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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 or post to the official Things to Do Facebook page.

  1. Yo ho! Disney reopens Pirates of the Caribbean ride


    Yo ho, yo ho, the pirates are back at the Magic Kingdom, and you might notice some new smells.

    Captain Jack Sparrow on Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
  2. Downtown Disney becomes Disney Springs and welcomes new Morimoto Asia restaurant


    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Avid travelers of the roads leading to Walt Disney World knew a change was imminent, as those iconic purple signs that signal you are on Disney property suddenly contained a new name. On Tuesday, it became official: Downtown Disney is now Disney Springs.

    Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto was present Tuesday to open his new Morimoto Asia restaurant at Disney Springs.
  3. Get your scares at these local Halloween haunts throughout October


    Finding a place to be scared into a stupor isn't hard for Central Floridians, who can look forward to an embarrassment of haunted riches every October. Everyone knows Halloween is more than a one night affair. You celebrate all month (  Actors emerge from a simulated farmhouse at the center of the Infected haunted house at Scream-A-Geddon in Dade City. (Saturday, September 26, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]  (Saturday, September 26, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]

  4. Here's how Halloween Horror Nights, Howl-O-Scream bring the scares this year


    Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights

    The epic 25th year of the nation?s best Halloween event, Universal Orlando?s Halloween Horror Nights, marks the biggest, longest and most intense event in history with nine haunted mazes, five unique scare zones and two thrilling shows. On select nights Sept. 18 through Nov. 1, guests can visit Universal Orlando?s theme parks by day and by night, become victims of their own horror film at Halloween Horror Nights 25.
  5. Here are some not-too-scary Halloween options for kids


    ZooBoo Kids: Lowry Park Zoo made a special point of dialing down the scares this year and turning this into a daytime event for ages 11 and younger, with extended hours on select days, "fright-free" festivities like trick-o-treat stations, a corn maze and kooky-not-spooky character appearances. Running from 1 to 7 p.m., …

    ZooBoo at Lowry Park Zoo features “fright-free” daytime festivities.
  6. Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights still the stuff of nightmares and leg fatigue


    There's a lot to be afraid of at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, and not all of it is waiting in the shadows of the nine haunted mazes.

    This hell scape is the boiler room in Universal Orlando's Freddy vs. Jason maze. Halloween Horror Nights opens tonight and runs on select nights through Nov. 1..
  7. This is last year for Disney's dazzling Osborne family light show


    After 20 years, this will be the final Christmas season for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the theme park announced Friday.

    The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights began at Disney World in 1995.
  8. Baby gorilla dies during medical treatment at Busch Gardens in Tampa


    TAMPA — A baby gorilla, born in February at Busch Gardens, died Wednesday while being treated for a neurological illness.

    Kamari, an infant gorilla, is pictured with her mother, Mary, in a photo posted to Facebook the month after she was born. [Busch Gardens, via Facebook]
  9. Busch Gardens will bring back included with admission Christmas Town with longer hours


    Christmas Town will return to Busch Gardens this holiday season with more than a million twinkling lights, and this year it will be open later on event nights, the Tampa theme park announced Tuesday.

    African penguins will again be set up as a photo opportunity in the Nairobi area at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town.
Times (2012)
  10. Florida first responders get free SeaWorld, Busch Gardens admission in September


    Florida's first responders get free admission to both Busch Gardens in Tampa and SeaWorld in Orlando during the month of September, and also can take advantage of a special offer for additional tickets.

     [Edmund D. Fountain, Times (2011)]