Category Archives: Featured

Top 5 Community Spotlight: The Milk District

Orlando has ten main street districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. If you haven’t explored one of these main street districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: The Milk District(Check out our last community spotlight on Ivanhoe Village)

The Milk District is the newest addition to the Orlando Main Streets program, officially becoming a main street district only late last year. However, this unique neighborhood has been an established area for good food, good fun, and some retro flare for a years now.

Aptly named for the TG Lee Milk Factory that defines the district, the Milk District is made of established Orlando favorites and new up and coming businesses that are helping define the neighborhood.

1. Great Daytime Eats Spots:

If you are looking for the perfect spot to grab lunch, the Milk District will give you ample choices to choose from. Grab some Double Ds at Gringos Locos and load them up with some hot sauce.

Gringo’s ProTip: Happy Hour is every day from 4pm to 8pm. Free chips and salsa, $5 burritos, $2 tacos, and great drink specials!

For the best southern fare in town grab brunch or lunch at Se7enbites. Fill up on yummy vegan food while you shop handmade wares at Market on South. Pick your Pho destiny at Siagon Noodles and Grill, Pho Hoa or Pho Vihn, then get your caffeine fix or a bite to eat at Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar.

Sandwich lover? The Milk District is the perfect place to explore! There are so many sandwich inspired places to choose from, it just depends on what you’re in the mood for.

Eat the best steamed roast beef sandwich in town at Orlando almost 49 year old mainstay, Beefy King. If you are in the mood for gourmet chef created sandwich fare, wander over to food truck turned sandwich shop Bad As’s Sandwiches.

If you want a twist on tried and true classics, head over to Pom Pom’s Teahouse to grab a cup of tea and try Mama Ling Lings Thanksgiving sandwich or the Spicy Elvis for a twist on a PB&J. [Editor’s note: Pom Pom’s also makes a FANTASTIC Lavender Tea!)

2.  Relaxed Late Night Fun:

No need to dress to the nines to enjoy a night out in The Milk District. Throw on a fun t-shirt, your favorite pair of jeans and enjoy a fun, relaxed night out full of good drinks, fun atmosphere, and great music.

For an Orlando classic, grab a strong drink at Whiskey Lou’s (don’t forget to bring cash!). The Milk Bar is the perfect spot if you want to sip on craft beer or wine while enjoying local art and poetry.

A diverse crowd hangs out at Sandwich Bar to enjoy a beer and hear some great underground tunes.

For a great outdoor spot in the district, grab a drink at Barley and Vine Biergarten. Hit the dance floor at one of the best LBGTQ clubs in town at Southern Nights.

The best thing about the Milk District is there are new businesses popping up all the time as the area grows. Look for the Iron Cow, a new restaurant and hang out spot to open in the summer of 2017. It’ll be the only bar on Robinson with a full liquor license and will have an awesome event space to feature local performers.

3. Event Central:

The Milk District is quickly becoming place to find great local events to enjoy any day of the week. Along with all the regular late night spots to have fun at in the district, there are plenty of fun alternative things to do too.

Grab your skate board and learn a new trick at Orlando Skate Park. Head over to Colonial Lanes and enjoy that old school bowling feel. Another Orlando staple, these lanes have been in Orlando since 1959. (PBA Bowler Jason Couch’s dad is the General Manager!) On Friday Nights you can sing karaoke in the bar or enjoy a couple of hours of cosmic bowling featuring black lights and loud pop music.

Drive by on a random weekend and you might see a festival to explore or a live community concert at Festival Park. Of course, don’t forget to check out all the great live performances you can catch at the The Plaza Live.

There’s practically something to do every night of the week in The Milk District. For Bingo lovers, the Elks Lodge has bingo each Monday. You don’t have to be a member because the event is  is open to the public.

Tasty Takeover Tuesdays happens weekly. Come hungry and enjoy a rotating group of food trucks that takes over the area each Tuesday night. You can sample all types of flavors at the event then head over to one of the area’s local bars or shops. Many of them participate with weekly specials to coincide with this event.

In the near future look out for Thrifty Thursdays where visitors will be able to purchase vintage wares from vendors weekly.

4. Live Healthy and Stay Active

If a healthy lifestyle is important to you, it’s easy to maintain living in the Milk District. Work up a sweat at Crossfit Milk District or find some clam at  Orlando Power Yoga.

If you would rather get your activity outside, rent or buy a bike at Kyle’s Bike Shop. Alternatively, grab a group of friends and head out to Festival Park to play a round of sand Volleyball or Basketball.

Green thumbs can get a plot in the community garden at the park where you can grow your own healthy crop. For a quick nourishing juice to sip on, grab a drink at  Juice Bar.

5. Retro Alternative Community

There is definitely a community of alternative fashion and retro vibe that lives in the Milk District. If you have an old soul and love self expression, you’ll find a lot of ways to help your personality shine in the Milk District. Define your style at Etolile Boutique where you can find a collection of both handmade items and vintage finds.

Update your collection with a rare record from your favorite band at Retro Records who have been providing beats to the area since 1980s. Get some custom ink done at Little Joe’s Primrose Tatoo Parlor. The gentlemen can enjoy the old school barber haircut and straight razor treatment at Jusincredible Cutz, and Liberty Barbershop. If you love self expression and want to express your unique identity, the creative alternative community in the Milk District will help you shine.

Sneak Peek: Universal Orlando’s Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show like us, Central Florida! They REALLY like us!! So much so that Universal Studios Florida gave Jimmy and the guys a permanent summer home in the park, where Twister used to Ride It Out! (Rest in Peace, Bill Paxton.)

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon may officially open on April 6 but we have a sneak peek for you NOW! This new attraction (and virtual queue – more on that later!) will give guests the ultimate “Tonight Show” experience as they get up close and personal with the show’s most hilarious segments before taking off on a wild and action-packed race through New York City against Jimmy Fallon! See what Jimmy thinks of this below…

To celebrate Race Through New York’s Grand Opening, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” will be returning to Universal Orlando Resort to tape new shows on April 3rd – 6th! Details on celebrity guests will be released very soon so keep an eye peeled Jimmy’s website. Unfortunately tickets for these shows and their monologue tapings are already sold out. But! You may possibly see Jimmy around Orlando. Remember, WrestleMania 33 is right around the corner!

Upon entering, guests will make their way through an meticulously themed 30 Rockefeller Plaza lobby – brass fixtures, signage, NBC Pages, red rope, and all!

TGS with Tracy Jordan is on the 60th floor, not the 6th. Say hi to Liz for us!

Once inside, you will see windows set with a slew of NBC and The Tonight Show memorabilia including tributes to past Tonight Show hosts; Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and present host, Jimmy Fallon.

A note: Thank You, Jimmy Fallon, for loving Beefy King as much as we do!

It’s easy to get distracted in the lobby but don’t forget to stop by the lobby desk and pick up your NBC feather, brought to you in living color! This laminated feather is very important (and no you don’t get to keep it), but the color is even more so. Remember that state-of-art queue stuff I mentioned earlier? Here’s where it comes into play…

Ever wonder why NBC uses a peacock as its logo? In 1956, the National Broadcasting Company’s programming went full color and the logo stuck!

Now that you have your feather, look up! See the lights? Hear the chimes? When the first floor lobby lights change to whatever your feather’s color is, that’s when you’ll move up stairs to the second floor holding area, much like being an audience member at an actual show taping. Keep an eye and ear peeled. You will see/hear these things again.

 

The second floor is MAGIC. Why? You will be so entertained and distracted, you won’t feel like you’re waiting! You can take a #selfie with #HashtagThePanda! Nifty interactive desks will challenge users of all ages to cool games! Have a seat in Club Studio 6B and catch a live show from the Ragtime Gals or watch through some of the funniest moments from the last three years of The Tonight Show! You can even charge your phone while you sit comfortably in air conditioning!

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will be the first attraction at Universal Studios Florida to feature an all-new Virtual Line experience, allowing guests to spend less time waiting in line. (Note: The Virtual Line system is accessible via the Official Universal Orlando Mobile App or at kiosks located outside the attraction entrance.)

Now to the real fun! Your color is up and it’s time for you to proceed to the studio entrance! Hand your feather card to the NBC page, and you’re in! Don’t forget your shades…

You are now at the stage door, waiting to get into Studio 6B to board the world’s first-ever flying theater, which seats up to 72 audience members, for the race of a lifetime. But of course, safety first! The Roots will help Jimmy out with this. (Only The Roots can make safety precautions sound THIS cool.)

At this point, Jimmy challenges you (the audience) to a race against him and his lightcycle-esque Tonight Rider. During this race through the streets of New York City, to the moon and back, you’ll encounter iconic landmarks from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building to everything in between. And if you’re REALLY paying attention, you will notice a few easter egg tributes to attractions past.

Check out this fun behind the scenes video of Jimmy with his tight pants (with his tight pants on), as a Ragtime Gal, and as Sara (and Gary!) from EW!

What did I think of the ride?

Universal Creative and the scenic folks always go above and beyond when it comes to aesthetic. This ride is no exception. From the 30 Rockefeller Plaza lobby downstairs, to Club Studio 6B upstairs I really kind of felt like I was inside that ginormous Comcast Building in New York City! Browsing the props, actual stage pieces, and other memorabilia from generations of NBC and Tonight Show history was very cool.

The ride itself was really fun… but basic. Were there very cool sensory elements to it? Yes! Were there clever tributes to King Kong, Jaws, Back to the Future, Twister, and more built in? YES, although it may take a few of rides to catch them all. But the glasses and the ride experience? I don’t know what I was expecting in terms of a new ride but, I guess I expected more… technological envelope pushing.

I will say, the concept behind what is essentially a simulator ride was remarkable. Well thought out theming and queue experience, a great gift shop; you should absolutely experience this attraction when it opens. How can one NOT have fun when it cones to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon?

I’ll close with a ProTip I got when I first experienced this ride a few weeks ago: Be sure to stay and watch all the Ragtime Gals’ sets! They’re super funny and actually, really good! The Fallon clip shows in between are also great. You may have to hang around until your color is up again, depending on your timing, but it will SO be worth it!

 

Orlando Changemakers Unite to Form The Collective

Attention change-makers, activists, established and rising stars in the non-profit world, or anyone else who is passionate and dedicated to a cause they actively champion. A new initiative called The Collective is here to help cultivate the caused based leaders here in Orlando. The Collective is a free program that will meet monthly to discuss topics that are important to those who actively work to make the world a better place in some way.

What is The Collective Anyway?

The Collective is an initiative from the minds of collaborators Change Everything; Jon Busdeker–Digital Storyteller and former reporter at WESH 2 News; and CT-Social–a digital marketing agency dedicated to non-profit work here in Orlando (and the agency behind Central Florida Top 5’s big makeover in 2015!).

The idea grew out of a desire to build a network of support to those who dedicate themselves and their time to important causes. “We want to find people who are really passionate about social change. They can be passionate about the arts, social reform, homelessness, whatever it is,” Jon Busdeker explains. “We want to create a community and give them a space so they can become better at what they do.”

How Will it Work?

The Collective will meet once a month, with their first meeting to take place on March 29. Each meeting will focus on a different topic affecting those who work in cause based spaces. Some of the topics covered will be: media relations for causes, donor relations, emotional health and self-care for cause based work, and dealing with stress.

Meetings will also include expert guest speakers and group discussions. The goal is to build and cultivate leaders who are doing the hard work in the various causes they care about. Members will learn not only from experts but from each other. “We want to give people the tools to do what they’re most passionate about,” Busdeker said.

Who Should Apply?

The Collective is for anyone who is dedicated to making an impact on a cause they care deeply about.

  • Non-profit leaders or rising stars in the non-profit world.
  • Government employees who work tirelessly to make their community a better place.
  • Dedicated activists who are organizing groups to enact change.
  • Business leaders who champion causes in their free time because it’s important to their values like Lee S. Rosen.

Ready to Join?

The Collective is accepting members into this inaugural group. There is no cost to attend. If you are interested in joining and feel you’d be a perfect fit for this group, please apply on-line at http://collective.change-everything.com.

Does McDonald’s STRAW reinvention pass the test? Find out!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! In case you’ve been living under a shamrock and didn’t hear, McDonald’s has reinvented the way guests drink their seasonal favorite McCafe beverage, the Chocolate Shamrock Shake. This ‘utterly frivolous’ reinvention is by way of a J-shaped STRAW, the Suction Tube Reverse Axial Withdrawl which provides optimal flavor flow dynamics.

