Sunshine Villa Florida

Trick Or Treating In Orlando

trick or treating in orlando

Visiting Orlando during Halloween and want to experience trick or treating?  We’ve come up with a list of fabulous and free events in & around the Orlando area where you can take your little ghouls and goblins out for some Halloween fun!

First up is Halloween at Old Town 5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy
Kissimmee FL, 34746:

Bring your bags and stop by one of the many candy stations and participating merchants to load up on sugary treats.

Stay and participate in the annual costume contest.  Judging is based on audience participation but everyone will walk away a winner for trying out.  Contests will include different age groups.

Trick or Treating and the costume contests are FREE for all ages.

Trick or Treating: Oct 31 5:00-7:00 (or while supplies last)

Costume Contest: Oct 31 7:00-8:00 at the Old Town Main Stage

Full details here

2. HALLOWEENFEST, Plant Street, Winter Garden:

October 31st 6:00-8:00pm

Trick or Treat along Plant St with the downtown merchants featuring live entertainment, local vendors and family activities: Hay maze & free crafts!

Full details here

trick or treating in orlando

3. SPOOKY HOLLOW, Sanford, FL

October 31st 6:00-8:00

Trick or treat with the downtown vendors on First St & Magnolia Square in downtown Sanford

Carnival games, prizes & surprises

Costume contest at 7:00 & 7:30 by age groups in Magnolia Square

Full details here

4. HALLOWEEN @ CRANES ROOST, 274 Cranes Roost Blvd.
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

October 31st 5:00-9:00

The event features:

  • Trick or treating around the lake for candy and goodies
  • Costume contests
  • Kids’ games and activities
  • Live music and dance performances

5. PUMPKINS & MUNCHKINS TRICK OR TREAT TRAIL, in Winter Park:

Oct 31 6:30-8:30 in Shady Park at Hannibal Square, Winter Park FL, 32789

This free event will have a ton of activities including games, bounce houses, a costume contest, Trick-or-Treat Trail, and lots of fun for the entire family!

Full details here

Happy Halloween!

What To Do For Mothers Day In Orlando

mothers day in orlando

Treat Mom to something special on Mother’s Day.

 Are you spending Mother’s Day in Orlando?  We’ve got some suggestions that will spoil your mom!

 The Silhouette Portraits

For a unique & sentimental souvenir, the Silhouette Portraits cart in Disney Springs Marketplace offer gorgeous framed silhouettes. You and mom can pose for an artist who cuts a portrait of your profile from plain black paper, resulting in a shadow-like image.  Pricing starts from $12 and you can have up to a family of 4.  A truly memorable souvenir.

Brunch

Here are a few restaurants offering brunch a lovely in and around the Orlando area:

Island Grove
Island Grove Winery at Formosa Gardens have a Mother’s Day Brunch featuring scones, crepes, eggs benedict, chocolate dipped strawberries and bottomless Mimosas! The cost is $39.95

island grove brunch

STK is offering a lovely Mother’s Day Brunch 10:30-3:00 on May 12th. featuring Brunch Classics, Raw Bar, Dessert Playground, DJ, Vie Vite Rosé Garden, Flower Wall & More! Cost is $79 and includes cocktails.

STK brunch menu

Maria & Enzo’s a signature mother’s day brunch featuring a spread of classic Italian dishes and fan favourites including Brioche French Toast, a live-action carving station, and a chocolate fountain. Cost is $45

maria and enzos brunch

Disney Character Couture

Mom deserves to be treated like a Princess, so why not give her a Disney Character Couture Package for Mother’s Day. Disney stylists will transform hair, makeup and nails into designs inspired by classic characters.

Character Couture Packages:

  • Timeless Transformation– Character Inspired Hair, Makeup & Nails – Adults $120, Children 4-12 $90
  • StoryBook– Character Inspired Hair – Adults $80, Children 4-12 $50
  • Magical Makeover– Character Inspired Hair & Makeup – Adults $105, Children 4-12 $75

Here is a list of the Character Couture Locations:

  • Ivy Trellis Salon – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
  • La Vida Salon – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Ship Shape Salon – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Salon by the Springs – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Shopping

What mom wouldn’t enjoy a day of Shopping?  Lucky for mom, there are tons of fabulous shopping in the Orlando area!

