WPRK Fund Raiser at Park Ave CDS

This may be short notice for some, but I got an email from Park Ave CDs saying that tomorrow, October 12th, as part of WPRK’s annual fundraising efforts, the store will be hosting a sale with items starting at only $1.

The sale is only at Park Ave’s main store, located at 2916 Corrine Dr, and runs from noon until 4pm.

WPRK 91.5 fm broadcasts from Rollins College and uses this fundraising drive to raise money for station improvements, permanent Internet broadcasting, and educational resources.

While you have your calendars out, other unrelated upcoming events at Park Ave’s main store include instore performances by Copeland on October 14th at 8pm, Gaslight Anthem on October 23rd at 1pm and Rev Peyton’s Big Damn Band on November 1st at 6pm.

Visit the store’s website for more info on any of these events.

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2nd Annual Orlando Hispanic Film Festival

Like movies? Go check out the 2nd Annual Orlando Hispanic Film Festival opening today through the weekend, wrapping up on Sunday. The event is being held at the Premiere Cinemas 14 at Fashion Square and coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month festivities.

This event is described by the website as a “high energy, high profile event” that provides a “highly desirable platform where independent filmmakers from around the world can showcase their work to industry professionals and the entire Central Florida Community.”

Awards will be presented to the top films in several categories, selected by a committee of Orlando area entertainment professionals, with the exception of the Audience Award, which, you guessed it, is decided by audience kudos. The categories are:

• Best Feature
• Best Short Film
• Best Documentary Feature
• Best Short Documentary
• Best Screenplay
• Best Original Score
• Best Director
• Best Cinematography
• Best Short Animation
• Best Actor Male
• Best Actor Female
• Best Ensemble Cast

Cool stuff, looks like over 50 films will be screened, so should be something for everyone’s tastes.

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Upcoming Create Chaos 08 Conference Offers Plenty for Local Creative and Tech Professionals

With the recent slate of tech conferences that have rolled into Orlando, such as IZEAFest and BlogOrlando, one would think O-Town has become the new Silicon Valley. Well, there’s even more just on the horizon as Create Chaos 08 comes to town next week.

create chaos 08 in orlando floridaThe event, which runs October 13th – 17th at the Orlando World Center Marriott, is actually a conglomeration of ten different events, including a web and design conference, a job fair, a track by FreshBooks on billing and invoicing clients, the Annual Create Awards, and the Motion Graphics Festival, aimed at “creative” types ranging from photographers and graphic artists to web designers and more techy types.

There will also be several keynote speeches, including one by Lee Cockerell, the former executive vice president of operations at the Walt Disney World Resort, who has just released a new book titled, Creating Magic, 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From A Life At Disney. In it, he draws from his experience with the company to discuss how we all can become better leaders not just in business, but in our personal lives in general. If you want to know more about the book, visit Cockerell’s site and receive a free chapter when you sign up for his mailing list.

Tickets for Create Chaos 08 range from $45 to visit the expo hall, to full week passes for $995. Individual day passes range from $295 to $395.

There are also two free events during the week worth noting – “BarCampChaos,” a Monday-night session that invites participants to control the programming by preparing a 20 minute talk on any creative topic and presenting it to other conference attendees, and doterati’s “Juggling Creativity and Business,” on Wednesday night, where local business leaders Ted Murphy of IZEA, Sterling Raphael of NFi Studios, Scott Allen from MonkeyFoot.com and Chuck Southworth of the Southworth Group will all speak on starting creative businesses from the ground up. I highly recommend both of those events to anyone interesting in networking with locally-minded tech and creative minds. As a bonus, pre-register for either event via the above links and you’ll get a free pass to visit the expo hall on the day of the event.

I’ll definitely be there on Wednesday for the FreshBooks track, as I’ve been interested in learning more about their online invoicing and time tracking service (not to mention their Twitters mention something about candy…), and most likely both the BarCampChaos and the doterati sessions. I’m also told that using the codes FRESHBOOKS or BARCAMP when registering for Create Chaos 08 online will offer a hefty discount off passes.

Last Call for Disney’s Pleasure Island

For those who haven’t heard the news, tonight is the last night for the clubs at Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island. Even though last ditch attempts have been made by fans of venues like the Adventurer’s Club, Disney says they have plans for the space currently occupied by the clubs which include more dining and shopping options.

