LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Announces 12 Months of Awesome Events

New NINJAGO ‘4D’ Film, Great LEGO Race VR Coaster, LEGO® Star Wars™, KIDZ BOP,
Seasonal Parties and Return of Brick Dash 5K Highlight Year Full of Fun

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (Oct. 11, 2017) — In 2018, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort will deliver 12 months of
awesomeness with a blockbuster lineup of special events and grand openings throughout the year. It all
kicks off in January with LEGO® NINJAGO® Days, three consecutive weekends of exclusive activities
and entertainment devoted to the popular LEGO franchise, and the NINJAGO action continues with the
opening of an exciting new theatrical attraction starring the cast of TV’s “LEGO NINJAGO: Masters of
Spinjitzu.”

Mark your calendars for another brick-tastic year of fun at the place #BuiltForKids:

“LEGO NINJAGO: Master of the 4th Dimension”: Opening Jan. 20 – all-new “4D” attraction!
This exciting new theatrical experience combines dazzling 3D computer animation with “4D” real-world
effects as ninjas Lloyd, Kai, Jay, Cole, Zane and Nya must find their way out of a mind-bending
dimension filled with eye-popping visuals. See it daily in the Wells Fargo Fun Town Theater!

LEGO NINJAGO Days: Jan. 20-21, 27-28, and Feb. 3-4 – all-new event!
Celebrate your favorite ninja heroes with exclusive in-park activities and meet-and-greets with Kai, Nya
and for the first time ever – Master Wu! Then become the ninja in LEGO NINJAGO World, where kids
can do battle against familiar foes like Lord Garmadon and the Great Devourer aboard LEGO
NINJAGO The Ride.

The Great LEGO Race: Opening Spring 2018 – new virtual-reality roller coaster adventure!
The wildest LEGO race ever imagined combines cutting-edge virtual reality technology with roller
coaster thrills in an exhilarating new attraction that will transform the theme park’s existing Project X
ride into an all-new adventure starring a wacky cast of LEGO minifigures. Learn more at
www.LEGOLAND.com/the-great-lego-race.

Brick Dash 5K*: Saturday, April 14 – family event returns!
The popular, long-running 5K family event returns under the new sponsorship of Visit Central Florida,
benefitting Merlin’s Magic Wand, the global children’s charity of LEGOLAND parent company Merlin
Entertainments. Additional information and registration details will be announced soon.

KIDZ BOP Weekend – second year of exclusive concerts & meet-and-greets!
The KIDZ BOP Kids return to rock the park with three days of high-energy concerts, including the debut
of their official theme song for LEGOLAND Florida Resort, “Awesome Awaits.” Plus, fans will enjoy
exclusive meet-and-greets with the coolest kids around – Ahnya, Cooper, Freddy, Isaiah, Julianna and
Sierra! Stand by for an announcement about 2018 dates!

LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens MINILAND Model Display: Opening May 4 – giant new
models!
Join us as we unveil the newest addition to our LEGO® Star Wars™ MINILAND Model Display. Created
with thousands of LEGO bricks, the display features memorable moments from Episode VII of the
popular Star Wars™ saga enhanced with lights, sound effects and animation.

LEGO® Star Wars™ Days: May 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 – bigger than ever this year!
Enjoy our huge new LEGO® Star Wars™ display in MINILAND USA as we celebrate a record three
weekends of fun from “a galaxy, far, far away”! Activities include meet-and-greets with LEGO Darth
Vader and – new! – a LEGO character from “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” hands-on
LEGO® Star Wars™ building activities and much more.

Fourth of July – a red, white & blue salute to America!
Celebrate America’s independence on Wednesday, July 4 as we light the skies above Lake Eloise with
one of our biggest fireworks shows of the year! Before the sun goes down, help us create a giant U.S.
flag out of thousands of LEGO bricks.

Firefighter Friday: Friday, Oct. 5 – learn how to stay safe!
Held in association with the National Fire Protection Association, this entertaining and informative event
teaches kids about fire safety with a variety of fun activities in the theme park, including information
from NFPA’s annual Fire Prevention Week theme.

Brick or Treat: Select dates in October – seventh year of lightly frightful fun!
Our popular Halloween event returns full of spooky, kooky LEGO fun for kids. The friendly-notfrightening
event features trick-or-treating inside the theme park, giant LEGO models and photo ops,
LEGO build activities, meet-and-greets with LEGO Halloween characters and an exclusive, themed
fireworks spectacular in Pirates’ Cove.

