Friday, August 20, 2010

Five Things To Do in Orlando This Weekend: July 20-22, 2010

Expensive and Exclusive: It's a huge long-shot, but sometimes last minute cancellations mean the dining experience of a lifetime at Victoria & Albert's at the Walt Disney World Grande Floridian Resort & Spa. Three options await, each one more indulgent and expensive than the last: the regular pris fixe tasting menu, the astonishing Chef's Table, and the newest luxury experience, Queen Victoria's Room. The average dinner bill for two will set you back a couple hundred dollars, and that price will go up based on which dining option you get and how you choose to handle their extensive and amazing wine list (wine pairings are also available). Dress for the occasion, too -- jackets for gentleman and semi-formal attire for the ladies. Call 407-WDW-DINE if you're willing to splash out on a memorable meal.

Cheap and Cheesy: The August Stomp at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is a harvest season must-do. There are grape stomping contests, live music all weekend, games for the kids and complimentary wine tours and tastings for the adults. You get all this for a suggested $2 donation to benefit the South Lake Boys and Girls Clubs. It's well worth the drive to Clermont, a mere 40 minutes from the Lake Buena Vista area.

Free and Easy: Legos! Head over to Downtown Disney Marketplace's LEGO Imagination Center, where huge tables with hundreds of the iconic blocks await your building pleasure. Take pictures with the massive, "WOW" models, like a 12-foot T-Rex, a larger than life Titan XP Robot, and asleeping tourist on a bench outside. Peek into special showcase portholes to see LEGO motion activated scenes, then gawk at the gigantic Pick A Brick wall - the world's largest - featuring bricks of every conceivable color and variety! Employees to demonstrations and hands-on events for young and old, including mural construction and beat-the-clock building contests.

Great for Grownups: Masterpiece Theater aficionados will know him from the weirdly-wonderful opening credits of the long-runnig PBS series, but there is much more to the art of Edward Gorey (1925-2000). The New Yorker described him as “a man of enormous artist and writer of genius,” and now the Orlando Museum of Art is featuring him in an exclusive exhibit -- Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey. The exhibit is on view until Halloween and, given the macabre feature of many of Gorey's pen and ink drawings, the exhibition is bound to get a lot mroe crowded as that haunted season nears. Get in early and spend some time with the more than 170 objects on loan from the The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

Fun for Families: The World Food Festival at the Florida Mall is a great way to sample cuisine from four different world locales -- Asian, Mediterranean, American, and Hispanic -- in a comfortable, central Florida atmosphere. Ten dollars gets you ten samples, with more available for purchase if you like. There an Irish and German Beer Garden for the adults, loads of free demos and shows for the kids, and a healthy dose of cultural arts for all. And when you're done, there's loads of window shopping in the massive mall.

My Pick: If money is no object, it's V&A's all the way. I've eaten there four times and each meal was better than the last. Don't miss the Kona chocolate souffle.


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