SOMETHING NEW IN ORLANDO
One of the many things that makes Orlando such a popular destination for both new and returning visitors is that theres always something new to go with all the old favorites that originally put it on the map. Additional attractions, hotels and resorts, restaurants, events, and more mean theres always something new in old Orlando.
Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom now includes the comedy club setting of "The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor" (inspired by Disney-Pixars Monsters, Inc.), while Disneys Animal Kingdom now features the live Finding Nemo--The Musical and Epcot has "The Seas with Nemo and Friends", an attraction that has the stars of Finding Nemo swimming amid the live marine life of a huge aquarium.
Over at Universal Orlando Resort, theyve teamed with NBC to turn the Islands of Adventure theater into a live broadcast set to house a daily daytime TV talk show, iVillage Life. The popular show mixes the ivillage.com websites formula of lifestyle and entertainment segments, gossip and news, and live gab sessions with a set of hosts, special guests, and lucky audience members visiting Universal Orlando.
SeaWorld Orlando has several new options, including three new family rides: Ocean Commotion (a swinging boat ride), Flying Fiddler (a crab ride), and Sea Carousel (a traditional carousel ride that includes a collection of 65 sea creatures). In spring 2008, SeaWorld Orlando will open a new water park called Aquatica, featuring up-close animal experiences, high-speed thrills, and wide, sandy beaches.
The new Trainer for a Day program at Discovery Cove is already very popular. The experience includes the regular day swim, an advanced deep-water interaction where participants ride through the water with two Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, a private photo session with two dolphins, and behind-the-scenes experiences that include tours and feedings.
Wet n Wild--Orlando recently opened Brain Wash--a multi-million-dollar attraction that features the latest in ride technology. The new funnel ride includes an amazing 53-foot drop for two- and four-passenger tubes, with dark areas for video projection and special lighting.
This May, Cypress Gardens Adventure Park opened an exciting new childrens area called Bugsville. It features 13 rides, a special theater, and a large interactive play structure. In addition, The Starliner, the classic wooden coaster that was the first of its kind when built in 1963, will be rebuilt and open at Cypress Gardens in early-summer.
In June, Busch Gardens Africa reintroduced the SheiKra roller coaster with a new twist. The re-done ride features floorless cars that allow riders an unobstructed view of the 70 mile-per-hour 200-foot vertical drop.
Dinosaur World has a new Skeleton Garden. It features six replica dinosaur skeletons, as well as a paleontologist field work exhibit. One of the most popular skeletons thus far is the huge skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The $1 million park expansion at Gatorland includes the new Gator Gully Splash Park. The new attraction features giant egrets spilling water, water guns mounted on giant alligators, and Grandmas Wet Shack--a place for water-based fun of splashing and squirting thousands of gallons of cool H2O.
A bit further afield, Kennedy Space Center continues to be a popular area attraction. The Shuttle Launch Experience is now open. This $60 million attraction is the most technologically advanced exhibit ever created at the complex. Using a custom-designed motion platform, multiple video screens, advanced audio effects, and special effects seats, the new attraction re-creates the sensations of blasting into Earths orbit. In addition, Kennedy Space Center will host the inaugural World Space Expo November 3-11, 2007, with the largest space-oriented displays ever assembled and renowned aerospace personalities in attendance.
Like the attractions, theres always a new entrée being served in Orlando-area dining. For instance, Festival Bay Mall at International Drive has five new dining venues opening sometime in 2007--including English pub grub, Italian cuisine, and more. The 450-seat NASCAR Sports Grille is now open at Universal CityWalk Orlando, with state-of-the-art video and audio, museum-quality sports memorabilia, shopping, and food that tops many tailgaters. Theres also a new Ruths Chris Steak House in Lake Mary (just north of Orlando proper) and three new restaurants at Pointe Orlando.
For those who like to shop til they drop, Orlandos open for business. Newly-opened options include: Adrenalina (a sports store and surfing attraction at The Florida Mall); Prime Outlets Orlando (new stores like Neiman Marcus Last Call opening August, 2007); and Monkey Joes, (a huge play area featuring structures and games at Festival Bay Mall).
Golfers should be sure to tee off at The Annika Academy at Reunion Resort & Club. This unique state-of-the-art teaching facility has private chipping and putting greens, offering the opportunity to sharpen your game with some of the world's best golfers and instructors. Once the lessons are complete, Reunion features three golf courses designed by Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus--and the greater Orlando area has more than 170 other great layouts!
Getting to Orlando is also as easy as a three-inch putt, thanks to a modern road system and continued improvements at Orlando International Airport. Along with $10 million in enhancements, the bustling airport continues to add nonstop service from a variety of airports. With all these news news, its easy to see why Orlando remains such a popular destination.