Tag Archives: Florida

Playtest 5 Games for UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy!

UCF’s graduate video game program FIEA (Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy) is opening itself up to the public to playtest games from its students. It will take place over three days: June 10th,24th, and July 1st.  During these playtests you’ll get to chat with the developers and give them feedback based on your time with the games.

All three days are being held on the main UCF campus.  The times and locations are as follows:

June 10, 2015
10 am-3 pm
University of Central Florida
UCF Student Union
Cape Florida Ballroom 316 CD

June 24, 2015
10 am-3 pm
University of Central Florida
Technology Commons
Main Lounge & Glass Cubicles

July 1, 2015
10 am-3 pm
University of Central Florida
UCF Student Union
Key West Ballroom 218 CD

Mall Cop

These are the five games you’ll get a chance to play today as they’re described in the press release:

“The slots being tested are “Totem,” “Lanterns,” “Mall Cop,” “Junkers” and “Life Unfolds.” “Totem” lets you fight as a powerful shaman and use your magical powers to destroy the enemy totem. “Lanterns” is an adventure game where five knights must rescue a world covered in darkness using the last remaining remnants of light. “Mall Cop” is a party game where four sneaky shoplifters attempt to steal everything before the bumbling mall cop catches them. “Junkers” is a digital card game where you build up your rusty robots with equipment and power-ups to beat the bolts out of your rivals. “Life Unfolds” is a simulation game about growing up and learning skills from loved ones.”

This is an exciting opportunity for the FIEA grad students to get their games into the hands of of the public and with your help, be able to make the best games possible.

For more information, please contact playtesting@fiea.ucf.edu.

Everything is Terrible! Legends Tour at Will’s Pub

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What do Jerry Maguire, fire safety PSAs, and sexually suggestive children’s shows all have in common?  Nothing.  But the gang at Everything is Terrible! figured out how to make them work together to help the audience at Will’s Pub take charge of their own destiny and climb to the top of the EIT Pyramid.

Everything is Terrible! is a website dedicated to scraping the bottom of the barrel for lost and forgotten VHS tapes, ripping them apart, and stitching them back together again in wonderfully insane ways.  They’re currently traveling the country with their Legends Tour which is advertised as a “Best of” show of their first seven years.  But for this tour they’ve mixed it up even more and turned it into a Choose Your Own Adventure style show, letting the audience dictate what they see next.

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The show opened with our hosts telling the audience that they’re about to climb the  EIT pyramid on their path to enlightenment.  After we finish watching each new video mash-up, our masked hosts proclaim that we’ve climbed one more level.  They presented us with choices, like “Kids or Animals” or “Sex or Violence” and we’d get to see whichever option got the most reaction. At one level they asked us to either pray for one choice or tweet at them for the other.

For the first level our audience chose “Kids” and the selection was a mixture of forgotten children’s shows, horrifying mascots, and cheesy PSAs.  One highlight was an anti-bullying ad from the 90’s where the bully gets run over by a car while Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” plays over it.  When we selected the “Sex” category, our video featured things like abstinence PSAs, a man demonstrating a penis pump, and Sinbad dressed as a condom.

Everything is Terrible! is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced.  And while I had a blast, it certainly isn’t for everyone.  One moment you’ll be laughing hysterically, next you’ll be getting fuel for your nightmares, and then finally you’ll end up questioning what you’re doing with your life.  But by the end of the show it won’t matter because you’ll have made it to the top of the EIT Pyramid!

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To check out Everything is Terrible! you can find them here.

To learn more about Will’s Pub and their upcoming events you can find that here.

Orlando City Soccer Scores First Goal as MLS Team!

If you weren’t one of the 62,510 people who attended tonight’s Orlando City Soccer Club v. New York City Football Club you absolutely missed an ELECTRIC game! Second highest attendance for an MLS game, attendance beating even the 1994 World Cup… that’s A LOT of people! (And purple. Lots and LOTS of PURPLE!!)

Everyone was talking game, talking City, talking MLS. At the tailgate parties outside the Orlando Citrus Bowl…

…in the beer lines!

…in the stands before the game started!

…in the elevator lines!

…in the merchandise lines!

Photo by Jen Vargas

Orlando City Lions make a GRRRAND entrance!

 

Unlike David, I am not a lifelong soccer fan but even I will admit, it’s hard not to get excited about this game when you’re there, folks. If you haven’t been to a game, you REALLY must try going at least once this inaugural season!

What fascinates me most about Orlando City’s supporters – and supporter culture as David has shared – is the genuine camaraderie that comes with being a supporter. It brings the community together in support of ONE cause, one TEAM. Orlando, the city, is like this too when you get down to it, regardless of affiliation, You’re all IN. Chant loudly, wave your flag and for pete’s sake DO NOT sit down!

Here’s a little taste of what being at a live game is like. And when our Lions score a goal? Look out! The stands go CRAZY, as you’ll see below.

You’ll get the full story from our Orlando City writer David soon enough but for now, enjoy Orlando City’s first goal as a full-fledged Major League Soccer team from behind the goal (through Google Glass)!

SPOILER ALERT: Kaka scored the goal in the last minutes of tonight’s game!!

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium begins installation on ocean tunnel

By: @jenvargas

If you followed us all last week, you saw and heard A LOT about parks and attractions from the hallowed floors of Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) as we visited the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). Today we bring you cool news from our own Sea Life Orlando Aquarium at I-Drive 360!

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium_360 Degree Underwater Tunnel Installation

Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE Orlando

 

Installation began today on SEA LIFE Orlando’s 360 degree underwater ocean tunnel! This enormous tunnel weighs in at nearly 18,000 pounds (roughly five cars) and will eventually feature a 360 degree view of SEA LIFE’s 5,000 creatures. We heard it through the SEA LIFE Grapevine suspect Orlando’s might look like the one in this photo at SEA LIFE Aquarium in Grapevine, Texas. Cool, right? (Sleepover, anyone?)

Prior to its opening date, SEA LIFE partnered locally with The Turtle Hospital out of Marathon, Florida and The Coral Restoration Foundation out of Key Largo, in effort to educating visitors and local families on the importance of conservation and celebrating all creatures of the sea, big and small. Through their independent charity, The SEA LIFE Marine Conservation Trust, guests help the cause simply by visiting. Their Breed, Rescue, Protect initiatives help rescue the sick or injured, protect against pollution and breed thirteen species of endangered rays (and more!) around the world.

(PSST! We’ll link even more info and a nifty interview soon courtesy of our pals at Wearables4good.org!)

Top 5 | Santa Claus Meet & Greets at Orlando-Area Malls

by: Mark Schaub

Malls are known for many things — shopping, sure — but what would they be without jolly old Saint Nick during the holidays?

Central Florida Top 5 gives you the top 5 mall meet-and-greets for the big guy himself, Santa Claus.

  1. The Mall at Millenia
  2. Orlando Fashion Square
  3. The Altamonte Mall
  4. Oviedo Mall
  5. West Oaks Mall
Mark takes a selfie with Santa Claus at Orlando Fashion Square.

Mark takes a selfie with Santa Claus at Orlando Fashion Square.

The Mall at Millenia

Now through December 24 | During all mall hours

The Mall at Millenia features Santa in the Grand Court, or rather Hollyville, with festive set decorations that really set the mood and provide a theme park-esque queue.

Available for purchase are candid color photos, sepia-hued black-and-whites, and CD-ROMs. You can also opt for photos on your personal camera and cell phone. Each child receives a complimentary holiday gift.

Orlando Fashion Square

Now through December 24 | 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The city’s first mall, Orlando Fashion Square has been hosting Santa for decades. Not only can your children take a photo with him, your pets can too on Sunday nights now through December 14! Just make sure they’re on leeshes.

Photos on personal cameras and cell phones are free, and professional photo packages are available.

The Altamonte Mall

Now through December 24 | Hours vary

Also boasting pet nights is The Altamonte Mall with their offerings on Mondays now through December 15. You can also participate in “Rudolph Wednesdays”: receive a special Rudolph Activity Pack with the purchase of any Santa photo package on November 26, December 3 and December 10. Find Santa on the lower level at Macy’s Court.

Oviedo Mall

Now through December 24 | Hours vary

Not only can you take photos with Santa, but you can also meet Mrs. Claus! Oviedo Mall will host Mother Christmas on three consecutive Sundays on December 3, 10 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. when she will lead holiday-themed children’s activities. This year she’s planning two crafts and holiday cookie decorating. Join the fun in the community room.

Registration is required. The event is free for Oviedo Mall Kid Crew Members and $5 for non-members. Sign up at www.myoviedomall.com/info/kidcrew.

And not to be outdone, Oviedo Mall offers pet photos with Santa on December 7 and 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

West Oaks Mall

November 21 through December 24 | Hours vary

Santa is trading out the sleigh for a helicopter and you can be there when he arrives! Join him for his grand entrance, milk and cookies, and of course, photos!

If that wasn’t enough, you, too, can take a helicopter ride! Go up for a discount by taking your photo with Santa.

The event is 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with Santa’s arrival scheduled at approximately 5:15 p.m.

mark sMark Schaub is an Orlando mall enthusiast. A self-proclaimed mallrat, he’s not there to shop, he’s not there to work, he’s just there. Mark has taken his love for malls and turned it into “Orlando Mall Guide” (www.OrlandoMallGuide.com).

Everyone always wonders what happened to the store that closed and what is being built behind that drywall. Mark fills you in and goes beyond the news to explain just who are these mall-walkers and  how you can get a job at the mall. Follow on Twitter at @OMGmalls.

