Summertime is busy for Orlando's theme parks, although most new attractions are open and operating before the surge of out-of-towners comes in. This year, new rides and shows continue to trickle in as the temperatures rise. Here's an overview of what was new and what went away during the second quarter of 2013.
SeaWorld Orlando opened its Antarctica realm, which includes the Empire of the Penguin ride with animal exhibit finale, an eatery, gift shop and glacial decor. Grand opening included performance by "American Idol" contestant Lauren Alaina and a ceremonial planting of a flag. (Click here for more on SeaWorld Orlando's Antarctica.)
Universal Studios opened its Transformers: The Ride -- 3D attraction. Grand opening included a paramilitary exercise with jets passing overhead. (Click here for more on Transformers at Universal Studios) Universal also opened the first phase of its Springfield area, including Moe's Tavern and the serving of Flaming Moes drinks. (Click here for more on Springfield at Universal Studios)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened its Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, which displays the orbiter at a 43-degree angle amid dozens of hands-on activities. (Click here for more on Atlantis at KSCVC)
Disney raised its ticket prices at all four parks, but for the first time made admission to Magic Kingdom more expension than its other WDW parks. A one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom is now $95 ($89 for ages 3-9). A one-day ticket to Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios or Disney's Animal Kingdom is $90 ($84 for ages 3-9). A one-day, one-park ticket at Universal Studios or Universal's Islands of Adventure is $92 ($86 for ages 3-9). A one-day ticket to SeaWorld Orlando is $92 ($84 for ages 3-9).
Busch Gardens debuted a stage show called "Madagascar Live: Operation Vacation!"
Fun Spot America introduced its first two roller coasters, the steel Freedom Flyer and the wooden White Lightning (the only woodie in Orlando). The International Drive attraction also added its 250-foot SkyCoaster and smaller rides in addition to a new entrance and larger parking lot. (Click here for more on Fun Spot coasters)
Disney World launched two more in-park scavenger hunt-style activities: Wilderness Explorers at Disney's Animal Kingdom and A Pirate's Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas at Adventureland at Magic Kingdom.
Orlando Science Center opened "Blue Man Group -- Making Waves" exhibit and debuted the "Flying Monsters 3D" film. It also broke ground on a piece of outdoor art dedicated to the Red Tail pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Gatorland added an array of animals, including two big cats in its new Panther Springs exhibit and a 15-foot crocodile known as "Bonecrusher II." Other newbies: pythons, boa constrictors, rattlesnakes, bobcats, white-tailed deer, scarlet ibis and raccoons.
A Starbucks location opened on Main Street of Magic Kingdom.
Disney World began the introduction of FastPass+ services and Magic Bands to guests.
Busch Gardens announced the construction of Falcon's Fury, which will drop guests 300 feet. It will open in 2014. (Click here for more on Falcon's Fury at Busch Gardens)
Universal Studios announced it would theme a Halloween Horror Nights house around the film "The Cabin in the Woods." (Click here to read more about Universal's Halloween Horror Nights)
Aquatica, SeaWorld's water park, reintroduced an after-2 p.m. pass that remains valid through the remainder of 2013.
Universal Orlando announced a few details about the expansion of its Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. The area will be London-themed and called Diagon Alley. It will feature an attraction based on Gringotts bank. The new attractions, built basically atop the former Jaws ride/Amity area, is scheduled to open in 2014. (Click here to read more about the expansion of Wizarding World of Harry Potter)
Fantasy of Flight, an aviation-themed attraction in Polk County, changed its schedule to have operations on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.
Magic Kingdom will introduce a parade called Festival of Fantasy in 2014.