2008 Florida Highlights
Visitor numbers for Florida seem to have picked up again and despite a reduction in overseas visitors and a big rise in gas (petrol) prices, numbers overall are up.
For the last two years, the weather was generally kinder than forecast, so people who might have been put off by hurricanes are starting to come again.
Either way, Florida has a lot to offer and on this page you will find some of the new happenings planned for Florida in 2008.
For Florida highlights last year in 2007, click here.
Artists impression of new SeaWorld water park
[Courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando]
New rides and attractions
The advent of 2008 sees the opening of a brand new waterpark, Aquatica by SeaWorld and there are also a number of new rides, shows and attractions that are due to open during 2008, including:
- SeaWorld plan to open their new Aquatica waterpark on March 1, 2008.
- The Universal Orlando® Resort will be opening a new Simpsons ride in the now closed "Back to the Future: The Ride" building in the Spring of 2008.
- A new Jungle Village called Jungala is due to open in 2008 on the site of the old Python roller coaster at Busch Gardens Africa.
- Disney's "Year of a Million Dreams" celebrations which started in late 2006 has been extended until the end of 2008.
- The Disney-MGM Studios is renamed as Disney's Hollywood Studios from January 1, 2008 and amongst the changes planned are the new Toy Story Mania ride which is due to open in late 2008, replacing the Who Wants to be a Millionaire attraction which closed in 2006. There will also be a new outdoor show, "Block Party Bash", new characters for the "Playhouse Disney-Live On Stage!" show and a new High School Musical street show.
- A new restaurant, T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover® will open in Downtown Disney in early 2008.
NASA had planned to launch five space shuttle missions to the International Space Station in 2007 but a combination of a fluke hail storm and faulty components meant that only three missions were flown in the end. This puts even more pressure on NASA to complete the International Space Station before the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.
NASA hope to launch five shuttles in 2008 in January, February, April, August and September. The first launch is of the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-122) no earlier than January 10, which will deliver the Columbus European Laboratory Module to the International Space Station.
Hurricanes and the Florida weather
Before 2007 had even ended, the team from the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University led by Professor William Gray have released their first predictions for the 2008 hurricane season and again they are predicting above average activity.
They are forecasting 13 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three of those being classified as major hurricanes (category 3 and above) with sustained wind speeds of 111 mph or greater.
Looking further ahead
Universal Studios announced in 2007 that they had signed a deal with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. to bring Harry Potter to Universal. A new theme park within a theme park called "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" will open inside Universal's Islands of Adventure some time in late 2009/early 2010.
Ron Jons had announced plans to build a water park and resort on the Banana River at Port Canaveral near their enormous surf shop at Cocoa Beach and it was expected to open in 2010 but plans appear to have been dropped.