Category Archives: Orlando
by Trish Utter
Shopping in Orlando and visiting Disney can leave you exhausted and wanting sanctuary. It is a pleasant surprise to find a hotel that offers the weary visitor a place to recharge that is conveniently located within 5 minutes of the main gate to Disney and the Outlet Malls and offers a tranquil refuge for visitors.
The Bohemian Hotel is in the heart of Celebration Town Center and sits on the edge of the water. Celebration is a neighborhood of single family homes, unique retail stores, restaurants and cafes that have all been beautifully designed. This is an oasis in the heart of tourist town that only locals seem to know about. You can sit outside with a cup of coffee on one of the quiet little streets and watch the horse drawn carriage go by as it takes people for tours of the neighborhood.
On arrival guests are greeted by the doorman. The lobby of the hotel is a work of art but then that is what you expect from one of the Kessler Collection properties. The rustic furniture, mixed in with glittering chandeliers is a sight for the senses.
The hotel gives you the feeling of being in a fabulous upscale, grand home of a movie star, more than a soulless building. Rooms are comfortable with Bose stereo, along with the Kessler CD, luxury linens and beds that are so comfortable you might end up wondering how you can get one to take home.
You can enjoy a martini out by the pool that overlooks the lake or dine in the intimate and sophisticated Lakeside Bar + Grill.
This is a great place to relax and get away from Orlando’s hopping tourist area and rates are surprisingly affordable.
By Trish Utter
Like most people that travel, I hate lines and crowds and I hate driving. Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has the perfect solution for those that want to be in the heart of everything without having to get in and out of the car. This towering resort is the only private hotel on Disney property meaning that not only can you visit all the theme parks in a matter of minutes but you also get the extra benefit of Extra Magic hours. This is where the parks are only open to those who stay on Disney property.
The resort has 2665 rooms but unlike some other huge hotel properties that have guests walking all over the place, this hotel has everything right where it’s needed. Shopping, restaurants, jogging trails, kids club, five heated pools, tennis courts, spa and their own white sand beach. We were out of our room and in China in ten minutes!!!! ….. China at Epcot that is. We hopped on a boat that ferries guests from the Swan and Dolphin to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. You can even walk to Epcot or Disney’s Boardwalk. If you need to get to any other Disney location there are shuttle buses that arrive every fifteen minutes.
by Trish Utter
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary and on the adventurous side this summer think about this new attraction -zipping 55 feet above 4,700 acres of Florida’s most scenic wilderness preserve at Florida EcoSafaris. Visitors are taken on a safari vehicle into the woods and outfitted by their expert guides with a harness and helmets. Edging your way over the platform suspended high in the air and taking that first leap is worth it as the thrill of flying like a bird becomes reality. As you zip through the tree tops, you will reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour! Ziplining is the cool new thing to do in South America and Europe but now Floridians can enjoy this experience right here in Orlando. This is a terrific team building experience or family bonding activity that will create lifetime memories. Children must be at least 10 years old and guests must weigh between 70-275lbs. There is also a gift shop and restaurant.
Did you know that it can be a constant 9 degrees Fahrenheit in Florida? ….that is if you visit ICE at Gaylord Palms. This is the most “over the top” spectacular Holiday attraction in the state and now in its seventh year. The massive convention hotel holds nearly 2 million pounds of ice that is hand carved by 40 artisans from Harbin, China into 3-dimentional colorful art.
Visitors can expect to be handed large warm coats upon entering and then guided through a winter wonderland that includes a visit from Old Man Winter, through an arctic forest, and into the middle of a life sized Christmas Carnival, complete with carousel! One of the main stays of the show is the life size nativity scene that looks as if it were made from highly polished glass. Huge colorful ice gingerbread houses, an ice train and other sculptors are there for children to climb, slide and explore. The most loved attractions are the cold and slippery ice slides that children and their parents just can’t get enough of.
The clocks have been turned back to the 1940’s as you drive up to the art deco airport terminal in Polk City, Florida, with a fully operational runway and aircraft hangars. Not just a museum but a timeline experience, Fantasy of Flight houses the largest private collection of antique planes in the world that includes a Short Sunderland, a rare P-51 Mustang and a B-24 Liberator bomber. There is a real cockpit to climb in to and a children’s section that teaches the principals of flight in a fun way that includes a hang glider simulator. Visitors can walk through The World War I trenches and experience an aerial dogfight. You can also take a backlot tram tour that shows off the many hangars housing engine parts and beautifully restored aircraft. Enjoy a meal in the 1940’s café or browse in the gift shop. Daily aerial shows are performed right over your head and you can end your day with taking a flight yourself in a airplane!
Fantasy of Flight
Rock n’ Roll Roller Coaster
An enclosed steel coaster that has one of the smoothest rides. We love the energizing rock n roll music of Aerosmith and the neon ight interior. It gives you the rush of being on stage with the band. It’s also Mom’s favorite too!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
One of the most unique rides we have ever been on. Enter the vacant 1939 Hollywood Hotel. You are taken up in the service elevator for a ghostly tour and then…the drop! You get a short glimpse of the outside and a bird’s eye view of Hollywood Studios, but this is only for a second as the view closes and you drop down.
Don’t know if we can tell you about this as the unexpected makes this the most fun. All we can say is that this railway car is careening out of control with you in it so hold on for the thrill of your life!
by Trish Utter
CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort is perfect for the family that is on a budget but still wants theme park amenities. In 2010 CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort underwent a complete remodel. Located on International Drive and within walking distance to restaurants, entertainment and minutes from Universal Studios, it puts visitors right in the middle of everything.
The hotel has a tropical theme with vibrant Caribbean colors. The slick lobby allows you to check in while the kids get cookies and watch a movie or get on the internet using one of the many computers available for guests. Room rates can be as low as $89!
Guest rooms are large, metro style and feature Serta Perfect Sleepers, luxury cotton linens and 37″ flat screen televisions, offering high definition programming, Wi-Fi, room-service, hair dryers and coffee makers. You can choose rooms with a King sized bed and a pull out couch or a room with two double beds.
by Trish Utter
There is not a more romantic way of starting your day than to get up early, and I do mean very early, and head up into the dark sky with only the sound of the fuel feeding the flames to the hot air balloon. The peace and serenity are breathtaking; you are in the best seat for a close up of the sunrise. As you look down over the central Florida landscape you will see a variety of wildlife such as alligators and deer running through the trees.
On one of our family trips to Orlando we visited Orlando Balloon Rides, a massive Balloon operation that hosts local and international guests on magical balloon rides over the Orlando area. The experience is right out of “The Life Styles of the Rich and Famous” and leaves lifelong memories. Pat Schmitt, Chief Pilot and President says, “It’s old fashion seat of the pants flying with modern technology and safety”. He has amassed hundreds of hours in balloons from two passengers all the way up to 20 passenger balloons. Flights last approximately one hour in their majestic first class balloons.
We wore comfortable clothing as guests must be able to climb into and out of the baskets that have been specially designed for this company to ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers. We had our camera charged up and ready as the spectacular views could not be missed. Ballooning relies heavily on the weather so make sure you are somewhat flexible with your schedule.