Bill and Maunda Land spend 24 hours in Honolulu, Hawaii before their family trip. Here's what you can do with 24 hours in Honolulu.
I love Orlando because I can always reminisce about my travels at a restaurant, theme park adventure or festival. If you are missing Japan or just want to experience a little local flavor, please take a moment to stop by some of these places for a taste of Japan.
1. Epcot. Walt Disney World’s Epcot Theme park has the World Showcase where you can experience Japan first hand. There are 11 different countries to visit and if you only have a day, Japan is a great place to visit and dine. There are several different options for Japanese digning at Epcot: Tokyo Pairing ($60+ per entrée), Tokyo Dining ($15-35 per entrée), Teppan Edo ($15-35 per entrée), Katsura Grill (under $14 per entrée), Kabuki Café for desserts (under $14 per entrée), and the Hibachi Experience (over $60 per entrée). All of these places are wonderful, but please try to make a reservation using the Walt Disney World app or calling +1 (407) 939-5277. At any of these restaurants you should be able to hear the sounds of the live bands beat the drums and dance to the traditional Japanese music. You can also view a performance During Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, booths fill the walkways with local foods to purchase (tapas sizes). They always have a nice frozen green tea or sticky bun that is delicious.
2. Disney Springs. Disney Springs has two opportunities to experience Japanese fashion and dining:
a. Uniqlo is a Japanese department store with everything. Bill loves the AIRism “innerware” (underwear), but they have classic styled dresses and clothing. The Disney Springs Uniqlo has everything from kimonos to Disney clothing. It’s often open late (11pm or later) so it is a great place to visit after the parks or dinner.
b. Morimoto Asia. If you are in the mood for some Peking Duck, then look no further than Morimoto Asia ($15-35 per entrée). Curated by Celebrity Iron Chef Morimoto, this Pan-Asian restaurant has beautiful décor including a jeweled jellyfish shaped chandeliers, two floors for dining, a bar and sushi counter. While the Peking Duck was delicious, keep room for the fried rice and dessert. They had a Japanese soda during magical dining month that was delicious.
c. Yesake. This food cart offers hand rolls and sake slush drinks. We haven’t tried it but for under $14.99 per entrée per person it is worth checking out if you are pressed for time or have a limited budget.
3. Whole Foods in Dr. Phillips. Can you believe that I found some Mochi (a Japanese dessert) at Whole Foods? It is a little more expensive than the Mochi I found at 7-Eleven in Japan, but the experience of having this authentic ice cream dessert is awesome. (1 mochi costs $2 and 12 are $24).
4. Other great eateries: Kobe Ichiban Steakhouse is named after the Japanese city. It is a hibachi style grill similar to the one that we experienced at the New Otani Garden Restaurant in Japan. The steaks are good. We also like Seito Sushi and Bento Cafe. Both are good restaurants for decent Japanese food. The freshness of the fish can’t compare to Japan, but it is still good. My favorite Seito Sushi is in an Orlando Community called Baldwin Park, but the both Seito Sushi and Bento’s have locations in Dr. Phillips near Restaurant Row. Finally, there is one local eatery off the tourist path for more authentic Japanese cuisine. Sapporo Ramen has just what you think, good ramen and also good curry. It’s on the west side of town and in the inner city, but if you want to venture off the beaten path for good Japanese food, this is the place to visit.
After our recent trip to Asia, I had the opportunity to get some great travel health tips from my physician that were invaluable during our travels. I hope that what I share will be helpful for any travelers that happen to read it.
Prior to our trip to Tokyo and Hong Kong I met with my physician, Dr. Jason Littleton (http://www.jasonmd.com/) to go over any possible medical supplies or items that I would need to deal with any and all minor health issues or sicknesses. One problem about traveling abroad, especially to another continent is that you will probably not have access to general medical attention unless you go to a hospital. Which means any smaller but, still inconvenient issues that you have may not be worthy of a trip to the hospital but, require the help of a physician to be treated.
One way to deal with these issues is to meet with your physician to discuss where you are traveling to and ask if there are any things that you should be concerned about with your personal medical history. It is also beneficial to check the Centers for Disease Control website to get their up to date advisories concerning the countries you will be visiting (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel).
Your physician can help you to think about specific issues that you might face in the parts of the world that you are going to be traveling to. Certain places have drinking water that may cause diarrhea or stomach illness. When traveling to places where that is a possibility it will be necessary to have a plan for treating and dealing with the issue. For example, my doctor had me pack Imodium AD in case I had any bouts with diarrhea. He also prescribed an antibiotic that typically works for stomach issues along with an antibiotic that works for other types of sicknesses.
Based on my consultation he gave me a number of things to pack to make sure that I would have all the necessary basics to deal with any medical issues that might arise.
Items to Consider
- Antibiotics - By Prescription
- Antivert for motion sickness - By Prescription
- Pain Medicine - Tylenol (Extra Strength)
- Anti-Diarrheal - Imodium AD
- Steriod Cream - Cort-aid 1% Hydro-cortisone
- Vitamin C packs (1,000 mg)
- AFRIN - Nasal spray
- Allergy medication - Flonase or Claritin
- Steroid Pack - By Prescription
- Triple antibiotic cream - Neosporin
These are all items that can help you master an extended trip abroad and ensure that you are able to fully enjoy yourself without letting sickness takeaway your fun. Check with your doctor to generate a list specific for you. These are just items to consider, your personal physician can help create a list that matches your specific health needs.
One last piece of advice, give yourself some time to rest once you return. Many times after really long trips your body and immune system are worn down. So, my advice would be to get some rest for a day or so before you go back to work, otherwise you risk getting sick at home and that takes the fun out of sharing your experience!
If you haven't had a chance to enjoy Magical Dining month then there is still time left to experience one of the many great restaurants that offer a fixed three course menu for $33 a person.
Magical Dining runs through October 2, 2016. Here's the link to the site to look up the restaurants and their menus:
One of the coolest new stores at Disney Springs is the World of Coca-Cola at Disney Springs. It is the place where you can find anything related to Coca-Cola.
The World of Coca-Cola has four floors of awesome merchandise. The most incredible thing is that on the roof you can purchase soda and float drinks with flavors from various Coca-Cola products. It is a truly fun place to hang out and enjoy all the delicious Coca-cola products. The rooftop balcony has a great view of the rest of Disney Springs.
Hours 10:00 am to 11:00 pm Daily
Wahlburgers is located on the corner of Orange Avenue and Church Street in the heart of downtown Orlando.
Wahlburgers is a sit down restaurant with a takeout area and a full bar area. The decor is all about the Wahlberg family, with movie posters and quotes, along with green chairs, accents throughout and a bank of TV screens at the bar.
The food at Wahlburgers is delicious. The burgers are fresh and have their own unique flavors. The menu offers different types of burgers such as the BBQ Bacon Burger (Pictured above) one of their Signature Burgers, The O.F.D. (Originally from Dorchester), another Signature Burger or the House Burgers. The menu also offers different items such as "The Melt", the Haddock sandwich and Thanksgiving Day (Fresh ground seasoned turkey, stuffing, Paul's orange cranberry sauce, roasted butternut squash and mayo). If you are looking for a unique taste try the Sweet Potato Tater Tots (Very Tasty) or the Onion rings (Thinly sliced fried Bermuda onions tossed in sea salt and parsley).
Wahlburgers isn't just hype they have good food and atmosphere, they are definitely worth checking out!
200 S Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
Mon-Sun 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
If you are going to be in Orlando this Valentines Day then here are 5 quick ideas for things to do:
- Go to a Theme Park
There are tons of fun and romantic things to do at the theme parks on Valentines Day like Disney, Universal or SeaWorld, make a day of it!
