Top Orlando Attractions
The first time you visit Orlando, or any new destination,
the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be
scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get
there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice,
and other information about the top tourist attractions in Orlando
to help with your itinerary planning.
Walt Disney World
The "daddy" of theme parks, of course, is Walt Disney
World. And why not? When it has this to offer:
The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom includes seven lands with attractions, restaurants
and shops based on favorite themes of fantasy. Attractions include
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain and Mickey's
Disney MGM Studios
Disney-MGM Studios, a movie theme park and television studio. Visitors
can play "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" and dare the
"Twilight Zone Tower of Terror."
Epcot takes guests to almost a dozen nations at World Showcase and
fast-forwards them to tomorrow at Future World. Visitors can ride
an automotive Test Track or take a simulated journey to the moon.
The Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has encounters with real exotic animals. Visitors
can take a simulated Kilimanjaro Safari. e) Disney's Wide World
of Sports Complex hosts more than 200 Amateur Athletic Union events.
The Atlanta Braves train here.
DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park is a 5-story, indoor,
interactive theme park that combines Disney's attractions with cutting
edge technology. Guests climb aboard a real river raft or ride a
roller coaster of their own design.
Disney also has various water parks, including Disney's Blizzard
Beach. It boasts one of the world's tallest, fastest free-fall speed
slides, unexpectedly located right in the middle of sunny Florida.
It's the largest of Disney's water parks with 22 water slides and
"icy" bobsled (yes, in Central Florida) runs that stay
comfortably warm and fast year round.
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort has two theme parks: Islands of Adventure
and Universal Studios Florida.The later takes guests beyond the
screen to the world of television and film. "Ride the moves,"
as the attraction puts it. Viewers see aliens from "Men in
Black Attack," and brave storms at "Twister Ride it out."
Or visitors can see Shrek and his Donkey at "Shrek 4-D."
Anyone who wants to get slimed can do it behind the scenes at Nickelodeon
Studios. A relatively recent and popular attraction is "Revenge
of the Mummy - The Ride," which is a high-speed indoor roller
coaster attraction. Islands of Adventure is particularly popular
with pre-teens, mainly boys, though it also appeals to entire families.
It allows participants to "live the adventure" in highly
technologically advanced rides that include "The Amazing Adventures
of Spider-Man," "The Cat in the Hat," and "The
Incredible Hulk." A highlight is the dramatic "Dueling
Dragons" roller coasters which come amazingly close to crashing
(you have to see it to believe how scary it can be).
At night, there are different thrills at Universal CityWalk, an
entertainment complex with a wide variety of dancing and dining
options. CityWalk is home to the world's largest Hard Rock Café
and Hard Rock Live Orlando. The clubs showcase some of the biggest
musical acts in the business. Bob Marley's Jamaican music can be
found here. Pat O'Brien's is also popular mainly because it celebrates
Mardi Gras every evening. Other venues offer live music such as
Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, where everyone is a parrot-head.
SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery
SeaWorld Orlando and its sister park Discovery Cove are perhaps
the area's most popular "quiet theme parks". Roller coasters
have been a relatively recent attraction at SeaWorld Orlando, which
is rightfully better known for its marine life adventure. The park
has 200 acres of sea-themed shows, attractions and rides. It's generally
quieter than most theme parks with the exception of riders of Kraken,
which is known as Orlando's tallest and fastest floorless roller
coaster. A recently opened Waterfront is a five-acre village with
the sounds, flavor and festivity associated with vibrant seaside
cities. Shows and animal exhibits include polar bears, killer whales,
manatees, sea lions, penguins and dolphins.
Discovery Cove is an entirely different animal. It's an exclusive
island oasis where guests can swim with dolphins, snorkel with tropical
fish and hand-feed exotic birds. It's an all-inclusive, reservations-only
adventure that includes a full day of activities. Swim and snorkel
gear are provided, as well as lunch. Visitors also get a seven-consecutive-day
pass to either SeaWorld Orlando or Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. A tip:
plan to make reservations early because the park fills up quickly
and only a limited number of visitors are accepted. Attendance is
limited to 1,000 people a day. There's a high level of guest service.
And because of its limited numbers, this is one theme park that
is never crowded.
||$19.95 Adults, $9.95 Children
||9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily.
Somewhat older, and most would say much tackier among the area's
theme parks, is a half-century-old Orlando attraction known as Gatorland.
It's home to thousands of alligators and crocodiles. The late Owen
Godwin founded the park in 1949, making it a pioneer in the area's
attractions. Today, it is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve
that is home to famous alligators and crocodiles. You may not know
it, but if you've been to the movies, you have seen many of the
creatures here. They have also appeared in TV shows and commercials.
Visitors can take in a petting zoo, a mini-water park and an eco-tour.
An oh-ah sight for visitors is to see 15-foot-long alligators jump
up to five feet out of the water to get their food. The creatures
literally snatch their dinner from a trainer's hand. But the most
popular event may be the daily alligator wrestling match. The human
always wins. Or almost always.
There's free parking and crowds are rare. No lines waiting to get
in, either. But perhaps the best thing of all is the price.
Kennedy Space Center Visitors
While you're in Central Florida, you might as well go to the moon.This
is an adventure to go out of your way for. And while it's not in
Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center is only a 45-minute drive away.
Visitors can't help but be reminded of John Glenn, Neil Armstrong
and Sally Ride, all of whom spent time here. Most visitors budget
this trip for a half to a full day. They see vivid examples of the
accomplishments of the Apollo moon program. And feel the thrill
of space exploration as five-story screens let viewers "float"
right alongside NASA astronauts. Visitors can meet real astronauts
who are on hand daily.
The Astronaut Hall of Fame features the world's largest collection
of astronaut memorabilia, as well as hands-on activities and simulators.
Visitors, for example, can touch a real piece of Mars and even board
the Space Shuttle Explorer. You can even train for your own mission
here aboard a full-scale shuttle mock-up at the new Astronaut Training
The attraction is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and prices
for adults start at $37. But perhaps the best deals include guided
tours that start at $22 for adults, or perhaps even better, "Lunch
with an Astronaut," priced at $19.95 for adults. Autographed
souvenirs are included.
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