Tag Archives | new attractions

5 Things to do in Orlando that are Not Theme Parks

There are many Orlando Tourist tips we could give if you are looking for things to do in Orlando that are not theme parks. We could go on and on, but our list would be exhausting! So, we’ve put together a few (we’ll post more later) that you may not have thought about, or are new to the area and haven’t done yet. Orlando offers so many things to do, however, we first must acknowledge what “put us on the map.”

Back in October of 1971, Disney World opened its gates to the public for the very first time, spurring an expansion in the Orlando area of tourist-friendly attractions that continues to this day. Suddenly, everyone knew where Orlando was! These attractions go beyond theme parks, and are (in most cases) much more affordable than a trip to Disney World, Universal Studios or SeaWorld. Here are 5 things to do in Orlando that go beyond the major theme park circuit.

Orlando Eye Sunset View

The Orlando Eye

Visiting the Orlando Eye offers guests a 360 view of Orlando, with an impressive mix of Florida landmarks and nature visible from the top. From the safety and comfort of an air-conditioned capsule, guests can see everything – from the Hogwarts castle at Universal Studios to Downtown Orlando on a clear day. If purchased online, tickets for adults start at $20, with tickets for kids between the ages of 3 and 12 starting at $15.

BucaEntranceFloridaMall

Shopping

The Orlando area has a surprising amount of shopping options available to visitors. The Florida Mall is home to a range of shopping and dining locations, including Best Buy, Banana Republic, Gotcha Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, and Asian Chao. The Crayola Experience was recently unveiled on site, offering a great outlet for kids to play and learn. The Crayola Experience consists of several kid-friendly attractions, ranging from an indoor playground for children to burn off energy to a “Crayola Factory” where kids can learn how crayons are made. When purchased online, tickets for the Crayola Experience cost $16.99. If you’re looking to make some high-end fashion purchases and to get some bang for your buck at the same time, head over to the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, where you can shop at a range of high-end stores, including Coach, Armani, Hugo Boss, and Burberry.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Phillips Center

For theater buffs or anyone looking to see a live performance, Dr. Phillips Center is a great venue in Downtown Orlando. For preforming arts enthusiasts, they run shows like Pippin, The Sound Of Music and Cinderella, but the performances are certainly not limited to musicals. While Musicals, Ballets, and Orchestras often occupy the stages, the Dr. Phillips Center also has some less conventional showings, like their Chefs at Dr. Phillips Center series, featuring Chefs like Ina Garten and Guy Fieri.

Water Parks

WetnWild_DiscoExteriorOne of the huge perks of visiting Orlando is the sunny and warm climate that is enjoyable year round. While most waterparks throughout the country have an off-season, that isn’t so in Orlando. Guests are just as welcome to enjoy state-of-the-art water parks in July as they are in October, or even February. There’s a wide range to choose from; Sea World’s Aquatica and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon offers a combination of family-friendly attractions and thrill rides, while Wet ‘n Wild offers a more traditional water park experience.

Air Boat Tours

airboatFor a unique experience that offers an up-close-and-personal look at Florida’s wildlife and environment, Marsh Land Adventures offers airboat tours. The tour takes guests through the Florida Everglades (Shingle Creek), where they have the chance to see alligators and other plant and wildlife that flourish in the swampy environment. While passengers are enjoying the ride and the view, airboat captains tell stories about the American Indians and early Florida settlers who were the first to make their homes in the swampy marshes of the sunshine state. Guests have the option to purchase tickets for a 60 minute, 90 minute, or 120 minute experience. They also offer a four-hour “photo adventure” in the Florida Everglades.

If you have favorite things to do in Orlando that are not theme parks, let us know! We can post it on our next list. Stay tuned.

 

 

New Exhibit at KSC Will Fire You Up!

Asteroid entering the atmosphere

An exciting new exhibit opened at the new Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex last week. “Great Balls of Fire” is an asteroid encounter that will test, surprise, entertain and possibly answer many of your questions. It will definitely educate theme park guests on the risks (and benefits) of asteroids and comets.

The new exhibit is approximately 1,500 square feet which contains many interactive features. You will learn how scientists determine the path of a near-Earth object. You can examine rocks to determine which one is a meteorite. Guests can also find out some interesting facts of what might happen if an asteroid hit their home town. With plenty of hands-on activities, all ages will enjoy this exhibit. 

