March 2006 Newsletter

In This Issue
  • Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
  • Spring Break
  • PassPorter Walt Disney World 2006 Deluxe Book review
  • Mardi Gras
  • Train Travel to Florida
  • March events
  • Weather forecast
March 2006 Florida Review & Travel Guide Newsletter

March 1, 2006

Bringing you the latest news from the Sunshine State
Welcome to the March Newsletter

Hi subscriber, welcome to the March newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide.

On Monday, February 6, George Millay died in San Diego after battling cancer for many years. George Millay was seen by many as the architect of todays water theme parks and with three partners, they opened the first SeaWorld park in San Diego, California in 1964.

They then went on to open another in Ohio and SeaWorld in Orlando in 1973. The following year following a board dispute, George left and started up the Wet 'n' Wild water parks which he subsequently sold in the late 1990s.

There is a fascinating book about George Millay's life, The Wave Maker: Story Of Theme Park Pioneer George Millay And The Creation Of Seaworld, Magic Mountain, And Wet 'n' Wild, read our review here.

The dispute with the Boeing rocket workers has been resolved but at this time, NASA have yet to announce the rescheduled launch dates of the various Boeing Delta rocket launched that had to be postponed. Also the provisional launch dates of the next two shuttle missions appears to have slipped; Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-121 has moved a week from May 3 to May 10 and Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-115 from July 30 to August 28.

On a happier note, Steve Fossett completed another record breaking flight after taking off from the Kennedy Space Center, read more about it below.

March also brings the Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day Celebrations plus Spring Break for thousands of college students.

Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer

The adventurer, Steve Fossett took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on February 8 on another record breaking around the world flight in the specially developed jet aircraft Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer.

His plan was to circumnavigate the globe and then cross the Atlantic for a second time and land just outside London, England.

Despite several problems in flight including 2 bird strikes on take-off, loss of fuel due to a fuel leak, searing cabin temperatures and terrible turbulence he broke the previous record but was forced to make an emergency landing at Bournemouth International Airport in England when the plane suffered generator failure resulting in the loss of all electrical power.

He flew a total of 26,389.3 miles (42,468.3 km) with a flight duration of 76 hours 45 minutes, breaking the previous aircraft long distance record of 24,987 miles (40,211 km) set by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1986 and the balloon long distance record of 25,361 miles (40,813 km) set by Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard in 1989.

When the GlobalFlyer landed, it had just 200 lbs (91 kg) of fuel remaining. The reason for starting from the Kennedy Space Center was because the GlobalFlyer needed 11,500 ft (3,505 m) of runway to get airborne.

Spring Break

You could say that the modern day week long Spring Break dates back to the 1960s with the release of the classic road trip film "Where the Boys Are" which tells the story of four very different college girls who drive to Fort Lauderdale in Florida looking for boys, fun, sun and romance.

During the hippy period of the late 60s and early 70s, alcohol and free love took its toll and some beach communities tried to deter spring breakers.

A lot of students who had previously visited Fort Lauderdale, moved up the coast to Daytona Beach which was easier to get to, cheaper and more lax in their rules.

By the time of the 80s, Spring Break started to mature, becoming less about getting drunk and more about concerts and parties, visiting theme parks, taking part in sports and other activities like surfing, scuba diving and parasailing.

Out of about 1.5 million spring breakers, it is estimated that today, some 500,000 students head for Panama City Beach, the top destination and a further 170,000 head for Cancun, the second most popular destination. Closely behind is Daytona Beach, South Padre Island and the ski resorts of Colorado

To read more about Spring Break in Florida in 2006, click here.

Book Review - PassPorter Walt Disney World 2006 Deluxe

PassPorter Walt Disney World 2006 Deluxe, ISBN 1587710285 is published by PassPorter Travel Press (January 9, 2006).

