It goes without saying that Visit Orlando does a fantastic job of showcasing their city for media. The tour created for WEC writers, in my opinion, went beyond the expected: the writers saw a side of the city I’m quite sure that not many, not even Orlando natives, have an opportunity to experience.
Friday night, the host hotel for the media, Peabody Orlando, started everything with a welcome reception in the Rocks bar, where the journalists had a fantastic view of the refined dining space and the outdoor pool and water park area. The Peabody recently finished a half billion dollar renovation, and the results are dazzling. From there, it was on to the One Ocean Show in Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld Orlando. The Show, with trained killer whales as the entertainment, not only entertained but educated; between sets, the audience learned about the conservation efforts of the park. Afterward, the group even got to meet some of the animals helped by SeaWorld: a toucan, sloth and other curious animals that delighted everyone and caused a flurry of pictures. We capped the evening with an informational dinner in the private event space and a Q&A on how groups can enjoy the kind of experience we just enjoyed.
Our group got an early start the next morning at the Citrus Club for a tourism roundtable with Visit Orlando CEO Gary Sain. While enjoying a private breakfast, the media learned about the city’s role as a leading meeting destination and the more than $4 billion in new developments. Gary had a great comment how Orlando works with planners to not only create incredible return on investment but also a return on ideas. After this, the topic turned to sustainability at a Clean the World hands-on recycling event at the organization’s headquarters. Clean the World works throughout the hospitality industry and the sanitizing session demonstrated the dedication that the organization and its volunteers have to providing soap for impoverished areas of the world.
Next we were off to the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), part of the University of Central Florida’s Center for Emerging Media. Truly a highlight, the reps at FIEA explained the growth of the interactive and digital media industry, its tie to the local economy and how groups and associations are making use of the technology in learning and presentations.
A behind-the-scenes view of the Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic, revealed several spaces available for events, each with a distinct environment. The added bonus was a catered lunch provided by Amway in the Fairwinds Tower Room, with a clear view of downtown, and the opportunity to speak with Scott Joseph, Orlando restaurant critic and writer, who discussed the evolution of Orlando’s fine dining scene. The day ended with a tour of Medical City at Lake Nona, an attraction for medical groups who use the research laboratories and education facilities, and one of the venues that makes Orlando a popular destination for medical meetings. After an extensive Q&A, the group was ready to make it back to the Peabody and prepare for the opening night reception at Disney’s Epcot Alive!
A huge thank you goes to Jennifer Dienst and the Visit Orlando team, all host venues, the media themselves for being such a receptive audience to the locations and everyone involved.