While all these big words sound really cool, combined with the fact that McDonald’s partnered with two very real engineering labs on both coasts – San Francisco based JACE Design and NK Labs, LLC from Cambridge, Massachusetts – to deliver the ideal flavor ratio of 50% chocolate and 50% mint in each sip, does the STRAW actually work? The nerd in me needed to answer this question… for SCIENCE!

The Chocolate Shamrock Milkshake! (Mayor McCheese approved.)

I’ve never tried a Shamrock Shake of any kind before, let alone a chocolate one. (Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of chocolate.) Before this experiment, I only knew two things about the Shamrock Shake; 1) From what I’ve heard, it’s kind of like the McDonald’s beverage equivalent of the McRib; rare, seasonal and delicious. 2) McDonald’s donates money from every Shamrock Shake purchase to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and have done since 1974 (that’s when the first Ronald McDonald House opened).

I won a… STRAW?

Even more limited than their Big Mac secret sauce giveaway in January, McDonald’s had only 2,000 STRAWs produced and distributed for the current Shamrock Shake season. Of this limited run, only 10 were given away here in Central Florida by random Twitter drawing. By some intergalactic act of luck, my tweet was chosen and I was sent a STRAW device!

McDonald’s Central Florida also sent me a coupon for a free small Chocolate Shamrock Shake which, for the purposes of this experiment, I upgraded myself to a large to make this STRAW test interesting. Time to get down to business…

Test  #1: Traditional, old school McDonald’s straw

This old school straw only looks sweet and innocent…

I’ll bet I can guess what you remember the most about drinking a McDonald’s milkshake, and it’s probably the same memory as mine. All the way back to elementary school I can remember trying to drink a McDonald’s milkshake, and by trying I mean creating an unsuccessful, cheek pinched vacuum between your mouth, the straw, and the milkshake.

In vain I tried to suck even the tiniest bit of milkshake through the traditional straw seen above to no avail! Was it gravity? Was it too cold? I don’t know but NOTHING worked outside of a spoon or letting the shake melt a little before attempting to drink. Their shakes were so thick! Oh, and spoons were/are for weenies.

Jen vs Traditional McDonald’s straw

Calling upon these childhood memories whilst unwrapping said traditional straw, I treaded lightly sipping carefully as to not look like this before getting to Test #2. Call it cheek preservation.

Result: Drinking through a traditional straw not as challenging as I remember it once being, but thickness was a still a bit of a challenge when sipping. On to the STRAW…

Test #2: Re-engineered McDonald’s STRAW device

By the way, I call it a ‘device’ because it sounds fancy. The STRAW is made of a stronger, grey plastic than its traditional counterpart. One problem I immediately noticed: Would the STRAW fit into the McCafe cup?

New STRAW vs Chocolate Shamrock Shake

Answer: YES! Through some small en’jen’eering of my own, I made it work! In truth, it really wasn’t difficult. I just pinched the ‘J’ and was good to go.

Because science.

There’s truth in the cheeks, folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results: So, how did the STRAW test? Surprisingly well! There really is something to this Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawl thing! Versus a traditional straw – and putting my cheeks through minty, slightly painful frustration – I could actually sip on my Shamrock Shake with the STRAW. Freshly made or not, it took ‘the work’ out of enjoying a thick shake!

 Top 5 Findings:

  • 1) What started out as ‘(ridiculous) revolutionary tech’ is actually quite handy!
  • 2) My cheeks are VERY thankful.
  • 3) Question: What happens when mix-ins are added? Do they conform to the space then clog the STRAW, fall out the bottom, or do they go up at all? Perhaps I’m overthinking this…
  • 4) My first ever Chocolate Shamrock Shake was enjoyable despite my dislike of chocolate in general. The 50/50 ratio worked for me. Not too chocolatey, no unexpected Altoids-like winter blast of mint.
  • 5) The STRAW was also surprisingly easy to clean! I wasn’t sure with all that whipped cream in play.

So, how can you find a STRAW of your own and give this chocominty experiment a try at your local McDonald’s? I don’t know. (Honest answer.) What I do know is you can get a Chocolate Shamrock Shake RIGHT NOW, on St. Patrick’s Day and beyond! And bonus! McDonald’s has three more mint and chocolate flavored McCafé beverages you can try for a limited time:

  • – Chocolate Shamrock Shake: Vanilla soft serve and chocolate flavored syrup under the original mint flavored Shamrock Shake. Top it off with green sprinkles, whipped topping, and a cherry and it’s a match made in Shamrock heaven.
  • – Shamrock Chocolate Chip Frappé: Made with an indulgent blend of chocolate chips and a hint of coffee, topped with green sprinkles, whipped topping, and tantalizing chocolaty drizzle.
  • – Shamrock Mocha: McDonald’s classic Hot Mocha just got minty. Made with sustainably sourced espresso beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, steamed whole or nonfat milk, mint and mocha flavored syrup, and topped with whipped topping and delicious chocolaty drizzle.
  • – Shamrock Hot Chocolate: McDonald’s delicious Hot Chocolate now with cool mint flavor. Made with steamed whole or nonfat milk, mint and mocha flavored syrup, and topped with whipped topping and chocolaty drizzle.

A big thanks to McDonald’s and McDonald’s Central Florida for sending me a STRAW & shake, and humoring me with this goofy post… for SCIENCE!

How I fell in and out of love with smartwatches

Note: I started writing this piece about smartwatches in July 2016. Many months have passed and this ‘once on the verge of release’ article was shelved. Why the wait? You’ll find out as you read further…

Apple Watch… so square!

Flashback to: Late Summer 2014. The first visually attractive smartwatch wooed my interest. The summer heat didn’t affect my impression of what a smartwatch could offer. Part of the Lenovo family, Motorola’s Moto 360 was the first circular AndroidWear watch released and the shape, for me, was the deal closer. Until then all smartwatches had a various rectangular or square shapes which seemed more suited toward manufacturing design. Motorola’s circular watch face set me on track with my first smartwatch.

The Moto 360 is a good looking watch. In many circumstances it looks like a traditional analog watch. Motorola did an excellent job in the visual look and feel of the watch.

In a world of squares, the Motorola 360 was a welcome, fresh face in the crowd.

When I received the Moto 360 and set it up, an epiphany raced through my brain – I had just purchased a second screen to my phone. I had heard of this description and it made sense, but once on it was clear. I just replaced a portion of my phone usage with the smartwatch. I no longer checked the time on my phone or managed/checked my fitness steps on it or to measure the calories I burned on the training bike I got from this reviews of exercise bikes. I simply looked at my watch for this information, of course if I needed to find things as the best supplements to boost iron levels, I still need to use my phone for that

Email, text messages, quick replies while doing something else are features you begin to rely on with a smartwatch. You can even control the watch without touch and only use voice. Easy. Simple. Elegant.

Since smartwatches are a second screen to your phone, you still need a phone nearby for it to work. Quick tip for smartwatch wearers: If leave your phone somewhere, turn off Bluetooth (which is how the Moto 360 initially connects to your phone) to preserve battery. When your phone’s battery is dead, the watch loses some functionality.  How much varies, based on how you use your smartwatch.

Somewhere out there, Flavor Flav is laughing…

Some apps can be installed directly on a smartwatch.  Other apps are simply an extension or controller to an app on your phone. Fitness apps are a good example of this, where minimal information is available on the watch, but you can start and stop your fitness tracking from the smartwatch, is important for people who really into fitness and exercise all the time, and even use supplements, which I also use and this is my recommended HMB brand.

With superb styling came a cost.

The 1st Generation Moto 360 is mute. It can not make a sound. Not a beep, peep, or click. It only alerts you by screen illumination or vibration. Why it didn’t chirp like a 30 year old digital was strange to me. It doesn’t need to play MP3s but an audible tone would’ve been nice.

Software updates came frequently adding features and improvements, including eventually WiFi, where the watch could sync with your phone wirelessly at further distances than Bluetooth. This was great but I was further irritated with the biggest problem every smartwatch has, and I’m sure you can guess it.

 

I’m not going to write a lot about battery life. However, if you think about it, battery life is what you would expect.  Small device + small battery = short usage time.
With the Moto 360 you can get 1-2 days of use. The Moto 360 will operate for 2 days if  you use it like a traditional watch with NO smartwatch perks. The Moto 360 will operate 1 day if you really use the smartwatch features.  Note: ‘A day’ isn’t 24 hours. It’s 10-14 hours. So two days is really two 10 hour sessions. Once the session is over, you will need to charge the watch.

Thermal image of my Moto 360

 

 

After a year and a half, in January of 2016, my Moto 360 began to fail. The battery wouldn’t last 8 hours. It sporadically shut off. It generally began to be useless. After a few months and a lot of frustration I began to notice that the watch would not charge past 70 percent.

 

 

 

Interestingly, I figured out that the watch shut off when it got too warm. This could happen during charging or other operation.

Finally…  I was done.  The smartwatch experiment was over and for me it was a failure.

 

 

 

Here is what I learned…

I really wanted a watch.
I’ve always liked watches but had stopped wearing one. I preferred a watch that looked like a traditional watch and not a smartwatch. Ironically, as of February 2017 there are several Androidwear smartwatches which are just that – truly analog watches with smart innards. This is compelling.

I wanted to avoid pulling my phone out of my pocket.
When you begin to notice that about a quarter of time you spend looking at your watch you are checking time. Notifications or not, using an app as a second screen is just an easier way to interact with your connected data.

I wanted to track my steps and sleep in a wearable, preferably a watch.
When I got my smartwatch, it was the height of the Fitbit count-all-your-steps trend.  I didn’t want to wear two watch-like devices, so my smartwatch needed to do both.

I wanted a watch to last at least 3 days without a charge.
What is it going to take to get smartwatch makers to simply limit features to provide longer battery life?  I love the animation and screen capabilities but it’s at a hefty battery cost. I’d like to see smartwatches with E-Ink screens like you see on the plain white Kindle and Nook devices. These screens are DRAMATICALLY lower in battery consumption.

I wanted a watch I could keep for 3 years without loss of functionality.
Let’s look at what you have 3 years later in the release of a Moto 360 smartwatch; The AndroidWear operating system has been updated to version 2.0. Yay! But… first generation Moto 360’s will not be updated to AndroidWear 2.0. Booo!

This alone is a real reason to put a pause on smartwatches. Simply put, smartwatches should NOT need be released or purchased as frequently as smartphones. $300 a watch every 2 years. $500 a phone every 2 years. This is not sustainable. Maybe it’s time for $600 smartphone and watch combos?

Lastly, it is an old family tradition to pass down a time piece from father or grandfather to son or grandson. Most likely no one will ever pass on a dead smart… watch.

Review | Nintendo Switch Impressions

Hey everyone, Rich Belsan here! It’s been a while since I’ve posted on Central Florida Top 5 but I’m hoping to be back more regularly. I’ve been hard at work on a YouTube project, Over a Beer, where we discuss movies, video games, and everything else pop culture. Jen and I have been trying for a long time to get something going between Central Florida Top 5 and Over A Beer and I’m hoping this will be the start.

Below I’ve posted our latest video where we share our initial impressions of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s newest console. My co-host and I have also put some time into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the best reviewed games ever, and discuss our earliest thoughts on it.

Woken from a 100-year slumber, Link must explore the wilds to regain his lost memories and save Hyrule.

 

Breath of the Wild Special Edition includes the game, a Nintendo Switch Sheikah Slate Carrying Case, Sheikah Eye Collectible Coin, Relic of Hyrule: Calamity Ganon Tapestry and Weather-Worn Map, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sound Selection CD for $99.99. The Master Edition includes all of those items plus a Master Sword of Resurrection figure for $129.99

 

Let us know what you think in the comments below! If you like seeing Over a Beer content here, we’re going to start posting weekly recaps of our video show and our podcasts.

Community Spotlight: Mills 50

Orlando has ten main street districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. If you haven’t explored one of these main street districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: Mills 50 District. (Check out our last community spotlight on Ivanhoe Village!)

The Mills 50 Orlando Mainstreet District is named aptly for its prominent intersection; Mills Avenue and State Road 50 (also known as East Colonial Drive). Its home to Colonialtown, Lake Eola Heights, and Park Lake Highland neighborhoods. Although this district might feel like it’s just a drive by area, there is so much culture and interesting sites to see as this district quickly changes from one block to the next—making it one of the most varied districts in town. Mills 50 is also one of Orlando’s quirkiest areas.

