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April 2014 Newsletter

In This Issue
  • SeaWorld Daily Mail Competition
  • Plane Suffers Fish Strike
  • Anna and Else at Magic Kingdom
  • Magic Bands Roll Out
  • Star Wars Weekends
  • Fantasy of Flight Closure
  • All-Night Disney Side Party
  • Halloween Horror Nights
  • Mardi Gras
  • Legoland Pool
  • Sea of Surprises
  • Hogwarts Express
  • Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
  • April Events
  • Weather Forecast
  • April Books
Sailor and nurse statue in Sarasota

April 1, 2014, #106

Bringing you the latest news from the Sunshine State.

Welcome to the new look Newsletter which has been optimised for smart phones and tablets, we hope you like it.

 

Hi subscriber, welcome to the April 2014 newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide.

It is 50 years since the first SeaWorld park opened and to commemorate, SeaWorld are running an 18 month celebration called "Sea of Surprises". Meanwhile Disney has announced their "All-Night Disney Side Party" and Universal Studios has released further details about the Hogwarts Express. Universal Studios has also updated their ticket prices online. On a sad note, Fantasy of Flight has announced that they are closing to the general public.

Read on for all the details on these stories and more.

Sad news this month.

The US Navy sailor, Glenn Edward McDuffie, featured in the famous photograph taken in Times Square on the announcement of the end of the Second World War, has died aged 86.

The photograph has been immortalised in a 25 foot "kissing sailor" statue in Sarasota.

 

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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Don't forget you can keep up to date with the latest news and stories by following us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

 

STOP PRESS

Disney has raised their car parking prices by $2. To park for a day at the four main theme parks will now cost you $17.

It is only a matter of time before Universal and SeaWorld follow suit.

Check out all the latest theme park parking prices.

Universal's latest resort hotel, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort has opened.

SeaWorld Daily Mail Competition

SeaWorld in conjunction with the Daily Mail are runing a competition for UK readers to win a two week holiday for two adults and two children including flights, car hire, accommodation and tickets to SeaWorld, Aquatica, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens.

See the Daily Mail for full details.

Plane Suffers Fish strike

No, it is not an April Fool's Day joke.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plane was taking off from MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa when it was nearly hit by an Osprey. It is believed that the Osprey dropped its catch, a 9-inch long sheepshead fish, which subsequently hit the Gulfstream aircraft causing it to abort its take-off.

Only in Florida!

Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom

Anna and Elsa from Disney's new animated feature film "Frozen" are moving from the Norway pavilion at Epcot to Magic Kingdom Park on April 20. They will be holding court at the Princess Fairytale Hall alongside other Disney princesses.

They can also be seen in the new daytime Festival of Fantasy parade.

MagicBands Roll Out

Disney has now rolled out MagicBands and advanced FastPass+ reservations to all annual pass holders and other guests.

All passholders can now order their complimentary MagicBands. Passholders and non-Disney guests can make FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance, on up to seven separate days. The seven days do not have to be consecutive and as each day is used, another day becomes free within the rolling 30 day window.

Guests at Walt Disney World Resort hotels can make reservations up to 60 days in advance.

Non-Disney guests have to pay if they want their own MagicBand and they will costs $12.95 plus tax.

Star Wars Weekends

Disney has announced that Mark Hamill who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy will be making his first ever appearance at this year's Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

He will appear in the "Legends of the Force" motorcade and in a featured talk show over the weekend of June 6 to 8.

Star Wars Weekends run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between May 16 and June 15 and are included in the regular admission.

Read more about Disney's Star Wars Weekends.

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 or for specific dates.

Deals for April include:

  • special deals for Spring Break
  • Funjet Walt Disney World offers
  • theme park ticket deals from Undercover Tourist and the Best of Orlando including Legoland Florida, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld weekday offers and Wet ’n Wild
  • plus holiday discounts from Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Priceline amongst others

Gasoline Prices

Gasoline prices have jumped substantially with the average pump price per gallon in Florida at around $3.63, an increase of 17 cents, the highest prices in around a year.

