Orlando with Teens: A Perfect Family Day
Orlando, Florida has so much more to offer for a vacation than just the well-known theme parks. Choosing which park or activity depends greatly on what your teen considers fun. Universal Orlando's new addition of the Harry Potter themed 'Wizarding World" may offer thrills and chills to any younger teen, but perhaps not to the older ones. Islands of Adventure, with its twin-dragon and Hulk roller coasters, the SpiderMan ride and more has plenty of hard core rides for the older teen set with some milder rides for the younger ones. Outside of the well known parks, however, and away from the steep prices is an adventure waiting to be discovered. Begin your day across the street from the Wet and Wild theme park, where you will see what looks like an old tornado warning siren. It's called Sky Venture and it's at 6805 Visitors Circle. (407) 903-1150.
Once they've had their fill of zero-gravity experience, head out onto International Drive and one block past Kirkman Road turn left. You'll see the huge ferris wheel in the distance at Fun Spot. 5551 Del Verde Way (407) 363-3867. Here teens can either save the universe in the huge two story video game arcade with the price of admission granting unlimited play time. For the daredevils, the rides are pretty mild but the race-track, that's another story. There are 4 different race tracks with each one increasing in it's difficulty. Three of them are multi-level tracks with corkscrews and complicated twists and turns. The admission is good for all day so you can leave for lunch and return later.
The lunch offering at Fun Spot is typical teen fare, but it's not anything to brag about. Pizza, hot dogs, etc., are the mainstay of the Fun Spot cafe. If fast food is not in your plans, there is a place that is worth traveling to Orlando for in and of itself. Head up Kirkman Road over I-4 to Conroy Road and take a left, in that small plaza there is a BBQ place that has been an Orlando staple for thirty plus years. It's called Bubbalou's Boadacious BBQ. 5818 Conroy Road, (407) 295-1212. Fall off the bone ribs, rich smoky chicken and a selection of sauces ranging from the sweet to the scorching hot all homemade on location are just a few of the reasons why this restaurant has won awards from the Food Network, USA Today and Fortune magazine and continues to win each year. It is impossible to leave this place hungry unless you just don't eat.
Waddle out to the car and head back on Kirkman to International Drive and turn right. When you pass the convention center's last building and go under the Beachline bridge, look off to the left side of the road. You will see a very large water park called Aquatica. This is Sea Worlds' answer to Wet and Wild and Disney's Blizzard Beach with a unique twist.
Aquatica, located at 5800 Water Play Way has discounted afternoon tickets for late visitors. The unique twist is that as the kids are sliding down these plexiglass slides, there are dolphins, whales and other sea life swarming in tanks around them. Speeding through crystal clear tubes in crystal clear waters to see a myriad of tropical fish, is a truly neat experience for anyone, even the easily bored teen. You and your spouse can get a float and wind your way around the lazy river as you slowly digest your lunches. The teens can start at the Dolphin Plunge slides or spin themselves silly at Tassie's Twisters. The blue tubes of the Twister's ride shoot them through a tight corkscrew spin unlike anyother until they end up at the bottom in what is called, "the bowl' where they will circle, spin and drop back into the lazy river. If that isn't enough action Roa's Rapids offers a high speed white water experience with whirlpools and geysers guiding you downstream. When you and the spouse have recovered from lunch, challenge your teens to a turn on the Walhalla Wave.
The Walhalla Wave is a six story tall labyrinth of tubes, tunnels, twists and turns. What makes this especially pleasurable is that unlike the Wet and Wild and Disney water parks, this one has an elevator for the raft so you don't have to heave it up six flights of stairs. Your kids are going to want to go back on this a few times so let them enjoy it all day if you wish. Head over to the wave pool called Cutback Cove. Here the waves don't end and they are much higher than the ones you will find at any other park. Another unique feature of Aquatica is that the wave pool is larger than others and divided into two sections. The Cutback Cove is the non-stop high waves and action. At Big Surf shores the waves alternate between large and fast to slow and gentle.
As the day winds on, even teenagers are going to get tired, and Aquatica closes at 6PM during non-peak season and at 9PM during the summer and spring breaks. There will find enough vendors selling chicken legs and pizza that dinner won't be a problem.
If you are able to make it out to the car about one hour before closing, you can scoot across the street to the Sea World parking lot; you've already paid for parking at Aquatica so this is free. Park in the outer area close to the exits and wait. Sea World puts on a pretty impressive fireworks display at closing time that is nicely visible from their parking lot. There will be a number of families in campers enjoying the show with you.
- Overview:Orlando Travel Guide