Orlando, Florida. The name invokes seas of tourists, an empire of theme parks and thrills, all under the Florida sun. For some, the tourist-oriented nature of the city is enough to look elsewhere, but Orlando has not earned its reputation and massive draw without reason. For some of our favourite things to do in the Center of the Sunshine State, read on.
The first thing apparent to many visitors when entering Southwest Orlando for the first time is the sheer scale of Disney’s operations in Florida. Indeed, intensely maintained and ever-expanding, the Disney Company’s serious commitment to upholding its claim of being ‘ The Most Magical Place on Earth ‘ is very visible. An itinerary is easily filled with the size of Disneyworld, spanning The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Transportation is notably well serviced by the fleet of buses that cover Disney’s property, including the famous monorails. Disney Springs is a great nearby option for plenty of shopping, dining and a night out on Disney. Aside from visiting the park(s) of your choice, a tour to appreciate the architecture and atmosphere of the Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts are highly encouraged while you’re in the area.
Disney was just covered, but we can’t leave out the thrill-seeking visitors. For a more intense experience, hop on the massive roller coasters at Universal Studios Orlando or the Islands of Adventure, or splash into the imposing Volcano Bay, one of the more notable sights from the I-4 freeway. Challenge the Incredible Hulk, shooting off to a height of 110 feet over the park, and experiencing 4 Gs. If the Orlando Eye is too tame, get a truly exhilarating view of the city at Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, a drop from 185 feet! For Harry Potter fans, you can grab a cup of Butterbeer and accompany Harry, Hermione and Ron through Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. Braver visitors can attempt the Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park and Skull Island: Reign of Kong. A local tip: wait in the single rider lines if you have no qualms of splitting your party, and cut ride wait times anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours for free.
Among the playful characters and family-friendly theme, many visitors miss the truly multifaceted nature of the Disney Parks. In addition to the eleven country Pavilions at EPCOT, a variety of other world cuisines and wines are on offer at booths during the middle of Summer. These additions allow the gardens of outer Epcot to shine. Also not to be underestimated is the nightly firework display over the lagoon, and the dining options that operate at nighttime at each of the pavilions.
Celebrate the Fourth of July at one of the trendier shopping districts in Orlando, Universal’s CityWalk. Here you can dine at the Hard Rock Cafe, the famous Bubba Gump Shrimp Company or watch the game at the NBC Sports Grill & Grill. Fireworks launch from Universal’s system of waterways, a display honouring America’s birthday, Universal Style.
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