Tag Archives: Kissimmee

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 www.OsceolaArts.org, or at the box office an hour before show. Ticket prices range from $15 – $22.

For information contact 407-846-6257 or visit www.OsceolaArts.org.

2016 Kissimmee Chili Cook-Off & Craft Beer Festival #MyKissimmee

The Kissimmee Annual Sunshine Chili Cook-Off and Craft Beer Festival is back for its 20th year of deliciousness and your’e invited to join the fun!  The Party is being held on Saturday, February 20th at the Kissimmee Lakefront Park Event Lawn from 12 pm to 5 pm. Thanks to UMOW Lawn Care we were able to have the best setting for all of our events out on the lawn.

kissimmee

Enjoy a chili competition, craft beer tastings, live entertainment, delicious food, and much more!  Admission is free and there will be plenty of parking available.

kissimmee

The 20th Annual Chili Cook-Off Competition will be sponsored by the International Chili Society and will feature 3 categories: Red, Verde, and Salsa. Admission the Chili Cook-Off will be free and tickets for the Beer Tasting will be $20.00 in advance and $25.00 on the day of the event. There will be 25 craft beers available and the last pour will be at 4:30pm.  So come early and enjoy the party at the beautiful lake front setting in Historic Downtown Kissimmee! Click on this link to buy your Beer Tasting Tickets.

The Kissimmee Lakefront Park is located at 250 Lakeview Drive, Kissimmee, Florida 34741.

For more information call 407-846-4643 or visit their website at www.kissimmeemainstreet.com

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.

Experience Kissimmee with the World Food Championships

There is something for every foodie in the family this November at the World Food Championships which is headed to beautiful Celebration the heart of Kissimmee, Florida. November 3-10, you’ll be able to find competitors from around the world vying for World Championships in BBQ, Bacon, Burgers, Chili, Desserts, Pasta, Recipe (Fresh), Sandwich and Seafood categories. With the final competition crowning one of those competitors as the 2015 World Food Champion!

Kissimmee, Celebration

This year’s Championships held in downtown Celebration, will be a delicious collection of food events as the championships take over Main Street and the Lake Area for the competition, classes and tasting events. Registration and some of the events will be held at The Westgate Town Center.

Celebration,

There will be demonstrations and vendors with the latest in indoor and outdoor kitchens, or you can buy tickets to private chef demos, Culinary Fight Club events, Mixology Classes, BBQ and Chili Fests, and a Grand Tasting that features all of the World Food Championship categories.

This is the schedule for The World Food Championships (subject to change)

Tuesday, November 3rd

Various Local Celebration Restaurants
Times TBA
Food Fight Night
Westgate Town Center Resort
12:00pm – 5:00pm
Sponsor & Competitor Registration

Wednesday, November 4th

Kenmore Kitchen Arena
10:30am – 1:30pm
Blogger Competition
2:30pm – 5:15pm
World Dessert Championship: Preliminary Round
Westgate Town Center Resort
9:00am – 5:00pm
Sponsor & Competitor Registration
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Welcome Reception / Blogger Competition Awards

Thursday, November 5th

Cooking Academy
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Cooking Like a Champ
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Recipe Championship: Preliminary Round
10:45am – 1:30pm
World Seafood Championship: Preliminary Round
2:00pm – 4:45pm
Bacon World Championship: Preliminary Round
Main Stage
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Opening Round Awards – Main Stage (BBQ, Dessert, Recipe, Seafood & Bacon)
Westgate Town Center Resort
9:00am – 3:30pm
World Barbecue Championship: Ancillary Competitions
World Cocktail Experience Tent
4:00pm – 9:00pm
World Cocktail Experience

Friday, November 6th

Camp Chili
8:30am – 1:00pm
World Open Chili Championship: Preliminary Round 1
Champions VIF Club
1:00pm – 8:00pm
VIP Lounge
Cooking Academy
10:00am – 1:15pm
World Chefs Challenge: Session 1
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Cooking Like a Champ
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Pasta Championship: Preliminary Round
10:45am – 1:30pm
World Sandwich Championship: Preliminary Round
2:00pm – 4:45pm
World Burger Championship: Preliminary Round
Main Stage
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Opening Round Awards – Main Stage (Chef, Pasta, Sandwich & Burger)
Sizzle & Swizzle Spots
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Tasty Morsels – Demonstrations & Interviews
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Mixology 101 – Demonstrations & Interviews
Tasting Village
10:00am – 6:00pm
Sponsor Sampling
World Cocktail Experience Tent
4:00pm – 9:00pm
World Cocktail Experience

