Category Archives: News & Events

REVIEW: Ghostbusters (2016)

Deepest apologies to all the haters, but this year’s reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise wasn’t the catastrophe that they all professed it to be. It was not a catastrophe at all. This new Ghostbuster movie was wildly entertaining and maintained the spirit of the original while still carving out its own place in the franchise.

The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.

Here are a few things I enjoyed about this movie. [Spoiler free, of course];

1) The humor, pacing, and even the subtlety of some of the jokes definitely fall in line with the style of the original Ghostbusters. Some of the laughs were so solid that the laughter from the audience drowned out the succeeding jokes. Anytime your laughs overlap each other; you can call that joke a win.

2) The characters are all extremely likable. The dynamics between them work well considering they aren’t even a team at the beginning. There’s some evolution before they become any sort of team.

3) Cameos, cameos everywhere. Keep your eyes peeled because everybody (and I mean everybody) gets one. You’ll find them in some unexpected places. A question many have asked themselves – how do these characters connect to their 1984 counterparts? You’ll have to watch the film to find out. It’s a fun kind of video scavenger hunt.

Director Paul Feig and DP Robert Yeoman on the set of Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

Director Paul Feig and DP Robert Yeoman on the set of Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.

4) Callbacks are plentiful. They aren’t afraid to remind the audience that there are roots shared between this movie and 1984’s Ghostbusters. Some reboots are a little ham-fisted with their callbacks, while this rendition of Ghostbusters balances honoring the source material while not particularly pandering to the existing fanbase.

5) There are no Mary Sues in this movie. In the quest for writing a screenplay with strong female leads, or in this case, an ensemble of strong female leads; writers can sometimes make the characters infallible, untouchable, and in many cases too good to be true. While on paper it may seem to work, the end result is often detrimental to the characters. As they are many times portrayed as immortal superwomen who can handle any situation they’re thrown into.

Ghostbuster's Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

Ghostbuster’s Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.

In the case of this iteration of Ghostbusters, I actually was concerned for the safety of the characters. Several parts had me guessing as to whether we were going to lose a member of the team. That, in itself, is the antithesis of a Mary Sue. I’m very glad they found their balance.







This is merely a handful of elements that I enjoyed about Ghostbusters. Overall, I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s smart, clever, and very funny. All the elements that made the original film a darling amongst many of us 80s babies – it’s definitely worth watching.

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#OrlandoUnited: Five images of hope from the aftermath of hell

The Pulse nightclub slaughter has given Orlando the hellish distinction of being the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Early morning at the club on Sunday, June 12, [shooter’s name omitted] killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 people in a gory shooting rampage.

While the city — and the world — grapples with shell-shocked grief, mourning and bewilderment, many people from widely diverse backgrounds are calmly coming together to comfort one another, clean up the mess, and perhaps forge a stronger community for the long term. (Photos by Top 5’s Joe Thoma)


Thousands gathered Monday night in downtown Orlando to grieve together and console one another.


Former State Rep. Linda Stewart with Tim Vargas, executive director of the LGBT Center, Orlando, on Monday.


Counseling volunteer the Rev. Frank Faine with Lt. James Young of the Orlando Police Department, and Galen Hentzell of The Center.


Impromptu vigil at Lake Eola just hours after the shooting.


The Florida-Georgia District of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, invited the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs to work through Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando. Trinity has a ministry of outreach to the LGBT community that surrounds their congregation.



Historic #CopaAmerica Centenario matches play this week in Orlando #Copa100

We’ve been counting down since last year, and the months of anticipation are finally over. Copa America Centenario is finally here! This weekend, the tournament will kick off for the first time in history right here in the United States. This is hands down the biggest international soccer event in the United States since the 1994 World Cup!

Copa America 2016 stats

In the words of Central Florida’s own John Arie Jr. (the Fun Spot America guy), IT’S HUUUUUGE! The City Beautiful will host three matches during the group stage of the tournament. Here’s how the matches will play out:

Copa America Groupings

The Copa America Centenario will run from June 3rd thru June 26th, with the final being played at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. The tournament will consist of four, 4 team groups, with the top 2 teams advancing to the knock out stage of the tournament. The groups are as follows:

Group A – United States, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay

Group B – Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Peru

Group C – Jamaica, Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay

Group D – Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Panama


Copa America Trophy

The Copa America trophy has toured all over the United States in 2016! It was here in Orlando in March during Orlando City Soccer’s opening game!

Copa America matches played in Orlando

Copa America tease

Saturday June 4th, Costa Rica vs Paraguay 

This will be the opening match here in Orlando.  These countries do not have a deep history against each other. In fact, they have only played eight times since 1965.  The only time the two countries faced off in Copa America was back in 2004, where Paraguay defeated Costa Rica 1-0. With the United States playing against Colombia in the opening match on June 3rd, the result of this match could play a huge role in the final group standings. The United States, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Paraguay make up Group A in this tournament.

Monday June 6th, Panama vs Bolivia 

The second match in Orlando will put Panama against Bolivia.  Since 1970, these two countries have also only played each other eight times, and Bolivia holds the advantage with 4 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw. This will be their first meeting in Copa America.

Wednesday June 8th, Brazil v Haiti 

Since 1974, these two countries have only played each other twice, both matches won by Brazil. This will be the first time Brazil and Haiti will face off in Copa America.  There was talk of Orlando City’s Kaká playing for Brazil this year in Copa America but, as of the writing of this post, he is out with a muscle injury. However, Orlando City fans may recognize the name Mechack Jerome from their inaugural season back in 2011.  He has been called up to play for Haiti, and should get the start against Brazil.

Speaking of an injury, catastrophic injuries arise in different forms. Personal injury law covers many different situations and provides the opportunity for an injured person to sue another person at fault for those injuries. If you have been in an accident and need reprensentation, please find an Everett Personal Injury Lawyer.

Lawyers must not only be capable legal technicians but also have business fluency, process and project management expertise, an understanding of the role technology plays in legal services delivery and be ready to solve clients’ complex problems by collaborating with other professionals like Acocella Law Group in an innovative way.

Orlando City is on break until June 18th but fear not, there will be plenty of soccer to keep you entertained here in The City Beautiful; from Copa America to the Orlando Pride, we are the Soccer Capital of the South!

ProTip(s): The I-4 Ultimate project’s lane and ramp closures will be suspended on June 4, 6 and 8 from Kirkman Road (State Road 435) to Colonial Drive (State Road 50). Closure restrictions are due to anticipated crowds traveling to hotels in the attractions area and to Downtown Orlando. Download the Florida Department of Transportation’s FL511 app before you go, or sign up for route specific updates via texts HERE. Also great news, SunRail WILL BE RUNNING on game nights!

Copa America events in Orlando

Copa America Fan HQ

Register for Copa America’s FanHQ Presented by Sprint events here: 

Friday, June 3: 7-11pm, Wall St. Plaza (Downtown Orlando)

Sunday, June 5: 2-6pm, Wall St. Plaza (Downtown Orlando)

Tuesday, June 7: 6-10pm, Wall St. Plaza (Downtown Orlando)

Florida Mall Celebrates Copa America! 


Where: The Florida Mall – Macy’s Court, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32809 (Directions)

When: Saturday, June 4, 12-3pm

What: Free family friendly activities, live entertainment, giveaways, interactive games, a photo booth, activations and promotions in Florida Mall participating stores (Macy’s, United World of Soccer, Microsoft, M&M World)

Miller’s Ale House Orlando

Watch all 32 matches on Ale House’s huge flat screen televisions and enjoy all day drink specials!

Copa America Ale House

Church Street Bars

Copa Americana Church Street Bars

Florida Hospital’s Gourmet Soiree with Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine on June 5

Have you ever watched shows like Top Chef, Master Chef, Iron Chef and any other food contests with chef in the title and thought “I could do that”, maybe following a recipe, like one of these 8 Delicious Pressure Cooker Recipes You Haven’t Tried Before. Well this weekend at the Florida Hospital Gourmet Soiree, you can!

On June 5th at Rosen Shingle Creek, Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine will host over 70 of Central Florida’s top chefs as they compete for the coveted Gourmet Soiree Silver Fork Award.  Your ticket to the event qualifies you as their sous chef!

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Your table of 10 and assigned Chef will conceptualize a healthy dish from a pantry of ingredients provided by Whole Foods. A presentation plate will then be judged by four celebrity guest judges prior to being judged on taste by Robert Irvine himself.

I had an opportunity to participate in a sneak preview event that gave me a small taste, an amuse bouche, if you will, of the big night.13221615_10154067972262707_4698264850060514429_n

To sum it up, the experience was thrilling, exciting, educational, harder than it looks on tv, and so much more delicious too.

My small group was assigned to Chef Jose Gonzalez from Cuba Libre at Pointe Orlando and we were to prepare a dish using tofu. Chef wasted no time in delegating assignments. He gave us an overall plan and it was up to us to fetch the ingredients, prepare, cook and assemble.  What followed was the shortest 45 mins of my life and a retraction of my tofu dislike. We also handed out food to those in need and helped them fill out a food stamps application.

Our team created a BBQ tofu dish with an accompanying salad that won over the judges and secured our win against the other team’s chicken risotto.