The corner of Mills and 50 features two murals by local artist Andrew Spear, one dedicated to the victims of the Pulse tragedy on June 12, 2016.

Mills 50 Art Projects, Murals, and more

A large mural by artist Mark Ghmeling on the side of Snap! Space in Mills 50

Most of the Mills 50 district is composed of buildings that are older, mid-century strip malls. Because these boring cinderblock buildings, while functional, don’t offer much aesthetic appeal, artists have been commissioned to use the sides of the buildings like blank canvases to make their mark. These murals has given the area new life and vibrancy, and it is easy to spend your weekend exploring the neighborhood to fill up your Instagram with these beautiful and fun pieces.

Not only will you find epic murals on the side of buildings, but you will also see smaller pieces on everything from drains to electrical boxes, fences, and even dumpsters receive this special artistic touch. Most of the art has a street art aesthetic to it, adding to the urban vibe of this fun neighborhood.

Great Cheap Eats and Dive Bars

Outside of Will’s Pub in Mills 50

The Mills 50 district is one of the best places to go for a fun night out followed by some good, cheap eats. It’s no wonder this district is a favorite of the 20-something crowd as it is easy on their wallet and their dollar can go just a bit further.

Fun bars to explore include Wally’s which is an Orlando cultural mainstay, indie music venue Will’s Pub, and Uncle Lou’s Entertainment Hall just to name a few.

For cheap eats you can check out King Bao, Tako Cheena, Lazy Moon, Pig Floyds, Pho88, Little Siagon, or one of the dozens of other Asian resturants that line the main strip. If you have $10 and an empty stomach you’ll be able to find something yummy to eat while avoiding fast food drive throughs.

Eclectic Businesses

Mills 50: An Orlando Mainstreet District

Mills 50 is the most eclectic of all the main street districts. While the busy intersection of Mills and State Road 50 define the center of the district, only a few hundred yards away you will find quiet brick roads lined with homes.

The businesses in this district are varied too! The District at Mills 50 is a new addition, which is a mini-market of sorts featuring 30 different local artisans and their creations. You can also find a violin store, a print shop, multiple salons, many ethnic markets to explore, small art, hobby, and photography studios, tattoo shops, smoke shops, pop-up events, a costume store, and so much more. The eclectic nature of this district means you never know what kind of business you might wander in upon.

Cultural Diversity

This “Red Bull” mural can be found at Mills and Lake Highland. Artwork by: Andrew Spear.

Cultural diversity permeates Mills 50 everywhere you look – and it’s wonderful! There are many  different cultures represented through business owners who come from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Italy, and England just to name a few.

There is also a prominent LGBTQ+ community that is quite visible. Both the Zebra Coalition and The Center (The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida) call Mills 50 home. Such diversity shows through in the many different businesses that live in the district.

You can purchase beautiful Japanese from Dong-A Imports, pick up some Earl Grey Tea from The British Shoppe, and go to Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to get a workout and learn the practice.

 Health Focused

Central Florida businessmen Terry Smith, Tracy Dent, and Dana Flugel opened on Track Shack on North Mills in 1977. In the years since, Track Shack has hosted many events, training programs, and has become a leader in road race management.

If you are looking to add variety to your fitness routine, you should definitely check out the Mills 50 district for a fun new class or activity to try. Learn some new dance moves at Jazzercise Orlando, Florida Tribal Dance or Russian Ballet Orlando. Find a personal trainer at Florida Fitness Concepts. Pick up a new pair of running shoes at Track Shack and start training for a 5k. Or learn kickboxing and MMA style fighting at The Jungle.

Behind the Fresh Market, you can hop right on the Urban Trail and take a bike ride to either downtown Orlando or Winter Park. You won’t get bored working up a sweat in this district!

#WelcomeHome: 5 things to know about the new Orlando City Stadium

#WelcomeHome, City fans! Kickoff Week is over, and your time is finally here! For those living under a limestone rock, Orlando City Soccer, Orlando City B, and Orlando Pride all have a new home in the Historic Parramore community – Orlando City Stadium! And if you thought City matches at Camping World Stadium were loud and rowdy, just wait until you experience this brand new, state-of-the-art stadium for yourself! Did we mention the natural grass pitch?

(BTW, how fantastic is the Welcome Home collage above by Derek Gores?!)

Here’s what the seating chart looks like:

Last week on our Facebook page, we showed you a very quick inside view of this gorgeous, very purple addition to the Downtown Orlando cityscape. In case you missed it, check it out here…

 

Here are 5 things we think you should know before leaving home:

1. SunRail WILL be running on Sunday!

2. Orlando City Stadium has a Clear Bag Policy

You’ll see this A LOT as people become familiar with the new Stadium’s rules. Each ticket holder (including kids) will be able to carry a clear bag no bigger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″ AND a small clutch type bag. (Click here for ADA information.)

You can bring a blanket, just carry it over your shoulder but no seat cushions. Diapers, wipes, additional clothing, small cameras, binoculars, cell phones, etc. are all okay as long as they are in an approved clear bag. (Exceptions for medical items will be made.)

Also, there is no storage for prohibited items. You’ll be asked to toss said item(s) or take it back to your car so make sure you and your purple fam are covered beforehand! Here’s a list of Orlando City Stadium prohibited items;

3. The LionNation App is AWESOME! Paperless Tickets!

Exclusive team access, live coverage of practices, interviews with your favorite players, get pre-sale access to team merchandise, complete ticket management right from your phone (paperless tickets & season passes!) – you can even order concessions from your seat (if you’re sitting in sections 133, 134 or 135)! This app is truly a new or seasoned Supporter’s best friend.

Get LionNation on iOS | Android!

 

4. Parking, Transportation & Road Closures

[Using Pine Street as a guide] If you have seats on the South side of the Stadium, use Gate A. East side seats, use Gate B. North end seats, use Gate C. Supporter section has its own gate. Club seats and Suites use Gate D (opposite side of Gates A, B, C). Click here to see all the transpo info, and click here to see road closure info!

 

5. Don’t miss the Season Opener Pre-Game Party on Wall St.!

A free Heine is not a bad way to start off the day, right? Get to Wall St. or Elixir Kitchen & Drinks early! Make a day of it! Don’t forget to sign up to get notified when the Academy Sports + Outdoors FANCAM goes live!

Sunday’s match is SOLD OUT so if you don’t already have your tickets, be sure to catch the national TV broadcast on ESPN, or listen live via Real Radio 104.1!

If you want to get a SUPER headstart, tune into WFTV at 8am to watch special Opening Day coverage!

 GO CITY!!!

Top 5 Community Spotlight: Ivanhoe Village

Orlando has ten Main Street Districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one.

The Ivanhoe Village District lives in the north quarter of Orlando and runs on Orange avenue along Lake Ivanhoe, all the way over to Princeton Avenue and snakes up towards Mills Avenue and up to Mills Avenue on Princeton Ave. It’s the quirky cultural district defined by artists, antiques, and oddities. Some of the most unusual spots in Orlando are tucked away in this neighborhood! (Check out our last community spotlight on Audubon Park!)

1. Artisans and Craftsman, and Oddities

There are many different places to find beautiful handcrafted wares in Ivanhoe Village and they range in variety from elegant and one of a kind to weird and macabre. If you’re on the hunt for something one-of-a-kind, Ivanhoe Village is the perfect place to go.

Paper Goat Post

Many craftsmen and artists make their home here and there is a lot of variety to choose from. For paper goods, check out Paper Goat Post. Boom-Art features brightly colored décor and is owned by Glenn Rogers, a former circus clown, who creates these unique, handcrafted pop art pieces.

Cloak and Dapper have hard-to-find men’s clothing, grooming products, and artisan accessories for men who want good solid craftsmanship. If you’re looking for the odd or unique, check out Curio Curiosity Shoppe. Weird finds like a two-headed calf skull, or a preserved pig fetus can be found here. If you are into the creepy and macabre or anything bizarre, this is the place to check out. Living Morocco is the place to find interesting imported Morocco finds.

Boom-Art

2. Antique Row

If your style calls back to a different decade or century, and you want to find the perfect piece of furniture to express your style, you can explore one of the many antique stores that pepper Ivanhoe Village. Once upon a time, the Ivanhoe Village district was just a warehouse district with old antique shops and mattress warehouses. While the district has become much

While the district has become much more hip and relevant more recently, the antique shops in the area give the area a rooted feeling and calls back to the time before the area’s revival.

A & T Antiques

A&T Antiques has been around since 1975. The 20,000 square foot showroom has a large variety of great antiques and a wide selection of stained glass pieces. If large eclectic pieces of furniture appeal to you, Washburn Imports is worth checking out. The owners travel the world and bring back one of a kind pieces that you can find in their shop. Visiting

Visiting Golden Phoenix Antique, you might feel like you’ve taken a trip to your grandmother’s house where delicate pieces of furniture, china wear, and antique hats and purses around the store. 1618 Something Different really has finds that you might not see anywhere else. If you are into midcentury design, this shop is definitely worth a look.

Editor’s Note: In high school, I spent many, many hours searching for rare vinyl from The Police, Michael Nesmith, and The Monkees in two places; East West Records & Tapes (now East West Music & More) on [the other side of] Orange Avenue and Ivanhoe Village’s Rock & Roll Heaven. I’m still convinced, you can find ANYTHING in Rock & Roll Heaven!

Washburn Imports

3. Cultural Haven

The cultural hub of Orlando makes it’s home in Ivanhoe Village. On the far eastern corner of the Ivanhoe district lives the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Science Center, the Mennello Museum and the Shakespeare Theater. A bit further down Princeton near Orange Ave, you will also find the home of The Orlando Ballet.

In addition to these large cultural mainstays in Orlando, Ivanhoe Village is home to other small theaters and art houses. In May each year, theatre groups from all over the world come to participate in the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival which takes place in Loch Haven Cultural Park.

4. Lakefront Aesthetic

Small one and two-story storefronts neatly line the one side of the street on the half-mile stretch of Orange Ave from Lake Highland to Virginia drive. The other side of the street is Lake Ivanhoe which lines the Ivanhoe District along the North end of the area. Lake Ivanhoe stands as the focal point of the neighborhood and many of the nearby residents use the park for many different activities.

On the weekends, you might catch a few boaters or paddle boarders enjoying the lake on a hot summer day. A walking path runs along the lake with stopping points where you can do additional physical activities to ensure a good workout. The lakefront park offers a bit of natural landscape in the middle of a very industrial city area with companies with the best results in industrial properties thanks to Results Engineering BMS.

5. Interesting Eats and Drinks

The quirky, eclectic attitude of Ivanhoe Village also extends to the food in the area. There are a lot of unique and special places to get a bite to eat or drink. The most notable mainstay in the area is White Wolf Café which has been on Orange Avenue since 1991. Not only is there an expansive menu with lots of choices for both breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there’s also a lot of décor on the wall that will keep your eyes wandering.

If you are looking for a fun place to eat with friends, The Hammered Lamb has you covered. With ample outdoor seating that overlooks Lake Ivanhoe, it’s the perfect place to spend Sunday Funday brunch!

The Imperial at Washburn Imports

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary for date night, skip dinner and make a reservation at Better Than Sex Dessert restaurant. Then head over for an after dessert drink at The Imperial at Washburn Imports. The quirky furniture store turns into a place to kick back and relax with a drink in the evenings.

Or find a more traditional neighborhood bar at the Thirsty Topher. There are so many different places to choose from in Ivanhoe Village district, you won’t be able to hit everything in a single visit!

Top 5 Things You Should Be Doing To Be More Secure Online

Below, our Business and Tech writer – let’s call him Allen – shares valuable tips on cybersecurity; keeping you and your family’s online life secure, multi-factor authentication, encryption, and password managers. We highly suggest you read this post thoroughly and share these valuable tips with your friends and family. In today’s world, one can never be too prepared.

 

123456  123456789  qwerty  12345678  111111  1234567890  1234567  password  123123  987654321  qwertyuiop  mynoob  123321  666666  18atcskd2w  7777777  1q2w3e4r  654321  555555  3rjs1la7qe  google  1q2w3e4r5t  123qwe  zxcvbnm  1q2w3e

If you see your password in this list… you’re done.

