Top 10 things to do in Orlando

Filed under: Just For Fun,Leisure,Theme Parks,Vacation Tips |

1. Visit Walt Disney World

Top Things to do in Orlando: Disney World. Photo ©  Teresa Plowright.


It’s still king of the hill: or rather, of the very, very flat land. Spread over an area the size of Boston are: 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, best place with little kids; EPCOT; Disney MGM-Studios; and Animal Kingdom); two water-parks (see below); 14 themed resorts that are fun in themselves; and more. Make sure you have a game plan, before you enter the World!

2. Disney World: The Extras

Photo of


Disney World is much more than “rides”. At no extra charge, guests can enjoy PARADES in the day-time at several parks, and beautiful night parade in Magic Kingdom; IllumiNations, unique spectacle at night at Epcot, followed by fireworks; more FIREWORKS, at Magic Kingdom; LIVE STAGE SHOWS, including a stunningly imaginative staging of Finding Nemo. For an extra charge: CHARACTER MEALS give you much for your bucks– for ex., a giant buffet with kids’ section, at the Crystal Palace (left) Do a late breakfast and make it lunch. The characters sing, dance, and pose for pix.

3. Disney World: Waterparks

Photo ©  Teresa Plowright


Wacky in their theming, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are both (a) tons of fun, and (b) lovely tropical places to spend a day. Arrive early; stake out a shady bower; then enjoy the lazy rivers, giant water slides, and family raft rides each park offers. Blizzard Beach is known for a crazily steep waterslide “ski jump” on “Mt. Gushmore”. Highlights at Typhoon Lagoon are a giant surf pool, and a snorkel over a (usually crowded) coral reef. Admission to both waterparks is included in a Park Hopper pass.

4. For Tots: Universal’s Seuss Landing

Photo ©  Teresa Plowright


Orlando’s other multi-park destination is Universal Florida, and its Islands of Adventure theme park has a top zone for little kids: the 10-acre Seuss Landing, based on the beloved books of Dr. Seuss. It’s a bit odd to see The Lorax (with its distinctly anti-commerical message) in a theme park, but now’s not the time to care: kids will love the Seuss characters, The Cat in the Hat ride, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish ride, and more. And during the Holiday Season, there’s Grinchmas too, (while Universal Studios Orlando has daily Macy’s Parade.)

5. For Teens: Universal’s Thrill Rides


Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park is also great for teens and ‘tweens who want to scream. The Hulk and Dueling Dragon coasters are guaranteed to thrill. Also not to be missed: The Spiderman “ride”, not a coaster but an amazing 3-D simulator experience plus a 4th dimension of surprise sensations. Sister park Universal Studios Orlando likewise has great rides based on Men in Black, ET, and Back to the Future, to name a few faves.


6. Do Downtown Disney

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.


So you’ve spent a day relaxing at your resort… evening comes and you want somewhere fun, with no admission price. Downtown Disney is a shopping/ entertainment zone that takes up 120 acres in Disney World. Eat at the Rainforest Cafe, stroll past full-size lego figures outside the Lego Imagination store, buy chocolate at Ghiradelli’s (free samples!) Money burning a hole in your pocket? Head to DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, or to the acclaimed Cirque de Soleil show.

7. Eat at CityWalk Theme Restaurants

Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.

You’ll also find a shopping/ entertainment zone at Universal Florida: CityWalk, which has the advantage of actually adjoining its two theme parks. Much of CityWalk is geared to party-ers but kids will get a kick out of the theme restaurants, such as Nascar Cafe with game area; Hard Rock Cafe, with giant desserts, music videos, and fab rock memorabilia; and NBA City, with videogames and a giant screen showing basketball.

8. Blue Man Group

photo by David Hawe © BMP.

photo by David Hawe © BMP.

Blue Man Group is an indescribable mix of mime, percussion, and antics involving the audience. You can see performances in New York, Las Vegas, London, and elsewhere – and now, at a dedicated theater at Universal Orlando. Location is at one side of the Universal Florida theme park; performance-goers can enter directly from CityWalk without entering the theme park. Read more about Blue Man Group, and about seeing Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando.

9. Discover Discovery Cove

Photo © Teresa Plowright

Want a quick trip to the Caribbean? Here in land-locked Orlando, Discovery Cove — a sister park to SeaWorld Orlando– is a deluxe simulation of a Caribbean isle. Snorkel at the Coral Reef, and see not only colorful fish but giant (harmless) stingrays– my son was thrilled. The river float is beautiful: swim under a waterfall, and through the aviary. Take a break on the white sand beach: don’t worry about crowds, attendance is limited to 1000 a day. Highlight for many is a Swim With Dolphins. Not surprisingly, Discovery Cove is pricey; but at least the price is all-inclusive– even drinks and meals. Which makes it even more like being at a Caribbean resort!

10. Wet’n Wild Orlando

Also: About’s Guide for Florida Travel suggests Wet’n’Wild waterpark, voted one of the best waterparks in the US; good for “tiny tots and testy teenagers”.

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