When you attend the Florida Hospital Gourmet Soiree, not only will you have a good time, but you’ll be doing good as well.  The event will support Florida Hospital for Children’s vital Health and Wellness Initiatives – Community programs like Mission: fit Possible in our Central Florida Schools, CREATION U in surrounding churches, Dr. Angela Fals’ weight management program and the patient focused CREATION Kids Kamp — all teach children good eating habits and healthy life choices in fun, kid friendly ways.

For more information including tickets and pricing, visit

ProTip: To get a sneak peek at the wonderful live and silent auction items, and register ahead of time, go to and download the Qtego app!

NFL Pro Bowl comes to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium in 2017!

The National Football League made a very important announcement this week in a press conference at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World – Pro Bowl and Pro Bowl Week are both coming to Orlando and will be hosted here for the next three years beginning January 29, 2017! Visit Ticket4Football for more!

The NFL’s Pro Bowl game is an annual all star game that dates back to 1939, where pro all-star players from the 1939 season played in Los Angeles. World War II forced the game to be discontinued until 1950 where teams from both league conferences (winning teams and non) played. The Pro Bowl was played for a long time in Los Angeles, California until it moved to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii in 1980 where it was played every year until 2009.

Next year’s host city was rumored to be Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but instead will be played here in Orlando at Camping World Stadium on January 29th, 2017. Florida has hosted only one Pro Bowl game which was played at Sun Life Stadium in Miami in 2009. Now it’s back and in Orlando! People are going crazy and already getting tents from Survival Cooking to camp outside of the stadium.

We are thrilled to bring, not only the Pro Bowl Game here, but also to create a weeklong Pro Bowl experience for fans from across the country and around the world right here in Orlando,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Events. “We can only do that with incredible partners, all of whom are represented here today; Florida Citrus Sports, Orange County, City of Orlando, Disney, ESPN, Visit Orlando, and Visit Florida, a great set of partners who have all made this come to fruition,” he said.

Edgewater Eagles Pro Bowl

Central Florida’s own Edgewater Eagles scrimmage with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Mickey Mouse at ESPN Wide World of Sports! [Image credit: Melinda Sparks]

Going from Hawaii to Orlando is a bit of a change, right? We thought so too. Why Orlando? O’Reilly responds, “We had a lot of very interested cities and markets, both domestically and around the world, who were interested in hosting the Pro Bowl but when it came down to it, there’s no more natural home for the Pro Bowl in a time where we want to bring together youth and families in a unique way and celebrate our 88 biggest stars than coming to the City of Orlando, and coming to Orlando, Florida.”

Here are my Top 5 reasons why Pro Bowl in Orlando is VERY COOL thing!

  1. Fans will get the chance to meet their favorite NFL players up close and personal during the Pro Bowl week before the game
  2. Fans can also participate in the NFL FAN EXPERIENCE where you can pass, receive, and kick in various NFL fan based games.
  3. Orlando can demonstrate to the NFL, and the world, that we deserve and would support a local NFL franchise.
  4. Orlando could now become host to USA Football’s Regional Development Camps and provide a great opportunity for young athletes to hone their craft.
  5. The Pro Bowl would provide an economic boost to the surrounding Orlando communities.

Pro Bowl fans can sign up for exclusive presale and pregame info in the next link! NFL tickets will go on sale to the general public this November.

25 by 10: The 2016 Florida Film Festival Wrap-Up

If there is one thing that I would like you know about me, it is this; I am a writer. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a “blogger” or a “journalist“. It simply means that I consider myself to be a storyteller. My job is to create worlds for my characters to inhabit, and then place these characters in unique and interesting situations.

So when you are asked, as I was, to discuss my time during the Florida Film Festival, I was presented with a very unique challenge: how do I tell a story that has already been told 24 times before? How do my “characters” react to situations that are out of my control? How do I, a real person, tell a story that is always changing with every passing year?
Most writers…heck, most people I know…would love to presented with such a challenge.

I accepted that challenge.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always compared the Florida Film Festival to a giant maze, with me as the mouse trying to get to the cheese. To accomplish this, I have worn many hats throughout the years; a volunteer. A bystander. A distant observer. However, at no point was I able to fully motivate myself to obtain said “cheese”. There were many reasons for this, but in the end, it all came down to two things; time and money. That all changed this year. I was finally able to purchase the most coveted of items; a Producer Pass. With this pass, I was able to get in to every event there was, including certain events that were invite-only.

First things first; make peace with the fact that you are not going to see every single film in the entire festival. Even if you attend every single press screening, there is absolutely no way that you could possibly see the 180+ film lineup over 10 days. Not only is it impossible, but if you’re not careful, your body may not be able to take the strain.

My advice? First, get a hotel near the theater and plan on staying there the entire time. Your body will thank you. Second, don’t hesitate to take a break. Third, don’t’ forget to eat. You’re going to use up a lot of energy going back and forth from the Enzian & Winter Park Village, so be sure to plan ahead for snacking.

Most of my time throughout the festival was spent hopping from film to film, or from film to event I attended the Producer Pass Holder exclusive Programmer’s Luncheon in March. Matthew Curtis, the Programming Director, went over the entire program long before it was announced to the public. The festival had not even started, and I was already way ahead of the curve.

There was also another luncheon hosted by Programming Coordinator Tim Anderson, so if you weren’t able to attend the one with Matthew Curtis, you could still get an idea of what to expect from this year’s selection of films. A number of pre-festival press screenings were made available to the higher level pass holders, so I was able to knock out whatever films Enzian happened to screen on that day.

The press screenings, as it turned out, were arguably one of the best parts of the festival. This is because you have a healthy mix of press members and regular people who wanted to see movies. The films were always shown on time, which was something that did not happen during the festival. Some of my favorite moments were just relaxing at the Eden Bar and chatting about the films we just watched. I will not attempt to review every film I saw, but I will highlight certain films that are worth your time, as well as those that are NOT worth your time. However, the question remains; is paying for the most expensive pass available for a 10-day film festival really worth it? This is a question that I intended to answer for myself.


DAY 1: “Let’s Dance”

  The Opening Night Film was a movie called The Lobster. Henry Maldonado, President of Enzian Theater, was on hand to introduce the film, as well as declare that the festival had officially begun. Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs was also in attendance. She made a proclamation that April 8, 2016 was to be “Florida Film Festival Day”.

The Lobster

The Lobster

  The Lobster (the Opening Night Film of the festival) is one half of a great film, and one half of an OK film. The premise alone is so compelling, that you will remained engaged with the movie throughout its entire runtime. However, once you start to think about the film and discuss it with others, the movie falls apart like wet tissue paper.

The party that took place immediately after was awesome, with tasty treats being served all night, and a live band playing inside the theater. The party ended with the patrons of Eden Bar dancing to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”, and it was absolutely hilarious.

DAY 2: “Under Pressure”

  The Festival Block Party, which took place at Winter Park Village, was essentially a toned down version of the previous night’s festivities. The shorts showing on this day were very strong, both those that were screened before feature-length films, and the multiple shorts programs spread out throughout the festival.

King Georges FFF

King Georges is a documentary about a French chef so abrasive, he would make Gordon Ramsay blush. Hunky Dory is a film that I enjoyed quite a bit, but I wish more people saw. I cannot speak to the film’s 2nd screening, but the one I attended had so few people in attendance, that I wondered if it was due to the film’s story (about a bisexual drag queen taking care of his young son). Of the two main shorts programs screening that day, I thought that Shorts #2 provided the much stronger crop of shorts, with Black Swell & Other People’s People being the standouts.
Speaking of shorts, the Midnight Shorts were playing that night. The Midnight Shorts have always been a favorite among festival goers, and this year was no exception. The great thing about the Producer Pass is that if you arrive early enough (usually around 30 minutes or so), you’re guaranteed a seat inside the heater, even if tickets for that film are sold out. So if you going to the Midnight Shorts and they’re sold out, all you have to do is get there early, show the volunteer your badge, and find your seat. No fuss, no muss.

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Q&A post German Shorts. #FFF2016 #CentralFLTop5

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After a brief introduction by Tim Anderson, a huge advocate for the Midnight Shorts, we were treated to some of the most vile, disgusting, and downright insane short films that I’ve seen in a long time. This is not something that I can accurately describe to you; you literally had to see it in order to believe it.

                        DAY 3: “Rebel Rebel”

This was the first of two Sunday Brunches that took place during the festival. The food was amazing; pancakes, eggs, fresh fruit, and a whole lot more were being served. I’ve never eaten so well in all of my life. I wish I ate like this all the time. It was on this day that I hit a snag in regards to my Producer status.

I attended the “An Evening with Mark Duplass”, featuring a screening of The Puffy Chair and Q&A. Everything with off without a hitch: I arrived early, got a really good seat, and enjoyed my time there. I wanted to attend the meet and greet that was to take place after the festival, but I was denied entry. My producer pass was not enough to attend the meet and greet. My name wasn’t on a list, and I am certain that there was a list.

It turns out that in order to attend the meet and greet, you had to purchase a “backstage pass”, something that I was not aware of until of course it was too late. The backstage pass ticket was something that was not available when tickets were initially available. The fact that a pass holder like myself would have to pay $150 on top of the $1,500 that I paid for Producer status is absurd. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it did make fir a bittersweet end to the day.

             DAY 4: “Never Let Me Down”

 This was the first of two days in which the festival activities started later than usual. Considering that there are so many films programmed into the festival, it seemed strange that no films were shown during the day. The first film did not screen until 4:15pm, which was awkward given how early the programs from the past two days had started.

