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Wekiva Island Paint Out – Annual Festival

11th Annual Wekiva Island Paint Out

Wekiva Island Paint Out

Artist paints ‘plein air’ during festival. Photo by Brion Price.

The 11th Annual Wekiva Paint Out is Central Florida’s most popular “plein air” arts festival. During the festival 30 world-renowned artists will create works inspired by Wekiwa Springs’ natural beauty. The event will be located at Wekiva Island at 1014 Miami Springs Drive in Longwood. The town of Longwood is just a short drive from the Kissimmee/Orlando tourist attractions.

There will be an open art gallery and live music beginning on February 27th from 5 until 9 pm and occurring nightly with additional events beginning on Wednesday, March 1st. During the week-long event, guests can participate in a live auction, enjoy complimentary beer and wine tastings, and participate in a “quick draw” workshop, led by artist Hai-Ou Hou. All of this in addition to enjoying the beautiful natural scenery and talented artists.

Most of the week’s events are free unless otherwise noted. Come out and support local non-profits while helping to preserve Orlando nature. All proceeds from art sales will benefit Keep Seminole Beautiful and the Wekiva Wilderness Trust.

Wekiva Paint Out artist

Beautiful scenery is painted during event. Photo by Brion Price.

Wekiva Island Paint Out Schedule of Events

February 26 – March 4

  • Sunday – February 26th
    Artists arrive & get settled for their week long stay at Wekiwa Springs State Park
    Artist Welcome Dinner with Artists, Patrons and Sponsors
  • Monday – February 27th
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    5-9P: Open gallery & live music
  • Tuesday – February 28th
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    5-9P: Open gallery & live music
  • Wednesday – March 1st
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    12-10p: Open gallery & live music
    6-7p: Preview event with complimentary beer and wine + craft beer tasting
    7-8P: Live Auction
    To register for Live Auction, simply email Wekiva Island with your name and number of guests. The first 25 people to register will receive a free beer or wine ticket to be used anytime.
  • Thursday – March 2nd
    All Day: Artists “paint in” around the bar
    12-10p: Open gallery & live music
    10-3p: How to Finish a Quick Draw Workshop with Hai-Ou Hou
  • Friday – March 3rd
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    12-11p: Open gallery & live music
    10-3p: How to Finish a Quick Draw Workshop with Hai-Ou Hou
    Evening Nocturne Painting at the Bar
    5-9p: Pasta Bar, $10.95/person
  • Saturday – March 4th
    10a-4p: Open gallery of work created throughout the week
    12-2p: Quick Draw open event
    6-7p: Private patron reception at Wekiva Island Wet Room/Gallery
    7-11p: All inclusive GALA dinner with live music, beer/wine and wine tasting event.
    Register to participate in Quick Draw, $25/person
    Purchase your Gala tickets, $40/person or $70/couple
Art festival at Wekiva Island

Art can be purchased during the festival. Photo by Brion Price.

If you are a collector or interested buyer, do not miss this opportunity to get a fantastic piece of art and support local non-profits. Art will continue to be sold on Sunday, March 5th, so stop by and get it before it’s gone!

Orlando Tourist Tip: The 11th Annual Wekiva Island Paint Out Gala is the main event of the weeklong festival held on Saturday, March 4th from 7 until 11 pm. During the gala, you can view and purchase works of art done throughout the week while enjoying live local music. For $40 a person, or $70 per couple guests can enjoy a special meal and carving station from Without a Paddle Cafe, as well as wine, beer, and a bonfire on the window. You will not want to miss this event! Purchase your tickets here.

History of the Wekiva Island Paint Out

A philanthropist and nature lover, William “Big Bill” Tippi started the Wekiva Invitational Plein Air Paint Out. Big Bill had an idea to produce this art event to increase awareness of one of our area’s greatest natural resources, the Wekiva River and Wekiwa Springs. Big Bill approached The Friends of Wekiva River (FOWR) and together they hosted the very first Wekiva Paint Out in March 2007 as part of the FOWR’s Riverfest celebration. Bill transferred the event over to the FOWR the following year. While no longer the host, Bill Tippit continues to be a big supporter of the event. He regularly socializes at the events.