Disney Springs

Disney Springs has come a long way since it was Downtown Disney. Still home to old favourites but with the addition of a great shopping experience. Shop at stores like Alex & Ani, Pandora, Lily Pulitzer, Zara, Anthropologie, Coach, Mac, Ugg, Sephora, and more!

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets 

You are bound to find great deals here at rock bottom prices at stores like Armani, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Diesel, Adidas, Nike, Gap, Lacoste and more!

Florida Mall

Here you can shop at stores like Adidas, Aeropostale, American Girl, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, BCBG, Billabong, Disney Store, Forever 21 and is also home to Carlo’s Bake Shop from Cake Boss.

The Mall at Millenia

Shop at stores like American Eagle, Holllister, Vans, Foot Locker, Under Armour Abercrombie as well as high end shops like Jimmy Choo, Versace, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, & Hermes

Cake Decorating Experience at Amorettes

Decorate your very own culinary masterpiece — in the form of a Signature Mickey Dome Cake while under the instruction of the talented Pastry Chefs at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs. It’s a hands-on class where mom’s walk away with a Signature Mickey Dome Cake that they have personally decorated. The 90-minute small group session is limited to just 14 guests, allowing for interaction and conversation with the Pastry Chefs. The experience takes place in Amorette’s Show Kitchen prior to the shop’s opening, and includes beverage refreshments (with alcoholic options such as mimosas and Bellini’s for guests 21-and-over).

Sundays through Thursdays at 9:00 am. 90 minutes

Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday classes decorate a Classic Mickey Dome Cake
Monday and Wednesday classes decorate the Artist’s Current Seasonal Mickey Cake

The cost for two people, including the cake and beverages during class, is $149 plus tax.

Book here

Happy Mother’s Day!

*Times and prices subject to change.

Cruise Ship Watching – Beyond The Parks Edition

As you know we like to feature our Beyond the Parks articles which introduces you to Orlando area activities that are not theme parks.  While fun, Orlando is so much more than that.  Today we talk about Cruise Ship Watching in Port Canaveral, Florida.

If you’re visiting Orlando and want something different to do than definitely consider Cruise Ship watching. It’s an experience filled with excitement, amazement and tons of fun!  Only an hour from Orlando, Port Canaveral is a hub for Cruise Ships such as Disney Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises and seasonally, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Take your pick of one of these 3 delicious restaurants where you can enjoy some delicious cuisine while watching the ships cruise on by.

Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Gril

Their menu features a variety of delicious seafood options like, Conch fritters, tuna, shark bites, mussels, oysters and much more.  They also feature live musical entertainment every weekend.

Grills Seafood Deck:

Grills was built right on the water’s edge of Sunrise Marina and serves Breakfast Lunch Dinner & Dessert in an authentic Florida Style. The feature a unique Lionfish menu which contrary to popular belief is not poisonous, but a delicious, white flakey fish. They offer a vast variety of fresh seafood, sandwiches and sushi.

If you plan to visit either one of these restaurants on a Saturday or Sunday, the best time to arrive is around 3:30pm. Though the ships don’t begin their parade out to sea until approximately 4:30pm, to get an outdoor table next to the water, an early arrival is important and will increase your chances to snag a good outdoor.

Seafood Atlantic

A smaller and quieter restaurant/seafood market, Seafood Atlantic gives you the same views as Grills and Fishlips but with fewer people and fabulous fresh fish. You can even buy fresh fish or seafood at the little market and pack it in ice for your drive home.

Jetty Park

Jetty Park is one of the most sought after points of interest in Brevard County.  A 35 acre park at your fingertips offering a variety of activities .  You will have to pay an entrance fee ($15 for non-resident), but it’s well worth it. Once inside the park, follow the winding path until you get to the parking area. Park, grab your camera/smart phone and head towards the pier.

