Welcome to the March Newsletter
Hi Subscriber, welcome to the March 2014 newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide.
SeaWorld seems to have weathered the pressure regarding the Blackfish movie as the Bands, Brew & BBQ music festival comes to an end. It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens for Viva La Musica which starts in April.
As Florida sees record numbers of visitors for the third year running, this month there is also lots of news about theme park tickets, mostly good but some bad as both Disney and Universal raise their prices again with prices creeping every closer to the $100 mark.
There is some welcome news for international travellers arriving at Orlando International Airport as new kiosks are installed to streamline entry through the Customs and Border Security checks.
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Our aim is to bring you the latest news on what is happening in Florida each week with stories from the theme parks, beaches, resorts and everything else that Florida has to offer.
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Kissimmee Instagram Competition
Experience Kissimmee is offering a free 5 night/6 day trip for the lucky winner and up to 5 guests with airfares, accommodation, car hire and several attraction packages thrown in. The first prize includes admission to Gatorland, SeaWorld, a concert at House of Blues, a dinner show at Medieval Times plus both a hot air balloon and an airboat ride.
To enter you need to post a 15 second Instagram video. The competition closes on March 16, 2014.
The competition is only open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous US States.
Tampa Bay City Pass
From May 20, 2014 visitors to Tampa will be able to buy a City Pass which gives you one time admission to five local attractions including Busch Gardens Tampa, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and either the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center or the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).
The tickets will cost $119.00 plus tax for adults and $99.99 plus tax for children aged 3 to 9 and are valid for 9 consecutive days beginning with the first day of use.
If you use all the tickets you could save around $70 on combined admissions.
Record Tourist Numbers
For the third year in a row, Florida has posted record tourists numbers. The previous record was set back in 2007.
In 2013 around 94.7 million people visited Florida, 3.5% up on 2012. Numbers for 2012 were 91.4 million with 85.9 million in 2011.
The South American market continues to see strong growth with record numbers of visitors from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela. Though the UK visitor numbers have also increased, Brazil remains in the number two slot after Canada for international visitors.
Read more about Florida’s growing tourism numbers over the last few years.
New Kennedy Space Center Tour
Both the Kennedy Space Center Up-Close Vehicle Assembly Building Tour and the Up-Close Mega Tour ended in February for operational reasons.
The Kennedy Space Center has now introduced a new Up-Close tour called the Explore Tour. On the Explore tour you get to stop by the Vehicle Assembly Building, NASA Causeway, see some of the launch pads, the Shuttle Landing Facility, the iconic countdown clock, the giant mobile launch crawler, the Operations and Checkout buildings and visit the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
The price is the same as the other tours, i.e. $25 plus the cost of a regular admission ticket.
Read more about the different Kennedy Space Center Up-Close Experiences.
Adventure Island Re-Opens
Adventure Island, the water park near to Busch Gardens re-opens for the 2014 season on March 8. It is open every day until late August and from then until October 12 it is open at the weekends only.
Check out the various ticket options for Adventure Island.
Disney Parade Changes
Disney has revealed that the new afternoon parade that is set to replace the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade which closed at Magic Kingdom back in January, will debut on March 9, 2014.
The new parade is called Festival of Fantasy and features both old favourites like Cinderella and Peter Pan and new characters from Disney’s latest animated features such as Tangled, Brave and Frozen. Amongst the 100 odd performers will be Anna and Elsa from the latest film, Frozen, which opened in 2013 plus of course Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Meanwhile over at Animal Kingdom, the daily parade, Mickey’s Jungle Jammin’ Parade, is having to close this summer after 12 years as part of its route is being redeveloped for the major Pandora Avatar land expansion. There are no immediate plans to replace it.
Latest Florida Deals
We bring you some of the latest deals on hotels, tickets etc. with deals and voucher codes. Note that some deals only run for a short time and we are now starting to see deals specifically aimed at mobile users.
Deals for March include:
- tickets for the Monster Energy AMA Supercross at Daytona
- theme park ticket deals from Undercover Tourist and the Best of Orlando including Legoland Florida, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and Wet ’n Wild
- plus holiday discounts from Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Priceline amongst others
For UK visitors there are a range of special deals on Disney vacations plus some offers from British Airways.
Check out our late Florida deals page for more details.
Gasoline prices have started to creep up again with the average pump price per gallon in Florida at around $3.46, an increase of 12 cents.
The AAA auto club anticipate prices increasing to around $3.75 this year but they do not expect the $4 gallon again.
You can always find the latest pump prices at GasPriceWatch.com.
Orlando Airport Passenger Kiosks
Orlando International Airport is the first airport to introduce a batch of self-service Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks in an attempt to speed up entry through the Customs and Border Security checks. With the Federal budget cuts, queues at Orlando Airport’s international arrivals have been getting longer and longer in recent months.
Visitors will now be able to enter customs declaration details plus basic details about their visit including flight and passport information, finger print scans and facial image into touch-screen kiosks. The passenger is then presented with a photo ID receipt to give to the agent. This should in theory speed up their admission to the USA though time will tell.
Officials reckon that it should reduce the time spent with an agent from around 2 1/2 minutes to just 30 seconds.
The kiosks will only be available to US and Canadian passengers plus any passenger on the visa waiver programme who has visited the USA at least once since 2008. Note that the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will still need to be completed before travel.
Read more about passports and visas.
Theme Park Ticket Promotions
Disney are running a ticket promotion until June 14, 2014. Families of six or more who buy at least a four day ticket, get an extra day for free. This represents a saving of $10 per person.
So a party of six would save $60 on tickets costing $1,764. This is small comfort considering Disney just raised their prices for the second time in less than a year (see story below).
Meanwhile both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have reintroduced their $50 one day weekday promotion that they ran August through December last year. A normal one day ticket costs $92.
The offer is open to US residents only and runs until May 5, 2014. SeaWorld’s 50th anniversary celebration begins March 21.
Over at Fantasy of Flight they are offering $8 off the regular adult admission to Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS workers during the month of March.
Check out the latest ticket promotions at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.
Disney Ticket Price Rises
For the second time in less than a year, Disney has raised ticket prices at the Walt Disney World Resort.
A one day ticket to Magic Kingdom has increased by $4 from $95 to a mouth watering $99 plus tax taking it well over the $100 mark with taxes. The price for Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios also goes up by $4 to $94.
All the multi-day tickets have been increased by between $4 and $15. A 10 day ticket increases from $339 to $354. The price of a Park Hopper and the Water Park Fun & More have also increased by $1 each. The expiry option will now cost between $5 and $15 extra.
Annual passes are up by around $25 for non-residents and $21 for Florida residents.
Since Disney introduced the Magic Your Way multi-day ticket in 2005, a one day ticket has increased by 60%.
Prices for Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, DisneyQuest, Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba and ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex remain unchanged.
There is some good news for UK guests. Special 7 and 14 day tickets bought in the UK have not increased in price at this time and can represent good value if you intend to spend a lot of time at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Check out all the Disney ticket price options.
Universal Ticket Price Rises
Usually Universal are the first to increase prices closely followed by Disney but this time Disney stole a march on Universal by increasing their prices first.
It was only a matter of time before Universal reciprocated and they have now done so, also adding $4 to their one day one park ticket prices and $8 to their one day two park ticket.
The two day one park and two day two park ticket prices have also been increased by $9 and $29 respectively.
To be able to ride the new Hogwarts Express train which will connect the two parks you will need to buy a two park ticket and it is the two park tickets that have seen the greatest increases, 17% for the two day ticket. Universal is clearly looking to cash in on the attraction of Harry Potter.
At this time, their website has not been updated and annual pass prices appear to remain the same. A Two Park Power Annual Pass to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure actually works out cheaper than a two day two park ticket though there are blackout dates.
Read more about Universal’s single and multi-park tickets prices.
Aquatica has announced that the new Ihu’s Breakaway Falls drop slide will open on May 9, 2014.
The new ride features four translucent tube slides, coloured purple, green, orange and blue, each of which offers a slightly different ride.
In three of the slides, riders start by standing up in a “breakaway box”, a clear tube with a transparent floor so you can see straight down and also your fellow riders. Randomly the floors disappear and you never know who will be next. If you cannot face the floor disappearing, the fourth tube is an open slide.
Once you start the ride, you drop around 40 feet in a near vertical free fall at speeds of 20 to 24 feet per second, before entering the four 360 degree loops that circle the tower.
Guests must be at least 48 inches tall to go on Ihu’s Breakaway Falls. The Wet ’n Wild water park is also building a new water slide attraction which will open in the summer.
The Aqua Drag Racer is a four-lane high speed racing mat slide and will replace the Bubba Tub, which is a family tube ride near to the Surf Lagoon.
Guest will reach speeds of up to 15 feet per second whilst travelling head first down the slides. The top of the slide uses intertwined enclosed tubes with a check board themed open slide finish.
Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
March and April 2014 desktop wallpaper calendars
The free Florida desktop wallpaper calendars are available in widescreen and netbook format as well as standard format so if you have a widescreen monitor or a netbook you can download a widescreen calendar.
Free desktop calendars for March 2014 (Seaplane taxing on Lake Dora) and April 2014 (Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel) are ready to download now.
Note that some of the larger files can be up to 1mb in size so if you are on a modem dialup line it will take a few minutes to download.
Click to view and then download the Florida free desktop wallpaper for March or April now.
Also don’t forget if you are looking for inspiration on what to do on your Florida vacation, why not take advantage of our collection of free Florida brochures where you will find information on many activities including golfing vacations, eco-tours, scuba diving and Caribbean cruises.
In March the Commemorative Air Force Airpower Tour and SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Bands, Brew & BBQ music festival plus Busch Gardens Real Music series all come to a close.
