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Arts & Culture

Highlights and lowlights at theater and theme parks in 2013

Live Active Cultures

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BETTER DAYS

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SEAWORLD


The only haunt to make me scream this October was Winter Haven’s family-run Shallow Grave, while the only attraction to make me tear up was Kennedy Space Center’s awe-inspiring exhibit spotlighting Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Fun Spot’s White Lightning reignited my love of classic wooden roller coasters, while their 200-foot-tall SkyCoaster provided enough pants-filling freefall to last me the decade.

As for the best new attraction outside the attractions, Player 1 Bar is a wonderland of craft beers and vintage arcade games that demolishes the decrepit DisneyQuest around the corner.

Lowlights
SeaWorld easily had the worst year in the attractions industry, between the tepid response to their expensive new Antarctica attractions and the bad publicity from Blackfish-inspired band cancellations.

Disney’s Imagineers teased us at the D23 convention with potential Star Wars Land plans, but haven’t actually delivered an original Orlando E-ticket since 2005’s Expedition Everest (unless you count the wild ride of trying to get MagicBands to work). Instead, they delivered the most disappointing expensive meal I ate all year, as the refurbished Contemporary Resort’s California Grill reopened with raised prices and reduced consistency.

Outside Orlando, the worst new attraction I experienced was Hershey Chocolate World’s “interactive” 4-D show, an ugly, unimaginative CGI movie with jarring Jim Henson Creature Shop-designed characters that have less charm than MuppetVision’s obnoxious Waldo; the only redeeming value was the free candy sample upon exit.

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