Christmas Bricktacular: Select dates in December – have yourself a merry LEGOLAND
Christmas!
Our annual holiday celebration returns to deck the halls with a 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree lit
several times each evening in a brilliant combination of twinkling lights and classic yuletide music,
festive decorations and photo ops, including a giant LEGO wreath and a life-size LEGO Santa, reindeer
and sleigh, plus holiday-themed scavenger hunts with cool LEGO prizes and hands-on LEGO building
activities for kids. Meet LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier during daily park appearances.

Kids’ New Year’s Party: Select dates in late December – our popular party has grown!
Our multi-day party invites kids to move and groove at a high-energy dance party, set fun goals for the
year ahead and go on a special scavenger hunt in MINILAND USA before ending the night with an
amazing fireworks show over Lake Eloise. Then on Monday, Dec. 31 only, ring in the new year with our
traditional before-midnight “brick drop” and an even bigger fireworks spectacular.

 

Don’t miss any of the fun
*With the exception of the Brick Dash events taking place Saturday, April 14, all events listed above are
included with all forms of theme park admission – and annual passes. No extra ticket required!

The best way to enjoy all the LEGOLAND awesomeness is with one of several great annual pass
options. Consider:

• Awesome Pass – a year of unlimited admission to LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park and
LEGOLAND Water Park.
• Awesomer Pass – all the benefits of the Awesome Pass, plus a year of unlimited admission to
The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Orlando and
Atlanta’s LEGOLAND Discovery Center, as well as theme park parking and more.
• Awesomest Pass – a year of unlimited admission to more than 30 Merlin Entertainments
attractions across North America, including LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park and LEGOLAND
Water Park, and much more.
Learn more at www.LEGOLAND.com/florida/my-annual-pass/.

 

Play – and stay!
Extend the fun with an overnight stay at our popular on-site accommodations – the 152-room
LEGOLAND Hotel and the 166-room LEGOLAND Beach Retreat. Both feature whimsical LEGO
theming inside and out, a breakfast buffet included with your stay, complimentary Wi-Fi, heated
swimming pools, plenty of places where kids can play and easy theme park access.
For rates, availability and room-and-ticket package offers, visit www.LEGOLAND.com/vacations.

 

Awesome awaits
LEGOLAND Florida Resort features more than 50 rides, shows and attractions inspired by popular
LEGO and DUPLO brands, including awesome experiences based on “The LEGO Movie™,” “LEGO
NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu,” LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS™, LEGO City, LEGO Technic and LEGO
Friends, plus the seasonal LEGOLAND Water Park. The multi-day vacation destination is located just
45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa, in Winter Haven, Fla.
For more information about savings on advance purchase of admission tickets, park hours, field trip
programs, services for guests with disabilities, VIP experiences, teacher passes, military discounts and
much more, visit www.LEGOLAND.com/florida.

10 of the Best Horror Movies for Date Night

My girlfriend doesn’t really care for horror movies.

Well, hold on. I guess that’s not entirely accurate. A better way to phrase that would be: “My girlfriend doesn’t really like being frightened by horror movies.”

To most, these traits wouldn’t be deemed particularly important. But horror movies are my life. They’re one of those things people say when they’re describing me—I’m “that guy who knows a lot about horror movies,” except people are less likely to say “a lot” and more likely to substitute “everything,” or “a disturbing amount,” regardless of whether those are accurate or fair (half-truths!). Suffice it to say: The horror genre means a lot to me, to the point that I spearheaded Paste’s effort to compile the 100 greatest horror films of all time. As a result, I was mildly distraught to first learn that my significant other couldn’t enjoy them in quite the same way as I did.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. What I’ve come to discover over the last couple of years is that she by and large actually does like horror movies—provided they’re the right kind of horror movie.

What is the “right kind”? Horror-comedies are a natural fit, given that they temper their scares with humor, but you don’t want to limit yourself from ever being able to watch films that are legitimately “horror.” The rare crossover of “horror/romance” can also be effective … if you know which of those films are worth watching.

Here, then, are 10 suggestions for your next horror movie date night. I’ve focused on films that are accessible and exciting, without being the kind of thing that will give either partner nightmares. Some of them are even approved by my significant other…some maybe will be in the future. But they’re all great choices to use as a guide for many upcoming October evenings on the couch.


