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Florida Theme Park Guide to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens and more


By Michelle Stark, Anne Glover, Amber McDonald and Kelly Stefani, Times Staff Writers
Illustration by Steve Madden, Times Staff Artist
Developed by Alexis N. Sanchez

Are you a Florida theme park fanatic? Send your favorite memories, horror stories (we all have them) or park insider tips to our Things to Do editors at calendar@tampabay.com or post to the official Things to Do Facebook page.

  1. YouTube, Vine stars like Hayes Grier, Aaron Carpenter coming to Busch Gardens


    A collection of the most famous people you've never heard of are coming to Busch Gardens on May 16 for the DigiTour United26 Tour — bringing some of the biggest stars of YouTube, Vine and social media.

    Los Angeles Premiere of EXPELLED== Westwood Village Theatre, Los Angeles, CA== December 10, 2014== Photo - DAVID CROTTY/patrickmcmullan.com== ==  (PatrickMcMullan.com via AP Images)
  2. New comic sea lion show to debut at SeaWorld


    SeaWorld's comic sea lion show is returning April 16, this time as "Clyde and Seamore's Sea Lion High" in which the beloved sea lions will be getting their high school diplomas. They'll be joined by a cast of characters, including otters and a 2,300-pound walrus. The previous show, "Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island" …

    Clyde the Sea Lion SeaWorld?€š€™s comic sea lion show is returning April 16, this time as ?€š€œClyde and Seamore?€š€™s Sea Lion High?€š€ in which the beloved sea lions will be getting their high school diplomas and compete for a university scholarship. They?€š€™ll be joined by a cast of characters, including otters and a 2,300-pound walrus. The previous show, ?€š€œClyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island?€š€ closed in August after a 15-year run.
  3. Frank Oz (Yoda), Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) making first visits to Disney's Star Wars Weekends


    Franz Oz, the voice of Yoda, and Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine, will make their first appearances at Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in May.

    Disney (2010)
Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios has Star Wars fans converging on the park to celebrate with Star Wars celebrities.
  4. Disney tests breakfast at popular Be Our Guest restaurant


    Disney World's hugely popular Magic Kingdom restaurant Be Our Guest is now testing a breakfast option through June 18. Like all things in the Beauty and the Beast-themed castle, it has a French flare for the cuisine served 8 to 10 a.m., and reservations are being accepted.

    Located within Beast's Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest Restaurant will serve French-inspired cuisine for quick-service lunch and table-service dinner. Part of New Fantasyland, the stylish restaurant will grand open Dec. 6, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Gene Duncan, photographer)
  5. Busch Gardens closes railroad to make way for new attraction in 2016


    Busch Gardens has announced that its Serengeti Railway is closed while the Tampa theme park reroutes the track to make way for a new attraction coming in 2016. Busch Gardens has not yet revealed what the new attraction will be, but it will be pretty large. In plans filed with regulators last month the park said it will …

    Busch Gardens' Serengeti Railway will be temporarily down during construction for a new ride.
  6. Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride will be closed this summer


    Pirates of the Caribbean, one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, will be out of operation May 11 to Sept. 25.

    The ride will undergo needed refurbishment, Disney says.
  7. Universal to expand Halloween Horror Nights, start sooner in September


    It may seem far too early for this, but Universal Orlando has revealed the dates for its 25th annual Halloween Horror Nights, and it will expand the hugely popular scare fest to a record 30 nights starting earlier than usual, on Sept. 18.

    Universal has been able to use well-known brands like AMC’s The Walking Dead to boost its surging Halloween Horror Nights.
  8. Universal Orlando follows Disney in breaking $100 ticket barrier


    As expected, once Disney broke the $100 barrier for ticket prices, Universal Orlando followed, on Thursday hiking a one-day, one-park ticket price to $102 from $96. A two-park ticket is now $147, an $11 increase.

    Cheering fans prepare to rush the entrance of Diagon Alley during the grand opening at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida in July. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)
  9. Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival opens Wednesday with 'Frozen' scene


    Wednesday is opening day for the springtime Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, running daily through May 17 with elaborate topiaries and gardening presentations by HGTV stars.

    The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Disney
  10. Disney ticket prices rise, others may follow; $139 Florida resident deal still on


    Sunday Walt Disney World broke the $100 barrier, announcing a $6 price hike that puts Magic Kingdom admission at $105, but other prices at the world's most popular tourist destination also spiked.

    Fireworks and confetti fly over Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, in 2012. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)