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Live Active Cultures

Sailing into January with optimistic expectations for Orlando's coming cultural year

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To start, I stopped by the "soft opening" of the Faith Arts Village Orlando established by Park Lake Presbyterian Church in a derelict Colonial Drive motel. FAVO has been hosting monthly "First Friday" food truck events for more than a year, but the facility's grand opening will finally arrive on Feb. 1. Despite a drizzling rain and the chain-link fence across the main entrance, when I finally made my way to the rear of the property I was impressed by what I found. The two floors of mod glass-fronted rooms make welcoming studio spaces, and it will be interesting to see the space once more artists-in-residence move in beyond the two living there currently. And though the project has a religious outreach mission, I didn't observe any overt proselytizing in the artwork.

Next up on the new venue calendar: February's premiere of Rocking Horse Theater Factory, the new West Washington Street home of Renegade and Howlers.

New thrills & chills

Not forgetting our local theme parks, I've abandoned the idea of Disney opening anything truly inspiring until at least 2014. Universal has an expanded Simpsons area and a clone of their terrific Transformers ride on tap for this summer, but new Potter attractions are more than a year away. Instead, it's SeaWorld's turn to take center stage with their enormous Antarctica expansion. Innovative track-free ride tech plus painfully cute penguins: What could go wrong?

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