When you visit Universal Studios Florida in the fall, that chill in the air doesn’t come because summer is over. It’s the feeling you get when you realize the park has been taken over by the ghastly ghouls that come out for Halloween Horror Nights.
A Horrific Halloween
Halloween Horror Nights is an annual event that runs from September 16 to October 31, 2016. It runs on select nights after the park closes for the evening and requires a special ticket. Unlike the Halloween events at most of the other Central Florida theme parks, it’s not for younger children. However, if you’re traveling with teens, or even horror fan tweens, or if your travel party is made up of adults who love horror movies and shows like “The Walking Dead,” it’s a perfect way to celebrate the haunt season.
Each year, Halloween Horror Nights combines popular franchises and original content from the twisted creative minds at Universal Orlando Resort. For example, this year some of the haunted houses and scare zones draw their inspiration from properties like “The Walking Dead” and movies like “The Exorcist,” “Halloween,” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” while others have themes ghost towns and ancient ruins. The event’s hostess is Chance, girlfriend of killer clown Jack, whose most recent hosting stint was 2015.
If you plan to attend Halloween Horror Nights and also visit Universal Studios during the day while you’re in Orlando, be sure to do that on the same day. If you have both a day ticket and Halloween Horror Nights admission, you can stay inside after the park to wait for the event to start. While other guests queue up in line outside the gates, you’ll hang out in a holding pen and get a jump start on the haunted houses while the outside guests filter in from the front.
If you bring tweens and teens, be aware that the adult nature of Halloween Horror Nights includes pop-up bars all around the park. The drinking often leads to crude language and behavior, so be prepared. Security is tight, so you’re unlikely to experience any major incidents, but know that the kids could be exposed to swearing and mild drunken antics.
Halloween Horror Nights typically runs until 1 or 2 a.m., depending on the night you visit, so arrive early and stay as late as possible to make the most of your visit. Purchase an Express Pass for the haunted houses if at all possible. It gives you one-time access to a shorter line for each of the houses. If you’re only at Halloween Horror Nights for one night, that ensures you’ll get to experience all of them. Otherwise, if you visit on a busy night, waits can stretch well over an hour, and sometimes even two hours or more.
In addition to the haunted houses and scare zones that take over the streets, Halloween Horror Nights also features shows like “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure,” an annual send-up of pop culture. The shows are adult themed, so exercise good judgement if you have tweens in tow.
A Season of Christmas Cheer
If you prefer a more cheerful experience, visit Universal Orlando Resort during the holiday season. Once Halloween Horror Nights clears out of Universal Studios Florida, the Macy’s Parade arrives just after Thanksgiving. See some of the balloons that appear in the New York parade, along with many balloons, floats, and marching entertainers. They bring a breath of Christmas to the park, and if you choose a good spot (hint: stand near the Macy’s storefront), you’ll even get to see the nightly tree lighting with Santa Claus himself.
Next door at Islands of Adventure, a familiar green personage takes over for Grinchmas. He stars in a live musical retelling of the beloved Dr. Seuss classic, along with the Whos and even Max the dog. You might even meet the Whos when you’re strolling around the park or catch the Grinch for a special photo opportunity.
The festivities at both parks run from December 3 to January, 2016, and they’re all included with regular theme park tickets. Mannheim Steamroller will appear on select nights (December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18) with live concerts at Universal Studios Florida. The shows are also included in your admission price. They’re held outdoors on the stage by the Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster, and they’re standing room only, with space taken up on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to stake out your spot early if you’d like to be close to the stage.
If you can’t visit Universal Orlando Resort until after Christmas and you’re a Harry Potter fan, plan your trip for January 27 to 29, when the resort holds its annual “Celebration of Harry Potter.” The event draws fans from around the world, who flock to Universal for celebrity meet and greets, prop exhibits, demonstrations, expo exhibits, and more.
Kids love SeaWorld Orlando for the animals and its family attractions, like Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin and the Shamu Express roller coaster, but things get even more family-friendly in the fall and winter. The fun starts in October with the SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular, while runs every weekend from October 1 to 31. It’s included with park admission and features a variety of Halloween-themed activities, including good old fashioned trick-or-treating. The little ones can dress up in their favorite costumes, bring their bags, and build up their candy collection at trick or treat stations around the park.
