Orlando Magical Dining Month – Foodie Friday

August 28th, 2015

It could never be a better time to dine out in Orlando than now! From August 24 – September 30 over 70 restaurants are participating in Orlando Magical Dining Month.

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Magic Dining Month gives diners in the Central Florida area the chance to enjoy some of the area premier establishments without breaking a budget. Each of the restaurants participating will offer three-course dinners for $33 per person.

With so many choices available diners might want to browse the participating restaurants and their menus before heading out for the evening. It is also highly recommended to make reservations in advance to ensure you will get a table for the evening you want to dine.

Not only will diners enjoy a great meal, but they can also feel good that one dollar from each meal will be donated to ELEVATE Orlando.

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Discover the Number One Reason People Love Staying in Vacation Homes

August 28th, 2015

If you’ve ever rented a vacation home then you likely have a long list of reasons it was one of your best vacations ever. If you’ve never stayed in one then you’re in for a treat! Read on to discover many reasons people love staying in this homes – including the number one top reason families choose vacation homes over resorts.

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There’s tons of flexibility

Even if you don’t think you’re a picky traveler, there are likely some amenities or extras you’d like to have in a perfect world. Parents of special needs kids definitely know that flexibility in accommodations is an essential part of the decision-making process. And the great thing is that whether your requests are just because you want them, or because your family needs them, vacation homes come in all sizes, shapes, and with a wide range of extras that can accommodate virtually any need.

You get amenities you never even dreamed of

People who’ve always booked their reservations with a resort hotel are sometimes hesitant to try out a vacation home because they believe that they’ll miss out on all the awesome amenities they’re used. The reality is that the opposite is likely true! Many vacation homes not only have pools and Jacuzzis, but they’re private! Sure you won’t have a bar to relax at after a long day, but you’ll have your own private kitchen you can stock with your favorite drinks for much less than you’d pay at a hotel bar.

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Everyone has their spot

Once a family rents a vacation home they often never go back, and the second most popular reason for that is the fact that everyone gets plenty of space and privacy. Why cram everyone into a single hotel room? When you do, everyone has to either go to sleep at the same time, or those who are still up have to tiptoe around to avoid bothering their snoozing companions. But when you stay in a vacation home you can rent up to eight bedrooms. Everyone has their own spot and tons of privacy!

The top reason people love vacation homes – the price!

This one is often a shocker for people without experience renting vacation homes. In fact, it’s both the number one reason people who’ve never tried it say they won’t, and the number one reason people who’ve stayed in them say they’ll keep doing so. While some people seem to think these homes are prohibitively expensive, the truth is that they start at just $99 a night! Why spend thousands when you can get more amenities, more space, more flexibility, and more fun for less!

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Manta Flying Roller Coaster

August 27th, 2015

The Manta is the only flying roller coaster of its kind in the world and for guests at SeaWorld Orlando has become one of the top attractions at the park.

This massive steel roller coaster is designed to look like a giant Manta swimming through the ocean. With 4 total inversions this is one ride you may not want to hit up right after lunch. With one pretzel loop, two inline twists and one corkscrew as well as one dip to skim the top of the water below this coaster is a must ride for avid coaster fans.

Topping out at 140 feet tall with a 113 drop on the other side this coaster has everything from height, to speed, to inversions making for one exciting ride.

Take a look at this POV video to get the experience of riding the Manta at SeaWorld Orlando.

5 Steps to Finding the Right Vacation Destination for a Special Needs Child

August 27th, 2015

As a family with a special needs child, you have extra planning to do in virtually any situation. This is doubly true when it comes to traveling. There are millions of destinations you may want to visit, but not all of them will work for your family’s needs. Here are five steps you can take to find the right destination for your family.

orlandovacation_special-needs-travel1.         Determine the way your family wants to vacation

The key is to find a vacation that’s fun for everyone. Think about what your family loves doing, whether it’s visiting the beach, taking a cruise, skiing, riding rides, or simply exploring a new locale. Don’t get stuck in the trap of limiting yourself to what you’ve done before. You won’t know if it’s a good fit until you give it a shot!

2.         Make a list of options your family is interested in

Now sit down with your family and write down every place you’re interested in. Ask family and friends on Facebook for suggestions, read about successful trips for other families with special needs, and think about your own childhood vacation dreams. During this step the sky is the limit! You’re just brainstorming to come up with as many options as possible.

3.         Do your research and decide which option is best for your family

After looking at your long list you can likely narrow it down to a few based on location, cost, and other obvious factors. Then think about each one in terms of how easy they are to get to, if they’re wheelchair-friendly, if there are local medical facilities, and what their special needs programs are.

orlandovacation_special-needs-child4.         Make a list of every accommodation you need

Once you’ve narrowed the list further, make a list of all the things you need to ensure your family is comfortable. This might include a full kitchen to prepare the meals you need, a pool with a lift, a multi-bedroom vacation home so you special needs child can get away from the hustle and bustle, and other essential accommodations you’ll need.