I only saw three films that day, one of which was a block of German short films affectionately titled “Let’s Deutsche”, named after the late David Bowie’s song “Let’s Dance”. Of the 6 that were screened, only 3 of them managed to catch my attention: 90 Degrees North, Dissonance & Pitter Patter Goes My Heart. I had a huge issue with the subtitles for Hausbesuche (Visiting), as the film suffered from extremely poor subtitles, complete with misspelled words & poor grammar.

Man VS Snake FFF

 Man vs. Snake was a film that I had viewed during the press screening, but I had decided to watch a 2nd time, if for no other reason than to see how it played in front of a larger crowd. It played very well, and as long as you don’t go into the film expecting The King of Kong 2, you will have a great time.

                    DAY 5: “China Girl”

Another late start. By the fifth day people were starting to recognize me. I had moved back and forth between the Enzian & Regal Winter Park, so I was easily recognized by most of the volunteers & staff. I have it admit it was a great feeling. There were even people who had bought the Film Lover pass that allowed me to get in front of them. Those were some genuinely amusing moments. I have volunteered in the past for the Florida Film Festival, so I know what these individuals have to go through just to make sure that things run smoothly over the course of 10 days.

Unfortunately, due to the short day, I only saw 2 films; Louder Than Bombs, & Newman. Other than Pickle, the short documentary that preceded Newman, I was not impressed by any of them, even in the slightest. Newman has a fascinating subject at its core, but it suffers from way too much secondhand information from people who may or have not known things that either the filmmakers couldn’t get access to, or were unable to get certain people to talk. The final 10 minutes are worth checking out, but it is a bit of a slog to get there. Louder Than Bombs has some excellent performances, but the 21 Grams out-of-order type of storytelling keeps you from fully engaging on an emotional level. A disappointing day all around.

                    DAY 6: “Life on Mars?”

After the excellent “Perseverance: Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves” panel ended, it was time to check out the documentary Left On Purpose. Without spoiling anything, I believe that you should see this film knowing as little about it as possible, as the film presents a major moral dilemma/conflict of interest that I feel is best experienced untainted by other people’s opinions.

Every short in the Animated Shorts was excellent, some of which were on par with the quality of the live-action shorts.

I finished the evening with Slash, the new film from director Clay Liford. Despite the unconventional nature of the story of the film being told in a very conventional way, Slash ended up being one of my favorite films of the festival.

             DAY 7: ”We Could Be Heroes”

We were in for a treat for today’s festivities; not only were Billy Mitchell & Walter Day, who were featured the “King of Kong”, going to be in attendance for the ‘Man vs. Snake’ documentary’s 2nd screening, but the NIBBLER* arcade game (one of only 2 available in the state of Florida) would be available to play at the festival. I missed the Q&A with Billy & Walter in order to watch the mature-rated Shorts #4 program, which I regret. None of the shorts were particularly memorable in my mind, and only one of the shorts (Bad At Dancing) contained some form of nudity.

I enjoyed my time at the Filmmaker Party, although I found it hilarious that I kept getting mistaken for a film producer. I was confused as to why it took place in Longwood (which was a 15 minute drive from the Enzian), and not somewhere in the Winter Park/Maitland area. Why was there no shuttle? It was clear that some filmmakers were missing the party in order to do Q&A’s, so I feel that some adjustments need to be made in the future so that filmmakers will be able to do both.

Later that night, I attended the Secret Screening. It was for a film called The Greasy Strangler, which had its world premiere at South by Southwest. It was interesting to note that most of the crowd was made up of Full Sail students. My first thought was; is this some type of twisted homework assignment?

Having said that, I wish I could say that I enjoyed The Greasy Strangler, but I can’t. The gross out humor in this fim is so unnecesarily pervasive that it wears out it welcome LONG before the credits roll. If you are interested at all in checking out this film, I would suggest getting a large group of friends together and riff on it MST3K-style. Otherwise, do not waste your time.

*And now, a moment of silence for all those quarters that were sacrificed to the NIBBLER machine…

DAY 8: “Starman”

  I was impressed with the selection of documentary films this year. From Man vs. Snake & Newman, to Presenting Princess Shaw, there were certainly a very diverse group of individuals being profiled. The standout for me was without a doubt the ‘fictumentary’ The Other Kids. Directed by Chris Brown, the documentary is framed more like a narrative; there are no talking head interviews, no narration over certain scenes, or the like. This matter-of-fact approach to storytelling is, while not a new approach by any means, still made for very compelling cinema.
I was able to, for the first time ever, attend an annual event known as the “Founder’s Dinner”. This dinner is not advertised in the program, except for a little blurb that I saw when I purchased the pass. The only way to get an invite is if you buy a Producer pass. I mingled with guests that I never thought I would mingle with, while enjoying the catered dinner from Black Bean Deli.

About an hour into our time there, Sissy Spacek arrived. She shook hands and introduced herself. I went to shake her hand, but was denied by one of her handlers. While I can’t say that I shook Sissy Spacek’s hand, I can say that I ALMOST shook her hand.

I made my way back to the theater, but by that time the “An Evening With…” had already begun. I made a tough decision to not attend the evening with, and instead I made a brief appearance at the Copper Rocket Pub for the Industry Party. As much as I would’ve liked to have hung out for longer than I did, my true intention was to just kill time until the next film screening; a documentary called Danny Says. I would come to find out that the Sissy Spacek Q&A was cut short, although there are many rumors as to why.

  In Search of the Ultra-Sex (AKA What’s Up, Tiger Lily? as directed by Tinto Brass) was the final film I saw that night. The film was preceded by a gleeful introduction by Tim Anderson, who told a amusing story about the printing of the photo that is featured with the description of the film, apparently they used the Spiral Bound Booklet Printing services from

I remember 6 people walked over the course of the screening. I wonder to this day what those 6 people were expecting from a movie made up of over 2,000 clips from French porn movies. I mean, what did you think you were going to see? Or you might want to have a therapy because of porn addiction, go to

                    DAY 9: “Space Oddity”

Wrestling Alligators made its world premier. James Billie, the subject off the film, received a standing ovation. I had to cut down on the number of films so that I could be at the Awards Bash on time.

Wrestling Alligators FFF

One hour and a truckload of pasta later, the Awards Show had begun. I loved the energy of the hostess. As for the awards themselves, I only had an issue with one film in particular, but I was glad that the filmmaker was recognized for their hard work. Like with most awards shows in general, sometimes a film that is the most popular with audiences doesn’t always win, but you’re happy that the filmmakers were recognized for all of their hard work.

Chris Brown breaking down in tears when he won the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature is a sobering reminder of the time and effort that filmmakers like him put into their projects, and an award provides recognition of that hard work. The awards ceremony needs a few more awards so that more filmmakers like Chris can be rewarded. Lo & Behold, High Rise, & Belladonna of Sadness are all films that I’d consider to be polarizing, but I still would reccomend that you check them out.

                       DAY 10: “Blackstar”

This was the last day of the festival, and boy, was it a bittersweet one. I got up bright and early to take full advantage of the second Sunday Brunch. This time, I took seconds, thirds, and fourths! It’s safe to say that I ate like a pig that day, which is ironic given all the bacon and sausage that was being served. After I finished eating, I headed over to Regal Winter Park, where I stayed for the rest of the day.

I managed to check out Tickled, a film that I heard buzz about even before the festival had started. Tickled was a film that…is both what I expected and not what I expected, and that is all I will say about it. The final film I watched was the Raiders! documentary. A group of young kids spent most of their childhood filming a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark with hilarious results. Except for one harrowing incident involving explosives, the film had a wonderfully upbeat tone, and was a great way to end what was a very stressful week and a half.

So the question remains; is the Producer pass worth surgically removing $1,500 from your wallet? I would have to say yes, I’d highly recommend the Producer pass.

If you’re not going to any of the parties/special events and just wanted to check out the films, then I’d recommend the Film Lover badge. The main issue that I have with buying a pass (aside from a VERY disappointing “swag bag”) is that there’s no added value of being a pass holder other than during the festival. $1500 dollars is a lot to ask someone up front, especially when you don’t know what the movies are. There should be some sort of incentive for paying such an extravagant amount.

For instance, if you purchase the VIP pass for the upcoming 2016 MegaCon Convention, you’ll have first crack at buying VIP passes for the 2017 MegaCon. It may not sound like much, but what the organizers of the event are banking on is the fact that if you’re willing to pay $400 for VIP access this year, then it stands to reason that you’ll want to pay for it next year as well.

There was also a VIP pass, but this was not available for purchase. I only met one person who had this pass, but how did they obtain it? There weren’t any VIP’s standing in line to see movies, so was this only for special events? There should be a little more transparency involved when it comes to things of this nature.

One suggestion I have for this particular issue is to offer a discount for next year’s festival. As it stands now, if you purchase the Producer Pass, $500 of that $1,500 goes to Enzian as a tax-deductible donation, whereas discounts for passes are only offered to those who purchase either the ‘Film Lover’ or the ‘Ten Day’ passes.

While is a good thing that Enzian is receiving a donation from you, outside from all of the perks it offers in the short term, you’re still paying $1,500 for what is essentially a $1,000 pass. With a $500 donation, why not offer those who purchase a Producer pass a membership to the Enzian Film Society? The benefits that come with being a Film Society Member last all year round, which would be an enticing offer for someone willing to spend that kind of money.

