After the Theme Parks: 11 Orlando Adventures

By: Lauren Tjaden


Orlando is rightfully famed for its fantastic theme parks. But what do you do after you’ve visited Mickey?

These Orlando adventures are by no means a complete list, but they’ll keep you occupied -- for at least the first week!

Delight to Dolphins

Discovery Cove is an animal lover’s dream-come-true. You can snorkel the Coral Reef, brimming with tropical fish; hand-feed birds in the free flight aviary; and interact with dolphins. You can even enjoy the ride of a lifetime when you grab onto a dolphin’s dorsal fin for trip through the lagoon.

Be Spellbound

For a theatrical delight featuring opulent sets, brilliant choreography, theatrical lighting and provocative music, don’t miss Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba. I have a hard time sitting still for more than an hour, yet I was mesmerized by the high wire acts, the flying trapezes and the gymnastic performances. My father’s quote at the end of the show was, “I feel like I should give them more money.” 

Get High

A sunrise balloon ride with Thompson Aire has a magical feel. Swamps and orange groves swirl with mist, cattle graze in fields wet with dew, and when you float over a pond, you can see your reflection in it. Gently ride the wind, pluck a pine cone from the top of a tree, and celebrate afterwards with a champagne toast.   

Slip, Slide and Get Soaked

Wet ‘n Wild features a plethora of crazy ways to cool off, from a toddler-friendly wave pool to shudder-worthy drops and slides.  My favorite slide is The Storm, which we have affectionately dubbed the “getting- flushed- down- the- toilet- ride.” How fun is the waterpark? I have a season pass. 

Don’t Jump out of a Perfectly Good Airplane

Skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel at iFly Orlando is thrilling, and you don’t have to leap out of an airplane to try it. Nevertheless, the experience is so realistic that professional skydivers use it to practice. People of all ages without any experience can join in the fun. 

Put the Pedal to the Metal

It’s true: The folks at the Richard Petty Driving Experience will actually turn you loose in a 600 HP NASCAR style race car at world famous Daytona International Speedway. Or you can enjoy a ride-along experience with a professional driver. Don’t expect to sleep the night before your adventure!         

Whiz, Wobble or Wipeout

The Orlando Watersports Complex is a personal favorite of mine. You can wakeboard, wakeskate, ski, or kneeboard on the cable or behind the boat. And you can rent everything you need. It features two lakes with cable systems, plus a lake for boating. One lake is for novices like me. The second lake is called the slider park. It features awe-inspiring obstacles called sliders and kickers. You can watch the advanced wakeboarders perform stunts while you eat lunch. Or join them, if you’re a hotshot.

Giddy Up

Trot through the forest at Horse World. This family owned and oriented facility will let you snag a glimpse of how Florida used to be. Their horses are well trained and well fed; just turn off your cell phone and kick back. 

Explore a Different Plane

Soar using only the power of nature in a sailplane at Seminole Gliderport, located by Groveland, about 45 minutes from Orlando. A tow plane will pull you to your desired altitude. After that, you’ll use thermals -- rising currents of hot air –to explore the skies of central Florida without a motor.

Pedal or Skate

The West Orange Trail offers 22 miles of beautiful biking along the edge of Lake Apopka and through the quaint downtown of Winter Garden. My husband Paul and I like to ride from Clermont into Winter Garden for lunch or a snack and then back after our break. Bikes and Blades will rent you all the equipment you need.  

Snag a Bird’s Eye View

Thanks to the highly qualified instructors at Quest Air, located 45 minutes out of Orlando, you can see Florida the way the eagles do. On your tandem hang gliding Discovery Flight, you’ll soar close to the clouds, with nothing but a pair of sunglasses between you and the air. Your takeoff and landing will be on wheels, so there’s no running involved.     

For more beaches and adventure fun, follow me on Facebook @ VISIT FLORIDA Beaches & Adventure Insider or on Twitter @VFBeachInsider.

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