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Spring Training in Florida

Though baseball season isn’t quite here just yet, we have arrived at the next best thing: Spring Training in Florida. Our state is a huge hub for baseball during Spring Training, with fans coming out in droves for the opportunity to see their favorite players warm up for the season— and for the chance to see some of the up-and-coming rookies before they hit the majors. According to flasports.com, in 2015, over 1.5 million baseball fans headed down to Florida to see their favorite players get ready for the season. That’s a record-breaking amount of people!

Spring Training in Florida featured team logos

Of course, with 15 different major league teams from all over the country spread out over Florida, its no surprise that so many people are flocking down state come March! With Florida’s fair climate year round, March is the perfect time to take a break from the unending northern winter and head down to get some sun during your favorite team’s pre-season games! Here’s a list of the MLB teams that spend Spring Training in Florida and of where you can find them.

  • The Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista)
  • The Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota)
  • The Boston Red Sox (Fort Meyers)
  • The Detroit Tigers (Lakeland)
  • The Houston Astros (Kissimmee)
  • The Miami Marlins (Jupiter)
  • The Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers)
  • The New York Mets (Port St. Lucie)
  • The New York Yankees (Tampa)
  • The Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater)
  • The Pittsburg Pirates (Bradenton)
  • The St. Louis Cardinals (Jupiter)
  • The Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte)
  • The Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin)
  • The Washington Nationals (Viera)

Clearly there is a widespread variety of teams and locations, which offers each individual sports fan the opportunity of an experience that is unique to their desires for a Florida vacation. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Take advantage of your time in Florida and the location of the teams you decide to watch play! If you are traveling with kids who are itching to see Disney World, consider seeing the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, or the Astros in Kissimmee! If you are aching to get some time in the sand and surf during your trip to Florida, there is a huge variety of teams you can consider who are playing near the coast, with the Red Sox and the Twins both stationed in the same city!

Spring Training in Florida is Highly Recommended

Whether you are a casual baseball fan or a diehard, we definitely recommend Spring Training in Florida. The tickets are typically much, much cheaper than regulation games, and it is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with your favorite players! With the pressure of regulation games off their shoulders and the season only just beginning, the players tend to be a lot more relaxed. Who knows, if you find yourself in the right place at the right time you might end up with an autograph or a photo with your favorite player! Not an easy task during regulation games!

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Bring a ball, hat or other souvenir (or a program if available) and a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie. Come early or stay late, because many of the players will gladly autograph your item, especially if your children ask!

Whether you decide to come down purely for the love of the game or more for the weather, we highly recommend at least spending one afternoon at a pre-season game. The combination of the game, the music, and the new and old players, it’s bound to be a good time for every different type of baseball fan you can imagine.

Now, let’s play ball!

 

Fun things to do this weekend

As usual, Central Florida has plenty of fun things to do this weekend outside of the theme parks to keep you busy.  That is, after you recuperate from the Cinco de Mayo parties!

Our Orlando Predators arena football team will be taking on arch rivals the Tampa Bay Storm this Friday, May 6th.  If you’re visiting or have never been to an arena football game, they are a blast.  The field is smaller than a normal football field so there is LOTS of back & forth action.  The crowd is normally pretty rowdy, but it is good fun, and a great opportunity to check out the new, “green”  Amway Center, home of our Orlando Magic.  (Who, unfortunately, are not continuing in the playoffs.)  For Friday’s game, this is also a special ‘bike night’ so if you are local or a tourist who is riding or have rented a motorcycle, this is a great deal for you.  Special ticket prices and FREE bike parking in front of the arena ($20 value).  Visit www.CarolinaDave.net for all the details.

On Saturday, May 7th, you can check oput the 12th annual Bluegrass Festival at Magnollia Park.  This event runs from 10am to 6pm and features the Porchdogs, Moonlite Express, Pine Creek, the Ramblin’ Rose Bank, and more.

May 6th thru the 8th, you can catch comedian Bobby Lee at the Orlando Improv Comedy Club.  He’s appeared on “The Tonight Show”, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”, and was a regular on “MADtv”.

If theatre is more your taste, the Orlando Cabaret Festival is continuing through May 15th at the Mad Cow Theatre Company.

Also running Friday thru Sunday is the world premier of The Mommies, a musical blog.  This show is playing at the Plaza Live Orlando and is all about moms.  A great idea for Mother’s Day, which is this Sunday.  And, there are lots of options for things to do with mom on this special day.  If Mom is a Disney fan, or you’re in town visiting the Orlando theme parks on Mother’s Day, you might want to check out a couple of Mother’s Day buffets at Disney. The Grand Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel as well as Storyteller’s Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa both feature Disney characters (Cinderella and her princess friends in the Grand Ballroom, and Chip ‘n Dale and friends at Storyteller’s Cafe) and a “Royal Buffet for Mother’s Day”. Also, Capone’s Dinner & Show will be serving up their version of a spectacular Mother’s Day Buffet on Sunday night. On Mother’s Day, all moms receive a carnation flower and special recognition from the awesome characters in the show.  The cost for this Mother’s Day Buffet and Orlando Dinner Show is only $26.99 (plus tax & gratuity) per adult and $16.99 for kids (4-12 years, 3 & under are free).  This includes the show, all-you-can-eat buffet dinner, dessert, and drinks.

