Dewayne Bevil on Attractions
Theme Park Ranger
9:27 AM EDT, August 30, 2012
September is such a cruel month for Floridians. In our hearts, we know the weather is getting cooler elsewhere in the U.S., but there's little evidence of that here. Plus, hurricanes — and breathless hurricane coverage on TV — continue to swirl. It's not relaxing.
There's comfort in the return of football season. Those weekend kickoffs, combined with fewer tourists in town, create elbowroom at our theme parks. If you avoid the parks during the white-hot season from spring break to Labor Day, here are five new developments to check out.
What's to like: It's unlikely you've experienced anything like the Rattlesnake at Florida Eco-Safaris in Osceola County. The ride is billed as a zip-line roller coaster, and it was the second one built in the world.
What it's like: Your own, personal, inverted coaster that has you dangling, swinging and elevating above an old Florida ecosystem — with a safety helmet
You might also like: EcoSafaris' Peregrine Plunge (a 1,300-foot zip), Swooping Crane (extreme swing) and Panther Pounce (a harnessed step off a 68-foot-high platform into nothingness), which are part of the EcoPark Admission package
Like, here are the details: EcoPark Admission includes six attractions, including an extensive zip-line course, for $135. Reservations required. More info: 407-957-9794; FloridaEcoSafaris.com
Yellow, not mellow
What's to like: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios is a playful 3-D romp based on characters from the "Despicable Me" movie, including the yellow, goggled, banana-scented minions.
What it's like: Although it resides in the old Jimmy Neutron Nicktoon Blast building, DMMM is more like the Simpsons Ride, its sister attraction, crossed with the new high-def look of the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride next door at Islands of Adventure. (Check that out, too.)
You might also like: Universal's Superstar Parade also incorporates "Despicable Me" characters.
Like, here are the details: Included in regular park admission: $89 general, $83 ages 3-9. More info: UniversalOrlando.com
What's to like: SeaWorld's TurtleTrek is another one of those first-in-the-world attractions, and it's preceded by two large aquariums with manatees and fish.
What it's like: Imagine a 3-D movie projected onto a planetarium, with the images swimming around, over and beyond you. Watch out for pesky sharks and predatory birds.
You might also like: SkyTower, which now offers free admission plus a peek into the construction of the park's Antarctica area, set to open next year
Like, here are the details: Included in regular park admission: $84.99 general, $76.99 ages 3-9. More info: SeaWorldOrlando.com
I want my marmoset
What's to like: Freshwater Oasis at Discovery Cove provides encounters with marmosets and face-to-face experiences with otters.
What it's like: The Oasis' seating area is like a truly sunken living room — if your living room were wedged between a bar and a marmoset island.
You might also like: The tickets to SeaWorld and Aquatica water park that are included with Discovery Cove admission
Like, here are the details: Florida-resident rate through the end of the year is $199 per person. More info: DiscoveryCove.com
What's to like: The very first sliver of Magic Kingdom's expansion of Fantasyland to open included the Casey Jr. Splash station, rethemed Barnstormer coaster and twice as much Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride.
What it's like: It's more than just doubling Dumbo. The spruced-up attraction sports water features, lighting, a queue that goes through air-conditioning and a beeper when it's your turn — just like Olive Garden.
You might also like: Peering over the construction wall at other upcoming Fantasyland goodies, some of which are set for previews in November
Like, here are the details: Included in regular admission: $89 general, $83 ages 3-9. More info: DisneyWorld.com
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