The Liberty Belle River Boat in Frontierland at Disney’s Magic Kingdom has been off-line and out of service since January of this year. It has been going through an extensive refurbishment, as all things in Disney do from time to time.

A couple of days ago, we happened to be walking through Frontierland and noticed that this magnificent old boat is back in the water and traveling around the Rivers of America. She’s not taking passengers just yet, but we’re told that she will be in the next couple of weeks.

Oh, and for you folks who are sticklers about the details, the Liberty Belle has a new whistle.

The newly refurbished Liberty Belle River Boat at Disney’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida, is back on the Rivers of America at Frontierland. She’s making trial runs for now, and will resume carrying guests in the near future.
Posted by Donald Fink in Disney, Florida, Theme Parks, Video, 0 comments
Manatees of Blue Springs State Park

Manatees of Blue Springs State Park

We went north of Orlando a few miles and visited Blue Springs State Park. It’s January, and the Manatees are here. On the day we were visited, the count was 380 animals.

Blue Springs State Park is based around an underground spring that remains a constant 72 degrees F year-round. When the seawater gets below 66 degrees, the Manatees start looking for warmer water and Blue Springs, with its proximity to the St. John’s River, is high on the list.

In summer months, Blue Springs is a popular park for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The springs offer a chance for divers to explore a cave system that descents more than 100 feet underground. There’s a campground too, so visitors can spend several days.

The crystal clear waters of Blue Springs State Park are home to Manatees in the coldest winter months, but in the summer, it’s a popular swimming hole. Snorkeling and Scuba diving are also on the list. The spring that feeds more than a million gallons of water a day river extends down more than 100 feet into the earth.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Florida, State Parks, Travel, Video, 0 comments
St. Augustine’s Old Town

St. Augustine’s Old Town

Not long ago we ventured north from Orlando to visit the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. It’s nesting season up there and we wanted some new bird images. While we were there, we walked through St. Augustine’s old town.

You may know that St. Augustine prides itself as being the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the U.S. The debate continues though, because the town of Taos, New Mexico, maintains that it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in America. The difference being the word, “European.”

In any case, we enjoy St. Augustine and can always find something interesting when we visit. Take a look at our brief video and see what you think.

The old town at in St. Augustine is a prime tourist attraction these days, with the restaurants, bars, and shopping, but it’s easy to see that this place has history. It’s a fun walk about town and always worth some time.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Florida, Travel, Video, 0 comments
The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival


One of the nearly half million flowers planted during the Flower and garden Festival is the Amaryllis, seen here in the United Kingdom pavilion. Photo by Don Fink.

The 25th Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is underway and it’s one of our favorite times at Walt Disney World, especially Epcot. It’s spring in Florida and the weather is usually cooperative; not too hot and humid, and not too much rain and a typical day is in the low ‘80s or high ‘70s.

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is an annual event at Epcot that showcases, as you might expect by the name, gardening, the earth, and just about anything dealing with flowers, vegetable gardens, and so on.

While Epcot in its normal state is far from a wasteland with it’s typical Disney over-the-top landscaping, the international Flower and Garden Festival is yet another level of excellence. There are over 500,000 plants, trees, and shrubs planted for the Flower & Garden Festival each year. Of those, 250,000 are annual blossoms. And this year, because the festival runs for 90 days, there’ll be two crop rotations to keep the flowers fresh for the entire event. That seems like a lot of effort, but that’s Disney.

There were over 400 horticulturists needed to transform Epcot into the Flower & Garden landscape we see during the festival, and it takes 100 cast members dedicated to maintaining the display.

Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp can be found in Italy. It’s one of our favorite displays because of the flowing grasses that make up Lady’s ears. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

We focused our attention on the topiaries this year at the Flower & Garden Festival, you should remember that there’s plenty to do while you’re admiring the color.

There are 15 outdoor kitchens with over 70 different beverages and 40 featured food items. One outdoor kitchen to be sure to see is the new Honey Bee-stro. It’s located along the walkway from Future World West to Showcase Plaza. The kitchen is sponsored by the National Honey Board and features dishes like their Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake, with Orange Blossom Honey Ice Cream. For a beverage you might try a Honey-Peach Cobbler Freeze, served with Blueberry Vodka.

We can’t forget the Garden Rocks Concert Series. This year you’ll find old favorites like Herman’s Hermits (May 4th through May 7th), but you’ll also see seven new artists. Earlier during the Festival, we saw Jo Dee Messina. Being country fans like we are, this was a treat. She appeared on April 20th and the 21st. Hopefully she’ll return next year, and many of the artists do perform every year.

This year, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival runs until May 28th. If you happen to be in Florida, this is an event worth seeing.

One of our favorite attractions at the International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot are the topiaries. There are many topiaries that appear year after year, and always fun to see. Videos and stills by Don and Bonnie Fink.

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Disney, Florida, Theme Parks, 0 comments
Gingerbread Carousel at Yacht and Beach Club

Gingerbread Carousel at Yacht and Beach Club

Not long ago we posted a note about the Gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian. We thought it was a lot of fun to see, and kind of unique. And while it is unique by most standards, it turns out that it isn’t alone in the Disney scheme of things. There are others, and have been for some time.

Today we want to show you the Gingerbread Carousel, presented by the chefs and engineers at the Yacht and Beach Club resort Hotels. Like the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, this tradition has been around for fourteen years and is an amazing piece of confection to see. Located in the lobby of the Beach Club, this rotating gingerbread delight includes 2013 pieces of gingerbread, 14 hidden Mickeys, and displays images of the “Fab Five”, which is Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto. If you visit this display, take a moment and see how many of the hidden Mickeys and Fab Five you can spot.

Gingerbread Carousel Ingrediants

A complete list of ingredients showing what it takes to create the Gingerbread Carousel at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort. It’s impressive to watch the team of chefs at work. Photo by Donald Fink.

Continue reading →

Posted by Donald Fink in Blog, Disney, Florida, Theme Parks, 1 comment
Homosassa State Park

Homosassa State Park

The Real Florida. That’s what they call the Florida State Park system. Whether you agree is up to you, but when you venture out and away from the theme parks of Orlando, you certainly see a different side of Florida. Yesterday we traveled over to the west coast of Florida near the town of Silver River to a great little state park called Homosassa Springs State Park. Our purpose was to visit the wildlife exhibit. This park has a great exhibit of animals indigenous to Florida, including the Florida Panther, bobcats, deer, and many dozens of species of birds, including the endangered Whooping Crane. There are also several alligators and manatees here. Continue reading →

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Florida, State Parks, Travel, 0 comments