Orlando Fun: Theme Parks, 'Gators and Space Shuttles..... Oh No!


Oh yes! After many years of enjoying some very affordable and enjoyable Spanish holidays - half-board rocks - this year we swapped the Spanish sun for a similarly priced - without the food - fun holiday in the sunshine state of Florida! Where we bathed in this land of hot sunshine, swaddled in a wet blanket of steaming humidity and drowned  in this world of happy-clappy 'have-a-good-day'-ness. While the humidity was a struggle the happy-clappiness was strangely more uplifting than it was overwhelming!  

We traveled with Virgin Atlantic via the UK; our virgin flight you might say as it was our first time with them, and a very pleasant experience it was too! 

We stayed on International Drive in the rather dated but very clean, comfortable and extremely convenient Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando. It was perfectly located for all our theme park days and is  right across the road from the intriguing WonderWorks - or 'upside-down house' as we called it!



It was also right across the road from Pizza Hut, which made for very handy take-outs and pizza pyjama parties on the days we were simply too wrecked to go further afield!

With the brilliant nearby I-Ride Trolleys, and its pleasant and helpful drivers and excellent choice of 80's sing-a-long  music; and the free hotel provided shuttle bus service to Universal Studios, there was no need for car hire and stressful driving on this holiday.

It was a relatively short holiday of just 10 days, given the long haul flights, so there was quite a lot to cram in. We attempted a healthy mix of relaxation days and mad theme park ones, and it worked too. Although relaxation days weren't totally spent lolling by the pool. Oh no, it was far too hot and humid for that. The sun screen and lip balm had to be stored in the fridge and still it melted off you almost before you'd even finished applying it! And any wish for a nice, cooling Spanish-like sea breeze was more likely met with a mere shrug of the heavily laden blanket of humidity. No, when all's said and done relaxation days were best spent in the comfort of air-conditioned  rooms. Like having a lazy lunch, with wine of course, in a lovely bar or shopping in some  very cool shops. Cool in air temperature and very cool in bargains too! 

So, do you want to know what we did and where we went? Okay, come along then, no dilly-dallying, keep up, there's lots to see! 

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

In order to fit in some new sights and experiences for this, our second Orlando visit, we decided to forego the magic of Disney. Sad, I know but the boy is now 14, there's lots of cool teen stuff to do you know! Our first port of call was Universal Studios. 


It was a fun day but after a while the a similarity between the shows and rides becomes evident. 

That said we loved the Transformers ride, it was our favourite, and we really enjoyed the Simpsons Ride too; this had only opened when we were there 6 years ago and was fun to do again. We also got 'done' in this land of donuts and 'Doh'-ness ..... #tip: Avoid the very costly Duff Beer bar! (see below for more Theme park Tips)




ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

The sister land to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure was all about the more typical theme park rides and featured  the ultra scary The Incredible Hulk Coaster. And no, I didn't do it!

This was a really fun day. The highlights for us were the Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges and Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls which involved getting very wet and was very welcome indeed on such a hot day - and no cheating with plastic ponchos for us either! Our absolute highlight though was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Although we're not massive fans of the wizard we did thoroughly enjoy the magic of this land and the thrilling ride.





AIRBOAT SAFARI ON BOGGY CREEK and GATORLAND.

This was something new for us to try and we really enjoyed. it. The airboat safari was only 30 minutes in duration but was so enjoyable. We were on the hunt for some alligators in the wild, but it was such a hot day that these reptiles had more sense than the silly humans and stayed 'indoors'! However we did see some beautiful sights as we floated along this reedy creek.




From there we headed to Gatorland, where there were plenty of 'gators to be seen, including a rare white one, and other creatures too. I think most of our time was spent in the free-flight aviary section, and as a result  I can see a replacement for our beloved Sunny in the very near future!





KENNEDY SPACE CENTRE

Now this was an exciting prospect, our first trip to the Kennedy Space Centre, and as such it was kept until last. It is some distance away but transport was included in our ticket price. We were 'entertained' by our humorous Guide on the long ride way there and by a movie, and a spectacular thunder and lightning storm, on our return.

We really enjoyed the Apollo/Saturn V and Atlantis exhibits, they were fascinating, and the shuttle simulator was thrilling. I particularly loved the bus tour and was mesmerised by this launch pad that saw off every flight to the moon that ever was, and is due to be dismantled soon. I'm so glad I got to see it up close....




It was a very long day, the last one of all our long days and thunder roared as lightning flashed, amid torrential rain, as we returned to the hotel. To say we were tired would be an under-statement. So, my Dizzy Jazzy-ness was not appreciated when in the space of 10 minutes I managed to lose the room key, almost blow up my hair straightener - almost setting the room on fire in the process - and smash a three-quarter full bottle of Chanel No.5 perfume on  the tiled bathroom floor - 'Noooooooo.......'. 
I could have cried. Instead I had a particularly large glass of wine, accompanied by an equally large bar of Hersheys chocolate!

All that was left to do the day after that was another quick trip to the Premium Outlet Mall and packing up for the long haul flight home. Oh, and a quick trip in to see whatever wonders the WonderWorks building concealed. Isn't it typical that the one thing that's bound to be last on the to-do- list is the one that's closest to you?! it's worth noting that when you're rushed and only have an hour to view before being whisked off to the airport, then the man will take you out of the queue and send you upstairs to the basement - 'upside-down house' remember, stay with me now! - where you can just pay for the things you want to do on that floor. #Tip: you do not have to pay for both of you to do Laser Tag, yet another 3D show and rope climbing! Sigh.... well, I paid so I did them. But I did chicken out of the rope climbing, even though I was all wired up. Seemed like the best thing to do, clinging to a pillar for dear life is not a good look!

Actually there was one other thing we needed to do on that final day, and that was to enjoy one final sunrise. The beauty of staying on the top floor was opening your door to this every morning....





So, that's it! I hope his has given you a flavour of our fabulous Orlando holiday :-)






Theme Park Tips: 

*When you get your tickets, or redeem your vouchers for tickets, the first thing to do is to take photos of the reverse side of them. This will suffice in the panicky event of losing them.
*No need to bring your passports when purchasing/redeeming vouchers on your first day. A photocopy of the lead person's passport will suffice and your hotel will be happy to do that for you.
*Food and drink can be expensive at the parks so bring water with you as that will cover the first hour or too. It's too hot to eat loads so share. A portion of chicken tenders and chips was perfect for me and the boy to share.
*Drinking plenty of water is good, especially early on. Then you can afford one early afternoon refreshing cold beer!
*Humidity is a lot less from October to May so that's the best time to travel to Orlando. No time to recover before going back to school though!
*Wear good walking shoes. 
 *Don't forget the sun sunscreen!
                         


#SilentSunday







- DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS -