inline imageThe SeaWorld Orlando rescue team returned 16 endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles to the waters near Canaveral National Seashore, Florida on 19 February after months of rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando’s critical care facility.

Last December, 15 of the sea turtles were rescued from frigid waters off the coast of New England by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, suffering from cold stunning. They were initially stabilized at the New England Aquarium before being flown to SeaWorld Orlando for additional treatment.

Upon arrival in Orlando, SeaWorld’s animal care team conducted full examinations to determine the best treatment for each turtle. Many of the animals were suffering from pneumonia; some were also treated for corneal ulcers, malnutrition and other effects of cold stunning. After three months of individualised care, consisting of antibiotics, fluids and special diets, the turtles were cleared for return to the ocean.

The 16th turtle, also a Kemps ridley, was rescued earlier this winter from the Atlantic Coast. After months of treatment including a daily nebuliser treatment to treat pneumonia, the turtle was able to be part of the ocean return.

Kemp's ridleys are the most endangered species of sea turtle. Human interference, nest disruption and habitat loss are just some of the reasons for the population decline.

In collaboration with government agencies and partner marine life facilities, more than 2,000 sea turtles have been rescued by the SeaWorld Rescue team since 1980. For more than 50 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. More than 33,000 animals have been rescued by the expert animal rescue team, which is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.








©SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

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inline imageUniversal Orlando Resort today revealed the name and opening date for the highly-anticipated, new adventure coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will open on 13th June, 2019 in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and feature the most highly-themed coaster yet. For the first time ever, guests will fly with Hagrid on a thrilling roller coaster ride that plunges into the path of some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures.

inline imageDiscovery Cove, in conjunction with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), has announced the completion of a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training as well as an onsite review of the park property and guest experience. The completion designates Discovery Cove as a Certified Autism Center (CAC), as distinguished by IBCCES, making it the first all-inclusive day resort and animal interaction park in the US to be certified.

The certification follows sister parks Sesame Place, the first theme park in the world to reach this accreditation, and Aquatica Orlando, the first water park in the world to be accredited.



Discovery Cove is SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s day resort park, where guests can enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays and other unique animal interactions, all in a tropical setting of rocky lagoons, lush landscaping and white, sandy beaches. Working closely with IBCCES, the staff at Discovery Cove will be continually trained to assist guests with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families, to help ensure a positive experience during their visit. Guests will also be provided with specific information about each of the Discovery Cove experiences, along with in park accommodations to help them plan their day and make informed choices best suited to their individual needs.



“Discovery Cove has long been recognised for its adventure-filled yet relaxed environment with a variety of open, clear spaces that make attractions and services more accessible, reducing sensory overload for guests with cognitive disorders,” said Kyle Miller, President of Discovery Cove. “Autism certification is a natural step for us as we continue to create safe and meaningful experiences for all of our guests. We have seen how well received this certification has been at our Sesame Place and Aquatica Orlando parks, and we are committed in our efforts to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”



For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognised that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel options, and in response, created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry. As a Certified Autism Center, Discovery Cove is required to provide ongoing training to ensure team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with all families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum. Training takes place in the areas of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness as well as a comprehensive autism competency exam. The autism training must be taken every two years in order to maintain the certification.

Myron Pincomb, Board Chairman of IBCCES, said: "We're thrilled to see the commitment and enthusiasm of the team at Discovery Cove and its sister parks in serving guests on the spectrum and with sensory sensitivities. Certification and review are so important to ensure all guests feel welcomed and safe in these environments. This should be the industry standard, and we're working with leaders in the field to make that happen."
Larry Celzo, a member of the IBCCES community and parent with a son on the autism spectrum said of the Discovery Cove certification, “After so many years of learning how to integrate our 15-year old son with autism into our community, it is refreshing to witness society becoming more aware of how hard we work to provide the same type of recreation and entertainment families without special needs enjoy. I really applaud the organisations who go above and beyond to become trained and certified in autism and other special needs.”

Robust pre-visit planning resources will be added to the park’s website including a sensory guide developed by IBCCES. This sensory guide will make it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations by providing insight on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for each attraction.

“Having a comprehensive resource that allows families to plan their day and avoid the element of surprise is vital. Understanding what the park offers, from its experiences to available food selections, helps in making their day a success,” Pincomb added.

