
Today’s world bears no real resemblance to the world back in 1958 when Project Mercury, the first man in space program, began. Since then we have seen Project Gemini, Apollo-Soyuz and the Space Shuttle programs and all of them have helped bring about a world where man can communicate faster and easier than before.
Of course, faster and better communication is just one of the benefits of our visits to space but there are others such as a better understanding of planet Earth and significant benefits in regard to health, education and science.
If you consider the space program gets approximately 1% of the US budget and that it returns $2 for every $1 then it’s also good value. One example of that value is the fuel cells that were developed to support the space program… these same cells are now being developed to be used in family cars… yes, the day will come when we run out of petroleum.
There are some people who argue that the $17 billion spent on NASA is a waste of money but I can’t wear that argument. If you consider the hundreds of billions spent on national defence, health and social security etc then you get a better understanding of the situation. If I then said that there is more money spent on building brand new weapons than NASA gets then you really do see that the space program is a “no brainer”.
Consider then that space research led to all kinds of improvements for mankind in terms of the advances in computers, computer technology, satellite TV, medical technology, weather forecasts, global communication, knowledge of Earth’s resources, space research, etc… anyone now wondering why we haven’t spent more on this considering all that has been achieved so far? I know I am.
But I digress… back to my day out. Today’s Kennedy Space Center is completely different to the one I visited before. There are new buildings, new exhibits and it is a much better organised day out. In the past you had the choice of two bus tours but today there is just one but it takes you to see everything you ever wanted to see.
On the tour there are three stops; the observation deck where you can look out at launch pads LC 39A and LC 39B and if you are lucky, as I was, you may actually see a shuttle being prepped ready for launch… Discovery launches at 5.02 EDT on May 31. The next stop is at the International Space Center building where you can see modules being prepared as they are prepared for launch. The final stop is the Apollo / Saturn V Center and this is a huge building housing the biggest rocket ever made… the mighty Saturn V.
The tour is extremely interesting and on the way you will pass by the huge Vehicle Assembly Building, the landing site for the shuttles, the crawlers and the crawler path leading to the launch sites and of course, being Florida, you’ll get to see a lot of nature on the way… sightings of aligators, eagles and other birds are all part of the experience.
Once back at NASA Central you’ll then have the chance to enjoy 2 IMAX 3-D movies … if you can do both, they’re fantastic, to ride the shuttle launch experience… yes, you can live the experience of astronaut crews as they launch to space, to visit the space garden with the rockets of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo and to meet with a real astronaut at Astronaut Encounter.
On my day I was lucky enough to meet and share a few moments with Bob Springer. Bob has been on two shuttle missions… Discovery 1989 and Atlantis 1990.
All in all, a really great day out but it wasn’t finished there as entry to the park also allows entry to the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame… click here for more