Things to Do in Orlando
The Kennedy Space Center has been hurtling humans and shuttles into space since 1968 and is still a primary site for NASA launches. Parts of the sprawling campus are open to the public with daily tours offering opportunities to interact with real astronauts, test your skills with a simulated space flight, and see artifacts from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.
With expansive white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater Beach is a waterfront Florida community known for its aquatic activities and warm, turquoise waters. Clearwater Beach is an ideal launching pad for kayaking, parasailing, boating, and biking. It’s known as being more low-key than its southern neighbor, the bustling St. Pete Beach, and many consider Clearwater Beach to be among the best beaches in America.
Sandwiched between the sizzling beaches of Miami and the white sands of Key West, the 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park stands in stark contrast to its seductive neighbors—but don’t make the mistake of passing it by. Visit the park and discover for yourself the spectacular swampy weirdness that draws over one million visitors every year and constitutes a one-of-a-kind destination for nature lovers.
Roughly 40,000 gallons of water and 45,000 pounds of sand make up SEA LIFE® Orlando, the home of over 5,000 sea creatures, including green sea turtles, jellyfish, seahorses, black tip reef sharks, and colorful clownfish. Visitors can admire sharks and exotic fish from all angles and watch rays float gracefully overhead at theAtlantic Ocean Exhibit with its 360-degree tunnel, or check out the interactive rockpool to touch starfish, spot hermit crabs, and learn about coastal rock pools.
Regular talks combined with feeding times let children and adults learn more about the animals living here—it's a good idea to schedule a visit around these feeding times, as the wildlife will be the most active during those hours.
Apart from the Atlantic Ocean, the aquarium also focuses on the more tropical Indian Ocean and delves into the marine life of the Pacific. Visitors can also learn about the aquarium's breeding and rescue programs while finding out how to help the conservation projects.
Stretching for 17 miles (27 kilometers) between the Orlando Premium Outlets to Walt Disney World, Orlando’s International Drive (I-Drive for short) serves as the city’s tourist hub. Six of Orlando’s top theme parks—SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Wet ’n’ Wild, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Aquatica—are located along this stretch.
Step into the Florida Everglades at Wild Florida Airboats and Gator Park, located outside Orlando, where visitors can explore the Florida wilderness and its resident animals. Spend the day spotting alligators, white-tailed deer, sloths, and tropical birds and take an adventurous airboat ride at this popular family attraction.
Icon Orlando 360 is a new entertainment complex on one of Orlando's main drags, International Drive, commonly known as I-Drive. Opened in May 2015, Icon Orlando 360 (formerly known as I-Drive 360) includes a variety of restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions – including an aquarium, a Madame Tussaud's, and the 400-foot observation wheel called the Orlando Eye. You'll find popular eateries like Shake Shack and Outback as well as hopping nightlife at Cowgirls Rockbar, with the only mechanical bull in the city.
The centerpiece is the massive observation wheel. It has 30-passenger compartments, each one air-conditioned, and each one can carry up to 15 people. Your ticket to the Orlando Eye includes a 4-D movie experience and a ride around the wheel.
Universal’s Volcano Bay™ water park is a tropical-themed attraction located at Universal Orlando™. Attractions draw on South Pacific influences, and the centerpiece of the park is a towering 200-foot (61-meter) volcano called Krakatau™, which is the base for thrilling water slides. Other rides include an aqua coaster and a body plunge.
Orlando has a new immersive celebrity hotspot where one can walk down the red carpet and step into the world of fame for an afternoon. At Madame Tussauds, guests are able to find out exactly how tall those sports icons really are, strike a pose with a pop princess, shake hands with a smiling Barack Obama and take a selfie with Einstein. The museum poses TV and film celebrities next to pop icons, the most well-known faces from the arts and science and throws plenty of history and pop culture personalities into the mix as well.
The details of the wax replicas are on the usual Madame Tussauds level of incredible. Creating a wax statue requires taking hundreds of body and face measurements with calipers and measuring tapes, after which artists sculpt the perfect mold for the wax out of clay. Gluing on each hair individually, painstakingly painting facial features and recreating every last wrinkle ensures that the wax figures end up achieving a astonishing realism. So, what star are you dying to meet?
A firm departure from the everyday, WonderWorks Orlando offers what most attractions cannot – a spin on this thing we call reality. Built to resemble an upside-down laboratory, this science museum offers over 100 hands-on exhibits built to test your belief of what is real and what is illusion. Filled with “oh, wow” moments that include rope obstacle courses, zip lines and laser tag, WonderWorks Orlando is an engaging step into science and discovery – one that will leave the whole family full of wonder.
More Things to Do in Orlando
Walt Disney World®, the world's biggest amusement park, is a self-contained city, covering an area twice the size of New York's Manhattan. Four main parks comprise the bulk of Walt Disney World®—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom®—each with its own themed areas, shows, rides, and attractions. More than 50 million visitors pass through the gates each year into the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth” and home of Mickey Mouse.
Boats glide alongside actual swans on Lake Eola, at the heart of Lake Eola Park. The site isn’t big by many standards – a mile around – but it packs a big punch as an oasis in the middle of bustling, crowded Orlando. Locals and visitors flock here – like the geese they feed out of hand – to take in a little nature. The Orlando skyline rises in the distance, a stunning contrast to the peace and quiet of the park and a beautiful reminder of the nearby city.
