Orlando Theme Parks You Know and Love
Nothing too important to report here other than some information on the big name attractions of Orlando, for those that have not had the experience of visiting any of below listed. While some of you would rather come down with a case of malaria in the far reaches of the Amazon than braving the crowds associated with Orlando's most popular attractions, Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios can still be considered a rite of passage for a well traveled individual. Besides, if you can survive these three theme parks with wide eyed and energetic toddlers in tow, you can pretty much survive anything.
Walt Disney World Resort
4600 N World Dr Lake Buena Vista, FL
They should either change the name of Orlando to Disney World (to the bane of residents) or declare this all-encompassing theme park as a fully self suffcient city of its own, because it is. Disney World is a phenomenon, a man-made wonder of the world even if it doesn't hold the same mystique as the likes of Stonehenge - or does it? Seriously, what is more magical than Disney? We've all been influenced by this monolithic machine of branding and to be honest we're better for it. Perhaps the current generation of kidlets with their Hannah Montana and other pre-teen angst TV shows will be the first real departure (downfall) from the innocence that Disney has provided over the decades but Disney and its theme parks still attract excited hoards of children and brings out the kid in all of us that are brought along for the ride.
The following is a list of all that is included in the Walt Disney World Resort experience:
•Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park
•Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park
•Epcot theme park
•Magic Kingdom theme park
•Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
•Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park
•Disney's BoardWalk Area
•Downtown Disney Area
•ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
•Disney Resort hotels
7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando, Florida
If you find yourself in Central Florida feeling a little landlocked and but aren't up for the drive to the coast then SeaWorld is your best option for getting your feet wet in the Orlando theme park scene. SeaWorld Orlando is so much more than a glorified aquarium and gift shop, it indeed is an entire world devoted to under the sea inhabitants and those that love to immerse themselves in all things submersed, with a few above water high flying thrills thrown in for good measure.
While there are many rides on site to entertain all levels of maturity (and glorious immaturity), our favorite is the Manta – where you and your strapped-in neighbours take a face front and flattened position, mimicking a Manta Ray, and glide (if enormous speeds can be considered gliding) along a rollercoaster type of contraption that practically slams you sideways AND face first into the expansive blue pool below. Bottom line, you’re getting soaked on this expedition.
Sure Shamu remains the star of the show but Blue Horizons is fast becoming a favorite for SeaWorld attendees. Recognized by its sudsy wave like architecture, as if it was invaded by thousands of Mr. Bubble mascots, Blue Horizons is one of the most photographed attractions at SeaWorld next to its inhabitants. The show itself is a spectacle similar to Cirque Du Soleil but with dolphins, killer whales, tropical birds, and humans.
Open in the Spring of 2012, is the highly anticipated exhibition at SeaWorld – Turtle Trek – a completely immersive 360 degree, 3-D experience, unlike anything you have witnessed before, because it has not yet existed until now. The all encompassing dome theater is as close as you can get to virtual scuba diving, but in the clearest azure on the planet and from the perspective of one of the ocean’s most beloved creatures and all around good luck charm – the Sea Turtle. This exhibit is “hyper-reality” at its best.
Universal Studios Orlando
6000 Universal Blvd Orlando, Florida
This world famous attraction is recognized by its world shaped logo and 9 letters seen scrolling across the big screen of some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters of all time. Universal Studios’ transition into the theme park business has expanded to both coasts of the U.S. as well as in Japan and now Singapore, however, Orlando is the official headquarters.
While Universal has many rides, shows, and resort properties that everyone knows and loves, there is no question that its latest addition to the theme park’s landscape – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – is beyond one’s wildest imagination and is proof that commercial abundance is alive and well in America. It doesn’t matter if you think that Hogwarts is a condition only a podiatrist can fix, or even if you’re so oblivious to the phenomenon that you think a “Harry Potter” is slang for something you can request in Amsterdam’s Red Light District (actually, it probably is), this new attraction is so out of this world that you’ll be raving about it for months on end. Universal Studios has recreated the fictional home of the Harry Potter universe in a life size (yet bigger than life) version of Hogwarts – the school for the wizardly gifted – complete with the towering castle, expansive classrooms, mysterious hallways, secret passages, and corridors. Also included is a makeshift village made to resemble Hogsmeade, where guests can hop into the very shops and “watering holes” that Harry and his crew dip in and out of throughout their decade plus tenure on the silver screen. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter also offers up thrilling rides for those that require more than site seeing. With names like Dragon Challenge™, Flight of the Hippogriff™, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, you know you’re in for more than you bargained for. This attraction is film coming to life at its very best.