The PassPorter Walt Disney World 2006 Deluxe book is a unique kind of travel guide that combines a planner where you can plan out your itinerary, an organiser to keep everything together when you visit Walt Disney World, a journal to record your activities and impressions and a keepsake to show your family on your return.

The PassPorter series have won numerous literary awards including the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best First Book by a New Publisher and this years PassPorter Walt Disney World 2006 is published in full colour throughout.

As it says on the back cover "You have only one vacation - make it a trip of a lifetime with PassPorter WDW! Planning is the key to a relaxing, magical, affordable vacation at WDW and this unique guide is your passport to it all !".

All the PassPorter guide books are backed up by a dedicated website where you can review and download corrections and updates. The PassPorter Walt Disney World guide book is written by Jennifer Marx and Dave Marx and is unusual in that it comes in several editions.

To read the rest of this review and details of where you can buy this book, click here.

Another book reviewed this month is USA by Rail, 6th edition by Bradt Travel Guides, read our review here.

Mardi Gras

You don't have to go to New Orleans to immerse yourself in Mardi Gras, there are plenty of places in Florida to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday) has been celebrated in the Southern states for centuries, particularly in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. It is always on a Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, as a precursor to Lent and is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. This year is falls on February 28.

It is not too late to celebrate Mardi Gras as every Saturday night between February 11 and April 22, Universal Studios will be celebrating Mardi Gras complete with 13 parade floats from New Orleans and authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine including Jambalaya, Shrimp Gumbo and Andouille Sausage.

Multi-coloured float riders and stilt-walkers throw strands of beads and doubloons in the crowds as they pass.

As well as the parade, there are also concerts featuring world famous acts. To help the music and the musicians of New Orleans recover from the terrible destruction of Hurricane Katrina, Universal Studios is also putting on a special "Celebrate the Music" program in the French Quarter Courtyard.

To read more about the Mardi Gras celebrations at Universal Studios, click here.

Train Travel to Florida

Though most people tend to fly to Florida these days it is still possible to travel to Florida by rail and Amtrak ticket prices are very competitive.

An adult ticket from New York to Miami can be as low as $100 one way; return tickets are usually twice the single ticket price and Amtrak have weekly special deals with up to 70% discounts on some routes.

The Amtrak Silver Star and Silver Meteor Service routes run daily down the eastern seaboard from New York to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Charleston, Savannah Jacksonville, Orlando and then on to Miami.

Another service on the east coast is the Amtrak Auto Train which runs from Lorton (just south of Washington DC) to Sanford daily and takes around 16 hours non stop. As its name suggests you can take your car, van, SUV or boat with you so you have the convenience of having your own car when you get to Florida but without all the stress of long distance driving.

If you are travelling from the west coast then there is the Amtrak Sunset Limited train from Los Angeles, via Houston and New Orleans to Orlando. It runs three times a week in each direction and takes nearly 3 days (68 hours) to cover the 2,500 miles. Following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, The Sunset Limited is currently only running between Los Angeles and New Orleans; the service into Florida hopes to restart in the Spring of 2006.

To read more about the the various rail routes to Florida with details of schedules, types of accommodation, dining and entertainment, click here.

March Events

One of the main events in March is St. Patrick's Day on March 17th. In Tallahassee on March 11, they are holding the 7th Annual Tallahassee Irish Society's St. Patrick's Parade around Lake Ella starting at 2:00pm (www.saintpatricksdayparade.com for more details).

In Fort Lauderdale there is a St. Patrick's Day Carnival from March 9-12 whilst Destin, Punta Gorda and Ocala all celebrate on March 17.

Hollywood are holding their St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival in Downtown Hollywood at 12 noon on March 12 (visithollywood.org for more details).

The parade in Naples in on March 18, starting at 11:00am and over at Tarpon Springs, they are having a Pre-St. Patrick's Day Party on March 11.

