By Susan and Simon Veness
The kids have gone back to school or are getting ready to go back, making the parks a bit quieter. But there is still plenty of excitement coming to Orlando over the next few months. Let’s do a quick run-down on what’s happening in August and September.
You’ve heard of Comic-Con and MegaCon, but have you heard of Mythicon? It’s a 3 day sci-fi lovers fantasy convention focused on anime, video games, and comic books, featuring shows, industry and fan discussion panels, plus costume and cosplay contests (not sure what cosplay is? It’s ‘costume play’, meaning, dress up like your favourite anime/video game character and ‘live it out’ with like-minded conventioneers). Mythicon will be held at the Doubletree near SeaWorld, August 23-25, tickets available at the door.
Harry Potter fans take note: Universal Orlando has just announced A Celebration of Harry Potter at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in advance of the opening of the Wizarding World expansion in Universal Studios. The events run from 24 January-26 January, 2014. Your general park-to-park admission will include a Harry Potter Film Tribute on 24 January, a wand master class with Paul Harris (subject to availability, so arrive early!), and Question and Answer sessions (January 25 and 26; again, first come, first served). The 3-day event takes place in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Great Irish Hooley Festival comes to Raglan Road again this year, 30 August-2 September, with six live Irish bands, and workshops teaching Irish dance and Irish music. Events run from 5pm-1.30am on Friday, noon-1.30am Sat-Mon.
Jack Hanna Weekend returns to SeaWorld September 14-15, and this year the event features a new offering, Dinner with Jack Hanna, inspired by the popularity of Breakfast with Jack Hanna. The event is free with admission, breakfast and dinner are separately priced events.
And, of course, all the Food and Wine Festival fun comes to Epcot 27 September-10 November, while Disney’s Halloween events run from 11 September-2 November. Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights run 20 September-2 November, and Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream runs 27 September-26 October. Way too chicken for such intense slasher-fests? SeaWorld’s Spooktacular is ideal family fun without a hint of scare-acting. It runs 5 October-27 October. Even better? Spooktacular is included in your SeaWorld admission price.
Those are a few of the events coming up, but what else is in the news this week?
Trader Joes: Insanely popular for their quirky groceries, , Trader Joes buys directly from suppliers, which helps keep prices low, and that’s a big part of its popularity. Can’t get enough wild-caught Norwegian Wolffish? Trader Joes has got you covered. Dying to make some Ginger Honey Pickled Peaches? Trader Joes will give you the recipe. Too lazy to peel your own hard boiled eggs? You can buy a bag of them, ready for eating. But one of the big draws for TJ fans is the wine pricing. Most of it won’t win major awards on an international scale, but for $5.99 you can get a decent bottle to enjoy while your legs dangle in the pool. Buyer beware, however: you will find crazy-cheap Charles Shaw wines—better known as Two Buck Chuck—here, but unless you’ve had your taste buds removed or have absolutely no experience with any other brand of wine, this is one bargain you may want to skip.
Trader Joes already has an outlet in Winter Park, but why drive that far when you can find great prices and interesting offerings practically on Tourist Central’s doorstep? Watch for the opening in the Dr. Phillips area, on Sand Lake Road, in early 2014.
Cap’n Jacks: at Downtown Disney is no more. After 38 years in business the restaurant will close its doors on 17 August in preparation for Disney’s big re-design that will turn Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. Remember the old Comedy Warehouse? It’s already long gone. However, by all accounts, the former Adventurer’s Club building will remain. Now, if only we could get the Adventurers Club back! Who’s with me on that?
Costco: Your U.K. Costco card works in the U.S., so stock up on things like bottled water, soda, beer and wine at excellent prices. While you’re there, check out the section of discounted tickets, dining, and other experience around Orlando. You can even get discounted movie tickets that are accepted at all AMC Theaters, including Downtown Disney. Find Costco on the Orange Blossom Trail, about 20 minutes from I-Drive.
A Final Reminder!
There is still time left to get in on Attraction Tickets Direct’s Let The Good Times Roll promotion, offering you the chance to win a £5000 Orlando holiday just by entering your 20 second video telling them your best Orlando tip or favourite Orlando memory. Now, don’t get all up in the “I can’t act”. Neither can we, and we did it anyway! Our entry is just for fun, of course, but it WAS fun, and by the looks of other entries, it’s a chance to be as happy, dopey, or goofy as you like. No acting experience necessary, since the winner will be chosen at random. Get those iPhones and cameras out and let’s see what you can do!
Restaurant Recommendation: It takes a lot to get Susan into a Mexican restaurant after…let’s say…some unfortunate experiences, but there are a few places we’ll go that are absolutely fantastic, and we’re happy to recommend them. One such place is Cantina Laredo on Sand Lake Road, in the Dr. Philips area, about 10 minutes from Universal Orlando. Since you’re going to be over there shopping at Trader Joe’s anyway, make it your lunch or dinner stop (especially if you tried to get into Rocco’s Tacos and couldn’t!). Normally we recommend a few dishes in particular, but like Rocco’s Tacos, just go ahead and order anything; it’s all good. Don’t forget to add a margarita to your evening meal, but take our word for it: you should only order one per person. Don’t argue with me about this. When you stand up after your meal, you’ll thank us because you CAN still stand up after your meal. Cantina Laredo does some superb Happy Hour specials, Daily Specials, and a terrific Sunday Brunch.
Favourite Quote of the Week: We were strolling around at Universal Studios when we heard a woman say to her family, “Ok, let’s go over to that one ride now. You know, that one ride. The one with the yellow skinned people from the cartoon!” We’re pretty sure she meant The Simpsons Ride, but we didn’t follow her to confirm it.