Monday, July 16, 2012

As one of the most immersive family dining experiences in Orlando, Dine With Shamo is one of SeaWorld Orlando's centerpiece attractions.

With a reservation at the Dine With Shamo venue, guests will indulge in a delicious menu at a pool-side table while getting up close and personal with the parks majestic marine life.

Be mesmerized when you get a glimpse of the interactions between black orcas and SeaWorld's notorious trainers.

Discover what notable characteristics of killer whales make them such intriguing animals. 
Learn about the little things that can be done to help rescue valuable ocean resources and habitats by enjoying sustainable and natural foods.

This behind-the-scenes experience will transport our guests to a new under-the-sea experience like never before.
Some facts: 
 Make reservations at the in-park reservations center by calling 800.327.2420.
SeaWorld’s commitment to the world we share extends into the food we serve.
All items served at Dine With Shamu are seasonably fresh.
  • All-natural, grain-fed Black Angus strip loin 
  • 100% natural cinnamon-cured roasted pork loin 
  • Rosemary-glazed free range grilled chicken 
  • Fillet of cod (certified sustainable) 
  • Seasonal sides including lemon butter herb roasted red potatoes, summer vegetable lo mien, cucumber salad, mixed green salad, summer fruit salad, coconut Caribbean rice 
  • Baked goods made fresh at SeaWorld 
  • Signature desserts 
  • Special kids’ buffet

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cabana Bay Resort scheduled for 2014

With it's  750-room Portofino Bay Hotel, 1000-room Royal Pacific, and  650 -room Hard Rock Hotel, Universal Orlando is adding a fourth resort to it's line-up of hotels.

Universal is pandering to a new trend of family resorts that provide value at a lower rate.  The Universal Cabana Bay Resort will accommodate up to 6 persons while offering a more affordable rate with a larger group.

Universal's new corporate owner, cable-TV giant Comcast Corp., is blessing the theme-park giant by investing millions into the entertainment business.   Comcast's blessing is provoking an interest in Universal products and services.
During Universals recent surge of popularity due to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, park attendance grew 35% increasing to some 13.7 million visitors.   To be more competitive with Disney,  Universal decided to build a new resort that will meet the demand of lower-end family suites due to larger groups.

The only caveat is that the new resort will not offer front-of-the-line park perks with the new Cabana Bay booking which could prove to be detrimental.  By contrast, Disney World is offering the same park perks for a booking at any one of it's 26,000 hotel rooms.

By not offering park perks with a value stay at Cabana Bay Resort, Universal can lure in guests by offering a more attractive price.   But some think this will be a negative affect when guests can not enjoy additional park specials.

But park officials believe that the new tiered ammenities will actually offer guests a wider range of options that it's competitors. 

Cabana Bay will be built on 37 acres adjacent to Islands of Adventure theme park and will be jointly share between Universal and Loews which holds about a 50% stake in the hotel.  Other hotels owned by Universal include Loews Portofino Bay Hotel,  Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the Hard Rock Hotel.

According to artists renderings,  the Cabana Bay hotel will model a large sweeping motor court of a days-gone-by era marked by  road trips Americans grew up enjoying while on vacation.  Images are reminiscent  of a hotel showing a retro-style entrance, with clean lines accented by orange-and-turquoise flourishes.

Opening concurrently with the Cabana Bay in 2014 is the all new theme-park "Land" as a tribute to the famous boy wizard Harry Potter.  Land is expected to create another large frenzy of visitors to the 100 year-old theme park.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tourist tax revenues may take a hit after Judge's ruling

Most online companies like Orbitz or Expedia  pay lower taxes on the wholesale price for hotels rooms but do not tax the retail price to the consumers.  

With the new Orlando Arts Center and Florida Citrus Bowl renovations, Orlando leaders will rely heavily on these revenues to pay for financing. 

Revenues also go toward global marketing of Orlando and for the convention center debt.

A ruling by judge Judge Fred Lauren sides with online booking companies that they can pay the lower tax.

This new way of doing business could cost County leaders millions of dollars in taxes need to pay for upgrades including the $1.75 million for the Citrus Bowl.

State legislators could be emboldened by the ruling to change statutes that cut deeper into bed tax revenues.  State Rep. Jason Brodeur from Sanford indicated that it may be prime time review the entire bed tax statute.

The downside of bed tax is they rely heavily on tourism that is dependent on the economy.  Case in point during the 2008 economic downturn  the bed tax crunch was heavily affected by decrease in tourism as a whole.

Some $1.1 billion in projected bed tax has been pledged by Orlando officials to pay for the performing arts center, Amway Center and the Citrus Bowl.

When the County of Orlando took companies like Expedia to court to settle the lower tax issue, it cost the County some $1.1 million in legal fees.  Was it worth it, when the online company settled for $9 million?

To date lawmakes side with the online company's and any further clarifications from the government could come at a higher cost to Orlando officials.

In the future, existing hoteliers could end up following the online tavel company model further affecting the bed-tax revenues.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Inaugural Kissimmee Festival of Festivals

Inaugural Kissimmee Festival of Festivals

This September the Festival of All Festivals is coming to the Kissimmee area. This three day festival will be filled with music, arts and crafts, food, races, hot air balloon rides and of course fun. Generously planned and funded by sponsors in Osceola County these businesses and organizations are bringing you a great weekend of fun for the whole family! The Kissimmee Balloon Festival will kick off with two evening foot races on Friday. During the event foot racers will have the opportunity to run alongside hot air balloons during the race.

Bright and early the next day (Saturday) hundreds of international hot air balloons will take to the sky for a cross country ride. Viewers will get to witness the various shapes, colors and sizes of the different balloons dot the edge of the Osceola County skyline and several hundred visitors will get to ride the balloons themselves! Throughout Saturday both tethered and free flying balloon rides will be offered to all festival-goers. But the rides aren’t the only thing available; the main festival grounds will have an array of activities. Enjoy food, contests, games, arts and crafts and a the festival fare, followed closely by live concerts!

The festival is set to bring people from all corners of the state to enjoy the fun and entertainment, so you don’t want to miss it. With great opportunities and once in a lifetime hot air balloon rides this is one event you won’t want to miss. Be ready to enjoy this great fare on September 21st through the 23rd!