2. Hang out in Winter Park
You can watch chocolate being made on site at Peterbrooke Chocolatier along with shopping and a bevy of restaurants to choose from.
3. Visit I-Drive 360
Experience the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds wax museum or Sea Life Aquarium.
4. Go to Disney Springs
Enjoy all the specialty shops, restaurants and activities at Disney Springs.
5. Dine on Restaurant Row - Sand Lake Road in Dr. Phillips Area
There are plenty of great dining choices on restaurant row, get ready to eat well!
Those are just a few ideas that can help you to enjoy your Valentines Day in Orlando! Enjoy!
Updated January 2018
Universal Orlando will be hosting the "Celebration of Harry Potter" starting on January 26-28th. The weekend is full of scheduled events that will bring joy to the hearts of Harry Potter fans of all ages. There are events scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The weekend has live demonstrations, question and answer sessions with actors from the movies, panel discussions and film screenings. You need a park ticket for admission. There are activities at both parks including chalk art, Harry Potter knowledge challenges, film screenings, scavenger hunts, and more. What are you waiting for? Meet us at Universal!
Check out the Universal Orlando page for a schedule and updates on events: Celebration of Harry Potter.
If you are a Harry Potter fan than the "Celebration of Harry Potter" is a can't miss event. Yes, you can dress up!
During wild days there will be special opportunities to get up close with the animals and experts. January 16-17 you can sign up for either breakfast or dinner with Jack Hanna. The next weekend you can meet a penguin up close with Julie Scardina at the Glacial Collections area. You can meet Rescue Team members and partners and get their stories and information from actual rescues on January 30-31.
Of course you can also enjoy all the other attractions including the roller coasters like the "Manta".
Recently, I spent the day at SeaWorld's Discovery Cove. It was an amazing experience. We picked a gorgeous day to enjoy the resort. The day was very active - yet relaxing. We soaked up the sun, snorkeled, swam alongside marine animals and enjoyed the endless supply of food and beverages included in price of admission.
Here are five reasons why I believe you should consider adding discovery cove to your Orlando itinerary.
- It is an all inclusive resort.
Going on vacation can be a costly affair. Often, you have to pay for your air, hotel and park tickets in advance and you still need to save money for food and incidentals. At Discovery Cove you are provided with breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages (even alcoholic beverages), snorkeling gear, towels, sunscreen and good service! All you need to bring with you is your flip flops, some beach shoes, sunglasses, beach hat and a change of clothes. Everything else they have covered. It's wonderful. If you add Discovery Cove to your trip that will be one day that you won't have to worry about anything - you may have to pick up dinner because the park closes at 5:30pm.
2. There is something for everyone
Often families have a hard time on vacation because everyone wants to do something different. At Discovery Cove there are so many options for activities:
- Visit Freshwater Oasis®, an all-new attraction with otters and curious marmosets.
- Adventure on the not so lazy river on the Wind-Away River. You will go through caves and waterfalls. You can even snorkel and see what cool things are on the bed of the river.
- See beautiful birds soar and sing in the Explorer's Aviary. Hundreds of colorful birds soar above and around you as you walk.
- You can reserve a 30-minute dolphin swim by purchasing the Dolphin Day Resort package
- Snorkeling with thousands of tropical fish and rays in The Grand Reef®. This experience was awesome. There were so many fish it was amazing. It was fun swimming over to the sharks, eels and lobsters (they were behind a glass partition).
- Relax on the beach (bring a good book or catch a nap! I brought my new Success Journal by Stacia Pierce to help me plan 2016.)
3. The park will never be overcrowded
Discovery Cove restricts reservations to 1300 guests per day. This is wonderful because the park will never be overcrowded, but it also means that you will need to get your reservation early during peak season.
