Tag Archives: thrill rides

Top 5 Spring Break Destinations

Where are we going on Spring Break in 2016?

After a long winter, Spring Break couldn’t come soon enough for many of us. Google has determined the top Spring Break destinations based on searches related to Spring Break travel. Here are the top 5 destinations where US travelers may be headed this year.

Panama City Beach, Florida

Panama City Beach, Florida | I-4 Exit Guide
Gulf of Mexico view from Panama City Beach – Panama City, Florida

Panama City Beach is a city in Bay County, Florida, United States, on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The city is often referred to under the umbrella term of “Panama City”, despite being a distinct municipality from the older and larger inland Panama City to the east, making Panama City and Panama City Beach two separate cities. Panama City Beach’s slogan is “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches” due to the unique sugar-white sandy beaches of northwest Florida.

Panama City Beach has been a popular vacation destination, especially among people in the Southern United States. The city is also a very popular spring break destination, sometimes having been referred to as “The Spring Break Capital of the World,” due to about 100,000+ college and high school students who would arrive during the months of March and April.

South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island, Texas | I-4 Exit Guide
Beach of South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island is a resort town in Cameron County, Texas. It is part of the Brownsville–Harlingen Metropolitan Area. The town is located on South Padre Island, a barrier island along the Texas Gulf Coast accessible via the Queen Isabella Causeway from the town of Port Isabel.

South Padre Island is home to many watersport activities, with personal water craft rental, kiteboarding and dolphin watches being the most popular. Other favorites are horseback riding adventures on the beach and ecological tours that explore Padre Island National Seashore.

In March, the island is a popular spring break destination for college students from around the world. The rest of the year it is a popular family resort destination, with July being the most crowded.

Disney World, Bay Lake, Florida

Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom | I-4 Exit Guide
Main Street of the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld, Bay Lake, Florida

The granddaddy of all theme parks, and the number one vacation destination, Disney World is a perennial favorite for Spring Breakers. Disney World, is an entertainment complex in Bay Lake, Florida, near Kissimmee and Orlando, and is the flagship of Disney’s worldwide corporate empire. The resort opened on October 1, 1971, and is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an attendance of over 52 million annually.

Disney property covers 27,258 acres, housing 27 themed resort hotels, nine non–Disney hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, one nine-hole walking golf course for young golfers, two themed miniature golf courses, one camping resort, a downtown-like shopping district, and other entertainment venues. Magic Kingdom was the first and original theme park to open in the complex followed by Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which opened later throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida

Universal Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
Hogsmeade Village inside Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Spring Breakers aren’t necessarily looking for an ocean view and sandy beaches. If you’re a theme park fan and yearn for state-of-the-art attractions and entertainment, this is the place. The Universal Orlando Resort, commonly known as Universal Orlando, is a theme park resort in Orlando, Florida. Universal Orlando is the largest property operated by Universal Parks & Resorts, is the largest resort in Orlando, Florida, and is the second-largest resort in Greater Orlando after Walt Disney World.

Universal Orlando consists of two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure), a night-time entertainment complex (Universal CityWalk Orlando), and four Loews Hotels (Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort).

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach Florida | I-4 Exit Guide
View of the Atlantic Ocean from Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach is a city in Brevard County, Florida. It’s a destination year-round, and one of America’s favorite Spring Break locations. You’ll find 6 miles of ocean beaches with excellent beach access from one end of the city to the other, 3 oceanfront parks, a 27-hole public golf course on the Banana River, excellent hotel / motel accommodations , and a wide range of dining choices to fit the taste buds and budget of everyone.

Be awed – Watch a space launch from the Beach! Kennedy and Cape Canaveral Space Launch Centers are just a few miles to the north. Even the locals come out to watch the spectacular views of day and night launches. Or spend a day visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex – less than 30 minutes away.

Cocoa Beach is just minutes from Florida’s fastest growing port – Port Canaveral. Embark from the world class cruise terminals aboard affordable cruises to exotic Caribbean destinations or take a day cruise aboard a casino ship. Deep-sea fishing boats and day sails are also available at the Port.

Source: Google Trends, Jan. 2011–Jan. 2015, Travel, United States.
Source: Google Data, Feb. 2015, United States.


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New Year Brings New Values at Four Florida Parks

Visitors and Florida residents can now choose from a variety of new admission products for the Busch Gardens and SeaWorld family of parks that provide more value and flexibility.

