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Following one of the most explosive years of entertainment growth in its history, Walt Disney World Resort heads into the millennium with record numbers of new shows, attractions and entertainment extravaganzas.
And while Disney's Millennium Celebration focuses on Epcot, there is new fun in all the other corners of the Vacation Kingdom as well. Just since last fall the Magic Kingdom has premiered two attractions and a nighttime spectacle. Disney-MGM Studios has opened a wild coaster ride and three new shows. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, there's a whole new continent of fun. And Downtown Disney has raised the curtain on one of the world's most innovative live performance spectaculars.
Magic Kingdom Park
Starting in the Magic Kingdom Park, guests embark on a whimsical journey into the Hundred Acre Wood in "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." Everybody's favorite "chubby little cubby" leads the way as blustery breezes blow along the way to a birthday party finale.
An interactive journey through Buzz Lightyear's imagination awaits in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. This Tomorrowland attraction brings to life the hit movie "Toy Story" as you pilot your own space cruisers with shoot-'em-up fun the triggers sight and sound gags.
A new generation is being treated to a Disney classic as the original "Main Street Electrical Parade" from Disneyland lights up the Magic Kingdom park. The parade is sparkling like never before with a makeover of 575,000 glittering, new, multi-color lights for parade units and costumes depicting favorite Disney themes, such as "Alice in Wonderland," "Cinderella" and "Peter Pan."
Thrill-seekers head for the Magic Kingdom mountains -- Splash Mountain, with its spectacular drop into a pond five stories below; Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a runaway ride through spiraling buttes on an out-of-control mine train, and Space Mountain, a wild trip into the inky darkness of outer space.
Epcot The Walt Disney World millennium extravaganza is centered at Epcot, where Spaceship Earth is crowned by a giant, glittering "2000" that soars from a star-topped wand held by Sorcerer Mickey's gloved hand.
In true Disney fashion, a spectacular line-up of entertainment dazzles guests of all ages. Twice nightly, the "Tapestry of Nations" street festival fills World Showcase Promenade with performers and puppets that soar nearly 20 feet, dramatically representing all regions of the world and in an unparalleled global celebration.
For the millennium Epcot also introduces "IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth," an all-new nighttime spectacular that fills the skies above World Showcase Lagoon with a kaleidoscope of pyrotechnics. In the center of the lagoon, a giant Earth globe tells the incredible tale of our planet, then blossoms like a flower for the show's emotional finale.
Dozens of nations join in the multicultural festivities at Millennium Village, an all-new World Showcase pavilion that immerses guests in the exotic smells, sights and sounds of global destinations.
In Future World, Disney Imagineers have reinvented "Innoventions," where you can preview the future of technology today in a showcase of the latest products for the home, work and play.
In "Imagination!," a new Future World attraction presented by Kodak, you can journey into your own imagination in a fun ride-through adventure of sights, sounds and senses that challenges guests to increase their I.Q. -- Imagination Quotient.
Also in Future World, Test Track puts you behind the wheel for a taste of the paces that development vehicles are put through at General Motors' proving grounds. Guests zip along at speeds pushing 65 mph in the longest, fastest Walt Disney World ride.
Animal Kingdom Park A natural treasure of wild creatures and an unforgettable expedition into the rainforest awaits guests in Asia, the newest "continent" at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park. Gibbons, giant fruit bats, majestic tigers and Komodo dragons make their home here. And guests get a wild, wet ride in Asia's Kali River Rapids, launched on 12-person rafts into the turbulent Chakranadi River.
The spectacular flora and fauna of the Maharajah Jungle Trek is one of the major adventures in Asia, as you go on a self-paced walking tour through the lush home of the exotic animals and birds.
Swinging and singing his way into Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, Tarzan turns rock 'n' roll star in "Tarzan Rocks!" This high-energy, high-flying, 30-minute concert brings the emotion of the hit Disney motion picture "Tarzan" to the park's Theater in the Wild.
Onboard speakers in each coaster train. The Park's lands radiate from the centrally located Safari Village area where the Tree of Life rises 145 feet above guests. Inside the massive trunk is "It's Tough to Be a Bug!" a humorous 3-D film/special effects show that's proven to be the No. 1 attraction in the new Theme Park.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Park includes memorable places like DinoLand U.S.A., Camp Mickey-Minnie and Africa. Guests experience high adventure on an authentic African safari, close encounters with ferocious dinosaurs, warm moments with Disney characters and theaters brimming with colorful entertainment.
Disney-MGM Studios The dynamic Disney-MGM Studios immerses you in the fascinating world of show business, surrounding you with all of the excitement and intrigue of the movies, television, animation and theater. The wildest new Studios' experience is "Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith," an indoor coaster that features a high-speed launch of 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, three inversions, rock concert lighting and specially recorded Aerosmith soundtrack thundering from 120 on-board speakers in each coaster train.
Disney-MGM Studios After dark, "Fantasmic!" brings to life the dreams of Mickey Mouse in the most elaborate Disney park production ever. A 6,500-seat outdoor amphitheater is home to nightly performances featuring a cast of 50 performers, plus dazzling special effects, colorful pyrotechnic explosion, beloved Disney characters, animation and dancing waters synchronized to the melodies of timeless Disney classics.
There is Funnie business going on -- Doug Funnie, that is. Disney's Doug, star of the popular ABC "One Saturday Morning" television shows of the same name -- comes to life through a mix of live performances and animation in "Disney's Doug Live!" Favorites from the show are all there in person, and lucky members of the audience get picked to play a part in the performance.
The creators of "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" set out to top the heart-pounding plummet from 13 floors and succeeded with "Tower of Terror III." The new version adds more mind-bending special effects and new pulse-racing drops.
For families, "Bear in the Big Blue House" is an interactive, live performance based on the television show that airs daily on The Disney Channel. Bear and his friends involve the whole audience as they sing and tell stories with original music from the hit show.
Other stellar attractions at the Disney-MGM Studios include "Beauty and the Beast -- Live On Stage," a musical with a delightful ending; "Star Tours," a wild galactic flight, and Jim Henson's "Muppet Vision 3-D," which takes Muppet mayhem into a whole new dimension of chaos.
Downtown Disney Area
More than 60 artists from around the world, including gymnasts, acrobats, dancers and clowns, take artistic energy to riveting new heights in Cirque du Soleil, an innovative combination of theater and the circus at Downtown Disney West Side. Recognized throughout the world for its astounding shows, Cirque du Soleil presents "La Nouba" - an unforgettable tapestry of art, life and high drama -- in a specially designed theater in two shows daily Wednesday through Sunday.
Another new entertainment adventure at Downtown Disney West Side is DisneyQuest, a breakthrough concept in family interactive entertainment. You can climb aboard a virtual river raft, grab a paddle and shoot the rapids; buckle into a motion simulator and ride a roller coaster of your own design or fly a magic carpet. Four distinct "worlds" combine the magic of Disney with engaging interactive technologies.
These are just two of the many new experiences at the Downtown Disney area, a place full of entertainment, food, shops and fun for guests of all ages. The area is divided into the West Side, Pleasure Island and the Marketplace. Along with DisneyQuest and Cirque du Soleil, Downtown Disney West Side features restaurants, shopping and the AMC 24 Theatres.
Pleasure Island offers eight exciting clubs, like BET SoundStage Club featuring rhythm and blues, soul and hip-hop, and the Wildhorse Saloon for dancing, barbecue and some of the best new country music on the charts.
Downtown Disney Marketplace features more than 20 diverse shops and restaurants, including the World of Disney, the largest Disney character merchandise store on the planet.
Universal Studios Escape has developed into a vacation destination beyond your imagination. It will set the standard for entertainment well into the millennium. Universal Studios Escape is a combination of many world class and technologically unique facilities: Universal Studios Florida is the largest working film and television production studio outside Hollywood.
With more than 40 incredible rides, shows, movie sets and attractions, The No. 1 Movie Studio and Theme Park in the World is the only place on earth where you can Live The Movies! Universal Studios CityWalk is an unparalleled entertainment, dining and shopping complex featuring famous name restaurants and nightclubs. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, with state-of-the-art rides and attractions, will carry us into the next millennium and beyond.
Universal Studios Escape is situated on more than 840 acres. It would take more pages than are in a Best Read Guide to tell you all about it, but follow through for a brief taste of the "Orlando Vacation Destination for the 21st Century".
Universal Studios Florida
Live The Movies , and experience what it's like not only to be behind the scenes ... but IN the scenes.
Twister ... "Ride it Out"
Based on the hit film "Twister", this attraction places you a mere 20 feet from the awesome live spectacle of a towering five-story tornado.
Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time
Based on the popular Terminator movies, this 3-D adventure is one of the more elaborate and technologically advanced theme park experiences ever created.
Jaws Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the Great White Shark is back with a ferocious fury never before seen.
Back To The Future The Ride Become part of the most intense multi-sensory motion picture experience possible. Time travelers free-fall down volcanic tunnels aflame with red hot molten lava, cascading and careening through the past, present and future in the most ambitious ride ever engineered.
Men In Black Alien Attack
As an agent trainee, you will zap aliens as you chase them through the streets of New York in this high-tech ride based on the hit movie.
But be warned... these aliens zap back, spining your vehicle wildly out control. The outcome is based on your score - save Earth and you might get promoted to full-fledged Men in Black agent! It's never the same ride twice.
