Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

April 21, 2019

REVIEW: Game-Changing VR Experiences at Nomadic - Pointe Orlando

I confess - I'm not the biggest fan of virtual reality. My family collectively represents the scope of issues and gripes that people generally have with VR. It's either cheesy and not truly realistic, or it causes headaches or motion sickness. One way or another, it's just not quite THERE yet. It's not what we expect, or want, it to be. If you can relate to any of this, have we got something to share with you! Dare I say, this is the game-changer!

Nomadic is a location-based VR entertainment facility located at Pointe Orlando on I-Drive. Currently, they are beta-testing a new VR experience - Arizona Sunshine: Rampage. Rampage is a spin-off or "next-level" to Nomadic's original co-op multiplayer shooter, Arizona Sunshine: Contagion Z.  Both games are extensions of the Arizona Sunshine series by Vertigo Games for at-home play, and they are custom-built and designed specifically for Nomadic's 1,200 sqft game space.

Nomadic offers a mixed-reality experience, where players wear VR headsets and backpacks to transport them into digital worlds. You start your journey by gearing up after being introduced to your game guide. Though you only spend a few minutes with your guide, this is where you will receive all the vital details, tips, and encouragement for your mission - so be alert and pay attention! We were prepped for battle by our very capable and informative guide, J.C.

Once your guide gets the team settled into the briefing room and the door closes, you are left to your own collective efforts. Though the guide will be monitoring your mission, they're not actively involved with your game play. I'm not sure if I'm just easily amused, but I have to admit that watching the briefing room go through a digital transformation around us was really cool - and nothing was even really happening at this point! Your inner-Trekkie will go giddy over this little stage-setting, holodeck-esque moment. After our mission instructions were detailed, the briefing room melted away, revealing a train we were to board to find our weapons and begin our adventure.

All in-venue images and renderings: Nomadic VR

This is one of those experiences that doesn't lend itself to a play-by-play review. Much like an escape game, too many reveals and in-depth detail would ruin the mystique - and that is the last thing we want to do here, because you deserve this experience! Here's what we can tell you...

Nomadic's mixed-reality nature integrates physical objects with the VR environment. This means doors, drawers, levers and more that you see in the digitized world can really be interacted with in the physical world as well - and some even hold clues and bonuses to enhance your game!

Contagion Z and Rampage are basically "siblings" to each other. Both are about 15 minutes to complete, but they're essentially self-paced. In other words - much like a haunted house - if you freak out and run through, you may complete your experience quickly. If you linger around a bit and really take advantage of the experience, it can last longer.

Rampage is essentially a level-up version of Contagion Z. Much like Contagion, you are tasked with facing a refinery in the throes of a zombie takeover, but this time you're entering through the sewer system, at night. As J.C. warned us, this level was more intense and certainly more challenging.

Both games offer a summary of accuracy, kills, and rank as you return to the briefing room at the mission's end, so you just may walk away with bragging rights, and a certain spot as the leader of your own group in the event of a zombie apocalypse. What? It could happen... right?

Without delving into the "spoiler zone", there are a few standout details that warrant mention. After all, isn't it usually those little details that combine to make an experience something special? So, what makes Nomadic a venue that shattered our expectations?

The things you practically only realize on a subconscious level are the aspects that make Nomadic real. When you encounter certain scenes and situations, your brain expects certain elements to be present. When you're near an explosion - you should feel the heat. When approaching a helicopter - you should be met with strong wind. If you're walking across an unstable plank of wood, high in the air, you expect it to wobble. And THAT is where I realized that this was a convincing VR experience. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but when we came to said plank, I froze. As my husband and son stood in front of me on the other side, I simply said, "I CAN'T", with a nervous giggle - only making it across when my husband took my hand and I hugged the wall. Truth be told, I know this was just a little board on a flat floor in an open, empty room... but my brain didn't want to convince my feet of that fact because all of my senses were totally immersed in a reality-contradiction that worked as it should.... as we have always wanted it to.

