Archive for the ‘Minor (Half Day) Attractions’ Category

We Offer You This Chilling Challenge – To Find a Way Out!

September 1, 2018

Me and My New Friend From The Asylum Room at Dare 2 Escape

Dare 2 Escape Review by NumberOneSon

You are ushered into an abandoned insane asylum. The lighting is dim, blue and eerie. The walls are dilapidated and smeared with blood. A stained old cot sits in one corner and a creepy doll stares at you from another. You are told you have one hour to escape or you’ll be trapped here with the ghosts of the dead forever. The door shuts behind you.


The clock starts now.

This is The Asylum, one of several themed “escape rooms” at Dare 2 Escape on Hwy 192 in Kissimmee, part of a growing worldwide escape room craze.

Here’s the short version of my review: Dare 2 Escape is awesome. I highly recommend it to everyone. (And if the above scenario sounded too scary to you, don’t worry, they have several themed rooms, including an archaeology-themed escape room that’s billed as 100%-non-scary and child friendly.)

Escape rooms are like live action video games. You and a group of compatriots must work together to solve a series of puzzles and ‘escape’ the ‘locked’ room before time runs out – you search for clues, decrypt codes, and unlock secret chests. (Don’t worry – for safety’s sake you aren’t literally locked in and you can leave at any time if you need to.)

I remember when I first heard about escape rooms. I was super excited to try one out… but boy was I disappointed when I did my first one a couple years ago. We went to one of Dare 2 Escape’s competitors, The (not so) Great Escape Room in Orlando. Even though it seems to get good reviews online, everything about the experience was underwhelming. First off, the (ostensibly Sherlock-Holmes-themed) room had the absolute bare minimum of theming and felt very low budget. The game took place in a nondescript room lit with bright florescent lights, and the puzzles were often made with re-purposed children’s toys. The room had all the atmosphere of a game of Monopoly in the family rec room. Second off, the employees seemed bored and not particularly welcoming. Third off, I remember feeling the puzzles often seemed a little unfair. (The Great Escape Room’s website boasts that most players fail to complete their rooms – I suppose that might be attractive to some challenge-seekers, but to me it says that the puzzles need tweaking.) If you’re curious: we didn’t escape The Great Escape room in time, but they gave us some extra time and some hints so we could finish.

Anyway, Dare 2 Escape was much more impressive and much more fun. The difference between the two was night and day. After my previous experience I was keeping my expectations in check, but when I walked into Dare 2 Escape’s dark, nightmarish, abandoned asylum, part of me was instantly like “wow, this theming is fantastic – especially for a small mom and pop company” and part of me was, naturally, like: “Aaahhhh, get me the heck out of here!”


Anyway for the next hour I had a blast. Some things I appreciated:

1. It was nice to have a spooky haunted-house-like experience where the focus was more on dread and suspense and careful exploration, and less on things constantly jumping out at you (though I’m not going to say there wasn’t the occasional jump scare.) This is the kind of experience where you find a cabinet covered with a big sheet, and slowly, slowly, reach your hand out to pull it off, very nervous about what you might find.

2. I also appreciated that the proprietors understood the importance of lighting when creating atmosphere.

3. There’s a hint of social commentary – the game nods at the history of asylums as places that were used to silence and control women.

4. I thought the puzzles felt hard without being unfair (and some of them were rather clever.) The scramble to solve everything in time was hectic but fun.

5. There were a couple of delightful surprises that I won’t spoil.

In the end, we beat the game just under the wire (though they helped us with one or two major hints, and even briefly paused the clock a couple of times.)

Anyway, there are, amazingly enough, over twenty escape rooms in Central Florida. Is this one the best? Having only experienced two escape rooms in my life, I couldn’t say. But I have seen several hardened escape room veterans online report that Dare 2 Escape is one of the best they’ve done. And I can say I loved it and am looking forward to trying D2E’s other rooms. All the rooms are designed by a husband-wife team and after experiencing The Asylum Room and talking with the husband afterwards, I can tell this project is a real labor of love.

Check it out sometime…if you DARE…2…

Price: $30 per person

[Disclosure: we were generously given free admission to Dare 2 Escape as part of a hospitality industry event. However, we assure you we do our best to remain unbiased with our opinions. In this case, there was no expectation of…or even a request to…do a blogpost.]

