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Attractions news: Universal bets on 'Secret Life of Pets'; plus new exhibit for Kennedy Space Center

Universal’s movie The Secret Life of Pets opens on Friday, but the buzz has the company already eyeing attractions. A store has popped up in Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.

Universal Pictures

Universal’s movie The Secret Life of Pets opens on Friday, but the buzz has the company already eyeing attractions. A store has popped up in Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.

The Secret Life of Pets doesn't open in theaters until Friday, but it's already getting such buzz that Universal Studios theme park in Orlando has introduced new entertainment options and maybe even a ride based on the film.

The film, which centers on what animals do after their owners leave for the day, has the voices of Louis C.K., Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Dana Carvey and Albert Brooks.

The Orlando theme park through Sunday will be showing an exclusive trailer for the animated comedy during the pre-show of the Animal Actors on Location show. There's also a Secret Life photo booth nearby and a special trailer before Universal's Cinematic Spectacular, the big movie clip show that ends the night at the park.

But the most intriguing news came from NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, who told an investor conference on June 20 that a ride is in the works for a film that hasn't opened yet.

"We have started a Pets attraction even before the film comes out, which if the film doesn't do as well as I think, it will be painful," Burke told analysts. "But I think it will do very well."

Pets is getting good buzz, including from the Times' Steve Persall (read his review soon at tampabay.com/movies), with reviews hailing it as a lovable, madcap comedy that pet lovers will lap up.

But the company hasn't revealed where the ride will go. Universal has theme parks in Orlando, Hollywood, Singapore and Japan. But a new Secret Life of Pets store has sprung up in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, stocked with plush animals, shirts and figurines.

The movie is from the creators of Despicable Me, which has a popular ride in Universal Studios Orlando called Minion Mayhem. And the theater in Toon Lagoon has been vacant for a few years, leading theme park bloggers to speculate that it's a prime spot to park a Pets ride.

Boeing and Kennedy Space Center team up for a new attraction

For the first time, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex had teamed up with Boeing as the title sponsor of Heroes & Legends, an attraction set to open this year .

Slated to open on Nov. 11, Heroes & Legends will be the first stop for most visitors, using interactive elements and engaging exhibits to introduce heroes of space exploration.

This marks the first time in more than 50 years that the visitor complex has entered into an agreement with a corporate sponsor.

The Boeing company's technology contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. A permanent replica of Boeing's X-15 rocket plane is being designed to appear on top of Heroes & Legends, as if launching skyward from the roof.

Crayola Experience in Orlando adds summer deals

Crayola Experience is celebrating its first anniversary with deals it calls a Summer of Savings.

You can save $39 on a family four-pack of annual passes for $99.99 for the attraction inside Orlando's Florida Mall. Other deals include half-price admission after 5 p.m. and free admission within seven days of your birthday.

The Orlando location is the first attraction to open outside of Crayola's home base in Easton, Pa. It features scores of hands-on activities featuring Crayola materials. Read a review of the attraction at tbtim.es/m41.

Regular admission is $18.99 at crayolaexperience.com and $22.99 at the door. Children 2 and younger are free.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

Attractions news: Universal bets on 'Secret Life of Pets'; plus new exhibit for Kennedy Space Center 07/05/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 5, 2016 6:14pm]
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