In 2009, FOWR decided to cancel the Paint Out portion of their Riverfest event. Fortunately, William Weinaug Jr. stepped in and agreed to sponsor and host the Paint Out at Wekiva Island that year! Like Big Bill Tippit, Bill Weinaug believed the event would be important to increase awareness of the Wekiva River and Wekiwa Springs State Park’s preservation. Seven years later, he continues to host the event annually and support Florida wildlife conservation year-round!

Come be a part of one of Florida’s most renowned art festivals and experience the great outdoors at Wekiva Island.

 

25th Anniversary at Capone’s Dinner Show

The 25th anniversary at Capone’s Dinner Show will be celebrated throughout the year. The theater is located on Highway 192 in Kissimmee, near Orlando’s attractions and theme parks. “25 Years of Memories” will transport guests back in time, not only to the prohibition era, but through 25 years of local show business. Everyone is invited to participate, and there will be multiple ways to get in on the ‘take.’

25th Anniversary at Capone’s Dinner Show

“We are one of Orlando’s original dinner theaters.”

Capone’s dinner theater opened in 1992. “We are one of Orlando’s original dinner theaters,” states John Kucik, owner of Capone’s Dinner & Show. “My original desire was to bring a different type of dinner show to the area, unlike the ‘chain’ theaters. We’ve accomplished that and more. Throughout our 25-year history, many changes have been made to our show and menu. Each transformation successfully freshened the guest experience and improved upon it.”  He and the cast, some of whom have been with the speakeasy since its opening, are looking forward to the celebration.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Pre-order costume accessories, such as a boa or fedora. Pick them up when you arrive for the show and pick up your tickets. It is so much fun to ‘dress the part’ and get into the theme. Save 10% by entering the promotional code “Outfit” when checking out.

Throughout the 25th Anniversary at Capone’s Dinner Show, guests will have unique opportunities to create new memories or share their own. In addition to the nightly gangster shoot out prizes, monthly grand prizes will be awarded on the 25th day of each month. If your business is celebrating an anniversary milestone (25 years & up), a special group discount is available for your mob. Having a 25th birthday this year? The wise guys and gals will make it extra special. Just be sure you’re not the shy type!

Boss Orders Gang to Make 25th Anniversary at Capone’s Dinner Show the Cat’s Meow

A new show, opening this spring, will be preceded by 25 days of special contests, discounts and rewards. Capisce? With loads of comedy, action and audience participation, the stage will be set for plenty of swell memories to be made. If you’ve attend the speakeasy before, become a repeat offender, and check out the new show this spring. It is sure to be the cat’s meow – pleasing all ages.

The only stipulation that the Boss has ordered is you must be ‘made’ to win some of the prizes (purchase a ticket or be present). Once inside the joint, get ready for a blast from the past! Be sure to follow Al & ‘the family’ on Facebook (@Caponesdinnershow), or sign up for our newsletter (http://eepurl.com/WJ2Bv) to receive specific details.

About Capone’s Dinner & Show

Capone’s Dinner & Show is located at 4740 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (Hwy. 192), Kissimmee, FL 34746. The dinner theater is open year-round (with the exception of Sun., Feb. 5, 2017). Reservations for nightly shows can be made online and are deeply discounted. Tickets include parking, unlimited dinner buffet, unlimited drinks (including alcoholic beverages), the hilarious show and a chance to win prizes. A limited number of VIP tickets are also offered nightly. Ask about our on-site hotel, Seasons Florida Resort for overnight accommodations. For information and reservations, phone 407-397-2378 or go on-line to www.alcapones.com. Email info@alcapones.com.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Complete Guide

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival begins this year on March 2 and runs for 90 days, ending May 30, 2016. This is the longest timeframe yet for this Orlando theme park special event. Last year’s festival lasted 75 days.