For tourists visiting Florida, the NEW “Choose Your Adventure” ticket option simplifies vacation planning so guests can enjoy multiple visits to four of the Sunshine State’s most popular theme parks. The program allows guests to customize their ideal itinerary AND receive substantial savings for each additional park or visit — the more they visit, the more they save.

Guests can create their own favorite theme park adventure across the following four parks: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, SeaWorld Orlando, Adventure Island Tampa Bay and Aquatica Orlando.

For example, when tickets are purchased in advance, online, special prices are as low as:

  • One visit to any park – $79
  • Two visits to any of the parks – $99
  • Three visits to any of the parks – $109
  • For the ultimate adventure deal — the new Length-of-Stay ticket provides 14 consecutive days of unlimited adventure to all four of the popular Florida theme parks, along with free parking at each, for one low price of $139.

FLORDA RESIDENTS

There also are new values for Florida residents who are looking to visit all year long, with incentives for purchasing early in the year.

  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island “BOGO Fun Card”: Now through February 29, guests who buy a Fun Card to Busch Gardens also will receive a FREE Fun Card to Adventure Island.
  • SeaWorld Orlando “Preschool Card”: For a limited time, SeaWorld Orlando will offer kids ages five and younger a FREE Preschool Card valid for unlimited admission through December 31, 2016. Cards must be registered online and redeemed in the park by May 27, 2016.
  • Annual Pass: The best value at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is the Annual Pass with unlimited admission all year, free parking, no blockoutdates and special benefits. NEW this year for Pass Members are enhanced Instant Rewards – a 12-month calendar of exclusive offerings each month such as discounts, ticket offers and free gifts. With a new reward each month, there is incentive to purchase early and enjoy the full year of offers. With EZ Pay, Annual Passes start at just $14 per month for one park, and $18 per month for both parks.

To learn more about the new ticket offers visit BuschGardensTampa.com or SeaWorldOrlando.com and join the conversation with @BuschGardens, @SeaWorld onFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.


For more I-4 information, visit www.i4exitguide.com, the Internet’s largest and most complete website devoted to Interstate 4. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit from Tampa to Daytona!

Traveling another route? Visit our growing family of exit guides: I-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit Guide, I-75 Exit Guide and I-95 Exit Guide.

Fast and Furious Thrill Ride Races Onto The Scene At Universal Orlando Resort In 2017

One of the most successful film franchises of all time will soon become one of Universal Studios Florida’s most action-packed ride experiences. Universal Orlando Resort announced today that Fast & Furious: Supercharged will join its incredible lineup of attractions in 2017 – continuing the unprecedented growth of the destination.

Guests will experience a high-octane journey that fuses an original storyline and incredible ride technology with everything that fans love about the films—popular characters, exhilarating environments, nonstop action and, of course, high-speed cars.

Led by film stars Vin Diesel (Dom Toretto), Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) and Tyrese Gibson (Roman), guests will feel like part of the “Fast family” as they embark on a thrilling new Fast & Furious adventure. They will be immersed in the underground racing world made famous in the films, explore the headquarters of Toretto and his team and even get to check out some of the supercharged cars they’ve seen on the big screen. Then, guests will board specially-designed vehicles and take off on an adrenaline-pumping ride with their favorite stars from the films.

Fast & Furious is Universal Pictures’ highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Since the release of the first film in 2001, the Fast & Furious series has become a cultural phenomenon. Together, all seven installments have grossed nearly $3.9 billion at the worldwide box office. The most recent film, Furious 7, was released in April and became the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time, with more than $1.5 billion in global box office. In addition, Universal Studios Hollywood introduced its own Fast & Furious—Supercharged this summer, which serves as the grand finale to its world famous Studio Tour.

Fast & Furious: Supercharged will replace Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue and Disaster: A Major Motion Picture Starring You! at Universal Studios Florida. Disaster will close on September 8, 2015 and Beetlejuice will close later this year to make way for the new attraction.


For more I-4 information, visit www.i4exitguide.com, the Internet’s largest and most complete website devoted to Interstate 4. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit from Tampa to Daytona!

Traveling another route? Visit our growing family of exit guides: I-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit Guide, I-75 Exit Guide and I-95 Exit Guide.

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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King Kong Roars To Life At Universal Orlando Resort in Groundbreaking New Attraction

King Kong will rule at Universal Orlando Resort next year in the groundbreaking attraction, “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.”

The new attraction will open in the summer of 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – and will be an intense, all-new adventure brought to life in a dramatically themed environment. Skull Island: Reign of Kong will pull guests into a powerfully told story where they become part of the next generation of the Kong legend.

It begins as guests are transported deep into a wild and mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin – but where they are soon fighting for their own survival. Their journey will take them through an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures, a foreboding underworld of caves concealing unspeakable terrors – and face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.

Universal Creative is working closely with Peter Jackson, famed director of 2005’s blockbuster movie, “King Kong,” to immerse guests in this incredible adventure.

“King Kong is a Hollywood movie legend and a huge part of both our history and our future,” said Mike West, Executive Producer, Universal Creative. “He gives us the opportunity to tap into everything that makes our film history so special and everything that makes our theme park attractions so spectacular. We can’t wait to bring him to life in such an epic way.”

Known as “the eighth wonder of the world,” Kong has been called “the experience for which movies were invented.” Since first appearing on screen in 1933, “King Kong” has been re-made twice – each time on a tremendous scale – earning seven Oscar and three Golden Globe nominations.

And now – in even grander and more realistic form – the Kong story continues to grow. “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will open in the summer of 2016. More details about the mega-attraction will be released over time. Visit www.universalorlando.com/ReignofKong for more information.

Skyplex Expand Vision Adding Pedestrian Plaza and 450-Foot Drop Ride

Developers of The Skyscraper™ – the world’s tallest roller coaster and the anchor attraction for the $300 million SKYPLEX™ indoor entertainment complex – revealed a dramatic expansion of the project, including the addition of a 450-foot drop ride called SkyFall™ as well as a landmark deal with Perkins® Restaurant & Bakery. David and Joshua Wallack, father/son owners of Mango’s Tropical Café South Beach, Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando and SKYPLEX, will incorporate the world’s largest Perkins Restaurant into SkyPlaza™, an open-air promenade to be located on the northeast corner of International Drive and Sand Lake Road and connected to Skyplex via pedestrian bridge.

The SkyFall drop ride, developed by Intamin Worldwide, will lie flush against the tower of The Skyscraper, the world’s first Polercoaster vertical roller coaster and destined to be the tallest structure in Central Florida at 570 feet. Upon opening in 2017, The Skyscraper and SkyFall will join the soon to open Orlando Eye observation wheel as focal points of the skyline, helping I-Drive cement its own brand as an entertainment destination apart from the major theme parks.

The newly constructed 10,000-square-foot Perkins Restaurant & Bakery will anchor the new SkyPlaza portion of SKYPLEX and will be joined by numerous other attractions and retailers. SkyPlaza was unveiled in an updated ride simulation video released by the Wallack Holdings, showing Skyscraper’s new track design throughout the complex. The original animation of The Skyscraper,which was released at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAPPA) conference in November 2014, has since had more than 300 million views and shares on social media. Animation of the SkyFall ride is currently in development.

“We are extremely pleased to announce further expansion to the incredible SKYPLEX, including our partnership with Perkins as well as yet another thrill to our guests’ experience, the 450-foot drop ride, SkyFall,” said Joshua Wallack, managing principal of SKYPLEX and COO of Mango’s Tropical Café. “Now more than ever, SKYPLEX will offer an immersive, thrilling entertainment experience for Orlando visitors, and we have so much more in the pipeline. I-Drive has a brilliant future.”

Jeff Warne, Chief Executive Officer, Perkins & Marie Callenders, LLC adds, “We are delighted to be part of this exhilarating and premier development project. As a mainstay in the market for more than 40 years, it is both fitting and exciting that this site will serve as the future home of the world’s largest Perkins Restaurant & Bakery. We look forward to sharing details with the community and our guests as plans unfold.”

“From day one, we have been committed to creating a roller coaster experience for Orlando unlike any in the world,” said Bill Kitchen, Founder of Orlando-based US Thrill Rides and creator of the Polercoaster. “What you see today (with this animation release) is not only the world’s tallest roller coaster, but the world’s most exciting roller coaster experience ever conceived!”

“After many months of land acquisitions, scope increases and coaster design review meetings, we are once again very excited to announce the second iteration – of the even more exciting – Skyscraper at Skyplex,” said Michael Kitchen, President of US Thrill Rides. “The ownership group and design team have spent months extracting every inch of excitement we can out of the Skyscraper roller coaster layout. Because of the sheer number of Guinness Book of World Records we intend to break on a single roller coaster ride, we expect coaster enthusiasts from around the world to travel to Orlando and experience the newly redesigned Skyscraper polercoaster!”