1. You’re Next (2011)

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Even if your significant other doesn’t watch horror movies, they’re probably familiar with the ideas and tropes of a so-called “home invasion” thriller, which is what makes Adam Wingard’s You’re Next so effective: It’s specifically designed to have audience members come to the conclusion that they know where it’s going, right before it pulls out the rug from underneath them. It focuses on a family dinner party attended by Erin (Sharni Vinson) and her fiancé (AJ Bowen), which is interrupted by the arrival of several animal-masked assailants who begin picking off members of the group—until it becomes clear our female protagonist is quite a bit more capable and resourceful than we’ve been led to assume.Australian actress Vinson is excellent as Erin, in a role that really should have catapulted her into the mainstream of American cinema. You’re Next is a taut thriller with interesting characters and plenty of bloodletting, but also a streak of grim, gallows humor, which defies tropes when it needs to and embraces them when desired. There’s a lot more going on under the hood than the viewer initially realizes, and it remains the reason, along with 2014’s The Guest, that Wingard once showed promise as one of the next great American genre movie directors.


2. Let the Right One In (2008)

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Vampire movies do tend to involve bleak romance and star-crossed lovers, but the most devastatingly sincere of those romances takes place in this Swedish film, Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In, between two (apparent) children, one of whom is not what she seems. The friendship and blossoming, largely unspoken romance between 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and the strange vampire girl next door (Lina Leandersson) is equal parts touching and disturbing: Moments in the film feel painfully real, as the audience questions the nature of attachment and especially of codependence. Eli, our vampire, has been around for hundreds of years, and the film implies to some degree that she has long since evolved beyond true relationships or attachments. Rather, the men who attach themselves to her, servicing her every need as familiars, are themselves only tools for her survival, just means to an end. To be love, how reciprocal must love really be?

The performances in Let the Right One In are astounding, full of vulnerability and ugliness. Oskar is profoundly unusual for a protagonist, seeming at times to be a budding young sociopath who lacks only the courage to turn the tables and exact revenge on his equally disturbed schoolyard bullies. In that sense, perhaps he’s drawn as much to the power that Eli represents as she is. Regardless, the film is among the most thoughtful of modern vampire films, perfect for a shared bottle of wine with the significant other.

And while I’m on the subject: Although we’re recommending the original Let the Right One In, you could do much worse than Matt Reeves’ 2010 American remake, Let Me In. A very faithful adaptation that was unfairly judged next to the Swedish original, it actually addresses a few specific ideas better, and more than justifies its existence.


3. Evil Dead II (1987)

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If the first Evil Dead represents director Sam Raimi’s trademark style in its infancy, then Evil Dead II is the film when were first able to witness, no doubt, that style fully formed. Its premise is almost exactly the same as the first film’s—people head to a cabin in the woods before demonic possession runs amok—but the now self-aware Raimi simply tightens everything up in the second go-around, infusing his “sequel” with a relentless pace. Only five or ten minutes pass before the first decapitations, and from there we’re off to the races: With a pitch-perfect blend of over-the-top gore, absurdist comedy and an all-time charismatic performance by Bruce Campbell as Ash, Evil Dead II is the perfect midpoint between the (slightly) more serious tone of the original and the exaggerated, campy comedy of Army of Darkness, the final film in the series. Few flicks better convey both the darkly comedic sensibilities and joy of gory excess that were common to the horror genre in the late ’80s.

 

4. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

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Eli Craig’s Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a film to watch with your significant other after you’ve already watched something like Hatchet or the aforementioned Evil Dead II, because it’s about both the tropes of those “cabin in the woods” movies and the characters’ knowledge of those tropes. We’ve been conditioned through decades of films in the mold of The Hills Have Eyes and Deliverance to assume the worst about “backwoods country folk,” and that’s what Tucker & Daleuses to its advantage. Rather than making its group of young college kids our POV protagonists, we instead commiserate with a pair of good ole boys who are simply trying to enjoy a relaxing weekend of fishing at their “vacation home,” a run-down cabin in the woods that looks like your stereotypical Murder Shack. When the two groups cross paths, a series of steadily mounting misunderstandings and accidents result in an impressive mound of college kid bodies.

Tucker & Dale is a warm, likable horror comedy, easy on the “horror” and heavy on the comedy, that still pays homage to woodsy slasher films such as Sleepaway Camp or The Burning. Its lead characters, played by Tyler Labine and Firefly’s Alan Tudyk, are perfectly conceived and executed examples of genre tropes, while generating big laughs.