The Rock’n’Roll Beach Club was closed in February, but tonight is the last hurrah for Mannequins, 8-Trax, BET Sound Stage, Motion, the Comedy Warehouse and the Adventurer’s Club. To celebrate, PI is bringing back Frankie and the West End Boys for one last night to play the waterfront stage (since the West End stage was replaced several months ago by the new pedestrian bridge to the West Side of Downtown Disney). They will play four 45-minute sets at 7:30pm, 8:45pm, 10pm, and 11:15pm.

The Adventurer’s Club will also open early at 6pm with additional Library shows, as will the Comedy Warehouse with shows at 6:55pm, 8pm, 9:10pm, 10:25pm, 11:35pm and 12:45am.

It’s free to be on PI, so you can enjoy the waterfront and DJ entertainment outside. Individual club admission is $10 (plus tax) with a multi-club pass costing $20 (plus tax). Annual PI passes will still be valid this last night, too, and holders can then request a pro-rated refund for the balance. Or you can use that pass and trade it in for a special Universal Orlando CityWalk party pass good until next March.

Even though I haven’t been to PI much in recent years, it’s still sad to see Disney close it all down. When I first moved to Orlando thirteen years ago, I knew nobody and many of the friends I have today are ones I made by going out to PI the first few years I lived here. I also have many good memories of celebrating birthdays and other special occasions with friends there.

So, I think I’m gonna head out to say goodbye and maybe take some photos. Will I see any of you out there?

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WaMu Bankrupt and Bought Out

So those who have bank accounts with Washington Mutual – aka “WaMu” – woke up this morning to find out their bank had gone under and was bought up by JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

Holy cow right??

Reportedly JPMorgan Chase won’t close many Florida branches because they view us as a growth market, but accounts will be transitioned over to the new ownership, which means in coming months, customers can expect everything to be rebranded and most likely anyone with an ATM, debit or credit card issued by WaMu will be issued a new card during the process. But for now, the new owners say everything from account numbers to customer access to their accounts will remain the same.

Thankfully I don’t have an account with them, but I can’t imagine a scarier feeling than to wake up and find your bank isn’t your bank anymore. If you have a WaMu account, what are your feelings on this sudden change?

Two Annual Theme Park Fests Start Today

For who look forward to those fall fests at the area theme parks, two of the biggies start today.

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A trio of champagnesEpcot’s Food & Wine Fest starts today. It’s the 13th year of the festival which offers up samples of food and drink from around the world, and this year’s focus is on “culinary cities,” along with the state of Louisiana. You do need to buy a park admission or have an annual pass of some kind for Walt Disney World, but once inside, you can stroll the World Showcase in the back of the park and try food and drink native to countries and cities from around the world. Average samples will set you back $2 to $5 per item, so it’s an inexpensive way to try something you’ve never had before.

There’s also free seminars daily, which usually offer up samples (though the lines can be very long to get in to one, especially on weekends), and free nightly entertainment from nationally-known entertainers. This year’s fest kicks off with the sounds of ska-swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy tonight and tomorrow (Saturday) and continues over the weekend with Sheena Easton on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

For more info, visit the official Walt Disney World Food & Wine website.

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Universal OrlandoFor those that would rather be scared than wined and dined, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights also starts tonight. It’s the 18th incarnation of the annual event and this year’s theme is Urban Legends, Fairy Tales & Myths, epitomized by the legend of Bloody Mary, who comes to life if you chant her name into a mirror. Universal says over 300 new characters were created for this year’s event, which runs September 26-27, October 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 22-26 and October 29-November 1.

Separate park admission is required for Halloween Horror Nights, even if you have a Universal Orlando annual pass, but special Florida-resident discounts and multi-night passes are available. The event’s official website has all the details.

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Are you planning to go to one or both? Do you prefer one over the other? Let us know in comments.

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Disney Free on Your Birthday in 2009

In a New York City ballroom on Sept. 18, 2008, Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo (pictured) announced that Disney Parks will welcome guests in 2009 with free theme park admission on their birthday.

LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN: In a New York City ballroom on Sept. 18, 2008, Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo (pictured) announced that Disney Parks will welcome guests in 2009 with free theme park admission on their birthday.

In a stroke of genius that in hindsight makes me wonder, why haven’t they done this before, Disney announced they will be offering free admission for people on their birthday in 2009. What a great way to get people out to the park, especially locally. Hitting the parks on your “special day” is always on the list of possible activities for most any local resident, and this move probably just made up hundreds of thousands of people’s minds for what to do next year. No one goes to the park without dropping some cash on food and merchandise and likely won’t go alone. Further, they created a special reason to pull the trigger for tons of people on a rotating schedule every day of the calendar next year! That’s genius! Give the guy that got that idea off the ground over there a raise.

See the full press release here.

