I don’t know what I expected of Orlando, but I wasn't expecting it to be so big. I mean it's MASSIVE. The widest road in Scotland is probably a quarter the size of the roads in Orlando! The hotel we were staying at was more like a village. So big that we were taken to our room on the first night in a golf cart. I’m sure this is the same for most big cities in the US, but it just blew my mind!
And with all that space comes a never-ending list of things to do and see. I’m going to share with you my favourite things I did in Orlando, and maybe a few of things I would happily never do again. So to start off, of course it’s the theme parks. Walt Disney World and Universal Studios took priority for our trip.
Universal Studios Theme Park
Universal has two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We had 4 days planned to explore both parks (which in hindsight was too much). If you really want to get everything done I would recommend 2 days. Here are my favourite rides and attractions.
*Tip: DON’T USE CESARS TAXI COMPANY – They were recommended to us by the hotel and turns out they are the most expensive taxi company about. If you need a taxi use Mears. However, Uber and Lyft are your cheapest bets. Our first driver gave us discount codes meaning we didn’t need to spend more than $3 on a ride the whole 2 weeks we were there.
Hollywood Rip Rocket - This was amazing! I loved it! This rollercoaster lets you choose what music you listen to during the ride. It's an intense ride with a massive drop but it was amazing.
Tip: Keep your head firmly against the headrest, I didn’t and really hurt my neck.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – I literally cannot tell you how much I loved this ride. Other than the fact we went on it 9 times! You will love it if you are a Harry Potter fan, but if not, the ride is still fun enough that I can’t imagine anyone not liking it.
Diagon Alley – After walking through a mini version of London you will find yourself walking through a wall into Diagon Alley. And it's everything I imagined. Every shop is decked out with such detail. The workers are ALWAYS in character. It’s just such a fun place to be. Also the dragon on top of Gringotts breathes fire every so often, so keep an eye open.
Tip: If you get a park hopper ticket you can catch the Hogwarts express from here over to Islands of Adventure.
Islands of Adventure
Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Getting to walk around Hogsmeade, have lunch in the Three Broomsticks, explore Hogwarts! It’s every Harry Potter fan's dream!
Dragon Challenge – There are two different options to take on this ride. The red or the blue. From what we were told the Blue is zippier but the red has more big drops. We picked the red. I can confirm the drops are intense!
Forbidden Journey – This is a 4D ride that takes you through Hogwarts and is narrated by Harry Ron and Hermione. The queue for the ride is understandably long, but as you are walking through the castle it is very interactive so it goes by quickly. Not my favourite ride but I loved it for the Potteryness of it. Non-Potter fans may want to give it a miss.
Things to skip:
Skull Island: Reign of Kong – We waited 90+ minutes in line for this ride and to be honest it was rubbish. Or maybe I was just grumpy after the 90+ minute wait. But yeah, nothing special
Walt Disney World
There are four Theme Parks and two Water Parks. I didn’t go to either of the Water Parks so I’m going to have to skip over them. Each park typically opens at 9am, except the Epcot World Showcase that doesn’t open until 11am. Again, there will most likely be a free shuttle you can get. Disney is much further away than Universal so a taxi will be considerably more expensive.
Wishes Night Time Spectacular – An amazing light show and fireworks display at Cinderella’s castle. It lasts about 10 minutes but it is absolutely magical!
Tip: The best places to see it are from Main Street – the closer you are to the castle, the less you will see.
Space Mountain – The Classic. I didn’t think I would like it as much as I did but it was very cool.
World Showcase – It was actually really interesting walking around the lake and going into all these different countries. We didn’t see that many attractions but the food in China was delicious. The firework show at the end of the day was pretty cool as well.
Rock n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith – Such a random concept for a ride. You are with Aerosmith and need to rush to their show. It’s pretty cool and goes incredibly fast. I really enjoyed it.
Frozen Sing Along – It was full of 10 year olds and their parents. It was a live show mixed with scenes from the film with lyrics on screen. It was actually super cute and fun. I wasn’t super into Frozen to begin with but the enthusiasm is just contagious at Disney!
...and a couple of other must-sees....
NASA Kennedy Space Centre
We went with a company called Dolphin Tours. We paid about $100 and this included transport, guided tour of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, access to any other bus tour around the centre and admission to the 3D movies. It was amazing! To actually see a real space shuttle up close melted my brain.
There was also an option to queue up to meet an astronaut but that line was massive so we didn’t bother. But there was a REAL ASTRONAUT THERE!
Of course I experienced the International House of Pancakes. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. We only ever went at about 10-11pm and it was still open! Anywhere that you can have breakfast that late at night is a winner in my books. On the first night we had a lovely waitress who even gave me a free hot chocolate at the end of our meal.
Things To Do in the Theme Parks of Orlando, USA via @chieraa #travel
Image source: author's own & pixabay.com
Have you been to Orlando's theme parks? Have I missed out something that shouldn’t be missed? Let me know in the comments below.