Universal Orlando: The minions are coming
Expect millions of goggle-wearing yellow minions when the park replaces its Jimmy Neutron simulator attraction with a new 3-D, high-energy feature based on the hit film Despicable Me. The theater-seating attraction at the Universal Orlando theme park, along with the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride nearby in the Islands of Adventure park, will both get upgraded projection systems, to be complete in 2012. The studio is pouring a year of production work into the four-minute Despicable Me film. The theater, which features seats on moving platforms, will be gutted. Jimmy Neutron, which has been open only on peak traffic days, will close for good Aug. 18.
Legoland: Building toward October opening
Opening Oct. 15 in Winter Haven, about 40 miles from Walt Disney World, is the all-new Legoland Florida. Targeted at the age 2 to 12 set, this is the largest of the five Legolands to date and will feature replicas of iconic American buildings like the White House. Plus it will have 20 "pink-knuckle" rides — from roller coasters to race cars — as well as some 30 shows and attractions on the site of Cypress Gardens. The 1930s vintage botanical gardens will be untouched. The water ski show will re-emerge as a stunt show with Lego Pirates. Full price is $65 for adults and $55 for seniors and kids 3 through 12, but discounting will be common. The park has a new online reservations system at legoland.com.
Dinosaur World: Supersized
This thick slice of roadside Americana is in the midst of doubling in size and expects the new features to open in November. The Plant City haven for giant replicas of some 150 dinosaurs in a parklike setting opened in 1998 on 8 acres. Now it's adding 12 more to build a new 22,000-square-foot museum, dinosaur playground, picnic spaces and parking area, and admission will not change with the new features, said Nicole Randall, head of marketing for Dinosaur World. Admission is $12.75, $10.75 for seniors, $9.75 for ages 3 to 12. It is on Interstate 4, Exit 17, in Plant City. Leashed pets welcome.
The Magic Kingdom: Fantasyland
A new Fantasyland is coming in 2012. There will be a new dark ride with a Little Mermaid theme, the Beast's Castle from Beauty and the Beast and a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster ride. It will also add a Princess Fairytale Hall, for meet-and-greets with the Disney princesses. Mickey's Toontown Fair closed in February and some of it will be re-themed to a new Storybook Circus area.