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Disney World to celebrate 25th Florida: Park plans a big birthday parade. Other attractions in state list events. Don't miss the Rat Lady at Universal Studios.


Remember the E-ticket?

Twenty-five years ago, before Walt Disney World went to a one-price admission, tickets labeled from A to E were required for each ride. An A-ticket, the least expensive, was good only for wimpy little rides. E-tickets were the most sought after, because they admitted you to the most sophisticated attractions, among them the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Everyone wanted E-tickets.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Disney World is staging an "E-ticket" celebration starting Oct. 1. You won't really need the once-coveted coupon to attend, but Disney is tagging the event as one of E-ticket caliber.

For its anniversary, Disney World is transforming the Magic Kingdom's signature structure, the 185-foot-high Cinderella Castle, into a gigantic cake. Painted pink and white, it will sport 25 enormous candles when the 15-month-long anniversary event opens.

A 25th Anniversary Welcome Center is being prepared, where Disney memorabilia and a film about the past and future of the resort will be shown.

New versions of the theme park's popular parades and fireworks shows will be inaugurated on opening day.

And, of course, a massive rededication ceremony attended by Disney big shots, past and present, is planned for Oct. 1, exactly 25 years since the park opened its doors in 1971.

That day, a 1,076-member band will march down the Magic Kingdom's Main Street, just as it did the day Disney World opened.

Why the odd number? There will be 76 trombones, recalling the famous song from "The Music Man." The musical's author, Meredith Willson, led Disney's march in 1971.

A flyover also is planned on opening day.

While some nostalgia will be part of the anniversary programs, Disney is not missing the opportunity to promote its movies. The new Remember the Magic parade will feature floats inspired by Disney films -- "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," "Cinderella," "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin" and "Snow White." The IllumiNations 25 fireworks show at Epcot will wind up with a paean to "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King." Disney's anniversary bash undoubtedly will hog media coverage in early October, but another theme park may hog Central Florida's visitor count later in the month.

At Universal Studios

Universal Studios' big fall event centers on its favorite holiday, Halloween, which is an ever-growing crowd generator. For the sixth year, Universal is staging Halloween Horror Nights, and this one will be bigger than ever and last longer than ever. On 15 special, separate-ticket evenings -- three more than last year -- the theme park will do its darndest to scare the daylights out of, or completely disgust, its guests.

The ever-popular Rat Lady will be back this October, doing her revolting thing. The Rat Lady is a living young lady of admirable fortitude who lies still in a coffin while live rats run over her body.

Bill Preston and Ted Logan also are returning with their cult classic, Bill and Ted's Halloween Adventure, for the fifth year, and Beetlejuice will be host of another Price Is Fright show. There will be three haunted houses, a Festival of the Dead parade and, of course, the usual collection of mutants and monsters leaping out from dark corners with ghoulish glee.

Dates and details: Night of event admission (separate from day admission) will be $38.50 adults, $31 children 3-9. Florida residents get in for $28.50 adults and $26 children on advance sale basis, or $23.50 and $21 with a Pepsi coupon. Dates are Oct. 11-12, 17-19, 23-28, 30 and 31, and Nov. 1-2. Information: (407) 363-8000.

At Sea World

Meanwhile, Sea World also is cooking up some Halloween stuff, though much wimpier than Universal's.

Sea World's separate-ticket Halloween bit, called Shamu's Spooky, Kooky Halloween, is aimed at young children and features an evening of marine-style trick-or-treating. Dolphins, sea lions, otters, penguins and Shamu the killer whale will appear at Halloween-theme candy stations, animal shows will take on a mildly spooky theme, and kids can take part in a costume parade or get their faces painted weirdly.

Dates and details: Tickets are $16.95 in advance, $18.95 at the gate. The shows will be held 6-11 p.m. Oct. 26 to 31. Information: (407) 363-2259.

Disney World never has done much with Halloween beyond staging Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, aimed at families with children under 10, and its adult Spooktacular Halloween at Pleasure Island. Dates and details: Mickey's party, 7 p.m.-midnight Oct. 31; admission, $17.95 advance, $19.50 day of event. Spooktacular, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Oct. 31; Pleasure Island admission, $16.95. Information: (407) 824-4321.

Busch Gardens does not have any special Halloween events.

More joy

Other selected fall doings in central Florida:

Night of Joy: This contemporary Christian music celebration at Disney World features such artists as Michael W. Smith, DC Talk, Newsboys, Clay Crosse, Rebecca Saint-James and Hezekian Walker. Dates and details: separate-ticket evening concerts on Sept. 6 and 7 and 13 and 14. Price $26 plus tax. Information: (407) 824-4321.

Oldsmobile Golf Classic: Preceded by the Oct. 10-14 Oldsmobile Scramble, which climaxes a season-long series of competitions among more than 100,000 amateur golfers. Golf Classic features 132 top pro golfers with 396 amateurs. Purse, $1.2 million. Dates and details: Oct. 17-20. Admission: free. Information: (800) 582-1908.

Mini Monster Mash: Church Street Station in downtown Orlando holds this costume contest and pre-Halloween party for kids annually. Dates and details: Oct. 19 and 20. Regular Church Street admission required. Information: (407) 422-2434, Ext. 405.

Mustang Roundup: annual gathering at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven of classic Mustang cars from 1965 to 1974 and modern 1975-1995 models. Dates and details: Oct. 19 and 20. Regular Cypress Gardens admission required. Information: (941) 324-2111.

Halloween Street Party: Church Street Station draws thousands to its annual Halloween bash, and has two extra bands performing on a blocked-off street. The main event is a big costume competition with a $2,000 first prize. Dates and details: Oct. 31. Regular Church Street admission is charged. (407) 422-2434.

Terror on Church Street: This year-round haunted house has 23 different horrific rooms. On Halloween night, the attraction stages a street party with live music, a beer garden and roaming monsters. Dates and details: Oct. 31. Haunted house admission includes the street party. Information: (407) 649-FEAR. Ghouls Night Out: Silver Springs in Ocala offers a family trick-or-teating Halloween event for children. Dates and details: Oct. 31. Regular Silver Springs admission required. Information: (800) 234-7458.

Chrysanthemum Festival: This annual Cypress Gardens event, its 12th, is the largest display of its kind in North America, featuring more than 2 1/2 million blooms. Dates and details: Nov. 1-30. Regular Cypress Gardens admission required. Information: (941) 324-2111.

Fall Fiesta in the Park: one of the largest arts and crafts shows in Florida, with 550 booths. Staged along Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. Dates and details: Nov. 2 and 3. Admission: free. Information: (407) 246-2827.

For more information about Florida travel sites, visit Destination Florida on America Online at KEYWORD: Florida and on the World Wide Web at http: //

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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