“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.
Unlike planes, gliders don’t need engines to soar the skies. Instead, they are fueled by wind, climbing up drafts or descending on the breeze at 100–200 feet per minute, making dive-bombing wasps everywhere feel about themselves. For the last 30 years, Seminole-Lake Gliderport’s FAA-certified pilots have specialized in these windborne flights, helming a fleet of glider models such as the Super Blanik L-23 and the Schweizer 1-34. They also teach passengers piloting basics with hands-on discovery flights. Once they’ve mastered riding the winds, glider pilots 55 and older can showcase their skills at the airfield’s Annual Senior Soaring Contest.
Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Aviation Center's Jonathan Johns first encountered the spectacle of aerial navigation at an early age, when he attended a soccer game that hosted the Navy's flight-demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. It was love at first sight. Since then, Jonathan has flown more than 51 single or multiengine aircrafts and pterodactyls. His partner, Roger Frechette, has logged more than 5,000 hours of flight time since he took to the skies back in the 1960s. Together they have gathered a team of experienced instructors to help spread their love of cloud wrangling and maintain a fleet of meticulously cared-for, FAA-approved aircrafts, including Cessnas, the A22 Valor, Tecnam Bravo, and P-1 Paradise. From their base at Kissimmee Gateway Airport, the pilots lead sport-pilot-training flights, and their crafts carry pairs of sightseers over the area's most beloved landmarks, such as Disney World and Old Town Orlando.
An avid Bikram-yoga enthusiast, studio-owner and certified Bikram-instructor Debora Fahmy dedicated herself to honing her performance of Bikram’s 26 challenging poses, working through two to three sessions a week for several years. When she was ready, Debora enrolled in an intensive Bikram-yoga training program to prepare herself to share the hot-yoga style with others in her very own studio. Today, inside Bikram Yoga Winter Garden's spacious facility, Debora leads students through the 90-minute, 26-posture practice seven days a week, accommodating up to 65 students in each class. She heats the practice space to a balmy 95 to 105 degrees to soften muscles into healing twists and binds and reduce bodies' stores of built-up toxins to mere puddles upon the gleaming hardwood floors. After each session, students may take advantage of the spa-like amenities, which include men's and women's showers, locker rooms, and marble stalls for freshly cleansed spirit animals.
Students at The Art Room encounter a soothing and supportive environment punctuated by sighs of relaxation and strokes of genius. Friendly instructors guide novitiates through the basics of acrylic painting in the pleasantly spacious studio. Students learn the basic touch required to produce a range of brushed beauties, including fully formed flowers, vibrant bumblebees, and feathery roosters that leap off the canvas. Adults produce a 16"x20" piece over the course of three hours, and special classes for children run two-hours long, resulting in a 12"x16" painting. Students can bring in a few snacks to consume with the non-dominant hand, or tote along some beverages and buddies to amplify the artistic vibe.
With participating locations nationwide, Auto Care Special lets customers reach out to their local garages for a grab bag of free and discounted maintenance services. Cards may be redeemed for multiple vehicles over the course of one year for services such as oil changes, safety inspections, and engine-light diagnoses. Those who move or create alter-egos over the course of the year can scan the locations page for participating garages in their new cities of residence to receive a complimentary maintenance bundle.