One of the main reasons is a shortage of ethanol caused by the bad weather and transportation problems.

You can always find the latest pump prices at GasPriceWatch.com.

 
Fantasy of Flight main building

Fantasy of Flight Closure

Kermit Weeks, owner of Fantasy of Flight, announced that the attraction will be closing to the public on April 6 due to poor attendance figures. He stated that this is not the end of Fantasy of Flight and at some point in the future a new and bigger venture will open. There are also plans to re-open access to part of the collection later this year with a lower price admission.

Being located off I-4 near Lakeland, outside of the main Orlando theme park area means fewer people venture out to the museum. A while back, Fantasy of Flight reduced their opening days from every day of the week to just Thursdays through Sundays.

Read more about Fantasy of Flight.

All-Night Disney Side Party (copyright Walt Disney World)

All-Night Disney Side Party

Disney has announced a repeat of last year's 24 hour event at both Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in California by setting up a special photo opportunity. Disney called it the ultimate tweet by assembling 140 Disney characters in the shape of a Twitter Hash Tag (tweets are limited to 140 characters).

For 2014, Disney are encouraging guests to "show their Disney side" by dressing up as their favourite Disney hero or villain. The Magic Kingdom park will remain open for the "All-Night Disney Side Party" from 6 a.m. on May 23 to 6 a.m. on May 24 on Memorial Day weekend.

In 2012, for the first time, the Magic Kingdom stayed open 24 hours to celebrate "One More Day". This was repeated in 2013.

 

Halloween Horror Nights

It is only March but Universal Studios has already announced the dates for this year's Halloween Horror Nights, the 24th appearance.

2014 sees a record 28 nights starting on Friday, September 19 and running until Saturday, November 1 on select nights.

Mardi Gras

Owing to an earlier cancellation, Universal Studios has extended their Mardi Gras concert series by a further week.

Robin Thicke who previously had to cancel his performance on February 22 because he lost his voice will now perform on the final day, June 7.

If you are an annual passholder, were you aware that you could apply to be part of the Mardi Gras parade and ride on one of the floats? The offer is only available to Preferred & Premier passholders.

Read more about Universal Studios Mardi Gras concerts.

Legoland Pool

Legoland Florida has refurbished and re-opened the Florida shaped pool which was built for the 1953 Ester Williams film, "Easy to Love" and overlooks Lake Eloise. Present at the opening ceremony were real Southern Belles as well as the Lego models.

Legoland has been restoring parts of the former Cypress Gardens botanical gardens which had fallen into disrepair including the Oriental Gardens and now the entirety of the gardens is open to the public again.

Note that the Legoland Water Park re-opens for the 2014 season on April 12. Between April 27 and May 24 it is only open on weekends.

SeaWorld Sea of Surprises

Sea of Surprises

SeaWorld launched their "Sea of Surprises" celebrations on March 21 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first opening of a SeaWorld park in San Diego which opened in March 1964. SeaWorld Orlando opened on December 15, 1973.

The celebrations will run across all three SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio for around 18 months.

SeaWorld are taking a leaf from Disney's books with their impromptu "Surprise Squads"  in the parks every day offering entertainment as well as prizes such as front-of-line passes, reserved seating, discounts, celebration t-shirts, Shamu-themed merchandise and behind-the-scenes animal interactions.

Read more about SeaWorld's Sea of Surprises.

Hogwarts Express (copyright Universal Studios Orlando)

Hogwarts Express

Universal Studios has released further details about the ground-breaking ride attraction that will connect the two Harry Potter themed areas in Universal Orlando.

The Hogwarts Express will run between The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade in Universal's Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley in Universal Studios.

Guests will board the authentic looking steam train at either the new Kings Cross Station in Universal Studios or at the new Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure.

To board the train you will need a "park-to-park" ticket. Without a "park-to-park" ticket you will still be able to enjoy the two Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed areas but not the Hogwarts Express train ride.

Read more about the Hogwarts Express.

Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel

April and May 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 April 2014 (Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel) and May 2014 (Manta Roller Coaster at SeaWorld) 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 April or May 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.

