Other Orlando

  • With so much happening in and Orlando the area you owe to yourself to discover what is out there beyond the big 3!

    Don’t Miss This Deal

    Actually, if you read that headline, we are trying to mislead you.


    Because that is what might happen if you are looking at using those widely known discounted coupons.

    Or “coupon clipping,” as it sometimes called (of course, in these more technical times, coupons don’t have to be clipped from paper. They are increasingly technological).

    Now be sure here…we are not talking about discounted prices.

    Repeat NOT.

    There are Universal Studios Discount tickets and Disney World Orlando tickets discounted.

    Others, too.

    Discounted tickets can be bargains

    Lots of very reliable and established sites (like ours) offer these and other discounted tickets to many other theme parks.

    They are safe to buy at reasonable prices. And they offer discounts off the regular admission prices (saving money for visitors who often pay at the theme park gates, for example).

    What’s not to like about those discounts?

    Only that there are not more of them.

    What we are referring to here is something else. Discount coupons.

    Often, heavily discounted coupons.

    They are everywhere.

    Particularly at tourist destinations.

    Read: Orlando.

    Ten percent off…20 percent off…pay half price.

    On and on.

    If you are anywhere near a theme park and happen to pick up a brochure or any printed matter, you’ll almost certainly find discount coupons.

    And electronic or digital coupons on your smartphones, for example, are getting even more common than the print ones.

    Coupons found everywhere

    But even as there are predictions of print decline in newspapers and magazines, there’s no shortage here.

    We don’t know for sure. But by now, the electronic types might be even more common than printed ones.

    This gives rise to the downfall of the common phrase “coupon clipper.” It should be viewed as “coupon collector.”

    But we are here to give you the pluses and minuses of coupons.

    For instance, did you know you should never pay for a coupon?

    Also, you would never do this, of course…

    But did you know that materials retrieved from a dumpster that are meant for recycling, you had better keep hands off.

    Don’t even think of taking something there from the top level (even if it is totally clean, with an inviting offer of half off).

    The “diver” can be arrested for theft.

    And if the dumpster is on private land, you can also be arrested for trespassing.

    Dumpsters are not generally designed with “divers” in mind, and persons can fall in, get trapped, or suffer injuries if they venture into these containers.

    That’s why the The Coupon Information Corporation, or

    CIC, warns against even casual taking of coupons there.

    They cite reasons of safety.

    Even coupon supporter groups will give you that piece of advice, among others.

    How this all started

    Remember “Groupon?”

    They made it popular to get two-for-one coupons. They helped call more attention to coupons of all natures.

    Again, let’s make the point that there’s nothing wrong with paying less than regular admission prices. It’s a positive goal.

    But even the strongest advocates of using coupons have warnings.

    “Coupons are a great promotional tool and provide consumers with direct, honest and substantial savings. Over a billion dollars are saved with coupons every year! These savings benefit retailers, manufacturers and an entire industry,” says the CIC or Coupon Information Center.

    Couponing has grown enormously popular in recent years.

    CIC and others attribute it to to the Great Recession.

    That generated more interest in the possibility of saving big money via strategies shown on the TLC program “Extreme Couponing.”

    The couponers featured routinely buy coupons from clipping services, even though the legality of doing so is questionable, and there have been confirmed incidences

    And many people have found discount coupons useful. And valuable. To save money.

    Pros and cons

    But there are pros and cons to them.

    We've all heard the sensational stories about coupon clipping shoppers getting fantastic deals at the store.

    Mom buys a week's worth of groceries for family of five for only $8.37!

    Smart shopper combines coupon offers to get 16 Swanson turkey TV dinners for one cent!


    Do you have any idea how many people use clipped or digital coupons?

    Some surveys say 84 percent. Other surveys say 90.

    Some surveys estimate 93 percent of consumers in the US at one time or another use coupons.

    Yes, whatever it is, it’s a big number.

    But what can go wrong?

    And there’s good advice on how to use them…

    Which we’ll get to…

    For theme parks, current events have prompted more use than ever…though no one can cite statistics that we know of.

    With rising prices of more than $100 a ticket, why not clip a coupon?

    Tickets are expensive for families.

    Rising theme park prices

    The black market also has been fueled by the proliferation of booths selling discounted tickets in almost every major hotel and restaurant, or in front of every T-shirt shop.

    Don’t think that fake coupons are confined to food or clothing stores or restaurants.

    A few years ago, there was an enticing offer on Facebook.

    It looked like it was simply free tickets to Disney.

    Four of them, in fact. Enough for an entire family. Wow.

    But it turned out to be a scam. And experts explained why.

    First, there were misspelled words on the coupon.

    In addition, restaurants mentioned as free in the ads were not anywhere near Disney. They were fake names.

    All would-be buyers had to do was take a good look to see that the tickets were fake.

    But that was small change in dollar amounts.

    And not all fake tickets are that easily identifiable.

    These kind of stories can have very unhappy endings.

    Unhappy endings

    Another recent ticket scam dealt with a “crime family” that involved millions of dollars of tickets.

    A disgruntled employee of that group, a 38-year-old man, informed. He was shot to death.

    His body found in a pool of blood just 15 feet from the bus he drove in his job. His work was shuttling tourists to theme parks.

    He was attempting to help federal officials capture a gang that sold fake discount tickets.

    “A black market for park tickets has grown up in this theme park mecca, with illegal transactions occurring every day in the heart of its tourist district,” said a newspaper story.

    An Orange County Sheriff said the sale of illegal tickets is a multimillion-dollar business.