5.         Involve the entire family

By now you should have a destination in mind. Have each family member do their own research and find one thing they really want to do or see. The location you choose should have something for everyone, and when each family member identifies the one thing they’re looking forward to, everyone will be looking forward to your trip! Then start researching accommodations, travel arrangements, and more.

This five step plan will help you find a great fit for your family, select the perfect location, and make sure everyone in the family is on board.

Get Your Teens Involved: Road Trip Games for the Whole Family

August 26th, 2015

There’s a lot to be excited about when you’re planning your trip to Disney World, but it’s not uncommon for parents to dread the drive there and back – especially when they’re traveling with teens who may not be as excited as they used to be about trips to the World. We’ve come up with some cool car games that can keep the family close during the long drive to your happy place.

Who’s Next Door?

In this game, the more outrageous the imagination the better. You simply look at the people in the car next to you, behind you, or in front of you, and make up hilarious stories about them. They could include what they do for a living, what their hobbies are, what their house is like, etc. Everyone can work together to come up with the most ridiculous story for your highway neighbors.

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20 Questions to the Professor

This is a popular game that parents likely played in their childhood. One person thinks of a thing, famous person, or location, and the others ask yes or no questions to try and find the answer. The catch? They only have 20 questions to get to the answer.

Dictionary

One person either thinks of a word that exists or makes up one that doesn’t. They say the word and the rest of the players can then ask for a definition. This can be really funny as the supposed definitions of fake words can be hilarious! The players then decide if the word is real or made up and the person who picked the word lets them in on the secret.

Emotional Alphabet

You start with the letter A and someone calls out an emotion. The person whose turn it is must say the letter A in that emotion. Then another emotion is called out and the person whose turn comes next must say A in the first emotion and B in the next emotion. This continues until someone forgets which emotion or is associated with a litter, or until they’re simply laughing too hard to get an emotion out.

Games Are for More Than Driving

These games are great ideas to keep you occupied on your long drive to and from Disney World, but remember that you should also have a few games to play in your vacation home or resort. While you’ll likely want to spend most of your time exploring the parks and Orlando at large, you’ll also likely have some downtime. Bring your favorite pad of Mad Libs, grab a baseball to throw around, or pack a few board games from home.

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Orlando Restaurants Perfect for Large Groups

August 25th, 2015

One of the reasons that large groups often visit Orlando is because it’s known as a place that caters to large groups. It’s certainly true that there’s no shortage of activities for groups to choose from, but it’s also true that too often tour group directors fail to find the perfect dining options for large groups. Never fear, we’re here to offer specialized options for your group!

The Rusty Spoon

Address: 55 W Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 401-8811
Website: http://www.therustyspoon.com/

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This inventive spot is famous for using local, in-season ingredients. They happily accommodate large groups, are open for both lunch and dinner, and the average price per person is $11–30. The extensive menu offers something for everyone from the pickiest eater to the most adventurous.

Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant

Address: 125 W Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (321) 281-8140
Website: http://ceviche.com/

If your group has a hankering for seafood, Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant is the top choice of locals. They’re open for dinner every day, and stay open until midnight. You’ll pay moderate prices for delicious foods, which are designed to be shared – which make them perfect for larger groups. If you happen to be in town on a Tuesday, consider stopping off here for their $4 Tapas Tuesday specials.

K Restaurant

Address: 1710 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: (407) 872-2332
Website: http://krestaurant.net/

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If your party is looking for delicious, traditional American food and accompanying wines, then this is the perfect spot for you. Locals rave about their unique varieties of deviled eggs, plus their French toast bread pudding. No matter what you order, you’d be hard pressed to go wrong! This is on the higher price range of $31-60 per person, but the high quality ingredients and laid back yet upscale vibe makes it well worth the extra cost.

Artisan’s Table

Address: 22 E Pine Street, Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 730-7499
Website: http://www.artisanstableorlando.com/

One of the great things about this eclectic restaurant is that the menu is always changing. Your group could head there on your next trip, then visit again six months later and have an almost entirely new menu to choose from. Their focus is on delicious breakfasts and every day they have a different quiche of the day. You’ll pay just $11-30 per person for a complete meal.

Maggiano’s Little Italy

Address: 5259 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 355-0355
Website: http://locations.maggianos.com/us/florida/orlando/

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Are you looking for a perfect lunch spot? This is it! Everyone gets a full 3-course lunch for just $26 per person. Of course there are plenty of delicious dinner options too. There are numerous bottomless dishes available, and you can even treat yourself to some incredible wine pairings. If your group has a taste for Italian you’d be wise to check this place out.

Woody and Buzz – Toon Tuesday

August 25th, 2015

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Five Ways Grandparents Can Plan for Their Trip to Disney World

August 24th, 2015

For many grandparents, it’s a dream come true: taking the grandkids to Disney World! If you’re excited about your trip, but worried about how you’ll fare with the kids, then this is the post you’ve been hoping for. We’re outline five specific actions you can take to be ready for your trip.

