Originally from Louisiana, I moved to Central Florida 23 years ago. I am now married to an Orlando-native and we have two young teens. I love everything Disney (especially their cupcakes), traveling around the state of Florida, cooking for my family, and trying craft beer.
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Nearly 10 months to the day that it closed temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee has reopened its whimsical gates!  On January 17, wish families began arriving at the Village, an 89-acre nonprofit resort that provides transformative weeklong wish vacations to critically ill children and their families at no cost. Each family receives receive transportation, accommodations in one of the Village's 166 storybook residential villas, all meals and snacks, nightly entertainment, donated tickets to Orlando's world-class theme parks and attractions, and unique interactive experiences at the Village. 

Pryce Redmon and his family were among the first wish families to stay at Give Kids The World Village following a 10-month closure due to COVID-19. Four-year-old Pryce, who has stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, enjoyed the chance to "just be a kid" at the 89-acre nonprofit resort, which provides critically ill children and their families with weeklong, cost-free wish vacations. "This was the first time since his diagnosis that we did not mention cancer," says his mom. 

Beginning in February, Walt Disney World Resort will unveil several new experiences inviting guests to celebrate soulfully at The Most Magical Place on Earth. Coinciding with and extending beyond February’s Black History Month, these offerings honor Black heritage and culture through music, food, art and more.

Photo courtesy Walt Disney World Resort

Topgolf Entertainment Group, a global sports, and entertainment company, announced its newest venue, located in Lake Mary, Fla., opened its doors to the public on Jan. 22. The Lake Mary location is the sixth venue to open in the state of Florida, welcoming Guests just north of Orlando.  This venue features Topgolf’s signature, technology-driven entertainment experience and serves as a destination for all.

Photo courtesy of Topgolf Entertainment Group

Gatorland, the “Alligator Capital of the World,” is ringing in the New Year with the exciting addition of Marshall the Kookaburra to its animal family.  Marshall, who is two years old, comes to Gatorland from a loving home in South Florida.  Kookaburras are the largest members of the Kingfisher bird family, and native to Australia.  Visitors to Gatorland can see Marshall in the park’s Jungle Crocs of the World where he will live near the Australian Saltwater Crocodile exhibits.

“We are thrilled to give Marshall a new home with us here at Gatorland,” said Mark McHugh, President and CEO of Gatorland.  “He is so much fun, and his loud, “laughing” vocalizations will not only entertain the guests but provide additional auditory enrichment for the saltwater crocodiles.  We love adding new animals to our park to entertain and educate our guests.  Just a few months ago, we brought Ben and Jerry the Capybaras to Gatorland, and now Marshall.  We know our visitors will love!

During the entire month of January 2021, Florida Residents pay just $9.99 for single day admission to see Marshall and all the other animals at Gatorland. Tickets must be purchased at the admission’s gate with Valid Florida ID.   This rare discount won’t be around long.

Florida residents will enjoy their favorite rides, shows, and exhibits such as the Alligator Breeding Marsh, White Gator Swamp, Petting Zoo, Bird Aviary, Jungle Crocs of the World, the Alligators – Legends of the Swamp and Up Close Encounters shows, and of course, Social Distancing Skunk Ape.  Guests won’t want to miss Gatorland’s newest residents, Ben and Jerry, the Capybaras.

Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park combining Old Florida charm with exciting experiences, exhibits, and entertainment. Named Best Non-Theme Park Attraction by the readers of Orlando Magazine in the Best of ORL 2020 Reader Poll and the winner of four awards in Orlando Weekly’s Best of Orlando® 2020 Reader Poll, including Best Place To Show People the Real Orlando, Best Local Big Shot Who’s Not An Elected Official – Gatorland’s Savannah Boan, Best Attraction That’s Not A Theme Park, and Best Zip Line or Ropes Course, Gatorland’s Screamin’ Gator Zip Line.  Orlando Weekly Staff Pick also named Gatorland as the Best New Theme Park Attraction this year for its Social Distancing Skunk Ape. 

Originally opened as a roadside attraction in 1949, the park celebrated its 70th Anniversary in 2019.  Today, it provides affordably-priced family fun featuring thousands of alligators and crocodiles, breeding marsh with observation tower, free-flight aviary, nature walk, petting zoo, educational wildlife programs, award-winning gift shop, Florida's best train ride, Gator Gully Splash Park, on-site restaurant and one-of-a-kind shows including Gator Jumparoo, Alligators-Legends of the Swamp, and Up-close Encounters.  Popular adventure experiences inside the park include the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line and Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure.