Walt Disney World Easy Day Trips
An Orlando-Area Attraction Reviewby Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 02-11-2016
In this series of articles, I’ll be looking at where else you can head to for a day out, if you’re lucky enough to be planning a Disney vacation.
All the Disney parks around the world are in amazing locations, and while they’re a huge draw in themselves, there are also many other places you can explore as part of your vacation. Regular visitors to a particular park may enjoy getting away to somewhere different, while those heading to another continent are likely to want to see as much of their far-flung destination as possible.
Orlando Premium Outlets
Shopping at the Orlando Premium Outlets.
Perhaps the most visited set of Disney parks are at Walt Disney World, but there are plenty of other places to visit when you’re in the Orlando area. The first and most obvious are the other theme parks, such as Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove. Thrill seekers and coaster lovers will definitely want to make their way over to Universal Orlando, as will fans of Harry Potter, while if you have water babies in your family, you won’t go wrong with a day at the water parks of Wet ‘n’ Wild or Aquatica. SeaWorld is the perfect place to visit if you love marine animals, while Discovery Cove offers a truly unique day out, including the chance to swim with dolphins.
None of these experiences come cheap, which may affect whether you head away from the Disney parks or not, and some would argue that they don’t offer much that’s different from what you’ll find at Disney. After all, the theming at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon is superb, so why try another water park? Of all these, SeaWorld is by far our favourite, probably because it does offer something very different from Disney, and we love the chance to see as many animals as possible during our vacations. We’ve been fortunate enough to go to Discovery Cove twice before, and that is also a wonderful day out, albeit very expensive.
Outside of Orlando, there are also other options, although these will be longer days, given the travelling involved. Included in this category are LEGOLAND Florida, Busch Gardens Tampa, and the Kennedy Space Center. If you plan on heading to any of these destinations, you may want to look at having a more relaxed day scheduled in for the next day, as not only are they all full day attractions, but you need to factor in the getting there and back.
If you want to do something more relaxing that won’t take a full day, there are plenty of other options. One we really enjoyed a few years ago were the Boggy Creek Airboat Rides. Ok, so it’s quite a drive to get there (it took us an hour due to slow traffic), but what a great experience we had. We saw some alligators, and various other wildlife, and it was a good reminder that, while Orlando seems to be one sprawling city, there are still some great swathes of swampland still left to explore. Closer glimpses of alligators can be found at Gatorland, while other smaller attractions in the Orlando area include the Holyland Experience, which takes you into the world of the Bible, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, which examines the inexplicable or unbelievable, Titanic the Experience, which does what it says on the tin, and takes you on a tour of a replica of the famous ship, and Wonder Works, another place for very unique experiences.
One of the newest attractions on the block is the Orlando Eye, a 400 feet tall observation wheel, and I suspect we may be heading there to try it on our next trip to Walt Disney World, given how much we love the London Eye and the superb views that offers. Also located here are Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE Orlando, although given we’ve got both here at home in the Uk, they don’t hold the same attraction for me.
One that also combines some Disney magic is to visit the town of Celebration. It’s somewhere I’d heard a lot about, and it lives up to its reputation of being a real Disney community. As you drive through it, it just all looks perfect, and I often find myself wondering if we could ever live there. Wow, how cool would that be? Of course, unless I win the lottery, I doubt that’s ever going to happen… The town center itself is worth a visit, with some unique shops and restaurants, and there are various events put on throughout the year. Full details can be found on their website.
Kissimmee Old Town is somewhere else that’s keen to attract visitors, and again, they have a number of specialty stores, and restaurants, along with amusement rides. If you’re a lover of old cars, you’ll want to head there for their weekly car cruises. More information about their offerings: http://www.myoldtownusa.com/index.cfm
Celebration - Sweet Escape
Sweet Escape Bakery and Deli in Celebration.
If you’re not scared of heights, then something else you may enjoy is a helicopter ride. We’ve taken a few over the years, and have loved the aerial views you get of the various theme parks. Even better, we’ve been able to just turn up on the day, which means we could pick a day when it isn’t too windy, as that can impact on your enjoyment of the flight.
Sadly, we’ve not had as much luck with a hot air balloon ride, having tried a number of times unsuccessfully to take to the skies in one. Every time, the weather has defeated us, but the operators are very good, and will either offer you another opportunity to try again, or will refund you. One day, hopefully we’ll make it up there!
Somewhere that not many people mention as a day trip from Orlando is Crystal River, home to manatees in the winter months. My husband saw a documentary about this, which is the only way we knew about this, but various tour operators will take you swimming with them, and some even include return transportation from Orlando. It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and something we both absolutely adored. If you love manatees, as I do, this is not to be missed.
We usually spend at least some time on every visit to Orlando in some of the shopping malls here, although I appreciate they probably have a lot more attraction to us Brits, given we can get a lot of things cheaper in the States. However, one well worth checking out for the Disney aspect is the Orlando Premium Outlets along Vineland Avenue. Here, you’ll find Disney’s Character Warehouse, which is home to cheap park merchandise. However, as it’s an outlet store, the choice can be hit or miss. We’ve spent a fortune in there on past visits, but equally, we’ve also left empty handed on other occasions. If you want a Disney Store, then you’ll have to head over to the Florida Mall, home to the last remaining one in the Orlando area.
So, even outside of Walt Disney World, there are still opportunities to find Disney magic, and a whole lot more besides, as hopefully this article has shown. In the next in this series, we’ll be moving over to the other coast of America to explore the day trip options from Disneyland in California.
Updated 02-11-2016 - Article #1264
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
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