Everyone is right about the weather, of course, but we still had a blast relaxing at the resort and visiting theme parks and attractions.
Orlando is considered the Theme Park capital of the world with 13 major theme parks and a few more adventure destinations. Less than an hour away, you can learn about NASA’s history and achievements at the Kenny Space Center in Cocoa Beach.
We live in Anaheim, California, another major theme park destination, but we still managed to find a lot of new experiences in Orlando, Florida.
Disney’s group of Theme Parks, hotels, and shopping centers is really a world on its own. The property covers 25,000 acres nestles in the woods around Lake Buena Vista with its own roads and transportation system.
Walt Disney decided to build his expansive new resort on the east coast and went hunting for the location. He picked this area because it was basically empty and close to the intersection of the four freeway and the Florida Turnpike.
The magic kingdom opened its doors in 1971, followed by Epcot in 1982. The rest followed through the years with a total of 6 parks finishing with Animal Kingdon in 1998. Many lodgings and resorts offer different experiences to visitors like Music, Movies, Animals, Polynesian, Wilderness, and New Orleans themes.
This is the park that is most like Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It is dedicated to fairytales, fantasy and Disney characters.
Like Disneyland, it has Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Also, it has a unique land called Liberty Square with the Hall of the Presidents.
You can read more and see lots of photos in the Disneyland article here. Having said that, the Magic Kingdom is not a replica of Disneyland. There are a lot of important differences. To read more about those differences, go here.
The park is basically a permanent World’s Fair with a Disney flair. As you enter, you are presented with Spaceship Earth, a huge sphere you walk into and ride through human history.
On either side of Spaceship Earth, you will come across Future World (East and West sections). The exhibits demonstrate the latest technologies and allow visitors to interact with hands-on experiments.
In the West section, the Land Pavillion is a showcase of human interaction with mother earth. Visitors here can enjoy the flight simulator ride Soarin over the World and a ride through innovations in agriculture.
In the Eastern Future World, build your own race car and test on the “Test Track” ride.
The World Showcase starts after future world and surrounds a large lake. Eleven countries from around the globe represent their culture and sites – with most offering rides and shows. Most notable are O Canada!, a Circle-Vision 360°, Frozen Ever After ride, and Impressions de France.
The United States pavilion, located in the middle between the other countries, showcases American history with an animatronics show titled The American Adventure.
This park opened in 1989 as both a production studio and a theme park but later became a theme park dedicated to the fantasy worlds and characters from film, television, music, and theatre, while celebrating the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Visitors enjoy many shows and attractions with movie themes in 6 distinct areas:
At Echo Lake, you can ride “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue”, or “Indiana Jones”, or watch the “First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along show, and “Star Wars: Path of the Jedi” shows.
At Grand Avenue, you can pretend you are back in Los Angles walking on the famous street, enjoying the restaurants and pubs or relax in the park with the same name. The are also has the Muppets Vision 4D show. The Figueroa Street Tunnel leads you into the new Starwars land.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will officially open at the end of August 2019. It will be a duplicate of the Star Wars land at Disneyland. Like Disneyland’s version, the main attraction will be Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. You get to train as a spaceship pilot and the fly the infamous Millennium Falcon.
In the Animation Courtyard, learn about Walt Disney’s life at Walt Disney Presents or get close to Star Wars characters and exhibits at the Star Wars Launch Bay. Visitors can also enjoy live shows, Disney Junior Dance Party, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
Walking through Sunset Boulevard, you can enjoy the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster or scared out of your mind at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The area also has three live shows including “Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage” and “Fantasmic!, a nighttime show with fireworks and laser.
The park is considered the largest theme park in the world with 580 acres of land dedicated to a natural environment and animal conservation with a Disney twist.
The fun and learning happens in 7 distinct areas. You will need more than one day to explore everything in the park. My favorites are Pandora (The world of Avatar), the Kilimanjaro Safaris in "Africa", Dinoland, and the mythical kingdom of Anandapur in "Asia".
At discovery Island, admire the Tree of Life, which is a huge representation of the baobab tree. At night, the tree comes alive with beautiful colors. As you walk around, you will pass by several animal exhibits and many shops and restaurants.
Blizzard beach looks like snow-capped peaks with melted water running through. This park is home to the Summit Plummet, a fast freefall 120-feet drop and the Toboggan Racers, an 8-lane racing slide.
Typhoon Lagoon looks like a hurricane just whipped through a tropical island, destroying homes and throwing wrecked ships on top of mountains. Here you can find “Surf Pool”, a wave pool with 6-foot waves. The pool is used to give surf lessons before the official park opening.
The resort immerses visitors into movie and TV themes with rides, exhibits, and shows.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the latest addition, and it spans the two theme parks. To enjoy everything Harry Potter, you can have to buy passes that cover both parks.
There are so many rides and shows to pick from, It is hard to decide where to go and what to do. To help, the Universal website offers several ways to filter the attractions. You can find your favorites by height requirements, areas, or interests. Go here to find your thrills.
Some of my favorite rides and shows are Shrek 4D at Production Central, Revenge of the Mummy at New York City, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Diagon Alley, and Men in Black: Alien Attack at World Expo.
Families with younger children can find many attractions at Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone.
The see the full list of attractions go to the main story about Universal Studios Florida here.
Go on a journey of exploration and adventure through uniquely themed islands. Visit places like “Marvel Super Hero Islands”, Jurassic Park”, or “Skull Island’ for rides and shows - and spend time at the other half of the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter”.
The two halves of the Wizarding World are connected via the Hogwarts Express, which in itself is an attraction.
While visiting this newest expansion to the Universal parks, you must go on the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride through Hogwarts Castle and try the newest ride, the “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure”.
Other islands at the park are Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing. Some of the most thrilling rides and shows on those islands are “The Incredible Hulk Coaster”, “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man”, “Jurassic Park River Adventure”, and “Poseidon's Fury”.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort
The resort we stayed at during this visit is a destination on its own. The rooms and amenities are what you expect from a Hyatt property - top-notch, but the activities are what makes this place amazing. Without leaving the grounds, we had access to swimming, biking, sailing, paddle boats, golf, hiking trails, gym, and Spa.
In the room, the beds and pillows were very comfortable. The large smart TV had an option to stream your own device and on-demand programming. I used my Netflix account to keep up with my shows. The view from the room was breathtaking. Down below we can see the private lake and gardens, and in the distance, we can see miles of forest.
Shuttle service was provided to the major theme park. It was recommended to reserve your seats ahead of time to guarantee you ride.