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Theme park news: Disney adds 'after hours' ticket, Busch Gardens Cobra's Curse track completed, Night of Joy lineup

Recent spring break crowds have been epic at Walt Disney World, so maybe the news that a new $149 "after hours" ticket on select nights in April and May will sound like a good way to escape the mob and get on popular rides after the park closes.

Or maybe it will sound like Disney is finding a way to make money from the long lines.

In other theme park news, Busch Gardens has completed the final piece of track for Cobra's Curse opening this summer, a new Willy Wonka-style restaurant is coming to Universal and Disney's Night of Joy lineup of Christian artist has been announced, but the concert is moving out of the Magic Kingdom this year.

Disney After Hours ticket coming in April, May

The new Disney After Hours nights are scheduled for April 28 and May 5 from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., and on April 14, 21, and May 8, 12, and 19 from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m., with check-in starting at 7 p.m.

In addition to keeping rides such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan's Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train open after the rest of the crowd goes home, the event includes character meet-and-greets, free ice cream novelties, and "select bottled beverages," at the Magic Kingdom, which does not sell alcohol.

Disney has said only a limited number of tickets will be made available. Tickets can be purchased by calling (407) 827-7185.

Cobra's Curse closer to striking

The new snake-themed family thrill ride called Cobra's Curse at Busch Gardens now has a giant serpent head and the final track piece has been installed for the ride scheduled to open this summer.

The 4,475-pound track piece was bolted into place on Saturday, the theme park announced, marking the end of track construction and the beginning of the testing phase.

The spin coaster will be the only one of its kind in the world, featuring a 30,000-pound snake king icon and a 70-foot vertical lift that will take riders within inches of its 4-foot fangs. The three-and-a-half-minute ride will face riders forward, backward and then spin freely.

The ride will also have the park's first air-conditioned queue that will include a 400-cubic-foot snake exhibit that will include Jameson's mambas, Angolan pythons and rhinoceros and gaboon vipers.

SeaWorld adds water park to annual pass deal

SeaWorld Orlando has introduced an annual pass offer that also includes a year's worth of visits to the Aquatica water park in Orlando.

Florida residents can now purchase a $168 annual pass, which is good for 12 months and includes parking and has no blackout dates.

Some new attractions coming up include Mako, a roller coaster set to open this summer that will be the highest and fastest in Florida, and "friend for free" tickets are coming in September.

The limited-time offer will be sold through April 24 at seaworldorlando.com.

Night of Joy moving out of Magic Kingdom

MercyMe, Casting Crowns and more Christian artists have been revealed for Walt Disney World's 2016 edition of Night of Joy, and the two-night Christian-music festival is moving out of its longtime home in the Magic Kingdom.

The concert series, which frequently sells out, debuted at Magic Kingdom in 1983, but it will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Sept. 9 and 10, Disney announced. The Wide World site will support both indoor and outdoor concerts, including performances at Champions Stadium, where baseball is normally played.

"I love the energy and the excitement that all these youth groups and young people bring," singer Matthew West said in a video posted on the official Disney Parks Blog.

Night of Joy 2016 will have several ticket options, including a theme park pass. A one-day ticket for Friday events will be $39 in advance, $45 on the day of show.

Another choice includes one day at one of the Disney World theme parks and then the Saturday night concerts for $99 if purchased in advance. Admission to both nights of concerts and one day at a theme park is $119.

Disney is also offering admission to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon water parks, to be used between Sept. 6 -12 if you buy a the two-day ticket before Aug. 9.

Here's the lineup:

• Sept. 9: MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Crowder, Matthew West, Stars Go Dim and Zealand Worship.

• Sept. 10: Newsboys, For King & Country, Young & Free, Switchfoot, Red, Thousand Foot Krutch and Tim Timmons.

Tickets will go on sale in mid-April at nightofjoy.com.

Chocolate factory coming to Universal

A steam punk-style restaurant called the Toothsome Chocolate Factory will open at Universal CityWalk later this year.

Renderings show a 19th-century look with funky gadgets and gears and the staff wearing steam punk fashions.

The menu will have steak, seafood, pasta, burgers and all-day brunch, the official Universal Orlando blog said in a recent post. But it emphasized the restaurant's sweets and desserts.

The milkshake list alone includes Chocolate x5, Bacon Brittle, Espresso Buzzzz, Red Velvet and Key Lime Pie.

There will be a retail shop and visitors can watch treats being made at the restaurant located between the Hard Rock Cafe and Islands of Adventure theme park.

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

Theme park news: Disney adds 'after hours' ticket, Busch Gardens Cobra's Curse track completed, Night of Joy lineup 03/22/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 2:08pm]
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