Welcome to the July Newsletter
Hi Subscriber, welcome to the July 2012 newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide.
Following the recent spate of theme park admission ticket price rises, it is a good time to look at some of the options particularly if you are visiting from the United Kingdom. With a single day ticket to Walt Disney World now costing around $95 including tax, a day at a theme park can take quite a chunk out of your holiday budget.
The weather had quite an impact on holidays in Florida during June with the first storm of the season to make landfall in Florida.
July 4th is Independence Day so you can expect everywhere to be busy over the holiday weekend.
Our book review this month is a great planner style guide book to Walt Disney World from the authors of the Brit Guide series.
Don’t forget you can keep up to date with the latest news and stories by following us on Twitter or Facebook. Our aim is to bring you the latest news on what is happening in Florida each day with stories from the theme parks, beaches, resorts and everything else that Florida has to offer.
Rip Current Deaths
Another timely reminder about the sea conditions off Florida’s beaches. At least four people died in June as a result of rip currents on both Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines. Rip currents can happen at any time but are particularly dangerous when Tropical Storms or Hurricanes are prevalent.
Read more about Florida beach safety including rip currents
New Aquatica Tickets
There are two new Aquatica ticket options for Florida residents.
Aquatica has introduced a new Weekday Pass that gives you unlimited access Monday through Friday until 31 December 2012. The price is $59.99 plus tax for both adults and children.
There is also a new Aquatica/SeaWorld combo ticket which for $99.99 (only available online) gives you one day at Aquatica and one day at SeaWorld.
Read about all the Aquatica ticket options for 2012.
In what can only be described as sheer stupidity, an airboat captain in the Everglades lost his hand whilst feeding marshmallows to an alligator. He was feeding it to attract it closer to his boat whilst taking tourists on an airboat trip.
Feeding alligators in strictly illegal in the state of Florida as it only encourages them to lose their fear of humans.
In a separate incident a man was attacked by a ten foot alligator whilst swimming alone in a creek near Gainesville but survived after being dragged from the water by two men from a nearby camp.
These two attacks highlight that alligators are wild animals and can be dangerous if not treated with due respect (and common sense?).
Read more about Florida’s alligators.
Independence Day Celebrations
Independence Day on July 4 is typically one of the busiest days in the year so you can expect capacity crowds at all the theme parks and beaches etc.
This year there are several new attractions that are opening in time for the celebrations including the latest expansion at Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom with the double Dumbo carousel, the Freshwater Oasis at Discovery Cove and Despicable Me at Universal Studios.
Read more about Independence Day celebrations in Florida.
Latest Florida Deals
We bring you some of the latest deals on hotels, tickets etc. with deals and voucher codes from companies like Walt Disney World, Virgin, Expedia and Travelocity. Note that some deals only run for a short time.
CheapOAir, Travelocity, Expedia and Funjet Vacations have a number of offers available in July:
- Save up to 65%* on Flights for July 4th! Get an Extra $15** Off Promo Code: 4JULY15. Book Now!
- Save up to $200 on a Florida vacation with promo code ORANGE. Plus, save even more with free nights, kids stay free, and more! Book 6/22 - 7/12.
- Save up to 50% in Miami: Book flight + hotel and save at the President Hotel this summer with Travelocity! Ends 7/15.
- Take advantage of the Orlando Suntastic Savings Offer for a fun family trip this Fourth of July! - Expires 8/31/12
- Get discounted tickets for theme parks & getaways with Expedia this Fourth of July! - Expires 8/31/12
For UK visitors there are special deals from Disney International Holidays, British Airways and Virgin Holidays:
- Save up to 10% at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Port Orleans and Yacht and Beach Club
- Save up to 35% at Disney’s Old Key West and Disney’s Saratoga Springs
- Save up to 40% on your Orlando holiday with British Airways
- Orlando flights + 7 nights hotel from £499 pp with British Airways
- Amazing Disney Ticket promotion - 14 Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a 7 Day Premium, offer expires 30th September
- Save up to 35% at Disney’s Old Key West and Disney’s Saratoga Springs. Offer expires July 10
[UPDATE - Please note these deals have now expired]
There are many more good deals this month as tour operators continue to offer discounts, so if you are planning a vacation to Florida during 2012, then let the Florida Review & Travel Guide help you on your way.
Despite forecasts earlier in the year that fuel prices would continue to rise, in Florida the reverse has happened so you can expect a lot more traffic on the road over the July 4th Independence Day holidays.
Even though the summertime has traditionally been when fuel is at its highest price, the average pump prices in Florida has dropped significantly again, by over 25 cents from last month, down from $3.46 to $3.19 for a gallon of regular. Already some states are seeing prices close to $3 a gallon though Hawaii and Alaska are still over $4.
Be aware though that a couple of the gas stations near Orlando International Airport are still charging over $5 a gallon.
You can always find the latest pump prices at GasPriceWatch.com.
In Other News
Typhoon Lagoon is going all tropical over the next few weeks with a Caribbean steel drum Calypso band, Caribbean food and the chance to meet Lilo and Stitch in a special meet-and-greet.
Aquatica Swimming Lessons
Aquatica is offering “Learn to Swim” lessons for kids of different ages and abilities. Each class runs for 45 minutes over a period of 5 days and costs $49.99. Classes are either Monday through Friday or five consecutive Saturdays. Admission to Aquatica is not required but reservations are essential as class size is limited to six pupils.
Details can be found on the Aquatica site.
Fantasy of Flight Golden Hill Facility
Fantasy of Flight is planning to open their Golden Hill storage facility to public viewing as part of the tram tour of the attraction. Each of the two buildings provides about 20,000 sq. ft. of storage and already some aircraft are being moved over there.
There has already been a soft opening of the facility and in due course it will be permanently open and accessible with the normal entrance ticket.
The latest addition to Disneyland in California is the long awaiting Cars Land themed around the town of Radiator Springs, from the Disney-Pixar Cars movie.
Centrepiece is the Radiator Springs Racers, a road race using similar technology to the Test Track attraction at Epcot with guests riding in six-seater open top cars.
One wonders if there are plans to bring the ride to Walt Disney World, perhaps to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It would be a surefire hit.
In late June, a major milestone in NASA’s manned space programme was reached when the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) spacecraft arrived at the Kennedy Space Center. The module can carry between four and six astronauts and the first unmanned test flight is scheduled to take place in 2014.
Called Exploration Flight Test–1 (EFT–1), Orion will be launched by a United Launch Alliance Delta-IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC–37). After orbiting the Earth twice it will re-enter the atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean.
For the first time in over 40 years (since Apollo), NASA will have a crew module that is designed to go beyond low Earth orbit and can take astronauts to the Moon, Mars and even further into space. Like the Space Shuttle before it, the Orion module is designed to be re-usable, up to ten times in fact.
Orion will ultimately be launched by NASA’s next generation launch rocket system, the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. First launch of the SLS is scheduled for 2017 with a mission that will take an unmanned Orion capsule around the Moon. The first operational manned flights of Orion are expected around the year 2020/21.
Orion is part of the cancelled Constellation programme and the SLS rocket family is a replacement for the original Ares I and Ares V rockets. SLS is similar in configuration to the Space Shuttle launch system, consisting of a central fuel tank with twin booster rockets. Additional rockets are mounted on the base of the tank with the upper stages supporting the payload. In fact early incarnations of the rocket will use modified Space Shuttle external tanks, solid rocket boosters and surplus RS–25 shuttle main engines.
The SLS rocket is similar in size to the Apollo Saturn V rocket that took astronauts to the Moon and will be quite a spectacle as it lifts off from the Cape in the years to come (assuming the politicians do not cancel it).
Read more about upcoming rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center.
Universal Orlando increased their ticket prices last month with their baseline one day one park ticket now costing $88. This was closely followed by Walt Disney World who priced their one day one park ticket at $89.
In a bizarre twist, Universal then stuck an additional extra dollar on the price of their one day one park ticket to bring it into parity with Walt Disney World.
