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Celebrities, baby boomer entertainers and experts converge Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 at AARP's Orlando@50+ convention

The AARP’s annual national convention, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 in Orlando, covers practically everything to make the golden years a bit shinier.

Just don't think of Orlando@ 50+ as one-stop retirement shopping.

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"Sixty-five percent of the folks who will show up in Orlando are not retired," said CB Wismar, AARP vice president for events, in a telephone interview. "They are still actively working."

And perhaps making Orlando@50+ part of their recreation time.

"We've created an event that we hope attracts members, that is generally part of their vacation planning," Wismar said.

"Unlike most of the conventions that come through Orlando, or any other major convention city, there's nobody on an expense account except exhibitors. The folks who are attending are spending their own money."

As usual, the AARP has its members' financial well-being in mind with Orlando@50+ pricing. A three-day convention pass costs only $25, allowing access to 62 sessions featuring celebrity guests and experts in lifestyle issues, health and fitness, travel and technology, plus various AARP University seminars to get the most from your membership.

Passes also gain access to the Exhibit Hall — open daily from 10 a.m. to closing — featuring more than 275 booths representing businesses and services enhancing retirement years.

However, Orlando@50+ isn't just for learning. Each evening offers concerts starring baby boomer icons for an additional fee as low as $25.

"A ticket to see Crosby, Stills & Nash, Judy Collins and Richie Havens for 25 bucks?" Wismar said. "That's a hard ticket to beat."

Complete information about Orlando@50+ events is available online ( Here are a few suggestions to make your planning easier.


Age equals experience, and Orlando@50+ welcomes some of the wisest folks in their fields sharing what they've learned. Someone is discussing your life sometime during Orlando@50+, including these guest speaker highlights:

Sept. 30: Journalist Jane Pauley talks about late-life career changes (12:30 p.m.); sports commentator James Brown and actors Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich examine lifestyle issues (1 p.m.); humorist Dave Barry finds the fun in growing older (2 p.m.); Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan will get your attention while sharing training tips (3:30 p.m.); and tennis legend Martina Navratilova talks about recovering from setbacks (4 p.m.).

Oct. 1: Married pundits James Carville and Mary Matalin discuss what's fair in love, war and politics (10:30 a.m.); Stedman Graham reveals how to be successful after 50 — and dating Oprah Winfrey doesn't hurt (2 p.m.); Peter Greenberg offers ecotourism tips (2 p.m.); and radio host/author Tom Joyner holds court at 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 2: Wake up and work out with fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner (7:30 a.m.) then choose between the convention's headliners: Oscar-winning actor and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg or retiring CNN interviewer Larry King, each speaking at 9:30 a.m.


Each evening of Orlando@50+ winds down with classic rock, pop and R&B performers in concert at 7:30 p.m., for an extra fee. Tickets range from $25 to $100 per concert.

Sept. 30: Slow your roll and smooth your groove with the legendary Gladys Knight and B.B. King.

Oct. 1: The World's Greatest Dance Party With Gloria Gaynor, Los Lobos and the World Classic Rockers, featuring former members of Journey, Santana, Steppenwolf, Boston, Toto and Lynyrd Skynyrd playing their band's hits.

Oct. 2: Relive the summer of love with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Judy Collins and Richie Havens.


Seems like everything at the multiplex is geared to teens, tweens and kiddies. Not at Orlando@50+, where nine mature films will be presented, including a few celebrity guests. The list includes:

Casino Jack: Fresh from the Toronto Film Festival, Kevin Spacey stars as super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the colorful linchpin of a Washington bribery scandal. (Sept. 30, noon)

Expecting Mary: A pregnant teenager gets helping hands from a truck driver (Elliott Gould) and a trailer park queen (Linda Gray). Gould and Gray are scheduled for an after-show Q&A session. (Sept. 30, 2:30 p.m.)

Nowhere Boy: Before he was a Beatle, John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) was a Liverpool lad living with an eccentric aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas). Nowhere Boy is slated for limited release in October. (Sept. 30, 5 p.m.)

Get Low: Robert Duvall plays a backwoods elder who wants a funeral while he's alive. Bill Murray co-stars as the undertaker making it happen. Get Low is currently in limited release. (Oct. 1, 9:30 a.m.)

Waiting for 'Superman': Oscar winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) examines our failing U.S. educational system. Waiting for 'Superman' opens in theaters later this year. (Oct. 1, noon)

RED: The title stands for "retired and extremely dangerous," describing former CIA agents (Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman) showing younger guns how it's done. RED opens nationally on Oct. 15. (Oct. 1, 2:30 p.m.)

Secretariat: Diane Lane and John Malkovich star in the saga of the Triple Crown-winning race horse. Secretariat opens nationwide Oct. 8. (Oct. 1, 5 p.m.)

Flipped: Director Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally . . .) will take audience questions after screening this nostalgic look at 1960s puppy love. Flipped opened in theaters in limited release earlier this month. (Oct. 2, noon)

Invictus: Clint Eastwood's fact-based drama of South African apartheid and World Cup rugby won AARP's Best Movie for Grown Ups award this year. Available on home video. (Oct. 2, 2:30 p.m.)

AARP's Orlando@50+

Where: Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive in Orlando.

When: Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

Ticket info: Convention tickets are $25 for AARP members ($35 for nonmembers, including an AARP membership). Concert tickets range from $25-$100. Tickets and information are available online at AARP.

Celebrities, baby boomer entertainers and experts converge Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 at AARP's Orlando@50+ convention 08/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 4:39pm]
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