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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams-come-true, Dani has always had a passion for tourism and hospitality. She is a proud Orlando native who loves sharing her hometown with others. With work experience in theme parks, hotels, and reputation management she brings this background to her freelance writing endeavors. Follow her adventures on Twitter at @thisfloridalife.

Orlando for beginners: How to survive hurricane season

Hurricane season is upon us in the Sunshine State of Florida – six wonderful months of diligently watching the weather forecast to see if the tropics have started churning another big storm. Here’s what you need to know if you are planning a trip to Orlando during hurricane season (June 1 through November 30).   […]

CityWalk’s next generation, wave two: Menchie’s, Harry Potter, and the all-new Universal Studios Store

The evolution of Universal CityWalk continues. This week marks the opening of one new treat stop, a totally revamped merchandise store, and a two-month celebration of Harry Potter. I stopped by one recent evening to check out these latest additions and was impressed with how they continue to add to the energy of Universal’s shopping/dining/entertainment […]

Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World: Unlimited FastPass reservations now open to all guests

Update – April 28, 2014 Starting today, Monday, April 28, guests can select more FastPasses once they are in the park and have used up (or have had the arrival window pass on) their initial three FastPass+ reservations. Simply go to one of the kiosks located in each of the Walt Disney World parks to […]

Celebrate Mardi Gras like you mean it: Our favorite ways to party before the parade & headlining concert

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration is definitely the most kicking “Nawlins” party outside of Bourbon Street. No doubt you’ve heard all about the big parade (with some gorgeous new floats this year!), and Universal usually manages to book some big-name talent each year for their headlining concerts. But if you think that’s all there is […]

Outdoor kitchens at the 2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: Try the returning dishes and all the new flavors

The big news for this year’s Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot is the return of the delightful food and beverage booths, which are now called “outdoor kitchens.” Get ready to welcome spring with a beautiful floral feast for the eyes and a flavorful feast for your taste buds! I headed out to the opening […]

A guide to loyalty programs at Universal Orlando: Earn free meals, movies & hotel amenities

One of the advantages that Universal Orlando has over Walt Disney World is the number of establishments on property that are popular national and worldwide brands with loyalty programs. Even if you only dabble a little, these loyalty and reward programs can add a lot of value to your vacation. As a member of a […]

Dick’s Last Resort now open in Lake Buena Vista: Eat, drink & laugh at a restaurant like no other

When you hear the name Dick’s Last Resort, your imagination is left to wander. If you are familiar with the brand, then you know you can expect a great time full of laughs and smiles – and a belly full of great food, too! Dick’s Last Resort is now open in Lake Buena Vista, and […]

Our top tips for combining a cruise with your Orlando trip for the best vacation possible

An Orlando vacation is pretty incredible in itself, but there’s a way to take it to uncharted territory. With Orlando’s ideal location in the middle of Florida (we don’t call it Central Florida for nothing!), it is easy to get to one of the nearby cruise ports and head out to the high seas for […]

THE BIG 5: Universal’s top five desserts that will delight your taste buds

One of the many joys of visiting theme parks is indulging in sweet treats you might otherwise resist. In this edition of THE BIG 5, I take your sweet tooth on a journey through Universal Orlando’s best desserts. And please note: for this countdown, I stuck with desserts that can be found in the two […]

A new spin on Chevy’s Fresh Mex gets its start in Orlando

The Crossroad Shopping Plaza in Lake Buena Vista, near Walt Disney World, is a popular place to find affordable, quality dining. Over the years many enhancements and new businesses have come to this shopping plaza while one staple has remained strong for many years: Chevy’s Fresh Mex. Now the time has come for Chevy’s to […]

From MEN IN BLACK to Springfield USA: The sci-fi & silly details of World Expo at Universal Studios Florida

At first glance, World Expo may seem to be one of the few areas inside Universal Studios Florida without the heightened level of detailed theming featured in other areas of the park. While it certainly is true that the amount of little details and theming is stronger in the Hollywood and New York backlots, there […]

UCF Knights march into Magic Kingdom: Complete coverage & priceless parade viewing tips

What phrase do you immediately hear after the Super Bowl has just completed? Why, “I’m going to Disney World” of course! On special occasions, a triumphant athlete, sports team, or celebrity is often invited to parade through Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This past weekend it finally time for Orlando’s hometown heroes, the University of […]

Beyond the parks: Nine new ideas for celebrating New Year’s Eve in Orlando

From Universal Orlando’s legendary CityWalk celebration to the excitement and magic in Disney’s theme parks, there is no shortage of memorable ways to ring in the New Year here in Orlando. But don’t think the theme parks are the only happenin’ hot spots when midnight rolls around on December 31 — there’s so much more […]

