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November 2006 Newsletter

In This Issue
  • Disney's Year of a million dreams
  • NASA's Constellation Program
  • Birnbaum without Kids book review
  • Fantasy of Flight
  • Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
  • November events
  • Weather forecast
November 2006 Florida Review & Travel Guide Newsletter

November 1, 2006

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

Hi subscriber, welcome to the November newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide and happy Thanksgiving celebrations to you and your family.

Fingers crossed but the weather has taken a turn for the better with no hurricanes this month and only one month to go until the official end of the hurricane season.

Thanksgiving and Holiday Season celebrations

As mentioned last month, with Halloween out of the way, all of Florida switches from scary mode to festive mode with Thanksgiving and Christmas waiting in the wings. This month there are two public holidays; on November 11, it is Veterans Day and then on Thursday, November 23 it is Thanksgiving.

This means that all the major theme parks are going to be very busy Thanksgiving week, especially as the parks start to unveil their festive season celebrations. Read more here. You will also need to make dinner reservations early if you plan on eating out. Many restaurants shut on Thanksgiving day itself and other will already be fully booked but you may catch a late cancellation.

However, once the Thanksgiving weekend is over, the parks then become very quiet until Christmas/New Year, which makes it a great time to visit as the weather is still good and all the Christmas decorations are up.

Healthier Food Options

Food is in the news this month with both Disney and SeaWorld announcing healthier menus and the Red Lobster restaurant chain launching a new menu with more regional fresh fish dishes.

SeaWorld have been experimenting with veggie fajitas, seared tofu and sugar-free ice cream and due to popular demand are making them a permanent menu item.

At their new quick-service restaurant, Mama's Kitchen Healthy Alternatives, you can now enjoy home-made healthy menu items such as freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and pastas including a fresh wheat baguette with low-fat seafood salad, and meat lover's chilli prepared with lean turkey. Healthy snack options include fat-free chips, cookies and popcorn For children, there is a new turkey hot dog served with a side of fresh baked potato chips and raisins.

At Disney, they will be serving more nutritionally balanced meals and limiting fat and sugar in children's menu items following feedback from parents. Co-incidentally this follows on from the ending of the 10 year deal with McDonalds and the associated promotion of Disney products in their children's Happy Meals.

From now, kid's meals will be served with low-fat milk, pure fruit juice or water and side dishes like apple sauce or carrots instead of French fries and soft drinks though they will still be available at no cost. Where does this leave those amazing smoked turkey legs?

NASA News

Following the successful launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, NASA have decided to revert back to night-time launches where convenient and the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-116 (ISS 12A.1) has been brought forward to no earlier than December 7.

However problems with the external fuel tanks means that launches planned for early in 2007 could be delayed by up to a month. Changes in design following the Columbia accident and the damage to the tank assembly plant in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina last year are thought to be to blame for the delays. Read more here.

Florida books published in November

November sees more new releases particularly with a southern theme including Fodor's South Florida, Miami Insight City Guide, Insiders' Guide to the Florida Keys And Key West and Zagat 2007 Miami & South Florida Restaurants.

These new editions will be reviewed over the coming weeks.

Disney's Year of a million dreams

Following on from the success of Disney's "Happiest Celebration on Earth" which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Disneyland in California, Disney announced the new "Year of a Million Dreams" celebrations which actually run from October 1, 2006 to December 31, 2007 (a total of 15 months) in both Walt Disney World Florida and Disneyland California.

Disney have also announced a "Where Dreams Come True" marketing campaign and several new attractions which are due to be opened during the festivities.

During the Happiest Celebration on Earth, attendance at Disney's Florida parks rose by between 5% and 6.5% and Disney will be hoping to do the same again through 2007 with the new celebrations.

During the Year of a Million Dreams, Disney will give away over 1,000,000 dreams and prizes ranging in value from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars; others will simply be priceless, like spending the night in the Cinderella Castle.

Some dreams and prizes will be handed out randomly by Disney Cast Members to guests anywhere on Disney property, be it in one of the parks, at a resort hotel or in the Downtown Disney area. Others will be awarded through a daily mail-in Disney Dreams Giveaway which runs from September 18, 2006 to December 31, 2007.

To read more about the thousands of prizes that will be given away each day with the total value estimated at $17.4 million and how to enter the sweeptakes, click here.

NASA's Constellation Program

The existing Space Shuttle fleet is being retired in 2010 when construction of the International Space Station should be completed. The space shuttle is being replaced by two new programs.