The theme parks tend not too make too much of St. Patrick's Day but Pleasure Island are planning a St. Patrick's Party on March 16-18 from 7:00pm - 2:00am. You do not require club admission to take part. You will also see Irish dancing at the United Kingdom pavilion at Walt Disney World Epcot, don't forget to look out for a leprechaun !!

Daytona celebrates the 65th of the annual Bike Week from March 3-12, with the Daytona 200 motorcycle race at Daytona International Speedway (www.officialbikeweek.com for more details).

The 70th Florida Strawberry Festival runs from March 2-12 and you can enjoy fresh strawberries plus agricultural shows, rides courtesy of Mighty Bluegrass Show's Carnival, parades and contests at the appropriately named Plant City. Every day, there are concerts from well known country artists including Big & Rich and Willie Nelson (www.flstrawberryfestival.com for more details). On March 4-5, Floral City also hold their Strawberry Festival.

In Fort Lauderdale each weekend between Saturday February 11 and Sunday March 19, travel back in time to the Middle Ages at the 14th Annual Renaissance Festival (www.ren-fest.com for more details).

Miami is hosting their 23rd Annual Film Festival with films from around the world from March 3-12 (www.miamifilmfestival.com for more details).

In Orlando, it is the Latin Viva La Musica at SeaWorld on March 4, 11, 18 and 25 where you can enjoy Latin food and listen to great acts in concert including El Gran Combo, reggaeton star Don Omar, Oscar D'Leon and Ivy Queen. All Viva La Musica activities and musical performances are included with park and annual passports admission but food and beverages are extra.

The largest windsurfing event in the US takes place at Merritt Island, March 2-5 at the 21st Calema Midwinters Windsurfing Festival featuring Olympians, professional and amateur competitors.

The 29th Annual Kissimmee Kiwanis Bluegrass Festival takes place March 3-6 at the Osceola Heritage Park, Kissimmee. Featured acts include the Gillis Brothers, The Isaacs, James King and the Lake City Slickers. (www.originalbluegrass.com for more details).

The Tico Warbird Air Show takes place at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville on March 10-12 featuring a number of historic military aircraft. (www.valiantaircommand.com/ for more details).

The Collings Foundation will be continuing their Wings of Freedom Tour with their B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator and B-25 Mitchell. You can see them at Dunnellon Marion County Airport, March 17-19 and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, March 20-22 (www.collingsfoundation.org for more details).

The 3rd Annual Wings 'N Wheels Air, Military & Vehicle Show takes place at St Lucie County International Airport, Fort Pierce on March 25-26. Amongst the display teams expected are the US Army Black Daggers Combat Jump Team, Viper East flying the F-16CJ, the USAF T-6A Texan II Demonstration Team and the barnstorming Red Baron Pizza Squadron (www.slcwingsandwheels.com for more details).

The Florida International Air Show, Charlotte County Airport, Punta Gorda runs from the evening of March 31-April 2 and features the USAF Thunderbirds and US Army Golden Knights.

Over at Fantasy of Flight, Polk City, they are holding their 9th Annual Celebration of Mustangs and Mustangs on April 1 where Ford Mustang cars meet P-521 Mustang fighter aircraft (www.fantasyofflight.com for more details).

Note that due to military commitments the Annual MacDill Air Fest at MacDill AFB, Tampa has been cancelled.

Weather Forecast

February witnessed some very cold temperatures by Florida standards with freezing conditions overnight across the state for several days.

Temperatures in March are expected to be only slightly above average whilst rainfall will be slightly below average.

To start with it is expected be sunny and warm and then turning cooler with intermittent thunderstorms before warming up again. In the North you can expect temperatures in the mid 60s rising to the 70s, possibly the 80s in Jacksonville. From Tampa and Orlando down to the Keys, high 70s/low 80s are forecast.

To check out the rest of the Florida weather including monthly temperature and rainfall charts across the State and the latest hurricane news, click here.

We plan to bring you a newsletter on the first day of each month with details of upcoming events and news from across Florida.

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