IZEAFest Rocked!

As you know from earlier posts, I had plans to attend this weekend’s IZEAFest and I did, even though I can’t claim to be too awake during the morning sessions. LOL But overall, I’d have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the conference.

Ted Murphy of IZEATo be honest, I didn’t learn a lot of new stuff, since I’ve been blogging and designing for over eight years, but I enjoyed hearing the different perspectives from the people on the panels. I also felt quite a bit more inspired to keep doing this line of work in hearing the anecdotes and various tidbits of info that I didn’t know. Think of it as positive reinforcement that I’m still on the right track. Though in talking with others, some got a wealth of new knowledge from the panels, so I guess it’s all relative to what you walked in there knowing.

But what I did enjoy the most were the various networking opportunities this blogger conference gave me. From people who I read daily to people who I’ve now added to my feedreader, it was the human interaction with people who felt as passionate about the subject as me that I enjoyed the most. And I really enjoyed finally meeting people face to face that I’d only interacted with online before (a big hello to Ashley, Sean B. & Rae!).

September 12, 2008First of all, big kudos to the IZEA folks who put on the conference. Despite a few glitches (which happen at any conference), both days ran smooth and provided a good variety of panels, for people of all levels of blogging. Though, in talking with people in between, as well as hearing various panel guests talk about “hotlinking” (a word that seriously makes me cringe), perhaps a “copyrights and blogging” panel might be a good subject for any future events.

Second, if you didn’t attend, or just want to relive the event, IZEA is streaming the event at izeafest.com/live.html. You can also read the Twitter stream that ran during the event, which I’d have to say was really cool to experience in the moment, as it was interesting reading the various threads that were running between those in the room and those who were not even in Orlando, much less at the event, but were following the live feed on their computers. A great way to harness current social media technology, I think.

Anatomy of a blog redesign with Scott AllenIf anyone is interested, I have a few pics up from the event at my Flickr account. Lighting wasn’t the best from the back, where I was sitting, and the light from the onstage screens, while providing several ongoing streams of chat to read, played havoc with my camera’s light meter. As a result, I stopped taking pictures on the second day. But thanks to Flickr’s search engine, you can also view pics there from anyone else who tagged their photos with IZEAFest.

I look forward to seeing what the IZEA folks put together for their next event, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more about the new project from them, which they debuted on Friday at the conference. I’ll talk more about it when it gets to a stage where it’s out of the testing phase and open to all, but I think it’ll provide a really fun level of interactivity to any blog and I’m excited that it’s being produced by an Orlando-based company.

So, that’s my wrap-up on IZEAFest. Did you go or at least watch the live feed? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and if you’ve done a blog post or have photos up somewhere, drop a link in the comments so we can come read it.

Copper Rocket to Host Beer Tasting Dinner

I’m one of those who views a good beer like a good wine, especially when paired with the right food dish. If you feel the same, you might be interested in Thursday’s Beer Tasting Dinner at the Copper Rocket.

The evening will be a 4-course dinner, consisting of shark bites & shrimp for the appetizer, a hearts of palm salad, an entree of glazed pork shank on a bed of gruyere spaetzle, ending with a chocolate milk stout cake covered in raspberry drizzle for dessert. Each course will be accompanied by a beer chosen by Florida Micro Beverage, which I’m guessing is co-sponsoring this event.

Tickets are $30 per person and, according to the flyer, they’re capping attendance at 30 guests.

The event takes place September 18th from 7pm to 9:30pm and you can find more information online at the Copper Rocket’s MySpace page.

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IZEAfest this week!

I know that Michelle already mentioned this before, but since I’m flying to town for it I thought I’d mention it again – IZEAfest is this week! If you are interested in blogs or social media or anything that kinda relates to that I’m guessing you might want to check it out. There’s lots of great speakers lined up which you can see from this schedule. I’m even on a panel Saturday about social networking if that’s your thing. Anyway, come out, say hi, all that stuff. See you then!

Enzian 2 For 1 Special

Most people don’t need any additional incentives to go see a movie at the Enzian. Comfortable seats, great food and drinks, along with an eclectic list of films is usually enough.

But I’ve discovered there is a promotion running, in conjunction with the Orlando Visitor’s Bureau, called “Endless Summer” that will get you two movie tickets for the price of one at the Enzian. Yeah, you read that right. Two tickets for the price of one.

The deal runs through November 15th and you simply need to use the promotion code “08CVBESUM” when buying your tickets.

A list of current and upcoming films, along with a full dining and drink menu, can be found online at The Enzian website.