1.         Watch videos of top attractions

One of the biggest concerns grandparents often have is whether or not they and/or their grandkids can handle certain rides. Because most attractions at Disney World are indoors, it can be hard to gauge. Thank goodness for the internet! All you have to do is hop on YouTube and watch videos of the most popular rides. You can watch full ride-thrus of virtually all rides and decide for yourself if you and the grandkids can handle it.

2.         Map out your route

After you’ve taken a look at the attractions and decided which ones you’re ready to take on, print out a map of the parks and map out your routes each day. If you have a plan in place you’re much less likely to feel overwhelmed. It won’t be a matter of dragging the kids all over the parks. Instead, you’ll simply have to head to the next spot on the list.

3.         Book your dining reservations in advance

Gone are the days when you could simply walk up to a Disney restaurant and get a seat. Now reservations are made as far as 180 days in advance. For popular restaurants, this is essential as they can book up fast. Likewise, if you’re traveling during a busy season you’ll need reservations for even the least popular options.

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4.         Choose a hotel or home with a kitchen

Renting an Orlando vacation home is a great choice for grandparents. You’ll have your own place to unwind after you put the kids to bed, and you can flip off your flip flops and relax in the Jacuzzi at night. Plus, you’ll have a kitchen! This can save you tons of money and time, too. Why waste time standing in line for breakfast when you can have a quick bowl of cereal and some fruit on your way to the parks?

5.         Prepare the grandkids for the breaks you’re going to take

The most successful trips to Disney World include tons of breaks! The best option is to get there as soon as the park opens, tour for a few hours, and then head back to your resort or vacation home for a much needed rest. The kids can play, swim, or relax as they’d like, and you’ll get time to recharge. Then head back to the parks once the day has cooled off and lines have shortened. Just make sure you let the grandkids know that this is how your touring will go.

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Pizza at Via Napoli Epcot

August 21st, 2015

Many families do not always agree on what to eat at mealtime but one thing that is usually loved by all is pizza. Hands down the best pie in Disney World (and maybe even in Florida) is Via Napoli located at Epcot.

There is nothing quite as delicious as a true wood fired pizza and at Via Napoli is fired in ovens that you can only find at Disney World. Named after active Italian volcanoes; Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna are character shaped ovens that are a real work of art.

The pizzas at Via Napoli come in classics like pepperoni or the more exotic like Capricciosa and of course guests are free to build their own. Diners can watch the chefs prepare the pizzas right out in the open so waiting for your food is part of the fun.

Pare your order with a seasonal Italian craft beer and you have a lunch or dinner that will surely please!

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Top 4 Spots for Anniversary Cocktails in Orlando

August 21st, 2015

So you’re spending your anniversary in Orlando. Lucky you! There’s lots to do and you’ll surely get a lot out of the Disney and Universal parks. But what about a relaxed, romantic nightcap with your sweetie? We’ve compiled four great spots to have a memorable anniversary drink in Orlando.

The Courtesy

Address: 114 N Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801

Phone: (407) 450-2041

Website: http://www.thecourtesybar.com/

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If you’re not in a rush, The Courtesy is the top spot for unique anniversary drinks. Their cocktail menu is always changing and uses some truly create ingredients and combinations. The only drawback? These are incredibly labor intensive drinks, so you’re likely to wait – especially on busy weekend nights. Stop by on the first or third Saturday of the month for the interesting cocktail classes that will teach you how to make your own very special cocktails at home.

Lil Indies

Address: 1036 N Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/lil-indies/266338520047732?sk=timeline&ref=page_internal

For those couples looking for something a little different than your standard cocktail bar, Lil Indies is a great option. This tiny spot is tucked away and hard to find, but once you make it inside you’ll be treated to a throwback speak easy vibe and some special, spectacular cocktails. If you stop by on the right night you might even be treated to live music from the local indie scene.

Hanson’s Shoe Repair

Address: 27 E Pine Street, Orlando, FL 32801

Phone: (407) 476-9446

Website: http://www.hansonsshoerepair.com/

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This isn’t just a kitschy name: Hanson’s Shoe Repair really is a shoe repair shop by day and a delicious cocktail lounge by night. This is a speakeasy in more than just name. The servers are in full character, you have to use a code word to get in the door (visit their website daily to get the code word), and you’re likely to meet gangsters if you mingle with the crowd. For those looking for a memorable, unique experience, this is it.

The Woods

Address: 49 N Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801

Phone: (407) 203-1114

Website: http://www.thewoodsorlando.com/

You don’t even have to walk through the doors of The Woods to know it’s a special place. Located on the second floor of the historic Rose Building in downtown Orlando, they use small batch liquors to create their very traditional, yet tasty, cocktails. These are on the higher end of the price scale, but you’ll get true romance from the moment you walk through the door.

For the cocktail loving couple, there isn’t an option on this list that won’t delight. Hop from one to another and try the best Orlando has to offer, just be sure to bring your cab fare – these drinks pack a punch!