This week’s Theme Park Rangers Radar looks to the future at Orlando Science Center and Epcot then goes a retro with Cypress Gardens in its water-skiing heyday, long before Legoland Florida sailed into Winter Haven.
Radar is a weekly compilation of newsy bits from Central Florida theme parks and attractions. It appears on OrlandoSentinel.com on Wednesdays.
After a recent hard-hat tour of Orlando Science Center’s upcoming “Life” exhibit, which opens in late 2023, we wondered what else was on the Loch Haven Park museum’s wish list. Its current string of projects dates back to 2016 with an expanded version of KidsTown (which includes the trademark orange grove area) and remodeled entrance/ticketing area.
The fundraising goal, dating back before the updated KidsTown, was $30 million, and about $27 million has been raised, President and CEO JoAnn Newman says. The science center doesn’t start building until it has the money, but the next major project would be big … and digital, she says. It will be an update of Dr. Phillips CineDome, the large-format film theater.
“It uses film. It uses 15/70 millimeter film. It’s big film that’s on a platter and you have to thread it,” Newman says. “It’s a dying art.”
The goal is full-dome digital, Newman says.
“It opens up your content that allows us to do big planetarium shows in there. It’s going to be amazing. That’s what we’d like to pull off for the final leg.”
Other projects during the current capital campaign includes Hive: A MakerSpace, the educational wing with classrooms and lab spaces and a virtual-flight exhibit on the fourth floor.
“Life” is replacing the NatureWorks exhibit that had open since the science center moved into the building in 1997.
This year, Polk County has been celebrating 100 years of water skiing, which has a direct tie to Cypress Gardens, the longtime Winter Haven attraction that closed in 2009. For years, it was touted as “the water-ski capital of the world.”
That land now is occupied by Legoland Florida theme park, which continues the tradition with “Brickbeard’s Watersports Stunt Show,” which debuted on Lake Eloise last year.
“The history of who we are as Legoland Florida is just so special, especially in times like this. In fall, you see the multigenerational families come in, and you get to speak to the grandparents about their memories of Cypress Gardens,” said Kelly Hornick, head of marketing and communication for the park.
“You always hear about the ski pyramid,” a three-person-high formation that’s both old school and part of the “Brickbeard” show, she said.
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“They’re so tickled to see this park kind of come to life with the Lego brand specifically because they also have their own unique memories attached to the Lego brand,” Hornick said. “So it’s like these two different things that were so special to them coming to life for their kids and grandkids.”
There’s been another wee drop of news fall about the transformation of Epcot. Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure will be arriving later this year, according to a post written by Kartika Rodriguez, vice president for Epcot, on the official Disney Park Blog.
The DuckTales item was part of Rodriguez’s article about the 40th anniversary of the park, which had its grand opening on Oct. 1, 1982, exactly 11 years after Magic Kingdom opened.
[ Disney reveals narrators for 2022 Candlelight Processional ]
She didn’t expound on the content of the new activity, but the “World Showcase Adventure” name seems to indicate a scavenger hunt of sorts as that name was used with previous versions featuring Kim Possible and Agent P of “Phineas and Ferb” fame.
When this edition was announced in late 2019, just before the pandemic took hold, it was said that Epcot visitors would used the Play Disney Parks mobile app to participate with “Scrooge McDuck, Donald, nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, Launchpad and Webby in search of priceless treasure.”
No launch date has been shared, but Rodriguez used the “soon” word. Stay tuned.
What’s on your radar? Email me at [email protected]