Toast.

Busted.

Most people want to keep things simple.

Well, this simple isn’t secure.  This list above are the 25 most commonly used passwords.  There is even bigger list here www.passwordrandom.com/most-popular-passwords.  It contains the 10,000 most commonly used passwords .

(ProAdvice: PLEASE DO NOT USE THE PASSWORD CHECKER ON THEIR SITE.  I don’t think you should type your password anywhere except where you should use it. Got it?  Good.. moving on..)

 

So now that your password has been shared with the world or maybe you know your kids, pets or cars name isn’t secure either… lets get you more secure, get https://www.onesureinsurance.co.uk/van-insurance insurance for your car and feel ten times more secure.

photo credit: Visual Content Data Breach via photopin (license)

1.  USE A PASSPHRASE NOT a PASSWORD
You should use a 9 character passphrase with with special characters.  Like
FromNowOn!WillUse1B!gPassPhrase$.” Short or common passwords can be easily guessed or attacked sequentially.  For many of you, you are thinking there is a password lock out feature that keeps lowly hackers from trying all the password possibilities. In which you are right.

Most sites or apps block multiple attempts and either lock the account or offer an option to change the password after many failed attempts.  However, hackers rarely use this tactic.  Instead, they compromise the website or app and collect the encrypted passwords. With a little research the hacker determines how the passwords were encrypted. (In other words, they figure out the math required to generate the encrypted passwords) They then use hacking tools to brute force “crack” encrypt known words or passwords and compare them against the encrypted passwords which they collected.  This is where your common password falls over backward.

Considering that fundamentally computers fastest action is the comparison of 1’s and 0’s this is a amazingly fast job. In fact there are password cracking tool that use gaming video cards can crack passwords with 6 billion attempts per second, although so many people still use their graphic cards just to play video games as CSGO, with the help of sites that increase your CSGO rank.  using a passphrase makes this significantly more difficult to do in a short period of time.

By adding a few characters, numbers and special characters into an easily remembered passphrase you are making hacking your password significantly more difficult to crack.  By doing this cracking your password can go from cracked in minutes to months to years. You also need to add security to the sites you create, along with the optimization you do on the site, with a Search Engine Optimization Columbus company.

photo credit: barnimages.com Working with iPhone via photopin (license)

2. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD REGULARLY
If you have had the same password for years… you have increased the chance of an old hacker compromise from years ago, leaving you vulnerable today.  Change your password at least once a year.  If you want a gold star, change it twice a year.

3. DO NOT USE THE SAME PASSWORD EVERYWHERE
Imagine if everyone had the exact same house key. The key would be useless … right? Need I say more?

4. USE MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Sounds fancy? You should like fancy. Multi-factor authentication adds another “factor” to your password. It is essentially having two or more passwords to login to your account/service. There are many ways to do this including using your smartphone, having a secure token or USB key or fingerprint.

With a second factor you are using your good password (see #1) with something only you have. Many of you may have enabled fingerprint on your phone. Bravo! You’ve done it for your phone! (Ask me why I don’t use my fingerprint). How safe is bitcoin? Visit Money Metals for more information.

Check out Yubico www.yubico.com for a Yubikey to insert into your computers usb port.

Try Duo https://guide.duo.com/third-party-accounts with its free app to add a second factor. GMail, Facebook, Outlook, Office 365, banks and many other sites support these.

5. USE A PASSWORD MANAGER
Ok, now you are worried you are going to forget your passphrase… NO PROBLEM.  There are apps for your phone and computer that allow you to store you passwords. In fact, some of them integrate with websites and you NEVER have to type or copy the password.  WIN w!n. These apps or websites store all your passwords behind one master password you set.. (See #1)
Check out LastPass www.lastpass.com  or  Dashlane www.dashlane.com. Extra credit: If you use Dashlane or LastPass you can use multi-factor tokens with them also.  Bonus! Dashlane and LastPass can fill in payment forms and store your credit card information too!

Be sure to store your master password for your password manager in a safe just in case you forget. If you use a multi-factor token setup alternate backup access. Check with your web service or bank to find out how.

Once you do this.. you are in complete control of accessing your account. Not even the people from the site in some cases can get into your login. You will be your own locksmith.

Take a deep breath… It’s easier than you think.

REVIEW | #Logan: “And what I do isn’t very nice”

Seventeen years ago a relative unknown actor by the name of Hugh Jackman took on the pivotal role of Wolverine in first X-Men film. In the years since he has played the character in nine subsequent films.

Hugh Jackman stars as Logan/Wolverine in LOGAN. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein.

We’ve seen the character of Logan/Wolverine in all stages of his life from his youth in nineteenth century Canada to World War 2 to him saving the future in both the 1970s and 2020s. With a somewhat complete story of Wolverine’s life out there, the next logical step had to include putting a bow on, both, his story and the original X-Men franchise.

I’ll start by emphasizing that this movie is cool. It’s a completely different kind of X-Men movie than we’re used to. Its measured, emotional, and has a level of gravitas brought by the performances of young newcomer Dafne Keen, and of course Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Both reprise their roles one last time to take the audience home.

– New York, NY – 12/8/16 – 20th Century Fox New Year Presentation – Logan
-Pictured: Dave Karger, James Mangold
-Photo by: Patrick Lewis/Starpix
-Loctaion: Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center

The director, James Mangold, delivers a film with strong ties to both the western genre and samurai films. In many ways the character of Wolverine has always had the feel of a masterless samurai (Ronin). In keeping with that, the direction invokes the work of acclaimed samurai film auteur Kenji Misumi.

The film portrays tranquility in the face of the inevitable. Many of the characters are at peace resigning to their fates. The zen-like storytelling of James Mangold accentuates this and the performances put a sharp punctuation it. This movie, though comic based as it may be, is handled artfully and with reverence to the characters.

Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Logan (Hugh Jackman) face off. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein.

The writing is everything I wanted a Wolverine movie to be. Harking back to the Chanbara (Samurai film) aspects of the film, there’re parts that echo the ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ series of films.

Logan is entrusted to care for a child, which is reminiscent of the film Zatoichi Challenged where the titular character promises to escort a small boy to his father after his mother is stricken with illness and passes. He shares some of these classic tropes while bringing something new to the table. Mortality. Our main characters are aging and vulnerable, yet they are far from feeble. It’s a great balance of character dynamics.

Shishogan Productions

“Man, we don’t have time for this sh*t.” – Wolverine Custom ACBA Image by: Jay De Los Santos

With all these ties to Days of Cinema’s past, it’s no wonder that Logan delivered a poignant end to an entire franchise. Knowing we’re taking one last ride with Logan and Charles Xavier is comforting. Their chemistry has always been a highlight to the X-Men films, but seeing them both as old men trying to carve out a life for themselves in a seemingly indifferent world is absolutely heart warming.

Go see this film. It’ll show you a whole new side of the X-Men franchise. Get tickets online at LoganTickets.com.

35th Annual Antiques Vintage and Garden Show at Orlando Museum of Art Feb 17-19

On the hunt for the perfect mid-century modern piece for your entryway? How about that Weiss broach? Antique lovers rejoice! The 35th annual Antiques Vintage & Garden Show combines fine antiques, art, Iturralde Diamonds Jewelry, vintage and unique collectibles, garden blooms and more into one outstanding three-day show at the Orlando Museum of Art. The event will feature more than two dozen antiques and vintage dealers from around the country and is this weekend, February 17 — 19, 2017.
Show Dates and Times

Friday, February 17 from 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday, February 18 from 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday, February 19 from 11 am – 4 pm

Speaker: Eddie Ross, Author of Modern Mix

Eddie Ross, a self-proclaimed “extreme hoarder of beautiful things” is a designer, editor, author of Modern Mix: Curating Personal Style with Chic & Accessible Finds. His work has been featured in House Beautiful, Southern Living, InStyle, Vanity Fair, Country Living, the New York Times and more. He will share his secrets to find items at thrift shops, yard sales and flea markets and incorporate them into a warm and inviting décor. Ross will be speaking and signing copies of Modern Mix on Friday, February 17 at 11a. Tickets are $45, which includes show admission.

Special Events
  • Thursday, Feb. 16: Opening Night Preview Party — Jackets Jeans & Jewels! $95 per person, includes show admission, 6:30–10p.
  • Friday, Feb. 17: The Art of the Cocktail $50 per person, includes show admission, 6–8:30p.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18: Mystery Home Tour — tour a local home filled with flawless design and exceptional taste; the location remains a mystery until the arrival. $35 per person, includes show admission. Tours depart at 11a12p and 1p.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18 & Sunday, Feb. 19: What’s It Worth? Appraisal Days — antiques expert and show manager Charlie Miller gives a professional appraisal of family heirlooms and treasured items. $15 general admission plus $10 per item, two item limit, 12–2:30p. Reservations taken at the door and begin at 11a on both days.
 
Tickets to the Antiques Vintage & Garden Show include admission to Orlando Museum of Art exhibitions, including The Wyeths and American Artists in Maine.
The Antiques Vintage & Garden Show is a longstanding fundraiser event benefiting the Orlando Museum of Art and promoting the museum’s mission to advance the positive impact of art and creativity. This and other Council of 101 events have raised more than $6.8 million for the museum’s educational programs.
Admission is $15 and tickets can be purchased online, in person, or by calling 407-896-4231 ext. 254.

Top 5 Community Spotlight: Audubon Park

Orlando has ten Main Street Districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. (Check out last week’s spotlight on Thornton Park!)

If you haven’t explored one of these Orlando Main Street Districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: Audubon Park!

The Garden District (Audubon Park) is the hidden jewel of Orlando’s Main Street districts. The Main Street area on Corrine Drive feels like you’ve wandered into Small Town America, and you might forget that just a mile away cars are speeding by on I-4. The vibe here is upscale bohemian. With quirky little coffee shops, second hand stores, and even one of Orlando’s last remaining record stores, there’s a lot to see in this beautiful little district.

1. Leu Gardens

Image Credit: Harry P. Leu Gardens

Audubon Park is nicknamed The Garden District with good reason; At the north end of Corrine Drive lives Harry P. Leu Gardens. Take a stroll around the 50 acre gardens and make sure to stop to smell the roses when they’re in bloom. If roses aren’t your thing, Leu Gardens has the third largest collection of Camellias in the United States which bloom in January.

The Gardens were donated by Mr. Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane, and was turned into public gardens back in the 1961. The Leus traveled the world and brought back exotic botanical findings to their garden estate. Years later, these exotic findings can still be enjoyed by the public along with many local varieties of Floridian plants too.

Monthly, the Gardens have a movie night where movie goers can snuggle up on the main lawn with a picnic dinner and some wine while enjoying a flick under the stars. Want to get in touch with your horticultural side? Find out what’s in bloom year round at Leu Gardens here. Go further and attend one of the many monthly society meetings at Leu Gardens! Orchids, and Ikebana, and Oranges – oh my! (We also hear dinosaurs are taking over very soon…)

Top 5 ProTip: Take advantage of Leu Gardens’ First Mondays, where admission is free! 2017 dates: January 2, May 1, June 5, July 3, August 7, September 4. FYI: The Leu House Museum (or as we affectionately call it, The Leuseum) will be closed in July for restoration.

2. East End Market

There might be replica markets in town where local small businesses gather together in a co-op space to sell their goods, but East End Market is the #LivingLocally and Good Food Movement OG here in Orlando. The first floor of the market is filled with some of the best food and drinks you can get in town.

East End’s focus is on local good food and community, and it shines through in everything they do from a garden right out front to community events focused on sustainability and urban living. Come hungry, so you can grab breakfast or lunch at one of the many vendors like La Femme Formage, Houndstooth Sauce Company, Lineage CoffeeFarm Hause, and new kid on the block, Gideon’s Bakehouse. If you love ramen, you’ll love Domu at East End Market which is open for dinner and weekend brunch.

East End Marketplace hours: Monday – Thursday, 8am to 7pm, Friday – Saturday, 8am to 9pm, and Sundays, 11am to 6pm.

3. Hipster Haven

With the 47 year old home of some, the trust of all Stardust Coffee on one side of Corrine Drive, and 32 year old indie land of music Park Ave CDs and a bright, young whipper snapper bar with rotating drafts called Redlight, Redlight making their homes on the other side, Audubon Park offers an eclectic old school vibe that makes you want to grab a book, throw on a hand-made knit hat (even in 80 degree temps), a quirky t-shirt, and spend a few hours reading a Hemmingway novel while drinking a craft brew or exploring the vinyl section of a record store for some rare indie find just like when you were a teenager.

