New Reasons to Bring the Kids to Orlando This Summer

There's even more for families to love in 2016

Orlando is gearing up for another blockbuster summer, with new attractions, restaurants, and hotels popping up all over. Here's what you can look forward to when you visit this summer.

  • 01 of 11
    Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    For the first time, Disney's Animal Kingdom will extend its hours past its traditional dusk closing time and offer families several new experiences that happen after dark. Highlights include Kilimanjaro Safaris After Dark and Rivers of Light, an after-dark show set in a natural amphitheater on Discovery River in the Asia section of the park.

  • 02 of 11
    Skull Island: Reign of Kong
    ••• Universal Orlando Resort (artist's rendering)

     At Universal Orlando Resort, the highly anticipated Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride will open at the Islands of Adventure theme park in summer 2016. Guests will board massive open, safari-like vehicles, don 3-D glasses and get a colossal experience including a battle between King Kong and a dinosaur. Expect it to be loud and very thrilling.

  • 03 of 11

    The multi-year transformation is nearing completion of Disney Springs, formerly called Downtown Disney, into a destination that offers significantly more shopping, dining and entertainment amid open-air promenades, meandering springs and waterfront charm. The entire project will be finished in summer 2016.

  • 04 of 11
    Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
    ••• artist rendering. Universal Orlando Resort

    Also at Universal Orlando Resort, the new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is slated to open in the summer of 2016, offering 1,000 moderately priced rooms and suites. Inspired by the easy-going vibe of the Caribbean, the hotel is reminiscent of a historic island retreat. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will be an affordably priced on-site Loews property that offers a variety of dining options and free wi-fi.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11
    The Making of Soarin' Around the World - Disney Parks
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Families will soon get a whole new Soarin' experience when Soarin’ Around the World opens at Epcot at Disney World and Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. The new Soarin' will take you flying over some of the world’s most iconic landscapes and replace the original Soarin' Over California.

  • 06 of 11
    I-Drive 360 - Orlando Eye
    ••• Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

    Open since 2015, I-Drive 360 brings together the 400-foot-tall Orlando Eye observation wheel, Madame Tussauds, and Sea Life Aquarium. Sea Life Aquarium contains more than 5,000 creatures and learning experiences. Madame Tussauds features wax figures of worldwide celebrities in music, sports, politics, science, and more. The complex also includes Skeletons: A Museum of Osteology, which showcases 300 animal and human skeletons in a 7,500-square-foot exhibit space. 

  • 07 of 11
    CrayolaExperience_Orlando.jpg
    ••• Crayola Experience

    Crayola Experience Orlando opened in 2015 inside a 70,000-square-foot facility in The Florida Mall. Like its sister property in Easton, Pennsylvania, features 25 hands-on activities for creative kids.

  • 08 of 11
    LegolandFlorida_HeartlakeCity.png
    ••• Legoland Florida

    In 2015, Legoland Florida opened a new themed hotel and a new area called Heartlake City. The expansion includes a horse-themed disc coaster called Mia's Riding Adventure, and an interactive show titled ‘Friends to the Rescue.' 

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  • 09 of 11
    SevenDwarfsMineTrain_DwarfsEntrance_MattStroshane.jpg
    ••• Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney Parks

    Open since 2014, Disney World doubled the size of Fantasyland with the debut of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a family-friendly coaster which takes guests on a wild journey through the Seven Dwarfs’ infamous diamond mine.

     

  • 10 of 11
    HP-and-the-Escape-from-Gringotts-4.jpg
    ••• Universal Orlando Resort

    In 2014, Universal Orlando Resort expanded its Harry Potter attractions across both of its theme parks with the addition of Diagon Alley. Guests are invited to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express to journey between Hogsmead and Kings Cross Station and experience a brand-new, multi-dimensional thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

  • 11 of 11
    4SOrlando_ExplorerIsland.jpg
    ••• Explorer Island, Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. Concept art, Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort

    Open since the end of summer 2014, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort offers 444 rooms and suites, many of which deliver spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks display. The lakeside resort is located inside the gates of Disney World in a residential setting minutes from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Highlights include:a spectacular five-acre playground with a family pool, lazy river winding around a “ruined” mansion, climbing wall, water slides, complimentary kids club for children ages 5 to 12, beach volleyball, basketball, video-gaming center, outdoor movie nights and more There's also a Tom Fazio-designed golf course and full-service spa.