Things to do in Orlando
Orlando abounds with theme parks. You'll need weeks to see everything or you will have to pick and choose from: Walt Disney World Resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach Water Park, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Typhoon Lagoon; the two theme parks at Universal Orlando Resort—Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida; three parks from SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment—SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica—SeaWorld's Waterpark and Discovery Cove; and LEGOLAND Florida.
Just in case you might be sick of theme parks, there are some great museums sports and entertainment venues. Catch a show by Cirque de Soleil or the Blue Man Group or stroll the streets at exciting entertainment complexes like Universal City Walk, Downtown Disney, Pointe Orlando Orlando's Church Street. Dine, listen to music, catch the shows and shop. It's all there.
Orlando has a rich history that predates Disney’s arrival. This is Orlando’s five hundredth anniversary. It's an ideal time to visit Wells' Built Museum of African American History.
Orlando hosts more golf tournaments than any other location. Don't miss a chance to see Ernie Els, Tiger Woods, or Rory McIlroy.
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.
Nothing against religious reenactments, but when a blood-smeared Jesus sings into his head-mike from the cross, things start to get creepy.
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.
Mellower than other Orlando theme parks—though it has several rides, including Kraken, a thrilling, floorless coaster—SeaWorld is noted for its roster of elaborate stadium shows starring whales, dolphins, and the odd rescued puppy.
Orlando's parks can make for a whirlwind vacation, but Discovery Cove offers a pleasing blend of adventure and relaxation.
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.
Part of the Downtown Disney Marketplace, this 50,000-square-foot landmark is the largest Disney character store in the world.
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).
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.
Set inside a museum that has one of the country’s finest, most complete collections of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass, this gift shop is stocked with a tasteful selection of vases, art glass, jewelry, and valentine-ready paper goods.
An Indiana Jones stunt show and a retelling of The Little Mermaid top the long list of kid-oriented shows at this park, called Disney-MGM Studios until 2008.
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.