If you have a pass which allows entrance into Epcot year-round, this is a nice event to plan around. However, most tourists make their plans and then find out they’ll be attending this theme park during the festival (an extra bonus). Either way, you’ll appreciate this complete guide to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and find some great tips.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival itself is included in your ticket, however, some events cost extra, as well as the food at the Outdoor Kitchens. Festival highlights include:

  1. Garden Topiaries (those really cool Disney characters made from living plants)
  2. Outdoor Kitchens (where you can sample some great food)
  3. Music Concerts (free!)
  4. Weekend Events (including great tips for gardeners)

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: A fun thing to do is to pick up a Garden Passport and collect stamps for several stops. You can check off the topiaries you find, the gardens you visit and the kitchens you purchase food from. The booklets are available at several locations (or download ahead of time) and they make a nice souvenir for your Orlando vacation. The booklet lists foods available, beverages, where to locate gardens and much more! Read on for other fun things to do with children…

Topiaries at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Topiaries

Epcot is beautiful year-round, however, during this festival they go above and beyond in the gardens. You’ll find dozens of garden scenes beginning at the entrance of the park with this year’s new topiary featuring Huey, Dewey and Louie along side their uncle Donald Duck and Daisy. The scene is based on “The Victory Garden,” a 1943 Donald Duck comic book. There are over 100 topiaries located throughout the park. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Returning guests will want to check out the NEW! topiaries listed here. Keep your eye out for these most popular scenes:

  • Anna and Elsa from Frozen Located at Norway Pavilion
  • Bambi & Friends Featuring Bambi, Flower and Thumper Located at the Canada Pavilion
  • Beauty and the Beast Located at the France Pavilion
  • Buzz Lightyear from the Disney•Pixar Toy Story Located near Mission Space
  • Woody from the Disney•Pixar Toy Story Located at The American Adventure
  • Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey and Louie – NEW! Located at the Front Entrance
  • Fantasia Located at Future World West
  • Floral Sun – NEW! Featuring a large landscape with vibrant sunbursts Located behind Spaceship Earth
  • Lady and the Tramp Located at the Italy Pavilion
  • Minnie Mouse & Pluto – NEW! Located at Showcase Plaza
  • Peter Pan, Captain Hook & Tick Toc Crock Located at the United Kingdom Pavilion
  • Ranger Mickey & Friends – NEW! Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Located at Future World
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Located at the Germany Pavilion
  • The Lion King Featuring Mufasa, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Sarabi, Simba and Timon
    Located at The Outpost between the Germany and China Pavilion
  • Winnie the Pooh & Friends Located at the United Kingdom Pavilion

Outdoor Kitchens during the Festival

This year the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will feature 13 Outdoor Kitchens with two brand new ones – La Isla Fresca and Cider House. Each kitchen offers a small sampler dish (at an additional cost) with cuisine from that region of the world. It can cost hundreds of dollars to taste a sample from each kitchen, so be sure to read the following and pick out the dish you want to try to help stay within your budget. Most dishes will cost between $5-$10.

The Outdoor Kitchens for 2016 are:

  • Bauernmarket: Farmer’s Market – NEW!
    Next to the Germany Pavilion. Ice cold brews and an “organic” champagne apértif with elderflower and mint—a refreshing pick-me-up that’s ideal for spring. Guten tag!
  • Cider House – NEW!
    Near the United Kingdom Pavilion. Try a variety of buzz-worthy ciders and artisanal provisions that may inspire a playful picnic .
  • Fleur de Lys
    France Pavilion. Try the colossal raspberry and fudge macaron—it’s waiting for you to relish and share!
  • Florida Fresh
    Between the Morocco and France Pavilions. Sweet and tangy creations made from locally grown fixings. Pair your picks with an adult thirst-quencher—wine, craft beer or a sweet watermelon juice or slush.
  • Hanami
    Japan Pavilion. Innovative plates like the festival-favorite Frushi—fresh fruit with raspberry coconut rice, toasted coconut and whipped cream—are a hit with kids and adults alike.
  • La Isla Fresca – NEW!
    Showcase Plaza. Caribbean-inspired fare seasoned with jerk-spice or carefully braised. Enhance this tropical tasting with a frozen drink or dessert.
  • Jardin de Fiestas
    Mexico Pavilion. Let your appetite build as you explore a medley of tantalizing tapas and exotic elixirs, each boasting a hint of botanical flavors.
  • Lotus House
    China Pavilion. The tranquil courtyard is the ideal spot to sink your teeth into small plates of contemporary Chinese food and sip fruity bubble tea with your little ones.
  • Pineapple Promenade
    Showcase Plaza. There are plenty of tart and tangy items to try—including pineapple-flavored soft-serve, frozen lemonade and the popular spicy hot dog topped with chutney.
  • Primavera Kitchen
    Italian Old Country dishes like the new egg pasta stuffed with ricotta, spinach and spring veggies.
  • Taste of Marrakesh
    Morocco Pavilion. Choose from a trio of spice-infused Mediterranean masterpieces and cocktails such as white sangria or sparkling wine with a pop of pomegranate liqueur.
  • THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews
    American Adventure Pavilion. Slow-cooked specialties—the perfect fixin’s for a springtime gathering with family and friends. Think lip-smacking sliders, brisket, smoked ribs and a mighty fine selection of golden craft brews.
  • Urban Farm Eats
    Showcase Plaza. Delve into a vivid spread of healthy and all-natural food and drinks presented on stylish, eco-friendly serving ware. This stop provides a bounty of inventive tips for growing your own groceries at home.

Little River Band

Garden Rocks Concert Series

If you are attending Epcot on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can catch a great concert for free! Performances are held at the America Gardens Theatre (between Japan & Italy) at 5:30, 6:45, and 8 p.m. and are included with park admission. The concerts are only 30 minutes in length, so if you miss the earlier one, return for another performance a little later. Several of these groups return each year. New acts are noted as NEW!

The 2016 Music Lineup includes these popular acts:

  • March 4-6 – The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”
  • March 11-13 – Starship starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
  • March 18-20 – Little River Band “Reminiscing”
  • March 25-27 – Village People “Y.M.C.A.”
  • April 1-3 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am”
  • April 8-10 – The Guess Who “American Woman”
  • April 15-17 – Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice “Spinning Wheel” NEW!
  • April 22-24 – BRIAN HOWE, former lead singer of Bad Company “Can’t Get Enough” NEW!
  • April 29-May 1 – Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” NEW!
  • May 6-8 – Gin Blossoms “Hey Jealousy”
  • May 13-15 – Darlene Love “Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home”NEW!
  • May 20-22 – Night Ranger “Sister Christian”
  • May 27-30 (Monday) – The Spinners “Working My Way Back to You”

Weekend Events at Epcot

From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the weekends, you’ll discover many special seminars and presentations scheduled during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Be sure to attend a how-to demonstration at the Festival Center and get some great advice for your own garden!

Locations where the events take place:

  • Garden Information Desk – Ask questions of Master Gardeners from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS) at the University of Florida.
  • Garden Theater – See the making of the Festival
  • Horticulture Heritage – See how horticulture has played a role in creating Walt’s vision
  • Greenhouse Stage – Gardening specialists will share their expertise at 11:00am and 2:00pm
  • Fresh Epcot Stage – Demonstrations from experts at 12:00pm and 3:00pm
  • Spotlight Stage – Planting tips from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS) at the University of Florida.
  • Festival Stage – A variety of horticulture topics
  • Intermissions Cafe – stop by for a selection of wine, cheese, wraps and salads
  • Festival Center Shop – Flower & Garden Festival-themed merchandise and more.

