Planning a vacation to Orlando in the winter provides several activities for visitors. The area’s theme parks and attractions are once again opening new rides and shows for you to experience. While some of the attractions are familiar favorites that have recently expanded, others are fresh faces. Check them out now and you’ll be among the first to enjoy the latest thrills.

Theme Parks

History repeats. Epcot opened a new gallery exhibition called “National Treasures.” Three dozen artifacts from American history are on display in the American Heritage Gallery of the American Adventure pavilion, including items from Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington Carver. Most of the items are on loan from museums and private collections and will be rotated over time.

Win a million. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has announced that its theme parks will extend their popular “Year of a Million Dreams” promotion through the end of 2008. The program is highlighted by daily prize giveaways like FASTPASS tickets, free concessions or a stay in the Cinderella Castle suite.

Show me. Walt Disney World Resort announced new shows set to open at Disney-MGM Studios, which will become Disney’s Hollywood Studios in January 2008. “Disney High School Musical 2: School’s Out!” comes to life on the streets with interactive fun and high-energy performers on a traveling stage who invite guests to catch Wildcat fever by singing and dancing. Also, “Meet and Greet,” which features Disney Channel stars JoJo and Goliath and the Little Einsteins, welcome guests in the Animation Courtyard. They will be joined for the first time by Handy Manny in November.

Attractions

Get lost. You can do just that at Scott’s Maze Adventures, Central Florida’s only six-acre themed corn maze, half-acre mini-maze, mist maze, tree maze and labyrinth, which is now open. The attraction also features a 60-foot “super slide” and picnic and play area. The mazes are located at Long & Scott Farms, 30 minutes northwest of Orlando, in Mount Dora.

Play golf, pet a gator. That’s right. At Gator Golf and Adventure Park, which opened earlier this fall on International Drive, you can play an 18-hole miniature golf course and then see an alligator—actually more than 300—with live shows throughout the day.

Double your chills. Terror in Orlando opened on International Drive and offers two unique horror experiences, Mayhem Manor and 3-D Funhouse, with plenty of scares for everyone. The manor showcases the bizarre experiments of Dr. Morphius Mayhem, while the funhouse features the sinister world of Kilmor the Clown.

Sneak Peaks

Explore the jungle. Busch Gardens Africa unveiled plans to build a new exotic jungle area in the theme park, called Jungala. The four-acre attraction area will be located in the existing Congo area and include tiger, orangutan and gibbon habitats mixed with dense landscaping. Two signature rides will be added including a zip line experience with three different flight patterns and a ride launching guests above a towering waterfall. Jungala will open in spring 2008.

Meet at the gator. Gatorland broke ground on a $4 million complex, which will include 19,000 square feet of retail, meeting and office space. The new area features an open-air admission pavilion that incorporates the historic gator-mouth entrance, a meeting facility and a shopping area. The complex is projected to open in summer 2008.

Information courtesy of Orlando CVB, Inc.