As you might imagine, as one of the largest cities in Florida and referred to as the entertainment capital, Orlando is filled with a myriad of fun things to do. Since we all pretty much know that Orlando is the Kingdom (the Magic Kingdom) of theme parks, let’s start out in a familiar place…Disney World. It’s not just for little kids. This theme park, with almost 30 themed resorts, is definitely not your grandma’s Disney World! No offense Nana.
Of course there are the classics (yet very updated) Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain rides; but there is also Rivers of Light, which is Animal Kingdom’s spectacular night light show. Guests of any age can visit Disney’s Bibbidi Boppiti Boutique to be transformed into a Disney Princess, pirate or cowpoke; and the Chip ‘n’ Dale Campfire Sing-a-long is a Disney World guest favorite during the winter season. Rent a boat, play a round of golf or take a walk on the boardwalk. There’s something for everyone in Disney World.
Then, as they say, “Vacation like You Mean It” and visit Universal Studios and its Universal Islands of Adventure expansion. Epcot is also amazing. If you find time to make it there, don’t miss Soarin’, Epcot’s epic ride around the world that uses amazing special effects to make you actually feel like you are flying!
Orlando is also a city brimming with festive events, from theme park celebrations throughout the year, to holiday parties, cultural happenings and outdoor festivals. Plus, the Amway Center in Orlando is always good for concerts performed by some of our country’s most talented singers and musicians or some nail-biting hoops; and it also sports a nightclub on its rooftop.
If it’s the outdoors that floats your boat, rent a swan-shaped paddle boat and cruise Lake Eola, ride the trails on a Florida Wildlife Horseback Safari or stroll Leu Gardens, which is 50 acres of botanical bliss.
Indoors, you can create your own custom crayon at the Crayola Factory, shop Orlando’s outlets or hunt zombies during a live action experience at Zombie Outbreak.
Virtual tours and experiences are another way you can explore Orlando. Zipline over alligators (Maybe an activity you would only want to experience virtually anyway?) or stand right in front of Cinderella’s Castle. There’s virtually anything you can imagine!
And let me tell you, if you haven’t been to SeaWorld in a while, you haven’t been to SeaWorld! The roster in that place is as long as Santa’s naughty list for that Jason guy with the hockey mask. There are live shows and presentations including the Sea Otter Spotlight and the Orca Encounter; and animal experiences from amazing underwater viewing aquariums to interactive dolphin adventures. Children enjoy Sesame Street Land, which was voted the Best New Amusement Park Attraction by USA Today magazine readers. There are thrilling roller coaster rides like The Kraken and water rides including Journey to Atlantis, as well as a 360 degree theater Turtle Trek presentation, a 400-foot Sky Tower and spectacular fireworks displays.
Ok, let’s talk food! Orlando is a place where no one goes hungry and Orlando’s Restaurant Row features a wonderful sampling of some of Orlando’s most acclaimed eateries, including Eddie V’s Prime Seafood where you can munch on a crab cake or a banana cake – both baked to perfection; The H Orlando, where you can order caviar from the late night menu a H Orlando; and Dragonfly – Robata Grill, which offers a la carte sushi and other delicacies.
Universal City Walk, described by foodies as “The Epicenter of Awesome,” also includes a remarkable variety of restaurants, such as the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Maxine’s on Shine, Domu, the Bull & Bear, the innovative Asian fusion of Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, and Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar run by author and recipient of the James Beard Award for Best Chef Guillermo Pernot.
Downtown Orlando, with its expansive skyline, offers a vibrant entertainment district surrounded by trendy neighborhoods, as well as fantastic – you guessed it – restaurants, including Artisan’s Table, The Bohem and Reyers Mezcaleria. You may also want to try Epcot’s World Showcase, where you can choose from traditional foods from nine countries or Chef Norman Van Aken’s Norman’s on Orlando’s Restaurant Row.
If you like a little entertainment with your dinner, Orlando’s dinner shows are lots of fun. For instance, Mango’s Tropical Café is a sidewalk café with a second floor veranda and world famous dancers; Wantilan Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort is an all-you-can-eat tropical buffet, complete with a roasted pig as well as hula and fire dancers; Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament offers thrilling swordplay amidst tantalizing turkey legs; and Capone’s Dinner Show will blow you away with singing, dancing and comedy in a speakeasy simply made for mobsters.
Orlando hosts cultural events such as the Florida Film Festival and the Florida Music Festival, while its cultural attractions include numerous world-class art galleries and a multitude of museums, such as Orlando Museum of Art, the National Vietnam War Museum, A Titanic Artifact Exhibit, A Dinosaur Museum, Orlando Fire Museum, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, the Orlando Science Center and WonderWorks, which combines education and entertainment in more than 100 hands-on exhibits.
If you’re looking for some nighttime fun, try out the 4DX IMAX Theater at Pointe Orlando or the trendy nightclub scene on Universal City Walk. You can take in a Broadway Show or a live musical performance at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts or check out local improv at the SAK Comedy Club; and Orlando’s Convention Area has it all, from sports bars to dueling piano bars, lively night spots, fabulous resorts and dining options including Blake Shelton’s Ole Red, where cold drinks, live music and American fare are all served with a smile.
Orlando is a convenient drive from Velocity Clinical Research in Edgewater. Velocity Clinical Research is dedicated to the advancement of medicine by discovering better ways to prevent, treat, control and diagnose illnesses. If you are interested in becoming a clinical study volunteer, call Velocity Clinical Research for more information at 386-428-7730 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.