Family-friendly Events:

  • Art in the Garden Weekend: April 1 to 3, 2016
    View nature through the eyes of “Plein Air” artists and appreciate one-of-a-kind Disney works of art on display within the World Showcase from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • NEW! Outdoor Family Fun Weekend: April 8 to 10, 2016
    Reap the benefits of sharing quality time together at select Festival gardens. As a bonus, animal specialists from Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be presenting an exhibit on how bugs play an important role in helping a garden thrive. Check it out at the Festival Center from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Earth Day Weekend: April 22 to 24, 2016
    Celebrate the place we call home, where you can enjoy interactive activities, discoveries and more! Plus learn about the efforts to protect coral reefs and other marine life at The Seas with Nemo & Friends®―a special tribute to the amazing creatures that dwell in our vast oceans.
  • Florida Fresh Weekend: April 29 to May 1, 2016
    Explore the bounty of the Sunshine State from Apalachicola to Zellwood at this Festival Center-based event.
  • Florida Federation of Garden Clubs: May 6 to 8, 2016
    Marvel at amazing flora designs that defy description inside the Festival Center from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Special Activities for Children & Garden Destinations

While the grown-ups will appreciate the work that goes into the gardens, this Orlando theme park event has special activities for kids too. While you are checking off the various gardens, be sure to allow extra time at these two for your kids: Music Garden Melodies Playground along the Imagination Walkway between Future World and World Showcase and the Cactus Road Rally
located along the Test Track Walkway.

Music Garden Melodies Playground – NEW!
This garden features Disney’s “Fab Five” topiaries, including bandleader Mickey Mouse and his fellow members Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck. It is hands-on, and after dark it really lights up! Children can play instruments like drums, chimes and xylophones—and tap into their adventurous side by tackling state-of-the-art net climbers. Music-themed plants also add a clever touch to this sonic scene.

Cactus Road Rally
Inspired by the Disney•Pixar film Cars, this playful area features a canopied jungle gym and eye-catching cacti. Topiary buddies Mater and Lightning McQueen invite parents to relax and recharge while your kids race around in a desert-themed mini park.  ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Enjoy an “I Spy” moment by taking turns pointing out the various auto parts scattered among colorful flower beds.

Other Kid-friendly activities include:

  • Butterflies on the Go – Kids will have an opportunity to observe several species up-close, learn about their life cycles and may even witness them emerging from cocoons.
  • Purple Martins – See an incredible species of small migratory songbirds that have undergone an impressive 3,000-mile journey from the Brazilian Amazon to raise their families at Walt Disney World Resort.
  • Ranger Mickey and Friends – Pose for a family photo with this spectacular topiary and then find your closest neighborhood park with the help of the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service.
  • Backyard Habitat – Unearth sources of inspiration to construct your own wildlife-friendly spaces at home.
  • Nature Works Everywhere – Kids will absorb amazing tips on how to create gardens that will help their school yards filter water, provide welcoming habitats and improve soil quality.

More Gardens (for Adults to really enjoy) and Tours include:

  • Bonsai Collection – ancient art producing amazing miniature trees.
  • English Tea Garden – 20-minute guided tour (sign up) & self-guided tours.
  • Floating Mini-Gardens – petite plots drifting on the ponds.
  • Prehistoric Plants – greenery that existed when dinosaurs roamed the earth
  • Health & Healing Garden – discover ancient plants that have the ability to heal.
  • Pepper Fire Garden – the world’s hottest peppers.
  • Shakespeare Garden – can you match up famous quotes to flowers
  • EPCOT® Gardens of the World Tour – designed especially for garden enthusiasts! Three-hour tour at an $ additional cost.
  • Behind the Seeds Tour – Interact with amazing plants, insects and fish—and even see alligators. One-hour walking tour at an $ additional cost.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: For Annual Passholders, be sure to pick up one of three special edition prints from Disney artist Don “Ducky” Williams. They are available (while supplies last) at Innoventions West behind Club Cool. You must show a photo ID and valid annual pass or MagicBand.  One print per Passholder per month.

  • Donald Duck Print – March 2-31, 2016
  • Goofy Print – April 1-30, 2016
  • Mickey Mouse Print – May 1-30, 2016

Lighted Magical Accessories: Children will love attending at night if you purchase special accessories that light up as you travel around World Showcase. Choose from the Mickey Ear Hat, Minnie Mouse Headband, Mickey Mouse Glove and the Sorcerer Mickey Wand.


As you can read in this complete guide to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival there is a lot going on during this featured event! It is one of the best times of the year to visit Epcot. Not only is the Orlando theme park extraordinarily beautiful, the flowers and gardens provide more things to see and do. Best of all, most of it is free!

Complete Guide to Universal Studios Mardi Gras

The Universal Studios Mardi Gras event creates a great atmosphere to visit this Orlando theme park from February through mid-April. Add to it the theme park ticket offer of “buy a two-day ticket, get a third day for free” and you have a real good atmosphere! Plus, the free concerts help make higher attendance weekends more bearable. A two-day, two-park pass is $194.99, so make the most of your visit. Here’s how…

Discounted Theme Park Tickets

First, let’s clarify the ticket deal. The third day free is valid for residents of the U.S. and Canada. The park-to-park tickets let you go to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the same day. The ticket deal is on sale through April 12, however, April 16 is the last concert of Mardi Gras. All 3 days of your ticket purchase must be used by May 31. Good news is there are no black out dates. If you are a Florida resident only wanting to get in on the Mardi Gras event, there is an “after 5pm” ticket for $69.99 plus tax. Call 407-224-7840 to get the deal, or pay $10 more at the gate.

Best Days to Attend Universal Studios Mardi Gras

If you have the luxury of choosing the days to visit this theme park, check out the concert schedule and find the artist performing that you enjoy the most. Remember, if they are your favorite, chances are they are a favorite of many others. Use one of your 3 days on this Saturday (or Sunday). Spend the other 2 days that are included with your ticket on a day that is less busy so you can ride the popular attractions without the long lines. Once the parade starts, the attractions and rides close. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The least busy days of all during Mardi Gras are the first two weeks of February during week days. Crowds become heavier leading up to Spring Break the last few weeks of March and do not slow down until after mid-April.

The concert line-up for 2016 is:

  • Saturday, February 6: Hunter Hayes
  • Saturday, February 13: Diana Ross
  • Sunday, February 14: Barenaked Ladies
  • Saturday, February 20: Nate Ruess
  • Saturday, February 27: Fall Out Boy
  • Saturday, March 5: Kool & The Gang
  • Saturday, March 12: The Fray
  • Sunday, March 13: Adam Lambert
  • Saturday, March 19: Shawn Mendes
  • Sunday, March 20: 3 Doors Down
  • Saturday, March 26: REO Speedwagon
  • Saturday, April 2: T-Pain
  • Saturday, April 9: Jessie J
  • Saturday, April 16: Yandel

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Parade

Mardi Gras Parades

The Universal Studios Mardi Gras parades are held on event nights only. They usually begin at 7:45 p.m. (or earlier depending upon concert schedule) and last approximately 25 minutes. Unfortunately, if you want to see the concert, you may need to skip the parade. It isn’t uncommon for people to start lining up for the best concert viewing several hours before the concert starts. Expect the concerts to be packed. If viewing the parade is more important than the concert, the parade route allows good viewing and bead catching just about anywhere. Hollywood Blvd. and New York are great places for viewing and getting some nice photos. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you have children, stay close to the Little Jester’s Parade viewing area in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop (near the Terminator 2: 3-D attraction). In the past, this has been a parade stop with special entertainment. The area near the Music Plaza (adjacent to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem) is not as kid-friendly. Regardless of where you view the parade, an early stake-out is required to get front row viewing (at least 45 minutes prior to the parade start).

French Quarter Cuisine

Zydeco Music and Great Food

Be sure to visit the French Quarter Courtyard located in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida near Battery Park. Other performers provide music before the headliner concert and can really get you into the Mardi Gras spirit. While these artists are less-known, many come straight from The Big Easy and offer authentic zydeco music. Enjoy some New Orleans cuisine as you listen. Cajun favorites are available such as beignets, jambalaya or gumbo for about $8 to $10. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The Courtyard opens at 4:00 p.m.

Additional Party for Adults

If you are 21 or older and want to continue partying after the Mardi Gras concert, be sure to use your theme park ticket at CityWalk. Your admission ticket to Universal will also get you into clubs that stay open until 2:00 a.m. Stop in at Pat O’Brien’s which is CityWalk’s Mardi Gras headquarters.

Hopefully these pointers will help you get the most out of your days visiting Universal Studios Mardi Gras. It is tagged as “Florida’s Biggest Party” and not to be missed if you are one to “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” – Let the good times roll!

Tips for Orlando Theme Park Halloween Festivals

Halloween Scream

Seasonal activities await at nearly every attraction, so here are some helpful tips for Orlando theme park Halloween festivals. Though Orlando may not experience the typical telltale signs of fall, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy Halloween and fall festivities, we just get to enjoy them in our shorts and flip flops! So our first tip is to pack some summer clothes. It can get very hot wearing a costume. Which theme parks allow costumes? Which attractions are kid-friendly? Which event is the most frightening? Here’s a quick rundown of the Orlando Theme Park Halloween Festivals and some tips to help you enjoy them!

If your child wants to trick-or-treat while vacationing in Orlando, you have 3 great alternatives:

  1. Walt Disney World’s “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” at Magic Kingdom
  2. SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular
  3. LegoLand’s Brick-or-Treat

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom

Disney's Halloween EventIn true Disney fashion, “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” at the Magic Kingdom is a great Orlando theme park Halloween festival. It is great for families with kids of all ages, especially if they don’t care to be scared. The park is filled with spooky (enough) characters and decorations, and children are encouraged to dress up and trick-or-treat at the many candy locations set up throughout the park. This is the one time of year guests can count on meeting their favorite villains and some less commonly seen characters, with Scar, Tarzan, Abu, and the seven dwarfs all on the list of characters that have been seen at this year’s Halloween party.

Hallowishes, Disney’s fireworks show, is a big draw for guests; the sky is lit up with fireworks as spooky tunes and villain anthems are broadcast throughout the park in a spectacle much unlike Magic Kingdom’s normal firework show. The “Boo-to-You” Halloween parade that runs twice during the event is also unique and entertaining to all ages, with gravediggers, ghost dancers, and fun fall-themed floats bringing something to the table for all ages to enjoy. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary runs on select dates between September 15th and November 1st. It is a separate ticketed event and is not included in regular park admission.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIPS: If your child is under 9 years of age, they are welcome to wear their own costume. Some restrictions apply, so make sure to read all of the details on their web site. Be sure and check out Cinderella’s Castle during the evening show. Special merchandise and food items are available only during this special event. Plan on spending extra money, because they are irresistible!

Sea World’s Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld Halloween eventSeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is a family-friendly Orlando theme park Halloween celebration. It too offers children the chance to dress up in their favorite costumes, trick-or-treat throughout the park and do many other Halloween themed activities. This event is definitely geared toward young children, with one of the main events titled “Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween,” which is hosted by characters like the Count Von Count and Elmo.

Other key events include “Penelope’s Party Zone,” where children can dance to the Halloween themed music broadcasted by a live DJ, listen to scary Halloween stories and do other fun activities. This event is great for families with younger children, with its range of activities, child-friendly spooks, and fun characters. Sea World’s Halloween Spooktacular is included with your admission and runs on select weekends throughout the month of October.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIPS: Enjoy a Spooktacular breakfast (additional fee) at a special Dine with Shamu Spooktacular Brunch. This is a very fun and memorable meal for the entire family.

LegoLand’s Brick-or-Treat

halloween legoland floridaThe third alternative for trick-or-treating at Orlando theme park Halloween festivals is at LegoLand Florida. The annual Brick-or-Treat takes place only on weekends in October. Your children can enjoy trick-or-treating and super brick build activities. Who wouldn’t want to see a 12-foot long LEGO Hearse? Halloween entertainment and an all-kids costume contest with brick-tastic prizes are also offered. During this time of the year, the water park is still open on weekends, so tickets are a great value.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: LegoLand is not open every day during October, so be sure to check their site prior to planning your trip. The world’s largest LEGO Jack-O-Lantern will be there, which makes a great backdrop for a memorable family photo. This Halloween event is perfect for children 12 years and under, especially if they like to build things.

Orlando Theme Park Halloween Events for Older Kids & Adults that LIKE to be Scared

For older children, teens and adults that like to have the living daylights scared out of them, there are two alternatives at Orlando theme park Halloween festivals – Tampa’s Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. If staying in Orlando, HHN is your best scare. If you aren’t spooked by the sometimes “terrifying” drive on I-4 to Tampa, then Howl-O-Scream offers a pretty frightening experience.

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream

Howl-o-Scream

Starting September 25 and running through the end of October, Busch Gardens features their annual Howl-O-Scream event on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 pm to 1:00 am. This year’s event features “Unearthed,” a mysterious buried house which has been opened to the public (one of 7 haunted houses). Tickets at this Central Florida theme park Halloween event vary, as there are many “evil” upgrades.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Download an event map before you get to the park, so you will know where the haunted houses are and can attend the frights high on your list. Expect long lines at Falcon’s Fury. Thursdays and Sundays are less crowded. This event is not recommended for children.

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights

This event is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure! In fact, this Orlando theme park Halloween festival is not recommended for anyone under 13. There are also no costumes or masks allowed. They are not needed; it certainly will be a night filled with horrors for anyone brave enough to attend. Guests at Universal Orlando HHN should be prepared to be chased by blood-covered doctors with chain saws or clowns that will make even the bravest of people shudder. This event boasts nine haunted houses, five scare zones, and two Halloween themed shows, making the terror pretty hard to avoid. If you love scary movies and haunted houses, this is definitely the Orlando Halloween event for you. Halloween Horror Nights runs on select nights between September first and November first.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIPS: Be sure to attend Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. It is great FUN. Ticket prices vary with several upgrade options. Be sure to look for special passes on sponsoring products and at many local fast food restaurants.

Tips for any of the Orlando Theme Park Halloween Events:

  • If you have little ones, a daytime visit to any theme park is fun, however, if you want the scary screams and thrills, night-time is the best time at some parks, without the kids. Not all of the rides will be open, but it is still a good value.
  • While the weekends are still rather busy, you can find some of the best theme park ticket deals during the week. Open hours may be shorter, but so are the lines for the rides. Instead of spending a good portion of your day standing in line, you can enjoy the entire theme park in less time. You will not need the extended hours – unless you want to add in the frights!
  • Be sure to plan your Halloween visit to the theme parks based upon the level of fright that you can withstand. If you do not care for the frights, go during the day and enjoy the smaller crowds and Halloween decorations. It is a great time to visit the theme parks.
  • If you want to avoid Halloween altogether, consider spending the evening enjoying an Orlando dinner show such as Capone’s Dinner & Show. They offer a special treat without any tricks. If you want to dress-the-part and wear a fedora or boa, they sell cheap costume accessories which can really make the evening fun.

This is a great time of the year to visit the parks and attractions. Special event tickets can extend a fun day into a frightful night you’re sure to remember. Each park has something unique to offer. Whatever Orlando theme park Halloween event you may attend, be safe and enjoy.