Following on from Disney’s newly vamped Studios and the new rides at Universal comes some reviews of 3 more attractions. 

WHEN the SeaWorld and Discovery Cove folk build a water park, you know it’s going to be swimming in fun.

And Aquatica, just down the road from its sister parks, has gone for a real biggie with signature attraction the Dolphin Plunge.


Playful ... Commerson dolphins

Playful … Commerson dolphins



A colourful winding chute spins you down into clear acrylic tubes that dive past a pool with playful Commerson dolphins.

These beautiful little creatures look like miniature killer whales and are fun, quick and agile.

There are more aquatic encounters on the lazy river ride Fish Grotto, floating you through an underwater paradise where you gaze at thousands of sparkling tropical fish.



The lazy river idea gets a make-over at Roa’s Rapids – where you hurtle along rolling rapids, gushing geysers and racing waters.

There are 36 water slides to try from the gentle Walhallah Wave to high-octane Tamata Racer.

Small children and toddlers are not forgotten with an enormous play area – including a 60ft-high rain fortress beside a huge pool – plus special family slides and water cannons.

Aquatica has a South Seas theme with lots of tropical planting that looks good now and will improve as the park matures.

Orlando’s theme parks always mean a nonstop, slightly unreal holiday experience and this park will be a chance to experience some great natural wonders.

Throughout the day, there will be opportunities to meet a wide array of wildlife, from macaws to iguanas and turtles, as well as chat to the trainers who care for them.

The two huge wave pool lagoons – offering both gently rolling surf and crashing waves and 5ft swells simultaneously – are bordered by a massive white-sand beach and HUNDREDS of loungers.


I don’t think there will be a problem with the Germans nicking them here!

It isn’t a big park. Strolling all the way round took no more than 20 minutes – but that is a plus point as far as I’m concerned.

You’ll be able to do everything in the park happily in a day and still have time to just soak up the sun on the beach.

Food-wise, there are three restaurants offering the standard Florida fast food fare but you can buy healthy options at the Mango Market from salads to fresh fruit.



The Banana Beach Cookout offers a set menu of burgers, chicken or hot dogs with salad for around £7 including drinks, or you can splash out around £15 and return to fill your tray as many times as you like during the day.

As you can imagine, it is very popular with the food-loving Americans.

A couple of shops sell swim and beachwear but the emphasis is really on useful things you’d need for a day at a waterpark, not a pile of tourist tat to part you from your dollar.

Aquatica is a welcome addition to the Orlando fun scene – the natural theme and lush landscaping will be a real break from the plastic fantastic of the parks.

Don’t miss it!

Springfield’s finest

FOR me, The Simpsons ride at Universal Studios had the most wow factor on my preview weekend.


Universal are known for attractions that have not just thrills but a wicked sense of humour and The Simpsons is a match made in heaven – or hell!

I had exclusive access to the animated films that will bring this virtual reality motion ride to life and they are a scream.

The Simpsons’ creator, Matt Groening, has worked closely with Universal’s designers on the new attraction.

Voiced by the actors from the show and animated by the TV team, all the Simpsons’ trademark dark humour shines through.

Never taking itself too seriously, there’s a laugh and a joke from the moment you enter through an enormous Krusty Clown head along a squishy tongue carpet.

The ride will see you join the famous cartoon family as they discover Krusty Land – TV Springfield’s new theme park.

Of course things go predictably wrong and you’re off on a roller-coaster four minutes of high-tech wizardry on the 80ft domed screen.

The ride launches this May but could well be welcoming passengers from as early as April in what is termed a “soft opening”.

It’s going to be an unmissable addition to any Orlando holiday.

Welcome to the jungle

BUSCH Gardens is among my favourite Florida parks – the excellent thrill rides sit so beautifully in a lush, tropical park packed with fascinating animal encounters.


Flying high ... The Wild Surge

Flying high …
The Wild Surge



New land Jungala will only add to its unique offering.

While you’ve always been able to admire exotic wildlife from afar on the park’s Serengeti Plain and other animal areas, Jungala will bring you up close and personal with some very special animals.

In a treetop orangutan habitat or subterranean caves in a tiger’s lair, you can go eye-to-eye with two of the world’s most endangered species.

It was still a building site as I toured, but in the next month it will be transformed into a fascinating place.

You’ll be able to watch the orangutans swing from rope platforms and even paint pictures for you!

The tiger habitat includes a pool with a glass-walled viewing area.

You can even play tug-of-war with the tigers through a very strong wire fence!

Jungala also has a couple of exciting family rides.

Jungle Flyers will see young adventurers soar through the sky on multi-level zip lines, while The Wild Surge will see you shoot out of the top of a volcano’s waterfall, then drop back into the crater below.

If you want a break from the queues, there’s an adventure climbing area allowing kids to explore the tree canopy on rope bridges, then dive down through crawl tubes and mazes to the jungle floor.

There’s even some water fun for cooling off after all the climbing.

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