Oh, to be a child again – even if only for a little while! Florida has even more to offer than the amazing city of Miami: our reader Madeleine was in Florida recently, and she spent a few days in Orlando as well as in Miami. Here’s her story…
What did I want to do? Leave the everyday grind at home, and just let off steam all day, like I used to when I was little – by laughing, screaming and having fun! And that’s why, after my trip to Miami, I decided to add on a few days in Orlando for good measure. You’ll only need about 3 hours to get there in your rental car, so it’s no great shakes.
And why Orlando in particular? The city in northern Florida is home to no fewer than 12 theme parks, making it a paradise for adrenaline junkies, film freaks, families and the eternally young. Disney alone has built six theme parks there, including fantastic cities and water parks and its own super-size zoo . Universal also has two parks there – including Harry Potter World, complete with a replica of Hogwarts ! And just in case even that isn’t enough for you, you can keep letting off steam at Legoland and SeaWorld.
I myself decided to spend my first day at two of the Disney parks, and my second day at a Universal park.
I met all the familiar figures from my childhood in the Disney parks, of course: Mickey Mouse, Minnie and Goofy even came to join me while I was still having my breakfast. The ‘rides’ – as all the different attractions here are known – range from child-friendly rides and shows through to really wild rollercoasters guaranteed to test you to the limits, whatever your age.
One thing that surprised me was that every last detail is perfectly staged – from every member of staff to every snack stand, and obviously the shows and attractions themselves. In the Epcot park, for instance, Disney has built a ‘World Showcase’ with miniature replicas of eleven different countries on the banks of a lake. Only people actually from each country work in the restaurants, and they only serve food from the county itself (including all the real brands you’d find).
I spent my second day at Universal Studios. This is definitely more full-on: it’s one terrifying roller-coaster after another, so an absolute dream if you’re like me! There are also lots of stunt shows that are enough to take your breath away – I was left wondering how the stuntmen and women do it every single day!
One particularly cool area was Simpsons World ! Moe’s Tavern, Krusty Burger – and the Simpsons house itself, of course – are all made real here, and linked with rides which are just as fun. The emphasis at Universal is more on the staging, generally speaking: it’s all about action and entertainment , which is probably more enjoyable when you’re an adult, while I’d say Disney is more suitable for families.
Quick tip: if you want to really enjoy a few fun-packed days, be sure to plan in enough time. A day pass lets you visit all the shows and rides as many times as you want . Depending on demand, though, expect to be queuing up for anything up to an hour before you actually get onto the most popular rides. Although even that’s not so bad as it sounds at first – they bend over backwards to make sure the people waiting are kept entertained as well!
I’ve got to get back to Miami now, and am already regretting not having planned in more than two days. But I’ll be back before long – for a few more days’ ‘kidding about’…