Florida Travel

Florida travel notes: Fast cars, nature and clowns

Rendering of a scene from the thrill ride Fast & Furious: Supercharged, coming to Universal Studios in 2017.
Rendering of a scene from the thrill ride Fast & Furious: Supercharged, coming to Universal Studios in 2017. Universal Orlando

▪ A thrill ride based on the Fast & Furious movies will be coming to Universal Studios in Orlando in 2017, taking the place of two attractions that will close later this year — Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue and Disaster: A Major Motion Picture Starring You!

The new ride, to be called Fast & Furious: Supercharged, will have an original story line — it won’t be similar to the attraction of the same name at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Guests “will be immersed in the underground racing world made famous in the films, explore the headquarters of Toretto and his team and even get to check out some of the supercharged cars they’ve seen on the big screen. Then, guests will board specially designed vehicles and take off on an adrenaline-pumping ride with their favorite stars from the films,” a press release said.

▪ Coming on the heels of the news that Hollywood Studios will get new Star Wars attractions in a new Star Wars land, Walt Disney World has announced one more Star Wars-themed event: Star Wars Half Marathon — the Dark Side. The weekend of April 14-17, 2016, will include a 5K, 10K and kids’ races in addition to the half-marathon, which will take runners through Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before finishing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Details: runDisney.com.

▪ Three Florida estuaries — in Naples, Apalachicola and St. Augustine — will celebrate National Estuaries Day at the end of September with free activities for the public. Rookery Bay in Naples and Guana Tolomato Matanzas in St. Augustine will hold events Sept. 26; Apalachicola’s will be Sept. 25. The three in Florida are among 28 national estuarine research reserves — the habitat where rivers meet the sea — located around the United States.

At Rookery Bay, five miles south of Naples, events will include boat tours, kayaking trips, paddleboarding demonstrations, marine critter touch tank, art exhibition, live animal presentations and educational booths, crafts and activities for children, tours of the science labs, films, music, food and more. Details: 239-530-5977, rookerybay.org. At Guana Tolomato Matanzas (gtmnerr.org), visitors will pull seine nets through Guana Lake and learn about the fish, crabs and other critters they pull in. At Apalachicola Bay (apalachicolareserve.com), activities will include a live reptile program, touch tank, games and learning activities for kids.

▪ The Museum of Art at The Ringling — which, after all, has its roots in the circus — opens an exhibition on clowns Sept. 11. Clowns! will be a visual history of the use of clowns in circus advertising from the 1850s to today. “From its earliest roots in Europe, the circus has been defined by a core group of performers; especially equestrians, acrobats, and clowns,” exhibition notes say. “While the styles of clowns have evolved since the circus debuted, the role of the clown as a visual symbol of the circus is still strong.” Clowns! will be on view in the Tibbals Learning Center’s Poster Gallery in Sarasota through Nov. 30. Details: ringling.org.