Once Upon A Spring, a collection of limited engagement activities celebrating the most colorful and rejuvenating season of the year, is happening NOW at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center! Running until May 8th, this multi-faceted event offers a wide variety of activities including live entertainment, specialty spring-themed beverages, festive decor, animal encounters, and more! Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly escapade like the Adventure Kids: Sprout Into Spring musical production or for a more adult-centric retreat like the ART Bar, there’s something for everyone during this springtime celebration!
Last week, Orlando Decoded was invited to a special Media Showcase highlighting some of the featured entertainment at the this year’s Once Upon A Spring event. We had such a great time sampling these festive activities, and I can’t wait to share my experience with you!
Before we get started, let me say a big THANK YOU to the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center for inviting us to their Media Showcase!
A pop-up oasis located inside the Castillo de San Marcos, the ART Bar features creative decor and floral-flavored beverages. We met with Restaurant Manager and Head Mixologist Nicole Cortes Rodriguez to discuss her carefully crafted menu and creatively designed drinks.
The ART Bar includes six spring-themed cocktails and three mocktails, all celebrating the flavors and scents of this beautiful season. While each of these drinks carries a distinct taste profile and individual garnish, I want to highlight two particularly memorable cocktail options:
Produced by combining red Glitter Beefeater Gin with dragonfruit, mango, and hibiscus juices and then topping it off with sparkling wine; The Kiss sounds incredibly delicious! I can’t drink at all anymore (due to various health concerns), but if I could – this would be my first order!
But what really makes this refreshment unique is the aromatic, flavor-bursting bubble. Yes, you can actually pop it!
The First Day of Spring
For those with a sweet tooth (and childhood memories of Easter treats), I present The First Day of Spring! This drink is made with sparkling blue wine, Absolut Raspberry, and for an added sugar boost – a scoop of rainbow sherbet! Oh, and what’s sitting on top? An adorable, spring-themed marshmallow!
But even if neither of these options is exciting to you, there are still FOUR more handcrafted beverages – each including a distinctive flavor profile and unique special touch.
In addition to the incredible selection of refreshing cocktails, the ART Bar includes a variety of alcohol-free mocktails. The pictured selection below is the virgin version of The First Day of Spring.
Whether you enjoy a sweet treat or prefer a dry flavor profile, there’s probably a cocktail or mocktail option to suit your tastes! If not, tell the talented bar tenders what you’re looking for, and they may be able to modify one of the alcoholic or non-alcoholic options. Stop by the ART Bar to explore their extensive, flavorful menu and beautiful artsy decor!
Paint Me A Fairytale
Available on select evenings, Paint Me A Fairytale is a live production celebrating the stories of Mother Goose. With all original music, live vocal performances, and beautifully crafted costumes and set pieces; the aforementioned Mother Goose and her “pages” bring to life fan-favorite fairytale stories including The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood.
During the Media Showcase, we got to enjoy the first musical number of this adorable show! Paint Me A Fairytale opens with Mother Goose and crew dancing and singing about the wonder of storytelling and the magic of a blank page. As a writer, I found this message particularly touching.
I haven’t seen the whole show, but I’m definitely curious! The first song was wonderfully written and beautifully performed – both in movement and vocal talents. Additionally, I love that the show writers chose three familiar tales that are still a little bit off the beaten path (at least for an Orlando audience). I don’t often come in contact with retellings of Jack and the Beanstalk or Little Red Riding Hood, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen The Princess and the Pea retold outside of a storybook.
Paint Me A Fairytale is available on select evenings with 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm showtimes. Tickets are $16.99 each and all attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. You can purchase your tickets online on the Gaylord Palms website.
Wild Florida Animal Experiences
In partnership with Wild Florida (a local animal park with airboat rides, alligator shows, and creature habitats), Gaylord Palms provides complimentary, weekly wildlife presentations. During these sessions, hotel guests have the unique opportunity to learn about a species’ springtime adaptations and experience an up-close encounter with a live animal!
As an avid nature lover, I whole-heartedly believe in the power of personal observation and experience. An up-close creature encounter is a far better teaching tool (and much more likely to instill a passion for conservation) than verbal instruction alone. With this in mind, Wild Florida has created some pretty awesome animal greetings that can be achieved in an indoor, controlled setting.
As part of the Media Showcase, we were able to experience one (well, actually two) of these special encounters. Wild Florida representatives Taylor and Peter introduced us to a sloth and alligator. We were allowed to pet both animals (I even got to hold the alligator!), and the team taught about these creatures’ natural habits and temperaments. It was fascinating, and I will definitely never forget holding a live alligator in my bare hands!
Adventure Kids: Sprout Into Spring
Another weekly event (complimentary for hotel guests), kids can join nature pals Seth the Sea Turtle, Ava the Alligator, and Adventure Kid Sophie on an educational and musical journey through the Gaylord Palms atrium. To see this family-friendly show, head to the Emerald Bay Plaza at 1pm, 2pm, or 3pm on Saturday afternoons.
Much like Paint Me A Fairytale, the Media Showcase included a select musical number from the Adventure Kids show. It was adorable! Kids will love the dancing, upbeat music, and lovable characters!
The Saturday combination of Adventure Kids: Sprout Into Spring and Wild Florida’s Animal Encounters provides a full afternoon of entertainment for young Gaylord Palms guests – and both experiences are included as part of your hotel stay! I think that’s a pretty great value!
Blossomin’ Bunnies Scavenger Hunt
If you enjoy puzzles and games, consider purchasing a Blossomin’ Bunnies Scavenger Hunt booklet! Solve the riddles to find 8 springtime rabbits hidden throughout the Gaylord’s 4.5 acre atrium. It’s a fun challenge, and when you’re finished you can turn in your booklet for a super cute prize!
Since so much of this game depends on a bit of mystery, I’m not going to post too many pictures of the experience. But know that I really enjoyed exploring the hotel to find each rabbit. This would be a fun activity to complete with my family or friend group working together to decipher each clue!
A beautiful addition to the Gaylord decor, the Eggspression Garden is a serene, self-guided stroll through springtime sights and larger-than-life Easter eggs!
I ADORE the Eggspression Garden! The flowers and springtime-themed decorations are absolutely lovely, and the short walk is incredibly peaceful. Gaylord Palms designers managed to find a corner of the atrium that is relatively secluded from other sights, so I felt completely immersed in the magical trail!
…And There’s More!
Even with such an action-packed Media Showcase, there’s so much more to see and do during the Once Upon A Spring celebration! Show your creative side at Springtime Cookie Decorating (with visits from the Easter Bunny). Gather your smartest friends and family to solve the Journey Into Spring Escape Room, and enjoy a complimentary springtime light show each evening. There are so many ways to celebrate the season at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center!
To learn more about Gaylord Palms Resort and its seasonal events or to make a reservation, visit their website!