WWII Veterans Tell Their Personal Stories

May 9, 2011

[Editor’s Notes–The following press release was sent to us from our friends at Fantasy of Flight. This aviation-themed attraction is located just 20 minutes down Interstate 4 from Walt Disney World. It’s a wonderful place that deserves more attention. We’re careful to not allow our blog to become a megaphone for just anyone. We are sharing this press release with you because it’s a fascinating and worthwhile event!]


WWII Veterans to Share Their Personal Recollections of D-Day,the Largest Military Invasion in World History, during Fantasy of Flight’s Legends & Legacies Symposium Series

May 13-14

Stories Portrayed in Band of Brothers and Countless Other WWII Movies to be Told Firsthand by the Men Who Were There

POLK CITY, Fla. (April 25, 2011)  – On May 13 and 14, the general public will have a rare and historic opportunity to hear firsthand from some of the few living World War II veterans who participated in the largest military invasion in world history — The Invasion of Normandy, better known as D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Just one installment of Fantasy of Flight’s six-part Legends & Legacies Symposium Series, “D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy,” will shine the spotlight on the men who fought for their lives on that historic day when thousands of Allied Forces stormed the beach in Normandy, France in navy ships, planes and gliders, via parachutes and in amphibious vehicles to set in motion a military operation so massive, once it began, there was no turning back.

One of the only attractions in the country to bring together legendary World War II heroes to share their firsthand accounts, Fantasy of Flight is proud to present this newly expanded symposium series which invites WWII aviation heroes and their families to offer a glimpse of what it was like to fly in the heyday of aviation. The series also includes heroes from WWII who served on the ground protecting and supporting the men and women in flight.  Each symposium features several open-forum/question-and-answer sessions, followed by meet-and-greet/autograph signing sessions.

Throughout the weekend, WWII heroes Richard Ortega, Clifford Kantz and Howard Huebner, will share personal stories and recollections of the D-Day invasion and the grueling weeks that followed. Their stories promise to sound hauntingly familiar: Richard Ortega served with Easy Company, which was portrayed in the 2001 HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers and 1992 book by Stephen Ambrose. Howard Huebner, a paratrooper, fought with Easy Company after members of his company missed their drop zone by several miles and became separated dangerously close to German barracks. His story is portrayed in the film D-Day Down to Earth – Return of the 507th.

“This is an incredible opportunity to hear firsthand about one of the most historically significant battles in world history from the men who were actually there, fighting for their lives,” said Kim Long, General Manager of Fantasy of Flight. “We are expecting a full house at Fantasy of Flight May 13-14 to honor these most respected and decorated WWII veterans.”

CMS Richard A. Ortega is a 30-year veteran of the United States military, with four years in the Army and 26 years in the Air Force. Trained as an infantryman and paratrooper, Ortega landed at Omaha Beach with the first assault wave, Easy Company, 2nd battalion of the 116th infantry regiment of the 29th infantry division. He spent 56 days on the front line, suffering 12 minor wounds before he was seriously wounded and evacuated to Southern England. He spent nine months in the hospital there before being transferred in May 1945 to the Army Air Corps to become a bombardier instructor in a B-29/50.

In July 1950, he served as the lead bombardier on the 1st B-29 mission flown over North Korea. He flew more than 10,000 hours in various roles in 11 types of aircraft, including the C-119, B-17, B-29, KC-97 and KC-135. In his later career, he participated in the development and deployment of the LGM-30 and LGM-118A Peacekeeper ICBM missiles. Ortega’s combat decorations include: two Silver Star medals, four Bronze Star medals with “V” (valor for combat), seven Purple Hearts, and many more. He retired from the United States Air Force on June 30, 1970.

