Busch Gardens Summer Nights is in full swing
Midway through its June through August run, Busch Gardens Summer Nights is open for after-dark thrills and entertainment. Ride the roller coasters after dark and enjoy the park activities and entertainment during the cooler evening hours in summer.
Be wowed by the high energy, award-winning Kinetix group providing a potent combination of energized rock/contemporary musicians, singers, dancers and acrobatics. Be dazzled by the spectacular fireworks as the grand finale to the entertainment-packed evening. More: Summers Nights
SeaWorld®'s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™ is open
Cruise through Antarctic-like environment in high-tech, trackless, motion vehicles and be immersed in a spectacle of sights and sounds of the icy wonderland that is home to the penguins. After the ride, stroll among the penguins with only a short wall separating your from them (no glass panel).
See icebergs, snowcaps and get up close to over 200 live penguins living in their icy South Pole-like habitat. The 6,000 square-foot habitat is kept at 30 degrees with 20,000 lbs of snow blown in each day. Also be sure to stop by the underwater viewing area to watch the antics of the penguins as they dive and swim about seemingly with little effort.
It's Stingray Season - Be Careful on the beaches!
As the water warms, stingrays begin to congregate near Florida beaches. The season usually starts around May and goes through October. Unfortunately, this is also the time when most people also go to the same beaches! Stepping on a stingray can lead to a very painful injury from its poisonous barb thrust by its tail.
Attacks from stingrays often occur from jumping into the water or by stepping on them while running or walking in a way that surprises or pins the animal. Fortunately, there is a simple means to avoid stingrays. Given a chance, stingrays will do everything possible to avoid contact with humans. So give stingrays "notice" of your presence. The best way is to do the "stingray shuffle" by shuffling your feet in the sand as you walk. Also, avoid jumping into the water, i.e. running from the beach and jumping into the surf.
Some beaches may show warning flags that indicate hazardous conditions. A purple flag indicates dangerous marine life present (which could include stingrays). But most beaches, especially those without lifeguards, do not display any flags - so care must be taken.
Should one be stung by a stingray, get assistance from a lifeguard if present. Most stings are painful, but not life-threatening. However, seek immediate medical help if experiencing an allergic reaction or if the barb remains embedded or is causing significant bleeding. If minor, many self-treatment recommendations involve cleaning the wound and soaking in hot water for 30 - 90 minutes. If in doubt, seek medical help.
Another Best Beaches List - 8 of Florida's Best
From Senior Leisure Travel, the following Florida beaches are rated best:
- Siesta Beach, Sarasota
- Lighthouse Beach, Sanibel Island
- Ft. Zachary Taylor Beach, Key West
- Ft. Myers Beach, Ft. Myers
- Pensacola Beach, Gulf Islands National Seashore
- South Beach, Miami
- Ft. De Soto Park, St. Petersburg
- Palm Beach, Palm Beach County
15 Florida Companies Make the Fortune 500 List
Each year Fortune Magazine publishes a list of the top 500 public companies based on gross revenue. This year fifteen Florida companies made the list, down from sixteen last year. The top five Florida companies (by rank) include: World Fuel Services (74), Publix Super Markets (108), Tech Data (119), Jabil Circuit (163), AutoNation (177), NextEra Energy (190), CSX (231), Office Depot (253), Darden Restaurants (328), WellCare Health Plans (345), Fidelity National Financial (353), Health Management Associates (376), Ryder System (404), Harris (429) and Fidelity National Information Services (434). Collectively, these companies had revenues of $203B. Fortune 500
Coast-to-Coast Trailway Under Consideration?
Central Florida is just 72 miles short of having a 275 mile coast-to-coast bike trail. Currently under consideration in the state budget is funding for completion of such a continuous trail. If completed, the biking/walking trail would span from St. Petersburg through Tarpon Springs, along the Suncoast Parkway, turning east near Brooksville to Orlando and finally completing its trail way east of Titusville at Canaveral National Seashore. While such trails have always been difficult to justify "economically", they have proven wildly popular and certainly the health benefits to the many who use these trails are very worthwhile.
Royal Caribbean Places New Ship At Port Canaveral
Royal Caribbean replaced the smaller Monarch of the Seas with the Enchantment of the Seas at Port Canaveral on Florida's east coast. This ship will operate year-round offering short 3 and 4 night Bahamas itineraries. Enchantment of the Seas was recently renovated to include new dining options, an outdoor movie screen, rock-climbing wall, and trampolines. The 81,000 ton ship is almost 1,000 feet long and can accommodate over 2,000 passengers.
Royal Caribbean is bolstering their cruise line presence in Florida with revitalized ships, and a plan to add another ship at Port Canaveral in 2014. This will bring the number of Royal Caribbean ships offering short cruises to 5, and a total of 13 ships serving Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral and Miami.
Online (only) University Approved for Florida
The Florida legislature and Governor Scott have approved a plan to establish an online only university offering. The university will offer fully accredited college courses leading to bachelor's degree without the need to attend a physical facility. This is the first of its kind in the state. Florida's state-run University of Florida will manage the program and will start to offer the online courses in 2014. In-state tuition costs will be at least 25% less than the comparable non-online classes. The Governor and legislators who advocated the package say the curriculums will be more closely aligned with employer needs. This should be a welcome option for many who struggle to attend in-house scheduled classes due schedule conflicts of work or family responsibilities.
Visitors Still Make Florida the Place to Visit
The number of visitors to Florida continue to be impressive even over the past years of a weak economy. In a state that has a resident population of about 19 million, almost 5 times as many visited the Florida in 2012 at 89 million visitors. The economic benefit from tourism is estimated to be over $71 billion. Truly, these are impressive statistics. Florida continues to be a leading state for drawing vacationers to its diverse interests including attractions and theme parks, sporting activities, natural resources, resorts, spectacular beaches, golfing and events.
Lights Out to Protect Sea Turtles
Sea turtle nesting season on the Atlantic coast ranges from March through October and from May through October on the Gulf coast. During this time, newly hatched turtles will emerge from their nests in the sand and head for the sea. They instinctively look for star and moonlight reflected off the water to guide them towards the sea. Unfortunately, these sea turtles get confused by our artificial sources of light from our highly developed coastlines.
Sea turtles are an endangered species and protected by law. Many coastal communities have lighting ordinances that require shielding or other means to reduce the amount of artificial light on the beaches during this critical period.
All are asked to help these baby turtles achieve a better survival rate by reducing or eliminating lights sources on the beach (in accordance with local laws as applicable) and by not disturbing the nests or the hatchlings as they make their way to the sea.