It’s almost 2016, which means you’re probably wondering what new Orlando attractions are in store. A whole new line-up of thrilling attractions, top-notch entertainment and exceptional dining is coming to Central Florida. Read on to find new things to do and places to stay, as well as get the scoop on all of the exciting new theme park attractions opening in 2016.

King Kong Universal Promo 2

Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort
One of the most iconic movie creatures in history—King Kong—is making his debut at Universal’s Island of Adventure summer 2016. Skull Island: Reign of Kong journey deep into a mysterious island, exploring ancient temples and encountering hostile native, while the mighty beast fights to save you. It will be a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional new ride for your life.

SeaWorld Mako

Mako
Photo Credit: SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando
Mako, Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster, will open at SeaWorld summer 2016. Named for one of the ocean’s fastest sharks, the ride will reach speeds of 73mph as it soars along a steel track of almost 5,000-feet. The hypercoaster, which induces a feeling of weightlessness, will be the centerpiece of a shark-themed two-acre plaza dedicated to educating guests on the importance of sharks to the environment.

Frozen Ever After

Frozen Ever After
Photo Credit: Disney World Theme Parks

Epcot
Frozen fans are sure to love Epcot’s newest addition, a Frozen ride named “Frozen Ever After.” Located in the Norway pavilion of World Showcase, riders will travel to Arendelle during the kingdom’s Winter Festival. Through cutting-edge technology, they will share the journey and celebration with favorite character from the beloved film.

Cobras-Curse

Cobra’s Curse
Photo Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa
Cobra’s Curse, a new family thrill ride, will open at Busch Gardens Tampa in 2016. This unique spin-style coaster is the only one of its kind in the world. Riders will experience a vertical lift, forward-facing and backward-facing positions, and a free-spinning position. In addition, there is a face-to-face encounter with an 80-foot snake icon and trek over the Serengeti Plain.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Photo Credit: Universal Orlando

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Universal Orlando Resort is opening its fifth resort, Lowest Sapphire Falls, in the summer of 2016. A laidback Caribbean theme gives way to a lagoon setting and towering waterfall. There are 1,000 rooms and suites, a 16,000-square-foot pool with waterslides and white sand beaches, as well as four on-site restaurant. Plus, resort guests enjoy exclusive Universal Orlando Resort privileges like early admission and shuttle services.

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Orlando City Stadium
Photo Credit: Orlando City Soccer

Orlando City Stadium
One of the other new Orlando attractions set to open in summer 2016 is the Orlando City Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium home to the Orlando City Lions. Located downtown, a block from the Amway Center, the stadium will be a welcome addition to the Orlando sports scene.

disney-springs-1

Photo credit: Disney

Disney Springs
This revamped Downtown Disney, known as Disney Springs, continues to open in phases. In 2016, the remaining phases will open. The expansion, when finished, will more than double the number of shops, restaurant and other attractions which means more than 150 operators will be open for business. New tenants opening in 2016 include APEX b Sunglass hut, Art of Shaving, Chapel Hats, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, Havaianas, Sanuk and Sound Lion. Celebrity chef Art Smith will open Homecoming, a restaurant focused on southern specialties with a Florida twist.

SKYPLEX

Photo Credit: SKYPLEX

Bonus: SKYPLEX
Come 2017, I-Drive 360 will be home to the world tallest coast—SKYPLEX. The 570-foot tall attraction will feature the first polercoaster, a vertical ride with a skyscraper-style track. An observation deck, restaurant and lounge will be at the top of the complex.

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Pandora
Photo Credit: Disney World Theme Parks

Bonus: Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is meticulously working on the new Avatar-themed land, set to open in Animal Kingdom in 2017. Floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforest and a banshee flying attraction, as well as after dark entertainment, will immerse guests in the world of Pandora. Expansion on Star Wars and Toy Story attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are also in progress.

Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay
Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Bonus: Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort
Volcano Bay, a new Orlando water park, has opening date set for 2017.  The highly-themed, immersive topical environment will be located within Universal Orlando Resort south off Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

These are some of the highlights of new Orlando attractions in 2016. Start making vacation plans now to be one of the first to experience these world-class additions to Central Florida.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Epcot_flower_gardenDates for the 2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival have been set. From March 2 – May 30, 2016, Walt Disney World will host the 23rd annual event which is expanding from 75 to 90 days.

Each year, the fresh flavors of the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, new Disney topiaries, rockin’ concerts and interactive play gardens entice visitors. 2016 will be no different. Visitors can look forward to Donald duck’s mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, will be making their topiary debut. They will appear with Donald and Diary near Epcot’s front entrance. In addition, Ranger Mickey Mouse will make his first appearance in honor of celebrating the centennial of the National Parks Service.