The Halloween Spooktacular also features encounters with animal ambassadors as part of SeaWorld’s ongoing mission to educate guests about conservation. In addition, you’ll find arts and crafts stations, dancing, characters for photo ops, and a Halloween-themed live Sesame Street show.
While most of the Halloween shows and activities are included with park admission, SeaWorld Orlando offers two additional extra-cost experiences. The first is a meet and greet with Cookie Monster, that big blue Muppet with an insatiable appetite for the crunchy treats. The experience includes a personal meeting with Cookie Monster, goodies, and a photo to preserve the memory. The second option is the Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch. It combines a meal with an up close look at the park’s famous orcas, showcasing their natural behaviors.
While the younger family members will be excited by the Halloween fun, your older thrill-seekers will make a beeline for Mako, SeaWorld Orlando’s newest roller coaster. This shark-themed ride towers skyward at 200 feet tall and reaches speeds of over 70 miles per hour. Mako is already famous among roller coaster lovers for its non-stop air time. It joins Kraken and Manta to round out SeaWorld’s thrill ride collection.
SeaWorld Orlando transforms into a winter wonderland starting on November 25 and running select nights through December 31, when it kicks off the SeaWorld Christmas Celebration. Trees made from multicolored lights spring up in the water, doing choreographed shows set to seasonal music several times each night. There’s a marketplace for Christmas shopping, special shows, and live entertainment scattered all around the park. One of the biggest crowd pleasers is the ice skating show. If you didn’t think you’d ever see an outdoor skating rink in Florida, SeaWorld will prove to you that they exist and that talented performers can take your breath away as they glide around the rink.
Even Santa Claus comes to SeaWorld for the holidays, and he meets with good little Children at Santa’s Fireside Feast, an extra-cost event that includes a hearty buffet meal of holiday fare like ham and turkey and family photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. All of the other holiday shows and activities are included with your regular theme park admission ticket.
Orlando is one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world, thanks to the plethora of theme parks to be found in the city and in nearby suburbs.
There is so much to see and do in Orlando that you could easily spend a month there and still not see everything. If you are only going to be there for a week, the process of paring down what you want to see becomes extremely difficult!
Here is how to find Orlando’s best tourist spots.
Research each theme park
Most vacationers who visit Orlando for the first time will want to see the theme and water parks of Disney World, Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando. But there are other theme parks nearby, such as Legoland® Florida, Gatorland, and Busch Gardens (located in Tampa but only and hour-and-a-half drive from Orlando!).
Each of these theme parks has a website, so visit each site and decide which ones you’d like to visit.
Talk to your family
The age and interests of your family members will dictate which tourist spots you will visit. If you have little children, the many theme parks of Disney World will probably be on your agenda, as well as SeaWorld. Teenagers may prefer to spend time at Universal Orlando or Gatorland. If only adults are making the trip, they may not want to visit a theme park at all. They may want to see museums, or attend at least one college or professional sporting event. They may want to engage in a sport themselves, such as scuba diving, water skiing or parasailing.
Research your interests in Orlando
Once you’ve talked to family members and learned that one or more of them want to visit museums and historical sites in Orlando, start doing research. Thanks to the internet this is extremely easy. Do a search on “museums Orlando” or “art galleries Orlando” or “living history Orlando.” Other topics to search on would be “Native American museums Orlando,” “music Orlando,” “live theater Orlando” and so on.
Investigate sporting events
Depending on the time of year that you’re visiting Orlando, there will be some college sporting event, or a professional sporting event, everything from basketball to baseball to football. There are a variety of online ticket resources where you can obtain tickets, or you may talk to the concierge of your hotel.
Choose a convenient hotel
Depending on where you’re going to spend most of your time, choose a nearby hotel. If you’re going to spend time at Disney World, you’ll perhaps want to stay in Buena Vista, if not on the resort property itself. If your interests lie in downtown Orlando, choose a hotel there. This will save you transport time.
