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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 calendar@tampabay.com or post to the official Things to Do Facebook page.

  1. Warwick Davis, Matthew Lewis join Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando


    Universal Orlando just announced its first wave of Harry Potter film stars set to attend its fourth Celebration of Harry Potter in January. 

    Warwick Davis and Matthew Lewis are among the first celebrity announcements for A Celebration of Harry Potter Jan. 27-29, 2017.
  2. Christmas at Disney World: Drones and lasers and ice castles


    Christmas at Walt Disney World is amped up this year thanks to technology, adding a whole new gee-whiz layer of drones and lasers and ice castles to the world's biggest tourist attraction.

    Outside the parks

    Toy soldiers herald the arrival of spectacular holiday on Main Street USA at Walt Disney World.
  3. Disney turned Epcot's icon into 'Star Wars' Death Star (w/ video)


    Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth was turned into the Death Star for a one-night stunt Monday night for the release of new Star Wars film Rogue One coming to theaters Dec. 16.
    Meanwhile, the Disney theme parks are getting on the Rogue One bandwagon, adding scenes and props from the movie to …

  4. A theme park Christmas: Busch Gardens, Universal, Disney and more get festive for the holidays


    The first few weeks in December are just about the best times to visit Florida's many theme parks to enjoy the holiday lights, shows and Christmas characters.

    Thousands of Christmas lights light up Lowry Park Zoo during its Christmas in the Wild.
  5. What to expect: Busch Gardens dazzles with millions of lights at Christmas Town


    An enchanting holiday village set in an African-themed theme park doesn't seem like it would make much sense. But Busch Gardens' Christmas Town is simply stunning.

    A decadent cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream, and a grilled doughnut served with chocolate dipping sauce at Busch Gardens Christmas Town.
  6. What to expect: A not-so-grumpy Grinchmas at Universal Orlando with Dr. Seuss characters and Macy's Holiday Parade


    After his successful heart enlargement, the Grinch is the king of Christmas around Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure.

    The famous arches of Universal Studios are bedecked for the holidays.
  7. Universal will bring Nintendo attractions to Orlando theme park (w/video)


    Orlando's Universal theme parks will be getting a Nintendo-themed area, the company announced Tuesday, as will parks in California and Japan over the next few years.

    Universal said areas based on popular Nintendo video games “will be expansive, immersive and interactive.”
  8. What to expect: Christmas at Disney World has drones, lasers and ice castles


    Christmas at Disney World is amped up this year thanks to technology, adding a whole new gee-wiz layer of drones and lasers and ice castles to the world’s biggest tourist attraction.

    Drones dazzle the night sky twice a night in Disney Springs, the shopping and entertainment district formerly known as Downtown Disney. The 300 drones in formation make up the first and largest show-drone performance in the U.S.
  9. Things to Do Planner: Ice skating, Radio Theatre Live, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens


    COOL SPOT: Ice skating in the park

    The outdoor ice rink at the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa. The only outdoor ice rink in downtown Tampa will remain open through Dec. 25.
  10. What to expect: Gaylord Palms' ICE is a glittery Christmas wonderland


    Here's a little secret: I've never seen snow.

    This year's ICE exhibit at Gaylord Palms Resort has A Charlie Brown Christmas theme.