Velvet Sessions at the Hard Rock Hotel Presents Jimmie Van Zant for January 2015

Jimmie Van Zant

Every month, except November and December, the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando hosts a live concert called Velvet Sessions. It’s a 21 and over event that features classic rock and pop artists performing in an intimate club-like atmosphere.

This month, southern rocker Jimmie Van Zant will be performing on Thursday, January 29. Van Zant is a cousin of Ronnie Van Zant, who helped form Lynyrd Skynyrd, and grew up in a musical family. He released his debut album, Southern Comfort, in 2000, which features “Ronnie’s Song,” an ode to his cousin.

Tickets are $29 in advance online or $35 at the door. This not only gets you in the door, but free specialty drinks, finger foods and warm-up tunes from 6:30 pm until show time. Complimentary valet parking is also included.

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Aquatica Hosts 6th Annual Special Olympics Florida’s Polar Plunge February 7, 2015

Special Olympics Florida’s Polar Plunge at Aquatica Orlando The Special Olympics Florida’s Polar Plunge at Aquatica Orlando is a statewide fundraiser during which individuals and teams, alongside Special Olympics athletes, raise money for the privilege of plunging into the chilled down wave pool.

This year’s event takes place on Saturday, February 7. Registration starts at 9:30am, with the plunge starting at 11am. All participants get to stay and enjoy Aquatica for the remainder of the day – don’t worry, all of the other slides and attractions are heated. Plungers who raise at least $100 can also earn extra incentives, including Aquatica, SeaWorld, and Discovery Cove admission.

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Garden Rocks Concert Line-Up Announced for Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2015

Garden Rocks Concert Line-Up Announced for Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2015

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is only a few weeks away, and Walt Disney World has announced the line-up of artists for the festival’s Garden Rocks Concert Series.

This year’s line-up has a variety of artists who were hitmakers in the 80s and 90s, and most have played Epcot before, but during the fall International Food and Wine Festival.

Here is the complete list of artists scheduled for the fest, which runs March 4 through May 17:

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Gatorland Breaks Ground on New Fun Spot America Attraction

Gatorland broke ground on a new "Gator Spot" at Fun Spot America in Orlando

Two of Orlando’s most popular attractions are teaming up, and this week, Gatorland broke ground on a new “Gator Spot” at Fun Spot America in Orlando.

Gator Spot will feature rare white alligators, along with regular Florida alligators and crocodiles from Gatorland in a new 15,000-sq-ft area within Fun Spot America on International Drive. It is said it will cost more than $1 million to build.

The press release states, “The interactive attraction will include an impressive array of alligators, an extremely rare leucistic ‘white’ alligator, numerous crocodiles, up-close encounters, photo opportunities and much more.”

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Parking Information for Sold-Out Monster Jam 2015 at Orlando Citrus Bowl

Monster Jam Grave DiggerWe’ve received word this afternoon that Monster Jam 2015 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl is sold out for Saturday, Janauary 24. As such, the OCB has asked us to pass on some parking information for those holding tickets.

So if you are one of the 60,000 who will be in attendance at Monster Jam 2015, here’s what you need to know:

Cost is $20 per vehicle in Lot #9 (entrance on S. Nashville Ave). If you have an iPhone, you can prepay for parking via the StadiumPark app in the Apple App store. Sorry Android users – you have to bring cash to pay for parking.

Cost is $10 per vehicle to park; shuttle is free. Shuttle service starts at 1pm and ends 2 hours after the event finishes.

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Tin Roof Orlando Celebrates Grand Opening on January 24, 2015

Tin Roof OrlandoThe newest live music joint on International Drive is Tin Roof Orlando, and they’re celebration their Grand Opening on Saturday, January 24.

Their full menu will be available for purchase, and there will be drink specials for those 21 and over. There is no cover.

There will also be live music starting at noon (normally live music is Thurs-Sat nights starting at 10pm).

Taking the stage will be:

  • David Oliver Willis – 12-130 pm
  • Bryan Malpass – 2-4 pm
  • Hayfire – 5-830 pm
  • David and Whitney – 10 pm-close

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7th Annual Orlando Home & Garden Show Returns to O.C.C.C. January 23-25, 2015

7th Annual Orlando Home & Garden Show being held this weekend at the Orange County Convention Center

Looking to upgrade your apartment or renovate your home? Then you’ll want to check out the 7th Annual Orlando Home & Garden Show being held this weekend at the Orange County Convention Center.

Highlights of the event are appearances by Celebrity Chef Emily Ellyn, who will be making her retro rad recipes on the Cooking Stage Saturday and Sunday, and Brian Santos, the “Wall Wizard,” who will be showing painting tips and tricks all weekend at the Celebrity Stage.

There will also be aisles and aisles of exhibitors showcasing the latest products that will help you achieve your design or renovating goals and dreams.

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Out and About: American Gymkhana Spices Up Brunch in Orlando

American Gymkhana - veranda seating

Saturday we were invited to try out the new brunch at American Gymkhana. Having enjoyed the restaurant’s modern Indian cuisine for dinner, I was very interested in trying out their brunch offerings.

When we arrived, we were seated on the recently opened veranda, at a table for two next to the windows. We received menus and our drink orders were taken. We opted to go with the day’s special cocktail creations.

