Posts Tagged ‘themeparks’

‘Christmas Town’ at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

December 6, 2016

Celebrate the spirit of the season at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town™ amid the glow of more than eight million lights ©2016 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Christmas shines brightest at Busch Gardens® Christmas Town™. The theme park is aglow with eight million lights, one of the largest light displays in North America. Festive food and drink, holiday shopping and heart-warming shows make the season come alive at Busch Gardens. season. Additions this year include Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland, an entire area where guests can meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends. The park will also operate a second major roller coaster, Tempesto®, and will open Sesame Street® Forest of Fun with a special holiday atmosphere. Visit the big man in red at his North Pole workshop and capture an unforgettable memory. Keep warm with a mug of the park’s signature peppermint fudge hot chocolate and enjoy the spirit of the holiday. (Guests who purchase tickets on the day of their visit at the park will pay the full general admission price of $38. Daily ticket prices and availability can be found at

For flexibility and the freedom to enjoy Christmas Town multiple days, visitors can purchase the Christmas Town Fun Card, which, for the same price as general admission, allows unlimited visits. The Fun Card is available on the park’s website, or may be purchased the day of visit. Christmas Town is open on select days through Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, visit  (1 Busch Gardens Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23185, 800-343-7946).

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Dollywood Plans to Add World’s Fastest Wood Coaster for 2016

August 12, 2015

Dollywood, the themepark in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, plans to open Lightning Rod in March 2016, which it claims will be both the world’s fastest wood coaster and the world’s first launching wood coaster. Lightning Rod adds another groundbreaking roller coaster to the park’s already impressive portfolio of world-class attractions. The thrilling $22 million ride also marks the single largest attraction investment in The Dollywood Company’s history.

Themed after a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

“Lightning Rod reminds me so much of those colorful cars cruisin’ up and down Main Street in downtown Sevierville back when I was in high school. I remember all those souped up cars; but what I remember most were those good lookin’ boys behind the wheel with those flat top and ducktail haircuts,” Dolly Parton said with a laugh.

“I’m truly excited about this ride because it will let our guests experience something just as fast as those hot rods I remember,” she continued. “Even better, it’s the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, so I think we’re going to see a lot of people coming from all over to peel out on the Lightning Rod.”

Located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, Lightning Rod rockets riders around its massive wooden structure on an adrenaline-charged lap through the trees in the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood. During the ride, guests experience nearly 20 seconds of airtime. The coaster train is comprised of 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.

Lightning Rod is the newest member of The Dollywood Company’s collection of award-winning attractions. In March 2012, Dollywood opened the $20 million Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster. The company introduced RiverRush, Tennessee’s first and only water coaster, at Dollywood’s Splash Country in 2013. FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster, was added at Dollywood in 2014. Dollywood mainstays Thunderhead, consistently among the world’s top five wood coasters, Mystery Mine, Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado round out the park’s list of innovative coasters.

A highly awarded and widely recognized leader in the amusement industry, The Dollywood Company consists of the 150-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country; Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins; and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; winner of nearly 30 Golden Ticket Awards; and recipient of 24 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment (more than any other theme park in the world). In 2014, Dollywood was named a top three theme park by USA Today.

Dollywood, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015, is open nine months a year (late March through early January) and offers rides and attractions, shows, and a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel as one of the country’s most beautiful waterparks and named 2009’s Must-See Waterpark by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins offers luxurious cabin accommodations overlooking Dollywood. The 300-room Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort provides guests spectacular mountain views and family-friendly amenities next door to Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. For more information, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit Operating days and hours vary.

For more information about Dollywood’s attractions, visit or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.
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3rd Annual ‘Celebration of Harry Potter’ Fan Event Comes to Universal Orlando Resort Jan 29-31; Vacation Packages Go On Sale Aug 19

August 12, 2015
Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual "A Celebration of Harry Potter," a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016 © 2015 Karen Rubin/

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016 © 2015 Karen Rubin/

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016. The three-day weekend event will feature an array of experiences.

All general admission park guests will have the opportunity to:

  • Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent (complete talent lineup will be announced at a later date)
  • Experience and participate in the interactive exhibits at the “A Celebration of Harry Potter Expo, featuring Harry Potter brand partners such as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Pottermore, Scholastic, MinaLima, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition
  • Enjoy special panels and demonstrations regarding various aspects of the Harry Potter stories

Additionally, guests will be able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, and ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket.

Special vacation packages, including annual passholder packages, will go on sale at noon EST on August 19. On-site hotel packages start at $235 per adult per night and include exclusive benefits such as special guest access to “A Celebration of Harry Potter ” Expo, admission to a private evening reception in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and special guest access to panels and demonstrations. Packages also include three-night hotel accommodations, three-day park-to-park tickets to both Universal Studios Florida & Universal’s Islands of Adventure, a special welcome parcel and more. For complete package details, visit

Universal Orlando’s two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, are home to some of the world’s most exciting and innovative attractions. Its on-site resort hotels, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort are destinations unto themselves. Its entertainment complex, Universal CityWalk, offers dining and entertainment for every member of the family. And just minutes away is Wet n Wild, a family water park.