I won't admit to the full extent of my hysteria when zombies started hopping fences and falling on us - but do be advised that smart teams will position themselves to keep watch on the entire perimeter - even above. These are not The Walking Dead zombies. Think more along the lines of Z Nation... they're eating their Wheaties and training for Iron Man out there! This becomes much more of a concern in Rampage, where players can actually "die" in game play.

Something else that is worthy to note, at the risk of upsetting our own I-Drive-loving apple cart, so to speak... This may be one of the greatest values on International Drive. We are big fans of the collection of unique attractions on I-Drive, but truth be told, you're generally paying $25+ for a 15-minute attraction anywhere you go for amusement on I-Drive, and this doesn't always sit well with guests who feel short-changed as a result. Making it worse, most of these attractions suffer from one-trick pony syndrome - once you've seen/done it, you have no real reason to go back. Nomadic not only offers a higher quality experience than some of the less-interactive, exhibit-style attractions onI-Drive (for the same price), but they have great return potential as game experiences vary. In fact, you certainly can't justify playing Contagion and not doubling-back for Rampage, and the more you play, the more you'll notice, and naturally - the better you'll get. Who only plays a game once, anyway?! When weighing your I-Drive options in that standard $20-$30 range, this one easily climbs the list to be your first choice. The Pointe Orlando location also affords the opportunity to make a day of it, with plenty of options to keep the fun, food, and drink going long into the evening!

Currently, Nomadic has one location here in Orlando, with plans in motion to open venues in California and Las Vegas soon, and additional locations to come. For more information on the Nomadic VR experience, or to book your visit, click here - or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

REVIEW: Dear Evan Hansen @ Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

All Photos Courtesy Matthew Murphy, 2018

Not gonna lie - we've been thoroughly enjoying the entire Fairwinds Broadway in Orlando series (as usual), but Dear Evan Hansen genuinely stands out as the most important show of the season. With a limited, seven day run in Orlando, this wasn't the most accessible show in this season's lineup. Unless you are a Dr. Phillips subscriber or a lucky lottery winner, you didn't get the chance to catch it while it was here (April 16-21), but it is one to chase down wherever the opportunity arises. Make it happen! Dear Evan Hansen is valid and relevant enough to practically be a necessity - for parents, for teens, for anyone who has ever felt awkward or alone, for anyone who's lost someone... or lost themselves... in a hyper-connected world that hosts a remarkably disconnected society.

Dear Evan Hansen is one of the first theatrical shows that my daughter latched on to, and the first she brought to my attention, insisting that I just had to delve into it. I get it now. I felt it during the performance. Dr. Phillips Center is not a small venue, and it was packed, but that room was so captivated. I've attended so many types of shows at this location, and never have I been so intrigued by the audience. The applause was louder, the smiles were broader, the interest was heavier, and the emotions were "raw-er". I couldn't help but notice that the lady seated next to me cried many times throughout the evening. She was there alone, and I couldn't help but wonder - how did this story speak to her? Was it personal? This is the kind of show that IS personal, and it probably resonates deeply and intimately with well more than half of every audience it meets.

In tiny little sprinklings of ways, Dear Evan Hansen has elements of a 1980s/1990s teen dramedy, along the lines of Better Off Dead, Can't Buy Me Love, or Pretty in Pink. Add in the aspect of coming-of-age in today's globally digitized society, and a whole lot of relatable, harsh reality - and you have a multi-generational story with significant, real impact. It's the kind of story that you'll feel the need to discuss and analyze - and you should!

Dear Evan Hansen is currently in the midst of a 50-city North American tour, with productions opening soon in Toronto and London. Winner of six 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, the show features an impressively passionate cast and an immeasurably powerful soundtrack. Although I tend to always be impressed with the smooth quick-change of live stage sets and scenes, I have to say that this one really dazzled me. The elaborate series of digital screens that cascaded around the stage was not only a very vital and smart feature but a tool that helped to allow for uniquely seamless and rapid scene transitions. Just a very interesting set, even though it seemed basic in many ways.

This is not the kind of musical with elaborate costumes and chorus lines. It's so much deeper than that and much more engaging. Dear Evan Hansen is musical theater that feels like it could be a movie - and it's the kind you'd let your kids stay up late for. At the risk of redundancy... it's important.

Follow along with Dear Evan Hansen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.

April 14, 2019


This month, we are thrilled to host TWO fabulous contests for our readers. Please see below for contest details and then feel free to enter one or both giveaways. No strings attached - and we will NOT be retaining email addresses for newsletter subscription or any additional marketing purposes. Thanks for being a CSO reader, and best of luck!

We are proud to partner with Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to offer a family four-pack of tickets to see Nickelodeon's Double Dare Live! hosted by Mr. Double Dare himself - Marc Summers. The event takes place May 10th at Orlando's Bob Carr Theater. To enter, simply share the link to our recent review of The Price is Right Live! to your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account. Make sure that the post is PUBLIC and tag @ComeSeeOrlando (FB, Twitter) or @OrlandoDawn2015 (IG). You receive ONE entry for each post. Tag friends who may be interested in the contest as well! For each person tagged, you receive one additional entry. Entries accepted until 11:59PM April 29. Winner will be announced on our above-referenced social channels April 30 at 10AM. Winner must contact us to claim tickets, and to receive their arrival instructions.

We are proud to partner with Press PR and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition to offer TWO free general admission passes to visit the Titanic exhibit on Orlando's International Drive. To enter, simply share the link to our recent blog post review of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit here to your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account. In your original post, name one Titanic survivor. Make sure that the post is PUBLIC and tag @ComeSeeOrlando (FB, Twitter) or @OrlandoDawn2015 (IG). You receive ONE entry for each post. Tag friends who may be interested in the contest as well! For each person tagged, you receive one additional entry. Entries accepted until 11:59PM April 29. Winner will be announced on our above-referenced social channels April 30 at 10AM. Winner must contact us to claim tickets, and to receive their arrival instructions.

REVIEW - Live the History of Titanic on International Drive

Click any image to see full-size

It's one thing to read about history - it's a whole other thing to live it! I have never really considered myself a history buff, but a few tales from the annals of time have managed to pique my interest and linger on my mind. One of those is the fateful story of the Titanic's maiden voyage. April 10th marked the 107th anniversary of the day the massive ship set sail from England, bound for New York, and we were fortunate enough to be invited to observe the occasion with the cast and crew of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition on International Drive. 

Although the venue is home to more than 300 artifacts, historical pieces, and film memorabilia, it is not adequately described as a "museum". Recovered treasures and carefully preserved documents are presented in multiple galleries situated in a layout designed to represent the rooms and decks of the Titanic. Guests are issued replica boarding passes that individually assign them the identity and class of an actual passenger of the ship, and they are led through the galleries by guides in period attire assuming the roles of other Titanic notables like Captain Smith, Thomas Andrews, and "The Unsinkable" Molly Brown. All of these elements combine to create an absence of the sterility that you may expect at a museum. 

Photo: Press PR

I've always felt that the biggest single aspect that sets the venue apart is the incorporation of the guided tour. The roles are not portrayed by "attractions attendants", but rather by seasoned local actors and actresses - many of whom hold various other performance roles in town - and they are put through a fairly rigorous audition process that includes mastery of dialects and factual historic presentation. At the risk of sounding lazy, there is something much more appealing to not having to read the whole story as you peruse the galleries. It's not an aversion to reading that makes this a nice touch... it's the depth, sincerity, and genuine emotion that this type of approach brings that makes it so greatly appreciated. The tales of the diverse passengers and crew and the events that led to their united place in history is brilliantly, honestly, and respectfully presented - and it hits home.

