▪ Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex debuted a new educational (and recruiting) attraction disguised as an interactive, live-action game experience on Thursday. Cosmic Quest offers five adventures that immerse “trainees” in science, technology, engineering and math and expose them to the possibility of a space-related career. In one, NASA’s Next Rocket Launch Adventure, trainees assemble a launch team, watch the scientists overcome challenges, then are immersed in the sensations of launch while at Mission Control.
Other adventures involve building a research exploration base or a permanent colony on Mars, commanding a robotic spacecraft that must redirect an asteroid, and completing various experiments on the International Space Station.
Cost of doing any or all of the Cosmic Quest adventures is $24.95 on top of daily admission. Details: 877-313-2610 or www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.
▪ St. Augustine will celebrate its heritage with its Celtic Festival March 11-13. The city’s cultural roots are not only Spanish, but also French, British, African, Minorcan and Timucuan, as well as Celtic. Activities will include Highland Games at Francis Field, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the city’s historic district, Celtic cuisine, hand-made crafts and live Celtic music by Albannach, Rathkeltair, Seven Nations, Poor Angus, Scuttered the Bruce and the Dublin City Ramblers. In addition, Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies will perform March 11 at Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Details: 904-315-8061 or www.celticstaugustine.com.
▪ Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort is tantalizing fans with the first photo and a few details of its new King Kong ride, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, scheduled to open this summer. The heart of the story is an exploration of a mysterious island where prehistoric creatures still live and legend tells of an unknown great beast.
“The menacing terrain shows signs of a native presence; beating drums draw you toward an ancient temple,” says Universal’s description of the expedition, made public Thursday. “Mysterious sounds pierce the air and you hear chanting. And then — you confront an enormous temple wall, complete with carvings and images that seem to pay homage to something you cannot quite comprehend.” Inside, the team encounters a battle between enormous creatures — and Kong, “bigger, closer and more overwhelming than you can possibly imagine.”
Universal has set up a website, http://mythexplorer.com/, to tell the story, one episode at a time, of adventurer Erin Ryder and her exploration of Skull Island.
▪ Florida seafood prepared by local chefs using Keys-based recipes will be the star at the Original Marathon Seafood Festival March 12-13. On the plates will be mahi-mahi, Key West pink shrimp, spiny lobster, stone crab claws, conch in multiple preparations, smoked fish dip and bushels of oysters and bags of clams from the west coast of Florida, plus burgers and hot dogs.
In its 40th year, the affordable foodie fair ($5 adults, children 12 and under free when accompanied by a paying adult) is staged at the outdoor Marathon Community Park, mile marker 49 oceanside. Also on the agenda: live music, artists’ village and art show, children’s games, more than 200 vendor booths.
▪ The 10th Annual Wekiva PaintOut goes on at Wekiva Island and the Wekiwa Springs State Park in Longwood, north of Orlando, starting Sunday and running through March 5. Using the park’s natural setting for inspiration, more than two dozen artists will paint Monday through Friday. On Saturday, visitors can “paint with the pros.” Throughout the week there will be activities, including live music and food and drink.
Details: 407-463-3363, http://wekivapaintout.com/
▪ It’s festival season at the theme parks and new fests are about to open. The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival, its second, will run Saturdays and Sundays March 5-April 24. And the 23rd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival expands this year from 75 to 90 days, opening Wednesday and running through May 30.
SeaWorld’s Bands, Brew and BBQ festival ends next weekend with concerts by Steve Miller Band (March 5) and Daughtry (March 6). And at Universal Studios, Mardi Gras continues on weekends through April 16.
Miami Herald staff and wire services