Published in the Orlando Sentinel on Sept. 7, 1998
Walt Disney World, never sitting idle for long, will roll out at least eight new attractions at its theme parks and Downtown Disney by summer 1999.
Disney executives say the ongoing expansions are an effort to keep the resort fresh and to appeal to repeat visitors.
The additions are:
-- The long-awaited Test Track thrill ride in Epcot;
-- The nighttime show, Fantasmic!, and the high-speed-launch Rock 'n' Roller Coaster in Disney-MGM Studios;
-- The Asian-themed area and its white-water ride, called Tiger Rapids Run, in the Animal Kingdom;
-- The acrobatic show, Cirque du Soleil, at Downtown Disney;
-- Two new rides in the Magic Kingdom -- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh -- as well as the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade.
The Pooh ride will replace Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which shuts down for good tonight when the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m.
Toad supporters are set to meet outside the ride in Fantasyland from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. tonight to mourn the closing.
Disney now appears to be slowing down plans to open Fantasmic! at Disney-MGM Studios.
Disney had said the nighttime show -- blending lasers, fire, costumed characters and animated films projected on screens of water -- would be unveiled to the media on Sept. 28 and open to park visitors on Oct. 1.
Those plans have been scrapped.
The show will now start for park visitors on Oct. 15, two weeks after the original start date, to provide more time for show rehearsals, said Disney spokesman Rick Sylvain.
The World Premiere Gala will occur Nov. 18 when international media will be at Disney World for the 70th anniversary of the premiere of Steamboat Willie, the first animated feature with Mickey Mouse.
Disney is about to start a six-city tour of Florida and Georgia to promote Fantasmic!, which has long been a top draw at Disneyland in California.
The promotional tour will fly an eight-story-tall balloon of Maleficent, an evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty, over each city.
The balloon will fly over Atlanta on Sept. 11; Miami on Sept. 15; West Palm Beach on Sept. 16; Tampa on Sept. 18; Jacksonville on Sept. 20; and Orlando on Sept. 21.
Horror on the Web
Universal Studios Florida, gearing up for the eighth annual Halloween Horror Nights, has begun selling tickets for the event on its Web site.
The event runs for 18 nights from Oct. 2 to Oct. 31 -- one more night than last year -- with five haunted mazes, three scary stage shows and a Festival of the Dead Parade. Along with Mardi Gras in the spring, Halloween Horror Nights is one of Universal's most popular events.
People can purchase tickets for it through Universal's Web site at www.usf.com. Prices vary for tickets. For Florida residents on the day of the event, tickets will cost $38.11 for adults and $34.93 for children, which includes tax. For information, call (407) 224-6776.
Briefly . . .
The Winter Park Bicycle Tour Company has moved into the Langford Hotel in Winter Park. The two-hour tours, on retro-style bikes from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, cover five miles and cost $20. For information, call (407) 875-2200. . . .
A traveling exhibit of Concorde memorabilia is coming to Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, near Lakeland. The exhibit, called ''Ride the Rocket . . . Concorde 98,'' will be on display Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information, call (941) 984-3500.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times