Help us plan our Orlando itinerary.
March 11, 2011 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Heading to Orlando for one week in mid-April. Looking for things to do besides Disney.

We are taking a trip to Orlando/Kissimmee in mid April for one week. Its a mini vacation (no kids, just one couple). Haven't been to Orlando since I was 10. I have done the Google searching and checked out the Orlando/Kissimmee tourist websites, but I am looking for options/suggestions.

We are certainly going to go to Disney (thinking 1 day might not be enough - maybe two?) and that's all we have planned thus far. So ANY suggestions about things to do/must see's/must check out/hidden treasures would be greatly appreciated (other theme parks, walks, hikes, rides, tours, restaurants, shows, clubs, beaches, great shopping areas, etc).

We would be up for anything as we are both in decent shape (para-sailing, boat trips, balloon rides, walking on nice beaches, etc). We are trying to keep everything moderately priced, so we are on a budget, but are going to enjoy ourselves so we will spend on things we think we will enjoy.

P.S. Bonus points for anything Star Wars related to do/see in this area!
posted by dbirchum to Travel & Transportation around Orlando, FL (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is only an hour and half drive from Disney. It is a very cool place if you have never been. It makes a great day trip, if you have a rental car. The Space Shuttle Endeavor is actually scheduled to make its final launch on April 19th. Seeing a launch is truly amazing.

Another fun thing, though cheesy, is to go to Medieval Times. Dinner theatre Jousting Tournament. It is fun and close to Disney.
posted by Flood at 5:07 AM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately the Star Wars ride will likely still be closed at Disney's Hollywood Studios in mid-April. It's scheduled for a reopening in mid-May. You might get lucky though and maybe they'll have a soft launch around that time, but that's unlikely. The gift shop called Tattoine Traders is still open, however.

Walt Disney World is impossible to do on two days. Even highlights would be tough as there are four parks. And the way they do their tickets means that adding days to a park ticket gets cheaper and cheaper. But if you're only doing two days, I suggest you visit the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

If you're interested in Harry Potter, you can find him at Universal Islands of Adventure park's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It's a small land there and there's only three rides, but the theming is great. Try the butterbeer.
posted by inturnaround at 5:08 AM on March 11, 2011

posted by Gator at 5:23 AM on March 11, 2011

If you want a break from amusement parks, Bok Tower Gardens is lovely, with a carillon in the namesake tower. As I recall, the restaurant at Chalet Suzann is something special (though expensive). Both are in Lake Wales, 1 hour from Orlando.

2nding Kennedy Space Center.
posted by neutralmojo at 5:49 AM on March 11, 2011

Or you could try Cassadaga. (Can't figger out how to link this - arrgg!)
posted by sundrop at 6:05 AM on March 11, 2011

We just got back from Disney and 6 days still left things undone. Seeing you are a couple with no kids along, I would definitely suggest concentrating on EPCOT over the Magic Kingdom; much bigger (so feels less crowded) aimed at an older crowd, with better rides and lots to look at and do besides the rides.

Also, our AAA membership more than paid for itself with discounts and the free travel agent service; might be worth checking out.

Last year we spent a week in Cocoa Beach and went to Kennedy as well as seeing the space shuttle go up; do not miss this opportunity if at all possible! If you are in the area for the launch this page (found via one of several AskMe's on the topic) gives good advice. I notice the lauch is right before sunset, which should be spectacular and may allow a view of the ISS as it flies over.
posted by TedW at 7:00 AM on March 11, 2011

3rding the Space Center, especially if you can see the shuttle on the pad. Note, though, that because there's an imminent launch, parts of the tour will be closed off (We were there a couple years ago, and had the tour truncated because of launch activity. We did see the shuttle being moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building (the launch was scrubbed earlier that day)), so you might want to call ahead and plan accordingly.
posted by chengjih at 7:01 AM on March 11, 2011

Manatees visit Blue Spring State Park from November to April. I'd call a park ranger to see if they're still around when you get there.
posted by rouftop at 9:34 AM on March 11, 2011

Going on a manatee swim in Florida was one of the best things I ever did on a vacation! They take you out on a boat to a great spot and you get to snorkel around and check out fish and pelicans and freaking MANATEES! You should totally do that!
posted by troublewithwolves at 10:15 PM on March 11, 2011

What do you know, the NY Times has an article just for you:

36 Hours in Orlando, Fla
posted by chengjih at 4:49 AM on March 12, 2011

Do not miss La Nouba (the Cirque du Soleil show that runs in Orlando) - not wall to wall amazing, but pretty damn exhilarating.

Discovery Cove (by or possibly part of Sea World) offers swimming with dolphins

The Morse Museum is a tiny museum in Winter Park which has a really unmissable collection of Tiffany stained glass windows and art, and other Arts and Crafts work.
posted by Mchelly at 7:30 AM on March 13, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all! Getting some GREAT suggestions (moreso than from a couple of rough Google searches).

Quick question - where is the best place in this area to get a "beach" expereince? We thought we were going to get a chance to drive to St. Pete's but its not looking like it will happen.

Where is the best beach in the Kissimmiee area? Thanks!
posted by dbirchum at 8:32 AM on March 14, 2011

Kissimmee is smack in the middle of the state... so no ocean beach. There are, however, four water parks. I would recommend Typhoon Lagoon at Walt Disney World for the best experience. If you feel like splurging get a reservation today for Discovery Cove at SeaWorld Orlando. It's a separate themepark that's a day-long all-inclusive experience where you can swim with dolphins, manta ray and other aqautic life. It's the best 'beach' in Orlando.

I nth the recommendation that you reschedule for Star Wars Weekends (which starts May 20th this year and runs for four weekends). If you're star wars fans, this is the vacation for you.
posted by IndigoSkye at 4:09 PM on March 14, 2011

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