Top 5 Developments Coming to Orlando-Area Malls

mall co

Living in metro Orlando, we’re fortunate to have more than a dozen fantastic shopping malls. And for those visiting from around the world, it provides a fabulous escape from the attractions.

From the luxurious Mall at Millenia to deal-minded outlets, there’s no shortage of places to spend money and go home with countless shopping bags.

But like the convention center, downtown area and airport, the mall scene continues to evolve and improve upon itself.

Central Florida Top 5 presents the top five developments coming to Orlando-area malls.

  1. Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept
  2. Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience
  3. Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley
  4. From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”
  5. I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept

Remember Festival Bay Mall? Forget about it because Artegon Marketplace Orlando is taking over on November 20, 2014.

Paragon Outlet Partners, LLC has redeveloped the spot into a new shopping concept in the heart of Orlando tourism’s district on International Drive. Rather than host a bevy of traditional mall retailers, Artegon Marketplace Orlando boasts itself as an artisan showcase with 165 craftspeople. They’ll offer Buying Guide provided by YourDiamondTeacher, accessories; soaps; jewelry; sculpture; mixed media artwork; custom clothing and more. That’s not to mention hand-crafted foods including popcorn, hot sauces, nuts, local honey plus other surprises.

With studies indicating that half of the American workforce will soon consist of entrepreneurs, this artisan concept doesn’t appear to be short-sighted and should enjoy a lengthier stay than its predecessor.

Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience

Brands want to offer more than a place to purchase goods and are creating an experience that creates a psychological connection.

Gods & Monsters is set to open at Artegon Marketplace Orlando and revolutionize the high-end comics and collectibles store with its theme park-quality decor, inspired product presentation and immersive lounge areas. It’s not just about reading your favorite comic book, but rather stepping into one.

The Florida Mall is also set to open a couple stores that introduce a new way to experience your favorite brands with American Girl and The Crayola Experience.

American Girl will open its 18th location in Orlando on November 15, 2014 and will let little girls shop for their favorite American Girl products; enjoy lunch, dinner and dessert in the Bistro; treat their doll to a new ‘do in the Doll Hair Salon; and celebrate birthdays and other special events. The days of walking into the store and pointing to your mom what doll you wanted are in the past with an experience you can see, taste and touch.

And who would’ve thought there’d be an attraction based on the popular crayon company Crayola? The Crayola Experience is set to open in summer 2015 also at The Florida Mall and features 25 hands-on experiences for families to enjoy. It will also contain a store and cafe and, like most attractions in town, require an admission fee.

Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley

Once upon a time, Orlando Fashion Square was the mall to be at. Increased competition stole market share and now it’s time to claim some of that back. Like Artegon Marketplace Orlando is branding itself as something different, Orlando Fashion Square is doing the same behind it’s new ownership group UP Development.

While it’s a shopping mall first and foremost, it also aims to stand for what others can’t — community. While The Mall at Millenia and The Florida Mall can boast a laundry list of brands and retailers, Orlando Fashion Square is taking the grassroots approach, luring shoppers in with community-based events and resources and surrounding them with brands they know and trust.

That’s why they’ve provided a new place for your family to hang out with StrikeOuts Bowling and Entertainment. The bowling alley is on the second floor across from the movie theater and offers 12 lanes of fun. If that wasn’t enough, get your game on in the arcade and rack up points for prizes. There’s also a sports bar area where you can enjoy the game with a brew or mix it up in a game of pool.

Oh, and the food! Enjoy a cheeseburger, fries, wings, milkshakes and sweets galore.

On the horizon, the mall is opening Element by Westin — a product of Starwood Hotels and Resorts — and breaks ground in fall 2014. The idea is that business travelers can stay at this mall’s hotel at the edge of downtown and do all their shopping all under one roof.

Orlando Fashion Square will also introduce at least two new restaurants to entice visitors.

From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”

The Florida Mall continues to invest in itself and rethink how malls should operate. Saks Fifth Avenue closed in the spring and the space is being transformed into a 105,000-square-foot “Dining Pavilion.”

That means eateries in the current food court will make a move and that spot will become the home to new retailers. If you thought seating was scarce now, you’ll be happy to know the Dining Pavilion will seat twice as many and offer high-top tables and even couches.

Word is it’ll offer more options for the health-conscious.

Look for it and satisfy your hunger in 2015.

I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Nothing might be more radical than the proposed “megamall” set to open on International Drive in the summer of 2017. With a name of The iSquare Mall + Hotel, it’s anything but normal.

But what exactly is a megamall?

Think Mall of America in Minnesota, which sees between 35 to 40 million people each year. That’s more visitors than Walt Disney World.