Predators Out in Orlando!

Predators face off in Arena Football

Welcome to the jungle! The Orlando Predators host their home opener tonight, March 26, and it should be a great one. For those of us that are suffering from pro football withdrawals, the AFL helps bridge the gap between the NFL seasons. If you’ve never experienced arena-style football, you’re missing some stellar action! It is fast paced, in your face, party like it’s 1999!!!

Friday night games at the Amway Center are the best. Everyone is gearing up for the weekend, and it’s just as much of a party atmosphere as it is a football game. The Prowlers (cheerleaders) are in fine fashion too! Tim Tebow will be the guest of honor at the home opener when the 2-time AFL Champion Orlando Predators face off against the Utah Blaze. Having just came off a great win vs. New Orleans, the Predators are fired up for the season.

The schedule:

  • 03/18/2011 @ New Orleans Voodoo
  • 03/26/2011 vs. Utah Blaze (HOME)
  • 04/02/2011 @ Arizona Rattlers
  • 04/09/2011 vs. Philadelphia Soul (HOME)
  • 04/16/2011 @ Georgia Force
  • 04/23/2011 vs. Spokane Shock (HOME)
  • 04/30/2011 @ Jacksonville Sharks
  • 05/06/2011 vs. Tampa Bay Storm (HOME)
  • 05/14/2011 vs. Cleveland Gladiators (HOME)
  • 05/28/2011 @ Milwaukee Iron
  • 06/04/2011 @ Iowa Barnstormers
  • 06/11/2011 vs. Jacksonville Sharks (HOME)
  • 06/17/2011 @ Tampa Bay Storm
  • 06/25/2011 vs. Georgia Force (HOME)
  • 07/01/2011 vs. Pittsburg Power
  • 07/09/2011 @ San Jose Sabercats
  • 07/16/2011 @ Tulsa Talons
  • 07/23/2011 vs. New Orleans VooDoo (HOME)

Season tickets or single game tickets are available and are priced from as low as $5/game to $1,890 for the front row season. Don’t worry though, there are a lot of options in between these price extremes for some great seats. Any event at the new Amway Center is a treat and with the huge size, close-up seating and unmatched technology you won’t miss a second of the action on the field.

Take in a game, party downtown after the Predators WIN and enjoy football while we can. This coming Fall may leave us with withdrawals all over again.

Orlando Tourist Tip: While many parents love to include their children in various sporting events, we recommend the kids stay at home for this one. If you do plan to bring them, please prepare your children for questionable language, behavior and poor sportsmanship situations. While ‘booing’ is strongly discouraged at high school or little league levels, it is often chanted in the Jungle.

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Central Florida’s Finest

Ernie Els at Bay Hill Palmer Invitational 2010

Orlando golf enthusiasts have an exciting week in store for them. Arnold Palmer’s Invitational at Bay Hill will be going on all week with Youth Day on Monday, practice for the pros on Tuesday, Wednesday’s Pro-Am Tournament; then the rest of the week the competition rounds commence. If you’ve never attended the Bay Hill tournament, or any other PGA event, you should. This one is as magical as the Kingdom just down the road, and the course is nothing short of spectacular!

It would be hard to write an article about golf and not mention Tiger Woods, and with his recent commitment to play this year’s Bay Hill tournament, the competition is sure to be stellar. Of course last year’s winner, Ernie Els, will return, as well as fan favorites – Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Matt Bettencourt, Jim Furyk and a host of other greats. This tournament is considered an honor to play in, and professional golfers all agree there are few greater players than Arnold Palmer.

In the Orlando area, Arnold Palmer and his wife have proven not only their love of golf, but their love to ‘give back’ to some awesome causes as well. The Arnold Palmer Invitational supports the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, which includes the Hospital for Children and Hospital for Women and Babies. Mastercard has teamed up with the charities and you can help by clicking “like” on their Facebook page. For every click, MC will donate $1 to the Medical Center. You may also donate directly to the Arnold Palmer charities by going to their web site.

Spectators will merge to Bay Hill this week to cheer the competition on. There are one-day tickets, various badges and special event tickets being sold all week. Want to go, but don’t have tickets? No problem. Orlando Tourist Tip: You can park at Universal Studios, purchase your one day ticket (must use a credit card – not cash), then take the shuttle bus over to the tournament. Make sure you purchase your ticket BEFORE getting on the bus! For those of you that already have tickets, there is on-site parking (Charger Course – lot #10), but this is limited to certain badge holders only and only on certain days. Be sure to check out the parking rules before heading to the course the day(s) you decide to spectate.

If you want to enjoy the clubhouse or the hospitality area during the tournament, purchase the “Bay Hill Badge” for $300 or “Palmer Pavilion Badge” for $200. If you only care about watching the action, purchase the “Weekly Grounds Badge.” This will get you close to every drive and putt all week and includes parking – a great deal at only $100. It also allows access to the public concessions, so you can still enjoy refreshments throughout the day.

Special events at the tournament include Publix Youth Day in which kids (under 17) get in free with a paid adult (under 12 get in free all week with an adult) and can hit the driving range at the Coca-Cola Junior Clinic. College students get in free Friday with their student ID. Active military receive a free one-day ticket with their ID any day of the week. The most festive special event is the Wine & Dine on 9 which features unlimited food and wine on Friday. The VIP tickets for this event are all sold out, as well as the upgrade tickets, but the basic ticket is still available (at this time) for $85.

Remember to keep your cell phones at home (or in the car), as well as your cameras, video cameras, radios and TVs. There are also no coolers, chair bags or backpacks allowed (larger than 6”). No alcoholic beverages may enter or leave the course and please leave your signs and banners at home. Players will not sign autographs until after their round, so please don’t ask them to! Respect Arnold and the game of golf and enjoy the competition with respect.

It’s going to be a beautiful week for golf here in Central Florida. If you have a day to use during your vacation, or can take a ‘sick day’ from work, there is no better tournament or way to experience the PGA than this week at Bay Hill. Hit the links and enjoy the fierce competition!

Spring Training – Let’s Play Ball!

Spring Training is a great way to see your team while on vacation in the Orlando area.

Having such an extremely cold winter, I am ready for Spring! I’m sick of the cold, but then, I’ve lived in Florida so long anything below 80° is cold. One sign that spring is on its way is the commencement of Spring Training Baseball. Oh yeah! The smell of hot dogs, the pinging sound of a bat making contact, and an umpire yelling, “Let’s play ball!”

If you’re here on vacation, maybe your home team is training nearby. Many major league teams hold spring training camps and exhibition games in Florida. It gives tourists a chance to check out the new lineups while here on vacation. Many locals check on their home team – the Marlins or Devil Rays, as well as their favorite adversary.

At Disney’s Wide World of Sports you have the Atlanta Braves on the roster. The Houston Astros are in the dug-out in Kissimmee at the Osceola County Stadium. And the Detroit Tigers make their spring home in Lakeland at the Joker Marchant Stadium. The Disney Sports Complex is a wonderful venue and hosts many other sports which can often be seen once your ticket gets you into the venue. ESPN’s own Wide World of Sports Grill is fun with large screen tv’s and a menu to suit all ages. Read our review. The Osceola County Stadium is newly built and easy to get to via the FL Turnpike. It’s been awhile since attending a game in Lakeland and don’t remember much about the stadium, but know I had a great time.

Here are the Major League Baseball Spring Training schedules for the Atlanta Braves & Houston Astros – Osceola County teams in the Grapefruit League.

Houston Astros Spring Training
Osceola County Stadium, 321-697-3200

  • Tuesday, March 8, 1:05 p.m., vs. New York Mets
  • Thursday, March 10, 7:05 p.m., vs. Washington Nationals
  • Saturday, March 12, 1:05 p.m., vs. Baltimore Orioles
  • Monday, March 14, 1:05 p.m., vs. Philadelphia Phillies
  • Wednesday, March 16, 1:05 p.m., vs. Washington Nationals
  • Saturday, March 19, 1:05 p.m., vs. St. Louis Cardinals
  • Sunday, March, 20, 1:05 p.m., vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Monday, March 21, 1:05 p.m., vs. Detroit Tigers
  • Thursday, March 24, 1:05 p.m., vs. Tampa Bay Rays
  • Saturday, March 26, 1:05 p.m., vs. Washington Nationals
  • Sunday, March 27, 1:05 p.m., vs. Detroit Tigers
  • Wednesday, March 30, 1:05 p.m., vs. Boston Red Sox
  • Thursday, March 31, 1:05 p.m., vs. Boston Red Sox

Atlanta Braves Spring Training
Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports, 407-939-4263

  • Tuesday, March 8, 1:05 p.m., vs. New York Yankees
  • Wednesday, March 9, 1:05 p.m., vs. St. Louis Cardinals
  • Thursday, March 10, 1:05 p.m., vs. St. Louis Cardinals
  • Saturday, March 12, 1:05 p.m., vs. New York Mets
  • Sunday, March 13, 1:05 p.m., vs. Houston Astros
  • Wednesday, March 16, 1:05 p.m., vs. Boston Red Sox
  • Thursday, March 17, 6:05 p.m., vs. Washington Nationals
  • Saturday, March 19, 1:05 p.m., vs. New York Mets
  • Sunday, March 20, 1:05 p.m., vs. Houston Astros
  • Wednesday, March 23, 1:05 p.m., vs. Florida Marlins
  • Friday, March 25, 6:05 p.m., vs. Detroit Tigers
  • Sunday, March 27, 1:05 p.m., vs. Philadelphia Phillies
  • Monday, March 28, 6:05 p.m., vs. Washington Nationals
  • Tuesday, March 29, 7:05 p.m., vs. Minnesota Twins
  • Wednesday, March 30, 12:05 p.m., vs. Minnesota Twins

Tickets are fairly inexpensive ($15 & up) and a day out at the ballpark may just be what your winter-weary spirit is calling for. So root, root, root for the home team, whichever park you may go. Peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks; I don’t care if Winter ever comes back!!