10 Ways to See Celebrities in Florida

  • 01 of 11

    See Celebrities in Florida

    Miss America parade Disney World
    David Roark/Disney Parks via Getty Images

    Celebrity sightings are on the increase in Florida. Whether you're visiting Central Florida's theme parks or strolling Miami's South Beach, you are more likely to spy a celebrity; but, it's still not a common occurrence.

    Of course, there are other places in Florida that you might see a celebrity. If you're the star-struck fan that would "just die" if you caught a glimpse of your favorite movie star, music performer, television reality star or professional athlete... these are the 10 ways you can increase your chances of seeing a celebrity in Florida.

    • Visit Theme Parks During Attraction Openings
    • Attend Theme Park Special Events
    • See Celebrities On Stage
    • Visit Movie Location Sets
    • Be In Town During Special Events and Festivals
    • Go to a Sport Event
    • Visit Communities Where Celebrities Live
    • Visit Communities Where Celebrities Hang Out
    • Attend Charity Events
    • Show Up at the Court House
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  • 02 of 11

    Visit Theme Parks During Attraction Openings

    Transformers The Ride - 3D Grand Opening Celebration
    WireImage / Getty Images

    Central Florida's theme parks usually bring in a ton of celebrities for the opening of new attractions. Planning a theme park visit during the grand opening or a day or two before or after may net you a glimpse of a celebrity in town for the festivities.

    In 2013, Steven Spielberg was among the famous celebrating the opening of Universal Orlando's TRANSFORMERS: The Ride - 3D.

    On December 12, 2012, Walt Disney World Resort opened its newly re-imagined Fantasyland. On hand for the well-publicized event were “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers Tony Dovolani and Chelsie Hightower; American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks; “Once Upon a Time” star, Ginnifer Goodwin; actress and singer, Jodi Benson; actor, Andy Garcia; legendary actress and comedienne, Jo Anne Worley; and, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” host Meredith Vieira.

    In 2014 Florida has welcomed new rides at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Falcon's Fury); an expansion to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando; and, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney's Magic Kingdom.

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  • 03 of 11

    Attend Theme Park Special Events

    Geena Davis narrated the first show of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot last year. Dozens of celebrities have taken part over the years in one of Disney World's most inspirational holiday events.
    Gene Duncan / Walt Disney World News

    Florida's theme parks bring in nationally recognized talent for many of their special events. Celebrity chefs cook up international flavors at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival each fall, expert gardeners hold workshops at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival each spring, and weekends in May and June the magic of Disney and the power of the force combine for the awesome Star Wars Weekends. Additionally, many of these and other special events also include concerts by award-winning performers.

    Many times, when not working in an official capacity, these celebrities will be seen enjoying the theme parks. More often than not, they will be whisked around with security that will keep fans at bay. Other times they may brave the crowds on their own or with their families. Do try to give them some privacy and don't ask for an autograph or to pose for a photo. After all, the thrill is in just saying you've seen them. Remember, they are trying to enjoy the parks too.

    Theme park events where you may see celebrities:

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  • 04 of 11

    See Celebrities On Stage

    Gin Blossoms Epcot
    Ryan Wendler / Walt Disney World News

    There are many concert and show venues located in Florida where award-winning performers take to the stage throughout the year. Snagging concert tickets may take a bite out of your wallet, but it is by far the easiest way to see a celebrity in Florida... although it may not be up-close.

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  • 05 of 11

    Visit Movie Location Sets

    Spring Breakers St Pete Beach
    © Annapurna Pictures

    The movie was rated "R" and the racy plotline was nothing you'd want your young kids to see, but high school kids were skipping school to hang out in St. Pete Beach for the filming of Spring Breakers. They were there to see the young stars — Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and James Franco. And, see a lot of them they did... in skimpy bathing suits as they frolicked in the surf and rode scooters through the streets. Some fans though got to participate as extras in a pool party scene!

    While I don't condone skipping school, visiting a movie set just might be a way to see your favorite stars. Florida is often referred to as Hollywood East because more and more movies and television shows are being filmed in the state. The popular Burn Notice is wrapping up its last season of filming in and around Miami. The inspirational kid-flick Dolphin Tales, starring Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson was filmed in Clearwater and the sequel, which was also filmed there, and Dolphin Tale 2 hit theaters late in the summer of 2014.