4. The staff are friendly and love what they do
I really enjoyed the service of the staff. They were friendly and you could tell that they really enjoyed their work. Daily, staff bring out various animals for show, tell and touch. It is great. we were able to see a little owl and an armadillo. It was very cool! Kudos to one staff member Nelson, who went out of his way to help us at breakfast and lunch. He then greeted us when we were leaving. Katherine our cabana attendant was truly amazing as well. Truly superb service was provided at the resort.
5. There is nothing like the feeling of being up close with marine animals
I have been snorkeling all over the world. Discovery Cove was one of the best. I understand that it is a man-made resort, but having so many marine animals so close to you was amazing. It was an experience I will never forget. I was not able to swim with the dolphins on this trip, but I could tell that people enjoyed the experience. Next time I visit, I also want to do the SeaVenture. It is an underwater walking tour where you wear a diving helmet and get real up close and personal with marine life. SCUBA certification is not required. Pricing starts at $49 per person. Discovery Cove donates 5% of the proceeds from SeaVenture to the Rising Tide conservation project.
This is the first of many posts on Discovery Cove. There is so much more to share about this experience. Take my word, if you add it to your Orlando vacation you will enjoy it and it may be your most memorable vacation memory.
Prices for Discovery Cove are $169 for out of state all day passes. To swim with the dolphins the package price starts at $229 per person (out of state residents). Seaventure begins at $49 add on price.
I was given a tour of Disney World's Ice Place Boutique in Hollywood Studios. This is where girls and boys can come to get pampered and made up like their favorite Frozen character. It is great to see the children beautifully adorned like Anna or Elsa.
- Frozen Summer Fun Boutique Package – This package includes Anna or Elsa-inspired makeup, face gems, nail polish, a braided hair extension with a sparkling snowflake accessory and a photo. Package cost: $75, includes tax.
- Ice Palace Boutique Package – This package includes the items offered in the Frozen Summer Fun Boutique Package. It also includes access to the Ice Palace Café (where they have gluten free options) and reserved seating at one the production “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”. Package cost: $175, includes tax.
- Ice Palace Boutique Deluxe Package – This package includes an Anna or Elsa costume plus the items offered in the Ice Palace Boutique Package. Package cost: $240, includes tax.
- Boy's Package - A Olaf-inspired package includes a glittered hairstyle and a T-Shirt. Package Cost $19.95 plus tax.
Please note that only six guests are allowed with the The Ice Palace Boutique Package and the Ice Palace Boutique Deluxe Package. This includes the child receiving the magical transformation.
As with the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (which is located in Disney Springs), reservations fill up quick so please call in advance. To book your appointment call 407-827-7400 (you must be 18 or older to make a reservation).
Please note that all children's faces are intentionally blocked to protect their identity. Each child is truly glamorous upon completion from their boutique experience.
Winterclub is a one stop place for practice and learning to ski and snowboard. The facility has all the necessary equipment so you don't need to bring anything other than to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt. They have all sizes in both ski and snowboarding boots, various sizes or boards and skis and all the necessary sizes of helmets for use.
The experience is a little different than being on an actual ski slope because you are on an angled conveyor belt moving upward to simulate the downhill motion. The belt is made of a carpet that is sprayed down to create a low friction surface.
What is really special about the experience is they have qualified instructors that can help you learn or improve your skiing or snowboarding skills. The instructors are equipped with a remote control that allows them to stop the belt at anytime and help to correct any problems with your technique. I personally would say it was more useful than some of the lessons that I have had on actual ski slopes. Because the instructor can stop the belt at anytime you really get the instant feedback and correction to quickly help you improve. When you are on an actual slope you have to factor in the time you spend on the lift getting back up the mountain.
The facility also has a ski simulator to help with downhill training. The simulator is set up on a track and is also a great workout!
First time visitors have to enroll in the introductory session that is priced at $35 per person. After that pricing is based on what type of lesson or time you want on the slopes. Group lessons are priced at $44 per person ($39 for Children) and $59 per person ($49 for children) for a semi private lesson. True private lessons are priced at $99 per session ($85 for children). All lessons are set for 1 hour. Winterclub also offers rental of the entire slope for $230 (Maximum of 6 participants). The sessions are set up in 10 minutes on 10 minutes off increments. This is to combat fatigue, you can quickly work up a sweat on the conveyor belt. Time on the simulator is set up at $29 per session. For additional information check out pricing on their website.
