Category Archives: Attractions

Photo Update: A Ride On The Orlando Eye

While construction of some of the other parcels are still underway, “I-Drive 360” a new entertainment, dining and shopping complex is now open.

The 400′ Orlando Eye stands proudly, it’s 30 passenger capsules, each holding up to 15 passengers slowly rotating day and night. Passengers enjoy a 360-degree view of Central Florida below. Every cabin offers guests the comfort of air-conditioning, bench seating, lighting and audio effects for the 20-minute flight experience.

We took a ride on the wheel this week. Here’s our photo update. Click photos for a larger view:

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Main Terminal Building and the entrance to the Orlando Eye.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Main Terminal Building and the entrance to Orlando Sea Life Aquarium.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Main Terminal Building Food Court which includes Little Italy, ChickeNow, DJ’s Mexican Grill, and China Max.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Main Terminal Building and the entrance to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Main Terminal Building. Food court and Orlando Sea Life Aquarium entrance.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. On the way up looking down at the I-Drive 360 courtyard.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye looking north towards Sand Lake Road and Universal Studios.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. Same view looking north, just a little higher…

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. Looking northeast with Universal Boulevard below and the Orlando city skyline in the distance.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. Looking east with the Lockheed-Martin plant in the foreground.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. Looking northwest with intersection of International Drive and Sand lake Road in the foreground.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. On the way down, looking south, with the Orlando Convention Center on the left.

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. Looking southwest towards Disneyworld. EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth can be seen on the horizon to the right…

 

I-Drive 360 | I-4 Exit Guide
Aboard the Orlando Eye. Looking south, with Universal Boulevard on the left and International Drive on the right.

 


 

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SeaWorld Announces Mako Hypercoaster Coming in 2016

SeaWorld Entertainment, a leading theme park and entertainment company, has announced big thrills for vacationers in 2016 at SeaWorld Orlando.

Surfacing at SeaWorld Orlando will be Mako, a 200-foot-tall hypercoaster that will reach 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track – nearly a mile long — and leave riders feeling both breathless and weightless. Named for one of the ocean’s fastest known sharks, Mako will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster.

“On Mako, guests will experience what it’s like to be this apex predator, surging through the water at top speed and chasing prey throughout a massive reef,” said Brian Morrow, Senior Director of Development and Design for SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “It will be a wild mix of fear, thrills and fun.”

The new coaster also will become one of the world’s few true hypercoasters, a group of roller coasters known for high speeds and steep drops and hills that create a feeling of weightlessness or “air time.”

SeaWorld’s new hypercoaster will be the centerpiece of the newly themed surrounding realm focused on sharks. The 2-acre plaza will be redesigned with new pathway theming and educational experiences, and feature Mako, Shark Encounter, Sharks Underwater Grill, and themed shops.


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Big Thrills Coming in 2016 to Busch Gardens Tampa

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a leading theme park and entertainment company, has announced big thrills for vacationers in 2016 at Busch Gardens® Tampa.

Busch Gardens Tampa will put a spin on thrills with a brand new family thrill ride – Cobra’s Curse. This spin coaster is the only one of its kind in the world, and only found at Busch Gardens in Tampa.

In addition to featuring a vertical lift, riders will experience several sensations on this whirlwind adventure of exciting explorations, including a forward-facing position, backward-facing position, and then the signature element of Cobra’s Curse, the free-spinning position.

“This isn’t your ordinary spin coaster. Busch Gardens is putting a twist on this attraction and taking riders on an unforgettable and exciting journey,” said Morrow.

Located in the Egypt area of the park, explorers will come face-to-face with an 80-foot snake icon, trek over the park’s Serengeti Plain® and discover the mysteries of an Egyptian archeological excavation.


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Volcano Bay At Universal Orlando Resort Will Be A Water Theme Park Built On A Bold Creative Vision

Universal Orlando Resort announced a project of remarkable vision: to bring to life an entirely new water theme park experience. Called Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort, it will join Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure and become the resort’s third incredibly immersive park.

Universal’s Volcano Bay will be a place for the entire family. It will be a whole new generation of experience that reimagines what it means to be a water park.

Imagine a place that offers radically innovative, thrilling attractions, peaceful moments of relaxation and an inspired guest experience that will forever change the perception of water theme parks. It will be set in a highly themed, completely immersive environment inspired by postcard-perfect tropical islands. And it will be the kind of special place that only the Universal team – the same team that has changed the face of Universal Orlando Resort in recent years – can envision and create.

