Landing in Orlando for my first stop, I knew there were a number of theme parks in the area, but I didn’t realize just how many are here. After a month in the city and many miles on I-4, I learned that there is a theme park for pretty much everything in the city. At some point during my stay, I heard that Orlando was called the “theme park capital of the world.” This is not a joke. There are a TON of theme parks here. There is even one called The Holy Land Experience that is Christian themed. I didn’t manage to make it in, so no review. You can get in free one day a year because of the religious affiliation though! If you happen to be in Orlando on February 24 and don’t mind standing in a line…like a long line, this could be a good option. If you want to also try a few other non-roller coaster experiences, here are a few experiences I will never forget from my time in the Sunshine State.

12 Florida experiences that didn’t involve my stomach dropping…

  1. Florida Hiking. Most of the hiking I’ve done has been in the Midwest or in the mountains. I had never experienced anything quite like Florida hiking. The trails here are in the swamps and often covered with sand or across boardwalks to stay above the water.
  2. What color is the #3 and #11 ball in pool? Answering this question correctly was one of my few contributions to the trivia team during my two week run. The trivia was held in what can only be described as the “perfect” town. White picket fences everywhere. The town of Celebration is certainly a unique experience. It doesn’t really feel connected to the rest of the world…
  3. Oh we aren’t done… My stomach may have dropped a little during the Toyota driving experience at Daytona International Speedway. Don’t worry, as the commercials suggest…it was a closed course. After whipping me through some turns, my professional driver had one more backwards drifting trick up his sleeve.
  4. Peanut Butter on a burger. This one is associated with a theme park I will admit, but no roller coasters were involved. My dad happened to be in town for a conference and we went to Universal City Walk to eat at CowFish. In addition to creating your own digital fish (or 3 if you are me) and watching it them swim on the screens around you while eating (never too old to be a kid…), we took down a 1 pound burger with peanut butter, bananas, and bacon on it.
  5. Premium Bowling. Bowling is that inexpensive way to spend an evening with some light physical activity, but in Orlando it is a whole different ball game.
  6. Imparting Knowledge? Great chance to catch up with one of my favorite professors on a visit to Stetson University. I was reminded of my Missouri State days in the three different classes I took with Dr. Goss while sharing my story and trying my best to provide some value to his class.
  7. Swimming in January. If you are looking for an outdoor adventure in Orlando, Wekiwa Springs needs to be on the radar. The springs are “cold” springs at 72 degrees year round, but even on this day there was a lady swimming.
  8. You can’t bike here! I only got the bike out once on my first stop…to bike to the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, and once I got there I learned I had to hike on the paths. The paths were very nice, but I still didn’t see the elusive river otter I was looking for…
  9. Hope you aren’t a Penguins fan. I have never walked in to a sporting event later than the Lightning-Pens game in Tampa. Down for a few nights and looking to visit with friends first and foremost, we picked up some cheap tickets midway through the game and caught the third period from some nice seats, promising the Season Ticket Holders we were not Penguins fans.
  10. Can I collect my prize? I got the chance to act like a kid again at the Harry P. Leu Gardens. I successfully filled out my sheet with my crayon after identifying all of the bugs correctly! I was reminded of my Longest Day campaign when I saw a sculpture of a dad and child fishing.
  11. The I-4 Parking Lot. The highway that is a parking lot. This was an experience just on its own. It doesn’t matter what time you hop on I-4, there will be backups. I spent a little too much time on this highway…
  12. The Ocean. Officially made it to the Atlantic Ocean. The Pacific seems a long way away, but after how fast the first month went, it will be here before I know it.IMG_1893