THEME PARKS: Thrills, laughter and family fun
Theme parks are a must when visiting Central Florida. From Tampa to Orlando, the neverending thrills can take your breath away. Even if you’ve had the chance to experience some of the area’s major attractions on a previous visit, prepare to be wowed. Florida’s theme parks are continuously adding new, fun-packed excitement and adventures to the delight of families and all ages year after year.
Be among the first explorers to duck beneath the tropical rainforest canopy and experience Infinity Falls, coming summer 2018 to Sea World Orlando. Infinity Falls is a new twisting and turning river rapid ride that showcases a lush South American jungle environment and native animals that call this habitat home. Wind your way around soaking fountains and waterfalls as you pass the remains of an ancient civilization. The 1,520-foot, four-minute adventure features a vertical elevator that lifts rafts in preparation for a 40-foot drop into churning and exhilarating waters. The Infinity Falls adventure ends at Harmony Village where you’ll find interactive experiences educating and inspiring guests about conserving freshwater ecosystems.
After braving Infinity Falls, enjoy SeaWorld Orlando’s adventures, shows and animal encounters.
The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour gives guests the opportunity to learn about the park’s majestic killer whales in brand-new ways. And the popular Dolphin Nursery is now more interactive and includes larger windows, giving guests the chance to see mothers and young dolphins up close. Throughout the animal-themed exhibits at SeaWorld Orlando, you’ll learn about the park’s ongoing work in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife—more than 31,000 animals over the past 50 years.
SeaWorld Orlando recently debuted its first digitally enhanced ride by transforming the legendary Kraken roller coaster into a virtual reality (VR) roller coaster and creating Kraken Unleashed: Virtual Reality Experience. Guests embark on a deepsea mission alongside sea creatures inspired by extinct and legendary animals of the past, including the mighty Kraken. A custom digital overlay with uniquely designed VR headsets deliver a new one-of-a-kind adventure to this 150-foot tall, 65 mph coaster.
Nearby, Discovery Cove now welcomes guests to swim with sharks. The allinclusive day resort that offers the opportunity to swim with dolphins adds the awe-inspiring Shark Swim program to its list of interactive animal adventures. Enjoy closer-than-ever encounters with ®
these legendary predators, including Pacific blacktip, reef whitetip, nurse shark, zebra shark and spotted wobbegongs.
The shark program is an opportunity for the kids to learn how shark finning and overfishing threaten many shark species. Sea World Orlando will donate five percent of the proceeds from this attraction to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) in support of shark conservation and research. The Shark Swim experience is available to Discovery Cove guests 10 years and older.
In addition to the Shark Swim program, Discovery Cove has launched a new Ray Feeding experience. This exclusive opportunity gives guests the chance to feed cownose and southern stingrays. You’ll also get the chance to feed thousands of tropical fish before embarking on a private, guided swim of Discovery Cove’s Grand Reef.
And when it’s time to slip ’n slide, family style Aquatica, SeaWorld Orlando’s Waterpark, features high-speed water slides, exhilarating wave pools, and 7,800 square metres of sparkling white, sandy, tranquil
beaches to the delight of all ages. This oneof-a-kind waterpark is home to 42 slides, beautiful rivers and lagoons, and Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, a multi-drop tower slide.
BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY
If thrill is your family’s middle name, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is your ticket to ride. The theme park is the undisputed king of coasters in Central Florida with world-class coasters: Kumba, Montu, SheiKra, Cheetah Hunt, Scorpion, and the new kid on the block, Cobra’s Curse, a family spin coaster, the only one of its kind in the world. Plus, for its younger guests, the park offers two mellower rides, Sand Serpent and Air Grover. Falcon’s Fury is a face-first fall from 335 feet in the air. The Gulf coast is indeed the roller coast.
Of course, Busch Gardens Tampa is much more than roller coasters. It’s a blend of thrilling rides, one of the country’s premiere zoos, live shows, shops and games for all ages.
Busch Gardens Tampa cares for more than 12,000 animals representing more than 300 species. At the park’s Animal Care Center, guests can observe animal care first-hand and even take part in animalcare experiences ranging from nutrition and treatments to X-rays and surgeries. This state-of-the-art facility is also home to the hit Emmy-nominated TV series, The Wildlife Docs, which takes viewers inside the work of zoological professionals, including Busch Gardens’ own veterinarians and trainers.
Fast & Furious–Supercharged will debut at Universal Studios in 2018. Guests will find themselves on a high-octane journey that features an original storyline, incredible ride technology and popular characters including Dom Toretto, Hobbs, Letty and Roman.
Guests can’t get enough of the new Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando’s third theme park. Unlike Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, Volcano Bay, featuring Krakatau, the 200-foot volcano overlooking a Pacific-island, is all about getting wet. The volcano is home to the park’s Krakatau Aqua Coaster, an exciting, first-of-its-kind aqua coaster that propels you upward and downward through the volcano’s interior peaks and valleys. Volcano Bay offers more than 30 experiences including a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches and
twisting multi-rider raft rides. Take the Ko’kiri Body Plunge, a 70-degree, 125-foot fall through a trap door or relax on the Kopiko Wai Winding River.
Join Jimmy Fallon and his guests on a fun-filled, 3D motion-simulated race through, under and above New York City. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal Studios Florida is also the testing ground for no line waiting. Guests simply make reservations on the Universal Orlando Resort Mobile app or nearby kiosk. The attraction also features a Tonight Show memorabilia museum and live shows starring the Hashtag Panda and the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet.
Harry Potter fans will be happy to celebrate Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogwarts Castle in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley will be transformed into wintery Christmas wonderlands to the delight of all. There is also a new holiday parade featuring Macy’s, which includes appearances by the Minions and other favorite characters from Despicable Me, Madagascar and Shrek— and even Santa Claus.
WALT DISNEY WORLD
Don’t be alarmed if you see a Disney bus driving by without a driver. The themepark giant will roll out driverless shuttle buses in 2018 for guests to get around. If you’d rather travel by water, Disney will also debut a gondola transportation system connecting Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2018, you may find yourself shrunk to the size of a toy to explore the world of Andy’s backyard with your favorite Toy Story characters, including Woody and Buzz. The new Toy Story Land will also showcase Slinky Dog Dash, a family roller coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, a ride in which aliens cruise around in toy flying saucers attempting to capture your rocket toy vehicle with “The Claw.”
The newest jewel at Walt Disney World is Pandora — The World of AVATAR at Animal Kingdom. Experience the Na’vi River Journey, transporting you through a bioluminescent rainforest, while AVATAR: Flight of Passage invites you to take an exhilarating flight on the back of a mountain banshee. Over at Epcot, Mission: Space is adding a new third mission, which will include a tour around Earth.
Be sure to treat your crew to Miss Adventure Falls at Typhoon Lagoon. The new family-style raft attraction takes guests on a splashing journey through the fabled Captain Mary Oceaneer’s past. The two-minute ride is among the longest water rides at Disney.
OPPOSITE TOP: Opening summer 2018, Infinity Falls at SeaWorld Orlando will feature the world’s tallest drop on a river raft ride and immerse guests in a lush, freshwater rainforest while sharing the importance of water conservation. BELOW: Crush ‘n’ Gusher, a water coaster thrill ride at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. BOTTOM: All aboard the Hogwarts Express at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.
TOP: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Orlando Resort. ABOVE: “Toy Story Mania!” interactive ride-through attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. OPPOSITE: Macy's world-famous parade at Universal Studios.