Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club's fairways could rightly be called oases?and not just for their radiant, dreamy green hue. For players having trouble keeping their tee shots on the straight-and-narrow, they also represent relief from the diverse array of natural hardships that lie just outside their borders. On the front nine, wayward golf balls frequently get ensnared by native wetlands, or, if they're really off-course, lost among the oak and cypress trees. On the back nine, the famous dunes rear their sandy heads. The lush Bermuda grass fairways arc over broad sweeps of arid wasteland, spelling trouble for players who prone to diving into water mirages.
After triumphantly plucking their golf balls out of the 18th cups, players can head to Kenzie's Restaurant and Lounge for drinks and lunch on the outdoor terrace. They might also check out the pro shop and its selection of gear and apparel, convenient for players whose on-course side bets have left them in need of a shirt.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,012 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 73 from the back tees * Course slope of 131 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard
Defying gravity is a routine feat for the crew at MaxFlight Helicopter Services Inc. In addition to providing basic flight training for aspiring pilots, the fully licensed professionals also use the Robinson R-22 and R-44 helicopters to take passengers on aerial sightseeing tours. These excursions can be educational, recreational, or a bit of both as the pilots lift off from Kissimmee Airport and navigate their way around some of the area's natural, urban, and holographic landmarks. While soaring several hundred feet above the ground, passengers will also spy familiar sights from an entirely new perspective, and may gain a whole new appreciation for the beauty of a sunset or a fireworks show.
You could say that Orlando Balloon Rides' crew of FAA-certified pilots is impressive, but that would probably be an understatement. One has flown across the English Channel three times, another trained stunt pilots for the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, and a third manned a balloon up to the stratosphere. It's a good thing they're so talented?and have an unblemished safety record among them?as they fly one of the largest balloons in the Western Hemisphere.
The 11-story, 425,000-cubic-foot behemoth can carry up to 24 people in its 1,600-pound basket, which is made of aircraft-grade steel and basket-grade wicker. Or put more simply, an average balloon can fit inside this balloon. Whether choosing to ride in this or a traditional-size balloon, passengers are treated to expansive views of orange groves, swampland, Orange County mansions, and sometimes, a certain magical kingdom on the horizon's distance, which actually isn't a mirage. After any flight, a champagne toast contributes to what USA Today called a "spectacular sunrise adventure" and one of Orlando's 10 most romantic attractions.
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate treats travelers to deluxe lodgings with a tropical touch. Guests roll into the resort beneath an imposing arch and cruise a palm-tree-lined parkway prior to arriving at the hotel's expansive lobby. Within a premier room, a king bed or two doubles topped with foam and feather pillows greet sleepers to be, speaking of dreams sweet enough to use as sugar substitute. Visitors inspired by views of the surrounding beauty, which includes a 36-hole golf course and 15 acres of pools and recreation activities, can craft hotel-themed poetry in an easy chair or invent a new facial expression in front of the marble vanity. After the night gives way to anti-night, vacationers cocooned in luxury linens and more than 400 square feet of butter-hued walls will emerge from their plush pupae, ready for a new day of blinking and walking around. To satisfy morning appetites, Trevi's unfurls a bountiful breakfast buffet for suitemates or sweethearts.
Just as it does from the deck of a creaky ship, the wide blue sea appears to stretch out till it meets the edge of the sky on the wall mural at Banana Jack's pirate-themed fun center. A row of arcade games stands below the mural, where patrons roll skee-balls or dunk basketballs to earn tickets for prizes or engage in friendly competition. The indoor playground holds plank bridges, webbed caves, and curved slides. Toddlers enjoy exclusive access to a boat ride and a jungle carousel where they encounter critters and ask them to be their spirit guides. Before they set sail for home, families refuel in the café with salads, burgers, and freshly baked pizzas.
At The Finer Taste Wine & Beer Emporium, Italian-made wine-dispensing machines distribute 100-plus wines gathered from all corners of the globe. Stations for red and white wines or premium products stand ready to pour 1-ounce, half-glass, or full-glass pours with each fill-up. After thanking their dispenser in fluent Italian, patrons can return to their spot—either at a pub table, in the lounge, or outside on the covered patio, where pets are welcome, and where live entertainment can be heard every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. Gourmet tapas anchor a finger-friendly food menu, and more than 30 craft beers offer a tasty alternative to wine.