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Posts Tagged ‘Central Florida’

Disney Will Break Ground on Star Wars Land Next Year

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

The 14-acre Star Wars Land will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Star Wars Land will include a Millennium Falcon ride that includes “the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy,” the iconic cantina, and a second E-ticket ride themed to Episode 7.

Star Wars Land at Disney

Disney will create a jaw-dropping new world that represents the largest single themed land expansion ever. The new land at Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance. The attraction is slated to open by 2020.

Star Wars Launch Bay

Star Wars Launch Bay will be a new interactive experience, and will be located in the former Animation pavilion space at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars Launch Bay will include character meet and greets, exhibits themed to the new Star Wars films, and new stores. It will open later this year.

After 40 years, Wet ‘n Wild Orlando to close at end of 2016

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

After 40 years, Wet ‘n Wild Orlando announced Wednesday that it will close for good at the end of 2016.

“Since it’s opening in 1977, Wet ‘n Wild Orlando has been a place where guests have created wonderful memories,” a statement on Universal Orlando’s blog states. “As America’s first water park, Wet ‘n Wild has been the birthplace of numerous innovations that are now considered a common part of the water park experience.”

Wet 'n wild

The park will officially close Dec. 31, 2016. According to the blog, Universal Orlando will now focus on the opening of Volcano Bay, which is expected to open in 2017.

Universal Orlando recently purchased land around the water park for future development.

One of Wet ‘N Wild’s most attractive features was its affordability. The family-friendly wave pool and slides were also a draw.
The Themed Entertainment Association ranks Wet and Wild as the fourth most popular water park in the U.S. It’s behind Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World, and SeaWorld’s Aquatica in Orlando.

Wet ‘n Wild wasn’t Orlando’s first water park: River Country USA at Walt Disney World first opened in 1976 and closed in the fall of 2001.

Even though River Country opened first, the World Waterpark Association credits Wet ‘N Wild with being the first official waterpark, and called the park’s developer George Millay the “Father of the Waterpark Industry.” Millay also developed SeaWorld.

SeaWorld unveils Mako, new 200-foot coaster opening 2016

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

SeaWorld Orlando has unveiled its next thrill ride, Mako, which the theme park said will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest coaster when it opens in 2016.

SeaWorld’s Brian Morrow revealed Wednesday that Mako will be 4,760 feet long — over 9/10 of a mile — and feature a 200-foot drop at a top speed of 73 mph.Seaworld Orlando Mako

Quick Facts

  • Opening summer 2016, Mako will be the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando.
  • Mako will be a hypercoaster, designed for speed and relentless “air time.”
  • SeaWorld Orlando will now have a portfolio of 5 thrill rides: 3 distinctly different coasters, plus 2 family coasters.
  • The 2-acre realm of the park will now be fully themed around sharks: including Mako, Shark Encounter, Sharks Underwater Grill, themed gift shops, shark and shipwreck theming and educational experiences.

Surfacing summer 2016 at SeaWorld Orlando will be Mako, a 200-foot-tall hypercoaster that will reach 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track — nearly a mile long — and leave riders feeling both breathless and weightless. Named for one of the ocean’s fastest known sharks, Mako will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster.

“On Mako, you’ll experience what it’s like to be this apex predator, surging through the water at top speed and chasing prey throughout a massive reef,” said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld’s attraction creative director. “It will be a wild mix of fear, thrills and fun.”

Mako’s tight turns and speed are inspired by reality. Mako sharks — also called “blue pointers” — are known for their top speed, making extreme jumps and the ability to quickly change course as they pursue their prey.

The new coaster will become one of the world’s true hypercoasters, a group of roller coasters known for high speeds and steep drops and hills that create a feeling of weightlessness or “air time.” As the sleek coaster cars crest each hill, riders float, nearly weightless.

Orlando Eye to open in spring 2015

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

The Orlando Eye is a 400-feet-tall observation wheel that is a sister attraction to London’s world-famous London Eye. The Orlando Eye will give riders a sweeping view of Central Florida and on a clear day, guests will be able to see the east coast and the Kennedy Space Center. The cantilevered wheel will have 30 air conditioned glass capsules for passengers to ride in.

Orlando Eye

The Orlando Eye website lists ticket prices as $18 for adults and $13 for children. The Orlando Eye is located at 8401 International Drive.

New Seven Dwarf’s Coaster Ride Opens

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Seven dwarfs mine trainTourists crowding onto Walt Disney World’s new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction this week in Florida got a glimpse of a new direction for theme parks looking to upgrade old technology..

Walt Disney Co. has removed classic attractions such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Snow White’s Scary Adventures — with their creaky electric vehicles, decades-old mechanical figurines and glowing, painted backdrops — from the Fantasyland area in the Magic Kingdom park in Orlando.

In their place it built the mine train, an entirely new ride system that combines elements of a roller coaster and the classic themed dark rides, with audio-animatronic figures considered the most lifelike in the industry. Nearby, similar animatronic technology brings to life Lumiere, the candlestick character from “Beauty and the Beast,” in the new Enchanted Tales With Belle attraction.

New Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Downtown Disney is undergoing a multi-year transformation, representing the largest expansion in its history. The renamed Disney Springs will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences, and feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands.

Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

With a flowing spring as a centerpiece, Disney Springs will feature four outdoor neighborhoods.

The story of Disney Springs begins at our new Town Center, which is oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs that first attracted settlers to the area. From there, the town grew to encompass three additional neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace and West Side – each with its own distinct charm and atmosphere.

Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

As part of Disney Springs, the family-friendly Marketplace will continue to delight guests of all ages and include new experiences, such as an over-the-water pedestrian causeway.

 

Once complete, Disney Springs will expand from 75 to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, featuring some of the world’s most iconic brands and restaurants. Construction is set to begin next month. The expansion will open in phases and we expect to complete our development in 2016.