The City by the Bay: Dive deep in the themes & inspiration for USF’s San Francisco backlot

San Francisco, the City by the Bay, is the final part of my backlot series that represents a real U.S. city. This portion of Universal Studios Floirda (USF) is smaller than the other two U.S. city backlots, Hollywood and New York, but it still holds a plethora of details! Perhaps the most iconic building in […]

The flavors of Margaritaville are brighter than ever as the cafe’s new menu is introduced in Orlando

Margaritaville Cafe Orlando at Universal CityWalk has a completely revamped menu, and this week we had the honor of sampling a large variety of the new choices on behalf of Orlando Informer. Jimmy Buffett’s music career spans four decades. His fans, known as Parrotheads, are loyal and have a strong sense of what truly is […]

From Disney World to Winter Park – an insider’s guide to the best holiday activities Orlando has to offer

As a native of Orlando, I have had the pleasure of making memories year after year in one of the world’s best holiday destinations. It is with these memories in mind that I have put together a full list of my absolute favorite seasonal festivities and traditions all around Orlando. Each is highly recommended, and […]

SeaWorld’s Spooktacular continues to be Orlando’s best value for a family-friendly Halloween celebration, and here’s why

During weekends in October, a visit to SeaWorld Orlando is made even better because of SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular. I was invited by Orlando Informer to enjoy the first official day of the year’s event. The Spooktacular is included in regular theme park admission. It is this characteristic that immediately sets it apart from other Halloween […]

Arabian Nights “Royal Celebration” – a classic dinner show gets an enchanting makeover

The Arabian Nights dinner show is an Orlando original (well, technically a Kissimmee original). In fact, this classic show has been entertaining Central Florida visitors since 1988. Growing up in Orlando, I have some fond memories of Arabian Nights. On trips in the family mini-van, I considered the horse sign that can be seen from […]

Tales from the Parrot Perch: An Interview with JD Spradlin of Radio Margaritaville

When you see someone who is doing what they are meant to do for a living, they just shine. That is definitely the case when you see JD Spradlin in action. And even if you’ve never seen him, you have probably heard him over the SiriusXM airways on Radio Margaritaville, broadcasting live from Universal Orlando […]

Battle it out with the rookies at Orlando Paintball – Florida’s largest indoor/outdoor paintball facility

Orlando is full of fun and excitement, no question. And the excitement is always better when you’re smack in the middle of it. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Orlando Paintball! Located about 30 minutes from the attractions area, on the border of Orlando and Maitland (see map below), Orlando Paintball is the largest indoor […]

Orlando Food Trucks: My picks for some of the best Central Florida food on wheels

Just thinking about the sheer volume of dining selections in Central Florida, including Orlando’s food trucks, is enough to give you hunger pangs. I am fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood that hosts a monthly food truck gathering. Every second Friday of the month, Lake Concord Park in Casselberry hosts live music, local artists, […]

Updated Boardwalk Bakery offers Disney guests a wider variety of quick-service selections and divine desserts

While I’ve always loved Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, I admit that one of the property’s weaknesses has been its lack of a substantial quick-service dining option. After months of being relegated to a temporary white tent during a massive renovation, the Boardwalk Bakery is back and fully equipped to provide that quick-service option, and it is […]

Disney’s Animal Kingdom turns 15: An ode to Orlando’s most underappreciated park

It may be Orlando’s most misunderstood and most underappreciated theme park. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which celebrates its 15th anniversary today, is Walt Disney World’s largest theme park, and to me it is the most beautiful, most detailed, and most relaxing park of them all.   A little history In the late 1990’s Orlando experienced a […]

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: New Garden Marketplaces make this the park’s most delicious event

I’ve never gotten overly excited about Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival, but this year offers something new to dig into: food and wine booths called Garden Marketplaces. In my opinion, these booths, coupled with the beautiful atmosphere, make for a better experience than Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. I know — gasp — but hear […]

Life is sweet at the Florida Strawberry Festival: My review, tips & photo gallery

The Florida Strawberry Festival draws a crowd of thousands and seems to get bigger every year. It’s good ol’ Southern fun, filled with hundreds of rides, amusements, live concerts, the most extreme fair food you can find — and of course the world famous Plant City strawberries served in a variety of mouthwatering ways. Although […]

Boating around Walt Disney World: Set sail on the Seven Seas Lagoon and beyond

Many of Orlando’s attractions, resorts, and theme parks offer various fun-filled activities outside of the traditional shows and rides. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Walt Disney World. Over 20 on-property hotels offer countless entertainment options, my favorite of which can be found at the many marinas found throughout this vacation kingdom. These marinas […]