Tag Archives: I-Drive 360

Orlando, you are #TRULYLoved

It’s been a heavy month for the world, and in Orlando specifically. Our local City and County government, as well as our LGBTQ and Latinx communities have been working through their grief non-stop since the tragedy at Pulse. People here are slowly healing but still, we can’t forget. But we can make it better, all of us.

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

As a citizen and resident, I knew I wanted to do something. More than just saying ‘thank you,’ more than just a friendly tweet of encouragement. Smiles were the first thing that came to mind. They’re free, and anyone can inspire one, anywhere and at any time.

Many individuals and Orlando agencies have had to work through their grief, non-stop, over the past month including; City of Orlando and Mayor Buddy Dyer‘s office and communications teams, City of Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Orange County and Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ office and communications teams, Orlando Police Department and Chief John Mina, Orlando Fire Department and Chief Williams, The Center, Orlando’s LGBT Community Center of Central Florida, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Metro Orlando.

So… what’s the plan?

First things first – the smiles. I don’t know about you, but when I see one of Truly Nolen’s Volkswagen Bugs driving down the road, I immediately smile. From the ears on the roof to the tail on the back, I could be sitting in the worst traffic ever, see that mouse car, and smile. Did you know that Truly Nolen also has a Mouse Limo? It’s true! If seeing a huge, yellow Mouse Limo roll down the road doesn’t make you smile, I’m not sure what else will.

Truly Nolen Limo Side

Another thing that makes me smile? CUPCAKES. Win! Little cups of cake and icing, and enough joy to fit in the palm of your hand. Who doesn’t love a good cupcake? Even when they’re bad, they’re good. (Note: I have never had a bad cupcake, even ones I’ve baked myself. And I don’t cook.) 

So… I decided to combine the two, and thanks to Truly Nolen and Sprinkles Disney Springs, tomorrow’s JOYride will be a little sweeter!

How did I come to cupcakes and Mouse Limos?

At last month’s Mascot Games at the Amway Center, Jack Martin, who drives Truly Nolen’s Southeast U.S. Mouse Limo all over the country, offered to take me for a ride in the limo – and of course I said yes! After the attack on Pulse happened on June 12th, I knew I wanted to do more than just take a joyride around town in an unusual, but really cool limo.

Wait. JOY… ride. JOYride!! Makes PERFECT sense. 

Luckily Truly Nolen is as active in their communities (all over the United States) as Central Florida Top 5 and I are here in Orlando. In fact, we’ve teamed up a few times before. We received a not-as-scary-as-it-sounds bug education at Truly Nolen University and they also introduced us to a young quilting expert named Faith-Christina Duncan and her friends at the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

After brainstorming with Truly Nolen’s Community Events, Social Media, and PR Manager, Toby Srebnik, we came up with a plan. Why not share smiles with everyone in Orlando (including those on the road) on our Mouse Limo JOYride through Orlando?

Next, I needed to locate cupcakes… dozens of delicious, colorful cupcakes. The first company that came to mind, who was equally as community-minded, was Sprinkles Bakery.  Sure, they have an amazing new Cupcake ATM at Disney Springs, but could they fill a very tall order of 5 dozen cupcakes? A quick call to Sprinkles Los Angeles and Sprinkles Disney Springs sealed the deal! The answer was an immediate YES!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

[To learn more about them, read our 5 Things You Never Knew About Sprinkles Bakery post!]

So, tomorrow, I will be hand delivering smiles and Sprinkles cupcakes, via Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo (the Official JOYride Vehicle!) to – just a few – of the people who have tirelessly kept our Orlando community safe and loved; City of Orlando, Orange County, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and The LGBT Center of Central Florida!

Does all of this sound goofy or sweet? I’m okay with either. As long as smiles are smiled tomorrow, it’s a good day. We’ll have to play it by… ear. (Ha! Mouse… Ear.)

I will also make a small delivery of wheelchair afghans and cuddly stuffed frogs for an out-of-state friend to Give Kids the World at some point on Wednesday! Please, I-4, be kind to us!

