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Orlando theme parks offer new rides, shows

By Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel
Published: June 1, 2024, 5:19am
2 Photos
Drones form various Disney characters in the sky, such as Dumbo, during testing in France of the nighttime show coming to Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The limited-time show, &Ccedil;&fnof;&uacute;Disney Dreams That Soar&Ccedil;&fnof;&ugrave;runs at Disney Springs from May 24 to Aug. 2, 2024, and features a collection of fan-favorite characters using 800 drones.
Drones form various Disney characters in the sky, such as Dumbo, during testing in France of the nighttime show coming to Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The limited-time show, ǃúDisney Dreams That Soarǃùruns at Disney Springs from May 24 to Aug. 2, 2024, and features a collection of fan-favorite characters using 800 drones. (Sylvain Beche/Disney/TNS) (Courtesy Universal Orlando) Photo Gallery

ORLANDO, Fla. — There is no shortage of fresh things to see and do at Orlando’s theme parks and attractions this summer. We’ll spot new parades on the ground and drones in the sky. Some attractions are being updated, and others are remodeled beyond recognition.

The additions and events have started kicking in, so let’s look at what is scheduled to happen between now and Labor Day.

SeaWorld sights, sounds

SeaWorld Orlando introduces “Xceleration,” a live stunt show featuring BMX, skateboarding and hip-hop music inside Nautilus Theater. The park then breaks out the “So Much More to SEA Parade,” a salute to the 60th anniversary of SeaWorld, today. It will loop the park with two show stops with characters such as Shamu and Crew.

The “Ignite” fireworks show returns, launching at park close on select nights this summer.

Viva La Musica has a five-weekend run beginning June 2 with Sergio Vargas on stage.

“Flippers, Facts and Fun: The Sea Lion Experience” will debut June 7, and there is a new edition of “Rescue Tails” at Seaport Theater.

Alas, no specific opening date has been announced for Penguin Trek, the indoor-outdoor roller coaster said to debut this spring.

Disney: Tiana takes a dip

First up at Walt Disney World is “Disney Dreams That Soar,” which debuted at Disney Springs Friday. Expect 800 drones (Death Star alert) and a Disney film soundtrack in the nine-minute production. It will be seen through Sept. 2.

The headliner change will be at Magic Kingdom with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the refashioned Splash Mountain. It opens to the public June 28. Frontierland neighbor Country Bear Jamboree is being updated and expected to reopen this summer.

CommuniCore Hall, the final piece of the long-running Epcot transformation, opens June 10. Its plaza will be the site of the limited-time show “Celebracion Encanto.” The hall also will house a Mickey & Friends character meet-up space, and that all leads into the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which begins Aug. 29, a bit later than the past few years.

Movies are Universal

At Universal Studios, the new DreamWorks Land officially opens June 14. The area, mostly aimed at children, features “Shrek,” “Trolls” and “Kung Fu Panda” activities and basically takes the place of Woody’s KidZone.

That’s also the date of the debuts of two nighttime shows. “CineSational: A Symphonic Spectacular” will use more than 200 fountains, projection mapping and more than 600 drones. The show, the resort says, is tied to films that inspired Universal Orlando attractions past and present, from the old school “Jaws” ride to “How to Train Your Dragon,” which will have its own land at Epic Universe when it opens next summer. The “Hogwarts Always” castle projection show, seen at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, will be themed to moments of a wizarding school year.

The Universal Mega Movie Parade, debuting July 3, will have 13 new floats celebrating at least nine movies plus 100 performers. Among the elements: a drum line performing the “Jaws” movie score and 16-foot Stay Puft Marshmallow Man atop the “Ghostbusters” unit.

Glow forward

  • Club SeaGlow returns with music, lights and dancing at SeaWorld’s Bayside Stadium on select nights starting May 24.
  • AquaGlow, an after-hours neo-driven event, is set Aquatica water park on select nights between June 7 and Aug. 10.
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