Tampa Bay summer events listings

Your guide to attractions, beaches, summer camps, museums, parks and performances.

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click to enlarge The Edison-Ford Winter Estates - (c) The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
(c) The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
The Edison-Ford Winter Estates


ADVENTURE ISLAND, 10001 Malcolm McKinley Drive, (813-987-5660). This 30-acre water park features a huge variety of amusements, including slides, corkscrews, water falls, a wave pool, children's water playground and other family attractions. Additional amenities include outdoor cafes, picnic and sunbathing areas, gift shops, arcades and a white-sand volleyball complex. The park is open daily March through October; hours vary. Single-day passes are $39.95 adults, $35.95 ages 3-9; children 2 and younger enter for free ($10 parking fee). Combo tickets for Busch Gardens and Adventure Island are also available. adventureisland.com.

ANIMAL KINGDOM, I-4 East to Walt Disney World exits, (407-939-6244). This Disney attraction is a hybrid zoo theme park running the gamut from "wild creatures of southern Asia" to gibbons and other exotic animals. Top attractions include the jungle safari, a Jeep-style tour through the bush; and Dinosaur, a virtual encounter with beasts of the past. Open daily; hours vary from week to week. Single day passes are $79.88 adults, $67.10 ages 3-9 (free for tots 2 and younger); Disney combo ticket packages and discounted multi-day passes are also available. disneyworld.disney.go.com.

AQUATICA, 5800 Water Play Way, Orlando, across from SeaWorld, exit 71 (888-800-5447). SeaWorld's brand spanking new water park opened its gates to the public in March. Aquatica's highlight is Dolphin Plunge, which features 240-feet of clear tubes that spiral through a lagoon with black-and-white Commerson's dolphins; other offerings include restaurants, 36 slides, a lazy river, interactive play areas, 80,000-square-feet of sandy beaches and plenty else. Open daily; hours vary. Admission is $44.95 adults, $38.95 ages 3-9 (children 2 and younger enter for free). Parking is $12. aquaticabyseaworld.com.

BIG CAT RESCUE, 12802 Easy St., Tampa (813-920-4130). This 45-acre facility is the world's largest nonprofit sanctuary for big cats who've been abused, abandoned or are retired from performing. More than 100 lions, leopards, cougars, tigers, lynx, caracals, bobcats, ocelots, servals and others call it home. The 90-minute guided tours are offered at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., and at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sat. (ages 10 and up only); admission is $25 per person. The one-hour Kid's Tour (for children 9 and younger, $15) is offered 9 a.m. Saturdays. Feeding tours, photo tours and night tours available for $50 per person; other tour options also available. With an original receipt from a veterinary showing you neutered or spayed your pet or adopted a fixed animal from a shelter within the past year, a free day pass is available. bigcatrescue.org.

BUSCH GARDENS, 3000 E. Busch Blvd., Tampa (813-987-5082). This 300-acre African-themed park and zoo boasts more than 2,000 animals, some scattered across a mock Serengeti Plain, some swinging in the trees of the Myombe Reserve. Attractions include a three story tree house playground, Land of the Dragons, a replica of King Tut's tomb, roller coasters like Kumba, Montu, Gwazi, and the newest, SheiKra, and plenty of other rides. Edge of Africa features hyenas, giraffes and other jungle creatures, and a variety of guided Jeep tours allow guests to feed, observe and learn about giraffes, ostriches and other animals (for an additional charge). Visitors can also choose from an assortment of shows, restaurants and gift shops. Open daily; hours vary from week to week. Admission is $69.95 adults, $59.95 ages 3-9, and for Florida residents, this includes unlimited admission through the rest of the year (children 2 and younger enter free); parking is $12 (combo Sea World and Aquatica tickets also available). buschgardens.com.

CLEARWATER MARINE AQUARIUM, 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater (727-441-1790). The nonprofit aquarium is dedicated to public education, marine research, and the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick or injured dolphins, sea turtles and river otters. Visitors can see all of these rescued animals in addition to hourly animal care and training presentations, underwater viewing of native sharks and fish, standard and "hands-on" exhibits and more. New renovations have given the aquarium a facelift and features include a 100-seat widescreen theater, windows in the dolphin pool and an expanded gift. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.- Thurs., 9 a.m.-7p.m. Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. Admission is $11 adults, $9 seniors, $7.50 ages 3-12. cmaquarium.org.

DISCOVERY COVE, 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando (877-434-7268). This reservations-only, man-made aquavaganza features swim areas where visitors can actually splash about with bottlenose dolphins and rays, snorkel among exotic fish in a coral reef lagoon, wade in freshwater pools and rivers, hand feed birds and relax in hammocks. The prefab Tahitian-style day-resort boasts sandy white beaches, thatched huts and a "high level of personal attention." Only 1,000 guests are admitted per day, so reservations are required. Open 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is $289 and includes all cove adventures, a freshly prepared meal, free access to amenities (snorkel gear, wet suits, towels, lockers, beach umbrellas, chairs, hammocks and a personal guide), and a 14 consecutive day pass to Sea World or Busch Gardens; for $189, you get all of the above, minus the dolphin swim. discoverycove.com.

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