Today’s Year-End Celebration Luncheon at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort was a truly magical event, sold out with over 750 attendees – nearly on par with pre-pandemic levels. 

A special thank you to keynote speaker Scott Mallwitz, executive creative director for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. He helped us “Awaken Our Creativity,” and I, for one, am excited to kick off the new year! 

But before we charge into 2022, I’m thrilled to announce the luncheon’s big news: This year, we raised $289,291 for charity through Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining program. These funds will primarily benefit IDignity and Pathlight HOME, two Orlando nonprofits on the front lines of homelessness, while six other local charities that share a similar mission are also receiving $2,000 donations.  

Finally, at today’s luncheon we also bid a fond farewell to two Visit Orlando board members: Chris Mueller, general manager of Hilton Orlando, and Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. Both men have been of great service to our board, and we appreciate their years of leadership to our organization and destination. 

Our Most Successful Contest Ever 

The first phase of our Most Magical Gathering Contest is now complete, and the results have been fantastic! 

The six-week promotion, launched in October, produced 12,000 story submissions — and 52,000 total entries — from people looking to win a trip for 50 family and friends to celebrate Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. It also generated more than 1 billion impressions nationwide. 

Up next: We will select the Top 10 finalists, they will submit family videos to our judging panel, and the winner will be determined in early January. 

International Association of Exhibitions and Events Expo! Expo! 

Visit Orlando teamed up with the Orange County Convention Center at this week’s IAEE Expo! Expo! in Philadelphia, securing future events for our destination by connecting with meeting planners from across the globe. In addition to networking opportunities, the tradeshow provided a forum for us to share best practices and engage in learning opportunities with other industry leaders.  

Visit Orlando was also given IAEE’s Innovative Business Solution Award at Expo! Expo!. We’re honored to receive this recognition for bringing back in-person events and, subsequently, getting the ball rolling for the industry’s recovery from the pandemic. Read more

World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism  

It's your last chance to register for the 6th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism, sponsored by UCF’s Rosen College. I’ll be speaking at 8:50 a.m. Dec. 14 at this virtual, interactive event, focusing on the state of our industry and what we can expect on the road ahead. See you there! 

Lift Orlando Named Floridian of the Year 

Congratulations to Lift Orlando for being named Floridian of the Year by Florida Trend magazine. This nonprofit has spent nearly a decade transforming neighborhoods into places where residents can flourish with new community centers, affordable housing, parks and other strategic investments. 

We are proud that Terry Prather, Lift’s chief operating officer, is chair-elect of our board of directors. Terry’s input and leadership have proven invaluable for our community and our organization. 

Hotel Metrics

For the week ending Dec. 4, Metro Orlando hotel occupancy was 60%, down from the last few weeks but still above average levels seen from August to October. Average daily rate fell $4.02 to $130.98.

Across the Industry​ 

Yahoo: How to snag a deal at 6 family-friendly Florida resorts this winter

Travel Pulse: Orlando is in the top three US and international holiday destinations
 
OBJ: What's coming to the fast-growing Lake Nona community
 
AP: Pfizer says COVID booster offers protection against omicron
 
TravelPulse: President Biden says no vaccine mandates for domestic air travel right now
 
Fido Friendly: Orlan-dog! In Orlando, indulge in luxury beyond the theme parks
 
Orlando Weekly: Florida throws $5 million behind Orlando's bid to host 2026 World Cup
 
City of Orlando: Southwest Orlando bike and pedestrian study virtual public meeting 

Casandra Matej

In your service,

Casandra Matej

Casandra Matej | President & CEO
Visit Orlando