    While the Tampa Bay area sees a good share of movie activity, Miami seems to be the epicenter for both television series and movie production. Check local newspapers and online for shoot schedules and whether it is a closed set or open to fans.

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  • 06 of 11

    Be In Town During Special Events and Festivals

    Mariel Hemingway
    Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Sarasota Film Festival 2013

    Florida is home to several film festivals that bring celebrities to town. If you can snag tickets to attend any of the screenings you're sure to be in good company; however, just showing up and standing behind the ropes to see who will be walking the red carpet is fun too.

    Florida Film Festivals

    Additionally, there are several events held throughout the year that bring celebrities to town. The DirectTV's annual Celebrity Beach Bowl, a celebrity flag football game, has been held in the past at Miami's South Beach and Jennifer Lopez was a familiar face among the famous in attendance. As mentioned in another segment, the Candlelight Processional at Epcot brings a wide range of personalities to narrate the inspirational show.

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  • 07 of 11

    Go to a Sport Event

    Miami Marlins Marcell Ozuna
    Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins via Getty Images

    If you're a sport's fan you've got a lot of opportunities to rub elbows with not only the sport's participants but those celebrities that attend the sporting events. As an example, celebs are spotted regularly in Miami at NBA and NFL games.

    Florida has it all when it comes to sports too. NFL teams include the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Miami Dolphins, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rivals from the University of Florida (Gators) and Florida State University (Seminoles) add fall excitement to the football scene. But, Florida also has ice hockey teams, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of the NHL Stanley Cup in 2004. The NBA's Orlando Magic brings a court action to the Amway Arena in downtown Orlando and the Miami Heat's home court is the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami. Florida's Grapefruit League spring training games are the perfect place to grab an autograph of your favorite player.

    Additionally, race fans can see their favorite NASCAR drivers at Daytona International Speedway or see Indy-series drivers at the Honda Grand prix of St. Petersburg. Both venues usually offer special autograph events. Also, golfing — whether tournaments or charity events — is a great way to mingle with famous names.

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  • 08 of 11

    Visit Communities Where Celebrities Live

    Biscayne Bay Mansions
    SEASTOCK / Getty Images

    Florida has long been a respite for the rich and famous on vacation, but more and more celebrities are now living in the Sunshine State... or at least have a second home here. When you visit the Miami area, take a boat tour of Biscayne Bay and Millionaires Row to see the homes of Shaquille O'Neal, Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias and more. While there are too many celebrities that call Florida home to list, there are some stories attached to a few celebs that are interesting.

    There was a media frenzy when it was announced that John Travolta would buy a home in Ocala, Florida. Known by locals as "slow-cala" for its laid-back country ambiance, Ocala seemed like the last place a pair of movie stars would reside (his wife is Kelly Preston). Their $2.5-million home was constructed in a gated fly-in community called Jumbolair Aviation Estates in Anthony, just north of Ocala. The community features an extra long airstrip, which is perfect for the actor to take off and land his large private aircraft. In fact, when the family is in residence, Travolta flies to Clearwater to visit the Church of Scientology religious retreat and spiritual headquarters nearly every day. The Travolta's have been embraced by the Ocala community, but respectful of their privacy as well. They are often seen at nearby restaurants and even out shopping on occasions.

    In mid-2000, Kirstie Alley purchased a waterfront Clearwater, Florida home from fellow Church of Scientology member Lisa Marie Presley for $1.5-million. The 9,800 sq. ft., three-story mansion overlooking Clearwater Bay is in an older neighborhood called Palm Bluff, but she likely bought it because of its proximity to the downtown Scientology Center. The home features a waterfront pool, a spa, a large patio and a dock that Presley expanded 150 feet into the bay. There is also a 200-yard protective wall around the property that Presley added. In June of 2011, a local investigative reporter found that Alley owed more than $41,000.00 in back taxes from 2010 and could face losing the home if the matter wasn't resolved. She claimed her accountant never got the bill and promptly paid the taxes.

