Discover How Orlando is Changing the Meetings Game

Always Evolving, Always Inspiring

Orlando has recently experienced a remarkable transformation. If it’s been awhile since you have visited, our best-kept secret is how much we’ve changed. Our continued evolution has also placed us in a unique position among competing travel destinations.

Acknowledged by many meeting professionals as the industry leader when it comes to flexibility, functionality and service, the Orange County Convention Center is the second-largest meetings and conventions facility in the United States. The green-friendly complex — comprised of two separate buildings connected by a 1,500-foot, open-air bridge with moving sidewalks — offers 2.1 million square feet of exhibition space plus 480,000 square feet of function space, including meeting rooms. We continue to invest in our facility and have cash funded a $187.4 million, 5 year capital improvement program to continue making aesthetic upgrades, enhance technology including digital signage while expanding dining, retail and entertainment amenities.

New convention hotels — including the Hilton Orlando, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando — have played a starring role in Orlando’s continued evolution. Now get ready to add Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to the list with a $360-million property currently under construction at the Walt Disney World® Resort. The 444-room Four Seasons Orlando Resort will offer numerous dining experiences, a 14,000-square-foot spa, nearly 38,000 square feet of meeting space, and will encompass the existing Tom Fazio-designed Osprey Ridge 18-hole championship golf course. The property is anticipated to open in mid-to-late 2014.

With seven of the world’s top 20 theme parks in one destination, not to mention a total of nearly 100 attractions, Orlando certainly knows how to entertain. After finishing the day’s business, a leisurely escape to a world of imagination and fantasy will leave attendees feeling refreshed and inspired. Whether seeking to reconnect with childhood nostalgia or experience leading-edge innovations in ride technology, our attractions are truly one-of-a-kind.

An exciting new downtown venue is on its way to becoming a sought-after destination for meeting attendees, corporate groups and even team-building activities. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is expected to open in fall 2014 joining the country’s most advanced arena and events center — the Amway Center — in providing additional entertainment and meeting options. Amway Center is a great place to enjoy Orlando Magic basketball games, concerts, performances, and to book group meetings. Certified as a LEED Gold facility, Amway Center is a marvel in sustainable design and cutting-edge technology.

Orlando is a true culinary hot spot with award-winning restaurants and celebrity chefs that cater to visitors from across the globe. There’s an extensive menu of fine-dining establishments, international eateries, casual cafés and chic wine bars for just about any taste or budget. Our distinctive dining districts include:

  • Convention District: When it comes to entertaining, the Convention District makes a lasting impression with a diverse selection of restaurants.
  • Disney Area: Big names provide plenty of star power, with exquisite fine dining, casually elegant eateries and first-class entertainment.
  • Downtown: With its growing and distinctive skyline, downtown Orlando is both a vibrant entertainment district and a collection of trendy neighborhoods.
  • Restaurant Row: This stretch of Sand Lake Road serves up some of the finest fare the destination has to offer at more than two dozen restaurants.
  • Universal CityWalk: This self-contained universe offers an electrifying selection of dining and nightlife experiences.
  • Winter Park: New-world sophistication meets old-world charm in Winter Park, a picturesque city where arts and culture are part of everyday life.

And did we mention that Orlando is the #1 visited destination in the United States? 56 million people can’t be wrong. Come visit Orlando and enjoy all we have to offer.

By: Teresa Jacobs

Mayor, Orange County Florida


Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer Column – State of the City Address

This year’s State of The City Address marked the beginning of my 11th year serving as Mayor of the City of Orlando and served as an excellent platform to reaffirm my continuing commitment to working for all Orlando families making this City a great place to live, work, learn and raise a family.

A year ago we said Orlando was slowly rebounding from the devastating effects of the recession, but that we were primed to come back faster and stronger because of the work our community has done to strengthen small businesses and diversify our economy. Today, signs of movement are everywhere.  Orlando has showed signs of economic recovery, from the lowest unemployment rate in four years to remarkable increases in commercial and residential permitting to more than $670 million in projects underway and $500 million projects expected to start soon in Downtown Orlando.

We’re seeing growth in our housing market and our region is expected to see more than 27-thousand jobs created in the year ahead, which would wipe out the losses we’ve experienced since 2008.  And, commercial permitting has doubled in the last two years. Driving this upturn are Orlando’s neighborhood businesses.

Established in 2008, Orlando Main Street program is an economic development program specifically targeted to provide technical assistance, training and staff support to urban commercial districts in the City of Orlando.  Since it was launched, the program has helped more than 400 new businesses open, created 24-hundred jobs and generated a 137 million dollar re-investment in our districts.  More striking than the numbers are the stories of these hometown entrepreneurs who are pursuing their American dream.

Creating the success stories of the future, and growing and retaining a talented workforce, is the mission of two of our City’s “knowledge industry” clusters: The Medical City at Lake Nona and Downtown Orlando’s Creative Village. At the Creative Village, we’re building the infrastructure to support our future live, work, learn and play neighborhood for technology workers.  The Medical City has come to life, with all of its major facilities scheduled to be operating in the year ahead. The Medical City will ultimately create more than 30-thousand jobs and a ten-year economic impact of 8 billion dollars.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is expanding and Orlando is at the top of its list. But, securing a franchise requires a new urban stadium. We have an ownership group prepared to invest in our community, but timing is critical and we have a limited window of opportunity. So, we owe it to our community to work together to make this happen.  Soccer is the world’s most popular sport particularity in Brazil, Central and South America. This means a world of soccer fans, and their economic impact, could be at our front door.

A new MLS franchise in Orlando would generate nearly $1.2 billion in new direct spending over the next 30 years including the construction of a stadium, which alone would generate nearly 1,000 jobs.

I have no doubt that we will continue working together for the future of our city. The best times are yet to come and with the help of residents, local governments and private enterprise, we will turn Orlando into a modern metropolis worth admiring.

Tourism and Culture in the Port City

Tourism and culture in the Port City


On cruise ship days, Saint John comes alive.

On any given day during the cruise season, you could see one, two, even three ships docked in the harbour. Gangways connect the ships to two state of the art terminals and connect their passengers to the historic port city.

Saint John, Canada’s first incorporated city is fourth in the country by cruise traffic. This year, Cruise Saint John is celebrating 25 years of cruise and welcoming their two millionth passengers ashore.

Still, even an average cruise day feels like a celebration.

Passengers are greeted by a committee of volunteers who hand out roses, pins and miniature Canadian flags. Everyone is excited to welcome them.

From there, passengers embark on bubblegum pink double-deck buses that allow them to hop on and off across town, each ticket supporting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Tour operators wait with excursions to landmarks and landscapes. Passengers also venture out on foot, blazing their own path through Saint John’s cultural core.

“Tourism has a positive impact on Saint John because the growth of entrepreneurial spirit and opening of small shops, galleries and eateries which are here both during the tourism season and all year long for locals to enjoy,” Port Saint John president and CEO Jim Quinn said.

Quinn grew up in Saint John, later moving away. During his time away, the city underwent a transformation. Saint John was named a cultural capital in 2010 and one of the world’s Top 7 Intelligent Communities in 2012.

“There have been many changes. Uptown Saint John today is alive with activity with a variety of galleries, shops and eateries now located in the blocks surrounding the Port,” he said.

Cruise tourism has played a major role in Saint John’s cultural boom. Uptown streets are lined with boutiques, restaurants and galleries, loved by tourists and locals alike.

At Exchange on Germain, the city’s newest high-end fashion boutique, many of the clothes travel the same distance as cruise visitors. Owner Lisa Oland brings in upscale brands like Chanel, Coach and Ralph Lauren from places like New York, Boston, Toronto and abroad.

Oland lived uptown for 13 years and knew she wanted her boutique stationed there.

“I love the architecture. I love the history. I love the vibe of uptown, so it’s where I wanted to be, personally,” she said.

When Oland put together her business plan, she wanted to make Exchange on Germain a sustainable business year round – not just during the summer. The boutique opened its doors last October, near the tail end of the cruise season.

