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Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens to reopen Wednesday, October 26

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SANFORD, Fla. — Nearly a month after closing for Hurricane Ian, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is ready to welcome guests.
The Zoo will resume normal operations at 9 a.m. Wednesday, October 26.
The Zoo closed Sept. 28 in preparation for Hurricane Ian and remained closed afterward for cleanup. The St. Johns River and Lake Monroe flooding followed, rendering the Zoo’s only entrance road impassable.
While the Zoo’s Animal Care team kept all of the animal residents safe throughout the closure, those circumstances prevented the Seminole County attraction from reopening quickly after the storm.
“A month ago, we never imagined we’d be in this situation,” said Zoo CEO Richard E. Glover, Jr. “I am incredibly thankful for our team and community for all they’ve done to help us get to this point, and we can’t wait to see our guests again. A special thanks goes out to Seminole County, SunRail, and Wharton-Smith, Inc. for their help during this time. Even so, there’s a long road ahead of us before we can say we’ve fully recovered from the effects of this devastating storm.”
While damages for the Zoo are still being tallied, Glover estimates damages and the cost to operate the Zoo throughout its four-week closure will exceed $800,000. The Wayne M. Densch Discovery Center, the Zoo’s main meeting building, suffered flooding damage and will remain closed likely for a month or more. The bear exhibit and boardwalk will also remain closed for cleanup and repairs temporarily. Nearly all other exhibits and attractions will be open.
Glover emphasized that all of the Zoo’s animal residents remained safe throughout the storm and its aftermath—and that they’re eager to see friendly guest faces again.
The Zoo will welcome guests back for its first weekend in a big way with Zoo Boo Bash, presented by Orlando Health, on Oct. 29 and 30.
Those who wish to donate to help with recovery efforts can visit www.centralfloridazoo.org/get-involved/hurricane-ian/.
For more information about the Central Florida Zoo, visit www.centralfloridazoo.org.

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St. Lucian Dona Regis-Prosper Named First Female Secretary-General and CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the premier tourism development agency for 25 Caribbean countries and territories, has appointed Dona Regis-Prosper the new Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer. Beginning her assignment on September 1, 2023, Regis-Prosper, who hails from St. Lucia, is set to make history as the first woman to assume leadership of the intergovernmental body.

With an impressive career that spans more than 22 years, Regis-Prosper brings an unparalleled depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in the tourism industry to the CTO. She has lived and worked in multiple Caribbean destinations, and served as Director of Marketing and Product Development of the St. Lucia Air and Seaports Authority; Director of Business Development for Margaritaville Caribbean Group in Jamaica; CEO of the Tortola Pier Park in the British Virgin Islands; and General Manager of the Antigua Cruise Port where she is currently employed.

Chairman of the CTO, Kenneth Bryan, who is the Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands, welcomed Regis-Prosper to the regional body. “We are extremely pleased to have Dona Regis-Prosper come on board to lead the CTO. Her vast experience, strategic insight, and impressive track record in the tourism sector make her an exceptional choice to propel our organization into a new era,” he stated, adding that having more women in positions of influence enhances the efficiency of the region’s major economic earner and sends positive messages of encouragement and inspiration for women and girls across the Caribbean.

A dynamic and transformative leader who has built and sustained a strong network of professionals in both the public and private sector (working closely with regional government officials, tourism stakeholders, and industry professionals), Regis-Prosper emerged as the top choice from a pool of more than 60 highly qualified applicants. The rigorous selection process included multiple rounds of interviews and a comprehensive assessment related to addressing some of the most pressing issues faced by the regional tourism industry.

Chairman Bryan disclosed that throughout the selection process, ministers, commissioners and directors lauded Regis-Prosper’s transformational leadership style. “They found her to be innovative, forward-thinking, results-driven, and solution-oriented,” he said, noting that her perspective on managing the climate crisis was particularly well-received, illustrating her deep-seated passion for sustainability and her ability to develop practical solutions to critical industry issues.

Regis-Prosper takes over the organization’s leadership reins from Acting Secretary General and CEO Neil Walters, CTO’s Director of Finance and Resource Management, who has been filling the position following the retirement of Barbadian Hugh Riley in 2019. The other two Caribbean tourism professionals to serve in the region’s top tourism post include the late tourism stalwart Jean Holder and Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, former Bahamas Director General and Bahamas Minister of Tourism.

Of her new role, Regis-Prosper stated, “I am deeply honored to have been selected to serve as Secretary General of the CTO and am grateful for the trust and confidence the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism and the Board of Directors have placed in me. I eagerly look forward to working with our dedicated team and diverse stakeholders to promote the Caribbean tourism sector, champion sustainability, and continue to foster impactful relationships and deliver ROI for our members.”

With a Master of Business Administration degree, Certified Professional Marketer qualification, and significant experience in business development, strategy, marketing and sustainability, Regis-Prosper is well able to lead the Caribbean tourism sector into a bright and prosperous future, Chairman Bryan asserted.

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Dezerland Action Park Orlando to host I-Drive Throwdown

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Do you love off-roading and adventure? Or maybe you just want to see a bunch of giant, modified trucks? Dezerland Action Park, home of the Orlando Auto Museum and Central Florida’s car show headquarters, is bringing hundreds of exciting trucks and other off-roading vehicles to International Drive with I-Drive Throwdown.
Presented by American Force Wheels, I-Drive Throwdown will take over Dezerland Action Park from Friday, July 21 to Sunday, July 23. The event is designed to showcase the power and agility of various off-road vehicles, including trucks, side-by-sides, and ATVs, and will draw some of the most popular auto influencers and truck enthusiasts from around the country to the area.
Dezerland Action Park will serve as a one-stop shop for visitors attending the event, with all of the trucks and judging on-site and plenty of attractions, food and nighttime entertainment to enjoy.
“We’ve seen a large volume of ticket sales for the event come from other states, so we’re expecting to see a positive, economic impact on the area’s hotels, restaurants and more,” said Lana Vegosen, director of marketing for Dezerland Action Park Orlando. “Automotive tourism is on the rise, and Dezerland Action Park and the Orlando Auto Museum will continue to welcome car enthusiasts from around the country for elite car and truck shows year-round.”
In addition to the amazing, off-road vehicles, the event’s vendors include some of the best accessory companies, build management groups and special guests who will make I-Drive Throwdown an event to remember. Plus, plenty of awards and prizes will be given away throughout the weekend.
After visitors check out the trucks and vendors, they can head inside the Orlando Auto Museum to see the country’s largest auto museum which is home to more than 2,000 vehicles worth over $200 million, featuring everything from military vehicles used in combat to cars made famous by television and movies and vehicles from a variety of decades and countries around the world.
Guests can also enjoy meals from a variety of cuisines in Dezerland Action Park’s food hall and explore the fun attractions inside, including Florida’s longest indoor go-kart track, a laser tag maze, a virtual reality arena and more.
Spectator passes for I-Drive Throwdown start at $20 and there are still spots available for vendors and those looking to present their vehicles. Entrance to the Orlando Auto Museum and Dezerland Action Park’s attractions must be purchased separately.

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Lifestyle

BOGO Orlando Auto Museum passes for Father’s Day

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Wondering what to get your car-obsessed or movie-buff Dad for Father’s Day? Gift him an experience any dad would love with a trip to Orlando Auto Museum.
With over 2,000 vehicles worth over $200 million and plenty of exciting attractions all under one roof, Dezerland Action Park Orlando is the ultimate Father’s Day destination in Central Florida.
On Sunday, June 18, guests can take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free passes to the Orlando Auto Museum. Dad will love exploring the country’s largest auto museum to discover vehicles from a variety of decades and countries around the world, learning about military vehicles used in combat and snapping family photos with vehicles made famous by television and movies.
After experiencing the Orlando Auto Museum, families can take Dad around Dezerland Action Park Orlando for more family fun. Florida’s largest indoor attraction is home to the state’s longest indoor karting track with four skill and speed levels, a boutique bowling alley, VR Arena, Laser Tag Maze and more.
Guests can also enjoy a meal from a variety of cuisines in Dezerland Action Park’s food hall, unlimited cereal for $5 at MILK The House of Cereal and custom soda creations at Sodasquatch.
Entrance to the Orlando Auto Museum and Dezerland Action Park’s attractions must be purchased separately.

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