The brunch menu was divided into four sections – sweet, savory, classic, and egg dishes. It was hard, but my friend Joan and I narrowed the choices down to three dishes to try.

American Gymkhana - Desi Omelet

Look at all those peppers and oozing cheese in the Desi Omelet at American Gymkhana

From the egg dishes we selected the Desi Omelet with a side of Marsala potato wedges. The vegetarian omelet featured serrano peppers, sauteed onions, cilantro, and Amul cheese, and the ingredients complemented each other well. The Indian cheese was creamy with a bit of tang, while the peppers provided a mild heat. The potatos tasted like potatoes. I couldn’t taste any spice, but it made a good base for the roasted onion chutney served with it.

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Meet Monster Jam Monster Truck Drivers Around Orlando January 22 & 23, 2015

Monster Jam Grave DiggerMonster Jam is at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on January 24, but if you’d like to meet some of the drivers behind the monster trucks, you’ll have the chance to do so for free on January 22 and 23.

Here is the schedule of available drivers and where you can meet them:

  • Max-D at Circle K (700 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32811) on Thursday, January 22nd from 3pm – 7pm
  • Soldier Fortune at Metro PCS (1453 Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32809) on Thursday, January 22nd from 3pm – 7pm
  • Ice Cream Man at Circle K (190 N. Hwy 27, Clermont, FL 34711) on Thursday, January 22nd from 3pm – 7pm
  • Grave Digger the Legend at Universal Technical Institute (2202 West Taft Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32837) on Friday, January 23rd from 10am- 2pm

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Busch Gardens Tampa Announces Entertainment for Food and Wine Fest in March

Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival

As part of this spring’s Food and Wine Festival, Busch Gardens Tampa has booked a great line-up of musicians to entertain during the event, which runs weekends in March and April.

The March schedule of live concerts includes:

  • Saturday, March 7 – Gavin DeGraw
  • Sunday, March 8 – Fifth Harmony
  • Saturday, March 14 – Kool & The Gang
  • Sunday, March 15 – Boys Like Girls
  • Saturday, March 21 – Kenny Rogers
  • Sunday, March 22 – Pentatonix
  • Saturday, March 28 – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Sunday, March 29 – El Gran Combo

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SeaWorld Orlando Kicks Off Wild Days with Julie Scardina and Penguin Lovers’ Weekend January 24-25

SeaWorld Orlando Kicks Off Wild Days with Julie Scardina and Penguin Lovers' Weekend January 24-25

SeaWorld Orlando‘s annual Wild Days event features interactive shows, up-close animal experiences, and the opportunity to meet leaders in the world of animal conservation. To kick things off, the weekend of January 24-25 will feature SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina.

It’s also Penguin Lovers’ Weekend, and guests in the park will have the chance to meet many amazing animals and hear their compelling stories. Julie will share her story about her lifelong love of animals and the parks’ commitment to wildlife conservation.

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The Friends of the Library Winter Book Sale Takes Place January 22-25, 2015

Orange County Library SystemEnjoy super savings at the Orange County Library System‘s annual Winter Book Sale the weekend of January 22-25.

The book sale takes place at the downtown branch of the library, and features a great selection of fiction and non-fiction, recorded books, DVDs, CDs, and more for 50% off.

There is a members-only preview sale January 22, from 5-7pm. Members also get an additional 10% off all purchases. Not a member? You can join at the door for a $15 annual membership.

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Out and About: Oh the Carnage at Monster Jam in Tampa; Tickets Available for Orlando January 24

Monster Jam Tampa January 17, 2015

Monster Jam will be in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl this weekend, but this past weekend, we had the opportunity to see Monster Jam in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, and it was quite the spectacle.

We got there early for the pit pass party, where you could meet the drivers, but there were so many people waiting in line that the kids decided they just wanted to play before the show started.

Monster Jam Tampa January 17, 2015

The qualifying races at Monster Jam Tampa January 17, 2015

Gates opened at 5pm, and we were lucky to have received club seats to review the show. This meant we had a lounge area to relax in before the event started, as well as access to The Club Grill, where we grabbed a bite to eat. It was expensive, but at least the burger came with a toppings bar with items like chili, bacon, and liquid cheese.

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Busch Gardens Tampa to Close Gwazi Coaster in February

GwaziAs part of the ongoing renovations at Busch Gardens Tampa, word comes the theme park has decided to shut down its wooden rollercoaster Gwazi on February 1, 2015.

Billed as Florida’s first dueling wooden coaster, Gwazi features two side-by-side tracks that cross seven times at speeds of up to 50mph. The name comes from a fabled creature with the head of a tiger and body of a lion, and the two tracks are named “Lion” (the yellow side) and “Tiger” (the blue).

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Cinderella Golden Coach and Sneak Peek Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The golden coach from Disney's upcoming live-action version of “Cinderella"To rev up anticipation for Disney’s upcoming live-action version of “Cinderella,” there will be a sneak peek of the film shown at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as photo ops with a prop from the film.

Starting January 17, an exclusive preview of “Cinderella” will be shown at the park’s ABC Sound Studio. Annual passholders will be able to see it a day earlier, on January 16.

The free preview will be available to park guests through March 21.

Starting February 1, the original golden coach from the film will also be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It will be on display outside the movie theater facade on the Streets of America through April 11. Perfect for photo ops.

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