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Disney's Vero Beach Resort Archives

July 22, 2017

Disney's Vero Beach helps kick off 2017 Tour de Turtles

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Disney’s Vero Beach will help kick off Tour de Turtles next weekend on the East Coast of Florida, and the state's visitors and locals alike have several opportunities to join in the fun surrounding the marine marathon.

Started in 2008 by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Tour de Turtles is an interesting way to learn about the long migration of sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Tracking is done through satellite telemetry, with transmitters sending signals each time a turtle surfaces to breathe. Those who follow along at tourdeturtles.org will be exposed to the science and geography of sea-turtle migration. At the same time, researchers hope to gain more knowledge about the migratory practices of the endangered species because so much still is unknown.

This is the tenth year for Tour de Turtles, and there will be 20 sea turtles representing four different species. The turtles leave from various nesting beaches around the world, including one in front of Disney's Vero Beach Resort, and will be tracked for about three months. The turtle that swims the farthest during that time will be declared the winner.

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As in past years, two Loggerhead turtles – named Sally and Cruz in honor of “Cars 3” this year -- will begin their marathon in front of the Disney hotel. Resort guests are invited to watch, beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 29. The beach offers public access, but parking at the resort is limited to guests. Until 9 a.m., resort guests can take part in family-friendly activities on the beach that generate awareness about the importance of sea turtle conservation.

Disney’s turtles that participated last year were named Bailey and Destiny after the characters in “Finding Dory.” At the time of publication, Bailey had traveled 1,089 miles in 354 days, while Destiny had traveled 1,691 miles in 344 days.

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Guests at Disney’s Vero Beach might also want to keep an eye out for Captain Ron, a pocket beagle who is trained to sniff out sea turtle nests along the beach so that scientists can mark the nests to protect them. This special dog and his trainer, Pepe Peruvero, can be seen helping the sea turtle conservation team patrol the beach at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from late June through the end of August.

From 6 to 8 p.m. July 29, the Sea Turtle Conservancy is hosting a party to benefit the animals and their habitat in Brevard County. The party takes place at the Barrier Island Center, located at 8385 S. Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach. It will include heavy hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, live music and a silent auction. Tickets are $20 online when purchased in advance or they will be available at the door for $35. Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged. Questions? Call 321-723-3556.

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On Sunday, July 30, there is an opportunity for the public to watch more turtles begin the race. This group will be leaving from the beach start gate near the Barrier Island Center at 7:30 a.m. Spectators are asked to arrive 30 minutes early. From 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., there will be fun family-friendly activities. This event is free and open to the public. Parking is limited here, too.

If you can't make it to either of the launches, you still can follow the race at tourdeturtles.org Updates also will be posted on Twitter @conserveturtles and Facebook at www.facebook.com/conserveturtles.

In addition to the education and research components, Tour de Turtles also raises money for additional research and conservancy efforts through sponsorships of each turtle. Several branches of The Walt Disney Company have been annual sponsors of Tour de Turtles: Disney's Animal Program, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and Disney's Vero Beach Resort.





July 25, 2014

Free, family friendly fun at this weekend's Tour de Turtles kickoff

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Tour de Turtles kicks off this weekend on the East Coast of Florida, and the state's visitors and locals alike have several opportunities to join in the fun surrounding the marine marathon.

Started in 2008 by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Tour de Turtles is an interesting way to learn about the long migration of sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Tracking is done through satellite telemetry, with transmitters sending signals each time a turtle surfaces to breathe. Those who follow along at tourdeturtles.org will be exposed to the science and geography of sea-turtle migration. At the same time, researchers hope to gain more knowledge about the migratory practices of the endangered species because so much still is unknown.

This is the seventh year for Tour de Turtles, and there will be between 10 and 13 sea turtles representing four or five different species. The turtles leave from various nesting beaches around the world, including one in front of Disney's Vero Beach Resort, during the last part of July and will be tracked for three months. The turtle that swims the farthest during that time will be declared the winner.

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Disney's Vero Beach Resort

As in past years, two Loggerhead turtles will begin their marathon in front of the Disney hotel. Resort guests and the public are invited to watch, beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 26. In addition, their human supporters are invited to stay for a free beach party that will include appearances by royal sisters Anna and Elsa from "Frozen" and a photo opportunity with Olaf, the snowman who longs for summer. There also will be turtle-themed activities, of course. A cast member told me that the public is welcome to park at the resort, walk through the lobby and out onto the beach for the kickoff and party.

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Barrier Island Center

From 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 26, the Sea Turtle Conservancy is hosting a party to benefit the animals and their habitat in Brevard County. The party takes place at the Barrier Island Center, located at 8385 S. Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach. It will include heavy hors d'oeuvres, refreshments, live music and a silent auction. Tickets are $20 online when purchased in advance or they will be available at the door for $35. Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged. Questions? Call 321-723-3556.

