Florida Travel

Florida travel notes

Star Wars Launch Bay will open Dec. 1 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Star Wars Launch Bay will open Dec. 1 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney Parks

▪ Disney’s Hollywood Studios continues to add fresh Star Wars fare to its lineup, but still no word on when the new rides will be built. The theme park has incorporated scenes and characters from the upcoming The Force Awakens movie to its existing Star Tours ride.

Opening at the park Dec. 1: Star Wars Launch Bay, which will have special exhibits of memorabilia and space vehicles from the movies, peeks behind-the-scenes at Episode VII, character meet-and-greets, special merchandise and food offerings. In addition, the Jedi Training Academy for younglings is being updated with new characters and a new villain to battle from StarWars Rebels.

Star Wars Land and two new rides are under construction, but Disney has not said when they will open. Meantime, because of construction, there will be no more Star Wars Weekends and this year’s Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights will be the last.

▪ Disney also announced this week that the 23rd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will expand to 90 days next springs and run from March 2-May 30. The spring festival previously ran for 75 days. Details: www.disneyworld.com.

▪ The last performances of Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue at Universal Studios will be on Dec. 2. The show is closing to make way for a thrill ride based on the Fast & Furious movies, scheduled to open in 2017. The final performance at 5:15 p.m. will be for annual passholders; others can see one of four other shows that day. Details: http://blog.universalorlando.com/extras/beetlejuice-last-show/.

▪ Busch Gardens unveiled a model of its next roller coaster, Cobra’s Curse, at the International Amusement Parks and Attractions show in Orlando Tuesday and revealed additional details about the ride, due to debut in 2016at the Tampa theme park. The setting is a modern day dig site in Egypt, where archeologists have uncovered the legendary temple of the snake king, Venymyss.

The ride starts out with a vertical lift — 70 feet straight up — to the top of the temple, through an “outward-banked turn” and close to the jaws of a 80-foot tall statue of the cobra king, which is rearing back as if to strike. The cars are locked into place, facing forward, then are turned backward and finally they are unlocked and spin freely for the rest of the ride.

▪ While the developers of the Orlando Skyplex are working to get their International Drive property rezoned to allow the world’s tallest roller coaster to be built, they announced another element of the attraction this week: SkySurf, which would have the world’s largest man-made surfing wave pool.

Wallack Holdings, owner of Mango’s Tropical Café in Miami Beach and (soon-to-open) Orlando, wants to build a 501-foot roller coaster called the Skyscraper, part of a $500 million entertainment complex that would also have the world’s tallest drop tower and zip line. Universal Orlando is fighting the rezoning, which would raise the height limit. The question is scheduled to go before the Orange County Commission on Dec. 1.

▪ An Atlas 5 rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:55 p.m. on Dec. 3. Want to watch? The launch can be viewed from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with admission ($50 adult, $40 child), or from a secured area within the space center (admission plus a $20 charge for transportation to the viewing site). The next best alternative is Port Canaveral on Route 401. Details: www.kennedyspace center.com.

▪ German low-cost carrier Eurowings will begin service from Miami International Airport to Cologne, Germany, beginning May 1. The airline’s first-ever Miami service will operate three weekly flights using 310-seat Airbus A330 aircraft. Eurowings is part of the Lufthansa Group. Details: www.lufthansa.com.