New attractions opening
Things are popping at the theme parks, with several new attractions opening in the next few months.
First up: Festival of Fantasy, the new parade at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, opens Sunday with nine floats that will carry characters from more than a dozen fairy tales. The parade pays tribute to the park’s redone Fantasyland, the last element of which will open later this spring.
At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Falcon’s Fury, a drop tower, opens May 1. The thrill ride, which will stand 335 feet high, will pivot riders face down in midair and drop them straight down at 60 mph. The ride will be located in the former Timbuktu, which is simultaneously being redone as Pantopia with new shops and restaurants.
Back in Orlando, Aquatica — SeaWorld’s water park — opens a new slide, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, on May 9. The slide will have three riders in side-by-side clear boxes that will break away one at a time in separate chutes, each with its own path that includes a free fall. A fourth chute is an open slide.
At press time, Disney had not announced the opening date of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but set the press preview for April 30-May 2. The ride is the final attraction of the expanded Fantansyland.
At Universal Studios, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley is scheduled to open this summer on a date not yet announced .
Berlin, Md., ‘coolest small town’
Berlin, Md., has been named “America’s Coolest Small Town” in a nationwide contest.
Budget Travel gave the small Maryland town top honors Tuesday. Berlin beat out 14 other small towns in online voting since January. Nearly 138,000 votes were cast. Berlin received more than 28 percent of the total with 39,000 votes.
Cazenovia, N.Y., came in second, followed by Buckhannon, W. Va., Travelers Rest, S.C., and Mathews, Va. in the top five.
Budget Travel noted Berlin is good for beach lovers, hikers, bird watchers and history lovers alike. It was also the backdrop for films Tuck Everlasting and The Runaway Bride.
Regular air service between Key West and Havana has quietly resumed after a hiatus of more than 50 years.
Miami-based Mambi International Group is partnered with flight operators Air Marbrisa and Air Key West. Mambi spokesman Isaac Valdes said the first two flights were sold out.
Beginning March 17, Mambi will offer the 30-minute hop to José Martí International on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Monday and Wednesday flights cost $479 roundtrip, with the Friday route going for $525, Valdes said.
The last time planes regularly flew between Key West and Havana, just 90 miles from the Southernmost City, was in 1962.
Would-be visitors must obtain either a general or specific license from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.