While this project isn’t on the scale of that mall (which is just plain monstrous!), iSquare Mall + Hotel’s impending impact is expected to be quite large. Combine it with the fact it will also be the first seven-star hotel in all of North America, it deserves the “mega” prefix.

It will feature 749 hotel rooms, 490,213 square feet of vertical retail space, a restaurant, a 100,000-square-foot convention center, an indoor ice-skating rink, a 500-seat live performance theater and office space. The parking garage is mega, too, at 11 stories tall and 2,780-spaces.

If that wasn’t enough for you, the building even has a heliport to park your helicopter.

mark sMark Schaub is an Orlando mall enthusiast. A self-proclaimed mallrat, he’s not there to shop, he’s not there to work, he’s just there. Mark has taken his love for malls and turned it into “Orlando Mall Guide” (www.OrlandoMallGuide.com).

Everyone always wonders what happened to the store that closed and what is being built behind that drywall. Mark tells you and goes beyond the news to explain just who are these mall-walkers and  how you can get a job at the mall. Follow on Twitter at @OMGmalls.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014: Orlando’s BIG Exchange

Orlando has never had a week-long celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week…until now

The BIG Exchange is Orlando’s first week-long celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. We’re inviting Thinkers, Educators, Artists & Makers to work together to solve pressing problems through a series of workshops designed to move teams through from problem to solution.

For one week, the BIG Exchange lets anyone help create the next for profit, nonprofit or social enterprise startup. Passes start at just $89. Many of the workshops can be viewed remotely if you can’t escape from your desk the entire week.

Top 5 things you NEED to Know:

  1. A prize pack of over $20k will be given to one team to sustain their solution for 1 year (thru till GEW 2015)
  2. At the 11/17 Monday Kickoff Session at Dewey’s Indoor Golf (a multi-million dollar, Vegas-style interactive golf venue) teams will form around the problem they want to solve.
  3. Workshops will be offered throughout the week to help teams progress from problem to viable solution
  4. Open office hours will be hosted across the city for teams to reach leaders, mentors, service providers and other resource centers for help
  5. At the 11/21 Friday Showcase Solution at Rollins College one solution will be presented with a year-long prize pack valued at over $20k
Full details @ http://big-exchange.com/

Top 5 | Truly Nolen

By Laurie of Mousecations

We recently stopped by Truly Nolen’s Orlando office for a tour and lunch (luckily no bugs were on the menu).  While bugs are just part of the reality of living in a swamp infested state like Florida most of us don’t enjoy said bugs when they show up in our kitchens, showers, or beds.  Truly Nolen, with their mouse cars, has been one of the go to companies when those outside creepy crawlies come inside.

Over lunch with the a few Nolen employees and fans; including Scott Nolen, grandson of the founder, and Alex Bello, a Nolen Regional Sales Analyst, we learned a few interesting factoids on the mouse car company.

1. Truly Whitfield Nolen got his name from the middle names of his father and uncle.

He persevered despite the hard times. He lost his first wife, Dollie, in 1920 and in 1921 his son Truly Jr. and his father the Rev. Richard T. Nolen. He went to college but ended up working for the railroad, Indianapolis Water Co. and other jobs. He made sure his family was take care despite the hard times during the depression which cost him his home. He has passed on to his descendants and to Truley Nolen Pest Control that dedication to hard work, respecting others, Southern hospitality, good citizenship, and helping others in need. Truly D. Nolen is his octogenarian son who still works in the Naples office answering phones.

2. The company helps keep bugs out of the community.

The company exterminated bedbugs for free at Brandon Community Center, cleaned up a local park (learn more about the servicing agency), sponsored Taste of Sanford, and donated art supplies to schools in Key Largo. They go to community centers, schools and events to help people learn how to decrease vermin damage to their homes and to their vacations. The average home has over $8,000 in damage by the time an exterminator is called. Truly Nolen provides insulation that has boron which has an R value of 3.7 which is greater than the average blown insulation that is only 2.5 R value. Putting in such insulation saves money and helps keep bugs away. Part of their community service is the encouragement of providing homes for bats, birds, ladybugs, and other animals that eats the bad bugs and mice. They educate people on how to detect bug infestations and which bugs are good bugs. Email them photos of that weird bug and they will tell you what you have. You might see them at parades, fairs, garden shows, and other local events with their mouse cars, antique vehicles, and mouse golf carts.

3. The Truly Nolen University in Orlando has a training school

The school teaches trainees what to look for when visiting a client. Trainees must learn the types of construction of homes so they will know the best method of treatment and types of infestation. They look for bushes against houses which harbor vermin and allow bugs to crawl into homes. Drain spouts can wash out the area around a foundation thus removing treatments. Tree limbs that touch the house are a great freeway for bugs and mice to enter a house. The training house has a bedbug room to show trainees termite damaged a termite damaged picture, jewelry box, and book as well as let them find evidence of bedbug infestation. There is glass covered cut outs in the walls to show trainees the different ways bugs and vermin can damage a building and how they can travel unseen through a building.

