“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Al Roker!” is what someone might have said if they were at Wallaby Ranch when the Today Show’s own weatherman chose it as the launching pad for his first hang-gliding experience. Al Roker’s flight was just one of more than 30,000 safe and incident-free excursions launched under the watchful eye of veteran hang-glider pilot and owner of Wallaby Ranch, Malcolm Jones. Together with a permanent crew of nine other pilots, instructors, and technicians, Malcolm leads aerotow hang-gliding flights above the lush Florida landscape of his ranch. The fleet of planes tows hang-gliders into the air, at which point they are released to float above the trees and drift smoothly down to the ground like a sleepy eagle.
Wallaby Ranch has full camping and RV accommodations on site, allowing groups and families to plan extended stays as they learn to master the aerial art. The crew prepares fresh community breakfast and lunch, and a 27,000-gallon swimming pool cools off visitors after a hard day’s glide. Guest can clamor up the climbing wall, while children can caper about the playground. Mountain-bike and walking trails abound, winding through the terrain and plunging hikers into the surrounding, native wildlife.
At Sake Sushi, amid high ceilings and wood accents, chefs fashion ocean-fresh seafood into signature sushi rolls such as the Sake roll, which pairs spicy crab with cuts of eight-ounce ribeye. On the meatier side of the menu, diners can find aged steaks, Asian-inspired fusion sandwiches, and entrees such as crispy, succulent duck breast with rice cakes and kimchi. Servers splash fine wines into glasses and mix cocktails behind a long, polished bar.
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.
Regina Hyman's style of photography is a great mix of modern contemporary and photojournalistic. Along with having her own business Regina is also a Photographer for the Disney Fine Art Photography Team, specializing in Walt Disney World Fairytale Weddings.
Named after the small restaurants in India they aim to emulate, Dhaba Indian Cuisine engages taste buds with an array of authentic dishes and flavors from across its culinary homeland. Wake up hibernating taste buds with a spicy blast of chicken tikka marinated in a smooth blend of spices and yogurt, or fried mirchi vada stuffed with pickled green chilies. Morsels of chicken, lamb, and prawns fight to hide beneath mounds of rice in the special nawabi biryani and more than 15 savory chicken specialties hold down dishes threatening to elope with curved silverware. Blazing spices scorch taste buds with each mouthful of lamb vindaloo and homemade cubes of indian cottage cheese mingle with a blend of fresh veggies in the paneer jalfrezi's rich tomato curry. Glasses of house wine cool spice-tickled palates, preventing the need to order ice cream between courses to balm sweating tongues.
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.