CityWalk’s Rising Star Could be You!

If you’re at Universal’s CityWalk and want to have an “American Idol” experience, check out Rising Star. It is simply put – a karaoke bar. But not just any ordinary karaoke is offered here. This 440-seat club features a live band 5 days a week; complete with backup singers, lights, sound system and the works.

I’m not a huge fan of karaoke, but I enjoy good talent, get a kick out of the poor performances and am easily entertained by both. Patrons range from the VERY serious star-wanna-be’s to the guest that has been fed way too much “liquid courage” and has no business being up on stage.

Complaints about Rising Star are the long band breaks, the cover charge ($7), the pricey drinks and so-so food. However, if you know these things going in, it isn’t so shocking and a good time can be had by all. So if you have time and money left over from a day at the theme park, check out Rising Star. Sing a song and have a good time.

Just remember, if you want to really be entertained by some great talent, go to Capone’s Dinner & Show. You’ll be fed well, served plenty of drinks; all for a very reasonable price. It’s far from karaoke, but even the strongest of critics agree – Capone’s is entertaining and worth the visit.

Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock and Rain Forest Café, To Do or Not To Do?

First off I must say if you do not like loud restaurants then you probably will not enjoy any of these themed restaurants. If noisy restaurants do not bother you then there’s a good chance you will enjoy the experience because all three have themes with broad based appeal.

Hard Rock Café is the forerunner of themed restaurants and in my opinion it is the best of the breed. Featuring classic rock music and memorabilia these huge restaurants are really an entertainment option. I have found the food to be hit or miss at the Hard Rock Café’s that I have visited in Orlando and other tourist destinations. Quite honestly the food is average and priced well above average but everyone should go at least once.

Planet Hollywood has star appeal because that’s what the concept is all about. The music is very loud at Planet Hollywood I think noise is an element in most themed restaurants. The memorabilia is the star attraction of Planet Hollywood and Orlando has one of the best collections in the chain. The entertainment aspect is reflected in the prices at Planet Hollywood. Unfortunately the food is not the star attraction but their food is as good as any of the themed restaurants.

My least favorite of the bunch is Rain Forest Café’ for many reasons beginning with the quality and prices. If you are expecting anything other than a silk forest I hate to break it to you but there’s not a live plant in the place. There is a lot of activity going on and is quite stimulating for young children so prepare yourself for it if you have children or not. I have been twice and both times I left disappointed. My most recent visit with my family I had my three year old nephew and my infant great nephew. Their reactions were very different my three year old nephew had a fun time (although the mechanical gator did scare him) while my great nephew was not a happy camper. We all took turns either chasing my nephew or comforting my great nephew. They are VERY busy so many people don’t agree with my opinion. Honestly I would not have picked this restaurant but we went for the kids. One more thing the service has been horrible on both my visits.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – A Favorite

Disney has created the Animal Kingdom theme park with something for everyone to enjoy. Personally the main attraction for me is the Serengeti tour where you get to see numerous breeds of exotic breeds of animals in open spaces and not in cages. A new baby Rhino was born recently the seventh birth of Rhinos at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It will be a few weeks before the new born joins all the other animals in the public view. I have to give kudos to Disney for not only caging the animals but also its breeding program which helps keep breeds from extinction.

Because it’s Disney you know they have some fabulous live shows (not involving the animals) these fantastic shows and superb talent are my second reason I enjoy Disney’s Animal Kingdom so much. Thrilling stunts, acrobatics and great musical productions sure do make their shows a hit!

I’m really not a ride person for the most part but Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers a nice variety of attractions from lame to tame. It’s nice that wide variety of rides that will please young and old.

I guess because I love animals so much my three favorite theme parks in Orlando are Disney’s Animal kingdom, Sea World and my absolute favorite Discovery Cove. If you found this article useful I hope you will registering with us and get updated on every new story on our blog.

Spotlight: Wet ‘n Wild

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 1998 Universal purchased Wet ‘n Wild, then in 2013, the land where Wet ‘n Wild sits was purchased by Universal. Owning the park and land opened the way for Universal to consider updating this water park or building an all-new one – Volcano Bay. This new Universal water park is expected to open in 2017 at which time Wet ‘n Wild will close (at the end of 2016). Enjoy it while you can!

Wet and Wild is Orlando’s oldest water park, however it has consistently added new water thrill rides. If your main attraction to a water park is thrill rides then Wet and Wild is without a doubt your best choice in Orlando water parks.

Many discounts are available for Wet and Wild, but with a gate price of $56 it’s still a good deal. My suggestion is to save some cash. Ticket resellers will offer Wet and Wild Tickets under gate price. They also have discount coupons in many of Orlando tourist magazines. Florida and Orlando residents may be well served to pay gate price, because towards the latter part of the year, you may get the rest of the year for FREE (excludes special events).

Wet and Wild also offers a tamer side with a beach and poolside areas to enjoy the sun plus a HUGE wave pool. There are also areas devoted to younger children with much milder water fun.

Wet and Wild is a great daytime event!

Spotlight: Discovery Cove

Although many visitors to Central Florida first think of Disney, Universal or Sea World as the first stop of their vacation, there just might be an option you’ve never even heard of – Discovery Cove. Yes, it is a part of Sea World, but this park is a stand-alone experience, and could be that unforgettable experience you’ve always wanted to have while on vacation but never thought of.

Discovery Cove offers two types of packages, a dolphin package and a non-dolphin package. Not that there aren’t several reasons to come to this park, but personally, I feel the dolphins MAKE this an experience unlike any other theme park. If you have the slightest interest in these spectacular creatures, you owe it to yourself to participate in the dolphin-swim.  If you’re really into dolphins, book their ‘trainer for the day’ experience. Otherwise you can still feed the birds, snorkel, wade with rays and see beautiful fish.

The package (starting at $199) includes everything for a full day – parking, gear, towels, lockers, breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages. When you add up what you’d pay at other theme parks throughout an entire day, the cost doesn’t seem so extravagant. The dolphin swim is only a part of your day, and you’ll have plenty of time to explore the rest of the park – the Tropical Reef, Wind-Away River, Explorer’s Aviary and Serenity Bay.

The reason to start your vacation at Discovery Cove? When you make your reservation ask about passes to Sea World, Busch Gardens and Aquatica – their sister parks. You just might get to visit them for free! Who knew that the most memorable day of your vacation could be the start to so many other memorable experiences?! Another hint: Spend the extra money and purchase the video/photo package. Although this day will “live in your heart for years to come,” the video of you and your new best dolphin friend (or your child’s) is a way to re-live the first day of your best vacation over and over again.