The OTHER Attractions of Orlando
Everyone knows Orlando for the Big 3 - Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios. For the most part, those attractions are what brings people to Orlando from all over the planet. Chances are that's why you are there, headed there, or planning to go there. But while these multi-million dollar staples of Orlando tourism are plenty of fun, there are a few "other" notable points of interest in place for those with more particular tastes. Some are off-beat, others reap with nostalgia, and some are just downright weird, making for an eclectic potpourri with something for everyone and quite possibly more memorable than an experience shared with the other million plus people in town to see the Big 3.
14501 South Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL
Gatorland sounds like it could be one of those cable TV reality shows about the backwoods of some Florida locale where gators run rampant to the detriment of old ladies and their collection of backyard cats. Instead, Gatorland in reality is an obscure but popular attraction found only about 20 minutes from Disney World. Watch out Mickey, mice also make good snacks.
For over 60 years this 110 acre wildlife park has been packing in visitors to get up close and personal with Florida's infamous reptilian mascot. They may strike fear in our hearts but the curiousity they peak exceeds it. Your interest will not go unsatiated as Gatorland is home to literally thousands of alligators and crocodiles where you can witness first hand a fascinating breeding marsh with a boardwalk and observation tower for viewing from a (safe) distance.
The highlight for many includes Gatorland's "collection" of four rare Albino Alligators - ghost white, over ten feet in length, and blessed with sharp blue eyes that may darn well hypnotize you should you stare into them for too long. There are also unique shows that you won't see elsewhere such as the Gator Jumparoo (jumping alligators) and Gator Wrestlin' (like it sounds). There are also swamp tours and educational for those seeking more insight into the modern day dinosaurs. To top it all off, they also have a petting zoo at Gatorland. Fear not, your fingers aren't the price of admission at this particular attraction as the petting zoo includes the standard cute and cuddlies (lambs and such). However, one wonders what becomes of these furry animals of the park after nightfall. Is it a petting zoo, or simply a temporary holding area for the main residents' buffet? Sorry, bad joke.
9067 International Drive, Orlando, Florida, FL
The photographic opportunity of the building exterior alone is worth the visit to WonderWorks Orlando. The extremely slanted building you see in the photo is not some photoshop error nor is the real deal the result of a sink hole construction nightmare, although at WonderWorks they WILL tell you the building came to be as a scientific experiment (man made tornado machine) gone wrong near the Bermuda Triangle. The tale may as well be true as once you enter WonderWorks reality takes a vacation. Your world gets turned upside down (literally) the minute you enter this wacky Orlando attraction and on site there are over 100 interactive exhibits that are fun for the whole family. From science to silly (often both) WonderWorks offers a wide array of adventurous, entertaining, and puzzling activities for the mind and body to experience. Everything is on-deck from Laser Tag to 4D Theater, from NASA replicas to the Bed of Nails experience (exactly like it sounds), and even an evening dinner comedy/magic show to wind down to. WonderWorks is a great way to have fun with the family, and learn something in the process, without feeling overwhelmed.
8201 International Drive, Orlando, FL
Ripley's Orlando doesn't fall from the appeal of the aforementioned WonderWorks listed above, complete with a slanted building that appears to be sinking, nor does it require much explanation as many are already quite familiar with the Ripley's Believe It Or Not brand attractions. This venue is home to some weird, wild, wacky and, well, unbelievable exhibits that make you question how much more is out there that we don't know about and why aren't these things on the news more often? The 10,000 square foot Orlando "Odditorium" includes items such as 7 legged sheep, shrunken human heads, fertility statues (don't get too close), fossils from genetic abominations, and hundreds of other items that defy description.
Any Ripley's is worth a visit, so if you happen to be looking for something a little less candy coated when in Orlando, this is it.
7324 International Drive, Orlando, FL
Those fascinated by nautical lore and/or Leonardo DiCaprio will want to take in this low key but historically rich Orlando attraction. Titanic The Experience is as the name states - a period based attraction that not only includes a museum full of artifacts and treasure, but it also transports patrons to the romanticized time that the tragedy took place. Tours come with guides dressed in the appropriate attire, complete with mannerisms and language of the period, that accompany those that walk through dark wooden and ornately decorated walls made to replicate the once thought unsinkable ship. The Grand Staircase made famous in photographs and film was made with such painstaking attention to detail that attendees are whisked away by their own imaginations. Actor re-enactments (Leo and Kate not included) only add to the vivid pictures painted in one's head. An underwater exhibition also aids in the dramatic undertones of the experience, reminding visitors about what those that met their end on the fateful day may have went through. While this attraction was created for specific tastes, it is certainly fulfills the heart's desire of those caught in the fold of the tale of the Titanic.
233 North Hoagland Boulevard, Kissimmee, FL
Speaking of specific tastes, the Kissimmee Air Museum is definitely one for the books for those that have a passion for aviation history. Even those in Florida to check out the Kennedy Space Center can appreciate the past when wings took humans only so far into the skies before technology catupulted us into the stars. The air museum holds aircraft displays and educational exhibits. Witness aircraft restoration in progress and partake in exciting flight training exercises in actual WWII fighter-trainer planes. On site Warbird Adventures will provide you with 100% hands-on experience where you will be allowed to take the controls in the front seat of a military plane while seasoned instructors will teach you everything you want to learn about flying. Whether you want an exhilarating aerobatic adventure or a smooth straight-and-level flight, Warbird Adventures at Kissimmee Air Museum will provide you with a once in a lifetime experience in the skies.