5. The Faculty (1998)

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The Faculty is one of those rare films that is much more fun to watch now than it was at the time of its release, almost 20 years ago, both as a sincere appreciation of its legitimate entertainment potential and because it stands as such a nostalgic time-capsule of late ’90s “teen horror.” Which is all to say: If you and your significant other are ’90s kids, then this is the perfect date night movie.

Just a quick perusal of the cast reveals a who’s who of stars both current and nostalgic. There are adults who survived the ’90s and early 2000s with their “movie star status” still intact: Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Elijah Wood, etc. But then there’s Josh Hartnett. Or Jordana Brewster. Or Danny Masterson. Underneath all that dying star power is a slimy “aliens masquerading as adults” sci-fi horror feature, with all the cartoonish verve you would expect from Robert Rodriguez. Although watching Scream would scratch the same sort of ’90s itch, what with its prominent dose of Matthew Lillard, you’re better off going with the less-heralded The Faculty for a source of nostalgia more genuinely surprising (and consequently enjoyable).


6. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

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What can I say: Sam Raimi movies just make for good date night material. This one is a colorful, stylish return to his roots after coming off the massive disappointment that was Spider-Man 3Drag Me to Hell is a tight, well-oiled thriller that plays like a Twilight Zone-esque moral play/parable. After Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) lets her ambition get the best of her, spiting an old woman looking for a loan extension at Brown’s bank job, the woman (actually a gypsy of some renown) lays a heavy curse on her. Within a few days, unless she can somehow reverse the process, a demon called the Lamia will appear in broad daylight and grab hold of her soul, literally dragging her to hell.

That’s all we need for this humorously mean-spirited supernatural thriller with a quirky but nuanced central performance by Lohman, but what really makes the film stand out almost a decade later is the depth of its subtext. Maybe Raimi has an all-engrossing oral fixation, but the specter of eating disorders haunts the film. Without research, it’s hard to say why the writer-director became so obsessed with the concept while plotting the story, but the themes of sustenance, and of things going in and coming out of people’s mouths throughout are too profound to ignore. Anyone who has ever dealt with an eating disorder, whether first-hand or not, in the past will likely feel a connection to these themes, even as they’re being willingly taken along on a classic shock-and-awe horror story—complete with an excellent ending.


7. Trick ’r Treat (2007)

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If you’re spending Halloween night at home with your significant other (like this year, when it falls on a Tuesday), know this: Mike Dougherty’s Trick ’r Treat is basically the ultimate Halloween night movie. So many horror films venerate particular slashers, or monsters, or characters, or settings, but Trick ’r Treat is all about respect for the holiday itself, and that gives the film a wondrously nostalgic quality. As a kid who grew up considering Halloween to be his favorite holiday, for me the film taps into a sentiment that has always been a big part of my childhood. Dougherty’s film feels like an aside from a good friend, assuring you, “I know exactly how you feel.”

Trick ’r Treat is essentially an anthology, although its stories aren’t unrelated or sequential. Rather, they the stories occur simultaneously in the same small town on Halloween night, weaving in and out of each other in unexpected ways. As one story finishes, it tends to enrich the presumed endings of previous installments, giving the audience a new perspective on events they’ve witnessed 20 or 30 minutes beforehand. Our one constant presence is Sam, the pint-sized “spirit of Halloween” whose function is to carry out messy vengeance upon those who trample over Halloween’s sacred traditions. It’s a charming, occasionally spooky film with a great ensemble cast, from Brian Cox to a pre-True Blood Anna Paquin. There’s a little something in Trick ’r Treat for everyone.


8. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

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Do you love the original Scream? Then Behind the Mask might well be your new favorite horror film. Ignore the silly title, if you can—the documentary-like inclusion of the “Leslie Vernon” portion feels like it might have cost the movie wider exposure—because it’s one of the smartest meta-horror-movies of the last 20 years. If Scream dabbled in its deconstruction of slasher movie tropes, Behind the Mask attempts to literalize them: We follow a film crew tailing and interviewing a fledgling killer as he trains, preparing himself for the challenge of becoming a legendary slasher.

What follows is a meditation on the roots of slasher convention, while engaging in some of the classic questions that audiences would ask about any slasher: Why do they do what they do? How can they seemingly be in two places at once? How does a single man manage to take down a dozen teens? Behind the Mask delivers answers and splendid performances from relative unknowns, although horror fans will appreciate Robert Englund as Doc Halloran and a cameo from a pre-Walking Dead Scott Wilson.


