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BOO 2011


Photo by Bryan Soderlind

Sports and Recreation - Staff Picks


Best excuse for an Irish Santa

Letters to Santa: Cookies and a Movie
Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-629-0054; enzian.org

Falling squarely (and barely) under the “recreation” part of this category, it must be said that the Enzian consistently follows through with grand ideas, from Bond-inspired martini parties to this holiday morning for the kiddies. As a Looney Tunes cartoon was barely paid attention to on the big screen, little ones worked away at wish lists for a waiting-in-the-wings Santa … who happened to be Irish. And why not? Fueled by cookies and sugar plums, the kids swiftly bum-rushed the jolly elf while their parents snapped photos with their own cameras, thus sparing those in attendance from the freakishly long lines and freakier price packages of just such a photo at any of the city’s malls around the holidays. Our wallets thank you.


STILL GREAT: Best of Orlando, 2003

Best Theme Park

14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-855-5496; gatorland.com

WE SAID THEN: It’s been said that you’re not a native unless you can make the gator mating call – a kind of “gulp gulp” noise – and for inspiration, there’s no better place than the boardwalks around Gatorland’s mood-enhanced Alligator Breeding Marsh at sunset during the warm-water breeding season. For a gone-wild experience, there’s nothing like watching the randy devils back-rubbing and snout-smacking – four males to every female – just a few feet away from viewers. (A few seem to like an audience.) The marsh is but one of the gator fascinations at this Old-Florida-style attraction that mixes education with bloody sensation. The Gator Jumparoo makes a show out of leaping and snarling for chicken-carcass snacks. Best of all, Gatorland markets itself as “Orlando’s Best Half Day Attraction,” making no demands for a ridiculously exhausting full-day excursion to get your money’s worth, which amounts to less than $20 per person.

WE SAY NOW: Not much has changed at Gatorland, including the less-than-$20 admission fee. You can still watch gators doing what they like to do (including getting it on), and now you can get a birds-eye view of the action, too – the attraction has added a “Screamin’ Gator” zipline ride that takes you flying over the gators and crocs below.

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