New attractions coming to Walt Disney World

Monday, April 29th, 2013

There are plenty of projects in the works at Walt Disney World, but here are progress reports on four incoming attractions. Disney gave updates on them last week during a preview for members of the media.

Train schedule

The middle of New Fantasyland remains a construction zone for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster. Its indoor-outdoor track and swaying ride vehicles will add buzz to an area surrounded by proper princess-driven attractions.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

“I think it’s definitely going to add a dynamic, a lot of kinetic energy, which will be fun,” says new Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis. The mine train will double as attraction and spectator sport, much like the very visible drop of Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“I think of it as theater in the round,” says Mark Kohl, director of project management for the Fantasyland expansion. “Our guests will be able to walk 360 degrees around the coaster when it’s complete and experience it from all angles.”

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

The new attraction is expected to open next spring.

Or maybe it’s a triple whammy. The attraction slows down indoors, morphing into a dark ride.

“We’re going to take you inside this magical cave where millions of diamonds and gems are going to shine, and seven of our closest friends are all going to be hard at work in there,” Kohl says. It later shifts back to coaster mode.

Mine Train is set to open next spring.

Meeting, greeting

The next element of New Fantasyland to open will be Princess Fairytale Hall, a central gathering place for Disney royalty in the shadow of Cinderella Castle.

“This is where all the royal subjects of Fantasyland, our guests, can go and meet them in sort of a royal receiving room,” says Jason Grandt of Walt Disney Imagineering. Look for Cinderella, Rapunzel and other princesses to rotate through there.

The space, formerly home of Snow White’s Scary Adventures ride, has been overhauled.

“If there’s a clue that Snow White [ride] used to be the building, it will be a well-placed homage by us,” Grandt says.

The attraction will be ready by the end of 2013, “in plenty of time for the holidays,” Kalogridis says.

Go West

California Grill, the restaurant topping Disney’s Contemporary Hotel, is midway through its first refreshening in 19 years. The establishment is a hot spot for anniversaries, birthdays and marriage proposals, says Michael Scheifler, food and beverage manager.

“Seating capacity stayed the same, but we changed quite a few of our tables to many more two-tops to accommodate the demand for those special occasions,” Scheifler says.

The look will be midcentury modern with tones found in a sunset, such as hot pink and amber. New energy-efficient windows are being installed. Guests will be greeted by a “wall of wine,” he says.

California Grill is expected to reopen in late August or early September, he says.

Digging in

Coming soon — within weeks — is Wilderness Explorers, an interactive experience being incorporated into Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

It has 30 “locations where kids and families can pay a little closer attention to the things that they see, dig deeper into the educational side of it, earn badges that sort of elevate their stature as Wilderness Explorers over time,” Imagineer Alex Wright says.

One stop, for example, will be along the park’s Maharajah Tiger Trek.

“There’s going to be a station where you can walk up and, through a little field viewer that we’ve got set up, you can experience how a predator like a tiger sees their prey in the wild,” Wright says.

Three endangered tiger cubs born at Busch Gardens Tampa

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Three Malayan tiger cubs — two males, one female — were born at Busch Gardens in Tampa on March 31.  The animals are part of an endangered species — about 500 Malayan tigers survive in the wild, and only in southern Thailand and the Malay Peninsula, the park says.

Three endangered tiger cubs born

Three endangered tiger cubs born at Busch Gardens Tampa

The newborns are the offspring of mother Bzui and father Mata, who are backstage with their firstborns, where there are being monitored by Busch Gardens’ animal-care team. The cubs will start being introduced to the park’s Jungala area in about a month.

The births are in conjuction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

Orlando International Airport Plugs into Green Energy

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Recharging your electric or hybrid vehicle while traveling is now a reality at Orlando International Airport. Under an agreement with the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) approved the installation of 20 charging stations to provide service to airport patrons with plug-in electric vehicles.

Orlando Airport car charging stations

Charging stations on the second level of ‘A’ parking garage

The charging stations are manufactured by ChargePoint and 10 are mounted on the walls in designated sections in both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ terminal parking garages. Funding for the equipment was provided by a federal grant and OUC assumes the cost of installation, operation, maintenance and electricity. Users will be charged for use by ChargePoint.

With the growing availability of alternative fuel source vehicles, GOAA is taking the lead on supporting green initiatives and reaffirming a commitment to enhance customer service.

Legoland Florida’s water park doubles up on bricks

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

When the Legoland Florida water park reopenes for the season this weekend, guests will see even more figures and scenes constructed of Lego bricks. Two million bricks have been added since the Winter Haven water park opened last year, bringing its total to 4 million.

Legoland Florida Water park doubles up on bricks

Legoland Florida Water park doubles up on bricks

Sealife has strong representation among the new additions, including Moby Dick (made of more than 200,000 Duplo bricks) along the Build-A-Raft River and a shark (nearly 250,000) near the wave pool.

A 15-foot tall Lego Mermaid (176,000 bricks) now stands at the water park entrance amide water spouts and bubbles. Surfers, seahorses, clams and shells can also be seen.

Legoland has also added a hotdog vendor called Waveside Grill near the pool.

Legoland’s water park is only available as an add-on to a regular Legoland Florida ticket. (There is no water-park-only ticket.) A one-day pass to Legoland with water park is $91 ($81 for ages 3-12). There are discounts for Florida residents who pick a specific day and purchase tickets in advance. Floridians can also opt to buy an annual pass, which includes the water park, for $99.

Water park hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Legoland Florida calendar opens up a bit next week when it operates seven days a week during the Spring Break season. The park commonly is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays … and sometimes the water park only operates on weekends. To double-check the operating hours and days (and for other information), go to www.legoland.com.