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FlyingMOm

Other Than Disney World....What to Do?

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We are considering a trip to Orlando, Fl during low-season. We will spend one day, maybe two at Walt Disney World out of our 8 days there. Any other suggestions?

 

Kennedy Space Center?

Holy Land Experience?

 

We can't afford to go to Sea World.

 

Feed the alligator type place?

 

We could use recommendations of what you loved & also what wasn't worth it. Thanks!

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We went to Orlando a year or so ago. We loved the Kennedy Space Center - it was our one other "big" outing besides Disney World. But we realized that you get "more bang for our buck" by adding days at WDW rather than going to a completely new place. So we did 6 days at WDW, then several days at the beach and one at KSC.

 

Be prepared - all of these places are pricey! So while we'd like to do Holy Land Experience and Sea World, we decided to save those for another time.

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Kennedy is likely to cost about as much as another day at WDW or a day at Sea World, and it's not right in Orlando.

 

Keeping in mind that I am not in the target audience for The Holy Land Experience, I will say that I've been there a couple of times and thought there really wasn't much to do.

 

In your situation, I might consider looking away from tourist attractions and investigating things like state parks. The speficic time of year you'd be in the area would affect my recommendations for which ones, but I will say that Tibet-Butler nature preserve, which is right near the WDW property, is lovely year round. They have wonderful nature trails, and admission is either free or something like $1 per person.

 

In warm weather (and I'm assuming you will have a vehicle), I'm a fan of tubing at Kelly Park, which is about 20-30 minutes north of downtown Orlando (farther if you're staying near WDW). The water comes from a natural spring and is cold all year, but in warm weather it's a lovely, inexpensive day. We usually rent tubes from one of several stores just outside the gate for about $5 per person, and park admission last time I went was under $10 per carload of people. They have picnic facilities as well as a snack bar (that isn't always open, depending on the season).

 

In cooler weather, again assuming transportation isn't a problem, I always suggest Blue Springs park. It's about 45 - 60 minutes north of Orlando. Manatees come from all over the area to hang out in the warm water there when it is cold elsewhere, and there's a lovely boardwalk you can wander along and watch them swim and just be manatees.

 

I believe both Kelly Park and Blue Springs also have playground areas.

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Only a DAY or two at Disney?!??? Nooooo!!! You will love Epcot, Kelly (this is Kristi :) ) I would plan for at least one day at Epcot and one day at Magic Kingdom at the VERY least. I would recommend more like 5 days in the parks, 4 in parks and 1 in Disney waterpark with 1 day at Gatorland.

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Also, I'm wondering if you've been to WDW already? If not, I'd strongly suggest reconsidering the very short amount of time you've allocated. Remember that there are four primary theme parks, each of which takes at least a day to do well. I would be concerned, if this is your first visit, that you (and especially your kids) might find it a little frustrating/disappointing to be aware of all of the things you don't have time to do.

 

If you are set on only two days, I think the only way to do that is to pick the two parks you think are most likely to be of most interest to your kids and do a full day at each one. With such a short window, I would not encourage any park hopping, because you will lose a fair amount of time moving from place to place.

 

And, as others have mentioned, adding a third day to your WDW tickets is likely to be cheaper than buying a single day admission to any other similarly-sized attraction.

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I found that when we go we do all week at Disney or we do a few other places....and the tickets end up being the same for the week. Disney is cheaper the more days you go. Universal is the same way. I was shocked when we went last time to Universal how much ONE day was. It was cheaper to go multiple days just like Disney. Sea World is expensive but if you group with busch Gardens you can get a good deal on multiples days between the 2 parks.

 

If you do the Space Center....get a membership and then you buy the other tickets. It ended up saving us $10-20 when we did it that way. And I got a cool magazine that year :-)

 

Check Undercover Tourist for tickets. They often have a free day option for the major places down there. Some years Disney is buy 4 get 1 day but last time we got buy 6 get 1 free. We didn't use all those days though, so I think the 4 day ticket was a better deal.

 

Legoland was cool but the rides are small and geared for small kids. And we walked all over a lot but didn't spend all day there. You can get good deals there. Legoclub magazine has free kid tickets.

 

Keep checking out Sea World though....I got good deals there in the past like a free kid tickets or special $65 thing with 2nd day free. That makes a good deal!

