Hang Out with the Dolphins and Not Mickey!
It’s no secret that Orlando is the ultimate destination for any Disney lover. The 47-square mile Walt Disney World Resort dominates tourism in the region with four theme parks, two water parks, 31 on site hotels, a campground, five golf courses, and a partridge in a pear tree (well, almost). As much fun as the Disney experience can be, sometimes it is nice to take a break from the mouse-themed madness and check out some of the other great attractions Orlando has to offer. Here is a rundown of seven great non-Disney activities in Orlando.
1. Discovery Cove – Have you ever dreamt of swimming with the dolphins or snorkel with thousands of fish and rays but would prefer not to do it in the ocean? Head to Discovery Cove for an all-inclusive day which features a dolphin interaction, snorkeling, enjoying a lazy river, hand feeding birds in an aviary, meals, and more.
2. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Unleash your inner Gryffindore geek and spend some time in the newest themed area of Island’s of Adventure. Here you can step inside a recreation of Hogwarts Castle and encounter the Whomping Willow. a horde of creepy dementors, and a catch a glimpse of a Quidditch match. Don’t forget to stop by the butterbeer cart to enjoy with your chocolate frog from Honeydukes Sweet Shop.
3. iFly Orlando – Want to experience the sensation of skydiving but aren’t too keen on the idea of jumping out of an airplane 13,000 feet above solid ground? Head to iFly Orlando and enjoy skydiving simulation from the safety of a wind tunnel. Children as young as three can enjoy the experience but experienced sky divers still love their time in the tunnel as well.
4. Pirates Cove Adventure Golf – If you associate mini golf with dilapidated courses featuring disintegrating Astroturf and a castles with paint peeling from its walls, you have not been to Pirates Cove! This beautifully manicured course with a pirate theme features 36 holes of family fun and was named the top miniature golf course in all of Florida.
5. SeaWorld Orlando – Shamu and his friends are eager to show off their aquatic skills at this marine themed park. A variety of shows, rides, and animal exhibits keep guests entertained all day long. If the Orlando heat and humidity becomes too much to handle, head next door to Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park.
6. Gatorland – Alligators are definitely Florida’s most famous natural inhabitants. Gatorland realizes that most people would rather not have their alligator encounters be accidental so they have created a park featuring thousands of alligators and crocodiles which can be safely seen in a breeding marsh with a boardwalk as well as during its many reptile shows and educational programs. Want to see alligator wrestling? Then this park is a best bet? Have a sudden desire to go on a zip line which takes riders soaring above the reptiles? Yeah, they’ve got that too!
7. Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park – It can get hot in Orlando, especially during the summer months so finding a place to cool off in between theme park days is key. Instead of visiting a water park, consider enjoying some natural fun at Kelly Park where the crystal clear springs make for a great tubing destination. Tubers can take a leisurely 25-minute float and then carry their tube on the maintained boardwalks back up the trail to give it another go round. While most of the stream is quite shallow, there are some spots that form lagoons which make for perfect, and popular, swimming holes.
Photo: Antonio Machado