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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. Want to audition for Howl-O-Scream? Here's how.

    Florida

    How would you like a job that has you running all night, dodging punches and earning high marks from your boss if you make someone wet their pants?

    Lindsay Weppelman, a University of South Florida biomedical science student, plays a Zombie Bride in one of Busch Gardens' open-air scare zones at Howl-O-Scream 2016.  Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens.
  2. Looking Back: Walt Disney's Epcot Center, We've just begun to dream (June 21, 1981)

    News

    In 1966, on an episode of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color," Walt Disney first announced his intention to build "a community of tomorrow." His death soon after would lead to the demise of a true "city of the future", but the idea was kept alive within the Walt Disney company and in the mid-1970's plans were …

  3. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  4. Quick! Do these fun things with the kids before school starts!

    Kids

    Three weekends. That's all we have left before the new school year is upon us.

    Ya'riah Ellison,6 of Tampa works on a pop art self portrait at the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa on Friday, July 14, 2017. On Monday, July 20th, a new pop art exhibition will open in which children will be able to create self portraits in a variety of ways including screen printing, pointillism and pop art methods.
  5. Disney news: Tron ride, 'Guardians of Galaxy' ride and a 'Star Wars' hotel coming to Florida

    Florida

    In case you missed it, this weekend brought a rush of news for Disney World fans at D23, the official Disney fan club in Anaheim, Calif., and visitors to the four theme parks in Florida can look forward to more attractions for teens and roller coaster fans.

    Artist renderings of Disney's plans for an immersive Star Wars-themed hotel show guests would wear costumes and  interact with "Star Wars" creatures and droids. The multi-day experience would guests their own story line and each window of the hotel would look out into space.
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World
  6. Could a Tron coaster replace Disney's Tomorrowland Speedway?

    Florida

    Is a high-tech coaster based on Tron replacing the very low-tech Tomorrowland Speedway in Disney's Magic Kingdom? The rumor mills are buzzing.

    Photo by Rob Clark Jr.
  7. Killer deals for Halloween scare zones at Busch Gardens, Universal

    Blogs

    Halloween may be a long way off, but if you like to get the wits scared out of you in haunted houses, you can save money by buying tickets now.

    USF student  Lindsay Weppelman, played a Zombie Bride in one Busch gardens open-air scare zones in 2016's Howl-O-Scream.
  8. Looking Back: Adele and her baby koala come out of hiding (December 27, 1991)

    Attractions

    This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on December 27, 1991. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Tony Lopez.

    BABY KOALA IS NOW OUT OF POCKET

    By Amber Grimes

    Times staff …

    Kunara, Busch Garden's shy baby koala, has been working his way out of his mother Adele's pouch since his birth.

TIMES | Tony Lopez
  9. Top things to do this week: Adults take over Glazer Children's Museum, new theme park attractions

    Events

    ADULT SWIM: Grown Up Night

    Friday will be Grown Up Night at the Glazer Children's Museum. The adult playtime will be a '90s throwback party (remember those days?) and there will be experiences with snowboards, a Mars rover and a 360-degree freeze motion video from the museum's new Math Alive …

    The Kraken roller coaster at Seaworld will have virtual reality goggles.
  10. Disney sues local court alleging high taxes for Orlando theme parks

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Walt Disney Parks and Resorts wants a break on what it claims are "excessive" property taxes, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

    Walt Disney Parks and Resorts wants a break on what it claims are "excessive" property taxes.
[Handout photo courtesy of Walt Disney World]