Orlando … The Place To Be This Summer

Have you made your vacation plans for the Summer? If not, you’ll want to check out what’s going on in Orlando as there’s lots of new stuff going on at the theme parks this year. There’s a killer whale show, a new roller-coaster, a cheetah habitat, a zip-line ride over alligators and there’s also the chance to get close to sharks by wading through a coral lagoon with a special diving helmet

It’s a great place to be as Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens, Gatorland and Legoland Florida – opening in October, all have a lot of new things to do.


The home of Shamu the killer whale is now the venue for One Ocean, an incredible show involving all the park’s majestic orcas. Replacing the Believe show, One Ocean brings new staging, music and special effects to showcase the talents and special co-ordination of SeaWorld’s trainers and their killer whales. Fountains, video screens and clever lighting all combine for a spectacular 25-minute experience.

Discovery Cove

SeaWorld’s swim-with-dolphins sister park debuts it’s new Grand Reef attraction in June, giving its 1,000 visitors a day a chance to swim and snorkel with thousands of tropical fish and graceful rays. There will be an underwater walking tour, SeaVenture where for an extra $59 per person guests can don special diving helmets and venture beneath the surface to handle sea urchins and star fish, and stand among huge schools of feeding fish as well as observe some fierce looking sharks.

Busch Gardens

Just an hour away in nearby Tampa, Busch Gardens boasts America’s most dynamic and eye-catching ride this year, Cheetah Hunt. With a fast-launch start that blasts from 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds and more than 4,429ft of track that twists, turns and dives underground, it features a 130ft drop as well as a figure-of- eight loop in its three-and-a-half-minute duration.

Themed to feel like a cheetah hunting its prey, it will also offer a short stretch where the park’s eight cheetahs will be able to sprint alongside the ride as they chase a special lure as part of their exercise regime. The attraction is due to open on May 27.


Although it’s not one of the mainstream parks, this is Orlando’s oldest, dating back to 1949, and from early June it will offer the Screamin’ Gator zip-line ride, a high-flying adventure taking riders up and over the park’s residents – more than 1,000 alligators and crocodiles. The series of four zips, nature walk and swinging bridge take 45 minutes at a height of up to 56ft and speeds of 30mph to give a new perspective on this collection of flora and fauna. It costs $69.99 per person, including all-day entry to Gatorland.

Legoland Florida

Opening in October the latest member of the worldwide Lego family will offer 150 acres of fun and rides for the two-to-12 age group in classic brick-building style in ten distinct ‘lands’ but all with natural overtones as it is built on the site of the former Cypress Gardens, on the shore of Lake Eloise in Winter Haven, 40 minutes south of Orlando.

Walt Disney World

Star Tours II is Disney’s big offering for 2011, a revamped, version of the classic Star Wars simulator ride that now blasts off for Tatooine and Coruscant, plunging riders into the Boonta Eve Classic pod-race (from the film Star Wars I), in high-definition 3D from May 20 at Hollywood Studios.

The Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun is the new daily parade with all the favorites from films such as Up, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Toy Story and others. Disney Junior – Live On Stage is now open for pre-school fans of programs such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins and the new Jake And The Never Land Pirates. Finally, at the Animal Kingdom park, guests can enjoy a three-hour Wild Africa Trek, a small-group journey through the animal savannahs for an extra $189 per person.

You’ll also want to check out what’s going on at the smaller parks and attractions.

Fantasy Surf is a new opportunity to try surfing on an indoor FlowRider system. It is great for novices and experienced surfers alike. Check out this video :

In Orlando city centre you can check out the Skyline Tour (from the Visitor Centre on Orange Avenue) and learn about the 19th Century ‘boom-town’ from a 16th-floor vantage point while nearby, the Orange County History Centre has more insight into Central Florida’s past, some 12,000 years of it, including the area’s Native American heritage and the huge cattle industry, with its own cowboys known as ‘crackers’.

Check out the video below of the chic suburb of Winter Park which features more natural charms, with its own boat tour through the local lakes plus, for art lovers, the unusual Morse Museum of American Art, which boasts one of the largest glass collections by Tiffany in the United States.

Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Fantasy of Flight which hosts an amazing collection of vintage aircraft and daily flying exhibitions put together with real artistry by millionaire collector Kermit Weeks.

And no one should leave without seeing something of the real Florida. Enjoy an airboat ride from Boggy Creek Airboats, the area’s specialists, offering a variety of trips that get off the beaten track for personal, up-close encounters to capture the spirit of the Sunshine State.

One thing’s for certain: you’ll never be short of something to do in Orlando!

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