4. In the 1940’s soldiers were given packets of DDT to put in their duffel bags to get rid of bugs. That was when DDT, chlordane and other chemicals were cheap and nobody stopped to see the damage to the environment and people, thankfully now, only certified providers are allowed to sell chemicals, like the Zinc Carbonate from Glochem. Bugs became resilient to chemicals to where one type of bug needed 3000 times stronger chemicals. Boraxo and boron down a drain kills drain flies while soap removes wax from bugs, suffocates bugs, and prevents wasps from using pheromes to alert their nest. Diatomacous earth cuts the cuticle of bugs which causes them to die. Diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and abamectin are green products. They use hepa vacuums to vacuüm up bug larvae, eggs, debris, and bugs from homes.

5. Truly Nolen is in 54 countries and 16 US states

North Carolina has been announced as their next state to they plan to expand into. Their business is in foreign countries tends to be commercial. In Arizona the big concern are poisonous spiders and scorpions while in Florida is about fire ants and bees. Each area has its own set of vermin for each season and there are things that can be done during each season to defend homes against bugs.

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Orange County’s New Technology: #SocialMedia Workgroup to Advance Citizen Engagement and Support #DigitalCommunity

Successful Digital Outreach Initiatives in Orange County, Florida

As advocates for the region’s burgeoning tech community,Instagram Ads Agency, several online and social media influencers – who also played a significant role in amplifying the digital presence of Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ 2014 State of the County in June – will continue their role as innovators and collaborators in Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

To expand the online conversation and facilitate a dialogue with a broader demographic, Mayor Jacobs invited online influencers to be Social Media Ambassadors during the Mayor’s 2014 State of the County in June. The Ambassadors, who have large followings on social media networks, engaged citizens by sharing messages on social media to increase public engagement and awareness regarding Orange County’s Year of Transformation.”  Google Glass was used to record and share live from the eyes of one of the Ambassadors, making the event the first State of the County address in Florida to feature Google Glass.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

[Left to right] Nadia Vanderhoof, Carlos Carbonell, Ian Suarez, Josh Murdock, Necole Pynn, Laura Kern, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Bess Auer, David Glass, Jen Vargas and Ann Marie Varga gathered to discuss Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

“Mayor Jacobs’ State of the County Social Media Ambassadors program definitely brought awareness to the region’s innovation that has propelled our community to the national stage as the new technology hub of the southeast,” said Carlos Carbonell, CEO of Echo Interaction Group andpresident ofOrlandoTech Inc.,a nonprofit organization supporting the Orlando technology community. “I look forward to Orange County’s new Technology and Social Media Workgroup which will further support our dynamic community.”

The Orange County Technology and Social Media Workgroup will operate as a think-tank to advance new technologies, social media and mobile applications supported and developed by Orange County Government. The workgroup will also collaborate on how to best enhance online public engagement and support the growing the technology and digital community in our region.

“It is really impressive the way Mayor Jacobs and Orange County has brought together individuals from different sides of social media and the technology spectrum to work together,” said Ian Suarez, graphic designer and social media coordinator for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. “It is important to increase public awareness on what the county is doing for our community in today’s tech savvy world. I am honored to be part of such a talented group of leaders in our community.”

New Orlando Hashtag! Meet and share #Orlandoing

We love our #Orlando #SocialMedia hashtags!

First it was #WhyOrlando and a few others came along like #Oyes

Now meet  #Orlandoing

Jon Busdeker, of the Orlando Sentinel, asks, “Where is your favorite Orlando sign?” (you better tweet him too @jonbusdeker )

#Orlandoing is easy,  just find your favorite sign that says Orlando and take a selfie with you pointing at it.  Make sure to tag it #Orlandoing and tag @JonBusdeker  in it.  He’s planning to make a video with the best pics later on!

#Orlandoing: City Beautiful’s newest social media trend

Below are a few of our favorites thus far:

And this one that includes another trend, Vadering

 

First Florida Train to Trail Tour Ready To Roll

SunRail, built for commuters, is about to flaunt its leisure side.

August 1, four cyclists with their bikes will ride the rails from Orlando area stations to DeBary where, under a commemorative arch, they will launch the First Florida Train to Trail Tour.

For seven days, they’ll cycle Florida’s 260-mile-long St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop before riding SunRail back to Orlando. No car needed.

Their first morning will start on 15 miles of showcase trail on the way to Osteen and continue altogether 55 miles to Titusville. That first section, called the East Central Regional Rail Trail, is also a commuter route to DeBary Station for cyclists from Deltona.

“The tour marks a coming of age for Florida,” says Herb Hiller of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the tour’s organizer. “We have trains and we also have improving ways to get to and from them without cars.”

Yet the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop (SJR2C) remains far from complete as paved off-road trail.FirstFloridaTrain

From DeBary Station, Loop access runs 2,000 feet north up Shell Road to the trail across a signalized intersection at US 17-92. The rest of the way, SJR2C is so far only some 30 percent paved and off-road, though almost all the rest is in construction, funded for construction, or in planning and design.

The August tour will include daily rides of between 20 and 57 miles. After Titusville, the four cyclists will overnight in New Smyrna Beach, Palm Coast, St. Augustine (two nights), Crescent City and DeLand.

Although the tour is meant to highlight the Loop as a week-long getaway, others will choose to spend fewer or more days riding it. That 15-mile paved portion and back or even a part of it can make a good day ride, or coupled with leisurely stops at Green Springs, DeBary Hall and Gemini Springs become a mini vacation with overnights at hotels in Deltona or DeBary.

But altogether, says Hiller, “the ride is a moving course in Florida history, from Spain to Space, steeped in the Civil Rights era, tracking vast ag lands, urban sprawl to new urbanism, from deeply rural to high living. Anyone could include layover days, like the four will along the coast in St. Augustine or as well alongside the St. Johns in Palatka, or close by in Crescent City or DeLand.”

The four will cross Ponce Inlet by water taxi and schedule a breakfast in Armstrong in far southwest St. Johns County. Armstrong with some 300 people sits directly along another part of the Loop called the Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail. Both will be regular options, though the water taxi runs only Friday to Sunday and breakfast in Armstrong will require 24-hour notice (call 904-806-3939).

Armstrong is a long under-served farming community that has focused its economic future in part on income from cyclists who travel the trail. Bike Florida already operates two boutique tours (about 20 riders each) a year through the community, but has also brought as many as 600 at a time. The hamlet also sits along the four-state Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and has become a model for community growth elsewhere in the corridor’s four-state overlap with the route of the East Coast Greenway between Maine and Florida. SJR2C in its entirety is the Greenway’s longest loop section.

The Greenway connection means that over time, southbound long-distance cyclists will be able to avoid car traffic on their way to Orlando by riding the last leg of their journey on SunRail. Or when the Coast-to-Coast Connector trail gets built out – expected by the turn of the decade – continue with or without SunRail to St. Petersburg.

Chief tour sponsors include VISIT FLORIDA, the Florida Hospital system, East Coast Greenway Alliance, DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce, Orange Cycle, Cobb Cole, West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority  and the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council.

The touring cyclists who set off August 1 are Mighk [cq] and Carol Wilson of Orlando, and Laura Hallam and Robert Seidler of Sopchoppy. Carol Wilson and Hallam are former executive directors of the Florida Bicycle Association; Mighk Wilson is smart growth planner for MetroPlan Orlando, and Seidler a filmmaker who has chronicled the rise of bicycling and trails around America.

Orlando’s Café Tu Tu Tango Birthday Party this Weekend

Cafe Tu Tu Tango Turns 20 with a Birthday Celebration

CAFÉ TU TU TANGO, the iconic Orlando eatery, invites all artists, foodies and friends to come celebrate 20 years of sharing food, drink and the bohemian philosophy.

Raise a paintbrush with them as they create a community mural, cheers a free beer or whiskey with them from breweries and distillers such as Breckenridge, Big Storm and Winter Park Distilling Company.

Live music featuring local band, WAS (showing 3-6PM) will serenade the evening atmosphere as belly dancers and salsa dancers welcome you to perform in their traditions. Painters from the workers on painters in richmond va, writers and sculptors exhibit their work while the culinary team grills, braises and sautés flavors from around the world.

CafeTuTuTango

Adventure Island Announces New Sunset Party; Island Nights

image001Now that the intense heat of summer has returned to the area it’s time to head to the water whenever possible.  While the springs and beaches are the go to spots a new one is emerging in Tampa. Adventure Island, Busch Gardens Tampa’s water park, will become the place to be every Thursday, Friday and Saturday June 12 through August 9.  Each of the evenings the part begins at 5pm running through park close at 9pm.

The party will feature the typical street performers, stilt walkers and live music of a theme park party but add in steel drums, a food truck and some amazing sand sculptures (which personally I long for the day that they come back to SeaWorld Orlando!).  Then top it all off with a Glow-in-the-Dark Grand Finale every night.

If you’re a Florida resident Adventure Island along with their sister parks Busch Gardens and SeaWorld Orlando has plenty of different discounted seasonal pass offers, including the Adventure Island Weekday Pass that gets Floridians into the park every weekday through the 2014 season for only $47. For more fun and adventure indoors, you can book at Escape Room Dallas. It’s good for family who want to have special bonding.

The summer party includes numerous aspects including;

Island Nights Food Truck — Relaxing on the beach isn’t complete without a tropical beverage in hand! Cool off with tropical delights at the new Island Nights Food Truck, located near Fabian’s Fun Port. While you’re there, be sure to indulge in tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salad bowls and more!