Oland’s business sits near the middle of iconic Germain Street, a side street famed for red brick homes, colourful doors and the historic Trinity Church. When visitors turn away after photographing the church, their eyes land on Oland’s vibrant window displays.

“It wasn’t just browsing. They were shopping,” she said. Word of the boutique spread by mouth from passenger to passenger as they ventured into the city core.

Five years ago, Oland said she didn’t think Saint John was ready for a high-end consignment shop. Uptown Saint John’s cultural boom and influx of creative business owners changed her mind.

Mayor Mel Norton was elected in 2012. He started building dialogue in social media around the idea of Saint John as a “renaissance city.” Along with an increase in cultural hotspots, the city’s population also grew three per cent between 2006 and 2011.

Norton said the cruise ship industry in Saint John is a visible and tangible sign of the importance of the Port to the city. He called port “the heartbeat of the community.”

“Conferences that come to Saint John are now focusing their events around the port. They’re accessing the cruise facilities as meeting spaces to have those conferences. They’re set in a very meaningful way right on the waterfront. It’s really neat to see,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hilary Paige Smith is an award-winning writer living in Saint John, N.B. She’s currently working in communications at Port Saint John. She can be reached at

Full Sail University

A world-class entertainment and media school in the heart of the Orlando area

The Orlando area is recognized as an entertainment destination based on its attractions alone, and it’s also home to one of the world’s leading entertainment and media universities.

Located on a 212-acre campus that has the look and feel of a Hollywood studio, Full Sail University is the educational answer to the professional, technical, and artistic needs of the entertainment and media industry.

Offering associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees on its Winter Park, Florida campus and online, Full Sail’s academic programs include those in digital arts, recording, film, video game design and development, entertainment business, web and mobile development, animation, and more.

An Educational Model Based on Industry Best Practices

All programs are centered on Full Sail’s unique educational philosophy – which combines relevant industry insight with immersive experience working on the same equipment and using the same workflow practices found in the real world.

Just one example of the school’s commitment to familiarizing students with industry technology and tools is Project LaunchBox™, which equips every student – both on-campus and online – with a MacBook Pro at an institutional discount, plus the same media creation software found in the professional world.

Real-World Opportunities

Full Sail University’s ongoing connections to the entertainment and media industry provide unparalleled opportunities for real-world student experience. The Full Sail University Sports Lab Powered by ESPN provides an on-site space for the network to develop original content, and allows students to gain experience working alongside the ESPN team.

Additionally, WWE has brought TV tapings of its NXT programming to the Full Sail campus, and nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz broadcasts live from university facilities – both giving opportunities for students to participate in television production.

Student Credits on Major Projects


This emphasis on student opportunities has paved the way for many graduates to make notable achievements within their industries. Full Sail graduate credits include work on OSCAR®, Emmy®, GRAMMY®, ADDY®, MTV Video Music Award, and Spike Video Game Award nominated and winning projects.

Most recently, Full Sail alumni have contributed to films such as Argo, The Avengers, The Dark Night Rises, and Brave, TV programs including Breaking Bad and American Idol, albums by artists such as Madonna, Beyoncé, Usher, and Coldplay, and video games including Red Dead Redemption, Halo 4, and the Call of Duty series.

Awards and Accolades

Full Sail has been recognized as one of the Top Five Game Degree Programs by Electronic Gaming Monthly, one of the Best Music Programs by Rolling Stone Magazine, and one of the Best Film Programs by UNleashed Magazine. In 2011, Full Sail received the “21st Century Best Practices in Distance Learning Award” from the United States Distance Learning Association, was named the “School/College of the Year” by the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges, and was recognized as one of the Top 100 Social Media Colleges by

A Campus Worth Experiencing

With more than 880,000 square feet of real-world media production facilities, including more than 110 studios and labs, 60-plus classrooms, and a state-of-the-art performance venue, Full Sail’s campus is a 24/7 hub of creative activity. The school offers its monthly Behind the Scenes Tour, which gives a personalized and up-close view of facilities and degree programs, as well as daily, hourly tours of the campus.

If you’re interested in learning more about Full Sail University, or want to book a tour any day of the week, visit or call 800.226.7625.

