Posts Tagged ‘Orlando’

Man with face mask

In May of 2014, we started seeing news reports of the deadly MERS virus being diagnosed in the Orlando area.  A health care worker from Saudi Arabia was visiting Orlando when he started showing symptoms of the virus.  He was hospitalized at Dr. P Phillips Hospital for several weeks before being released. 

While he was hospitalized, several Orlando residents who worked at the hospital started complaining of being ill.  Out of an abundance of caution, these residents were isolated and treated as if they had MERS.  Twenty other employees, who came into contact with the patient prior to the patient being diagnosed, have also been isolated and tested for the deadly virus.

Along with the patient in Orlando, another in Illinois was tentatively confirmed as having MERS at approximately the same time.  The man from Illinois had recently travelled through the Middle East and was thought to been infected there.  These are the first two reported MERS cases in the United States and it was widely feared that this might be the beginning of an outbreak here in the United States. 


What is MERS?

MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.  Like its name implies, it was first diagnosed in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, which is still the epicenter of the outbreak.  At this point, there is no vaccine for MERS and there is no cure.  It has been reported that approximately 30% of the people infected with MERS will die from the virus. 

Symptoms of MERS include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.  Many MERS patients also develop pneumonia, which can complicate the illness, especially in those who have other health concerns.  During the infection, the virus may harm a person’s kidneys, which can then lead to renal failure.  The only proper treatment for MERS is isolation of the patient and treatment of symptoms. 

These symptoms are similar to the flu and other respiratory illnesses and the only known way to determine if the patient has MERS is via a blood test. 

It is a virus in the same family as the common cold, although it is unknown how the virus first developed.  Many scientists speculate that it first mutated and developed in animals before being spread to humans.  Although MERS is spread from human-to-human contact, it is not an easy disease to spread and may often require prolonged contact. 

Some scientists also believe that the virus can spread from animals to people. Animals, such as camels and bats have tested positive for the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia.   It is not yet known if the virus spreads through air, water or food. 

Latest Info? 

Although initially testing positive, the Indiana MERS case was found to have been a false positive, which brings the total known cases in the US back to one.  The healthcare workers from Dr. P Phillips Hospital that were exposed to MERS were also found to be negative. 

At this point, no one in the United States is considered to have the virus.  


Recently, Orlando residents received some exciting new about a new, and green, transportation solution. Orlando Florida will be getting a brand new light-rail train system that comes packaged in a high-tech futuristic style.  This innovative version of a light rail comes complete with an electro-magnetic levitating system which helps lift the train from the tracks and propels it along to the next stop at a high rate of speed. 

Here are a few more details of this newly approved plan:

  • This train is a privately-funded venture undertaken by a company called American Maglev Technology, Inc.
  • Maglev is based in Marietta, GA, which has long been a proponent of green rail technologies
  • Maglev first proposed the solution in 2012 to the Florida Department of Transportation.
  • After careful review of the plan and the proposed benefits, the state of Florida put out a request for bid in 2013, of which Maglev was the sole bidder
  • In late May of 2014, the state of Florida approved Maglev’s plan for the rail system
  • Maglev’s next step is to gain right-of-way leases for the land around which the train will operate.  The land to be used to build the rail system is currently owned by multiple public departments, including the Florida Department of Transportation, Orange County and the city of Orlando. 
  • The train will connect the Orlando International Airport to the Orange County Convention Center, which is slightly less than a total of 15 miles.  An intermediate stop will be made at the Florida Mall and there are talks to connect to the existing SunRail system as well.
  • It is a floating magnetic train line run on an elevated track system, the very first of its kind to be built in the United States of America.
  • However, trains like this are already in place and functioning in China, South Korea and Japan
  • There is no carbon-based emissions from operating this kind of train
  • The total cost is estimated to be right around $350 million dollars
  • The cost of the project will not be underwritten or subsidized by taxpayer dollars
  • Early surveys predict that the train will carry 4.1 million riders per year in the beginning and may increase to more than six million within the first ten years
  • The fare for a one-way ticket is estimated to be $10
  • Each one way ride would take approximately 12 minutes
  • More than 100 jobs will be created
  • The current plan includes construction starting in 2014 with the train being operational by 2017
  • Future phases of the project will connect the airport and convention center to some of the local theme parks

In closing, even though the proposed version of our new train reminds us more of the Jetson’s futuristic view of the world than the classic rock view, I’ll leave you with these parting words:

Down around the corner
A half a mile from here
You see them old train runnin’
And you watch them disappear

Local Orlando Halloween

Local Orlando HalloweenAs the weather begins to cool down just a little bit, the unofficial start to the holiday season is quickly approaching, Halloween. Candy is already being stocked in local supermarkets and costumes are popping up in stores all over. In just a couple weeks, confirming that fall has truly arrived, Universal Orlando’s “Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) 23” will be open for business. Running most weeks Thursday through Sunday beginning September 20th and lasting until November 2nd (check out the HHN official website for official dates), hundreds of thousands of guests are expected from around the world!

Named the “best in the business” by the Editor of Fangoria Magazine, Orlando transforms its movie theme park into haunted houses inspired by shows and video games like “The Walking Dead”, “Resident Evil”, and “Cabin in the Woods” with live shows such as “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. There are videos on the HHN website previewing the haunted houses and they look absolutely terrifying, a great way to really get into the season! Rides like “Transformers,” “Revenge of the Mummy,” and “Men In Black Alien Attack” are also a part of the admission.


