2 Weeks in the Theme Park Capital of the World!

Back in September I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks on holiday in Orlando, Florida. It was never going to be a relaxing break, but with all the parks to visit, attractions to ride and shows to see, you wouldn’t want it to be!

Doctor Doom's Fearfall

Doctor Doom’s Fearfall

And we really hit the ground running. On the first full day in Orlando, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. What a park to start off with! With themed Islands including  Marvel Superhero Island, Toon Lagoon and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, It features some of the biggest thrill rides so it’s a real big hitter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a fantastic part of the park, even if the main  The ride was something different. A combination of motion simulator, flying ride and special effects show. The effects were impressive, but the constant, sometimes rapid, direction changes let it down. It’s worth it for the walk through the recreated Hogwarts Castle. And the surrounding area, a replica of Hoggsmeade was very impressive, with it’s on-theme shops and eateries.

Cinderella's Castle, Magic Kingdom

Cinderella’s Castle, Magic Kingdom

Next up was Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This park never gets old! No matter how old you are, you can’t help but love it. With it’s mix of themes – from the Wild West, to Future Land, everyone loves Disney. From the characters to the rides, and the world-famous parades, it is a must-do when in Florida. Staying late for the electric parade really rounded the day off. Disney also offers up a host of other parks. Animal Kingdom was as-ever amazing, with a mix of Disney magic and exotic animals to go along with a handful of rides. Hollywood Studios brings the films of Walt Disney to life, and EPCOT

Kennedy Space Centre is somewhere I have a real passion for. It may not be a theme park, but it brings a whole other experience. Seeing the Rocket Garden is a spectacle in itself. Walking in amongst full size rockets, either standing full height or laid down, you get a real sense of the enormity of these stunning works of engineering. We took a tour which is always an eye-opener, hopping on a bus to see parts of the complex. The tour included a stop at the now-disused shuttle launch pads. These imposing metal structures loomed high above as we stood in their shadow.  A range of birds, including vultures, circled the towers ominously as you get a feel for how big a shuttle must have been. A trip around the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) was a highlight of the tour, getting to see this immense building where the shuttle vehicle was set up with the fuel tank and rockets. A stop at the Saturn V building allows a fantastic opportunity to see a full size Saturn V class rocket separated in to its main parts. The Space Shuttle Atlantis experience started off with a cinematic presentation about the conception, from design to final implementation, of the shuttle programme. As the screen faded to a black backdrop filled with stars, it became translucent allowing a glimpse of the Atlantis shuttle. What an impressive site as the screen raises and I moved forward to see this feat of technology, taking man to the stars. I spent a lot of time lost in thought viewing this majestic creation, before heading to the Atlantis Experience – a simulator-type attraction allowing riders the chance to see what a shuttle launch and re-entry would have been like.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the holiday was a day spent at Discovery Cove. The concept of this park is fantastic. In the heart of Orlando, close to the Universal and SeaWorld parks, it somehow manages to be an oasis of peace. The all inclusive set up including breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks just made the day all the more relaxing. Starting the day with a dolphin experience is something I will never forget. Spending half an hour in the water with these fascinating animals, we were introduced to two dolphins, taught a lot about them, before being taken on an unforgettable swim being towed by one of them. The rest of the day was spent swimming in the warm waters of the lazy river, the cold waters of a lagoon teeming with tropical fish and rays, and feeding a rainbow cascade of tropical birds.

I have been lucky enough to visit Orlando a number of times now, and it never ceases to amaze and astound. There is always something new, and the feeling of excitement as you walk through the gates of the parks and attractions is second to none!

Looking forward to 2 weeks in the Sunshine State!

So with all this warm weather, I was happily reminded that 6 weeks today I will be jetting off on my holidays for two weeks of fun in the roller coaster capital of the world – Orlando, Florida. It’s the perfect place to let your inner child loose, put yourself into your favourite films or get up close to animals of all kinds.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida

For family-friendly fun, the parks of Walt Disney World Resort are a must. At Disney’s Magic Kingdom explore the magic and charm of all things Disney. Explore some of his most-loved creations, old and new. Rides and attractions cater to all ages, from the gentler rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean to the thrills of Space Mountain. Throw in a range of shows, more Disney characters than you can shake a stick at and their well-known parades, and Magic Kingdom is a great family favourite. A trip to Hollywood Studios takes you on a tour through the movies. Plunge 13-stories in the Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror. Race through the streets of New York to rock and roll riffs on Aerosmith’s Rock and Rollercoaster. For high-octane thrills take a seat and enjoy the Lights, Motors, Action! car stunt show, or enjoy the evening spectacle of Fantasmic-based on Disney’s classic Fantasia. Travel the world at Animal Kingdom, visiting animals in realistic habitats, or taking a trip on a runaway train on Expedition Everest. And for a taste of Walt Disney’s vision for the future, there’s EPCOT.