Jetty Park has campgrounds, a beach, fishing pier, concessions and is also currently developing a new Cruise Terminal.  The best spot to watch the ships are from the fishing pier.

What Time Do Ships Sail Away From Port Canaveral

Your best bet is to check the websites for Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney to find out the sail away times. But do it a week before you plan to go to Port Canaveral. If you wait until the day of the cruise to check the departure times, they will have been removed from the cruise lines’ websites.

Generally speaking, the cruise ships leave from Port Canaveral beginning about 4:00 pm.  If you’re heading out to Jetty Park, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot to the end of the pier.

Plan Your Disney Trip With Our FREE Planning Itinerary

disney planner itinerary

With 4 parks filled with so many attractions, shows, and dining, it could get overwhelming trying to plan your Disney vacation.  We have created a simple Disney Planning itinerary that you can download here FREE!

disney planner itinerary

Before planning, it may be helpful to check crowd calendars.  We recommend checking here.  This site provides crowd times for each month.

A lot of time and effort goes into planning your perfect Disney vacation.  Here are some great articles that you should check out before you go:

Travelling with pets? Read here

Want some insta worthy snaps?  Don’t forget to look for the elusive #disneywalls here

Beat the Orlando heat!

You’re all set to have a magical holiday!

Disney Plant Based Food Guide

vegan and gluten free dining in orlando

Not too long ago, we shared some gluten free and vegan friendly dining options in the Orlando area.  Well Disney’s Magic Kingdom has now launched a visitor’s guide especially for those in search of vegan & vegetarian food options.

MK vegan list

The new Disney Plant Based Cuisine Guide lists all of the vegan and veggie options across the park in a convenient pamphlet.

The guide is categorized by area and then lists each vegan and veggie-friendly restaurant in the region of that park including the offered dishes.  Head over to Casey’s corner for a vegan hot dog, The Plaza for a veggie burger or Tomorrowland for a plant based sloppy joe.

Disneyland in California was recently crowned the most vegan friendly theme park in the USA by animal rights activist group PETA.  Hopefully this means that Disneyworld will soon have just as many vegan friendly options.

The guide is available at the following locations in the Magic Kingdom:

  • All Table-Service and Quick-Service Restaurants
  • All Guest Experience Team podiums
  • Guest Relations (City Hall and Liberty Square Ticket Office locations)

For any questions or concerns about allergy-free dining and dietary preferences, see Walt Disney World’s page on special dietary requests. Alternatively, you can contact them at Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com with any questions you might have.

*Images courtesy of WDWNT

Epcot’s Easter Egg-stravaganza

Every year during Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot hosts an annual scavenger hunt for Easter eggs.  This year the hunt runs until Sunday, April 21.

To join the scavenger hunt, you will need to first purchase a scavenger hunt map. The map costs $6.99 and you can find them at Disney Traders, Pin Central, or World Traveler.

*

The eggs on your sticker card are the eggs you are looking for around the park.  Keep your eyes peeled as some are tricky to find.

Place the matching sticker on your map after you have spotted the egg.  Once you have found them all, head over to Disney Traders to submit your map and receive your prize, the choice of one themed egg!  New this year is that the eggs themselves have a surprise inside!

Eggstravaganza is on through April 21st during Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival.  If your looking for an Easter service, Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers church services on Easter Sunday.

Hint:  Some eggs are located inside

*Image courtesy of All Ears

Gator Night Shine – Are You Brave Enough? Beyond The Parks Edition

When you think of Florida, what comes to mind? Sunshine? Oranges? How about gators?  In this edition of Beyond the Parks, we talk about Gatorland.

Gatorland lets you get up close and personal with the Florida natives in a nighttime experience- Gator Night Shine.

Gator Night Shine adventure takes you deep into the domain of Florida’s most famous reptile, the alligator!