Outdoor Kitchens returns for the fourth year, and World Showcase will still let guests eat their way around the globe. Disney-led gardening seminars and the Garden Rocks concert series (previously known as Eat to the Beat) are two other Food & Garden Festival events park goers can enjoy.

Check back for more updates soon.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Take a look inside Gatorland, the Alligator Capital of the World, in Orlando. The 110-acre theme park has not only gators, but other wildlife, a petting zoo, and even a zipline. Gatorland in Orlando has lot to explore. Get a sneak peek of what’s in store with my helpful video.



Bianca is a travel professional, and prides herself on her knowledge of vacation destinations big and small. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her favorite cities throughout America.

january_eventsCheck out these Orlando events happening January 2016:

January 1-2: Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort
Celebrate the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort including great events like Grinchmas, Macy’s Holiday Parade, and holiday concerts by Mannheim Steamroller.

January 1-3: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Disney’s Hollywood Studios become aglow in light during the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. Presented at the Disney Park every holiday season since 1995, this stunning light show adds an extra dose of festive fun to any Disney World vacation.

January 4 – March 5: Real Music Concert Series at Busch Gardens
This longest running concert series returns Wednesdays through Saturday’s beginning in January. Listen to live music that will span the decades from the 1930s-1970s. Concerts are held each day at 11:30am, 1pm, and 3:30pm. Concerts are included with regular Busch Gardens admission, but reservation tickets are required to guarantee a seat.

January 6-10: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
Events include the Walt Disney World Marathon, Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, Family Fun Run 5K, runDisney Kids Races, Disney’s Health & Fitness Expo, Pasta in the Park Party, and the Cool Down Party. For more information and to sign up, visit their website.

January 23-31: Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts & Humanities
This multi-day, multi-disciplinary event celebrates the life and work of 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston, her hometown, Eatonville, the nation’s oldest incorporated African American municipality, and the contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and world culture.

He’s making his list. He’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. And, this time of year, you want to meet him! At Orlando theme parks you can visit with Santa, tell him your wish list and maybe even meet Mrs. Claus. Use my helpful guide to find Santa in Orlando.

098Holidays at Disney Springs
During Holidays at Disney Springs, Disney brings Santa Claus to the masses at The Marketplace. You’ll find Santa Claus waiting to greet you at his beautiful chalet in front of the World of Disney Store. Snap as many photos as you’d like, and be sure to use PhotoPass too. Disney Photographers have a special way of capturing the magic. At Disney Springs, you can meet Santa November 13-December 24, from noon to 9:30pm. To make your visit even merrier, this year guests will be able to skip the line if their wait exceeds 30 minutes. You’ll receive a pager (or receive notice via text), then when you return to Santa’s Chalet you’ll have a wait of 20 minutes or less.

Universal Orlando Resort
You can spot Santa at Universal Orlando Resort during Macy’s Holiday Parade. As the New York City street scene comes to life with balloons, floats, marching bands, and whimsical characters, the moment is made even more spectacular with a special appearance by Santa Claus. After the parade, which happens several times daily at Universal Studios, stick around for a magnificent tree lighting ceremony with music and twinkling lights.

Magic Kingdom at Disney World
Why only see Santa, when at Disney World you can see Santa and Mickey! During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, delight in the shimmering ice lights on Cinderella’s Castle, waltz through the streets to holiday music and meet with all your favorite holiday characters. The extravaganza is held on select nights in November and December, from 7pm to midnight. Santa Claus will also be meeting and greeting Magic Kingdom guests at the Tour Guide Gardens next to City Hall during regular park hours.

Downtown_Disney_SantaEpcot at Disney World
Epcot celebrates the season with holidays from around the world. Once you learn about holiday traditions from all of the different countries at World Pavilion, stop by American Adventure to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Listen to the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers as you tell the man in red all you want for Christmas this year! Santa will be at Epcot at Disney World now through Christmas Eve.

ICE at Gaylord Palms
Ever dream of walking through a winter wonderland? At ICE at Gaylord Palms you can do just that! More than two million twinkling lights, acres of larger-than-life decorations and more than two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and four thrilling slides await you! Stroll through the dazzling sights, which are themed for ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in 2015, snow tube down the slopes and whoosh down a slippery ice slide before having milk and cookies with Santa and Mrs. Claus. It’s an engaging experience you can’t have anywhere else in Orlando.