An entertaining session includes a Science Fact or Science Fiction where you can view clips from movies and television shows that feature astroids and comets.  You’ll be asked to  answer whether the science is right or wrong. You’ll be able to compare your answers to those of scientists and other visitors at the KSC Visitor Complex.

Another fun thing to do is to build your own solar system and examine rocks which you can test for magnetism, color and density/relative weight. Can you determine which one is a meteorite?

Another fun and educational activity allows you to enter your zip code into a computer, pick a size of asteroid or comet, and see what the impact might be to your home town. Another educational aspect of this new exhibit, especially for children, deals with dinosaurs. You’ll be able to view a display explaining why many scientists think the extinction of dinosaurs could be related to an impact by a celestial body.

Every feature of the exhibit is included with regular admission. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you attend this Central Florida theme park on a date in which a launch is scheduled, you may receive extended hours. For example, this Monday, July 14, the Visitor Complex will open early at 7:30 a.m. to accommodate launch viewing. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Launch Pad 40 at 9:21 a.m. The Visitor Complex will remain open until 7:00 p.m. Live commentary will be made and the viewing areas are included in daily admission. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Arrive before 8:30 a.m. and take the transportation offered to the Apollo/Saturn V Center for the best launch viewing.

Great Balls of Fire is scheduled to run until January 4, 2015. It is a production of The Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning. The national traveling exhibition receives funding from NASA and the National Science Foundation.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is only 45 minutes from Orlando, and opens daily at 9 a.m. Closing times varying by season.  Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Diagon Alley Set to Open July 8

Diagon Alley shops

New Universal Studios Attraction

Universal Studios is putting on the finishing touches preparing the new Orlando attraction to open to the public July 8, 2014. Diagon Alley promises to be as popular as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure) when it first opened. Expect huge crowds.

The featured ride at this Orlando theme park is “Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts.” It will feature a lot of new technology and could experience a few glitches. Do not be surprised at a few ride closures during the initial weeks of being opened to the public. At the present time, Universal is anticipating the ride to be fully functioning with no delays.

If you’ve visited Islands of Adventure and have spent much time in Hogsmeade, you’ll notice that the area is not all that large. Diagon Alley is much larger. Once you step off of the train, you’ll be immersed in a land that you only imagined could exist in a book (or movie). Diagon Alley is one part of this new attraction. The shopping district is expansive.

Get ready to exchange your muggle money for Wizarding Bank Notes. These Banks Notes can be used for almost anything within the theme park. If you don’t spend them all, you can ask the goblin to exchange the notes back into dollars. Of course you’ll probably want to keep a few as a souvenir – hince another way for Universal to make money. I venture to say that you’ll find plenty to purchase while in Diagon Alley.

Shopping at this Orlando Theme Park

You will no doubt do a lot of shopping in Diagon Alley. If you have read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies, there are a lot of really cool, dare I say ‘props,’ that most anyone would love to have. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Here are the most popular items or categories and where to find them once you arrive in “London.”

Magic Wands: Several shops will carry them. Most popular place to purchase will continue to be Ollivanders. The new interactive wands contain a chip so that at various places within the park, the correct wave of your wand will make magic!

From Pygmy Puffs to Expandable Ears: Most families have a jokester who loves practical jokes and tricks. The new novelty shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheeses will sell everything the twins were noted for. From plush toys to prank props to love potions.

Death Eater Masks: If you like the dark objects, make your way down Knockturn Alley and step inside Borgin and Burkes. Expect to see a lot of skulls and costumes, as well as jewelry, gifts and other dark arts.

Costumes: For robes, school uniforms and other attire as seen in the movies, be sure to shop at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. This place will be popular for Halloween costumes.

Other gifts and props: Many other items will be available including Quidditch supplies (Quality Quidditch Supplies), writing supplies (Scribbulus), telescopes (Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment) and of course, more wands (Wands by Gregorovitch).

Dining at this Orlando Theme Park

All of this shopping will surely make you hungry, and Universal Studios has you covered there too in Diagon Alley. Refreshments, such as Butterbeer Ice Cream will be sold at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. A hearty meal of British food will be served up at the Leaky Cauldron. Lunch and dinner will be available every day.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: To avoid the scorching summer heat, and the fire from the dragon atop Gringotts Bank, you may want to wait until this Fall or coming Winter to experience this new Orlando attraction. If you simply cannot wait, try to avoid the first few opening weeks and weekends this summer. Anticipate record-breaking crowds for the first few months that no wave of a wand will be able to make disappear!

