A guide to what’s new at Florida theme parks this summer

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As we head into the holiday season, Florida’s theme parks are emerging from a fog. Over the past two years they have had closures and reopenings. Face mask rules rose, then later fell. They resisted criticism for reopening just as Florida became a hotbed of new coronavirus cases.

Two years ago this month, all Florida theme parks were closed by the pandemic. The magic kingdom has become the closed kingdom. It would be five months before they reopen with strict new rules on distancing, face masks and close contact experiences like fireworks, character encounters and train rides.

When they reopened in July 2020 with masks covering their faces, Disney employees greeted guests with “smile signs” of Goofy or Mickey Mouse hand smiles. It wasn’t until May 2021 that theme parks relaxed pandemic safety measures such as temperature checks.

Related: Covering the most magical place on the planet even during a pandemic

These days, you’ll only see a handful of face masks on staff and visitors. New attractions, restaurants and hotels that were due to open in 2020 are finally rolling out.

Busch Gardens opened what the New York Post called “America’s most terrifying new roller coaster,” and Disney World has its first attraction based on a Marvel franchise. Both were supposed to have opened over a year ago.

If you’re ready to return, fasten your seat belts and keep your hands inside the car as we give you a guide to what Florida’s theme parks have to offer this summer.

WALT DISNEY WORLD: Disney Hosts Marvel Roller Coaster, Parade and Fireworks

BUSCH GARDENS: Tampa’s theme park offers ambitious roller coasters and a festival for the summer

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have a new monster rollercoaster and a Bourne stunt show

ADVENTURE ISLAND: Tampa Water Park Swims In New Improvements

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS: Here’s what Tampa Bay attractions, zoos and museums have in store for you this summer

SEA WORLD: The park swims on the surface with the new Ice Breaker coaster this summer

LEGOLAND: Winter Haven theme park has a new playmate: Peppa Pig

Since guests couldn’t see their faces behind their masks, Disney employees had smiles in hand to welcome guests to the Magic Kingdom for Opening Day on July 11, 2020 at Walt Disney World. [ DISNEY | Disney ]
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