Best Of 2008

Painting by Morgan Steele

Best aggression reliever

Hard Knocks Orlando
5707 Dot Com Court

Like laser tag on steroids. It’s the opportunity you always wanted to legally chase your two-timing wife around with a realistic-looking gun in an “urban-themed combat area,” where you can defuse bombs and rescue hostages. Hard Knocks is also the ideal release for agoraphobic nerds on the verge of becoming serial killers.

Best ass-kicking

FXE Wrestling
135 Drennen Road

If you can survive the brutal warm-up, a few body slams in the deceptively soft-looking ring will leave you with a throbbing headache and make you wish you’d stayed home to eat ice cream and watch I Love Lucy reruns. Not for the faint of heart.

Best naked spankings

The Woodshed
6325 N. Orange Blossom Trail, Suite 138A

When your inner pervert has outgrown getting bound and gagged in the privacy of your own bedroom, giddy-up over to the city’s newest BDSM dungeon. In addition to the nude floggings, there’s a whole arsenal of tables, chairs and wooden frames with leather straps and restraints. You might even be able to get spanked by a random stranger, if you ask nicely.

Best place to ride off-road

Ocala National Forest

If you believe the Orlando Sentinel’s schoolmarmish editorial board, the Ocala National Forest has been saved from the scourge of off-roaders raping the land and grinding up baby bald eagles under their knobby tires by a new trail management system that has everything under control. Bullshit. There are new trails in place, but here’s a dirty little secret: Off-road oriented motorcycles with license plates – called “dual sports” in the parlance – can still roam the forest at will. And it’s still the best way to enjoy this vast resource, tree-huggers be damned.

Best place to dance with a champion

Ivan Mao’s 6 p.m. Tuesday class
Azalea Lane Recreation Center
1045 Azalea Lane, Winter Park

When Ivan Mao won the World Championship title in 2005 and 2006 at the United Country Western Dance Council in Stockholm, Sweden, it only crowned a lifetime of impressive feats. The 67-year-old Shanghai-born dancer is living a second life, after having been a geneticist and professor at Michigan State University for 28 years. But these days he’s more interested in dance steps than in sequencing genes, and his (almost entirely not country) line dance classes are a big hit in Winter Park’s Azalea Lane Recreation Center every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Proceeds from the $7 class price benefit Keep Winter Park Beautiful.

Best martial arts/dance hybrid

Brazilian Pelourinho Capoeira
5224 Vanguard St.

Orlando has its share of mainstream sports, but most Magic fanatics don’t know our city is also home to a healthy capoeira scene. Not only does the Brazilian Pelourinho Capoeira offer classes, making their lean, cut physiques seem attainable, but beyond the kicks, flips and spins, the sport has its own sort of grace and beauty – plus that rad tribal dance vibe – and it’s just plain fun to watch.

Best curvy road/best motorcycle road

County Road 435 between Kelly Park Road and State Road 46

With its tight back-and-forth turns weaving among a golf course, orchid nurseries and oldish residential neighborhoods, even dipping and rising in an approximation of hilliness, County Road 435 may be the closest thing Central Florida’s got to a snaky mountain pass. All it’s missing are the scenic vistas. But it’s a fun technical ride, and most Saturdays find the road crowded with motorcyclists trying not to lay it down on the curves.

Best consequence of corporate competition

Universal’s Simpsons Ride versus Disney’s Toy Story Mania

Want to see the practical benefits of Darwinist capitalism in action without patronizing your neighborhood Wal-Mart? Look no further than our local theme parks, where two new competing attractions have opened within weeks of each other. In the showdown between Universal’s Simpsons simulator and Disney’s Toy Story shoot-em-up, we’re giving the nod to Homer and family. But the real winners of Orlando’s attractions arms race are local ride lovers. With major new coasters and more on the horizon, this is one war we’re happy to monger. 

Best reason to brave the wilds of Kissimmee

Expansion at Old Town and Fun Spot USA

We haven’t spent much time on Highway 192 since we figured out the fights at Medieval Times are fixed. But the recently expanded Fun Spot USA (2850 Florida Plaza Blvd., Kissimmee, 321-677-0585, and adjoining Old Town complex (5770 W. U.S. Highway 192, Kissimmee, 407-396-4888, gives reason to rethink that reticence. Fun Spot has supplemented their stable of go-kart tracks with a 1960s-vintage Sky Wheel and an S&S Screaming Swing. Old Town has added a 150-foot Super Shot drop tower, and their Grimm House is now the last year-round haunt left in town. Plus: cheap beer, knives and tattoos – take that, Downtown Disney!

Best dog park

Barber Dog Park
3701 Gatlin Ave.

If you love your puppies, you’re happy when they’re happy. And they’re happy when they can get off the leash and smell all the canine ass they want, and maybe chase a ball around. We’ve encountered no better place to let you pup get his jollies than Barber Park, which features two large fenced-in yards (one for big dogs, one for little ones) for the four-leggers to run around in. Just remember, if yours relieves himself, pick it up.


Best City Sports Team

1st: Orlando Magic; (
2nd: Orlando Predators; (
3rd: UCF Knights Football; (

Best City Park

1st: Lake Eola Park; (
2nd: Blue Jacket Park; (
3rd: Loch Haven Park; (

Best Dog Park

1st: Fleet Peeples Park; (
2nd: Dr. Phillips Dog Park; (
3rd: Paw Park of Historic Sanford; (

Best Theme Park

1st: Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza; 407-363-8000; (
2nd: Disney’s Epcot Center Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; 407-827-8364; (
3rd: SeaWorld Orlando, 7007 Sea Harbor Drive; 407-363-2200; (

Best Theme Park Ride

1st: The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza; 407-363-8000
2nd: The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza; 407-363-8000
3rd: Dueling Dragons at Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza; 407-363-8000

Best Water Park

1st: Wet ’n Wild Orlando, 6200 International Drive; 407-351-1800; (
2nd: Aquatica, 5800 Water Play Way; 888-800-5447; (
3rd: Typhoon Lagoon, 1500 W. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista; 407-939-6244; (

Best Public Golf Course

1st: Dubsdread Golf Course, 549 W. Par St.; 407-246-2551; (
2nd: Winter Park Country Club and Golf Course, 761 Old England Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-3341; (
3rd: Winter Pines Golf Course, 950 S. Ranger Blvd., Winter Park; 407-671-1651

Best Miniature Golf Course

1st: Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, multiple locations; (
2nd: Disney’s Fantasia Gardens, 10000 Lake Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista; 407-560-4870; (
3rd: Congo River Adventure Golf, multiple locations; (

Best Place to Bowl

1st: Aloma Bowling Centers, 10749 E. Colonial Drive, 407-384-0003; also 2530 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-671-8675; (
2nd: Colonial Lanes, 400 N. Primrose Drive; 407-894-0361; (
3rd: Firkin and Kegler Family Entertainment Center, 12850 Waterford Lakes Parkway; 407-373-7444; (

Best Place to Camp

1st: Wekiwa Springs State Park; (
2nd: Moss Park
3rd: Ocala National Forest; (

Best River to Canoe/Kayak

1st: Wekiva River; (
2nd: St. Johns River; (
3rd: Rock Springs Run State Reserve; (

Best Place to Shoot Pool

1st: Sportstown Billiards, 2414 E. Robinson St.; 407-894-6258; (
2nd: Trick Shots, multiple locations; (
3rd: Spatz Deli & Billiard Liquor, 1025 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 407-647-3354

Best Place to Skateboard

1st: Vans Skatepark, 5220 International Drive; 407-351-3881; (
2nd: Orlando Skate Park, 400 Festival Way; 407-898-9600; (
3rd: Mesh Skate Park, 881 W. Warren Ave., Longwood; 407-657-2002; (

Best Place to Work Out

1st: L.A. Fitness, multiple locations; (
2nd: Planet Fitness, multiple locations; (
3rd: Metro 24/7 Fitness, 133 E. Robinson St.; 407-481-0507; (

Best Yoga Studio

1st: Shine On Yoga, 633 E. Colonial Drive; 407-963-1956; (
2nd: College Park Yoga, 706 W. Smith St.; 407-999-7871; (
3rd: Bikram’s Yoga College of India, 2415 E. South St.; 321-663-7526; (

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