In the first program, NASA has signed agreements with Space Exploration Technologies of El Segundo, California and Rocketplane-Kistler of Oklahoma City to build launch vehicles capable of launching astronauts and cargo to service the International Space Station. First demonstrations are expected as early as 2008.

The second program is the NASA Constellation Program. Constellation is designed for a return to the moon mission but could also be used to service the International Space Station and ultimately provide crew transfers for missions to Mars.

NASA are reverting back to an Saturn/Apollo style solution as a safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation system, but using the latest technologies and proven engineering designs from more recent programs including the Space Shuttle.

The Constellation program consists of two different Ares launch rockets and an Orion crew exploration vehicle.

For more information about the Constellation program and missions including further details of the Ares rockets and Orion crew capsule, click here.

Book Review - Birnbaum without Kids

The 2007 edition of Birnbaum's Walt Disney World Without Kids was published on October 1, 2006 by Disney Editions and is one of several Disney books written specifically for adults vacationing without children.

It follows the same general layout as the flagship Birnbaum's Walt Disney World book but is tailored to adults looking for fun, nightlife, shopping and even romance including weddings and honeymoons.

As its title suggests, Birnbaum's Walt Disney World Without Kids is specifically for singles and couples plus guests with disabilities visiting Walt Disney World without children; though young at heart.

If you are planning on visiting with children then you would probably be better off looking at the standard Birnbaum's Walt Disney World book instead.

There are five main chapters totally around 220 pages in this slim volume plus colour photographs, illustrations, maps and some discount coupons.

As Birnbaum is the only official Disney publisher, it tends to have all the latest details of new attractions and prices but perhaps in not as objective as more independent publications.

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

Fantasy of Flight

Fantasy of Flight houses the world's largest private aircraft collection from the Golden Era of flying, many restored to flying condition. It is the brainchild of Kermit Weeks, the renowned US aerobatic pilot who has won medals in both the United States National Aerobatics Championships and World Aerobatics Championships. Fantasy of Flight is a good example of how theme park entertainment can be brought to a museum.

The Fantasy of Flight museum is located midway between Tampa and Orlando in Polk City, just of the I-4 interstate at Exit 44.

As you approach the exit just look out for the Douglas DC-3 "taking off" by the side of the road and then the distinctive red and white checkerboard water tower by the airfield.

The museum is suitable for the whole family and makes a great day out but if members of your party are not interested in aviation, they can always visit the restaurant and gift shop as no admission fee is required to enter either.

You start your tour in a sight and sound immersion by walking down the fuselage of a paratroop plane and stepping out as if about to make a parachute jump. You are immediately immersed in a series of tableau exhibits taking you from man's earliest attempts to fly right up to the Second World War. First World War.

For more information about Fantasy of Flight, the immersion experience, all the exhibits and tours, click here.

Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper

Desktop calendars for November 2006 (Homosassa River) and December 2006 (Anclote River Park) 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 November now, click here.

November Events

November is a busy month with loads of events planned throughout the State. Also, with the arrival of Thanksgiving, many of Florida's towns and theme parks open their festive holiday season celebrations this month (for full details including special calendars and details of which parks charge extra, click here.

At Disney's Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party including a special parade, fireworks and stage shows runs on selected evenings from November 13 to December 22 whilst over at Epcot, the International Food and Wine Festival finishes on November 12.

The remaining Eat to the Beat concert performers are The S.O.S. Band - November 1, The Contours - November 2 to 4, Chubby Checker & The Wildcats - November 5 to 6, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - November 7 to 8 and Jon Secada - November 9 to 12.

Also at Epcot is the Holidays around the World celebrations, each day from November 24 to December 30.

At the Disney-MGM Studios, there is the annual ABC Super Soap Weekend on November 11 and 12 where you can see a host of daytime TV stars including Susan Lucci and a special appearance from Luke and Laura from General Hospital on November 10.

Also at Disney-MGM Studios is the spectacular Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights which lights up the backlot every night from November 13 to January 07, 2007.

In deference to the animals there are no night-time celebrations at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, instead the daytime parade becomes the festive Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade from November 13 to January 06, 2007.

Over in the Downtown Disney Area, there is the open air Festival of the Masters art festival from November 10 to 12 and then from November 19 to December 24, the Festival of Seasons takes place amongst the various shops.

This year, Universal Studios Christmas celebrations start on December 8, more details next month.