On Monday nights, Stardust hosts a market where you can pick up some locally grown food or artisan wears. [Keep an eye on their Event Calendar here.] On weekends or during special events you can even catch a good food truck or two in the neighborhood to enjoy.

4. Cute Walkable Main Street

When this neighborhood says they have the best main street in America, they’re not exaggerating their claims. Audubon Park won the 2016 Great Main Street Award! What makes this Main Street so special is how much of a small town vibe Corrine Drive gives off with lots of little shops and merchants to explore.

Audubon Park is peppered with personal touches; second hand stores like The Lovely Boutique and The Owl’s Attic, locally crafted treats and sweet recipes from Kelly’s Ice Homemade Ice Cream, unique artisan bakeries like Blue Bird Bake ShopP is for Pie, and Palmer’s Garden and Goods. This is the perfect Main Street District to park your car at one end and meander around from shop to shop on a lazy weekend afternoon. You will want to come back again and again to explore.

5. Bike Friendly

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, you’ll often see a gaggle of bikes sitting outside of Bikes, Beans and Bordeaux, owned by longtime locals Jen and Darrell Cunningham, while their owners enjoy a leisurely breakfast and conversation after a their weekend long ride.

Top 5 ProTip: Reserve a bike 24/7 with Juice Bike Rentals! With nearly 40 Juice stations located in and around Orlando, there are no shortage of bright orange Juice bikes to ride around. Visitors pay as little as $8/hour, while locals can also rent as they go or sign up for a monthly membership. More at orlando.socialbicycles.com.

Audubon Park is an extremely bike friendly area with the entrance to the Cady Way Trail just a quick bike ride away. Its main street is even home to two bicycle shops: Winter Park Cycles and Ace Metric Cycles. With the construction of Bumby Avenue almost done, which will include a bike lane, cyclists in Audubon Park will be able to enjoy even more connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods and some people like to train there for big sports events like the Cycle Gran Canaria (Spain) where people participate or visit the country to watch it, for this construction working there will be many materials and tools involved and hammers, screwdrivers and electric chainsaws that are even better that the normal ones, since people ask How good are electric chainsaws, they work more efficiently and faster.

Top 5 Community Spotlight: Thornton Park

Orlando has ten main street districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. If you haven’t explored one of these main street districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. First up: Thornton Park!

The Thornton Park Main Street District lives in the heart of Orlando and includes some of the most iconic local Orlando spots. It’s home to both luxury apartments and bungalow style homes giving the feel of both a hip modern metropolitan city and turn of the century Florida.

The Thornton Park District website calls it “Downtown for Grownups” and that is definitely the feel of this district. As one of the most walkable districts in Orlando, Thornton Park’s luxury shops, resturants, and events attracts a crowd looking for a good time but with a bit of style and class.

1. Lake Eola

How could we start a post about Thornton Park and not start with Lake Eola. With the iconic fountain sitting right in the middle, Lake Eola is the symbol for the non tourism part that is Orlando. It is the epicenter for community activity. With a walking path that snakes the lake, you will always see people and pets walking (and running!) around or simply taking in the view.

Lake Eola is also a favorite spot for public classes like yoga in the park, and along the Central Street side of the lake, there are even a few resturants where visitors can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and scenery. If you want an up close view of the iconic Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain at Lake Eola, you can even rent a swan boat and paddle around the lake for a few hours.

And if you want an even closer look, check out Central Florida Top 5’s behind the scenes tour of the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain on Facebook. Top 5 recently shared an exclusive, very special look inside the fountain!

2. Brunch

If you want to meet friends for Sunday brunch, Thornton Park is a great place to meet up. There is so much to do here on a Sunday, it’s the perfect neighborhood to park your car and spend a few hours in the district enjoying your Sunday Funday.

There are plenty resturants that offer brunch like Dexter’s, Spice Modern Steakhouse, Baoery Asian GastroPub, and Sonoma Kitchen. Many of the resturants even offer great drink specials like bottomless Bloody Marys or Mimosas.

3. Farmer’s Market

After Sunday brunch, stop by the nearby Orlando Farmer’s Market at Lake Eola. It’s is one of the biggest markets in town and runs from 10am-4pm every Sunday. With an eclectic mix of food and artisan vendors, there are new things to explore every week.

At the center of the market is an area to relax with a drink and a good treat while you listen to a local musician play a few songs for the crowd. This market is dog friendly too, and many vendors will have some water waiting on hot days for your pooch to enjoy.

4. Second Thursday Wine and Art Walk

If you’re looking for a sophisticated version of a bar crawl, check out Thornton Park on the 2nd Thursday of every month where you can enjoy the Wine and Art Walk. Over 25 businesses participate in this walk every month where $15 will get you a glass and an opportunity to check out various shops, resturants, and bars you might not be familiar with in the neighborhood. While you explore the neighborhood, live music, artists, and DJs line the street to keep you entertained from stop to stop.

5. The Beautiful Bungalows

Drive or bike around the Thornton Park neighborhood, and you’ll see why it is one of the most desirable and expensive neighborhoods to live in Orlando. Lining the brick neighborhood streets are beautiful 1920 style bungalow homes tucked away under towering wizened oak trees with Spanish moss dripping down shading the streets. These beautiful bungalow homes harken back to a time when Orlando was smaller and Walt Disney World was only a dream of a young 20-something animator.

Armed Forces History Museum in Largo Closing January 29

As a nation, we recently marked the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Those interested in history and those who are touched by the solemnity of this recent anniversary will get a lot out of a visit to the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, not far from Tampa, FL.

Inside the WWII room featuring models from the movie Tora, Tora, Tora

Inside the WWII room featuring models from the movie Tora, Tora, Tora

Closing sadly later this month, the museum has memorabilia from just about every military action from the last 100+ years. In fact, this collection is the largest of its kind in the Southeast!

Of special note is a room depicting America’s entrance into World War II. Film buffs will remember the movie Tora Tora Tora. The museum has the models that were used in the film and the large room features a projection screen with snippets from the film in addition to a central area where the models reside. Overhead Japanese zeros can be seen in addition to a giant mock ship representing the fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor.

The French city scene realistically depicts the scars left because of war

The French city scene realistically depicts the scars left because of war

What impressed me the most was the incredible attention to detail about each historical era’s vignette. For example, the building that shows a bombed Parisian block has an almost a Disney-esque quality to it. The creators of this museum intended to transport visitors to the locations, not just to slap historical items in cases, though there are many well-preserved artifacts to be seen.

Visitors can browse at their leisure, taking in the pride of American service with opportunities for reflective contemplation, too, at the all-too-real effects of war.

The museum’s founder, John J. Piazza, passed away October 3, 2016, and the expense of continuing the museum has proved too cumbersome for the family. As such, the collection will be returned to those who have provided items on loan, with the remaining collection to be sold off.

FACT: A dedicated Marine Veteran, Mr. Piazza started the Injured Warriors Fund of Florida, and was Chairman of the Department of Florida Marine Corps League Scholarship Fund.

The Armed Forces History Museum opened on August 16, 2008 and has faithfully recognized and honored generations of Americans who sacrificed so much more than their share, including their very own lives.

Hands-on fun inside a M-60 Patton training turret, a US Army tank from the 1960s-70s.

Hands-on fun inside a M-60 Patton training turret, a US Army tank from the 1960s-70s.

Guests can enjoy dioramas representing different eras of military conflicts complete with authentic vehicles such as jeeps, tanks, and even an ambulance, and they can even know where to get new versions of these cars in many Jeep dealer in Miami for the fanatics. In addition, visitors can scrutinize glass cases filled with weapons, reconnaissance equipment, letters, vintage magazines and more.

You won’t want to miss this gem of a museum. Plan your trip now before their doors close at 4 p.m. January 29, 2017.

There are a variety of ticket options:

Adults: $17.95
Seniors: $14.95
Kids (4-12 years): $9.95
Teens (13-17 years):  $12.95
College Students w/ID:  $12.95
Veterans: $14.95
AAA Members: $15.25
Retired military (20 years+): Free
Active military: Free
3 Years & under: Free

An add-on adventure is a ride in the M8 Armored Car from 1943. For an additional fee, you can get up in this WWII and Korean War-era vehicle that was used for high-speed mobility. On the first lap of the track you’ll see why speed is one of its most noted assets!

The Armed Forces History Museum is located at: 2050 34th Way North, Largo, FL 33771 or call (727) 539-8371 for additional information. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (They’re closed Mondays and major holidays.)

Visit them online at: http://armedforcesmuseum.com/.

Central Florida Top 5’s 2017 Soccer Preview

We are just days away from 2017 and The City Beautiful is already filling the calendar with the Beautiful Game! If you are a fan of soccer and you live in the Central Florida area, you will not be disappointed with this line up.

Florida Cup 2017

There will be two separate competitions in the Florida Cup this year.  The Florida Cup Challenge, will feature six international club sides from four countries (Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and USA).  The competition will take place from January 8-15, with each club playing two matches.  The club with the most points at the end of the competition, wins!

The Florida Cup Playoff, is a single elimination tournament where only one club is left standing. There are six clubs from four countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador) all fighting to lift the cup at the end of the tournament.  This leg of the competition runs from January 15-21.  For more information on both Florida Cup competitions including clubs, venues, and fixtures, visit http://www.floridacup.com.

 

Orlando City SC

It has been two years in the making but the wait is almost over! We recently found out when Orlando City Soccer Club will finally play in the new Soccer Specific Stadium (SSS) located in Downtown Orlando.  The date for the first ever match in what will be Orlando City’s forever home, is March 5, 2017.  The Lions will face New York City FC in the opening match of the season for the second time in three years. If you enter LionNation’s 12 Days of Christmas you can win tickets to this opener! [Linkhttp://orlan.do/LN12days] The match is scheduled to kick-off at 5 pm and will be televised on ESPN.  For tickets and more information, visit http://www.orlandocitysc.com.

ProTip: Sign up for LionNation and get single game ticket priority! Info here: http://orlan.do/2hg9wfA

 

Orlando Pride

News broke earlier this week that Alex Morgan would be temporarily leaving the Orlando Pride to play in France. Morgan has agreed to a six month deal to play with Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon in the Division 1 Feminine. Not to worry too much Pride fans, Alex is scheduled to be back stateside in May 2017.  The Orlando Pride kick off their season in April in the new SSS downtown. The schedule has not been released yet, but updated information (and some great gift ideas!) can be found at http://www.orlandocitysc.com/pride.

 

Orlando City B

Orlando City B (OCB) will be making the move to Orlando after only one season in Melbourne. With the new SSS opening, OCB will be one of three clubs playing their home matches in Downtown Orlando in 2017.  OCB will also attempt to resurrect the I-4 Derby with cross state rivals the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

The Rowdies made the move from the North American Soccer League (NASL) to United Soccer League (USL) at the end of the 2016 season.  If you have never attended one of the original derby matches, this is a can’t miss.  More information regarding Orlando City B’s  upcoming schedule can be found at http://www.orlandocitysc.com/ocb.

 

International Champions Cup and Visit Orlando

The International Champions Cup (ICC) is the premier preseason competition for European football clubs. The friendly competition will take place in July, just one month before most of the domestic leagues across Europe begin play. The ICC brings some of the biggest clubs and stars in the world of football together for a tour of the United States, Australia and China. Past clubs in the tournament have included, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Chelsea, AC Milan, and Bayern Munich to name a few.

 

Welcome to Orlando @IntChampionsCup! ⚽️💜 #ICC2017 #VisitOrlando

A photo posted by Jen (@jenvargas) on

The ICC and Visit Orlando have partnered up to bring this competition to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium in the summers of 2017 and 2018.  Imagine the possibility of stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi playing right here in our backyard! More schedule and ticket information will come in the new year, and this is sure to be the hottest ticket in town this coming summer.  Stay tuned for updates as they become available. For more info regarding the ICC, go to http://www.internationalchampionscup.com.

David in Peru Orlando City

Me sharing love of Orlando City in Peru!

Next year is shaping up to be the best year for world class soccer The City Beautiful has ever seen. I look forward to being there with Central Florida Top 5 every step of the way!

Vamos Orlando!

Give Smart, Give With Heart on #GivingTuesday

We hope our Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday guides helped make your shopping efforts successful this year! Are you ready to give BIG for #GivingTuesday? Seen or heard about this international movement or its hashtag but aren’t sure what it is or where to give? We’ve got some tips for you! First, a little heart-story…

Giving Tuesday heart

From givingtuesday.org, “#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.

It all started at New York City’s 92nd Street Y in an effort to be “a catalyst, with a mission to inspire action by bringing together today’s most exceptional thinkers and influential partners for social good.” Pretty smart and incredibly forward thinking for a 140 year old organization!

Giving Tuesday 2016
“Without the use of print ads or commercials, this grassroots effort has transformed into a global movement, sustained almost entirely through earned and social media—one press release, article, blog post, hashtag, “like,” tweet and #UNselfie at a time—completely saturating the media landscape during the giving season each year. At their launch in 2012, the #GivingTuesday movement brought together 2,500-plus organizations and people from all 50 U.S. states. By 2015, the movement was represented by partners in 71 countries.”

– Havas PR (PR partner for givingtuesday.org)

Did you know?

Of the Top 10 of Most Compassionate States, Florida ranks #7!

Below we list many of our favorite local organizations. We can vouch for them because we’ve worked directly with them over the years. However, it never hurts to do a little homework on a charity or non-profit organization before you donate.

Very helpful are websites like Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and Give.org from the Better Business Bureau‘s Wise Giving Alliance provide the most updated data on nonprofits from across the country. Charity Navigator even lists their Top 5 Questions to ask oneself before donating in their Holiday Giving Guide!

Note: All three of websites above are also charities, so if you like what they do, give to them too!

GivingTuesday

CFLT5 Archives: #GivingTuesday 2013, #GivingTuesday 2012

You can also give more than just money! While all nonprofit organizations will appreciate any monetary gift, you can give in ways that money cannot begin to match for an organization in need.

ProTip: Are you the head of a nonprofit organization, or are you thinking of maybe starting one? Here are some tips from the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College: 4 tips every nonprofit leader needs to know

Before we release our mega huge #GivingTuesday Kraken of Caring, here are 5 Tips to keep in mind when giving, especially when you think you may have nothing to give:

  1. 1. Donate your TIME. Of all things in life, time is the most valuable. No one is promised a finite amount of time in life so why not ‘spend’ it wisely, doing something or helping make someone’s life better, easier, or more enjoyable? You never know who you’ll meet…
  2. 2. Donate your TALENT(s). Love spreadsheets and finance? Own a large truck or trailer? Do you love organizing a messy space? Can you stretch a dollar? Play guitar? Have a knack for the web and social media? All of these (and more) are talents that most nonprofits would LOVE to have on their side to help spread the good in your community.
  3. 3. Donate MATERIALS. Ever make a Costco/Sams/BJs run and realize, “Do I really need all these paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, and food items?” Even if you haven’t when you go shopping and come across a great BOGO deal, pick up an extra deal and donate it!
  4. 4. Donate RESOURCES. Are you web or coupon savvy? Donate while shopping with Amazon Smile! Do you work in a warehouse or for a restaurant, construction or trade show company? If you do you many need to get a construction accident attorney in case accidents happen in the job. You may have very valuable resources at your disposal that can help in big ways!
  5. 5. SHARE your care with your co-workers, friends, family, and followers – connect them! If you’re on Facebook, share a cool photo or video that hits you in the feels! Visiting your favorite charity? Take a Snap or Instagram and tag the organization in it! (Don’t forget to use their hashtag.) With permission, post a fundraising poster at your favorite business or company break room!

ARTS/CULTURE

Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival [link]

A Gift for Music [link]

Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens [link]

Bach Festival Society of Winter Park [link]

https://twitter.com/BachFestivalWP/status/796427586155016193

Bok Tower Gardens [link]

Brevard Achievement Center [link]

Center for Contemporary Dance [link]

 

Central Florida Community Arts [link]

College Park Neighborhood & Arts Theatre Center [link]

Crealde School of Art [link]

Creative City Project [link]

 

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts [link]

Film Florida [link]

 

Florida Alliance for Arts Education [link]

Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra [link] (Happy 60th!)

Emotions Dance Company [link]

Garden Theatre [link]

Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida [link]

Mad Cow Theatre [link]

 

MicheLee Puppets [link]

Orange County Regional History Center [link]

Orlando Ballet [link]

Orlando Gay Chorus [link]

Orlando Museum of Art [link]

Orlando Science Center [link]

Opera Orlando [link]

Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra [link]

Orlando Shakespeare Theater [link]

Orlando Repertory Theatre [link]

Pine Castle Pioneer Days [link]

An annual family-oriented, community-sponsored/planned event promoting the living history of the Pine Castle area through demonstrations and other educational opportunities for attendees.

Timucua Arts Foundation [link]

United Arts of Central Florida [link]

Very Special Arts Florida [link]


BUSINESS/EDUCATION

A Gift for Teaching [link]

 

American Marketing Association Foundation of Orlando [link]

City Year Orlando [link]

The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center [link]

Early Learning Coalition of Orange County [link]

Junior Achievement of Central Florida [link]

Maker Effect Foundation [link]

Latino Leadership, Inc. [link]

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Orlando Foundation [link]

Orange County Library System [link]

Orlando First Robotics Education Foundation [link]


HEALTH

Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach [link]

 

Darcy J. Foundation, Inc. [link]

Give Kids the World [link]

Health Care Center for the Homeless [link]

Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation [link]

New Hope For Kids [link]

NextStep Orlando [link]

Orlando Health Foundation [link]

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida [link]

FYI: Appetite for the Arches is on hiatus! RMHCCF needs your help even more!

COMMUNITY

Art & History Museums – Maitland [link]

Camp Boggy Creek [link]

Center for Independent Living of Central Florida [link]

Children’s Home Society of Central Florida [link]

Christian Service Center for Central Florida’s Love Pantry [link]

Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida [link]

Community Hope Center (Osceola Co.) [link]

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida [link]

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Central Florida Chapter [link]

Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida [link]

Dress For Success Greater Orlando [link]

Foundation for Foster Children (Orange Co., Osceola Co., Seminole Co.) [link]

Forward Paths Foundation (Lake Co.) [link]

Habitat For Humanity of Greater Orlando [link]

Hands On Orlando [link]

 

Harbor House of Central Florida [link]

Hope CommUnity Center [link]

 

iDignity (Orange Co., Osceola Co., Seminole Co., Volusia Co.) [link]

Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando [link]

Lake Cares Food Pantry [link]

Orlando City Foundation [link]

Orlando Magic Youth Foundation [link]

Orlando Solar Bears in the Community [link]

Orlando Sentinel Family Fund [link]

Quest, Inc. [link]

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida [link]

Seniors First, Inc (Meals on Wheels Orange Co.) [link]

United Against Poverty [Orlando] [Indian River Co.] [St. Lucie Co.]

On November 22nd UAP Orlando launched their #ThisIsOrlando campaign. Every day for 40 days Executive Director Eric Gray will share through social media what it means to struggle while living in poverty. (Happy Belated Birthday, Eric!)

United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida [link]

USO Central Florida [link]


PETS/NATURE

Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge [link]

Leash, Inc. [link]

 

 

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando [link]

Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary [link]

SNiP-it of Central Florida [link]

 


PULSE ORLANDO VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS

GLBT Center of Central Florida [link]

Equality Florida [link]

onePULSE Foundation [link]

Pulse of Orlando [link]

YouCaring #SupportOrlando [link]


(Contributions go to National Compassion Fund via National Center for Victims of Crime)

Zebra Coalition [link]


USA & INTERNATIONAL

American Cancer Society [link]

Nation of Makers [link]

No Kid Hungry [link]

 

Sunshine Foundation [link]

The Trevor Project [link]

 

ONECampaign [link]
https://twitter.com/ONECampaign/status/803237404718960640
(RED) [link]
https://twitter.com/RED/status/803590891193663488

CHARITABLE APPS

Budge (in Beta) [iOS]
CharityBox [iOS] [Android]
Charity Miles [iOS] [Android]
Charity Navigator [iOS] [Android]
CharityTap [iOS]
DailyKARMA [iOS] [Android]
Donate A Photo [iOS] [Android]
DoGood [iOS]
DreamRun [iOS]
Feedie [iOS] [Android]
Fotition [iOS]
Forward [iOS] [Android]
Get Water! For India [iOS]
Givelify [iOS] [Android]
GoodGuide [iOS] [Android]
Instead [iOS]
Legacy [iOS]
MicroHero [iOS]
My Life as a Refugee [iOS] [Android]
Orange County FL Serves [iOS] [Android]
One Today [iOS] [Android]
Recycle Bank [iOS] [Android]
ShareTheMeal [iOS] [Android]
Stand4 [iOS] [Android]
TangoTab [iOS] [Android]
Viewers to Volunteers [iOS] [Android]
VolunteerMatch [iOS]
WE Day [iOS] [Android]

A guide to Central Florida Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday

Here’s to the small and smaller ones. The odd ones. The unexpected ones.

Listed below are a few Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals you may have missed – or didn’t even realize were out there. Take advantage of them! Shop local, shop small, and get some truly amazing deals for you and the family…

#ProTip from our friends at Better Business Bureau of Central Florida: Stay safe and informed this holiday season! Protect yourself offline and online.

(Did we miss a good deal? Let us know about it in the comments!)

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Get 25% off of shows using promo code HOLIDAYS25!

Website

Orlando Ballet

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Purchase tickets for The Nutcracker, Masterworks or Cinderella this weekend and enjoy 25% off on select seats! Promo code: CYBER.

Purchase tickets here: https://www.drphillipscenter.org/shows-and-events/Shows-Events/dance/201278-orlando-ballet-the-nutcracker.stml

Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Small Business Saturday: receive a buy one, get one $10 off discount on tickets for The Great Gatsby and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Only valid for regularly priced performances. Patrons must buy at least one ticket to each production to receive discount. Offer valid only on Saturday, November 26. Promo code: LOVEGATSBY.

Cyber Monday: $35 Stocking Stuffer certificate ($50 value) which can be redeemed for tickets to any remaining production in Orlando Shakes’ 28th Season. Certificates will be mailed out within 5 business days and may not be redeemed on date of purchase. Certificate expires on April 30, 2017. Offer valid only on Monday, November 28. Not valid for previously purchased tickets. Limit 6 per person.

Orlando Shakes also offers $50 Gift Admissions that can be redeemed for one ticket to a Signature Series production. Gift Admissions cannot be redeemed for cash and never expire.

Website: orlandoshakes.org

Mad Cow Theatre

Black Friday: All seats for ‘It Was A Very Good Yule’ are $15.00. Use the promo code YULE15 when purchasing online or calling the box office at (407) 297-8788, ext 1.

Website: madcowtheatre.com

DRIP Orlando

Black Friday: 50% off gift certificates!

Purchase herehttp://ilovedrip.com/drip-tickets


Orlando City Soccer Club and Orlando Pride

PURPLE Friday: 50% off of City and Pride merchandise at Camping World Stadium. Free parking!

11am – 7pm on Friday: Season Ticket Members only.

11am – 7pm on Saturday & Sunday: Open to the public.

(Looking for more MLS gear? Save 20% on orders over $50 on mlssoccer.com using promo code: MLSBF!)

Orlando Solar Bears

Black Friday: Ticket BOGO! Use promo code: BLACKFRIDAY. Starting on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) fans will be able to purchase Buy One, Get One tickets for the following Solar Bears home games:

  • Saturday, Nov. 26 vs. Brampton Beast – 7 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 28 vs. Brampton Beast – 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 2 vs. Florida Everblades – 7 p.m.

Purchase tickets herehttp://orlandosolarbearshockey.com/blackfriday/

Orlando Magic

Black Friday: In store deal – 40% off entire purchase between 10am – 1pm. $10 Hardwood Classic t-shirt. Spend $20, get 25% off. Spend $75, get 30% off. Spend $100, get 35% off. Use promo code: PUREMAGIC.

2 Tickets, 2 Games – $20! Choose from:

  • Friday, Nov. 25 vs. Washington Wizards – 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 27 vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 10 vs. Denver Nuggets – 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 16 vs. Brooklyn Nets – 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Toronto Raptors – 7 p.m.

