2013 New Theme Park Attractions Opening in Florida

As mentioned in the post about new theme park attractions coming to parks in the Southeastern United States, Florida is an animal unto itself.  With all of the immense theme parks strewn across the state, there is a continually escalating arms race for the biggest, best, and shiniest new ride to attract guests.  Highlights of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) report for Florida includes penguins, pirates, and… well, more penguins (only the DreamWorks Animation Madagascar variety).  Continue reading for all the 2013 new theme park attractions coming all across the state of Florida.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

photo by Scott Nadeau

From IAAPA’s Press Release

SeaWorld Orlando unveiled Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, over Memorial Day Weekend.  “Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin” is an immersive land with restaurant, ride, and animal habitat that gives guests a close encounter with more than 250 penguins in a chilly simulation of their actual environment.  The centerpiece ride includes a novel, trackless, motion simulator, where guests are introduced to one penguin and, through his story, learn about the life of a penguin.  The attraction’s ride experience has multiple different routes—varying in intensity—for guests to choose.  Click here for our review of SeaWorld Orlando’s largest expansion.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

photo by Scott Nadeau


Transformers: The Ride – 3D debuts at Universal Studios Florida and puts riders on the front lines of an intergalactic war between the Autobots and Decepticons.  This ride immerses guests in a fictional world by fusing high-definition 3-D media and flight simulation technology.  Grand opening of Transformers: The Ride – 3D is set for June 20, 2013 (click here for our coverage of the Red Carpet event).  Follow this link for our impression of the new attraction.  In addition, The Simpsons area of Universal Studios Florida will expand to a full-blown land of Springfield.  The Simpsons’ Springfield area will include a restaurant serving Krusty Burgers, Moe’s Tavern pouring Duff Beer, and an outdoor spinner ride, Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl.

TRANSFORMERS: The Ride - 3D Coming to Universal Orlando Resort Summer 2013

© 2012 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.


Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, FL, introduces “A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas.” Guests will use a pirate map and a magic talisman to help them complete five different pirate raids throughout Adventureland – watch our video testing out the Pirate’s Adventure game here.  Also, as part of the continued expansion of Fantasyland, Disney introduces “Princess Fairytale Hall,” where guests are immersed into the world of Disney princesses and fans can meet and mingle with their most admired role models.

A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas To Debut At Magic Kingdom

A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas To Debut At Magic Kingdom © Disney. All Rights Reserved


An exhibit featuring the NASA space shuttle Atlantis opens at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Cocoa Beach, FL.  The $100 million attraction gives guests a close-up view of the space-flown vehicle.  Atlantis is on display as if orbiting Earth with the 60-foot-long payload bay doors open.  The attraction includes a variety of space activity simulators where visitors experience the challenge of grappling a satellite or moving through a model of the International Space Station.

Busch Gardens Tampa debuted “Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation,” based on the characters from the hit children’s movies.  The original 20-minute live music show follows the antics of Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien, Mort, and the Penguins during a vacation adventure.  The new show opened on May 18th, and you can read our full review and impressions of the new show here.

Madagascar Live! Operation Vacation

Jungle Island in Miami, FL, unveils “Critter Tales,” a unique encounter featuring some of the Jungle Island’s most interesting reptiles. Guests receive a behind-the-scenes look at the critters that take up residence in the Serpentarium, including different types of snakes, lizards, and frogs. As part of the experience, guests will get the chance to feed an alligator in its enclosure.

Rapids Water Park in West Palm Beach, Fla., debuts the “FlowRider.”  The continuous, simulated wave system moves 30,000 gallons of water per minute, keeping the waves in one location and allowing riders to take turns in the curl riding waves over a fixed surface at 35 mph.

Fun Spot America, in Orlando, FL, unveils a $40 million expansion, adding the more than 2,000-foot-long “White Lightning” roller coaster, a 1200-foot suspended coaster, a 250-foot “SkyCoaster” steel cable swing attraction, and other rides such as “Tilt-A-Whirl,” “Ripcurl,” and “Enterprise.”

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.