    Unfortunately, as with anything of real value, coupons are subject to misuse and fraud.

    And talk about extreme couponing…

    Just to give one example:

    Three women in Arizona were arrested recently for selling counterfeit coupons—a lot of counterfeit coupons.

    Police raided three homes in the Phoenix area. They seized $40 million worth of bogus coupons.

    The women were arrested, of course.

    But that arrest brought to an end what police called a life of “opulence.”

    Meaning wealth.

    Living like drug dealers

    Sales were so strong that the women were using the money in the equivalent of drug cartel-type of stuff,” according to the police.

    Not all of these coupon abuses are dime store variety.

    In another story, a 30-year-old Louisiana-based technician for a large college counterfeited thousands of coupons.

    So many, in fact, he became known as “The Golden Lotus.”

    A name given to him because of the packages he sold of coupons for virtually everything imaginable.

    Everything from video games to cigarettes.

    Prices were only about $25. But the discounts were in the hundreds of dollars.

    Fake, of course.

    “We have the best, most consistent, most precise, most scannable, most accepted, most diverse collection of coupons anywhere. They are not on anyone’s ban list. They are not blacklisted anywhere,” reads the seller’s offer.

    There was even an offer for customers to make their own coupons. For a price: $200.

    Coupon ninja

    How-to advice told in detail how to copy coupons to make your own.

    “You can be up and running and making coupons in an hour,”

    The guide guide read:

    “The more you make the faster you get…You are a coupon ninja if you can make one in under two minutes.”

    The man was indicted for bilking millions of dollars from consumers.

    Theme parks are prime examples of coupon usage -- which we always point out is often honest and useful.

    But there are always some glitches in the system.

    And even honestly gotten coupons might not be what you want.

    The owners and operators of Central Florida condo complexes and timeshare projects typically offer sharply discounted -- or even free -- theme park tickets to individuals.

    The catch:

    You must be willing to set aside a few hours or so to tour their developments.

    Hard to say no

    The common complaint here is that some -- no, not all, but some -- make it hard for you to refuse the offer. Incentive after incentive might be mentioned.

    Even if you refuse, you may get follow up appeals to still buy a timeshare.

    Now if you have read about the timeshare market, it can work well. For some people. Under some circumstances.

    But what you won’t hear timeshare sellers tell you:

    It is often hard to trade it off. To substitute it for another condo somewhere else in the country.

    Also something else you will not hear:

    Selling off a condo unit once you have bought it can often be difficult.

    If you are really in the market for that type of buy, you might try it.

    Nothing to lose.

    But if you have no intentions of now or ever looking at the timeshare market, you might want to forget it.

    It probably is not worth your time.

    Trust established providers

    The rule here: only trust coupons from vendors who have a solid reputation.

    Everyone who sells coupons makes claims.

    And these are something you can look for.

    Giveaways to the type of coupons you don’t want include highly impossible deals.

    Half-off admission prices may be an offer that is the real thing. But be sure to check on anything that sounds simply too good to be true.

    So how do you know the coupon is fake?

    Free or high-value coupons usually have holograms, watermarks, heat-sensitive areas, serial numbers. Or even lacking that, they have some other means to authenticate the coupon.

    If yours doesn’t have something similar, it could be a fake.

    The Coupon Information Center or CIC, as we mentioned before, is a non-profit association.

    They have some good advice.

    Their suggestions:

    • Never pay for coupons. That’s a warning sign.

    • Beware of e-mails containing high-value coupons, no matter the source. (Just because Grandma forwarded you an email with a free coupon doesn’t mean it’s legitimate.)

    • Avoid coupons posted to online discussion forums.

    • Avoid any photocopied coupons. That’s a no-no.

    • If you do print coupons at home (a very legitimate practice), check your computer screen. The coupon itself should not be visible. Legitimate coupon distribution systems “cloak” the coupons so while you can view a progress bar that says “your coupons are printing,” you won’t see the coupon itself.

    • Concerned that you may have a fake? You can always get a list of counterfeit coupons at the center.

      Everyone likes saving money.

      You love saving money, too.

      Of course.

      So while you can find legitimate discounts for Busch Gardens Tampa tickets, and Disney tickets, and LEGOLAND tickets, be sure you are dealing with someone who has an established reputation.

      And realize these places also need to make money.

      So if you come across an impossible deal that offers something to be good to be true, hey, it probably is. ###

    Sigh. It’s summer. And we sincerely, desperately want to tell you how to beat the heat.

    But we can’t.

    Not because we don’t want to share our own hacks…

    But because you really can’t beat the heat in Orlando, Florida.

    You can only cope with it.

    As you no doubt know, summer has started.

    The first day of summer is already over.

    That means the theme parks are even more crowded than ever.

    And here in Central Florida, that means 90+ degree days.

    Every day.

    The heat goes on and on.

    And with crowded conditions, it’s even worse.

    So a lot of sites will tell you how to beat the heat.

    Wrong approach

    When you buy your Disney Orlando tickets or Universal Studios Orlando tickets or even outside of Orlando, at LEGOLAND or other theme parks…you won’t beat the heat.

    No matter how far you get within driving distance of Orlando.

    But have thought about what athletes do to not beat…but cope…with the heat?

    We have their hacks.

    And others, too.

    Some are common sense like drinking and eating. But others may surprise you.

    Like eating spicy food.

    None of this is necessarily complicated.

    At the blazing hot climate during the Australian Open tennis tournament, for instance, tennis star Maria Sharapova puts an ice pack on her head.

    Simple. But effective.

    Why don’t you try the same?

    That’s something you might see at theme parks as well.

    No, you don’t work there.

    And you’re almost certainly not an athlete. Or see yourself as one (few of us do, which is why we fantasize about it.

    So did you ever wonder how someone like Muhammad Ali (better known in younger years as Cassius Clay) did to keep in winning shape?

    No, he didn’t do it by eating hot dogs.

    Or by regularly visiting theme parks.

    But consider the experience of someone else.

    That is writer George Plimpton. He did get into a boxing ring with a world champ named Archie Moore.

    The writer survived. Barely.

    Non-athletes can also endure heat

    So again, finding out how athletes cope with heat might help us all…at least as a start to dealing with the everyday heat you’ll find this summer in Orlando.

    Some of what they do, at times, is surprising.

    For example, eating hot spicy food.

    More on that later. But for now:

    The biggest reminder anyone always mentions to keep athletes cool: stay hydrated.

    So park-goers, take heed:

    Either bring your own water (cheaper).

    Or plan on spending some of your money on park-bought water bottles.

    Of course, it does not have to be water.

    Other drinks such as Gatorade or imitations also acceptable.

    How much water? A lot.

    Why is that?

    Because you will sweat. We all do.

    Think of your body like an air conditioner.

    When it heats up, your internal air conditioner turns on. You sweat.

    So you need to refill the tank. With water or something else to drink.

    Water is most often mentioned for obvious reasons: It’s usually available at theme parks for free. And even when you buy it, it’s less costly than soft drinks or coffee (drinks to avoid when facing hot weather anyway, because they dehydrate you).

    Filling the Tank

    To emulate athletes, drink your fluids a couple of hours before you get to the park. A fair portion is anywhere from 12 ounces or more.

    Remember our reference to gas tanks? When you go a long auto trip, you often fill up the gas tank.

    The same principle applies to water: fill up before you leave. And keep the water coming.

    If you are feeling thirsty, you are already starting to see signs of dehydration.

    And speaking of drinks…

    Those common “slushies” or iced drinks found just about anywhere are good to have even before you get to the park.

    Studies have shown that athletes consuming them before running could keep going longer with more of a comfort level than others who drank only water.

    Why avoid caffeine? It acts as a diuretic by forcing water out of your system. The last thing you want now.

    Drink your coffee later in an air conditioned environment.

    Keep the right mentality

    Or stay cool-headed.

    Studies have shown that cyclists maintained their performance intensity and rode longer when they believed the temperature was lower than it really was.

    Tell yourself it is not that hot. This is a mental trick. Worth trying, if you can do it.

    Being fit also helps your ability to handle heat, studies show.

    Short breaks are fine but even longer also helps, studies show.

    The reason: it takes a while for your overheated body temperature to return to normal.

    “When the plant takes moisture up from the soil and exhales it though the leaves, you have an evaporative cooling,” said Stan Cox, a plant breeder and author of a book called “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable truths About Our Air Conditioned World.”

    What you eat is important. Try hot foods.


    Don’t be.

    If you're already sweating, why would you want to sweat more? Professor of food science at Penn State University Luke LaBorde offers this answer: eating spicy food increases blood circulation and makes you sweat. So you'll feel cooler as the sweat dries.

    Hot peppers are good for you

    Dr. Oz explains that the capsaicin in hot peppers encourages your body to sweat more without raising your body temperature.

    Get a fan. Small ones are sold at all parks. But cheaper if you buy outside the park at dollar stores or almost anywhere else.

    When it comes to drinks, more advice:

    Freeze a drink the night before: Fill up a bottle of water half way and place it sideways in the freezer, so that way you will have a colder drink for longer

    Real athletes like Muhammad, did not regularly go to theme parks. But if they did, they would take many of these suggestions from people who work there.

    Here are some of their standard recommendation:

    The most common one of all is perhaps the simplest to do:

    Arrive early, preferably 15 minutes to a half hour before the park opens. Take time off, say from say noon to 3 or 4 in the afternoon. If possible, leave the park early.

    Go back to your hotel or other room for a nap, a swim, or just relax.

    Oops. You aren’t staying nearby?

    Makes it harder. But try to find a place to rest for a few hours.

    PS: a late lunch is a good idea. Or sit down for a long time with a cold drink or an ice cream.

    Return later in the afternoon (after some kind of rest). Stay until the park closes or until you have had enough.

    Let’s say you can’t skip the lines (true for most people except special pass holders and others). Try to avoid too many of these.

    They will simply grind you down after a while.

    A 30-minute limit is not a bad goal. Sure, not always possible. But use your judgment.

    Consider that those two hour waits, one after the after, grinds you down physically.

    Line-avoiding passes are good investments

    Of course, those passes allowing you to get to the front of the line are generally worth the money.

    Something not to do: sit around in the sun waiting for a parade or even an outdoor show.

    We recommend going to shows and other events like fireworks at the last minute. Even if that means you will be losing out on the “ideal” seats.

    Yes, no front rows may still be available. But this is a good way to skip one more line.

    Besides, most seats at shows are at least OK to see what is happening.

    Take breaks. Get out of the sun for a while.

    Head for an air conditioned theatre that has a show or even sells merchandise.

    Get off your tired feet as well for a half hour or so. And we don’t mean just sitting on one of those sometime uncomfortable metal benches. Find a comfortable place for a break.

    Don’t forget: all parks have a lot of indoor attractions, too, even if they don’t always come to the top of your conscious mind.

    Even a shop lobby can offer relief

    There are also a lot of lobby areas to spend a few minutes (whether or not you wait for the show).

    Train rides are another alternative for getting out of the sun for a while. Many take up to 20 minutes or even longer to make the trip. A good way to break up the day, too.

    Get wet. Get on some water rides.

    Yes, lines may be longer on hot days. But so what?

    The result is worth it.

    Try them later in the day. Or ideally, at night.

    The later the better.

    Just about all theme parks have water play areas or spouting fountains where kids (yes, and adults, too) can get wet.

    So pack a simple bathing suit and keep a sealable plastic bag to store a wet suit after splashing.

    It’s hardly a major way to cool off. But ice cream, frozen desserts, iced tea, etc., all taste better on hot days.

    And do help to cool you off. At least for a while.Knott’s opts for an old and familiar GhostRider over a new thrill ride

    Brady MacDonald

    An extensive renovation of GhostRider has returned the aging wooden coaster to its original glory and left the Knott’s Berry Farm ride running smoother and faster than it has in a decade.

    I rode GhostRider five times during media previews on Thursday and found the renovated coaster to be once again...

    Then, there’s sunscreen. It might not make you feel better immediately. But consider the impacts of sunburn.

    And you’ll be pleased that you used sunscreen long before you started to get a sunburn. They are painful. And they don’t go away as quick as you want them to.

    Of course, if you can afford it, staying at a park resort is a good way to cope with heat.

    You get to the park through air conditioned comfort via bus or monorail or water transportation.

    That alone beats walking to a car that has been baking all day in the sun.

    Staying at Disney or other resorts also give you perks such as extra hour times.

    Another option are cooling towels, such as tennis player Sharapova. 

    Sunburn, no…Goofy hats, yes

    You simply wet the towel, and it activates some magical cooling agent that keeps you refreshed.  A version of these can be found anywhere.Daylong ‘Ghost Town Alive’ show turns Knott’s into a Wild West improv stage

    Brady MacDonald

    The new interactive “Ghost Town Alive” entertainment experience at Knott’s Berry Farm injects Wild West characters and improv storytelling into the original heart of the Buena Park theme park.

    On a recent visit to the park, I spent a few hours wandering around Calico, the Wild West ghost town at...

    Hats may look silly to you. “Goofy,” particularly.

    But not so silly when your head is baking in the sun.

    Any hat will help (even Goofy).

    Don’t like real hats?

    Try a sun visor.

    Use good judgment or take on a positive attitude. That means more than just denying that it is hot.

    Don’t think “Yes, we’re here finally, and it’s costing a lot of money, and we’ll spend every minute doing something at the park. No matter what it is. We’ll keep busy.”

    Take time for breaks. Any kind that suits you.

    Whether it’s leaving the park for a while or staying there and simply sitting down to watch others.

    But if you want to be more comfortable, look to lighter clothing.


    They reflect the sun much better.

    PS: natural fabrics such as linen and cotton are best.

    PS again: You see a lot of visitors in jeans. They are often comfortable. But when they get wet, it takes a long time to dry. More reasons why linen and cotton are better bets.

    You may be more comfortable in socks and sneakers. But you might want to bring a spare pair of flip-flops for times when you get wet. They dry much quicker.

    Try to avoid the sun as much as possible. Stand in the shade, whenever you can.

    PS: This advice is not only from cast members at Disney and other theme park employees, but also locals. They deal with this issue every summer. So they should know.

    Learn more about the park you are in. Be aware of gift shops that you can walk through for a short cool down, for example.

    So let’s say you are stuck in the heat. No place to go.

    No cooler place.

    Theme park employees and cast members are real experts here.

    If you know your body’s best cooling points, try them out.

    They are your wrist and neck.

    Have some ice cubes handy or get some at a restaurant. Wrap them in a towel. They can cool you down.

    Another trick from oriental sources used by theme park people” chrysanthemum tea helps lower body temperature.

    Experts have said that in the Natural Health magazine.

    Mother Nature to the rescue

    And talk about nature’s help

    You probably know aloe vera soothes sunburn. But it’s cooling properties also helps cope with heat. There are various sprays available that you can consider.

    If you start to feel ill for any reason, don’t hesitate to find the First Air Station. They are everywhere. If nothing else, you can rest there.

    But you still say the heat bothers you…even after all these coping suggestions?

    The best answer of all to cope with heat may be to make your visit during what are known as “shoulder seasons.” Late spring and early fall.

    It’s not very far away, after all.

    But really, if you think about it, there are no bad times for a visit. ###

    MARVEL UNIVERSE LIVE! AGE OF HEROES - HulkMarvel fans, assemble for this live, legendary battle to defend the universe from evil. The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man join forces with Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts, in a race against time to recover the Wand of Watoomb before it falls into Loki’s hands in this all-new, spectacular arena stunt show.

    Produced by Feld Entertainment, Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes is performing at Amway Center from January 12-15, 2018 for seven performances. Tickets are on sale now.

    Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax make their live production debut bringing their courage and misfit wit to Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes. Alongside Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Hulk, Black Widow, Wasp and Iron Fist, the Guardians of the Galaxy help fight the scheming, menacing and loathsome villains Loki, Yondu and Green Goblin. Audiences will join in the quest that sparks new feuds with old foes, pitting student against mentor, sister against sister and brother against brother.

    Witness cutting-edge special effects, aerial maneuvers, pyrotechnics, martial arts, motorcycle stunts and vast 3D video projection mapping in this completely new thrilling adventure. Fans of all ages will be immersed in the Marvel Universe and experience it all with their family…LIVE!