The park will also have a quiet space inside the park with adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.

inline imagePark guests have more to love at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay as the park gears up for its 60th Anniversary Celebration, kicking off on 1 March with a concert and fireworks event. Originally opening on 31 March 1959, Busch Gardens has come a long way from the simple brewery tour and bird garden it once was to feature a world-class zoo, seasonal events and an impressive rollercoaster collection, including the latest addition, Tigris.

Hearts will race on Florida’s tallest launch coaster when Tigris opens this spring. The park recently celebrated the completion of the track for the attraction, which will launch guests forward and backward during the ride, reaching speeds over 60 miles per hour. In addition to launches and twists, the dramatic heartline roll at Tigris’s top height of 150 feet will give riders a unique view of Busch Gardens.

Beyond Tigris, the park is offering more experiences for guests to enjoy this spring as a part of the 60th Anniversary Celebration.

  • At the 60th Anniversary Celebration Kickoff on March 1, guests can enjoy the “Women Rock” performance from the Florida Orchestra, a tribute to the women who changed rock ‘n’ roll forever, ending in a dazzling firework display. The field opens at 5:30 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. concert and 8:30 p.m. fireworks presentation.
  • Also beginning on March 1, park guests will be able to engage in all-new Pin Trading at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Launching with over 150 collectible pins, the new activity offers pocket-sized souvenirs inspired by fan-favourite animals, attractions, events and more at merchandise locations throughout the park. Guests can trade their purchased pins with park ambassadors to collect exclusive series not sold in stores. Limited and special edition pins will also be released throughout the year.
  • Beginning 16 March, the 5th annual Food & Wine Festival not only features a world-class concert line-up, but will also highlight the park’s history with an anniversary-themed culinary cabin, featuring flavours inspired by treats and snacks once featured at Busch Gardens.
  • 2019 is the #YearofBeer for all adult park guests. With a nostalgic nod to the park’s roots, guests aged 21 and older can enjoy two complimentary beer samples each day of 2019 at Serengeti Outlook Pub and Restaurant and Garden Gate Café. Valid identification is required for age verification.

inline imageTampa’s premier spring festival returns on Saturday 16 March at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Food & Wine Festival. With more than 35 delicious dishes to pair with over 100 wines, craft beers and cocktails, park guests can explore a variety of flavours while enjoying a diverse concert line-up, including acts for all tastes. The Food & Wine Festival runs on weekends from 16 March to 28 April and is included with admission to the park.

Indulge in NEW Culinary Creations

In addition to returning fan-favoUrites, this year’s menu boasts many daring new flavours inspired by cuisines around the USA.



Guests can begin their culinary road trip with grilled lamb chops featuring a 15-year balsamic drizzle from northern California. Foodies can’t miss mouthwatering Tex-Mex classics like chorizo queso fundido with sweet onions and shishito peppers or grilled elote – the park’s spin on Mexican street corn featuring cotija cheese and lime crema. Island delights feature flavours of paradise with Hawaiian-inspired delicacies including a dreamy pineapple upside down cake or Kona-crusted filet mignon with Maui onion butter. Nostalgic guests can even take a trip down memory lane with a visit to the 60th Anniversary cabin, featuring recipes inspired by historical Busch Gardens’ treats and snacks from decades gone by.



In addition to an exciting food and wine offering, this year’s festival features five unique tastings, including returning favourites and all new options. Throughout the event, guests can explore exotic spirits at signature vodka, bourbon, ice wine, tequila and sparkling wine tastings.

The best way to savour and save on everything the festival has to offer is with a Food & Wine Festival Sampler. Guests can purchase a 5, 8 or 12-item sampler lanyard to use at each festival cabin to explore sample-sized dishes and drink offerings with ease.

Enjoy All-Star Performances at Live Concerts

From country and rock to R&B, the Food & Wine Festival line-up reflects musical genres of all tastes. Fans can book the ultimate festival experience with one of two exclusive VIP packages available for each act, including reserved concert seating and a Sampler Lanyard. Concert headliners include:

Saturday 16 March - Daughtry

Sunday 17 March - The Band Perry

Saturday 23 March - 3 Doors Down

Sunday 24 March - Blue Rodeo, Kathleen Edwards and Fred Eaglesmith featuring Tif Ginn

Saturday 30 March - Justin Moore

Sunday 31 March - El Gran Combo

Saturday 6 April - To Be Announced

Sunday 7 April - Josh Turner

Saturday 13 April - Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Sunday 14 April - Boyz II Men

Friday 19 April - Edwin McCain and Vertical Horizon

Saturday 20 April - Hunter Hayes and Levi Hummon

Sunday 21 April - Mat Kearney

Saturday 27 April - Walk Off the Earth

Sunday 28 April - Foreigner

inline imageNew sights, sounds and flavors of spring will envelop Walt Disney World Resort guests beginning March 6 when the 26th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival bursts into bloom.

New topiaries, an expanded Garden Rocks Concert Series and other surprises await guests, March 6-June 3, 2019

This year's festival will be chock-full of lush new topiary whimsy, edible delights, gardens to play in and an expanded lineup for the Garden Rocks Concert Series.

The 90-day event continues through June 3, featuring dozens of Disney-crafted topiaries and beds of multi-colored blooms that will transform the Epcot landscape into a floral extravaganza. As just one example of this metamorphosis, nearly 70,000 festival blooms will surround the lakes in Future World, while on the water, hundreds of colorful mini-gardens will be set afloat.

Here is a look at some of the discoveries guests will make this year:

  • The popular Garden Rocks Concert Series will expand to every day of the festival, featuring chart-topping artists performing three shows daily on the America Gardens Theatre stage. That’s 270 concerts – more than ever before – featuring new and returning fan favorites spanning multiple genres. Returning favorites like The Spinners and Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone will be joined by artists new to the festival like TobyMac, Steven Curtis Chapman and Colin Hay of Men at Work.
  • Creative new culinary dishes and several new outdoor kitchens will debut this year. AdventHealth will host a kitchen along with a nearby playground where the whole family can learn fun and interactive ways to stay healthy.
  • Woody and Buzz Lightyear will welcome Bo Peep and her sheep to their Toy Story topiary near the Family Play Zone in Future World East.
  • Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration family scavenger hunt will be more fun than ever this year with new locations to discover along the garden pollination trail. Guests can also commemorate their scavenger hunt experience with select merchandise offerings featuring everyone’s favorite bee, Spike. Another guest favorite returning to the festival April 5-21 (while supplies last) is the Eggstravaganza Scavenger Hunt, where guests can search for Disney character-themed eggs around World Showcase.
  • In celebration of Disneynature's "Penguins," opening April 17, a 9-foot-tall art sculpture made from recycled marine debris will be on display in Future World featuring an adult and baby Adélie penguin. Created by the non-profit organisation WashedAshore.org, this work of art is designed to inspire Guests to keep our oceans and waterways clear of plastic pollution.
Among the returning gardens and exhibits, guests will once again enjoy the Goodness Garden Butterfly House presented by GoGo squeeZ where nearly 1,000 native butterflies will fly among the garden’s two dozen nectar plants. Additionally, several World Showcase pavilions will include gardens with floral life representative of plants in those countries, such as the Kokodema Garden and Bonsai Collection in Japan, the Urban Spice Garden in Morocco and the Alpine Container Garden in Germany.



As festival-goers take in all these floral wonders, they will find fine tastes to savor along their journey. In addition to the Outdoor Kitchens, raised-bed or in-ground gardens of herbs and produce will offer the perfect inspiration for learning to grow healthy ingredients. Several Epcot food-and-beverage locations – including Taste Track and Refreshment Port– will offer festival-themed eats and libations. Additionally, guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at 15 popular Epcot restaurants and guaranteed seating for a nightly concert with a Garden Rocks Dining Package. Dining packages are now booking at FreshEpcot.com or by calling (407) WDW-DINE.



Guided tours are also available for guests interested in learning more about nature’s magic. In Behind the Seeds – The Land, guests can explore the fish farm and four greenhouses that make up The Land at Epcot. Additionally, two guided experiences exclusive to the festival include:
  • The Royal Tea Garden Tour, presented by Twinings, which takes place each festival morning at the United Kingdom. For a small fee, guests can follow a knowledgeable guide through the tranquil tea garden setting to learn the history and artistry behind growing and blending tea. A post-tour treat of tea and scones is included. The shorter, complimentary English Tea Garden Tour also will be offered on select days.
  • During the Gardens of the World tour, guests will join a Disney horticulturist for a three-hour walking tour to explore the award-winning topiaries and gardens that make the festival so special. Guests will learn about the unique role landscaping plays at Walt Disney World and discover new plant materials and gardening techniques to use for home gardens.
Guided tours are offered select days throughout the festival for an additional fee. Epcot admission is required. Reservations for tours open January 2019. For more information or to make a reservation, call (407) WDW-TOUR.



Guests can also commemorate their visit to the 2019 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival with official event merchandise. They can dig up a charming array of whimsical apparel and headwear designed to capture the splendor of spring, garden tools and accessories, and magical Disney keepsakes to adorn their homes and gardens.



©Disney

inline imageAs much of the USA prepares for dangerously cold temperatures this week, rescue teams in Florida are starting to see the effects of low water temperatures on the state’s manatee population.

Late yesterday, a 725 lb. sub-adult male manatee arrived to SeaWorld Orlando’s critical care animal hospital, suffering from symptoms of cold stress including abbesses and dehydration. The manatee was rescued in Lake Griffin in the centre of Florida by Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC), Sea2Shore and a local chapter of the Save the Manatee Club. After a field assessment, the animal was transported to SeaWorld, where veterinarians started medical treatment and rehabilitation, including antibiotics, fluids and other supportive care.

"Even in Florida, local water temperatures are starting to drop below 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), which is the threshold for manatees to survive," explained Jon Peterson, SeaWorld Orlando's manager of rescue operations. "Manatees need warm water, and when temperatures drop, they are at a high risk of succumbing to the cold."



"Our goal for this rescued manatee is to continue to rehabilitate him here at SeaWorld, and return him to the wild when water temperatures warm up," said Peterson.

In 2018, the SeaWorld Rescue team assisted with a record number 72 manatees suffering from a variety of aliments including cold stress, red tide and entanglement. SeaWorld works with the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who together monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees.

The SeaWorld Rescue team is on-call 24/7, 365 days a year, giving marine animals a second chance at life.

©SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

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Park Hours - Saturday 23/02/2019

WDW & Other Florida Park Hours
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
9:00am
~to~
11:00pm
Epcot
Epcot
9:00am
~to~
9:00pm
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
9:00am
Extra Morning Hours~to~
8:00pm
Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios
9:00am
~to~
8:00pm
Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach
10:00am
~to~
5:00pm
Typhoon Lagoon
Typhoon Lagoon
Closed
~to~
Closed
Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure
9:00am
~to~
8:00pm
Universal Studios
Universal Studios
9:00am
~to~
9:00pm
Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay
10:00am
~to~
5:00pm
SeaWorld
SeaWorld
9:00am
~to~
9:00pm
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
10:00am
~to~
7:00pm
Aquatica
Aquatica
10:00am
~to~
5:00pm
Legoland
Legoland
10:00am
~to~
6:00pm
Legoland Water Park
Legoland Water Park
Closed
~to~
Closed
Extra Morning Hours Early Entry for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Extra Evening Hours Extra Late Hours for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of Florida Park Hours

Disneyland Resort Park Hours
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park
8:00am
Extra Morning Hours~to~
12:00am
Walt Disney StudiosCalifornia Adventure 8:00am
~to~
10:00pm
Extra Morning Hours Early Entry for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of West Coast Park Hours

Disneyland Paris Park Hours
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park
10:00am
Extra Morning Hours~to~
8:00pm
Walt Disney StudiosDisney Studios 10:00am
Extra Morning Hours~to~
7:00pm
Extra Morning Hours Early Entry for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of DLP Park Hours

US Dollar Rates
ASDA  $1.2784
CaxtonFX  $1.2758
Covent Garden FX  $1.2897
FAIRFX  $1.2775
John Lewis  $1.2889
M&S  $1.2547
Post Office  $1.2662
Sainsburys  $1.2744
TESCO  $1.2771
Travelex  $1.2716
Updated: 13:30 23/02/2019

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Euro Rates
ASDA  €1.1262
CaxtonFX  €1.1256
Covent Garden FX  €1.1343
FAIRFX  €1.1250
John Lewis  €1.1363
M&S  €1.0955
Post Office  €1.1165
Sainsburys  €1.1241
TESCO  €1.1270
Travelex  €1.1205
Updated: 13:30 23/02/2019