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Orlando’s Theme Parks Unveil New Attractions

Orlando, Florida’s theme parks roll out new attractions each year just in time to welcome summer visitors. This year, the highlights include a new wildlife area, a prize give-away, and an interactive attraction at the area theme parks.

Here’s a park-by-park line-up of the novelties visitors will find, beginning in spring:

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is opening a new wildlife area, Jungala, this spring. Jungala’s observation area will allow visitors to get a bird’s-eye view of animals, such as orangutans and white tigers. Located in the park’s Congo area, Jungala also will have waterways, a waterfall and village.

Cypress Gardens Adventure Park will have a series of concerts and special events for spring and summer. Kidzpalooza will run from May 16 to June 22, with dozens of interactive activities, shows, concerts and parties. Kids can get messy in the park’s super-sloppy game show, Gunk’d. Other music events at Cypress Gardens include Celebrate America, June 27 to Aug. 3, with daytime and night-time entertainment, exhibits and laser shows. Wild Encounters (Aug. 8-10, 12-17, and 22-24) will feature close animal encounters, backstage access and educational events with animal keepers, experts and Animal Planet celebrities.

SeaWorld Orlando’s new water park, Aquatica, opens this spring, on International Drive, across the street from SeaWorld. This park is a 59-acre paradise for water lovers with crystal rivers, grottoes, waterfalls, rich greenery, flowers and exotic fauna including macaws and kookabooras under the South Seas theme. Aquatica offers up-close animal encounters, serene and extreme water experiences, high speed thrills and a white sand beach. There are also two wave pools lined by wide, sandy beaches, lagoons, rivers and 300 feet of clear tubes that send guest racing through a lagoon filled with black and white Commerson’s dolphins. Other park amenities include a children’s area, family play area, and personal cabanas.

Universal Orlando Resort will present Disaster! A Major Motion Picture ride, which will feature celebrity talent, new ride elements and a new storyline. This new ride, expected to open in late spring, relaces Earthquake. The Simpsons ride is expected to open in spring, replacing the Back to the Future ride.

Walt Disney World Resort has extended its Year of a Million Dreams, with new Disney Dreams Giveaway prizes awarded at random. Prizes include access that money can’t buy, such as a pass to spend New Year’s Eve in the Cinderella Castle Suite; a trip to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas for a day; a hot-air balloon ride over Epcot; a behind-the-scenes peek at Disney Imagineering; and the opportunity to serve as grand marshall leading the parks’ parades in France, California, Hong Kong and Florida.

Also new this year is Disney’s Hollywood Studios, formerly Disney-MGM. The Studios will host an interactive competition of “Toy Story Mania!” opening this summer. Riders will don 3-D glasses, board vehicles and zip into a series of midway-style games hosted by Toy Story characters Woody, Hamm and Rex. Inside Andy’s Toy Box, visitors can try to rack up points by using spring-action shooters to launch darts at balloons, eggs at barnyard targets and rings at aliens. Other new attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios include Block Party Bash, an interactive parade debuting in spring with Disney- Pixar film characters from The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2. “Playhouse Disney Live on Stage!” re-opened in February with a new cast of characters including favorite stars from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the Little Einsteins and Handy Manny. There is also a traveling stage show for tweens: “High School Musical 2: School’s Out!”

Information courtesy of South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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