    Save 20% off select seats with code MOM20. Not valid on VIP seating. Hurry for the best available seats! Code expires January 11, 2018.

    Tickets for Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes start from $15. Market pricing applies to all tickets. Rates can fluctuate based on factors that affect supply and demand. Lock in your price and location today!

    Orlando Show Times:  Friday, January 12, 7:30 p.m.Saturday, January 13, 11:00 a.m.3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.Sunday, January 14, 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.Monday, January 15 (MLK Day), 1:00 p.m.

    Venue: Amway Center, 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801

    All seats are reserved. Tickets are available at www.marveluniverselive.com or www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone for information only: 407-440-7900). For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740

    To discover more about Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes, go to www.marveluniverselive.com, or visit our social media channels:

    Facebook:  www.facebook.com/MarvelOnTour

    Twitter: @MarvelOnTour

    YouTube: www.youtube.com/MarvelOnTour

    Instagram: @MarvelOnTour

    I am a Feld Entertainment Blogger Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and other exclusive opportunities.

    If you have ever missed your plane, chances are one of three things happened:

    (1) You overslept and could not get to the airport on time, or (2) The TSA line was several hours long, making you miss your flight, or (3) You had a layover or long delay for various reasons.

    Sorry, we can’t do anything about 1 and 2…leaving too late or security issues…other than recommend you get a better alarm clock and leave earlier for the airport.

    But when it comes to number 3…those earthbound delays…we can definitely help you.

    This is a timely issue if you are aware of the recent record of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration).

    Airline passengers across the country have been missing flights as TSA attempts to process record passenger numbers. Various explanations are given.

    But some delays have involved several hours. Some delayed travelers have spent overnights at airports.

    That’s bad enough anytime of the year…even during lighter travel periods…but there are always layovers and long delays.

    Any and all seasons of the year.

    But this can be OK. For you, anyway.

    Let’s say you have exhausted your Disney World Orlando tickets…or Universal Studios Orlando tickets…or LEGOLAND tickets…or Busch Gardens Tampa tickets…and have already been to the theme parks.

    You have had enough.

    You are ready to go home.

    You are ready but airlines are not

    Say you have a half day or more delay. Several hours.

    No question of going back to the parks, where you want at least a one-day time period to experience even the most basic things.

    So you’re at the airport.

    What can you do for those hours of waiting?

    We suggest two areas.

    First, if you still have money left over, there is a category for you.

    That is to stay at the airport itself.

    Which does not sound great but if you know more about it, you might change your mind.

    Secondly, there’s an entertaining option just about 13 miles from the airport that is not a theme park. But it has a lot of entertainment options.

    And though only a few are free, they are mainly low cost. They can be viewed in just a few hours if you choose just a couple options. And they don’t require an entire day or more (though you can choose to spend more time there if you have it).

    Since you presumably have been to the theme parks already…and have little or no money left over in your budget… what can you do?

    Waiting at the airport can be fun

    You can wait at the Orlando International Airport (which is the most likely arrival-departure for most airline visitors here).

    OK. That hardly sounds like the best part of your trip. But hold on.

    Orlando’s airport attracts 40 million visitors now, making it one of the biggest in the US.

    MCO or Orlando International is the second busiest airport in Florida and 14th busiest in the U.S.

    It has long been praised for is practical design in getting passengers around with a minimum of fuss.

    But it also is almost like a city itself…with a lot of options.

    Besides just waiting…with a book or phone or I-pad.

    Just to give you an idea of its size. It has

    ---Over 120 places to eat and or shop.

    ---Financial services include a full service bank, and a currency exchange.

    ---There’s spas, shoe shine places, USPS and Express Shipping drop-off boxes.

    ---Free airport wide Wi-Fi.

    ---And a 445-room AAA Four Diamond Hyatt Regency inside the main terminal.

    About that Wi-Fi (which you can’t find everywhere):

    It’s available in all public areas of the airport. Free.

    Free Wi-Fi is among amenities

    Access Points provided by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority use the SSID “MCO Internet.”

    If you have any problems with networks, airport officials suggest simply moving to another location.

    Cellular/PCS wireless is also available from AT&T, Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

    There are also several kiosks which offer travelers internet connections, in addition to the standard dial service offered by the phone company via the RJ-11 jacks in the pay phones.

    You’re non-technical or simply don’t want to connect right now?

    The airport has a long reputation for supporting art. And its collection includes huge paintings and striking sculptures.

    They’re found everywhere (including a life-like sleeping passenger figure who is so realistic-looking that some passengers have tried to wake him up).

    Well-known national figures are among artists represented here.

    It’s hardly as large as the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art but you should be able to easily pass a few hours walking around to view it all.

    No cost or TSA issues here.

    Dining and art viewing are other options

    Of course, there’s also a major standby for airport waits: eating.

    Some of the latest offerings at the Food Hall includes Villa Italian Kitchen, Green Leaf’s & Bananas, The Market by Villa, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Asian Chao Oriental Eatery and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

    That varied bunch alone should satisfy most tastes and budget.

    The Food Hall is on the Airside Terminal 2 for gates 100-129.

    Most restaurants close at 10 pm or earlier. But if want a McDonald’s, guess what? Twenty four hours a day.

    For quieter moments, Orlando International Airport has a chapel inside the terminal, located just beyond the west security checkpoint (Gates 1-59), which can be accessed by any passenger holding a boarding pass

    It’s not unheard of as a place for a quiet through short nap.

    If you do demand a nap, seating is not really designed for that much comfort but there are sofas scattered around.

    The Orlando facility, in common with most, was hardly designed to give you a better sleep. But there are some couches available if you look around.

