Disney FastPass+ Causing Lots Of Controversy

Disney FastPass+ Causing Lots Of Controversy

Unlike a lot of Disneyphiles the idea of being able to book a FastPass+ in advance and sticking my “blue MagicBand” into the system doesn’t bother me. I’m an old cuss and I hate rushing across Disney parks to book a trip on a five minute ride. But there are issues.

The stated reason WDW developed this system was so people would not have to stand in a long line (#1 complaint at WDW since it opened). That may be partially true, but the average Disney visitor comes every four years and only 25% used the old FastPass.

Let’s look at some of the new rules:

(1) You can only reserve book three FastPass+ choices a day and they must be in the same park. With $100 a day tickets this will ruffle a lot of feathers.

(2) FP+ does include some small kid stuff like character meetings and Fantasmic and slow kid rides. This is the BEST addition to FP+ as far as I can tell!

(3) FP+ choices can be changed at a kiosk during your visit to the park. Not an issue and the kiosks are good for non-techies as long as kiosks have staff members in attendance.

(4) There is a tier system at Epcot and Hollywood Studios that may be called “spreading the wealth” but imposes real crisis actions. You have three boys: they want to reserve Test Track, but your wife wants to reserve Soarin’. Both are Tier I rides and you can only reserve online one Tier I per day.

(5) You can’t use FP+ for multiple parks in one day. This might even change ticket buying choices. As an annual passholders, my wife and I visit at least two parks every trip, but only like one or two rides in each park.

(6) This I find is an area that is less publicized. If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you can reserve FP+ rides up to 60 days in advance. If you are NOT staying at a Disney hotel (even the Dolphin or Swan), you must use the kiosks. Annual passholders like me get 30 days advance reservations. Is this “spreading the wealth or something else?”

As an experiment last week I went at 11 o’clock to a kiosk to book Soarin’ at Epcot; the earliest I could get on the ride was 5:45 pm. The wait at the non-FP+ line at noon was 80 minutes long. It will be interesting to see what changes Disney will make this year regarding the FastPass+ system.

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Fantasy of Flight Attraction Is Closing

Fantasy of Flight Attraction Is Closing

Fantasy of Flight, the attraction at Polk City off I-4, is closing its main facilities after 18 years of service. It is another of the “real things” attractions that haven’t been able to attract enough business from the gigantic “fantasy” parks at nearby Orlando..

Fantasy of Flight owner Kermit Weeks noted, “We have a great product, but people have a mis-perception of what we offer.”

Fantasy of Flights has one of the world’s greatest collections of authentic airplanes, dating from the beginnings of the twentieth century. The airplanes are presented in realistic scenes and visitors can take rides in some airplanes at added costs.

Fortunately for airplane loves, the center will continue to be a restoration and maintenance facility for amazing historical aircraft. The reputation of the site with its airfield facilities will also mean there will be gatherings of old planes and special events.

Mr. Weeks plans to reopen the facility in a reduced capacity, probably with an emphasis on the aircraft collections and the rides. As a niche site with a smaller staff, a new Fantasy of Flight will hopefully emerge.

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The Meanest Golf Hole In Florida

The Meanest Golf Hole In Florida

What is the meanest golf hole in Florida? Is it the 18th hole at the TPC Blue Monster? Or perhaps the 8th hole at the PGA National Champions Course?

They may be tough on the professional players on the tour, but the meanest hole in Florida for weekend golfers is one of the most photographed holes in the United States. It is the par-3 Sixth Hole at Walt Disney World’s Magnolia course.

This hole at the longest golf course at WDW starts with an elevated tee where you get a wonderful view of the large tranquil water hazard and the even more elevated green. And there it is – staring you in the face – a Mickey Mouse shaped bunker.

Sure, every other golfer takes out the cellphone and snaps sandy old Mickey – but you realize that if your ball lands in that bunker, your friends will have a field day photographing you. You and Mickey will be on the billboard of every office wall, not counting the social media from Boston to Tokyo.

Yes – the Magnolia course at WDW has a dangerous hole. To avoid Mickey, golfers hit bad shots all over the woods and into the water.

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Bollywood’s Film Awards Come To Tampa, Florida

Bollywood's Film Awards Come To Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida, may seem an unlikely destination for the 15th International India Film Academy show, but unlike the Oscars the IIFA Awards have been given out in Toronto, Macao, Dubai, Singapore, and Amsterdam. This will be the first IIFA convention in the USA.

Unlike the Oscars, the Indian film showcase is a weekend convention of events topped by an award show where the general public is invited.

Will Bollywood fans come to Florida to see their favorites? Before the events and guests were even announced, 15,000 tickets were sold. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of seats for the public since the show (televised globally) is at Raymond James football Stadium.

Most of the events are taking place April 24th and 25th at the downtown Tampa Convention Center, but there are numerous banquets, music concerts, fashion shows, and even IIFA Master Class Panels available to the public. I’m interested in a Panel hosted by American actor Kevin Spacey and Indian star Vidya Balan.

This is the first time that the massive Indian film industry will present their product directly to American audiences as well as the gigantic worldwide Indian audience. One thing is certain. It will be an interesting time in Tampa.

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Andrew Carnegie’s Florida Library Impact Is Still Being Honored

Andrew Carnegie's Florida Library Impact Is Still Being Honored

The Tampa-Hillsborough Library system is having their Centennial Celebration this year and every library has a life-sized poster of Andrew Carnegie greeting visitors. It is appropriate since two of Carnegie’s ten Florida city libraries are in Tampa.

In fact, this is near the 100th anniversary of the opening of the West Tampa Library (still in use), in the center of Tampa’s second cigar factory community. I have checked out books here and in the old Tampa Library on 7th Avenue and Tampa.

Still standing is the Jacksonville Old Free Public Library (1902), Bradenton Carnegie (1917), and Palmetto (1914) – the latter two I have visited as resources for research and museum materials. Carnegie would be pleased that even when newer and bigger libraries are built that his originals still have academic use.

Carnegie was very concerned about African-American education and on Tallahassee’s highest hill stands the Florida A&M Carnegie Library (1905), now the Southeastern Regional Black Archives and Research Center (see photo). Carnegie library buildings are still part of the campus life at Rollins College (1905) and Stetson University (Sampson Hall 1906).

When it came to libraries, Mr. Carnegie built 3,500 libraries across the land and in such exotic spots as Serbia, Fiji, and Mauritius.

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George Mira – Always A Native Conch

George Mira - Always A Native Conch

Food wagons and trucks are very big in Florida, but I was really shocked a few months ago when I saw one marked “George Mira Native Conch.”

As fast as I could say “The Matador” I discovered the conch fritters were really made by the former UM star quarterback George Mira and one of his sons. I was sports editor of the UM newspaper The Hurricane and had a good front row look at the star from Key West during his glory years.

The recent Super Bowl in NYC reminded me of watching Mira throw for 320 yards vs. Nebraska in the first Gotham Bowl, a stupid idea in Yankee Stadium before 900 freezing fans in a blizzard. I wonder how many yards Peyton would have had in a real snow blizzard.

George was the Johnny Manziel of his at era at barely 6 feet and 180 pounds. Yet he was the third QB in the 1964 NFL Draft and played for the 49ers, Eagles, Colts, and Dolphins; then he played for Montreal and Toronto in the CFL; then he played for Birmingham and Jacksonville of the World League.

The only thing George loved maybe more than football was his home town Key West. All those offensive linemen from Pennsylvania used to joke that they had Desi Arnez as their QB, but they would do anything to protect their leader.

So if you are visiting an event in South Florida and see the “Native Conch” food wagon and you love football or the U, drop by.

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The War For The Best Cuban Sandwich Gets Hotter

The War For The Best Cuban Sandwich Gets Hotter

March has been proclaimed Cuban Sandwich month by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the Third Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival will be held in Ybor City’s Heritage Park on March 22 and 23. This is a SuperBowl event.

Living in Tampa for 45 years means I have seen a lot of Cuban sandwich contests sponsored by the local newspapers and radio stations. Tampa’s Cuban population came in 1885 with the cigar industry and they also brought most of the popular Cuban sandwich ingredients.

People take their Cuban sandwiches seriously and a victory by a small restaurant or bakery means a big boost in business. With the Cuban population spread out to West Tampa, Town and Country, and elsewhere, every area of town has its sandwich favorite places.

The Cuban has/has not changed as Cuban food spread across the land with the huge Cuban migration to Miami starting in the 1960′s. There are now categories of Cubans with the most serious being Traditional (mustard only) and Non-Traditional (Mayo). I love mayo but I WILL NOT put it in on a Cuban! Pressed Cubans are best – it is an art form.

For the last two years the Cuban restaurants and bakeries of Miami and South Florida have challenged Tampa so this contest is now one of regional pride. Down in South Florida there is a semi-finals in Hialeah on March 15 to send the best people to the Tampa festival.

This Cuban sandwich thing is getting serious. The big winners, I think, will be the thousands who come to the Festival to eat Florida’s creations.

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