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Orlando, Florida

Orlando

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Strong preference by all three Authentic leaning personalities; less so by among Venturer types

Did You Know … ?

  • Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the world’s most-visited theme park.
  • Orlando calculates it would take 67 days to see all its more than 95 attractions.
  • The city boasts more than 52 million square feet of retail shopping space.
  • Disney World is nearly twice the size of New York’s Manhattan.
  • Orlando claims more than 2,000 lakes, springs and rivers.

Theme park heaven

Theme parks of all kinds proliferate in the Orlando area. Besides Disney World and Epcot, there are parks with different themes at Sea World of Florida, Universal Studios of Florida and MGM Studios.

And, when visitors are ready for a change, they can find a beach; go sailing, waterskiing or fishing on various lakes, or take sightseeing trips to the other attractions in the Orlando area. Houseboats, hot-air balloons and skydiving are options for the more adventurous. This variety of activities entices adults as well as children and can even lure a certain number of the more venturesome travelers.

It’s true, the adventurous are less enthusiastic about this place than others because a theme park vacation seems too tame. Nevertheless, many adults who visit Orlando “for the children” are surprised when they have a good time inside or outside the parks.

Predictably though, the somewhat structured theme park world is best suited to the less adventuresome souls. Theme park operators create a world where visitors can forget their troubles, enjoy rides and shows with lots of other people and expose their families to wholesome and memorable experiences. They don’t have to leave the parks to feel their vacation is complete although other opportunities are available.

All personalities exult over how clean, safe and secure they feel in this area, while the tropical climate and lush scenery contribute to a vacation state of mind, far away from workaday problems. People sound happy when they talk about their vacation in the Orlando area. It is theme park heaven with a lot of extras thrown in, such as warm weather, good golfing and water sports, plus pretty nearby cities.

Orlando area planners (especially Disney) have figured out something that research has been saying for years: If your leisure destination is popular and successful, make sure you continue to maintain the standards that attracted people in the first place. Orlando is one place that abides by that truism.

Ironically, the comfortable atmosphere that draws many families discourages the valuable adventurers among us.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Rise above it all, and see it all a lot better. Take a hot-air balloon ride over Orlando.
  • Or try hang gliding at Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding Flight Park.
  • At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, careen through Expedition Everest in a rickety railcar. Soaring up nearly 200 feet, this ride combines coaster thrills with Disney Audio-Animatronics.
  • For more theme park adventure: Drop 13 stories on Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios. Hang glide above California’s redwood forests at Epcot’s Soarin’.  Ride the largest, fastest, tallest roller coaster in Orlando at SeaWorld Orlando.
  • Accelerate to 120mph in less than two seconds at G Force Drag Racing. Or be a NASCAR driver, traveling up to 150mph at Richard Petty Driving Experience. (Alternatively, you don’t have to do the driving. You can get the high-speed experience by riding with an instructor, too.)
  • Get into the act: Record your own music video at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island. Sit in the hot seat at “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire — Play It!” at Disney-MGM Studios. Share the spotlight at Sak Comedy Lab.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Go to the races, the greyhound races, that is. The dogs run in either Orlando, St. Petersburg or Tampa.
  • Swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove. Hold an alligator or snake at Gatorland. Be a marine life trainer for a day at SeaWorld Orlando.
  • Learn a thing or two: Learn about acting at the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival. Learn how to draw a cartoon at Disney’s animation studios. Even learn how to skydive at iFlyOrlando, which is an indoor skydiving experience.
  • Take a horseback trail ride. Here are some choices: Grand Cypress Equestrian Center, Horse World Riding Stables and Westgate River Ranch.
  • Rent a houseboat to navigate the St. Johns River. Take-charge travelers can be their own captains from Sanford, near Orlando, all the way to Jacksonville.
  • Eat a fantastic meal at Mama Della’s Restaurant in the Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. Stroll the grounds, as well, because the hotel and its environs effectively replicate the look of the real seaside village of Portofino in Italy.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Spend some quality time (and money) at the 2 million-square-foot Florida Mall. For another kind of buying experience, try the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, also in Orlando, offering 400-plus designer and name brands.
  • McDonald’s has given fast-food dining new meaning with themed locations, as follows: Ancient Ruins, Club Safari, Motorcycle, the World’s Largest PlayPlace (arcade games) and, with adults in mind, the Upscale European Cafe. Those menus aren’t all hamburgers either.
  • Admire the manatees at Blue Springs State Park. Go whale watching at Port Canaveral. Watch sea turtles hatch on the coast.
  • Get involved: Cook your own food at The Melting Pot. Be a duck master during the Duck March at the Peabody Orlando. Grill your own pancakes in an old sugar mill at Deleon Springs.
  • Get out the dancing shoes and learn country line dancing at Cowboys Orlando. Or spice things up by learning to do the salsa and merengue at Latin Quarter.
  • In nearby Kissimmee, spend an evening at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, where you feast medieval-style in a replicated European castle. A few feet away, knights on horseback compete with each other and for your attention.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Visit Orlando at www.orlandoinfo.com