FloridImagine.Com Blog

Serving the I-4 Corridor from Tampa to Orlando

Polk Family Fun Guide

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Attention “Family Friendly” Polk County businesses and attractions, there is a new site where you can list your information — The Polk Family Fun Guide.

If you are looking for family friendly dining, entertainment, shopping and more, the Polk Family Fun Guide is the place to begin your search. Visitors can start their search with our directory listings.

If you have a family friendly business in Polk County Florida we invite you to submit your information.

Check it out.

LEGOLAND® FloridaThe last five directors for LEGOLAND® Florida have been announced. The press release is posted at The Brick Blog. As part of the announcement, time is getting close for hiring the nearly 1000 “Model Citizens” that will staff the park.

A group of Polk County government, business, and tourism leaders made a trip to London to discus plans for Legoland Florida.

Plans are moving along for Legoland Florida (at the old Cypress Gardens site in Winter Haven), and park officials will hold a community preview meeting in early July. That is what a group of Polk County leaders learned from Legoland officials on Thursday afternoon as they visited the company’s park in Windsor, just outside of London.

I am excited to hear about the community preview meeting in July. I think this project is a wonderful opportunity for Winter Haven and Polk County, both for the jobs it will create and in the revenue it will bring to the area. Of course the park itself will just be a lot of fun for the kids in our home, including the big one who writes this blog!

I will keep you informed with new information as I find it. Be sure to check back often.

LEGOLAND Press Release

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Here is a press release from Legoland Florida.

POLK COUNTY, FL (Feb. 24, 2010) – The excitement is building since the announcement of LEGOLAND® Florida in January, and now future guests and job seekers can follow the progress of the family theme park at www.LEGOLANDFloridaResort.com. The website includes a press page with photos and video of LEGOLAND® California, a link to all available job opportunities with Merlin Entertainments and a link to LEGOLAND® California Resort.

Due to the strong interest from contractors, a separate email has been set up for those wishing to introduce their company and offer their services to Merlin Entertainments. All those inquiries should be addressed to LLFContractors@LEGOLAND.com.

LEGOLAND Florida opens at the end of 2011 and will be the biggest LEGOLAND Park to ever open offering a unique mix of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including spectacular LEGO® models. The Florida development will be Merlin Entertainment’s second LEGOLAND Park in North America and will play an important role in the group’s continued growth in the U.S. Providing a full-day, year round, theme park experience geared towards families with children between the ages of two and 12, LEGOLAND Florida will mirror the successful concept of the four existing LEGOLAND Parks in Denmark, Germany, UK and California. However, as with the other four, it will also have its own unique “twist” reflecting its stunning location and adding a Florida flavor.

Florida House bill SB6, linking teacher pay to student test scores and eliminating tenure for newly hired teachers, was passed early this morning after lengthy debate.

Florida would become the first state in the nation to enact such a broadside on teacher tenure, which Republicans said would reward excellent teachers with higher salaries and get rid of a system that promotes mediocrity.

[...]

Under the bill, pay raises for Florida’s 167,000 teachers would be based primarily on student test scores. No longer would years of experience and degrees dictate teacher salary. Instead, pay would hinge on student “learning gains,” as charted by standardized tests, and principal reviews.

In addition, the bill would eliminate tenure job protections for teachers hired after July. New teachers would work on one-year contracts, which would be renewed only if their students show testing gains two out of every three years.

Advocates say it will improve Florida’s public schools by rewarding good teachers with bigger paychecks and weeding out ineffective instructors.

“This is what I like about the bill…If you do a good job, you make more money,” said Rep. Mike Horner, R -Kissimmee, arguing it would motivate teachers and have a “profound effect on the students in this state.”

Many teachers, however, view it as unfair, unrealistic and unworkable.

I think that the idea of rewarding teachers based on their performance is a good one. I have some concerns about basing that performance on student test scores, but can’t think of another non-subjective measure to use.

The question now is whether Gov. Crist will sign the law. He originally indicated that he would sign the bill into law, but recent comments seem to have him on the fence. Calls and emails coming into the Governor’s office have been overwhelmingly opposed to the bill.

What are your thoughts? The comments are open.

Thanks A Million

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Walt Disney ParksThe Walt Disney Company has reached their goal of inspiring one million volunteers through their Give a Day, Get a Disney Day promotion.

Since the program started just 10 weeks ago, on Jan. 1, a million people already have volunteered or have committed to volunteer in their communities, according to Disney Parks and HandsOn Network, the nation’s largest volunteer network and a facilitator of “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day.”

