Like a topiary in need of shaping up, Epcot is branching out with some new music and garden features for its springtime series, the International Flower & Garden Festival.
The fest, running March 4 through May 17, will include 10 new mini-gardens including a pepper garden, Shakespeare garden and a health garden. And no shocker here: Frozen will make its first appearance at the festival in topiary form. ...
1 Children's Gasparilla Extravaganza: A kids parade is part of this more-sedate version of Gasparilla, held since 1947 the weekend before the boozy bead-dazzled bacchanal on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa. Things start off at 11 a.m. Saturday with a bicycle and safety rodeo, followed by the Preschooler's Stroll at 1:30 p.m. at Bayshore Boulevard and Rome Avenue and then dozens of floats and bands will march along Bayshore from Bay to Bay to Edison Avenue throwing beads and candy. The day ends with sky ablaze in a "Piratechnic Extravaganza Fireworks" starting at 7 p.m. The alchohol-free event is free but you can get reserved seating for $33-$48 at (813) 251-8844 or at GasparillaTreasures.com....
With six major comedy talents in this one-night show at Amalie Arena, the Black and Brown Comedy Get Down is a blockbuster comedy lineup with Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Eddie Griffin, George Lopez, D.L. Hughley and Charlie Murphy. Talk about a star-studded lineup. You have a couple of talk show hosts (Lopez and Hughley), two of the four Original Kings of Comedy (Cedric and Hughley) and stars of films and TV shows (Griffin and Epps). Comedians are rarely booked into a venue this large but when you have the A-list of comedians of color, you need to make some room. Tickets are $46.50-$62.50 for the 8 p.m. Friday show at 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com....
Fans on Facebook will get to pick the name of the new baby gorilla at Busch Gardens. The adorable babe, a male, was born Dec. 16 at the Tampa theme park to 12-year-old endangered western lowland gorilla Pele. Potential names for the 1-month-old baby boy on the park's Facebook page are Birungi, meaning "bringer of good things;" Bem, meaning "peace;" and Enzi, meaning "power." Both Pele and baby, along with Busch Gardens' other gorillas, can be seen in the Myombe Reserve habitat at select times throughout the day. The naming poll is taking place now through Monday. — Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer...
01/19/15 The Feed
Publicists for the Discovery Life Channel's new show World's Worst Mom should send a thank you note to the Maryland authorities investigating the parents who allowed their school-aged children to walk home alone from a nearby park — because that case brought the theme of the show and its star into sharp focus.
Danielle and Alexander Meitiv are facing an investigation for neglect after allowing their children, ages 6 and 10, to walk home by themselves for about a mile. Someone called the police when they saw the kids and officers met them at the house and called child services to investigate. ...
Meatless Monday is not a new concept, but it is becoming an increasingly common one in even the most bacon-loving family kitchen as people look to save money, calories and maybe even the planet.
While we are still eating more meat than nearly any other country, per capita meat intake in the United States has dropped 12 percent in the past five years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates....
If you have some flexibility in your schedule, you could snag some lower-priced tickets to see The Book of Mormon during its two-week run at the Straz Center starting Tuesday. The winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, it's a popular show with tickets ranging from $38.50 to $163.59. The producers have announced they will conduct a preshow lottery at the ticket office two and a half hours before each performance. Print your name and whether you want one or two tickets, and two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for $31 tickets (cash only). Only one entry is allowed per person, and winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show identification to purchase tickets. The show runs through Feb. 1 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827; strazcenter.org. ...
Plan your weekend
Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival In part of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration, this weekend celebration features music by Atlantic Starr (Always, Secret Lovers) and Grammy-nominated R&B artist Ledisi (I Blame You, Best Friend) as well as showcases for authors, artists, a children's play zone, health and wellness seminars, cultural activities and vendors. Free. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. The Florida Holocaust Museum will record civil-rights testimonies Saturday and Sunday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park; for more information, go to flholocaustmuseum.org/learn/civil-rights-in-tampa-bay. For more information about the festival, which continues at various venues throughout the venue through Jan. 25, see tampablackheritage.org....
