Tag Archives: I-4

Daytona Speedway Reconstruction Well Underway

DAYTONA Rising is a $400 million reconstruction of the Daytona International Speedway. Five expanded and redesigned entrances, or “injectors,” will lead fans to a series of escalators and elevators, transporting them to three different concourse levels. Each level features spacious social areas, or “neighborhoods,” along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. When completed, Daytona International Speedway will have approximately 101,000 permanent, wider and more comfortable seats, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concession stands. In addition, the Speedway will feature over 60 luxury suites with track side views and a completely revamped hospitality experience for corporate guests. The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and DAYTONA 500.

Celebration, Florida

Founded in 1994, Celebration is a planned community created by a real estate division of The Walt Disney Company. Disney commissioned famous architects to create the master plan and to design the streets and buildings.

Celebration has the flavor of a southern American village from the 1930s. Residential neighborhoods are clustered around a small, pedestrian-friendly downtown area. Market Street has a storybook atmosphere with a Caribbean flavor. Sided in brightly-colored stucco, the downtown buildings have wide overhangs, shutters, verandas, and arcades.

Places to Stay

Nestled lakeside in downtown Celebration is the “Bohemian Hotel Celebration” offering a charming blend of Old Florida elegance and contemporary luxury. The “Mona Lisa” is a an all suite hotel is located near the entrance to Celebration and easily accessible from I-4 and US 192. Just outside of the “bubble” is US Route 192, a 10 mile strip of commercial development that has just about every chain hotel you can think of.

Places to Eat

There are variety of dining options in Downtown Celebration with world-class restaurants and specialty food stores offering a variety of international cuisines perfect for any occasion. Cafe D’Antonio features items representative of many of Italy’s varied regions. The Celebration Tavern is a New England style restaurant and tavern that has become the town’s social hub and place to be seen since opening. The Columbia Restaurant overlooks Celebration’s picturesque lake and offers classic elegance in a Mediterranean style setting where diners can enjoy fine Spanish/Cuban cuisine in our old-world-style dining rooms, an outdoor cafe, or courtyard. Imperium Wine Room is a 100 seat, class-service, food and wine bar offering the highest quality food and wines with a 50 seat patio. Enjoy the delights of the Confectionery Chocolates and Ice Cream from Kilwin’s. The Market Street Cafe makes over 60 items from scratch every day. Savor quality authentic Japanese food and sushi at Seito Sushi. Shannon’s of Celebration is an authentic Irish restaurant in a perfect lakeside setting. Discover the authentic taste of Thai food at Thai Thani. Upper Crust Pizza and Starbucks round out the downtown Celebration food choices.

This is, of course the heart of tourist country, so venturing out of the confines of Celebration will prove to be a restaurant and fast food wonderland.

Places to Go

Downtown Celebration has the finest selection of shops and boutiques with something for everyone in the family. Enjoy walking the brick-lined streets of Celebration Town Center and spend time with family and friends.

The town of Celebration also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. Whether you prefer to stroll down Market Street perusing fine art, dance to family friendly music in front of the lake, or watch snow falling during the holiday months, there’s always something to do in Celebration!

Just two blocks from Market Street is the Celebration Golf Club, a daily fee golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Getting Around

Celebration is located approximately 20 miles southwest of Orlando just off Interstate 4, exits 65, 64 or 62. US Route 192 runs east-west. Once in the Celebration “bubble” it’s not unusual to see electric vehicles, Segway human transporters and bicycles in your travels. Celebration has miles of wide, paved and wooden trails and paths. It is a very walkable community so park your car and explore!

Orlando Premium Outlets – Orlando, FL

Orlando Premium Outlets features over 160 Outlet Stores. Find impressive savings at Ann Taylor, Armani, Barneys New York, Burberry, Coach, Diesel, Elizabeth Arden, Fendi, Gap Outlet, Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Marni, Nautica, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch.

Orlando Premium Outlets
8200 Vineland Avenue
Orlando, FL 32821

Tel: (407) 238-7787
Business Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10am-11pm
Sunday: 10am-9pm
Holiday & seasonal hours may vary

Directions:
From I-4 Westbound:
Exit 68 (Rte. 535). Left at light onto Route 535, left at next light onto Vineland Avenue at Little Lake Bryan; proceed 1 mile.

From I-4 Eastbound:
Exit 68 (old 27). Proceed straight across light at end of ramp onto Vineland Avenue; continue 1 mile.

Heading South on International Drive, past SeaWorld right at light into Vineland Village (Vineland Avenue).

World’s Tallest Roller Coaster Coming to Florida

A 520-foot-high roller coaster, the tallest in the world, is coming to Florida. The exact location however has not been disclosed.