Create a flexible itinerary
A mistake that most first-time visitors to Orlando make is trying to do too much. The heat in Orlando can be daunting at any time of year but particularly during the height of summer, and this must be taken account especially if one is touring with small children or aged relatives or both!
Purchase tickets for all events you plan to see in advance. For sporting events and live theatre, you’ll be able to get the best available seats.
Put all your purchases on one credit card for ease of tracking. Carry a spare credit card but use it only for emergencies.
Protect your credit cards by keeping them in RFD sleeves to foil thieves.
Write down the address of all locations that you want to visit, as well as the address and phone number of your hotel. Give a copy to everyone traveling with you.
As with any large city, Orlando does have its share of pickpockets and even muggers. At night, take taxis from the venue itself back to your hotel rather than walking around unfamiliar areas. If you’re driving a car, bring a GPS to use or pay the extra fee to your rental car company to have one in the car.
On rare occasions, a GPS satellite may be down. It’s rare but it does happen. For this reason, bring a map of the city with you as well. Figure out your route before you start driving. Take a look at the map to orientate yourself and to familiarize yourself with surrounding streets and avenues in case you have to cope with construction and detour signs.
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Orlando is a city that covers over 100 square miles of land, and has a population of over 2 million people. As you can imagine, there are restaurants scattered throughout that 100 square miles, although most of them are concentrated in certain areas, of course, such as downtown Orlando or near the theme parks.
Most of the larger restaurants will have websites, which make it easy to discover their existence. However, there are plenty of small, excellent restaurants located in residential areas that only the “locals” of that area have ever heard of, and which serve “regional” specialties that you can’t get anywhere else.
Even if a local, family-owned restaurant doesn’t have a website, it may well have a Facebook account, or be listed in aggregate websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Zomato (formerly Urban Spoon).
So let’s talk about how you can enjoy fine dining in Orlando.
Bring appropriate clothing.
Although dining (and going out to the theater) has gotten a lot more casual in the last decade or so, there are still fine dining establishments that expect men to wear jackets and ties, and women to wear dresses. Dining in jeans and sweatshirts with holes in them is discouraged!
Do some research on restaurant choices before you go. Thanks to the internet, this is extremely easy. This preliminary research makes an excellent starting point.
Be adventurous, as far as your food tourism goes. Be willing to check out cuisines that you’ve never tasted before. As with most major cities, Orlando will have at least a couple of restaurants in every ethnic category. You’re on vacation – why not try a new cuisine or two?
Make a list of all the cuisines you’ve had – and a list of those you’d like to try. You’ve probably had Chinese food, but have you ever had Thai or Japanese? Mongolian? Vietnamese?
Mexican and Italian restaurants abound in most cities – but have you ever been to a French restaurant?
Do a search online for “Orlando regional cuisine,” and “famous Florida foods”
This will give you some idea of the local specialties. Most major cities have newspapers with online editions, so you are bound to find articles from local food writers on the regional cuisine. Read these articles, look at the accompanying photos, and if your mouth starts watering, write the restaurant – and its address – on your List of Restaurants to Visit in Orlando.
Don’t miss the fresh seafood
Restaurants in Florida have access to fresh seafood, of course, so if you’re a seafood lover, make sure you visit several seafood specialty restaurants to try the variations in shrimp, oysters, tuna, grouper and more.
Do you have any friends who have recently come back from a visit to Orlando? Ask them to recommend some restaurants, and of course, include the address. Make sure your food preferences match those of your friends, of course!
You’ve done your preliminary research, and packed appropriate clothing for the variety of restaurants you’ll encounter in Orlando.
Check out the brochures in the racks at your hotel.
Most hotels will have vast literature racks – full of brochures on things to see and do in the area. Several of these will be restaurant related! Check to see if any of them aren’t on your list and if they sound good, add them.
Also check out the local coupon magazines and community newspapers that will probably also be present in your hotel. Some restaurants will offer two-for-one deals. The higher-end restaurants may just have coupons for a free appetizer.
