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Blue Man Rocks Universal

The wildly popular -- and certainly colorful -- Blue Man Group has begun an open-ended series of performances at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida.

Universal's Sound Stage 18 was re-designed as a 1,000-seat theater, featuring an impressive demonstration of the best technology in action. Park goers enter the venue -- which boasts a 30-foot-tall Blue Man façade -- from Universal CityWalk or the Universal Studios theme park.

Photo of Blue Man Group goes here.

The Blue Man Group Band, a live presence in all Blue Man Group shows, will hover above the stage in two loft-like boxes. The lofts are connected to the rest of the space with large pipes - similar to the pipes the Blue Man Group uses in its performances.

Video is crucial to the performance and the performance features large LED screens on stage. In addition, the entire set becomes a projection surface. For information visit www.universalorlando.com.

Griffon Debuts at Busch

Named after a mythical beast, Griffon is half lion and half eagle. Griffon is also the newest roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It's now the world’s tallest and first floorless dive coaster.

Griffon features a 90-degree, 205-foot drop right at its beginning. It thrills with a pair of Immelmann loops over the rest of the three-minute ride. Riders reach a top speed of 75 mph and splash through a water break. Visit  www.buschgardens.com

Six Flags Goes Cirque

Cirque Dreams Coobrila, a new stage extravaganza, has launched at Six Flags Over Texas, 2201 Road to Six Flags, Austin, TX. Visitors will view the show in the reconfigured 10,000-seat Music Mill Amphitheatre. That facility is gaining new multiple stages, performance runways and an elaborate above-theater truss structure for illuminations and aerial artistry.

What’s with the show’s name? First, the outdoor performances are now presented at night when temperatures are cooler (hence the “coo” in Coobrila). Illuminations through the park are also brighter (the origin of the “br”). And park hours are extended  (hence the “la”) – until 11 p.m. – through Aug. 19.

Expect lots of nighttime razzle-dazzle. Employee uniforms will glow in the dark. Three bands and nine performance groups will entertain nightly. Check out www.sixflags.com.

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Theme Parks
Central FL's Theme Parks Unveil New Experiences

For travelers in search of theme park fun, nothing beats a central Florida vacation. The area is home to Walt Disney World with its four theme parks, the Universal Orlando Resort with two parks (and Harry Potter's wizarding world), SeaWorld Orlando and sister parks Discovery Cove and Aquatica, and Busch Garden's Tampa Bay, which has launched a new screaming coaster, Cheetah Hunt. See what else is new!
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Traveler's Tale: Thrills Galore at Busch Gardens

If you love screamin' coasters, head for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Yes, the theme park has superb wildlife viewing and other entertainment, but Brad Ball, an avid reader and world traveler, recently journeyed to the park for one reason -- to experience the thrills of the park's coasters. From ShreikRa to Montu, Kumba and beyond, Brad and a friend road them all in a one-day coaster extravaganza! Join Brad for a first-hand "Traveler's Tale" .... RRRrrooooarrrrr!
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Hooray for Dollywood and Old-Fashioned Fun.

Certainly other theme parks around the country are bigger and have more promotional clout. Many offer zillions of high-tech rides. But when it comes to unbridled fun in surprising ways, no park does it exactly like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN.

From its green fried tomatoes to its country and blues music, from its old-fashioned steam train ride to its wildlife displays, and even to a thrilling coaster or two, Dollywood offers diversions for all members of the family. Increasingly, the park is also adding more world-class rides and attractions, including Mystery Mine (see photo) added last season.

So come along with freelance writer Kay Harwell Fernandez, who just returned from a site visit to Dollywood. See what's in store for visitors this spring and summer.
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Thrills and Fun at Alabama Adventure

The South often swelters in the summer. One place to take the entire family to cool off is the Splash Beach Water Park at Alabama Adventure. While there, kids and adults can also head for the attraction's amusement park. One of this park's latest, greatest rides is Vertigo, which flips riders over as it both spins and rises. Let's head out with freelance writer and Birmingham resident Lynn Grisard Fullman to explore family-friendly Alabama Adventure.
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