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April 2008 Newsletter

In This Issue
  • Theme Park Attendance
  • Rockit Ride
  • Book Review - Universal Orlando 2008
  • Space news
  • Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
  • April events
  • Weather forecast
April 2008 Florida Review & Travel Guide Newsletter

April 1, 2008

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

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

Despite the fall off in overall visitor numbers to Florida in 2007 as reported last month, theme park visitor numbers have actually increased in 2007, see news story below.

NASA missions

NASA have completed another successful shuttle mission to the International Space Station. For the first time in a long time there was both a night-time launch and night-time recovery landing for the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

The next shuttle launch is for the Space Shuttle Discovery on May 25 but it is likely it will be delayed because of delays in the manufacture of the external fuel tanks.

Distinctive Destinations

The National Trust for Historic Preservation have named the town of Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle as one of their Dozen Distinctive Destinations. In previous years only two other Florida towns have been recognised, namely Fenandina Beach and Key West.

So if you are looking for the real Florida, why not visit the charming coastal town renowned for its seafood, waterfront, eclectic shops and historic buildings dating back to the 1800s.

You will find Apalachicola in Franklin County on the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest FloridaÕs panhandle, about 80 miles southwest of Tallahassee. It is often referred to as Florida's Forgotten Coast.

Sharks and Stingrays

The number of deaths from shark attacks is very low (only one in 2007) but sharks continue to feature in the news. An Austrian tourist diver was killed after being bitten by a shark on a cageless shark-dive excursion in Bahamian waters.

Since 2001, feeding sharks has been banned in Floridian waters but some companies will take divers out to the Bahamas to swim with tiger sharks, bull sharks and great hammerheads.

And in a freak accident, a boater was killed after being hit be a Spotted eagle ray weighing about 75 pounds which jumped out of the water and hit the sunbather on the deck of a pleasure boat off the Florida Keys.

Florida books published in April

This month there is pretty mixed bag of books about Florida published in April and as before some have been delayed from previous months, but they include:
  • Delray Beach, Florida
  • Drive Around Florida : Your Guide To Great Drives by Mick Sinclair
  • Florida for Families cover Florida for Families by Larry Lain
  • Passport to Your National Parks Companion Guide Southeast Region by Randi Minetor
  • University of Florida: The Need to Know, Where to Go Guide to College Life
  • Where Orlando - Eat : Great Meals Wherever You Are by Where Magazine
  • Where Orlando - Shop : Great Shopping Wherever You Are
  • St. Petersburg & Clearwater FL Street Atlas
  • Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park
  • Where Orlando Cityguide
  • Florida's People During the Last Ice Age
  • Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators: More Stories about Real Florida
  • Frommer's Walt Disney World & Orlando with Kids
  • Walt Disney World Insider's Guide 2008/2009 (Zagat Walt Disney World Insider's Guide)
  • Beach and Coastal Camping in Florida by Johnny Molloy
  • Everglades an Ecosystem Facing Choices and Challenges
  • Florida State University Football Vault
  • The Complete Florida Beach Guide
  • Those Magical Manatees

Theme park attendance figures for 2007

Though there has been a slight drop in the number of tourists to Florida in 2007, attendance at the major theme parks has gone up according to the Themed Entertainment Association-Economics Research Associates' Attraction Attendance Report for 2007.

North American theme parks have seen an average 2.5% increase and not unexpectedly, Disney's Magic Kingdom is still the most visited theme park in the world with over 17 million visitors estimated during 2007. In fact Disney take the top 8 positions worldwide with an estimated total of over 116 million visitors.

Water parks have seen much bigger increases and again, Disney takes the top 2 slots with Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach around the 2 million mark each, followed by Wet 'n Wild with 1.3 million visitors.

The North American rankings for 2007 are:
  • #1 Magic Kingdom, 17.1 million
  • #2 Disneyland at Anaheim in California, 14.9 million
  • #3 Epcot, 10.9 million
  • #4 Disney's Hollywood Studios, 9.5 million
  • #5 Disney's Animal Kingdom, 9.5 million
  • #6 Universal Studios Florida, 6.2 million
  • #7 SeaWorld Orlando, 5.8 million
  • #8 Disney's California Adventure at Anaheim in California, 5.7 million
  • #9 Islands of Adventure, 5.4 million
  • #10 Universal Studios Hollywood at Universal City in California, 4.7 million
  • #11 Busch Gardens Africa, 4.4 million
  • #12 SeaWorld San Diego in California, 4.3 million
The only change in the top 12 rankings was SeaWorld Orlando moving up from 8th to 7th position and pushing Disney's California Adventure down into 8th place.

To read more about all of Florida's theme parks, click here.

The Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit

Universal Studios continue to make the news with another new ride announced. In Spring 2009, a new roller coaster called The Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit will open featuring six near-miss moments, a record-breaking loop and eight corkscrew turns.