Santa ThinkstockPhotos-485881462Christmas Town at Busch Gardens
At Busch Gardens Christmas Town you’re invited to Santa’s House at the North Pole. Each day during Christmas Town, Santa takes a break from his busy holiday plans to meet and take photos with all of the good little boys and girls of the world. Surrounded by elves in Santa’s study, get ready to meet the man himself, tell him your secret holiday wish and even get your photo taken. Santa can be seen at Busch Gardens Tampa now through December 31.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration
Have a seat and break bread with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Santa’s Fireside Feast. The lovely holiday feast at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration features an all-you all-you-care-to-eat menu of holiday favorites and delicious desserts. Plus, you get to meet the Mr. and Mrs. and take a special, complimentary family photo to commemorate your night.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

SeaWorld is the only place in Orlando to go below the surface of the ocean, get up close and personal with animals, and experience one-of-a-kind aquatic thrills. Learn expert tips on visiting SeaWorld Orlando. From the best rides to animal shows to where to eat, I’ll give you the inside scoop on SeaWorld Orlando.


Bianca is a travel professional, and prides herself on her knowledge of vacation destinations big and small. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her favorite cities throughout America.

You know you’ve made it when Universal Orlando Resort designed a ride after you. That’s exactly what’s happening to Jimmy Fallon, who recently announced that a Tonight Show attractions is arriving in Orlando in 2017.

Race Through New York Jimmy FallonAccording to the park blog, “’Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon’ will be a 3D ride where you will get the full Tonight Show experience as you make your way to the fabled Studio 6B for a very special taping in which Jimmy challenges his studio audience to the ultimate race through the greatest city on earth.”

Rumor has it the ride system for the Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show attraction will be similar to Soarin’ at Epcot. Instead of soaring over scenic sights, though, the race will be through the streets and skylines of New York City. The park blog went on to say, “You’ll rocket through the streets—and skies—of New York City, from the deepest subway tunnels to the tallest skyscrapers, encountering colorful characters, famous landmarks and anything else that comes to Jimmy’s mind.”

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will replace the Twister attraction, which closed on November 2, 2105.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Starting December 1, Disney World guests will delve into special exhibits and behind-the-scenes speak peeks dedicated to the Star Wars saga and upcoming film—Star Wars: The Force Awakens—at Star Wars Launch Bay. Best of all, there will be special opportunities to meet Chewbacca and Darth Vader.

Star Tours Adventure Continues

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue will feature a new adventure inspired by the upcoming film. The new adventure will be featured for several months, then it will rotate with previous experiences.

Star Wars: Path of the Jedi is a visual presentation that include scenes from the Star Wars saga, so even those who aren’t familiar with the iconic films can get in on the action.

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Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple is a reimagined Jedi Training experience taking young talents to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple where they face off with Darth Vader along with the Seventh Sister—a new villain from the Disney XD series “Star Wars Rebels.”

In 2016, construction will begin on the new 14-acrea Star Wars themed land at Disney Hollywood Studios. The progress will not make Disney’s annual Star Wars Weekends possible in 2016, but once complete, the force will be with Disney every day of the week.

Step into the Star Wars saga this December at Disney World Orlando.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Unwrap a winter wonderland during your visit to Disney World Orlando during Christmastime.  Disney combines festive traditions with modern merriment creating an engaging event for holiday revelers.  The seasonal celebration starts as early as November 7, 2014. 

Check out the holiday highlights of Disney World’s Christmas Celebrations.  Then, start making plans to be in Orlando this holiday season!

Magic Kingdom
The entire Magic Kingdom is swathed in holiday sparkle with festive wreaths, bows, garland, sparkling lights, parades and towering Christmas trees. Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks spectacular and live entertainment with Disney characters all dressed up for the holidays are a few highlights. 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will run for 20 magical nights this season.  This after-hours ticketed event begins at 7pm and immerses guests in holiday offerings such as stage shows, fireworks, a unique holiday parade and holiday traditions including complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. Specific dates for 2015: 

Nov. 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 29
Dec. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18

Cinderella’s Castle will be decorated in Castle Dream Lights transforming it into a glimmering ice palace for the holidays.  200,000 shimmering lights decorate the castle and guests are treated to a nightly celebration and stage show.  Returning to the Magic Kingdom is Queen Elsa, who will be the one to transform Cinderella’s Castle into an ice palace every night starting in November.  This magical production, dubbed A Frozen Holiday Wish, replaces Cinderella’s Holiday Wish stage show.  Secure a spot around the Castle early!  The show starts nightly at 6:15pm.

Frozen characters Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf will be featured in “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.” This parade runs twice nightly at 8:15pm and 10:30pm.

The iconic Jungle Cruise transforms into the “Jingle Cruise” for the holidays. Festive decor greets passenger and the Skipper’s spread Christmas cheer with family-friendly jokes.

In Tommorowland, the acclaimed a cappella group VoicePlay will perform holiday concerts for Disney guests. VoicePlay, who appeared on the TV Show “The Sing Off,” will show off their vocal skills during “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas.”

