Of course you know about Disney World and Universal Orlando. The mega parks may inspire you to make the trip to Orlando. Once you are there, however, what other fun things might you want to consider checking out?
It's likely you're familiar with SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Wet 'n' Wild. But there are a bunch of other theme parks and attractions in the area, many of which are located along Orlando's popular tourist corridor, International Drive. Home to a gazillion hotels, restaurants, strip malls, and the huge Orange County Convention Center, there are also parks and attractions on or just off of the busy boulevard.
SeaWorld Orlando (as well as its sister parks, Discovery Cove and Aquatica Water Park) and Wet 'n Wild Orlando are all on I-Drive. But this guide is focused on the strip's smaller parks and attractions. And by "smaller," I don't necessarily mean physical size. I-Drive is home to some of Florida's -- and the world's -- tallest rides. The following list is not comprehensive. There are a bunch of mini-golf courses as well as other activities and exhibits up and down the street. My list focuses on I-Drive's more under-the-radar, theme park-like attractions.
Unlike other CoCo Key water park resorts, which all feature indoor parks (and are located in places where it can get mighty cold in the winter), the Orlando location offers an outdoor water park. Part of it is, however, covered by a canopy which offers some protection from nasty weather. The relatively small CoCo Key may not offer the number or variety of slides and attractions found at the area's larger water parks, but it generally doesn't get overcrowded like the bigger parks either.
More of an old-school amusement park than a theme park, Fun Spot offers a couple of roller coasters, including the well-regarded White Lightning woodie, spinning thrill rides, kiddie rides, and one of the world's tallest (at 250 feet) SkyCoasters, a bungee jump-like attraction.
Visible from virtually any vantage point along International Drive (and just about everywhere else throughout Orlando), you can't miss The Orlando Eye, the 400-foot observation wheel. It is the centerpiece of the I-Drive 360 entertainment, shopping, and dining complex. Other major attractions include Madame Tussauds Orlando and Sea Life Orlando Aquarium.
If Go-Karts are your thing, the NASCAR-themed attraction should rev you up. The indoor facility offers a half-mile-long track, and the karts accelerate up to 45 mph. There is also a large arcade and a restaurant at the attraction.
The small "thrill park" offers three featured rides: Slingshot, a reverse bungee attraction that Magical Midway brags is the world's largest, the 230-foot tall swing ride, Starflyer, and the drop tower ride, Space Blast. Other features include Go-Karts, bumper cars, a carousel, and an arcade.
Scheduled to open in 2017, the Skyplex entertainment complex will feature Skyscraper, the world's tallest roller coaster. It will also offer an observation tower (for coaster wimps who would nonetheless want to check out the 570-foot view), dining, simulator rides, an arcade, and other attractions.
Vue at 360- Featuring the Starflyer Swing Ride
The Starflyer at Magical Midway (listed above) rises an impressive 230 feet. But the Starflyer at Vue at 360, which is scheduled to open in late 2015 or early 2016, will go nearly three times as high. At 420 feet, it will be the world's tallest swing ride.
Housed in an unusual building that appears to have been ripped from its foundation and tossed upside down, the indoor "edu-tainment" attraction has many exhibits including a 4D simulator ride, lazer tag, and a ropes challenge course.