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What's new at theme parks

Extreme rides, American Idol competitions and secret-agent missions are among the new thrills this summer at the Orlando theme parks.



MANTA, SEAWORLD



This roller coaster's preshow is a walk through a huge aquarium filled with real rays. Riders are then strapped facedown to the underside of the cars and sent zipping through spins, twists and drops, including a plummeting maneuver that bottoms out just 15 feet above other SeaWorld guests.

Height requirement: 54 inches. General admission $75 for adults, $65 for kids 3 to 9; 888-800-5447; seaworldorlando.com.



KIM POSSIBLE WORLD SHOWCASE ADVENTURE, EPCOT



At Epcot's World Showcase, kids can pick up a Kimmunicator, a cell phone-like gadget that sends them on missions in various Epcot countries, all to help Disney cartoon hero Kim Possible. At different stations, the Kimmunicator makes statues move and parrots talk. Epcot admission $75 for adults, $63 for kids ages 3 to 9; 407-939-6244; disneyworld.com.



AMERICAN IDOL EXPERIENCE, WALT DISNEY WORLD




After contestants perform on a replica of the American Idol stage, audience members vote via touch pads. Then it's Randy, Paula, and Simon's turn (played by actors). The day's winners compete against one another for an audition for the real show.



Disney's Hollywood Studios admission $75 for adults, $63 for kids ages 3 to 9; 407-939-6244; disneyworld.com



CHARACTERS IN FLIGHT, DOWNTOWN DISNEY



This helium ballon ride is a high time suitable for babes and great-grandmas -- and just about anyone who isn't absolutely terrified by going aloft. The gondola holds 30 people at a time and lifts ever-so-gently from the ground until it meets its max height of 400 feet -- 200 feet higher than the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios.



On a clear day, you can see all the way to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. It's especially popular during the fireworks at Epcot, held most nights at 9 p.m. No reservations are accepted.



Characters in Flight hot-air balloon operates 9 a.m.-midnight daily, weather permitting, at Downtown Disney near Planet Hollywood. Tickets are $16 for ages 10 and up; $10 ages 3-9.

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