9. American Mary (2012)

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If you know the name Katharine Isabelle, it’s probably in reference to the actress’s classic portrayal of a high school werewolf in 2000’s Ginger Snaps, which would also make an excellent addition to this list. But Jen and Sylvia Soska’s American Mary was the star vehicle the actress must have been waiting for in the years after Ginger Snaps, a bloody, sexy dive into the rarely witnessed (in cinema, anyway) “Canadian underworld.”

The film follows an American surgical student in Canada who drops out of school and begins working degrading jobs relying upon her physical beauty rather than her medical talent. However, she soon finds her way into the illicit world of body modification, taking on clients with fantasies and desires to change themselves in ways “frowned upon” by the legitimate medical establishment. What follows is a unique thriller that revolves around questions of identity and physical representation of one’s inner self. It’s certainly the best feature film to date by indie directorial duo The Soska Sisters, who appear as a pair of vampiric, codependent clients who wish to have some of their body parts swapped and grafted onto each other’s bodies. All in all, American Mary is an icky but surprisingly heartfelt body horror thriller with a uniquely empowered female protagonist.


10. Warm Bodies (2013)

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It would be easy to cast this Nicholas Hoult “rom-zom” film aside as simple teen fluff, but Warm Bodies is more entertaining than the serious horror geek might expect, and if your significant other isn’t so fond of exploding heads or people being torn apart in typical Romero-esque fashion, this film might be exactly what you’re looking for. Hoult plays “R,” a rather morose zombie whose days are spent endlessly wandering a defunct airport with hundreds of his brethren as the last vestiges of his humanity slip further and further from memory. That is, until he sees Julie (Teresa Parker) for the first time, and his cold, dead heart inexplicably begins to beat once again. What follows is something of a “Romero and Julie” situation, as we’re combining star-crossed zombies with the threat of Julie’s dictatorial father (a “I heard there was a paycheck here to be collected” John Malkovich).

Still, the best things in Warm Bodies aren’t necessarily the romantic aspects, but the amusing camaraderie between its characters. “R” has what amounts to a zombie bro, played by Rob Corddry, and their minimalistic, coworker-esque small talk is a highlight that is nicely integrated into the plot as the other zombies begin experiencing some of the same awakenings as “R.” Likewise, Julie’s own teenage existence in a heavily gated, walled survivalist community is the sort of thing you don’t often get a chance to see in more serious, horror-centric zombie fiction. All in all, Warm Bodies is a pleasant surprise that will appeal to the romantic comedy enthusiast and the zombie buff in equal measure.

 

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and horror guru.

Legoland Florida Donates 20,000 Tickets to Kids After Irma

Legoland Florida is giving away 20,000 tickets to help cheer up in kids affected by Hurricane Irma.

The central Florida park announced in a news release Thursday that they’re donating 18,000 theme-park tickets to the UNICEF Kid Power Schools program and 2,000 tickets to Citrus Center Boys & Girls Clubs in Winter Haven. The donated tickets have a value of more than $1.8 million.

Legoland Florida general manager Rex Jackson says they felt compelled to do something special for Florida’s children after the storm left so many households facing months of recovery.

The donations were made in conjunction with Merlin’s Magic Wand, the global charity of Legoland parent company Merlin Entertainments.

Irma hit Florida on Sept. 10, causing power outages, flooding and other damage throughout the state.

Trump Praises ‘Incredible’ First Responders While Visiting Florida

Walking through mobile homes ravaged by Hurricane Irma in Naples, Fla., President Trump praised first responders and residents for doing an “incredible” job on rescue and recovery. Earlier in his one-day visit to Florida, Trump also lauded state and federal officials for their preparation and response to the hurricane.

“We love the people of Florida and they went through something that, I guess, the likes of which we could really say nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump said in Naples.

He spoke with at least one resident who was working to rebuild his house and served sandwiches. The surrounding area was littered with downed trees and ripped-out signs; mobile homes were totaled; and tarps covered roofs, according to pool reports. Gas stations along the way advertised that they didn’t have fuel.

Trump’s praise, he said, is not just for rescue workers but “includes the people who live here. You see people immediately getting back to work to fix up their homes.”

Standing before rescue helicopters and personnel at a hangar earlier in the day in Fort Myers, Fla., Trump also heaped praise on the state and local officials standing with him.

“It’s a team like very few people have seen,” Trump said, referring to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and state Attorney General Pam Bondi as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

“We’re going to be there. … We’re with you today. We’re going to be with you tomorrow,” Trump said.