 

April Events

At Epcot, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and Flower Power concerts are in full swing. At SeaWorld their Just for Kids Festival comes to a close and the next music festival, Viva La Musica kicks off on April 26.

This year, Universal's Mardi Gras concerts continue right through until early June.

College Spring Break continues through until April but the annual baseball Spring Training season has ended for another year.

For air show fans, note that The Valkaria Air Fest has had to be rescheduled because of runway work at Valkaria airport. The Air Fest will now take place on October 25 and 26 instead of the original dates of March 29 and 30.

For more information, check out our full list of Florida air shows.

Because of a fire in one of the Eastern range radar units, several launches from the Kennedy Space Center have been pushed back into April. See a full list of upcoming launches.

Also at the Kennedy Space Center, note that the Up-Close Launchpad Tour ended on March 31, 2014, though the other tours continue.

Noticeable artists, shows and sporting events on tour in Florida during April include:

  • Stars on Ice
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Disney On Ice: Rockin' Ever After
  • Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band
  • Paul Anka
  • Gladys Knight
  • Boz Scaggs
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Evita
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Darius Rucker
  • Santana
  • Jersey Boys

Looking further ahead, into May/June there are a number of concerts, shows and sporting events including:

  • Lady Gaga
  • Cher
  • Cirque du Soleil - Michael Jackson The Immortal
  • Disney On Ice: Let's Celebrate!
  • Big Guava Festival featuring Outkast
  • Romeo Santos
  • Pat Benetar
  • Gipsy Kings
  • Chicago - The Band
  • The Wanted
  • Jack Johnson
  • Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss
  • Styx & Foreigner

View a comprehensive list of upcoming Florida concerts.

Weather Forecast

April should see some welcome warmth coming to Florida with above average temperatures, particularly in the south of the state and average rainfall.

In the North around Pensacola and Jacksonville, it will be a mixture of sunshine and clouds with the occasional shower like last month. There is a chance of the odd thunderstorm. Daytime temperatures will be between the mid 60s and mid 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the low 50s to mid 60s. Again the Atlantic coast will remain warmer throughout.

Across the Central region, the weather is warmer with more sunshine but still the odd thunderstorm. Daytime temperatures will be in the high 70s to low 90s with low 60s to low 70s overnight.

Down in Miami and the Keys, the forecast is similar to the Central region but with a lot more sunshine particularly in the Keys. Temperatures will be in the low 80s to low 90s during the day and mid 60s to high 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.

April Books

The list of books published in April includes a new vacation guide aimed at families staying in Miami and a fascinating book behind the vision and design of Walt Disney World.

April Book List

  • Miami for Families: A Vacation Guide for Parents and Kids by Laura Albritton
  • The Revolution Is for the Children: The Politics of Childhood in Havana and Miami, 1959-1962 by Anita Casavantes Bradford
  • Mexico Beach by Al Cathey, Cathey Parker Hobbs
  • Bitten: My Unexpected Love Affair with Florida by Andrew Furman
  • Going Ape: Florida's Battles over Evolution in the Classroom by Brandon Haught
  • Power and Paradise in Walt Disney's World by Cher Krause Knight
  • Long Key: Flagler's Island Getaway for the Rich and Famous by Thomas Neil Knowles
  • Doodle Florida: Create. Imagine. Draw Your Way Through the Sunshine State by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • Outposts on the Gulf: Saint George Island and Apalachicola from Early Exploration to World W by William Warren Rogers
  • A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida by Bernard Romans, Dr. Kathryn E. Holland Braund Ph.D.
  • Classic Florida Style: The Houses of Taylor & Taylor by William Taylor, Phyllis Taylor, Beth Dunlop
  • Florida Breweries by Gerard Walen
  • New Histories of Pre-Columbian Florida by Neill J. Wallis, Asa R. Randall
  • Highwaymen Artists: An Untold Truth by Robert Butler, Dr. Sheila R Munoz
  • The Search For Old King's Road: The First Route Into Florida by William P Ryan
  • Searching Sand and Surf: The Origins of Archaeology in Florida: The Origins of Archaeology in Florida by Rachel K. Wentz