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

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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. Disney tests breakfast at popular Be Our Guest restaurant

    Florida

    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)
  2. Busch Gardens closes railroad to make way for new attraction in 2016

    Florida

    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.
  3. Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride will be closed this summer

    Florida

    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.
  4. Universal to expand Halloween Horror Nights, start sooner in September

    Florida

    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.
  5. Universal Orlando follows Disney in breaking $100 ticket barrier

    Florida

    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)
  6. Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival opens Wednesday with 'Frozen' scene

    Florida

    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
  7. Disney ticket prices rise, others may follow; $139 Florida resident deal still on

    Events

    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)
  8. Ticket prices announced for Orlando Eye observation wheel

    Florida

    Merlin Entertainments announced Tuesday that the colossal Orlando Eye observation wheel on International Drive will open May 4. The neighboring Madame Tussauds wax museum and Sea Life Orlando Aquarium will also open the same day.

    Workers at The Orlando Eye installed the final passenger capsule on the 400-foot tall observation wheel Thursday, Feb. 5. (JIM DAMASKE   |   Times)
  9. Legoland offering Florida resident deal on ticket price

    Florida

    Legoland is offering Florida residents an early Valentine present: almost $30 off admission to visit the Winter Haven theme park and its adjacent water park. One-day tickets are normally $87, or with the water park combo $102 for adults and $95 for kids. Now through Feb. 22, Florida residents can get a one-day Legoland …

    The family pool looks out to the historic Lake Eloise. [Legoland]
  10. Time-waster of the day: Watch Busch Gardens' meerkats online

    Florida

    You didn't think you were going to get any work done today did you? Busch Gardens' adorable meerkats are now streaming online. Just go to AnimalVision.com — the online portal that was already wasting valuable work time with a live camera on SeaWorld's penguins …

    Times files (2007)