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NEW in 2020: This year is going to be huge for local attractions and theme parks!

It’s a new decade and Tampa Bay is celebrating BIG with some awesome NEW experiences at local theme parks and attractions! We checked in with some of our favorite spots to find out what they have in store for families in 2020. Let’s just say this year is going to be EPIC!


ZooTampa has some super cool encounters to experience in 2020…one will take to the skies and the other will take you and the kids back in time!

ZooTampa is launching a new Macaw Flyover presented by Spirit Airlines. It’s an immersive experience with the amazing flock of colorful ambassadors that will not only delight guests, but will hopefully inspire everyone to be smarter consumers and support the rainforest alliance.

new in 2020 Zootampa Dino's Alive
Dino’s Alive returns to ZooTampa in 2020!

Back by popular demand, Dinos return to ZooTampa in spring 2020! Join them for an adventure of epic proportions that connects prehistoric species to modern day wildlife found at the zoo. Travel back in time and come face-to-face with animated, larger-than-life dinosaurs from a Stegosaurus to a T-Rex. The limited-time event will feature interactive adventures for explorers of all ages. Guests and junior paleontologists will be talking about this dino-mite adventure at ZooTampa for decades to come!

Busch Gardens and Adventure Island:

Busch Gardens Iron Gwazi

In 2020, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island are going BIG and they’re ready to break some records with two new attractions!

Iron Gwazi is set to open this spring. It will be North America’s tallest and the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster. We weren’t kidding when we said Busch was going to go all out! We’ve been watching as this project has come together, incorporating 25% of old Gwazi wooden roller coaster into the new ride with 80% of the original ride’s foundations being used. Pretty cool!

Solar Vortex is a new waterslide experience for families coming this spring to Adventure Island. It will be America’s first dual tailspin water slide that will combine rapid descents and high banking rotations. The coolest part about this new water slide is how it will take advantage of Florida’s sunlight to create colorful patterns as you make your way down the slide at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour! Woosh!

Busch Gardens Safari of Fun
2020 will also be a big year for anniversaries at both parks. Adventure Island is celebrating its 40th year of entertaining families and keep us cool and Sesame Street Safari of Fun will be celebrating 10 years, so stay tuned for special celebrations at each park!

Related: The Busch Gardens and Adventure Island Preschool Pass is BACK for a limited time!

Glazer Children’s Museum:

New in 2020 Glazer Children's Museum Paw Patrol

Glazer Children’s Museum will be celebrating a major milestone with 10 years at its current location in downtown Tampa! There will be anniversary celebrations planned throughout the year, so stay tuned!

Equally as exciting is a new temporary exhibit featuring your favorite pups of the PAW Patrol!

Paw Patrol Adventure Play will be on display on the second floor from February 15-May 25, 2020. There will be so many ways to play and explore and help the pups help their friends!

Clearwater Marine Aquarium:

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Expansion

Scheduled for completion in 2020, Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s expanded facility will be home to famous dolphins Winter and Hope, from the Dolphin Tale movies, and their friends Nicholas and PJ.

There will be five connecting pools, an enhanced, more natural habitat will offer sweeping views of all non-releasable dolphins in their new home. The increased capacity and capabilities within the new facility will also support multiple programs simultaneously, increasing the educational impact and allowing CMA to establish an environmental legacy for generations to come.

With new guest space, more hospital facilities for our rescued marine life, state of the art theatre and event space, the addition will draw visitors from across the globe. CMA is open throughout the expansion every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the public to visit the facility.

Florida Aquarium:

Florida Aquarium Parrotfish

The Florida Aquarium is overflowing with fun in 2020. We kick off the Aquarium’s 25th Anniversary mid-January and the shell-ebration will happen all year long! The Aquarium has added 3,000 animals since last year and they aren’t stopping there. Get ready for new animals, new habitats, fun events and more in 2020. The best way to enjoy this shell-ebration by purchasing an Aquarium Membership. Get yours now at


New in 2020 LEGOland Florida Pirate Hotel

2020 has officially been declared as the “Year of the Pirate” at LEGOLAND Florida! The new Pirate Island Hotel is scheduled to open on April 17 featuring 150 LEGO themed rooms, a pirate themed Shipwreck Restaurant and more!

A new Pirate Water Ski Adventure show will also debut this year on April 18 featuring the Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty!

Snowcat Ridge Alpine Snow Park coming to Dade City in November 2020!

Snowcat Ridge Alpine Park in Dade City

You and the kids will get to experience snow tubing Florida style by the end of this year! Florida’s only alpine snow park will be right next to TreeHoppers and will feature a 60 foot tall, 400 foot long snow tubing slide and even a small, child-sized snow hill inside of a dome for the little ones! This is slated to open in November 2020! Learn more.

Walt Disney World:

Disney parks like Hollywood Studios and Epcot are undergoing a huge transformation with many of the new additions already open like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. The next few years will see several new exciting additions and 2020 is going to be no different. Since there are so many new things coming online this year, we’ll list them out for you:

Hollywood Studios:

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney's Hollywood Studio

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Opening March 4, 2020
We got a sneak peek of this ride and WOW! Disney Imagineers promised this ride will immerse you into the cartoon world of Mickey and Minnie and boy are they following through—and we only got small sneak peek!

Mickey Shorts Theater will also be opening in March, showcasing the Disney Channel’s animated series, ‘Mickey Mouse’. There will be plenty of photo opps here too!


Escape Pod in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge new ride: Rise of the Resistance
While this opened in December, it’s still new enough to share. We also got to experience this ride before it opened to the public and it is truly like no other ride you’ve been on, completely immersing you into a galaxy far, far away!

NEW at Epcot:

Beauty & the Beast Sing-a-Long debuts January 17, 2020: Your favorite Disney animated classic is not only in sing-a-long form, it’s being re-told with a twist we think you’ll love! Many of of original animated film’s stars return to narrate including Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts! It will run in rotation with an upgraded “Impressions de France”.

*Other new films debuting on January 17, 2020: “Awesome Planet” in The Land pavilion and “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” in the Canada pavilion.

New in 2020Remy's Ratatouille Adventure Ride Vehicle

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure:
If you loved the movie Ratatouille, you are going to love this ride which shrinks you down to the size of our favorite rodent and transports you into the Parisian-Pixar rooftops where you’ll board a trackless car and race your way through Gusteau’s kitchen. It’s slated to open this summer in the France pavilion and will also feature a new Creperie restaurant before you get to the ride entrance.

New in 2020 HarmonioUS at Epcot

“HarmonioUS” will debut in 2020 at Epcot. It is going to be the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney Park! Not our words, they’re Disney’s! There will be floating sets, LED panels, moving fountains, lasers, pyrotechnics and more!

New restaurants coming to Walt Disney World Parks:

New in 2020Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue
Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & BBQ at American Adventure in Epcot:
We’re listing this one first because it’s the one the Disney Food Lab creators are most excited about…and who doesn’t live BBQ?! It’s slated to open this winter, so anytime now!

New in 2020Space 220 Space Elevator
Space 220 near Mission: SPACE at Epcot:
You’ll step into an elevator and blast off to 220 miles above Earth where you’ll dine with panoramic views of space!

New in 2020Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Round Up Rodeo BBQ in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios:
This is slated to open in 2020 near Woody’s Lunch Box. It will be a sit down restaurant so that means table service so you can sit back and relax!


Originally published in the January 2020 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine January 2020



Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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