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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. Universal Orlando announces dates for fourth year of A Celebration of Harry Potter

    Blogs

    Now in its fourth year, A Celebration of Harry Potter will once again bring thousands of witches and wizards to Universal Orlando in January.

    Thousands of Harry Potter fans will descend on Universal Orlando Jan. 27-29 for the fourth annual A Celebration of Harry Potter.
  2. Grim news kept people away from Disney, Universal and other theme parks, analysts say

    Florida

    ORLANDO — It's 9:01 a.m. and a stream of sweaty tourists is pressing through the entrance gates and hoofing it to the back of the park at Universal's Islands of Adventure. At this moment in early August, it's a 45-minute wait for the behemoth ride called Skull Island: Reign of Kong, which opened July 14. The wait …

    Analysts say crowds appear to have shrunk at Florida theme parks like Universal this summer. The decline could be attributed to the combination of tragic events that have struck the state this summer, including the shooting death of Voice singer Christina Grimmie at a local venue, the massacre at Pulse nightclub and a fatal alligator attack on a child at Disney World. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
  3. The Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, featuring Aerosmith, has been operating at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando since 1999.
  4. Disney World wraps up the Main Street Electrical Parade's six-year run

    Florida

    The Main Street Electrical Parade featuring illuminated floats such as Cinderella's pumpkin carriage has entertained crowds at Disney World's Magic Kingdom for decades.

    The Main Street Electrical Parade will be discontinued at Disney World in October, the park says. [Disney Parks Blog]
  5. Column: School's back in, but the fun doesn't have to stop

    Events

    My primary memories from those long, lazy days of summer vacation involve waking up around noon and watching back-to-back episodes of The Price Is Right, Supermarket Sweep and Charles in Charge.

    With kids back in school, Disney guests can look forward to more manageable crowds.
  6. Universal's rehabbed Hulk coaster roars to life, King Kong looms large

    Florida

    One of Universal Orlando's most popular rides, the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, is busting out of the construction walls that have sheltered the green giant for almost a year of renovations. There is no doubt, puny humans: Hulk strong.

    The fan-favorite roller coaster the Incredible Hulk gets a new story line and vehicles as well as a smoother ride.
  7. Theme park news: Busch Gardens holds a Pokémon event, Kong ride opens at Universal

    Florida

    As we enter the height of vacation season, Florida's theme parks continue to roll out new attractions, including the official opening of the King Kong ride at Universal Orlando and a new lush Caribbean-themed hotel and some lures for Pokémon Go players.

    Universal's Islands of Adventure surprised visitors Wednesday with the official opening of its newest mega attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong. (Universal Orlando)
  8. Busch Gardens embraces Pokémon Go by hosting 'Lure-a-Thon'

    Blogs

    Busch Gardens in Tampa is embracing the Pokémon Go craze, inviting people to catch pocket monsters among its roller coasters and animal attractions. 

  9. King Kong's reign begins as Universal opens Skull Island ride

    Florida

    Universal's Islands of Adventure surprised visitors Wednesday with the official opening of its newest mega attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

    Universal's Islands of Adventure surprised visitors Wednesday with the official opening of its newest mega attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong. (Universal Orlando)
  10. Busch Gardens announces open auditions for Howl-O-Scream

    Florida

    If you're the type of person who enthusiastically dresses up as a chainsaw-wielding clown to scare the neighborhood kids on Halloween, perhaps this year you'll be able to get paid for it.

    Busch Gardens will hold auditions for scare actors to work during Howl-O-Scream beginning July 22. The seasonal event returns Sept. 23. [Times files]