We produce a LOT of meetings and conferences in Orlando, and our clients and guests often ask us about including attendees' families in their plans. Trust us, if there was ever a year to bring the family to Orlando, 2017 is it! Orlando is the ultimate family fun destination, with activities for all ages to enjoy. Everyone knows about Walt Disney World and Universal, so we'd like to share some new can't-miss Orlando family experiences.
Walt Disney World in Orlando is more than just the Magic Kingdom: Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are full-fledged theme parks with rides, attractions, and plenty of fun activities. And now there's a new place to relax and refresh after a day at the parks, or to take the family for a bit of the Disney experience without paying theme park admission. Disney Springs is the re-imagining of Downtown Disney, and it's entirely new and different, with tons of new restaurants and shops in a relaxing waterside village. Dining options like STK, MoriMoto, Edison's, Boathouse, and Paddlefish will keep everyone's taste buds delighted. Plus, in addition to the Disney-themed stores like Art of Disney and World of Disney, there's a brand new Coca-Cola Store, a Build-a-Dino workshop, and a Star Wars Galactic Outpost to thrill young Jedis.
Universal Studios continues to up its game, with a brand new King Kong attraction newly opened at Islands of Adventure. And the new Harry Potter world, Diagon Alley, which opened a few years ago, has been called the most immersive environment ever created. You can even take an authentic British steam train from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade for the full Harry Potter experience.
Universal really knows how to pump up the excitement and make guests feel like it's time to party before they even arrive. And at Universal Orlando Resort's Citywalk entertainment district, several recent updates make it even more fun for families. Streetmosphere performers, huge TV screens, music, flashing lights and a modern waterfront setting make Citywalk perfect a destination unto itself. The Hot Dog Hall of Fame is a fun way to sample hot dogs from all over the world, in every possible flavor combination. Antojitos serves authentic Mexican street food in a lively atmosphere, with a wide balcony overlooking the stage that's always filled with mariachi bands and dancers. The Cowfish is a unique concept that has proved very popular here. It's pretty much a fusion of EVERYTHING, with delicious sushi and burgers forming the centerpiece of an eclectic menu, in a fun and colorful setting. And you simply must stop in at the new fantasyland for chocolate lovers: Toothsome Chocolate Factory. This steampunk themed restaurant and dessert bar offers beautifully presented chocolate treats and decadent milkshakes to satisfy every possible chocolate craving.
Did you know that Orlando is the headwaters for the Everglades? Take your family off the beaten track to Wild Florida for airboat tours, a gator and wildlife park, and a ride through the working cattle operation in a ranch buggy. Can't visit Florida without seeing a gator with your own eyes!
Any discussion of new Orlando family fun must include the much-buzzed-about I-Drive 360 complex, home to the iconic Orlando Eye. This center near the Orange County Convention Center is designed with families in mind, with convenient transportation and parking, a variety restaurants and plenty of attractions to ensure guests of all ages will be engaged and delighted. Madame Tussaud's is the perfect spot for celebrity selfies, and the Sea Life Aquarium brings the thrills of the ocean to International Drive. "We love I-Drive 360 because it combines several different activities to keep families engaged for longer, and the variety ensures that everyone will find something to enjoy," says Vic Laxson, Hello! Florida's Orlando General Manager.
Part of Orlando 360 is the landmark Orlando Eye can be seen from as far away as Cocoa Beach, and tops the list for people seeking something new in Orlando. It's an hour-long experience that starts with a 4D Cinema Experience and continues with a ride around the Eye in a capsule that holds 20 people. Food and beverage, including champagne toasts, can be provided during the flight. Soaring views and luxury appointments that go SO far beyond a ferris wheel make this an elevated adventure that your family is sure to remember. Plus it has one BIG thing that makes it superior to any ferris wheel- air conditioning!
Think you've done it all in Orlando? Well you probably haven't experienced all the good-old-fashioned carnival merriment that Fun Spot offers, and this park just keeps getting better and better! You and the kiddos can bond over funnel cakes, fried candy bars, and Icees while riding the new roller coasters and bumper cars. Sometimes simple nostalgia brings people together more than anything, and there's no place that does this better than the Fun Spot.
While Orlando theme parks get much of the attention in Central Florida, Orlando's position as the USA's most popular convention destination has allowed several unique and exciting venues to grow. These venues get bigger and better every year, to the delight of convention attendees looking for something new to surprise and delight their families. Make plans now to bring the whole crew to Orlando, you'll be glad you did!