Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica" On Kindle

My book, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica: Orlando's Salute to the Seas is now available in a Kindle version for the bargain price of $7.99.

It's sales rank is around 46,000 (out of 270,000+) so I guess it's getting some takers. Next time you're at SeaWorld, look for people reading their Kindle while they waiting for Shamu.

You can find it at the Kindle Store.

Oh, and the paperback version got some nice 5-star reviews. Thanks!

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Friday, April 24, 2009


Rip, Ride, Rockit Preview

Universal has set up a special site, mostly for the media, to preview their upcoming Rip, Ride, Rockit rollercoaster.

There are some nifty graphics and animations showing off some of the ride's "first-ever moves."

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Cypress Gardens Returns To Its Roots

Well, I didn't think it was in the cards, but I glad to have been proved wrong.

Not only is Cypress Gardens open again, but the pyramid is back!

The new management has wisely return to Cypress Garden's roots, focusing on the water ski show and the gardens. They also plan to expand the water park. I wish them well.

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2008 Theme Park Attendance

Some interesting stuff in the 2008 TEAERA (pdf) report.

The new kid on the block, Aquatica, had 950,000 visitors or an average of 95K a month. But it opened in March, so if it had been open in January and February and had "average" attendance those months, that suggests an annual total of 1,140,000, putting it ahead of Wet 'n Wild but behind the two Disney waterparks. It'll be interesting to see what happens next year, as the word get out about what a spectacular park it is.

SeaWorld's attendance was down 2.9% at 5.9 million, but SeaWorld execs are squawking that the actual figure is higher, without providing specifics. Apparently, they're not angry enough to open their books to prove the assertion.

Universal Studios was up only slightly and Islands of Adventure was down 2.4%, leading some to speculate that people are putting off visiting until Harry Potter arrives.

But the 2008 numbers are only part of the story. Universal's 1st quarter 2009 attendance was down a whopping 20% over last year.

Makes you wonder why Universal thinks this is a good time to alienate some of their biggest fans.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Halloween Horror Comes Early To Universal

Move over, Crypt Keeper! The Recession Debt Monster is here.

The Orlando Sentinel has the grim news.
Orlando's No. 2 theme-park resort is warning that it could face a cash crunch by next spring, as turmoil in the credit markets -- and an obscure clause in its long-standing contract with famed filmmaker Steven Spielberg -- complicate its efforts to restructure nearly $1 billion of debt.

If Universal Orlando is unable to rework the loans in coming months, it could be forced to slash spending on new attractions, seek more money from its owners or even put a piece of the resort up for sale.

Actually, it's not as bad as the article, in the finest journalistic tradition, makes it sound.

Later, the reporter, Jason Garcia, notes:
Moody's and other analysts say a bankruptcy filing is unlikely. They say the Orlando resort's business, which produced $180 million in operating profit last year, is fundamentally strong and stands to benefit from the opening of the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster later this year and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010. They also say the resort's co-owners have incentive to preserve their investments in the resort -- particularly NBC Universal, because of the theme parks' strategic ties to that company's movie and television studios.

And the "Spielberg clause"?

Apparently, director Steven Spielberg has a long-running consulting deal. He got $20 million last year alone. In 2010, he has the right to demand a buyout of "several hundred millions."

Would Spielberg do something that horrible? It'd be like letting Jeff Goldblum get eaten at the end of the movie.


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Monday, April 06, 2009


Orlando Tolls Go Up

It's a little more costly to get from the airport the the throbbing heart of Orlando's tourism centers.
Tolls on the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority system went up 25 cents at almost all main plazas and most exit ramps on Sunday.

(Watch the video when you visit the link above.)

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