Check menus online
By now you’ve got enough information to have planned your dinners for every night of your stay. If you waited until you arrived in Orlando before deciding on restaurants, there’s still time to check the menus online to see how the different entrees are prepared.
Why not be spontaneous?
That’s not me asking *you* that question – that’s *you* asking me.
For breakfast and lunch there’s nothing wrong with walking along a street, seeing a restaurant or café with an interesting name, and walking in. But dinners are different. You may stop into an interesting-looking restaurant only to find out you don’t meet the dress code, or, worse, that there’s an hour wait because you didn’t make a reservation.
By planning in advance, you’ll save yourself some time and aggravation.
A newly renovated property only two miles from Walt Disney World with great amenities and affordable rates might sound too good to be true, but it’s now open and just as attractive as it sounds. The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark just opened on the site of the old Nickelodeon Hotel after pouring $30 million into the property. It’s still just as family friendly as ever, but with upgraded accommodations and amenities that make it a perfect headquarters for visiting Walt Disney World and the surrounding theme parks.
The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark is an all-suites hotel, providing plenty of room for any size family with its one, two, and three bedroom suites. Every room has either a kitchenette or full kitchen for eating meals or snacks right in the room. With 777 rooms, it has bragging rights as the largest property among all Holiday Inn Resorts.
The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark has its own water park right on site for cooling off on steamy Florida days. Many families like to take afternoon break from the parks, or even a full day off, so the slides and flumes will keep them busy while Mom and Dad relax poolside and indulge in beverages from the bar. Cabanas are available for rental to add an extra layer of comfort to your family’s day of water play.
If the kids get tired of swimming, they’ll enjoyed activities themed to favorite characters like Batman, the Joker, the Ice Age gang, and the Angry Birds. Batman and his nemesis are the theme of a laser tag game, and Ice Age and Angry Birds are featured in onsite 4-D movies. There’s also a massive on-site arcade and hide speed internet access so the who family can stay connected.
The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark do is good for guests who drive and those who prefer to not bother with a car. If you have your own vehicle or a rental car, you can get to Walt Disney World within minutes via several routes and easily get to I-4 to go to SeaWorld Orlando or Universal Orlando Resort. Otherwise, hop a free shuttle to those destinations. Disney World shuttles leave every 90 to 120 minutes, while Universal and SeaWorld transportation is scheduled a couple of times each day.
The hotel is near many dining options on Highway 192 and State Road 535, but if you don’t feel like heading off-site, it has several convenient options. The Lakeside Café has both table service and buffet options, while Antonio’s Pizzeria lives up to its name with hand-tossed pizza and other kid-friendly fare. Cravings is the spot for Starbucks coffee, along with baked goods and hand-dipped ice cream, and Stackers Deli crafts freshly made sandwiches. The Lagoon Bar & Grill is a casual poolside eatery, and the Hideaway Lounge is a nice adult enclave that serves drinks while sports play on multiple TVs.
With so many pluses, the Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark is quickly becoming a popular spot for Orlando vacationers. Its fresh look, coupled with a wide range of amenities are hard for travelers to resist.
The fall season means cooler weather leading into winter and a variety of seasonal events at Walt Disney World. Some are tied to the holidays, while others are Disney exclusives. Here’s what to expect when you visit the Disney theme parks between September and December:
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom is an annual favorite for both children and adults. Kids of all ages get to trick-or-treat at stations all around the park, taking in a heavy haul of goodies. It’s also one of the rare occasions on which adults get to wear costumes in a Disney park, and many take full advantage of that fact. It’s sometime hard to tell which characters are official and which are guests with a talent for creating authentic costumes. Many of the Magic Kingdom rides are open, and the party also features special character greets, shows, and the Boo to You parade. The party runs on select nights through October 31, 2016, and requires a special ticket that’s separate from regular theme park admission.
