Make us your home page

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

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

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 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]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 5 things to do under $5: Type artists, shuffleboard, toy train show, Wildflower Walk


    1 Letterheads Typefest: The muralists who run Illsol Space, a gallery in Tampa Heights, said their respect for handmade fonts and sign painting techniques moved them to curate this exhibit featuring type-based muralists, hand-style lettering designers, sign painters, letterpress studios and type designers. …

    Colm O’Connor, a Dublin sign writer, is among the 22 artists featured in the Letterheads Typefest exhibit at the Illsol Space gallery.
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 23


    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T. rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    Nathan Sawaya with a sculpture from his The Art of the Brick exhibition coming to Tampa June 23- Sept. 4. It will be open for free Wednesdays through Sundays,  from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 802 E Whiting Street, Tampa. No tickets are required.[Courtesy  of the Art of the Brick]
  3. I give you a fish, you give me back my man


    The B-52s are a band with such a distinct visual look that you could tell it was them with just a glimpse of a picture. But was it always beehives and bright clothes for the hipsters from Athens? You can find the different looks of the B-52s in their video for the irresistible Give Me Back My Man.

  4. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'


    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  5. For James Blunt, life is still 'Beautiful,' especially on tour with Ed Sheeran

    Music & Concerts

    Here's how much You're Beautiful still weighs on James Blunt: He specifically references his biggest hit twice on his new album, The Afterlove.

    ISCHGL, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 29:  James Blunt performs live on stage during the ‘Top Of The Mountain Concert’ on November 29, 2014 in Ischgl, Austria.  (Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)