Archive for the FLORIDA ADVENTURES Category

Taverna Opa in Orlando……what FUN!

Posted in FLORIDA ADVENTURES with tags , on July 28, 2012 by disneychronicles

We had a friend visit from out of town and really wanted to go somewhere new to eat.

I got a recommendation from my hair dresser (yes she’s awesome!)

and I LOVE this place!!

It is so fun! and yes it is a family atmosphere!

The combination of great food and celebration created a new meaning for the concept of dining.

A different approach that energizes and gives the diner a different dimension in entertainment. Previous dining norms are broken, spirits are lifted, with every single broken plate and every single napkin in the air. So fun! we are talking belly dancing, tabletop dancing, singing ect….

Everyone is involved!…even the kids LOVE it!

It is located at…

9101 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819

One tip that I would give is to valet. There is a parking garage there but it was packed and I can imagine it usually is. For $3 more just valet!

We opted for the Aphrodite family style dinner which is a very big amount of food! and it was fantastic!

Click link for full menu…

A hidden treasure…Pass-A-Grille Beach, Florida

Posted in FLORIDA ADVENTURES, FLORIDA BEACHES with tags , on July 13, 2012 by disneychronicles

We were originally heading to Treasure island when with a spur of the moment decision we decided to turn left instead of right! Ahhhhhh and we are HAPPY we did!

From the broad white sand beaches here you can see the pink towers of St. Pete Beach’s sprawling Don CeSar Beach Resort to the north. But south of Eighth Street (Pass-a-grille’s main boutique and café-lined drag), the sands are blissfully empty all the way to the tip of the peninsula.

Even the tourists here become locals of sorts, as many tend to return year after year.

The town stretches for blocks along the water, but is only two blocks wide from the bay to the beach, with not one high rise in sight.

On this sea-oat-fringed stretch of sand you will see sandpipers scouting the shore for treats the ocean delivered overnight. Their human counterparts arrive soon after, stooping to scoop up whelks, sand dollars, and other glistening treasures. The pickings are especially fine after a tropical storm.

Our recent finds after tropical storm Debby….

There are the regulars, like “metal detector guy,” whose fingers are decked with gold wedding bands he has found in the powdery sand, and the fishermen, who cast their lines from the jetty as brown pelicans by.

Want to see the sites?…transportation by Trolley of course…. we love it! and we will be back!

Gatorland….. is it worth it?

Posted in FLORIDA ADVENTURES with tags , , on June 25, 2012 by disneychronicles

Not to start off on a negative note but the last 2 weeks it has been raining. It has been hard to plan anything because your either in a serious DOWNPOUR or your sweating from the humidity! Ahhhh the luxury of living in Florida!

So we headed over to Gatorland.  Now from the time I was just a child coming down to Florida with my parents I have always had somewhat of an obsession with gators. Those who know me may speculate that this gator-fascination stems from my love of watching “Swamp People” not true….I don’t watch it THAT often. 😀

But you have to admit there is something fascinating about them!

Not too long ago, the American Alligator was on the brink of extinction.  Through a number of conservation efforts, these amazing creatures thrive today.  Scientists believe that the American alligator is more than 150 million years old. That means that these alligators once shared the same space as dinosaurs! Even though most other species that shared breathing space with dinosaurs are now gone, the American alligator lives on. Huh! bet you didn’t know that! pretty cool right?!

So as much as I prefer actually going down to the Everglades and driving down U.S. Route 41 State Road 90  parallel  to Alligator Alley, the trail is only one lane in each direction and has no fences to keep the gators in, or better yet jumping on an airboat!  I’ll take what I can get!

ok enough about me…thats how we ended up at Gatorland…

At 110- acres, Gatorland  has thousands of alligators & crocodiles to see, an aviary, breeding marsh with observation tower, petting zoo, nature walk, gift shop and one-of-a-kind reptilian shows including the Gator Wrestlin’ Show, Gator Jumparoo and the Up-close Encounters Show.

Gator wrestling, now I’m not really fond of people sitting on the poor gators but the guys running the shows are funny and informative, they truly are having a BLAST doing what they do.

You can also take a ride on the Gatorland Express train and then head on over to Gator Gully Splash Park where kids of all ages can enjoy a good ol’ fashion squirtfest!

The thing we missed (and are going back for) is the Zipline!  Otherwise known as the Screamin’ Gator, at heights exceeding seven stories, riders zip over Orlando’s wildlife (including more than 130 gators!) on five intense zip lines at speeds of 25 miles per hour. It was closed due to the rain. 😦

We also saw the new rare white alligators on display for a limited engagement at Gatorland’s newest exhibit, White Gator Swamp. Featuring four of the world’s largest white leucistic alligators known to roam the planet, these giant Ivory colored reptiles are each ten to twelve feet in length and weigh over 800 pounds. Their piercing blue eyes are believed to have the ability to command good fortune to those lucky enough to make eye contact with the blue eyed beauties.

Yup! totally made eye contact! 😀

Overall it feels like you are in an “Old Florida” atmosphere.  So go if you like animals of any kind. It is very clean and well maintained, and the animals all appear in good health, and fortunately for the gators, well fed.

Some of the gators are so big it’s ridiculous and, scary  knowing they are underneath your feet and you can even see them gliding past the floor boards! LOVED it!

In addition to being able to see and feed Alligators, there is a huge bird sanctuary where you can literally take a photo two feet from a rare bird’s nest. Beautiful white cranes are everywhere. It is a photographer’s dream (hopefully having better weather then we had that is)

You can easily do it all in about 3-4 hours. It is a good half day trip. Five dollars worth of turkey dogs is enough for two people to feed the gators. It is a different and fun alternative to the bigger parks in the area.

Heads up  though…THIS IS A TOURIST ATTRACTION… they WANT YOUR MONEY… so bring extra as there are some cool things you need it for… Pictures with Gator, feeding hot dogs to the Gator… Pictures with snakes… oooh and you can sit on a gator too….

so to answer the question… Is it worth it? you decide 🙂

Check out all my pics…

Nick Hotel-Orlando

Posted in FLORIDA ADVENTURES with tags , on June 8, 2012 by disneychronicles

A night at the Nick Hotel…..not what I expected.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort (The Nick Hotel) is a 24-acre resort that offers daily entertainment, games and contests, and a daily mass sliming. Two water areas offer pools and waterslides.

I actually had to ask myself before writing this review….. Have I become a “hotel” snob?  I try to be fair and in my line of work I do have to see things in different perspectives. (financially and expectation wise) but…..

I am also obviously deeply immersed in the “Disney” bubble. I think this experience has made me enjoy it even more. I now truly realize the “standards” Disney keeps even in their value properties. (that being said we LOVE Pop Century so by no means am I comparing the Nick to any moderate or deluxe properties)

ok….on with the actual review…

So for a while now this resort has been on my boys “must do” list.

They LOVE Spongebob and many of the other characters on Nickelodeon.

I will start with the good:

The staff starting from the front desk, to housekeeping are very nice, polite, professional and helpful. They engage in conversation with the kids and help out quickly and efficiently. Everyone has a smile on their face. The details in the resort are also great. The bold Nickelodeon colors orange and lime green are incorporated in not only the walls but even chairs and flower pots. The kids LOVED the pool and the “mall” the arcade, character meets and the shows.

Check out the celebration video….

Spongebob’s Krabby Patty Celebration

The bad:

Very Motel like!

We had a 2 bedroom Spongebob suite (yes this is a $25 upgrade) close location to the pool but absolutely NO view.

The suites are spacious for a large family. They are bare but there is room for a roll away bed. The spongebob wallpaper is peeling and needs a touch up. My 7 year old did mention how beat up the bunk beds were and maybe even needed to be painted!!!???? (enough said)  on the upside it is roomy and nice having a microwave and refrigerator.

But the bottom line….In one word OUTDATED! our room felt damp and smelled of mildew. Now living in Florida I get the humidity factor but we are talking serious issues here. The bedding and carpet felt “wet”.

Didn’t even want to take our shoes off and when it came to getting dressed in the morning all our clothes felt damp!!!??? … the master bedroom bed was standard but the kid’s bunk beds were very hard.  Really scrimped on the bedding also.  The room was technically clean..but it was just so worn that it gives the impression of being dirty.  Each kids room should have a game console. There weren’t any! The only flat screen was in the “living room” the tv’s in the bedrooms were the old box ones. Toilet didn’t flush, hot water in the shower?…good luck! I did get the vibe of over promising and not delivering. (and this place is approximately $200 a night)

Resort FEE…..of course…..Not worth the $25/night resort fee with 18% tax!

This hotel has the bones for potential. The shows, the staff and the themeing are great but it needs a major overhaul with the rooms to make their clients happy.

Glad we did it for the kids (and for my own travel agent experience) but we won’t do it again.  A while back I reviewed the Holiday Inn Resort Buena Vista…..which being off site in my opinion is a much better choice.

Check out all my pics….

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