You can follow my Orlando JOYride on Google Maps! I will also post a link tomorrow beginning at 1pm from the app Glympse, so you can follow our JOYride in REAL TIME, and maybe catch a glimpse of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo. (More puns! Okay, I’ll stop.)

Want to join in on the fun? When you’re out tomorrow, if you see us on the road or at one of our ‘sweet’ stops, snap a picture of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo and hashtag it #TRULYLoved!

Not in Central Florida? No problem! Snap a picture of you and your friends smiling or forming a heart (with your hands, arms, pencils, a drawing – anything you like) and share it on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook using #TRULYLoved! We’ll be sure to share them all!

Also, be sure to follow @TrulyNolen, @CentralFLTop5, and me, @jenvargas on Twitter for live, on the road and inside the Mouse Limo updates!

 

About Truly Nolen
Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family-owned pest control company in the United States. Our East Coast Operations Office is proudly headquartered in Orlando and is visible off Interstate 4. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and over 60 countries. To learn more about Truly Nolen, visit www.trulynolen.com or follow us on Facebook(www.facebook.com/TrulyNolenand Twitter (www.twitter.com/TrulyNolen).

About Sprinkles Cupcakes
Sprinkles Cupcakes opened “the world’s first cupcake bakery” in Beverly Hills, as reported by the Food Network, and is credited by the Los Angeles Times as “the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze.”  Founded by Candace Nelson, judge on Food Network’s hit show “Cupcake Wars,” and husband Charles, Sprinkles has inspired long lines of devoted Hollywood stars and serious epicureans alike.  From Tom Cruise to Oprah Winfrey, Blake Lively to Ryan Seacrest, celebrities are abuzz about Sprinkles!  Baked fresh in small batches throughout the day, Sprinkles Cupcakes are handcrafted from the finest ingredients and contain no preservatives, trans fats or artificial flavors.  Sprinkles has 20 locations nationwide, a traveling Sprinklesmobile – the world’s first cupcake truck, and sells its cupcake mixes at over 250 Williams-Sonoma stores throughout the US and Canada.  In 2012, Sprinkles debuted the world’s first Cupcake ATM and continued its foray into classic American desserts with the launch of Sprinkles Ice Cream. For additional information and a list of future locations, please visit www.sprinkles.com.

Top Five Orlando Food Galas

The Orlando food scene is thriving! Foodies have their pick of interesting flavors to sample, creative chefs to follow and outstanding venues in which to visit. A couple of food galas on the horizon combine the food and chef portions into one location. You can visit BobEvans.com for more information about foods. Here are my Top Five food events coming up soon where guests can sample a variety of delicious food and drink (and usually can support a great cause at the same time)!

1) Cattle Barons’ Ball (April 16 at Rosen Shingle Creek)

I had the chance of attending this great event last year and all I can say is Yeehaw! The Cattle Barrons and the American Cancer Society sure know how to put on a spread. Restaurants including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Emeril’s Tchoup Choup, Empress Sissy Bakery, The Whisky, Spencer’s For Steaks, and A Land Remembered at Shingle Creek are a tiny sampling of the HUGE great offerings this year.

curbside

Curbside Food Truck’s Asian Pork Slider

Some of my favorite dishes from last year included Yak & Yeti’s Korean braised short ribs over grits with kimchi slaw and the braised Asian short-ribs with “truck”-made pickled cucumbers with balsamic fig reduction from Curbside Food Truck. (Note: I have a thing for braised beef short-ribs AND huy fong sriracha. You, too?!)

Cattle Barons Ball is generously sponsored by: A.T.A.P Companies, Coca-Cola, Bags, Bright House Networks Business Solutions, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Tavistock Foundation to name just a few. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, so this event is near and dear to my heart.

 

 

 

2) The Taste at I-Drive 360 (May 1)

Formerly held at Pointe Orlando, The Taste at I-Drive 360 has moved to usher in a round of new flavors and fun. This brand-new location will offer lots of new food choices to enjoy. Stroll around Orlando’s newest observation tower and neighboring attractions while nibbling on treats from: Sugar Factory, Tin Roof, Cowgirls, Shake Shack, Naru Sushi Bar, Paramount Fine Foods, Outback Steakhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings and Tapa Toro.

Taste at I-Drive 360
Since this is the inaugural event at this location, my recommendation is based on visiting just about every location in the line-up with special favorites the Mediterranean food from Paramount, Sweets, Treats and Eats from Sugar Factory, and Shake Shack’s burgers and (YUM) their cheese fries. While I’m not sure what they’re offering for The Taste at I-Drive, I’m confident that they, and all the participating restaurants, will do themselves proud.

Taste at I-Drive 360 benefits the Esophageal Cancer Program at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute. There are close to 17,000 diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer projected in 2016. If you have frequent reflux, talk to your doctor. Prevention is the key and there ARE steps you can take to prevent this disease. To learn more, visit www.floridahospital.com/esophageal-cancer.  Purchase advance tickets for $35 at www.TasteatIDrive360.com, $40 at the door day-of or Email Ayslinn.Husebo@FLHosp.org for ticket packages and sponsorships.

Insider tip: If you haven’t visited the attractions at I-Drive 360, this will be the perfect opportunity. Ticket holders for The Tast at I-Drive 360 can enjoy 25% off the attractions there all day!

 

3) Taste of the Nation (August 27 at Orlando World Center Marriott )

As a Social Media Ambassador to this incredible foodie fete, I can say wholeheartedly that visitors will enjoy tasting their way around exciting offerings from SO many restaurants, including ones from top resorts and travel destinations. From selections by Universal Orlando Resorts and Fulton’s Crab House at Disney Springs, to MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort and Resort and Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, the “tastes” are varied.

#OrlTaste #NoKidHungryDon’t forget: Wear comfortable shoes and pace yourself! You’ll need a plan of attack as there are “that” many places to try, not just food either. Beverage suppliers like Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Winter Park Distilling Company, Funky Buddha, and Quantum Leap ensure no one leaves (shall we say…) thirsty.

I was a hungry child in Orlando, so knowing this event supports Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is another fine reason I support . Additional beneficiaries include the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Florida Impact. Talk about a Win/Win situation.

4) Gourmet Soiree (June 5 at Rosen Shingle Creek)

Even if I wasn’t intimately involved with this event, I’d still declare it to be one of the most fun food events I’ve ever been to. It’s the “anti-gala” in that you don’t have to get “fancified” to attend. Chefs from the best restaurants in town cook right at your table, and guests become “sous chefs” for the night preparing meals with Whole Foods hosted by Food Network celebrity and chef Robert Irvine, Gourmet Soiree is a high-energy night of fun and food held at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek.

Chef Robert Irvine hosts Gourmet Soiree and it's all for the kids!

Chef Robert Irvine hosts Gourmet Soiree and it’s all for the kids!

Kids as well as adults are welcome to attend this fundraiser for Mission: Fit Possible and other programs for Florida Hospital Foundation. Last year my (then) 8-year-old and his pal Lucy enjoyed “hunting” down our table’s requested ingredients and preparing them. We all had a blast talking, sharing, laughing and eating. If you’re not into formal galas, this is the one for you. And if you DO want to get all formal for it, well no one would judge. It’s quite relaxed with the goal of having fun and raising funds for community outreach programs and health initiatives.

Favorite chefs of mine participating include Emily Ellyn, the Retro Rad diva and winner of Cutthroat Kitchen, Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant and new this year Val Domingo of NOVA Scratch Kitchen. Sure to bring his A game, too, is Tello Luna, head chef for Rosen Hotel’s Centre (who’s a two-time winner at this event!).