Ortega feels strongly about sharing his message with the public during Fantasy of Flight’s Legends & Legacies symposium, and in particular, with today’s youth. “…We must instill upon the hearts and minds of the American public and our youth the values of citizenship, personal responsibilities, a sense of accomplishment, and enable them to become honorable members in our community  for competent and professional service to our nation. In this regard, we must relate to them the story of the sacrifices experienced by the American Military Forces during the Invasion of France who risked their lives to liberate France and the rest of Europe… We must continue to devote our time, talents and treasures to motivate the American public and our youth to seriously support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Major Clifford Kantz retired in 1963 after 20 years in the Air Force. He flew 16 combat missions during World War II, the first of which was on D-Day, when he piloted a C-47 to drop paratroopers over Normandy. He flew one of 27 planes in the 100th TCS or Troop Carrying Squadron, which flew with three other squadrons the morning of D-Day for a total of 90 planes flying in formation. In an article he submitted to his hometown newspaper, The Daily News in Lebanon, Penn., Kantz recalled being blinded by searchlights as the planes neared the beach, and watching as the paratroopers descended from the planes. “Even at this speed, I could see their eyes and they were terrified for a few brief moments as much as I was.” His first combat mission lasted 3 hours and 45 minutes, but Kantz said, “Strangely it seemed much longer and much shorter… Many of my friends never returned that day.” The significance of the event wasn’t lost on the young pilot, who on D-Day was only 20 years old. “I shall never forget the small part that I played in the greatest military operation of any war in history.”

Special Staff Sargeant Howard Huebner, a U.S. Army Paratrooper was just 21 when he jumped out of a plane and into the history books on D-Day. His company, C-company of the 507th, was the last of the paratroopers to jump, and by then, the landscape of their planned drop zone looked drastically different, causing them to become disoriented and jump miles off target. Separated from his company, he fought with the 506th and 501st, securing the French town of Pouppeville and later fighting in one of WWII’s bloodiest battles at La Fiere Causeway, the site depicted in the movie “D-Day Down to Earth – Return of the 507th.”

Recalled Huebner, “We had a little cover for a few feet and then nothing but sheer luck and the good Lord with us, but we made it across. It was running and firing. You see your buddies lying there and you can’t help them, but we were trained to kill or be killed and that’s what took us across the causeway; guts and determination.”  The casualties suffered in taking the bridge were extremely high.  “It cost 500 lives to take a half mile of road,” he recounted. “A very high price to pay.”  C-company fought for 33 straight days in Normandy with no reinforcements, rations or supplies. Only 75 of 230 men in Huebner’s company survived. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1946 as a Special Staff Sergeant.

The “Legends & Legacies Symposium Series” features six topics scheduled for 2011, with remaining symposiums to include “D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy,” May 13-14; “The Pacific War: Power and Pursuit,” June 10-11; and “The Great Escape: Heroes Underground,” Oct. 14-15.  All symposiums are included with daily general admission and are free for all Annual Passholders. Call 863-984-3500 or go to for more information.

Fantasy of Flight general admission is $28.95 plus tax for adults, $14.95 plus tax for youth (age 6-15) and five and under are free with full paying adult.  Group rates are available.

In celebration of National Military Appreciation Month, Fantasy of Flight is pleased to offer complimentary admission to all active-duty, retired and reserve members of the U.S. armed forces throughout the month of May. Guests must present a current military ID to qualify for the free general admission ticket. The offer is not valid with any other offers or discounts.

For more information, visit

Fantasy of Flight is Central Florida’s premier aviation-themed attraction showcasing vintage aircraft from the world’s largest private collection; themed immersion experiences; interactive exhibits; a tram tour of aircraft maintenance areas; Restoration and Backlot tours; Fun with Flight center for families and the country’s only Aerial Demonstration of the Day (weather permitting) featuring a vintage plane.  General admission also includes The Tuskegee Airmen – They Dared to Fly exhibit; the multimedia tribute to the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) – A Passionate Pursuit, a walking audio tour and many special events throughout the year. 

Hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.   General admission is $28.95 for adults, $26.95 for seniors ages 55 and over and $14.95 for children, ages 6-15, plus 7 percent sales tax.  Annual passes are available for $69.95 for adults, $39.95 for children ages 6–15, plus 7 percent sales tax, and are good for one year from the date of purchase.  Biplane rides, through Waldo Wright’s Flying Service, and hot air balloon rides, are available for an extra charge.  For more information about Fantasy of Flight, call 863-984-3500 or visit

Best Go Kart Rides In Orlando Are At Fun Spot

March 2, 2011

Number One Daughter in the Number 1 Go Kart

For her sweet 16 birthday, Mrs. LanceAround and I took Number One Daughter to Fun Spot to ride the go karts.

