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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. Scream-A-Geddon is turning the election into a real horror show with I-275 billboards featuring Trump and Clinton


    A Pasco County "scream park" is finding the humor and the horror in the current election with some clever marketing—two large billboards in Tampa advertising Scream-A-Geddon as more terrifying than a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump presidency.

    The billboards advertise the Scream-A-Geddon horror attraction as scarier than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
  2. Baby animal alert: Fighting extinction, Lowry Park Zoo welcomes birth of rare tiger cub (w/video)


    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo announced Tuesday that on Sept. 11 the zoo welcomed its first critically endangered Malayan tiger cub. With only 250 Malayan tigers left in the wild, the implications of this birth "could be massive in the protection of the species both in the wild and in human care," the zoo wrote in a news …

    Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo welcomed its first critically endangered Malayan tiger cub. The pair will likely be out of sight from visitors for the next few weeks.
  3. What to Expect: Howl-O-Scream 2016 at Busch Gardens conjures a hellish motel and murderous mermaid


    The spookiness at the first night of Howl-O-Scream 2016 began before guests had even entered Bush Gardens proper, when a tram driver ferrying …

    The Black Spot is one of two new haunted houses for 2016 at Howl-O-Scream.
  4. Halloween haunts: Zoo, aquarium, Disney and other attractions tone down scares for kids



    Many attractions tone down the gore for Halloween parties aimed at kids under 12. Here are the biggest ones:

    NEW Creatures of the Night

    Cousins Reagan Kelly, left, and Taylor and Madison Cloversettle take a trick-or-treating break to watch sharks.
  5. 6 real-life haunted houses that would be scarier than theme parks


    It is time again to get really close to your friends inside a dark and twisty hallway. Yes, it’s only September, but most major Halloween scare attractions are running, ready to weird out otherwise functioning adults via mason jars of eyeballs. Chelsea Tatham tells you about the themes this year, which range from …

    Ok, this is scene from Scream-A-Geddon in Dade City in 2015 is scary. But what could be even scarier?
  6. Halloween haunts: What's new at Halloween Horror Nights, Howl-O-Scream this year


    The most wonderful time of the year isn't when the halls are decked with holly, but when they're home to ghouls, ghosts and garish creatures lurking around the corners. Halloween in Tampa Bay means sweating through a toasty Pumpkin Spice Latte, early sunsets on the beach and making room on the calendar for haunted …

    Universal's Halloween Horror Nights is now open at Universal Orlando, with nine haunted houses including one based on 'American Horror Story.' The event also features five scarezones with dozens of  scareactors and two live shows. Photo via Universal.
  7. Meet the culinary director of Epcot, a chef from Clearwater

    Food & Dining

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Gregg Hannon is strolling through the theme park, greeting guests with the kind of joviality required of Disney people.

    "Hello!" he says. "Good morning!"

    Gregg Hannon of Clearwater is the culinary director for food and beverage at Epcot at Disney World Resort. He's preparing for the upcoming Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Sept. 14-Nov. 14. LARA CERRI   |   Times
  8. Busch Gardens, Disney parks offer mosquito repellent amid Zika fears


    Days after Gov. Rick Scott confirmed the first locally-transmitted case of Zika virus in Tampa Bay, Busch

    Busch Gardens has insect repellent available for all visitors at the Tampa theme park. [Times files]
  9. Your daily dose of cute: Baby hyena born at Busch Gardens said to be a sweetheart


    Hyenas may have been the bad guys in The Lion King, but Busch Gardens says the 20-week-old baby spotted hyena born at the park on April 3 is a sweet boy.

    This 20-week-old baby spotted hyena was born at Busch Gardens on April 3 and debuting this week to park visitors. He is named ‘Mandazi’ for his sweet personality after a traditional pastry found on the Swahili coast, a park news release says.
  10. Mandazi is a 20-week-old spotted hyena.