Armed with only a flashlight and gator food, you bravely make your way along the winding wooden walkways of Gatorland’s Alligator Breeding Marsh. The sounds of the night come alive around you as the rustle of feathers overhead and the splashing of water nearby signal that you are not alone.

Turning your flashlight towards the water, you suddenly become aware of hundreds of hungry, glowing, red eyes slowly making their way closer…

Tour Length: 1 – 1.5 Hour (Tour begins at dusk, please meet at the far south end of the parking lot)

Number of People: Minimum 5, Maximum 25

Admission Policy: This guided tour is an after-hours special Gatorland event and is restricted to Gatorland’s Breeding Marsh. Gatorland will provide the flashlights, insect repellent, and some alligator food.

Tickets are $24.99 + tax

Of course Gatorland has plenty of day time encounters as well.  You can see alligators, crocodiles of all sizes along with the extremely rare white leucistic alligator.  They also have a free flight aviary, & petting zoo.

Gatorland Experiences:

Stompin Gator off road adventure: Board one of three, 12-foot-high custom-made, off-road monster vehicles for a 15-minute rugged and hilarious adventure like no other theme park ride anywhere.

Screamin Gator Zip Line: Soar across five intense zip lines ranging in length from 230 feet to more than 500 feet, and carefully cross a swinging bridge over the park’s main walkway.  Fly over alligators and crocodiles at speeds near 30 miles per hour.

Animal Shows: Thrills and chills abound as some of the largest alligators in the world jump four feet or more out of the water in this one-of-a-kind show. Learn more about alligators and crocodiles and their awesome powers.

Adventure Hour: Hand feed giant gators. Home to hundreds of alligators, you’ll have the opportunity to safely venture within a few feet of hungry, giant alligators and create a thrilling feeding frenzy.

Meet a gator: Get up close and personal with a gator for a photo opportunity

gatorland

Gatorland is open everyday from 10-5 rain or shine.

14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837 (407) 855-5496

See Which Great Whites Are Swimming In Florida’s Waters Right Now

Florida is surrounded by the ocean which means it’s also surrounded by marine life, including sharks, many of them whom enjoy hanging out in Florida’s vast surrounding bodies of water.

With the help of the tracking devices (and social media), Ocearch brings the ocean marine life to your screen.  Ocearch conducts research expeditions aboard the M/V OCEARCH, which serves as an at-sea laboratory. The M/V OCEARCH contains a 75,000 lb. capacity hydraulic platform designed to safely lift marine animals out of the ocean for access by a multi-disciplined research team.

Animals are caught from tenders, using handlines, and are guided by hand in the water on and off the lift. The animals are then brought to the submerged platform of the M/V OCEARCH vessel and the platform is raised. Once the animals are restrained and hoses of water have been set to enable a continuous flow of fresh seawater over the gills, the science team, made up of researchers and veterinarians, begins its process. Tags such as SPOT, acoustic, and accelerometer are attached, morphometrics are recorded, and samples, such as blood and tissue, are collected.

Ocearch has carefully crafted its procedures to minimize stress and risk to the sharks during research expeditions. From the capture to the release, the tagging, handling, and sampling procedures follow established protocols by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) of participating institutions.

Ocearch and partners have tagged & named several species of sharks (and other animals like loggerhead turtles & whales) and you can follow their aquatic travels through the oceans they call home.

Let’s meet some of the Great Whites currently swimming in Florida’s coastal waters (whom happen to have their own twitter handle. Check it out!)

  1. Miss Costa is a Sub-Adult Female Great White, weighing in at whopping 1668 lbs and a lengthy 12’5″ long. She is currently swimming around just off the gulf coast near Sarasota today!
  2. Hal is an adult male great white and is partial to the eastern side of the Sunshine State; last pinged on March 27th, 2019 – This big boy is 12’6″ long and is pretty heavy at 1420 lbs. He can be found swimming off the coast of Daytona Beach. His name is a tribute to Canada’s Halifax.
  3. Out of all the sharks we have near Florida right now, Katherine is the largest. She weighs exactly 2000 lbs and is a staggering 14’2″ long. Her location was last pinged on Feb 29th, 2019 a bit further out in the water near West Palm Beach.
  4. Caroline is a female great white, 12 ft 9 inches long weighing in at 1348 lbs. She was last pinged March 30, 2019 off the Cape Canaveral coast.
  5. Miss May is 10 ft 2 inches and was last pinged March 30th, 2019 off the Atlantic coast near the Florida/Georgia border.