Among the highlights of the Titanic exhibition are "Little Big Piece" (a 3-ton section of Titanic's hull and the second largest piece of Titanic ever recovered), a replica iceberg, and full room re-creations from recognizable scenes like the Grand Staircase. Additionally, Titanic's Dinner Gala takes place every Friday and Saturday night. Enjoy the Captain's cocktail party welcome reception, a guided tour of the exhibition galleries, four-course meal, and re-enactments of the night of April 14, 1912.

For more information on Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, or the Titanic Dinner Gala, click here, or follow Titanic on Instagram. Catch a sneak peek of the Titanic experience in our preview video below!

April 10, 2019

EDITORIAL - Disney's Discriminatory Smoking Ban

By: Gino Sabato

So Walt Disney World has announced that starting May 1st all smoking sections within its parks will be removed. Smokers will be directed outside the park beyond the security checkpoint in order to indulge. This probably doesn't come as a shock to anyone that smokes and likes to visit Walt Disney World. The number of designated smoking areas has been decreasing for years and it was becoming more and more obvious that this day would come sooner rather than later. 

Walt Disney Smoking A Cigarette
There was of course a time that smoking was permitted pretty much in any outdoor area of the parks. Even restaurants offered a smoking section. Cigarettes were openly sold in the parks with some establishments totally dedicated to the sale and use of tobacco products. Of course things change and social norms become almost unrecognizable over time. Most smokers will even agree that reducing the area where people can smoke is a positive action, but removing all smoking areas is really a step too far.

Main Street Tobacconist (Disneyland)
I'm sure there are many that will disagree, but ultimately banning outdoor smoking (even in designated areas) is nothing short of discrimination. This is not a question of the health effects of tobacco or a question of morality this is a question of personal rights. There are plenty of unhealthy and potentially dangerous activities taking place inside Disney parks every day. In fact just about everything inside a Disney park is unhealthy and many activities could be potentially dangerous. From drinking alcohol to overeating, the entire nature of the business is overindulgence. Some of these activities are only harmful to the person performing the activity and some, like drinking too much, is dangerous to everyone around that individual. The effects of cigarette smoking in designated smoking areas, most of which are so far off the beaten path you require a map to find them, has little if any effect on any other guest in the park. Tobacco users are being singled out and systematically discriminated against. Tobacco is a legal product and those that choose to use tobacco should be treated like any other person. 

Beyond the discriminatory nature of the smoking ban, there is the question of where are all these smokers going to go when they want to light up? Somewhere between 15-20% of guests that visit Disney World are smokers. The average number of visitors to just the Magic Kingdom each day is right around 53,000 assuming that half of those visitors are adults of legal smoking age that would leave us with a base number of 26,500 if just 15% are smokers that would mean on any given day there would close to 4000 smokers in just one of Disney World's parks. Keep in mind this is an extremely conservative estimate and that number could easily be upwards of 10,000 smokers on any given day. Going to a Disney park while fun and entertaining is also a somewhat stressful day with the crowds, lines, keeping up with your children, paying $9 for a hot dog, etc... Smokers are going to want to smoke and they are going to have to exit the park and squeeze into one very small area spending upwards of half an hour or more in order to take what would normally be a 5-minute break. Keep in mind with current designated smoking areas that 5-minute break would be far away from the crowd. This is going to cause huge problems with crowd control and traffic as well as overwhelm an already disorganized security staff due to what is sure to be a large increase in re-entries to the park. This is a lose-lose for Disney. So unless their goal was to reduce the amount of time each visitor spends in the park buying merchandise and eating food there is no upside for Disney. 

To add icing to the cake Disney has also in their infinite wisdom decided to ban the use of vaping products as well as combustible tobacco. While vaping is not the first choice of most smokers many would gladly switch to vape for a day in order to avoid the problems with exiting the park just to have a smoke. This is literally just a slap in the face and further proof that this is a discriminatory action. The use of Vape products has absolutely zero effect on anyone but the user. The vapor from these products is essentially steam and dissipates almost immediately. There are some users of these products that use specialized vaping products that produce large amounts of vapor and it would be well within Disney's purview to ban such products. 

