Hello and thank you for visiting OrlandoTastic! What started out as a top Disney World blog, OrlandoTastic is now a wonderful source of information for couples, groups and families planning an upcoming Orlando vacation. Through a vast network of theme park and attraction contacts, we’re able to bring our visitors the latest news, rumors, and stories covering just about everything in Orlando. Whether it’s a new ride at Walt Disney World, a new attraction at Universal Studios, a new restaurant opening downtown or a music festival planning a weekend concert, OrlandoTastic is happy to get the word out. And, of course, we’re always trying to partner with companies able to offer discount tickets to all the excitement. We hope you all enjoy our Disney blog, and if you have any questions, please contact us. Happy vacationing!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Disney Is My Drug Of Choice, Says Veteran With PTSD

"Disney is my drug of choice.
It's been the happiest days of my life.
My Family is the main function of my happiest days.
But, all this art and magic, creates magic.
It gives you a different feeling of peace inside.
Or, it does for me."
Keep Moving Forward

Guy Spagnoli was your typical young American kid when he was drafted into the Army, and sent over to help fight the war in Vietnam.  While he was there, he saw and experienced the types of things that no one should ever have to be a part of.  But, he did it, because his Country asked it of him.  When he finally returned home, he returned a different person.  Although he wouldn't learn of his diagnosis till years later, he now suffered from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.  The world was now different to him, and he reacted differently towards it.  He suffered from panic attacks, nightmares, and was no longer able to watch the news, since many of its stories would trigger his PTSD.  The doctors began prescribing him pills.  But, as he has said, taking those pills would ultimately fry his brain.  So, Guy turned away from the doctors' medicines and found a more appropriate way to find peace from his PTSD; through Disney.

Guy has now been to Disney World 50 times, and this version of self-medication is doing wonders for him.  He was most recently there on July 18th for a Jodie Benson (voice of Ariel from The Little Mermaid) event.  In a Reddit AMA today, he was asked what his favorite thing about Disney World was, and he said, "Everybody is treated equal, everybody is given respect, and everybody is treated like a guest whether you work there or not.".  He has also worked on and off for Disney 11 times.  When asked his favorite thing about working there, he said "The food! There are so many different restaurants down there and food from so many different cultures you can try."

When another veteran with PTSD asked him for advice, he told him to "Find the thing that makes you happy and doesn't hurt you or anyone around you."  In other words, try to find your own escape, your own outlet, your own peace, whether it's Disney World or something else.

His favorite Disney quote is "Keep Moving Forward".  As he says, "The key to my PTSD is to keep moving forward. If you live in the past, it will consume you."  So, in that spirit, he is currently the main participant in a documentary in the works titled "Keep Moving Forward".  It chronicles Guy's story, and the effect his Disney World fascination is having on his struggle with PTSD.

To help fund this project, the creators have launched a kickstarter campaign, which can be found here (video below).

Guy, congratulations on all you have accomplished, and we wish you the very best with the documentary, as well as all things to come.

Keep Moving Forward

Friday, July 24, 2015

Universal Orlando Gets Top Billing In Sharknado 3

Well, it was actually Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, but it sure felt like Universal Orlando got the most screen time.  The movie, titled "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!", premiered on Wednesday night.  As usual with this movie series, it's gotten quite the reception.

Sharknado 3 Oh Hell No

Starting with Universal Orlando's front gate, there are plenty of venues and attractions that make appearances.  Without giving too much away, viewers should keep an eye out for Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, Universal's CityWalk, and Islands of Adventure.

Beyond Ziering and Reid, there's also plenty of celebrities involved in the story, including Chris Kirkpatrick from 'N Sync, Jerry Springer, Nascar's Brad Keselowski, Mark Cuban starring as POTUS, David Hasselhoff, Frankie Muniz, and Universal Orlando's President Brad Davis.

If you happened to miss Wednesday's premiere, not to worry.  It will be on SyFy tomorrow at 7PM, and Sunday at 9PM.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Epcot Food and Wine Festival: "Eat To The Beat" Concert Series Lineup

2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival doesn't kickoff until September 25th, but now's the time to checkout the "Eat To The Beat" Concert Series lineup and dates.  A lot of the fan favorites are returning, but there's also some great new performers.  Attending the concerts is included with your admission, so make your plans soon!

  • David Cook – September 25-27, 2015 
  • Wilson Phillips – September 28-29, 2015 
  • Christopher Cross – September 30-October 1, 2015 
  • Starship – October 2-4, 2015 
  • Smash Mouth – October 5-7, 2015 
  • The Pointer Sisters – October 8-9, 2015 
  • 38 Special – October 10-11, 2015 
  • Rick Springfield – October 12-13, 2015 
  • Sugar Ray – October 14-16, 2015 
  • The S.O.S. Band – October 17-18, 2015 
  • Air Supply – October 19-21, 2015 
  • Fuel – October 22-23, 2015 
  • Tiffany (NEW!) – October 24-25, 2015 
  • Dennis DeYoung – October 26-28, 2015 
  • Jo Dee Messina – October 29-30, 2015 
  • Everclear (NEW!) – October 31-November 1, 2015 
  • Boyz II Men – November 2-4, 2015 
  • Sister Hazel – November 5-6, 2015 
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – November 7-9, 2015 
  • Hanson – November 10-12, 2015 
  • Maxi Priest (NEW!) – November 13-14, 2015 
  • Chaka Khan (NEW!) – November 15-16, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Survey Results : The Best Places to Eat and Drink at Epcot's World Showcase

(Via Napoli at the Italy Pavilion)

A couple of weeks ago we launched a survey hoping to gain some insights into where our readers ventured at Epcot's World Showcase.

Here are the current results:

Where is your favorite place to go to grab a quick snack?

1st Place - Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe - Norway - 12.7%
2nd Place - Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie - France - 11.7%
3rd Place (tie) -  La Cantina de San Angel - Mexico - 10.1%
3rd Place (tie) - Liberty Inn - America - 10.1%

Where is your favorite place to go for a refreshing drink or cocktail?

1st Place - La Cantina de San Angel - Mexico - 15.8%
2nd Place - Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room - United Kingdom - 14.5%
3rd Place (tie) - La Cava del Tequila - Mexico - 10.5%
3rd Place (tie) - Refreshment Cool Post - Outpost Area - 10.5%

Where is your favorite place to go and sit down and enjoy a nice lunch or dinner?

1st Place (tie) - Le Cellier Steakhouse - Canada - 10.1%
1st Place (tie) - Via Napoli - Itlay - 10.1%
3rd Place - Chefs de France - France - 8.9%

Please tell us your favorite way to experience Epcot's World Showcase...

  • Eating around the world - purchasing a dish or two at each country and sharing
  • Wandering around searching out vegetarian friendly stalls and shops.
  • Sober!
  • Sampling all the wonderful food& drinks from all the countries.
  • Epcot is our favorite disney park. We enjoy being able to walk around and taste all of the different foods and beverages from around the world! It makes you feel like you are truly on vacation.
  • We love the fall Food and Wine Festival
  • We enjoy going to each country whether we start from left to right or vice versa. the hands on activities are fun for the whole family!
  • On a cool day, sitting on a bench!!
  • Take the time to stroll instead of run through the park. Try to experience Epcot during the International Flower and Garden exhibit.
  • Start counter clockwise, stopping at Liberty Inn for lunch.
  • We love the garden and flower festival as it changes Epcot into a beautiful paradise. Love the butterfly farm. We love taking a slow walk round all the world's.
  • Over several days. We aren't interested in too many rides there so we like to eat!
  • Watching the fireworks from the Japanese pavillion
  • With vodka freezes in France, finding a table to look over the lake while imbibing
  • I really like visiting all the countries and eating and having a drink or two.
  • Trying different foods from all over the world. We have eaten at most of the restaurants in EPCOT and love them all.
  • Try a little bit of food and drink as you walk all the way around.
  • By walking "through the world" and taking in all the sights and sounds at the individual country's locations. Browsing the shops and eating at the various dining locations "across the globe."
  • Food and wine festival!!!!!
  • Pub crawl
  • My husband and I have never been there. We are 80 and afraid we could not keep up the walking and standing in line for the events.
  • Via Napoli is our favorite lunch spot
  • My husband and I love to sample all around the world at a very leisurely pace.
  • Start at one end and begin walking and enjoying everything - when you get to the other side- turn around and do it again!!
  • Leisurely over a few days. Try the food in some of the less expensive places and then splurge on one expensive meal. Tokyo dining has a great view of Illuminations during a late dinner.
  • Food and Wine Fall Event
  • During the food and wife festival going to each country and trying all the interesting new flavors in each area

 Than you again to everyone that participated.  We'll be putting out a new survey later this week. (survey results)

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Confederate Flag at Disney World? Not Anymore...

Epcot at Disney World

It all started at the South Carolina State House, and has since led to the removal of the Confederate Flag from venues and buildings all over the South.  And, to the surprise of many, even at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park.

The flag (pictured below) is not the traditional Southern Cross, but is actually the 3rd flag of the Confederacy.  The flag was featured in Epcot's "The American Adventure" exhibit, which uses animatronics of Presidents and Statesmen to guide visitors through different eras in American history.  There are over 40 different flags on display, however, this version of the flag will no longer be on display.

Confederate Flag at Disney World

“I think in this day and age we shouldn’t be promoting a part of our history we’re not proud of,” Sheri Labowski, a Connecticut tourist outside the American Adventure on Wednesday, told the Orlando Sentinel

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Orlando Grabs 5 Out Of 11 Theme Park Insider Awards

The readers at Theme Park Insider have cast their votes, and, for the 14th consecutive year, we now have an annual list of winners.  Orlando theme parks grabbed 5 of the 11 categories, and, internationally, Disney took a total of 5 awards, and Universal a total of 3 awards.

Tokyo DisneySea

Kudos to Tokyo DisneySea, which won Best Themed Attraction, as well as Best Theme Park.  It took Best Theme Park honors for the 3rd year in a row, and 4th time overall.

Perhaps we should put together our own Orlando / Florida awards?

Here are the winners:

Best Hotel: Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal Orlando
Best Hotel Restaurant: Victoria and Albert's, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Walt Disney World
Best Quick-Service Restaurant: The Leaky Cauldron, Universal Studios Florida
Best Full-Service Restaurant: Monsieur Paul, Epcot
Best Show: Aladdin, Disney California Adventure
Best Roller Coaster: El Toro, Six Flags Great Adventure
Best New Roller Coaster: Thunderbird, Holiday World
Best New Family Attraction: Hogwarts Express, Universal Orlando
Best New Attraction: Justice League Battle for Metropolis, Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St. Louis
Best Themed Attraction: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tokyo DisneySea
Best Theme Park: Tokyo DisneySea

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy 4th of July from Disney World!!!

Happy July 4th!

If you're in Orlando, there's a bunch of stuff going on today.  Disney World has events going on at Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom, at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and at Illuminations: Reflections of Earth in Epcot.  For more info, click here.  There's really no bad decision here, as all three venues do a spectacular job.  We wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

7 Awesome Facts About Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Florida
Everyone has heard interesting stories and rumors about the Walt Disney World Resort.  Whether it's underground tunnels, hidden Mickeys, stories from past cast members, or some old fable about Walt himself, they are all interesting.  Here are 7 awesome facts we would like to share with you:

Walt Disney's Plane at Hollywood Studios

1.  Walt Disney's actual plane, that he used to scout the location for his Florida theme park, sits backstage at Hollywood Studios.  At one point they offered Backlot Tours, but, today, it is no longer able to be seen with regular park access.

The Disney Point

2.  Has a Disney employee, such as Mickey Mouse himself, ever pointed at you?  Have you ever seen him point?  And, have you ever noticed that they didn't use the more typical 1 finger point?  That's because all employees and members of Disney are required to use the Disney point (above).

Mickey Mouse Crossroads of the World

3.  There are a lot of precautions taken at Disney World.  And, one of them is to protect the park visitors from Florida lightning.  When you enter Hollywood Studios, and as you gaze up at Mickey Mouse standing atop the Crossroads of the World, take comfort in knowing that one of his ears is made of copper.  That's because he's actually being utilized as a lightning rod.

Disney Fake Names on Main Street

4.  The windows of Main Street USA are littered with all sorts of individual names, companies, and more.  But, did you know that some of those names were not from real people?  When Walt Disney started buying up land for his theme parks, he did so using fake names and entities.  Why?  Because he didn't want people to know it was him, and, thus, creating a real estate boom in the area.  Still though, he bought his first acre for $80, and his last acre for $80,000.  On the window pictured above is one of those fake companies, MT Lott Real Estate Investments.  Try saying "MT Lott" fast.  Does it sound a bit like "empty lot"?