Now, remember at the beginning of this article when I compared the Florida Film Festival to a giant maze, and that I was the rat? Well, after so much time watching movies and spending so much with old friends (as well as making new ones) dissecting them, all in the service of attending a film festival, I came to this realization; that it’s NOT like a rat in a maze. I’m NOT the mouse trying to get the cheese. I’m an adrenaline junkie. A user whose drug of choice happens to be film. I get a contact high from chatting with other movie lovers, filmmakers, critics. For someone like myself, The Florida Film Festival is the mountain of cocaine that Al Pacino buries head in during the movie Scarface. When it’s over, you really miss that. Those ten days, more than any other time of the year, really drive home the motto of the Enzian; Film. Food. Friends.
I’d like to take this opportunity to break the 4th wall, a lá Deadpool; I don’t know how to end the article. You see…one of the hardest things about being a writer is coming up with a satisfying ending. Originally, I was going to end it with the whole “…Film. Food. Friends.” tag, but it just seemed so…expected.

My story is still being told, and it will be told again at the 2017 Florida Film Festival. How do I, the main character of this tale, leave my audience with a sense of satisfaction for joining me on this journey? The answer: I’ll just take a page out of the Deadpool playbook, and end the article referencing the final scene of a John Hughes film;

Dear Florida Film Festival,

I accept the fact that I had to sacrifice ten days of my life in Maitland for whatever movies that I wanted to watch. But I think you’re crazy to make me write an article telling you who I think you are. You see me as you want to see all of us: in the simplest terms and in the most convenient definitions…. But what we found out is that each one of us is a Producer. And a Film Lover. And a Filmmaker. An Aficionado. Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club Christopher Collins

Free Wings of Victory Documentary Viewing in Daytona Beach May 23

“Wings of Victory: Keeping Our Warbirds Flying”

On May 23, 2016 at at 6:30pm at the News Journal Center in Daytona Beach, there will be a showing of the new 58-minute documentary featuring American Aero Services and a number of WWII veterans from the area. This free screening is open to the public.

wings of victory video opening

Click image to open video promo of Wings of Victory

“Wings of Victory: Keeping Our Warbirds Flying” takes a look inside American Aero Services, a New Smyrna Beach company whose mission is restoring and maintaining these treasures of American history. It will also introduce viewers to some of the brave men who flew these aircraft in battle. U.S. aircraft and their brave crews were pivotal in helping the allies win victory in World War II. Of the tens of thousands of military aircraft produced during the war, only a handful of “warbirds” remain flying today.

Viewers will get to experience the restoration of a TP-51 Mustang and ride along with the Collings Foundation crew in the iconic “Nine-O-Nine” B-17 and the B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft,” as they take to the skies at the start of their 2015 nationwide tour.

To view some of their work, click here. (Thanks to Orlando blogger Florida Warbirds.)



LEGOLAND Florida Resort Awesomer Annual Pass is Buy One Get One Free Today for Cinco de Mayo

Are you a fan of LEGOLAND® Florida Resort? What about The Orlando Eye? Then today is your lucky day! As a Cinco de Mayo special (today only and while supplies last), you can purchase a 12-month Awesomer Annual pass for the attractions listed below AND you’ll get free parking, discounts in the parks, discounts on LEGOLAND resorts, and more.

What do you get with the $149 Awesomer pass?

  • Unlimited Admission to LEGOLAND® Florida
  • Unlimited Admission to LEGOLAND Water Park
  • Unlimited Admission to The Orlando Eye
  • Unlimited Admission to Madame Tussauds Orlando
  • Unlimited Admission to SEA LIFE Aquarium Orlando
  • Unlimited Admission to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta
  • Collectors Edition Welcome Kit
  • Free Parking
  • 10% off Dining, Retail, LEGOLAND Hotel Stays, VIP Experiences and Premium Play Bands
  • Bonus Brick Time (9:30 am park entry)
  • LEGOLAND e-newsletter (exclusive invitations, previews and more)
  • $15 off Guest Tickets to LEGOLAND Florida (up to 6)

To purchase, click here and enter code 6043.

The Orlando Eye is celebrating their one-year birthday this week. What a great way to celebrate than with an annual pass. Make it your first visit of many!

You Got No Show, Without The Producers!

Todd Zimmerman and Brandon Roberts. The cast is great!

Todd Zimmerman and Brandon Roberts. The cast is great!

Osceola Arts, 2411 E Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, FL 34744, presents The Producers, May 6 – 22, 2016.

In Mel Brooks’ Broadway hit, a down-on-his-luck producer and his mild-mannered accountant come up with a scheme to produce the most notorious flop in history by bilking their backers out of millions of dollars. One problem: the show is a smash hit! Featuring the gloriously
offensive “Springtime For Hitler,” this outrageous, laugh-a-minute comedy is a sure-fire winner.

Orlando funnymen Todd Zimmerman and Brandon Roberts star as Bialystock and Bloom. Featuring a stellar supporting cast including Michael Colavolpe as Roger De’Bris, Kevin Kriegel as Franz Liebkind, Moses Galarza as Carmen Ghia, and introducing Kalen Dennis as Ulla, The Producers once again sets the standard for modern, outrageous, in-your-face humor.

Directed by Adam Graham, with choreography by Michelle Alagna, the show runs at Osceola Arts Friday May 6th – Sunday May 22nd.

Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 PM. Sunday shows are at 2:00 PM with one Thursday show on May 12th, 2016 at 7:30 PM.

Tickets may be purchased online at, or at the box office an hour before show. Ticket prices range from $15 – $22.

For information contact 407-846-6257 or visit

2nd Annual Whiskey Festival — Drink It In

whiskey crowdYou know that song “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?” I couldn’t help but think perhaps it was penned for the wrong potion after attending the 2nd Annual Whiskey Festival, held April 16 at Audi South Orlando. Well over 100 whiskeys, scotch, and other potent potables were on “tap” for sipping enjoyment.

Serious whiskey drinkers snatched up the “Pappy Experience” tickets early on. These select few (only 25 tickets were sold) enjoyed a private tasting of the entire “Pappy Van Winkle” family (10 year, 12 year, 13 year rye, 15 year, 20 year and 23 year). For those NOT in the know (which before this event included me…), Pappy Van Winkle is a legendary brand. Even an empty bottle on Ebay goes for close to $200. (Say… Want the lineup? Click here with your eight THOUSAND to buy the collection.)

The Limited Release Experience offered five rare pours including 1. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon; 2. Jim Beam Distillers Masterpiece; 3. Michter’s 10 year Limited Release; 4. High West Yippee Ki-Yay (Debut release in Florida at 2016 Orlando Whiskey Festival); 5. Whistle Pig 15 year (Debut release in Florida at 2016 Orlando Whiskey Festival).


Glengoyne’s 10 year and 21 year have distinct colors based on age.

During the special release time, I enjoyed the rare treat of some exceptional pours including Glengoyne‘s 25 year. (Yes. I was drawn to the most expensive ones in their line. Shocker.) I learned that the Highlands distillery uses unpeated malt for this single malt scotch whisky, which is then aged in Sherry casks for 25 years. Smooth doesn’t even begin to describe the taste. The color (which is completely natural from the barrels, deepens the longer it matures.

WhistlePig brought their award-winning collection and I tried the 10 year, 100-proof, straight rye. At first the vanilla, honey and caramel notes lured me in, but the slightly smokey finish (that the more experienced palates found irresistible) was not my “cup of tea.” No wonder Whiskey Advocate called it a “very distinctive, and probably a polarizing whiskey.”

Speaking of “cup of tea,” I’m reminded of the saying “I’d rather be someone’s shot of whiskey, than everyone’s cup of tea.”

While not “the” most expensive, but certainly hard to order in local establishments, Hibiki Suntory Whisky was one of my favorite pours. Meaning “resonance” in Japanese, Hibiki was a pleasant surprise even though it’s not from Scotland or Ireland… or even Kentucky. By the way, there’s no “e” in whisky, when spelled in the European way, in case anyone’s proofing as they read. Hibiki was created with food pairings in mind, which is why it is so effortless to sip.

whiskey serverI was not expecting to run into rum at the event, but there it was in all its amber beauty. Grander Rum, a Panamanian creation, is aged at least 8 years in ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky. A fine sipping rum, Grander contains no additives and is perfectly suited for drinking “straight up” (though I’d be the last person to advise you against using quality in your rum-based cocktails.

Foods at the Orlando Whiskey Festival included a heavenly fried catfish taco from The Coop/4Rivers. Why this crispy, tasty little handheld bundle of deliciousness is not on the menu is beyond me (catering offering only, for now). Suffice it to say I’ll be chatting up John Rivers next chance I get and asking if he’ll add it. (Maybe I should bring a bottle of one of these fine whiskeys as a way to… influence him….) “THE” Whiskey, the Gourmet Burger Joint and bar on Sand Lake Road, served Asian Beef Tartare (seen below on the same night, different location, and benefiting another great cause!). I had two. Shhhh.

#CBBWildWest We’ve heard @WhiskeyOrlando has the best burger in town. How about their Asian Beef Tartare?

