Orlando in Florida is the world’s theme park capital. When you’re staying at our CLC Orlando resorts, Encantada and Regal Oaks, you’re not far from ten of the biggest amusement parks on the planet. Run by such global brands as Disney and Universal, seeing everything they have to offer would probably take you at least one lifetime!
Lots of our guests keep coming back just for the amusement parks but there’s more to this bustling city in the south-east corner of the USA than branded and themed attractions. We aim to give you just a flavour of the other side of Orlando.
Most visitors are coming with littles ones in tow. If you want a day filled with just a couple of choice experiences, then what about flying on a jet of super-powered air?
iFLY, based on International Drive, Orlando, call it indoor skydiving. They supply all the equipment you’ll need and the good thing is, they can take children as young as three. But it’s not just for youngsters. iFLY claim their oldest ‘skydiver’ was 100 years older than that. They also say it’s super fun, super safe and super cool. One look and you can see why.
Mingling with the rich and famous doesn’t happen very often to most of us. But your favourite celebs can’t run away if they’re made of wax! At Madame Tussauds Orlando, you’ll be surprised at just how ‘interactive’ the experience is. Believe it or not, but 500 different measurements are used to recreate every waxwork. The figures range from Superman, Aquaman and the Justice League to Presidents, rock stars, actors and sporting icons like Brazilian centre-forward Neymar. If you’re wondering how waxworks can be interactive, wait until Superman lifts you up!
In the same complex as Madame Tussauds is SEA LIFE, Orlando. If you’ve never been before, then getting up close and personal to creatures from beneath the waves is easy thanks to an acrylic ‘glass’ tunnel. It allows you to see hundreds of species swimming round your head and just inches from your face. In line with their conservation role – breed, rescue, protect – there are talks about the importance of protecting the world’s oceans and you can watch as divers enter the water to interact with our underwater neighbours.
Florida, of course, is famous for many things, including large numbers of its primordial inhabitants, the kind you’re happy to interact with as long as the glass is a foot thick or you’re not up too close. Gatorland has been going since the late 1940s and has more than 2,000 alligators and crocodiles. What’s the difference? Find out for yourself when you take a ride on a custom-made off-road (and open) monster truck, that’s thankfully a good 12ft off the ground.
Splash through a pond full of hundreds of alligators and ‘creep’ through a real alligator graveyard. If that isn’t a big enough attraction, you can be strapped into a harness and then zipline for 1,200ft over the ‘monsters’ below. Gatorland also has at least four of the 12 known ‘white’ alligators that exist in the world today. These animals need special treatment to protect them from other normal-coloured males and also sunlight, which will damage their skins.
After taking in some of the earliest inhabitants of this planet, you can take a trip to the complex which is still at the heart of our efforts to get off it. The Kennedy Space Center is an hour from the city centre, on Florida’s east coast. There, you can see the giant Saturn V rocket which was used for the Apollo programme and also carried the space station, Skylab, into orbit.
You can gaze at the iconic Space Shuttle, Atlantis, and strap yourself in for the Shuttle Launch Experience. And because the Center is an active NASA complex, you can delve into the next phase (and possible destination), Mars, in a section entitled, “Explorers Wanted”!
Closer to home, for your Orlando holidays 2019, and for those who don’t have youngsters in tow, the city is not short of cultural offerings. One of them is the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in South Magnolia Avenue. A relative newcomer to the Orlando entertainment scene – it opened in 2014 – this arts complex offers year-round operatic and symphony works, Broadway productions, comedy, family shows and much more. For art lovers, there’s the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, which has around 5,500 exhibits and is free to enter. The Orlando Museum of Art, which opened in 1924, is also another highly rated exhibition centre and includes a major collection of art of the Ancient Americas.
If you’re travelling to Orlando and want to look at the huge range of options outside the theme park experience, then VisitOrlando is a site to check out. Their visitor centre is in the heart of the city’s tourism district and it’s geared to helping you, especially if you’re a first-timer, or like the rest of us, just a tiny bit overwhelmed.