Watch the SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch from Kennedy Space Center on December 19, 2014

SpaceX Falcon 9Get a “front row seat” to view the Dec. 19 SpaceX Falcon 9 launch at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on December 19, at 1:20pm.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 will carry the Dragon capsule to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). This is the fifth resupply mission by SpaceX for NASA, bringing food and supplies, including new science experiments and technology research, to the crew aboard the ISS.

Launch viewing is available at the LC-39 Observation Gantry, located within the secured areas of Kennedy Space Center and just over three miles away from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where the Falcon 9 will launch from Space Launch Complex 40.

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Out and About: F-4 Phantom II Dedication at Colonel Joe Kittinger Park in Orlando on December 14, 2014

Colonel Joe Kittinger Park

On Sunday December 14th, Colonel Joe Kittinger (USAF Retired) held a dedication ceremony for an F-4 Phantom II fighter jet at the park named for him in Orlando at the Orlando Executive Airport.

The F-4 is the same aircraft Colonel Kittinger flew in many missions as an Air Force pilot and is the plane he was shot down in over Vietnam. Kittinger was a POW in the prison camp known as the “Hanoi Hilton” and nowadays at the age of 86 still stays actively involved in the Orlando community.

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American Q Offers New Holiday Drinks and Dessert for December

American Q Offers New Holiday Drinks and Dessert

As if the scrumptious BBQ and other food offerings weren’t enough reason to visit American Q at the b resort & spa, this month they are offering a new holiday themed drinks and dessert.

Fresh from the bar, guests can enjoy the American Q Holiday Toddy. This coffee drink is made with Zaya Gran Reserva Rum, smoked eggnog foam, shaved chocolate, and a dust of fresh grated nutmeg. Also from the bar is the Bourbon and Bacon Hot Cocoa, which is garnished with American Q’s heavenly Swine Candy.

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents CIRCUS XTREME at Amway Center January 8-11, 2015 – With Discount Code!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey returns to Orlando with their newest show, CIRCUS XTREME,Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey returns to Orlando with their newest show, CIRCUS XTREME, for seven shows at the Amway Center from January 8 through 11, 2015.

In Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents CIRCUS XTREME, Ringmaster Andre McClain guides audiences on a quest around the world with the help of hilarious adventure seekers, Alex and Irina Emelin.

This newest show goes to the “X”-treme with X Game style stunts and eXotic animals, like camels, along with Xtra-ordinary circus artists and acrobats.

The party starts an hour before the show at the All Access Pre-show, which is free with your ticket purchase. You and your family can meet the international cast of performers and get up close to the menagerie of animals. Try on custom costumes, learn circus skills – like juggling – from the famous Ringling Bros. Clown Alley and even have the opportunity to win a one-of-a-kind masterpiece created by one of the Ringling Bros. painting pachyderms.

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Christmas In The Shire Offers Free Holiday Light Extravaganza in Orlando

Christmas In The Shire

One of the best parts of the Christmas season is checking out all the homes decorated in lights for the season. One of Orlando’s best is Christmas In The Shire in south Orlando.

Andrew Albertson, the owner/creator, starts working on decorating in October, and this year’s display includes tens of thousands of lights, along with almost 100 trees inside and out. New themed trees this year include a Wizard of Oz rainbow tree and a New Year’s Eve tree.

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Divas Dinner Theatre to Replace Mills Brewpub

Divas Dinner Theatre

Earlier this year, Bananas A Modern American Diner on Mills Ave closed to make way for Mills Brewpub. The popular drag queen entertainment at Bananas was then shuttled off to Funky Monkey Bistro and Bar on International Drive, owned by the same people.

Well, that didn’t last long.

Word comes this week that Mills Brewpub has closed to make way for the Divas Dinner Theatre, which opens today at 924 N. Mills Ave.

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Enjoy the 2Oth Annual Enchanted Christmas at Back To Nature Wildlife Refuge on December 13, 2014

Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge Enchanted ChristmasBack to Nature Wildlife Refuge is fun to visit on a regular day, but once a year, they put on their festive best for their annual Enchanted Christmas event.

This year’s celebration takes place on Saturday, December 13, from 3pm to 8pm at their new location at 10525 Clapp Simms Duda Rd over by Lake Nona.

While there, you can enjoy the weekly farmer’s market, decorations, lights, a kids only holiday marketplace, as well as food and drink. The family can take photos with Santa from 4-6pm, and there’s even a raffle to win prizes.

All this and you can tour the facilities and meet all of the animals they are taking care of. A $5 donation per person is suggested for the tour, which helps Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge keep saving animals.

For more information, visit btnwildlife.org.

The Vampire Diaries Official Convention Returns to Orlando December 12-14, 2014 #TvdOrlando

The Vampire Diaries Official Convention in Orlando

The Vampire Diaries is one of the hottest shows on the CW network, and this weekend, you can meet some of the stars at The Vampire Diaries Official Convention.

The fan convention takes place December 12-14 at The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, and features panels with the stars, autograph sessions and photo ops. There is also a vendor area to stock up on memorabilia.

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Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS to Host Rock & Brews Oviedo Grand Opening For Charity January 6, 2015

Rock & Brews Oviedo

KISS front men Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have announced they will host the grand opening of their Rock & Brews Oviedo restaurant on January 6, with proceeds going to charity.

The grand opening festivities will consist of a midday luncheon for more than 100 wounded warriors, veterans and active duty military personnel, as well as a public meet & greet event with Simmons & Stanley from 2-4pm.

Tickets to the meet & greet are $200 per person and include two adult beverages per person or unlimited soft drinks, a sampling of Rock & Brews cuisine, and a photo opportunity with Stanley and Simmons. A percentage of proceeds, not less than $10,000, will benefit the Orlando VA Medical Center’s new Fisher House in Lake Nona.

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Out and About: Sampling OCPS Food Truck Offerings at Hunters Creek Middle School

Orange County Public Schools food truck

This week I was given the opportunity to sample a couple of options that may be introduced into the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) system lunch menu next school year. I arrived at Hunters Creek Middle School, and made my way to the food truck. I brought my 9-year-old daughter with me to give these new ideas a try, as I felt it was important to get her input, too.

All three of the potential dishes are Asian inspired, and they were each pretty good.

Orange County Public Schools food truck - Green Bean Chicken Casser-bowl

Orange County Public Schools food truck – Green Bean Chicken Casser-bowl

The first offering we tried was an Green Bean Chicken Casser-bowl. It’s a casserole type dish with rice, green beans, and chicken nuggets. It was ok, but not something I think the kids will eat.

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Out and About: Marvel Universe LIVE! Brings Superheroes to Life For Families at the Amway Center

Marvel Universe LIVE! at Amway Center - photo Michelle Snow

It was girl’s night out at the first show of Marvel Universe LIVE! at the Amway Center on Friday, December 5. Myself, my roommate, our family writer Carol, and her daughter – all Marvel fans – were there to check out this new arena touring show based on the characters and storylines of Marvel’s greatest heroes and villains.

Marvel Universe LIVE! at Amway Center - photo Michelle Snow

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Meet the Brains Behind the Orion Spacecraft at Orlando Science Center December 6-7, 2014

Orion Spacecraft test launch at Kennedy Space Cente

Photo courtesy: NASA

If you one of the millions thrilled with the successful launch of the Orion Spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center this morning, then you’ll want to visit the Orlando Science Center this weekend.

On December 6 and 7, the OSC will host some key players in the Orion test launch, for you to meet.

On Saturday, guests can meet Lockheed Martin’s Joe Mayer and Adam Ayala from 1pm to 1:30pm. Mayer is the director of government relations for Lockheed Martin and has supported the Orion program for the past seven years. Ayala is an engineer for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company at the Kennedy Space Center, and works in the Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout building where the Orion spacecraft was assembled.

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Out and About: Date Night at American Gymkhana Restaurant in Orlando

American Gymkhana in Orlando

My husband and I were recently invited to American Gymkhana for dinner, and we were eager to try this new restaurant out. We discovered this is an upscale place, perfect for a date night. Our children eat Indian food all the time, but I would think twice before taking them here, as the atmosphere is better for adults. The faire is modern Indian from the colonial India era. For this evening, my husband, Kirk, and I went as a date – no kids. Yay us!

American Gymkhana in Orlando - Tandoori Portobello, Broccoli, Onions skewer and Malpe Shrimp

American Gymkhana in Orlando – Malpe Shrimp and Tandoori Portobello, Broccoli, Onions skewer

We ordered two appetizers: the Tandoori Portobello, Broccoli & Onion skewer, and the Malpe Shrimp (seasoned with fennel butter-pepper and garlic-cilantro-curry leaf pesto). Both were very good. The skewer was more spicy than I normally order (yes, I’m a wimp), but my hubby thought it was great.

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Dates Announced for Star Wars Weekends 2015 at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Weekends 2013 - Princess Minnie

Star Wars Weekends 2013 – Princess Minnie

Star Wars Weekends are one of the most popular annual events at Walt Disney World, and the dates for 2015 have finally been announced.

There will be five Star Wars Weekends, which will be held every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from May 15-June 14, 2015:

  • Weekend I: May 15-17, 2015
  • Weekend II: May 22-24, 2015
  • Weekend III: May 29-31, 2015
  • Weekend IV: June 5-7, 2015
  • Weekend V: June 12-14, 2015

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Florida Residents Save 60% on Admission at Gatorland Through December 31, 2014

GatorlandGatorland, one of Orlando’s oldest attractions, is once again offering $9.99 admission rates for Florida residents.

This rate is valid for all ages (kids 2 and under are free) through December 31, 2014. The discounted price saves $15 off the adult admission rates.

Florida residents will also be allowed to apply the cost of their admission towards the purchase of an annual pass with extended benefits that include 30% admission discounts for accompanying guests, 50% off the Adventure Hour, 20% off Rookie Wrestling Experience & in-park photography stations, 20% off Gift Shop purchases and 10% off food & beverages within the park.

For more information, visit gatorland.com.