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For all kids (big and small....)
Member Name: honey350
Date: 27/03/02, updated on 27/03/02 (347 review reads)
Advantages: Great Weather, Brilliant atmosphere, So much to do
Disadvantages: can be a little pricey
I can only be referring to Orlando, Florida, home of magical theme parks, wild attractions and so much more.
I have now been to Orlando 3 times, once at the tender age of 8, again at 11 and then again (minus parents) at 20…and the last time it was more exciting than ever. Ok, Ok, so it sounds a little ridiculous for a grown girl like me to return to the heady excitement of my childhood at the thought of seeing Cinderella’s castle all lit up at night, but there is something about atmosphere in this particular part of the US that makes you smile.
Obviously, the theme parks in Orlando had changed and developed at an alarming rate since I had visited 9 years earlier. Myself, my partner and 5 of our friends (including my twin brother, who had been with me the previous two times we had been) had rented a beautiful villa in Kissimmee for 2 weeks. I think the best bit was the fact that my brothers girlfriend and my partner had never been before and this was going to be a fantastic experience for them… but in the end, it exceeded all of our expectations.
First stop was Disney World: Magic Kingdom. I mean, if your going to go to Florida, you HAVE to go to Disney. It’s the law. With the parades, the shows and all those children, it still retained all its magic. My partner, who I would say is as fashion conscious as the next man these days, bought a fantastic Stetson Cowboy hat from the ‘Wild West’ land and proceeded to wear it for the rest of the holiday even though most days he was wearing Basketball trainers and vests!
We decided to space out our visits to all the attractions, giving ourselves days in between to relax and shop etc. You have to try mini golf while your over there because it is a great laugh and they do the courses so well. In fact, everything is completely over the top which is what makes it so Fab. We went to a huge toy shop called F.A.O Schwartz and the building itself was surrou
nded by a giant teddy, rag doll, bouncy ball and spinning top and the Seafood Restaurant opposite had a huge animated crab crawling out of the roof….its was excellent.
That’s another thing. Food. Your will never be stuck for food, no matter how large or small your budget. As you can imagine, we had all scraped together what we could but rather than McDonalds or Burger King (which you can eat over here) we went to Red Lobster (seafood), Ponderosa, Pancake houses and themed restaurants to add some spice to the evenings. I would advise, however, to eat as little as possible in the actual parks if you want to save some money, and also, its an idea to take drinks in with you if you can, coz with all that sunshine you tend to drink a lot. We generally use to buy a big bottle of Fanta/Sprite for the supermarket and freeze it over night – makes heavy carrying but by the end of the day it IS still cold (believe it or not!)
Universal Studios was the next big stop – but to our surprise a new sister park had opened just a few months earlier called Islands of Adventure. Universal is very much based on movie memorabilia and experiences. Rides include ‘Earthquake’, ‘King Kong’, ‘Men in Black’, ‘Twister’, ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Terminator 3D’ amongst others and the whole park is crammed with original costumes, props and vehicles from some of the most famous movies. They also have Nickledeon studios where they make the top American kids shows.
Their sister park is WHOLE different kettle of fish! Island of Adventure is made up of 5 Islands: Marvel Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, the Lost Continent and Dr Seuss’s landing, and there is one word that describes it: exhillartaing.
Marvel Super Hero Island: for those of you aren’t aware, Marvel is the comic book company that brought us the likes of Spiderman, The Hulk,
X-Men, The Avengers and the Fantastic Four amongst many others. This part of the park looks like you have just walked into a comic book; the buildings are bright and colourful and it features rides such as The Spiderman Ride, the Hulk Coaster (definitely one for you if you want to try a seriously mental rollercaoster) and Dr Dooms Fearfall. The characters are walking round to greet you and there is a mass of comic books and paraphernalia available.
Toon Lagoon: This is great fun….with Popeye, Bluto, Olive, Betty Boop and Dudley Do-right the American comic strip and classic cartoon characters are brought to life with shops, shows and rides such as the ‘Popeye and Blutos Bilge Rat Barges’ and ‘Dudley Do-rights Ripsaw Falls’ (both water rides).
