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March 2009 Newsletter

In This Issue
  • Florida Visitor Numbers
  • Special Ticket Offers
  • Book Review - SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica
  • Spring Break
  • White Alligators
  • Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
  • March events
  • Weather forecast
March 2009 Florida Review & Travel Guide Newsletter

March 1, 2009

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

Hi subscriber, welcome to the March 2009 newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide.

Firstly, you may have received an email from zinester.com who manage our newsletter list saying that they have been sold to another company and no longer offer support. Rest assured, the Florida Review & Travel Guide will continue to be published on the first of every month; you do not need to do anything.

Shuttle Launch

February's planned launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery was postponed twice because of faulty fuel valves and NASA are now hoping to launch around March 12 but this could easily be pushed back again if engineers are not entirely happy with the valves. For the latest details of all the launches from the Kennedy Space Center, click here.

SeaWorld Manta Ride

SeaWorld have announced that their new roller coaster ride, Manta, will officially open on May 22, the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend.

Gasoline prices

Average pump prices in Orlando are currently around $1.95 a gallon, up another 15 cents from last month. You can always find the latest pump prices at GasPriceWatch.com.

Further theme park layoffs

On top of last months announcements, Disney have announced further job cuts across their theme parks in Florida and California by consolidating some back office job functions between the two parks.

Universal Studios have also announced that they will be temporarily closing Fear Factor Live, reducing hours at some of their attractions and cutting some employees working hours to avoid further layoffs. For further details of all of Florida's theme parks, click here.

Good News for Manatees

Amidst all the doom and gloom, some good news. The 2008 aerial survey of manatees in Florida's waters has revealed a record high count of 3,807 manatees; up nearly 1,000 on the number counted 2007.

It is far from an exact science at it depends upon weather conditions as to where the manatees might be when the survey is conducted but it is a promising sign. It is difficult to determine how many manatees are not spotted during the flyovers.

Unfortunately more manatees seem to have died this winter as a result of the colder than average weather. To read more about Florida's manatees, click here.

Florida books published in March

This March there are a group of street maps by American Map plus a number of historical titles and a new edition of the popular "Backroads" series of day trips and weekend getaways. There are over 15 new books published this March including:
  • Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss by Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite
  • The Tropic of Cracker by Al Burt
  • Under the March Sun: The Story of Spring Training by Charles Fountain
  • Golf in Florida:: 1886-1950 by Richard Moorhead and Nick Wynne
  • Lakeland / Winterhaven FL Street Map by American Map
  • Fort Lauderdale FL City Slicer by American Map
  • Gainsville FL Street Map by American Map
  • Lake City ; Live Oak FL Street Map by American Map
  • Lake / Sumter Counties FL Street Map by American Map
  • Florida in the Popular Imagination: Essays on the Cultural Landscape of the Sunshine State by Steve Glassman
  • Historic Pensacola by John James Clune and Margo S. Stringfield
  • Slavery in Florida: Territorial Days to Emancipation by Larry Eugene Rivers
  • Spirits of the Air: Birds and American Indians in the South by Shepard Krech III
  • St. Augustine and St. Johns County: A Historical Guide by William R. Adams
  • Backroads of Florida: Your Guide to Great Day Trips & Weekend Getaways by Paul M. Franklin and Nancy Joyce Mikula
  • Florida Michelin Map 409

Florida Visitor Numbers

It will probably come as no surprise that visitor numbers to Florida took a slight downturn in 2008. For the first time in seven years (since 9/11), the annual tourism figures have fallen.

news-visitors-2008 In 2007, around 84.5 million people visited Florida, up slightly on 2006 but in 2008 that number dropped to 82.5 million; a fall of about 2.3%. The year actually started well, but in the latter half of the year, numbers started to fall and in the last quarter there was a significant drop in visitor numbers as people changed their travel plans and companies cut back on corporate events like conventions.

Visitors from some countries less affected by the economic downturn have taken advantage of the situation and in some areas visitor numbers are actually up, for example vacationers from Canada. There has also been an increase of people staying "in State" and Florida residents are spending over 20% more time vacationing in Florida.

It is not just Florida that is being impacted though, similar patterns are being seen in other places like California and Las Vegas and throughout the rest of the World.

For those people who can still afford a Florida vacation, it really has never been a better time to go as the theme parks and resort hotels fight for your business with plenty of special deals available.
Special Ticket Offers

Disney's Epcot

Disney Florida Residents Ticket Offers

Following on from last month's article about Disney's special "Buy 4 Nights and Get 3 Nights Free" resort promotion, Disney are also trying to grab some of the Florida residents who are thinking about vacationing a little closer to home this Spring.