A photo posted by Central Florida Top 5 (@centralfltop5) on

Provisions and Buzz Co. served a moist and tender pork roast with a chutney-type apples while, outside Audi South Orlando, Hard Rock Orlando shared mini burgers and their outstanding mac and cheese (which won in both the Restaurant and People’s Choice categories at Give Kids The World’s OTown MacDown in 2014!).

There was also a cigar lounge with cigars from Swisher Sweets, craft beers including The Hourglass Brewery based in Longwood, rum tastings, live music, and more.

Suffice it to say there were still at least 85 bottles of… everything… on the wall when I left at a measly 8:30pm (and closing was at 10). Lightweights like me had to throw in the towel early. Next year I’m hoping to be more prepared. So I guess I have a few months to train.

Special thanks to Provisions Buzz & Co. for inviting Central Florida Top 5 to enjoy this tasty evening! Thanks, too, for your generosity to our community. All net proceeds from The Orlando Whiskey Festival benefited The Lovely Project Foundation.

The Lovely Project is a non profit organization, headquartered in Orlando, FL that exists to empower girls and women by infusing them with the knowledge of their value, voice and valor. You can visit them at or clicking the logo below.

The Lovely Project is a Non-Profit Organization, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, that exists to empower girls by providing them with tools, education and peer-mentorship for living a purposeful, productive life.

New Health Services in Lake Nona UCF College of Medicine

Lake Nona UCF College of Medicine to Offer Health Seminars, Support Groups, and Classes. UCF Health offers a variety of opportunities to improve your health. Even at home you can stay healthy or maintain your health with the help of in home care services kansas city mo. They offer the best and quality services and products like topical spray for nerve pain.

Image Credit: UCF College of Medicine


Wednesday, April 27, 2016 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Caring for your skin goes beyond wearing sunscreen. Learn what products deliver results and how you can ensure beautiful skin for years to come here: This talk is being led by Dr. David Weinstein, dermatologist at UCF Health. You can also check out dermatologist practicing in Miami, FL for more information.

Date: April 27, 2016
Time:  6-7 pm
Location: UCF Health Medical City office. 9975 Tavistock Lakes Blvd. Orlando, FL 32827
RSVP: or 407-882-4770

Thursday, April 28, 2016 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

 Inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases, including cancer. Learn how food can function as medicine to lower inflammation and help you live a healthy, pain-free life. This talk is being led by Christopher Smith, an Integrative Medicine specialist at UCF Health. To make sure that the smoke you’re inhaling is filtered when smoking you should visit percolators and try their products.

Date: April 28, 2016
Time:  6-7 pm
Location: UCF Health Medical City office. 9975 Tavistock Lakes Blvd. Orlando, FL 32827
RSVP: or 407-882-4770

Caring for the Caregiver – a 6-week series

New sessions starting  May 10 at UCF Health on University Blvd.

Serving as a caregiver for a loved one can be a rewarding experience. It also can be one of life’s most challenging experiences.

Research shows that when caregivers attend organized support groups run by trained professionals, they can double the amount of time a senior with dementia can stay at home, rather than be cared for through an outside and often more costly program. If your company don’t have health safety expert then send someone to WJB first aid training. Support groups also provide increased peace-of-mind to families trying to accommodate their loved one’s wishes.

Caring for the Caregiver sessions will address valuable coping skills needed to deal with conflicting demands, ways to understand and manage challenging behaviors, the importance of self-care and time away, future care considerations, and more. When you want an exceptional eye care for its customers, check eye glasses Dallas on for more information. And because caregiving can be isolating, support group members often find great comfort by sharing their experiences with others in similar situations. Please also checkout this related blog about the types of pheromones.

Checkout this link about Cialis health benefits and where to buy cialis online.

Upcoming 6-week sessions: 

TUESDAYS, 4:30PM – 6:00PM

May 10

May 17 (ADRC)

May 24

May 31

June 7

June 14

Location: UCF Health, East Orlando office. 3400 Quadrangle Blvd. Orlando, FL 32817

Contact Daniel Paulson at or see the Dept. of Psychology OLDeR Lab for more details.

Mindfulness Yoga

In today’s busy world, it is important to take time to just be. Meditation is a great way to bring balance to your life and reduce stress and anxiety. UCF Health is introducing a new Mindfulness Meditation class starting in the New Year. The class is led by a nationally-certified yoga instructor and includes some gentle movements. The class is taught at your comfort level- either on the floor or in a chair. Classes are an hour long and cost $10. No need to sign-up in advance- just show up! Check with your insurance company to see if it provides reimbursement for yoga or could find a new one that does with the Insurance Partnership service. Come experience the benefits that mediation can have on your health! For a list of dates and locations, see our events calendar.

Fridays at the Medical City office location at 11 a.m.- check the calendar on the home page to make sure class is meeting that week.

Location: UCF Health Lake Nona office: 9975 Tavistock Lakes Blvd. Orlando, FL 32827

Living Well with Chronic Pain Support Group- an 8-week series

New sessions starting frequently! Contact us to see when the next group starts. 

Are you living with RA? By taking a proactive role in your own treatment or with a home remedy, you can help maintain a good quality of life. Meet others who share your struggles and get support from a team of experts at UCF. The Living Well with Chronic Pain group is an 8-week session for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and is led by a multidisciplinary treatment team consisting of rheumatology, psychology, and physical therapy and a Joint Pain Hack. There is no cost to participate. Sessions will take place once per week. If interested in participating, please contact Natasha to sign up. We schedule based on participants’ availability. Contact us if interested!

*Must be a UCF Health patient

Location: UCF Health, East Orlando office. 3400 Quadrangle Blvd. Orlando, FL 32817

Contact: Natasha DePesa, 407-882-4840

Weight Management Group – a 9-week series 

Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. Is one way to combat drug addiction. If you are addicted or know someone who needs help, please visit this article about how to help someone suffering from substance abuse on first step bh. But sometimes that is easier said than done. Get help from our team of experts as they support and encourage you on your weight-loss journey. Whether you are already working toward your goal or just getting started, this group is for you! We meet weekly (currently on Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m.).

Many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs are designed to help you escape a compulsive cycle of alcohol or drug abuse that represents a loss of control over your substance use. To these ends, treatment programs teach you how to function in everyday life without using your substance of choice. There are several ways to fight drug addiction, visit this article and learn more!

If interested in participating, please call the UCF Health Behavioral Health team to sign-up. Please arrive 20 minutes early for your first visit to fill out necessary paperwork. Be prepared to weigh in.

*Must be a UCF Health patient

Date: Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. – if that does not work for you,still call us to see if an alternate date is in the works! On other promotions, checkout this articles about pheromones for women and checkout ecig reviews at kaceyJones.

Location: UCF Health, East Orlando office. 3400 Quadrangle Blvd. Orlando, FL 32817

Contact: UCF Health Behavioral Health, 407-882-4840

Discover DINOSAURS This Weekend at Osceola Heritage Park!

dtdlogoThere’s a prehistoric party happening April 23–24 at Osceola Heritage Park. This event of dinosaur-sized proportions is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Photo courtesy of

and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Discover the Dinosaurs is a unique, hands-on exhibit, consisting of moving and replica dinosaurs that you can actually touch!

For the walk-through exhibit, guests will be immersed in the period of time that best reflects when the dinosaurs lived. You’ll be engaged with sight, sound, and motion with special lighting, sound effects, animatronics, and fog. The backdrops, rocks, flooring, and plant materials are designed to bring you back in time to a landscape where dinosaurs lived.

Don’t be frightened when you come upon dinosaurs that move (and even ROAR) as you walk through jungle-like scenes with dinosaurs in their natural environment.

Included with with paid admission are: Triceratopos and T-Rex Rides (They’re not too scary, but a once in a lifetime opportunity, and a great photo op!), Inflatables (socks required), mini golf, dino dig, dino theater, dino den (socks required, dino coloring, scavenger hunt and dino maze (subject to availability). Add on attractions include face painting and gem and fossil panning.

Our Jurassic-themed cake by Gigi's.

Our Jurassic-themed cake by Gigi’s Cupcakes

Ticket Information

Tickets are $22 for adults (13 y/o and up); $26 for children (2–12); $19 for seniors (65+); Children under 2 are free. Click this link to buy tickets.

The Osceola Heritage Park is located at 1875 Silver Spur Lane, Kissimmee, FL 34744. (321) 697-3333.

Along the exhibit, see Deinonychus, Pachycephalosaurus (a favorite, since it’s mentioned in They Might Be Giants’ “I Am A Paleontologist”), Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Raptors, Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and Triceratops.

It’s no secret that my family is currently dino-obsessed (from the Jurassic-themed birthday party to the dinosaur eggs at Easter). Talking with other parents, I know we’re not alone. Join us at Discover the Dinosaurs for an event “millions of years” in the making!



Celebrate Florida Filmmakers at Florida Film Festival 2016

The Florida Film Festival has revealed this year’s program, which is chock full of parties, discussions and special guests! Tonight, Maitland’s own Academy Awards® qualifying film festival opens with its classic Opening Night Party featuring a film called The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell.

While we are excited to welcome actress Sissy Spacek and director Mark Duplass to Central Florida, we are even more excited to see Florida’s awesome filmmakers up on the big screen! Be sure to follow Top 5 contributors (and filmmakers!) Rich, Jay, Allen, Jen and first time guest contributor Christopher Collins for live updates from #FFF2016!

