You will probably need a car for traveling in and around Orlando. There is so much to do, that a week-long stay is just the tip of the iceberg. It can be overwhelming, but at least there are good choices.
Disney World is the obvious place that springs to mind when hearing the name “Orlando.” Sea World and Universal Orlando Resort are the other two gigantic entities that claim “huge tracts of land.” There are quite a few smaller, but not small, attractions in town, too.
Discovery Cove is a “swim with the dolphins” place where manta rays and tropical fish are also involved. The fee is $199, at least, and children under two are free. Kids must be six years old and up to swim with the dolphins and kids 6-12 have to be with a paying adult. Reservations are mandatory and as available. So there.
Universal might be my favorite because we took our boys, ages 9 and 14, and they both liked it. There is something for everyone, ages 1-100.
The nine-year-old, of all people, wanted to eat at Emeril’s for his ninth birthday, so in we went. It was stupendous and we all got what we wanted. It was worth every cent for food and service.
We liked Bob Marley’s restaurant but there is a $7 cover because there is live music. You do hear reggae, a plus for me, and the food is OK.
WHAT THE KIDS WANT
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the big draw at Universal and it is all that and a bag of chips. I thought the nine-year-old would be about twelve before we got him out.
Tiny tots might like the Barney attraction but we didn’t have to endure that, thank goodness.
RIDES AT UNIVERSAL
Some are a little overloaded on the scare factor, but a lot of people stand in line for them.
The Jurassic Park River Adventure is a bit heart-stopping at the end.
You might want to brief the kids depending on their ages. All of the big theme parks involve lots of trekking all over the place, but there are food stops scattered around.
Here is a place to sit down for a while and watch the show while remaining outdoors. Just hope no one gets eaten while the kids are watching. Getting wet is expected, which is good in the summer heat.
- We wanted to go on the Studio Backlot Tour and didn’t have time, but it sounded good. The Disney Hollywood Studios Park rivals Universal’s film focus, no pun intended. This is a toss-up, but there are shows and rides of known film characters in both.
- The Animal Kingdom Park has real live animals from several continents. It is not the plastic reproduction that Disney is known for. We would do it again.
- Food at Disney might be better at Epcot in the country areas. I was not disappointed in France a few years ago, but I didn’t get to try Morocco, a version of French meets African.
- There is good fine dining that you really pay for, but there are plenty of choices.
- When our first son was about three, he liked everything at Disney but the heat. The Small World ride saved us, with shade and cooler air, and unlimited riding for free. There wasn’t even a line because you have to hear the song all the time you’re in the little boat, but we were all tired and it was fine.
- Other feelings about Disney were good, primarily, but the Magic Kingdom was full of plastic and nothing was real. It got to be weird after we were there for a while. We just wanted to look at real houses and people.
- Universal was, overall, the most fun maybe because the kids were a little older when we went there. It was different than Disney and the change was good, so it might have seemed better than it was at the time. We did like the film-centered atmosphere, speaking of unreal. It was not as plastic as Disney, even though there were similar attractions. This is only my opinion, and my spouse’s.
- Sea World was clean and happy, and there wasn’t anything to dislike. It was not quite as mammoth as the other two large parks and seemed more manageable. The focus is narrower, of course, which is live aquatic animals, but that is expected. I don’t need a whale ride when I can see real dolphins and seals, even though they do have rides. We just snacked here, so I don’t know how the fine dining is.
Whatever you do, it will be fun and interesting anywhere you go in Orlando.
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A SMALL PART OF THE KILLER WHALE SHOW (SHAMU SHOW) AT SEA WORLD ORLANDO MAY 2011 PART 1
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