Our Top 10 Places in Orlando (but this list goes up to 11 !)
The Theme Parks are packed with rides and attractions (with different levels of scariness!) for people of all ages – no-one will get bored and there’s plenty to keep the children busy!
Food and drink are sold everywhere, but you may want to consider eating before you leave home to save buying (more expensive) food in the parks. The washroom facilities are clean and well mainained, and the parks are very good at looking after visitors as they want you to come back again!
If someone in your party has a disability badge, follow the “Blue line” which will direct you to the closest parking for the park entrance.
You’ll probably be exhausted at the end of a day out and may not want to cook, but fortunately the nearby Highway 192 is packed with restaurants of all types. There are several food chains (Ponderosa, Golden Corral) where you can enjoy a cheap “All you can eat” buffet with a good variety of food, mid price establishments like Olive Garden and also top end dining with luxury cuisine from all over the world. You certainly won’t go hungry!
OK, here we go – this is our personal Top 10……
1 – Disney. Of course – still the number one family attraction for most Orlando visitors. The magic of the mouse continues to entrance new generations, and each day ends with a stunning parade of all your favourite Disney charactors and a spectacular firework display.
2 – Kennedy Space Centre. Just over an hour away and next door to the stunning Cocoa beach (where much of TV’s “I dream of Jeannie” was filmed) is this world renown attraction. If you pick the right day, you may even see a real live rocket launch! (check the date of forthcoming launches)
Where else in the world could you see a sight like this for free?
Tour the launch pad, the control centre (with simulated countdown) walk underneath a gigantic Saturn 5 Moon Rocket and take in a fascinating IMAX feature.
3 – Busch gardens. Our own favourite theme park with its’ winning formula of amazing rides, wild animals (free landrover safari included) and stunning surroundings. There’s even an overhead cable ride to transport you just above the wild animals and rides, and like so many of the parks there’s just too much to see on a single day’s visit.
If you’re feeling brave, check out this video of the white knuckle Sheikra ride, filmed from the front seat……
4 – The wizarding World of Harry Potter (at Universal Studios) Hogwarts fans of all ages will be mesmerised as they enter the world of their favourite boy wizard. Walk through Diagon Alley, check out the wands from Olivander’s shop and try a glass of Butter beer before boarding the steam train to Hogwarts Castle and ending up on a spectacular ride.
It’s all brilliantly done and looks just the way you imagined it to be – all Muggles welcome!
5 – Ripleys “Believe it or Not” on International Drive. A mad, quirky place built inside an apparently “falling down” house containing not just fascinating things to look at but loads of interactive displays too, so the whole family can get involved.
6 – Islands of Adventure. Our favourite rides are Spiderman, Jurassic Park and the Incredible Hulk Coaster, and young children will enjoy The Cat in the Hat and the Sky Seuss Trolley Train.
As is customary, a few of the rides will ensure you get thoroughly soaked, but being Florida you’ll dry off in no time (or you can buy a cheap waterproof cape!)
7 – The Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia. Does anyone in your family enjoy shopping? If so, as well as the huge variety of shops all the way along the nearby Route 192, these two enormous Malls are a short drive away. Both have well over 100 shops, cafes and food sellers.
Florida Mall – list of shops
Mall at Millenia – list of shops
8 – Discovery cove. Swim with Dolphins, snorkel with Sting Rays up to 4 feet across and view an underwater shark tank located behind protective glass.
The park contains a free-flight aviary with over over 250 tropical birds including parrots, toucans, and over 30 other species of exotic birds. The heated “Lazy River” runs through the aviary and circles the park, allowing guests to float past an assortment of Discovery Cove’s beaches, waterfalls, and rainforest landscape.
The Grand Reef features a white sand beach, palm lined island and underwater grottos filled with moray eels, reef sharks and scores of other tropical fish. Activities range from snorkeling with eagle rays to crossing a rope bridge over a shark-filled lagoon.
9 – Seaworld. A mixture of rides for adults and children, animal interactions and tours, exhibits plus the world famous “Shamu” killer whale show. Quite a few of the seating rows near the front are in the “splash zone” so be prepared……..
Seaworld has a different atmosphere to a lot of the other parks and is more peaceful, relaxed and less hectic. If you love animals (especially water based) you’ll have a great time here.
10 – Crystal River. And now for something completely different……
Away from the hurly burly of the the Theme Parks try a “Nature” day out with the family (usually much cheaper too!) Explore the stunning natural parks, nature trails and hundreds of lakes that show you a different side of Florida.
One of our favourite places is Crystal River which offers the unique opportunity to swim with a Manatee – one of Florida’s gentlest water creatures – and an Airboat ride.
One more suggestion :
11 – Kissimmee Old Town. Best time to go is on a Saturday night where you can watch the parade of vintage cars, stroll through the old town and maybe stop for a beer while you soak up the atmosphere and catch a live band (all free, except for the beer!)
It’s also home to the worlds tallest Skycoaster where you can fall from 300 feet at up to 80mph….Gulp…..