On Sunday, July 27, there is another opportunity to watch more turtles begin the race. This group will be leaving from the beach start gate near the Barrier Island Center at 8 a.m. Spectators are asked to arrive 30 minutes early. From 8:30 am to 9:30 am, there will be fun family-friendly activities. This event is free and open to the public, and T-shirts will be available for $20. Parking is limited here, too.

In addition to the education and research components, Tour de Turtles also raises money for additional research and conservancy efforts through sponsorships of each turtle. Several branches of The Walt Disney Company have been annual sponsors of Tour de Turtles: Disney's Animal Program, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and Disney's Vero Beach Resort.

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2014 Tour de Turtles art

Individuals can contribute, too, by adopting a turtle and its cause. A secondary competition among the turtles on the migration marathon focuses on how much money they can raise for separate causes. A donation of $30 ($40 outside the United States) to the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) comes with a personalized adoption certificate, a logo decal, a colorful magnet, STC's Sea Turtle Conservation Guide and a one-year subscription to the Velador, STC's newsletter.

If you can't make it to either of the launches, you still can follow the race at tourdeturtles.org beginning Aug. 1. Updates also will be posted on Twitter @conserveturtles and Facebook at www.facebook.com/conserveturtles.



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July 3, 2014

Character pirate dinner at Disney's Vero Beach is a treasure

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If you're a regular at Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line, you may be looking for a new Disney experience in Florida. A short drive to southern Indian River County could reward you with the treasure you are seeking.

On Florida's so-called Treasure Coast, Disney's Vero Beach Resort, which is a Disney Vacation Club property that also is open to hotel guests, is just a 90-minute drive from Orlando. It is the only Disney property in the area that is directly on an oceanfront beach. And this beach is special because it's near Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which is where many of the protected species of sea turtles come to nest in the summer.

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In fact, sea turtles are so prevalent along this coastal area of the state that it's no surprise that the sea turtle is the resort's logo. And two exciting events centered on sea turtles take place on the beach in front of Disney's Vero Beach. Summer turtle walks, which are led by guides permitted by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Service, take guests in small groups to see sea turtles nesting on the beach in the darkness of night. Turtle walks only take place in June and July and are open to resort guests only. (There are, however, other locations along the Treasure Coast for turtle walks that are open to the public. You can read more about them here.)

Also, at the end of July, the Tour de Turtles kicks off at various beaches around the world, and Disney's Vero Beach Resort is home to one of them. This "race" is a fun way to raise money for sea turtle preservation while collecting data about the species. You can read more about the Tour de Turtles here.

Its location on a Florida beach is not the only thing that makes this Disney property unique. In the summer -- from April 21 to September 1 -- the resort's main restaurant, Shutters, pays homage to the region's history of pirate lore and hosts a character pirate dinner on Monday nights. There are no pirate-themed character meals at Walt Disney World, though they are a signature event on Disney Cruise Line ships. So, if your child loves pirates, this could be the landlocked place for you!

Reservations are strongly recommended for the pirate dinner, but I was able to book a table for my family of four the day before, even during a holiday week. The pirate dinner is served from 5 to 9 p.m., and we chose to dine at 5 p.m. because we had plans for a Brevard County turtle walk later that night.

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Shutters is transformed into a pirate's lair with large skull-themed flags throughout the restaurant, which complement the regular nautical decor. Servers wear pirate costumes, and each table is set with eye patches and skull-themed bandanas to encourage guests to get in on the dress-up fun, too. Plus, the kids receive coloring pages that can be used for collecting autographs from Pirate Goofy and Pirate Donald Duck. We appreciated that thoughtful gesture because my son left his autograph book at home.

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Because we were among the first diners seated, we also were among the first to be visited by Goofy and Donald. Unlike at some of the busy character meals at Walt Disney World, the two were in no hurry to leave our table and even stopped by again on their way to other tables. Toward the end of our meal, kids were called to the replica ship at the entrance to the restaurant to take the pirate oath with Pirate Goofy. Afterward, he handed out a treasure map to the young swashbucklers.

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The pirate dinner is served family style, which means all the food is brought to your table and then you can request refills on any or all items until you are full. The menu includes: cornbread, rolls, oak-grilled chicken, brisket, BBQ pulled pork, roasted potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, baked beans, coleslaw, cupcakes and non-alcoholic beverages. My husband and I found the meal to be like a typical summer barbecue -- we each liked some items more than others. It was entirely acceptable, but nothing we would rave about. Perhaps, then, the value was in the experience, which both of our children, ages 9 and 11, thoroughly enjoyed.

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The price of the all-you-care-to-eat pirate character meal is $26.99 for adults and $12.99 for children ages 3 to 9. When compared to a similar experience at Walt Disney World, that is a bargain.

Florida's Treasure Coast gets its name, in large part, from the bounty of gold and silver that was lost offshore from the 1715 Treasure Fleet that was bound from the New World to Spain. How fitting that Disney's Vero Beach Resort offers a unique treasure, too, for those who want a quick getaway from Orlando but not the magic of Walt Disney World.