Universal’s Volcano Bay will be located within Universal Orlando Resort, just south of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Work is already underway and more details will be released in the future.

Universal’s Volcano Bay is the next in a series of boldly creative experiences that have opened and will continue to open at Universal Orlando. It began with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in 2010 and quickly moved to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Springfield, hometown to America’s favorite animated family, The Simpsons, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, eight new venues at Universal CityWalk, the breathtaking Cabana Bay Beach Resort and more. It will include Skull Island: Reign of Kong and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort in 2016.

And then – in 2017 – will come Universal’s Volcano Bay.


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Orlando’s Holy Land Experience Gaining Reputation as More Than a “Theme Park”

It’s a one-of-a-kind destination for fun, relaxation, and inspiration in the heart of America’s vacation paradise. It’s also a place where individuals and families are coming to receive a life-changing touch from God.

As tens of thousands of vacationers travel to Orlando, Florida over spring break to enjoy the area’s world-class attractions, many are making a point to spend a day or more at Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Holy Land Experience, the unique vacation and worship destination in the heart of Central Florida where the land of the Bible comes alive, and where people are experiencing God’s presence in a powerful way.

“This is more than a theme park,” explained Holy Land Experience manager Mike Everett. “From the quiet and peaceful garden spots throughout the park, to the dynamic and award-winning dramatic productions, interactive exhibits, and even the great play area just for kids — every facet of Holy Land Experience is designed to give individuals and families an unforgettable vacation experience while bringing them closer to the love and life-changing power of Jesus.”

Among the most popular venues in the park is the 2,000-seat Church of All Nations, a state-of-the-art auditorium and worship center that is packed throughout the day with guests who come to experience such acclaimed theatrical productions as Forgiven, The Four Women Who Loved Jesus, The Fullness of Time Has Come, Legna — and The Passion, an unforgettable reenactment of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, during which many Holy Land Experience guests receive a powerful touch from God.

Whitney Lynn Rivera, an award-winning actress at Holy Land Experience, said that she and other actors have the opportunity to pray with guests during and after the productions, and individuals and families are powerfully impacted everyday. “People actually come to Holy Land Experience expecting to receive miracles,” she said. “People come here expecting to be healed. People come here wanting an encounter with God, and they get it!”

Les Cheveldayoff, who has portrayed Jesus at Holy Land Experience for several years, added that the presence of God guests experience during the dramas at the Church of All Nations permeates every inch of the park. “Throughout the day at Holy Land Experience,” he said, “wherever our guests find themselves, God is there to touch them in a life-changing way.”

Among the many unique and memorable interactive exhibits that bring the Bible to life and impact guests at the Holy Land Experience are:

– The Dead Sea Qumran Caves, a re-creation of the mysterious place where many ancient Bible manuscripts were discovered. The exhibit includes a replica of the Upper Room in Jerusalem, where guests can participate in a Last Supper Communion with Jesus and His disciples — and where many have found healing and wholeness.

– The Wilderness Tabernacle, the heart of worship for the children of Israel after their exodus from Egypt. In this awe-inspiring exhibit the High Priest takes guests on a journey through Israel’s ancient priesthood, culminating with a breathtaking depiction of God’s glory revealed above the Ark of the Covenant.

– The Great Temple, the holy place held in highest reverence among the Jewish people. This is a truly breathtaking representation of the temple that once stood on hallowed Mount Moriah in First Century Jerusalem.

– Calvary’s Garden Tomb, a convincing representation of the sacred place where Jesus was laid after His crucifixion — and from which He was gloriously resurrected!

– The world-renowned Scriptorium, a combination museum, library, and research center that holds a collection of priceless manuscripts, scrolls, biblical antiquities, and artifacts. The enlightening presentations that accompany the exhibits offer visitors a close-up view of Bible and church history.

There is also the exquisite Christus Gardens, that features a rare and beautiful art collection of antique figures depicting the life of Christ.

And younger Holy Land Experience guests will enjoy the Smile of a Child Adventure Land, where they can burn up plenty of energy on the totally safe rock-climbing walls and bouncy houses, have their faces painted, and join in kid-style worship and fun!

Guests emphasize that a day at the park is a deeply moving experience that brings tears of joy and worship, along with plenty of laughter and good old-fashioned fun:

– Betty from Colorado said that her day at the park “was one of the most spiritual and moving experiences ever…. I left filled with the Holy Spirit.”