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Well, we definitely want to do Kennedy Space Center as we will be wrapping year 4 & will have just finished studying the space race, etc. We have family in the area and so we need to block off at least 2 days for visiting. I am open to adding days at WDW except that it is SO expensive. For our family of 6, tickets are a little over $1500 if we go for 5 days vs. 2 days. If someone knows of a cheaper place to purchase tickets, please let me know! Our kids are all young so we are not going to do park hopper tickets- just the MYW tickets. Love the park ideas- we've got two planned days "off" to let our youngers catch up on naps, etc. and give us all some downtime. The condo we are thinking of renting has it's own private mini-pool. We want to have at least 2 days to let the kids relax, swim, nap, etc.

 

Dh definitely wants to go feed the gators. Any other suggestions!

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Here are the kinds of things you can do in Epcot:

 

Obviously visit all of the countries which are EXQUISITE and expose your kids to the cuisines there, the different decor in each country, the history, Mexico has an awesome boat ride that is SO fun, there are elaborate gardens in each country (some people go to Epcot just for the gardens!), Norway also has a boat ride- not as elaborate as Mexico but still really fun. So it could take a whole day just to tour the countries. And don't miss out on the snow-cones in Japan!

 

Then at the front of Epcot is the "modern" world with all of the rides. We SO enjoyed the "Living with the Land" boat ride where it shows modern, amazing ways to garden, farm fish, etc. I rode that 4 or 5 times and there was hardly ever any wait. DD loved "Soarin" where you get to fly over California (I think it's California). Test Track is really fun, even my little boys enjoyed that one. There's a soda shop in Epcot called Club Cool where you can sample sodas from many different countries. In the middle of the ball is a really cool ride that takes you through history and ends in the space age. Ellen's Energy Adventure is really informative and cool. So, that's a full day that could be spent just at the front of Epcot in the "modern" world, and then another whole day touring all of the countries. Seriously, I think you all will love it there. :)

 

Last year we went in January and did free dining, which was amazing. Everything was taken care of and we got SO much food. I know it's expensive but it truly is worth every penny. The customer service, the atmosphere, everything at Disney is truly another world.

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Ooohhh, early May is wonderful!!!! Make time for pool time each day. The Harry P. Lew Gardens (I probably spelled that wrong) is very pretty. It is a botanical garden.

 

You could go to the Polynesian one of your non-park days and enjoy the Wishes fireworks show from their beach along the lake.

 

Lake Eola in Orlando is a nice park for chilling out. When I was there, the swans were pretty tame. I don't know if they are always around or not.

 

The Boardwalk area of WDW has some entertainment along the boards in the evening...and the weather should be great.

 

Off-site miniature golf is usually less expensive...but the Disney mini-golf areas are a hoot!

 

I know we've done some other things...I'll try to think of them.

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I think you've convinced me to spend at least one of our days at Epcot! :D

 

Here are the kinds of things you can do in Epcot:

 

Obviously visit all of the countries which are EXQUISITE and expose your kids to the cuisines there, the different decor in each country, the history, Mexico has an awesome boat ride that is SO fun, there are elaborate gardens in each country (some people go to Epcot just for the gardens!), Norway also has a boat ride- not as elaborate as Mexico but still really fun. So it could take a whole day just to tour the countries. And don't miss out on the snow-cones in Japan!

 

Then at the front of Epcot is the "modern" world with all of the rides. We SO enjoyed the "Living with the Land" boat ride where it shows modern, amazing ways to garden, farm fish, etc. I rode that 4 or 5 times and there was hardly ever any wait. DD loved "Soarin" where you get to fly over California (I think it's California). Test Track is really fun, even my little boys enjoyed that one. There's a soda shop in Epcot called Club Cool where you can sample sodas from many different countries. In the middle of the ball is a really cool ride that takes you through history and ends in the space age. Ellen's Energy Adventure is really informative and cool. So, that's a full day that could be spent just at the front of Epcot in the "modern" world, and then another whole day touring all of the countries. Seriously, I think you all will love it there. :)

 

Last year we went in January and did free dining, which was amazing. Everything was taken care of and we got SO much food. I know it's expensive but it truly is worth every penny. The customer service, the atmosphere, everything at Disney is truly another world.

