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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's Star Wars Land joins trend of theme parks putting you 'in the movie'

    Florida

    In Star Wars Land, you'll be able to fly Han Solo's Millennium Falcon. You can drop by the Cantina for a drink with a droid. The attraction, coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando in 2019, is being designed to take you out of the theme park and into the Star Wars universe.

    An artist's concept of the new Star Wars land coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando in 2019. It is being designed in such a way that you feel you have left the theme park and entered the Star Wars universe. It will like many of the movies' desert outposts, marked by low, circular buildings with unusual characters walking around. Courtesy of Walt Disney World.
  2. Watch: George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill reunite at Star Wars Celebration for 40th anniversary

    Blogs

    During the opening event of Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, original stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels reunited with with director George Lucas to celebrate 40 years of a galaxy far, far away.

    Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, left, and Harrison Ford reunited at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando for the franchise's 40th anniversary.
  3. Wizarding World of Harry Potter gets Hogwarts light show, holiday celebrations at Universal Orlando

    Blogs

    Ready your robes and Hogwarts house scarves, Christmas is coming to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this year.

    This year for the holidays at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, the Hogwarts castle will be a home to a special nighttime light show with projection mapping and memorable Christmas scenes from the Harry Potter series.
  4. Interview: Jimmy Fallon shows off his new ride at Universal Orlando

    Florida

    ORLANDO — Jimmy Fallon found his home away from home inside Universal Studios.

    The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon poses in Universal Orlando's Studio 6B replica. His new ride Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon opens Thursday, April 6th at Universal Studios. The ride is in a recreation of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  5. For Ybor City, a historic cigar town faces a cloudy future

    Business

    A sultry morning in Ybor City feels like a good time for a cigar. That's what I told myself around 10:45 on my third day in this old quarter of Tampa, as I sweated out the previous night in front of the King Corona Cigar Bar and Cafe, sipping a milky iced Cuban coffee and puffing on a particularly robust, particularly …

    Gary Russo smokes outside Tabanero Cigars on Seventh Avenue. [Andrew Innerarity | Washington Post]
  6. Here's how you can get tickets to see Jimmy Fallon at Universal Orlando

    The Feed

    Heads up, Jimmy Fallon fans: You can get on the waiting list this week for April tickets to Tonight Show tapings in Orlando, where the host is getting his own theme park ride.

    The Tonight Show will be taped at Universal Studios April 3-6. The waitlist for tickets opens Friday at 11:30 a.m.
  7. Review: Disney's Rivers of Light show turns on the H2-oh!

    Blogs

    Last spring, Disney’s Animal Kingdom teased the media with a brief preview of Rivers of Light, a theatrical show  that carried the promise — and the burden — of being a signature event designed to keep guests into the park’s new evening hours. Disney anticipated a summer opening.

    After many delays, Disney's Rivers of Light nighttime show finally opened at Animal Kingdom this week.
  8. Disney sets opening date for 'Avatar' land at Animal Kingdom

    Blogs

    Avatar land at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom is set to open May 27, park officials announced Tuesday.

    Avatar world is created to look and feel exactly like the world of Pandora from the Academy Award-winning film.
  9. Busch Gardens fall deal gets you two free months of park access

    Florida

    Busch Gardens has put its 2017 Fun Card on sale early, meaning you can get two free months in the Tampa theme park since you can buy the $99 pass now and use it immediately.

    Guests ride the new Busch Gardens roller coaster Cobra's Curse during media day Thursday, June 16, 2016. JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

  10. Universal Orlando teases 'aqua coaster' and wearable technology at new Volcano Bay water park (w/video)

    Blogs

    That towering volcano shell being built along Interstate 4 in Orlando is gearing up to be the main attraction of Universal's Volcano Bay water park, set to open in spring of 2017.

    The Runamukka Reef at Volcano Bay in Orlando.