    The Food Court also has some padded benches (warning: hard to score because they are so often already occupied).

    TSA stations close after the last flight of the day but you can spend the night here.

    Another alternative is one day memberships in one of the various airport lounges. But expect to pay at least $50.

    A nap is nice but bring earplugs

    Wherever you might find to crash, do bring earplugs. The televisions go on all night.

    Other quiet places include a “city park” atmosphere in the hotel atrium between the A-Side and the B-Side of the Main Terminal.

    Take the elevator there to the top of the parking garage, even if you have no car parked there, to get a view from one of the highest points around of the Orlando area. It’s a good place as well for nightly Disney fireworks (though you should bring your own chairs if you want to avoid standing).

    You’re probably too old for this…but maybe not.

    It requires some effort but if you are willing to complete some paperwork, you can visit Level 9 of the Terminal Top Parking Garage to shoot panoramic photos of the area. (It’s also a good place for watching airplanes take off and land).

    Security regulations require you to fill out a “Use of Facilities” form. You have to do it in person. From 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday at the Public Affairs office. It’s located on the 3rd level of the Main Terminal at the Aviation Authority Executive Offices near the East Security Checkpoint for Gates 70-129.

    Why it’s called MCO

    For the sake of trivia (and perhaps to impress others about your local knowledge), the MCO designation for Orlando obviously had nothing to do with the name of the city…or does it?

    MCO comes from the former McCoy Air Force Base, named after Colonel Michael Norman Wright McCoy (1905–1957). A much-decorated pilot, he was killed during a crash of his B-47 Stratojet. An often-told story is that he guided his crippled airplane away from a local grade school to crash it at the site of what is now near the Orlando airport.

    Booking a room at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Hotel is getting as close to the airport itself as you can get.

    Rated 4-Diamonds by AAA.

    A check of rates for mid-June found the $150-a-night range, but a more exhaustive search might do better. They offer Day Rooms between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Rooms start at the 4th floor of the terminal. The terminal lobby is on the 3rd floor (as convenient as any airport anywhere).

    Not all airport hotels are quiet.

    But this one has positive reviews for that as well as for its other amenities.

    Said one blogger:

    “We stayed at Disney world and our last night we checked out to stay at the airport Hyatt so we could catch an early flight. Best thing we did. Not only cheaper but so convenient. We went from the room to the security line in minutes. It also gave me the ability to return the rent a car and save a day on the car.”


    Staying a night at an airport after a hard days week of theme park experiences is always a good way to decompress -- whether or not you have an early flight the next day.

    There are other less expensive hotels for well under $100 a night scattered within five miles of the airport itself that also offer free shuttles there.

    The airport hotel itself is designed to appeal to exercise fans.

    The hotel’s “StayFit™ gym features the latest in Life Fitness® Cardio equipment. The complimentary gym has treadmills, cross trainers, weights, exercise bicycles or just about everything you might expect in a well-equipped gymnasium.

    There’s a fitness concierge on hand for advice and to provide any exercise gear desired. 

    There’s also a jogging / walking track. It’s open from dawn to dusk.

    For those who choose to work out in the privacy of their rooms, there’s YogaAway. A variety of programs let you do your workout right there.

    For less strenuous exercise, the outdoor, Roman-style splash pool has a shaded lounge area to view planes soaring across the runway.

    Getting away from the airport

    Now, if you have your own transportation, it’s easy enough to drive to nearby destinations.

    Buses can also get you there for just a few dollars. But factor in waiting time, etc.

    As for taxis, they are easy to get here. But rates are among the highest you’ll find anywhere (blame it partly on a long-standing monopoly of providers).

    If you want to just go from the Orlando International Airport to International Drive, we found a taxi rate of $40-45 for the approximate 13-mile drive.

    An estimated Uber rate was far less: $14.34 (thank local government for approving this far better and less expensive alternative).

    What can you do at International Drive?

    The better question is what you can’t do,

    Shopping, dining attractions, entertainment options and hotels.

    All found here

    I-Drive offers over 42,000 hotel rooms, 22 attractions, 3 entertainment complexes, 200+ restaurants, 550 shops, the Orange County Convention Center and the I-Ride Trolley Service.  

    Take a ride on the I-Drive trolley (no more than $2) to see:

    The Orlando Eye, ala city of London, offers a 400-foot tower view of Central Florida in glass capsules.

    Or the really out-of-the-ordinary at “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” at the Orlando Odditorium.

    Or lie on a bed of nails at “WonderWorks” or simply see how people lived and died at the time of the Titanic.

    Bars like the “Blue Martini” (42 different kinds of martinis if that is your choice or shopping at Pointe Orlando).

    Guess what at “Gator Spot,” an extension of Gatorland with baby examples as well as giant ones (and a white Gator)?

    Glow in the dark miniature golf (Putting Edge), and eat, drink and play at Dave & Buster’s.

    Artistic or Bohemian culture served as a side order at highly rated Café Tu Tu Tango or learn belly dancing at Taverna Opa.

    Flying (really) on your own at Air Raid.

    Belly dancing or bars

    Chill out at the ICEBAR Orlando, named as the largest permanent ice bar in the world (70 tons of the unusual stuff…for Florida, at least).

    Care for a swim outside your hotel pool? You can buy a daily pass at the YMCA Aquatic Center I-Drive (a pool large enough to get lost in).

    McDonald’s offers its largest Play Place here.

    Even a glass blowing shop and studio at Artegon Marketplace Orlando.

    And world class roller coasters? Even that is “Coming Soon.