Compared to today's mega thrill rides, Walt Disney World's Space Mountain is a simple spin.
No upside-down loops. No 3D effects synchronized to the movement of the cars. It doesn't even reach 30 mph — half the speed of Busch Garden's Kumba. Yet as Florida's oldest roller coaster turns 40 on Thursday, it has one enduring advantage: the thrill of the unknown in pitch-darkness.
Strapped into a retro rocket ship, you blast through space for 2 1/2 minutes with no idea when the next drop or sharp turn is coming. You never do see the ride in full. Like the ambiguity of a Stanley Kubrick film, the less you see, the more the tension builds....
1Soledad O'Brien: The former CNN anchor who has launched her own documentary film production company will give a free talk at the University of South Florida on Tuesday as part of USF's Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Week. She will be speaking about "Igniting Hope." Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Arrive early to get a seat at the USF Marshall Student Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. ...
Once again, January brings a Disney deal for Florida residents only: We can visit three Disney World theme parks for $139. Sorry everyone else, a three-day ticket for nonresidents costs $274. The "Discover Disney" tickets must be used by June 4, and there are blackout dates for the Magic Kingdon around Easter, from March 30 to April 9. You have to show proof of Florida residency at the park entrance. There's also a four-day ticket for Floridians for $159, and a park-hopper option that allows you to visit multiple parks in one day that is available for $24.50 per ticket. See disneyworld.com or call (407) 939-7886. — Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer...
Plan your weekend
Alan Jackson The singer, pictured, brings his 25th anniversary Keepin' It Country Tour with Brandy Clark and Jon Pardi at 7 p.m. Friday to the USF Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $25-$75. (813) 974-3004.
Bill Engvall A longtime Tampa Bay favorite, the multiplatinum-selling Blue Collar Comedy Tour alum and sitcom star, right, performs at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Saturday. The Dancing With the Stars Season 17 finalist first shot to stardom with his late '90s platinum-selling album, Here's Your Sign. The title routine about how stupid people should have to wear signs on their heads so we can see them coming means he has had endless material to build on it. Tickets are $49.75-$62.75 Saturday at 8 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall. (727) 791-7400. ...
1 Florida Gulf Coast Clusters Dog Show: The largest dog show cluster in the state is under way in Tampa Bay this week through Jan. 18, featuring 10 American Kennel Club all-breed dog shows, conformation, junior showmanship, obedience trials, rally trials and free show tours to learn all about AKC dog shows. Take a peek behind the scenes to learn how a dog is judged and meet dog handlers. Visitors can bring their dogs not entering the show to participate in a Doggie Fun Zone with an obstacle course ($12). Entry is free, $5 parking. Florida Classic Park, 5360 Lockhart Road, Brooksville. (813) 415-1111. It runs 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Jan. 18. ...
World famous Nazi hunter Eli Rosenbaum, who was the inspiration for the charismatic attorney Leo Stein in the bestselling novel The Storyteller, will be the featured speaker and receive a humanitarian award at the Florida Holocaust Museum's "To Life" gala at the Mahaffey Theater on Feb. 26.
The author of Betrayal: The Untold Story of the Kurt Waldheim Investigation and Cover-Up, Rosenbaum is the longest serving prosecutor and investigator of Nazi war criminals in history. ...
Busch Gardens is kicking off 2015 with some deals, including a free pass to the Adventure Island water park, a Preschool Pass that lets kids 5 and under in free and a $99 two-park ticket for any two of the four SeaWorld-owned theme parks in Florida. The Tampa theme park announced Monday that you can get a free pass to Adventure Island with the purchase of a Busch Gardens Fun Card, which costs $95 for adults, $90 for kids 3-9, and is good through Dec. 31. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Sesame Street Safari of Fun kiddie zone (right), the park is letting in kids 5 and younger free through Dec. 31. Online registration is required at buschgardens.com and it does not include separate-ticketed events or other Pass Member discounts. A two-park Fun Card gets you into any two parks for any two days for $99 including Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, SeaWorld Orlando and the Aquatica water park in Orlando. There are no blackout dates, and the visits must be redeemed by May 22. — Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer...