Category Archives: Featured

Orlando Approves I-Drive MegaMall and Hotel

The developer of a new $400 million mall and hotel tower recently received recommended approval from the City of Orlando Planning Board for it’s master plan to build a multilevel shopping center and 26-story hotel on the corner of International Drive and Kirkman Road. Their next step will be going before the city council.

The iSquare Mall and Hotel will include 749 hotel rooms, 490,213 square feet of retail space, a restaurant, meeting space, skating rink, a 500-seat live performance theater and office space, plus an 11-story, 2,780-space parking garage. The complex will be topped with a rotating restaurant and observation deck that will be 360-feet tall, city documents showed. The project should take two or three years to complete.

The approved concept is a slightly smaller version of a plan that the developer originally submitted. The original version included a 32-story hotel and more than 1,200 hotel rooms.

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Orlando’s Skyplex Development Adds More Land

Skyplex, the $200 million retail and entertainment destination scheduled to be built on Orando’s International Drive, has just added another parcel to it’s project site.

The developer purchased an adjacent half-acre site from Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. The property is the third piece they have secured so far at the northeast corner of International Drive and Sand Lake road to build the 12-acre Skyplex tourist destination.

Skyplex will feature a 570-foot-tall Skyscraper roller coaster and observation tower attraction, a vertical roller coaster that will drop from the height of the tower and ride along the outside of some of the retail structures at the center. The destination is expected to feature nearly 500,000 square feet of luxury retail space, including high end shopping.

Construction is expected to start in 2015 with a grand opening slated for 2016.

 

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Road Trip Declared Americans’ Favorite Vacation

The summer travel season is officially under way, and Jiffy Lube – an industry leader in vehicle preventive maintenance – has confirmed Americans’ love for the open road. According to a recent survey fielded by Jiffy Lube International*, four in five Americans (78 percent) agree that road trips make the best vacations.

“Consumers love the freedom that the open road brings to their travels. Whether on a mission to find the best roadside diner in America or check a few national parks off their bucket list, road trips offer a little something for everyone,” said Steven C. Ledbetter, president of Jiffy Lube International. “Jiffy Lube is here to help drivers get to their final destinations worry-free while encouraging new adventures on the road ahead.”

Not surprisingly, this love for getting behind the wheel resulted in more than 80 percent of respondents sharing that they truly love their cars, with about two-thirds saying they’d rather drive across the country than fly. When it comes to road trip personalities, there is a clear divide between the “Planners” and the “Pilots.”  Forty-four percent of women put themselves in the “Planner” category, noting that they prefer to ride shotgun, control the radio and take charge of the maps. Forty-three percent of men put themselves in the driver’s seat, literally, classifying themselves as the “Pilots,” choosing to drive and make the decisions on when and where to stop.

CULINARY JOURNEY

Whether driving along coastal New England on a quest for the best clam chowder or going on a barbecue tour of the south, food is a big part of the trip for many. Half of those surveyed parked at a restaurant along the way versus eating while on the road. Even those who prefer to pack meals and snacks try to stop and enjoy surroundings, with 30 percent of Americans saying they like to pack picnic fixings for a stop at a roadside park or other scenic spot.

ROAD TRIP STYLE

You don’t always know where the road will take you or what you’ll need when you get there, which can pose a problem for those looking to pack lightly. Without a strict itinerary, two in three Americans (64 percent) find packing for road trips tricky, even sharing that 67 percent always over pack since they don’t have to worry about airline baggage fees, weight limitations or security restrictions. Regardless of how much or how little one packs, however, sweats reign supreme as the road trip uniform, with forty percent opting for sweat pants and t-shirts before piling into the car. That being said, more than 50 percent of both men and women always pack one must-have fashion favorite for once they reach their destination.

