- Terminator Closing
- Grand Avenue Opens
- Hurricane Irma
- Star Wars Galactic Nights
- The Great Lego Race VR Coaster
- Andretti Indoor Karting & Games
- Atlanta Braves
- Party for the Senses
- Walt Disney Presents
- Epcot International Festival of Holidays
- Epcot 35th Anniversary
- Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour
- Fuel prices
- Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
- October Events
- Weather Forecast
- October Books
October 1, 2017, #148
Bringing you the latest news from the Sunshine State.
Walt Disney Presents
Hi subscriber, welcome to the October 2017 newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide.
Septembers news was dominated by two major hurricanes, firstly Irma and then Maria. Both hurricanes caused devastation to the eastern Caribbean islands and Irma went on to track up the entire Florida peninsula.
It caused untold damage in the Florida Keys with an estimated 25 percent of all properties being destroyed. It will take months for some communities to recover but despite all that, the Keys officially reopened for visitors on October 1.
Due to travel commitments and Hurricane Irma, this month’s newsletter is a little shorter than usual.
Read on for all the details on these stories and more.
The Universal Orlando Resort has announced that the Terminator 2: 3-D show will close on October 8, 2017 to make way for a new unnamed live action experience based upon a Universal franchise. The new attraction will open in 2019.
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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STOP PRESS - Grand Avenue Opens
Following on from our story last month, the new “land” called “Grand Avenue” incorporating the “Muppets Courtyard” and part of the former “Streets of America” has now opened with the “Baseline Tap House” serving California wines, beers plus a selection of snacks.
Read more about Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys near Cudjoe Key and then struck the Florida Gulf coastline near Marco Island on Sunday, September 10 and proceeded to roll up the entire state causing widespread flooding and power outages leaving over 10 million people without electricity.
The whole of Florida had been placed under a State of Emergency and over 6 million people were advised to evacuate ahead of the storm. It is estimated at least 75 people in Florida died as a result of Irma, some died in the Keys as a direct result of the storm whilst many more died in the aftermath.
As a result, all of Central Florida’s theme parks shut on the preceding Saturday with some evening entertainment curtailed. They gradually re-opened over the following days with the Kennedy Space Center and the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye being amongst the last to re-open.
The Kennedy Space Centre closed on the preceding Friday. It was also damaged by Hurricane Matthew a year ago.
Several events were cancelled including Disney’s Night of Joy and Universal’s Rock the Universe on the Saturday evening. The Guy Harvey weekend at Busch Gardens has been rescheduled for December 16 and 17.
Disney also canceled its Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on the Sunday and shut down its Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and the Treehouse Villas of Disney’s Saratoga Springs.
This is the fifth time that Walt Disney World has been forced to close due to hurricanes. Previous closures were in 1999 (Floyd), 2004 (Frances and Jeanne) and 2016 (Matthew).
Read more about Florida hurricanes and tropical storms.
Star Wars Galactic Nights
Star Wars Galactic Nights is returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on December 16. It follows a similar format to the original sellout event back in April.
It is a one night only after-hours ticketed event and this time there are a couple of add-on packages, a food sampler and an enhanced Jedi training package for children aged 4 to 12.
Read more about the Star Wars Galactic Nights event.
The Great Lego Race VR Coaster
Legoland Florida is bring virtual reality to one of their roller coasters. The existing Project X coaster is to be remodelled as The Great Lego Race VR Coaster.
The opening date will be some time in 2018 and guests will be given the option to wear virtual reality headsets if they want.
The queue area to the ride will be themed to show the pit crews preparing the five Lego racers including hands-on activities.
The ride itself will feature popular Lego mini-figures Trendsetter, Pharaoh, Surfer Girl, Wizard and Pirate Captain racing a variety of special Lego brick built race cars including a rocket-powered surfboard and an expresso fuelled scooter.
Read more about Legoland Florida.
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games has opened on Universal Boulevard, near the Orange County Convention Center on International Drive.
Spread over 150,000 square feet, the complex offers three multi-level electric go-kart tracks, a 12 lane bowling alley, laser tag, virtual-reality racing simulators and a ropes course.
There is also a 12 seater motion theatre, a restaurant and bars plus event space.
Attraction ticket prices are expected to be in the $10 to $25 range with free parking and free admission.
The Atlanta Braves baseball team have received final approval for the construction of a new 8,000 seater Spring Training stadium near Sarasota, due to open in 2019.
From 1998 until now, they have trained each year at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex but 2018 will be their last season with Disney. Their departure will mean the end of spring training teams in the Orlando/Kissimmee area with just the Detroit Tigers at Lakeland.
Most Grapefruit League teams are now situated along the Gulf Coast or South Florida.
The as yet un-named stadium will be close to both the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota and Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte. The Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins are based in Fort Myers with the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.
Read more about Spring Training in Florida.
Party for the Senses
For 2017, Disney has tweaked their “Party for the Senses” event which runs as part of the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Unlike previous years where seating was an optional paid extra, for 2017 all guests are guaranteed seating.
Disney is again presenting an exclusive all-you-can-eat-and-drink Party for the Senses event at the World Showplace Events Pavilion where guests are treated to some of the finest cuisine that Disney has to offer with dozens of food and wine tasting stations plus craft cocktails and beers.
