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Orlando Attractions - Beyond the Four Major Disney Parks

Posted on April 25, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Today I’m going to write about a few of my family’s favorite things to do in Orlando outside of the big 4 Disney parks. I’m excluding Universal for another day.


Water Parks


Our family really enjoys both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach at Disney. For us, they serve as a nice break between full days at the park. The lines for the slides can get really long, so we try to arrive early and hit the big slides before the crowds arrive. Then we spend the bulk of the day just lounging. Because these parks are much smaller, they also aren’t really full day events, so you can combine them with some down time at your vacation rental or perhaps a nice dinner or show out. When buying tickets, figure out if you plan to go more than once or not. If you are only going to go once (and don’t plan to go to Disney Quest), just buy a single day ticket to the desired park. If you plan to go more than once, it’s cheaper to buy the “Water Park Fun & More” option to your Magic Your Way pass.


If you want to go to a water park outside of Disney, Wet 'n Wild gets a lot of positive reviews. We haven’t tried it, so I can’t personally comment.


DisneyQuest


If your kids are into video games, and one of your vacation goals wasn’t to get them to stop playing, DisneyQuest is a fun side attraction to get a few hours of downtime. Basically DisneyQuest is a five story arcade. With options that span from modern virtual reality games to old school arcade games like Galaga and pinball to non-electronic games like Skee Ball, there’s pretty much something for everyone in the family young and old to enjoy. I’m not sure this is one I’d buy a separate ticket to do, but it’s included in the Water Park Fun & More option. So, if you’ve bought this add-on, I recommend giving it a try. It’s also a good choice on a rainy day, as everything is indoors.


SeaWorld


My kids’ favorite non-Disney park is SeaWorld. It makes a good contrast with the Disney parks because the focus isn’t on rides. While not a small park, you will get to spend a decent amount of time relaxing watching various shows. However, the thing your kids will really want to do is feed the animals. It is pretty cool to do, but recognize that the costs can add up pretty quickly and budget / set expectations accordingly. For getting tickets to the park, I recommend checking both undercovertourist.com and seaworld.com.


Downtown Disney


We typically spend one evening later in the trip walking through Downtown Disney, doing a little shopping and eating dinner. Some of our favorite choices include:


  • The massive Lego store with it’s displays and hands-on exhibits 
  • The world’s largest Disney store. We try to keep the kids from wanting to shop for souvenirs in the park with the promise of spending some time here. This way you don’t have to lug things around the parks and they have pretty much everything you will find at the parks all in one place. 
  • Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream is always a popular choice for a sundae. 
  • Wolfgang Puck’s Express and Café is reasonably priced good food. We alternate depending on whether we are in the mood for more of a sit down meal or not.

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