She LOVED it.

A friend emailed us that Number One Daughter’s had written the following on her Facebook page: “Today was probably the most fun I’ve had with my parents since I was 12!! Yay for 16! Things are looking up!:)”  Mrs. LanceAround laughed and cried at the same time as she read it.

There are two Fun Spot parks.  One is located right beside Old Town on Hwy. 192 one mile east of Disney World and just across the street from our vacation rental home office.  The other one, where we went, is located in the International Drive area just across from Universal Studios.

Map of the 5 Different Go Kart Tracks

In addition to a ferris wheel and other midway attractions, they have four, huge go kart tracks.  These tracks are several stories high with many twists, turns and hills.

 Go kart rides are $6 a piece.  You can purchase a Track Sampler armband, which gives you 4 go kart rides for $19.95.  If you plan to stay more than an hour, just $34.95 gives you unlimited access to all rides, including the go karts, family and thrill rides, kiddie rides and unlimited play in the arcade room. There are age & height restrictions.

They also have a special where you can go to one Fun Spot on one day, then the other Fun Spot on a later day and do unlimited rides at both for just $54.95.

It’s a fun alternative to the larger (and more expensive) theme parks.  Here’s a video of Number One Daughter enjoying her first ever go kart ride:



October 25, 2009
How Did That Building Get There?

How Did That Building Get There?

Driving down International Drive in Orlando, you casually glance out your window and…Oh No!…There’s a building that is upside down and appears to have crashed on top of another building.  Was it a hurricane?  An earthquake?

Naw, you pull into the parking lot to get a better look and suddenly realize you are at WonderWorks, Orlando’s Upside Down Attraction!

This creative, fun-filled place is what is known as a “half day attraction.”  Orlando is filled with wonderful places to explore.  The big places, like the major theme parks, are known as “full day attractions.”  The smaller places are known as “half day attractions.”  Your family can have a lot of fun in Orlando without ever setting foot in a theme park by going to attractions like WonderWorks.

WonderWorks consists of three main areas:  The WonderWorks featuring over 100 exhibits, a Lazer Tag game and the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show.  As a reward for all their hard work, we treated our cleaners to a trip to WonderWorks and The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show.  Since they are the best vacation rental home cleaners in the world, well, it was the least we could do!

3500 Pointy, Sharp Nails

3500 Pointy, Sharp Nails

The fictitious backstory of WonderWorks states that it was once a top secret laboratory in the Bermuda Triangle.  One day, a horrific tornado carried it thousands of miles and plopped it upside down in the middle of Orlando.  The tornado was created by scientists inside the lab who were trying to find answers to the unexplainable.  Their experiment went awry, causing the tornado, but all of the other experiments remained intact and are what is on display inside WonderWorks.  They give no explanation for how the building turned upside down but all the experiments inside are now right side up!

You begin the journey into WonderWorks by walking through a tunnel with a psychedelic, round revolving wall that creates the sensation that the bridge you are on is spinning.  Once inside, you’ll find creative exhibits that allow you to experience an earthquake, land the space shuttle, lie on a bed of sharp nails, play virtual sports, pilot a fighter jet and ride a virtual roller coaster.  There are also numerous exhibits that feature optical illusions, musical experiments, sound effects, light and shadows and so forth.  All-in-all, it is both amusing and enjoyable–Well worth a look see!

Another component of WonderWorks is a Lazer Tag game.  For this game, you strap on a vest and attempt to shoot members of the opposing team with lazers while traversing through a 10,000 square foot maze.  A computer tabulates the “hits” and gives you a score at the end of the game.  It’s a lot of fun.  After the lazer tag game, there is a video arcade area.

The World's Best Vacation Home Cleaner Explores How Pulleys Work

The World's Best Vacation Home Cleaner Explores How Pulleys Work

Last, but not least, is the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show.  This wonderful show is my favorite live dinner theatre in all of Orlando.  I have written a separate blog post about it that you can read here.

