Orlando Welcomes A Dozen Notable Additions in the Year Ahead; Adding To Its Appeal As The Country's Most Popular Destination For Visitors.
ORLANDO, Fla. - Experiences based on an army of one-eyed yellow minions, swimming sea turtles, sorcerers and exotic cars are among 12 new attraction thrills planned in Orlando this year.
The Orlando additions announced to date range from new resorts to new theme park attractions and sporting events, and provide a variety of new reasons to put this destination at the top of vacation lists in 2012.
1) It's the nature of SeaWorld Orlando to explain our natural environment in entertaining and educational ways. Beginning in Spring 2012 TurtleTrek invites guests to visit two astounding naturalistic habitats; one teeming with hundreds of freshwater fish and gentle manatees, the other with more than 1,500 saltwater fish and more than a dozen sea turtles. What follows is a first-of-its-kind 3-D/360-degree dome theater film immersing viewers in the inspirational underwater journey of a sea turtle, and a reminder of how humans can make its travels safer.
2) Adding to the appeal of SeaWorld Orlando's already dazzling all-inclusive Discovery Cove is the park's brand-new Freshwater Oasis. When this tropical rainforest environment premieres this spring, water lovers will wade in sparkling clear springs and enjoy the undeniable thrill of face-to-face encounters with playful otters and curious marmoset monkeys.
3) Following the success of the Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment blockbuster 3-D/CGI feature ‘Despicable Me', the creative minds behind the film found the perfect new home for its stars: Universal Studios Florida at Universal Orlando Resort. Beginning in spring 2012, the brand new Despicable Me attraction will put thrill-seekers in the middle of a hysterical high-tech 3-D digital adventure with Gru, Agnes, Edith, Margo, and the complete cast of favorite characters from the film.
4) At Universal's Islands of Adventure, one of the most innovative and popular attractions in theme park history - The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman - "re-dazzles" visitors with incredible enhancements that transform an already amazing attraction into a mind-blowingly cutting-edge experience with the addition of new animation and crystal clear 4K High-Def visuals.
5) Complementing Orlando's recognition as the top North American golf destination, Universal Orlando Resort adds two movie-themed 18-hole miniature courses at Hollywood Drive-In Golf. Making their debut at Universal's CityWalk in early 2012, the courses incorporate elaborate theming from Sci-Fi flicks from the 50's with traditional putt-putt golf recreational fun.
6) At the Walt Disney World Resort, the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland is doubling in size, with the highly-anticipated Phase 1 opening in early 2012. Joining classic Disney attractions is the new Storybook Circus area with dueling Dumbo attractions and Great Goofini Coaster, and interactive role-play adventure games where young guests become apprentice sorcerers to help battle an army of Disney Villains. In late 2012 comes Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, a musical showcase featuring Ariel and friends. Also, the high-energy Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a family-style coaster that races through a diamond mine and past scenes from the Disney classic Snow White. Fantasyland guests will also enjoy Enchanted Tales with Belle where Belle and friends will share "the tale as old as time" inside the new Princess Fairytale Hall and Disney princesses will greet guests in their elegant royal court.
7) The sound of a pin dropping will be loud and strong at Downtown Disney when Splitsville opens in Fall 2012. Perfect for friends and families, the 45,000-square-foot, 31-lane retro bowling alley also features billiards, dining, dancing, and an outdoor patio that puts a new spin on a classic American pastime.
8) In January 2012, the Exotic Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway opened for guests to experience the thrill of driving the world's fastest and most exotic supercars. Choose from a Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570, Lamborghini Gallardo 560, Audi R8, a Porsche 997S, or drive them all!
9) In 2012, Fun Spot Action Park opens the first section of a ten-acre expansion with a wide range of family-friendly racetracks, rides and a waterpark.
10) One of only two LEGOLANDs in America, LEGOLAND Florida premiered in October 2011 and is already adding even more attractions including a waterpark with wave pools, "build-a-raft" lazy river, waterslides with 60-feet drops and a Duplo Splash Safari for toddlers - all ready for action in May 2012.
11) Immersing guests in the artistry and enchantment of Walt Disney and Disney•Pixar classics, Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens at the Walt Disney World Resort with three sparkling swimming pools, four playful courtyards, and 1,120 suites designed after Finding Nemo, Cars and The Lion King, and 864 rooms inspired by The Little Mermaid. Family suites open in May 2012, standard rooms in late December.
SPORTS & RECREATION
12) The world basketball spotlight shines on Orlando when the City Beautiful hosts the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend. The 61st NBA All-Star Game will be played on February 26, 2012, at the Amway Center. The festivities include the NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas at the Orange County Convention Center Feb. 23 - 26, offering fans a chance to collect autographs from their favorite players and play a variety of challenge and skill games.
For more information about vacation experiences in Orlando, to order a complimentary vacation planning kit that includes a comprehensive Official Vacation Guide the Orlando MagicardTM, or to purchase discount attraction tickets, visitors can log onto Orlando's official Web site at VisitOrlando.com or call an Official Travel Counselor at 1-800-551-0181 (United States and Canada) or 407-363-5872. For real time updates, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/VisitOrlando or Facebook at facebook.com/VisitOrlando. While in Orlando, visitors may stop by the Official Visitor Center located at 8723 International Dr., at the southeast corner of International Drive and Austrian Row. The Official Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (closes at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 and is closed Dec. 25).
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