5) United Way’s Chef’s Gala (May 21 at Walt Disney World Resort)

A chocolate garden, courtesy The Ganachery

A chocolate garden, courtesy The Ganachery

Though I haven’t attended this event previously, I was invited to a sneak peek preview tasting. Speaking of “peek,” Chef Vegel of JW Marriott’s Primo served up Peeky Toe Crab Salad, and Waldorf Astoria’s Bull & Bear offered a Syrah Wine Braised Beef Short Rib (my favorite item of the day. Talk about tender and rich!). Thank you Chef Lebas!

The theme for the event is “You’ve Got To Try This,” and if the preview is any indication, you’ll be uttering those very words over and over May 21! Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you dive in to the exquisite savory selections AND when you get dessert from the likes of The Ganachery who served us a chocolate garden plated with cocoa almonds, salted caramel macaroon, raspberry ganache square, pistachio ganache square, Kalamansi curd and white chocolate krispies. I’m drooling here just TYPING this!

ChefsGalaSocialContest

Want to win tickets to Chef’s Gala? They’re holding a Social Media Contest. Followers and fans can win two tickets (a $300 value).

To enter: Create a 60-second video on why you support United Way and post it using the hashtag #ChefsGala2016 and tag Heart of Florida United Way on Facebook and @HFUW on Twitter. Post by April 29th for a chance to win. Winner will be announced May 13. (Good luck!)

United Way’s largest fundraiser, Chef’s Gala, supports programs that help thousands of Central Floridians in the areas of education, income, health and basic needs.

The bottom line is: If  you don’t have the ability to visit the top 50 restaurants in person over the next couple of months, these galas bring their tastes to you. Buy a ticket, enjoy some of the best food and drink Central Florida has to offer, and feel good that you’re changing lives while expanding your culinary repertoire.

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.

Shake Shack comes to I-Drive 360!

Soon… very soon. Like Wednesday, August 19th at 11am soon!

Speaking of, August has been a very lucky month for Shake Shack in Central Florida. If you haven’t read our first impressions of Shake Shack in Winter Park, go forth!

To have a store at the beWHEELdering I-Drive 360 complex is just… dangerous!

ALL THE FRIES!!!! I digress…

What’s in ‘store’ for us with Shake Shack number two? Two Orlando and I-Drive 360 themed custard concrete flavors and a local pie tie with some South Florida flavor;

  • Orlandough, a salty sweet chocolatey frozen treat with chocolate truffle cookie dough, marshmallow sauce and chocolate covered pretzels
  • Eye Drive, the anything but plain vanilla frozen custard with peanut butter sauce chocolate toffee and chocolate sprinkles
  • Key Lime Pie oh My, blends a slice of P is for Pie‘s classic Key Lime Pie with vanilla frozen custard

Happy times ahead for us as well as our local musical youth, so make sure you try the Eye Drive concrete. Shake Shack’s charitable heart, Stand For Something Good, will donate 5% of every Eye Drive sale to A Gift For Music!

More info from their press release is below:

We’re so thankful for the warm reception and continued support we’ve received from our fans since opening in Winter Park last year,” says Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti, “We’re excited to be a part of the dynamic I-Drive 360 destination and looking forward to this Shack being a part of the community, welcoming Orlando locals and visitors alike.

Situated in the shadow of the impressive Orlando Eye observation wheel, the Shack will be accessible to guests entering from the center’s bustling inner shopping circle or zipping in for a pit stop from International Drive, Orlando’s major thoroughfare. The expansive 50-seat raised open-air patio and recreational space is the perfect hangout spot—fully outfitted with both a shuffleboard and outdoor Bocce Ball court. Let the games begin!

As part of its community outreach efforts and commitment to Stand For Something Good®, the I-Drive Shack will donate 5% of sales from the Eye Drive concrete to A Gift for Music, a local non-profit program helping the Orlando area’s underserved youth reach their personal potential through quality music education.

