Hi everyone! Based on some great feedback about the Things To Do In Orlando This Weekend blog posts, I have decided that a whole week's worth of opportunities is a better way to go. This way, you can do one, two or all of the suggestions! "This Week" will always run from Monday to Sunday, so you'll have plenty of time to plan and do. So on to the suggestions!
An Expensive Indulgence: Get your Halloween groove on early and treat yourself to an exclusive RIP Tour of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights XX. This is a guided, structured tour that you can join with other people or reserve for your own private party. When you're an RIP guest, you'll be treated to no lines for any house or attraction, reserved seating at all HHN shows, your own souvenir lanyard and plenty of fantastic photo opps you might not have as a regular guest. The price will set you back anywhere from $150/person for a non-private tour (meaning you don't get to choose the other RIP'ers) to a whooping $1800 (per private tour for up to 12 people), plus tax and regular HHN admission. Yeah, that's right -- event admission is not included in that pricing. But if you can afford it, it's supremely worth it. I was lucky enough to do it a few years ago and I've been socking away my pennies to repeat the experience ever since. (Universal Studios Florida, 407-363-8000)
A Cheap Treat: Get in on the college kids' sweet secret. Near the University of Central Florida is Jeremiah's Italian Ice. It's all here, for your sugary delight -- Italian ice in flavors like black raspberry, coconut, and Parrothead Paradise; soft serve ice cream in chocolate, vanilla and swirl; or gelati, where you combine your own choices of soft serve and Italian ice. Prices are lower than the theme parks and the flavors are better, with a much wider choice. There's even some sugar-free options. Take the drive! Your taste buds will thank you. (12271 University Blvd, 407-277-7769)
Free Fun: Take a ride down to the Baldwin Park area of Orlando and visit the Audubon Park Community Market on Monday night. The market features goods of all kinds, from fresh produce to amazing art. The purchases vary in price, of course, but the wandering is free. This is a lovely way to spend a warm evening, browsing to your heart's content. There's always live music and often live demonstrations, so give local arts and boutiques a shot this week! (1842 East Winter Park Road, in the Stardust Coffee parking lot)
Great for Grownups: Orlando has an exceptional theater and performing arts scene, even though most people don't realize it. A bit removed from the theme park offerings are classic plays and musicals as well as new and independent works that are worth both a drive and a look. This week, experience the Orlando Improv Festival. It runs for three days (September 19-21), starting with a Sunday improv workshop if you want to do more than just watch the shows. An all access pass for Monday and Tuesday is only $60; the pass gives you guaranteed access to all 12 shows. That's $5 per show. I defy you to find a better theater bargain this -- or any other -- week. (The Winter Park Playhouse, 711 North Orange Avenue, Winter Park, 407-645-0145)
Fantastic for Families: Younger Hallown fans can also get into the trick and treating spirit early, with Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This event tends to sell out as Halloween itself approaches, so go on an earlier date to avoid the big crowds. You and your family will experience all the same fantastic fall events, but there will be fewer people in your way as you watch the special parade and fireworks shows that only come out for this time of year. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is not included in your regular Walt Disney World admission -- you must purchase an extra ticket to attend. (Walt Disney World Resort, 407-WDISNEY)