    More information on the huge variety of activities can be found at the I-Drive information site (www.iridetrolley.com/).

    You can check out “Hot deals” at www. InternationalDriveOrlando.com.

    Not literally a free way to spend spare time. But at least some things to do at fairly reasonable prices while waiting for your flight. ###

    You have heard of the latest and fastest roller coaster in Orlando. Maybe you have by now even ridden it.

    But do you want to go faster?

    Break that 73 mile an hour barrier set by Mako at SeaWorld of Orlando?

    To get into an even faster ride than driving along Orlando’s main highway of I-4?

    Speed limit: 70.

    Ferrari, known for fast cars with stunning designs, may be coming to Orlando.

    No guarantees and no “for sures.”

    But there are strong indications Ferrari World may be next in line for buyers of Disney World tickets. Or Universal Studios Orlando tickets. Or even younger theme park-goers who prefer their LEGOLAND tickets to visit another park less than an hour’s drive away from the theme park city of Orlando…if you obey the speed limits.

    Ferrari already has some theme parks. So why not Orlando?

    “Orlando, and maybe Los Angeles, are the preferred (new) sites,” one report says of Ferrari driving a new park here

    We’ll get into more detail on this later. Which, as we say, is still speculation. But there’s a lot of credibility to Orlando at least being considered as a site.

    Particularly when you consider some unique elements of the area. Such as the convention market (unlikely as they may sound unless you know more about it).

    All this comes at a time when there’s some unusual talk about Orlando:

    Theme park world: getting more?

    More theme parks on the way…more choices of where to visit for theme park-goers?

    It sounds unlikely. And analysts who make a living at evaluating trends like this one say the rule in Orlando is this:

    There shall be no more major theme parks.

    But what are known as smaller or boutique parks are not included in that rule.

    And yet the existing parks are expanding all the time.

    As seen by the many summer openings and expansions in addition to SeaWorld’s shark encounter Mako.

    Which does not even include the fact obvious to anyone standing in line for a ride on Disney’s aging “Space Mountain” roller coaster.

    Theme parks are attracting so many visitors that lines are longer than ever.

    Tourism observer trends say it’s about time for Disney’s rival, Universal, to get another theme park.

    It’s only been 15 years since the last major new theme park opened in Orlando. That was Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

    Prior to that, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened in 1971.

    Doing the math…that’s almost half a century ago…or really 45 years ago.

    Orlando is ready for a new theme park

    “High time” for a new park, writes The Orlando Sentinel. They quote “industry experts.”

    Since Disney is presumably involved in opening up its Shanghai, China version, the likely candidate comes down to Universal.

    The speculation has been over Universal’s purchase of 475 acres in the tourist corridor.

    Since then, planning discussions have been ongoing with area officials. In this case, Orange County (which includes parts of Orlando).

    Universal has suggested another theme park. They want what is called a “development zone” for the property.

    Now this won’t happen tomorrow. Or within the next few months.

    It would take years. But it appears to be going forward.

    Another theme park would be Universal’s third.

    The impact might be very positive for visitors like us: more choices.

    But even better: shorter lines.

    There’s no question Universal has long struggled to keep up with its major rival, Disney.

    No better example is this:

    Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark is due to open next year. New hotels also.

    Where in the world did they learn about the demand for more water parks and hotels to sleep after long swims?

    Everyone follows Disney

    Disney, of course.

    Which is not to say that Universal is slavishly following Disney.

    "(But) They're really moving into a destination which is close to what Disney is," Scott Smith, assistant hospitality professor at the University of South Carolina, told the local newspaper.

    If you have followed attendance reports, which are only briefly published, Universal has been adding to its visitor shares. Disney has lost. But still, Disney attracts more than two thirds of those of you (theme park visitors).

    Universal gets only about two in ten, while SeaWorld is far below that (at 6 percent).

    Do these numbers make it likely SeaWorld or Disney would add a new park?

    SeaWorld, no. They are still entangled with animal rights advocates over their main product: fish.

    That partially explains why new roller coasters are designed to broaden their appeal, but also to emphasize their educational efforts on behalf of sea animals.

    That leaves Disney.

    Walt himself, who was dismayed at both the profit potential and the tacky nature of development around his original California property, made sure that would not happen in Orlando.

    The property here has no shortage of acres for expansion.

    And Disney recently added another several hundred acres to future development. That property alone would make a theme park in itself.

    But right now, Disney’s attention may be more inclined to Shanghai, China, where a new park is opening this month.

    The $5.5-billion Shanghai Disney resort will feature a Magic-Kingdom-style theme park, two hotels and a Downtown Disney shopping center.

    A 10-minute boat ride around Fantasyland will depart from inside the park's Storybook Castle, the largest and tallest of all of Disney's turreted icons.

    Disney’s challenge is not only cultural here (Pluto the dog is outfitted as a character in the Chinese zodiac). But also practical.

    And talk about crowds…

    “The primary concern for Shanghai Disneyland is preventing crowds from getting unwieldy,” suggests The Wall Street Journal.

    A total of 330 million people live within three hours of the Shanghai park.

    “Outside crowds are already flocking here by car and subway to new restaurants and a lakeside promenade in a tourist zone surrounding the park,” the newspaper said.

    This was more than a week before the park was scheduled to open…when on a single day 90,000 people went through the park.

    But Disney’s international concerns are hardly limited to Shanghai. There’s also the parks in Hong Kong and Paris.

    And expansion is already in the works there. The Hong Kong government, 52% partner in the Hong Kong Disneyland property, is planning to work with Disney to develop a "phase 2" of the park.

