In this issue:
- International Drive Resort Area
- When is the best time to visit Orlando?
- The one thing every child should carry
- Special Offers
Welcome to the October 2007 issue of USATourist News Magazine. This month we are highlighting Orlando, Florida, the city for family fun. In this issue we give you tips on what time of year to visit Orlando, the best days to visit the theme parks, a terrific area to stay, and the one item every child should carry when visiting a theme park.
Entrance to Universal Studios Theme Park
Photo by Mike Leco
Visitors can easily spend a week in Orlando. Families and fun-seeking adults usually flock to the major theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Sea World, just to name a few. It is easy to spend several days riding roller coasters and watching exciting shows but outside of the city's theme parks there is plenty to do. You may go for a hot air balloon ride shortly after sunrise, take a day trip to Kennedy Space Center, 50 miles (75 km) east of Orlando. You may spend a day at Silver Springs, viewing the largest natural artesian spring formation, 75 miles (120 km) north of Orlando. Then there is the infamous Gatorland, the Alligator Capital of the World. Adults will enjoy a trip to the Lake Ridge Winery where complimentary tours and wine-tasting are offered daily. Lake Ridge is located about a half-hour west of downtown Orlando.
Tip: Kids eat free at many Orlando restaurants. The Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau compiled a list of restaurants that offer free meals for kids.
There are many hotels, condos, resorts, hostels, vacation home rentals, and even budget hotels to choose from in the area. For example, 100 lodging choices and over 150 restaurants are in the International Drive Resort Area. It is located 15 minutes from downtown Orlando and ten minutes from Disney World. Some of the attractions in the International Drive Resort Area include Universal Studios, Discovery Cove, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld Orlando, Wet'n Wild, WonderWorks, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Disney World is only a ten minute drive from the International Drive Area but there are also plenty of other hotels near Disney World in all price ranges.
While the International Drive location is ideal, the traffic isn't. The drive is one of the most congested parts of Orlando. You can avoid the congested streets by taking the I-Trolley, a real bargain at only $1 a ride. The trolley's Main Line connects the Prime Outlets Orlando and Sea World and the Green Line travels along Universal Boulevard.
Alligator Wrangler at Gatorland
Photo by Mike Leco
School in the United States is normally in session from late August through May with several one or two-week holidays throughout the year. The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Easter, plus the traditional Spring Break for schools and colleges, are very busy in Orlando but as soon as the holidays are over, the parks empty and the hotel and car rental rates drop.
The period after Thanksgiving and before Christmas is an ideal time to visit Florida. The weather is nice, the parks are decorated for the holiday season, and lines for rides are short. The best part is you can get some superior hotel or vacation home rates and right now is the perfect time to make your reservation. I noticed in our hotel search engine there are many wonderful rates, free nights with a minimum stay, and discounts the first week in December. The same week the car rentals are the very low. If you compare the prices to later in the month you will see what amazing deals the car companies are offering during that period.
The winter months of January and February are terrific months to visit Orlando, as are the fall months of September and October. The weather is nice during these times and you will find yourself with some elbowroom. The only downfall for visits during these periods is that the parks often close many of the major rides for annual refurbishment.
The summer months are a very popular time in the United States. If you do travel during the summer months it's best to hit the parks the first thing in the morning when they open to avoid the long lines. Summers in Florida are very hot and humid. Since Orlando is inland, hurricanes are rarely anything to worry about; but afternoon thunderstorms do occur. These rains are short and are usually a much welcome relief from the heat. If you happen to be at one of the parks when it rains, wait it out you and might be pleasantly surprised. Most visitors leave the moment the clouds roll in and by the time the rain ends, a short time later, the parks are empty and the lines are much shorter.
Tip: When visiting Orlando anytime of the year pack sunscreen and a hat. If you are visiting during the summer bring an umbrella or water-proof poncho and a light jacket or sweater for the often chilly, air-conditioned restaurants and theatres. Purchasing these items in the parks can be very expensive.
Amusement parks are one of the most common places children get separated from their parents. There is a lot of commotion, crowds and unfamiliar scenery. Before you take on the amusement and theme parks talk to your children about what they should do if you happen to get separated.
Princesses Snow White, Cinderella and Belle
in front of Cinderalla Castle, Disney World
Photo by Gene Duncan
©Walt Disney World
Give older children a "business card" complete with their parents' names, cell phone numbers, and allergies (in case employees want to give your child a snack as they wait for you). If your child does not speak English write on the card what language they do speak. If your child is very young, pin the card to the child's clothing.
When you arrive at the park, point out employees in uniform so your child will know who to ask for help if they get lost. For your own sake, write down what your child is wearing and carry a recent photo of your child so authorities know who they might need to look for; they can easily scan or copy the photo to spread the word to other employees. (Theme park employees are trained to assist with lost children.)
A great way to keep in contact with your older children is a walkie-talkie set (if they don't have a cell-phone). You may purchase inexpensive walkie-talkies and holsters from any electronics store.
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Orlando Events - Ticket Solutions has tickets to the hottest Orlando Events, year-round. See Cirque Du Soleil or check out Orlando Magic. Holiday visits? Don't miss the Orlando Ballet's Nutcracker or even Wicked this spring. It's amazing Ticket Solutions can get the best seats to any event nationwide.
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We hope you enjoyed this month's issue of USATourist News Magazine. See you next month!
Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair
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