SeaWorld Orlando’s annual Halloween Spooktacular offers an ocean of Halloween fun for the entire family. In addition to enjoying one of Orlando’s most popular theme parks, kids can trick-or-treat, dance with sea fairies and pumpkin fish, watch silly and spooky shows, decorate apples or create sea-themed arts & crafts.
The daytime event is open to guests on Oct. 6-7, 13-14, 19-21, and 26-28. The fun and activities are included with regular park admission.
Children won’t want to miss Penelope’s Party Zone at the Bayside Stadium, a lively underwater environment that features the wonders of the sea with family friendly music, crafts, games and a variety of colorful characters. Families can dance with colorful pumpkinfish and play along to the spooky sound waves broadcasted by a live DJ while bubbles float overhead.
When you’re ready for a special treat, head over to the Apple & Rice Crispy Decorating area where you can choose a delicious caramel apple or a chocolate covered rice crispy treat. Use your creativity and decorate your treat with toppings like candy corn, sprinkles, marshmallows, licorice, gummies, and candy pieces.
Events also include special shows like Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween, a musical stage show where you can sing and dance with all of your favorite Sesame Street friends including Count Von Count and Elmo.
Children are invited to wear costumes and their photos will be taken along the Bayside Pathway between Bayside Stadium and Wild Artic. Your photo might even appear as part of a special virtual costume parade during the Spooktacular pre-show for Shamu Rocks.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without the Trick-or-Treat sweets and SeaWorld offers plenty of treats with more than 15 candy stations filled with goodies.
For more on SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular, go to www.seaworldorlando.com. For details on discount SeaWorld and other theme park tickets, or for discount Orlando family vacation packages, visit www.westgatereservations.com.
Central Florida’s newest theme park, Legoland Florida, is preparing to expand its Miniland area to include an all new “Star Wars” section in November.
The new Star Wars scenes, which will incorporate the use of more than 1.5 million Lego bricks, is designed to include seven clusters - one for each of the saga’s six films and one for the animated television series, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
The scenes will be displayed in a chronological path in an area behind the existing New York section. Lego models will include everything from a Millennium Falcon spaceship to the villain Darth Maul.
Legoland Florida opened a year ago on the grounds of the former Cypress Gardens. For information, visit www.legolandflorida.com. For discount theme park tickets and discount Orlando family vacation packages, visit www.westgatereservations.com.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort is filled with frights and fun. Now, on select dates, you can add a special front-line tour to your Halloween adventure.
Universal Studios is offering a series of unique tours, including some that provide front-of-line access and behind-the-scenes excitement. All four tours are in addition to regular HHN admission prices.
Unmasking the Horror Tour
This guided, daylight tour walks guests through three HHN haunted houses where photography is allowed. Tours are limited to 15 guests per guide. ($55 per person).
Arcane Insights Tour
This guided, 6-hour tour takes guests through all of the HHN haunted houses and a behind-the-scenes makeup/costuming area during an event night. Additional arcane insights will be offered by members of Universal’s Art & Design Team. Tour also includes reserved seating for “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure,” valet parking, access to the RIP Lounge. ($225 per person).
Private RIP Tour
Designed from groups up to 10 people, the Private RIP Tour offers front-of-line access to all haunted houses and select Universal attractions, plus valet parking, RIP Lounge access, reserved seating to “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” as well as coffee and bottled water at end of tour. ($1,500 to $1,800 per group - cost varies by night).
Non-Private RIP Tour
Similar to the Private REP Tour, but groups will be mixed with other non-private groups, up to a maximum of 12 people. Non-private tours include every haunted house, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, and two additional attractions. Tours last 2 to 4 hours. ($150 to $175 per person - cost varies by night).
Note that tours are not held every night. Space is limited, and in some cases, advance reservations are required. For more details and fine print, go to www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando, click on “Tickets & Packages,” then “add-ons,” and then “RIP tours.”
For reservations, call 407-363-8295 (Option 2) between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.
For discount theme park tickets and resort accommodations, visit www.westgatereservations.com.
The date is set. The grand opening of Fantasyland at Disney’s Magic Kingdom® is set for December 6, 2012!
The new, expanded Fantasyland will open to guests with several new attractions open, including
- Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid - a dark ride based on the popular film The Little Mermaid
- Be Our Guest Restaurant - themed to the Beauty and the Beast movie
- Enchanted Tales with Belle - Beauty and the Beast character interaction area
- Ariel’s Grotto - a princess meet-and-greet location
- Gaston’s Tavern
- Bonjour! Village Gifts.
Previews of the attractions are tentatively scheduled to begin November 19.
Fantasyland expansion will continue with the slated opening of Princess Fairytale Hall in 2013 and ultimately, a new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in 2014. Fantasyland also includes a revamped Storybook Circus attraction that houses the Great Goofini kids roller coaster, twin Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides with a new queue play area, and a kid’s splash-pad area.
Based on record-setting growth thanks to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort has announced plans to build a new on-property hotel.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is scheduled to open in 2014 with 1,800 rooms, including 900 family suites designed to sleep as many as six people while offering family-value pricing.
The themed Loews hotel will offer more affordable options than Universal’s three existing on-property hotels, but it will also include fewer amenities. All Universal hotels will continue to offer early admission to the resort’s two theme parks. However, only the Royal Pacific Resort, Portofino Bay Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel guests will also enjoy complimentary front-of-the-line ride passes.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort will be built on 37 acres near Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The 2014 opening will allow Universal to deliver new accommodations at the same time the resort is expected to open a second Harry Potter themed land at Universal Studios theme park.
Westgate Resorts’ onsite restaurant, the Westgate Smokehouse Grill, has been awarded a 2012 Certificate of Excellence award from TripAdvisor. The honor was bestowed on the Smokehouse Grill at both Westgate Lakes and Westgate River Ranch resorts.
The TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award honors hospitality excellence and is awarded only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Approximately 10 percent of accommodations listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.
Guests are invited to enjoy a relaxed, moderately priced, casual dining experience at the award-winning Westgate Smokehouse Grill, “home of Orlando’s best BBQ,” which rivals the best barbecue and steak restaurants in Florida. restaurant’s savory barbecue has been voted the best in Orlando by readers of AOL City Guide and by the editors of I Love Orlando magazine.
The 7,000-square foot Smokehouse Grill at Westgate Lakes offers scenic lake, pool and fountain views, a full-service bar and a game room. Ten 42-inch plasma screen television display continuous sporting events.
At River Ranch, the Westgate Smokehouse Grill is a charming waterfront eatery that overlooks the scenic Kissimmee River. The casual, laid-back restaurant features a family-style menu including steaks, seafood, baby back ribs, burgers, sandwiches, salads and appetizers such as gator bites. Relax on the large screened-in porch and watch the birds feeding, spot alligators, view fishing boats or revel in the sunset.
Join Gru, his daughters, and the mischievous minions on an unforgettable, all-new 3-D ride at Universal Studios Florida.
Based on the movie, Dispicable Me, the new attraction - Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - allows guests to go through training and become a minion as part of Gru’s latest mission. When things don’t go as planned, you’ll be launched into a crazy adventure through his super-villain laboratory. Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, and the mischievous minions race along with you through every zany twist and turn. The ride ultimately ends with an interactive, minion-inspired dance party
This attraction is currently in technical rehearsal, meaning theme park visitors may be able to experience the ride on select days and times while Universal adds any finishing touches to the experience.
For the first time in more than 30 years, NASA is allowing Kennedy Space Center visitors inside the Launch Control Center - where NASA directors and engineers supervised all of the 152 launches including the space shuttle and Apollo programs.
The KSC Up-Close: Launch Control Center (LCC) Tour, is the second special tour added to help celebrate Kennedy Space Center’s 50th anniversary. Another recently added tour takes guests through the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building.
The Launch Control Center tour takes visitors inside Firing Room 4, one of four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled.
Inside Firing Room 4, visitors pass by the computer consoles where engineers monitored the computerized launch control system’s thousands of system checks leading up to launch.
You can also see the main launch countdown clock and a number of large video monitors on the walls. The tour also takes visitors into the “bubble room,” where the Kennedy Space Center management team could view all the proceedings below as well as the launch pad.
The LCC Tour is led by a trained space expert, offering an insider’s view of the space program from launch preparation to liftoff. The tour also includes drive-by views of Launch Pad 39, the Apollo/Saturn V Center and the Launch Control Center’s lobby, featuring 152 wall plaques - one for every mission guided there since the unmanned Apollo 4 in 1967. Included are the manned Apollo moon missions, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, the Saturn V launches for Skylab in the mid-1970s, and the launches for the 30-year Space Shuttle Program.
The ever-popular Velvet Sessions monthly concert series returns to Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel with the appearance of musical guest John Oates on June 28, 2012..
Oates is best known for his 1980s hit-making with Daryl Hall in the dynamic duo, Hall & Oates. For this Sessions appearance, Oates will perform as the lead singer of the John Oates Band. The band is expected to play some of Hall & Oates greatest hits such as “Sara Smile,” “Rich Girl” and “Maneater” in addition to Oates’ solo work from his albums “Mississippi Mile” and “The Bluesville Sessions.”
Velvet Sessions offers an up-close atmosphere with a stage set up in the lobby of the Hard Rock. Past performers have included Brett Michaels, Joan Jett, The Romantics, Eddie Money, The Tubes, Psychedelic Furs, Blue Oyster Cult and Foreigner.
Velvet Sessions is a unique and intimate rock & roll cocktail party held in the hotel’s Velvet Bar and Lobby Lounge. Each “Session” showcases a different type of beverage theme for the month.
Velvet Sessions tickets are $29 when purchased in advance or $35 when purchased at the door. Admission price includes select specialty drinks (which vary monthly) and finger foods from 6:30-8:30 pm. Additional drinks are available via a cash bar when the band hits the stage at 8:30 pm.
For more on the Velvet Sessions 2012 concert series, visit www.velvetsessions.com. For information about other Orlando theme park concerts and events, go to www.orlandothemeparkvacations.com. Or you can visit www.westgatereservations.com for the latest savings and discounts on Orlando family vacation packages and resort accommodations.
The changes continue at Disney’s Magic Kingdom as the theme park rolls forward with its ongoing renovation of Fantasyland.
The Fantasyland expansion means the end for one of Magic Kingdom’s original attractions, which is getting set to close on May 31, 2012. Snow White’s Scary Adventure will close permanently to be renovated and reintroduced as Princess Fairytale Hall - an all-new meet & greet area where guests can meet their favorite Disney Princesses, including Snow White.
Princess Fairytale Hall is scheduled to open in late 2013. Additional Fantasyland expansion work will include a new indoor/outdoor roller coaster - the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train - plus the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station, an Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid ride, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and a new Be Our Guest restaurant.
Snow White’s Scary Adventure is one of several original park attractions still in operation at Magic Kingdom. Others include Country Bear Jamboree, Tomorrowland Speedway, Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Treehouse, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant (recently relocated and a second ride will soon be added), and It’s a Small World.
While the Snow White attraction is closing, the popular princess will still be visible throughout the park, appearing in the afternoon “Celebrate a Dream Come True” parade and the nighttime “Mainstreet Electrical Parade.” Snow White also appears in the “Dream Along with Mickey” stage show and is available for meet & greets with other princesses at the front of Magic Kingdom near Town Square.
For detils on discount Disney tickets and discount Orlando vacation packages, visit www.WestgateReservations.com today.