THEME PARKS AND ATTRACTIONS
▪ The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure will close Sept. 8 for upgrades that will take the better part of a year. Universal did not give specifics but said the green coaster will get “enhancements to its storyline, ride vehicles and overall experience.” The launch coaster, one of the original rides that opened when the park did in 1999, is to reopen next summer. Its vital statistics — height: 110 feet; top speed: 67 mph; inversions: 7; length: 3,700 feet; ride time: 2 minutes, 15 seconds — may change.
▪ Building on the popularity of its two Harry Potter-themed lands, Universal Orlando says it will hold its third “A Celebration of Harry Potter” event Jan. 29-31, 2016. On the schedule will be Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent, an expo with exhibits, panels and demonstrations. And of course participants will be also to visit Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. On-site hotel packages will go on sale Aug. 19. Details: www.universalorlando.com/celebration.
▪ The theme of this year’s Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens will be “Unearthed,” a dark tale written by horror filmmaker Robin Cowie of The Blair Witch Project. “Unearthed” is rooted in dark magic, unexplained phenomena and the haunting, hair-raising story of Scarlett, “a village healer who turned to dark magic to avenge her husband’s killers,” Busch Gardens said in a release. “As her powers grew, she was hunted, trapped and buried alive deep beneath the park … but now has been “Unearthed” to summon death and destruction on unsuspecting guests.” Howl-O-Scream will take place on select nights Sept. 25 through Oct. 31. Details: http://seaworldparks.com/howloscream/.
▪ The newest addition to Madame Tussauds Orlando is pop singer Austin Mahone, who lives in the Fort Lauderdale area. His new wax figure was unveiled this week in New York but is moving to the Orlando attraction, where it will be on display in the music room. Details: www.madametussauds.com/orlando/.
▪ A tasting festival with more than 150 beers from around the world will be the main event at the sixth annual Key West BrewFest, which will get an early start on the Labor Day weekend, running Sept. 2-7. The festival will also include brew-focused dinners, beer and cigar gatherings, a lighthearted “beer run,” pool parties, beer-and-music pairings, scavenger hunt, a New Orleans-style march with music and dancing, and more.
The BrewFest Signature Tasting Festival will be the evening of Sept. 5 on Key West’s South Beach, and cost $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Details: www.keywestbrewfest.com, 800-354-4455.
▪ The Perdido Key Pirate Festival will be held on Sept. 19 — on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The third annual festival will take place at Big Lagoon State Park on Perdido Key, between Pensacola. and Orange Beach, Alabama. The revelry will include live music, pirate games, storytelling, a live reptile show, food vendors, arts and crafts, magic tricks and a hunt for buried treasure. On display at the Perdido Key Visitor Center will be a giant, 403-gallon pirate ship fish tank — Man of War pirate ship, complete with sails and cannon — that was constructed for an episode of Animal Planet’s TANKED. Details: www.visitperdido.com/events/pirate-fest-2015, 800-328-0107.
Allegiant Air will add nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale and San Antonio beginning Nov. 5. The flights will be twice weekly.
— MIAMI HERALD STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS