Just in time for spring and summer travel come new family attractions and entertainment at one of America's top beach destinations - Panama City Beach.
Big Top Thrills
Come one, come all: Circus By The Sea makes its debut in Panama City Beach this summer with air-conditioned Big Top seating for more than 2,000 visitors. The circus dazzles with its three-ring aerial and stage production. Trapeze artists soar high above ground, while jugglers and acrobats take center stage to perform balancing acts and jaw-dropping stunts. Presented by Flying High, LLC, Circus by the Sea showcases the renowned Florida State University (FSU) Flying High Circus, celebrating 60 years of spellbinding entertainment. The circus has staged professional-caliber performances throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Canada, the Bahamas and the West Indies. Performances in Panama City Beach run Monday through Saturday, June 13 through Aug. 2, 2008 in Frank Brown Park.
Little ones can get in on the act, with Circus By The Sea's Circus Camp for children ages 7 to 12. During each weeklong program, campers enjoy one-on-one training with FSU performers in a variety of skills, from juggling and balancing to trapeze. Other games and activities are designed to build self-confidence, improve coordination and promote fitness. Upon completion of Circus Camp, campers will have the opportunity to show their newfound talents during Thursday evening Circus By The Sea performances. Circus Camps will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 23 through July 31, 2008.
For more information about Circus By The Sea, go to http://www.circusbythesea.com.
Above and Beyond
Gulf World Marine Park delivers high-flying action with its X-Treme High Dive Show. Professional World-Class Divers perform flips and twirls from dizzying heights with exact precision, culminating in an 80-foot high-dive grand finale. The Olympic-style performance begins Memorial Day and continues through Labor Day. Back by popular demand, magician Noah Wells shares the limelight to amaze and delight with his interactive show. Full of music, comedy and colorful illusions, "The Magic of Noah Wells" aims to leave audiences spellbound.
The excitement continues with Dolphin Encounter, inviting visitors to learn about preservation before getting into the water for a dolphin swim. In the six-hour Trainer for a Day program, guests study dolphin behavior then step onto the stage to perform alongside trainers during the Dolphin Show in the state-of-the-art Dolphin Stadium.
Offering new exhibits, extended hours and more than 25 shows, Gulf World features sea lions, exotic birds, penguins and more. The attraction also is home to a rescue and rehabilitation program for sick or injured dolphins, sea turtles and other marine animals as area coordinator for the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Thanks to the gentle care of the park's onsite veterinarian and supportive staff, many stranded creatures have been successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
For more information about Gulf World Marine park, go to http://www.gulfworldmarinepark.com.
Making a Splash
No need to endure long lines. At one of Florida's largest theme water parks - Shipwreck Island Waterpark - a new online ticketing service gives visitors more time on the slides by purchasing and printing out their tickets at home. Noticeable changes for 2008 include the enlarged Salty's Shipwreck Island Trading Company, where visitors discover unique souvenirs. A major landscaping improvement will bring bright bursts of color from tropical gardens throughout this shady oasis.
For thrills and spills, little ones favor the waterpark's specially designed Tadpole Hole, offering slides, towers, tubes and swings. The 500,000-gallon Ocean Motion Wave Pool and 2,000-foot Lazy River provide cool relaxation, while water-based thrill rides are designed to get the adrenaline pumping. Older visitors prefer the White Knuckle River, a 600-foot family tube ride; the 65-foot Tree Top Drop; Great Ship Wreck, and Zoom Flume.
For more information about Shipwreck Island Waterpark, go to http://www.shipwreckisland.com.
Get up-close-and-personal with animal friends as Keeper for a Day at ZooWorld Zoological & Botanical Park. Designed to educate and amaze, this unique program promotes wildlife preservation through hands-on activities and personalized animal encounters. Visitors can feed endangered primates, assist in a live animal show or go behind the scenes with a guided tour of the Tilghman Infant Care Facility, offering close-up views of the baby animals born at ZooWorld.
Also taking center stage at ZooWorld, the popular Going Wild! show features a talented cast of rare mammals, reptiles, exotic birds and a North American alligator named "Bubbles." Discover unique animal facts and pose for pictures with the show's stars during interactive audience encounters.
ZooWorld is home to more than 250 animals, including 18 rare and endangered species, in a lush tropical landscape featuring more than 250 species of plants and trees. Lions, tigers, and bears. . .along with monkeys, alligators, camels, giraffes, reptiles, exotic birds, orangutans and jaguars are all part of the educational entertainment. The Bengal Tiger Show features both Bengal and White Tigers in a new 200-seat arena. Eight different endangered or threatened species have come into the world here in recent years, including five African lions; one Summatran Tiger, and three Mandrills, a type of baboon. Children get close to the animals again in ZooWorld's Gentle Jungle Petting Zoo.
For more information about ZooWorld Zoological & Botanical Park, go to http://www.zoo-world.us.
Designed to look like a 1950s luxury cruise liner run aground on the beach, the Ripley's entertainment complex houses Ripley's Moving Theater and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium.
Pulse-pounding turns, wind in your ears, tumbling boulders and shooting stars - these are the experiences that await on your journey into the fourth dimension of big screen entertainment at Ripley's Moving Theater. Here, Ripley's presents its new lineup of 4-D movies, mixing motion and special effects with action-packed screen images. Guests take the driver's seat to feel the rumbles and tumbles as if they are part of the on-screen adventures. Feel the wind, snow and rain from your seat, with the aid of cutting-edge motion simulator technology and six-channel digital surround sound.
Showcasing fascinating finds from around the globe, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium elicits reactions from eeeuuuwww to awe with exhibits, including: an authentic shrunken head from Ecuador, a mummy discovered off the Florida coast and an 11-foot Eiffel Tower made entirely of matchsticks. Another dazzler, the 23-foot-long Lincoln Town Car, is adorned with 23,000 gold-plated British coins valued at $1.3 million.
For more information about Ripley's Believe It or Not!, go to http://www.ripleyspanamacitybeach.com.
Coconut Creek Family Fun Park offers two unique attractions to provide twice the fun. Golfers swing their way through two 18-hole miniature golf courses that resemble a tropical island jungle. On the journey, they encounter exotic plants and animals, including life-size statues. Watch out for water-spraying elephants as you make your way around the courses.
Then travel to Coconut Creek's Gran Maze, one of America's most challenging human mazes. Larger than a football field, the Gran Maze takes its design inspiration from the South Pacific Islands. Like Capt. James Cook who discovered this tropical paradise centuries ago, young explorers must use their best navigation skills. They pass through Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa and Bali before completing their "a-mazing" journey.
For more information about Coconut Creek Family Fun Park, go to http://www.coconutcreekfun.com.
High Seas Adventures
In addition to enjoying new attractions and shows, voyagers can step back in time to the days when pirates roamed the Florida coastline aboard the Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise. Cruise the Gulf waters in this authentic 85-foot pirate ship with cannons blasting, swords swinging and pirates hanging from the rigging.
More adventures await aboard the Sea Screamer. See why the destination is known as "The Beach Lover's Beach" as you cruise through the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico on this open-air powerboat. Playful dolphins and other marine life vie for attention much to the delight of passengers.