A travel journal
to Orlando by C.Kowalczik
Quote: When I ask you to think of a vacation in Orlando, Florida, what is the first thing that comes to mind? That is what most people would say, but did you know there is so much more to see and do other than Disney?
If you are looking to spend a day away from the Disney theme parks, there are many things that you can spend a day doing within a short drive from anywhere you are staying in the Orlando area.
On International Drive, within walking distance from each other, there is Ripley's Believe It or Not, where there are the unbelievable, the inexplicable, and the one-of-a-kind collectibles, and WonderWorks, central Florida's only attraction that is in an UPSIDE-DOWN building. There are more than 100 hands-on interactive experiences for the entire family.
In the summer time, there is nothing better than spending a day getting wet in one of Orlando’s (non-Disney) water parks. The bigger of the water parks is on International Drive, and there you will find Wet 'n' Wild with plenty of water slides and rides to keep you occupied all day. Or drive a few minutes to route 192 and Water Mania.
If shopping is more of what you are looking for, you can spend the day in the Florida Mall on Orange Blossom Trail or maybe save a few dollars by visiting the Florida Factory Outlet Stores, where you will find more than 170 different stores offering name-brand items at discounted prices. There is also great shopping at City Walk near Universal Studios.
Hop on the Bee Line to Cocoa Beach, where you can experience the Kennedy Space Center. It is the only place on Earth where you can tour NASA's launch areas, see giant space rockets, and even view a space shuttle launch. Or maybe take in some animals at the Brevard Zoo. Over 480 animals representing 130 different species from Latin America, Native Florida, Asia, and Australia live on over 56 acres in Melbourne.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to plan ahead when attempting to get the most from your vacation. Start your planning by visiting some of the Orlando-area websites to get a good idea of things to do, visitor resources, and discounts on admission tickets.
If you have the time, it may benefit you to see what the Orlando area has to offer in timeshare ownership opportunities. More often than not, the timeshare companies offer fantastic discounts to area attractions for simply taking their 90-minute tour. I say "if you have the time" because these tours are usually more than 90 minutes in length, but if you can fit in two different tours in a day, you can save hundreds of dollars to spend tomorrow. They even make it easy to find these good discounts by advertising at visitor centers and nearly every strip mall that contains stores selling souvenirs.
Depending on what your plans are while in the Orlando area, you should determine what mode of transportation you need. We like to travel around a lot to different restaurants, theme parks, stores, what have you. So we like to rent a car. You can find many well-known car rental pick-up and drop-off areas directly in the Orlando International Airport.
We have found that we always have the best success with Dollar Rent-A-Car or with Budget Rent-A-Car, where we usually get a free upgrade when we make our reservation with our MasterCard. The last two times we went to Orlando, we got a 7-day intermediate (upgraded to a full size) rental for approximately .< /P>
Attraction | "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!"
Robert Leroy Ripley was born in Santa Rosa California in 1890, and after his father’s death in 1905, he soon quit school to help support his mother, brother, and sister. In 1909, he began drawing for the San Francisco Chronicle but moved to New York to work for the Globe in 1912. At age 24, he took his first trip to Europe and began writing journals of his trips that were later published in 1929 with his first "Believe It or Not" book, which was translated into 17 different languages and read by more than 80 million readers. In 1931, he published his second book, and by 1933, Ripley opened the very first "Believe It Or Not" Odditiorium in Chicago, Illinois. It is hard to believe that in 2005, we are still astonished by the findings Ripley made during his world travels nearly 100 years ago. With 26 different locations in eight different countries, I would say that Ripley’s findings will continue to captivate people for another 100 years.
The Orlando location is located on International Drive and open 365 days a year from 9am to 1am. The last ticket is sold at midnight, as it will take you an average of 1 to 2 hours to tour the exhibits. The ticket prices at the door are $18 for adults and $13 for children ages 4 to 12 (Florida tax included). If you plan ahead and do some research, you can find some discounted tickets on the Internet.
From the outside, it looks and sounds like the building is sinking into the ground, but once inside, you are introduced to the unbelievable, the inexplicable, and one-of-a-kind collectables. For instance, CNN News, Good Morning America, and Unsolved Mysteries have all reported that hundreds of people have claimed that they soon became pregnant after touching the African Fertility Statues . The two statues were bought from the Baule tribe for about $1,000 each and stand about 4 feet high. Think it is possible? Maybe a look at the Papuan Cannibal Trophy Skull from the headhunters of New Guinea will help change your mind. Still not convinced? Ripley’s also has some exhibits that leave you asking how and why? For instance, the Mona Lisa – toast art is comprised of 66 pieces of ordinary white toast making up a replica of Da Vinci’s classic, and there is the three-fourth-inch wooden plank with 5,110 coats of paint on it, now an astonishing 7 inches thick. One of my favorites is the 13-foot, authentically detailed model of a 1907 Silver Ghost Rolls Royce made of 1,016,711 matchsticks and 63 pints of glue. Can you believe that someone would spend 4,609 hours in 15 months to build a model complete with moving parts of wooden matchsticks? Believe it, because it is true and on display in Orlando, Florida.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 17, 2005
Ripley's Believe It Or Not Orlando Museum
8201 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819
+1 407 345 0501
The Orlando location is located on International Drive and open daily from 9am to midnight. The ticket prices at the door are $18.95 for adults and $12.95 for children ages 4 to 12 (Florida tax not included). The WonderWorks web site does offer a printable coupon for $1.50 off admission. Be sure to allow pop-ups.