Saturday, November 7th

Camp Chili
8:30am – 1:00pm
World Open Chili Championship: Preliminary Round 2
3:00pm – 5:00pm
World Chili Fest – People’s Choice Competition
Champions VIF Club
1:00pm – 8:00pm
VIP Lounge
Cooking Academy
8:00am – 11:15pm
World Chef Challenge: Session 2
1:00pm – 4:15pm
World Chef Challenge: Session 3
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Recipe Championship: Top Ten Round
9:45am – 12:30pm
World Seafood Championship: Top Ten Round
12:00pm – 2:45pm
Bacon World Championship: Top Ten Round
2:15pm – 5:00pm
World Dessert Championship: Top Ten Round
Location TBD
11:00am – 1:00pm
Food Champ Judging Class – Session 1
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Food Champ Judging Class – Session 2
Main Stage
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Opening & Final Round Awards – Main Stage (Chef, BBQ, Recipe, Seafood, Bacon & Dessert)
Sizzle & Swizzle Spots
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Tasty Morsels – Demonstrations & Interviews
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Mixology 101 – Demonstrations & Interviews
Tasting Village
10:00am – 6:00pm
Sponsor Sampling
Westgate Town Center Resort
9:00am – 3:30pm
World Barbecue Championship
World Cocktail Experience Tent
4:00pm – 9:00pm
World Cocktail Experience

Sunday, November 8th

Camp Chili
8:30am – 1:00pm
World Open Chili Championship: Top Ten Round
Champions VIF Club
1:00pm – 8:00pm
VIP Lounge
Cooking Academy
12:00pm – 12:45pm
Family Food Fun: Session 1
1:00pm – 1:45pm
Family Food Fun: Session 2
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Que School
Kenmore Kitchen Arena
7:30am – 10:15am
World Pasta Championship: Top Ten Round
9:15am – 12:00pm
World Sandwich Championship: Top Ten Round
11:00am – 1:45pm
World Burger Championship: Top Ten Round
Main Stage
1:00pm – 2:40pm
World Chef Challenge: Final Round
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Final Round Awards – Main Stage (Chef, Chili, BBQ, Pasta, Sandwich & Burger)
Sizzle & Swizzle Spots
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Tasty Morsels – Demonstrations & Interviews
12:00pm – 6:00pm
Mixology 101 – Demonstrations & Interviews
Tasting Village
10:00am – 6:00pm
Sponsor Sampling

Monday, November 9th

No Competition or Consumer Events

Tuesday, November 10th

Kenmore Kitchen Arena & Main Stage
11:00am – 4:00pm
Final Table Competition
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Final Table Judging
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Grand Tasting
Tickets are still available for most of the events, click on this link for more information World Food Championship Tickets.
Follow these links for more information about Celebration Town Center and Westgate Town Center.

Fun Spot America + Gatorland = Gator Spot

By: @jenvargas

Gatorland's Mark McHugh and Fun Spot's John Arie Jr

Fun Spot America and Gatorland are broke ground yesterday on a new partnership. As a show of gratitude, Fun Spot thanked the community, who was queued up around the block, by giving away a free breakfast and unlimited wristbands!

Area businesses, partners, fans and friends came out for the occasion including local government officials like Orlando District 6 Commissioner Samuel Ings, (representing the 5th congressional district’s Corrine Brown, Area Director) Ronita Sanders, 10th District Congressman Daniel Webster and City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer who proclaimed January 20th, 2015 “Gator Spot Day at Fun Spot.

Gator Spot Day Proclaimation

This is just an awesome thing for our community. I love Fun Spot, my kids loved it when they were growing up and now my grandkids love Fun Spot,” remarked Congressman Daniel Webster who stopped by while in town. “I think this is just something great for Central Florida and our economy. Our economic generator, one of the major ones is tourism. We have to have people come here, and they do! Many of them come and they visit. They have fun and they go home and tell their friends and their friends come back.

Mayor Dyer agrees, “I spent a lot of time at Gatorland growing up. I’m from Kissimmee so that was OUR tourist attraction. I got to see a lot of gators up close and personal so  I’m proud to be here for the kickoff of Gator Spot.