Universal Orlando Resort has unveiled 18 new guest experiences in the past five years including new attractions, dining opportunities and a dramatically themed hotel.  And more is on the way.  Coming in 2016 is Universal Orlando’s fifth on-site hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort; and Skull Island: Reign of Kong, a groundbreaking attraction in Islands of Adventure.  And in 2017, Universal Orlando Resort will open Universal’s Volcano Bay, an entirely new water theme park experience.

Universal Orlando Resort is part of NBCUniversal, a Comcast company.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, Williamsburg VA Launch Online Offer for Free Pass for 3-5 year Olds

February 9, 2014

Busch Gardens® and Water Country USA®  in Williamsburg, Virginia, are making it extremely affordable for parents with young children to visit, using a Free 2-Park Preschool Pass. Through this online-only offer children ages 3 to 5 can get a preschool pass this spring and enjoy unlimited admission to both Virginia parks through Sept. 1.

Busch Gardens offers more than 50 KIDsiderate® attractions, including Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™ and Land of the Dragons®, which are celebrating big anniversaries this spring. Kid-sized roller coasters like Grover’s Alpine Express at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA’s Kritter Korral™ are among the can’t miss kid-friendly attractions waiting for families to enjoy this spring.

Visit before May 31 to register for a Free 2-Park Preschool Pass. Proof of the child’s age is required at the time the passes are redeemed and the passes must be redeemed at either park by May 31, 2014. Children ages 2 and younger receive complimentary admission and do not need to register.

Visit for complete details.

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Marking 1st Anniversary of ‘Wizarding World,’ Universal Orlando Lets Guests Share their Memory and Have Chance to Win a Trip

June 24, 2011

On Saturday, June 18, Universal Orlando celebrated the one-year anniversary of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. To cap off the celebration, Universal launched a “Share Your Story” tab on its official Facebook page where guests can share their favorite memories – or the memories they hope to make – of the most spectacularly themed environment ever created © 2011 Karen Rubin/

On Saturday, June 18, Universal Orlando Resort celebrated the one-year anniversary of the most spectacularly themed entertainment environment – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where the wonder, excitement and adventures of the Harry Potter books and films come to life.

Universal Orlando commemorated the anniversary at 9:23 a.m. – the exact time The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on June 18, 2010.  After taking part in a countdown led by the Hogwarts Express conductor, guests and team members celebrated in the streets of Hogsmeade while “snow” confetti and gold streamers fell from the sky.  Guests also enjoyed complimentary Butterbeer, cauldron cakes and Chocolate Frogs.

“We’re so excited to celebrate this milestone with our guests,” said Bill Davis, president of Universal Orlando Resort.  “It’s been an incredible year for us and our guests, and we look forward to creating more exciting memories with them in the years to come.”

Universal Orlando also created a virtual celebration by launching a new “Share Your Story” tab on its official Facebook page.  The all-new tab gives fans the opportunity to interact with one another and share favorite memories and photos from their visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – whether it’s tasting Butterbeer for the first time, watching their daughter as she’s selected by the perfect wand or soaring above Hogwarts with their family.

Every U.S. resident who shares their story will automatically be entered to win a VIP trip to Universal Orlando Resort this fall. Now through July 15, Universal will give away two VIP trips each week – one to a guest who has experienced The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and one to someone that has never been.

If fans have not been able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they can share why they aspire to on the “Share Your Story” tab as well.  U.S. residents who share their stories on the tab will be automatically entered into a contest where they can win a trip to Universal Orlando Resort this fall.  To take part in the virtual celebration, share their stories or read other fans’ stories, guests should visit

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter features multiple themed attractions, shops and a restaurant – all faithful to the films.

For more information about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Orlando Resort, visit

See also:

Inside Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and slideshow

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel Lets You Live Universal’s Theme Park Fantasy and slideshow

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Celebrates 1,000,000th Butterbeer Sale

January 7, 2011

In celebration of selling its millionth Butterbeer inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort shared 1,000 complimentary Butterbeers with guests on the streets of Hogsmeade © 2011 Karen Rubin/

In celebration of selling its millionth Butterbeer inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort shared 1,000 complimentary Butterbeers with guests on the streets of  Hogsmeade.

Butterbeer appears as a favorite drink inside the Harry Potter books and films and is only available inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It is a nonalcoholic, frothy drink reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch and is served cold or frozen.

Much has been written about Butterbeer since it made its debut on June 18, 2010, making it one of the most talked about beverages of 2010.  There has been much speculation about its secret ingredients – but Universal Orlando will not share the closely guarded recipe. Universal has implemented special security procedures to protect the details.

Butterbeer quickly became a guest favorite.   To help meet the strong demand, Universal Orlando added a fourth Butterbeer location within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“You can see the excitement on our guests’ faces as they wait in line – and then the smile that comes with their first sip,” said Ric Florell, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Resort Revenue Operations for Universal Orlando.  “Butterbeer is not just a beverage. It’s an experience.”


Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the most spectacularly themed environment ever created. It is the only place in the world where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films come to life.


See Inside Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter

and Wizarding World slideshow

Also Loews Portofino Bay Hotel Lets You Live Universal’s Theme Park Fantasy



Walt Disney World’s Summer Nightastic is Fantastic

July 24, 2010

Walt Disney World's Summer Nighttastic Fireworks Show at Magic Kingdom is spellbinding (© 2010 Karen Rubin/

I admit it: I was as thrilled as any six-year old to see the bursts of fireworks over the magical Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.

Summer Nightastic! Fireworks Show, on through August 14, is truly one of the phenomenal spectacles that only Disney Imagineers could pull off (when the bursts formed the pirate skulls, that was jaw-dropping amazing).

We very cleverly checked the schedule of activities in order to make the best use of our two days of Park Hopper tickets, spent our first day at Hollywood Studios (it was open until 8 p.m. that night, then we were too tired to go to another park); then spent our second, amazing day at Animal Kingdom knowing that Magic Kingdom was open until 11 pm., with the Electric Parade on at 9 and 11 pm. and the fireworks at 10 pm.

We took the ferry over from the parking lot (instead of the Monorail), for an exquisite view of Magic Kingdom, and arrived just as the Main Street Electrical Parade was getting underway, miraculously managing to get a spot right on Main Street.

Magic Kingdom's Main Street glitters at night, with Cinderella's Castle in the background (© 2010 Karen Rubin/

And then to have Magic Kingdom almost to yourself at night, in the dark, to do the rides and attractions! We got to do the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (my favorite coaster), then dashed to Tomorrowland (it makes you smile to see a 1950s “vision” of the future) to Space Mountain coaster, getting in the last ride of the night. Coming back, the 11 p.m. Electrical Parade was underway and we got to see the end from a different perspective, right in front of Cinderella’s castle.

Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electric Parade comes to Cinderella’s Castle making a spectacular sight (© 2010 Karen Rubin/

At Epcot’s nighttime display, the skies explode with lasers, fireworks and music for the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth that glitters and glows over the World Showcase Lagoon.

There’s no question, Disney’s got it.. The Magic. You can’t even put your finger on it. As an adult, you appreciate the artistry, the creativity, the imagination, and then simply get lost in a child’s delight. You are swept up in the enchantment, taken to other worlds, no matter how old you are or where you are in your life, or where you are from.

In fact, walking with the crowd as Animal Kingdom was closing for the night, you sense that there is no place on earth that has such a conglomeration of humanity. As it happens, it was around the Tree of Life, but we felt it again on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. For the time you are under Disney’s spell, it almost seems that there is nothing else beyond these magical worlds.

During our two-day visit using the Disney Park-Hopper ticket, we were able to enjoy three of the parks:

Some of the highlights of our visit:

Hollywood Studios (the Extreme Stunt show is not to be believed; the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is a music-charged zoomfest that takes you through loops, twists and turns inside; a new addition is the American Idol Experience); Animal Kingdom (Expedition Everest is an amazing coaster set in a realistic re-creation of Nepal; Harambe safari is stunningly realistic; we had an amazing trek of our own seeking the silverback gorillas on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trails, the daytime Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade is wildly creative, and the new “Finding Nemo” Broadway-style musical is Tony-Award caliber that will delight everyone; and “Tough to be a Bug” 3-D experience in the base of The Tree of Life is as marvelous as ever); and Magic Kingdom.

Planning tips: Wednesday is the least crowded day at the theme parks. Check the Walt Disney World website to get a schedule for the parks – which are open late, when the parades and the fireworks are scheduled, or special events.

I suggest, if possible and the schedule works out, save your favorite park for the second day in order to get the full enjoyment: you are tired after traveling and it takes a day to get oriented to the Disney way the parks operate.

Take advantage of Disney’s FastPass system – where you can get a time to return (it spans an hour) and you just breeze in, so you don’t have to wait on the standby line. You can only use the pass once an hour, though.

Get all the info you need and do your vacation planning at

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–Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate

CoCo Key Orlando Salutes Military with $79 rate

May 8, 2010

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, Orlando’s newest family resort, CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort-Orlando, is reaching out to members of the U.S. Armed Forces with a special $79 stay-and-play offer. 

For $79 per night through June 15, active and retired U.S. military personnel, including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists can enjoy a complete resort stay-and-play experience at the new CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort-Orlando.

Located on International Drive just minutes from the theme parks, CoCo Key offers an atmosphere that captures the relaxation and enchantment of the Florida Keys.  Brightly colored cabanas, swaying palms, fragrant hibiscus, native artwork and thatched roofs welcome guests to Florida’s newest and most unique water resort.

The 54,000-square-foot canopy-covered and outdoor water park features 14 water slides; a zero-entry pool area offering water fun for youngsters; a teen pool; an interactive Play Island; three daring adventure slides; lots of dining options; and a state-of-the-art arcade. 

Reservations are available by visiting (click on the Orlando tab), by calling 877/875-4681 or contacting a travel agent.

Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate