When Amy, a little girl with leukemia, was unable to fulfill her wish to visit Orlando’s theme parks before she passed away, hotelier Henri Landwirth vowed that he’d never let a child in need’s wish go unfilled again. So he enlisted his colleagues in the hospitality and theme-park industries to help him make his vow a reality. His idea, Give Kids The World, expanded to a 70-acre resort village with more than 140 villa accommodations for wish children and their families, plus entertainment attractions and fun activities specially designed for children with special needs. The organization works with wish-granting organizations, such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, to fulfill any wishes to visit Orlando-area theme parks. In 2011, more than 7,000 wish children and their families from all 50 states and 25 countries visited the resort for a cost-free vacation.
Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Aviation Center's Ramon Gil's first encountered the spectacle of aerial navigation at an early age, when his family lived near an airport. It was love at first sight. Since then, Ramon has become a flight director and works with student pilots. 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 and Tecnam Bravo. 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.
Nestled on the shores of the eponymous southern Florida lake, Lake Okeechobee Resort is an ideal base camp for outdoor recreation. Popular pursuits here include bass fishing, boating, and hiking or bicycling along a segment of the 1,400-mile Florida Trail that wends around the lake’s perimeter. You can set off into the lake from the resort’s 100-slip marina. From its location on the southeastern side of the lake, the resort has a spot to watch sunsets over the water.
For those camping, Lake Okeechobee Resort has especially long lots for oversized RVs or sleeping bags designed for giraffes. An onsite restaurant, public bathrooms, and pool take the edge off of roughing it while staying at the campground or in the cabins.
With free wine tastings all day Monday through Saturday and beer tastings on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons, Tapping The Vine lubricates taste buds with its extensive collection of lesser-known libations and globally imported specialty wines and craft beers. Browse aisles brimming with fermentation favors and malted liquid gold while the friendly staff offers helpful suggestions to determine if customers' palates might prefer the tarty taste of a Wallace Brooks pinot gris ($16) or the bittersweet chocolatey Charles Smith Velvet Devil merlot ($16), among other white, red, and dessert wines. Barley buffs can analyze the feel of various brews, such as the flavorful Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar ($6.99) and organic Scarecrow golden pale ale ($4.69). Like the mouths of famous rappers, Tapping The Vine wouldn't be complete without an assortment of accessories, including professional-grade bottle openers ($9) and champagne stoppers ($5).
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.
In the world of reality TV, it can be hard to separate fact from scripted sensationalism. But with Ghost Tracker Ghost Tours, visitors can see firsthand how the investigators on Ghost Tracker TV gauge the paranormal activity of reputed hauntings, and will even get to help document the spooky goings-on. Using the tools showcased on the screen—including EMF readers and K2 meters—tour-goers track the level of paranormal activity at 5–7 haunted sites, all while listening to their guide recount stories of the old court house or the hanging tree. During their 90 minutes of ghost hunting, guests maintain a leisurely pace while covering less than a mile of ground, allowing them ample time to peer around with cameras for spectral images that can’t be seen with the human eye. Some tours may be filmed for the show, so guests may be asked to sign a waver in order to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.