With Major Changes at All of the Central Florida Theme Parks, DoingFlorida Says That 2008 is the Best Year Ever to Visit Orlando

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Despite their already huge attendance figures, the seven major theme parks in the Orlando area are all planning significant changes and new attractions during 2008. With the range of improvements seemingly greater than ever before, this could well be the best time yet to visit the area.

The seven major theme parks in the Orlando area are already incredibly popular with visitors from around the globe - between them they welcome over 50 million visitors each year.

All of these parks are constantly introducing new attractions and updating existing ones, to make sure there are plenty of new reasons to visit, but the list of changes for 2008 seems to exceed anything ever seen before.

With so much activity under way, the DoingFlorida news service constantly monitors updates from each of the parks, and provides daily reports on progress. The current list of developments certainly makes impressive reading.

The major change for Epcot during 2008 is the official re-opening of Spaceship Earth in February. The attraction has been open to visitors for the past few weeks and reports have been very positive. A further week's closure has been announced from 9th - 14th February - amid rumours of some further surprises before the official re-opening.

Over at the newly-renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios, the new Toy Story Mania attraction will be opening in the summer, providing a new interactive ride experience. The new Block Party Bash parade will be arriving from Disneyland in California in March and will mark a big change for the Studios, with much more audience participation than previous parades. The ABC Theater is expected to re-open during February, possibly hosting an American Idol-type show, or maybe becoming the permanent home for the High School Musical show which proved so popular during 2007. Finally the new Playhouse Disney show has now re-opened and promises a show that kids don't just watch but actually experience and become part of.

Magic Kingdom will also feature a new parade during 2008 - Disney's Parade of Dreams is expected to arrive in November, in time for the holiday season.

Animal Kingdom celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Nothing has yet been announced regarding how the birthday will be celebrated on April 22nd, although following the reaction to a low-key anniversary a Epcot last year, it is likely that Disney will be planning to mark the occasion in some way. Also, following some major construction work during 2007, the new Animal Kingdom Villas are well on the way to completion, providing a whole new experience for guests.

At Universal Studios the former 'Earthquake' attraction has now been re-opened as 'Disaster - A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring YOU', with an entirely new pre-show and, as the name suggests, the chance for guests to make their big screen debut. Of course the new Simpsons attraction is due to open in April, and if the reaction to the characters in the park is anything to go by, this is going to prove extremely popular with guests.

At Islands of Adventure work is now well underway on the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is eagerly anticipated by fans across the world. Whilst this new attraction is not expected to open until late 2009 or even 2010, the signs are that it will be well worth waiting for.

Last, but certainly not least, Seaworld Orlando is seeing the biggest change of all, with the opening of the new Aquatica park on March 1st. Aquatica will be a highly themed water park with some fantastic attractions such as twin wave pools, two lazy rivers, and transparent water slide tubes that will actually go underwater, allowing guests to pass right through the dolphin area. A spectacular 'Wildnite' has been organised to celebrate Aquatica's opening, and details of this celebration will be released shortly.

So if you've been thinking about trying central Florida for the first time, or if you're an Orlando regular who's thinking about returning, this may well be the year to go for it.

Stay up-to-date with all these changes on the DoingFlorida daily news service - bringing news and updates from the central Florida parks every single day of the year, together with tips and advice from fellow Florida fans.

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Helen Bullock