There are countless things to do in Lake Eola Park, including a weekly farmers’ market to visit, complete with fresh produce and live entertainment. Children run amok on the Lake Eola playground, and the iconic swan boats are a favorite for all ages. The park also has its own performance space, the Walt Disney Amphitheatre, which hosts events throughout the year. There’s even a restaurant on the premises; the Relax Grill promises to live up to its name.
Go behind the scenes, beyond the screen, and jump right into the action of your favorite movies at Universal Studios Florida™, the world's premier movie and TV-based theme park. This Orlando favorite, part of Universal Orlando Resort™, offers rides, shows, movie sets, and attractions that bring to life blockbuster movies likeTransformers,Despicable Me, andHarry Potter.
Fun Spot America Theme Parks offer locations in Orlando and nearby Kissimmee. It is the only family-owned theme park in the area and admission is free to the park - you just pay to ride and play!
The parks are fully equipped with activities to keep the fun going all day. Each location boasts unique, patented multilevel go-kart tracks, an arcade where visitors can play a variety of games and collect points to redeem for prizes, and several roller coasters. The Kissimmee park is home to the tallest SkyCoaster in the world, which stands at 300 ft (91 m), while the Orlando park is home to Orlando's only wooden roller coaster, White Lightening. There are also thrill rides, bumper cars, bumper boats, and load of other rides that are appropriate for kids and fun for the whole family.
Both Fun Spot America parks are only a few miles from Disney World, Universal Studios and several other popular Orlando area attractions. Parking is free, and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the park. There is also a diner and a sweets shop for when you get hungry.
Go back in time to the night of April 14, 1912, when the “unsinkable” ship sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. With full-scale room replicas, hundreds of objects recovered from theTitanic, and immersive interactive exhibits, Orlando’s Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition offers a real-world connection to a defining moment in history.
Set on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is best known for its population of West Indian manatees. The park is primarily a rehabilitation center for the creatures, which swim in the freshwater spring while they are treated. On land, native Florida wildlife thrives in the dense surrounding forest.
Conveniently located between Orlando and Tampa, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is one of Central Florida’s most imaginative theme parks. Opened in 2011, the resort comprises a theme park, water park, and a botanical garden, and is home to more than 50 rides, sideshows, and restaurants.
Magic Kingdom Park is the heart of Walt Disney World®. The iconic Cinderella's Castle is the park's centerpiece, surrounded by seven different magical lands. Pirates of the Caribbean, one of the most popular, takes passengers on an indoor boat ride through the dark and shadowy world of pirates, complete with snazzed-up special effects and a dash of Johnny Depp. The ride at Space Mountain hurtles you through the darkness of outer space, while over at Frontier Land, the wild and wooly America unfolds past cacti and hot-spring geysers.
Mickey's Toontown Fair and Fantasyland are a hit with smaller kids, as they can fly to Never Neverland, ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant, or travel around the globe by boat while singing “It’s A Small World.” Fireworks displays light up the sky nightly, and many nights end with a parade. At Tomorrowland, kids can discover a space-age science fiction-inspired community inhabited by humans, aliens, and robots. Unique shops and themed restaurants round out the attractions.
Disney Springs™(formerly known as Downtown Disney®) is an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment center in Florida’s Lake Buena Vista, near Walt Disney World®and other Orlando theme parks. When you need a break from amusement park rides, head to Disney Springs™to pick up souvenirs, dine, or see a show.
Orlando’s infamous Amway Center hosts some of Florida’s biggest sporting, music and entertainment events. The 875,000-square-foot arena captivates visitors of all ages with its variety of restaurants, bars, kid zones and retail shops. With space to accommodate 20,000 guests and modern décor for travelers and locals alike, the venue is unique in its sustainability; environmentally-friendly features such as water efficiency and energy optimization are included throughout the design. Orlando Magic fans will appreciate the home team’s 42-foot-high scoreboard, the largest of its kind in the NBA — now that’s a slam dunk.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom® takes the best parts of a theme park and a zoo, blending them seamlessly into one encompassing experience. Visitors can go on safari through the Sahara (and see real animals in naturalistic habitats), explore the world of Pandora from Avatar, ride the rapids of an Asian river, or encounter a yeti on Mount Everest.
Get your adrenaline pumping and put yourself in the driver’s seat at I-Drive NASCAR Indoor Kart Racing. Located in Orlando, I-Drive offers plenty of activities to keep the whole family occupied, with state-of-the-art electric go-karts, an arcade area, a bowling alley, pool tables, and full-service bar and restaurant.
Also known as the Orlando Odditorium, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando is on normal attraction, a fact you’ll discover as soon as you walk up. Designed to look off kilter, the appearance of Ripley’s is the first of many interesting oddities you’ll find here.
This wild and wacky world is filled with wonder, and families can experience it all without leaving the city of Orlando. Filled with bizarre exhibits and mesmerizing optical illusions, Ripley’s includes life-size Terracotta warriors, a real shrunken human head, a two-headed dog
skeleton, a shooting range and much more. Perfect for a step outside of the ordinary, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando has got the market cornered on quirky Florida attractions.
Part of the Walt Disney World®Resort near Orlando, Disney's Hollywood Studios®doubles as a theme park and working movie studio where animation and motion pictures are made. The park’s attractions and rides are all inspired by Hollywood films, television shows, and the best of Broadway.
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