The individual cost for adults/children (4-12) or Seniors (65+) is $19.95/$14.95 for WonderWorks, $4.95/$4.95 for Lazer Tag and $24.95/$16.95 for The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show.  There are also combo tickets available for any combination of these attractions that will save you a couple of bucks.  The WonderWorks website also offers a printable coupon for $1.50 off and you can also find coupons in the many tourist advertising books that are littered throughout the Orlando area.

Even if you decide you don’t have time to enjoy WonderWorks while you are in Orlando, take a spin down International Drive just to show your family the upside down building.  They’ll get a real kick out of it.

Discovery Cove

January 25, 2009

Today’s blog post was again guest written by our Dream Homes Office Manager, Anne,  who was given  a free trip to Discovery Cove by our Sea World Rep in the hopes that we would sell more tickets to this attraction, and a half day off from me in the hopes she would write about it.  Discovery Cove is a small, half day, attraction that is owned and located right beside Sea World.  There are no rides or slides–It is like spending a day on a tropical island beach.  You see the influence of Anne’s early childhood in Britain from the way she expresses herself in her writing.  However, we removed all the extraneous “u”s from her spelling so Spellchecker was happy.  Enjoy!-LanceAround

Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove

You don’t have to love the water to enjoy a day at Discovery Cove!

The whole park is a lush and tropical oasis where you can swim, snorkel, interact with the dolphins or just relax on a sun lounger or, if you are lucky, one of the hammocks.

After you arrive, You enter a reception area where they check you in and take your picture for your guest pass. There you also receive specially formulated sunscreen that is safe for all the sea critters, so don’t waste your time pre-applying sunscreen.  (This is all covered in a letter they send you when you book your Discovery Cove experience.) Then there is a complimentary photograph taken and you are escorted through the park.  Your guide shows you all the areas you will need–The restaurant, guest services, wet suit and snorkel area and locker/changing area.

You have a choice of wet suit or vest. My friend Bonnie and I chose the vest and we got our locker keys, changed, and picked up our snorkeling gear.

Our first stop was the stingray lagoon. The water was cool but comfortable once you were in. All the rays have had their barbs removed so you are completely safe. Feeding times  are posted and are a great time to be in the stingray lagoon. The marine handler, for want of a better word, was explaining about rays and pointing out the one male in the lagoon for the 30 something females – one of which was pregnant.

Swimming with the fish

Swimming with the fish

The next lagoon was tropical fish and included an underwater tank you could not enter but had windows that allowed you to see barracudas and a very large shark-looking fish. The underwater tank was shaped to look like a sunken ship and you can swim all the way around it. This lagoon is great for snorkeling.  There were some huge black spotted rays which kept mainly to the bottom and a large assortment of colorful fish swimming all around us.

The lazy river is not so much lazy!  The current flows one way, so make sure you go the right way! There are also some noodles for flotation which would have been greatly beneficial had my friend and I known to use them. We swam around and felt like we had gone miles by the time we got back to the beginning. The sun loungers were then a very wonderful sight.

The food is incredible! There were many choices from meat and potatoes to salads, desert and drink. All the food and drinks are complimentary (including beer–After all, this is an Anheuser-Busch park) and there are also huts in the park offering complimentary drinks and ice cream.

You can swim with the Dolphins for an additional fee on the regular ticket. We did not do this, although anyone is welcome to go over and watch others interacting with them.  As of 2008, the price for a day at Discovery Cove is $169 to $189 plus tax (depending on time of year) or $269 to $289 plus tax if you want to add a Dolphin Swim.  There is also a “Trainer For The Day” Option for $468 to $488 plus tax.

Other people swimming with the dolphins

Other people swimming with the dolphins

On the whole, this is a very well organized and guest friendly park. There is limited entry and this makes a welcome change from the usual packed theme parks.

Discovery Cove is a must see.


LanceAround Notes
Ever since Anne came back to work from her day at Discovery Cove she has been happier and has worked harder.  So I recommend you show this blog post to your boss and tell him or her that your company should send you on an all expense paid trip to Discovery Cove that is sure to increase your productivity so much, it will more than pay for itself!