New Water Park Attraction in Orlando

If you are bundling your vacation plans at Orlando theme parks this summer, you’ll most likely want to include a day at one of the area’s water parks. It is hot in Florida and these theme parks offer a day of refreshing water-based fun. New and exciting attractions are being added to the water parks to help keep guest’s interests. Depending upon which theme park you are visiting, there are many choices for water parks. See our listings.

You may not want to overlook a stand-alone water park located in Orlando.  Wet ‘n Wild Orlando is located on International Drive, so it is close to the other area attractions, yet is not tied to any major theme park. It offers attractions you will not find it at Disney, Universal or SeaWorld water parks.

New Attraction – Aqua Drag Racer

UPDATE • UPDATE • UPDATE
This attraction’s grand opening has been postponed.

Visitors and locals have been invited to experience the grand opening of its newest attraction at Wet ‘n Wild. The Aqua Drag Racer™ will open on Thursday, June 12, 2014. This Orlando attraction stands six stories tall and has four parallel racing lanes. It is Florida’s tallest and fastest water-based racing attraction of its kind.

Aqua Drag Racer attraction at Wet 'n Wild

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Guests will take their place at a starting line that is 65 feet high and prepare for a turbo-charged adrenaline rush. Power through the twisting tunnels at 15 feet per second and splash through the finish line. Your entire family can participate in this head-to-head competition (as long as each rider is at least 42” tall).

Express Pass Offer

UPDATE • UPDATE • UPDATE
This attraction’s grand opening has been postponed.

Orlando Tourist Tip: In celebration of the opening of the Aqua Drag Racer on June 12, 2014,  the first 500 guests to enter the park on Thursday will be given a pass into the ‘fast lane’ with a one-time Express Pass wristband. If you want to be entered for a chance to win annual passes, visit Wet ‘n Wild’s web site and enter your group or family in a Ready to Race competition. Hurry though, entries are due by Friday, June 6, 2014 at 5pm EST.

Wet ‘n Wild Orlando offers more than fifteen themed rides and attractions and more multi-person rides than any other water park in Central Florida. Some of the favorite rides include The Black Hole™, Brain Wash™ and Disco H2O™. The park opens to the public at 9:30 a.m. Get wet and get wild at this fun Orlando water park!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in New Fantasyland

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney World

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has opened (May 28, 2014) in the Magic Kingdom park. This was one of the final pieces of an extensive puzzle to be put into place within the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World Orlando.  This Orlando attraction is the centerpiece of Disney’s newest addition and offers an inspiring view when you reach the top of the mountain. It also offers much more.

New Orlando Attraction

The ride itself is unique in many ways. It is the first-of-its-kind coaster system that allows each cart to swing and sway individually. The specially-designed mine cars are created to look like the train in the film – hand-made of wood by the Dwarfs, shaped by an axe, built to haul jewels and rocks from the mine. As with most Disney creations, every detail has been accounted for.

Each train is made with 5 cars which hold 4 guests each. With a height requirement of just 38 inches, this new attraction welcomes younger guests who want to ride a grown-up roller coaster, but need to keep it somewhat calmer (no loops). The ride experience is somewhat different when in the front than the back. The total length of time on the ride is around 2 minutes, but there are plenty of fun things to do while you are waiting in line. You may want to experience this ride over and over again!

The theme park’s Imagineers have out-done themselves on this new ride attraction. While in the mine, you’ll be tempted to focus on all the jewels, but be sure to check out the animated figures, particularly the faces. They are amazing.

All of your favorite characters are included in the Mine Train attraction – the seven dwarfs… can you name them all? Snow White is there, of course, and the Wicked Queen. Your favorite music scores are included too. As you round the curve in the mine, “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho” will take you up another hill as the dwarfs head home to a rustic cottage. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Watch the film before your trip to Disney if experiencing this new attraction is on the top of your list. You’ll be amazed at the detail to which the ride copies the film. Be sure to schedule this ride as one of your FastPass+ options if you have younger children (over 38 inches tall).

Although you’ll have to wait in line to experience this new ride at Disney, don’t be Grumpy – the wait is sure to be worth it. Until then, the Bashful can get a hint of what the ride will be like by watching the video below which Disney released prior to its opening. You won’t be Sleepy during this ride! A trip to Disney will make you Happy, and if not, you need to see the Doc!