Even though the party starts at 7 p.m., the ticket gets you in at 4 p.m., so you don’t have to use a day ticket if you hang out at your hotel or vacation home, go shopping at Disney Springs, or explore Orlando until admission time. Get to the park early and enjoy the rides before the party officially starts. That gives you more time to devote to trick-or-treating and waiting in line for photos with the Disney characters in their costumes and special guests like Jack Skellington and Sally. You’ll also want to catch the parade, dance parties, and “Hocus Pocus” stage show, so check the show guide as soon as you arrive and make a plan for your evening. If your children are young, get them to nap before the party so they can make it through to closing time.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a popular fall event that’s geared toward the “big kids,” although it’s family friendly. It runs from September 14 to November 14, 2016, and gourmet food, wine, and other adult beverages abound, with kiosks around World Showcase and spilling over into Future World. The festival also features special dinners, seminars, tasting events, themed merchandise, and the Eat to the Beat concert series with artists like Wang Chung, Living Colour, and Soul Asylum. The concerts are included with park admission and they feature open seating, so get in line early to get a good seat for your favorite bands.
Pick up a free festival passport when you arrive at Epcot and let the kids assist in getting it stamped at each kiosk as you navigate the culinary landscape. That will keep them involved and help maintain their interest. It doesn’t hurt to promise them a ride on the new Frozen Ever After ride when you get to the Norway Pavilion, although you’ll want to book a FastPass+ time in advance to avoid at hour-plus wait in line.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Like the Halloween party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an after-hours event at the Magic Kingdom that offers special shows, fireworks, and a parade featuring favorite Disney characters and Santa Claus himself. Most of the rides are open during the party, including the Jingle Cruise, a special holiday-themed version of the famous Jungle Cruise, complete with seasonal wisecracks from the skippers.
During the party, guests can indulge in all the free cookies, cider, and hot cocoa they can eat and drink at various stops around the park. Even though Florida’s not known for chilly winters, Disney magic makes it snow on Main Street every night to add to the festive holiday atmosphere. While the party starts at 7 p.m., your tickets get you in at 4 p.m., letting you enjoy the rides and regular shows before the special party activities begin. Make the most of your night by arriving early and staying ‘til the party ends.
Holidays Around the World
Epcot lets guests take a quick trip around the world at any time of year, but Christmas is a special time because it offers a glimpse into global holiday celebrations. Costumed Cast Members at each of the pavilions share information on traditions in their countries through storytelling and song. Epcot is also home to the Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the nativity story with a different celebrity narrator each night, accompanied by a live band and choir. The show is free, but its popularity means long lines, so you may want to take advantage of the lunch or dinner package. You get a meal at a select Epcot restaurant and access to a reserved seating area rather than waiting in line and hoping you make it into the theater before it fills.
The nightly Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show adds a special flair during the holiday season, with a souped-up finale. While the show always ends with a bang, the fireworks are even more brilliant during the holiday season.
Disney is almost finished with a massive renovation of the former Downtown Disney area, now known as Disney Springs. It’s packed with stores, restaurants, and entertainment, and things get kicked up a notch during the holidays. Enjoy Christmas music as you shop for gifts, and take some time out to enjoy the carolers, stilt walkers, and other performers. You’ll see shows centered around Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and the kids can meet Santa and tell him if they were naughty or nice. Parking is free at Disney Springs, and there’s no admission charge to enter the area, so it offers a nice break if you want to take a day off from the theme parks but still spend some time immersed in holiday magic at Walt Disney World.
Fans of Legoland are in for a treat on their next visit to the Orlando park: Merlin Entertainments has partnered with Warner Bros and The Lego Group to create an incredible 4D animated film. It began screening at all Legoland parks across the world on January 25th. It’s an incredible combination of the popular characters from the smash hit Lego Movie and some truly impressive 4D technology.
Are you a fan of The Boxtrolls?
Families who love The Boxtrolls will be excited to learn that the writer of The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure is written by Adam Pava – the same writer of The Boxtrolls. It’s also co-written and directed by the man who directed the sequel to The LEGO Movie (which will premier in 2018). Some of the original voices will be in this special feature, too! They include Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Elizabeth Banks, and Nick Offerman. Patton Oswalt will be added to the cast.
