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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. For Ybor City, a historic cigar town faces a cloudy future


    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]
  2. 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.
  3. Review: Disney's Rivers of Light show turns on the H2-oh!


    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.
  4. Disney sets opening date for 'Avatar' land at Animal Kingdom


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

    Disney created floating mountains, glowing rainforests and even those fierce and slightly terrifying banshees to look and feel just like Pandora in Avatar.
  5. Busch Gardens fall deal gets you two free months of park access


    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

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


    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 200-foot volcano at Volcano Bay features the Krakatau Aqua Coaster inside.
  7. Manatee emoji? Lowry Park Zoo starts petition to bring sea cows to your phone


    There's already an alligator emoji, now there's a push to get another aquatic animal associated with Florida onto your phone and into your text messages. The Lowry Park Zoo has started a petition to ask for the …

    Lowry Park zoo used this image of a manatee to go along with its petition for manatee emoji.
  8. Must see: SeaWorld's wardrobe department made a coat for a featherless penguin


    Attention fashionistas: Check out the custom-designed frock one of SeaWorld's penguins is sporting these days at the park's Antarctica attraction.

    One of SeaWorld’s penguins gets a custom wet suit.
  9. From Howl-O-Scream to Lowry Park Zoo, scare actors share their secrets


    They get punched in the face and covered in fake blood, and their bosses love it when they make someone wet their pants.

    University of South Florida biomedical science student Lindsay Weppelman, 19, plays a zombie bride at Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream, sometimes posing for “zelfies” with parkgoers.
  10. SeaWorld, Disney and Universal closing for Hurricane Matthew, Busch Gardens plans to stay open for now


    Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando and other theme parks across Florida are either closing in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, or closely monitoring the situation.

    Universal Orlando has canceled Halloween Horror Nights for Thursday and Friday due to Hurricane Matthew. [Universal Orlando]