To celebrate the good deeds of these individuals, Disney Parks offered each volunteer who completed an eligible project a free one-day admission to one theme park in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland Resort in California. Although registration is now closed and the program has ended, those who volunteered have until Dec. 15, 2010, to redeem their free park ticket (certain block-out dates apply).

Legoland at Cypress Gardens

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I know I’m a bit behind with this, but the story is too good to ignore. I’ll be following the progress and reporting back to you.

I guess I’m just a big kid, but I am so excited about Legoland coming to Florida.

A front-loading tractor was positioned Thursday morning outside the Magnolia Mansion at Cypress Gardens. It wasn’t there to move any dirt.

Instead, a driver tilted down the scoop and dumped 100,000 Lego bricks onto a stage. That was a mere down payment, with 39.9 million more to follow when Legoland Florida opens by the end of next year.

LegolandCypress Gardens is nearly in my front yard, less than a 15 minute drive. If pushed, I could practically walk there. It was a destination for travelers long before the mouse moved in.

The possibility of 1000 local jobs is great news for the area, but I am excited about being so close to 40 million Legos.

[Merlin Entertainments Group CEO Nick] Varney said Legoland Florida will be larger than any of the company’s four existing Legoland parks – one in California and three in Europe. He said the park will eventually become Legoland Florida Resort and will contain at least one hotel.

Legoland Florida will follow the same model with a central “Miniland” exhibiting elaborate Lego models depicting scenes from the area. He said the company’s designers are already at work designing Lego constructions for the Winter Haven attraction.

The Legoland parks are geared toward children 2 to 12 years old – and, of course, their parents. Varney, calling Lego one of the world’s best-known brands, said the parks are unique among tourist attractions in presenting children the opportunity for “playful learning,” as opposed to passive entertainment at other theme parks.

The projected opening is October, 2011. I’ll be there.

Photo Credit: SCOTT WHEELER | The Ledger

Pig Fest 2010

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In spite of the very un-Florida like cold, teams from around the south are getting ready for Pig Fest.

The freezing temperatures didn’t stop barbecue teams from setting up Wednesday and Thursday at Firemen’s Field for the annual Central Florida BBQ Festival, or Pig Fest, which begins at 8 a.m. today and ends at about 7 p.m. on Saturday.

The event is more than BBQ. Attendees will also be able to enjoy a live blues concert, tractor and classic car parade, hog calling, and of course food. Brave the cold and head out to Fireman’s Field, located at the corner of Kenilworth Boulevard and the Sebring Parkway across for Sebring High School.

Cypress Gardens to Close?

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No confirmation, but I just heard a story on the radio that said Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Water Park will close as of today.

Searching I found this at the News Chief:

After months of rumor surrounding the possible sale or closing of Cypress Gardens, the owners announced this afternoon that Florida’s oldest theme park is closing effective today.

The following statement was released by Bob Morgan, the park’s director of sales and marketing:

“From the earliest moment that our firm purchased Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Waterpark, our highest priority has always been to maintain the park’s beauty and protect its proud traditions as a mainstay of the state’s history and natural treasures. It is with these ideals in mind that we must announce that the park will be closed for business as of Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009.

“During the last two years, Land South Adventures LLC has explored numerous management frameworks and exhausted every possible approach to keep the park running in its traditional form. Now, we are in the process of negotiating with several potential purchasers and lessees for all or part of the property, and do not feel it is fair to our employees, the guests, or the public to continue operations heading into the fall with the future of the property in flux.

“We are optimistic that the outcome will be in the best interests of both the park and the residents of Polk County and the state of Florida.”

More on this when it becomes known.

Erika

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Tropical storm Erika has formed in the Atlantic. Here’s what the National Hurricane Center had at 5am:

AT 500 AM AST…0900 UTC…THE POORLY-DEFINED CENTER OF TROPICAL
STORM ERIKA WAS ESTIMATED NEAR LATITUDE 17.0 NORTH…LONGITUDE 59.0
WEST OR ABOUT 280 MILES…455 KM…EAST-SOUTHEAST OF THE NORTHERN
LEEWARD ISLANDS.

ERIKA HAS BEEN MOVING GENERALLY WESTWARD NEAR 5 MPH…7 KM/HR…AND
A WEST-NORTHWESTWARD MOTION AT A SLIGHTLY FASTER FORWARD SPEED IS
EXPECTED OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. ON THE FORECAST TRACK THE
CENTER WILL PASS NEAR OR OVER THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS DURING
THE NEXT DAY OR SO.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 50 MPH…85 KM/HR…WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. SOME STRENGTHENING IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

The latest five day forecast track has the storm just north of the Bahamas by Sunday. We’ll be watching.