A visit to Winterclub is a fun time and truly a great place to train or learn skiing or snowboarding.
Winterclub Indoor Ski and Snowboard
2950 Aloma Ave
Winter Park, FL 32792
We have some great news: The Circus is coming to town! Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey presents: Legends. If you like circus shows then this is one you don't want to miss. The show runs from January 14-18, 2016 at the Amway Center in Downtown Orlando. We attended their show last year "Xtreme Circus" and it was quite fun and entertaining for all ages. This year we are proud to share with you a discount code to receive $4 off on tickets using promo code 4MOM. This offer is valid on all shows EXCEPT Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (opening night), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Not valid on Front Row and Premium Seating, nor day of show. Offer valid through January 14.
If you are looking for a fun event for the whole family then this is something you don't want to miss! If you are in the Greater Orlando Area then this is a great way to send an afternoon or evening with the family. The event is as the Amway Center in downtown Orlando so giver yourself ample time to find parking and navigate through traffic. If you are interested in close parking then the Geico Garage is the lot of choice since it is connected to the Amway Center.
For tickets: Amway Center Box Office
Please Note: The Orlando Travel Guide received complimentary passes for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents LEGENDS.
This weekend is going to be Epic! The long awaited Star Wars: Episode VII will open in theaters December 17, 2015 at 7pm. Yes, Bill and I are Star Wars fans, and we will be at the theater opening night. Last time a Star Wars movie was released we stood in a line that was wrapped around the theater for hours so we could get a good seat. I thought it would be good to share five tips to help if you are planning to see Star Wars: Episode VII this weekend in Orlando:
- I highly recommend going to a theater with assigned seats. I realized about a week ago, that my local AMC doesn't assign seats and I will need to stand in line for a few hours before the movie. If a movie is popular like Star Wars, then I recommend buying tickets at a theater with assigned seats. Here are a few theaters that offer assigned seats in the Orlando area:
- It's not too late to get tickets. I checked on Fandago for a couple of tickets at the AMC Disney Springs and there were two seats at the midnight showing on Thursday night. If you don't have tickets now, I would recommend checking with the theater to see if anyone has returned any tickets. If you are willing to stand in line you can grab a ticket the same day and see the movie. Opening weekend people will be lining up hours in advance to get a good seat. Please arrive early and come prepared. Otherwise, you will be sitting in the front row of the theater, which isn't fun for your eyes or neck.
- Check the Theater's policy for costumes and toys. I know that AMC will let you dress up and bring your lightsaber, but you cannot have a mask on your face (to see their short, but sweet costume policy click here). One of the worst things you could do is have to return to your car and get crappy seats because you had an item that was not permitted in the theater.
- Brush up on your Star Wars knowledge. Yes, Bill and I were kids (OK, infants) when the first episode was released. Take a moment to get caught up on your Star Wars knoweldge. Episode VII is set 30 yearsafter defeating the Galactic Empire. This time Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and friends face a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his army of Stormtroopers.
- Embrace the hype. Regardless if you Like Star Wars or not, there are very few movies that span decades and have children, parents and grandparents excited about the unveiling. It will be the highest grossing movie of 2015 (yes, I think it will beat Jurassic World with sales of $1,668,912,312). So stop by Target, Walmart, or even Hallmark and pick up some Star Wars paraphernalia. This isn't a Jedi Mind trick, but "I think you we will all love Episode VII."
May the Force Be with You!
The show also has a number of exotics cars on display.
An incredible event. It is held each November in Winter Park. This year it was held at the Winter Park Country Club but, past years it was held right on Park Avenue in the heart of Winter Park with the streets blocked off. If you are visiting Orlando or live in the area and enjoy car shows this in definitely one to attend!
