Archive for August, 2012

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

It’s time to buy tickets for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! It’s one of our favorite events of the year (along with the Epcot Wine and Food Festival)!

For those who are in the dark, this is a Halloween-themed special event held on 23 select nights at the Magic Kingdom theme park. It’s a separate ticket from the day’s admission. Here are the dates: 

September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28 and 30

October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30 and 31

November 2

What I love about this event is that guests of all ages are encouraged to dress up! Even better, you get to trick-or-treat around the Magic Kingdom! And, there are virtually no lines for the rides so you can seriously hop on everything in a matter of hours.

Adult tickets are $64.95 ($69.18 with tax) and $59.95 ($63.85 with tax) for children. The advance price for adults is $55.95 ($59.59 with tax) and $50.95 ($54.27 with tax) for children.

Buy early and save $7 on these nights in September: 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 and 28.

Need a place to stay?

Florida residents can enjoy rates from $66 per night, plus tax, at Disney's All-Star Music Resort for stays most Sunday–Thursday nights 8/17–9/29/12. Proof of Florida residency is required at check-in.

Call 407-939-7801 or log on now to book your Not-So-Scary adventure.

Continue reading Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party »

Anna Maria Island: Escape the RNC and Buy 4 Get 5th Free

Have you discovered Anna Maria Island? It’s only 40 miles south of Tampa and it’s all about Old Florida coastal charm. With the Republic National Convention heading to Tampa, locals (and visitors) looking to escape to pristine beaches and privacy, should head to the Mainsail Beach Inn.

This property is truly special. It offers only 12 quaint two- and three-bedroom residences with a marina and a private pool onsite, not to mention those shimmering shores. The best part? They’re offering a “Stay 4 Nights and Get the 5th Night Free” package.

The package starts at just $234 per night, and reservations must be made by Sept. 30, 2012 – for travel through Dec. 25, 2012. I haven’t even begun to mention all the luxurious amenities you’ll fall in love with – hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen, flat screen TVs, outdoor kitchen and grill in the gazebo…it will quickly become your favorite getaway.

So come on over to the west coast to the funky beach town of Anna Maria Island. You’ll love the dining, the free trolley, and fun shopping – if you can pull yourself away from your private beach chairs on the sand.

To book the "Stay 4 Nights and Get the 5th Night Free" package, call 888-849-2642 or write Have fun!

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Heroes Welcome Celebration From $99 At Hawks Cay

"Thank you for your service and sacrifice" is what Hawks Cay in the beautiful Florida Keys says each year to America’s brave men and women with their Heroes Welcome celebration that includes rates starting from only $99 a night from August 20 to November 18, 2012.

All men and women (both past and present) of the military, fire and rescue, police, sworn officers and medical personnel are welcome to enjoy a very special discounted room rate on weekdays from $99 along with outdoor concerts, all-American barbeques and unique and exciting water activities.

But the highlight of the Heroes Welcome is their weekly “Heroes in Action” tribute. Families gather around the resort’s Fire Pit at sunset each Saturday night and view a video presentation featuring pictures provided by guests followed by a tribute to all fallen heroes and those currently in action. The night continues with live music. It’s magical.

All civilians can receive 20% off accommodations too, between August 20 and November 18, 2012, just by donating $2 or more to Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Got to love that. Thanks to Hawks Cay for honoring our heroes!

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Watch The Blue Angels For Free, And Get Autographs

Yes, yes, summer has certainly zoomed past but here’s how to get one last fast thrill before the kiddos return to the classroom. Come out to watch the Blue Angels for a free practice session, August 14, 15, 21 or 22, 2012.

The Blue Angels perform practice air shows over NAS Pensacola most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 8:30 a.m. The practice lasts for about 45 minutes and if you go on a Wednesday, head over to the National Naval Aviation Museum afterward for an autograph session with the pilots! Admission to the practices and autograph session is free and no reservations needed.

The viewing area for the Blue Angels practice is located on the Museum Flight Line. Bleachers provide seating for about 1,000 people. To do it right, be sure to bring hats, your own lawn chairs and sunscreen.

Remaining 2012 practice dates:

August:     14, 15, 21, 22
September: 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
October:     17, 23, 24, 30

Mark your calendar for the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show, Nov. 2-3, 2012. I hope to see you there.

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Labor Day Package at TradeWinds Island Resorts

What are you doing for Labor Day? TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach is having a final farewell to summer with their Labor Day Weekend "Endless Summer" package.

Pack your swimsuit and bring your sense of adventure because there is so much to do at this resort on the beautiful shores of St. Pete Beach. And look at what this package includes:

  • Labor Day festivities
  • Island Buffet
  • Carnival games, face painting and contests
  • Celebration party
  • Fireworks
  • Other additional benefits included in the Resort Amenity Fee

This Endless Summer deal is valid from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, 2012, and the three-night package begins at $582 for both TradeWinds properties: the Island Grand and the Guy Harvey Outpost. 

And if you’re having so much fun that you want to extend your stay, you can add additional nights for 50 percent off rack rates. 

Wondering what else you can do at this resort? They have a Splash Island floating water park, a three-story inflatable High Tide Slide, onsite Captain RedBeard’s Pirate Show and that hot, new JetLev jet pack ride.

For reservations and information, call toll-free 866-JUST LET GO (587-8538), visit

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Summer in Northwest Florida: Not Over 'Til the Bell Rings

August, in fact, brings on some of the best deals of the year as merchants and accommodations welcome the last of the summer’s visitors.

Shop-n-Play Vacay

Make back-to-school shopping fun. At Destin Commons, families can truly shop and play. Kids can splash in the interactive fountain and will shriek with delight at the new DC Kids Zone’s bounce houses, games and rides (open through Aug. 12).

To shop and play grown-up style, waterfront HarborWalk Village goes far beyond stores and restaurants with live entertainment venues and a fleet of charter boats to take you fishing, snorkeling, diving, parasailing or just sightseeing out on the sparkling emerald-green waters. August is prime billfishing season, so get ready to hook the big one.

At The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, you will find even more shops. The Boardwalk’s restaurants and clubs mean you can play day and night. There’s also nearby Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, a 57-year-old landmark that re-opened this summer after major renovations that included new dolphin, ray and seal encounter programs. {pullquote}

Vacation Procrastination Payoff

It may not earn good grades during the school year, but putting off your getaway until the end of summer is going to earn you big savings in August along the Emerald Coast. The following resorts and rentals are shaving 10 to 45 percent off nightly rates.

The Breakers of Okaloosa Island
Purchase 3 nights and the 4 night is free or receive 15% off your stay.
Valid: From Aug.12-Oct. 31.
*The special is not valid during Labor Day weekend.

Comfort Inn, Wingate by Wyndham and Hampton Inn in Destin
Save 45 percent in August for your last-minute family vacation.
Valid: Aug. 12-31, 2012.

Dale E. Peterson Vacations
Save an additional 10% off our already low rates on quality beach front accommodations in Destin or Fort Walton Beach.
Valid: On stays between Aug. 11-29, 2012 for 3 nights or more.
*To redeem, mention Visit Florida Newsletter.

Newman-Daily Resort Properties
Guests who stay between Aug. 6 and Sep. 2, 2012 will enjoy up to 30 percent off standard summer rates. As a bonus, guests who book with Newman-Dailey will also receive a gift card good toward area activities, including golf, Big Kahuna's Waterpark, free movie rentals and more.
Valid: Aug. 6-Sep. 2, 2012.

Resorts of Pelican Beach
Up to 25% Off regular rates on stays of 3 to 6 night stays or 20% off weekly stays. School is back in session in many places but summer continues on at the beach.
Valid: Aug. 1-Sep. 3, 2012
*For Reservations and more info visit or call 888-735-4226.

ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals
Stay Aug. 6 – Aug. 30, to save on accommodations at condos, townhomes, villas and private vacation home rentals across Northwest Florida. Rates start as low as $95/night at select properties.
Call: 1-800-GO-RELAX
Valid: Travel dates from Aug. 6-30, 2012. Book By 08/27/2012.
*Minimum night stay of 3 Nights. Use promo code LATE10.

SeaCrest Condominiums
Save 10% off website rates at
*Use rate code SC-81.

Venus Condominiums
Save 10% off website rates at
*Use rate code VC-81.

Late-Summer Events

The Emerald Coast parties on throughout the month of August. HarborWalk Village hosts weekly celebrations such as its New Orleans-fashioned Pardi Gras on Tuesdays and Rock the Docks on Saturday nights. For kids, check out the SummerWILD Children’s Camp throughout the month and the Summer Slam Skatepark Contest Aug. 10-12. On Aug. 17, the monthly Fort Walton Beach Art Walk brings a vivacious crowd to downtown for live music, local art and old surfing movies on the lawn.

Last-Chance Suntan

So forget the pencils, books and teachers’ dirty looks for now. Concentrate on this assignment: Finish off your summer on the Emerald Coast, and make memories that will keep you warm 'til next summer comes around.

This article was brought to you by the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. To plan your trip to the Emerald Coast, visit

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LEGOLAND Florida Brick-or-Treat

Summer’s quickly coming to an end but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. LEGOLAND® Florida has a few 'tricks' up its sleeve, including extended their Florida resident Premium Pass offer through August, 31, 2012 so you can enjoy the fun all year long. Plus, the park is having their first big Halloween event, Brick-or-Treat.

During Brick-or-Treat, Miniland USA will be transformed it into a super fun, haunted scavenger hunt where you can search for scary LEGO® creatures hidden within the 30 million LEGO bricks that make up Miniland USA.

There will also be:

  • Trick-or-treating
  • Halloween costume contest with brick-tastic prizes
  • Build your own Halloween themed LEGO model activity station
  • The world’s largest LEGO Jack-O-Lantern

Brick-or-Treat will take place every Saturday and Sunday in October. For more info about this special event and LEGOLAND Florida’s operating schedule, visit

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Photo: Jungle Erv’s Airboat Rides, Everglades City

Mother and daughter enjoy an airboat tour at Jungle Erv’s in Everglades City.

Continue reading Photo: Jungle Erv’s Airboat Rides, Everglades City »

New Hotel at Universal Orlando Resorts – Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Have you heard? Universal Orlando will soon be getting a new hotel onsite – the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This development is a big one, offer 900 family suites with a kitchen that can sleep up to six people. There will also be 900 standard guest rooms – offering both moderate- and value-priced accommodations. The Cabana Bay Beach Resort will be operated by Loews Hotels & Resorts and is scheduled to open in 2014.

What’s more, this hotel is themed completely different from their other onsite resorts, “It will evoke the driving vacations many Americans grew up enjoying with their families – spending time at sweeping motor courts just off the highway, where families relaxed and played after a long day’s drive,” said Tom Williams, chairman and chief executive officer of Universal Parks & Resorts.

The hotel will be built on 37-acres adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure – just off Hollywood Way and Turkey Lake Road. You can’t book your room just yet, but I can tell you that this hotel will provide early park admission (but will not offer free Universal Express Unlimited Access).

Stay tuned!

Continue reading New Hotel at Universal Orlando Resorts – Cabana Bay Beach Resort »

A Storybook Escape: Holiday Inn Resort Orlando (The Kessler Castle)

In the heart of Orlando, right on famous International Drive, a royal experience awaits your family at the Holiday Inn Resort Orlando, also known as "The Kessler Castle". Just to see this property is exciting but to stay here is really magical. Within its renaissance-inspired walls, you’ll find a playful luxury that not only will please picky parents but also finicky kids.

In addition to the unique architecture and authentic Austrian castle detailing, there is a fantasy list of fun for all. First up, the hotel’s Signature Scavenger Hunt is a great way to spend quality time together hunting for the hidden alligator, knight’s swords, Castle Creatures and interesting facts about the fortress itself.

Next up, the Kids' Suites. These themed rooms offer kids their own space in your room with bunk beds, XBox 360, a 19" flat screen TV and a desk. There is also a nightly dive in movie at the heated, huge pool – and be sure to check out their retro arcade, the Galaxy room.

One more goodie on the list of royal treatments – kids 12 and under eat breakfast for free. Got to love that. Visit their website for the latest deals and to make a reservation or call 407-345-1511.

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