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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. Directors of Haunted Mansion doc talk bringing piece of Disney history to Orlando


    Filmmakers Ryan Grulich and James H. Carter II aren't just casual fans of The Haunted Mansion ride. They're obsessed.

    Publicity still from the Foolish Mortals documentary.
  2. UPDATE: When Busch Gardens, Disney World and other attractions open again


    Local theme parks and attractions were mostly spared from Hurricane Irma's wrath. Like many Tampa Bay area residents, many of the attractions reported only minor damage in their parks and were able to maintain power to their facilities.

    Courtesy of Walt Disney World
All Disney parks will reopen Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. Disney Springs reopens at 10 a.m.
  3. Insider tips: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a deal if you go early


    Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is already spooking up the Magic Kingdom on select nights, and it can offer a rare chance to play in the world's busiest theme park for under $100.

    Guests wait along Main Street USA for Mickey's "Boo-To-You" Halloween Parade at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel)
  4. Here's what it's like inside a writhing, growling Howl-O-Scream audition


    TAMPA — At Busch Gardens, a Howl-O-Scream manager is hunting zombies.

    Auditioner Natalie Rychel, 20, of Tampa, Fla., high fives director of atmosphere Morgan Malice after being selected for a job for Bush Gardens' Howl-O-Scream during an audition at the theme park on Friday, August 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (From left) Auditioners Jared Shipley, 20, of Lakeland, Fla., and Lincoln Scott, 41, of Riverview, Fla., look over. This year, Howl-O-Scream will take place from September 22 to October 29 at Bush Gardens. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  5. Halloween Horror Nights brings 'Saw: The Games of Jigsaw' to Universal Orlando


    Universal wants to play a game.

    For its 27th year of Halloween Horror Nights, the Orlando theme park brings back the popular Saw house, the theme park announced Monday.

    Saw: The Games of Jigsaw comes to this year's Halloween Horror Nights.
  6. Looking Back: Epcot Center, Welcome to the 21st Century (Oct. 2, 1982)

    Pop Culture

    "Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls. All of us at Epcot Center are glad to have you as our guests today. We welcome you and hope your find your day with us to be a most enjoyable one.

    With a flourish of brass Walt Disney Productions formally opened its $1-billion Epcot Center.

TIMES | Fred Victorin

  7. Looking Back: Epcot Center, If Walt Disney can dream it, Imagineers can do it (June 13, 1982)

    Pop Culture

    As the Disney powers that be continue to stray from Uncle Walt's original vision, (fans of The Maelstrom know what I'm talking about...), here's part two of a three-part series of stories on the construction and grand opening of Walt Disney's Epcot Center. A full year after construction started there was a discussion of …

    Construction continues on Walt Disney World's Epcot Center at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 

TIMES | Fred Victorin

  8. Disney World lifts seasonal passholder block-out dates early


    With two classic rides retiring at Walt Disney World, the theme park giant has taken the unprecedented step of lifting the block-out dates a little early for seasonal passholders so they can visit one last time.

    Disney World surprised seasonal passholders by lifting the block-out dates for the month of August instead of Aug. 11. The theme park giant said it would allow fans to ride some classic rides that are retiring Aug. 13. 

 (Orlando Sentinel)
  9. Want to audition for Howl-O-Scream? Here's how.


    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.
  10. Looking Back: Walt Disney's Epcot Center, We've just begun to dream (June 21, 1981)


    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 …