It’s Just an Illusion..

Before reading tonight’s story you must firstly look at photo 1 below, at first it looks like a photo of a naked lady in a window, when in fact it’s a total illusion, and there is no lady at all when you look again, knowing this fact, and know knowing what tricks an illusion can play with your brain, tonight’s story is about an illusion and how it was unfortunately deadly for an airliner in 1978.

December 23rd, 1978 was a busy day at Rome’s Leonard De Vinci Airport, lots of people were flying through Rome on their way home for the Christmas Holidays, all flights from Rome to Palermo in Sicily were full that day, and Alitalia, the national Italian Airline put on an extra flight to try and get rid of the backlog of passengers waiting to go to Palermo. The extra flight was operated by a Douglas DC-9 aircraft, and took off from Rome at 11:30pm as Alitalia flight 4128 to Palermo, with 129 on board. The flight was un-eventful, but on its final approach, one hour later, at half past midnight, the DC-9 crashed into the sea just 1.5 miles from the Airport, only 21 of the 129 onboard survived. The accident was attributed to the flight deck crew suffering from an extreme illusion, dangerous to pilots called – “The Black-hole approach illusion”.

A black-hole approach illusion can happen during a final approach of an aircraft at night (when there are no stars or moonlight) over water, or unlit terrain on to a lighted runway, beyond which the horizon is not visible or lit up. The pilot can therefore only see the runway lights in-front of him, nothing else, and If the pilot has no peripheral visual cues of exactly where the horizon is, or where the ground is in relation to their position, they may be tricked into the illusion of the aircraft being too high on its final approach, resulting in pitching the aircraft nose down to decrease to the perceived approach angle. Or that the aircraft is in level flight, and the runway appears to be tilted or sloping.

On that fateful night, flight 4128 was directed by air traffic control towards Palermo Airport, the intention was that air traffic control would talk the aircraft down to 2 miles from touch down, at this point, if the crew could see the runway, they would switch off the autopilot and visually land the aircraft. If they could not see the runway, the aircraft would apply full power and overshoot to go around for another try. Visibility was greater than 5 miles, but it was a windy night with full cloud cover and rain showers. The radar controller brought the DC-9 aircraft down to 1,500 feet, and when he was 4 miles from touchdown, the first offer, who was flying the aircraft, reported that they had the runway in sight, and was given landing permission. This is when the “black-hole approach illusion” kicked in – What happened next was the crew, believing they were nearer to the runway that they actually were, started to make a premature descent towards the runway, the wind was quite strong, and causing quite a bit of turbulence for the DC-9. The initial part of the approach was on autopilot until 2 miles from touch down when the crew turned off the autopilot, and stopped their decent at what they thought was 400 feet, as they were still thinking they were closer to the runway because of the illusion that the airport lights were giving to them. They were in fact not flying level but descending towards the sea. In the final nine seconds of the flight, traveling at a speed of 150 knots (173 mph), because of a sudden gust of wind, they lost enough altitude to impact the sea, which the crew had no idea was, at that time, only 30 feet below them, the aircraft’s right wing hit first, then the aircraft broke apart, and sank. 21 passengers survived and were rescued by nearby fishing boats. The cockpit voice recorder, when recovered, showed that the crew, who thought they were in level flight at 400 feet above the water, were confused as to how far away the runway was, they heard the “Too Low” warning, and if they checked their instruments, they would have seen that they were descending and not in level flight, but because of the illusion, they ignored the warning and instruments, and continued to fly the aircraft visually towards the runway, with a fatal ending. The accident was attributed to pilot error.

Photo 2 shows the aircraft in better times, one year before, and photo 3 shows the aircraft after it was salvaged from the sea, and upon the conclusion of the investigation, was sold as scrap metal to a local scrap merchant in Sicily.