Mickey at Magic Kingdom

5.  It's such a delight to see your favorite characters at the Walt Disney World Resort.  But, have you ever wondered why it doesn't happen more often, or, more importantly, why you've never seen two of the same character together?  The answer is simple; it's never happened, and it never will.  Disney runs strict schedules for their cast members, and all of them know exactly what park they should be in, and when it is time to leave.  In fact, all the cast members carry around guides for all the parks.  So, if you want to see Goofy at Epcot, just ask for help, and you'll know when and where to show up.

Disney Merchandise Delivered

6.  Here's a really cool fact, and, if you're staying at one of the many Disney resorts, you can take advantage of it.  When you're at the parks and picking up Disney merchandise, simply ask them to deliver your purchase to your room.  Now you won't have to carry it around for the rest of the day!

Cell Tower at Disney's Animal Kingdom

7.  And, last and final, have you ever wondered why you have such great cell phone reception in the parks, yet there doesn't appear to be any towers or hills in the area?  Have you also wondered why there are some freakishly tall trees around?  That's because the two are actually related.  That weird looking tree is a cell phone tower in disguise.  The one pictured above is at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

That's all for now, but we'll get some more for you soon...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wet 'n Wild To Close Its Doors For Good; Volcano Bay To Open

Volcano Bay - Universal Orlando
 (an artist's rendition of Universal Orlando's soon-to-be new water park, Volcano Bay)

In two completely unrelated stories, Wet 'n Wild will be shutting down permanently, and Volcano Bay will be opening its doors for the first time.  Well, maybe not totally unrelated, although Universal Orlando is not linking the two stories together.

Wet 'n Wild Orlando Florida

Wet 'n Wild first opened 43 years ago, back in 1977.   During the 43 hot and sticky summers since, the water park has been an absolute staple in Orlando, sitting smack dab in the middle of International Drive.  Multiple generations of the same families have fond memories of growing up with trips to the water park, and refreshing rides down their many water slides.  Universal Orlando, which owns Wet 'n Wild, will be shutting down the park at the end of next season, on December 31st, 2016.  Although they have not yet made a statement about what they plan to do with the 23 acres the park sits on, they have said that they plan to "absorb" as many of the 300+ Wet 'n Wild employees into other Universal Orlando parks.  

But, times change, and often for the better.  We're setting the bar pretty high for Volcano Bay.  There have been several incredible new water parks, water rides, and attractions that have opened in the past few years, such as, at SeaWorld and Disney World, and we're pretty sure that Universal is looking to compete.  Volcano Bay is scheduled to open at the beginning of the 2017 season.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Take the Epcot Survey: Eating and Drinking at the World Showcase

Epcot World Showcase

Epcot is one of the top tourist destination in the World.  Although it is the second most popular theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort, it still landed 6th on the World's list of the top 25 most visited theme parks in 2014, bringing in 11,454,000 fans.  The Magic Kingdom topped the list with 19,332,000 visitors.

Epcot has some of the top attractions in any of Disney World's four theme parks, and, actually, any of the theme parks in Orlando.  Some of the amazing attractions include taking a ride on Spaceship Earth in Epcot's iconic geodesic dome, grabbing a seat for a viewing of The American Adventure where the audience experience key moments in American history via an audio animatronic-driven "montage" stage show, or getting involved in designing your own roller coaster and testing it in a simulator at Sum of All Thrills.

However, many visitors are drawn to Epcot for their fantastic food and drink scene, and, specifically, in the World Showcase.  The World Showcase features 11 pavilions, each themed and representing its own Country.  They are, in the order you can walk through, travel the world, and experience them, Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

There are a total of 31 restaurants, cafes, bars, and lounges in the World Showcase.  They are sprinkled amongst the different pavilions, each catering to the theme of the Country they reside in.  Whether you're looking to sit down for a nice meal, to drink your way around the World, or to simply grab a quick snack on the go, there is something for everyone.  But, which spot tops them all?  That's an impossible question to answer, since each spot is unique, and it also depends on the appetite in question.  Below is a brief survey we have put together.  With your help, we should get a good idea of which spots visitors tend to enjoy the most.

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