Must see attractions and tips for Orlando Theme Parks
Orlando Isn't Just Disney
There are lots of other people out there who can provide detailed advice on must-see attractions in Disneyworld, Florida. Just search on Google or go explore on Trip Advisor and you'll find countless resources. That being said, I won't try to do the same as far as tips and advice on what to do in Orlando--you can research on that on your own. However my husband and I recently went there on May 4th through 11th (2008) and we learned some things that I would like to share here. Hopefully this will help you and your family have a fun-filled experience!
1) For your vacation planning, I suggest signing up for this website as early as possible: Tour Guide Mike
It costs about $21.95 ($18 if you can find an online coupon code) to give you access to all of Mike's information on the Disney parks. However, he IS a professional tour guide, so he likes to talk quite a bit! I suggest "skimming" through his advice sections because he does tend to write horrendously long paragraphs! But he has EVERYTHING you need to know about Disney: calendars, crowd trends, how to avoid lines, which shows to catch and when, and simplified "Express Planners" which gives you a schedule for each park and presents all the attractions and rides in a checklist format. We found his advice extremely useful as far as which days to go to which parks, which shows to catch, which rides to go on and avoid long waits, where to be when it's time to watch the fireworks, etc.
2) Make sure you get the correct kind of "Park-Hopper" passes (2-day, 3-day, etc.) so you have access to all the parks you want to visit. But don't worry! These passes are valid anytime to any of the parks within a 2-week (or longer) period, meaning you don't have to go on consecutive days. This gives you chances to rest or enjoy other things.
3) At Disney Hollywood Studios: I agree with what a lot of people said, the TOWER OF TERROR IS THE BEST RIDE!!! It has the theme from The Twilight Zone and is definitely very memorable. However, this is not for the non-thrill-seeker nor for little children. But if you can go on it, please don't miss it!
4) Try to visit the other parks, too (non-Disney)--Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure were okay, but I prefer the parks run by Anheuser-Busch. Why? Because there are a variety of them: SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens Africa (Tampa), Aquatica. And call me silly, but I love the Busch parks because they are always CLEAN and even the bathrooms smell great!!! The exchange students also provide good service and are always very helpful around the parks.
5) DISCOVERY COVE: A once-in-a-lifetime experience!!! If you can afford it and your family likes dolphins and snorkeling, I highly recommend this theme park. It is right beside SeaWorld and they only allow a limited number of guests per day (No crowds! No lines for anything! Ever!) For an all-inclusive package ($289 for 1 adult reservation), you get the following:
- Full access to the park (beach, coral reef, aviary, dolphin lagoon, manta ray pool)
- All food: breakfast, lunch, ice cream, snacks, beer, everything!
- Towels, snorkel gear, wetsuits, animal-safe sunscreen, lockers, full bathrooms (showers, etc.)
You get a scheduled half-hour play time with a dolphin sometime during the day (first come, first served). I thought since we were in a group, we'd only get a photo-op moment with the dolphin. Not the case! We all got to touch him, feed him, kiss him, play, and ride him. I think we actually got to spend well over half an hour with him. See our photos below...need I say more? But yes, you will need to spend money on the photos and/or videos since it is difficult to bring your camera in the water. Nevertheless--it was definitely worth it and it was the highlight of our trip!
6) For each day of your Orlando trip: START EARLY EVERY MORNING . I cannot tell you how HOT it gets in the afternoon, and the crowds add to the madness! Make sure your family wakes up early so you can enjoy the morning breeze and also have time to relax in the evenings. My husband and I liked to be in the theme park from opening time 'til about 3 or 4PM, then head straight to the pool at our resort to cool off.
7) Last piece of advice: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A "REST" DAY. My husband and I unfortunately got stuck with a 5-day theme park schedule. Needless to say, we were, theme-parked-OUT after the first few days. We went Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. By the time we got to the other parks we were just too tired or bored to go on the rides!
Alright that's it. Hope you have a great time on your trip!