Sunshine Villa Florida

Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest is a family business that started in 1987 when founder Jack Ewing discovered the little known Florida Christmas tree. Jack planted 1000 Virginia Pine trees but the Virginia Pine would not grow in the deep sandy soil prevalent in the area.

Jack then discovered the Choctawhatchee Sand Pine, which he planted the following year. By 1989, the Ewing’s had a small selection of 5-foot choose and cut Christmas trees. By 1990, Jack built the iconic red and white A-frame building, dubbed Santa’s Workshop, which was filled with attractive hand-crafted ornaments and gifts.  A petting zoo was created and stocked with a variety of farm animals, and a tractor-pulled hayride transported customers through the field.  Their children, and eventually their grandchildren, helped with the operation as the farm grew into the family venue that it is today.

Since then, the farm has grown to offer different types of Christmas trees (16 acres of choose and cut, northern grown pre-cut, and potted) and pumpkins in October.  Guests may rent the facilities year round for parties and events, and children visit from all over the area for field trips.  Activities expand every year and now include zip lines, barrel tram rides, a giant bounce pillow and visits from Santa.

Today, you can visit the Christmas Tree forest and choose the perfect tree for you and your family. You even have the option of cutting it down yourself if you choose.  You can see their calendar of events here

General admission includes entry to the farm, the Christmas tree field and lot, photo ops, hayride, and the farm animal petting zoo (viewing only).

While we do provide you with an artificial tree at Sunshine Villa Florida, this is a great experience to check out the farm and enjoy the activities they have to offer.

Help Name Giraffe Calf Born At Animal Kingdom

baby giraffe

A giraffe calf was born to parents George & Kenya at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and she needs your help with a name!  The parents were paired together as part of the Species Survival Plan by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The team at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums oversees the responsible breeding of endangered or threatened species.

Born Oct 1 she is already 5 feet tall.  This new calf will join the rest of her family and will be spotted in the Savanna portion of the Kilomanjaro Safari before the end of the year but she needs a name before that happens.

This is where you come in!  Disney is asking for help narrowing down her name from the options below:

  • Dafina (Treasure)
  • Milima (Mountain)
  • Amira (Princess)
  • Naima (Graceful)

These names are Swahili – the native language of Kenya. Which one is your favourite?

You can cast your vote here.

 

Your Ultimate Guide To Holiday Events In Orlando

orlando holiday events

Christmas is the Orlando area is simply spectacular. It sparkles with magic and cheer!  Holiday traditions and joyful celebrations transform Orlando into a Christmas wonderland. Here is your ultimate guide to Orlando holiday events.

Disney Springs Christmas Events

Disney Springs is always on our list when visiting Orlando. But the magical decor during the holidays makes it extra special. Disney Springs offers a variety of seasonal entertainment during the Holiday Season.

From November 8th 2018 to January 6th 2019

  • Christmas Tree Trail– From November 8, 2018 through January 6, 2019, discover 27 holiday trees—each inspired by a Disney character or theme like Mary Poppins, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, among others. New this season is Star Wars and Toy Story.
  • Santa’s ChaletCelebrate the spirit of the season during an enchanting visit with Santa Claus—at the Disney Springs Marketplace from Nov 28-December
  • Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt– Solve clever clues to help everyone’s favorite galactic rascal track down gifts for his ‘ohana.

There’s plenty of live entertainment, carolers, stilt walkers, holiday sweets and treats, a live dj and dance party.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom explodes with holiday magic & cheer during Christmas. No other park sparkles quite like this.

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
    22 select nights November 8th to December 21st 2018

    Join family, friends & Mickey too for an oh-so-jolly holiday celebration! It’s the party of all parties during Christmas in Orlando. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is packed with live entertainment, a spectacular festive parade, a new fun, musical stage show and an explosion of thrilling fireworks.
  • A Frozen Holiday Wish 
    Every night, Anna, Kristoff and the irrepressible Olaf join Queen Elsa on stage where she uses her icy powers to transform the Castle into a glistening ice palace.
  • Jingle Cruise
    Jungle Cruise is transformed for the Holidays into a holly jolly Christmas cruise. All the regular props sprinkled with holiday cheer. Even the boats get new names.
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
    This parade is exclusively for guests attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Celebrate the season with Disney friends as they stroll by in a festive procession featuring jolly St. Nick on his sleigh.
  • Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Season
    The Holiday fireworks are reserved for guests attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

We’ve highlighted Magic Kingdom, but there’s lots of other holiday events going on at the other Disney resorts and you can see them all here.

Universal Orlando Resort Christmas Events

Universal Orlando unwraps a resort wide celebration.  Experience Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are transformed with holiday cheer.  Treat yourself to Universal’s Holiday Macy’s Parade and watch the live retelling of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale starring the Grinch in the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular.  Holiday events run from November 17th 2018 to January 6th 2019.

Universal Studios Florida

  • Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s
    Merry and Mayhem combine as the Minions join Santa Claus in an incarnation of Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, a holiday favorite that also features characters from Madagascar and Shrek.
  • Mannheim Steamroller The best-selling holiday artist of all time visits Universal Studios as Mannheim Steamroller returns for live performances.
  • Blues Brothers Holiday Show is a hit with all ages with songs like ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and ‘Blue Christmas’.
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley Diagon Alley is transformed with festive décor & lighting

Islands of Adventure

  • The Grinchmas Holiday SpectacularExplore Seuss Landing™, filled with the Christmas charm and cheer of Who-ville. Delight in The Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the classic holiday tale starring The Grinch™. Plus, meet the maven of mischief himself for an autograph and photo.
  • The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast
    Choose from irresistible entrees and get your camera ready. The Grinch™ himself will make the rounds, stopping to pose for photos and share hilariously snarky small talk.  Reservations
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
    With its buildings already covered in snow it’s the perfect backdrop for its holiday transformation. Don’t miss Hogwarts Castle fabulously lit by a projection-mapping show.

 

LEGOLand Christmas Bricktacular

December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22-31 2018
Thousands of LEGO and DUPLO bricks create a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree with dancing lights and songs on until December 25th.  Build Lego trees, mail a letter to Santa and don’t miss the nightly 3D fireworks!

This jolly time of year features a combination of seasonal shows, special treats, twinkling lights and more during Christmas Bricktacular and Kids’ New Year’s Party! These events are included in general admission – no extra ticket required.

 

Christmas in Celebration Florida

Now Snowing in Celebration

November 24th through Dec 31st 2018 Celebration, Florida is the town that Disney built.  Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers one of the area’s only synthetic ice rinks, special community performances by some of the area’s top young talent, and special concert events throughout the season. Now Snowing is a month-long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens style Carolers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, ice skating, train rides, and nightly snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM. It’s a true throwback to the traditional family style holiday. Festivities kick off on Nov 24 with the Tree Lighting Ceremony from 5.30 – 9.00pm.

The main event is the nightly “snowfall”  Who says it doesn’t snow in Florida? Nightly Snowfalls are at 6.00, 7.00, 8.00 and 9.00 pm.

There’s also Santa in his chalet, horse drawn carriage rides, and the Celebration Express Train.

Celebration Holiday Home Tours

The Celebration Holiday Home Tour is held December 1st 2018 from 3-9 p.m. and December 2nd 2018 from 1-5 p.m.  This self-guided tour takes visitors on a journey through several of the town’s fabulously decorated homes. Visitors can enter each home to see beautiful decorations and custom New Urbanism architecture by the Walt Disney Company. Visitors will also enjoy extravagantly decorated trees and tablescapes in the expanded Winter Wonderland.

ICE! At Gaylord Palms

November 16th 2018 to January 6th 2019
ICE! is back at Gaylord Palms with an all-new theme featuring the beloved classic holiday movie A Christmas Story. Watch this hilarious family tale come to life through interactive ice sculptures and displays. Experience iconic scenes such as The Old Man’s Major Award, Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare and the ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole. Everything is hand-carved from two million pounds of ice.

Features include:

  • ICE! Featuring A Christmas Story
  • Dreams of Christmas Light Show
  • Cirque Dreams Unwrapped
  • Atrium Christmas Tree Trail
  • Frostbite Factory
  • Alpine Rush Snow Tubing
  • Santa’s Snow Throw
  • Photo’s with Santa
  • Claus Christmas Traditions and Story Time Sing-a-long

Space Coast LightFest

Nightly throughout December

More than 3 million twinkling holiday lights will ignite the night sky at Wickham Park. The Spac Coast Lightfest is a holiday themed drive through event. This event attracts over 15,000 cars.  Over 2.7 million twinkling lights create this dazzling wonderland.

When: From 6.30pm to 10pm November 19th 2018 – January 1st 2019
Where:
Melbourne, Florida

Mount Dora Christmas Events

Nov 3 – Dec 30 – Polar Express Train Ride
Dec 1- Dec 2 – Mount Dora Holiday Homes Tour
Dec – Thurs/Fri/Sat – Mount Dora Food Tours

Daily in December:

  • Mount Dora Christmas Lights Tour
  • Mount Dora Christmas Light Cart Tour
  • Take the Polar Express from Tavares train station to the North Pole.
  • Rusty Anchor Christmas Lights on the Lake Tour – twice nightly.

Happy Planning!

Photo credit: Disney Photo Snapper, Universal

 

5 Places To Recharge At Walt Disney World

Theme parks are full of fun, sometimes too much for the little ones. They can get tuckered out fairly quickly, especially in the warmer weather. And let’s face it, so can we!  Don’t worry, you can find quiet places in many areas of Walt Disney World parks for a little rest and re-energizing and we’ll share our tips with you.

Tomorrowland People Mover- Magic Kingdom

Sit back, relax and enjoy a 10 minute tour of Tomorrowland aboard a moving tram. The soothing motion is perfect to lull little ones to sleep if they need a rest. It will also allow you to rest your feet and re-energize.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress- Magic Kingdom

Refresh and unwind when you take a plush seat inside this air conditioned revolving theatre and glimpse at a fascinating audio-animatronics show celebrating the evolution of past and present technology.

The Seas with Nemo and friends – Epcot

In this cool, calming environment just made for recharging batteries, climb aboard and venture into the sea to join Nemo and friends on their aquatic journey.

The Hall of Presidents Magic Kingdom

Dim lights and comfy seats are all you need when you cool off in the main theatre to watch a dramatic presentation celebrating the leaders of America.

Spaceship Earth- Epcot

Enjoy a gentle journey through time that explores mankind’s technological advances over the centuries and rest while exploring the history of communications.

Finding Nemo- The musical- Animal Kingdom

Yes, it’s a musical so not very quiet, but you can take a load off in the air-conditioned theatre and sit back, relax and enjoy the live show.

And of course, you can always find a quiet comfortable space to feed, change, and nurse your little ones in the many Baby Care Centres located throughout all parks.

8 Dollar Store Must Haves To Save You Money On Your Disney Vacation

disney

I think most of you will agree that Disney is super fun. But it can also be super expensive. I enjoy sharing my Disney tips so I’ve made a list of top 8 must bring items that will save you some money without sacrificing any fun!  The best part is, I purchase all of these items at my local dollar store.

  • Rain ponchos. We have yet to take a trip to Florida when it hasn’t rained.  And we go quite often.  Rain showers and storms can be fierce in Florida and happen quite frequently.  Of course you can purchase the Disney ponchos in the parks, but for much more than a few bucks. Stock up and consider extra for your stroller, bags etc.
  • Sandwich bags. Don’t forget that Disney allows their guests to bring in food and snacks to the parks. Packing your own snacks can add to a huge savings.  Bring some bags with you to pack lunch, or snacks.  The larger ones are also useful for wet swim suits, dirty diapers, trash etc.
  • Tissues and wet wipes. Expect the unexpected. Especially when you are going with kids. Boogers, dirt, blood – you just never know. Best to be prepared. These typically come in packs of 3 or more for a few dollars.
  • Glow sticks. When my children were younger, I would bring glow sticks with us for a couple of reasons. First off, because kids wants everything that glows or lights up. And as soon as night falls, Disney vendors will start appearing out of no where turning on every glowing and light up novelty. Sure to get kids attention. Secondly, safety.  I discovered that when they are wearing something that glows, it’s easier to keep an eye on them especially if they happen to wander off during the evening.
  • Hand sanitizer. Germs. Enough said.
  • Water bottles. Filling up your own water bottles could save you tons in drinks. It is important to stay hydrated and that could get expensive. You can fill up your water bottles at the fountains and if you choose, bring some squirt water flavouring that you may also find at the dollar store. The bottles pictured here from Dollar Tree even have a handy snack container on the bottom.
  • Souvenir’s. It’s easy to fall prey to the pricey Disney gift shops. Some rides even end up directly inside a shop. Clever.  But if you take a look at your local dollar store, they are full of Disney items from books, jewellery, flashlights, dolls, wands and much more.  Take them with you and hand them out while you’re in the parks. They will be just as excited and this could save you a pretty penny. Check out these neat Disney Halloween safety kits that I brought to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!
  • Cooling towels. If you’re heading to Disney during the summer months, this is a must. Believe me when I say it is SO humid during the summer in Florida. I purchased mine from my local dollar store, but these are a hit and miss so keep your eyes open and when you see them, snag ‘em.

Have I missed anything? What would you add to my list of dollar store must haves for a Disney parks trip?

Pumpkin Safari

pumpkin safari

Safari Wilderness in Lakeland, Florida is featuring Pumpkin Safari’s every Saturday and Sunday.

Pumpkin Safaris include a 45-minute customized vehicle safari, led by one of our knowledgeable tour guides. There is also an opportunity to see the small mammal house, free-flight aviary, and petting zoo barn. This part of the Pumpkin Safari allows guests a chance to get up close and personal with some of the smaller animal residents!

Each Pumpkin Safari admission also comes with a free pumpkin! These can be decorated at the Ranch and given to the animals for enrichment, or taken home to decorate your residence during this spooky season. Other craft and enrichment activities will also be offered. Join in making fun fall-themed toys for the animals! They absolutely love finding these new fascinating items in their space, and our guests enjoy watching as the animals investigate their gifts.

Lemur Feedings will also be available for purchase upon arrival. Safaris depart on the hour, every hour, from 1pm to 5pm. No reservations required.

The Safari Snacks Food Wagon will be open for business, so be sure to come hungry!

Pricing:

  • Admission for 1: $39
  • Admission for 2: $75
  • Admission for 4: $145

Enjoy a 45-minute guided tour, feed exotic animals and take home a pumpkin! 

Buy your tickets here

*Courtesy of Safari Wilderness

Why MNSSHP Isn’t Just For Kids And Why You Should Go!

mnsshp

We all know that Halloween time is fun for children and throw in some Disney magic and its bound to be a Halloween they never forget. But what about adults? Is it possible that adults could have just as much fun at Disney? Well we say absolutely! And we’ll tell you how at Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party

 

The Haunted Mansion – Although Disney attraction is scary 365 days out of the year, on Halloween, the ghosts and ghouls bring some extra spooktacular surprises.  During the Halloween party be on the lookout for Lady Carlotta who likes to heckle visitors from the front lawn as well as others who decide to come out and say “Boo!”  You’ll also want to be sure to have your photo taken in front of the Haunted Mansion by one of Disney’s PhotoPass photographers.  We’ve heard that around Halloween a few of the 999 Happy Haunts that call the mansion home may just show up in your picture. Frightening!

The Mountains – If you think the final plunge on Splash Mountain is scary, try doing it in the darkness!  Though not all attractions remain open during the party you do have the incredible trifecta of mountainous coasters – Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain as well as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  With all of the kids trick-or-treating use this as an opportunity to enjoy the thrills during lower crowd times. Also be sure to check out Pirates of the Caribbean as well as Space Mountain, witch have some spooky touches added especially for the season.

The Sanderson Sisters – Though the Disney film Hocus Pocus may not resonate with tiny tots, I guarantee you that the film conjures up beloved Halloween memories for many of the adults visiting Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  That’s why you’ll be delighted to know that Winifred, Mary and Susan make several appearances a night just outside of Cinderella Castle for the Hocus Pocus: A Villain Spelltacular.  You’ll be tapping your toes and singing along with this calamitous coven as they welcome some of their favorite Disney Villains to wreak havoc on the Magic Kingdom.

HalloWishes Dessert Party: During this special VIP event, you’ll be treated to a variety of Halloween-inspired treats including sparkling cider, chocolate dipped strawberries, cupcakes, ice cream, and more.  After dining you’ll enjoy Magic Kingdom’s Happy Hallowishes Fireworks display which is exclusively for Halloween party guests.

We told you that adults can have just as much fun at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party as the kids- if not more!  And for the kids at heart, this is the one time of year where adults are allowed to show up in costume. So get ready to release your inner child and and make your way over to Mickey’s Not So Scarty Halloween Party to experience your best day ever!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party runs on select nights until October 31, 2018. The party is a separate ticketed event with tickets starting at $74 and running up to $104 depending on the date.  Tickets can be purchased directly via My Disney Experience.

The Haunted Mansion – Although Disney attraction is scary all year round, on Halloween, the ghosts and ghouls bring some extra spooktacular surprises.  During the Halloween party be on the lookout for Lady Carlotta who likes to heckle visitors as well as others who may decide to come out and say “Boo!”  Be sure to have your photo taken in front of the Haunted Mansion by one of Disney’s PhotoPass photographers.  We’ve heard that around Halloween a few of the 999 Happy Haunts that call the mansion home may just show up in your picture. Frightening!

The Mountains – If you think the final plunge on Splash Mountain is scary, try doing it in the darkness!  Though not all attractions remain open during the party you do have the incredible trifecta of mountainous coasters – Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain as well as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  With all of the kids trick-or-treating use this as an opportunity to enjoy the thrills during lower crowd times. Also be sure to check out Pirates of the Caribbean as well as Space Mountain, witch have some spooky touches added especially for the season.

The Sanderson Sisters – Though the Disney film Hocus Pocus may not resonate with tiny tots, I guarantee you that the film conjures up beloved Halloween memories for many of the adults visiting Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  That’s why you’ll be delighted to know that Winifred, Mary and Susan make several appearances a night just outside of Cinderella Castle for the Hocus Pocus: A Villain Spelltacular.  You’ll be tapping your toes and singing along with this calamitous coven as they welcome some of their favorite Disney Villains to wreak havoc on the Magic Kingdom.

HalloWishes Dessert Party: During this special VIP event, you’ll be treated to a variety of Halloween-inspired treats including sparkling cider, chocolate dipped strawberries, cupcakes, ice cream, and more.  After dining you’ll enjoy Magic Kingdom’s Happy Hallowishes Fireworks display which is exclusively for Halloween party guests.

We told you that adults can have just as much fun at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party as the kids- if not more!  And for the kids at heart, this is the one time of year where adults are allowed to show up in costume. And if you choose to collect some sweets, we won’t judge! So get ready to release your inner child and and make your way over to Mickey’s Not So Scarty Halloween Party to experience your best day ever!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party runs on select nights until October 31, 2018. The party is a separate ticketed event with tickets starting at $74 and running up to $104 depending on the date.  Tickets can be purchased directly via My Disney Experience.

*Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

 

 

Freshwater Fishing

fisherman

There are plenty of water activities in and around Central Florida to enjoy, from live Mermaid showsAmphicar tours to boat cruises.

Our abundant sunshine, pleasant temperatures and numerous lakes make Polk County a year-round prime fishing destination for hardcore anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those looking to land a 10+ pound trophy bass.

It’s not difficult to understand why we earn consistent recognition as one of the top freshwater fishing destinations in the world.  Polk County is home to more than 550 lakes that occupy over 135 square miles that along with the diversity of freshwater habitats and the variety of fish species that inhabit area waterways is what draw fishing enthusiasts here.  Its the reason we earn consistent recognition as one of the top freshwater fishing destinations in the world.

The best known and most popular game fish in the world – The Largemouth Bass – just so happens to be Florida’s state freshwater fish. The title “Largemouth Bass Capital of the World” is a testament to the king of the Polk County waters, the Largemouth Black Bass. Our temperate climate not only produces an abundance of largemouth bass, but allows them to reach impressive sizes.  Polk County is home to the record Florida Largemouth bass weighing in at an impressive 17.27 pounds!

Polk County produces quality bluegill, crappie, bream, sunshine bass, catfish, gar, tilapia and chain pickerel. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission includes a high percentage of Polk County lakes in their rankings of top fisheries for specific species.

The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Tenoroc Fish Management Are, Mosaic Fish Management Area and the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes regularly produce catches of 10+ pound bass.

 

 

Central Florida Boat Cruises

lake

There are plenty of water activities and dining options in Central Florida despite not being on the coast.

Central Florida has many lakes, and Winter Haven is home to 50 of them with 24 of them interconnected on what is called “The Chain of Lakes”.

The Living Water Boat Cruises offers several cruises of these lakes, which include dining at lakeside restaurants, watching the Legoland fireworks, ski show, 1 hour tours, day tours, or a romantic sunset cruise!  You can even cruise by the chain of lakes baseball complex, the former spring training grounds of the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians!

All cruises include a complimentary bottled water, and also carry sunblock,  They supply a cooler packed with ice for any drinks and snacks you may like to bring on board.  Discounts are offered on groups of 6 or more.  You can also reserve private boat tours.

Currently Kids ride FREE  until August 31st with the purchase of an adult ticket.

 

Hardrock Live Lineup

Hardrock Orlando has an exciting lineup this October, including a performance by Marilyn Manson on Halloween night.

The venue will also host the following performers:

Jim Jeffries October 12

Good Charlotte October 16

Death Cab for Cutie October 23

Paul Anka October 25

Paula Abdul October 26

Alice in Chains October 27

Toto October 30

Marilyn Manson October 31

Click here for tickets to these events