Fun things to do in Orlando BESIDES Disney.
Walt Disney World is Fantasmic! But let's face it, it's also expensive. And, quite honestly, it's not for everyone (there are people out there who actually hate Disney) Thankfully, there are many other exciting Orlando attractions that you and your family can enjoy, most of them costing a fraction of a day at Disney.
Orlando is a great Florida vacation destination therefore the entire area is full of great places to visit. I've lived in Florida for 26 years, visit Orlando regularly and I still have places on my list that I'd like to visit.
So I have compiled this list of things to do in Orlando other than Disney. Many of them I have been to and some are on my "To Visit" list. I hope that you'll find some activities here that will add a lot of fun to Florida vacation.
The Other "theme" parks
Take a bite out of life at Gatorland - One of the most unique things to do in Orlando is to visit Gatorland. Florida is known for it's alligators and this attraction provides a great opportunity to get up close and personal without getting.. well, too close. Tickets are less than $20 per person and you definitely should plan on picking up some gator jerky at the gift shop.
Shamu waits for you at Sea World - The best thing about Sea World (aside from the fantastic marine life) is the lack of big crowds. You won't spend the entire day standing in line at this theme park. There are several thrill rides including the very popular Atlantis but for the most part the aquatic exhibits and shows are the main attractions.
Get soaked at Wet N' Wild - Voted by the Travel Channel as one of the Top 10 water parks in the country, Wet N' Wild is a place to go more than once if you have the chance. A general admission ticket is $45 BUT, it's good for the entire year! There's tons of awesome water slides, a wave pool and a lazy river for you to float the day away on. This is a fantastic way to spend the day for the entire family!
Freaky fun awaits you at Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium - Florida is plagued with sink holes - and this museum is actually sinking into one! For less than $20 per person you can spend about 2 hours checking out all the one of a kind oddities and even pick up some freaky souviners from the gift shop.
Get grossed out at The Orlando Science Center - This is an excellent vacation day for kids and one of the few really cheap things to do in Orlando. In January 2009 they opened their newest exhibit "Grossology" the (Impolite) Science of the Human Body. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, the science of burps and farts!
Fly a plane at the Kissimmee Air Museum - The planes here aren't hidden behind sheets of glass, or even ropes or gates. You can actually get up close and take excellent pictures of the exhibits. You can also schedule flights in some of the planes, go for a ride and for a few minutes take over the controls!
Board the Titanic Experience - Did you know that the Titanic sank off the coast of Orlando? Ok, not really. But this truly unique museum offers an amazing opportunity to board and tour a replica of the grandest ship ever built. Actors dressed in period costumes guide you through the tour, with stops along the way for photo ops at The Grand Staircase and The Veranda Room. The museum is filled with real artifacts recovered from the wreckage and is a living lesson in History. This is an experience that NO ONE should miss. It's truly one of a kind.
Family Friendly Nightlife.
Scare up some fun with Ghost Tours - There are scary places all over Florida and Orlando is no exception. You and your family can spend the night hunting ghosts and communicating with the dead with Ghost Trackers. Of course, I don't recommend taking a small child along who is afraid of the dark. But an adventure seeking teen or preteen who won't find it to be dorky. Absolutely!
Dine like Lords & Ladies at Medieval Times - Some adults will tell try to tell you that Medieval Times is only fun when you're a kid. Well, in my opinion those people have lost their childish enthusism. This place is awesome! Watch knights battle it out jousting style while you eat with your hands! How could that not be cool?
Get flipped out at Wonder Works Comedy Magic Dinner Show - Wonder Works is an upside down attracation because it's an upside down house! At night they do an improv comedy and magic routine that is family friendly. The menu is a highly sophisticated offering of all you can eat pizza, salad, popcorn and dessert with a side of beer and soda.
The Great Outdoors
Get out on the water with Boggy Creek Airboat Tours - Taking a ride on an airboat is as much about being on the boat as it is about what you'll see. And of course, Florida is full of wildlife and natural beauty so there's plenty to see. But most visitors tend to get excited about the gators!
Catch some fish tales on Lake Toho - The Orlando/Kissimmee area sits on the north side of a 42 mile lake called Lake Toho that is known for it's world class Bass fishing. You can find dozens of tours with experts and professional fisherman to make sure you bring home a catch!
Zip into action at Forever Florida EcoSafari's - Get ready for your wild Florida adventure. Journey deep into the 4700 acre wildlife conservation area. Coach safari, horseback safar or soar through the treetops on the Zipline Safari. This is a chance to experience "Old Florida" as in before the theme park took over.
And that's just inside the immediate Orlando area. Outside of the city in neighboring towns there are so many more things to do. In nearby Lake Wales, there is Bok Tower Gardens, with it's lush , beautiful landscapes. In Winter Haven you'll find Cypress Gardens Adventure Park. It's Florida's original theme park, with many historic park traditions and blooming botanical gardens. Over in Polk City there is the Fantasy of Flight attraction, featuring over 40 rare aircraft, as well as aerial demos and a hot air balloon.
Orlando may be known for it's theme parks but it's a city full of smaller unexpected attractions, that you really should take in when you want something a little different or you just want a break from the Disney crowds.
Here's a quick list of a some of the lesser known attractions in the area and the websites so you can check them out.
Farm Animal Adventure - www.greenmeadowsfarm.com
Pirate Dinner Adventure - www.piratesdinneradventure.com
Riverboat Cruise - www.rivershipromance.com
A Taste of Chicago - This one is a MUST! But don't be surprised if you wind up eating with a gangster or two. Or if the coppers burst in on your dinner to make a bust! This is a living tribute to the legendary Gangland Chicago, and you're invited to participate in on the action.
You know it's such a shame that these gems hide in the shadow of the planets biggest theme park. Don't get me wrong, you won't want to miss Walt Disney World, it truly is a magical place. But take some time out from visiting the mouse to see what so many others have missed. Your friends back home will be impressed.