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Top 10 Orlando Attractions stories of 2015

by Banks Lee

top 10 orlando attractions stories 2015

By Banks Lee

From openings and closures, to announcements and banned items, 2015 was a another busy year for Orlando’s theme parks and attractions. We are taking a look back at the 10 most viewed stories on our blog in 2015.

NOTE: Not every major news story of 2015 will be featured here. This list is based on the view count of our blog posts. Click on the headlines to read our full original stories in a new browser window.

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10. This will be the last year for Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

osborne lights

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights has been a holiday tradition at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for 20 years. In order to make room for future additions like Star Wars Land, Disney announced that 2015 would be the final year for the light display. Crowds at the lights this year have been busier than usual due to the amount of people wanting to see them one last time. The final night will be Jan. 3, 2016. Breezy Osborne said she was filled with a whirlwind of emotions upon hearing the news, “My family and I are more than grateful for the opportunity and experiences that Disney World has given to us, and most of all, given to millions and millions of people around the world.”

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9. Mako announced as SeaWorld’s new 2016 coaster – tallest, fastest and longest in Orlando

Mako Lake View shark seaworld orlando

Lots of big changes were announced by SeaWorld in 2015 as they continue to rebrand. One of the biggest announcements for their Orlando park was the addition of a new 200-foot-tall hyper coaster called Mako, which, when it opens, will be the tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster in Orlando. In addition to the coaster, the whole area surrounding it is undergoing a change to become the Sharks Realm. Mako is scheduled to open next summer.

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8. Huge new action sports complex announced as a theme park alternative

XG Site Layout

A new $309 million action sports and entertainment resort was announced to be in the planning stages for Kissimmee near the intersection of U.S. Route 192 and State Road 535 this past year. It was planned to include a 14 story ski and snowboard mountain, five acres of real surfing with up to 10-foot waves, a 25,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor skateboard park, two skydiving pods and more. In late October, Caitlin Dineen, reporter for the “Orlando Sentinel” reported the project has been put on hold and might not be built in Osceola County.

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7. Wet ‘n Wild Orlando to permanently close at the end of next year

wet n wild sign and slide

Rumored to happen for a while, Universal Orlando officially announced that Wet n’ Wild water park will be closing for good at the end of 2016. No word yet if any of the slides at the park will be relocated to their new Volcano Bay water theme park or what will eventually happen to the land at the corner of International Drive and Universal Blvd. Rumors are currently pointing to a possible new hotel or shopping district for Universal Orlando.

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6. New store selling authentic Universal Orlando props opens inside Universal Studios

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We saw the closure of two big attractions at Universal Orlando: Disaster and Twister. In a move that surprised a lot of people, Universal opened a special gift shop in the Hollywood section of the park that sells old memorabilia and props from the parks, including Disaster and Twister. Some of the items run on the pricey side, but guests now have the chance to own Universal Orlando history.

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5. DisneyQuest and Magic of Disney Animation closing at Walt Disney World

magic of disney animation

The Magic of Disney Animation, an opening day attraction for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, closed its doors for good in July 2015. Some elements from inside Animation such as the Mickey Mouse and Baymax meet and greets moved to new locations. Magic of Disney Animation was eventually replace with the Star Wars Launch Bay in December 2015. Disney also announced that DisneyQuest at Disney Springs’ West Side would be closing for good sometime in 2016 to make way for The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort. We were recently told by Disney that DisneyQuest will most likely remain open for most or all of 2016, as The NBA Experience is still in the planning stages.

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4. Walt Disney World updates annual pass options and prices

Walt Disney World annual pass MagicBand

Every year the theme parks in Orlando raise ticket prices, but in 2015 Walt Disney World made a major change to their Annual Pass prices and options, introducing a new selection and new benefits. The biggest new benefits were the addition of unlimited PhotoPass digital download for certain passes and free parking for all passes.

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3. Join us as we say goodbye to Twister at Universal Orlando

Twister Bill Paxton final storm Universal Orlando

As mentioned earlier, Universal Orlando closed Twister: Ride It Out in 2015. While not the best attraction in the park, Twister had built up a fan base due to the performance of Bill Paxton in the two pre-shows. For the final day, we announced an unofficial fan meetup to experience the last public ride ever, inviting guests to show up in their best Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt attire. It was a memorable way to send off the attraction. It will be replaced by Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2017.

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2. Selfie sticks no longer allowed at Walt Disney World parks

no selfie sticks sign

One of the biggest things to happen in 2015 was the banning of selfie sticks at all Disney Parks in the country. Selfie sticks have become an increasingly popular method of taking group photos over the past year, but in crowded areas, they can become a bit of a nuisance, with some guests getting hit by the sticks. Before the ban, some guests were even using them on rides, creating a major safety concern. A majority were happy to see Disney institute this ban, and I would have bet this would be our top story of 2015…

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1. Carlo’s Bakery to open first Florida location at The Florida Mall

cake boss carlo bakery

The announcement and opening of a Carlo’s Bakery location at The Florida Mall ended up being our most viewed story of 2015, mainly due to the huge fan base for Buddy Valastro, star of the hit TLC show Cake Boss. A good majority of people visiting our story thought we were him, sending us questions and requests for Buddy! When Carlo’s Bakery officially opened, a massive crowd showed up to get a glimpse of Valastro and try some of the pastries. Just goes to show, you never know what will end up being a hit.

With so much coming to Central Florida in 2016, what do you think will be on our list next year?

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