Orlando, Florida is known as the theme park capital of the world and for good reason. Home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, as well as many more epic parks, Orlando oozes fun 24/7. The destination is also known for its excellent shopping, shows, nature excursions and so much more. Considering all of this, it is easy to see why it is a huge hit year after year with Irish holiday makers. If you’re planning your next holiday and you haven’t been to Orlando, but you’re curious about it, keep on reading! Here are our top 10 reasons to visit Orlando, Florida.
1. Universal Orlando Resort
Orlando is renowned for its incredible theme parks and a firm favourite with Irish consumers is Universal Orlando Resort. Universal is made up of three parks, their two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure and its themed water park, Volcano Bay. Throughout Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, you will find endless rides and rollercoasters to test your thrills! Firm favourites include Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Revenge of the Mummy. If rollercoasters aren’t your thing, these parks are famous for their immersive simulator rides with favourites including Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, The Simpsons Ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. During the pandemic two new coasters also joined the crew at Universal Orlando Resort, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and more recently, VelociCoaster at Jurassic World.
Universal is also known for its excellent worlds with the most famous one being The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which spreads across both parks and is connected by the Hogwarts Express! If you fancy a more relaxing day or two during your trip, Volcano Bay is a waterpark with a difference. Home to some incredible slides and even an aqua rollercoaster, this park is also a paradise in itself and the perfect place to relax and unwind in the Floridian sunshine.
2. Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is 50 years old this year and this wonderful destination is made up of four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom and also two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. A firm favourite with Disney fans alike, your inner child will be let free in Disney. From thrilling attractions, magical character parades, breath-taking firework displays and plenty of fun around every corner, Disney know how to bring out the best in your holiday. New attractions in Disney include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land and like Universal Orlando, they are always adding brand new rides and experiences to each of their parks.
3. Excellent Shopping
Orlando is a fantastic shopping destination. At either end of International Drive, you will find two sets of outlets. On one end, you have the Orlando Premium Outlets International Drive and at the other end you have the Orlando Premium Outlets Vineland. Both are accessible by the IRide trolley that goes up and down International Drive, making them super easy to get to, even if you don’t have a car. You can get all major brands at the outlets including Nike, Michael Kors, DKNY, COACH, Calvin Klein etc. And, if you fancy even more shopping, the Florida Mall is a short drive from the central area of Orlando. This mall is your typical American mall and home to lots of places to eat and shop. For something a little more high end, head to The Mall at Millennia.
If you’re staying on International Drive, you will have a huge selection of souvenir shops to enjoy. If that’s not enough, the theme parks also have plenty of stores throughout where you can stock up on your favourite character merchandise and more.
4. Escape to the Everglades
Much of Florida is swamplands and if you fancy a unique experience on your holiday, we highly recommend you escape the theme parks for a few hours and enjoy some of the state’s glorious nature on an airboat ride! Wild Florida is based on the headwaters of the Florida Everglades and is a fascinating place to visit and experience. Gatorland and Boggy Creek are two more airboat ride options in the Orlando area as well, giving you lots of choice.
5. Excellent Entertainment and Dining Options
Another thing Orlando does really well is entertain. Throughout the parks you will find a huge array of parades, shows and even firework displays. But throughout the entire region you will also find a huge selection of restaurants and bars to enjoy. CityWalk in Universal Orlando Resort is a fantastic place to visit for food and it is also home to the largest Hard Rock Café in the world! If you’re staying in the Disney area, head down to Disney Springs for an array of dining and nightlife. Along International Drive, you also have a lot of choice, with the new ICON Orlando area offering a huge selection of venues. Millers Ale House, opposite the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando is another hugely popular place with Irish holidaymakers for food and drinks.
6. International Drive Fun
International Drive is a popular base for those on Orlando holidays because there is so much to enjoy along it. From crazy golf to the world’s largest McDonald’s, it is easy to see why it is such a popular base for Orlando holidays. The Wheel at ICON Park is a must for amazing views of the entire Orlando area. From this 400ft wheel, you get an amazing view of the nearby parks and even spot Hogwarts Castle! Other exciting attractions include Ripley’s Believe it or not, Carousel on the Promenade at ICON Park, and you can even try your hand at axe throwing or go karting!
7. Rainy Day Fun
Being in Central Florida, Orlando is prone to rain showers especially during the summer months. The good news is that the fun doesn’t have to end because it is raining outside. If you don’t fancy throwing on a poncho and heading to the parks during a rainy day, there is an abundance of indoor attractions, especially along International Drive that you can enjoy. Popular options include Wonderworks (known to the Irish as the upside-down house!), Sealife, Madame Tussauds and so much more.
8. New Attractions coming all the time!
Orlando theme parks are experts at reinventing the wheel and drawing back visitors year after year. With new attractions and rides opening and being launched all the time, you can be sure that no two visits to Orlando will ever be the same! The latest new rides in Orlando are:
- Jurrasic World VelociCoaster in Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Walt Disney World
- Icebreaker in SeaWorld
- Reef Plunge and Riptide Race – both in Aquatica
9. Excellent Accommodation and Choice
Orlando is really great value for money and the destination offers a huge array of accommodation choice. From value hotels to luxury hotels, and spacious apartments to even more spacious townhouses and private villas, there is something for every party size and budget. Alongside of the hotels and apartments located on International Drive and in the Lake Buena Vista area, you can also choose to stay on-site at Universal Orlando Resort or at Walt Disney World. Both of these resorts offer a huge selection of hotels to choose from with added theme park perks drawing consumers to stay on site. If you’re planning to stay in a private villa, these are mostly located around the Disney area in Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee and car hire would be required.
10. Something for Everyone
Orlando truly offers something for everyone and while the theme parks are the biggest draw for holidaymakers, there really is so much more to Orlando. Many visit to just relax by a gorgeous pool, more visit as a pre or post cruise stay before they sail to the Bahamas and Caribbean and lots more use it as the starting point for a Florida fly drive.
If you haven’t been before, we hope this post has helped to guide you as to what to expect on an Orlando holiday and if you have been before, we think it is time you take a visit back! 😊 For more information on Orlando holidays and to see our best deals, check out our dedicated Orlando landing page here, or alternatively contact our travel experts on 01-6995329.
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