The Enzian is located at 1300 South Orlando Avenue in Maitland.

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IZEAFest is Coming to Orlando in September

Got a blog? Want to know how to market it and maybe make some money off of it in the process? Then you’ll want to be a part of the upcoming IZEAFest in downtown Orlando.

What is IZEAFest, you say? Well, if you attended this spring’s BarCamp Orlando, you’re probably already familiar with local social media marketing firm IZEA, which sponsored an amazing after-event party.

Now they’re taking it a step further by bringing in a slew of influential bloggers and internet advertisers to Orlando for a three-day event designed to allow everyone from newbies to experts in the blogging world access to information and panels on such subjects as improving your content, growing traffic to your blog, and, of course, how to make it more profitable.

Among the panel guests will be such people as money-making gurus like John Chow and keynote speaker Jeremy Schoemaker, both of whom make five-figure incomes monthly off their blogs. Joining them will be other movers-and-shakers in the blogging world like Merlin Mann (another keynote speaker), Orlando Sentinel‘s Etan Horowitz and internet marketing consultant Tamar Weinberg, who writes for sites like Lifehacker and Mashable. Even Metblogs head honcho Sean Bonner will also be on hand as a panelist, if you’ve had any questions you wanted to ask him about this site.

The event starts on Thursday, September 11, with an evening social event, then gets down to business on Friday, September 12 and Saturday, September 13, with panels from 9am until 6pm each day.

Of course, it’s not an IZEA event without the closing party, which this year is a scavenger hunt that promises to be “messy” and fun. Um…messy?? Anyways, the hunt is timed and the winning team gets $500 in Home Depot cards. Even if you don’t participate, I’m sure the blackmail pictures will be worth attending this shindig. (Sean…pay no attention to that last sentence…)

Similar events like this are normally priced at several hundred dollars a ticket, but IZEA wants this to be accessible to everyone who has a blog, so they’re pricing their tickets at only $65. Seriously, as someone who attends quite a few blogger conferences, I can tell you that’s really a steal for the amount of information you’ll be able to take away from this event. Not to mention all the opportunities to network with the people attending.

All the details you could want to know about the event can be found at IZEAFest.com. Already know you want to go? Skip ahead to the ordering panel and get your tickets before it sells out.

And if you are going, I’ll see you there!

Tropical Storm Fay World Tour To Rock Central Florida Today

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or somewhere else without access to any television or radio media, I’m sure y’all know that tropical storm Fay is due to arrive in the Central Florida area today.

Even though so far it doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as strong as any of the 2004 hurricanes, it is so far packing quite a punch as it hits land in southern Florida, with a tornado already touching down in West Palm Beach. So I thought I’d pop in with some quick tips and links to help everyone get through the worst of the storm.

Basic Storm Information:

  • The Orlando Sentinel maintains a hurricane survival guide on its website, including a list of items you should have on hand to ride out a severe storm, like Fay.
  • The website for WESH has several great links, from live tracking of the storm to being prepared for the storm.
  • If local media isn’t your thing, Mashable has a list of resources in their article “How to Chase Hurricane Fay Online.”
  • Make sure you have bottled water on hand -at least several gallons per person – in case of problems with the tap water
  • Also make sure you are stocked up on batteries for flashlights and other items like radios. Candles and matches couldn’t hurt either. It’s possible for power outages with a storm like this, so be prepared for that.
  • Fully charge any electronics like cellphones and laptop batteries, in case of said power outages
  • If you’re out and about today, fill up your gas tank and grab some cash out of an ATM. If there are any power outages, credit and debit cards may be useless.
  • If you live near any elderly or disabled neighbors, take a moment to check on them before and after the storms pass. It’s the right thing to do.

Closures and Cancellations:

  • Schools – for the most part, every school in Central Florida will be closed today and tomorrow. Check with yours to be sure before you send the young ones off.
  • Port Canaveral is closed to large ships, which means no cruise ships today or tomorrrow. If you were scheduled to take a cruise from here, check with the cruiseline before departing for the port.
  • Many airlines have canceled flights into and out of Central Florida airports, including OIA. Check with your airline if you have travel plans for today, or are expecting loved ones to fly in.
  • Kennedy Space Center is closed for today.
  • So far, Lynx bus service in Orlando is running, but their Access Lynx routes have been heavily scaled back. If you use the service, check with them for any schedule changes.
  • SeaWorld has canceled its evening program at Discovery Cove today, but otherwise reports both parks are staying open.
  • Walt Disney World reports they will open all four parks earlier today, at 8am, to allow park guests more time to enjoy them before the worst of the storm hits Central Florida.
  • Universal Orlando reports both parks will also be open
  • Tolls have been suspended for most roads in central and southern Florida for today. Check here for the complete list.
  • Promoters report tonight’s Stone Temple Pilots show at UCF has been canceled due to the storm. Tickets can be refunded at the point of purchase.

