Things to Do in Orlando
Clearwater Beach is a silky white-sand oasis along the warm, calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. More low key than its southern neighbor, the bustling St. Pete’s Beach, Clearwater Beach hosts plenty of spots for kayaking, shelling, and biking. Families especially like its gentle surf, which is perfect for swimming and water sports.
Restaurants, shops, and hotels line Mandalay Ave., which runs parallel to the beach. At about 1 mi (1.5 km) long, the strip is easy to stroll. Day visitors should head to Sand Key Beach & Park, a wide beach for swimming and watching dolphins leap out of the sea. For non-beach activities, watch sea otters at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium or watch jugglers and magicians perform at Pier 60.
You can also get out on the water on dolphin-watching cruises or even take a pirate cruise. To get an overview of the area, jump on the Jolley Trolley, which travels around Clearwater Beach and up to Sand Key.
Sea Life Orlando is a brand new attraction in the city that only opened in May 2015. Roughly 40,000 gallons of water and 45,000 pounds of sand make up the home of over 5000 sea creatures, including green sea turtles, jellyfish, seahorses, black tip reef sharks and colorful clownfish. Some of the activities that visitors to the facilities can take part in include the Interactive Rockpool, where you can touch starfish, spot hermit crabs and learn about coastal rock pools as well as the Atlantic Ocean Exhibit with its 360-degree tunnel. There, guests can admire sharks and exotic fish from all angles and watch rays float gracefully overhead. Regular talks combined with feeding times let children and adults learn more about the animals as well. It’s a good idea to schedule a visit around those feeding times, as the wildlife will be the most active during those hours.
One of the most exciting and flashy strips in America, I-Drive is packed with restaurants, hotels, shopping, and dinner theaters. And if that’s not enough, six of the world’s greatest theme parks make their home on I-Drive: SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Wet 'n' Wild, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Aquatica.
I-Drive winds past Big Sand Lake, and part of the road is lined with palm trees and a pleasant walking district. Also here is Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Skyventure. Head to Pointe Orlando or Prime Outlets International for mega-mall shopping, or browse the quirky independent shops on Antique Row.
Disney's Hollywood Studios puts you center stage in the only place where big-screen thrills, TV fun and the best of Broadway come together. Tires scream, flames burst, motorcycles fly, and moving cars split in half. It's intense, behind-the-scenes movie-making magic at its best - and it’s also a working studio!
Hands-down the most exciting rides are the spooky and unpredictable hotel elevator in the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, where your stretch limo races through the streets of LA after dark. A must-see attraction is Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, a 35-minute show that looks a lot like the movie. Scream as you zoom through 13 floors of fear on a radically random elevator ride, or blast 0 to 60mph (96 kph) in 2.8 seconds as the music of Aerosmith rocks you through a wild, twisting rollercoaster road trip. Then, sit back and let the magic and music of Disney's Beauty and the Beast take your breath away.
Orlando has a new immersive celebrity hotspot where one can walk down the red carpet and step into the world of fame for an afternoon. At Madame Tussauds, guests are able to find out exactly how tall those sports icons really are, strike a pose with a pop princess, shake hands with a smiling Barack Obama and take a selfie with Einstein. The museum poses TV and film celebrities next to pop icons, the most well-known faces from the arts and science and throws plenty of history and pop culture personalities into the mix as well.
The details of the wax replicas are on the usual Madame Tussauds level of incredible. Creating a wax statue requires taking hundreds of body and face measurements with calipers and measuring tapes, after which artists sculpt the perfect mold for the wax out of clay. Gluing on each hair individually, painstakingly painting facial features and recreating every last wrinkle ensures that the wax figures end up achieving a astonishing realism.
Take an unforgettable journey through uniquely themed islands where your favorite adventures come to life. Soar above Hogwarts™ in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Hogsmeade™, help save the city on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man®, and escape the jaws of a T-rex on the Jurassic Park River Adventure®.
Plus, with a Park-to-Park admission ticket you can ride between both lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ on the HogwartsSM Express.*
HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s14)
*Additional restrictions apply. © MARVEL. Jurassic Park River Adventure ® Universal Studios/Amblin. Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2014 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
More Things to Do in Orlando
I-Drive 360 is a new entertainment complex on one of Orlando's main drags, International Drive, commonly known as I-Drive. Opened in May 2015, I-Drive 360 includes a variety of restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions – including an aquarium, a Madame Tussaud's, and the 400-foot observation wheel called the Orlando Eye. You'll find popular eateries like Shake Shack and Outback as well as hopping nightlife at Cowgirls Rockbar, with the only mechanical bull in the city.
The centerpiece is the massive observation wheel. It has 30 passenger compartments, each one air-conditioned, and each one can carry up to 15 people. Your ticket to the Orlando Eye includes a 4D movie experience and a ride around the wheel.
With a visit to Wild Florida Wildlife Park in the Florida Everglades, you can get an up-close look at the unique ecosystem of the area on foot or on an airboat tour.
Wild Florida is a combination of a wildlife park and a launch point for airboat tours of the Everglades. In the wildlife park, you can walk through a zoo-like atmosphere where you'll see animals from all over the world. There are exotic animals from Africa, Australia, South America, and elsewhere, which you can even feed. There's a special focus on Florida's native wildlife in the park, too, including alligators, white tail deer, and tropical birds. You can walk through the park on raised walkways overlooking the animal habitats, and then you can take off on an airboat tour of the Everglades. After your tour, you can get your picture taken holding an alligator.
In this amazing place you're in a living storybook on a breathtaking adventure, filled with creatures real and fantastic. Animal Kingdom blends theme park and zoo, carnival and African safari, while mixing in a healthy dose of Disney characters, storytelling, and magic. Board a rickety jeep and ride through the Sahara, past zebras and lions, in Africa, or take a raging river ride in Asia, with Mt. Everest looming on the horizon. Here you can see Bengal tigers, huge fruit bats, Komodo dragons, and other exotic critters.
DinoLand U.S.A. evokes a fun-filled small-town fair, with its carnival-style rides, games and a herky-jerky thrill ride that transports you back in time. Let your heart sing along in a moving musical celebration of the circle of life at Festival of the Lion King. Here, every path and trail invites you to explore the awesome surprises of nature, with all the enchantment of Disney.
Pressed in our collective memory, the Titanic means more to us than a giant ship that simply sank—its sinking was the defining moment for an era, the end to runaway idealism while signaling a return to pragmatism for the American people. With 10 full-scale room recreations, over 100 artifacts recovered from the real Titanic (including 21 that have never been seen by the public until now), character actors and tour guides, a dinner show and intense interactive exhibits, Titanic the Experience in Orlando offers what other museums cannot—a gripping, immersive and real-world connection to this defining moment in history.
With no roller coasters screeching overhead, no parades, no water rides and plenty of greenery, Epcot Center moves at a slower pace. Here you can smell the incense in Morocco, listen to the Beatles in the United Kingdom, eat sushi in Japan, and get a pastry in France.
An acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” The Epcot Center is divided into two halves. The modern Future World, with its hard-to-miss iconic geosphere known as Spaceship Earth, explores modern technologies through myriad rides and displays.
The other half is the World Showcase, where you can tour the world in a day by taking an intoxicating toe-dip into the cultures of 11 different countries, featuring Mexico, Norway, China, France, Germany, and Italy.
Epcot also offers plenty of activities that appeal to inquisitive tots. The new Soarin' ride is a winner, and Mission: SPACE is good for getting the adrenaline pumping after one too many educational exhibits.
A firm departure from the everyday, WonderWorks Orlando offers what most attractions cannot – a spin on this thing we call reality. Built to resemble an upside-down laboratory, this science museum offers over 100 hands-on exhibits built to test your belief of what is real and what is illusion. Filled with “oh, wow” moments that include rope obstacle courses, zip lines and laser tag, WonderWorks Orlando is an engaging step into science and discovery – one that will leave the whole family full of wonder.
Boats glide alongside actual swans on Lake Eola, at the heart of Lake Eola Park. The site isn’t big by many standards – a mile around – but it packs a big punch as an oasis in the middle of bustling, crowded Orlando. Locals and visitors flock here – like the geese they feed out of hand – to take in a little nature. The Orlando skyline rises in the distance, a stunning contrast to the peace and quiet of the park and a beautiful reminder of the nearby city.
There are countless things to do in Lake Eola Park, including a weekly farmers’ market to visit, complete with fresh produce and live entertainment. Children run amok on the Lake Eola playground, and the iconic swan boats are a favorite for all ages. The park also has its own performance space, the Walt Disney Amphitheatre, which hosts events throughout the year. There’s even a restaurant on the premises; the Relax Grill promises to live up to its name.
Get up close and learn about Florida’s wildlife at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Visitors flock here in droves to see manatees, in particular, that can be seen twisting, turning, diving and playing from the park’s underwater observatory. The park provides a safe habitat for black bears, bobcats, alligators, crocodiles and river otters, among other animals, and works to educate the public about Florida’s wildlife. There is a children’s education center on the premises to further this goal, while a specific educational program about manatees is offered three times every day.
In addition to education, Homosassa is a great place for outdoor recreational activities. Bird watching is the most popular activity here, and bird walks are offered, during which guides will point out various species. Families also enjoy picnicking and taking nature walks, and if you don’t bring your lunch, that’s okay—the park has a café and concessions stand on the premises.
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