    That is described as an addition as large as the current park size. 

    Hong Kong itself recorded a record number of visitors in 2014 at over 60 million, up 12% year over year, according to the government's statistics.

    Because Hong Kong Disneyland has become an integral part of the tourist attractions offered, the Hong Kong officials want to ensure the park keeps up with a growing number of visitors.

    This phase two -- which the government hopes will bring even more tourism income and economic growth to the region -- will include additional attractions, new retail areas, and more hotels.

    The current park is already Disney's largest international park, at about 150 acres total (compared to about 115 for Tokyo Disney and 140 for Disneyland Paris).

    Even at 300 acres, the new, doubled Hong Kong Disney will still pale in comparison to Disney's Orlando properties.

    While the doubling of Hong Kong Disneyland would be impressive, its 300 acres would still be less than a third of the nearly 1,000 acres planned for Disney's new park coming to Shanghai.

    This new park is going to be a massive new push for Disney's international theme park segment.

    Closer to home

    Already, Disney plans to open Avatar Land at Animal Kingdom next year. There’s also the revamp of Hollywood Studios and Star Wars, which is expected to be a huge attraction (with even greater lines).

    Disney say it is involved in “unprecedented growth and expansion.”

    Universal has been long rumored to be interested in opening a third park in Orlando on land they own directly across Universal Boulevard from the Orange County Convention Center.

    Rumors have ranged from “Lord of the Rings” to “Nintendo.”

    Unlike Disney, Universal does not have a large section of land that is connected.

    Their latest new acquisition of 475 acres section is not connected with the two major parks.

    Which brought up the question in the local newspaper story”

    How would Universal’s property be connected?

    For visitors such as yourself, this might in the future be even easier and more comfortable than ever.

    The reason is SunRail.

    The main purpose of the train is for local commuters. But plans are underway for it to connect with the Orlando International Airport.

    This would involve an air-railway system similar to many major cities such as London and Paris, where you take trains instead of autos to complete your destination.

    Right now, Orlando air visitors can take shuttle services to Disney and other theme parks. Or buses.

    But rail would be a highly attractive and presumably economical option.

    Several rail companies are looking into the financial prospects of such a system.

    As might be expected, Universal supports the concept.

    Another potential issue: hiring enough “cast members,” ala Disney?

    Better job market

    This could be good news for you if you want to work here.

    Wages and benefits will certainly go up as parks compete even more for people.

    Disney has been a pioneer in bringing in foreign workers.

    But other parks such as Six Flags have emulated their plans as well.

    Just what kind of park Universal might do is by far the most interesting question.

    Speculation ranges from more water themes, which are always popular in sunny Florida, to imitation mountain ranges. The later would have the appeal of being somewhat unusual, though hardly unique to Florida.

    Which brings us to what is being called “another major player in the world of theme parks.” Ferrari.

    Highly respected business source “Bloomberg” suggests a new North American park is idling and getting ready to go.

    Rumors of it go all the way back to 2010.

    “With rumors gaining momentum during a 2014 IAAPA attractions expo (the world’s best known amusement park showcase),” according to newspaper accounts.

    They got into the theme park game when first opening Ferrari World in 2010 in Abu Dhabi on an island. There’s a grand racing circuit track there.

    Ferrari no stranger to theme parks

    PS: Leisure tour operator Farah here operates the world’s largest indoor theme park.

    The Abu Dhabi park is home to the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa, the world’s tallest non-inverting loop coaster and several other rides.

    A Soarin’ style flying theater, go-karts and even a teacup style ride all call the park home, Autoblog said.

    How fast is Formula Rossa? It covers 1.3 miles in 90 seconds. 

    A second park is being built in Spain (one of the largest in Europe).

    The mainly outdoor Spanish park will have a five-star hotel.

    And the automaker has a third park planned for mainland China.

    A proposed North American location would be the fourth.

    All the current Ferrari parks include a partnership with others.

    “What makes the Orlando market stand out is the shift to higher end experiences that the market has seen in the past 14 years,” writes The Orlando Weekly. And while the overall market may be saturated with general theme parks, boutique parks remain a possibility.

    Most parks are all-day trips.

    A boutique park geared to autos (and auto heads) is considered far more likely for an Orlando location, park officials say.

    This is particularly true in Orlando. Why?

    Convention groups love smaller parks

    Because boutique parks like Ferrari cater strongly to convention groups.

    And Orlando besides theme parks is also the biggest convention market in the US. “The Los Angeles and Orlando areas have developed into epicenters for theme parks in America and could attract a Ferrari location,” according to one news story. The story went on:

    “The licensing of additional Ferrari theme parks comes as the company strives to position itself as a luxury lifestyle brand as much as an automaker and racing team. The storied marque has lines of clothing and various merchandise, and a network of retail stores through which it sells its products.”

    Sounds suspiciously like Disney and Universal, no?

    But is the theme park world here already saturated?

    Could be, says one account. “However, we’re sure it would find room for a Ferrari World if it had to,” added Autoblog.

    What would a Ferrari theme park have?

    Roller coasters, of course, and perhaps vertical acceleration towers. And probably virtual test tracks.

    Don’t expect anything immediately.

    Like tomorrow.

    But if you want a Ferrari fix, for now at least, you can get it at Ferrari of Central Florida.

    The dealer has 458 models that can cost more than $400,000.

    Or you can get a used one.

    Right now, the best deal may be a 2012 model. It’s a 458 Italia model. Available used for $279,995.

    Not a bad price. For multi-millionaires, anyway. ###