Both parks now charge $89 for a one day ticket if purchased at the gate. This is around $95 including tax. One wonders how long before we hit the $100 barrier?
These days most parks do offer you savings if you purchase your tickets online rather than at the gate. In Universal’s case you can save $20 on their multi day tickets compared to the gate prices.
If you are planning on visiting a number of theme parks then you might also like to consider the Orlando FlexTicket which gives you access to both Universal parks, SeaWorld, Aquatica, Wet ’n Wild and optionally Busch Gardens for a period of 14 days or the various Go Card options from Smart Destinations. As well as their all-inclusive Go Card to some of the smaller attractions they also sell Select Passes which offers you discounts off ticket prices to some of the main theme parks.
For UK visitors, parks like Universal and Walt Disney World also offer special “length of stay” tickets which can be purchased in the UK in Sterling. They can offer great value for money if you want to make multiple visits during your holiday. The Orlando FlexTicket is also available for purchase in the UK.
Depending upon currency exchange rates, buying your tickets in Sterling can offer you savings over the Dollar equivalents.
Note that theme parks will often sell tickets for use either this year or next year at different prices based on their forecasts of exchange rate changes and inflation etc. The current year’s prices are usually lower than next year’s prices.
Therefore you need to make sure you buy the ticket for the correct time period as buying a ticket at this year’s price for use next year will be no good as it will have expired before you arrive.
Read more about the latest Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando ticket prices.
By the end of the first month of the 2012 hurricane season there have already been four storms including Hurricane Chris and Tropical Storm Debby.
When Debby formed in the Gulf of Mexico the forecasters predicted it would head west and hit Texas. However Debby had other plans and it turned towards the Panhandle before backtracking on itself and heading east into Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Gov. Rick Scott declared an emergency for Florida and Debby came ashore near the fishing village of Steinhatchee but not before Pasco County emergency officials had issued a mandatory evacuation. It then tracked eastwards across northern central Florida before emerging on the Atlantic coastline near Flagler Beach.
Debby brought with it tornadoes and four days of rain with up 26 inches being recorded in Wakulla. Over 250,000 homes were without power as trees and power lines were brought down.
The Sunshine Skyway bridge closed for more than two days because of high winds. Other bridges in the Tampa Bay area also had to be closed because of high winds and flooding.
Several theme parks either closed completely or shut early ahead of the severe storms. The water parks were worst affected.
A man died after his canoe capsized on Lake Dorr in Ocala National Forest, his death is believed to be weather related.
As always if you are in Florida particularly during the tornado or hurricane season, listen out for emergency weather broadcasts and pay careful attention to evacuation routes.
Read more about Florida’s latest weather.
The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner
The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner: A Complete Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake for Your Unforgettable Vacation is written by the wife and husband team, Susan and Simon Veness and the first edition was published on April 15, 2012.
Susan and Simon Veness will be familiar to British Florida fans as they also co-author the “Brit’s Guide to Orlando” which is updated each year. Susan Veness has also written “The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom”.
Slightly confusingly the similarly titled “The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner” can be seen as a companion to the original “Hidden Magic” book and has 100 new secrets. It is similar in concept to the Passporter Walt Disney World books and like the Passporter books, it is as much about planning your trip and the ensuing memories as the actual rides and attractions. To that end, it has fold-out maps and pockets for keepsakes like photos and receipts plus space to write your own journal entries and collect autographs.
With stories and anecdotes, the book will immerse you in the creative genius of Disney’s Imagineers with the details behind every attraction and restaurant, to give you a greater appreciation and hence more enjoyment.
Read our complete review of The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner: A Complete Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake for Your Unforgettable Vacation.
Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
July 2012 and August 2012 desktop wallpaper calendars
The free Florida desktop wallpaper calendars are now available in new widescreen and netbook format as well as standard format so if you have a widescreen monitor or a netbook you can now download a new widescreen calendar.
Free desktop calendars for July (Big Shoals State Forest) and August 2012 (Airstream Ranch on Interstate 4) are ready to download now.
Note that some of the larger files can be up to 1mb in size so if you are on a modem dialup line it will take a few minutes to download.
Click to view and then download the Florida free desktop wallpaper for July or August now.
Also don’t forget if you are looking for inspiration on what to do on your Florida vacation, why not take advantage of our collection of free Florida brochures where you will find information on many activities including golfing vacations, eco-tours, scuba diving and Caribbean cruises.
The main event in July of course is Independence Day on July 4. There will be celebrations taking place throughout Florida and you can expect very heavy traffic on the roads and crowds in the parks.
For racing fans, there are a series of races at Daytona; namely the NASCAR Nationwide Series: Subway Jalapeno 250 and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Coke Zero 400. The various summer concert series continue throughout July and the US Navy Blue Angels are flying at their home base for the Pensacola Beach Air Show.
Noticeable artists and shows on tour in Florida this month include:
- One Direction
- Cirque du Soleil - Dralion
- Earth, Wind And Fire
- Don McLean
- The Spinners
- Jon Bon Jovi and The Kings of Suburbia
Looking further ahead, into August there are a number of concerts and shows including:
- American Idol Live!,
- Def Leppard & Poison
- Gigantes Tour: Marc Anthony, Chayanne & Marco Antonio Solis
- Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez & Wisin Y Yandel
- The Heart & Soul Tour: Rod Stewart & Stevie Nicks
- Disney On Ice: New Disney
View a comprehensive list of upcoming Florida concerts.
Temperatures will continue to rise and will be average for all of Florida. Like the last couple of months the predicted rainfall across the whole State will also be average though bear in mind that July is one of the wettest months. June turned out to be very wet for some with the arrival of Tropical Storm Debby.
July 4th looks like being one of the best days of the month, weatherise.
In the North around Pensacola and Jacksonville, the first few days of July will be sunny and then we are in for a prolonged period of rain and thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures will be in low 80s to low 90s. Overnight temperatures will be in the low to high 70s.
Across the Central region, the weather outlook is similar, but with slightly fewer thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures will be in the high 80s to mid 90s with mid 70s overnight.
Down in Miami and the Keys, the weather will be similar to the Central region. Temperatures will be in the mid 80s to low 90s during the day and high 70s overnight.
Check out the rest of the weather for all of Florida including a live weather map, monthly temperature and rainfall charts across the State and the latest hurricane news.
Plenty of books published again in June/July, including the latest edition of DK Publishing beautifully illustrated Florida Eyewitness Travel Guide. Follow the links to read our reviews.
July Book List
- Late Prehistoric Florida: Archaeology at the Edge of the Mississippian World by Keith Ashley, Nancy Marie White
- Presidents in Florida: How the Presidents Have Shaped Florida and How Florida Has Influenced the Presidents by James C Clark
- Osceola and the Great Seminole War: A Struggle for Justice and Freedom by Thom Hatch
- Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity by David Kirby
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Florida by DK Publishing
- Legendary Locals of Fort Myers by Gerri Reaves
- Rebels and Runaways: Slave Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Florida by Larry Eugene Rivers
- Palm Beach Gardens by Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society
- The Politics of Disaster: Tracking the Impact of Hurricane Andrew by David K Twigg
- True Secrets Of Key West Revealed! by Marcus Varner
- National Geographic Field Guide to the Water’s Edge: Beaches, Shorelines, and Riverbanks by Stephen Leatherman, Jack Williams
- Kids Love Florida, 2nd Edition: Your Family Travel Guide to Exploring “Kid-Friendly” Florida. 600 Fun Stops & Unique Spots by Michele Darrall Zavatsky
- Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways by Jamie Jensen
- Road Trip USA Atlantic Coast by Jamie Jensen
- Explorer’s Guide North Florida & the Florida Panhandle: Includes St. Augustine, Panama City, Pensacola, and Jacksonville by Sandra Friend, Kathy Wolf
- Scenic Rides in West Central Florida by Steve Finzelber
We plan to bring you a newsletter on the first day of each month with details of upcoming events and news from across Florida.
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