If you have any tips, closure news or links to share with the Metroblogging Orlando readers, please leave them in the comments. Otherwise, please stay safe and don’t go out in the storm if you don’t have to.

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Central Florida Represented at Olympics

Beijing Olympics logoI am so excited that the Summer Olympics kick off today in Beijing! I almost never watch sports on TV, but come the Olympics, I am glued to the screen every chance I get.

So I thought it’d be interesting to see if there were any athletes from Orlando and Central Florida participating, and would you believe we have nine people representing us this year?

Here’s a quick run-down of the Central Florida Olympians:

  • Jenny Barringer – Track & Field: 3,000m Steeplechase.
    Barringer, who went to Oviedo High School, looks strong to medal, having set a new U.S. record in the event just three weeks ago.
  • Damu Cherry – Track & Field: 100m Hurdles.
    Cherry was born in Tampa and currently lives in Ocoee.
  • Phil Dalahusser – Beach Volleyball.
    This UCF graduate and his teammate Todd Rogers are the defending FIVB World Champions going into the Olympics, so they look very strong to medal.
  • Dwight Howard – Men’s Basketball.
    Howard is the center of the Orlando Magic when not a part of the Olympic’s Team USA basketball team, which has an excellent chance to medal.
  • Hunter Kemper – Triathlon.
    Born in Longwood, FL, this will be Kemper’s third Olympics. He placed ninth at the 2004 Olympics, and stands a good chance to medal this time.
  • Ryan Lochte – Swimming: 200m Backstroke, 200m and 400m Individual Medley, 4x200m Free Relay.
    Though teammate Michael Phelps gets more media attention, Central Florida’s Lochte still has an excellent chance to medal again in one of his four competitions. In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Lochte won the gold medal in the 800m freestyle relay and won the silver in the 200 individual medley (Phelps took gold).
  • DeLisha Milton-Jones – Women’s Basketball.
    Milton-Jones attended the University of Florida in Gainesville before becoming a member of the LA Sparks. She was also a member of the Gold-medal winning US Olympic team in 2000.
  • David Oliver – Track & Field: 110m Hurdles.
    This Orlando resident goes into the Olympics as the 2008 US Indoor champ.
  • Nancy Rios – Sailing: Board (aka windsurfing).
    Cocoa Beach resident Rios came in first at the U.S. Olympic trials and looks strong to medal.

NBC-affiliate WESH has a team, headed by reporter Aixa Diaz, reporting live from Beijing, and you can catch the station’s complete local coverage online.

The Olympics will kick off with the opening ceremonies live on NBC tonight at 7:30pm, and our local athletes will be among the Team USA contingent walking into the stadium. If you miss it then, the network will be re-airing the ceremonies a few hours later at 2:30am tomorrow morning.

Anybody else going to be watching the Olympics? Got any fave sports or athletes you’ll be looking for?

Could Brett Favre Be Coming to Central Florida?

Brett Favre Sports Illustrated coverAs a former-Wisconsin resident, I think it’s safe to say former Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre has amassed quite a legendary career in football over his sixteen years with the team. And I can’t even begin to tell you the number of grown men I saw cry when several months ago, Favre announced he was finally retiring from the sport.

Only, it seems as though that idea was short-lived. Five months into said retirement, Favre asked to be reinstated and I guess expected to reclaim his QB throne with the Pack. But it seems they no longer are interested in his “yes I am/no I’m not” constant retirement talk, even going so far as to offer the 38-year-old QB $20 million to stay retired and work with the team in a marketing capacity.


So according to a story all over today’s news, it seems Favre has reached a “stalemate” with Green Bay and is looking for another team, with Tampa Bay’s Buccaneers suddenly in place as one of the front runners.

The Bucs, currently training out at Disney’s Wide World of Sports here in Orlando, have said they would entertain the idea of having Favre onboard, despite already having five QB’s on the roster already, but have otherwise remained silent on this new development.

I’ll admit to not being a diehard follower of Tampa, but I have to wonder if this would be a boost to the team or just a waste of a salary. And at this point, does anyone even care if he returns to the field?

Any football fans care to comment on whether you feel having Favre don a Bucs jersey would be a good thing? Should he have stayed in retirement? Or are you just tired of hearing about the whole thing?

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