Most importantly there are smokers that are going to smoke in the parks regardless of the rules. While I would prefer to just not visit the parks than break the rules outright I do understand the mindset of the person that would sneak a smoke in an abandoned corner. Just the idea that people are not going to smoke or especially sneak a puff off a vape pen is ridiculous at its core. We live in a society where everyone has some kind of a special entitlement and rules are broken every single day. Disney can't even manage to keep people from skipping ahead in ride queues. Good luck keeping a mom or dad that just spent 5 hours standing in line after paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the privilege of standing in that line from having a cigarette. 

I for one will not be visiting a Disney park any time soon. While the smoking ban is not the reason for that decision it is certainly one of a hundred other reasons that make me chose to spend my money elsewhere. My family has been visiting Disney parks for almost 40 years and the direction the company has been headed for the last 20 years is the complete antithesis of what a Disney vacation was supposed to be. 

April 5, 2019

REVIEW: The Price is Right Live at Bob Carr Theater

One of the longest running daytime game shows in television history, The Price is Right first aired on CBS in 1972. With that being said, I do realize that I am not at all unique when I say that I grew up with this show. It was a weekday tradition, and wow, did my grandma have a crush on Bob Barker! Cousins, aunts, neighbors - whoever happened to be around for that magical hour of daytime excitement played along, and it gave us all an excuse to pay a little more attention to what we were spending in the grocery store! Let's face it - The Price is Right is THE all-American game show. In September of 2003, The Price is Right Live premiered at Harrah's Reno, eventually spawning a touring version of the production that toured the nation. We were fortunate enough to attend the event during its most recent run through Orlando at Bob Carr Theater.

March 17, 2019

REVIEW: Diamond Resorts Hosts an Evening With Lauren Alaina - Diamond Live Concert Series

Diamond Resorts is a leader in hospitality and vacation ownership. With a portfolio including hundreds of destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, Diamond has secured a place in the travel industry that commands respect, stemming from an undeniable brand standard that has held firm for more than 25 years.

The Diamond Live Concert Series is a string of intimate, private performances offered exclusively to Diamond Resorts members and guests. Prior to the show, members have the opportunity to experience meet and greets with the performers, and enjoy complimentary food and beverages.

March 7, 2019

REVIEW: Cirque du Soleil LUZIA at The Florida Mall

Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy LalibertĂ©, and Gilles Ste-Croix. Since then, the demand for original Cirque du Soleil performances has grown to include a simultaneous mixture of residencies and traveling acts. LUZIA is one of well over a dozen Cirque shows currently in rotation, and each is entirely unique in story, characterization, scene, sound, and talent.

LUZIA is a Cirque du Soleil show inspired by the vibrant culture of Mexico. The name 'luzia' combines 'luz' (light in Spanish) and 'lluvia' (rain). These two elements play heavily into the theming of the story, and all of the sights, sounds, and emotions that bring it to life.

There are so many moving parts (figuratively and literally) to a Cirque performance, and LUZIA may be one of the most impressively intricate shows the company has ever conceived. Throughout the approximately 90-minute performance (excluding 25-minute intermission), a countless parade of skilled artists graced the stage - anywhere from one to dozens at a time. Their fancy footwork had to account not only for co-stars (including lifesized, puppeted animals), but any combination of water, flight, and moving platforms. Of course, these feats are impressive to most anyone, but I have to admit... those of us who can barely ascend stairs without falling up them are REALLY astounded by such demonstrations! Every added element of challenge just enhances the shock of the incredible collective abilities these artists possess. And... it's all under an old-fashioned Big Top which really is the icing on the cake!

Much like a well-crafted opera, a Cirque du Soleil show delivers a story without a blatant narration. LUZIA explores love, life, victory, battle, family, and heart with every bit the dazzle and whimsy you would expect from Cirque, set to a lively soundtrack. It's a feast for the eyes, a journey for the ears, and a fire for the soul.

Buy tickets for LUZIA - performances under the Big Top at The Florida Mall through April 21st. Next stop - New York City! Follow LUZIA on Facebook, and Cirque du Soleil on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for more information, updates, and behind-the-scenes fun. Check out our LUZIA videos: preview compilation, big top raising, and backstage interview.

February 24, 2019

REVIEW: Bokampers Plantation Did WHAT To Hamburgers??

Photo: Bokampers
I spent my adolescence in South Florida, and it's one of the places I call home. A lot has changed there over the years, like most places. Many of my favorite restaurants that were not expansive chains are now gone, but the upside to that is the chance to discover something new when I visit. Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill launched in Plantation in 2008. It has grown to six locations in the south and southwest Florida areas, including Miramar, Estero, Naples, and two Fort Lauderdale outlets, with Bo's Beach now open at Fort Lauderdale Beach. If the name Bokamper sounds familiar, there's a good reason for that. The restaurant was founded by former Miami Dolphins linebacker, Kim Bokamper - a member of the team's famed "Killer B's" defense that led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl in 1982.

January 26, 2019

REVIEW: Hamilton at Dr. Phillips Center Orlando

Can I make a confession? I didn't want to like Hamilton. I avoided the entire subject for a long time for a couple of reasons. For starters - I felt that it had taken on too much partisan significance. I knew many Democrats who simply had to go see it for no other reason than the fact that they felt it was the thing for Democrats to do. I also knew Republicans who never wanted to hear mention of it for much the same reason. I didn't want to claim a stake in it as a political statement on any side. Frankly, I'm trying to decrease my exposure to divisive climates, and I was afraid this could be one. 

My other point of hesitation... I have had a lifelong aversion to anything bandwagon-ish. It took me three years to finally cave in and watch The Walking Dead for this very reason, and today it's one of my greatest pop culture obsessions. Well.... that's kind of what happened with Hamilton, too. My daughter was playing, and playing... and playing... (you get the idea) the Hamilton soundtrack, because the bug had already bitten her. I heard "Helpless" one day, and... well... my heart went BOOM! One thing led to another and I listened to practically nothing but the soundtrack over and over... and over... for a few weeks myself. Then I read up on the Hamilton/Burr story again (it's been a while, after all), and I fell deeper down the historical rabbit hole - and then my daughter and I started discussing the stories. Wow! Crazy how that bug grew into a consuming virus, eh? 

Maybe I didn't want to like Hamilton - but I do, and it really doesn't matter which side of the political divide I'm on or how trendy I don't want to be. In fact, after seeing it live, I completely understand the accolades, and I absolutely appreciate the frenzy. Multiple casts are currently touring with the show, and Orlando was treated to the "Philip Cast". I always feel great admiration for stage performers, but this particular show holds extreme expectations, and I was stunned to see just how well they nailed it... every step and every note. The talent on that stage was simply immeasurable, and every bit suitably evolved from the original cast. This is not a show - it's an experience - and one that far exceeds expectation. A Hamilton performance has it all: history, romance, humor, and a soundtrack that makes it far too difficult to sit still. The first show I ever attended at Dr. Phillips Center was I Love Lucy - Live On Stage, and it was also my favorite of all the performances I've attended there - until Hamilton, which legitimately may in fact be the best theatrical show of all time. 

October 14, 2018

REVIEW: Terror at the Inn - Holiday Inn Orlando Suites & Waterpark

We have some of the coolest hotels here in Orlando, don't we? In October of 2010, we gathered the whole clan for a weekend-long birthday event at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort. It was one of the most memorable family celebrations we've had, and we were all quite impressed with the expansive, useful space, as well as the associated amenities. Eight years later, that same birthday boy returned to this location to enjoy another event with me - Terror at the Inn! A lot has changed, including the ownership of the resort, but we still found a brilliant use of space tucked away in a central area of the theme park corridor.. even more so, in fact - with the creation of this all-original, family-friendly attraction spookily suitable for the Halloween season! Best of all, Terror at the Inn is open to the public, so you can visit the attraction even if you are not a registered hotel guest.

Terror at the Inn consists of a haunted house, 4D movie experience, and more. The haunted house is themed around the curse of an Egyptian crypt. It is devoid of gore and disturbing scenes, making it suitable for younger guests who likely find events like Halloween Horror Nights to be too intense. There are well-conceived scenes routed cleverly in a winding pathway lined with a smart mix of both animatronic and live-actor encounters - providing genuine jump scares without the terrors that may be a bit much for more squeamish guests. I am an easy target in haunted houses, but my son is not. Once I made him go ahead of me in the house for a span, I was amused to see him startled a time or two, so the efforts were effective by non-chicken standards, too! The overall quality of the house was frankly surprising, and the length was more than fair. Definitely one to recommend, and now I will admit that I was not going into this expecting to be impressed! Halloween attractions are very easy to go cheesy... but this one had substance and effort - undoubtedly.

Your Terror at the Inn ticket also includes a visit to the in-house theater for the Panic House 4D experience. This immersive cinematic experience provides a haunted house tour from another, sensory perspective... with a few surprises that you wouldn't expect to encounter from the safe comfort of a movie theater seat. You may have escaped one haunted house during this visit - now you've tempted fate with a second harrowing exploration!

After all these tests of courage, you deserve a reward - and lucky for you, your admission includes 20% off the Lakeside CafĂ©, Hideaway Lounge, Club Candy, and Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop! These are located in the Marketplace area, just beyond the haunted house and 4D theater. Grab a snack and a drink before testing your skills at the carnivalesque midway area for prizes (and bragging rights). Don't miss all the great photo ops along the way, and keep your eyes peeled for roaming characters, too! Now through October 31, Terror at the Inn is open select weekdays from 6pm-10pm, and 6pm-11pm on Friday and Saturday. Admission is just $19.95, with $5 discount available to military personnel, first responders, and Florida/Georgia residents. Parking is complimentary. For more information, visit

REVIEW: UNDead in the Water - Tampa Bay

Thanks to the resurgence in mainstream popularity of zombie culture, the apocalypse is a topic we're able to ponder from a sort of "fantasy" slant. After all, the rise of the undead for a human harvest couldn't really become a realistic event... right?

But, what if...

Work with me here. Even if you haven't considered your survival plan in the case of a zombie apocalypse, haven't we all had a moment to wonder where we would go and what we would do if an apocalyptic event were to unfold? Let's face it - we Floridians have emergency plans embedded in our brains thanks to hurricanes anyway, so maybe it's not a huge leap to throw the potential for flesh-eating monsters into the mix - just in case. (Right about now, you are raising an eyebrow at me, but let me profess - I actually took a course through UC Irvine: 'Survival Lessons From The Walking Dead'... it's a thing, people! But I digress...)

It just so happens - in the case of a zombie apocalypse, those lucky folks near Tampa's Channelside District have a pretty nifty escape option... the American Victory Ship!

August 19, 2017

REVIEW - Sierra's 21st Birthday Celebration at Planet Hollywood

We recently visited Planet Hollywood Observatory for the first time since its reopening. In retrospect, I can confess my regret in taking so long to stop by! From pre-remodeling visits, the whole family had already been huge fans of the blissfully inventive Cap'n Crunch Chicken, so the venue had passed our approval long ago with that alone. Considering our diverse tastes and varied opinions, we don't always have a lot of luck finding a restaurant that we are all equally impressed by, but our post-remodeling pop-in reminded us how much we loved Planet Hollywood before... and it has only gotten better. We were so dazzled by the entire experience that we didn't even have to consider alternative choices for celebrating Sierra's 21st birthday this month. This milestone provided the perfect excuse for a return - and a great reason to check out Planet Hollywood's Stargazers Bar!

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