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My absolute favorite place is Silver Springs in Ocala. It's about an hour and 15 minutes north of Orlando, but it's great. You can ride the glass-bottomed boats, which are totally cool, and you can hold a live alligator. Just a really neat park. it's billed as Florida's nature theme park. http://silversprings.com/

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We also enjoy Silver Springs. There is also a park (free) where you can swim with the Manatee. It's not more than an hour from Orlando. Gatorland is also really fun.

 

There is also a neat science museum on international drive, Wonder Works. You can usually find coupons for it in the free magazines you pick up at the restaurants around the area.

 

ETA I think I was thinking of Blue Springs park for the Manatee. It doesn't look like you're allowed to swim with them anymore though.

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My sister LOVED Fort Wilderness--the Disney Campground. Not sure if you need Disney tickets to get in or not but there is tons to do there.

 

My kids LOVED Arabian NIghts horse show but we are horse family. Tickets are really pricey though. The Medieval Times though was not nearly as good (in our opinion) for the same price.

 

I would see about adding days to Disney which might not be as expensive once you figure in tickets to other places, cost of gas/parking, etc.

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Blue springs won't likely have manatees in May. They do canoe and kayak rentals though and the park is a pretty park.

 

Do spend a day at the beach and spend a few hours especially leading up to sunset to drive around Cape Canaveral National Seashore. I could do that for hours and hours. Take binoculars a camera and a picnic. There is tons of wildlife including gators. The driving speeds are maybe 15-20 mph and there are miles and miles of road. There is also beach access although be warned there is 1 beach area that is clothing optional.

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The least expensive option would be to add more days to your disney tickets. All of the other parks (Sea World, Universal, Busch Gardens, etc) are similar in pricing structure, especially when it comes to one day admission. Kennedy is also not cheap. At Disney, the more days you do, the cheaper it is per day. And there's definitely more than enough to see! If you're planning an 8 day stay, I'd get at least 4 day passes. That will enable you to see all 4 parks if you like, or revisit your favorite after seeing a couple of others. And on the off days, you can hang out at the resort, go to Downtown Disney, play mini golf, take it easy. But you won't be sorry for spending more on your tickets, because you will be able to do so much more. Don't worry about park hopping, as that is an added expense. Just pick a park for each day and enjoy it to the max.

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There is a huge nature preserve on Merritt Island by Kennedy. Haven't been yet -- on our list for this year. Also Dixie Crossroads in Titusville is really fun, the kids meals are pretty big and 3.50 each I think. I used to get a bowl of yummy soup and eat the kids extras! So if you need to eat out it is a great place.

 

 

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We are considering orange picking!!

Groupon has a deal on this place right now - sorry typing while nursing baby and can't link.

 

Showcase of Citrus

 

Their website is down right now. But i've heard good things about it. Maybe someone here can give us the scoop??

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Kennedy is likely to cost about as much as another day at WDW or a day at Sea World, and it's not right in Orlando.

 

Keeping in mind that I am not in the target audience for The Holy Land Experience, I will say that I've been there a couple of times and thought there really wasn't much to do.

 

In your situation, I might consider looking away from tourist attractions and investigating things like state parks. The speficic time of year you'd be in the area would affect my recommendations for which ones, but I will say that Tibet-Butler nature preserve, which is right near the WDW property, is lovely year round. They have wonderful nature trails, and admission is either free or something like $1 per person.

 

In warm weather (and I'm assuming you will have a vehicle), I'm a fan of tubing at Kelly Park, which is about 20-30 minutes north of downtown Orlando (farther if you're staying near WDW). The water comes from a natural spring and is cold all year, but in warm weather it's a lovely, inexpensive day. We usually rent tubes from one of several stores just outside the gate for about $5 per person, and park admission last time I went was under $10 per carload of people. They have picnic facilities as well as a snack bar (that isn't always open, depending on the season).

 

In cooler weather, again assuming transportation isn't a problem, I always suggest Blue Springs park. It's about 45 - 60 minutes north of Orlando. Manatees come from all over the area to hang out in the warm water there when it is cold elsewhere, and there's a lovely boardwalk you can wander along and watch them swim and just be manatees.

 

I believe both Kelly Park and Blue Springs also have playground areas.

 

I agree, and was going to suggest both those places,for the same reason. Also there is the Orlando Science Center, which is more expensive than a state park but cheaper than a theme park by far. www.osc.org Not far from there is the Orange County History Center and several art museums.

 

As for feeding hte alligators Gatorland would be the place for that. It is kind of fun, especially for kids that haven't seen gators much before.

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I agree, and was going to suggest both those places,for the same reason. Also there is the Orlando Science Center, which is more expensive than a state park but cheaper than a theme park by far. www.osc.org Not far from there is the Orange County History Center and several art museums.

 

As for feeding hte alligators Gatorland would be the place for that. It is kind of fun, especially for kids that haven't seen gators much before.

 

I thought of OSC, too, but not until after I'd posted. (Funny, since my son volunteers there several times a month. You'd think it would be at the top of my mental list.)

 

In addition to the typical science museum stuff, they work with Gatorland to foster young alligators, keeping them on site until they are a year or two old. So, you can stand around and watch the baby gators swim to your heart's content. And, although it's a spectator thing rather than interactive, you can watch the gators being fed once or twice a day.

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Well, we definitely want to do Kennedy Space Center as we will be wrapping year 4 & will have just finished studying the space race, etc. We have family in the area and so we need to block off at least 2 days for visiting. I am open to adding days at WDW except that it is SO expensive. For our family of 6, tickets are a little over $1500 if we go for 5 days vs. 2 days. If someone knows of a cheaper place to purchase tickets, please let me know! Our kids are all young so we are not going to do park hopper tickets- just the MYW tickets. Love the park ideas- we've got two planned days "off" to let our youngers catch up on naps, etc. and give us all some downtime. The condo we are thinking of renting has it's own private mini-pool. We want to have at least 2 days to let the kids relax, swim, nap, etc.

 

Dh definitely wants to go feed the gators. Any other suggestions!

 

A thought, rather than doing a park with gators, like gatorland, there are a few other options. One is a minigolf place in Altamonte (and there are other locations I think) that also has an area where you "fish" for gators. You get hot dogs and put them on a line (no hook..there is a clip I think) and hang them over for the gators to get. I cannot think of the name, someone else that lives here should know where I mean.

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Here are a few gems that give you a taste for the real Florida and the off-the-beaten-path Florida:

 

Wekiva Springs State Park -- located about 30 northeast from Disney (in greater Orlando area). You can canoe and picnic.

 

Orlando Museum of Science -- in Winter Park.

 

Shopping in downtown Winter Park. Think a taste of Palm Beach under live oaks with a Southern accent.

 

Leu Gardens is a beautiful, botanical garden.

 

 

The Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve down in Kissimmee. I haven't been since this was set aside as a preserve, but from what I've heard, this preserves some of the best of Old Florida wild cattle country.

 

If you're driving down and want a pit-stop in Gainesville, there is the Florida Museum of Natural History. The museum is free, the butterfly pavillion is gorgeous but costs.

 

If you interested in Christian missions, you might enjoy the Wycliff Discovery Center.

 

The Orange County History Museum is new, but on our list for a trip to Orlando.

 

Winter Garden is a quaint town near Disney. The brick street downtown is still lined by small shops and restaurants and if your dh or dc are car afficionadoes, they have a great car show (free) once a month.

 

There are lots of boat tours, both scenic and airboat tours, that will take you through the several chains of lakes around Orlando or through old Florida alligator swamp. Here's one, but you can google for lots of others. http://www.scenicboattours.com/home.htm

 

And some factory tours in the area (some closer to Disney than others)(I would not recommend the Whetstone factory St. Augustine as the factory moved and is much smaller and the tour is no longer free.)

 

A day in St. Augustine if you are driving via I-95 is a must! Two old forts, St. George Street, and many other sites of the original settling of Florida.

 

LegoLand is fun, but might be anti-climactic after Disney unless your children are really young and REALLY like Legos. Legoland is a short hour from Disney.

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My absolute favorite place is Silver Springs in Ocala. It's about an hour and 15 minutes north of Orlando, but it's great. You can ride the glass-bottomed boats, which are totally cool, and you can hold a live alligator. Just a really neat park. it's billed as Florida's nature theme park. http://silversprings.com/

 

Oh adding that to my list.

 

Thank you.

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