– Linda from Georgia said that “I was touched with compassion by all of the live re-enactments. It really made the Bible come to life.”

– Victor from Florida said that his day at Holy Land Experience “made me laugh, cry, and feel the Lord’s presence.”

– Robert from Illinois said that “the anointing of the Holy Spirit touched my heart and moved me to tears.”

– Faye from Colorado, who came with her husband, said that “I felt like I was walking on holy ground everywhere we went…. Thanks, TBN, for giving us the Holy Land Experience.”

– And a group all the way from Malaysia commented that “we feel like we had a glimpse of heaven, and it made us feel closer to Him.”

Mr. Everett said that changed lives and renewed hearts “are the foundation of everything that goes on at Holy Land Experience, and we are privileged every day to see our friends and guests deeply blessed through their time spent with us.” He added that the traditional spring break and Easter season is a particularly popular time for individuals and families to visit the park. “We look forward to this time every year as so many people come to Central Florida for vacation, and thousands find rest, relaxation, and a lasting touch from God at Holy Land Experience.”

The Orlando Eye in Final Stage of Construction

The last major component in the construction on the Orlando Eye, the passenger cabins, is scheduled to begin this weekend.

Passengers will enter these cabins to ride the 400-foot-tall observation wheel that will give them a panoramic view of International Drive, the Orlando skyline and Central Florida. Each cabin will have air-conditioning, bench seating, lighting and audio effects, and interactive electronics that give riders information about their visual journey.

Merlin Entertainments Ltd. plans to debut three attractions, The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando Wax Museum and Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, as part of a massive project being developed by Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments Inc. and New York-based Circle Entertainment Inc.

Fantasy of Flight – Polk City, FL

Update March 4, 2014: Fantasy of Flight, an aviation-themed attraction in Polk County, will close to the public April 6, 2014 and will concentrate on its private-event business, owner Kermit Weeks told employees on Tuesday.

Fantasy of Flight is an aviation-related attraction in Polk City, Florida  that takes visitors back to the pioneering days of early flight, World War I, World War II and beyond. Fantasy of Flight houses the world’s largest private aircraft collection on display. Fantasy of Flight is the only attraction in the world to offer daily aerial demonstrations (weather permitting) of aircraft in its collection. The attraction showcases an aircraft each day.

Themed “immersion experiences” showcase memorable moments in aviation history, and a self-guided audio tour gives visitors information about aircraft in the collection as well as insider details about featured aviators. Guided tours go behind the scenes to show how craftsmen restore vintage planes.

The Facility

The facility features a main building consisting of two large hangars (called “North” and “South”) for the aircraft on display, restoration shops, the immersion environments, a gift shop and the Art Deco themed Compass Rose Diner. Just outside the main building across from the entrance is the facilitiy’s new ropes course and zip line attraction known as “Wing Walk Air.” Outside the hangars there is an adjoining tarmac and two grass runways. On the north side of the runways are a maintenance hangar and conference facility. A “back lot” to the south of the main complex contains warehouses, storage and restoration facilities.

Immersion Environments

Visitors walk through several immersion environments as they enter the attraction. From the lobby, guests walk into the interior of a WWII-era Douglas C-47 Skytrain complete with lighting and sound effects as if the aircraft were conducting paratrooper operations. Guests pass a seated paratrooper in full kit and move forward toward the Jumpmaster figure standing at the open side hatch. Over the hatch blinks a red “Ready” light which switches to a green “Jump” light as the guest approaches the hatch. Through the hatch is the entry to the attraction.

Other immersion environments include a “sensation of flight” simulator, followed by a celebration of the early days of flight. Then, a passage covered by heavy shrapnel-resistant curtains leads visitors into a full-scale representation of the trench warfare of WWI, complete with aircraft overhead. It was, in part, due to the development of aerial warfare that trench fighting became obsolete.

The final immersion display includes the collection’s Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress housed in a large darkened room staged to appear as a winter evening at RAF Horham, home of the 95th Bombardment Group during WWII. The full-scale diorama, complete with ground vehicles, outbuildings and landscaping, represents a maintenance area and one of the B-17’s engine cowlings and propellers are removed to maintenance stands in front of the aircraft. Guests can enter the plane via a side hatch in the tail, walk through the bomb bay, visit the cockpit, and exit near the nose of the aircraft.

The Compass Rose Diner

Adjacent to the attraction’s lobby is an Art Deco themed restaurant called “The Compass Rose Diner” which features the characteristics of diners associated with airports during the 1930s and early 1940’s. The restaurant features tall windows, multi-hued terrazzo floors and the curved architectural lines associated with the Art Deco period. The diner is open to the public and serves a short-order menu similar to that of lunch counters popularized during the pre-WWII era.

Visit the Fantasy of Flight website

 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Fantasy of Flight, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Dinosaur World – Plant City, FL

Perhaps you’ve seen them on your travels along I-4. Dinosaur World is an outdoor dinosaur theme parks located just of I-4, exit 17 in Plant City.

The park features over 150 life-size dinosaur sculptures created by Christer Svensson. Opened in 1998, Dinosaur World is family friendly, including many activities for small children, playgrounds and picnic areas (food is not served on the property so guests are encouraged to picnic).

Life-size dinosaur statues are placed among native vegetation or water features to simulate animals in a wild environment. Plant species that date from the time of the dinosaurs can be found on the grounds and identified with small signs as appropriate.

There are frequent break and shade areas around the park and several picnic and play areas. One popular attraction is the “Fossil Dig” where kids can dig for real fossils and may take home their favorite three in a small plastic bag.

Visitors tour Dinosaur World on a boardwalk that takes them past stegosaurus, brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex and other popular dinosaurs set among natural marshes with cypress and gum trees.

Attractions in the park include:

  • Dinosaur Walk – an outdoor trail with life-size dinosaurs and explanatory signs
  • Boneyard Playground and picnic area
  • Fossil Dig – where children find fossils in the dirt and may take home their favorite three.
  • Movie Cave –  showing a selection of dinosaur videos also available in the gift shop.
  • Museum – with reproduction fossils and animatronic dinosaurs
  • Gift Shop – selling a selection of dino and prehistoric toys and gifts.

Website: http://www.dinosaurworld.com/

 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Dinosaur World, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Bok Tower Gardens – Lake Wales, FL

Bok Tower Gardens is a botanical garden and bird sanctuary, located north of Lake Wales, Florida. It consists of a 250-acre garden, the 205-foot tall Singing Tower with its carillon bells, Pine Ridge Trail, Pinewood Estate, and a visitor center. The tower was built upon Iron Mountain, one of the highest points of peninsular Florida, estimated to be 295 feet above sea level. It is a National Historic Landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bok Tower Gardens is open daily and an admission fee is charged.

History

The gardens began in 1921 when a Dutch immigrant, Edward W. Bok, editor of the popular women’s magazine Ladies Home Journal and his wife, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, were spending the winter beside Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge and decided to create a bird sanctuary on its highest hill. Bok commissioned noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to transform what then was an arid sand hill into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country”.

The Gardens

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. designed the meandering gardens of Bok Tower Gardens to feature acres of ferns, palms, oaks, pines, and wetland plants. The plantings also include camellias, tree ferns, creeping fig, yaupon and dahoon holly, Asiatic jasmine, justicia, crinum and spider lily, monstera, wax myrtle, date and sabal palm, papyrus, philodendron, blue plumbago, and horsetail rush. The site is a refuge for more than a hundred bird species. Wild turkey and groups of sandhill cranes are also often seen wandering the grounds.

The Singing Tower

The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens. The tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool that allows the water to reflect its full image. A 60-bell carillon set within the 205-foot tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that was designed by architect Milton B. Medary. The tower is 51 feet square at its base, changing form at 150 feet high to an octagon with 37 feet sides that include sculptures designed by Lee Lawrie. The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot moat that serves as a Koi pond. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone, from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Although the tower’s interior is not open to the public, it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library, said to be the largest carillon library in the world. Inside the bell chamber is a playing room that houses a clavier that is used for playing the carillon bells. Recitals are given daily from the 60-bell carillon set.

Pine Ridge Trail

The Pine Ridge Nature Preserve and Trail is an ecosystem typified by an over-story of Longleaf Pine and a dense groundcover of perennial grasses that includes a nature trail that extends for three-quarters of a mile, a bog garden, an open glade, and a sandhill forest community.

Pinewood Estate

8 acres of the Gardens include the Pinewood Estate, which features a twenty-room Mediterranean Revival mansion. This mansion was built between 1930-1932 by C. Austin Buck, vice-president of Bethlehem Steel Co. in Pennsylvania, as a winter residence. Its original name was “El Retiro”, and it has been restored to its 1930s appearance. The sanctuary features several events at this mansion during the year. Guided tours of the 20 room Mediterranean-style mansion are given daily.

