With 2013 drawing to a close, I’ve been thinking back to all of the amazing things we Frog Family members got to experience this year at the Orlando theme parks. I went back through Tad’s list of all the things that opened in 2013, and I was pretty amazed by the sheer number of new additions at Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal and all of the Orlando-area theme parks. Before we start looking ahead to 2014 (well, Tad has already started his what’s coming in 2014 list), I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on the Frog Family’s favorite theme park experiences of 2013. And we’d love to hear about your favorite experiences — just leave them in comments below!
Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld Orlando
After months and months of hype, SeaWorld’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin opened to perhaps the longest waits of any ride in its history. The attraction takes guests through the life of a gentoo penguin family at the bottom of the world, with each room of this dark ride getting colder and colder. When guests step out of the free-spinning ride vehicle, they step into the penguin exhibit in below-freezing temperatures and can get up close with four species of penguins roaming the icy banks or diving the depths of the pool. This one-of-a-kind exhibit that lets you see penguins as they might appear in the wild was Mommy Frog’s favorite experience of 2013.
Springfield U.S.A. at Universal Studios
Yes, I know Transformers was the big deal at Universal this summer, and it is an amazing ride, but being a little old school, I was totally blown away by the incredible theming and attention to detail in Bart’s stomping ground. Seemingly overnight, Universal transformed a whole section of the park around The Simpsons Ride — with plenty of photo ops, giant donuts and Duff Beer. This was my favorite experience of 2013!
Princess Fairytale Hall at Magic Kingdom Park
Now, Lily has met quite a few princesses in her young days, but she truly loved meeting Cinderella, Aurora, Rapunzel and Snow White in their new royal digs. The hall is as opulent as you would image, from its stained glass windows and ornate chandeliers right down to the special pedestal display for Cinderella’s crystal shoe! By far, this was Lily’s favorite new experience of 2013.
The Quest for Chi at LEGOLAND Florida
We spent a lovely day at LEGOLAND Florida in October, and we had so much fun exploring this park geared for children ages 2 through 12. One of Tad’s favorite experiences was taking on the water ride Quest for Chi inside the new World of Chima. Despite it being fall, it was quite steamy, so the soaking we received on Quest for Chi was welcomed relieft. This could possibly be the wettest ride in all of Orlando. Oh, and if you’re thinking you’ll just sit this one out (ahem, Mommy Frog), note that you’ll need to be well out of the way of the soak zones or you’ll end up drenched!
Transformers: The Ride 3-D at Universal Studios
Universal Orlando is known for its amazing 3-D rides, and you don’t have to be a fan of the film to appreciate the effects in this flight simulation attraction at Universal Studios. This fully immersive experience, Tad’s favorite in 2013, will have you battling Decepticons alongside Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
What were your favorite theme park experiences in 2013? What are you most looking forward to in 2014? Share in comments below.
Related: What’s Coming to the Parks in 2014
Here’s to a great 2013!