At Enzian Theater’s annual Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase, a mix of 13 schools (nine colleges & four high schools), 7 FilmSlam Winners, and many other independent entries (totaling 62 films!) were screened. Twelve films, made right here in Florida, were selected by a combination of jury and audience votes to screen as part of the Florida Sidebar in this year’s Florida Film Festival (April 8-17, 2016), sponsored by Full Sail University.

Below is the program for Florida Shorts: The Best of Brouhaha followed by three great Florida centric documentaries! If you see one of the filmmakers at this year’s fest, be sure to give them a high five! Festival tickets are available for purchase online or at the Enzian box office:

Written/Directed by Jake Hammond, Produced by Chloe Lind, Florida State University, 6 min 33 sec

A moody 10-year-old boy, stuck at his little sister’s birthday party, slips away for solitude and encounters a malevolent presence hiding within the ball pit of a sprawling indoor playground.

Directed by Sterling Sims, Full Sail University, 8 min 37 sec
(Meet Sterling Simms at the 4/16 screening!)

The story of the owner of Florida Discount Music, Mike Della Cioppa, who turned an ailing music shop into a cultural music hub that the community didn’t even know it needed.

Written/Directed/Produced by Richard Lee, University of Central Florida, 3 min 10 sec
(Meet Richard Lee at the 4/16 screening!)

A deep sea diver finds himself stranded in a forbidden domain at the bottom of the ocean.  In the face of danger, he must seek out parts to repair his submarine.

Written/Directed by Lydia Dullinger, Produced by Brandon Cox, Florida State University, 7 min 28 sec

Lily has a rare genetic trait that’s causing her to grow wings during puberty.  Surviving high school gets even more complicated when she meets Logan, a gay teenager determined to be her friend.

Co-written/Directed by Steve Jean-Jacques, Co-written by Jordan Loscalzo, Full Sail University, 9 min 58 sec
(Meet Steve Jean-Jacques at the 4/16 screening!)

A girl with a death wish meets her mother’s new boyfriend with some mixed results.

Written/Directed/Produced by Christina Chang & Charlie Parisi, Ringling College of Art and Design, 3 min 52 sec

A strict father-son relationship is put to the test on a piñata ranch when the boy befriends one of the livestock and the ultimate sacrifice is on the line.

Written/Directed by Yiyi Yin, Produced by Saad Nawab, Florida State University, 15 min 4 sec

Xiao is so relieved after his perfect girlfriend returns to him.  But when he realizes she’s still in love with another man, he resorts to revenge…and the love of a mannequin.

Written/Directed/Produced by Paige Callan, Lake Highland Preparatory School, 6 min 8 sec
(Meet Paige Callan at the 4/16 screening!)

On the last day of her senior year, Maddie does not want to leave high school with any regrets.  She is finally ready to profess her true love to the boy she has liked since Pre-K.  But is the feeling mutual?

A very strong program from our June 2015 #filmmakers! #filmslam

A photo posted by Enzian FilmSlam (@enzianfilmslam) on

CARTERPILLAR [June 2015 FilmSlam Audience Award Winner]
Co-written/Directed/Produced by Ariel Zengotita, Co-written by Alex Zengotita, 2 min 57 sec
(Meet Ariel Zengotita at the 4/16 screening!)

A misfit toy car stars in this heartwarming, stop-motion film about loneliness and the need to belong.

Written/Directed/Produced by Grace Marrero, Florida State University, 7 min 26 sec

When animals fall victim to human-related incidents, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary heals and releases them back into the wild to once again be free.

NONE OF THAT  (Brouhaha Audience Award Winner)
Written/Directed/Produced by Anna Hinds Paddock, Kriti Kaur & Isabela Littger, Ringling College of Art and Design, 4 min 11 sec

A night museum guard discovers he’s in for more than he bargained for when a mysterious entity begins to censor all of the nude artwork.

Written/Directed by Armaan Uplekar, Produced by Aubrey Danielson, Florida State University, 13 min 44 sec
(Meet Armaan Uplekar at the 4/16 screening!)

Rhett and Deacon, white teenagers growing up in the Deep South, have blood on their hands after committing a racially motivated murder.  In the hours afterward, Rhett struggles to reconcile his guilt with his racial beliefs, while drawn to the affections of a local waitress.

Also included in this year’s program are three Florida centric documentaries;

Sponsored by Orlando Film Commission
Directed by Cecilia Aldarondo, SOUTHEAST PREMIERE/2ND US SHOWING

Twenty-five years after Cecilia Aldarondo’s Uncle Miguel died of AIDS, she tracks down his long-lost lover in search of answers as to why Miguel repented his homosexuality as death drew near. Uncovering the truth requires Cecilia to confront her family members with tough questions in an attempt to peel back the layers of denial associated with her uncle’s sexuality. Confronting her own family’s, the Latino culture’s, and the Church’s issues with homosexuality, she gives voice to his struggle for both love and acceptance. The search for answers about her uncle’s deathbed repentance becomes a complicated exploration of unresolved family drama. Stylish and unflinching in its approach, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART explores both the personal story of Cecilia’s own family conflict, and the larger story of the AIDS crisis during the 1980s and 1990s—particularly the under-explored history of the many Latino artists who died during that time.

Directed by Eric Rockey
(Meet Eric Rockey at the 4/17 screening!)

Growing up in conservative rural Florida, a six-year-old, gender non-conforming boy named Jeffrey wants to be a princess for Halloween.

Sponsored by Orlando Film Commission and Tampa Hillsborough Film & Digital Media Commission
Directed by Andrew Shea, WORLD PREMIERE
(Meet Andrew Shea, James Eowan and Udi Epstein at the 4/16 screening!)

America’s last true frontier wasn’t the Golden West. It was the sawgrass seas of Florida’s Everglades, where a few thousand Native Americans fled 200 years ago and refused to die out. From that fierce, hardscrabble lineage comes the last of the great Indian chiefs, James Billie—a man born into this century but forged by the mythology of the past—a hunter, poet, soldier, and charismatic leader of 4,000 Florida Seminoles made wealthy beyond their wildest imaginings by Billie’s invention of (mostly) legalized gaming on reservations. With a deep personal charm that works almost magical results on everything from alligators to politicians, Billie is untouchable—until hubris, that bane of every hero beloved of the gods, threatens to bring him down and tumble the empire he built for the tribe he loves.

Florida Film Festival 2016 Farmers Market

Connect with the 2016 Florida Film Festival online:

Exploring what makes Sanford’s Love Your Shorts Film Festival a Top Festival

One of the worlds most inviting film festivals is located in Central Florida. The Love Your Shorts Film Festival (LYSFF) located in Sanford Florida just wrapped up their 6th annual film festival. LYSFF is a film festival dedicated to short film. Submissions from all over the world are reviewed and top notch films are screened at the Wayne Dench Performing Arts. Festival attendees vote on their favorite films for each film genre.
Comedy, drama, documentary, animation, Sci-Fi/ Horror, Florida Flavor (films made in Florida or by residents of Florida) and E for Everyone (family friendly films) genres are accepted and compete for awards and honors.

As described above, LYSFF is typical of many film festivals. However, what makes Sanford’s LYSFF special are the warm and welcoming people who run the festival, the local businesses and the people of Sanford who come out and support the festival.

The festival staff and volunteers led by the festival president Nancy Kruckemyer work tirelessly to put on a great festival. Festival director Nelson Beverly smoothly executes the festival while still being attainable and welcoming. While attending the festival I noted Beverly worked with his dedicated staff from opening to closing to bring an enjoyable festival. Festival staff and volunteers ended their long days each evening by accompanying filmmakers and attendees to after party events at local businesses.

LYSFF Sponsor speaking before the drama block

LYSFF Sponsor speaking before the drama block

Various businesses in central Florida helped to sponsor the festival. While each block of films were sponsored by local businesses from Sanford. The local community involvement is what makes the festival different in for attendees and filmmakers. VIP area for filmmakers and special guests of the festival are a nice perk for the growing festival. Filmmakers gathered and discussed their current and upcoming film projects in the VIP area.

The LYSFF is a rare gem where attendees can see ALL festival films when a weekend pass is purchased. Most film festivals schedule films simultaneously, which requires attendees to pick and ultimately miss other films. The $55 weekend pass is truly a bargain when compared to festivals like Sundance where a festival pass is $3000. The screening blocks allow attendees to take have lunch and dinner without missing films. A generous hour for lunch and 2 hours for dinner. This works well to visit local restaurants.

Filmmakers love the festival also. Its pretty evident that the strong community effort makes the festival a special place, but for filmmakers their festival badge is essentially a weekend celebrity identifier. Sanford businesses come together to make the filmmakers visit to the city and festival a great experience. Filmmaker Lukas Hassel and Dale Metz spoke graciously about the festival, Sanford and people who made the event special. “The Love Your Shorts Film Festival is a gem of a festival. The people who put on the festival are very generous and welcoming”, Hassel said.

If you haven’t attended LYSFF in the past, plan to attend next year in 2017. The festival usually occurs each year near valentines day. Which is quite appropriate, not only because LYSFF loves short films, but because everyone appears to love the festival.