Rockit will rise 167 feet in the air, making it the tallest coaster in Central Florida with speeds of 65 mph and high-intensity, multi-sensory experience It will will be located near the park entrance, between the Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast ride and the Sharp Aquos Theatre where the Blue Man Group perform but bits of the track will spill over into CityWalk and the lagoon.

Billed as the most technologically advanced roller coaster in the world, utilising the latest digital technology, it will feature high-energy video displays in the waiting line and numerous digital audio and video high-intensity, multi-sensory effects during the ride. In fact you will be able to select your own music for the ride and create a music video which you can then edit and download before post on video-sharing web sites.

The Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit is the latest in a series of announcements made by Universal in the last twelve months. Already Universal have announced the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter", the The Simpsons Ride and Disaster! A Major Motion Picture RideÉStarring You!

To read more about Universal Orlando, click here.

Book Review - Universal Orlando 2008: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure

Universal Orlando 2008: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure is an unofficial guide to Universal Orlando and is written by Kelly Monaghan.

The first edition was published in March 2000 and it has been revised each year ever since.

The 2008 edition has been fully updated to include the latest changes at CityWalk and includes the first reviews of Universal's newest attraction, the Blue Man Group.

Kelly Monaghan is no stranger to Orlando and also authors The Other Orlando: What to Do When You've Done Disney and Universal as well as other travel related titles.

It is by far the most comprehensive guide to Universal Orlando. An alternative or supplementary choice is Beyond Disney: The Unofficial Guide to Universal, SeaWorld & the Best of Central Florida.

To read the complete review of Universal Orlando 2008: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure, click here.

Space News

As the shuttle program draws to a close, other commercial companies are looking to space tourism so if you ever fancied experiencing weightlessness or wished to see the Earth from a totally new perspective then the opportunity may not be far away if you have sufficient money.

Zero Gravity Corporation

A Virginia based company, Zero-G offers zero-G flight experiences using a converted Boeing 727 airliner flying out of the Kennedy Space Center and Las Vegas, Nevada. The cost of a flight is around $4,000.

There are about 30 flights a year from Florida and during each 90 minute flight, passengers experience weightlessness for seven to eight minutes during 30 second climbs and dives along a parabolic path.

Children as young as 8 can fly if accompanied by an adult and there is no maximum age limit.

XCOR Aerospace

A small Californian company, XCOR Aerospace have announced a two-seat (one passenger plus the pilot) sub-orbital spacecraft, the Lynx, which could be flying inside two years.

The Lynx will take off from a conventional runway and then using its liquid fueled rocket engine, accelerate at a speed of Mach 2 to a height of 200,000 feet (61 km) above the Earth in 4.25 minutes.

It will then glide back to make a conventional landing, much like the existing Space Shuttle. Total flight time will be around 30 minutes.

Possible launch sites include the Kennedy Space Center and a proposed spaceport at Cecil Field in Jacksonville.

Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper

April and May 2008 desktop wallpaper calendars

The free Florida desktop wallpaper calendars are now available in widescreen format as well as standard format so if you have a widescreen monitor you can now download a new widescreen calendar.

Free desktop calendars for April 2008 (Heron at Homosassa Springs State Park) and May 2008 (Dolphin at SeaWorld) are ready to download now.

Note that some of the larger files can be 200-300k in size so if you are on a modem dialup line it will take a few minutes to download.

To view and then download the Florida free desktop wallpaper for April or May now, click here.

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 brochures where you will find information on many activities including golfing vacations, eco-tours, scuba diving and Caribbean cruises.

Read more...

April Events

Even though Easter is early this year, you can still expect the parks to be busy as a lot of schools will still be having their Easter holidays in April rather than March.

At the theme parks, there are a number of events this month including the Pirate & Princess parties at Disney's Magic Kingdom, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and Viva La Musica at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Africa.

County fairs continue this month throughout the state.

For full coverage of April events throughout the State of Florida, click here.

Weather Forecast

Florida was again hit by tornados in March with two people dying in Lake City and throughout the State, there have been severe storms.

For April, most of Florida will see mostly sunshine and clouds with the odd thunderstorm.

In the north around Pensacola and Jacksonville, on the west coast daytime temperatures will be in the low 70s/high 70s and the nights will be a lot warmer in the low 40s/mid 60s. On the east coast daytime temperatures may reach the low 80s but at night it could drop to the low 40s.

Across the Central region, it will be slightly warmer with high 70s/low 80s during the day dropping to low 50s/mid 60s over night.

Down in Miami and the Keys, it will be warmer still with consistent daytime temperatures in the low 80s and overnight mid 60s/low 70s with Key West being a little warmer.

To 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, 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.

Copyright © 2008, Stephen Downs, Florida Review & Travel Guide. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your website without explicit permission from

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