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Springing forward

Time for new and improved update for the theme parks

Dewayne Bevil on Attractions

Theme Park Ranger

10:17 AM EDT, March 14, 2013

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Spring is in the air, and so are new experiences at Orlando-area theme parks and attractions. Let's walk through a few fresh — or upcoming — opportunities.

Waterworks

Legoland Florida's water park is back open for the season, and it has doubled the number of Lego bricks decorating the area. As of now, there are 4 million brightly colored blocks in the figures and murals.

Of note is a Moby Dick figure along the attraction's lazy river feature, sharks floating beside the wave pool and a 15-foot mermaid that squirts water at guests.

The water park in Winter Haven is open every day during the spring break rush, but will return to the weekends-only schedule April 15.

Remember, the water park is an add-on to Legoland admission, and there's no water-park-only ticket option. And Legoland itself sometimes takes Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, so I always advise to check the operating calendar on its website (legoland.com) before heading to Polk County.

Transformation

Universal Studios won't open its Transformers: The Ride — 3D until sometime this summer, but it already has a presence beyond its boxy gray façade. Look for the gift shop, dubbed the Supply Vault, in the corner closest to Mel's Drive-In.

The store has the usual fare — T-shirts, action figures, mugs and the like.

Maybe a bigger draw is the meet-and-greet station just outside, where guests can pose with Transformer biggies Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. Universal says these very tall figures will be mingling and posing daily.

Fun rides

The Fun Spot location near International Drive is in the midst of a building boom with three landscape-changing projects under construction. A June 8 grand opening is set for the Freedom Fighter steel coaster, White Lightning wooden coaster and the 250-foot SkyCoaster, which I like to call an "extreme swing" but in the Superman pose.

But look for more, lower-to-the-ground attractions as well on that date. Fun Spot expects to add Rip Curl, a speedy ride that rises and falls and moves in a circle; a new Tilt-a-whirl; a spinning wheel ride called Enterprise; an upgraded Green Commander track for go-karts; and a kiddie coaster similar to one at Fun Spot's Kissimmee location.

Birds land

This seems also too on-the-nose to be true, but it is. An Angry Birds Space attraction is coming to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. It debuts March 22. Astronaut Donald Pettit will be on hand for the grand opening at 11 a.m.

Angry Birds Space Encounter, based on the popular computer game in which birds are launched through a slingshot at an array of elaborately stacked targets, will feature interactive exhibits. One stop will allow guests to customize their own Angry Bird; another will let folks shoot the feathered characters at targets.

Rovio Entertainment, creator of the Angry Birds franchise, and NASA designed the 4,480-square-foot attraction to teach players about physics and space exploration.

Feeling rusty

The Orlando Science Center will open a new homegrown exhibit called "Corrosion: The Silent Menace" on Saturday. The display, developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense, uses computerized simulation games to look at the factors that lead to material degradation.

Elements include a rusty-steel bridge entrance and 3-D mapping technology to show options on how to prevent corrosion, an Xbox-driven display that shows how to protect items such as bicycles and hidden cases of the six types of corrosion.

The exhibit, aimed at middle- and high-school students, is expected to stay at the science center for about a year.

On March 23, the science center will be hosting Ashley Eckstein, a Central Floridian known for her voice work on the animated TV series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" on Cartoon Network. She also launched Her Universe, a "Star Wars"-based clothing line.

Eckstein will participate in question-and-answer panels, autograph sessions and photo ops throughout the day. Her appearance is tied to the museum's "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination" exhibit. Its final day in Orlando is April 7.

dbevil@tribune.com or 407-420-5477