Orlando continues to be the most visited place in the world,” says Mayor Dyer. “Over 59 million visitors, and when the official count comes out I think it’s going to be close to 62 million for last year. The I-Drive area is an important component of that. Over 5 million visitors last year and 32,000 employees along the I-Drive corridor.

This is really an exciting time for us and Gatorland!” said John Arie Jr, Chief Operating Officer of Fun Spot America Theme Parks. “We’re really happy that Gatorland is part of the family and the Fun Spot family has now come together to make a HUUUGE expansion!

Since Gator Spot is an added value experience at Fun Spot America, what can one expect to see and do? John Arie, Jr. explains, “Gatorland will be providing a very rare white alligator, they’re going to have the only twelve foot and above alligators on I-Drive – that’s not allowed anywhere else. We’re going to have some reptiles, some birds, some snakes… there’s going to be photo opportunities and opportunities to feed the gators as well.

Here’s more from the groundbreaking ceremony including remarks from Mayor Dyer, John Arie Jr, Samuel Ings, Gatorland President and CEO Mark McHugh #throughglass!

Tough Mudder to take on Kissimmee this weekend

by: @jenvargas

Think you’ve got what it takes to tackle a British Special Forces designed obstacle course? Then you are one TOUGH MUDDER!

Tough Mudder is coming back to Central Florida and things are about to get wild. On Nov. 8-9, 2014, approximately 10,000 participants (known as “Mudders”) will put their speed and stamina to the test at Tough Mudder Central Florida. Incidentally, this event will be the final United States event of the regular 2014 season.

Coming to Kissimmee for the first time, challengers will conquer a 10-12 mile obstacle course through Trophykart Ranch (1368 S. Poinciana Blvd, Kissimmee, FL 34746), an expansive ranch converted into grassy fields, grazing pastures and swamp-like conditions in Osceola County. This is not a race, nor a marathon. It’s a CHALLENGE.

Of the “Mudders” participating next weekend; 37% of them are female, 63% are male and will be traveling from ten foreign countries and forty five other states! It will take approximately three and a half hours to complete. (It takes me that long to get up in the morning!)

Participating in Tough Mudder this year is Hector Manley, a 25-year-old double amputee from Tampa. On Saturday, Nov. 8, Manley will be presenting a $15,000 check to a Wounded Warrior Project representative at the event. Check out Hector’s first experience tearing through a Tough Mudder in Miami last year. He says, “Impossible is nothing. I am double amputee, I live life to the fullest and sometimes I wonder where my sanity went.” On average they say, only 78% of participants finish…and this is Hector’s FOURTH. Rock on, Hector. Rock. ON.

Tough Mudder is the largest supporter of Wounded Warrior Project and its mission to assist severely injured veterans. To date, Tough Mudder participants have raised more than $7 million for Wounded Warrior Project.

If you don’t/can’t participate, sign up to be a volunteer. Definitely stop by to cheer on Hector and the other 10,000 participants on! Still think you can traverse the unforgiving Osceola swamp? Good luck, soldier… and earn that beer!

Register for SATURDAY <—there

Register for SUNDAY     <— there

Free Flu Shots in Central Florida!

Centra Care Flu Fighters

Flu Season is upon us again, and for the 12th year in a row, Centra Care, Florida Hospital Urgent Care and Get Healthy Florida are making sure you and your family are protected. This year, Centra Care is offering six different opportunities to get your flu shot, fast and free!

Everyone 6-months and older can get a free flu shot at any one of the scheduled Fast & Free Flu Shot clinics. Because last year’s flu season impacted younger adults in particular, Centra Care physicians want to remind Central Floridians that the single best protection against the flu is the flu shot, even for healthy children and adults. And since the flu virus changes every year, you need a new vaccination each year.

 

2014 Fast & Free Flu Shot Event Schedule:

Wednesday, October 8thNoon – 5PM

Centra Care at Winter Garden Village

3005 Daniels Rd., Winter Garden, FL 34787

Monday, October 13th:

Noon – 5PM

Colonial Town Centra Care

630 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando, FL 32803

Wednesday, October 15th

Noon – 5PM

University Centra Care

11550 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817

Tuesday, October 28thNoon – 5PM

Port Orange Centra Care

1208 Dunlawton Ave., Port Orange, FL 32127

 

Monday, November 17th

Noon – 5PM

Hunter’s Creek Centra Care

3293 Greenwald Way N., Kissimmee, FL 34741

 

Wednesday, November 19th

Noon – 5PM

Sanford Centra Care

4451 West 1st St., Sanford, FL 32771

(No reservations. First come, first served, while supplies last.)

