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Things to Do in Orlando (Besides Disney & Universal)

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Sure, we all know about going to Disney World or Universal Studios when planning a trip to Orlando, but there are plenty of other things to do. Last week, we took an amazing trip to Florida to explore all kinds of great destinations for families with Visit Florida. If you are planning a trip to the sunshine state, is definitely the place to start!

They are the state’s official tourism planning source. They have all the information on all the different places you’ll want to go.

family visiting florida
family in Orlando Florida


Our first stop on our week-long adventure was in Orlando, what we like to call the heart of Florida. We had two days of fun activities planned from morning to night to see what off the beaten path fun we could have. That’s right, we all know how fun Disney World and Universal Orlando are, but this trip was to visit those other places that might not be top of mind when planning your Orlando vacation but maybe they should be?

Orlando Vacation Video Day One

Orlando Accommodations – Lake Buena Village Vista Resort

When we arrived on Saturday morning, we checked into Lake Buena Village Vista Resort Village and Spa. (You can see a full room tour in our video above!) The staff was amazing and our two-bedroom condo unit was perfect for my family of five. Honestly, our unit was more than enough room and we loved that it had a full kitchen, washer/dryer and two bathrooms so it could act as our home away from home.

This condominium resort has two-, three- and four-bedroom options just 2 miles from Walt Disney World Resort. The resort offers a spectacular, zero-entry pool featuring a Pirate Shipwreck complete with shooting water cannons, a water slide, Jacuzzi-style hot tubs, tumbling waterfalls, poolside loungers and hammocks.

Lake Buena Vista Resort aerial view
orlando Florida pirate ship


After getting settled into our resort, we headed out to Aquatica, which is SeaWorld’s sister property. This water park has some great water rides, including 36 slides, six rivers, lagoons, wave pools and more than 80,000 square feet of sparkling white, sandy beaches.

Aquatica park in orlando florida

While their signature attraction, Dolphin Plunge, takes riders down 300-foot- long clear tubes through a crystal-blue lagoon filled with black and white Commerson’s dolphins, it wasn’t necessarily our favorite because we only saw dolphins from our wait in line. The actual ride itself is quick and we weren’t lucky enough to see a single dolphin swim by while we were on the actual waterslide.

Our favorite ride though was Ihu’s Breakway Falls. This is Orlando’s tallest and steepest free-fall waterslide. This is thrilling fun!! This is a waterslide where you have to step into a chamber and then just wait for the floor to drop out on you plunging you feet first in a free fall down the waterslide. It’s a bit unnerving but so much fun. We even got the 6 year old to take the plunge TWICE!

litlte boy on waterslide at Aquatica Waterpark

Overall, our day at Aquatica was a lot of fun! We suggest hitting the popular Ihu’s Breakway Falls early in the morning or right before close for the shortest lines.

Orlando Day Two Video

Lake Buena Vista Village Reflections Spa

On Sunday, my daughter and I hit the Reflections Spa on the Lake Buena Vista Village Resort & Spa property! Yep, we had a mommy and me morning while the boys hit the pool. It was a super relaxing morning and our “Tropical Island Massages” at the spa were divine. This was my daughter’s first spa experience and I have to say that she just might be hooked already. Yikes! What have I done?!? 🙂

little girl in Reflections Spa
mom and daughter at the spa

Orlando ICON Park

After our lazy Sunday morning, we headed to the ICON PARK retail, dining and entertainment complex.

Madame Tussauds Orlando

We started with a visit to the Madame Tussauds Orlando. Believe it or not, this was our first wax museum visit. Mr. Gizmo wasn’t too excited to tour Madame Tussauds but I just don’t think he knew what to expect.

“Why do I want to see wax statues of people?” he asked.

I think he was referring to the old school wax statues that were just bad. This place was totally different. It was crazy how life-like these wax creations were. Seriously, if you didn’t look closely, you’d swear I was hanging out with Jimmy Fallon and Oprah.

Hollie meeting jimmy fallon
hollie meeting Oprah Winfrey
three kids on the moon

This place was so cool that even Mr. Gizmo was impressed. Definitely worth a visit if you are visiting Orlando!

The Wheel at ICON Park

Our next activity was The Wheel at ICON Park. This is a 400-foot-tall observation wheel which is like a gigantic ferris wheel but you are enclosed in an observation car and can see across the horizon to check out much of Orlando from the air.

Orlando Eye

The entire family thought The Wheel at ICON Park was super cool. It was not a busy afternoon so we lucked out with our own private car and the entire ride lasted about 20-30 minutes.

mom dad and boy in the orlando eye

We stopped for lunch at Shake Shack because it’s one of my favorite places to visit in NYC and I wanted to share that with the family. How can you say no to that, right?!?

Shake Shack burger and fries

Sea Life Aquarium

Next, we were on to the SEA LIFE Aquarium. Right next door to The Wheel, SEA LIFE is fun aquarium filled with all types of sea life that the kids loved. With tons of educational information on the fish, turtles and other animals, this was a great visit to learn a little extra. Plus, since it was a hot day, it was a nice break from the heat! As a matter of fact, our whole visit to I-Drive 360 was a great break from the Florida summer heat since much of it is inside.

kids at the Sea Life Aquarium
little boy and little girl at aquarium

Medieval Times Dinner Show

That wasn’t it for our day though! We headed to Medieval Times Dinner Show that evening for the kids’ first visit. I had been too Medieval Times in California and Illinois and I wanted to share the fun that is this 11th century European-style castle with the kids. With the interior displays of medieval artifacts, and the thrilling show with knights, horses and even a king and queen, this was a visit that my kids adored.

Medieval Times Orlando
three kids outside medieval times

The kids had the best time cheering for their red knight and were super excited with their knight won the entire battle. If you are looking for something to do in the evening that is much more than dinner, we couldn’t recommend Medieval Times enough. We had a fantastic time!

kids cheering at Medieval Times

The sword fighting and the photos with the king rounded out our visit to Orlando!

kids with king at Medieval Times

Stay tuned for our next article on our next stop in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast!

For more information on all the great places and activities that Florida has to offer, go to VISIT FLORIDA.


How much does The Wheel at ICON Park cost?

$27.99 for adults.
$22.99 for children

What is there to do in Orlando besides Disney and Universal?

Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
Bok Tower Gardens
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Crystal River Watersports
Fun Spot America Theme Parks
Giraffe Ranch
Hollywood Drive-In Golf at Universal CityWalk
Kissimmee Swamp Tours
Orlando Balloon Rides
Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park

How much is admission to the Sea Life Aquarium Orlando?

$31.95 for adults.
$26.95 kids (ages 3-12)
Free for kids 2 and under


San Diego Places to Visit

Los Angeles with Kids

Colorado Springs Family-Friendly Activities

Chattanooga with the Kids

Universal Orlando

Glacier National Park

Grand Palladium in Jamaica

*Disclosure: Thanks to Visit Florida for hosting our family on our journeys this week. As always, all thoughts, opinions and statements are our own.

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