From November 3 to 5, The Florida Air Museum at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport are holding Wings and Things 2006 where you and the family can get involved in a number of events including kite flying and building balsa model planes (see www.sun-n-fun.org for more details).

At Silver Springs, there are Saturday concerts by Grand Funk Railroad and Rare Earth on November 4, Trisha Yearwood on November 11 and Lonestar on November 18. The Arts & Crafts Fall Festival runs on November 4 to 5 and 11 to 12, on November 16 to 18 there is a Native American Festival and then from November 24, the 14th Annual Festival of Lights runs until December 30 on selected nights (see www.silversprings.com for more details).

On November 10 to 11, NAS Pensacola hold their Open House & Blue Angel's Homecoming Air Show where you will get a chance to see the famous US Navy Blue Angels display team at the end of their 2006 schedule.

At Seaworld, the renowned animal expert, Jack Hanna will be presenting some of his animal friends and signing autographs at Jack Hanna's Animal Adventure on November 11 and 12.

Jack Hanna then makes his way over to the Stanleyville Theater at Busch Gardens for a repeat performance on November 17 to 19. Included in the standard admission price.

Cypress Gardens also has a series on Saturday concerts with Van Zant on November 11, Creedence Clearwater Revisited on November 18 and George Jones on November 25. The An Old-Fashioned Christmas celebrations run from November 24 to December 30.

On November 11 there is an evening Sunset & Symphony concert popular and light classical music by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at Historic Bok Sanctuary and meals can be pre-ordered at the Carillon Cafe.

From November 11 to 12, the largest beer festival in Florida, the 8th Annual Orlando Beer Festival takes place at Universal CityWalk where you will find over 100 different beers plus loads of food and live music. If you prefer wine to beer then on November 24, there is a Harbor Nights Wine Tasting & Jazz event at the Portofino Bay Hotel featuring dozens of wines, gourmet food and hand-rolled cigars.

On November 14, NASA are planning to launch a Delta 2 rocket carrying the next GPS (2R-16) global positioning system satellite for the U.S. Air Force from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. For details of all upcoming launches, click here.

From November 16 to 26, the Broward County Fair takes place at Pompano Park in Pompano Beach. Here you can enjoy rides, contests and concerts for the whole family (see www.browardcountyfair.com for more details).

The amazing ICE! spectacular returns to the Gaylord Palms from November 18 to January 2. This year the theme is "A Season of Wishes" and features several new scenes including a walk through holiday train and depot (see www.gaylordhotels.com for more details).

On November 26, Mount Dora celebrates Light Up Mount Dora when nearly 2 million sparkling lights will illuminate Donnelly Park and Downtown Mount Dora.

The Christmas on Las Olas Festival is on November 28 and is followed by Holiday Happenings on Tuesday December 5, 12 and 19. On November 28 around 100,000 people are expected to take part in the celebrations including the arrival of Santa Claus, live music and around 100 illuminated trees.

There are a number of art festivals this month including the 40th Annual Osceola Art Festival in Kissimmee which takes place from November 18 to 19 (see www.ocfta.com for more details), the 35th Annual Festival of the Arts at Courthouse Square in Downtown Inverness on November 4 to 5 (see www.visitcitrus.com for details) and the 32nd Annual Homosassa Arts Crafts & Seafood on the corner of Yulee Drive and Mason Creek Rd in Old Homosassa on November 11 to 12 (see www.homosassaseafoodfestival.com for more details)

The 9th Annual American Indian Arts Celebration runs from November 10 to 12 at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Fort Lauderdale to celebrate American Indian Heritage Month. Here you can learn about palmetto and sweet grass basketry, patchwork sewing, beadwork, woodcarving, doll making, storytelling, Seminole food plus Southeastern and Powwow Dancing (see www.ahtahthiki.com for more details).

The 21st annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival runs from October 16 to November 14 with over 200 independent films from around the world being screened at a number of venues throughout Fort Lauderdale including a couple of outdoor events (see www.fliff.com for more details).

Another film festival, the Daytona Beach Film Festival runs from November 9 to 12 and features 18 or films from around the world.

Weather Forecast

November is expected to be drier than usual with very little rain forecast and temperatures will be a few degrees above average.

Around Orlando and Tampa, expect high 70s/low 80s with the occasional thunderstorm whilst further north temperatures will be in the low to mid 70s. As usual, the south will be warmer in the low to mid 80s.

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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