The I-Drive Shack’s commitment to keep it local even carries over to its beer menu. Diners will be able to wash their burgers and fries down with Florida’s own Orange Blossom BreweryBack in the Day IPA and Cigar City Brewing Florida Cracker White Ale, as well as Shake Shack’s exclusive Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister® Ale. Wine lovers can enjoy a glass of organic and biodynamic Shack RedTM and Shack WhiteTM wine from Napa-based Frog’s Leap Winery.

As with every Shack, the design is in the details. The walls of the I-Drive Shack are clad in custom wooden wall panels, crafted from hand-axed, salvaged sinker pine from North Florida’s Suwanee River. An expansive, whimsical wall mural by St. Louis-based artist Noah Macmillanstretches the length of the back dining room and gives a subtle, Shack-filled nod to the flora and fauna of Central Florida’s abundant wildlife. In keeping with Shake Shack’s commitment to green architecture and eco-responsibility, energy-efficient commercial kitchen equipment by Electrolux Professional and lighting are employed throughout the space. Chairs and booths are made from lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and tabletops are handcrafted from reclaimed bowling alley lanes by Brooklyn’s CounterEvolution—a longtime Shake Shack partner.

About Shake Shack
Shake Shack® is a modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef burgers (no hormones added ever), hot dogs, frozen custard, crinkle cut fries, beer and wine (available at select locations), and more. With its fresh, simple, high-quality food at a great value, Shake Shack is a fun and lively community-gathering place with widespread appeal. From its premium ingredients and caring hiring practices to its environmentally responsible designs and deep community investment, Shake Shack’s mission is to Stand For Something Good®. Since the original Shack opened in 2004 in NYC’s Madison Square Park, the company has opened multiple locations in 12 states and the District of Columbia, as well as international locations including in London, Istanbul, Dubai, Moscow and more.

Leonardo da Vinci: Man-Inventor-Artist-Genius debuts on International Drive in April

da vinci logo

High renaissance artist Leonardo di see Piero da Vinci is probably best known for his artwork. Tableau pieces like The Last Supper, portraiture such as Mona Lisa, even drawings like Vitruvian Man and The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist have been spotted on anything from cell phone cases to inspired replica murals made from laundry lint. Even a fairly popular movie series staring Tom Hanks mentions his (last) name! Did you know he was also an inventor? A scientist?!

da Vinci 2

A new exhibit from EMS Entertainment called Leonardo da Vinci: Man-Inventor-Artist-Genius, hopes to share all this and more with you (and your family) when it opens on International Drive in April. This internationally traveled exhibition allows visitors a peek into da Vinci’s greatest inventions and features forty models of his most innovative creations. These interactive models, constructed with attention to authenticity and superior craftsmanship, to scale and divided into four themes; Flight, Hydraulics, Mechanics and War Machines.

Also included in this exhibition is a showcase of twenty three replicas of his most famous artwork, so if you’re looking to do a #MonaLisaSelfie, you may be in luck!

da vinci 2

April 15th is Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, and you’re invited to join in on the celebration! A special Grand Opening event scheduled on Saturday, April 18th (4p – 9p) will include a slew of special guests including; Mark Brisson from Skeletons: Animals Unveiled (also opening soon at I-Drive 360), painting classes from Wine & Canvas, food from our friends at Tin Roof Orlando and a few surprises we can’t tell you about!

Admission for this special event is $20 (which includes admission to CSI: The Experience and Consumed by Art) and a separate meal ticket is only $5.

In addition to all of this, the folks at da Vinci will start a month long food drive on opening weekend, which will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Non-perishable food donations are welcomed and appreciated on Opening Night and all month!

Leonardo da Vinci Orlando Exhibition Details:

  • Hours: 10am – 9pm, Monday through Saturday and 10am – 8pm on Sundays.
  • Prices: $16.99 (Adults), $9.99 (Kids 6-12), 5 years old and under are free
  • Address: 7220 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819
  • Educators: Educational programs are coming!

