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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. 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)
  2. 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. 

  3. 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)
  4. 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]
  5. Attractions news: Universal bets on 'Secret Life of Pets'; plus new exhibit for Kennedy Space Center

    Florida

    The Secret Life of Pets doesn't open in theaters until Friday, but it's already getting such buzz that Universal Studios theme park in Orlando has introduced new entertainment options and maybe even a ride based on the film.

    Universal’s movie The Secret Life of Pets opens on Friday, but the buzz has the company already eyeing attractions. A store has popped up in Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.
  6. Fan Fest Orlando hosts one-day convention to benefit Pulse nightclub victims and families

    Blogs

    Fans of The Walking Dead, Arrow and The Flash get to meet their favorite stars at Fan Fest Orlando in September.

    Fan Fest Orlando brings together stars from The Walking Dead and Arrow for a one-day fundraising event to benefit victims and families of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
  7. Ride with us on Cobra's Curse, open Friday at Busch Gardens (w/video)

    Florida

    TAMPA — Nestled next to what was once the world's tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster, Cobra's Curse will open Friday at Busch Gardens, with its own bragging rights.

    Guests ride the new Busch Gardens roller coaster Cobra's Curse during media day Thursday, June 16, 2016.  The spin coaster is the only one of it's kind in the world featuring a 70-foot vertical lift and cars that free-spin during the second half of the three minute and thirty second ride.  It has a maximum speed of 40 mph. JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

  8. Opening soon at Disney: Frozen ride, Soarin' and Star Wars fireworks

    Florida

    Next week at Walt Disney World, Star Wars fans will find amped-up fireworks and the return of Soarin', and little girls will finally get their Anna and Elsa attraction when Frozen Ever After opens at Epcot on June 21.

    A rendering shows the "Frozen Ever After" attraction opening at Epcot on June 21. Courtesy of Disney
  9. Busch Gardens' Cobra's Curse opens June 17; Adventure Island's sunset celebrations to begin

    Florida

    Busch Gardens on Friday announced that its much-anticipated Cobra's Curse roller coaster will open to the public on June 17.

    Cobra’s Curse features an 80-foot golden snake statue. Riders will go forward, backward and freely spin.
  10. Review: SeaWorld's Mako, open Friday, full of high speeds and weightlessness

    Florida

    ORLANDO — The hype surrounding the hypercoaster Mako opening Friday at SeaWorld has been breathless, just like the riders who got a sneak preview of the coaster Thursday.

    SeaWorld’s Mako is the fastest, tallest and longest roller coaster in Orlando, set in an area entirely dedicated to sharks. It opens to the public this week.