Have you noticed that any time someone mentions they are going to visit any attractions in Central Florida most people just automatically assume they are talking about Disney World? Now, it is certainly well known that Orlando is famous for Disney, but there are other attractions in the Orlando area besides the home of Mickey Mouse.
I do love Disney, make no mistake about it, and I enjoy theme parks in general, but don’t forget the other parks when planning your visit. Most people do remember Universal Studios but some do not think of Islands of Adventure or else they don’t realize they are two separate parks. My son and I have visited Islands of Adventure, or IOA, every year since it opened which was when he was about 12 I think. We almost always have an annual pass and usually head over in the late afternoon or evening to avoid the heat and crowds. This is a FUN park if you love thrill rides and/or water rides. The Spiderman ride itself is worth a visit, one of the best rides you’ll find. The Hulk coaster is worth riding for the launch at the beginning. I remember the first time I rode it, somehow I had not heard that it launched and I was…er…surprised. Love that coaster though. I hear Harry Potter area they are building is going to be great and very true to the movies/books but I am not a Harry Potter fan so can’t really say. I looked at the videos on the website and it looks pretty cool though.
There is also Sea World of course, and this park is heavily advertised so surely you won’t forget it. I like it now and again but it’s not a park I want to visit over and over. I can see all I want to in one or two visits. I do enjoy the shows though.
Some people don’t realize it’s not too far to go to Busch Gardens in Tampa. While it is not technically one of the attractions in Central Florida, it is only about 90 minutes away from Orlando. There is lots to do there whether you enjoy roller coasters or shows or even midway-type games. What I usually like to do is just drive over and spend the night in a hotel so that I can have two days at the park without driving back and forth from Orlando. But you can do it in one day easily. I do the hotel thing so I won’t have to be rushed.
Looking for something kind of quiet and out of the way? Don’t dismiss Silver Springs for a enjoyable afternoon, nice place to have your weekend getaways for two . It’s about an hour away over in Ocala, and they are famous for their glass-bottom boats.
About an hour from Orlando in the other direction, Cape Canaveral area, is the Kennedy Space Center. I suggest if you are going to visit this attraction that you do some “homework” before going so that you have a bit of background knowledge of the space program. It will make your visit a lot more fun and enjoyable. If you are driving over in the days before or after a launch, expect busier crowds than normal. You can see most everything at KSC in a day if you get there early and don’t dawdle around too much. Otherwise, you may want an extra day.
The Holy Land Experience is another attraction you may be interested in. Some relatives of mine recently spent the day there and had a great time. It is located at 4655 Vineland Road at the corner of Conroy Road just off Exit 72 on I-4. You can see most everything in one day but it is recommended by the park that you spend two days (of course – more money!). The best strategy is to arrive early and plan your day based on the different performances and what times they are. During the middle of the day when it is very hot, try to schedule shows that are inside.
Gatorland – I have never been to this place and have never heard of anyone going that actually enjoyed it. I can take our boat out on the river and see gators every day of the week, and they don’t do much but just lie around, so….that’s about all I have on Gatorland.
Lakeridge Winery Tour: I pass by this place every time I go to my mom’s but I don’t enjoy wine so have never stopped in. It is a beautiful place though and they have free tours and wine tasting. The tours run constantly as long as there are guests stopping by. The tour is about 45 minutes long. After the tour you can sample some wine.
So those are some attractions in Central Florida that you might consider in addition to the head honcho Disney. There are plenty more, I’ll have to make another post as this one is dragging on too long now. If you want some tips to save money on your next Disney World trip, check out this saving seattle guide. It was written by a former employee.