Trump and Vice President Pence met with Scott and greeted rescue workers.

The president also used the opportunity to encourage Scott to run for the Senate. “What do I know but I hope this man right here … runs for the Senate,” he said.

Trump pledged to come back to Florida “numerous times.” “We are there for you 100 percent,” he said, adding, “this is a state that I know very well. … These are special, special people and we love ’em.”

Former WWII Prisoner of War Marks POW/MIA Day in Lakeland

Randall Edwards stood up as straight as the 20-year-old sailor he once was after being unexpectedly introduced early Friday morning in a tree lined Veterans Memorial Park in Lakeland.

The occasion was an observance of POW/MIA Day, which took place all over the nation. In Florida, the day was marked with a special declaration by Gov. Rick Scott.

But Lakeland’s ceremony, held in a monument-studded park overlooking Lake Beulah, included the dedication of a monument to those who have been prisoners of war and to those missing.

Edwards never thought about missing the event just because he is 99 years old. He strode up the lengthy walkway from the lakefront to the ceremony.

When World War II broke out, Edwards was a sailor aboard a submarine tender stationed in the Philippines.

“We serviced 19 submarines and we were loaded with torpedoes, the best food around explosives, but we had only one gun. The rest of the fleet was pulled out, but we remained taking care of the submarines,” he said.

Don’t ask him about being captured by the Japanese because he will immediately correct you.

“I wasn’t captured; I was surrendered by Gen. (Jonathan) Wainwright,” the Navy veteran said.

It is still an event that bothers him.

The Japanese invaded the Philippines Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. American forces held out until May 6, 1942. According to many historians, Wainwright offered to surrender his forces on the island of Corregidor only, but the Japanese commander insisted all of the American troops in the Philippines be surrendered, including Edward’s ship.

The ceremony and unveiling of the POW/MIA memorial were sponsored by the family members of the late Foster Heath, a community leader who, as a tail gunner in World War II, was one of only two to survived from his bomber and spent 11 months in a German prisoner of war camp.

Veterans Memorial Park is larger than most in Florida. It contains memorials to fallen members of the military, a Pearl Harbor monument, memorials to the fight against terrorism, to local fallen police officers and to firefighters and EMT’s who died in the line of duty.

“We have no tanks or artillery here,” said Air Force Col. Gary Clark (retired), chair of the Polk County Veterans Council. “This is a place for quiet reflection, remembering, and education.”

Where To Eat Lunch Today? Mister Fish In Lakeland Makes Our List

If you’ve lived here for long enough, chances are you’ve tried nearly every good restaurant (and nearly every item on the menu). If you’re getting bored with your local establishments, why not take a little road trip to one of these awesome eateries? If you love a good greasy spoon or hole in the wall, you will enjoy every single place on this list. These places might be a little out of the way, but the food worth the drive.

1. Fisherman’s Corner, Perdido Key

Don’t judge this tiny restaurant by its exterior. The Cajun-style seafood here is out of this world. Don’t leave without some of their famous bread pudding.

2. Emmy’s Time Out Tavern, DeLand

If you’ve been searching for delicious, authentic German food, your prayers have been answered. Emmy’s has a great comfy vibe that will make you feel right at home.

3. Peace River Seafood, Punta Gorda

If you love fresh seafood and an Old Florida setting, this will be your new favorite restaurant. Seafood fanatics will be especially pleased with the AYCE blue crab.

4. Mister Fish, Lakeland

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This tiny family-owned place on Lake Morton has only one table, yet it’s a longtime local favorite. Must-try items include the fish sandwiches, corn nuggets, and fried mac n cheese, just to name a few.

5. Harry’s Old Place, Winter Haven

This restaurant doesn’t look like much at first, but it’s actually one of the best restaurants in town. Every dish is lovingly prepared with Southern flair. Come early because this place is no secret to locals.

6. The Whip Waterfront Pub n Grub, Quincy

This restaurant of the Whippoorwill Sportsman’s Lodge is right on Lake Talquin, only half an hour from Tallahassee. Classic comfort food in a laid-back rustic setting, with stunning views of the lake…what more could you ask for?

7. Barrier Jack’s, Cocoa Beach

Jack traveled the country learning all of America’s favorite meals, so you can find Tex-Mex, BBQ, and seafood at this little diner. Barrier Jack’s is also celebrated as one of the best breakfast spots around. No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it here.

8. Big Lee’s, Ocala

Big Lee’s knows that mastering the art of barbecue is serious business. Big Lee’s is a food truck and relatively new to the game, but it ranks as one of the top barbecue spots in the state.