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December 7, 2013

Disney-sponsored turtles finish amazing race off coast of Florida

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Back in the summer, I told you about the start of the sixth annual Tour de Turtles from the beach in front of Disney's Vero Beach Resort. Now, the results of the race are in -- and Disney is a winner in more than one way.

Tour de Turtles was started by the Sea Turtle Conservancy as a way for researchers to study the long migration of sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds while also engaging the public to learn more about this important part of our natural world. Tracking is accomplished through satellite telemetry, with transmitters sending signals each time a turtle surfaces to breathe, and progress is charted on tourdeturtles.org.

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There were 13 sea turtles in this year's race, and they left from various nesting beaches around the world, including Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach. (Other locations were Tortuguero, Panama, Nevis and Bermuda.) Disney sponsored two loggerhead turtles, Carrie and Claire, who placed fourth and sixth, respectively. First place went to Calypso Blue II, a giant female leatherback from Panama.

A secondary contest, though, challenged each sponsoring group to choose a cause and raise money to support it. Carrie's three-month swim was an effort to raise awareness about the danger of man-made light on beaches at night during nesting season. (Sea turtle hatchlings use the moonlight to guide them to the ocean, and artificial light can make them become disoriented.) Carrie raised $1,500 for her cause of Light Pollution and won the competition. Claire received an honorable mention for her efforts in raising $900 to educate the public about the dangers of sea turtles ingesting or becoming entangled in Plastic Debris.

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Another measure of success for Tour de Turtles was the number of hatchlings that come from each sea turtle's nest. The Sea Turtle Conservancy reports that in a Tour de Turtles first, Carrie came back to Vero Beach again to nest for a second time in the same season. Her second nest was within one-half mile of her first. Carrie's first nest had the greatest number of hatchlings this season at 161. The second produced the same number, for a total of 322 baby sea turtles. Claire's nest offered 99 hatchlings.

The loggerhead turtles in the competition, who still have their transmitters attached, have been spotted together in the Atlantic Ocean near Cuba and the Bahamas. Apparently humans aren't the only species to seek a warm Caribbean vacation in the winter months.

Look for the 2014 Tour de Turtles to begin in late July or early August. Individuals are invited to sponsor a turtle participant with a donation of $30 ($40 outside the United States) to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. In return, they receive a personalized adoption certificate, a logo decal, a colorful magnet, STC's Sea Turtle Conservation Guide and a one-year subscription to the Velador, Sea Turtle Conservancy's newsletter.



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July 25, 2013

You're invited to Tour de Turtles kickoff near Disney's Vero Beach Resort

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Disney's Vero Beach Resort will help kick off Tour de Turtles 2013 at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and the public is invited to watch the beginning of this truly amazing race.

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Started in 2008 by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Tour de Turtles is a fun way to learn about the long migration of sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Tracking is done through satellite telemetry, with transmitters sending signals each time a turtle surfaces to breathe. Those who follow along at tourdeturtles.org will be exposed to the science and geography of sea-turtle migration. At the same time, researchers hope to gain more knowledge about the migratory practices of the endangered species because so much still is unknown.

This is the sixth year for Tour de Turtles, and 11 sea turtles, representing five different species, will be participating. They leave from various nesting beaches around the world, including Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach, and will be tracked for three months. The turtle that swims the farthest during that time will be declared the winner.

In addition to the education and research components, Tour de Turtles also raises money for additional research and conservancy efforts through sponsorships of each turtle. Several branches of The Walt Disney Company have been annual sponsors of Tour de Turtles: Disney's Animal Program, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and Disney's Vero Beach Resort.

Individuals can contribute, too, by adopting a turtle and its cause. A secondary competition among the turtles on the migration marathon focuses on how much money they can raise for separate causes. A donation of $30 ($40 outside the United States) to the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) comes with a personalized adoption certificate, a logo decal, a colorful magnet, STC's Sea Turtle Conservation Guide and a one-year subscription to the Velador, STC's newsletter.

The website, tourdeturtles.org, offers extensive lesson plans and resources for teachers, as well as online games, quizzes and puzzles for kids.

If you can't make it to the start of Tour de Turtles and your family is interested in sea turtles, consider signing up for one of the Guided Sea Turtle Walks that take place in June and July each summer on the same stretch of beach. The Sea Turtle Conservancy offers these walks through the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge to give participants the chance of seeing a nesting loggerhead sea turtle.

The walks fill up quickly because of the limited space (22 people per night) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. Reservations typically open up online at http://www.fws.gov/archiecarr/turtlewalks.html on May 1. Cost is $15 per person for the walk that takes place between 9 p.m. and midnight. Participants must be 7 and older and able to walk a mile on the beach.

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Can't wait to plan a vacation to include a sea turtle-related event? Disney's Vero Beach Resort is a Disney Vacation Club property. For a primer on how DVC works, see the AllEars resource page here.


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