▪ The Skyscraper roller coaster, which at 500-plus feet would be the tallest coaster in the world, got the go-ahead Tuesday from the Orange County Commission when it approved a rezoning that lifts height restrictions. The coaster will be part of the Skyplex complex on North International Drive just outside the Orlando city limits. It will also include the 450-foot Skyfall drop tower, a 600-foot Skyfly zip line, the Skysurf water park, a 350-room hotel, shops and restaurants.
With the commission’s vote, the complex is scheduled to start opening in phases in 2018. The most vocal opponent of Skyplex — specifically the height of the coaster — was Universal Orlando. It was revealed at the commission meeting that Universal has a contract to purchase 474 acres about two miles from Skyplex. Universal has not said what its plans for that property are.
▪ Throughout the Florida Keys, New Year’s Eve will be celebrated with fireworks, bonfires, cannon fire and champagne. In Key West, though, a variety of people and objects will drop at midnight.
In Key West, a Diva called Sushi perched in a supersized red high-heeled shoe will drop at the Bourbon St. Pub; at Sloppy Joe’s, a giant conch shell will fall; a huge Key lime wedge will splash into an equally huge margarita glass at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa; and a pirate wench will descend 75 feet from the top of the mast of the tall ship America 2.0 at the island’s Historic Seaport: Details: www.fla-keys .com/calendarofevents/
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▪ Meantime, in Pensacola, a pelican will drop at midnight. The Pensacola Pelican — 14 feet tall, with a 20-foot wingspan and illuminated by 2,500 lights — will preside over New Year’s Eve festivities from a 100-foot platform. Activities will kick off at 3 p.m. and include concerts by The Chee Weez and five country acts, carnival style games, food and drinks, and fireworks at the stroke of midnight to accompany the pelican drop. Details: http://pensa colapelicandrop.com/.
▪ VivaColombia, a budget air carrier, launched its first service in the United States this week when it began flights between Miami and Medellín, Colombia. VivaColombia will begin Miami-Bogotá service on Dec. 16. Both new flights utilize 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. Flights to both cities operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Details: www.vivacolombia.co/en.
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