On the Twitters: @LDaVinciOrlando

On the Facebooks: Leonardo da Vinci Orlando Exhibit

 

About EMS Entertainment

EMS Entertainment, a division of Event Marketing Service GmbH, in Vienna, Austria is the official international booking agent & promoter of CSI: The Experience. Since its founding in 1993 by Christoph Rahofer, EMS Entertainment has led successful promotional and marketing campaigns for such world-class exhibits as National Geographic’s Tutankhamun and the World of the Pharaohs, as well as produced shows such as EMS’s own Leonardo Da Vinci: Man – Inventor – Genius, The Barbie Story and World of Games.  http://www.ems-entertainment.com/

Retro Rad Chef Emily Ellyn hosts Cutthroat Kitchen Viewing Party

Emily Cutthroat Kitchen Viewing Party

Parking is FREE. Admission is FREE.

We love Tin Roof Orlando, and…

Who DOESN’T love Chef Emily Ellyn?!

Photo credit: Emily Ellyn Productions

Photo credit: Emily Ellyn Productions

WHAT: Cutthroat Kitchen Viewing Party with Emily Ellyn

WHERE: Tin Roof Orlando at I-Drive 360 (8371 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819)

WHEN: Sunday, February 15th, 9pm

HOW MUCH: FREE admission and parking!

 

About Emily Ellyn: Chef and culinary educator Emily Ellyn is the Home Economics teacher you’ve always wanted!  She single handedly started the Retro Rad cooking movement and encourages everyone to dig through their mother’s recipe box, dust off their pressure cookers, and take the old and make it new.  She takes the retro, remixes it, and makes it RAD. 

With her quirky persona and trademark cat-eye glasses, you’ll find this Retro Rad Diva cooking up fun and inspiring audiences at food events around the world; all while developing her culinary TV career and finishing her Ph.D. in Food Service Education.  Emily also donates her time helping non-profit organizations including Florida Hospital and Give Kids The World, writes for “edible” and “BAR” magazines, and lectures at the University of Central Florida. Through it all, she’s gained a loyal cult following. You’ve seen her on Food Network’s “Food Network Star,” “Cupcake Wars” and morning news shows across the country; as well as a cameo cartoon appearance on the “Simpsons!”

Emily grew up harvesting food and raising animals on a farm in rural Ohio.  Eager to dive into the culinary field, she worked in Cleveland’s top restaurants and started her own catering company while still in high school.  Upon leaving Ohio, Emily graduated with a degree in Restaurant Management from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York.  There, she worked as a teaching assistant until moving to Paris to attend graduate school at Academie Internationale de Management.  Emily then went on to earn two master’s degrees in Hospitality Management; one in Paris and one from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality and Management in Orlando.

Between appearances, Emily stays busy prepping her first cookbook.  Look for Emily’s return appearance on Food Network in the Spring of 2015!

There’s no doubt that kitchen countertops and cabinetry make a huge statement for a home (for designs, visit www.kitchenistic.com). Kitchen countertops and cabinets that are outdated or old and scratched up bring down the aesthetic appeal of your home. Upgrading them can give you that final touch that’s needed to create a fabulous new interior design. You can contact Seattle countertops specialists located at 22445 76th Avenue S, Kent. There you’ll find the latest in premium countertop surfaces, including quartz showroom, Solid Surface, and Laminate.

About Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen: Cooking skills aren’t enough to win in Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.  In this competition series chefs must also be crafty, clever and willing to sabotage their opponents. Hosted by Alton Brown as the kitchen’s cunning provocateur, this game features a briefcase of cash, four competitors, three rounds of cooking and auctions where chefs bid on items to help themselves or hinder their opponents.

First passenger capsule installed on The Orlando Eye

By: @jenvargas

Construction update!

Number One of thirty total glass passenger capsules was installed yesterday on The Orlando Eye at the new I-Drive 360 Complex!

The Orlando Eye installs pax capsule

Over the next two to three weeks you should start seeing The Orlando Eye take even more shape as we start putting more and more capsules on,” said Robin Goodchild, General Manager of The Orlando Eye.

Visitors can expect a fully immersive experience while on or off the 400 foot observation wheel. “It’s going to be an overall fantastic 4D experience of all the sites Central Florida has to offer,” says Goodchild. “Onboard the capsule, not only will you have obviously air conditioning, there will be plenty of space to move around and take in those wonderful views. We’ll also have these tablets that we’ve installed at the moment, and they’re going to be an interactive experience. If there’s any part of Central Florida that you’re not quite sure about, you can zoom in and find a bit more information about that area.

I used my own Glass ‘eye’ (Google Glass) while chatting briefly with Robin, who was fascinated by the device. Here’s our interview…

Tin Roof Orlando: Top 5 Favorite Things (so far)…

By: @jenvargas

Your first reaction to hearing the name Tin Roof Orlando might be the same as mine…

The overwhelming urge to yell, “Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiin Roof! Rusted,” a kitschy fermata from The B-52s 1989 smash hit “Love Shack.” When I asked Patrick Neitzer, General Manager of Tin Roof Orlando if people who did this would be laughed at or quickly asked to leave he said, “Heck no! We ENCOURAGE it!

(Note: If this was not your instinctual reaction, that’s okay too. You’re still welcome to visit!)

Firstly, Tin Roof Orlando is a Live Music Joint. It also happens to be a restaurant, soon-to-be featuring an Americana (or, as they describe on their website, TennTex) style menu and a full service bar with indoor AND outdoor seating. Tin Roof opens for business on Monday, January 5th, 2015 at 11am but will be open for a big New Year’s Eve party! (Click here for more information and other big announcements!)

The idea started in Nashville in 2002 when Jason and Elizabeth Sheer wanted to give local musicians a place to jam, as well as a place to hangout when they weren’t cranking it up to 11 on stage. Encouraging locals, musicians and non, to just ‘hang out’ became their mantra and being classified a “Regular,” is the Tin Roof equivalent of being called “Norm!” at Cheers in Boston. Obviously, a high honor.

I hung out recently with the team from Tin Roof Orlando, and was quite impressed with the space. The location, at the entrance to The Orlando Eye and across the way from YardHouse, is very conveniently located. It will be even more visible in the next couple of weeks with the addition of this neon gal standing on – of course – the roof!
Find a lake clarke shores roofing company for more information.

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The 50s-60s roadside feel inside is casual and comfortable. Tin Roof will be open for lunch at 11am and will close at 2am, seven days a week, making it a cool hangout spot for our service industry folks getting out late. Also a great benefit, the neighboring I Drive 360 parking garage is FREE to park. When The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and SeaLife Aquarium are completed, visitors and locals alike could spend a day at the complex, becoming “Regulars” at Tin Roof Orlando in no time!

Things I appreciate about Tin Roof Orlando so far…

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  • The management. They really want their guest to have a great time and come back often!

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  • The bar area is equipped with ample power outlets which have traditional 110 plugs *and* TWO slots to charge via USB! After a long day, I could totally see taking a load off, enjoying a cold one and charging my phone. Of course, I would tip my bar staff handsomely (Hi Sammi!) for this and you should too.

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  • Keep an eye peeled. Nifty little neighborhood touches and shout outs to Florida, Central Florida and other locations with meaning to the staff all over the place! Don’t be surprised to see love for my Reds (Go Big Red Machine) or even a little Roll Tide action.

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  • Since ‘The Roof is a Live Music Joint, they fully embrace local music and encourage them to come out and play! (Bands: For now, email your EPKs and info to infoorlando[at]tinroofbars.com) Speaking of, music (and vinyl) lovers will also appreciate the decor…

I haven’t sampled their menu items… yet. You’ll see yummy menu photos and Instagrams in another blog very soon! Here are my Top 5 most anticipated menu items:

  • Chicken and Waffle Nuggets (w/ Benton’s bacon-maple syrup)
  • Buttermilk Tenders (buffalo style, tons of ranch)
  • O-Eye Mac & Cheese (maple-smoked white cheddar & breadcrumbs) <– YES!!!
  • Hot Chicken Torta (Buttermilk fried chicken rubbed with cayenne, ranch potato salad and pickles on a Mexican style roll)
  • Roof Burger (white cheddar cheese & all the fixins including bacon)

Will you be a ‘Regular?’ I know I will!

