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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. Legoland Florida's expansion Heartlake City, aimed at girls, opens today


    Legoland Florida's newest attraction, Heartlake City, opens today at the Winter Haven theme park, bringing in the Lego Friends product line aimed at girls that was first introduced in 2012. It's all modeled after the five Lego Friends characters Olivia, Stephanie, Emma, Mia and Andrea. The theme park now has an …

    Kids at Legoland Florida take a spin on Mia's Riding Adventure, part of Heartlake City, the theme park's expansion based on the popular Lego Friends characters.  (Photo courtesy of Merlin Entertainments Group Inc.)
  2. Busch Gardens unveils Howl-O-Scream theme, ticket deal


    Busch Gardens on Wednesday put tickets on sale for this year's Howl-O-Scream fright fest themed "Unearthed."

    From left to right, Jack Holland, Brian Jordan, Greg Wirth and Dan Wirth scream in one of the Haunted Houses at Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream in 2005.   (Photo  courtesy of Busch Gardens)
  3. New Harambe Market brings African-themed food to Disney's Animal Kingdom


    The Harambe marketplace, a new dining and drink stop that opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom in late May, features several open air shops that will offer a variety of rotating merchandise, all made to look like an authentic African village. The centerpiece will be four quick service windows that will serve a number of …

    The Harambe marketplace, a new dining and drink stop that opened in late May, features several open air shops that will offer a variety of rotating merchandise.
  4. Rick Springfield, Smash Mouth, Wilson Phillips lined up for Epcot series


    This year's Eat to the Beat concert series at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this fall has some tasty morsels in the lineup, including Rick Springfield (Oct. 12-13, pictured), Wilson Phillips (Sept. 28-29) and Boyz II Men (Nov. 2-4). And appearing for the first time at the festival are Tiffany (Oct. …

    Courtesy of Rick Springfield (2012)
  5. Universal's first Halloween haunt revealed: Freddy vs. Jason


    For its 25th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Orlando is pitting Hollywood's grisliest icons against each other, and park visitors.

    Freddy (Robert Englund) and Jason (Ken Kirzinger) in 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason. Although the 2003 movie ended in a bit of a draw, the two villains will be back together at Halloween Horror Nights in their own haunted house.
  6. New details emerge about Disney's Frozen ride at Epcot


    Here's a chance to spend even more money on Frozen!

    Anna, left, and her sister Elsa from the animated film "Frozen" at Princess Fairytale Hall at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  7. NBC to open first sports bar at Orlando's Universal CityWalk this fall


    NBC Sports is getting into the bar business, opening its first NBC Sports Grill & Brew at Universal CityWalk this fall with a massive HD stadium screen more than 100 feet wide at the entrance, more than 100 beers and food prepared on open kettle grills.

    This rendering shows the NBC Sports Grill & Brew opening fall 2015 at Universal CityWalk in Orlando. It will feature an HD screen more than 100 feet wide over the entrance.
  8. Busch Gardens opens new market-style restaurant Dragon Fire Grill


    Busch Gardens opened a new market-style restaurant this week called Dragon Fire Grill with cuisines from around the world and some new entertainment in the Tampa theme park's new Pantopia section.

    Busch Gardens opened a new market-style restaurant June 1 called Dragon Fire Grill with cuisines from around the world in the Tampa theme park?s new Pantopia section. It has a Dragon Fire Pub with premium cocktails and frozen drinks as well as a new stage show, Treasures of the Mirage, with belly dancers and music.
  9. Busch Gardens' new Cobra's Curse ride coming in 2016 (w/video)


    TAMPA — Busch Gardens on Thursday joined what is looking like an arms race of new thrill rides and roller coasters coming to Florida's I-4 corridor over the next year or so.

    Cobra’s Curse, as depicted in this rendering, is a family spin coaster that will combine the free-spinning dizziness of a 
Tilt-A-Whirl with the ups and downs of a traditional roller coaster. It is being built in Busch Gardens’ Egypt section.
  10. High-speed shark-themed thrill ride Mako coming to SeaWorld next summer


    Opening next summer next to its shark encounter, SeaWorld Orlando announced on Wednesday that its newest roller coaster named Mako will be a killer ride, the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando.

    SeaWorld has announced that Mako, a new coaster coming in 2016, will mimic the quick turns and speed of sharks - and will be the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando.  Mako will be a 200-foot-tall hypercoaster that will reach 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track (that's nearly a mile long) and leave riders feeling both breathless and weightless. [SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.]