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Talk of the bay: For Universal, Simpsons is the new future

By Times Staff
Published April 25, 2007


The Simpsons, the irreverent Fox cartoon family, is headed to Universal Studios Florida to take over the vacant Back to the Future ride in spring 2008. After a makeover of up to $30-million, the new ride will send patrons on a simulator trip with Homer, Marge and the kids to a theme park dreamed up by Krusty the Clown. Meanwhile, Hollywood columnist Nikki Finke reported she confirmed rumors that Universal has a deal to create a themed Harry Potter multiattraction area at one of the two parks at Universal Orlando. Adding fuel: Universal budgeted $120-million for Orlando park improvements in 2007, including the Simpsons attraction. Park officials are not commenting on the Potter report.

Local stop possible for cut-rate airline

The Tampa Bay area didn't make the first list of destinations for Skybus, the new really no-frills airline. But don't count us out. Skybus began selling tickets Tuesday for flights between its Columbus, Ohio, base and eight U.S. cities, with fares as low as $10. The carrier charges for drinks, snacks, blankets, checking a bag and boarding the plane first. Fort Lauderdale was the only Florida city to land Skybus for now. Noah Lagos, executive director of St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, visited Skybus four months ago and thinks his airport's still a possibility. "We had a first date," he says.

Go west, but park in a safe place

You could lose more than your shirt when you visit Sin City. According to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the U.S. cities with the highest rates of vehicle theft include Las Vegas; Stockton, Calif.; Visalia/Porterville, Calif.; and Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, Ariz. Notice a trend here? The western United States, especially California, has the nation's highest vehicle theft rates. In Florida, Miami/Fort Lauderdale leads the state (33rd nationwide), followed by Orlando/Kissimmee (48th), Deltona/Daytona Beach (69th) and Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater (72nd).

[Last modified April 24, 2007, 23:10:37]

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