"All about Orlando" Orlando by Samscalling
Orlando Travel Guide: 3,092 reviews and 5,855 photos
Orlando is undoubtely one of the worlds premier travel destionations! It attracts over 50 million visitors each year from all around the globe. It offers over 95 different theme parks and attractions - the most famous being Walt Disney World.
Within Walt Disney World, you have 4 main theme parks - Magic Kingdom, MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. There's also 2 waterparks - Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach, a huge selection of shops, restaurants and entertainment at Downtown Disney - not to mention the various Disney resorts! WDW covers over 43 square miles of the Florida landscape - the same size as greater Manchester in the UK.....so you're unlikely to run out of things to do!
The Magic Kingdom is probably to most famous Disney themepark, being home to the iconic Cinderella's Castle that you'll see featured in every travel brochure and magazine. It's normally the first park we visit because it's Disney magic at it's best - you'll find the Mickey Mouse emblem on everything & it really gets you into the spirit of Disney. It's split into seven different lands, which are all themed & have different attractions within them, so there's something for everyone. The Magic Kingdom has daily parades which can't be missed - normally one at 3pm, and 1 in the evening which is illuminated, so you can't miss it. There's also a stunning firework display at the end of each day which I could never tire of seeing!
Like the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT is instantly recognisable by the giant 'golf ball' that it houses. It's the second biggest WDW theme park and it's divided into two areas: Future World and World Showcase. Future World is themed around modern and futuristic advances in technology - both young & old will be amazed at what you can find within it.....& alot of the attractions are indoors so it gives you a welcome break from the hot Florida sun if you need it! World Showcase is centered around a gigantic lake - and as you walk around, you get to visit different countries. The theming is fantastic & you really do feel like you're there!
Animal Kingdom is the newest and largest theme park to open in the Disney World resort. The park stretches for over 500 acres, and the main symbol here has to be the stunning 'Tree of Life', which is amazing up close. There's a safari-like experience where you can come face to face with some of the world's most exotic animals, lots of shows & parades to watch, & some pretty scary rides - watch out for Dinosaur! The newest attraction to be built at WDW is Expedition Everest which I saw being built during my 2005 visit - it's a high speed trip into the land of the Yeti, and looks an amazing ride!!!
Disney-MGM Studios is where you'll find rides and attractions based around blockbuster movies. It's home of the scary looking Tower of Terror and the thrilling Rock n Rollercoaster - probably the most popular attractions at MGM studios, but also to most exciting!! There are some spectacular special effects and stunts to see - the backlot tour takes you on a trip 'behind the scenes'. You can't miss 'Fantasmic' - a stunning evening show which sees Mickey fight off evil....get ready for lasers & fireworks like you've never seen them!
The two Disney Water Parks - Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon , really are great fun. Blizzard Beach has the world's tallest, fastest free-fall speed slide - Summit Plumment (trust me, standing at the top of it looking down - this will haunt me forever!) and Typhoon Lagoon has a water rollercoaster - not as scary as Summit Plummet but loads of fun!
Then there's Downtown Disney which has a huge selection of shops, wonderful places to eat & clubs if you're over 21. It's also the home of my favourite place to eat - the Rainforest Cafe! It makes a change from the Disney themeparks, & you can easily spend a fun afternoon at 'Disney Quest' - an interactive, indoor themepark!
Aside from Disney, the other major attractions include Universal Studios and Islands of Adenture, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Wet n Wild and Busch Gardens - to name a few! Orlando also has a number of major golf courses, sightseeing trips, museums & balloon tours and as for shopping.....you're always spoilt for choice.
Universal Studios has been amazing visitors since 1990 with special effects and entertainment taken straight from the movies. It's a real working motion picture studio, and has a wide range of movie sets for you to wander around, shows to watch and attractions to ride - all of which put you right at the heart of famous movies such as Jaws and The Mummy. It's the only place on earth where you can 'Ride the Movies'!!!
Right next door to Universal Studios is the more recently built Islands of Adventure. I remember going to Florida when this was being built - & being amazed at the size of some of the rollercoasters, trying to make out what types of rides there'd be. There's 5 different lands or islands, each excellently themed - my favourites are Toon Lagoon where everything is straight from a comic book, and Jurrasic Park - the name speaks for itself! There's also the Incredible Hulk coaster, Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls, Duelling Dragons twin coasters - too many attractions to name! Although it's great for kids, IOA is definitely a park for thrill seekers!
Sea World is one of my favourite parks - it's very different from Disney and Universal in the sense it only has a couple of thrill rides, but the amazing shows - Shamu is one not to be missed, as is the Dolphin show in the newly built stadium, not to mention the vast array of animals SeaWorld showcases means it's just as good. SeaWorld isn't as hectic as Disney and it really is a park to take at your own pace - and if you're staying on I-Drive, it's really easy to access it, either by car or by using the popular I-Ride trolley or Lynx buses.
One of SeaWorld's 'sister' parks is the beautiful Discovery Cove. Swimming with dolphins is main attractive at DC - but there's also a ray lagoon, tropical reef, aviary, tropical river swim....it's like your own taste of paradise. It might be pricey, but it's an experience that lasts a lifetime.
Busch Gardens is located in Tampa, which is approximately an hours drive from Orlando. Depending on what ticket you get, most often free transportation from the SeaWorld park - so you don't even have to drive. It's an African themed park where the rugged beauty of the Serengeti meets out of this world rides and exotic animals. There's several whiteknuckle rollercoasters - including SheiKra - the first dive coaster in the US! I've only been to Busch Gardens once.....but it really is a fun park to visit if you have the chance.
The 3 main tourist areas within Orlando are Kissimee, Lake Buena Vista & International Drive. During my visits to Orlando, I have stayed always stayed on International Drive, & I've visited all of the major themeparks. Don't get me wrong - there is SO much more to Orlando than what I talk about in my guides - but I'll leave that to other VT members who've actually done these things as they'll be able to give you far better info than I can.
I-Drive is a five-mile long stretch of road that is home to a wide range of hotels, restaurants & places to shop. The I-Ride trolley is a cheap & easy way of getting around - there are numerous stops up & down I-Drive where you can get on & off at your leisure, depending on where you want to go. I-Drive also houses Wet n Wild at one end, & Sea World at the other. It gives easy access to WDW & Universal Studios, so I've found it's an ideal base for an Orlando holiday.
I'm constantly adding pictures & tips to this guide - please rate my tips if you get the chance because it really helps push my ratings up. Let me know what you think - & if you're lucky enough to be going to Orlando soon......have a fantastic trip!
- Pros:The themeparks, the food, the shopping, the whole magical experience....
- Cons:You'll be absolutely dead on your feet!
- In a nutshell:Magical!
1. Affection Section 2. Conservation Station 3. Discovery Island Trails 4. Habitat Habit! 5. Maharajah Jungle Trek 6.... more travel advice
1. Character Greetings Around the Park 2. Disney Characters on Holiday 3. Turtle Talk with Crush 4. Mission: SPACE 5.... more travel advice
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