This year the event is held on five Saturday nights with seating for all 1,000 guests including 120 seats in the Wine View Lounge from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Read more about Party for the Senses.
Walt Disney Presents
Walt Disney Presents is now open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and it replaces One Man’s Dream.
A lot of the original exhibits are still present and amongst the newer exhibits are a complete model of Toy Story Land, a small section of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model shown at the D23 Expo 2017, a display for the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction and meet-and-greet opportunities with Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” Star-Lord and Baby Groot.
Read more about Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Epcot International Festival of Holidays
The Epcot Holidays Around the World festivities has been replaced by the Epcot International Festival of Holidays and this year it runs from November 19 to December 30.
As well as the previous entertainment including storytellers, holiday traditions of the countries found in World Showcase and different holiday cuisine, the event now includes live musical performances and food and beverage booths celebrating different countries including America, the Caribbean and Mexico.
There is also a new Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree scavenger hunt around World Showcase. Maps and stickers are available for sale at $6.99 plus tax. You can exchange a completed map for a surprise gift.
Read more about Disney’s Christmas festivities.
Epcot 35th Anniversary
October 1, 2017 is the 35th anniversary of the opening of Epcot. To celebrate the occasion, Disney are offering exclusive merchandise including items from the “I Was There” collection and a special fireworks finale on the day.
Don’t forget the annual Food & Wine Festival is also in full swing and you can also pick up a special Commemorative Guide Map.
There will be a special anniversary celebration at the Fountain View stage at 10:00 a.m. featuring Mariachi Cobre and the Voices of Liberty.
Read more about Epcot.
Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour
There is a new four hour VIP tour coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour opens on October 1 and is available on Thursday, Saturday and and Sunday evenings only. Note there are blackout dates between November, 20 to 24, 2017, December 21 to December 31, 2017, February 17 to February 19, 2018 and March 25 to April 7, 2018.
The price is $249 per person plus tax and you must also be in possession of a valid theme park admission ticket.
There are 15% discounts available for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members and Disney Visa cardholders.
You can explore various parts of the park with a knowledgeable guide including FastPass+ access to:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- plus reserved seating at Rivers of Light
You also receive a souvenir lanyard, popcorn and signature snacks plus a speciality drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) at the Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Read more about Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Fuel prices were expected to rise anyway in the run up to Labor Day on September 4 but Hurricane Harvey caused major damage and flooding in Texas which resulted in around a quarter of Gulf oil and gas rigs being evacuated and the second largest refinery in the US being shut. Florida gets most of its petrol from Texas so supplies were badly hit. This was then followed by Hurricane Irma which caused major power outages across the whole of the Florida peninsula.
Prices spiked at around $2.69 per gallon for regular but fell back to $2.61, up 16 cents on last month. Prices in metro areas like Orlando are about 4 cents cheaper but prices in the South remain higher.
October 2017 and November 2017 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 October 2017 (Echo Lake at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and November 2017 (Celebration lake view) 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 October or November now.
Both Magic Kingdom and Epcot celebrate their birthdays on October 1 so expect both parks to be extra busy and it is Legoland Florida’s turn on October 15.
All the theme park Halloween events are up and running in October. This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party started on August 25 and continues on select nights until November 1.
Note some of the Halloween events actually finish before Halloween itself on October 31.
There are special Sesame Street Kids’ Weekends at SeaWorld from October 7 to 29.
There could be at least two launches from Cape Canaveral in October.
There is an Atlas 5 launch scheduled for October 5 followed by a SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 on October 7. There is also the possibility of another SpaceX launch late in the month.
September was a very active storm month, including Hurricane Irma which affected all of the Florida peninsula causing widespread devastation in the Florida Keys.
October should see above average temperatures and rainfall across the whole region, especially in the South but it will be noticeably cooler than September.
In the North around Pensacola and Jacksonville it will be mostly sunny with the odd thunderstorm. Daytime temperatures will be between the mid 60s and the high 80s with overnight temperatures between the high 40s to low 70s. It will be warmer on the Atlantic coast.
Across the Central region, the outlook is similar but slightly warmer. Daytime temperatures will be in the low to mid 80s with mid 60s to mid 70s overnight.
Down in Miami and the Keys, it will be similar again but with a few more storms. Temperatures will be in the low to high 80s 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.
Just a few new books in October including the latest edition of The Complete Walt Disney World.
October Book List
- The Complete Walt Disney World 2018: The Definitive Disney Handbook by Julie Neal, Mike Neal
- Key West’s Duval Street by Laura Albritton, Jerry Wilkinson
- Marco Island by Austin J. Bell, The Marco Island Historical Society
- Hidden History of Fort Myers by Cynthia A. Williams
- Broward County by Seth H. Bramson
- Hotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami by Roben Farzad
- Backroads of Paradise: A Journey to Rediscover Old Florida by Cathy Salustri
- Kayak Fishing the Northern Gulf Coast: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana by Ed Mashburn
- LUXE Miami: New edition including free mobile app by LUXE City Guides
- Moon Tampa & St. Petersburg by Joshua Lawrence Kinser