Other attractions you won't want to miss are Earthquake--The Big One, E.T. Adventure, Kongfrontation, The FUNtastic World of Hanna-Barbera and Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue.
Islands of Adventure
The most amazing piece of this world class facility is now open. Creative consultant Steven Spielberg has put together the most thrilling and technologically advanced rides and attractions ever made at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. Your journey begins at the exotic Port of EntrySM and takes you through five uniquely themed islands:
A cacophony of colors, music and mood set the scene on this island which is the only place in the world where the whimsical characters of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's famous books spring into being.
The Lost Continent
Those who dare to proceed must do so cautiously or quickly find themselves lost in a foreboding, medieval forest inhabited by fiery dragons and mythical gods ... a land once believed to exist only in the mists of time, a land where myths and legends come to life.
This island brings to life more than 150 of the world's best-loved two-dimensional cartoon characters in an en environment which melts the boundaries between imagination and reality.
Inspired by one of the most successful motion pictures of all time, this island offers you a remarkable voyage of discovery into the earth's most primitive past. Here guests will come face-to-face with moving, breathing dinosaurs!
Marvel Super Hero Island
This futuristic city incorporates unprecedented technology with the most popular comic book heroes and villains of all time, showcasing revolutionary rides and attractions that combine moving vehicles, 3-D action film and special effects.
For those who search for the ultimate in thrill rides you won't be disappointed.
Incredible Hulk CoasterImmediately go weightless in a zero-G roll ... this is the same thrust as in a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet. Experience a cobra roll, a 360-degree high speed spiral, double loops and two corkscrew turns. The coaster's largest drop is 105 feet, with speeds of over 60 mph.
Dueling Dragons The world's first inverted dueling roller coaster, "Dueling Dragons" is actually two separate and intertwined roller coasters. Each track, Fire Dragon and Ice Dragon, is a different layout. There are three "near misses" where the coasters come to within 12 inches of each other. You will experience one Immelman curve, one camelback hill, one 70-degree inclined loop, two vertical loops, one cobra roll, one zero-G roll, one corkscrew and two interlocked corkscrews.
Come see for yourself ... there is something for everyone at Universal Studios "Islands of Adventure", from the youngsters who love Dr. Seuss and cartoon characters to adults wanting the adventure of "Jurassic Park" and the "Lost Continent". These are once-in-a-lifetime adventures ... creating memories that will last a lifetime. Open 9:00 AM
Sea World of Florida, the world's most popular marine-life park, brings education, research and conservation together in an entertaining and fun-filled way. Your entire family can feed a dolphin, pet a stingray and learn about the animals inhabiting our oceans.
Sea World of Florida has an impressive line-up of five new shows. Cirque de la Mer kicks off the line-up blending athleticism, acrobatics, comedy and dramatic music and effects in a nontraditional circus setting.
Sea World continues its rescue efforts in the new show, "Pets on Stage", which features a cast of performing pets adopted from animal shelters.
To complete the exciting lineup, Sea World will soon be introducing three more new shows: "The Shamu Adventure", with Jack Hanna as host; a water-ski show featuring daring new thrills and stunts, and "Clyde and Seamore Take Treasure Island", which will star Sea World's favorite sea lion team.
In addition to the new lineup of shows, Sea World has recently opened the edge-of-your seat water-coaster, "Journey to Atlantis", which is based on the lost city of Atlantis. The coaster plunges brave riders into an adventure where they are thrilled by unseen forces, experience serpentine twists and speed down two of the steepest, fastest, wettest drops found anywhere. Be prepared to get wet on this one-of-a-kind, water-coaster encounter.
Sea World of Florida also presents "Key West at Sea World". Celebrate in the warming sun of the subtropics as Sea World takes visitors to the southernmost tip of Florida. Guests will enjoy river rock paths, sandy beaches, Caribbean cuisine, street vendors, entertainers and, of course, the marine animals for which Sea World is most famous.
Other new additions include naturalistic animal habitats -- Dolphin Cove, Stingray Lagoon and Sea Turtle Point. Dolphin Cove is the centerpiece attraction that is home to more than two dozen bottlenose dolphins. The chilled saltwater of Dolphin Cove is approximately 12 feet deep and continually passes through a wavemaker that creates crashing waves up to 2 feet high.
Guided tours allow guests to wade into the surf and interact with the dolphins one-on-one with specially designed areas where guests may feed and touch the animals.
Just across the "island" at Sea Turtle Point guests will come face-to-face with endangered species of sea turtles, such as green, loggerhead and hawksbill. Seldom on land, these fascinating creatures offer guests an intriguing glimpse into their lives.