From the outside, this upside-down building is something to really look at, but once inside, you are introduced to over 100 interactive exhibits. Orlandoinfo.com calls WonderWorks "an amusement park for the mind."
Inside the building, you can experience everything from a man-made 5.3 San Francisco earthquake to creating your own roller coaster, then riding it in a 360-degree pitch-and-roll virtual ride. As I mentioned before, they have a speed pitch exhibit. This is nothing more than a bullpen set up inside with a radar gun. It gives some of us former baseball players a chance to remember that we are not as young as we once were. Be careful where you lay down, though - you may be sleeping on 3,500 sharp nails in the "Bed of Nails" exhibit. And the entire trip would not be complete without visiting the one experiment that brought the entire laboratory to us in the first place, "Tornado."
This is a destination that people of all ages can enjoy. From young to "not so young anymore," you are sure to have a wonderful experience while at WonderWorks!
Please review our other "Orlando Tourist Destinations Other Than Disney"
journals: Ripley's Believe It Or Not! and Wet 'n Wild.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 17, 2005
9067 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819
+1 407 351 8800
Wet ‘n Wild is located at 6200 International Drive. The park is open year round, but during the off-peak seasons, the operating times will differ. Admission at the gate is $33.95 for adults and $27.95 for children ages 3–9. However, if you want to purchase your tickets in advance, you can search the internet to find some good discounts. I have found that CnCTravel.com’s Discounted Wet ‘n Wild Tickets is a great place to save some money.
The best two pieces of advice I can offer to those of you visiting Wet ‘n Wild would be:
So what kind of thrill rides does Wet ‘n Wild offer? Like I said earlier, my favorite is the BOMB BAY. I often refer to this ride as the "Der Stuka" because years ago, I believe that is what it was called. At any rate, this ride is 76 feet high, and it drops you like a bomb from a plane, down a slide that is near vertical. (HINT: There are a lot of guys at the bottom of this ride.) It took a few years before I gathered the courage to tackle this ride, and even when I did, they had to push me down from the top.
Wet ‘n Wild also offers multi-person rides, like the 500-foot-long BLACK HOLE.
Wet ‘n Wild also offers a section just for kids.
When I was younger, I used to visit this park more often than I do now, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something for everyone to enjoy. I don’t know if this will work anymore, but I used to avoid parking fees by parking at Wendy’s up the street and walking to the park.
Please review our other "Orlando Tourist Destinations Other Than Disney"
journals: Ripley's Believe It Or Not! and WonderWorks.
Wet 'N Wild
6200 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819
+1 407 351 1800; +1
I have done a lot of traveling in the 32 years I have been alive and been to many wonderful places, some of which I get to write journals about. I have had some okay trips, some really good trips, and some "I can’t wait to do it again" trips. However, if there is one thing I have learned in my travels, it is that you make your own experiences and vacation what it is.
You can make an okay experience one to remember by proper planning. We have found that the best two way to plan a memorable vacation are to spend hours researching and trying to find the lowest fares when booking on the Internet or giving all of your vacation likes and dislikes to a travel planner and letting them do the work for you. RCI has their own travel department, but I have to say that we have found their fees and prices less competitive than members would think.
WOMAN’S DAY magazine said,
In the past, we have stayed up late and spent several hours searching through different sites to book the lowest airline fare and car rental that we possibly could, searching the Internet for hours looking for the best days, dates, and flight times. We have found great deals with Delta, Jet Blue, and Spirit Airlines. We live in Connecticut and usually find it cheaper to fly out of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York City rather than Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Hartford, Connecticut. Flying directly into the Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the fastest and easiest choice.
However, for this particular vacation, we exchanged our timeshare from Vacation Village in the Berkshires (#6057) to Orange Lake Country Club (#0670) in Orlando, Florida. We booked the exchange through RCI but the rest of the travel arrangements through a travel planner’s website.
We have booked through this website before, and this time we were able to find airfare from JFK into Orlando with Delta’s SONG airline at a rate cheaper than what we found on the Delta website. We also booked a great weekly rate on a rental car from Budget. I was astonished to find that I was saving $33.46 on the weekly rate when I booked through the travel planners website rather than Budget.com. Although $33 doesn’t sound like much, combined with the money we saved on airfare, there was plenty of money leftover for park admission, food and drinks, or souvenirs. There was also an option for booking accommodations, but since we already exchanged through RCI, we didn’t need to use it.
When we travel, we still find that we research both options, but since this trip, we have used a travel planner to help us with our vacations when we exchange and even when we take vacations without utilizing our timeshare, as we found the rates to be more affordable.
East Haven, Connecticut