Epcot
Candlelight Processional at Epcot is a timeless holiday traction combining seasonal music with a moving reading of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a mass choir and a 50-piece live orchestra.  A few of this year’s celebrity narrators include Neil Patrick Harris, Meredith Viera, Whoopi Goldberg, Chandra Wilson and Blair Underwood.   Candlelight Processional is presented November 27 through December 30 at 5:00, 6:45 and 8:00pm at America Gardens Theater on select nights. For a full list of celebrity narrators, click here. 

Holidays Around the World let Epcot visitors experience traditions and lore from countries across the globe.  Storytellers, meet and greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a nightly presentation of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” add to the fun. 
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The classic Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the last time November 6 through January 3. The spectacle features millions of dancing lights, plus animated displays and 3D effects synchronized to holiday classics amidst snowfall. To make your holiday experience even sweeter by attending the Merry & Bright Dessert Party featuring festive views of the Streets of America or opt for the Merry & Bright Dinner Reception, offering reserved seats with views of the Osborne Spectacle of Lights as well as complimentary drinks, snacks and more.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Celebrate Christmas safari style at the Animal Kingdom.  Join Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Adventurer’s Outpost for a special photo opportunity. Dressed in their holiday best, these souvenirs shots are ideal for Christmas cards and gifts.
Reserve your discount Disney tickets now to experience Christmas at Disney World.  Select tickets currently feature two bonus days.  That means you can pay for a 4-day Disney Park Hopper Ticket and get entrance for your 5th and 6th day free!    It’s a great value and ensures you’ll have plenty of time to see all the holiday sights and sounds at Walt Disney World Orlando.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Build holiday memories with your family at LEGOLAND Florida’s Christmas Bricktacular, Countdown to Kids’ New Year’s Eve and Kids’ New Year’s Eve Bash. All of these special events were created specifically for families and are included with the purchase of discount LEGOLAND tickets. Want to know more about holidays at LEGOLAND? Read on.

LEGOLAND Florida's Christmas Bricktacular

LEGOLAND Florida’s Christmas Bricktacular is featured every weekend in December.

  • December 5-6 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • December 12-13 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • December 19-20 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • December 26-30 (Sunday-Wednesday)

 

Festive activities include:

LEGO Santa Model: Families can take a perfect holiday photo at LEGOLAND Florida, where you can pose with a life-size LEGO Santa Claus.

LEGO Christmas Tree: The more than 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree made with a combination of 270,000 forest green LEGO and DUPLO bricks provides the perfect place for every holiday family photo. Through December 25, a special family will be chosen to help light the Bricktacular tree each night.

LEGOLANDFlorida-Christmas6LEGO Model Build Activity: A LEGO Christmas mosaic guests can assemble alongside Master Model Builders.

LEGO Santa Scavenger Hunt: It’s Christmas Eve in Miniland USA and Santa is busy delivering gifts to all the good girl and boy minilanders. Help find Santa in this fun-filled holiday scavenger hunt. The whole family can enjoy searching for Santa in the over 30 million LEGO bricks that make up Miniland USA.

LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier Characters: Guests will have meet and greet opportunities with LEGOLAND Florida’s special holiday friends, LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier.

Letters to Santa: Visit the Letters to Santa station to write letter to St. Nick and send it to the North Pole.

Holiday Decorations: Guests will get into the holiday spirit with sounds of the season and holiday decorations that fill The Beginning and Fun Town areas of the park along with a winter wonderland feel as snow falls all around them.

Holiday Shopping: LEGOLAND Florida is the best place to celebrate the season and pick up the holiday gifts that are on every child’s wish list – LEGO! With six specialty stores, the park is proud to offer a unique and often hard to find selection of LEGO products and more.

The fun doesn’t end, there, though as once Christmas ends the Countdown to Kids’ New Year’s Eve begins. From December 26-30 watch as a nightly fireworks show lights up the sky over Lake Eloise at 7pm. Don’t forget to put on your special 3D viewing glasses that turn ordinary fireworks into millions of exploding LEGO bricks.

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, LEGOLAND Florida hosts a family themed Kids’ New Year’s Eve Party. Kids can rock out in Miniland USA with a live DJ Dance Party, then watch the grand finale featuring a live-action show, an impressive LEGO fireworks display, and a chance to watch the BRICK Drop at just the right time for kids, midnight KST (Kid Standard Time), otherwise known as 7pm (Eastern Standard Time).

Take in all of the holiday activities at LEGOLAND along with the more 50 rides, shows and attractions available year round. Reserve your LEGOLAND Florida tickets in advance to save over $20 on one and two-day tickets.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.