Live music at LYSFF

Live music at LYSFF

2016 LYSFF voting via text message

2016 LYSFF voting via text message

2016 LYSFF filmmaker panel

2016 LYSFF filmmaker panel








2016 LYSFF Film Block Q&A

2016 LYSFF Film Block Q&A

2016 LYSFF Film Drama Block winner

2016 LYSFF Film Drama Block winner Director Mana Handel and actor Randolph Handel


Monster Jam Orlando Show!

by Kelly Green

Monster Jam will be in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl Stadium this Saturday as well as collision repair omaha ne, January 23 for Metro PCS, Budweiser, Circle K, & Your Southern Ford Dealers present MONSTER JAM® brought to you by BKT Tires! Fans can check out the trucks and meet the drivers all around Central Florida on Thursday, January 21 for photo ops and fun. You are going to find ford car show, 1934 Ford Phaeton will be one of them.

Processed with Moldiv

Monster Mutt Junkyard Dog, Brutus and Soldier Fortune. Don’t forget to go early to Party in the Pits at the Citrus Bowl Stadium!

Approximately 12 feet tall and about 12 feet wide, Monster Jam trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, Monster Jam trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Monster Jam trucks can fly up to 125 to 130 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) see here and up to 35 feet in the air.

Orlando will see War Wizard driven by Shane Phreed, Avenger driven by Jim Koehler, Brutus driven by Brad Allen, Black Stallion driven by Matt Cody, Grave Digger driven by Adam Anderson, El Toro Loco driven by Becky McDonough, Hooked driven by Bryan Wright, King Krunch driven by David Smith, Lucas Oil Crusader driven by Linsey Weenk, Monster Mutt Junkyard Dog driven by Dustin Brown, Monster Energy driven by Damon Bradshaw, Max-D driven by Tom Meents, Overkill Evolution driven by Mike Vaters II, Soldier Fortune driven by Chad Fortune, Stone Crusher driven by Steve Sims, Pirate’s Curse driven by Steven Sims Jr.

Advance purchase SuperValue Tickets are ONLY $15.  $125 Total Access Pass / $45 Platinum / $35 Gold Sideline / $25 Corners. Tickets are now on sale at All seats reserved. Subject to facility fee, plus convenience and handling charges. Don’t wait – buy tickets in advance as prices go up $5 more the week of show (Jan. 18-23). Get more show information at (click on “Tickets” and search for Orlando January 23). The Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium is located at 1610 W. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805.

Make time to Party in the Pits, a pre-event event where you can meet the drivers, watch cool moto tricks, get autographs, visit vendors and more. You can get a FREE pit pass at participating Southern Ford Dealers while supplies last. Pit passes are also available for $10 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl box office day of show, or in advance online at or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Same day event ticket along with pit pass required for entry.

For more information on the Monster Jam, log onto To follow Monster Jam on Facebook at Twitter, log on to and

Thursday, January 21, 2016 — Monster Trucks are on Display in Central Florida

Monster Energy®     12– 4p     Wal-Mart 3101 Princeton Ave. Orlando, FL 32808

Soldier Fortune®     3– 7p     Circle K – 700 S. Kirkman Rd. Orlando, FL 32825

Stone Crusher®     3– 7p     Gary Yeomans Ford & Lincoln—1420 N. Tomoka Farms Rd. Daytona Beach, FL 32124

Avenger®     3– 7p     Circle K—190 N. HWY 127 Clermont, FL 34711

Max-D®     3– 7p     MetroPCS—1453 Sand Lake Road Orlando, FL 32809

*Trucks listed above are subject to change.

Sound of Music at Dr. Phillips Center

In 1938, Nazi Germany annexes Austria, goose-stepping Europe that much closer to WWII. Austrian Alps maiden Maria Rainer – spiritual but not religious enough to join the local nunnery – hires out as a nanny to the overly regimented children of a prickly widower, Captain Georg von Trapp. She loosens them all up, teaches the family to sing, and marries the anti-Nazi kapitän. As the Wehrmacht roll into town, the family escapes over the Alps, ultimately to the America of freedom, justice and crowd-thrilling concert tours.

No spoiler alert necessary. Many of us grew up on The Sound of Music, both the 1960s stage version and the blockbuster 1965 Hollywood movie musical starring Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Cap’n Trapp.

And at the Dr. Phillips Center (Jan. 5 through Jan. 9), The Sound of Music continues to delight, especially with fresh direction by Tony winner Jack O’Brien (Hairspray, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Coast of Utopia).

High Points

Direction: O’Brien and his crew made some updates for the better. Scenery is minimalist yet grand; song choice moves the story along; cast makes all the right moves.

Cast: Kerstin Anderson (Maria) is perfect. Awkward, a little spazzy, unsure of everything but her music & love for The Kids. Voice is terrific but not overmuch. Much better than Julie Andrews in the movie, who is a little too poised & perfect to have been drummed out of the convent. Ashley Brown as the Mother Superior has an outstanding voice, and is refreshingly non-ironic as a stolid religious figure. The children are well cast.

Lobby Buzz: “I grew up learning the scale through Do-Re-Mi, but never knew where that came from.” – Old Guy. “I Know those songs!” – 20-Something Hipster. “I didn’t know it would end on such a dark note” – Hipster No. 2.


Air Conditioning — Have mercy on us old, fat & sweaty patrons and crank the temp down to sub-zero.

Love Letter To a Galaxy Far far Away…

Yesterday, a day unlike any other, we waited on baited breath for the fulfillment of an unspoken promise made in our hearts thirty two years ago. A promise burned into our collective souls the moment the iconic theme played versus an iris wipe, the Star Wars trilogy’s signature transition to its ending credits. Enter, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


There was a definite sense of finality to Return of the Jedi even for us younger viewers. The Empire was defeated, The Emperor was thrown into a conveniently placed bottomless shaft in his throne room, Darth Vader redeemed himself protecting Luke from The Emperor, all celebrated by dancing warrior bears known as Ewoks. All the signs were there.

This was the end and we had accepted that. That was until we heard the first rumblings in science fiction magazines such as Starlog and eventually Star Wars Insider.

Boba Fett Battle

Boba Fett in battle, an original image by Jay De Los Santos

The word was that the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, made mention of six more Star Wars movies. Three prequels explaining the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Followed by three sequels to the original trilogy.

It would take over a decade for George Lucas to deliver the prequel trilogy to us. For the duration of that lull we were treated to plethora of novels, comics, and video games shedding light on the Star Wars universe and telling stories beyond the original trilogy, although many people prefer to play and learn about other kind of games as Overwatch, that is really popular now a days, and you can read about at The Expanded Universe was created. Satisfying our hunger for more Star Wars until the prequel trilogy arrives.

Boba Fett Medium

Boba Fett by Jay De Los Santos

As promised the prequel trilogy arrived, unfortunately it was to mixed reviews. For some older fans, Episode One, Two, and Three were a tonal departure. For many of us, it felt as if it were made for different generation. So while many of us may have enjoyed the prequels; on some level a lot of us felt left out. They didn’t feel like our Star Wars.

The shoe dropped. After fan outrage and heavy criticism George Lucas announced that he will not be making episodes Seven, Eight, and Nine. He later cited fan outrage as the primary reason. With the mind behind Star Wars uninterested in pursuing more films, it seemed all hope was lost.

Fall 2012, the other shoe dropped. And we had no idea we were even waiting for it. Disney had purchased Star Wars from George Lucas and were intent upon producing a new Star Wars Trilogy. The prospect of new Star Wars movies was somewhat exciting but it hadn’t truly sank in yet. And it wouldn’t for a while.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Directors George Lucas (L) and J.J. Abrams attend the World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** J.J. Abrams;George Lucas

HOLLYWOOD, CA – DECEMBER 14: Directors George Lucas (L) and J.J. Abrams attend the World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** J.J. Abrams;George Lucas

With tons of announcements including a title (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), J.J. Abrams as the director, the original cast returning, and cast photos from the table read; for some of us including myself it hadn’t resonated yet.

The first trailer eventually dropped. It was very exciting. Great special effects, very cool shots of Stormtroopers on a transport. It had all the components of a Star Wars we hadn’t seen before. It looked beyond cool. But it didn’t hit me until the second trailer.

The moment I saw Han and Chewie on the Millennium Falcon set and heard Harrison Ford’s graveled voice deliver the line that would pull my heart into this new Star Wars “Chewie, we’re home.” The continuation of our Star Wars and the fulfillment of the promise that the Star Wars universe would continue onward. Forging ahead with new stories, characters, and hopefully shhow us things that we never imagined possible. A tall order indeed, but with a visionary director like J.J. Abrams at the helm; this reinvigorated Star Wars franchise is already off to an amazing start.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Fans attend the World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – DECEMBER 14: Fans attend the World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

May the Force be with you, always.


Copa America Centenario Comes to Orlando in June 2016

For the first time in it’s storied history, Copa America will be played outside of South America next summer. Copa America is coming to Orlando Citrus Bowl! The full schedule was just released – CLICK HERE!

Copa America is the oldest, most prestigious and widely viewed tournaments in the soccer world. Next year’s Copa America Centenario will feature six teams from CONCACAF and all 10 teams from CONMEBOL: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

We learned that Orlando will host three matches here at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on June 4th, 6th and 8th, 2016! Brazil will play on June 8th!

Lucky you, Orlando City, Orlando Pride and Orlando City B season passholders! You get first dibs on pre-sale passes in January! (Regular on sale opportunities to be announced.)