Events

Throughout the year, there are numerous events designed to draw visitors to the Gardens. These events include various concerts featuring jazz, orchestras, and the carillon bells of the Tower. The most popular are the semi-annual symphony concerts, given in the evening once in the Fall and once in the Spring. These events draw thousands of visitors to the large field in front of the Tower for an outdoor picnic; and feature music from both the symphony orchestra and carillon bells.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Bok Tower Gardens, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Busch Gardens – Tampa Bay, FL

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a 335-acre, 19th century African-themed animal theme park located in the city of Tampa, Florida. It opened on March 31, 1959 as an admission-free hospitality facility for Tampa Anheuser-Busch; in addition to various beer tastings they had, a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is divided into themed areas. The Serengeti Express (a replica steam train) runs along the back end of the park and makes stops at the Nairobi, Congo and Stanleyville themed areas. The Skyride transports guests between Crown Colony and Stanleyville.

Morocco

The park’s main entrance is home to the Mystic Sheiks of Morocco brass and percussion ensemble. Treats can be purchased at the Sultan’s Sweets and the Zagora Cafe. The Moroccan Palace, a 1,200 seat indoor theatre is located here, as well as the outdoor Marrakesh Theater. Gwazi is the major ride in this area. Gwazi, a 105-foot , 50 mph dueling wooden roller coaster named after a mythological creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a lion opened. The dueling sides consist of a lion side and a tiger side, which cross paths seven times.

Bird Gardens

This area is mostly gardens and animal exhibits and shows. “Walkabout Way” is themed as an Australian outpost.  This area which is the Bird Gardens give guests the chance to see and hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies. In addition this area is home a kookaburra, magpie geese and Australian black swans. This experience is open to all guests 5 years of age or older.

Stanleyville

This section of the park is home to the park’s water rides and SheiKra, a Dive Coaster. The Stanley Falls Flume and Tanganyika Tidal Wave is also located in Stanleyville.

Congo

This section contains two of the park’s more popular rides. Kumba, meaning roar in Swahili, is a 143-foot steel sit-down roller coaster with seven inversions. It still remains a popular ride today. Other rides in the Congo include The Congo River Rapids, a water ride that simulates raging whitewater rapids, and Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars, a bumper cars ride.

Jungala

Jungala is a 4-acrefamily attraction featuring up-close animal encounters, rope bridges to explore three stories of jungle life, and a water-play area for children. Also located in this area are two family attractions: Jungle Flyers, a zip line that offers three different flight patterns above the treetops of the new area, and Wild Surge, a shot tower that launches guests above a waterfall. Another attraction is Tiger Trail, which is a walkthrough with tigers where there is also a glass turret where you can look out right in the middle of the tiger enclosure. Stiltwalkers perform and interact with guests in the heart of Jungala during several parts of the day.

Timbuktu

Timbuktu is a section themed after the malls and bazaars of Africa. Attractions here include Timbuktu Theater, The Desert Grill, and the park’s family-friendly Sand Serpent wild mouse roller coaster. Rides include the Scorpion, a sit-down roller coaster with one vertical loop, Sand Serpent, a steel wild mouse roller coaster, Phoenix, a looping starship themed as an Egyptian cargo vessel. Other attractions include Sesame Street Film Festival, and Caravan Carousel, a carousel with horses, camels, and chariots

Nairobi

Alligators and crocodiles can be observed here up close. In Curiosity Cavern, guests can view mammal and reptile exhibits. Visitors to Nairobi can view injured or abandoned newborns at the Nairobi Field Station Animal Nursery. The area also contains Myombe Reserve, a tropical rainforest that is home to Western Lowland Gorillas and Common Chimpanzees. The major ride here is Rhino Rally, an unpredictable off-road safari. Rhino Rally, a River Adventure ride, where riders board inside modified Land Rovers through the park’s Serengeti Plain habitat, interacting with animals.

Crown Colony Plaza

Crown Colony is the smallest section of the park. It features a restaurant, the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster, and the Skyride station.

Egypt

Bedouin tents and authentic handicrafts and art create an Egyptian marketplace feel. Guests can visit a replica of King Tutankhamen’s tomb with the excavation in progress. The primary attraction of the Egypt themed area is Montu, an inverted steel coaster. Montu, named after the Egyptian Falcon God of War, is a 150-foot steel inverted roller coaster with seven inversions.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0