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The magnificent Palma Cathedral

If you ever visit the island of Mallorca (Majorca), Spain you will have seen the magnificent Catalonian Gothic Cathedral that dominates the skyline of the islands Capital, Palma. This towering Cathedral, which ranks at the 4th most beautiful Cathedral in the world! Overlooks the harbor in the oldest part of the city, and is dedicated to San Sebastian, Palma’s patron saint. The foundation stone was laid on New Year’s Day 1230, and it was laid on the site where previously a mosque stood, so it faces Mecca rather than Jerusalem.

The Palma de Mallorca Cathedral or “la Seu”, as it is known in Mallorca (Majorca), is the jewel in the crown of Mallorcan architecture. Apart from being one of the most famous Gothic buildings in Europe, it represents Mallorca (Majorca) and is a symbol of the whole of the Balearic archipelago. It is considered one of the most magnificent buildings ever built and encompasses almost all artistic styles since the Middle Ages.

The Cathedral has its origins at the very beginnings of the Christian takeover of the island, back in the 13th Century. In the autumn of 1229, King James I and his men sailed to the island to defeat the Arabs and it was on his crossing that the see of the cathedral was sown. A storm rages so violently during the 3 and a half day journey that the young King feared for his life, so he made an oath to God, promising, should his enterprise succeed, he would erect a temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary. He was lucky, not only did he arrive safely, but he also defeated the Arabs. And as a God-fearing Christian he did not forget his promise, and quickly set about putting into practice his oath.  As mentioned earlier the foundation stone was laid the following year (1230) and faced towards Mecca, in doing so King James created an all-time historical paradox; anyone kneeling at the altar in Mallorca’s Cathedral does so in the direction of Mecca like a Muslim, not, as should be the case for a Christian, towards Jerusalem. World on the Cathedral was not completed until 1601, when the main façade was completed. The vast central vault is 144 feet high, its columns tower to a height of 65 feet, it has one of the world’s largest stain glass windows containing 1,236 pieces of glass, and measuring 39 feet across. Twice a year an extraordinary display of light is created inside the cathedral by the sun, because of the architectural genius of the cathedral’s creators. On the 2nd February and the 11th November, at around 8am, the rising sun shines through the massive stained glass window on the east side of the cathedral, and casts a huge multi-coloured display just below the rose window on the opposite end of the cathedral, 400 feet away. On other days of the year it just casts this wonderful shadow down into the main central vault of the cathedral. The photos below show this magnificent cathedral and the shadow.

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How an Airbus A330 Aircraft became a Glider..

Tonight is a story about Air Transat Flight number 236 from Toronto, Canada to Lisbon, Portugal. On Thursday 24th August 2001,  293 people boarded the Airbus A330 aircraft owned by Canadian Airline Air Transat to fly from Toronto to Lisbon, in addition to the 293 passengers there were 13 crew members on board piloted by Captain Robert Piche. The aircraft departed from Toronto on-time with 46.9 tonnes of fuel onboard, more than enough to make the non-stop flight to Lisbon.

4hrs 28 minutes into the flight a cockpit warning system chimes and warned of high oil pressure in engine number 2 – the Airbus A330 has two engines, one under each wing. The captain and co-pilot suspected that it was false warning as everything else was showing normal. 4hrs 36 minutes into the flight and the pilots received a warning of fuel imbalance, not knowing at this point that they had a fuel leak, so they following the standard procedure to remedy the imbalance by transferring fuel from one wing to the near-empty tank on the other wing. Unknown to the pilots, the aircraft had developed a fuel leak in a fuel line to the right hand engine. The transferring of fuel to correct the imbalance only made the problem worse by wasting fuel through the leak in the engine on the right hand side. The leak, which averaged 1 gallon per second, caused the initial warning of a pressure problem because of the increased fuel flow to the engine that had the leak in it.

4hrs 45 minutes into the flight – The pilots decide to divert too Lajes Air Base in the Azores as they are still unsure at this stage if they have a fuel leak or not.

5hrs 13 minutes into the flight – While still 135 miles from Lajes Air Base, the right hand engine shuts down because of fuel starvation, Captain Piche orders full thrust from the remaining engine, starts to descend from 39,000 feet, and declares an emergency with Azores air traffic control.

5hrs 23 minutes into the flight – The crew send out a mayday as they realize that although the right engine has shut down, the fuel tank was still feeding fuel into that engine and they could not stop this, hence they were wasting what precious fuel that had left as it was leaking through the engine and down into the dark Atlantic.

5hrs 36 minutes into the flight – The nightmare begins as the remain engine shuts down because of fuel starvation, they are still 65 miles from touch down, without engine power, and also no primary source of electrical power. The aircraft if equipped with a “ram air turbine” which basically is deployed from under the aircraft and, it looks like a large fan and the wind turns it to provide essential power for critical sensor and instruments to be able to fly the aircraft. However there was only emergency lighting in the passenger cabin, and the aircraft had no hydraulic power to operate the flaps to slow it down, and no reverse thrust or hydraulic breaks to stop it on the runway.

Military air traffic controllers at Lajes had to track the aircraft on radar and tell the pilots exactly where they were and to guide them towards the airfield. l say guide them as the huge aircraft was now a glider, Captain Piche flew the aircraft while the co-pilot monitored the rate of descent, which was 2,000 feet a minute. This meant that they had approx. 15 minutes to land, or either ditch into the dark Atlantic Ocean.

6hrs 01 minute into the flight – The crew sighted the air base, but had to execute a series of 360 degree turns to lose air speed and altitude if they were to successfully line up with Runway 33 at Lajes.

6hrs 06 minutes into the flight – The plane was now lined up with the runway, and on its final descent, going faster than normal, they manually unlocked the landing gear, the air speed was still too high, but they had no flaps to slow it down before landing.

At 6hrs 11 minutes the aircraft touched down hard at 200 knots, a normal landing speed is 140 knots, the aircraft bounced back into the air, and touched down again 2,800 feet down the runway, it had 7,600 feet of runway left in which to stop. With the operation of emergency brakes, all eight tires burst, in fact most were ground into the tarmac, the aircraft stopped 200 feet from the end of the runway. Everybody evacuated using the slides, and only 16 people suffered minor injuries during the evacuation.

One final thought – In theory the outcome should have been much worse, and the track for the flight that night from Toronto to Lisbon should have taken a more northerly route over the Atlantic. However the flight was re-routed at the last minute by air traffic control, via a more southerly route over the Azores because of congestion over the northerly tracks that night. Had the flight takes its original track, it would have had to ditch into the North Atlantic. The photos below show the aircraft the morning after the incredible glide into Lajes, still on the runway with all the slides deployed, photo 2 shows the brakes and tires which were ground into the airports runway, and photo 3 the tracks for the aircraft showing the original route and the route that it was changed to.

air-transat Air-Transat-Flight-236-picture map

Happy Easter

Today is Good Friday, here in the USA, Good Friday, and Easter Monday are just regular working days. The only religious observance here is Easter Sunday. So let’s look at the meaning, and the different customs observed during Easter. We start with the word “Easter” it is named after Eastre, the Angle-Saxon goddess of Spring, and many of the Easter observances and customs are a “salute to spring” marking re-birth.

People celebrate Easter according to their beliefs and their religious denominations, Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day that Jesus Christ died, and Easter Sunday as the day that he was resurrected. On Easter Sunday many children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny has left them Easter Eggs. Eggs were originally given to celebrate Easter or springtime As such, Easter eggs are common during the religious season of Easter. In Christianity, they symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, and also an egg appears to be like the stone of a tomb. A bird hatches from an egg, full of life; similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is also a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave. In many parts of the world the Easter egg is beautifully decorated, photo 1 and 2 below show embroidered Easter eggs from the Ukraine, and eggs from the Czech Republic that have been decorated b y boiling with onion skins. Egg rolling is also a traditional Easter egg game, originally in the United Kingdom, and Germany,  children traditionally roll eggs down hillsides at Easter. This tradition was taken to the United States by European settlers, and continues to this day each Easter on the White House lawn, in Washington DC. And finally photo3 shows the world’s largest Easter egg, which was made in Belgium by the Guylian chocolate company in 2005. The egg by the way weighed 1200 Kilos (2646 lbs)…

1 KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA World's Biggest Easter Egg Goes On Show

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