9. TC’s Front Porch, Navarre

This unique indoor/outdoor cafe was converted from one of Navarre’s early gas stations. It’s now a fun cafe with lots of character. Come for a bite, a few drinks, or just for the experience.

10. Hungry Harry’s Family Bar-B-Que, Land O Lakes and Seffner

You know from the minute you see the barn-style building or the American flag tin roof, you’re in for a treat. Since its founding in 1985, Hungry Harry’s has earned its reputation as some of Tampa Bay’s best BBQ.

Explore Florida’s Ten Best Bike Trails

With plenty of sunshine, natural beauty, and unique landscapes, Florida has a variety of trails perfect for a leisurely bike ride. Discover some of the most diverse and scenic trails found in the Sunshine State.

1. Shark Valley Trail, Everglades

The king of trails in Florida, here you can bike with and around alligators in addition to a variety of birds and turtles. A paved loop spanning 15 miles, Shark Valley is one of most unique and memorable trails in the Sunshine State.

2. Withlacoochee State Trail, Dunnellon

A massive 46-mile trail, Withlacoochee gives riders an option to explore Withlacoochee State Forest, Floral City, and Inverness. Here you can ride along Withlacoochee River and miles of natural lands on a wide asphalt-paved trail.

3. Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, Pinellas County

Linking fantastic parks, coastal areas, and residential areas, the Pinellas Trail is 38-mile’s alongside some of the most scenic landscapes in Florida. Cruise through Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, and Honeymoon Island State Park for a peaceful and pleasant ride.

4. Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail

Explore quiet wooded areas and winding hills in this 16-mile trail, where bike enthusiasts can ride through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and Lochloosa Wildlife Management area. For a scenic pit stop, hike the nearby Paynes Prairie trail to the gorgeous overlook.

5. The Lake Trail, Palm Beach

Perfect for a family ride, bike alongside the mansions of millionaires at this picturesque trail where you will cruise past private docks on the Intracoastal, historical buildings, and the Henry Flagler Museum.

6. Nature Coast Trail, Fanning Springs

Offering 32 miles of paved bike trails, this high-quality trail in North Florida provides stunning views of the Suwannee River near Fanning Springs State Park and Chiefland as you retrace the historic route where trains eventually replaced the steamship.

7. Legacy Trail, Venice

Beginning in Palmer Ranches and running through Sarasota, Oscar Scherer State Park, and downtown Venice, the highlights of this enjoyable 11-mile trail include the Venetian Waterway Park, Intracoastal Waterway, and Casperson Beach.

8. Sanibel Island Bike Trails

With 22 miles of pristine trails, bikers will enjoy exploring nearby Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for its diverse bird watching in addition to cruising alongside Sanibel’s lighthouse, beaches, and quaint roadside attractions.

9. Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail

Tree-lined and away from traffic noise, this trail is full of natural landscapes. Here you’ll find stunning pine flatwoods, wetlands, and hardwood uplands in addition to a variety of wildlife such as hawks, wild turkey, and turtles.

10. West Orange Trail, Winter Garden

Locals love the West Orange Trail, as it runs through urban and suburban sections of Orange County. A highlight includes the route from old Winter Garden to the trailhead at Killarney Station with many interesting sites along the way.

The World’s Largest Private Aircraft Collection Resides in Polk County

With more planes than the Cuban military, Fantasy of Flight displays a living history of manned flight with everything from small barnstormers to massive super-fortresses.

Owner and founder of Fantasy of Flight, Kermit Weeks, has amassed an armada of over 100 aircraft that visitors can see up close and, very often, in flight. Possibly the most remarkable feature of the huge airplane collection is that most of the craft are still operational. Given good weather conditions and available pilots, the attraction takes one of their vintage aircraft for a daily flight and answers questions about the ship upon landing.

The facility itself consists of a large main building that contains two hangars and a series of short and long runways for the constant plane traffic. A portion of the nearby lake is even owned by Fantasy of Flight to accommodate the water landings of seaplanes. The collection of aircraft has grown so much that the facility has expanded to a third hangar across the street.

While the opportunities to ride in the airplanes at Fantasy of Flight are slim due to the inherent liability issues, there are a number of decommissioned cockpits that visitors can explore and a zip line just across the street for anyone wanting to try out some unaided soaring.

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Possibly the Most Beautiful Carillon in the World is Set Atop Iron Mountain in Polk County

Bok Tower Gardens was Edward Bok’s gift to the American people. The property encompasses Iron Mountain, one of the highest points in Florida. The carillon tower was built atop the 295-foot high hill. Within the tower is one of the world’s finest carillons, a bell-based instrument and the heaviest of all musical instruments. The site also houses the world’s largest carillon library, with books, articles, recordings, music scores, slides, and photographs only on carillons.

The 205-foot neo-Gothic and Art Deco Singing Tower, was designed by architect Milton B. Medary, with stone sculpture by Lee Lawrie, the creator of Atlas at Rockefeller Center.

A brass door, which depicts the Book of Genesis, and wrought iron gates were created by metalworker Samuel Yellin, whose works also grace both the Washington National Cathedral, Washington D. C. and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, NY. The upper third of the tower is covered in tiles created by H. Dulles Allen.

The gardens were designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the designers of New York City’s Central Park and the architect for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Bok gardens 60-bell carillon is played every day at 1 and 3 p.m. (There is a recording of the carillon here.

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Casey Mears, Young Fan Build Bonds at LEGOLAND

Ten-year old Layla Popoff was ready for the green flag. Lined up alongside NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Casey Mears for a race through Legoland’s intricate Miniland creations on Monday afternoon, Popoff’s brick car jumped off the starting line. She led flag-to-flag and claimed an intricately constructed Lego trophy.

Mears’ car “somehow” ended up in a pile of (Lego) bricks near the finish line, but he was the first to congratulate his competitor Popoff, who is battling multiple serious medical issues and was granted the chance to race Mears thanks in part to Legoland and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“So many times people are going through rough times, but the kids they seem to handle it so well,” said Mears, emphasizing the best part of his day was spending time with Popoff. “It always surprises me when you meet a young kid like this and they are so positive. She’s got a lot of drive, you can tell. She’s very competitive. She was telling me she was going to win right out of the gate and she did.”

For her part, Popoff was genuinely excited to meet Mears. They spoke, laughed and kidded each other about the competition. After their race, Mears took his new friend inside the Lego display nearby — a huge new Lego re-creation of Daytona International Speedway recently updated to reflect the Daytona Rising improvements and enhancements fans will once again see at the July 2 Coke Zero 400 night race there (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.)

In fact, Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile was also at hand at Legoland and impressed with the new model of the track. He reports that the facility is ready for its second 2016 NASCAR date.

“How impressive and to see what they’ve done here (at Legoland) is such a true representation of Daytona International Speedway,” Wile said. “It took 2,100 man hours to build and they spoke with our team to make sure they had the right photos to work off of. They really wanted it to be an accurate representation. I would argue they did a good job.”

As for the upcoming Daytona races, “We’re putting the finishing touches on it,” Wile said.

“The great thing about our facility is it is used so much. We’ve been very busy. But we did a walk-through over the weekend and the place looks great. We’re real excited to have our race fans back for the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola. The expectation is it’s one of the biggest events of the year. Overall we’re ready and we can’t wait for people to get here.”

Mears added one more touch to the Legoland Daytona on Monday. With a large audience watching, Mears placed a miniature version of his No. 13 GEICO car in Daytona’s Victory Lane at the Lego display.

Daytona International Speedway is one of Mears’ best tracks. He finished runner-up in the 2006 Daytona 500 (only weeks after winning that Rolex 24). And he has eight top-11 finishes at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, including five consecutive before February’s Daytona 500 when he placed 32nd.

“Daytona has been a real good track for us, and the road courses as well,” Mears said, noting this week’s stop at the Sonoma road course in his home state of California.

“It’s been a rough year for us in general as far as results go, but I feel like our team is as prepared as it ever has been. It’s probably the best season we’ve had in terms of having fast race cars, knowing and understanding what we need to do to be fast, but we’re just not getting results for whatever reason. It’s just been a lot of random things.

“I’m looking forward to the second half of the season and showing people what we can do. I think Daytona and Sonoma are good places to show that.”

Mears has a pair of top-10 finishes at the Northern California course in Sonoma, a best of fifth in 2008. His best-ever road course showing is a fourth place at Watkins Glen in 2004.

This week, however, runner-up to Popoff was as good as it gets. She said her family is planning to make its first-ever NASCAR race at Daytona in two weeks.

“I’m a fan and I like racing,” Popoff said, her face breaking into a huge grin. “And usually, I always cheer for Casey Mears.”

Which clearly shows Mears has won already.