Throughout Florida, new attractions, tours and hotels ideal for mom, dad, jr. and princess, not to mention grandma and grandpa, are continuously popping up, cementing Florida as a one-stop family vacation fun shop.
When Too Many is Not Nearly Enough
There are so many new attractions being introduced in Orlando that your clients will feel like a kid in a candy store with an overload of options. Will they head to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios to see the new Star Wars-inspired entertainment—Star Wars Launch Bay; Star Wars: Path of the Jedi; and Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple; and more (all a prelude to the 14-acre Star Wars-themed land coming soon to the theme park)—or will it be a detour to Epcot, where the new Frozen Ever After attraction makes its debut this summer, complemented by a spring unveiling at Animal Kingdom of the “Rivers of Light” show, which weaves in live performances, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. Over at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, King Kong has come a-knocking (or screeching and roaring) with the new Skull Island: Reign of Kong, a themed attraction set to open this summer, but tell clients to watch their back because according to press material, they’ll encounter “an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures,…and [come] face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.”
At SeaWorld Orlando, it’s underwater terrors that will have your client’s pulse zooming upwards when the curtain opens on Mako this summer. It’s a 200-ft.-tall hypercoaster that will reach 73 mph along 4,760 ft. of steel track—SeaWorld press material says it will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster. Gulp, shark vs. gorilla? All in a day’s fun in Orlando.
A vacation in St. Petersburg will have families on a treasure hunt at the “Shipwreck: Treasures of the Deep,” an exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of History running thru May 31. It’s an interactive journey replete with stories about a 17th century Spanish galleon, a Civil War steamship, and a WWII merchant vessel. This is also the year to celebrate National Parks, including Florida’s very own Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. To celebrate the centennial, the National Park Service is offering free entrance to the parks on several days in 2016: April 16-24 (National Park Week), Aug. 25-28 (National Park Service’s 100th birthday), Sept. 24 (National Public Lands Day), and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).
A Short Preview
What’s next on the long must-see-in-person list? At Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, it’s The World of AVATAR, with floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforests coming to life in 2017. Universal Orlando, meanwhile, is launching such attractions as Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Fast & Furious: Supercharged, both springing up at Universal Studios next year. There’s also a new water
theme park, Volcano Bay, opening in 2017 at Universal Orlando.
“Come In, We’re Open”
So where will you be putting all those clients heading to Universal, Disney or elsewhere throughout the state of Florida? We’ve got a trio of new properties you need to know about, including Universal Orlando Resort’s fifth onsite property, the 1,000-room, Caribbean-themed Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, set to open this summer. It features the largest onsite resort-style pool…get ready, it’s 16,000 sq. ft. with a white-sand beach, a water slide, and cabanas. Guests who book by May 31 for stays from July 14 to Dec. 15 will receive a $150 hotel dining credit for 4-night stays or longer.
In South Florida, the 349-room Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, which opened this past September, features an 11,000-sq.-ft. spa, eight bars and restaurants, paddleboard rentals, and the 11th floor License to Chill Bar and pool, which offers stunning ocean views. There are also two additional pools on the ground floor, as well as 22 cabanas, and a FlowRider surf simulator for those looking to challenge the surf. For guests who find it difficult to leave their four-legged friends behind, they can take advantage of the resort’s pet-friendly policy, which allows furry-friends up to 25 pounds to stay at the resort with their owners.
And in the Florida Keys, the 167-room and -suite Playa Largo Resort & Spa is to be the first new build property in Key Largo in more than 20 years. As of press time, the property, part of the Autograph Collection, was set for a late-April/early May opening. Although, admittedly, this hotel is made for couples, there’s no denying it’s great for families as well, especially the 2-story, 3-bedroom Beach House with private pool (think multigenerational bookings). Per night rates for the Beach House are approximately
$4,500 per night. There are also spa treatments for the little ones, as well as a kids club for ages 5 to 12 that includes activities such as fishing off the pier, nature hikes, and coconut bowling.
Just in time for summer bookings, Adventures by Disney has launched three new itineraries that offer, according to press material, “new ways to explore America in 2016.” The 7-day Walt Disney World and Central Florida tour features an exploration of the Magic Kingdom’s various lands with an Imagineer; VIP seating at the “Rivers of Light” show; a private lunch with an astronaut at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex; and exploring the outdoors by zipline, swamp buggy, horseback, kayaks and airboat, among a host of other unique experiences. Departures start in June and rates are $4,939 per adult and $4,699 per child.
Adventures by Disney: adventuresbydisney.com
Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort: margaritavillehollywoodbeachresort.com
Playa Largo Resort & Spa: playalargoresort.com
SeaWorld Orlando: seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-orlando
Universal Orlando: universalorlando.com
Walt Disney World: disneyworld.disney.go.com