In this edition of the Orlando Media Newsletter, see some of the most popular places to spot manatees throughout Central Florida and discover ways to support local small businesses throughout the destination on Small Business Saturday. 

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Trending Orlando Topics 

  • Manatee Season Starts Now: While Orlando may be best known for its thrilling theme parks and diverse food scene, visitors can also discover a world of gentle giants beneath its surface. For the Florida manatee, November means seeking out the warm waters of natural springs, preserves and estuaries. Visitors can encounter these mammals at one of the many places to see manatees in Orlando and beyond.   

  • See one of the largest manatee gathering sites in Florida at Blue Spring State Park, or take a glass-bottom paddleboard, boat or kayaking tour at Silver Springs State Park for clear views of the gentle giants, turtles, tortoises and more. 

  • Meanwhile, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the only place in the U.S. where someone can legally swim and snorkel with manatees. Just a few miles south is Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, a rehabilitation center for injured manatees and one of the only places in the world where visitors can see manatees 365 days a year.  

  • During the off-season, take a trip to Florida’s East Coast, where visitors can see manatees at Canaveral National Seashore, Indian River Lagoon Preserve State Park and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. 

  • Shop Local: Holiday shopping season is officially in full swing, and Orlando offers many ways to support local businesses throughout the season. From sustainable shopping to small-town attractions, here are some of the most unique local businesses to support for Small Business Saturday and throughout the season:  

  • Discover Orlando’s greener side with sustainable, planet-friendly shopping to help lead a purposeful, eco-conscious life. Oh Eco is a Latina- and female-owned business specializing in environmentally friendly self-care, wellness, home and more; Zero Orlando in Thornton Park offers a wide selection of zero-waste toiletries and personal care products that are vegan and budget-friendly, often sourced locally from LGBTQ+, minority and woman-owned businesses; and Rouge Beauty Lab in Ocoee allows visitors to create their own vegan makeup products using clean, gluten-free ingredients. 

  • Discover small-town Florida at some of Orlando’s surrounding areas with roadside attractions like Wild Florida, offering exciting gator park tours and a breathtaking drive-thru safari; Showcase of Citrus, featuring unique, outdoor fun like U-pick citrus, monster truck tours through the ranch, gem mining in a real sluice box and more; and Southern Hill Farms offering seasonal u-pick blueberry, strawberry, peach, zinnia and sunflower picking, as well as seasonal festivals, kids zones, food trucks, live music and more! 

What’s New and Upcoming Around Orlando 

  • Addition Financial Area, a sports and entertainment arena located on the main campus of the University of Central Florida, will be the home of the Orlando Valkyries, Central Florida’s new women’s professional volleyball league. For the 2024 inaugural season, the team is set to play a 24-game slate, hosting 12 home matches and providing an affordable family environment for fans of all ages.    

  • Caribbean Moonshine, a 3,000-square-foot craft distillery, tasting room, bar and tropics-inspired retail store, opened at the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, offering daily tastings of its artisanal rum beverages and moonshine-inspired cakes and treats, as well as views of its bottling and packaging process.   

  • Madame Tussauds Orlando will reveal an all-new wax figure of the multi-talented actress, writer and producer Nora Lum, also known as Awkwafina, this month. 

  • Funtastic Depot, Orlando’s largest indoor amusement park that opened last month near Orlando International Airport (MCO), features an inflatable concept park, climbing walls, ninja obstacle course, giant multi-level playground, toddler zone area, arcades and a karaoke booth, along with live entertainment on weekends. 

  • Atmos Immersive Dining, an all-new intimate dining experience, opened recently on International Drive. Diners are seated at a table for 14-16 in one of the four separate-themed rooms, providing a two-hour technological journey and a six-course fine-dining experience with champagne and wine pairing options.  

  • Arcade Monsters, the video-game bar and restaurant, opened on International Drive in October. Guests of all ages can play unlimited classic arcade games or consoles. 

  • Orlando International Airport debuted its all-new art experience, Gallery MCO, a former retail space transformed to accommodate short exhibits, on level three of the Main Terminal. 

  • Walt Disney World Resort announced the return of Epcot's International Festival of the Arts Jan. 12 – Feb. 19, 2024. 

For more of the latest Orlando news, visit our media site


Did You Know? 

Visit Orlando’s “Unbelievably Real” mural debuted at The Florida Mall last week – its second location in Orlando after its original local unveiling in Downtown earlier this year. Designed by Orlando-based artist Clark Orr, the large-scale display, which is located at the main entrance, brings to life Orlando’s tourism highlights, from theme parks and beloved landmarks to elements of the region’s dining, arts, culture and technology scenes. The mural will act as an eye-catching photo backdrop for shoppers, adding to the multiple selfie stations peppered throughout the property.