The announcement that Brazil will be an anchor team in Orlando could not be better news for our community,” said Central Florida Sports Commission President and CEO John Bisignano. “Brazilian tourists are a key demographic to our area, but it’s the country’s spirit and passion for the game of soccer that will make Copa matches at the Orlando Citrus Bowl that much more special.

With the tournament being played on North American soil for the first time in it’s history, we know already – it’s going to be an exciting summer! The 2016 Copa America Centenario will feature six teams from CONCACAF and all 10 teams from CONMEBOL: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Orlando can expect to possibly see some of the biggest stars in world soccer grace the pitch at the Citrus Bowl. Some of the big names could include the likes of Lionel Messi (ARG), Neymar (BRA), Luis Suarez (URG), James Rodriguez (COL), and Claudio Pizzaro (PER).

This will also be the first time since 2007 that the U.S. has participated in Copa America.  The U.S. has appeared in the tournament three times (’93, ’95, ’07), recording their best finish in Uruguay ’95, where they finished 4th.

Next year promises to be a very exciting year in Orlando for the soccer. Orlando City SC, will be kicking off their second season in Major League Soccer, and Orlando Pride will begin their inaugural campaign behind superstar, Alex Morgan.  With the announcement of Copa America Centenario, there is no doubt that Orlando is “The Soccer Capital of the South”.

June will be an historic month for world class soccer in Central Florida with the kickoff of Copa America and specifically, the Brazilian National Team here in the City Beautiful,” said City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We invite all soccer and sports fans, whose outpouring of support helped us secure these events, to join us at the Orlando Citrus Bowl for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We will be sure to keep you posted as more information is confirmed. I will also be tweeting information as it becomes available. Follow me @davidjxblair on Twitter.

#CopaAmerica #Centenario #SoccerCapitalOfTheSouth

Vamos Orlando!


Baby It’s Cold… In Orlando (Somewhat)

It’s the last week of fall and here in Central Florida we’re experiencing temperatures 10 degrees higher than average. What’s an Orlandoan to do when they’d like a taste of a Winter Wonderland? Here are my top five:

1) Ice Skating
I remember skating on a pond outside our house in Michigan as a child. It was a tiny little thing, and you couldn’t really get up enough speed to do even an arabesque, much less any kind of twirls. Luckily we have rinks here in Orlando like RDV Sportsplex that has public skating hours, and in Kissimmee there’s  The Ice Factory where they also have open skating AND you can skate with Santa this Friday night (December 18, 2015)! Light Up UCF has an outdoor (albeit warm) rink plus lots of other holiday activities including a film festival and light show. Other synthetic ice rinks include and I-Drive 360  and the Orlando Science Center both warm yet (pardon the pun) COOL!

If watching ice skating gives you a shiver, SeaWorld Orlando’s Winter Wonderland on Ice is a show-stopping, ice skating extravaganza. Though far from making one think of ice, “Hot Chocolate” is my favorite production number. Check it out! (♫ Oh We Got It! ♫) Best of all, all #SeaWorldChristmas events are included with admission.

2) Ice Bars
Ice Bar on International Drive is one “hot” spot (pun intended) where you can “taste the cold” along with your drink! Visit during happy hour every Sunday through Thursday from 7–9p for discounted admission (drinks extra).

At Minus5 Ice Bar at Pointe Orlando everything is made of 100% ice including the bar, tables, benches, walls and even the glasses guests drink from. Check their calendar for events and specials.

Though both bars are marketed to the tourists, locals can have a night of cold fun if to just imagine what it would be like to live in a cold clime, or to remember the days when they “used to” live up north.

Another option is On The Block, a “pop up” VIP ice bar inside ICE! at Gaylord Palms (read more about ICE! below). This add-on experience is for guests 21 and over.

3) Frozen Treats
Can’t get TO the snow? How about a snow… cone?! Or ice cream? Orlando is home to great restaurants and shops with delicious frozen treats. Vivoli Gelateria in Disney Springs offers a variety of Italian frozen creations including seasonal flavors. Also at Disney Springs, Downtown Snow Company (near Fulton’s Crab House and across from Portobello), offers shaved ice and a multitude of festive flavors. Thinking French instead? Check out L’artisan des Glaces at Epcot’s France Pavilion. Kona Ice serves up shaved ice at multiple locations and you can’t go wrong with a Concrete from Shake Shack (not very “holiday”, but I LOVE the Key Lime!) or Freddy’s Frozen Custard (they have a Pumpkin Pie one seasonally that’s OH so good).

Want to make a frozen drink at home that tastes like the holidays? Emily Ellyn created some of my all-time favorites. (Her Eggnog Martini is my go-to holiday drink with spirit!)

4) Snow and Ice IN Florida
You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in Florida colder than ICE! at Gaylord Palms. It’s a chilly 9 degrees inside! Enjoy ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas carved out of over two million pounds of ice. After your chilly stroll through a true Winter Wonderland, add to the fun with Alpine Rush! Who knew you could snow sled in the Sunshine State?! My son has been down the slides at least 50 times (conservatively). This is by far my favorite Florida cold spot, though remember to bring your touch-pad gloves for the walk-through if you intend to take pictures or Instagram your #CAGP15 trip. My phone froze up before I made it to the last room, the Nativity.

ProTip: Keep your phone or camera as close to your body as you can between shots and by all means wear closed-toed shoes. (I did not during one of my walk-throughs this year and I found myself doing a Prancer imitation as I went from room to room.) ICE! featuring ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas runs through January 3, 2016. Season passes are available, too, so you can enjoy the Frozen Fabulousness over and over. It’ll be like you live in snow country. But without the tire chains.

This Friday (Dec. 18), guests age 21 and older can visit Gaylord Palms Resort to zoom down the Alpine Rush Snow Tubing hills and jaunt through the 9-degree ICE! attraction wearing only a bikini or board shorts (shorts and a T-shirt can also be worn)! Their one-night-only Polar Bear Plunge 2015 is $50 plus tax and processing fees and include access to Alpine Rush Snow Tubing and ICE!, appetizers and two drink tickets to be redeemed during the event. A portion of all ticket proceeds from the Polar Bear Plunge will be donated to Special Olympics Florida.

The City of Winter Haven is holding Snow Central. Play in 70 tons of snow and go down 3 lanes of the Snow Slide,  meet Santa and more, all for free, Thurs. Dec. 17 from 6–9pm.

5) Fake It ‘Till You Make It
While there are no places to build snowmen (though you can sing along to the family frozenDisney Frozen soundtrack…), you can close your eyes and imagine the attraction industry’s soap-bubble concoction or tissue paper cutouts are snow. Theme parks have snow nightly now through the end of the year (Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld all have Florida-friendly “snow” nightly; check park maps for details), and it’s “Now Snowing” at Celebration Florida, too!

I only lived in Michigan for a couple of years. The rest of the time I lived in my birth place of Central Florida. It did snow here one year when I was a kid. I hadn’t seen snow prior to then and it seemed other-worldly. I think we managed to scoop up enough for a single snowball, but in that moment it was winter here in Orlando. There are no forecasts for flurries this year, but I can “feel” winter just a little more though fun frozen activities and treats all around town.

Upcoming Holiday Events in Mount Dora!

Now that we’ve all emerged safely on the other side of our turkey comas and the madness that is Black Friday shopping, the holidays are in full swing here in Central Florida.  In Mount Dora, we have a holiday calendar packed with activities.

Donnelly House

Massive singing tree,
Donnelly House dressed in light,
Mount Dora Christmas.
(a bad haiku by Jen)

Tonight kicks off the 33rd Annual Light Up Mount Dora, a much-loved event that transforms downtown Mount Dora into a winter wonderland, with over 2 million lights!  Festivities start at 5:30 this afternoon, with the official “lighting up” happening at about 6:30.  And if you do come, keep in mind that today is also Small Business Saturday.  Why not come early and find that perfect Christmas gift at one of Mount Dora’s many shops?  The downtown area recently completed a massive streetscape project, so the whole town looks better than ever.

Massive singing tree, Donnelly House dressed in light, Mount Dora Christmas. (a bad haiku by Jen)

Not to mention the massive singing Christmas tree near the corner of Fourth & Alexander, near Sunset Park, which really has to be seen to be believed.

The lights of course stay up through the holiday season, so if you’re not able to make it tonight, take a look at the calendar of events and come experience the holidays in Mount Dora for yourself!  It’s well worth the short drive from Orlando.  Some of our favorite events include:

  • The Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. on Lake Dora.  Best places to view this parade are on Grantham Point (by the lighthouse) and Evans Park.  This also gives you a great excuse to stroll down to the marina and see the amazing light show!
  • The Mount Dora Christmas Walk, Friday, December 4, 2015 starting at 6:00 p.m.
  • The 56th Annual Mount Dora Christmas parade on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Christmas in the Park with Snow on Saturday, December 12, 2015.  This gives you the chance to go sledding (yes, SLEDDING!) down the big hill in Donnelly Park.  This is a popular event with both kids and adults every year.


Trees in Donnelly ParkThe holidays in Florida are unique: we don’t make a lot of snowmen, and it’s usually too warm outside for hot chocolate.  Whether you string lights on your palm trees and lawn flamingos, or crank up the AC so you can wear your favorite ugly sweater, there are still plenty of ways to get into the holiday spirit.  Enjoy this most wonderful time of the year!

(All photos courtesy of Morgan H. Lee,