An official announcement will come within the next few weeks, said Michael Kitchen, president of US Thrill Rides, the Florida-based company that designed the ride.

The “Polercoaster” is tall with a small footprint, Kitchen said. At the top of the attraction will be a double-decker restaurant and observation deck. Visitors can travel by elevator to the top without boarding the thrill ride.

Riders will board eight-passenger vehicles at ground level, then work their way to the top in a spiral pattern. The descent is more thrill-packed with sharp dives, rolls, loops and inversions, Kitchen said. The top speed will be more than 60 mph, he added. In addition to being the tallest in the world, the coaster’s track will be very long, Kitchen said. “We expect to break many, many multiple world records on this ride,” he added.

Currently there is no theme-park attraction in Central Florida taller than 200 feet. The “Orlando Eye”, centerpiece of a new entertainment complex currently under construction on International Drive is a 450-foot observation wheel. The new complex, called “I-Drive Live” is scheduled to open in late 2014.

Kitchen said he expects a groundbreaking in summer of 2014 and anticipates it opening in spring of 2016.

 

Traveling I-4? Get exit services, real-time traffic info, weather and more: www.i4exitguide.com

Mango’s Tropical Cafe Coming to I-Drive in 2014

Construction is scheduled to begin in January on a $30 million, 55,000-square-foot Mango’s Tropical Café restaurant and nightclub at the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Road (I-4, exit 74) in Orlando. In addition to Mango’s an 8,300-square-foot gift shop will be a part of the project.

Mango’s will add it’s “grown-up” entertainment venue to a growing list of adult attractions on International Drive. “The Orlando market has already started another renaissance,” said David Wallack, Mango’s founder and president. “Between Disney, Universal, Sea World and International Drive, there are literally billions of dollars of new development and attractions going up everywhere. Mango’s is a natural fit for this market, and we have an incredible location. We look forward to serving millions of happy guests.”

Mango’s has been a popular attraction in South Florida since 1991. The entertainment venue showcases live bands and extravagantly produced shows every night.

Mango’s COO Joshua Wallack added “Mango’s Orlando will become the largest, must-see nightlife entertainment destination in Central Florida with amazing shows, atmosphere, and late night dining. An epic venue such as this will elevate Orlando’s rankings among popular convention destinations and influence major convention bookers to actually choose Orlando over other competing markets.”

Mango’s Tropical Cafe is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.

Fantasy of Flight – Polk City, FL

Update March 4, 2014: Fantasy of Flight, an aviation-themed attraction in Polk County, will close to the public April 6, 2014 and will concentrate on its private-event business, owner Kermit Weeks told employees on Tuesday.

Fantasy of Flight is an aviation-related attraction in Polk City, Florida  that takes visitors back to the pioneering days of early flight, World War I, World War II and beyond. Fantasy of Flight houses the world’s largest private aircraft collection on display. Fantasy of Flight is the only attraction in the world to offer daily aerial demonstrations (weather permitting) of aircraft in its collection. The attraction showcases an aircraft each day.

Themed “immersion experiences” showcase memorable moments in aviation history, and a self-guided audio tour gives visitors information about aircraft in the collection as well as insider details about featured aviators. Guided tours go behind the scenes to show how craftsmen restore vintage planes.

The Facility

The facility features a main building consisting of two large hangars (called “North” and “South”) for the aircraft on display, restoration shops, the immersion environments, a gift shop and the Art Deco themed Compass Rose Diner. Just outside the main building across from the entrance is the facilitiy’s new ropes course and zip line attraction known as “Wing Walk Air.” Outside the hangars there is an adjoining tarmac and two grass runways. On the north side of the runways are a maintenance hangar and conference facility. A “back lot” to the south of the main complex contains warehouses, storage and restoration facilities.

Immersion Environments

Visitors walk through several immersion environments as they enter the attraction. From the lobby, guests walk into the interior of a WWII-era Douglas C-47 Skytrain complete with lighting and sound effects as if the aircraft were conducting paratrooper operations. Guests pass a seated paratrooper in full kit and move forward toward the Jumpmaster figure standing at the open side hatch. Over the hatch blinks a red “Ready” light which switches to a green “Jump” light as the guest approaches the hatch. Through the hatch is the entry to the attraction.

Other immersion environments include a “sensation of flight” simulator, followed by a celebration of the early days of flight. Then, a passage covered by heavy shrapnel-resistant curtains leads visitors into a full-scale representation of the trench warfare of WWI, complete with aircraft overhead. It was, in part, due to the development of aerial warfare that trench fighting became obsolete.