 

Who Should Be Vaccinated?

The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone, especially those who are at high risk for developing flu-related complications. Including:

 

o    Pregnant women

o    Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years old

o    People 50 years of age and older

o    People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions

o    People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

o    People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

-Health care workers

-Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these infants are too young to be vaccinated)

 

For those unable to attend one of the Fast & Free Flu Shot events, Centra Care offers convenient, $25 shots, 7-days a week at their 26 Florida urgent care centers; open late and weekends. Walk in anytime, or visit www.centracare.org to schedule an online No Wait Reservation.

PUBLIC CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION: 407-833-9201

 

Grand-prize winner of #RockYourVacation will Experience Kissimmee, Florida Destination in Style!

“Rock Your Vacation” Contest Awards a VIP Getaway to Kissimmee, Florida

The winner of Experience Kissimmee’s Rock Your Vacation contest is Brandy J. from Nashville, TN, who will receive a 6-day, 5-night VIP vacation to the central Florida destination to experience Kissimmee in VIP style.
The grand prize includes round-trip airfare for Brandy and up to five guests and accommodations in a 9-bedroom vacation rental home and rental car provided by All Star Vacation Homes. The VIP prize is awarded by Experience Kissimmee in partnership with a number of area tourism providers.

RockYourVacation
Located just moments from Orlando’s world-famous theme parks, Kissimmee, FL is a premier vacation destination and the choice of more than 6.5 million travelers annually. Kissimmee makes a dream vacation become a reality with more than 50,000 accommodation options that suit every traveler’s needs and unique attractions that offer unforgettable thrills that will rock your heart rate and put you right in the middle of all the action.

(Check back for more details!)

During the voting phase, visitors to www.RockYourVacation.com had the opportunity to vote once per day, per bracket. The videos with the most votes each week moved on to the next round until the final two videos went head-to-head.
In addition to airfare and accommodations, the winner will receive a red carpet welcome party sponsored by PoshAble Events; up close and personal tour of Gatorland; concert at House of Blues; special winner festivities sponsored by VillaDirect; the royal treatment at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament; behind-the-scenes tour of SeaWorld Orlando; a private Hot Air Balloon Ride sponsored by Global Resort Homes; and an Airboat tour at Wild Florida.
Five secondary contest winners were awarded a Samsung Galaxy WIFI camera, and 7 voting sweepstakes winners will receive a pair of Beats by Dre headphones.
Experience everything from world-famous theme parks and outdoor adventures to luxurious escapes at spas and golf courses in Kissimmee. Brandy and her “entourage” will experience her ultimate Kissimmee vacation soon. Don’t wait, start planning your getaway today, visit www.ExperienceKissimmee.com

Five Finalists Compete to Win Ten Florida Vacations in Kissimmee

More than 1,500 entered for the chance to win a Decade of Kissimmee Memories. Now, Facebook members will vote to decide which of five finalists will win a Grand Prize that includes airfare, accommodations at Westgate Resorts and a rental car for 10 Kissimmee vacations with up to five guests.

Vote in the Decade of Kissimmee Memories Contest and enter for a chance to win a US $500 gift card.

DecadeOfMemories.com Full Details: http://bit.ly/10kmemt

Finalists are Jane H. from Highlands, N.J., Brooke S. from Grand Rapids, Mich., Jim T. from Murrells Inlet, S.C., Joel L. from Culver City, Calif., and William D. from Nashville, Tenn.

Facebook members can view the videos created by the finalists and vote for their favorite to win at Facebook.com/ExperienceKissimmee. Each daily vote cast now through June 10 is also eligible for one sweepstakes entry for a chance to win a $500 USD Visa Gift Card.

Finalists were selected by destination experts including Westgate Resorts Founder and CEO David Siegel, Orlando Sentinel Theme Park Ranger Dewayne Bevil, Gatorland Director of Domestic Sales Bridgette Porto-Venturelli, and MIX 105.1 FM radio personality Dana Taylor.