International Drive’s Orlando Eye to be completed by end of 2014

by: @jenvargas

We’ve had our ‘eye’ on International Drive, have you? A little over three weeks ago, The Orlando Eye looked like this…

 

  On October 26th, it looked like this!

Now, her inner circle is all closed in and her outer circle will be filled in the coming weeks! (More about this below…)

Back in January, we told you about our Top 5 Development Projects of 2014. In April, we were one of the first to reveal the name of the new I-Drive 360 complex. Since then we have watched this area evolve into a more realized home of entertainment in the heart of the International Drive corridor. If you’re eyeing a major project in your area, as well, might as well get in touch with used forklift dealers and other sellers for quality used heavy equipment.

So, what are your thoughts, Top Fivers? What are you most looking forward to experiencing when I-Drive 360 opens next Spring?

 

The Orlando Eye

The Orlando Eye Completes Inner Wheel

Work now begins on the outer wheel, bringing structure to height of 400 ft

Orlando, Fla. – Oct. 31, 2014 – The Orlando Eye celebrates a major construction milestone with the completion of the spoke installation of the inner wheel, clearing the way for work to begin on the outer wheel, eventually bringing the massive structure to a height and width of 400 feet, making it the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast of the United States.

As it stands, the Eye can be seen from miles around, and many believe the structure is nearly complete. However, the outer wheel still needs to be constructed, then workers can begin the installation process of the glass capsules, and finally, work can begin on the electrical and A/V components of the Eye.

“This is a really exciting moment for The Orlando Eye. From this point forward, construction will soon showcase the true height of the Eye at 400 feet,” said James Paulding, head of new openings for North America for Merlin Entertainments. “Work is progressing quickly, and we are on track for our grand opening next spring.”

The outer wheel of the Eye is expected to be complete by the end of the year. To follow along with news and updates, visit www.officialorlandoeye.com.

The Orlando Eye is scheduled to open in spring 2015.

 

The Orlando Eye

Located in the heart of International Drive, the 400-foot Orlando Eye is the tallest observation wheel on the U.S. eastern coast, offering a new way to experience the breathtaking views of Central Florida.

Poised to become a top visitor attraction for the tourism capital of the U.S., the Orlando Eye, part of the I-Drive 360 entertainment and dining complex, will showcase 360-degree views of Central Florida, including nearby theme parks and attractions, downtown Orlando and Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast, all within the comfort of 30 air-conditioned glass capsules. Each capsule has room for up to 12 guests to enjoy a serene 20-minute journey above the scenic landscape.

Included in the Orlando Eye journey is access to the pre-flight 4D cinema experience, taking guests on a full 3D aerial journey of Florida, with the added dimension of sensory experiences, including lighting, wind, spray and scent effects.

 

Merlin Entertainments

MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS plc is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment. Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates 105 attractions, 11 hotels/3 holiday villages in 23 countries and across 4 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its almost 60 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and c25,000 employees.

Merlin has twenty three attractions and one hotel in North America  – including two stunning LEGOLAND Resorts – LEGOLAND Florida with its theme park, water park, and LEGOLAND California theme park with water park, SEA LIFE aquarium and themed hotel; Madame Tussauds celebrity wax attractions in New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas; Hollywood; and San Francisco LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in Chicago; Dallas/Fort Worth; Kansas City Missouri; Atlanta, Georgia; Boston; Westchester, New York; Toronto, Canada; a Dungeon in San Francisco; and SEA LIFE aquariums in Phoenix, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas/Fort Worth; the Mall of America in Minneapolis and Charlotte – Concord – underlining the company’s position as the world’s biggest global aquarium operator.  Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information.