July 2012: First-time Orlando guests want to see everything. Returning Orlando guests want to see what’s new – and then see everything again. For those seeking the fresh thrills, here’s a crib sheet of new attractions appearing in Orlando’s major theme parks this year:
Magic Kingdom: Fantasyland expands with new sections opening in the summer and later in the fall. Expanded Dumbo ride and water play area now open; Fantasyland train station reopened. Later in the year: “Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid,” Beast Castle, which will be a large restaurant called Be Our Guest, and “Enchanted Tales with Belle” of Beauty and the Beast.
Hollywood Studios: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow will open in the fall. An immersive adventure into the movies, details remain sketchy, but it will probably include some movie sets and artifacts in a walk-through tour.
Downtown Disney: Splitsville, a two-story bowling alley, should open in the fall
Universal Studios: Now open is 1) Minion Mayhem, a “new” ride based on the movie Despicable Me that improves and updates an old ride, Jimmy Neutron, by adding 3-D to its movie; 2) Universal’s Superstar Parade, and afternoon event that include SpongeBob Squarepants, Diego, Dora the Explorer, and more; 3) Spiderman has new and improved 3-D effects; and 4) Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular, an end-of-the-night event that takes place in the central lake with fireworks, water fountains, and a tribute to top-grossing old movies.
Islands of Adventure: Nothing new here, but Harry Potter’s Wizarding World could remain the major Orlando draw for at least a few years yet.
Hollywood Drive-In Golf: This new attraction abuts CityWalk. A parking fee may be required and fee to play miniature golf but not general park admission prices. Cost: $14 adult, $12 children 3-9.
Turtle Trek now open, a 3-D-ish look into a sea turtle’s life.
Freshwater Oasis, a new area to swim and wade, replaces Tropical Reef. Non-sea animals here include marmosets and Asian otters.
Wet ‘n Wild
Blastaway Beach, a new kids area that’s part of regular admission, has 15 water slides, soaker guns, water cannons, etc.
Splash Island water park now open, a $12 add-on to regular admission prices.