Six-time world champion. Number one in the world. Dishwasher safe. All of these phrases have been used to describe prolific water-skier Sammy Duvall. At his self-titled watersports center, Mr. Duvall helps visitors discover the aquatic activities that have defined his life. Piloting speedboats, his staff pulls tubers, wakeboarders, and water-skiers across Bay Lake. A parasail, emblazoned with a smiley-face design, elevates tandem riders over views of Florida's natural terrain and nearby theme parks. The water sport experts also lead jet-ski tours through Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
When Joseph Olear tore down the original Three Point Bowling Center, he preserved what mattered most. ”We recycled the 35-year-old maple lanes and made a bar out of it,” he happily explains. “And also this gorgeous desk in my office.” The former alley was bought out by Joe’s father in ’86—a spontaneous decision that still perplexes the son. He “just bought the place! If you’d have told me we’d have a bowling alley, I’d have thought you were crazy.” That said, it’s a decision that gave Joe the reins to a facility he would totally revamp.
The updated alley features 16 automatic lanes, one of the largest bars in Kansas City, and a large crop of vine-ripened bowling balls. Olear has also solicited the master food stylings of chef Dan Cermeno for juicy burgers, steak-filled sandwiches, and spicy seafood pastas. He explains that Cermeno’s dishes—available at the alley or in Three Pins Diner—are by no means typical alley fare. “He’s a shopping king,” says Olear. ”On his way in, he stops to shop. [Always] fresh fruit and veggies—wherever the freshest stuff is.”
Beyond the lanes, Three Point entertains patrons with six full-size pool tables, dartboards, indoor and outdoor TVs up to 64 inches wide, as well as nightly league events. The revelry also extends outdoors, where an expansive outdoor deck patio hosts a meat smoker capable of feeding parties of up to 500. “There’s a guy comes in at first light and smokes the meat, “says Olear. “Venison, ribs, whatever he has. It’s in there for about 10 hours. It’s unmatched, really.” Wonderful as that is, there’s one thing Joe enjoys more. “Having a drink at the bar,” he says, smiling. “People will say they met their wife here. It happens on a fairly regular basis—someone comes in and says how nice the place is. It really makes your day.”
Ornate chandeliers cast their brilliance across a sprawling hardwood dance floor, but the crowd's eyes aren't directed toward the shimmering lights. They're focused instead on the intricate steps performed by a professional dance instructor, just one member in The Sovereign Dance Academy's talented team. With experience that spans from international competitions to television work, these professionals help others discover a passion for dance that extends beyond gracefully popping bubble wrap. Their mission is reflected in their curriculum, which offers a step-by-step approach that allows students to focus on American Smooth ballroom styles, such as the waltz and tango; International Ballroom styles, such as the foxtrot; or Latin and Rhythm styles, such as the rumba and hustle. Instructors work one-on-one with students—who can be adults or children—and let them know when they are ready to grapevine on to the next level.
Aside from the standard curriculum, The Sovereign Dance Academy leads specialized workshops and private sessions in which engaged couples can hone the dance they'll perform atop their wedding cake. On select nights, the space transforms into an area for social events such as girls' night out.
iFLY Orlando's state-of-the-art indoor wind tunnel lets acrophobic and aerophobic adrenaline junkies experience the sensations of skydiving under safe conditions. iFLY Orlando will suit you up with a helmet, goggles, flight suit, earplugs, and a can of gravity repellent, before an instructor teaches you the basic maneuvers and hand signals. Once you've learned a lesson, you'll be unleashed into the vertical tunnel’s artificial wind current for two one-minute rotations of air time at terminal velocity (real skydives usually allow for about 40 seconds of air time). The entire process lasts about an hour, including waiver signing (flyers under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign), a 15-minute class, and a flight slot during which your group takes turns flying. In addition to the flight experience, the multimedia package includes a DVD with a recording of your flight.
Indoor skydiving is accessible to a wide, family-friendly age range, meaning that Grandma and Grandpa can celebrate their 60th anniversary with more than the traditional cake shaped like Andy Griffith. iFLY Orlando's free observation deck allows for maximum show-offiness, so invite along an audience of hard-to-impress friends, lovers, and butlers to marvel at your simulated plummet through the heavens.
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 only way to get into Gatorland is to walk straight into an alligator's toothy maw. The giant mouth provides entrance to 110 acres of marshy wildlife preserve––home to a vast ecosystem populated by thousands of alligators, crocodiles, and birds, including rare wading birds and four rare white alligators. Among these, more than 130 gators splash and lounge in the park’s breeding marsh, which visitors can view safely from a three-story observation tower or while sitting on the shoulders of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Yet one of the biggest thrills of Gatorland is the reptile's raw power. Visitors can see this on full display during the Gator Jumparoo show, where alligators leap four to five feet out of the water to snag food directly from a trainer’s hands, or during the Gator Wrestlin' Show, where a handler demonstrates survival skills. True thrill-seekers can even dangle over the breeding marsh while riding the 65-foot-tall Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. And to experience the unsettling sensation of stumbling upon a swamp filled with alligators at night, the Night Shine takes participants deep into gator territory armed with only a flashlight and a few hot dogs.