Kid’s Zone at Mango Joe’s Beach — The Kid’s Zone DJ revs up the dance floor with popular hits every night at Mango Joe’s Beach. This brand new kid’s zone bursts with excitement as Island Nights Party Starters amp up the energy when the sun sets in preparation for a fun-filled night.

Glow-in-the-Dark Grand Finale — Join the entire Island Nights cast on the main beach at 8:30 p.m. for a grand finale celebration, featuring high-energy music and LED-lit entertainment, including stilt walkers and performance artists. This finale includes audience participation, so be prepared to join in on the fun!

 Sand Sculptures Every Week — Sand sculpture artists return with 25 tons of sand as they create newly-themed masterpieces every week for Island Nights. Sculptors will begin a new theme each Thursday evening and unveil the sculpture by Saturday.

Nuclear Cowboyz Coming to Amway Center!

Lasers? Kung-fu? Motorcross?  In Orlando?!?

Nuclear Cowboyz Coming to Orlando’s Amway Center Special Discount Offer!Nuclear Cowboyz

If you’re into heart-pounding, choreographed arena motocross then you probably already know that the Nuclear Cowboyz 2014 tour is coming to Orlando’s Amway Center March 8th and 9th.  You’re probably already stoked to see the Shaolin Kung Fu Warriors’ martial arts motocross, complete with rod-bending, mid-air object-breaking, and traditional spears. You’re probably excited to see some of the world’s most dominant freestyle athletes perform dangerous stunts lit by lasers and pyrotechnics. Heck, you probably have posters of the 6 X-games medalists in Nuclear Cowboyz pasted all over your walls.

Even if you’re not already a fan of the Nuclear Cowboyz you can get excited about saving $5 on pre-sale tickets: from July 22nd to July 25th Just go to www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000 and use promotion code NC2014. If you are that super fan, though, have you considered a VIP Fallout Zone pass? For $100 you get premium seats to get as close to the action as (safely) possible, a commemorative VIP pass and poster, and most importantly, the chance to meet these motocross athletes in a private meet-and-greet session!

Can you say… extreme?

Nuclear Cowboyz Coming to Orlando’s Amway Center Special Discount Offer!

http://centralfloridatop5.com/2014/02/11/nuclear-cowboyz-coming-to-orlandos-amway-center-special-discount-offer/

Indie Cinema Showcase Presents Star Wars Celebration VI 2012

We had a great time at this year’s Star Wars Celebration VI at the Orange County Convention Center! One group we kept seeing over and over was the local Orange TV/VISION television show, Indie Cinema Showcase. We couldn’t attend all four days of Celebration but judging by their tweets, Indie Cinema Showcase did and it looks like they had the most fun!

 

Orange County residents can catch Indie Cinema Showcase on VISION TV five times a week on Brighthouse Channel 198, Comcast Channel 98 or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 (Sundays at 2am & 3pm, Tuesdays at 10am, Thursdays at 6pm and Fridays at 10pm). For those out of county/state, check them out on iTunes or via their website, www.indiecinemashowcase.com, where all three seasons are available to view. Also check out the website if you are a filmmaker interested in submitting a short film, no more than 10 minutes, to the show.

In case you weren’t aware, Indie Cinema Showcase is a Florida based television show for anyone who likes movies! They are in their third season and are local Emmy hopefuls — good luck guys! (Executive Producer, Gerald Godbout III, is already an Emmy and Telly Award Winner.) “ICS” spotlights our independent film community here in Central Florida as well as the talents of filmmakers, actors and crew from all over the state. The hosts are local as well; Christina CarmonaAllison Walter and Matt Doolittle, give you some great insight on some really talented, creative people and their productions!

Follow them on Twitter: @ICSTVSHOW, and Remember Star Wars Reads Day is coming!

 

 

Homecoming in Central Florida

It’s homecoming season in Central Florida.

For years this has brought tailgating and football games, but recently this term has meant something completely new for me. As a teenager, my son Jackson is suddenly interested in attending the homecoming dance, so this means suits, dress shoes, ties, fancy restaurants, corsages, and *gulp* asking a girl to go with him!

Now Jackson has been dating a girl for several months, but even this didn’t let him off the hook. And apparently kids don’t just call up and say, “Will you go to homecoming with me?” Apparently they don’t text it either…

Asking a girl to homecoming or prom now days is akin to the most elaborate marriage proposals you can imagine! A modern-day homecoming proposal takes lots of planning and even the enlistment of friends and incredible timing to pull this off successfully. Just take a look:

If you’re impressed with that proposal, imagine enlisting the whole school to help you out at halftime!

Now, this one is quite impressive – caution tape and a dead body in the middle of a calculus class! (My math teacher never would have allowed this!)

What about asking your guys friends to don cheerleading outfits and chant a proposal?

Or, how about asking them to go completely shirtless and sing a proposal? (I love the huge cheer at the end when she says yes!)

And if that was impressive, imagine enlisting the help of One Direction to get your date – do you know how much planning goes into making a music video?!

Okay, so maybe you’re not musically inclined and need something simpler. What about writing “Prom?” on 500 ping pong balls and stuffing them into your girlfriend’s locker?

OMG! How has the simple act of asking a girl to a dance gotten to these mammoth proportions? And to top it all off, kids today capture it ALL ON VIDEO and post it to youtube and Facebook, so imagine the pressure! (And what if the girl doesn’t want to go with that boy? How awful!)

So, you may be wondering what did my son do to ask his girlfriend to this year’s homecoming? I found out what he did via Facebook by the way. (Figures!)

Bubble wrap.

Okay, so it wasn’t 500 ping pong balls or One Direction, but it did the trick, right? Whew!

So, if you are at dinner and see these teens gussied up in ties and prom dresses all awkwardly giggling at the next table next to you, be kind to them… they really worked to get this date!

This guest post was written by Central Florida top 5 founder Bess Auer. You can let her know how you would ask a girl to homecoming by tweeting her at @Bess_Auer.

Why Bloggers and Social Media Peeps Should Use Klout

Guest post by blogger Sunshine Davis who writes about Florida shopping at www.SunshineStateShopping.com. She has shopped every outlet mall and shopping center in Florida, and is passionate about the treasure hunt aspect of shopping. Sunshine loves to share the best places to go to find amazing designer clothing and accessories at dramatic discounts. Tweeting at @SunshineStyles

What is Klout?

If you’re buzzing around the social media world for a while, you’ll soon start hearing about Klout scores. Some people love them, some hate them, but anyone trying to build a social media presence should be aware of them.  Klout is a free service that evaluates your social media influence and assigns you a score on a scale of 1 to 100. It factors in many different services like Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn, but mainly focuses on Twitter. When you first sign up, your score will usually be a 10. Every day, Klout reviews how often your content is shared or commented on, and how influential the people that follow you are. Then they give you a score. I’ve been on Klout for about 6 months, and my score has steadily risen, it now stands at 52 http://klout.com/#/sunshinestyles .

What About Klout Topics?

Recently, Klout began assigning topics to members. They analyze what type of content you write, and how other influencers respond.  Other Klout members can then give you a +K, essentially a vote confirming that you influence them on that topic.  I am currently the #2 +K recipient on the topic of Orlando, behind the lovely Amanda Tinney of www.DisneyEveryDay.com. I’m also influential on the topics of Shopping and Florida, which is appropriate since my blog, www.SunshineStateShopping.com, is about these topics.

Why should I Care?

You may be wondering, why would anyone care about their Klout score? Well, I have a unique perspective since I am both a blogger and a social media consultant for an internet marketing firm. In my internet marketing job, I manage Facebook and Twitter accounts for large hotels and other service providers. Their goal is always to increase their Facebook fans and Twitter followers quickly. One of the best ways to do this is to have social media influencers mention us online. We targeted people with blogs about Orlando and Florida travel and invited them to parties at our hotels which included a weekend stay.  You may have heard about the many perks and freebies that bloggers are offered in exchange for writing about a product. Social media marketers need to know who the influencers are for their products, and one of the best ways to find this out is by looking at Klout scores and topics.

What’s In It For ME?

In addition to the benefits and invitations that can come from PR companies looking to use bloggers to promote their products, Klout has its own program called Klout Perks. With this program, Klout essentially works as a middleman to link companies with the relevant bloggers that can promote them. People with Klout scores above a certain level, usually 40, and who are topical influencers in a certain area, get free products and invitations through Klout Perks. So far, I have gotten free movie tickets, Axe hair gel, a $20 Macy’s gift card, store credit at various online retailers, and a big bag of Purina dog food!  You can also get invited to events like grand opening parties and fashion shows if you are a Klout influencer. This year, during music festivals and Fashion Week, there were parties exclusively for Klout influencers! Read more in TheNextWeb! So you can make some great connections, get free stuff, and have some amazing experiences due to your Klout score, which makes it worth paying attention to!

How Do I Get Started?

Signing up for Klout is as easy as pie. You just go to Klout.com and sign in using your Twitter handle. Then you can add other social media services (Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, etc.) to your profile to raise your score. If you want to start amping up your score quickly, and make friends with your fellow bloggers, start giving out some +K points to people that influence you. You probably won’t have any topics of influence at first, but if you tweet about the same thing for a few days in a row, Klout will figure it out pretty quickly. Then your fellow social media peeps can give you some +K and you’ll be on your way to Klout superstardom!

Shopping in Florida,

@SunshineStyles