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Things to Do and Places to Visit in Orlando, FL

Welcome to Orlando, Florida: America's wetlands capital, a water-world of gators and airboats, space centers and sculpture gardens, theme dinners and thrill rides, and so much more... read more »

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  •   Move over, sugar plums! Celebrate the twelve days of Christmas with Visit Orlando's list of twelve delicious treats that will be in your dreams this season. Orlando celebrates the holiday with tastes that are sweet, salty, spiked and spicy. Whether you've been naughty or nice, everyone deserves these twelve merry morsels.   #1. Start your day with the pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting from Charlie's Gourmet Pastries. A legendary bakery for four decades, the holiday season menu also includes mincemeat and sweet potato pies.   #2. The Candy Cane Cotton Candy from Sassafras Sweet Shoppe in Winter Park is a sweet bundle of cotton that quickly melts, leaving behind a mellow hint of mint.   #3. At first glance, they look common red-and-white-striped candy canes. But as they dissolve, the chocolate-filled candy canes at Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park offer a delightful twist on this traditional treat.   #4. Think of it as eggnog with a kick: the Southern Oats cocktail is made with Oat Infused Rye Whiskey, Cherry Chestnut Cocoa, Syrup, Cream, and Egg White. Enjoy yours at Highball & Harvest, at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.   #5. Winter Wonderland cocktail - Bar 1521 at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek is serving a new craft coctail for the winter using Magellan Gin paired with mint leaves, topped off with ice, blueberries, cranberries, Blue Curacao liqueur to enhance the blue color and a splash of Sprite.   #6. Even without the seasonal spirit, Eggnog ice cream is a kid-friendly version of the December-time drink. Stop by Scoops Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Winter Garden starting the first week of December for a cone.   #7. It's as decadent as the place where it's scooped: chocolate peppermint gelato at Lickety Split in the Four Seasons Resort Orlando. Creamy, rich, and minty - get your bowl or cone starting the first week of December.   #8. After the photo opp in front of the new "Frozen" inspired gingerbread house at Disney's Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort, pick up a "Frozen" S'more - moist "Frozen"-blue cake with a swirled dollop of creamy frosting, topped with candied pearls.   Bonus Treat: Also at the Contemporary Resort, the Chocolate Peppermint Cookie is rich chocolate cookie topped with thin ribbons of chocolate ganache and blue chips of "ice" (minty gems).   Photo by: The Disney Food Blog  #9. Celebrate Joyeux Noël the way the French do, with La Bûche de Noël au Chocolate et Orange - a yule log with orange and milk chocolate mousse, crunchy hazelnut praline, chocolate and orange biscuit. This traditional Christmas dessert can be found at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie in Epcot France.   #10. Toast to Frohe Weihnachten at Epcot Germany with glühwein - hot spiced wine. This warm, spicy traditional drink combines wine, mulled spices and raisins.   #11. How cute are these ordinary snacks that SeaWorld transformed into whimsical holiday treats? The perfect size for strolling the park, check out the Snowman dipped Oreo, Christmas Sprinkle Oreo, and Christmas Sprinkle Marshmallows on sticks. You'll drool over the salty-sweet combination of the Dipped Christmas Sprinkle Pretzel Rod. Squares of Candy Cane fudge are perfect mouth-popping size. Swim on over to Sweet Sailin' to grab all five.   #12. Festive frosting turns cupcakes into season favorites Santa Hats and Christmas Trees also available at SeaWorld Orlando. You can find them at The Cypress Bakery. For the gourmet cupcake enthusiast, don't miss the cupcakes that are irresistable on the inside and outside: Nutty Holiday cupcake with hazelnut crème filling and Chocolate Peppermint cupcake with chocolate peppermint ganache filling. Both are available at the Cypress Bakery. These twelve treats are just some of the many Holly Jolly Christmas and Holiday Events in Orlando happening now through New Year's Day. Contact one of our Official Travel Counselors to help plan holly jolly holiday traditions that will have your family singing "fa-la-la-la" all the way home. Follow our posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more information and the latest updates on all the yuletide fun you can have this holiday season in Orlando.

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    Twelve Days of Christmas Treats in Orlando
  • It's no secret that The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios is one of the most dazzling holiday displays in all of Orlando. Topping over 5 million synchronized lights that "dance" to a variety of beloved holiday tunes, this is one celebration guaranteed to add sparkle to your Orlando visit this holiday season. In 1995, Walt Disney World acquired the thousands of light strands, spinning carousels and angels figures from Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne. And over the years, Disney has added even more spectacle to what Osborne originally created. Nightly snowfalls, dynamic music, up and down the street, add to the full yuletide effect of this event which runs now through January 4, 2015, and is included with your regular park admission. Visit Orlando's holiday revelers got the inside scoop from the Disney Show Producers. Here are our top ten secrets revealed before you go. Top 10 Secrets Revealed: #1. Hidden Mickeys -- Every year, the event debuts with a handful of "hidden Mickey's" made from the light strands. More are added throughout the event. Look close! Some are pretty obvious for little ones to easily find while some may unknowingly, be staring you in the face. #2. Halloween Cat -- Somewhere hidden in the display is a peculiar purple cat figure. It was mistakenly taken from the Osborne family's Halloween display back in 1995. Its location randomly changes throughout the run of the show. Make it a game and see if you can spot it. #3. The Light Canopy -- The large overhead canopy is not created from traditional Christmas light strands. It's actually a large video screen made from individual RGB video nodes (each node has a single red, green and blue LED). These nodes can be customized to create over a trillion different color effects. Extra Secret: Look up! Jack Skellington makes a special appearance in the light canopy at the end of the music track from "The Nightmare Before Christmas - What's This?" #4. Mickey and Santa Figures -- Osborne fabricated a larger than life figure of Mickey Mouse and Santa Clause shaking hands. If you look close you'll notice that they're both shaking with their left hands, also known as the Scout Handshake - a token of respect and friendship from the heart. #5. Lone White Angel -- In memory of Osborne's life and legacy, including his extensive philanthropic work, a solid white angel was added in 2011 by the Disney technicians. The tribute is located in the display of suspended angels near the rotating globe.   #6. The Flying Kite -- Across from the Premiere Theater is a large snowman flying a kite. Other than the fact that there is normally a hidden Mickey in the kite, this scene is a significant one. It represents Osborne's first date with his wife where they flew a kite together. Extra Secret: Before seeing the lights grab your family some holiday treats like an Olaf caramel apple or a gingerbread flavored hot cocoa at Sweet Spells on Sunset Boulevard. You'll thank us later! #7. 'Woooo! Pig Sooie!' -- The Osborne family is from Little Rock, Arkansas and huge supporters of the Razorbacks. As a tribute to the family's hometown team, a razorback is placed at the end of the Streets of America by the Disney technicians and a favorite among Arkansas fans. #8. Osborne Family Stockings -- While enjoying the show along the Streets of America, don't forget to find the Osborne family stockings. Each family member has a personalized stocking which hangs above a giant fireplace. Photo courtesy of Janet Glaser #9. Nativity Scene -- Located at the end of Streets of America is a life size nativity scene. If you've ever gone to Epoct during the holidays, this scene may look familiar to you. Indeed, Osborne bought the nativity scene that was located at the Italy Pavilion in Epcot and added it to his light display at Disney's Hollywood Studios. #10. Original Displays -- All the original icons that were in Osborne's yard in Arkansas are still part of the display today: the giant globe, the 100 flying angels, the twirling carousels, the flying Santas and reindeer, the red canopy of lights, the 70 foot tree and all the other figurines of elves, snowmen and carolers. Extra Secret: This year, Olaf makes his holiday debut wearing a Santa hat and scarf. He and other exclusive "Frozen" treasures are available at the Legends of Hollywood gift shop on Sunset Boulevard. See More in Our Photo Gallery The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is just one of the many Holly Jolly Christmas and Holiday Events in Orlando  happening now through New Year's Day. Contact one of our Official Travel Counselors to help plan holly jolly holiday traditions that will have your family singing "fa-la-la-la" all the way home. Follow our posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagramfor more information and the latest updates on all the yuletide fun you can have this holiday season in Orlando.

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    Top 10 Secrets Revealed from Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • One of Orlando's most-photographed family moments is when the kids meet and mingle with their favorite characters over a delicious meal - no matter what time of day. If you want the ultimate character experience for your family you'll find it in many Orlando hotels where dining with characters is always on the menu. So, grab your camera. Get an autograph book and pen. Oh, and don't forget to come hungry. Visit Orlando's Food Fanatics have picked five hotel character dining options that your family will never forget. We've also included our top "Must Know" tips for a better character dining experience.   #1. Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort Meet Mickey and his pals at Chef Mickey's Fun Time Buffet located on the fourth floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort. The Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy) mix and mingle with guests for photos and autographs and periodically lead diners in song and dance during this all-you-care-to-eat buffet. You'll be singing along, clapping and twirling your napkin overhead as the famous monorail whizzes by.   #2. Nicktoons Café at Nickelodeon Suites Resort Rise, shine and join all your favorite Nickelodeon characters from SpongeBob Square Pants to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday - Sunday you can enjoy a breakfast full of laughs at SpongeBob's Bikini Bottom Breakfast. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday you can bring your best ninja moves, donning a complimentary eye mask, for Antonio's Pizza-Rama Dinner featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. #3. Ravello Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Orlando Start your day with the Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy & Pals character breakfast twice weekly at Ravello restaurant. The buffet-style breakfast is offered on Thursdays and Saturdays (and also on Tuesdays during peak school break periods) and features an assortment of traditional breakfast offerings along with an omelet station. A photographer will be on site to capture all the goofy moments with Goofy & Pals. SEE ALSO: Check In, Then Dine In: 5 Unexpected Hotel Restaurants in Orlando #4. Trattoria del Porto at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel On select nights, you can feel like a celebrity as you mix and mingle with some of your favorite characters from Universal Orlando Resort. In additional to character dining, you can enjoy activities just for kids like face painting and balloon art. Trattoria del Porto also features a children's play area with a child-size table and chairs, beanbags, and a large screen TV where kids can watch their favorite cartoons.   #5. Tradewinds Restaurant at the Renaissance Orlando Make a splash with your family at the Renaissance Hotel, across from SeaWorld Orlando, where you'll have a whale of a time during your breakfast with Shamu. This out of water, lovable character visits with families on Saturday mornings from 8:30 - 9:15 a.m. and 9:45 - 10:30 a.m. Enjoy a breezy breakfast featuring American comfort foods, including custom omelets, with a sophisticated organic twits. Top "Must Know" Tips for a Better Character Dining Experience: Most character dining options are in high demand. So, make your reservations early - you'll thank us later.  At every character dining experience, the characters come to you. So, sit back and enjoy your meal while they make their way from table to table. Bring an autograph book and pen to collect all the character signatures. These items are not provided at the restaurant. Make an off-peak time reservation. Later reservations allow for more one-on-one time with the characters due to less crowds in the restaurant. Communicate special requests and engage with the character or their handler. They're happy to accommodate your needs. Have your camera or camera phone ready to go at all times to capture those surprise moments. You never know when a character will sneak up behind you. Most importantly, remember to share and play well with others. Be respectful of the characters' time with other families. Get ready to turn a meal into a long-lasting family memory with these kid-friendly dining experiences. In Orlando, there are many restaurants where the food, atmosphere and fun are the main attractions - and serve up plenty of entertainment! See more great dining options in Orlando. Follow our posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more information and the latest updates on all the great dining experiences you can have in Orlando.

