Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is welcoming a new set of friends in the spring of 2010. Sesame Street, and its famous characters Elmo, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie and all of their friends, are part of a new attraction at Busch Gardens known as Sesame Street Safari of Fun. This new attraction will be filled with rides, shows and adventure that celebrate the spirit of Africa.

A new junior roller coaster is planned for Sesame Street Safari of Fun, named “Air Grover.” It features mini-dives and twisty turns in a Sahara themed environment. Other kid-sized rides include “Zoe-Patra & the Hippos of the Nile,” a splashy flume ride through the famed river; “Rosita’s Djembe Fly-Away,” a swing ride that sends kids whirling above the African canopy; “Elmo’s Safari Go-Round,” a tribal-inspired carousel with Elmo and his friends; “Oscar’s Swamp Stomp” provides cool water fun, and “Bert & Ernie’s Water Hole” is a wet adventure filled with bubblers, geysers, jets, dumping buckets and more. A photography studio gives kids the chance to share a hug and a smile with Sesame Street friends, and musical performances bring tales of adventure to life.

The Sesame Street Safari of Fun Busch Gardens will be located where Land of the Dragons is now.

A Sesame Street show is also in the works, and will be known as “Sesame Street presents Lights, Cameras, Imagination!” It will run in the park’s 4-D theater, located in Timbuktu. Visitors will also have the opportunity to dine with Sesame Street characters on select days at an outdoor dining facility.

The Latin Food and Wine Festival will debut in Orlando October 1-3, presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. The three day festival features a schedule of events that will highlight the cuisine, culture and entertainment of Spanish-speaking countries.

On October 1, the festival will begin with “An Evening in Spain,” which will be held on the rooftop of The Plaza in downtown Orlando. The event will highlight cuisine from Barcelona, Madrid and many other Spanish cities. Delectable dishes, fine wine and exciting entertainment are all on the menu for “An Evening in Spain.”
On October 2, the festival will host the Roast & Runway at The Red Coconut Club at Universal Orlando Resort’s CityWalk. The event combines tradition with fashion to showcase top designers, all while enjoying a traditional pig roast complimented by themed beverages. A silent auction will showcase original art, jewelry and getaways inspired by Latin culture. Entertainment will be provided by award-winning pianist Adlan Cruz. The Latin Food and Wine Festival will also host Carlos Alberto, an acclaimed Puerto Rican fashion designer, to showcase his haute couture gowns during Roast & Runway.
On October 3, the festival will culminate with a Grand Tasting event, held at the Dellagio on Sand Lake Road. Guests of the Grand Tasting will indulge in the delicious flavors of Latin cuisine and beverages while enjoying Hispanic entertainment. Renowned chefs Guillermo Pernot, Jen Isham and many others will be on hand to demonstrate their culinary skills and tasty concoctions.

Latin Food and Wine Festival tickets are on sale now.

Orlando lodging reservations are also available.

Orlando, Florida is known for its warm weather and sunny skies. However, at ICEBAR Orlando the temperatures drop, creating Orlando’s coolest lounge.

ICEBAR Orlando features a concept widely seen in Europe, but never before in the United States. ICEBAR, as the name would suggest, is a bar made of ice, including the walls, bar, tables, sofas and chairs. Kept at a chilly 27 degrees Fahrenheit, ICEBAR features over 50 tons of ice, all sculpted by world-class ice carvers. The interior theme of ICEBAR changes every six months.

Located on International Drive, experiencing ICEBAR is convenient and easy for Orlando visitors. Although every part of the bar is ice, the features are all draped in fur and a thermal cape and gloves are given to patrons upon entering to ensure warmth during their 45 minute ICEBAR excursion.

The Chill Lounge is the warm-up area for ICEBAR. Before and after you enter ICEBAR, guests are welcome to explore the 3,000-square-foot lounge. Featuring live entertainment, caviar flights, premium beverage service and signature drinks, all in a Nordic setting, the Chill Lounge is a great addition to any ICEBAR experience.

The long awaited and highly anticipated Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Orlando Resort is now open. The highly innovative attraction includes first ever maneuvers and advanced technology for a ride that provides the ultimate thrills for roller coaster enthusiasts. The interactive elements of the ride, which allow coaster goers to pick a song to rock out to during their adventure, as well as the entire ride being taped as a take-home music video available for purchase, creates an all-encompassing experience that brings roller coaster rides to a whole new level.

The twists, turns, curves and drops featured on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit are highlighted by three first-ever maneuvers: the Double Take, the world’s largest non-inverted loop; the Treble Clef, a music symbol shaped track that has riders bursting through a building façade; and the Jump Cut, a spiraling, negative-gravity move that promises excitement. Universal Orlando Resort is promising that no two experiences on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit will be the same, as each ride can be individualized for that rider, for that occasion.

The technology used on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit allows the ride to be completely customized by riders using a personal touchpad mounted on the ride vehicles to make their music selection. There are five music genres to pick from – Classic Rock/Metal, Rap/Hip-Hop, Club/Electronica, Pop/Disco and Country – so every guest will be able to select a song that fits their personality, and wanted experience, best. The vehicles of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit have separate seats, each with separate speakers, so that each rider can pick a song selection and yet never have to hear the songs playing for other riders.

The memento portion of the ride is an entirely new concept, as most rides generally offer a photo souvenir, but none offer a customized music video for guests to purchase after their adventure. With Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, the song you choose for your ride is also the soundtrack to your video, which splices ride footage, music and special effects together for a one-of-a-kind keepsake. Best of all, these videos are available immediately after the ride is completed.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ejM9UWNtY]

For a detailed look at the playlist offered by Universal Orlando Resort’s Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, click here.

Universal Orlando Resort tickets are on sale now.

Universal Orlando Resort has announced its lineup for its annual Rock the Universe event, a Christian rock and entertainment festival slated for September 11 and 12.

On September 11, Switchfoot, David Crowder Band, Jeremy Camp, Pillar Firefight, Remedy Drive and Seven Stories Up are scheduled to perform. Sunday, September 12, Third Day, Casting Crowns, tobyMac, Hawk Nelson, The Afters, Group 1 Crew and New Method will perform.
Guest speakers Donny Robinson and Mark Stuart will speak to the crowds as well. Robinson is a BMX racing bronze medal winner and Stuart is the lead singer for Grammy award-winning band Audio Adrenaline.
September 13 is a bonus concert day, with Barlow Girl, Plumb, pure NRG, Group 1 Crew and Sidewalk Prophet taking the stage.
Rock the Universe will take place at Universal Studios Florida theme park. Guests with Rock the Universe tickets can enter Universal Studios after 4pm. The park closes for non-Rock the Universe guests at 6pm. A Rock the Universe ticket will allow you to remain in the park until 1am to experience all the music and thrills. The Rock the Universe event is not included with regular park admission. Rock the Universe is a separately ticketed event that includes admission to Universal Studios after 4pm for the date stated on the ticket. The Rock the Universe ticket does not include entrance to Universal Studios before 4pm or entrance to Islands of Adventure

Old Town Amusement is a great place to spend a day with the family, enjoying classic rides and old-fashioned fun. This weekend, August 15th, they’re hosting The Grand Cruise as well as the Fairlanes Mini Meet. Come out and enjoy the fun!

08/15: The Grand Cruise: Come out and celebrate an amazing milestone, the 1,000th Saturday Nite Cruise at Old Town Amusement. You won’t want to miss this spectacular event. A special commemorative give-a-way for the first 1,000 cruisers, a special slide show presentation featuring past and present cars and cruisers, and a surprise Grand Marshal are all planned. The Blue Suede Revue will take the stage starting at 2:00pm then Dwight Icenhower join them at 7:00pm for his Tribute To The King.

08/15: Fairlanes Mini Meet: This club will be out showing off their 1962-1976 Ford Fairlanes. Registration 9:30 am – 1;00 pm. Open to Fairlanes, Torinos, Montegos, Comets, Cyclones, Rancheros, and Meteors.

From a Special Fantasy of Flight Press Release:

Fantasy of Flight, Central Florida’s premier aviation-themed attraction, will unveil an engaging, historically based theater presentation Sat., Aug. 29 and Sun., Aug. 30, just in time to ignite children’s imaginations as they begin a new school year.

The show, called “Real Imagination: Heroes of Flight,” features a lively trio of madcap actors who usher the audience through the centuries to embrace inspirational stories of aviation’s boldest and brightest heroes, from the visionary of flight, Leonardo daVinci, to the unflappable Wright Brothers, the gutsy Amelia Earhart and daring Charles Lindbergh. Along the way, the audience will learn about different modes of aviation travel and marvel at the innovation, courage and imagination that opened up the skies to us all.

The compelling new show is adapted from a production originally written for Fantasy of Flight by Norman Small, producing director of the Theatre Winter Haven, and will be presented in the Fantasy of Flight Officer’s Club. The “theater troupe in a trunk” show is tall on tales and excitement, but light on personnel and props, relying on just three talented actors — all from the Real Imagination Players – Jack Newton, Derek Wyatt and Rebecca Stoffel — and the inspirational atmosphere provided by Fantasy of Flight’s authentic airplanes to set the stage.

“Real Imagination: Heroes of Flight” will be presented at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 29 and 1:00 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 30 and is included with Fantasy of Flight general admission.

“Engaging our guests and helping them explore their dreams, whatever they may be, is our core mission,” said Kermit Weeks, creator and founder of Fantasy of Flight. “‘Heroes of Flight’ is a fantastic way to teach young people and the young at heart about the evolution of aviation in a fun yet informative manner. We are proud to bring some of the world’s most legendary pilots and students of flight to life before their eyes. And hope that our guests are inspired to dream big!”

Weeks is no stranger to children’s education initiatives. This year the pilot and former aerobatics world champion received a Bronze IPPY Award in the 13th Annual Independent Publisher Book Awards for his children’s book, “All of Life is a School” (KWIP Publishing, $19.95). His children’s book brings to life some of Fantasy of Flight’s most historically significant airplanes through colorful characters that existed during the Golden Age of Aviation.

As an added value on Aug. 29 at 12:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. and Aug. 30 at 12:30 p.m., time-traveling aviator Ophelia Ida Lightheart, the newest “character” to join Fantasy of Flight’s Real Imagination Players, will be reading “All of Life is a School” aloud between performances of “Real Imagination: Heroes of Flight.” A grand storyteller reminiscent of Mother Goose, Lightheart (played by local actor Leigh Switzer) not only tells stories, but also sings and makes mischief wherever – or whenever – she travels.

As more details are released regarding Universal Orlando Resort’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter Attraction, the more fans are eager for it to open so they can experience it for themselves. Word now is the attraction will open at Universal in the spring of 2010.

Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros stated, “Over the years we’ve received thousands of letters from fans around the world wishing they could visit Hogwarts and the wonderful locations described in each of JK Rowling’s beloved stories.” It appears as if next spring Potter fans will finally have their wishes granted. The new land at Islands of Adventure is expected to have a recreation of Hogwart’s Castle and the Forbidden Forest.

One of the stars of the Harry Potter franchise, Emma Watson, said the core cast has filmed scenes that will be incorporated in to the ride, so the interactivity of the attraction will remain true to both characters and plot.

The location of the attraction will encompass a portion of the Lost Continent area, as well as some undeveloped land previously not used at the Islands of Adventure section of Universal Orlando Resort. The attraction will draw from all of the books, creating a fully immersive environment perfect for Harry Potter fans of all ages.