Between February 1 and May 20, Florida residents can buy two one-park/one-day Magic Your Way Base tickets for $99 (plus tax); a saving of over $30. For children between the ages of 3 and 9 the tickets are $83 (plus tax).

These special tickets are only valid at any of the four main theme parks (not the water parks) and cannot be used over the busy Easter period between April 4 and April 18. Like normal Magic Your Way Base tickets they must be used within 14 days of each other or by May 21 at the latest.

SeaWorld Resort Promotions

Meanwhile, over at SeaWorld, they have entered into an agreement with around 25 local hotels to offer a "Buy 3 Nights and Get 2 Nights Free" package bundled with unlimited admission for one week to SeaWorld and either Aquatica or Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Deals start at $561 for a family of four and they must be purchased by March 31 and used by June 26. This is the first time that SeaWorld has offered a combined resort hotel and theme park ticket deal and is great value for anyone contemplating staying close to SeaWorld.

For more information on theme park tickets, click here.
Book Review - SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica

SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & AquaticaSeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica: Orlando's Salute to the Seas is the first book solely dedicated to the Worlds of Discovery theme parks in Florida, rather than being tacked on to one of the many guide books about the Walt Disney World Resort.

SeaWorld has always been one of our favourite parks and it is great to finally have a book that does it justice. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have always been the poor relations when it comes to Florida theme park guide books and Kelly Monoghan has now put the record straight with this new book.

He is no stranger to Florida and is also the author of "Universal Orlando 2009: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure" and "The Other Orlando: What To Do When You've Done Disney and Universal", published in 2008 and 2007 respectively as well as a contributor to "The Other Orlando" blog.

As the title suggests this book focuses on the three marine mammal theme parks in Orlando, Central Florida but it also covers Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa and its lesser known neighbour, the Adventure Island water park.

The book is divided into seven chapters; an introductory overview, followed by one chapter for each of five theme parks plus a chapter on the resort hotels close to SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando.

To read the complete review of SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica: Orlando's Salute to the Seas, click here.
White Alligators

White alligator Gatorland in Orlando has set up a special exhibit to display four large white alligator brothers that were discovered in a Louisiana swamp back in 1987. They are not albino but leucistic because of a genetic defect which causes their skin to be ivory white and their eyes a reflective blue.

They are on loan from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and will stay at Gatorland until Labor Day. Three of them have been given Creole names - Bouya Blan (meaning white fog), Feros Zonbi (fierce ghost) and Jeyan Kwok (giant fang). Gatorland are holding a contest to name the fourth one.

Each alligator weighs over 500 pounds and is ten to eleven plus feet in length. It is said that you will have good fortune if you make eye contact with them !!

To read more about Gatorland, click here.
Spring Break

Spring break Despite the economy, tens of thousands of college students will be heading to Florida over the coming weeks for the annual ritual that is known as "Spring Break".

Panama City Beach remains a top destination along with Orlando and South Beach in Miami. Other beach destinations include South Padre Island in Texas, Cancun in Mexico and Jamaica.

Las Vegas is also expected to be very popular this year with average hotel rates 25% less than last year.

Other students will be heading further afield to Asia and Australia but you can still expect large crowds at many of Florida's popular beach resorts.

To read more about Spring Break, click here.
Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper

March and April 2009 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.

Florida desktop calendar Free desktop calendars for March 2009 (Winnie the Pooh topiary at England Pavilion, Epcot) and April 2009 (Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom) 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 March or March 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...
March Events

March is a great month for anyone of Irish descent in Florida when St. Patrick's Day is celebrated at a number of venues around the State.

Both Disney's Epcot and Busch Gardens Africa are running a series of concerts this month with a number of well known performers including Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone, Jose Feliciano, Tony Orlando, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Chubby Checker and the Wildcats and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes.

Spring Training also gets into full swing as major baseball teams take part in the Grapefruit League and there are a host of County Fairs and rodeos taking place throughout Florida.

For full coverage of March events throughout the State of Florida, click here.
Weather Forecast

Like January, February also was cold but things are starting to improve with temperatures around seasonal norms and below average rainfall.

In the north around Pensacola and Jacksonville, the month will start cool but then temperatures will gradually increase with the odd outbreak of rain. Temperatures will be in the mid 50s/high 70s during the day with night-time temperatures in the mid 30s/high 50s. It will be slightly warmer in the east.

Across the Central region, the weather outlook is a little warmer with plenty of sunshine and low 60s/low 80s during the day, dropping to low 40s/low 60s over night.

Down in Miami and the Keys, the temperatures are a little warmer than the Central region with low 70s/low 80s during the day and high 40s/high 60s overnight.

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.

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