Florida’s theme parks are gearing up for spring break with festivals and new attractions, bringing the return of the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival, a new water stunt show at Legoland, the return of Volcano Bay at Universal and a giant M&M store at Disney Springs.
All of the theme parks continue to enforce their COVID-19 protocols, including advance ticket reservations and face masks in the parks when not eating or drinking.
Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival
Busch Gardens brings back its Food and Wine Festival on Feb. 20 with more than 20 new dishes and the promise of live music.
The festival will run weekends through April 25 with limited capacity and a number of health and safety measures in place.
On select dates in March and April, concerts featuring “nationally-recognized bands and local acts” will take place at the park’s festival field next to the Iron Gwazi coaster, which is set to open this spring. The concerts will be included with park admission.
Among the new dishes are a reimagined shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, five-spice duck lettuce wraps, a lollipop chicken drum, lobster white cheddar Kraft mac and cheese, Woodford Reserve bourbon bread pudding and a plant-based Impossible slider topped with caramelized balsamic onions and crispy jalapeños.
There will also be more than 50 wines, beers and seltzers available and cocktails, including Cutwater frozen margarita popsicles.
Visitors can purchase a five-item sampler lanyard starting at $34.99. Pass members can get an exclusive 15-item sampler for the price of a 12-item sampler.
Universal’s Volcano Bay opens
Universal, which insists on calling Volcano Bay a theme park and not just a water park, is turning on the spigot for the season starting Feb. 27.
The attraction, which has a huge volcano visible from Interstate 4, was only briefly open in 2020 when the rest of Central Florida’s theme parks shut down in mid-March as a coronavirus pandemic precaution. It reopened in June before closing again in late 2020.
Health and safety measures will continue, Universal said, with a limited capacity, but reservations will not be required. Face coverings will be required upon entering and exiting the park, and while inside restaurants and stores. But face coverings will not be allowed on waterslides and in the pools.
Legoland adds water stunts
Legoland is adding a new water stunt show to its lineup starting Friday but first, high wire acrobat Nik Wallenda will walk 60 feet overhead at the park that day to mark the new attraction.
The Winter Haven theme park invited the performer, who lives in Sarasota, to perform an epic high-wire walk nearly 600 feet cross the skies in a “walk the plank” stunt on Friday.
The new stunt show features the pirate Brickbeard, new female Lego pirate characters and water stunts including wakeboarding, barefoot-skiing and jump acts. The show will also include the iconic ski pyramid, a signature feature of the waterski show made famous by Cypress Gardens, the botanical park and attraction that Legoland purchased in 2010.
During the new PirateFest Weekends, guests can meet the Lego Pirate characters and participate in shows and activities. Pirate weekends run through Feb. 28 and are included with park admission.
Disney Springs adds new stores
Disney Springs, the shopping and dining area adjacent to the Walt Disney World theme parks, has opened some fun new shops in the past few weeks — including a state-of-the art M&M store that offers customizable candies and a massive pick-your-own M&M’S flavor wall.
The Mars Retail Group currently has six M&M locations around the globe including spots in New York, London, Las Vegas and Shanghai.
Many of these busy new businesses are using a virtual queue, in which you sign in outside the entrance and get a text message when it’s time to return.
NOTE: A previous version of this report said Wallenda would be doing a high-wire act on Thursday, but he is also doing walk over the park on Friday for the public. Thursday’s walk is for a media preview only.