The room accommodations are very modern and spacious with views of the Dr. Phillips Center and downtown.
Another unique thing about the hotel is that it has an actual art gallery on the lower level.
The hotel also has an outdoor pool and patio.
Aloft hotel is a great place to stay at if you are visiting Orlando. Give it a try!
500 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801
The Crayola Experience is a great place to spend an afternoon with your young kids. If you ever enjoyed coloring then Crayola Experience will be a fun and education visit. It offers hands on opportunities for kids to learn how crayons are made and use them to create fun and artsy things if they want. If you have younger children this is an easy place to educate and entertain. If you are visiting the Orlando area this is a great rainy day alternative to the parks since it is fully enclosed and has many different activities for kids. You can easily pass a rainy Orlando afternoon here. It is also an easy place to entertain adults and children alike because it is located in the Florida Mall one of the top shopping destinations in the area.
Crayola Experience is a bright colorful place that has all types of activities for kids.
Crayola Experience is a great place to have fun and interactive time with your kids. It is worth planning a trip!
8001 Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32809
Daily 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
After arriving on the campus you can quickly get a sense of the friendly nature of the park by the giant teeth at the entrance. It is a great place to take photos to remember your visit.
Gatorland was founded in 1949 by Owen Godwin and is the oldest amusement park in Central Florida. Over the years it has grown from 16 acres and expanded into a large complex of 110 acres with a plethora of experiences with gators and other wildlife. The park is unique in the way that the staff interact with guests, they are truly friendly and approachable. They are extremely welcoming and go out of their way to make you feel at home.
When you go to Gatorland you should look at the website to find out the show times in advance. There are several shows that offer interesting experiences such as the "Upclose Encounters", the "Gator Jumparoo" and "Gator Wrestlin" shows. Each one offers an opportunity to see gators and other animals in action.
The property has a number of enclosures and pens where you can see different types of gators.
The photo above was taken in the pen with the gator, his name is "Chester". I had the privilege of entering the pen with the "Dean of Wrestling" Tim Williams. That is the only way I would feel comfortable taking a photo this close. This is a large gator, he is close to 1,200 pounds and he looks menacing! But, with Tim, I felt totally safe.
The gator pictured above is a leucistic alligator commonly mistaken for albino. The difference is the leucistic gators have blue eyes while albino gators have pink eyes. Once again I was inside the pen when I took this photo. He is really cool looking but, he can create 1,200 pounds of bite force and kill you! So I was very careful while in his presence!
I think the most beautiful and and interesting part of my visit was the breeding marsh. It is a large marsh and river area with a really nice boardwalk that allows you an up-close view of the gators in their natural environment.
Along with the marsh area there is a amazing natural area to walk that is completely open, if you see a gator over there he is in the wild!
There are also several zip line towers that you can enjoy. They even have a zip line harness for handicapped and wheelchair users.
When you visit Orlando Gatorland is a must! If you enjoy nature and are interested in seeing the American Alligator, crocodiles and other exotic animals then this is the place to go. There was so much to do that I have to cover the rest in a future post! Gatorland is great for a family visit and is reasonably priced with a bounty of things to do, see and experience.
10:00 am - 5:00 pm Daily
Adults 13 and up $26.99
Children 3-12 $18.99
Children under 3 free
The hotel is impressive upon your drive up and entry into the lobby. The lobby is spacious and at the same time very easy to navigate.
The common areas of the hotel are also very easy to navigate and offer a number of amenities such as a lobby bar and a number of restaurants and eating areas.
The hotel also offers a spa and a really nice outdoor pool.
The hotel also has great meeting rooms in all sizes and plenty of conference registration areas.
The hotel had great accommodations and an outstanding location. If you are looking for a place to stay in the convention center area then you should definitely consider the Rosen Center.
Rosen Center Hotel
9840 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819 (407) 996-9840