The $300 million SKYPLEX comprises approximately 1,500,000 square feet located on 14 prime acres in the Orlando attraction’s corridor. SKYPLEX will feature the area’s largest indoor theme park complete with upscale arcading, simulators, bars, and a host of rides and games, as well as additional opportunities for attractions, interactive venues, restaurants and retail. SKYPLEX also will include a 2400-car parking garage with a valet parking option. The Skyscraper observation deck will offer views 535 feet from the ground and will be accessible by the region’s tallest glass elevators.

‘The Skyscraper, SkyFall, and the new SkyPlaza are just part of the excitement that guests will be able to experience at Skyplex,” said David Wallack, Founder of Mango’s Tropical Café, “the thrills abound and the ‘art of it all’ is really what is so special.”

Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando and its adjacent parking garage will open in summer 2015 across from SKYPLEX on International Drive. With nightly family-friendly Dinner & Show including the Michael Jackson tribute as well as Mango’s dancers performing Brazilian Samba and Cuban Conga to the music of a live Latin band, an evening at Mango’s becomes an event to remember for guests of all ages. Mango’s nightlife heats up after 10 p.m. with live DJs, dancing and some of Florida’s largest dance floors. Private event space is available for groups of all sizes.


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World’s Tallest StarFlyer Swing Ride Coming to International Drive

International Drive keeps growing and growing. You can already marvel at the huge Orlando Eye observation wheel being built, now another ride rivaling its height is coming next door. A StarFlyer swing ride will take riders up 420 feet.

Unicorp National Developments, the company behind the I-Drive 360 complex, announced the new ride today, and a new name for the complex which houses Kings Bowling, Sleuths and other stores next door to I-Drive 360. The plaza will be known as Vue at 360, a play on the 360 degree view riders will have on the StarFlyer.

This will be the second StarFlyer on International Drive. There’s a 230-foot one operating just down the street at Magic Midway. But this new one will be the tallest in the world at 420 feet. (The Orlando Eye will be approximately 425 feet tall.)

The StarFlyer is expected to open in late 2015 or early 2016. It will take riders up in 12 sets of double seats (24 total) on a three to four minute ride. A ride is expected to cost about $10 per person.

Here’s a look at the Sky Screamer at Six Flags New England. It stands approximately 400 feet tall:

It’s Official – Universal’s Diagon Alley Opens July 8

Universal Studios Orlando announced this morning that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is opening July 8.

A London Waterfront showcases Diagon Alley. This new section of the expansion includes King’s Cross Station, the Knight Bus, The Leaky Cauldron, Grimmauld Place, and includes several new restaurants, shows and a new ride called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Guests will have to purchase a 2-day park pass in order to travel to both areas of the Wizarding World (Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.

Watch this site as more details become available.

Get in on the excitement of Universal’s Diagon Alley and one of the most anticipated theme park attractions. Make your hotel reservations now. Check out the deals for lodging near Universal Studios Orlando

It’s Official: Orlando’s Proposed Skyplex Entertainment Complex Will Include PolerCoaster

After months of speculation it has been officially reported that a new 570-foot-tall roller coaster, called the Skyscraper, is on the way to Orlando’s International Drive.

The Polercoaster from US Thrill Rides will be built as part of the Skyplex Entertainment complex on the northeast corner of the intersection of Sand Lake Road and International Drive.

With nearly one mile of track, Skycraper will include 8-passenger vehicles that will reach speeds up to 65 miles per hour. The coaster will have the capacity to carry up to 1,000 people per hour. The ride is expected to cost less than $20 a ticket. Continue reading It’s Official: Orlando’s Proposed Skyplex Entertainment Complex Will Include PolerCoaster

Polercoaster, The World’s Tallest Rollercoaster Coming to I-Drive

Attention thrill-seekers: the word is almost official… the world’s tallest roller coaster, will be built near the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Road in Orlando.

The Polercoaster will be approximately 570 feet tall… the tallest structure in Central Florida. For comparison, that’s about 150 feet taller than the Orlando Eye Observation Wheel, now under construction along I-Drive just south of Sand Lake Road. It will be nearly three times higher than both Disney’s Expedition Everest and Universal’s Rip Ride Rockit coasters and roughly 130 feet taller than the 35-story SunTrust Center in Downtown Orlando.

A press conference to officially announce the project is scheduled for Thursday, June 5th.

The Polercoaster will include an observation platform at the top that will have shops and a restaurant and event space.

Early news accounts mentioned that the Polercoaster will cost around $18 per rider and that it has the capacity to carry approximately 850 to 1,600 people per hour.