Theme-park news for 2009 can be described with one word: discounts. To maintain market share and keep the turnstiles moving, parks have been discounting admission fees and hotel prices. Opportunities should exist for you to negotiate good rates for your religious gathering.

Venue News: Theme Parks Update

Universal Orlando Resort: Orlando

The News: Music Plaza is Universal Orlando Resort’s new outdoor concert venue. Music Plaza was designed in the spirit of the iconic Hollywood Bowl and complements Universal Orlando’s new roller coaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Music Plaza is available for group rentals.

Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Water Park: Winter Haven, Fla.

Cypress Gardens Adventure Park closed in November and reopened in March as Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Water Park. Gone are the coasters, other rides, and animals; the focus is on the park’s botanical and topiary gardens. Cypress Gardens has kept its famous water shows.

Holiday World: Santa Claus, Ind.

The News: New is Pilgrims Plunge, the world's tallest water ride, which takes 10-passenger boats up a 135-foot hill using an elevator lift and drops them 131 feet at a 45-degree angle.

Six Flags New Orleans: New Orleans

The News: The Katrina-damaged park remains closed this season.

Six Flags Great Escape: Lake George, N.Y.

The News: The new Sasquatch drop tower is the tallest ride in the park at 192 feet.

Worlds of Fun: Kansas City, Mo.

The News: Prowler, a sprawling wooden roller coaster tangled within the park’s forested terrain, has opened. The $8 million attraction sends riders through elevation changes of 102 feet along 3,074 feet of track.

Kings Island: Mason, Ohio

The News: Diamondback, a 5,282-foot-long, 230-foot-tall steel roller coaster, features stadium-style seating, with excellent views from every chair. Kings Island is the first park in the U.S. to introduce this style of coaster.

Hersheypark: Hershey, Pa.

The News: The park has expanded its Boardwalk section with two new attractions. The Shore wave pool blends fresh and filtered water to simulate the ocean’s currents; the Intercoastal Waterway is a lazy river–style attraction.

Freestyle Music Park: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The News: Hard Rock Park opened last season and later declared bankruptcy. New owners have reopened it this year with a new name, Freestyle Music Park.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas: San Antonio

The News: Wiggles World features rides and a restaurant based on the TV program “The Wiggles.”