Purchase herehttp://www.nba.com/magic/blackfriday


Boardwalk Bown & Aloma Bowl

Black Friday: Boardwalk Bowl: Guests can enjoy two games of bowling and shoe rental, a $10 game card and a round of play at the brand new Zombie Boardwalk attraction for only $13.99 Mondaythrough Thursday and $16.99 Friday through SundayAloma Bowl: Guests can save with two games of bowling and shoe rental and a $10 game card for only $12.99 Monday through Thursday and $14.99 Friday through Sunday.

Orlando Science Center

Cyber Monday: Orlando Science Center is offering 15% off of Gift Memberships ON MONDAY ONLY, 12am to midnight! Give a gift stuffed with VALUE this holiday season and don’t miss the deepest discount of the year! It offers all of the same benfefits of a regular Membership with full access to exhibits, free parking and many other perks! This Cyber Monday deal is more than the discount current members receive when they renew, so take advantage of this limited time offer to SAVE ON SCIENCE!

Purchase memberships here: www.osc.org/cybermonday

The District at Mills 50

Small Business Saturday Market and Bazaar: Hosted by The District At Mills 50Vita Luna Cafe & Mills 50 District. Get all your holiday shopping done in one day! Vintage/Handmade/Unique/Reto/Upcycled/Antiques, Food Trucks (La Empanada & Dixieland Diner), Pop-Up Shops, Drinks, and more!

Make sure to say hi to Biggie and Deli Fresh Threads while you’re there! He’s debuting the new BLT shirt, and he’ll have FREE Cuban Sandwiches from Black Bean Deli (while supplies last)!

Event infohttps://www.facebook.com/events/174122179660439/

Lake Nona

Small Business Saturday: Shop small this holiday season! Support local vendors, artisans and craftsmen at the Lake Nona Holiday Market. Lake Nona Town Center, 6900 Tavistock Lakes Boulevard | Orlando, FL 32827, 8:00am – 4:00pm.

Food Trucks: Little Blue Donut Co. & The Local Chef LLC

Vendors include:
Chloe+Isabel by Jenny Lynn
Lularoe Katie Wu
Ruthie’s Market (Ruth + Olly)
Younique by Chelsea
Magical Moments Vacations – Kristina Herndon
Jewels by La’Zarr
Aries Designs
Smart Racks – Edwin Rivera
Nona Image
Nona Brew Crew
Global Ocean Center
Ancient Language Inc.
Gina Alexander Made with Love by Fab Divas
Melissa Divine Rodriguez-Orlando/Lake Nona FL, Independent Scentsy Director
Badspade
All Four Paws Design
YogaKid Orlando
Plexus by Jeni
The Fold Agency
Celebration Lane
Jody’s let me Pamper you with POSH
Caroline Randall Made
Young Living by Amanda Brindamour
Jennifer’s Usbourne Books
The O’dea Collection
Felt Too Fun
Bonjour Nona
Nerium International by Danielle
Bob’s Hobby Center
Simply Maurita
Raw Threads Orlando
Gourmet Coquito
Lemongrass Spa by SandyA
Matilda Jane Clothing
Southwestern and Native American Pottery
Indulgences
My Nona’s Garden
Stampin’ Up! with Linda

Seminole Towne Center

Black Friday: The first 250 shoppers to visit Seminole Towne Center’s Guest Service Booth on Black Friday will receive a free Black Friday Fanatic bag filled with goodies (while supplies last). Also, complimentary coffee and refreshments will be provided at the seating area behind the Guest Service Booth. Extended hours (6 a.m. – 10 p.m.) will continue throughout the holiday shopping season.

More info: For a complete list of holiday hours, retailers and special events, call (407) 323-1843 or visit www.seminoletownecenter.com. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/SeminoleTowneCenter and follow us on Twitter @SeminoleTC and on Instagram @seminoletc

Light Up UCF

Black Friday: Come out to ice skate before 5pm for only $5. After 5pm, skating is only $10, or you can purchase a $17 Ultimate Pass all day long! Share on social using #LightUpUCF!

Purchase tickets herehttp://www.ticketmaster.com/event/2200514BA825804F?camefrom=EMCL_1373998_52737713

Gods and Monsters (Artegon Marketplace)

Black Friday: Join us at Gods & Monsters for 20% off storewide and 20% off at the bar 11am-12am. PLUS, roll our big D20 at checkout, and if you roll a 20, you get an extra 20% off the highest priced item in your purchases! (Sale excludes consignment items)

More infofacebook.com/godmonsters/

A Comic Shop

Black Friday (and technically Saturday): Everything in the shop is Buy 2, Get 1 FREE! The 1st 25 people through the door get a FREE Paper Girls #1 1st print comic! The 1st 50 people get a FREE Power Rangers Pink #1, Faith #1, and either Grizzly Shark or SSB based on age. The 1st 100 people get a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1!

Everyone who purchases using our buy 2, get 1 FREE sale gets another FREE new comic! Spend $50 and you get a FREE Walking Dead or Marvel Minimates 2 pack! Hundreds of graphic novels are marked 50% off and thousands of new comics are marked $1 or $2! The Geek Easy will open at noon with beer and movies, and at 8pm Nerdy Karaoke starts!

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/248129892271159/

Park Ave CDs

Black Friday: Extended hours, 9am – 11pm! Special vinyl and CD releases (plus a few extras!) are made exclusively for RSDBF; if it is a US RECORD STORE DAY BLACK FRIDAY BRANDED RELEASE, WE WILL BE STOCKING IT (please keep in mind, quantities will vary greatly)!! For complete descriptions, track listings, notes and pressing info, please visit the official Record Store Day site by clicking here!

20% OFF ALL CD/LP BOX SETS! ALL $3/5/7 USED LPS BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE! Give the gift of music this year by shopping at and supporting your local independent record store!

Small Business Saturday: The first 100 customers who make a purchase on Saturday, November 26th, will receive a FREE CD GRAB BAG ($5 value)! Each grab bag contains 10 random CDs, the perfect conversation-starter for the long holiday weekend with extended family!

Not familiar with our popular assortment of grab bags?  We also stock LP (10 LPs for $7), 7″ vinyl (14 7″s for $7), DVD (5 DVDs for $7), Toy (5 blind-box toys for $10), Greeting Card (6 cards for $5), and Sticker (10 stickers for $5) grab bags, perfect for stocking stuffers and gifting!

Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival 2017

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Receive 25% off all merchandise when using promo code: OKEE25!

Shop nowhttp://okeechobeefest.shop.redstarmerch.com


Attractions, Parks, and more…

Fun Spot America

Celebrate your #BestYearEver with a 2 park Fun Spot America annual pass for only $74.50 with NO blackout dates! This includes; admission to both parks (Kissimmee & Orlando), all day riding privileges on the Go-Kart tracks, roller coasters, thrill rides, and Kid Spot rides, admission to Gator Spot (Orlando), member perks, and free parking! [Kissimmee’s Bull Ride, SkyCoaster and Arcade are not included]

Single Day and Combo Ticket specials are available online for $40.95 and $55.95, respectively.

Purchase tickets here: http://fun-spot.com/affordable-theme-park/

Gatorland

Our friends at Gatorland have a great Black Friday deal on annual passes! $29.99 for adults ($45.99) and $21.99 for kids ($31.99). (Screaming Gator Zip Line is an additional cost.) You can purchase this deal online or at the park, but wait for it…

They will also have a Cyber Monday deal which includes the Screaming Gator Zip Line for $29.99. (Normally $69.99)

Purchase tickets here: http://www.gatorland.com/public/annual-passes.cfm

Crayola Experience (Florida Mall)

Black Friday 50% off and BOGO specials on merchandise, coloring kits, and more! [Link]

Buy a kid’s Annual Pass and get a Big Kid Annual Pass (55+) FREE now through December 31. Also, get $5 off admission when you bring a food donation in for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida thru November 30.

Get 4 annual passes for only $99, December 1 – 31!

Purchase passes herehttps://tickets.visitcrayolaorlando.com/webstore/shop/viewitems.aspx?CG=TKTS&C=ADM&_ga=1.142916661.1878678142.1480052456

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Black Friday: Make a reservation to visit before December 29, 2016 and receive a discounted Atlantis Crew Package. Atlantis Crew Package valid Nov 25 through Dec 29, 2016. Available only by calling 877.634.0720 November 25, 2016 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm EST. Must be redeemed by December 29, 2016. Call for more details.

A sliding scale discount off daily admission is based on the number of tickets with a minimum purchase of 2 tickets. [Ex: Two tickets: 10% discount, three tickets = 15% discount, four tickets = 20% discount]. $10 discount on each additional ticket for more than four.

LEGOLAND Orlando

Legoland’s version of Black Friday is, appropriately, Brick Friday! Buy a day pass in December for $71 and get a pass to use in January through April – FOR FREE! Current Annual Passholders can save 30% off a stay at LEGOLAND Hotel (Jan 1 – April 6, 2017) & Beach Retreat (June 1 – Sept 3, 2017)! Non-passholders can save 20% on room-and-ticket package stays.

The Awesomer Annual Pass is reduced to $99 plus tax ($50 savings), which is a GREAT deal for families. This annual pass will LEGOLAND Orlando as well as unlimited admission to the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Aquarium and Atlanta’s Legoland Discovery Center!

More info: Sign up on the website to qualify: http://www.legoland.com/brickfriday.


Rosen Hotels & Resorts

Black Friday & Cyber MondayRosen Inn closest to UniversalRosen Inn InternationalRosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista are serving up the lowest rates of the year, starting at $49.99 plus tax, per night, when booked on Black Friday, Nov. 25, or Cyber Monday, Nov. 28, only for travel through Dec. 23, 2017 (based on availability). The Bed and Breakfast package includes breakfast buffet for two adults daily, complimentary Wi-Fi in guestrooms and public areas and shuttle transport to area theme parks. Shuttle transport is based on availability and must be reserved in advance.

To book: Call 877-224-5377 or visit http://orlandohotels4less.com/blkfricymon/.

AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek is offering one of its lowest rates of the year in a special $199 two-night package for two when booked Black Friday through midnight Cyber Monday. Guests can book one night in one of the award-winning hotel’s recently enhanced, plush guestrooms at $199 plus tax and receive one night free for the consecutive night Dec. 9-24, 2016 (based on availability). The package includes a breakfast buffet for two each morning at Café Osceola, complimentary self-parking, complimentary Wi-Fi, 25% off treatments at The Spa at Shingle Creek (excluding packages and couple’s treatments) and 25% off green fees at Shingle Creek Golf Club, the newly-redesigned course by Arnold Palmer Design Company. Individual complimentary transportation to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Orlando Premium Outlets is offered, based on availability, reservations required. Additional nights can be booked at the best available rate, but are not subject to exclusive package offers.
To book: Call 407-996-9939 or visit rosenshinglecreek.com.
Save 10% off best available rates at Rosen Plaza and Rosen Centre overnight stays from Dec. 19-25, 2016 (based on availability) when booked from Nov. 25 through Nov. 28, or take advantage of a special two-night package at Rosen Shingle Creek. Rosen Plaza features stylish, contemporary guestrooms, discounted self-parking, 25% off Smoooth Java and BOGO buffet dining in Café Matisse. Rosen Centre guests enjoy luxurious accommodations, complimentary self-parking and two I-Ride Trolley tickets, as well as 10% off the breakfast buffet at Café Gauguin and The Spa at Rosen Centre.
To book: Call 407-996-9700 or visit rosenplaza.com, or call 407-996-9840 or visit rosencentre.com.

Visit Orlando is offering free shipping and 5% off of already discounted tickets to area theme parks, hotels, water parks, dinner shows, tours, and sporting events, and their list is LONG. Use promo code: GIFT. 

More info: http://www.visitorlando.com/blog/index.cfm/2016/11/16/Save-in-Orlando-with-Black-Friday-and-Cyber-Monday-Deals/

Sea World Parks: Blue Friday Sales! Fans MUST register online to receive SeaWorld Orlando’s e-mail updates or already be subscribed. To do so, fans can visit SeaWorldOrlando.com/BlueFriday.

More infohttps://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-orlando/promotions/blue-friday/FL-res

Universal Orlando: Various Florida Resident specials!

More infohttps://www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Park-Tickets/Florida-Resident-Tickets/Hotel-Offers.aspx

Disney Springs: Over 40 deals at retailers within Disney Springs!

More infohttps://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2016/11/disney-springs-two-day-black-friday-event-starts-friday/

Happy Thanksgiving from Central Florida Top 5! Why are you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We are thankful to you, dear reader, for your continued support! This year has been a tough one for each of us at Central Florida Top 5, for a multitude of reasons. It goes without saying that 2016 has been very tough for our friends and neighbors in Orlando. However, we still have much for which to be thankful in (cheerful) spite of it all.

I asked our Top 5 Team, regardless of how they felt about the holiday itself, why they were thankful and for what. I also asked the team to share a Local/Holiday #ProTip, or a unique way that we in Central Florida spend the holidays; fun things that maybe those outside of Central Florida may not have heard of or have the opportunity to do in their areas.

Here’s what they wanted to share with all of you;

 

Jen Lee BioAuthor and Top 5 Lake County Contributor, Jennifer Lee:

This year I am thankful for my health. I had my thyroid removed, I’m cancer-free, and doing well on medication, thanks to the online pharmacyhttps://www.ukmeds.co.uk/ which provides me with it. I’m also thankful to LEASH, Inc for the work they do to save pets in Lake County and for bringing our three new cats into our lives.

We’re not doing it this year, but a very Central Florida way to spend Thanksgiving is to enjoy the buffet at the Swan and Dolphin, then walk it off around Disney’s Boardwalk.

Holiday #ProTip: Take part in Small Business Saturday in Downtown Mount Dora! Lots of great shops, including an indie bookstore. Get a jump start on your Christmas shopping, then stay for Light Up Mount Dora!

 

 

Joe Thoma

 

CEO of Awareness Campaign and Top 5 Charitable/Arts Contributor, Joe Thoma:

I am most thankful for friends, family and colleagues.
* My true friendships in 2016 have transcended the strife and tumult of mere world, national and local problems, issues and politics.
* Family is more of a blessing each year. Partly because we all appreciate the precious gift of time with each other. (And partly because we’ve all gotten too old to start or maintain feuds!)
* Colleagues: I have connected with great new team members all over the world. My longtime teammates have strengthened our working ties and built on our combined strengths to do good work, have good fun and make good money.

Florida is blessed with a lot of casual attitudes. So Thanksgiving in Central Florida offers the opportunity to cherry pick the best traditions and dump the tedious parts. We’re such a diverse lot — Don’t like turkey? Do like many Italian families Up North and have lasagna, bracciole and even some pizza. Or go Puerto Rican with Pavochon, Mofongo stuffing and Arroz con Gandules. Or, like me, go out for a steak. If tragedy strikes, you can be sure to count on an experienced Nightclub Shooting Attorney in Clearwater

Holiday #ProTip: Great time to enjoy some lightly attended days at the theme parks before the Christmas rush. Google “disney world crowd calendar 2016” without the quotation marks.

 

Top 5 Contributors Carolyn Capern and Greg Trujillo (CT Social)

Top 5 Contributors Carolyn Capern and Greg Trujillo of CT Social

Digital storyteller at , Top 5 Web Team & Contributor, Carolyn Capern:

This Thanksgiving 2016, I am thankful for a healthy year and a year spent largely on projects that felt like they mattered. I’m thankful for the city leaders that are still working hard on issues like homelessness and making Orlando more green.

Spending Thanksgiving in Central Florida is the ideal time to get outside for a walk. Find a trail or a park or just head to a walkable downtown area like Lake Eola.

Holiday #ProTip: Don’t miss the Festival of Trees at Orlando Museum of Art! And after your Thanksgiving feasting, get in the festive mood by checking out the Orlando Philharmonic’s ‘Home For The Holidays’ concert this Saturday.

 

 

David B 1

 

Pro MLS Supporter and Top 5 Orlando City Soccer Club Contributor, David Blair:

Thanksgiving weekend is a good time for the family. I am thankful for my family. My beautiful wife and healthy little girl.

 

Local & Holiday #ProTip: If you have never been to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House in DeLeon Springs, go! They’re open Monday – Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm, and Saturday, Sunday, & Holidays from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Check out their website at: http://www.oldspanishsugarmill.com/.

 

 

 

Kari KleinCo-Host of Nerd Flix & Chill podcast and Top 5 Foodie Contributor, Kari Klein:

This year I’m thankful for friends who are more like family and a newfound ability to un-apologetically say ‘no’ as well as ‘yes’ – (see below)

I am celebrating Thanksgiving this year by getting a tattoo – no it’s not themed to the holiday and the date wasn’t planned, but when it’s a difficult place to get into and there’s an opening, you take it….or at least I did. It’s what the pilgrims would have wanted.  

Holiday #ProTip – Be patient and allow for extra time if traveling. Don’t let a few minutes of frustration (or more if you’re on I-4) ruin your whole day.

 

 

Allen Paschel

Central Florida Top 5’s Business and Tech Writer, Allen Paschel:

I am most thankful for scientists, engineers, and dreamers that brought us new technology in 2016.

A great, different way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Central Florida is to enjoy many of the great local restaurants that will be open for travelers visiting the area. If you haven’t bought your turkey or you’ve chickened out. Use Open Table to book a reservation!

Holiday #ProTip: his will be the first weekend with 300 DRONES flying over Disney Springs for an amazing light show called “Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration.” They’ll have nightly shows from now until January 8 at 7pm and 8:30pm. Check them out!

 

John DiDonnaCreator/Director of Phantasmagoria Orlando and Top 5 Arts Contributor, John DiDonna:

“Thankful for a community that can come together in times of fear and duress, thankful for families to support and love. Thankful that through personal and community tragedies that people are people – capable of so much love in the face of so much of the opposite.

Thankful for our community leaders like Buddy Dyer and Patty Sheehan who show us what commitment is – not just to budgets and planning – but to the hearts of all in Central Florida.”

 

 

 

Chris Collins

Filmmaker and Top 5 Guest Contributor, Christopher Collins:

“I am thankful to be alive. A year ago, I was in a car accident that could have ended my life. Obviously I survived, but the injury to my left foot & the trauma of the accident is something that has affected me even to this day, perhaps for the rest of my life, so I have to get the best Car accident lawyers to get compensation for that.
I have also the best Court Reporters from Naegeli Nationwide.
nationwide court reporters provide the most experienced and reliable court reporting in the country. We allowed NAEGELI to free you to focus on what you do best: Litigate your case.

With the help of my family & friends, I was able to recover from that accident, and this Thanksgiving I am grateful that I am still able to spend time with the ones I love.

 

 

 

Kelly Sharkey

Owner of SeaWorldMommy.com and Top 5 Contributor, Kelly Green:

I’m thankful for today. I’m not promised anything more than that. This year has been rough… for our community, for my family in some ways… and I’m reminded how brief this life is. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be kind to strangers, to forgive wrongs, and to press on to new beginnings.

Life #ProTip: Even if you aren’t thrilled with how you’re looking this holiday season, get in pictures with your friends and family! This is the only holiday season 2016 you’ll have. Remember it. Capture it. Relive it through photos. You’ll be glad you have those moments captured.

 

 

Jay DLSCinematographer and Top 5 Pop Culture Contributor Jay De Los Santos:

This year I’m just thankful to have a steady job! Florida’s entertainment incentive is next to non-existent right now, and finding film and tv work has been challenging not to mention next to impossible. My hope is that this will all turn around in the next few years so I can work in my field. In the meantime, I plan on joining Film Florida in 2017 so I can be part of this change.

Holiday #ProTip: Can’t wait for Amazon Prime to deliver? Shop Local Pop Culture! Hit up (not so) hidden gem Gods and Monsters at Orlando’s Anti Mall, Artegon Marketplace for unique and hard to find t-shirts, figures, comics, art, and more!”

 

Rich Bio

Co-Host of Over A Beer podcast and Top 5 Contributor, Rich Belsan:

I’m of course thankful for my family, friends, and amazing girlfriend. I’m also thankful for the continued growth and support of Over a Beer.

For a #ProTip? If you’re looking for some good beer for the holiday there are great breweries in town like Hourglass Brewing.

 

Host/Producer of FilmSlam at Enzian and Top 5 Managing Editor, Jen Vargas:

For the past two years, my reason for being thankful hasn’t changed. I am most thankful for my mom’s oncologist, Dr. Kalpesh Barot and his team at Southwest Cancer Center. They are the reason my mom is still around for another Thanksgiving, and words cannot pay enough tribute to Dr. Barot and his team for all they’ve done for her. Thank you, Dr. Barot!

Holiday #ProTip: If the elections come up at the dinner table, make sure to have Adele queued up.

A unique way to spend Thanksgiving in Central Florida? There are so many! We don’t have snow but if you’d like to see it, catch Now Snowing in the Town of Celebration from now through December 31st! Or catch ICE! at Gaylord Palms featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas! I’m a lifelong Snoopy fan and cannot gush enough about this year’s Peanuts theme. Bring gloves, a hat, and a scarf though – it’s only 9 degrees in there!

 

Brian might bring his Blogger Award from Give Kids The World!

Brian and his Blogger Extraordinaire Award from Give Kids The World!

And finally, Top 5 Owner (who we all miss!) and Contributor, Brian Wilson:

This year I am most thankful for my health, my parents, my brothers, and their families. So happy I get to be close to them right now.

A unique thing to do Central Florida I’d suggest making time to get to a national park or trail or something historic or special to you and yours.

My holiday #ProTip is to make time to do something with a friend or family member this season, or make something, whether it is a card, a letter, or go to a local arts event vs buying a gift – so something vs buying something – I love candles but a coffee date with a friend can be priceless.

 

THANK YOU, TOP 5 READERS!

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dining

You were busy. There were theme parks to visit. The stores were just “too” crowded. And you didn’t “really” want to cook. What’s a procrastinating food-loving Central-Floridian (or visitor away from the kitchen) to do? Here are some delicious restaurant options that will ensure a full belly (even if you have an empty ’fridge).

The Alfond Inn

Brunch is served at The Alfond Inn. A Chef-inspired Thanksgiving Buffet in their beautiful Conservatory and Park Avenue Ballroom awaits, but only at the noon seating (3p is sold out). Some of my favorites will be served including Hamilton’s Duet of Beet’s salad, Maple-Bacon Brussel Sprouts, and Shrimp and Grits. Of course you can expect all the traditional courses, but who wouldn’t want a few extras to fill up the plate(s)! Leave room for dessert because there will be pies aplenty and a gelato station. Fantastico!
Adults: $69+ Children 4-12 $25+ and reservations (required) can be made by calling 407.998.8090 or through this link.

American Kitchen at B Resort

It’ll be hard to decide which option to pick at American Kitchen: Herb Roasted Organic Turkey or Smoked Grass-Fed Sirloin, but guests can flip a coin for a choice that will be tasty either way. To accompany the main will be Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary Gravy, Sage Stuffing, Candied Yams, Brown Butter Haricot Verts and Parker House Rolls plus a chef-created seasonal dessert. Served from 5 p to close, at $26 per adult and $10 per child (both subject to service charge and tax), this dinner is affordable yet impressive. Don’t forget to get your parking validated.

Rosen Shingle Creek

If you wanted to join the bountiful buffet at Cafe Osceola, it’s sadly too all booked up at this stage in the game. You’ve still got options for dining at A Land Remembered or Cala Bella: two of my personal favorites. Click here for more info. As of this writing they had reservations available in both restaurants from around 6p to as late as 9:45.

Westgate River Ranch and Rodeo

Ham, turkey, prime rib and more await at Westgate River Ranch for Thanksgiving. The buffet starts at 5 and there are limited spots available. Call 863-692-1321 x 40017 today (Thanksgiving eve) if you’d like in on the ranch-style feast. There’s no charge for parking and dinner’s just $34.95 for adults, $14.95 for children ages 5-12 and complimentary for kids 4 and younger. If you’re reading this on Thanksgiving day, call the main resort line for availability.

Swan and Dolphin Hotels

Bluezoo offers an a la carte menu in addition to a heritage turkey roulade;  Garden Grove offers a buffet with soups, a carving station with Apple Cider Glazed Smoked Ham and Roasted Turkey, plus an impressive hot station including Sweet Potato Gratin au Dauphinoise; Il Mulina offers Heritage Turkey Roulade, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry, Chestnuts, Porcini Mushrooms, Frisee.  For all the deets, visit their website.

While hardly an exhaustive list, this gets you started if you haven’t… well… started!

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Central Florida Top 5. We’re thankful for you.