WHAT YOU ‘AUTO’ KNOW BEFORE HITTING THE ROAD

Preparation is the key to success for summer road trips. Before hitting the road, the car-care experts at Jiffy Lube suggest five quick tips to make sure your vehicle is road-trip-ready so you can leave worry behind:

  1. Keep Fluids Flowing Check the levels of all vital fluids, including motor oil, coolant, transmission fluid and windshield wiper fluid, and top-off, or change fluids, as needed. Motor oil does more than just lubricate moving parts. It cools engine parts, provides protection over a wide temperature range and even helps to protect the emissions system.
  2. Shine Bright Make sure your headlights, taillights, turn signals, parking lights and license plate lights are all working. Replace any bulbs that may have burned out and consider getting lights cleaned to remove haze and clarify the lenses.
  3. Beat the Heat Keep a gallon of distilled water in the trunk of your vehicle. If your vehicle starts to overheat, pull over to a safe location as soon as possible. Turn off the vehicle’s engine and safely raise the hood as water and/or steam could spray, resulting in injury. On modern vehicles it is important to note that cooling systems come in several configurations. The more traditional design includes a radiator with an integrated radiator cap and a coolant reservoir. Other configurations utilize a sealed radiator and pressure tank with integrated pressure cap.First step, then, is to identify the locations of the coolant reservoir, radiator cap or pressure cap via the owner’s manual. For vehicles so equipped, check the reservoir level and add water appropriately. If the vehicle does not include a reservoir, locate the radiator or pressure cap.  Do not remove the radiator or pressure cap until the system has cooled down completely, as injury may occur due to the release of scalding water or steam. Note, however, the system may still be under pressure even after cool down period. For optimal safety, use a towel to touch, slowly twist and remove the radiator or pressure cap, allowing access to add the appropriate amount of water.
  4. Get Rid of Junk in the Trunk Match the load rate of your vehicle (found in the owner’s manual or inside the driver’s side door) with the estimated weight of your family and the luggage you’ll be packing for the trip. Excess weight makes the engine work harder and consume more gasoline.
  5. Keep Your Tires Rolling Along Check tire air pressure, including the spare. Over- or under-inflation can weaken your tires, cause uneven tread wear and impact your gas mileage. Many drivers think the proper tire pressure can be found on the actual tire, however, that’s incorrect. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual or to a decal often found in the doorjamb or glove compartment for the proper tire pressure. Check the pressure when the tire is cold/at air temperature. Do not check the pressure after an extended drive on the highway or after driving for more than five minutes.

To ensure your vehicle is ready to hit the road, visit JiffyLube.com to find your local Jiffy Lube service center; there, you can also find oil change coupons and promotions for your next visit. For additional road trip findings and tips, please visit the Jiffy Lube Instagram,TwitterFacebook and Google+ pages.

*METHODOLOGY

The 2014 Jiffy Lube Road Trip Survey presents the findings of an online survey conducted by Toluna from June 25-27, 2014 among a sample of 1,021 American adults. Respondents, comprising 489 men and 532 women, were 18 years of age and older. The margin of error for a sample of this size is ± 3% at a 95% level of confidence.

About Jiffy Lube

Jiffy Lube International, Inc. (“Jiffy Lube”), with more than 2,000 franchised service centers in North America, serves approximately 22 million customers each year. Jiffy Lube pioneered the fast oil change industry in 1979 by establishing the first drive-through service bay, providing customers with fast, professional service for their vehicles. Headquartered in Houston, Jiffy Lube is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Shell Oil Company. Visit www.JiffyLube.com to learn more about Jiffy Lube and vehicle care. About Shell Oil Company Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with 90,000 employees in more than 80 countries. We deliver a diverse range of energy solutions and petrochemicals to customers worldwide. These include transporting and trading oil and gas, marketing natural gas, producing and selling fuel for ships and planes, generating electricity and providing energy efficiency advice. We also produce and sell petrochemical building blocks to industrial customers globally, and we are investing in making renewable and lower-carbon energy sources competitive for large-scale use. In the U.S., we operate in 50 states and employ more than 20,000 people delivering energy in a responsible manner. For more information, visit www.shell.us.

 

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The Adventure Continues…The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley Now Open At Universal Orlando Resort

It’s the day millions of people around the world have been waiting for…

On July 8, 2014, Universal Orlando Resort officially opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Confetti, fireworks and a red carpet lined with dozens of cheering Diagon Alley team members welcomed thousands of excited guests as they entered the all-new spectacularly-themed land for the very first time.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley brings even more of Harry Potter’s adventures to life at Universal Orlando Resort. This fully-immersive area expands upon the global phenomenon launched by Universal Orlando when it opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure in 2010.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is filled with incredible entertainment experiences for the whole family. You arrive aboard the Hogwarts Express, which takes guests on a journey between the two lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and are transported into a spectacularly themed environment. The new area includes incredible shops with windows full of magical surprises, authentic food and beverages, a towering dragon that breathes fire and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a new attraction unlike any other that takes you on a mind-blowing ride through the Gringotts vaults – pulling you into an incredible adventure.

More details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and available vacation packages can be found at www.UniversalOrlando.com/wizardingworld.

Additional Grand Opening photos are available for download here:https://universalorlandoresort.sharefile.com/d/sa6ea46ade74495ca

About the Harry Potter Series
Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon. Each of the seven books by author J.K. Rowling has broken sales records, with the series to date having sold over 450 million copies worldwide and translated into 77 languages. The Harry Potter films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed more than $7.7 billion to date worldwide at the box office, making Harry Potter the largest-grossing film franchise in history.

About Universal Orlando Resort
Vacation like you mean it at Universal Orlando Resort – where every heart pounding, jaw-dropping, goose-bumping second counts. It is the only place where you can turn spending time with your family into spending time as a family. Together, you can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, become a Minion in the hilarious and heartwarming Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, and join Optimus Prime in the fight to save mankind on the new mega-attraction, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D. And now, you can step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two incredible theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure; four magnificently themed on-site hotels: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the newest addition, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort; and Universal CityWalk – a nighttime entertainment complex featuring a collection of nightclubs, restaurants and shops. And located just minutes from Universal Orlando Resort is Wet n’ Wild, Orlando’s premier waterpark.

Universal Orlando Resort is part of NBCUniversal, a Comcast company. Follow Universal Orlando Resort on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About Warner Bros. Entertainment
Warner Bros. Entertainment is a global leader in all forms of entertainment and their related businesses across all current and emerging media and platforms. A Time Warner Company, the fully integrated, broad-based studio is home to one of the most successful collections of brands in the world and stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television and home entertainment production and worldwide distribution to DVD, digital distribution, animation, comic books, video games, product and brand licensing, international cinemas and broadcasting.

It’s Official – Universal’s Diagon Alley Opens July 8

Universal Studios Orlando announced this morning that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is opening July 8.

A London Waterfront showcases Diagon Alley. This new section of the expansion includes King’s Cross Station, the Knight Bus, The Leaky Cauldron, Grimmauld Place, and includes several new restaurants, shows and a new ride called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Guests will have to purchase a 2-day park pass in order to travel to both areas of the Wizarding World (Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.

Watch this site as more details become available.

Get in on the excitement of Universal’s Diagon Alley and one of the most anticipated theme park attractions. Make your hotel reservations now. Check out the deals for lodging near Universal Studios Orlando

It’s Official: Orlando’s Proposed Skyplex Entertainment Complex Will Include PolerCoaster

After months of speculation it has been officially reported that a new 570-foot-tall roller coaster, called the Skyscraper, is on the way to Orlando’s International Drive.

The Polercoaster from US Thrill Rides will be built as part of the Skyplex Entertainment complex on the northeast corner of the intersection of Sand Lake Road and International Drive.

With nearly one mile of track, Skycraper will include 8-passenger vehicles that will reach speeds up to 65 miles per hour. The coaster will have the capacity to carry up to 1,000 people per hour. The ride is expected to cost less than $20 a ticket. Continue reading It’s Official: Orlando’s Proposed Skyplex Entertainment Complex Will Include PolerCoaster

Polercoaster, The World’s Tallest Rollercoaster Coming to I-Drive

Attention thrill-seekers: the word is almost official… the world’s tallest roller coaster, will be built near the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Road in Orlando.

The Polercoaster will be approximately 570 feet tall… the tallest structure in Central Florida. For comparison, that’s about 150 feet taller than the Orlando Eye Observation Wheel, now under construction along I-Drive just south of Sand Lake Road. It will be nearly three times higher than both Disney’s Expedition Everest and Universal’s Rip Ride Rockit coasters and roughly 130 feet taller than the 35-story SunTrust Center in Downtown Orlando.

A press conference to officially announce the project is scheduled for Thursday, June 5th.

The Polercoaster will include an observation platform at the top that will have shops and a restaurant and event space.