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    Check In, Then Dine In: 5 Hotel Character Dining Options in Orlando
  •   The most wonderful time of the year is upon us and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom delights guests with yuletide traditions and holiday cheer. From watching Queen Elsa from "Frozen" transform Cinderella Castle into a glistening ice palace to hearing the infamous toy soldiers march in Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas Parade, you're sure to get swept up in the holiday spirit. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, held select nights through Dec. 19, includes lively stage shows featuring Disney characters in their holiday best, a unique holiday parade and favorite holiday traditions including complimentary cookies and hot cocoa and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A.   Here are our top 15 insider tips you need to know before you go to this special ticketed event. Top 15 Insider Tips:   #1. The party starts at 7 p.m. but ticket holders can enter as early at 4 p.m. We suggest you come early to watch Queen Elsa use her magical powers to light Cinderella Castle at 6:15 p.m. Tweet This Insider Tip    #2. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party has two parade times. Bypass the first one - which typically has the bigger crowd - in favor of experiencing rides and attractions with shorter lines. Tweet This Insider Tip #3. Grab a spot along Main Street to get the full effect of the falling snow while watching the parade. Tweet This Insider Tip #4. Develop a plan for the evening, but be willing to go with the flow, as some of your best memories may come from watching your kids rock out at one of the Character Dance Parties. Tweet This Insider Tip Bonus Tip: Stay connected with your family by purchasing festive Christmas light necklaces and you'll never lose each other in the crowd! #5. Not every restaurant is open during the event as some are used for cookie and cocoa stations. Check the event guide to see what's open or arrive early and eat before the party officially starts. Tweet This Insider Tip   #6. Jungle Cruise fans won't want to miss the festive Jingle Cruise with plenty of fun banter and holiday antics to get you in the spirit. Tweet This Insider Tip #7. If you prefer a healthier treat, complimentary apple slices and apple juice are also available at cookie and cocoa stations. Tweet This Insider Tip #8. Ready to make your friends jealous? Special merchandise will be available exclusively for this event that can't be purchased anywhere else. The selection includes trading pins, T-shirts and commemorative tree ornaments. Tweet This Insider Tip   Bonus Tip: For MyMagic+ fans, you'll want to grab yourself a limited edition graphic MagicBand! #9. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom fans can pick up the exclusive 'Elsa's Icy Shield' card by showing their wristband at the Firehouse on Main Street. Tweet This Insider Tip   #10. Closer isn't always better. During the Holiday Wishes fireworks, the farther back you are from the castle, the grander the view! Tweet This Insider Tip Bonus Tip: For a more intimate fireworks experience with 360-degree viewing, stake out a spot behind the Castle in New Fantasyland.   #11. Stop by the Candy Cane Garden for a photo with Santa in front of a picturesque holiday backdrop. Tweet This Insider Tip   #12. Look up! You may notice something different about Main Street U.S.A. That's right, the garland that used to string across the street has been replaced with giant wreaths above the sidewalks. This brand new element was designed to provide clear sight lines of the Castle. Tweet This Insider Tip   #13. Santa's helpers (aka Cast Members) are dressed in holiday garb and dispersed throughout the park. Take advantage of their expertise for help navigating the event and most importantly - locating cookie stations! Tweet This Insider Tip   #14. Special ice cream cones that are swirled festively in red and green can be found at Storybook Treats. Tweet This Insider Tip   #15. There are five cookies and cocoa distribution locations throughout the park and can be easily identified by an inflated candy cane. Some locations are busier than others. We saw significant lines at Columbia Harbor House but there were no lines at the Tomorrowland Terrace location. Tweet This Insider Tip See More in Our Photo Gallery  Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is just one of the many Holly Jolly Christmas and Holiday Events in Orlando  happening now through New Year's Day. Contact one of our Official Travel Counselors to help plan holly jolly holiday traditions that will have your family singing "fa-la-la-la" all the way home. Follow our posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more information and the latest updates on all the yuletide fun you can have this holiday season in Orlando.

    Click the link for the full story

    Top 15 “Must Know” Insider Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2014
  • Orlando's quest for an epic standing ovation finally has its day. No longer will Central Florida be upstaged when it comes to performing arts with the grand opening of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando. Taking on the characteristics of its home city, the Dr. Phillips Center is where imagination and innovation have come together to provide a brand new, world-class entertainment venue beyond the wildest dreams of visitors and residents, alike. Bask in the sights and sounds of creativity with a residential twist from the moment you step through the "front porch" and get your first glimpse of the grand staircase. No matter what you're looking for in live entertainment, everyone will find what they want in Orlando's new flagship home for performing arts. Dr. Phillips Center CEO and President Kathy Ramsberger says "We offer all kinds of music, a Broadway series, great jazz, fantastic comedy and great family and children programs. Our goal is to make sure that the Dr. Phillips Center has something for everybody." The largest theater is the 2,700 seat Walt Disney Theater offering clean sight lines and pitch-perfect acoustic all in a stunning tired seating venue. From the front row to the upper balcony, there is not a bad seat in this house. The most innovative space is the multipurpose 300 seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater which offers an intimate, in the round experience using multiple seating and stage configurations. The orchestra level can be transformed from audience seating to a performance stage to a functional space for private events. Outside on the "front lawn" is the Seneff Arts Plaza where the Dr. Phillips Center will host a variety of outdoor performances and events designed to bring together people seeking all types of arts and culture. The Dr. Phillips Center makes it easy for visitors to mix and mingle before, in-between and even after performances. In the DeVos Family Room visitors can take in spectacular views of the Orlando city skyline while enjoying a drink from one of the 13 cocktail bars located around the facility. See more photos from the opening day in our exclusive photo album.  There are dozens of show-stopping theater performances just waiting to be discovered in all of Orlando's performing arts venues. It's all part of the arts, history and culture that can be experienced every day in Orlando.  When planning your visit to Orlando, find theme park events, sporting events, festivals, live performances and parades with Visit Orlando's Calendar of Events.

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    Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Opens in Orlando

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