The story behind the adventure
This new 4D movie will follow favorite characters from the movie: Unikitty, Wyldstyle, Benny, and MetalBeard. It picks up right after the group has received a mysterious invitation. Following the instructions leads theme park that was built based on their adventures in the original LEGO movie. Don’t be surprised when nothing is as it seems! Soon the heroes realize that they’re in the middle of a secret, evil plot – but they have help! The audience uses their LEGO building skills to save the day.
Special effects make all the difference
Those in the know say that this experience would be wonderful on its own, but it’s truly taken to another level by adding elements like smoke, wind, water, and special lighting. It brings the main characters back together with their friends in an adventure that folks of all ages will enjoy.
The team behind this new experience
Merlin Entertainments PLC is behind this new experience. They’re tops in Europe and second in the world as far as visitor attraction operation. In total they have 111 attractions, 12 hotels, and 4 holiday villages. Their work is in 23 countries and spans 4 continents. Their goal is to deliver experiences that are both memorable and rewarding. Other attractions they’re responsible include Sherk’s Adventure, Blackpool Tower, and the Orlando Eye.
By all accounts this new attraction is one worth checking out. It’s an exciting time at LEGOland, with old favorites holding strong and new attractions being added regularly.
A trip to the Orlando Eye is the perfect addition to any Orlando vacation, whether it’s your first trip or you’ve been dozens of times and simply want to see the city from a vantage you’ve never experienced before. This attraction offers a truly unique experience and utilizes technology that had never before been used. Let’s take a look at what wonders behold those who take on the Orlando Eye.
Adding new meaning to the “City Beautiful”
Did you know that one of the nicknames of Orlando is City Beautiful? Once you go up in the Orlando Eye you’ll understand why! The Eye will take you up 400 feet into the sky and you’ll be treated to incredible, breathtaking 360 degree views. There’s no better way to see the city and miles and miles of surrounding central Florida. In fact, you can see all the way to Cape Canaveral.
Don’t miss the pre-flight excitement
Before you go up into the Eye itself you have the opportunity to take advantage of the Eagle Eye view in a pre-flight experience. This 4D cinema attraction engages all your senses and has special effects that put most movies to shame. This pre-flight experience is worth the price of admission on its own.
A convenient location makes this attraction even more appealing
Right in the heart of International Drive, at I-Drive 360, the Orlando Eye is easy to get to. It’s not only one of the tallest observation wheels in the country – it’s the tallest on the entire east coast. There are thirty capsules in total, each of which can hold up to 15 people. These high tech pods rotate gradually so you’ll constantly have a brand new perspective.
Technology makes the experience even better
Every capsule is complete with Apple iPad Air tablets, which add an extra bit of interest to the experience. With them, guests can learn more about the landmarks they’re seeing. The guided tours are available in numerous languages, and there’s so much to learn that guests can ride the Orlando Eye several times and still learning something new on each visit.
The makers of the Orlando Eye have a lot to offer
Anyone who’s visited Madame Tussauds celebrity wax museum, or the incredible SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, won’t be surprised to learn that the Orlando Eye was created by the same masterminds who created those attractions. In fact, there are passes available to visit all three. The SEA Life Orlando Aquarium is one of the most immersive underwater experiences in the entire world and comes highly recommended.
Exciting changes are on the way to SeaWorld Orlando, including Mako, an incredible new roller coaster that’s poised to break some records. This may be surprising to some folks, who don’t think of SeaWorld as a great place to visit for roller coasters, but this could be a game changer. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.
The background of Mako
Mako is named after a shark – but not just any shark. It’s named after one of the very fastest sharks in the world. SeaWorld first began teasing the public in April of 2015. The only thing they revealed at first was that the coaster would be a staggering 200 feet and would break many records. In May they officially announced the construction of Mako and added many new details.
The incredible stats on Mako
SeaWorld already has several roller coasters, but Mako is slated to be something special indeed. The stats are impressive, with a steel track of more than 4,750 feet – which is nearly a mile long! The top speed will be 73 miles per hour, and SeaWorld promises it will leave riders both weightless and breathless. There will be deep dives and huge climbs – all designed to give riders the feeling of the hunt. When it’s completed, it’ll be the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Orlando.
Special effects make all the difference
Another unique aspect of Mako will be its incredible special effects. A special sound system will enhance rider’s experiences both on and off the ride. The score of Mako will follow them as they go up the first lift hill, and additional surround sound effects and scores will follow them on the ride. Nighttime riders are in for a special treat, as special lights accent the coaster, and flicker and shimmer to stimulate fish being scattered as the shark is on the hunt.
Mako’s place in the park
Mako won’t just be a standalone roller coaster, and it’s not replacing anything. Instead, it’ll be the centerpiece of an entirely new themed area. This plaza is going to be chock full of shark-themed attractions, including a Shark Encounter, and a restaurant called Sharks Underwater Grill. There will also be shops and various educational opportunities for kids and adults alike.
There’s another reason Mako is such a big deal
Besides the many records it’s breaking, Mako is a big deal for SeaWorld for another reason: It’s the first new roller coaster in six years. In fact, that least one to open was Manta, the exciting coaster that soars through the water and gets guests wet. It’s also the first new attraction in three years. The last attraction they added was the popular Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin back in 2013.
Mako’s opening day
While SeaWorld hasn’t officially announced when they’ll be opening Mako we do know that it’s slated for some time in 2016. We’d expect them to try and have it open before the peak season begins in June but only time will tell!
Fans of Star Wars have a lot to be excited about at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. Tons of changes are coming, including new themed shows, attractions, food, and more! The Star Wars galaxy will open a bit at a time over the next few years, but those in the know agree that these are changes worth waiting for.
What we know about the new Star Wars features
There are two categories of info about these new features: official info announced by Disney and rumors from Disney insiders. First, let’s take a look at what Disney has officially announced.
Star Wars Launch Bay
Set to go up in what is now the Animation Courtyard, Star Wars Launch Bay will provide guests the opportunity to meet with their favorite characters. Their options will include meeting those from the Dark Side in a Star Destroyer area, or meeting the Rebels in a Rebel Base themed area. In one they’ll meet Darth Vader and in the other they’ll meet Chewbacca.
Star Wars Launch Bay will also have a few exhibits. Celebration Gallery and Hallway gives guests a chance to see ships from the Imperial Navy Fleet and the Rebel Alliance, along with other props and murals from the movie. The Preview Gallery will include costumes, models, and artwork from the most recent film. The final stop will be Launch Bay Cargo, which will feature a huge selection of Star Wars merchandise.
Changes to Star Tours
Star Tours has long been one of the most popular attractions in Hollywood Studios, and there’s even more to get excited about, thanks to Disney’s recent changes. They’ve kept the daring adventure intact for the most part, but have added new characters and adventures. The ride is longer, too – which gives fans even more to enjoy.
The return of Jedi Training
Disney guests were bummed to learn that Jedi Training was closing, but the good news is that it’ll be opening again with enhanced features and new characters – including the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. This popular interactive attraction allows kids to step right into the shoes of Jedis in training.
Abridged cinematic reels
Guests of the park who want to relive their favorite moments can head to Star Wars: Path of the Jedi to see an abridged cinematic reel with some of the best parts of episodes I – VII.
New food throughout the park
Restaurants and snack carts throughout the park are embracing the Star Wars spirit. Look for exciting galactic foods like Blue Milk Panna Cotta, BB-8 Lemon and Butter Cream Cupcakes, and Padawan Limeade.
Fireworks only Disney could pull off
Disney World is known for their unsurpassed fireworks, and guests of Hollywood Studios are sure to be excited by the newest Disney fireworks spectacular: Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular. These have been going on nightly since mid-December and are expected to continue indefinitely.
Rumored additions to Star Wars Land
Rumors must be taken with a grain of salt until they’re officially confirmed, but some of the more credible rumors have included:
A life-size Millennium Falcon that allows fans to fly in the cockpit
The second major attraction will feature Rogue One content
A new Disney job listing seems like pretty solid evidence that there will be a Star Wars Rebels meet and greet or show
While the full details of the new Star Wars attractions aren’t yet clear, one thing is certain: this will be an incredible addition that Star Wars fans can get excited about.