From Dickens to Twain, Homer to Conrad, many great writers have cut their literary teeth on the travelogue, recording their observations of fresh and exciting places for posterity. So what did three British children think of their first trip to Orlando and its attractions? Doing their best to represent the demographic most sought after by the major theme parks (cool, proto- teenager, tween and toddler) these three siblings and their parents bickered, laughed, argued and shrieked their way around the city’s major attractions. Here are their reports.
By Ruth (10), Helena (8) and Gabriel (3)
Anyone who’s anyone will love Florida. It has the best shows, toddler rides, roller coasters, 3D rides, generally weird stuff and loads more.
For the best shows ever, visit SeaWorld (but if you don’t like getting wet, bring a waterproof coat) and see the animals. It has a great roller coaster called Kraken which is smooth, high, has loads of loops and twists and gives you a great view of Orlando. Personally that was my favourite ride of all.
On the other hand if you want a water-slidey kind of place Aquatica is the place for you. If you are a dolphin person like me, you will love Dolphin Plunge where you get to ride a slide straight through a pool with some cute dolphins swimming around. They are not your normal kind but are called Commerson’s dolphins. They are black and white, like pandas, and all four in the pool with us were boys. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because they would fight with the girl dolphins – or because Aquatica does not want baby dolphins.
Aquatica also has a big beach area, with a wave pool and deck chairs, and to make sure everyone is safe, there are life jackets for the small children or people who cannot swim. My little brother liked wearing his on his head like a dalek even though they do not have daleks in America. (For the non-British, a dalek is an alien robot from a long running sci-fi series, Doctor who, see below)
If you are looking for a great family day out, I think you will enjoy Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, which are next door to each other and so we did them on the same day. The latter has great, big roller coasters for the daring type, such as Hulk and Dueling Dragons, and also some smaller coasters for toddlers. My 3-year-old brother went on the Woody Woodpecker ride 10 times! For people who are not too sure about scary fast rides, there are other experiences, such as The Simpsons Ride and Spider-Man both of which were 4D simulation experiences and were incredible. When you want a snack between rides, make sure you try the Cinnamon Churros and the Dippin’ Dots.
Are you a scienc-ey person? If so the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is the place to go. Here you can see old, retired rockets and meet veteran astronauts. You can feel what it is like to go up in the space shuttle in the Shuttle Launch Experience simulator, and try space ice cream and strawberries at the shop, and collect pressed pennies to preserve your memories.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great way to see exotic animals and places right before your very eyes. Expedition Everest is a great roller coaster where there is only you and the Yeti up there in the mountains.
Another Disney park I really enjoyed was Hollywood Studios, which had lots of fantastic rides such as Tower of Terror, Aerosmith, Toy Story Mania and Revenge of the Mummy. I didn’t much like the Prince Caspian experience, though.
We did not spend a lot of time at Epcot but for the little kids in your family, I think the Nemo ride is ideal, as you get to travel into an undersea world and meet Nemo and his friends. For the older people in your group, the Test Track ride is what I would recommend because it is so fast and energetic: You are a test driver testing out a speeding race car.
The last Disney park we went to was Magic Kingdom. It was so exciting and so beautiful, and even my mum squealed when she first saw the legendary magic castle. It looked amazing as it got dark as it was lit up and (I think it was because Christmas is coming) the turrets were covered in ice! The best rides were definitely Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and the runaway train coaster but I also really enjoyed the Monsters Inc. Show – which was just hilariously funny and really clever – as the monsters appeared to be talking to people in the audience. I have no idea how this worked.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! was full of weird and wonderful things, such as a Mona Lisa portrait made entirely out of toast (below left), and we had a really great afternoon there. I am not going to tell you any of the other exhibits so you will just have to go along to see for yourself.
I really enjoyed my time in Orlando and would recommend it to anyone of any age. When I go back one of these days, I want to revisit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Islands of Adventure and Ripley’s. It was all amazing!
Ripley’s Believe ir or Not! : I would go there again, but some of the things there I did not believe. My favourite thing was the spinning light tunnel that made me feel dizzy. I sat down in it with my sister, until she felt sick.
Universal: I would go again, as the rides are brilliant. My favourite was Spider-Man as it was 3D and you got heated up at one point. On The Simpsons Ride, it was like being in an actual film! I wish I had been tall enough to go on Hulk and Dueling Dragons.
Kennedy Space Center: It was pretty cool meeting a real astronaut and getting to ask him questions. I asked him when he first wanted to be an astronaut – and after me, two other kids asked the same question! It was really funny watching the film of the astronauts having fun in the space shuttle up in space. The Shuttle Launch Experience was really good as it felt real. We felt the rockets blasting, then the “twang” and finally the rockets and orange thing falling off. I liked the space food in the shop because you could have space ice cream and strawberries.
Disney’s EPCOT: We did not see much of EPCOT but the ride I liked best was Test Track, because it went so fast. I also liked the water fountain display because it looked like fireworks, but all made out of water. I did not like Nemo too much as it was slow and there was not a lot of adventure in that ride.
Aquatica: I thought Aquatica was amazing and in my mind, the experience was a tie with Disney for the best park. My favourite water rides were when you were holding onto a mat. I also liked the Walhalla wave where you go on in a group. It is fun to be able to scream with each other! The Taumatu racer, when you race other people down a coloured slide, was really fast, and the drop is unexpectedly steep. One of the lifeguards raced down next to me and he beat me by half a mile. He said it was because he was “brilliant, ” but I think it was because he was ten times heavier than me. The wave pool and beach area was great and I especially liked the countdown clock so you knew when the surf was coming.
Although I liked the idea of the Dolphin Plunge, where you shoot through a slide in the dolphin tank, in fact you go too fast to see them. They were cute, though, and my sister spent ages looking at them.
SeaWorld: The sea-lion and pirate show was definitely the best show we saw because they did not splash us and because they made lots of mistakes which were really funny. My dad said afterwards that they made the mistakes deliberately, but this can not be true as otherwise they would not have been mistakes. I do love killer whales but I found the Believe show a bit over the top. Also I got soaked.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: The Everest ride was great because it was really high and at one point you go backwards really fast. The scenery was amazing and it really felt like you were in the mountains with a scary Yeti! The food here was the best in all the parks we went to, especially the barbecued ribs.
I liked the areas designed to look like hot places of the world, such as Asia and Africa, as I am from England where it is not very hot. We did a safari too, and got to see lions, giraffes and crocodiles.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom: My favourite was the runaway train ride. It really did feel like a runaway mine train. I also loved the riverboat ride because the lady was really funny and I got to drive the boat.
The Magic Castle was amazing because at first we thought there was a net over it – then, when it started to go dark, we realised it was actually lights. It looked like snow had fallen on the castle and then it changed colours and glowed in the dark.
Disney Hollywood Studios: For me, this was the best park as it had the best rides and I was big enough to go on all of them. I loved the Aerosmith rock and roll coaster, as it was extremely fast and in the dark, and the Tower of Terror because when you went up you felt really, really heavy and when you went down it felt like your insides were flying away!
I liked the space rockets and I liked the beach. My mummy bought me a space shuttle which I played with a lot (right). I did not go on the Spider-Man ride but Spider-Man did run out and he was waving at me which was cool. I went on the race car track (Tomorrow land Indy Speedway) at Magic Kingdom and that was great, but my favourite ride of all was the Woody Woodpecker coaster at Universal Islands of Adventure – I went on it 10 times.
I sat on an ant’s nest at Universal when I was waiting for my sisters to come off the Simpsons and had bites up my arm. I did like seeing the animals at Animal Kingdom and going on Toy Story Mania.
Dad’s Top Moments
1. The pre-show pirate/mime showing people to their seats at SeaWorld.
2. Spider-Man and The Simpsons Ride (Universal)
3. Kraken (SeaWorld), Dueling Dragons and the Hulk coasters (Universal)
4. Customer service at Disney: second to none, everyone happy, all pleased to help.
5. Seeing ospreys everywhere in and around Orlando (I love watching birds)
6. Seeing a Florida soft shelled turtle in the wild at Kennedy Space Center
7. A Spider-Man performer at Universal taking the time to wave and interact with my little boy. All the staff at the parks seemed to go the extra mile at every opportunity
Mum’s top moments
1. Seeing the castle at Magic Kingdom – I had a tear in my eye
2. Everything about Disney – Truly magical and gorgeous and well beyond my expectations – theming, cleanliness, staff
3.Meeting an astronaut at KSC – another childhood dream realised
4. Rides – The Simpsons, Spider-Man, Monsters Inc, Toy Story Mania, Disney Race Car (because my boy loved it so much)
5. Aquatica – fun group rides but wave pool and beach nice for 3 year old too
6. Fun afternoon at Ripleys – the kids loved the cool weirdness