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ON A BUDGET

Oh, the Places You'll Go at Orlando's 'Seuss Landing'

February 14, 1999|ARTHUR FROMMER

Is Mickey Mouse about to be surpassed by Dr. Seuss? That possibility is the big topic of conversation in the theme park world in Orlando, Fla. The scheduled opening on July 1 of Universal Studios' new Islands of Adventure--of which a major part is "Seuss Landing"--may create the first real threat to Disney's dominance of the Orlando entertainment scene.

And recently, Universal raised the ante by announcing highly competitive prices for visits to what will become a multiple theme park complex.

The new theme park "island" devoted to Dr. Seuss, author of the phenomenally popular children's series, is one of five isles in all, encompassing 110 acres and sprawling across a huge artificial lake that is crammed with state-of-the-art rides, shows and other attractions. Seuss Landing is based on "The Cat in the Hat" and other whimsical characters of Dr. Seuss, while another attraction--the Marvel Super Hero Island--showcases Spider-Man, the Hulk and the rest of that famous comic book pantheon. Still another, The Lost Continent, focuses on the legendary tales of Sinbad, Atlantis and Merlin the Magician; Toon Lagoon is a stroll through the funny pages, past and present; and Jurassic Park drops visitors into a Steven Spielberg-produced update of his hit dinosaur flicks.

At Seuss Landing, children will encounter the memorable Seuss characters (from "If I Ran the Zoo," "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," "Horton Hatches the Egg," "The Sneetches and Other Stories," "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" and many more), presented via rides and robotic exhibits of every sort. Children will also be able to visit the Green Eggs and Ham Cafe, where they'll chow down on eggs that are actually colored you-know-what (by spinach ground into them). What child will be able to resist? And having gone there, will they still have time for Mickey and Donald Duck?

Besides being a needed shot in the arm to the Orlando entertainment area, Islands of Adventure will be a boon to the budgets of vacationing families, since Universal is, at the same time, introducing a new "Orlando FlexTicket."

Good for seven days, the new FlexTicket--at $159.95 per person (plus tax), or $127.95 (plus tax) for ages 3 to 9--buys unlimited admission to Islands of Adventure, the Universal Studios movie park, Sea World and the water park Wet 'n Wild. That stacks up well indeed against Disney's nearest equivalent pass, the "Park Hopper," which covers its big four (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom) for $189 (plus tax)--and for children under 10, $151 (plus tax)--and gives you only five days (although at least with Disney, unused days never expire; with Universal it's use 'em or lose 'em).

Universal also tosses in a bonus of sorts in the form of its recently inaugurated CityWalk, which offers access at no extra charge to 30 entertaining acres of shops, restaurants, theaters and bars dedicated mostly to pop music and its stars.

Universal's seven-day pass works out to an adult price of only $22.85 a day for theme park admission, which is a considerable discount off the average charge in Orlando of $42 for a single day's entrance to a major theme park.

For more details on Islands of Adventure or CityWalk, click on http://www.universalstudios.com or call Universal Studios for literature, tel. (888) 322-5537.

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