Kissimmee's prime location near the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios makes it a popular home base for park hoppers. For a brief escape from the amusement-park hustle and bustle, the shops along downtown Orlando's Ivanhoe Row are filled with antiques and unusual finds, such as kitschy vintage clothing and Mickey Mouse's childhood report cards. Closer to the hotel, shoppers can stroll down the clean streets of Celebration, Florida, a Pleasantville-esque community designed by the folks at Disney. Pastel-hued specialty shops along tree-lined boulevards hawk home goods, clothing, candy, and jewelry. Fewer than 2 miles from the resort's doorstep, the Walt Disney World Resort's four theme parks and two water parks draw visitors from around the world. Disney's Hollywood Studios recreates the magic of Tinsel Town with décor influenced by the 1930s-era silver screen. Housed in a reproduction of Grauman's Chinese Theater, The Great Movie Ride journeys through legendary moments in cinematic history, including scenes from The Wizard of Oz, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Singin' in the Rain. At the 300-acre Epcot park, the World Showcase presents the culture, architecture, and cuisine of 11 countries.
Houlihan’s chefs unite diners with mouth-seeking meals culled from a menu of inventive recipes produced with local and all-natural ingredients and flanked by expertly crafted cocktails. Savory lunches arrive tableside in 15 minutes or less, swiftly occupying chompers with midday delicacies such as So-Cal fish tacos with tilapia, chipotle mayo, honey-cumin dressing, and pico de gallo ($8.95–$10.95). Dinner announces its approach with sophisticated cocktail heralds including wines, martinis, and specialty mojitos in flavors such as guava, raspberry, pomegranate, and snozzberry ($6.75–$7.75). Garlic-herb cream cheese nuzzles into the center of savory chicken breasts served over gold mashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day ($15.95–$18.95), and wild mushrooms romp through a blend of cheeses within corn tortillas blanketed by smoky mozzarella sauce in the wild mushroom enchiladas ($13.95–$15.95). Crisp calamari crowns napa cabbage and banana in the University Boulevard location's popular calamari salad ($14.95), with an aromatic banana-ginger vinaigrette that's also sold in incense form.
Nestled in the shadows of ancient oaks and towering cypress trees, Kissimmee Bay Country Club's 18-hole course takes golfers through 6,830 yards of fairways and greens lined with serene water hazards. In total, the course features a dozen ponds that come into play on nearly every hole, challenging players to try forced carries and other crafty shots. The verdant course also peppers a dash of wildlife into rounds, as sand hill cranes are often spotted along the fairways and waterways. Before taking to the course, golfers can warm up their swings at the driving range or motivate golf balls by showing them how easily they can be replaced at the pro shop.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,830 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 72.4 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 132 from the farthest tees * Five tee options * Scorecard
As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon’s piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Filled with 50 tons of carved ice and most recently inspired by Ernest Shackleton's failed Antarctic expedition, Icebar's 27-degree, bacchanalian winterscape earned itself a feature in Frommer's and a spot on the Travel Channel's list of The World's Coolest Bars. After bundling up with gloves and jackets or in rentable faux fur coats, guests can spend up to 45 minutes touring the room's collection of frozen sculptures, floes, and sled-dog huts, raising toasts to their favorites with glasses made entirely out of ice. Frozen stools covered with seal fur line the bar, where mixologists pour frosty cocktails and root around for two identical snowflakes.
The adjacent Fire Lounge allows visitors to warm up afterward by snagging a drink from the full-service bar or bobbing their heads to the mixes of DJ Sher-khan. The pulsing sound system helps to get blood flowing again while lasers and strobe lights scan the room for any escaped snowglobes.