Tickets to this one of a kind Halloween experience comes in all different types of packages. General admission for a single night at HHN are $91.99 plus tax. If you buy a regular day time park ticket you can purchase an add on for HHN good for the same day as the daytime ticket. These add-ons run from $38.99 to $69.99 depending on the day of the week. The best deal by far is the Rush of Fear ticket. This ticket gets you into the park as many nights as you would like for the first three weeks of HHN for $72.99. There are a number of other packages like this one and all details can be found on the HHN website. Florida residents are also in luck with significant discounts, individual ticket prices starting at $42.99 and the other available packages are also much more affordable.

Awarded the Best Halloween Event Golden Ticket Award by Amusement Today from 2008 through 2012, it is not something you want to miss and with HHN running from 6pm to midnight every night they are open (the weekend prior to Halloween HHN is open until 2am), there is no reasons not to check it out! Grab some friends, take the quick trip to Orlando, and prepare to get a good scare!

Comedy show Orlando

Comedy show OrlandoWhen you think of Orlando, thoughts of DisneyWorld and Universal Studios may be the first thing that come to mind. Along with those visions are kids, lots of them! While children are wonderful more often than not, a nice time out at an adult only venue can be just what the doctor ordered. Look no further than Mama’s Comedy Show, a comedy improv show for a mature audience and Sleuths Presents: Standup Comedy Nights! Both are located just east of Disney and south of Universal on International Drive in Orlando at the Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theater.

Modeled after “Whose Line Is It Anyway” with the audience acting as an active participant, every Mama’s Comedy Show is different and promises to be a good time. Admission is just $10 and shows are Fridays at 10pm. Reservations, while not necessary, are recommended to ensure you and your party will get seated. Calling themselves a family, there are twelve members involved with Mama’s. They have been performing for four years and have earned rave reviews from their audiences. With comments like “A+ super funny,” “wicked fantastic show,” and “soooooo funny” it is a sure bet for a great night.


Sleuths Presents: Standup Comedy Nights are held in the Garden Room at the Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theater. The fun begins at 10pm but doors are open at 9:30pm for drinks and light fare from the kitchen. There is no cover with a purchase off the menu or from the bar. This is also an interactive show with the audience determining who is funniest with its applause. The local comedians are awarded prizes for their efforts.

If you can’t find a sitter for the kids, the whole family can stop at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theater earlier in the evening to enjoy the murder mystery/comedy show and dinner. Open in 1980, the Theater has garnered rave reviews with customers calling it the “highlight of our vacation” and an “evening to remember.” Prices begin at $56.95 for adults (which includes dinner, the show, and unlimited wine, beer, and soft drinks) and $23.95 for children (ages 3 to 11). Shows run nightly with start times  on various evening at 6pm and 7:30pm and guests are invited to show up 45 to 60 minutes early to enjoy hor d’oeurves and meet the characters.

If you find yourself looking for an evening out with or without family in tow, Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theater has you covered. Murder mystery or improv comedy, it is not your typical night out. Just a short drive from Melbourne, it is a great way to spend the evening!

Arena Bowl in Orlando

Arena Bowl in OrlandoAre you ready for some football? If so, you are in luck, even before the professional football season starts! Orlando will be hosting the Arena Bowl XXVI this year at the Amway Center on August 17th at 1pm. It will air nationally on CBS.

The Arena Bowl is the Arena Football League’s (AFL) equivalent to the NFL’s Super Bowl. The Arena Bowl was first held in Pittsburgh in 1987 and has taken place almost every year since except 2009 when the AFL filed for bankruptcy and was going through changes in management. Currently consisting of fourteen teams split into two conferences (American and National) and then into two divisions (North, Central, South, and West), the regular season, made up of twenty games, begins in the second week of March. Post-season begins in August with four teams from each conference, two division winners and two wild card teams, competing for a spot in the Arena Bowl.


The two final teams competing in this year’s Arena Bowl haven’t been determined yet. The final four teams now in the playoffs are actually the last four Arena Bowl champions. The final two teams will be decided this Saturday with the Philadelphia Soul versus the Jacksonville Sharks (7pm) and the Spokane Shock versus the Arizona Rattlers (9:30pm).

For those living in and around Orlando, the Arena Bowl itself is actually only the culmination of events beginning on Thursday, August 15th with Media Day at the Rosen Centre from 1pm to 3pm. There will be team photos and interviews along with an appearance from the current AFL Commissioner, Jerry B. Kurtz. The day continues at 6:30pm with the 2013 AFL Celebrity Gala also at the Rosen Center and it promises to be a party with AFL Hall of Famers, former players, and the rock band KISS. The night will begin with a cocktail hour, followed by a three-course meal, live music, and an award ceremony. The long weekend continues on Friday night at 7:30pm with a KISS concert at the Amway Center.

Gameday events begins at 10am with the Arena Bowl XXVI Fan Fest, again at the Amway Center. Attendees will be able to enjoy a full “interactive Arena Football experience” with the chance to exhibit their football skills and learn more about the AFL. Live music and entertainment will also be on hand and the coveted Arena Bowl championship trophy will be on display and to get everyone ready for the big game in the afternoon

If you can’t make it to the game, go for a Superbowl Sunday party in August. What better excuse to hang with friends, eat too much pizza, and watch a great game than Arena Bowl XXVI!