Orlando Travel Guide
Disney is the best cruise line for families. What may surprise you is that the 1,760-passenger Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are gorgeous ships, even without Disney touches like character appearances and first-run movies.
The city’s most thrill-filled coaster-and-flume park is also one of the most spectacularly designed; rides are all located in lavish, themed “islands,” most based on movies or TV shows.
A 30-acre collection of bars, restaurants, and dance-till-two nightspots wedged between the Universal theme parks, CityWalk outweighs Pleasure Island, Disney’s much squarer rival.
Slightly more adult-oriented than the other Disney theme parks, Epcot doesn’t have as many hair-raising thrill rides as its neighbors do. But its exhilarating hang-gliding simulator, Soarin’, and its gardens and wide-open spaces make for a great day out.
An education in the eccentricities of Old Florida, this hour-long pontoon-boat excursion winds 12 miles through a system of conjoined lakes, past glorious homes and the country-club atmosphere of the tidy Rollins College campus, as it has done for more than 50 years.
Part of the Downtown Disney Marketplace, this 50,000-square-foot landmark is the largest Disney character store in the world.
Nothing against religious reenactments, but when a blood-smeared Jesus sings into his head-mike from the cross, things start to get creepy.
The thrill factor is in full effect at this park—with attractions like Disaster (which simulates an 8.0-scale earthquake), Revenge of the Mummy (an indoor coaster that wheels past grasping monsters), and Jaws (a boat ride interrupted by the relentless attacks of…well, you know).
Around since 1991, the SAK Comedy Lab improve venue has been the launching pad for several nationally known stars, including The Price Is Right host Wayne Brady.
The busiest theme park in the world (with somewhere around 17 million annual visitors), the Magic Kingdom is home base to the most famous rides in the Disney pantheon, including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, the Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Splash Mounta
This delightfully tacky roadside stall topped by a 60-foot orange dome has been a landmark of Americana since the early 70’s. It remains the prototypical Florida souvenir shop, selling lime jelly, shellacked gator heads, monogrammed mugs, and oranges and grapefruits by the bushel.
Wild animals of every stripe can be seen here, in regionally themed habitats that are scattered across the park. There’s the Pangani Forest habitat, for instance, home to gorillas, hippos, and African birds; and a Maharajah Jungle habitat with tigers, bats, and Komodo dragons.
With its striped cabanas, potted palms, and a view of downtown Orlando, SKYSIXTY the vibe is reminiscent of Miami’s South Beach. Grab a booth, or sip a mojito or mimosa on the gray-cushioned couches and chairs.
Mike Hewell, more commonly known as Tour Guide Mike, uses his years of experience as a tour planner for the rich and famous to help families enjoy a stress-free Disney World vacation. Hewell’s philosophy is based on monitoring crowd behavior and zigging when the crowd zags.