My wife was writing end of the year first grade report cards over the weekend as I called her from Orlando to tell her about my work days. Sunday started at 8:30am with a bus ride to I-Drive 360 where 500 or so international and domestic media were invited to experience some of Orlando’s newest attractions from Merlin Entertainment. I have referred to Merlin Entertainment in past Loyalty Traveler articles as the Disney of the UK. I first heard of them in 2012 when staying at the Radisson Blu Berlin, the hotel with the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium in the lobby. Merlin Entertainment operates that attraction and they also operate the London Eye. In Orlando they recently opened a 400-ft. tall ferris wheel – Orlando Eye.
The I-360 complex with The Orlando Eye also holds Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the Orlando Sea Life Aquarium.
I’ll write more articles in the coming weeks to cover these attractions in depth. This is a quick post before another 15 hour day of meetings and activities at IPW Orlando, the US Travel Association annual convention.
After three hours, I boarded a bus for afternoon visits to three Orlando luxury hotels. First was the Ritz Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, where nine journalists and media were treated to a private table bartender drink experience. I knew it was a good day when I stepped off the bus to be handed a microbrew craft beer specifically brewed for Ritz-Carlton Orlando.
Hard to believe that there are tranquil places in Orlando where you are in the center of one of the primary tourist destinations for the USA, yet feel like you are deep in the natural Florida wetlands ecosystem.
After a couple of cocktails and appetizers at Highball and Harvest, we headed to the Waldorf-Astoria Orlando where we were treated to a pastry kitchen event to experience behind the scenes in the kitchen. Sampling 15 different pastries was a taste sensation and sugar overload.
Then, we dashed off to Four Seasons Orlando where we lounged for an hour in the Presidential Suite drinking champagne and luxuriating. Twelve of us sat around the living room with plenty more vacant chairs. The rate is $12,000 per night so even an hour would be a budget buster pro-rated. The Royal Suite at $14,000 apparently has better views for Disney fireworks, but it was occupied last night. The patio space was about the size of my home.
Back to my actual room suite by 5pm at the Clarion Hotel for a reality check, before drifting off to Fantasyland DisneyWorld. To give some indication to the size and prominence of U.S. Travel Association’s IPW Orlando 2015 convention, last night DisneyWorld was closed to the public for an IPW party.
As anyone who has been to a Disney park knows, the ability to walk directly onto a ride like Space Mountain or It’s a Small World is a once-in-a-lifetime treat, or more probably, a never gonna happen experience.
You realize just how long Disney lines are after walking five minutes to reach the ride when there is nobody waiting in line.
I am off for another busy day. I’ll be posting sparsely for the next three days on Loyalty Traveler. There is not much down time in Orlando to write. I will work on detailed descriptions of Orlando hotels and attractions over the next couple of weeks.
And I call this work visiting Orlando.