    Of course, Tiger Wood's house on Jupiter Island isn't as well known as his previous residence in Windermere, in Orange County, Florida. The Windermere property was his first home, in the exclusive gated community of Isleworth, and was the location of his famed 2009 "car accident," that was widely covered by the media, as well as his affairs and subsequent divorce from Elin Nordegren. Woods' divorce was final in 2010, and about that time his Jupiter Island estate was taking shape. It was reported that he paid $40-million for the 12-acre property and approximately 9,000 sq. ft. beachfront house, which he tore down to build another. In mid-2012, another golfer, Bubba Watson and his wife Angie, purchased Tiger's Isleworth house and moved into it in the spring of 2013 after extensive renovations.

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  • 09 of 11

    Visit Communities Where Celebrities Hang Out

    Mario Lopez Seminole Hard Rock
    Uri Schanker/FilmMagic

    Whether it's hitting the beach, shopping or nightclubs, Miami and its South Beach is a huge celebrity magnet and one of the best places to see the rich and famous. You might run into the likes of former talk show host, Oprah Winfrey; singer-songwriter Christina Milian; fashion designer, Donna Karan; Nashville star, Hayden Panettiere; and, hotel heiress and television star, Paris Hilton. Of course, the list of possible sightings is endless.

    Orlando is another area that at times seems to be teaming with celebrities. They are either vacationing with their families at the theme parks or filming specials. The problem is that unless you know where a celebrity is staying and what their plans are, getting a glimpse of them is unlikely.

    Are you a fan of TLC's Breaking Amish? Then you'll want to check out the beaches and restaurants in Sarasota for possible sightings of that reality show's self-made stars from its first and second season.

    If the celebrities you follow belong to the Church of Scientology, you might see some of them if you stake out the massive church in downtown Clearwater.

    Daytona Beach also sees its share of celebrities during spring break, bike week and when NASCAR races are scheduled at Daytona International Speedway; and, celebs seem to stop by Tampa's and Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos on a regular basis.

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  • 10 of 11

    Attend Charity Events

    Tiger Woods
    © Photographer, Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Celebrities are known to be altruistic and are quick to attend events that benefit good causes. Whether a charity holds a golf tournament, tennis match, fashion show, marathon or baseball game... there are usually celebrities there and often the public is invited to attend as well. It may cost you some money, but remember it's going for a good cause.

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  • 11 of 11

    Show Up at the Court House

    Hulk Hogan Florida Court
    John Pendygraft-Pool/Getty Images

    The recent high-profile criminal court cases of Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman has brought attention to the Florida courts, but we never heard of these people before they were accused of a crime. Celebrities on the other hand draw media attention for even the slightest infractions and Florida has seen its share of celebrity drama over the years. What better way to ensure you'll see a celebrity... they have to show up for court!

    Actor and film producer, Wesley Snipes is a free man after serving a three-year prison term for a conviction of federal tax evasion. Snipes was born in Orlando but grew up in the Bronx in New York City. After trying unsuccessfully to have his trial moved to New York, he went on trial in Ocala in 2006. The highly publicized trial was rocked by Snipes' attorney's using a racism defense.​

    Hulk Hogan has seen the inside of many courtrooms over the last few years — so many that it's hard to keep track. The retired professional wrestler, reality TV star and sometimes pitchman's real name is Terry Bollea. Although years apart, he and I went to the same high school in Tampa; but, he has been living across the bridge in Pinellas County, most recently purchasing a home in the Mandalay subdivision on north Clearwater Beach.

    On August 26, 2007, Bollea's son was involved in a tragic car accident in Clearwater that left his passenger and friend, John Graziano, seriously injured and requiring life-long care. The subsequent civil lawsuit was settled in Pinellas County in 2010 to provide that care for the former Marine.

    In the middle of all this, Hulk Hogan's divorce from Linda Bollea became final in 2009 after 26 years of marriage. That didn't end the Hulk's legal troubles. A leaked sex tape of Hogan and former friend, Florida shock jock Bubba The Love Sponge Clem's ex-wife, Heather Clem by Gawker.com came to a head in April 2013 with a judge granting a temporary restraining order related to the footage. A settlement in the legal brush-up between the Clem's and Hogan was also reached the same day.

    Meanwhile, if you're wondering what the Hulk is up to these days, you just might see him around his new restaurant — Hogan's Beach — in Tampa.