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Sweepstakes begins on 5/20/13 on or about 12:01 pm ET and ends on 6/10/13 at 11:59 am ET. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada (excluding Quebec) or the United Kingdom who are physically located and residing therein and who are at least thirteen (13) years of age or older at the time of entry. Entrants who are under the legal age of majority in their country, state or province of primary residence must get their parent or legal guardian’s permission to participate. See Official Rules at www.decadeofmemories.com for additional eligibility restrictions, prize descriptions/restrictions/ARVs and complete details. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited. The sponsor of this Sweepstakes is Osceola County, a political subdivision of the State of Florida.
Learn more about the finalists and their journey to win a Decade of Kissimmee Memories at www.decadeofmemories.com and submit votes for a chance to win $500 at www.facebook.com/experiencekissimmee

A Voluntourist’s Guide to Give Kids the World Village

Not all visitors to Orlando and Central Florida come to our area just for our world class theme parks and attractions. Some, solo and family alike, visit local spots just to volunteer their time because that’s how they choose to spend their time away from home – and we LOVE THIS! Some call this kind of tourism and volunteerism hybrid ‘voluntourism,” and we fully encourage all to give it a try.

Even if you’re a Central Floridian vacationing elsewhere or abroad, look into this option on your next vacation. The experience could be far more rewarding than simply visiting a historic landmark or attraction, and it’s a perspective one may not ever experience otherwise.

There are many voluntourist options in Florida and Central Florida. One of our favorite places to hope and help? Give Kids the World Village, the 79 acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Kissimmee which provides cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

What’s a “storybook” resort, and can I stay there?

Imagine being a kid with a huge wish to visit a place where the Mayor is a rabbit and ice cream is served for breakfast (or any time of day) FOR FREE. This storybook fairy tale couldn’t ever possibly happen anywhere on Earth, right? It’s not possible.

WRONG! This is a huge reality at Give Kids the World Village!

The Village, however, is reserved for very special guests and their families. Children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses already have enough ‘reality’ to deal with in their everyday lives. And, as anyone with a sick loved one knows, there are no days off – for the child or their family members.

While The Village won’t take the illness away, it can absolutely provide a respite for all involved and the closest to a ‘day off’ that a child and their family may experience for awhile. A bit of magic, if you will.

So, no, not just anyone can stay at The Village however, you CAN be part of the magic in helping families in need of a little hope and happiness together.

79 acres? That sounds massive!

It IS. There are almost 20 venues and 168 villas inside The Village itself! More than 154,000 families from 70 countries and all 50 states have been hosted by GKTW thanks to some very generous wish-granting partners, corporations, and individuals like you!

Upon entering, you’ll see the House of Hearts. This is where families check in, and like any resort Guest Services counter, is open 24 hours. You’ll also see Amberville, Julie’s Safari Theatre, Marc’s Dino-Putt, JJ’s Express Train, and the Ice Cream Palace.

The Ice Cream Palace will soon be known as Henri’s Starlite Scoops, named after GKTW founder, Henri Landwirth. Learn more about how you can help The Village’s ‘cool’ fundraising effort called $90 for 90 by visiting http://www.gktw.org/90for90.

Towne Hall is a 53,000 square foot, two story building where families go to eat and experience nightly entertainment. It’s a very new, very sweet addition to GKTW!

If you’ve ever seen pictures of The Village, the Castle of Miracles and Enchanted Carousel will look very familiar. All wish children get to personalize a star inside Star Tower, and the Enchanted Carousel is wheelchair-accessible so everyone can ride. Inside the castle is Twinkle Hope’s La-Ti-Da Royal Spa, which was just remodeled with additions for the whole house and named after the My Little Pony character of the same name! Boys and girls of all ages can visit to get a temporary tattoo, makeover, and more.

You can visit more of the Village online by clicking here!

How can I help? I don’t live in Florida!

Fear not, fair voluntourist and/or virtual friend! You can still help! Some of the many ways you can help as a voluntourist;

Fundraising can be done anywhere. Host a fundraiser at school, work, or elsewhere in your home community! You can donate your birthday on Facebook to fundraise, or make a donation in honor of someone else’s birthday.

Click here to Create Your Own Fundraiser online!

In-Kind Giving is also another big one. The Village is run almost entirely by in-person volunteers, and those volunteers need supplies to keep things sterile, tidy, and sparkly. The Village also hosts nightly entertainment events which also need supplies. Donating goods from this wishlist helps keep costs down at The Village