A long-time favorite of Sea World guests, Stingray Lagoon, expands to nearly twice its former size and features a variety of rays, including cownose, southern and roughtailed. In this interactive habitat, guests are encouraged to touch and feed the docile rays that burrow in the sand of shallow coastal waters.
Kraken, the monster of all roller coasters, is the tallest, fastest, longest and only floorless roller coaster in Orlando. Yes, floorless. Imagine a roller coaster that takes you to heights of a 15-story building ... upside down seven times ... at 65 mph. That's Kraken. Only at SeaWorld. (You must be 54 inches tall to ride).
Other attractions include: "Wild Arctic", "Shamu: Close Up", "Shamu: World Focus", "Manatees: The Last Generation?" and "Hotel Clyde and Seamore". Open 9:00 AM
Cypress Garden enters the new millennium with traditional grace and grandeur. The charm of the old South comes alive with new highlights for 2002. The lineup features new displays in The FloraDome, a covered botanical exhibit that changes seasonally, an enhanced concert series, 2002 Rockin' Around the Dock Ski show, Gator Gulch alligator habitat and Moscow on Ice presents Skate the States ice show. The everyday loveliness of the original gardens and the elegance of a serene lake cruise aboard the Southern Breeze* paddle wheel boat brings guests back yearafter year.
See over 1,000 free-flying butterflies in Wings of Wonder?, the Butterfly Conservatory or laugh at the antics of the lories and lorikeets in the "Birdwalk" aviary delighting guests of all ages. Bedazzling world-class seasonal floral and lighting festivals; scenic floral boat rides; wildlife sanctuary; Summer Wacky Water Park and so much more!
Theme Dinner Theaters
There are many themed dinner theaters in the Orlando area. Medieval Times in Kissimmee is typical of this type of family entertainment experience. You sit at long tables around a great central arena and feast on a medieval banquet while knights perform equestrian feats and joust in full armor. Similar shows are offered at King Henry's Feast, Arabian nights, Capone's Dinner Show, Pirates at Colossal Studios and at Wild Bill's West Dinner Extravaganza.
Drive a NASCAR Race Car
The Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway allows you to ride in a genuine NASCAR racecar. If you have the time, and the money, you can take a half-day driving school then pilot the racecar around the track yourself. Mike says: Wow, what a thrill riding at 146 MPH and playing catch with another racecar. (with wife, Anny in the other racer)
There are a lot of entertainment options in the Orlando area. The world's largest Hard Rock Café is located at Universal Studios City Walk and the giant globe shaped Planet Hollywood is at Disney's West End. There are all types of musical entertainment from dueling piano sing-alongs and dance clubs to rock and roll performances. Check out Church Street Station in downtown Orlando, CityWalk at Universal, Pleasure Island or West Side at Disney and various locations along International Blvd. Mike's favorite is House of Blues at West End for nightly funky blues music in the restaurant.
This is an authentic Florida attraction. Gatorland animal park with thousands of alligators and crocodiles features a variety of shows including "gator wrestling" and the "gator jumparoo". It is great fun for young and old.
John F. Kennedy Space Center
Hours: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open every day - exept December 25 - from 9 a.m. to dusk.
Wheelchairs, strollers, and pet kennels are free of charge. Multi-lingual assistance and accessibility brochures are available at the informayion counter.
Location: Kennedy Space Center is located 45 minutes east of Orlando. Nowhere else can you see, touch and hear more about the workings of America's space-craft built to travel to the moon more than 30 years ago. Present-day missions help support the International Space Station and will blaze a trail for future exploration of other planets.
These flat-bottomed, propeller-driven boats are an excellent means of transportation in the shallow wetlands that abound throughout Florida. There are several locations near Orlando where you can take an excursion in a typical airboat. The ride can be fast, exciting and noisy. You can see alligators and wetland wildlife up close.
Florida is famous for its sports fishing. Freshwater fishing, especially bass fishing, is available in many lakes and streams around Orlando. You can find fishing guides and charter boats at various locations near Orlando, but you must purchase a fresh-water fishing license. Salt-water fishing is available at Clearwater beach near Tampa. Large and small charter boats depart from the fishing basin for half-day and full day fishing excursions in the Gulf of Mexico.
Golf is very popular in Florida and can be played all months of the year. There are over 20 golf courses in the Orlando vicinity with eight courses located on the Walt Disney World property.
Orlando has an art museum, a science center and a historical society museum. It also has a Ripley's "Believe it or Not Museum" and an interactive Wonderworks.
The Orlando Magic NBA Basketball Team plays at the Orlando Arena. The minor league Orlando Rays baseball team plays at Tinker Field. If you are into wagering, Orlando offers a harness-racing track, a greyhound-racing track and a Jai Alai Fronton.
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