The final immersion display includes the collection’s Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress housed in a large darkened room staged to appear as a winter evening at RAF Horham, home of the 95th Bombardment Group during WWII. The full-scale diorama, complete with ground vehicles, outbuildings and landscaping, represents a maintenance area and one of the B-17’s engine cowlings and propellers are removed to maintenance stands in front of the aircraft. Guests can enter the plane via a side hatch in the tail, walk through the bomb bay, visit the cockpit, and exit near the nose of the aircraft.

The Compass Rose Diner

Adjacent to the attraction’s lobby is an Art Deco themed restaurant called “The Compass Rose Diner” which features the characteristics of diners associated with airports during the 1930s and early 1940’s. The restaurant features tall windows, multi-hued terrazzo floors and the curved architectural lines associated with the Art Deco period. The diner is open to the public and serves a short-order menu similar to that of lunch counters popularized during the pre-WWII era.

Visit the Fantasy of Flight website

 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Fantasy of Flight, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Dinosaur World – Plant City, FL

Perhaps you’ve seen them on your travels along I-4. Dinosaur World is an outdoor dinosaur theme parks located just of I-4, exit 17 in Plant City.

The park features over 150 life-size dinosaur sculptures created by Christer Svensson. Opened in 1998, Dinosaur World is family friendly, including many activities for small children, playgrounds and picnic areas (food is not served on the property so guests are encouraged to picnic).

Life-size dinosaur statues are placed among native vegetation or water features to simulate animals in a wild environment. Plant species that date from the time of the dinosaurs can be found on the grounds and identified with small signs as appropriate.

There are frequent break and shade areas around the park and several picnic and play areas. One popular attraction is the “Fossil Dig” where kids can dig for real fossils and may take home their favorite three in a small plastic bag.

Visitors tour Dinosaur World on a boardwalk that takes them past stegosaurus, brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex and other popular dinosaurs set among natural marshes with cypress and gum trees.

Attractions in the park include:

  • Dinosaur Walk – an outdoor trail with life-size dinosaurs and explanatory signs
  • Boneyard Playground and picnic area
  • Fossil Dig – where children find fossils in the dirt and may take home their favorite three.
  • Movie Cave –  showing a selection of dinosaur videos also available in the gift shop.
  • Museum – with reproduction fossils and animatronic dinosaurs
  • Gift Shop – selling a selection of dino and prehistoric toys and gifts.

Website: http://www.dinosaurworld.com/

 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Dinosaur World, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Bok Tower Gardens – Lake Wales, FL

Bok Tower Gardens is a botanical garden and bird sanctuary, located north of Lake Wales, Florida. It consists of a 250-acre garden, the 205-foot tall Singing Tower with its carillon bells, Pine Ridge Trail, Pinewood Estate, and a visitor center. The tower was built upon Iron Mountain, one of the highest points of peninsular Florida, estimated to be 295 feet above sea level. It is a National Historic Landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bok Tower Gardens is open daily and an admission fee is charged.

History

The gardens began in 1921 when a Dutch immigrant, Edward W. Bok, editor of the popular women’s magazine Ladies Home Journal and his wife, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, were spending the winter beside Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge and decided to create a bird sanctuary on its highest hill. Bok commissioned noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to transform what then was an arid sand hill into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country”.

The Gardens

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. designed the meandering gardens of Bok Tower Gardens to feature acres of ferns, palms, oaks, pines, and wetland plants. The plantings also include camellias, tree ferns, creeping fig, yaupon and dahoon holly, Asiatic jasmine, justicia, crinum and spider lily, monstera, wax myrtle, date and sabal palm, papyrus, philodendron, blue plumbago, and horsetail rush. The site is a refuge for more than a hundred bird species. Wild turkey and groups of sandhill cranes are also often seen wandering the grounds.

The Singing Tower

The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens. The tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool that allows the water to reflect its full image. A 60-bell carillon set within the 205-foot tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that was designed by architect Milton B. Medary. The tower is 51 feet square at its base, changing form at 150 feet high to an octagon with 37 feet sides that include sculptures designed by Lee Lawrie. The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot moat that serves as a Koi pond. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone, from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Although the tower’s interior is not open to the public, it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library, said to be the largest carillon library in the world. Inside the bell chamber is a playing room that houses a clavier that is used for playing the carillon bells. Recitals are given daily from the 60-bell carillon set.

Pine Ridge Trail

The Pine Ridge Nature Preserve and Trail is an ecosystem typified by an over-story of Longleaf Pine and a dense groundcover of perennial grasses that includes a nature trail that extends for three-quarters of a mile, a bog garden, an open glade, and a sandhill forest community.

