May 2012 Newsletter
- Universal Studios Russia
- Hurricane Forecasts
- Fantasyland Update
- Apollo 11 Rocket Engines
- Epcot Test Track Closure
- Wet ’n Wild Blastaway Beach
- SeaWorld Name Change
- TripAdvisor Annual Air Travel Survey
- TurtleTrek Opens
- Kennedy Space Center Launches
- Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
- May Events
- Weather Forecast
- May Books
May 2012 Florida Review & Travel Guide Newsletter
May 1, 2012
Bringing you the latest news from the Sunshine State
Welcome to the May Newsletter
Hi Subscriber, welcome to the May 2012 newsletter of the Florida Review & Travel Guide.
Well we have finally got our Facebook page up and running. Why not “like us” at www.facebook.com/floridareview.
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.
If you prefer Twitter then you can follow the same news and stories at www.twitter.com/floridareview.
Two of the surviving shuttles have now left the Kennedy Space Center for new homes at two of the United States’s top air and space museums but this month sees two potential rocket launches from the Cape (see stories below). As always check before making a special trip as launch dates and times are very unpredictable due to technical issues and the prevailing weather conditions.
Universal Studios Russia
Reuters has announced proposals for a 37-acre Universal Studios indoor theme park in Russia as part of a massive sports-and-entertainment complex, dubbed “Galactica Park”.
The development would include a Universal Studios-themed indoor water park, CityWalk shopping and dining complex, two hotels with a combined total of 1,100 rooms, a convention centre and a 20,000 seater arena.
This would be only the second American branded theme park in Europe, the other being Disneyland Paris.
Construction could start as early as 2014 with completion in 2018. Universal currently operates theme parks in Orlando and California, Japan and Singapore. There have already been announcements about planned parks in South Korea and Dubai.
The Colorado State University hurricane forecasting team has made a further set of predictions for 2012. They reckon 2012 will be slightly below average with only 10 named storms of which four could become hurricanes and two becoming major hurricanes (category 3 to 5).
The hurricane season officially starts on June 1 and runs until November 30.
Now that The Great Goofini children’s roller coaster and the first Dumbo the Flying Elephant carousel ride have opened, further dates have been announced.
The second Dumbo ride plus the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station will open in July. The double Dumbo attraction will feature a special “no queue” queue space in a new interactive area to help guests entertain themselves whilst they wait to ride the carousels.
The Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid ride, Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern and Ariel’s Grotto will all open in late fall of this year, in time for the Holiday season.
The last attraction, the indoor Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster will not open until 2014.
Read more about Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Apollo 11 Rocket Engines
Harking back to the Apollo era, an exploration team funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos say they have located the first stage F–1 engines from the Saturn V rocket that blasted Apollo 11 to the first ever moon landing, over 42 years ago.
The engines are lying at a depth of over 2.5 miles below the ocean surface in the Atlantic but it is unclear as to their condition. The first stage of each Saturn V rocket was powered by five of the giant F–1 engines, which are the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fuelled rocket engines ever built.
Whilst NASA has wished the team luck in recovering one or more of the engines, they have pointed out that they do belong to NASA and that the first engine recovered has already been promised to the Smithsonian! Jeff Bezos is hoping to be able to display an engine at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
A complete Saturn V rocket assembly can be seen today at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at the Kennedy Space Center.
Latest Florida Deals
We have changed the way we bring you 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.
Expedia, CheapOStay, Funjet Vacations and Priceline have a number of offers available in May:
For UK visitors there are special deals from Disney International Holidays and Virgin Holidays:
[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.
Fuel prices are on the rise again and are expected to reach $4 across all of Florida by the summer. The average pump prices in Florida has dropped slightly since last month by around 10 cents, down from $3.93 to $3.80 for a gallon of regular. However in parts of Florida it has already reached $4 and a couple of the gas stations near Orlando International Airport are still charging an exorbitant $5.96 a gallon.
With the inexorable increase in fuel prices again, not only is the cost of motoring going up this summer but airfares and cruises are also taking a hit.
Airfares to Orlando are showing marked increases compared to this time last year. Naturally you’d think the best thing would be to book well in advance, however some airlines will charge you more because you have a very specific date and destination in mind.
More and more travellers are looking to alternative transport options such as train or bus but despite the price hikes, tourism is still expected to grow in Florida in 2012. You can always find the latest pump prices at GasPriceWatch.com.
In Other News
Epcot Test Track Closure
The planned closure of Test Track at Epcot to allow a major upgrade in conjunction with the Chevrolet brand has gone ahead. Test Track will be closed until the fall.
Wet ’n Wild Blastaway Beach
The new water play area scheduled to open at Wet ’n Wild on International Drive in June will be known as Blastaway Beach.
It is designed for families and will have a 60 foot high sandcastle, loads of slides and various types of water cannon, jets and soakers.
SeaWorld Name Change
SeaWorld have renamed their International Drive area Orlando destinations as “SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando” to include their three theme parks, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica and the seven official hotel partners as they push SeaWorld in Orlando as a resort destination rather than just a one day theme park visit.
The seven official partner hotels are the Doubletree by Hilton, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Renaissance, Residence Inn and Springhill Suites and all are within walking distance of SeaWorld.