Islands of Adventure

Islands of Adventure

Universal Resort offers up two parks. Universal Studios serves up a smorgasbord of film-themed rides, attractions and parades. 3D and 4D attractions join the line up with rides based around The Simpsons, Terminator 2, Shrek, and most-recently the minions of Despicable Me and the Transformers. There’s a range of options for the little ones including a flight on bicycles in the E.T. Adventure. Shows give you a feel for the movies made by Universal, such as the Indiana Jones stunt show. A couple of roller coasters offer up thrills too, but for the real screams, head across the way to the Islands of Adventure park. Here you will find the park split out in to islands – each with their own themes – from Marvel Island through to The Wizzarding World of Harry Potter. Explore the world of your favourite Marvel superheroes at Marvel Island with a ride on the Incredible Hulk Coaster, or take a trip on a 3D ride with Spiderman. Take a boat ride back in time on the Jurassic Park Riverboat Ride. In the Wizzarding World of Harry Potter, pay a visit to Olivander’s to find your wand, or enter Hogwarts Castle. And for the little ones, bring the thrills down a notch or two at Seuss Landing – a world all based around the imagination of Dr Seuss. And if two parks isn’t enough, the City Walk offers up a range of clubs, bars and restaurants, and is currently home to the Blue Man Group!

Dolphins at Discovery Cove

Dolphins at Discovery Cove

For something a bit different, head over to SeaWorld. Mixing roller coasters, shows, rides and up-close encounters with sea life, SeaWorld offers a slower pace. Enjoy spectacular shows that showcase the amazing abilities of killer whales and dolphins, learn about the conservation of local wildlife such as the manatee, or get up close while feeding rays. Throw in a couple of roller coasters and this park has a little of something for all. For a once in a lifetime experience, SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove should tick the boxes. Spend the day snorkelling in reefs with tropical fish and rays, and see the tropical birds in the aviary. Take the experience to the next level, and book a ticket including the opportunity to slip into the water and swim with dolphins.
So Orlando may have deservedly earned itself the title of Roller Coaster Capital of the World, but it offers so much to suit everyone. And no matter what your preference, it’s the one place everyone lets their inner child loose for fun under the sun!

Everyone lets their inner child out now and again, whether it’s in the theme parks of Disney, through a favourite film, or game. How do you set your inner child free? Use the comments to let me know! 🙂

A hello from Kryten and some high-flying photography!

So the weekend took me on a great day out in London! A great place to visit, with so many new things to see every time you go.

This trip started by indulging my inner geek. A trip to Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue started the day with a massive test in self restraint. I have never seen so many comic book/super hero figures and asorted paraphenalia! Having managed to keep cash and cards firmly in my wallet, it was on to the real purpose of the visit, a book signing by Robert Llewellyn – famed as the man behind Red Dwarf’s Kryten. Friendly and accommodating, Llewellyn certainly made parting with money for his books and queueing to meet him seem worth while.

Onwards, to Tower Hill Station. Upon surfacing, the view moves from Tower Bridge over the Tower DSC00074aof London, and then to take in the immense and towering structure of The Shard – my surprise destination of the day. After a short stroll down and round the Tower to St Katherine’s Dock, time for a brief sit down and a coffee and croissant. Break time over, onwards over the Tower Bridge, taking in the views of The Shard, HMS Belfast and the Tower of London, and plenty of photo opps for me!

 

 

Arriving at The View from The Shard, security is cleared, and it’s time for the two-lift ride from floor 1 to 33, and 33 to 68 in an ear-popping sub-DSC00158minute ascent! A walk up one flight of stairs to floor 69, and the stunning long-range views over the city roll out on all four sides of this immense 1016ft glass and metal structure. With a 5pm visit, we got to enjoy sunset at such a height. A walk up a few more flights of stairs to floor 72 offers a slightly higher vantage, with the open-air aspect afforded by this fantastic piece of engineering and architecture.

Tired but happy, once again, a day in London always has something new to show!