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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 Walt Disney World
Universal Orlando Resort Universal Orlando Resort
SeaWorld Orlando SeaWorld Orlando
Gatorland Gatorland
Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center

Walt Disney World

 Phone 407-939-4636
 Website www.disneyworld.com

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 PhilharMagic.

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 Center
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
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

 Phone 800-232-7827
 Website www.universalorlando.com

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 Cove

 Phone 800-432-1178
 Website www.seaworld.com

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.

 

Gatorland

 Admission $19.95 Adults, $9.95 Children
 Hours 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily.
 Phone 800-393-5297
 Website www.gatorland.com

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 Complex

 Hours 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM
 Phone 321-449-4444
 Website www.kennedyspacecenter.com

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 Experience.

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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