Some of the benefits of staying at one of the official partner hotels are:
If you buy a “getaway package” then for each adult ticket you purchase you are entitled to free dining at SeaWorld or Aquatica and free kids admission (limited to 2 kids). You can also get 5 nights for the price of 4.
Read more about SeaWorld.
TripAdvisor Annual Air Travel Survey
TripAdvisor has released their annual U.S. Air Travel Survey and Orlando International Airport was voted the air travellers favourite airport with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia coming in second place.
Not unsurprisingly one of the biggest complaints with air travel was a lack of legroom, though only a third of people would pay more for extra legroom on long haul flights.
TSA Pre-check Program
More than half of those surveyed said they would participate in TSA’s pre-check program (expedited screening process). At the present time this facility is limited to certain frequent flyers with just three airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines plus certain members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS. You must also be a U.S. citizen to participate.
The only Florida airport currently in the programme is Miami (MIA) at the D2 Checkpoint (American Airlines only). In 2012, it is expected that Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Tampa International Airport (TPA) will join the scheme.
This comes at a time when there are reports of people waiting several hours to get through Border Control at London’s Heathrow Airport. And the Olympics are just around the corner!
Read more about getting to Florida by air.
TurtleTrek Opens At SeaWorld
The new TurtleTrek exhibit at SeaWorld has opened.
TurtleTrek is effectively in three parts. In the first section you get to see and learn about manatees and sea turtles in two huge naturalistic habitats.
The main part of the attraction is the 360 degree domed theatre where you watch a CGI film projected in 3D. It tells the life story of a female turtle called Nyah all the way from hatching from an egg through to returning to the same beach in adulthood to lay eggs herself.
Finally there is a call-to-action to help save and conserve the world’s endangered species followed by the chance to play a fun and educational video game aptly called “Race for the Beach” and of course, the obligatory gift shop.
Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin
Details are starting to emerge about the new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin attraction being built to replace the Penguin Encounter exhibit and due to open in 2013.
It will feature 8 person “cars” with seating in two rows of four, with a choice of ride intensity. It is not clear how the cars will ride around the exhibit; i.e. on a track or free roaming but at an event in Los Angeles it was stated that “the ride will include a first-of-its-kind family adventure ride that utilizes new technology for an experience that can change from visit to visit. Guests will be able to choose the level of thrill they experience on the ride”. We will bring you more details as they are made public.
Read more about SeaWorld.
Kennedy Space Center Launches
With the delay in the launch of the SpaceX mission to the International Space Station, there are now two launches planned for May:
However, any delays in the launch of the Atlas 5 rocket could have a knock-on effect on the launch date of the Falcon 9.
April saw the departure of the Space Shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center on top of a modified NASA Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft bound for Washington DC.
Discovery was then taken by road from Washington Dulles International Airport to her new home at the nearby Udvar-Hazy Center at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
The prototype Space Shuttle Enterprise which has been at the Smithsonian since 2003, then hitched a ride from Washington on the same 747 heading for JFK International Airport in New York. Her new home is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on the Hudson River in New York City.
Enterprise will be taken by barge to the museum and housed in a purpose built pavilion on the deck of the World War II era USN Intrepid aircraft carrier (CVS–11). The new pavilion is due to open on July 19, 2012.
Meanwhile Endeavour is being prepared for her last ferry flight to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in September whilst the last remaining shuttle, Atlantis will stay at the Kennedy Space Center and form the star attraction at the currently being built Space Shuttle exhibit.
Read more about rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center.
Free Monthly Desktop Wallpaper
May 2012 and June 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 May (Seabirds in the Florida Keys) and June 2012 (Florida State Road No. 1) 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 May and June 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.
This month there are potentially two rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center. On May 3 an Atlas V is due to blast off and on May 7, the delayed SpaceX Falcon 9 is destined for the International Space Station as a prelude to operating unmanned supply missions to the station.
The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues to run through until May 20. As well as all the flower related activities, there are also daily Flower Power concerts.
Noticeable artists and shows on tour in Florida this month include the Beach Boys, K.D. Lang, Nickelback, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream.
Looking further ahead, into June there are a number of concerts and shows including Coldplay, Earth, Wind And Fire, ZZ Top, Neil Diamond, One Direction, Roger Waters.
Temperatures will continue to rise and will be above average for all of Florida. This is coupled with average rainfall across the whole State.
In the North around Pensacola and Jacksonville, the month will start with a fair bit of rain and thunderstorms interspersed with sunny periods. Daytime temperatures will be in low 80s to low 90s. Overnight temperatures will be in the low 60s to low 70s.
Across the Central region, the weather outlook is similar, with some sunshine, and thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures will be in the mid 80s to low 90s with low to mid 70s overnight.
Down in Miami and the Keys, the weather will be similar to the Central region but with the potential for more rain and storms. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 80s during the day and low to mid 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 in April/May, including the latest edition of the Unofficial Guide: The Color Companion to Walt Disney World (publication pushed back from April) and After Disney: The Other Orlando by Kelly Monaghan which supersedes his earlier book which just covered Universal Studios. Follow the links to read our reviews.
May Book List
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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