Early news accounts mentioned that the Polercoaster will cost around $18 per rider and that it has the capacity to carry approximately 850 to 1,600 people per hour.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Officially Opens at Walt Disney World Resort

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a playful and musical family-style coaster that immerses guests in the timeless story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, officially opened at Magic Kingdom today in time to greet summer guests to Walt Disney World Resort.

Joined by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida and Orlando Magic players Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris, Magic Kingdom vice president Phil Holmes welcomed park guests as the first riders to experience the newest attraction at Walt Disney World Resort.

As the crowning jewel of New Fantasyland – the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom – the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a rocking, rollicking coaster that immerses guests in the lovable world of Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy and Dopey. Inspired by the classic Disney animated film classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the attraction sends riders on a playful musical adventure into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”

Featuring an innovative, first-of-its-kind ride system, guests boarding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train pivot back and forth during twists, turns, hills and drops. Guests are transported through magical mountain scenery and a glowing mine with scenes of the Dwarfs and frolicking forest creatures.

Music from the film classic accompanies the journey. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train features spectacular Audio-Animatronics – with cars slowing down so guests can spot favorite characters making an appearance in different scenes.

At ride’s end, the cottage of the Dwarfs, replicated from the film to exacting detail by Walt Disney Imagineers, comes into view with a dancing Snow White visible through a window.

Guests can reserve access to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with FastPass+ in advance of their visit to Walt Disney World Resort using MyDisneyExperience.com a component of MyMagic+.

About Walt Disney World Resort Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous, nearly 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation destination featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom); two water adventure parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon); 36 resort hotels (26 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, includes eight Disney Vacation Club resort properties); 63 holes of golf on four courses; two full-service spas; Disney’s Wedding Pavilion; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; and Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex.  Walt Disney World Resort is also included in vacation packages of Disney Cruise Line. Located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort opened Oct. 1, 1971. Open daily, year-round. For information on attractions and vacations at Walt Disney World Resort, visit disneyworld.com, call (407) W-DISNEY or contact local travel agents.

 

Disney Moving Forward With Flamingo Crossings Project

Disney is finally moving forward on “Flamingo Crossings”, a project that was originally announced back in 2007 but became a victim of the faltering economy.

Flamingo Crossings is located directly outside the western gateway to Walt Disney World Resort and directly off Florida State Route 429. Disney has confirmed that the project is now on the front burner. Disney spokesperson, Marilyn Waters explained “Flamingo Crossings is a Disney master-planned, value-oriented tourist district that will combine third-party branded lodging, retail and dining. We are pleased that the project continues to move forward with interest from well-known brands and hotels.”

Right now, Marriott has filed an application to build 2 hotels and “associated site amenities” on 10.5 acres. Those hotels are the Springhill Suites and Towneplace Suites. Marriot describes TownePlace Suites as “designed for comfortable long-term stays, featuring full- sized kitchens, high-tech amenities and more.” SpringHill Suites are described as “Style and space. Beautifully priced.”

According to Disneys Flamingo Crossings website Flamingo Crossings will be a “pedestrian-friendly themed” development ultimately consisting of 7 hotels, a “Main street” retail development site, several casual sit-down and fast food restaurants, 300,000 to 500,000 square feet of tourist-related retail including gas/convenience stores, grocery, gift shops, and services related outlets.

Disney Parks Kick Off Summer Vacation Season With 24 Hours of Magic, May 23-24

Disney Parks will kick off the summer travel season with a 24-hour, coast-to-coast celebration that invites guests to “Rock Your Disney Side” at three Disney theme parks – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in California, and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

From 6 a.m. Friday, May 23, to 6 a.m. Saturday, May 24, 2014*, on each coast, guests will spend 24 hours laughing, screaming, dancing and embracing their own Disney Side – that fun, playful side that emerges as they enter a Disney park.

Disney pirates, princesses, villains and a few rarely seen characters will stay in the parks all day and all night, inviting guests to dress up for the occasion, too. Guests may join the party dressed in costume, perhaps as their favorite Disney Hero or Villain. Costumes should be child-friendly and adhere to any guidelines determined by Disney.   Continue reading Disney Parks Kick Off Summer Vacation Season With 24 Hours of Magic, May 23-24