You know that Kissimmee, Florida is one of my favorite places to vacation, and every year, there are new attractions and restaurants to enjoy. If you’re planning a trip to Florida in the New Year – psst, this is a great time to escape our cold Pacific Northwest weather! – here’s what you can’t miss in 2018:
Kissimmee, Fla. (January 2018) – After the New Year’s fireworks and celebrations, there’s still plenty of sparkle in Kissimmee with all-new attractions, wow-worthy thrills, and spectacular new restaurants. In 2018, resolve to discover our incredible experiences, where we make vacations, you make memories in real time.
New at Kissimmee’s World-Famous Theme Parks Step into the new year with life-sized versions of your favorite toys at Disney’s
Hollywood Studios™ Toy Story Land. Opening summer 2018, this new land takes guests into Andy’s backyard and imagination. Dip, twist, and dart through this land on the Slinky Dog Dash, a family-style coaster inspired by the toy. Then experience a classic Toy Story scene in Alien Swirling Saucers, where guests will spin on toy-rocket vehicles while the film’s famous little green aliens wait to be chosen by “the claw.” Celebrate Disney’s Animal Kingdom®’s 20th anniversary with Russell and Dug from
Disney•Pixar’s ‘UP’ during a new show at the theme park. Debuting in 2018, the show will feature up-close encounters with bird species from around the world. In the spirit of the new year, Walt Disney World® Resort and Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group will begin development of a brand-new show at Disney Springs®. The new show is inspired by Disney’s historic animation and storytelling. An opening date for the show has not been announced. In the meantime, Disney Springs® visitors can travel deep into the Star Wars™ universe with the Star Wars™: Secrets of the Empire
Hyper-Reality Experience, a multisensory virtual-reality adventure. In spring 2018, race into a new adventure with the Fast & Furious – Supercharged™ ride at Universal Studios Florida™. This new immersive experience brings you face-to-face with the “Fast family,” expands upon the films with an original story, features hits songs from the movies’ soundtracks, and is home to a unique area featuring vehicles from the films. Fast & Furious – Supercharged™ is also the latest attraction to feature a virtual line system where guests select a ride time in advance within the Official Universal Orlando Resort Mobile App or at kiosks located near the attraction. This year, Universal Studios Florida™ will also begin a new nighttime lagoon show featuring characters from Universal attractions, spectacular lighting, and special effects. A new projection mapping experience at Hogwarts castle in The Wizarding
World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ will also debut.
Plan for an entire year of awesome at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort with new events, exclusive activities, and new attractions opening every month in 2018. The fun starts on January 20, 2018 with the opening of LEGO® NINJAGO®: Master of the 4th Dimension, an all-new 4D theatrical experience starring the characters of the hit show as they find their way out of a mind-bending dimension. In spring 2018, guests can take a wild ride through an imaginary world made entirely of LEGO bricks during The Great LEGO® Race — the first virtual reality roller coaster experience designed for kids. In summer 2018, take the plunge on the world’s tallest river rapid drop coming to
SeaWorld® Orlando. Inspired by the lush rainforests of South America, the new Infinity
Falls rapids ride will drop guests into a flowing river, 40 feet below, for a thrilling adventure. Start the new year off with a splash at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark™ with a brandnew family raft slide, Ray Rush. This 60-foot-tall, fully-loaded water adventure features water jets that launch rafts 33-feet per second, as well as a colossal translucent sphere that spins rafts around the slide walls then drops them into an open-air halfpipe resembling the shape of a manta ray.
Festivals and Events Fun is in bloom February 28 through May 28 at the 2018 Epcot® International Flower &
Garden Festival. During this festival, guests can stroll through breathtaking garden spaces, gaze at world-renowned, Disney-themed topiaries, taste delectable bites and libations, enjoy outdoor concerts, and more. The good times will roll during Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort™. On select nights from February 3 through April 7, 2018, see some of the biggest names in music, catch the nightly Mardi Gras parade, and taste some of the finest Cajun food east of the French Quarter. Dust off your boots for the eighth annual Runaway Country Music Fest at Osceola Heritage Park March 23 through 25, 2018. The lineup includes country favorites, such as Darius Rucker, Brantley Gilbert, Cassadee Pope, and Florida Georgia Line.
Accommodations Enjoy a cheeseburger in paradise at the all-new Margaritaville Resort Orlando, opening in 2018. The resort will feature a 187-room Margaritaville hotel, 1,000 Margaritavilleinspired vacation homes, and 300 timeshare units that will provide the perfect getaway. Additional features include 30,000 square feet of function space, 200,000 square feet of retail space, a dining and entertainment district, a 12-acre water park, a wellness center, miles of wooded fitness trails, and a water taxi system.
A new 162-room Holiday Inn Express® and Suites is now open in Kissimmee. Located less than five miles from Central Florida’s world-famous theme parks, this new hotel offers a tour desk to help guests plan the perfect vacation and complimentary transportation to nearby theme parks.
Eateries Fly through the streets with favorite heroes then dine with them at the all-new Marvel
Character Dinner. Located in Cafe 4™ Marvel Super Hero Island® at Universal’s Islands
of Adventure™, this dinner buffet will feature fresh options like roasted rosemary lemon chicken, shrimp scampi, chicken scaloppini, penne bolognese, stuffed jumbo shells and specialty pizzas – perfect for any superhero. Start the year and the day off right with the new breakfast menu at the Hard Rock Cafe
Orlando, located at Universal Citywalk™. Guests can enjoy a variety of traditional offerings, unique options like Hard Rock’s Chicken & Waffles, and a side order of music history. Just in time for the new year, the House of Blues Restaurant & Bar recently launched a new made-from-scratch, southern-inspired menu featuring voodoo shrimp, jambalaya, and sliced brisket. A portion of the sales from each new menu item will be donated to the Music Forward Foundation. Throughout the year, the unique dining and entertainment venue will also host a weekly Gospel Brunch and live performances from The Molly Ringwalds, Dashboard Confessional, and more. Discover delectable flavors with eight new dining concepts debuting at Disney Springsin 2018.
• Pizza Pointe, now open, is dishing out Sicilian pizza by the slice, as well as Italian sandwiches, and pastries.
• The Edison, an industrial gothic-style restaurant and bar, will feature live entertainment paired with classic American delicacies and craft cocktails, now open.
• Terralina Crafted Italian, led by James Beard Award Winner Chef Tony Mantuano, will open early 2018 and serve Italian cuisine in a space inspired by Italy’s lake district.
• Wine Bar George will open spring 2018. Led by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, this will be the only master sommelier-led wine bar in Florida.
• Jaleo, a new concept by world-famous Chef José Andrés, will open summer 2018 and serve Spanish tapas.
• Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, opening summer 2018, is a new venture featuring a Mediterranean-influenced menu and ambience inspired by California.
• Maria & Enzo’s, offering Sicilian cuisine in a 1930s abandoned airline terminal, will open winter 2018.
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• Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar, inspired by the true Florida history of rum-running, will serve Prohibition-era cocktails and Roman dishes. This concept will open winter 2018.