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Florida 2014 Highlights

Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station
Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station

2014 witnessed some major new attractions opening in Florida’s theme parks plus the inevitable closures along the way. The biggest event was probably the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express train ride at Universal Studios Florida with its incredible old London theming.

As well as many new attractions, four of Florida’s best beaches made it into Dr. Beach’s America’s Best Beaches top 10 list for 2014.

New Attractions in 2014

Some of the highlights included:

  • the new water drop slide, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica
  • the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  • Duplo Valley at Legoland Florida
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express train ride at Universal Studios Florida
  • Universal Orlando’s fourth resort hotel, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort
  • the new luxury Four Seasons Resort Orlando at the Walt Disney World Resort
  • Opening Night Critters animal show at Busch Gardens
  • Aqua Drag Racer slide at Wet n’ Wild
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios played host to a new summer event called Frozen Summer Fun - Live
  • Legoland Florida converted part of the Magnolia Mansion into a meet-and-greet at Buddy’s Character Corner
  • after many months of delay, the Falcon’s Fury drop tower ride opened at Busch Gardens in early September
  • Artegon Orlando Marketplace replaced the ill-fated Festival Bay shopping mall complex
  • a new ride called Air Raid at Fun Spot America
  • there were plans to re-open an interim attraction at Fantasy of Flight in December but problems meant the opening was delayed until January 2015
  • a new attraction on International Drive called I-DRIVE NASCAR

Not an attraction in itself but Disney finally completed the first new parking garage which should ease parking issues at Downtown Disney as it transforms into Disney Springs.

2014 Closures

Amongst the closures were:

  • in April Fantasy of Flight announced that they were closing to work on a new vision
  • in July Disney announced that they would be closing The American Idol Experience
  • the popular Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island sea lion show closed in August for a make over and will be re-opening in the spring of 2015 as Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High
  • the Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney was cancelled in 2014 because of all the rebuilding
  • the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios closed unexpectedly in September
  • several carnival rides including the Ferris wheel were removed from Kissimmee’s Old Town
  • a number of live acts at Epcot were axed in September; namely Mo’Rockin’ (Morocco), Off Kilter (Canada), Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps (American Adventure) and the World Showcase Players (United Kingdom) and replaced by a traditional Berber music and dance troupe in Morocco, a corps of flag-waving performers in Italy, a lumberjack-inspired show in Canada and a Celtic folk music ensemble at the United Kingdom
  • the Maelstrom ride at Norway’s pavilion in Epcot closed in October to make way for a new “Frozen” themed ride
  • in November, the Legends of Captain Jack Sparrow also closed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • the NASCAR Sports Grille at Universal Citywalk closed in November and demolition started
  • following the death of the last polar bear at SeaWorld in July, the exhibit in Wild Arctic was replaced by Pacific Harbor Seals