Orlando is the ultimate family vacation destination. From theme parks to dining and shopping, the city has a myriad of activities to keep you and your kids busy for a week or more. There are lots of options so you can tailor your trip to your budget. When it comes to dining, there are tons of restaurants to choose from. Outside the park, some notable ones include Ponderosa Steakhouses and Cici’s Pizza, or for fast food, there are plenty of McDonalds and KFCs around. Here is a list of a dozen things to do:
1. MAGIC KINGDOM
As soon as you arrive in Orlando, you can feel the excitement in the air. Forget about your cares for the day, the world’s problems, and the politics. Experience a fun-filled day at the Magic Kingdom, a place where you will feel like a kid again. Check the schedule for the not-to-be-missed parade, followed by spectacular fireworks some time in the evening.
At Future World, kids will enjoy The Seas with Nemo and Friends, an attraction with a ride, interactive activities, and one of the largest saltwater aquariums. Also, where else can you get a feel of a foreign country without leaving the country? Welcome to the World Showcase, a cultural exhibit of 11 countries, complete with replicas of famous buildings in those countries, their cuisine and entertainment.
3. Discovery Cove
Need a rest? Come and relax on the beaches at Discovery Cove. Make unforgettable memories with your kids by swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with rays and exotic fish in a huge coral reef complete with waterfalls and a cave, touching and feeding colorful birds. An all-inclusive theme park, Discovery Cove limits attendance to 1,000 guests per day. As such, advance reservation is required. Bear in mind that children must be 6 years of age to swim with the dolphins.
4. Universal Studios
If you are a movie buff, Universal Studios is the attraction for you. Enjoy live shows, a 3-D show (Shrek 4), a ride on the Revenge of the Mummy, and the newest ride – The Simpsons Ride. Great time for all in the family.
5. Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios)
If your kids are into the popular High School Musical show, you can watch it and join in on the Senior Year celebration every day of the week here. There are plenty of shows to keep your little ones entertained. They may be some that might be too scary, like the outstanding Fantasmic.
Kids and adults will enjoy the shows and exhibits at Sea World. Imagine swimming with killer whales (orcas), the ocean’s greatest predators. “Believe” will captivate you as the killer whales and their trainers perform a sensational show. Brace for some splashing if sitting several rows up front. Then again, where else can you get a closer look at Shamu? Another great show is Blue Horizons, a combination of acrobatics and animal skills. For an awesome experience, go to the Dolphin Cove to feed and interact with the fun-loving dolphins.
7. Disney’s Animal Kingdom
An animal lover’s paradise, this 500 acres park offers a close-up look at a variety of animals, 1700 of them. For the adventurous, a ride on Expedition Everest is a must. Everyone else will enjoy a trek through the Maharaja Jungle, or a water ride on the Kali River Rapids.
8. Wet ‘n Wild
Thrill seekers will enjoy exhilarating rides in this park. Surf on huge breaking waves, go on a tube ride, or raft through tunnels that light up like a disco club. Several attractions will send you flying (into the water) after hurling you through winding enclosed tunnels. Families will find plenty of tamer rides for their little ones as well.
9. Downtown Disney Marketplace
A plethora of dining, entertainment venues, and shops await you at this location. Families will enjoy Rainforest Café for its food and activities that will keep the children entertained while waiting in line.
10. Pirates Dinner Adventure
An interactive dinner experience that captivates an audience of all ages is the Pirates Dinner Adventure. An action-packed show with dynamic duels, sword fights, daring acrobatics and romantic dances aboard the replicated 18th Century Spanish Galleon, this adventure will be remembered for a long, long time.
11. The Mall at Millenia and Premium Outlets
Shop till you drop at either of these shopping places. Or dine at any one of their restaurants. Cheesecake Factory Restaurant at the Millenium Mall is a good dining choice for families. Even though it is a chain store, the food is very good quality and consistent (at various locations), and the menu options are tremendous. Try a piece of their out-of-this-world cheesecake. It is very rich and a tad pricey. Bear in mind that the portions are generous, so sharing a few dishes is a good idea.
12. Harry P. Leu Gardens
Enjoy “Old Florida” at Harry P. Leu Gardens, 50 acres of southern styled gardens that include several gardens: a butterfly and herb garden, a formal rose garden, an idea garden for weekend projects, to name a few. In the middle of these gardens is the Leu House. A restored late 19th century home, the Leu House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is available for tours.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder families find Orlando such an exciting place to visit!