Meanwhile at Epcot, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and Flower Power concerts start. SeaWorld also start up their Just for Kids Festival.
This year, Universal’s Mardi Gras concerts continue right through until May.
College Spring Break continues through until April but the annual baseball Spring Training season ends in March.
Blizzard Beach re-opens March 17 after it’s annual refurbishment and Adventure Island also opens on March 8.
Noticeable artists, shows and sporting events on tour in Florida during March include:
- Justin Timerlake
- Sting & Paul Simon
- Disney On Ice: Rockin’ Ever After
- The Harlem Globetrotters
- Miley Cyrus
- Disney Junior Live: Pirate & Princess Adventure
- PBR - Professional Bull Riders
- Jazz In The Gardens
- Julio Iglesias
- Frankie Valli
- War Horse
- Michael Bolton
- Disney’s Beauty And The Beast
- Scott McCreery
- Moody Blues
- Tony Bennett
- Smokey Robinson
- Monster Energy AMA Supercross
Looking further ahead, into April/May there are a number of concerts, shows and sporting events including:
- Jersey Boys
- Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band
- Paul Anka
- Gladys Knight
- Boz Scaggs
- Jack Johnson
- Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss
- Styx & Foreigner
- Bruce Springsteen
- Lady Gaga
- Disney On Ice: Let’s Celebrate!
View a comprehensive list of upcoming Florida concerts.
February saw some exceptional weather in both the USA and Europe when many parts of Southern England were under water. In the US, the southeast was hit by an ice storm with Atlanta and Raleigh badly hit.
Meanwhile at one point 49 out of the 50 US states had some snow covering. Guess which state was snow free - Florida of course!
The National Hurricane Center has also added one more storm to the 2013 season meaning there were 14 storms in the end. Though this is above the average, the 2013 season was weak in terms of hurricanes.
March should see warmer weather with average temperatures and average rainfall.
In the North around Pensacola and Jacksonville, it will be a mixture of sunshine and clouds with the occasional shower. There is a chance of a thunderstorm on the Atlantic coast. Daytime temperatures will be between the low 60s and mid 70s. Overnight temperatures will be in the high 50s dropping down to low 40. Like last month, the Atlantic coast will remain warmer throughout with highs in the low 80s.
Across the Central region, the weather is a slightly warmer with fewer showers and a lot more sunshine but still the odd thunderstorm. Daytime temperatures will be in the mid 60s to low 80s with mid 60s to mid 40s overnight.
Down in Miami and the Keys, the forecast is similar to the Central region but with a lot more sunshine in the Keys. Temperatures will be in the mid 70s to low 80s during the day and high 50s to low 70s overnight.
Check out the rest of the weather for all of Florida including a live weather map, monthly temperature and rainfall charts across the State and the latest hurricane news.
The list of books published in March includes the 2014 edition of PassPorter’s Walt Disney World, Lonely Planet Florida & the South’s Best Trips, Top 10 Orlando and Florida Off the Beaten Path.
March Book List
- PassPorter’s Walt Disney World 2014: The Unique Travel Guide, Planner, Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake! by Jennifer Marx, Dave Marx, Alexander Marx
- Visitor’s Guide to Florida: 2nd Edition by Blair Howard
- Ten Days in the Glades: In the Unforgiving Everglades, Anything Can Happen by Michael Goldy
- Disney Tips & Secrets: Unlocking the Magic of a Walt Disney World Vacation by Roger Wilk
- Ghost Tales from the Oldest City by Suzy Cain, Dianne Jacoby
- St. Augustine in History by Rodney Carlisle
- Lonely Planet Florida & the South’s Best Trips by Adam Skolnick, Adam Karlin, Amy Balfour, Mariella Krause
- Florida’s Uplands by Ellie Whitney, D Bruce Means, Anne Rudloe
- Florida’s Waters by Ellie Whitney, D Bruce Means, Anne Rudloe
- Florida’s Wetlands by Ellie Whitney, D Bruce Means, Anne Rudloe
- Ghost Tales from the Oldest City by Suzy Cain, Dianne Jacoby
- St. Augustine in History by Rodney Carlisle
- Central Florida Thoroughbreds: A History of Horses in the Heart of Florida by Charlene Rose Johnson
- Vero Beach by Teresa Lee Rushworth
- Legendary Locals of Fort Pierce by Jean Ellen Wilson
- Day Hiking Southwest Florida: A Guide to the Best Trail Adventures in Greater Naples and Fort Myers by Johnny Molloy
- Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History by Karen L. Cox
- Top 10 Orlando by DK PUBLISHING
- Florida Off the Beaten Path®, 12th: A Guide to Unique Places by Diana Gleasner, Bill Gleasner
- Moon Florida Gulf Coast by Joshua Lawrence Kinser
- Marjorie Harris Carr: Defender of Florida’s Environment by Peggy Macdonald
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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