5 Orlando Attractions that don’t involve theme parks!

5 Orlando Attractions that don’t involve theme parks!

Yes, the reason most of us head to Orlando with our families, friends, loved ones and significant others is usually on account of experiencing the parks. And of course, when we talk of parks in relation to Orlando, we’re not talking swings and slides and reading a good book in your deck chair.

We’re talking Disney, Universal, Legoland, SeaWorld and all the other added parks that make the region the theme park capital of the world.

However, whilst these figure prominently and, well, more or less dominate the Orlando attractions landscape, don’t be misled into thinking that they’re the only thing in town. In fact, take a moment to look beyond anything to do with anthropomorphic mice or lightning scarred wizards and you might find a number of alternative attractions to grab your interest, tickle your fancy and generally show you a good time.

IFLY Sky Diving

Fancy the feeling of soaring through the air but not quite up to jumping out of plane? Based on International Drive iFly offers you the chance to hop in a wind tunnel and experience the sensation of freefalling as a you hover in mid-air, thanks to a 1000hp cushion of air. A pure adrenaline rush without need of a parachute or spare pair of undies, this is a great way to thumb your nose at gravity for a while. More information can be found on the site: https://orlando.iflyworld.com/

The Orlando Eye

Not going into too much detail here as we mentioned it in one of recent blog posts, here. Suffice to say though that this American cousin of the London Eye (also from Merlin Entertainment) is a major new landmark on the Orlando skyline. Towering 400 ft above the Idrive 360 complex this is set to be a big attraction for visitors to Orlando for years to come.

Orlando Eye Attraction on International Drive

Courtesy of Official Orlando Eye

Mini Golf

There are simply loads of options when it comes to mini golf in Orlando and represents one of the most popular ways for families to spend some quality, if a little bit competitive, time together away from the queues of the next cartoon themed rollercoaster at the big Orlando attractions. There are 2 mini-golf centres on the Walt Disney resort (away from the theme parks themselves so you don’t need a park ticket to visit) – the 2 18-hole courses at Fantasia Mini Golf near the Swan Hotel and another 2 at the Winter Summerland next to Blizzard Beach. With options at Universal as well as a plethora of simply beautifully designed and great fun options along International Drive (Congo River & Pirates Cove to name 2) and over in the Kissimmee area, there’s no shortage of pitting your putting (or putting your pitting?) skills against ultra-competitive off-spring!

Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine Arts

Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine Arts Orlando

Zora Neale Hurston 1891-1960

Opened in 1990 the Hurston is a museum showcasing exhibits and literature from some of the best artists of African descent who have had an impact on American culture and history. A change of pace from other attractions in the Orlando area, the museum is named after the pre-eminent African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston, who lived in central Florida for much of her life. With regular exhibits from artists old and new, as well as a rich collection of African-American literature, many from Neale Hurston herself, this is a chance to immerse yourself in a creative, culturally significant portion of American art and one of a number of Orlando attractions for a more refined taste.    

Golf

golf in orlandoYou’re never far from a tee or green in Orlando. With over 170 golf courses in Central Florida it really is a golfers paradise. Suited to golfers of all abilities from Tiger to Tigger there’s a course for golf tourists and serious players alike. From the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Club, the world class resort which plays host to the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament, to the stunning Grand Cypress resort, the popular Orange Lakes courses and, indeed, the championship courses over at Disney – you’re simply spoilt for choice, meaning you’ll need to keep going back for more.  

Introducing The Orlando Eye at I-Drive 360

Introducing The Orlando Eye at I-Drive 360

orlando eye i-drive 360

Image Published with Kind Permission of The Orlando Eye

The Orlando Eye – International Drive’s Biggest, Newest Attraction

It was back in May 2015 that the latest big attraction from Merlin Entertainment – the Orlando Eye – was finally opened to the eager public and holiday-makers of International Drive, Orlando.

The great big centre point of the new I-Drive 360 complex, the Orlando Eye is the Floridian counterpart of its older brother which rests upon the bank of the river Thames in London. And, like the London Eye, this 400 foot behemoth represents one mighty Ferris Wheel, offering a truly unique view over the theme park centre of the world that is Orlando.

Orlando Eye International Drive

Image Courtesy of The Orlando Eye

The Eye Experience

Contained within one of 30 enclosed glass capsules a ride on the Orlando Eye promises to be unlike anything else you’re likely to experience during your stay in central Florida. Which, given the huge array of attractions within spitting distance, is really saying something.

Of course, the ride is a decidedly more sedate affair in comparison to some of the more high octane experiences in Orlando (The Hulk and Aerosmith roller-coasters springing readily to mind, for example). But what it lacks in speed, it will surely make up for through its sheer scale, spectacle and jaw-dropping scenery.

As you make your serene, meandering way around the wheel you’ll have mile upon mile of Florida landscape opening up before and, more accurately, below you. A chance to get a unique perspective on the major theme parks in the area as well as the ever-expanding skyline of downtown Orlando, old town Kissimmee and the vast stretches of lakes, swamps and lush greenery that the more rural aspects of central Florida has to offer.

And, according to the official website, on a clear day you can even see as far away as the Space Centre at Cape Canaveral. Which makes me ponder that an Orlando Eye Capsule would be quite a cool place from which to see a launch.

Similar to the London Eye the Orlando equivalent offers a range of different experiences from which to choose including booking out your own private capsule for you and up to 14 friends, to champagne accompanied rides which sounds like the perfect way to catch a sunset. In addition there’s also a 4D cinematic experience to be enjoyed as part of the experience – an intriguing added extra that’s worth exploring further.

The Orlando Eye at I-Drive 360, Orlando Florida

Image published with kind permission of The Orlando Eye

Other Attractions

As part of the new I-Drive showcase Merlin Group have added two of their other premier branded attractions to sit alongside the impressive Eye and help to create a real new dimension to family friendly entertainment in the already packed to bursting International Drive area.

Launched in conjunction with the Orlando Eye is the SEA LIFE Aquarium, offering visitors an opportunity to experience and explore a vast and really stunning array of different sea creatures, fish and general aquatic life.

And then there’s the iconic name in Wax Modelling – Madame Tussauds Orlando. Taking its lead from the world famous London venue this brings the wax museum to Florida, bringing with it a decidedly American feel to this distinctly European attraction.

Now a few months old and the Eye is fast becoming a major landmark on the Orlando skyline and another BIG attraction for a region already bursting with things to do. Nevertheless, the wheel certainly promises to become something of an Orlando icon in the coming years and a perfect antidote when you need an alternative source of entertainment from the theme parks.

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