6 Awesome Things to do in Orlando Outside the Theme Parks

Orlando isn't just about Mickey Mouse and his pals!
By
Samantha Kern
Icon Orlando
Photo Credits
Photo courtesy of Russ Sanderlin / Flickr

When you travel to Orlando, the main attraction is, of course, the Walt Disney World theme parks where all your dreams can come true and Universal Studios. And it’s a truly magical experience no matter the age of the visitor. 

Orlando is home to many theme parks, but there’s more to the city than that. In fact, it’s a very large area with lots of fun things to do. The following activities are great for those in a group or those with kids or even those flying solo. 

1.    Icon Orlando, also known as the Orlando Eye, is basically a really big Ferris wheel with little bubbles for customers to ride in. It’s very similar to the London Eye in London, but whereas that one is 443 feet high, the Icon Orlando is only 400 feet high. Just like with any Ferris wheel, you have to be careful when getting on, but the benefit of riding on one so large is that it goes really slow for people to take pictures and enjoy the view of the city. While you’re protected from the rain in your little air conditioned bubble, it’s much more enjoyable to see the blue skies above the city of Orlando when the weather is nice. You get your pictures taken too, although it’s your choice if you want to buy them when your done. 

2.    Madame Tussauds is a really cool wax museum that visitors of the area can visit when in Orlando. They have some of the most famous celebrities in their collection, including Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Shrek, Miley Cyrus, Elvis Presley, Oprah, Channing Tatum, and Johnny Depp just to name a few. Then there are more historical figures like Einstein, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and the most recent President of the United States. Guests can take pictures with their favorite figures as long as the flash of the camera remains off. For some of the figures, like Einstein and Emma Watson, there are props that people can wear to blend in with their favorite celebrity. They also change their exhibits from time to time, just to keep up with the most current celebrities and pop culture. The figures are so lifelike you’ll really feel like you’re standing with the real person. It’s a pretty cool experience, and you can share with your friends that you got your picture taken with a celebrity…kind of. 

Jim Parsons
Which Jim Parsons is the real Jim Parsons?                           
Photo courtesy of Madame Tussaud's Orlando / Facebook

 

3.    SEA Life Orlando Aquarium is an awesome choice for those who love aquatic animals and those with kids. Not only can you see different species of fish, you can learn about them too with the little signs that are around each different tank. There’s a lot of creatures in the tanks, but the kids will love seeing them all. In some of the tanks, they have little bubbles for people to crawl into to see the tank from the inside. There are tours for specifically for groups if you’re traveling with a bunch of people. Schools often have field trips here so just be aware there could be a bunch of kids roaming around when you visit. The aquarium also has feeding times that you can ask about when you buy your tickets as well as specific times that divers go in to interact with the animals. When they come out, you can ask them all the questions you might have. The lionfish, turtles, eels, and sting rays are just a few the aquatic animals you can expect to find at this aquarium.

Sea Life Aquarium
Here's just a snippet of what to expect at this wonderfully kept aquarium.    
Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE Aquarium (Orlando) / Facebook

 

4.    Fun Spot America is a theme park, but it's a small one that people rarely add to their itinerary. It has three locations, two of which are in central Florida, Orlando and Kissimmee. There’s all kinds of rides, like roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, fun slides, swing rides, bumper boats and bumper cars, an arcade, and a merry-go-round. This place is definitely for the kid in all of us. The park hosts the only wooden roller coaster in the central Florida area, so if you’re a roller coaster fan, this is a must-visit place. If you want to ride some rides while you visit Orlando without dropping the big bucks on the main attractions, don't miss Fun Spot!

Fun Spot America
Take a ride on the Mine Blower for an epic experience!                  
Photo courtesy of Fun Spot America / Facebook

 

5.    The Kennedy Space Center is an attraction that really shouldn’t be missed, especially for those who grew up during the first trip to the moon. Not only is this a learning experience, it’s pretty cool to see the rocket ships and the amount of work that went into, and continues to go into, sending people into space. Visitors get to see the actual equipment that was used to send the first spaceship to the moon. You can visit the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame to learn all about the heroes and legends that have been a part of the history of space. Take a walk through the Rocket Garden to see the rockets from NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Programs. The Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour takes its guests around the area to see buildings that are otherwise restricted from the public. And don’t forget to take a gander at the pieces of equipment and machinery that were used for space travel, like an actual Apollo spacecraft. 

Launch Control Center
The Launch Control Center at Kennedy Space Center
Photo courtesy of NASA's Kennedy Space Center / Facebook

 

6.    For a sweet treat, you really ought to visit the World of Chocolate Museum. Not only do you get to learn all about the process of making chocolate confectionaries, you also get a chance to taste these yummy creations at the end of the tour. You can try even more if you visit the café attached to the museum. During a tour through the museum, you can learn all about the cacao plant, the process it goes through to make the chocolate we eat, 25 impressive sculptures that are made out of solid chocolate, and even see some outdated machinery that is no longer used but still very much a part of the chocolate making history. Don’t forget to try some delicious hot chocolate from the café before you leave!

St. Basil's Cathedral Chococalte Sculpture
St. Basil's Cathedral chocolate sculpture is one of 25 chocolate sculptures.   
Photo courtesy of Chocolate Museum and Café / Facebook