I’m excited to share that Visit Orlando's Magical Dining has been extended four weeks through Oct. 31, the longest run in its 15-year history. 

We knew that this year, more than ever, our popular seasonal program, executed in a safe and appropriate way, had the potential to bolster local business and employment opportunities in the region. But the community’s response has exceeded even our expectations. 

Participating restaurants are telling us that the influx of added diners has helped them recoup lost business, keep people employed and even hire more staff. Residents also have embraced the program’s return as creating a sense of "normalcy" that is encouraging them to resume enjoying dining across Orlando in new and safe ways.

Extending Magical Dining — which offers $35, three-course meals at more than 70 of Orlando’s finest restaurants — will also benefit this year’s charity, Feed the Need Florida, which gets $1 from each meal served. So be sure to check out the many menu options and make your reservations today.

Stubborn About Safety

As Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining continues, participating restaurants are going above and beyond to protect their patrons’ health and safety, and one example is the Stubborn Mule in Thornton Park. Prior to each guest’s arrival, the restaurant sends a text message reminding them to wear face masks when entering. In addition, tables are social distanced with partitions, and guests are encouraged to view the menu using a QR Code.

“Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining has been a lifeline to our restaurants as we struggle to get back to normal. The program has given us the opportunity to hire back more staff and experience hope that we will return to pre-COVID numbers.” 
Brian Buttner, owner of The Stubborn Mule 

School-cations in Orlando: As many American families add virtual schooling to parental work-from-home arrangements this fall, there is a newfound flexibility for traveling — and Orlando’s resorts are offering a change in scenery with new creative options to facilitate school- and work-cations. Our publicity team compiled a list of several hotels and resorts offering these one-of-a-kind packages and has already received coverage in The New York Times, MSN and Travel + Leisure.

Connecting with Brazil: On Wednesday, our travel industry sales team shared how Visit Orlando is keeping the destination top of mind during a webinar panel discussion hosted by the Central Florida Brazilian Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 300 business and tourism professionals also heard from the Brazilian consulate and APEX Brazil, a Brazilian trade and investment agency.

Hotel Metrics: Metro Orlando's occupancy rate for the week ending Sept. 19 was 29.9%, down from 31.6% the previous week. Average daily rate fell $7.11 to $79.14. Occupancy on Friday and Saturday nights (43.4%) continued the trend of significantly outperforming the rest of the week (24.6%). It's important to recognize that as we entered the traditional slower time of the year, and with more of our hotels open now, these occupancies would not reflect the overall increases we were experiencing earlier.

Local Air Travel: This week, Visit Orlando hosted a panel of experts from Orlando International Airport and Cambell-Hill Aviation Group to discuss the near-term impact of COVID-19, the challenges facing airline planners and expectations for recovery. View their discussion and browse our selection of archived webinars here.

National Research

  • Most destinations visited this summer for leisure trips had a mandatory mask regulation (80.1%), and 85% of travelers reported they always followed the usage regulations.
  • More than two thirds of Americans report having at least one tentative leisure trip planned from now until December 2021. Road trips will continue to outperform commercial air travel for the remainder of 2020.
  • Far fewer American travelers now say they expect to change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit post-pandemic (19.1%, down from 32.9% in August). Read more

Health & Safety

Ending on a positive note, it was great to see such upbeat headlines this week (like this one) regarding Orange County’s progress in fighting COVID-19. Let’s keep up the good work, Orlando! We are Safer, Stronger, Together!

Stay safe, everyone.

George Aguel
President & CEO