Answers from Our Experts (3)
If there were only one activity you had to do in Orlando, would you know what it is? There are a lot to choose from but when it comes down to the wire, the one definite thing to do is go to Disney World. As cliché and typical as that may seem, it’s the crème de la crème of what makes Orlando, "Orlando.”
Orlando isn’t known for Disney because there’s nothing else to do here. It’s known for this theme park because it is, indeed, a memorable experience that can be enjoyed by all. Disney World has several theme parks such as Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, amongst others. Families and individuals can spend a full day at Disney World and get a real “Orlando” experience. You can literally eat, sleep and play right on Disney property — you’d technically never have to leave the premises and you can expect a truly “magical” time.
In a city filled with "must-do" activities, picking which ones should make your list can be a difficult task. At Universal's Islands of Adventure, however, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one must-do activity that should make every Orlando itinerary.
Easily the most popular attraction in Orlando in recent years, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter transports guests into the streets of Hogsmeade Village. Here you'll find a re-creation of The Three Broomsticks pub, Dervish and Banges, and Zonko's Joke Shop. Don't miss a visit to Olivander's Wand Shop, where one young wizard is selected from the crowd to be fitted for his or her first wand.
Of course, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is more than just expertly themed shops. This magical land also features some of the most exhilarating rides in Orlando. The Dragon Challenge roller coaster sends you into the first task of the Tri-Wizard Challenge with sweeping inverted loops and the speed of a Nimbus 2000. The highlight of the rides in the Wizarding World is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, where a visit to Hogwarts Castle turns into a game of Quidditch and an encounter with the dreaded Dementors. In the opinion of yours truly, Forbidden Journey is the best attraction in Orlando and shouldn't be missed under any circumstances.
Discovery Cove has and probably always will be my absolute favorite Orlando attraction, and there are a few reasons for this. First, there’s no better place to stay cool during the hot summer months when theme park hopping can be pretty unbearable on 100-degree days. At Discovery Cove, guests spend the entire day swimming in the Grand Reef, floating along the lazy river, and relaxing on the sandy beach.
To chalk it up as another area water park though would do it such an injustice because Discovery Cove is so much more. It features dolphin encounters, an underwater walking trek called SeaVenture, and an area designed for face-to-face encounters with otters and marmosets. There’s an amazing swimming pool called Serenity Bay that is surrounded by towering palm trees, some with hammocks strung between them. There’s also an aviary filled with friendly birds that will often land on guests.
Add to this that the entire day is an all-inclusive experience, which means once you pay admission, everything is covered including meals, parking, drinks, snacks, sunscreen, wet suits, and masks and a snorkel you get to take home with you.
Another perk is that Discovery Cove only allows 1,300 visitors a day, which means it never feels packed. You can get there as soon as it opens and then eat and play until it closes, never having to whip out your wallet again after paying admission. Most people book their spots online weeks ahead of time to avoid the disappointment of a sell-out day or week.
I’m not sure there is anything else like Discovery Cove in the country, and although it’s on the pricier side when compared to other theme park tickets, it’s definitely the most unforgettable experience Orlando has to offer.