After Labor Day, it's a good time for Florida residents to check out the theme parks, where the crowds are lighter, the weather a tiny bit cooler (eventually) and Florida residents deals start cropping up. Here's a roundup of theme park news and deals announced recently.
Epcot refreshes live shows
The Disney parks blog announced this week that several of its live entertainment shows will be retired in the coming weeks to make way for new acts that will freshen its lineup.
Gone by the end of September will be the Off Kilter rock band stationed in the Canada pavilion, to be replaced by a lumberjack-based thrill show. Also on its way out is the Mo'Rockin' group performers in Morocco and the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps that marches into concert formation in front of the American Adventure attraction. A flag choreography show called Sbandieratori Flags is coming to Italy; B'net Houariyat, a musical dance act, will be in Morocco; and the Scottish Musical Trio will perform in the United Kingdom.
Food and Wine Fest
Speaking of Epcot, its annual International Food and Wine Festival opens Sept. 19 and runs through Nov. 10 — that's one week longer than last year.
Your Epcot admission gets you into the park and gives you access to all the food and wine booths, which cost extra. You can also attend the free Eat To The Beat concerts at 5:30, 6:45, and 8 p.m.
The concert lineup kicks off with country singer Jo Dee Messina Sept. 19-21 and also includes '80s favorites like Rick Springfield (Sept. 24-25), The Pointer Sisters (Sept. 22-24), Christopher Cross (Sept. 26-27) and Boyz II Men (Nov. 3-5).
Epcot has a Florida resident "after 4 p.m." annual pass that gets you 12 months unlimited admission after 4 p.m. for $179.
Teachers get into Legoland
Teachers for grades K-12 with a Florida Teacher Pass get free admission to both the Legoland Florida theme park in Winter Haven and its attached water park. Teachers must bring their most recent pay stub, Florida photo ID and valid professional or temporary FDOE teaching certificate to the ticket windows at the Legoland entrance. Also, first responders, including police, fire and EMS personnel, get a free Legoland day pass.
And right now there's a two-park one-year pass available at florida.legoland.com for $99. That gets you into the theme park, water park and free parking (normally $14) for 12 months with no blackout dates.
Florida resident hotel deals
• Disney is offering savings of up to 35 percent off its resort hotels this fall for Florida residents. You can see a roundup of the deals at disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers/. (That's a good site to bookmark, because Disney often announces Florida resident deals during the off-season.) The hotel deals are for fall stays and must be booked by Sept. 24 or Oct. 3, depending on the hotel.
• Universal Orlando Resort is offering hotels in September and October for as low as $79 for Florida residents that also get you early admission to the theme parks. They also have vacation packages that include rooms and theme park tickets starting at $105 per adult. Find them at universalorlando.com/Theme-Park-Tickets/Hot-Deals.aspx. And buy your ticket for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights online, where Florida residents can score tickets that save $23-$50.
• Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream Sept. 26-Nov. 1 is $89 for general admission, but Florida residents should never pay that. Buy tickets at HowlOScream.com, where there are numerous deals, especially Thursdays. Or save $39 at Publix and AAA locations for this separate ticket nighttime event.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] or (727) 893-8595.