Summer 2016 saw the majority of Orlando’s major theme parks opening up new attractions and experiences for guests. If you haven’t yet experienced them, be sure to make time in your family’s itinerary.
Experience a Massive Comeback
In July 2016, King Kong made his theme park return at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The giant ape’s much-anticipated comeback came complete with colossal ride vehicles, larger-than-life personalities, and a storyline that features a fight for dominance between prehistoric predators and King Kong.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong will send you on an expedition through a treacherous island. The mission? Fight for survival in a completely immersive and frighteningly realistic theme park experience.
You’ll start by boarding a 40-foot-long, 17-ton ride vehicle that will independently navigate the jungle terrain through the use of a sophisticated positioning system. Expect sharp turns and complicated maneuvers in a chaotic and bumpy adventure.
Since the ride is independently navigated, you’ll hear your animatronic tour guide but will never see them. One of five guides will take the wheel for each excursion including Becky Callahan, a loose-cannon cowgirl who is unfazed by the island’s dangers; fresh-faced, adventure seeking Will Denham; Jinks Costanza, a hardened criminal who is wary of the island’s mysteries; Kalana, a mystical descendent of Skull Island’s natives; and PhD student, Charles “Doc” Jordan, who took time off from his studies to explore the world.
During this 3D adventure, you’ll encounter dinosaurs and other creatures, both in the air and on the ground, that pose a serious risk to the other explorers on the team. But King Kong will have your back as you navigate the bumpy roads to safety. Guests must be at least 36” to ride.
Take in What’s New
In June 2016, SeaWorld gave guests their first plunge into the depths of the ocean and into the world of sharks with Mako, the tallest, fastest and longest rollercoaster in Orlando that is named for one of the ocean’s fastest known sharks. It is also the city’s only hypercoaster, a term for a roller coaster that is taller than 200 feet.
The center of a new two-acre area called Shark Wreck Reef, creators designed the ride to mimic the way these predators move in the water. Expect to twist, turn and speed through the air. The rides queue features real-time shark tracking and videos from Guy Harvey teaching you about the science of sharks in the wild and how you can protect them.
Over at the Walt Disney World Resort, Star Wars has become a more prominent part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a new fireworks show titled “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” and the Star Wars Launch Bay experience. The park also opened a third track for one of its most popular rides, Toy Story Mania, which significantly decreased wait times.
One of the most anticipated openings of the summer was for Frozen Ever After, which replaced Maelstrom in Epcot’s Norway pavilion. During the journey to Arendelle’s Winter in Summer Celebration, you will visit the ice palace and hear familiar tunes from “Frozen.” When you’re done, visit with Anna and Elsa at the new Royal Sommerhus and tell them how much you love their ride.