You can see where these and more sharks are right now by tracking them on Ocearch’s shark tracker

Beyond The Parks – Get Up Close And Personal With Florida’s Wildlife

beyond the parks

In another Beyond The Parks edition, we explore Homosassa Springs State Park.

Want to get up close and personal with Florida’s Vibrant wildlife? Discover the wild-side of Florida with endangered Florida panthers, red wolves, manatees and whooping cranes, plus black bears, bobcats, and, of course, alligators.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park occupies almost 200 acres around Homosassa Spring, which is the primary source for the Homosassa River. The main entrance to the Park is along US19 in the town of Homosassa Springs where you will find ample parking, a visitor center, snack bar and gift shop. From that location, you can take a tram or pontoon boat to the west entrance about a half mile away. The central feature of Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the main spring, where you can view the spring from the “Fish Bowl” floating underwater observatory, where East Indian manatees are almost always present. A unique underwater structure, the Underwater Observatory, allows visitors to “walk underwater” beneath the spring’s surface and watch the various fish and manatees swim about. An astounding number of fresh and saltwater fish still congregate in the natural spring bowl—large jacks, snapper, snook and others. The Park serves an important role of being a rehabilitation center for orphaned or injured manatees that recuperate in the spring waters before being released again to the wild.

The park also features a variety of captive animals such as alligators, black bears, red wolf, key deer, flamingos, whooping cranes and the oldest hippopotamus named Lu in captivity. The native wildlife that reside in the park serve as ambassadors for their species, providing visitors face-to-face connections between the diverse Florida habitats and the animals that call those habitats home

Paved, wheelchair accessible paths wind throughout the park, allowing easy access for viewing black bear, Florida panther, bobcats, deer, alligators, and many other species. In addition to the animals that are housed at the park – most of which have been injured, or for some other reason cannot survive in the wild – a large number of wild birds and other species call the Park home.

Hours are 9:00 – 5:30

Adults (age 13+) $13, Children (ages 6-12)  $5, Children 5 and under, free

4150 S. Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa FL 34446   (352) 628-5343

Boggy Creek Airboat Ride Through The Everglades- Beyond The Parks

beyond the parks

We know that the majority of travellers visiting Orlando come for the theme parks, but there is much more to Orlando than parks! There is no shortage of fun activities and many of them have nothing to do with theme parks.

We feature blogs we like to call “Beyond the Parks” which offers you planning options that are outside the typical roller coaster thrill rides. We will show you the vast array of recreational activities and indoor attractions beyond the parks. Like this Underwater Light Show and Orlando’s natural lazy river .

Give Boggy Creek Airboat rides a try!  Glide across the headwaters of the Florida Everglades at speeds up to 40 mph aboard six-passenger airboats. Discover territory that remains unaltered in the wilderness of the Central Florida Everglades.  You will be taking into the breathtaking beauty of nature, including wetlands and wildlife.  See alligators, turtles, birds and more in their natural environment.

Half hour tour:      $28.95 for adult and $24.61 for children

1 hour tour:          $48.95 for adult and $41.61for children

Private 1 hour:     $63 per person

Sunset tour:         $59.95 for adult and $50.96 for children

You drive:             $349 2 people, 1 hour

Feeling super adventurous? They even offer a night tour! Glide through the trails of tall grass without knowing what lurks around the bend. $59.95 adult and $50.96 for children.

You can purchase your tickets here.

TIP: The best time to see alligator’s is early in the morning, before 10AM during hot weather, and later in the day in the cold.

So if you want a different kind of Orlando experience, be sure to follow our “Beyond the Parks” edition blogs.