Universal Studio new dining experiences
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen are Universal Orlando’s newest immersive dining experience and are now officially open at Universal CityWalk with a diverse, radically innovative menu that also raises the art of chocolate to an entirely new level. Nickelodeon Way, Orlando, universalorlando.com.
Bearadise Ranch, home to the famous Welde family bears, is offering Fall/Winter tours 11:30 a.m. Thursdays and Saturdays through May 2017. Educational presentations are part of the tour offering plenty of photographic opportunities for the nature lover or bear enthusiast. Donation: $8 children, $12 adults. Reservations are required. 6908 245th St. E., Myakka City, 941-322-2464 or bearadiseranch.com.
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Annual “Celebration of Harry Potter”
Harry Potter fans will once again unite at Universal Orlando Resort for the fourth annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter.” Fans can experience and participate in interactive and unique exhibits, enjoy special panels and demonstrations regarding various aspects of the Harry Potter stories, attend Q&A session with select film talent, visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, and ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket. 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando, universalorlando.com. Jan. 27-29.
“Dinos Alive!” at Lowry Park Zoo
Grab the whole family and step back in time to the Jurassic and Cretaceous Eras and share in the fun surrounded by life size animatronic dinosaurs. Guests can transport and immerse themselves in another time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Take pictures and learn fun facts about how they lived. Tickets are $24.95 and up; free to members. 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa, 813-935-8552 or lowryparkzoo.org. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, February-August.
‘Museums on Us’
Bank of America’s "Museums on Us" is offering cardholders free admission to some of the most exciting cultural venues in the United States. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders can get free access to more than 150 participating museums in 94 cities and include the Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa and the Florida Holocaust Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Present your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card along with a photo ID to gain free general admission. The offer is valid for cardholders only, guests are not eligible. museums.bankofamerica.com. First weekend of each month, Feb. 3-4.
Universal Orlando Resort 2017 Mardi Gras Celebration
The family-friendly version of the famed New Orleans bash will feature Cajun-style cuisine, authentic New Orleans flare, a spectacular nightly parade with exquisitely detailed Mardi Gras floats, and on select nights, live concerts by a star studded lineup of musical artists performing in the Music Plaza. They are: Trace Adkins, Feb. 4. Ne-Yo, Feb. 11. Collective Soul, Feb. 18. X Ambassadors, Feb. 19. Fifth Harmony, Feb. 25. Kool and the Gang, March 4. Olivia Newton-John, March 5. UB40, March 11. Toby Keith, March 12. Jason Derulo, March 18. Earth, Wind and Fire, March 19, and The All-American Rejects, March 25. Various bands will be performing in the French Quarter, they are: Young Pipeline Brass Band, Feb. 4-14. New Breed Brass Band, Feb. 15-21. Free Agents Brass Band, Feb. 22-March 5. Naughty Professor Brass Band, March 6-15, and the Dirty Bourbon River Show, March 16-25. 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando, 407-363-8000 or universalorlando.com. Feb. 4-March 25.
113th Florida State Fair Super Slide
The Florida State Fair has a new improved Super Slide which the public can experience up close at the 113th Florida State Fair. Ride armband pricing and detailed fair information is available online. Fair admission: $9-$13, adults; $7-$9 seniors on senior special dates, which are Feb. 13-17; $5-7, children ages 6-11, children ages 5 and younger are admitted free. Parking is free. 4800 US 301, Tampa, 800-345-3247 or floridastatefair.com. Feb. 9-20.
SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival
Come and sip an sample your way around the world of international street food traditions at the all-new Seven Seas Food Festival. Enjoy local craft beers and surprise your taste buds as you discover exciting new Asian, Latin, European, Polynesian and Middle Eastern flavors. The event will bring 14 live acts to SeaWorld Orlando’s Bayside Stadium. The line up is: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Feb. 11. Lee Brice, Feb. 18. Bill Engvall, Feb. 25. Styx, March 4. Justin Moore, March 11. ZZ Top, March 18. Phillip Phillips, March 25. Village People, April 8. Commodores, April 15. Oscar d’León, Olga Tañón, Grupo Manía, May 6. April 1 and May 13 artists to be announced soon. Tickets: $79 and up. All shows are included in the ticket price. 7007 Sea World Dr., Orlando, seaworldparks.com. Feb. 11-May 13.
Busch Gardens Annual Food and Wine Festival
The annual festival returns with signature dishes and exciting new cuisine, as well as an expanded selection of wines, craft brews and cocktails. The festival will feature chart-topping artists every weekend with the headlining act starting at 7 p.m. on Gwazi Field. They include: Daughtry, March 4. Andy Grammer, March 5. Goo Goo Dolls, March 11. Kool and The Gang, March 12. Young the Giant, March 18. Jason Isbell and John Hiatt Trio, March 19. NBC’s The Voice finalists Craig Wayne Boyd and Adam Wakefield, March 25. El Gran Combo, March 26. DNCE, April 1. Walk Off The Earth, April 2. Daya and and Matt Nathanson, April 9. Newsboys, April 16. Gilberto Santa Rosa, April 22. Lynyrd Skynyrd, April 23. Artist for April 8, 29-30 will be announced soon. 10165 McKinley Dr., Tampa. seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-tampa. March 4-April 30.
African Penguins at Lowry Park Zoo
Peer into the life and plight of the endangered African penguins at the newly renovated Penguin Beach campus at the Zoo. Eleven birds have returned to their outdoor beach-themed habitat following an extended “staycation” during construction, welcoming new colony member “Marcus,” a 1-year old male. The new facility is critical to the Zoo’s role as a leader in African penguin conservation. 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa, 813-935-8552 or lowryparkzoo.org.
For a limited time Florida residents can ride the Orlando Eye, a 400-feet observation wheel at a special rate of $18 for adults, and $13 children ages 3-12. Proof of residency is required. Restrictions apply. 8401 International Dr., No. 100, Orlando, officialorlandoeye.com.
Palma Sola Botanical Park
Palma Sola Botanical Park features landscaped grounds, specialty gardens, a rare fruit tree section, lakes, a gazebo, a screened pavilion and play ground. Restroom and picnic tables are provided. Sidewalks and paths wind through the 10 acre grounds. The Galleria building features a large room, suitable for weddings, parties and other celebrations and is for rent through the administrative office. Admission to the park is free. 9800 17th Ave. NW., Bradenton, 941-761-2866 or palmasolabp.com. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
RealRail Train Displays
Come enjoy the operating train displays. Admission is free. 6804 14th St. W., Bradenton, realrail.org. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, except on holiday weekends.