The Sunshine State is putting its best foot forward in 2016 with a variety of new attractions, new and renovated hotels and resorts and plenty of Florida fun and fantasy. Here's what's happened so far and what to expect in the future.
New in 2016
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong is now open at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure. The attraction roared to life this summer and although it was set to be a groundbreaking attraction, it is opening to less than rave reviews.
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's newest coaster, Cobra's Curse — with a top speed of 40 m.p.h. and a top height of 70 feet — has made its debut.
- SeaWorld Orlando is so far winning the fastest and highest category with the opening June 10, 2016 of Mako — fastest at 73 m.p.h, highest at 200 feet at peak and longest at nearly a mile.
- Disney World has unveiled its Frozen Ever After ride at Epcot's Norway pavilion. There is also a new meet-and-greet area for princess fans to get to know Anna and Elsa in Norway.
- Just in time for summer, Frozen Fans can meet Olaf at Disney's Hollywood Studios for photos and hugs.
2016 Event Dates Announced
Plan now to attend these very popular events:
- Disney's Night of Joy - September 9 & 10, 2016
- Universal Orlando's Rock the Universe - September 9 & 10, 2016
- Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party - Select Nights September 2 thru October 31, 2016
- Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights - Select Nights 2016 Dates TBA
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - September 14 thru November 14, 2016
- Pensacola Seafood Festival - September 30 - October 2, 2016
- Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream - Select Nights 2016 Dates TBA
- Key West's Fantasy Fest - October 21-30, 2016
- Daytona's Biketoberfest - October 13-16, 2016
Coming in 2017
The battle of the fastest, highest and scariest continues on with construction on the following new attractions expected to be completed sometime in 2017:
Universal Orlando is constructing a water park — Volcano Bay — that will be located south of its new Cabana Bay Beach Resort Hotel.
What Happened in 2015
The much anticipated Orlando Eye opened in early May. Fashioned after the London Eye and developed by Merlin Entertainment (LEGOLAND Florida's parent company), the 400-foot Orlando Eye is not as tall as London's, but the views are equally amazing.
LEGOLAND Florida jumped on the popularity of themed accommodations and have opened their new hotel, LEGOLAND Hotel. Located just steps from the entrance to the theme park, the hotel offers LEGO-themed accommodations and atmosphere.
In case you missed it... here's some of what happened in 2013 & 2014:
Busch Gardens took a ride to new heights... 335 feet, to be exact! Although the original opening was delayed until early fall, the "drop tower" named Falcon's Fury did not disappoint. It hurdles riders some 60 m.p.h. toward the ground... face down!
At Disney's Magic Kingdom Fantasyland the much anticipated Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened in the late spring. The roller coaster completed Disney's makeover of Fantasyland and both the ride and new Fantasyland is a big hit!
Disney also introduced a new Fastpass system called Fastpass+ and a new wristband called MagicBand that keeps all your ticket information as well as Fastpass selections and room access in an easy-to-use bracelet-like gadget.
Universal Studios rolled out its newest Harry Potter expansion — Diagon Alley. The official opening also included the long awaited Hogswarts Express that links both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, but requires a park-to-park ticket to ride.
Universal Orlando opened its new on site value- and moderately-priced hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort. It's retro-inspired theme is colorful and fun and a stay can net you the same Universal resort perks as Universal's more expensive hotels.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis began a new mission on June 29, 2013 with the opening of Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit at Kennedy Space Center. The historic space vehicle is the centerpiece of the new $100-million exhibit featuring 60 interactive exhibits and high-tech simulators, including the true-to-life Shuttle Launch Experience!
While the nighttime Main Street Electrical Parade continues at the Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland has expanded. In the makeover, Cinderella's Carrousel got a new name Prince Charming's Regal Carousel and with an emphasis on princesses... there will be more ways to interact with your favorite characters and some awesome new attractions, including a newly imagined Dumbo duo.