Losing my faith on Shamu’s first weekend back on the job

For the same reason people go to a car race (to see a fiery crash) or a hockey game (bare-knuckled fight) Shamu Stadium was packed to the gills for the 12:30 p.m. show Sunday, on Shamu’s second day on the job after the unfortunate incident in which he killed his trainer. Everyone wanted to see if something would happen.

Nothing happened.

But then, if it did, you wouldn’t be reading about it here. The news would be splattered across the front page of CNN.com.
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What the heck is going on with the TSA in Orlando?

Maybe there’s something in the water in Orlando, but the Transportation Security Administration just can’t stay out of the news there.

Earlier this week, a TSA officer at Orlando International Airport was arrested on charges of molesting a minor. Turns out he was reportedly a fan of bondage and sadomasochism.

Charles Henry Bennett’s MySpace profile identifies him as “Master Charles or Sir.” The online page shows the 57-year-old airport security guard has “many years experience” as a bondage and sadomasochism master and is looking to meet people, especially “submissive females.” The TSA’s blog said the agency was “deeply saddened and disgusted” by its employees actions. Bennett resigned on Monday.
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An ice time at the Gaylord Palms

ice
When I asked my kids if they wanted to see ICE at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, I heard a groan from the back of the car.

“It’s too long,” said Aren, my oldest.

“Too cold,” complained his younger brother, Iden.

I got my way. But the kids are glad I did.
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‘Keystroke error’ turns $289 rate into $28

keyQuestion: I recently found a $28 per night rate at the Westin Imagine in Orlando. I was amazed. I booked the room, and several days later I called the hotel to ensure that it was a legitimate rate. They confirmed this, so I booked nonrefundable airfare, and have been happily anticipating my getaway weekend ever since.

That is, until this past Monday morning, when I received an e-mail from the hotel’s director of revenue management saying that the rate was caused by a “keystroke error” during data entry. The actual rate was $289. The Westin offered a rate of $99 per night as an apology, but refused to honor the original rate.

I contacted Westin at the corporate level, and the hotel offered to waive its mandatory valet parking charge of $18 per night, but insisted it couldn’t honor the $28 rate. Then the manager of the hotel responded, offering to throw in an extra 5,000 loyalty points.

I’m writing because I don’t think I’m getting fair treatment by this Westin hotel. If there is anything you can do to help, I would be extremely appreciative. — Terry Capps, San Diego

Answer: If you book a rate that you know is an error, then you shouldn’t expect the hotel to honor the price. But $28 per night wasn’t an obvious “fat finger” rate, and the fact that Westin confirmed it certainly didn’t help.

If the hotel had offered rooms at $0, then this would be a different story. Actually, it wouldn’t be a story at all. If a business mistakenly prices something at a rate no reasonable customer believes is valid, it shouldn’t be required to honor that price. But you can find hotel rooms at $28 a night.
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Orlando theme parks prepare for fireworks fury

fireworks

Heads up! Orlando’s theme parks are preparing for their Independence Day fireworks extravaganzas.

Pyrotechnics expert Andrew Hage checks the connections of several fireworks at the top of SeaWorld’s 400-foot-tall Sky Tower. In the distance is Manta, the park’s new roller coaster. SeaWorld has special fireworks displays this July 4th weekend. The sky-filling displays can be seen at 10:30 p.m. today and tomorrow. Our friend John Frost over at the Disney Blog has a roundup of all the other Fourth of July shows.

And speaking of Manta, as you read in this morning’s interview with Robert Niles, his readers named the new coaster their top pick for best coaster of the summer. Here’s a video we recently shot of the ride.

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