CENTRAL FLORIDA THEME PARKS UNVEILING NEW ATTRACTIONS FOR 2012
The bread and butter of Central Florida tourism is gearing up for an overhaul in 2012. Most of the major theme parks in Central Florida are planning to open rides or major additions to get new and repeat visitors walking through their gates. "Nowhere else in the world can you find the vast diversity of attractions that you can in Florida ... (Theme parks are) going to continue to reinvest in making new stuff as the overall capital of theme parks and attractions," said Will Seccombe, chief marketing officer of VisitFlorida.com. Below is a summary of the new attractions planned for 2012.
Universal Orlando announced some big news this year about its plans for 2012 and beyond. "The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man" at Islands of Adventure will be getting a high-definition update. The 3D simulator ride will be rolling out a reanimated version with 4K High Definition ó the highest level of HD projection. Spider-Man has been one of the most popular rides since the park opened in 1999. At Universal Studios, a 3D ride based on the film "Despicable Me" will open in 2012. The ride will be taking the place of Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast. Universal announced earlier this month that the JAWS ride, one of Universal's oldest attractions, will be closing Jan. 2. This news came weeks after the announcement of an expansion to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of Islands of Adventure. Universal has not announced what ride will replace JAWS or when the Wizarding World expansion would begin.
Throughout 2012 and going into 2013, Disney will unveil its revamped Fantasyland section in Magic Kingdom. The first phase to open in early 2012 will be Storybook Circus, based on the 1941 animated film "Dumbo." New additions in Storybook Circus include a second Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride and other Dumbo-themed attractions. In late 2012, the Fantasyland Forest will open featuring the indoor attraction, Under the Sea: The Voyage of The Little Mermaid, along with a section devoted to "Beauty and the Beast." In 2013, Disney plans to open the second half of Storybook Circus and a roller coaster based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
To keep up with its neighbors, SeaWorld is preparing for one of the biggest expansion projects in the park's history. SeaWorld plans to open two attractions this spring. TurtleTrek will feature two aquariums and a domed 3D theater, showing sea turtles swimming above the guests. SeaWorld also announced plans to build Antarctica, a large-scale themed area that puts guest in the world of the penguins. The area will include rides, restaurants and merchandise areas centered around penguins. Antarctica is scheduled to open in 2013. Discovery Cove, a SeaWorld park, will open Freshwater Oasis, a rainforest-themed water attraction, this spring. There, otters will swim along a freshwater path and other animals will live in the canopy above the water.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens has announced a new permanent ice show scheduled to debut Feb. 2. Iceploration will be a 30-minute show, combining figure skaters, original music, large puppets and live animals. This year, Busch Gardens unveiled its roller coaster Cheetah Hunt, which features a trio of launches at 60 miles per hour to mimic a real cheetah.
The theme park in our backyard continues building its foothold since opening in October. In November, Legoland Florida announced plans to open a water park and have it operational by summer 2012. This water park will include six attractions, some remodeled from the former Splash Island at Cypress Gardens Amusement Park. The attractions include a wave pool, slides and an interactive water playground.
Dinosaur World Plant City
The Dino attraction will be finishing its 12-acre expansion project in early 2012. The construction will include a 22,000-square foot building, which will be the home for a prehistoric museum and gift shop. The park is also adding additional parking, a dinosaur playground and new dinosaurs on the dinosaur walk.
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