Pinewood Estate

8 acres of the Gardens include the Pinewood Estate, which features a twenty-room Mediterranean Revival mansion. This mansion was built between 1930-1932 by C. Austin Buck, vice-president of Bethlehem Steel Co. in Pennsylvania, as a winter residence. Its original name was “El Retiro”, and it has been restored to its 1930s appearance. The sanctuary features several events at this mansion during the year. Guided tours of the 20 room Mediterranean-style mansion are given daily.

Events

Throughout the year, there are numerous events designed to draw visitors to the Gardens. These events include various concerts featuring jazz, orchestras, and the carillon bells of the Tower. The most popular are the semi-annual symphony concerts, given in the evening once in the Fall and once in the Spring. These events draw thousands of visitors to the large field in front of the Tower for an outdoor picnic; and feature music from both the symphony orchestra and carillon bells.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Bok Tower Gardens, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Busch Gardens – Tampa Bay, FL

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a 335-acre, 19th century African-themed animal theme park located in the city of Tampa, Florida. It opened on March 31, 1959 as an admission-free hospitality facility for Tampa Anheuser-Busch; in addition to various beer tastings they had, a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is divided into themed areas. The Serengeti Express (a replica steam train) runs along the back end of the park and makes stops at the Nairobi, Congo and Stanleyville themed areas. The Skyride transports guests between Crown Colony and Stanleyville.

Morocco

The park’s main entrance is home to the Mystic Sheiks of Morocco brass and percussion ensemble. Treats can be purchased at the Sultan’s Sweets and the Zagora Cafe. The Moroccan Palace, a 1,200 seat indoor theatre is located here, as well as the outdoor Marrakesh Theater. Gwazi is the major ride in this area. Gwazi, a 105-foot , 50 mph dueling wooden roller coaster named after a mythological creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a lion opened. The dueling sides consist of a lion side and a tiger side, which cross paths seven times.

Bird Gardens

This area is mostly gardens and animal exhibits and shows. “Walkabout Way” is themed as an Australian outpost.  This area which is the Bird Gardens give guests the chance to see and hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies. In addition this area is home a kookaburra, magpie geese and Australian black swans. This experience is open to all guests 5 years of age or older.

Stanleyville

This section of the park is home to the park’s water rides and SheiKra, a Dive Coaster. The Stanley Falls Flume and Tanganyika Tidal Wave is also located in Stanleyville.

Congo

This section contains two of the park’s more popular rides. Kumba, meaning roar in Swahili, is a 143-foot steel sit-down roller coaster with seven inversions. It still remains a popular ride today. Other rides in the Congo include The Congo River Rapids, a water ride that simulates raging whitewater rapids, and Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars, a bumper cars ride.

Jungala

Jungala is a 4-acrefamily attraction featuring up-close animal encounters, rope bridges to explore three stories of jungle life, and a water-play area for children. Also located in this area are two family attractions: Jungle Flyers, a zip line that offers three different flight patterns above the treetops of the new area, and Wild Surge, a shot tower that launches guests above a waterfall. Another attraction is Tiger Trail, which is a walkthrough with tigers where there is also a glass turret where you can look out right in the middle of the tiger enclosure. Stiltwalkers perform and interact with guests in the heart of Jungala during several parts of the day.

Timbuktu

Timbuktu is a section themed after the malls and bazaars of Africa. Attractions here include Timbuktu Theater, The Desert Grill, and the park’s family-friendly Sand Serpent wild mouse roller coaster. Rides include the Scorpion, a sit-down roller coaster with one vertical loop, Sand Serpent, a steel wild mouse roller coaster, Phoenix, a looping starship themed as an Egyptian cargo vessel. Other attractions include Sesame Street Film Festival, and Caravan Carousel, a carousel with horses, camels, and chariots

Nairobi

Alligators and crocodiles can be observed here up close. In Curiosity Cavern, guests can view mammal and reptile exhibits. Visitors to Nairobi can view injured or abandoned newborns at the Nairobi Field Station Animal Nursery. The area also contains Myombe Reserve, a tropical rainforest that is home to Western Lowland Gorillas and Common Chimpanzees. The major ride here is Rhino Rally, an unpredictable off-road safari. Rhino Rally, a River Adventure ride, where riders board inside modified Land Rovers through the park’s Serengeti Plain habitat, interacting with animals.

Crown Colony Plaza

Crown Colony is the smallest section of the park. It features a restaurant, the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster, and the Skyride station.

Egypt

Bedouin tents and authentic handicrafts and art create an Egyptian marketplace feel. Guests can visit a replica of King Tutankhamen’s tomb with the excavation in progress. The primary attraction of the Egypt themed area is Montu, an inverted steel coaster. Montu, named after the Egyptian Falcon God of War, is a 150-foot steel inverted roller coaster with seven inversions.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0