Jurassic Park: Now THIS is impressive. This ‘Island’ is done exactly as you saw it in the first film, right down to the Restaurant and Museum-type building. Heavy Foliage give you the feeling of really being on unchartered land and cleverly placed speakers and machinery make the leaves rustle and create dinosaur-like noises all around the grounds. Not only does this feature a fantastic array of shops and arcades, as well as, or course, promoting the educational side of Dinosaurs, but it also has one of the best water rides in the park – an absolute must!
The Lost Continent: Now, this is where you can tell the creative minds really went to work. A mixture of the fantasy world of dragons and enchanted forests to the mysterious legends of Atlantis and Ancient Greek mythology. Experience rollercoasters at their best with the ‘Duelling Dragons’, two separate rollercoasters (the Fire Dragon and the Ice Dragon) intertwined with each other…literally battling while you ride! And ‘Posideons Adventure’ taking you through the Ancient times in a spectacular five-senses show.
Dr Seuss’s Landing: last but definitely not lea
st, walk into the wonderfully weird world of Dr Seuss (author of childrens books). Fairly unheard of over here in the UK but very big in the US, Dr Seuss’s moral tales have their own unique rhyme and with it a very unusal image. Great for kids, have a go on the ‘Cat in the Hat’ ride and eat at the ‘Green eggs and Ham café’ to finish a truly brilliant day.
Another massive park, which I dare not leave out coz it was definitely one of my faves is Seaworld. Spend a day in the delightful company of Penguins, Sea Lions, Dolphins and, not forgetting, the beautiful, elegant and very funny Killer Whales from the world-famous Shamu family. Shows not to be missed is the ‘Clyde and Semour show’ featuring two very clever Sea Lions and the main event in the evening ‘Shamu rocks America’. But in the meantime go down to the Key West pools and stroke the Dolphins and Stngrays or visit the incredible Antartica spectacle where you can see Walrus’s, Polar Bears and Penguins amongst many more living in their very own Icy world in the middle of sunny Florida. So’s not to eliminate themselves from the attractions of other parks they have also got two fantastic rides ‘Journey to Atlantis’ and the daring rollercoaster ‘The Kraken’. Your holiday would not be complete without a visit here.
In case all that walking and screaming has tired you out, Florida does have more to offer than white-knuckle rides! A small trip can take you to beautiful Cocoa Beach or alternatively you could pay a visit to the Florida Mall or one of the many massive retail outlets situated all over Florida. You could go on a airboat to speed across the Everglades and swamps or maybe even pay a visit to ‘Gatorland’!!
Theme parks are the most expensive thing on this trip so you may have to pick and choose between them, however, look out for special ticket deals, especially in t
he summer months. See below for an idea on prices (all correct as at 27/03/02)
Disney -Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM, Animal Kingdom (single day – one park only)
Disney water parks – Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon (single day)
Disney Park Hopper (4-Day entry to all parks)
Disney Park Hopper (5-Day entry to all parks)
Universal Studios (single day)
Islands of Adventure (single day)
Multi ticket (entry to both for 5 consecutive days)
Seaworld (single day – get a 2nd visit free if taken within 7 days)
4 Park Orlando Flexi Ticket (entry to Seaworld, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Wet’N’Wild for 14 consecutive days)
5 Park Orlando Flexi Ticket (entry to Seaworld, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Busch Gardens and Wet’N’Wild for 14 consecutive days)
Also, for those of you who may be a little stumped as to what you do after your evening meal (IF your still awake that is) Disney have Pleasure Island, a hub-bub for night owls with bars, shops and shows and Universal studios have Citywalk, a strip crammed with bars, shops and night cafes for those who want to experience 24hour-Florida. You could also do what we did, hire a villa with its own private heated pool and sit around outside, playing games and chatting in the water until the early hours – highly recommended and VERY relaxing! To remember though – the drinking limit out there is 21 and be sure to carry ID at all times – you WILL be asked.
All that’s left for me to say is I could have gone on and on because I have really only touche
d on what is a truly fantastic place. If you going, hope you enjoy it as much as I did and if you haven’t been, you seriously don’t know what your missing!!