We watch Orlando Magic play a home game at the Amway Center in Florida
On our recent visit to Orlando, we were keen to check out a proper American sports event.
Our son is a basketball fan, so we secured tickets and are so glad we did – it’s a night we won’t forget and the atmosphere was amazing.
Here’s our guide, if you are interested in doing the same.
What is it?
Our tickets were to watch Orlando Magic, a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida which competes in the National Basketball Association as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division.
It was their season opening game at home to Boston Celtics in front of a packed crowd of around 18,000 people.
Our children, aged 12 and 8, really enjoyed the experience which is totally different from a sporting event in the UK and extremely family-friendly.
Where is it?
Orlando Magic play their home games at the Amway Center. This big arena, which also hosts concerts, is in downtown Orlando about a 15 to 20-minute drive from Disney World or Universal Studios.
The Amway Center
What did we think
Our children loved this experience and are keen to go back to another NBA game in the USA.
It is very family-friendly with pre-match entertainment, food, activities on the big screen, gifts being thrown out into the crowd and more.
We didn’t hear any swearing or nasty chants like you may at a British football match. It felt really fun and safe.
*Pre-match there were fun and games outside the Amway Center with a Fan Fest (this happens for the bigger matches at Magic). There was face panting, basketball hoops for children to shoot at, music from a DJ and merchandise stalls.
*Once inside, younger children could play at STUFF’s Magic Castle (named after the Orlando Magic mascot), a play area on the promenade level of the concourse.
*It isn’t hard to find children’s food at one of the dozens of stalls inside. There is pizza, hot dogs, pretzels, ice cream and more. We tucked into some pre-match pizza. A word of warning though – it gets quite overwhelmingly busy as it seemed almost everyone was having a meal before the match started.
*The atmosphere – we loved the countdown to tip-off, the last 10 or 15 minutes had light shows, music and more as the players were announced. Once the game starts there is so much to see, children won’t get bored.
*Apart from the action you get t-shirts fired into the crowd as prizes, games to play via the big-screen and chants to join.
*GIveaways – lots of matches have giveaways for fans with t-shirts or hats on every seat. Everyone at our match received a free t-shirt waiting on their seat for them – all adult extra-large but a great keepsake!
Our top tips
*Get there early. At a British sporting event, most people aren’t in their seats until the last few minutes. We got to the Magic game more than an hour before it started and it was packed!
Enjoying the match
*Bags aren’t allowed in, only very small handbags. Don’t bring your backpack from a day at the parks, you won’t get it inside.
*Food is similar priced to Orlando theme parks and portions are big so consider sharing to save some money. Drinks, including water, are very expensive in the USA and you can’t bring bottles in so this does add to the cost of the experience.
*Taxis are the best way to get to the Amway Center as there wasn’t much parking around.
*If you are worried about it being busy at the end, maybe leave a few minutes beforehand if it isn’t a close game to ensure children aren’t waiting around for a taxi, Uber or Lyft.
Our Lyft driver was able to pull up and collect us about 100 metres from the exit of the stadium.
Orlando Magic information
Food: There were all sorts of food options with a stall every 20 metres on different levels of the stadium. There was water and soft drinks available everywhere for children. You can eat food and have drinks either on the concourse or at your seat.
Opening hours: The stadium opens one hour before the match starts. Matches last between two and two and a half hours. So if a match is advertised to start at 7pm EST then arrive at 6pm and you will probably be there until 9.30pm.
Cost: Tickets depend on how close to the action you want to sit and who the opposition is. Tickets cost more for matches against more famous teams like Boston Celtics or LA Lakers. Tickets range from 15 dollars to 1,000 dollars.
Best for: Children aged six and above with the patience to watch the match, which lasts about two hours including breaks for half-time.
Time needed: Arrive one hour before the match starts. The game then last between two and two-and-a-half hours.
Access and restrictions: Fully accessible with seats available for wheelchair users and companions. There are two accessible elevators on the west side of the building, which services the Event, Founders, Terrace, and Mezzanine Levels.
There are also four accessible elevators in the NE, NW, SE and SW corners of the Club Level that provide access from the Club Level down to the loge and club seating areas.
Address: Orlando Magic, Amway Center, 400 W Church St Suite 200, Orlando, FL 32801, United States.
For tickets: If you’re planning on attending a game, you can contact an Orlando Magic Ticket Representative by visiting orlandomagic.com/tickets using the ‘Live Chat’.
Our 10-night Florida itinerary – Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels, three waterparks and four days by the coast
A trip to Florida can be a once-in-a-lifetime holiday so if you are lucky enough to be going, you need to plan wisely.
There is SO MUCH to see and do that when you first sit down to organise this adventure for your family, it can seem overwhelming.
We’ve just taken our children to Florida – it was their first time in America and very special.
Our trip included Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels (including one dream hotel – more of that later), three waterparks and four days by the coast staying on two of America’s best beaches.
I feel tired just writing all that! But it was manageable thanks to enthusiasm and some down time.
So here is our 10-day itinerary, we hope it inspires you.
Travel and settle in at our first hotel
Hotel 1 – Springfield Suites at Marriott Village Orlando.
This was a great location – a 20-minute taxi drive to Universal and a free shuttle to Disney World.
The amazing attraction that is Universal Resort Orlando is made up of the theme parks Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure plus the Volcano Bay water park.
This had the edge over Disney World for us especially as three of us are Harry Potter fans. It’s where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is – Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade is at Islands of Adventure. You can even catch the Hogwarts Express between the two.
Highlight: Our son being chosen by ‘Olivander’ to select a wand for him in the mini-show at Olivander’s Wand Shop.
Disney World is one of the reasons that Florida is so popular. There are four parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios plus water parks.
We did a long day here to maximise the value of the expensive tickets. We started at 8am and left Epcot at 8pm. Yes, it was tiring but we saw a lot in one day.
We bought a Park Hopper ticket and started at the iconic Magic Kingdom, leaving after the parade in the afternoon and heading for Epcot. This was a great decision as the Frozen Ever After boat ride there is amazing.
Legoland Florida Resort
Now with a hire car, we drove 45 minutes to Legoland.
Fantastic for younger ones and without the queues of Universal and Disney World (at least not when we went), this was a slower-paced couple of days in the park and at its water park.
We stayed on site at its Pirate Island Hotel and our favourite part was the Ninjago ride, which we went on four times.
Our room opened out on to the beach and we enjoyed water slides and zip wires and an evening’s magic show.
We headed into St Petersburg to enjoy its pier, markets, museums and laid-back harbour vibe and our final lunch overlooking the water before a last beautiful Florida sunset. For more ideas on what to do in Clearwater and St Pete, read our guide to the best attractions for families.
After pancakes for breakfast, we left for our flight home.
What do you like to do in Florida? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
We spend two sumptuous days with our children in one of America’s top luxury hotels fabulously located within Walt Disney World Resort
Four Seasons Resort Orlando.
Where is it?
It is within the grounds of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, US, a short ride from the Disney parks themselves.
What is it?
Four Seasons Resort is one of the top luxury hotels in America – widely considered the best in Orlando with a price tag to match.
The AAA Five Diamond Award property has 443 rooms (68 are suites), fabulous restaurants and a small water park.
The lazy river
Guests staying here are able to get into any of the Disney parks 30 minutes early. And travel there and back by free shuttle bus.
Is it family friendly?
Oh yes, yes, yes. Our children adored this hotel, thoroughly appreciated the luxury and special touches and were thrilled with the water park.
Water slides at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
Staff were so good with them. When we checked in, they received a bag containing a scavenger hunt.
This was a great opportunity to explore the hotel and find our bearings while they searched for various points to have their booklets stamped.
And the prize at the end? Free ice cream in a fabulous café/ice cream parlour on site, prettily named Lickety Split.
There’s also a great, free kids’ club for children aged four to 12, with enthusiastic staff and brilliant facilities.
Our room was spacious and luxurious. It was a park view room which meant we could watch the Disney fireworks and lights displays from our balcony.
Our spacious room
It had two queen-sized beds, the largest hotel television we’ve ever seen and an iPad for contacting reception, booking restaurants, ordering extra pillows etc.
The big bathroom had two sinks, a bath, separate shower and a large mirror with a television in the centre, a great novelty, plus Bose surround sound.
Bathroom mirror television
There was a very useful changing and wardrobe area with space for luggage between the bedroom and bathroom.
Plus, there was seating, a mini fridge and a present waiting for our daughter on the bed.
Food and drink
There are six places where you can eat at the hotel. We dined at Ravello restaurant, a modern Italian, with exquisite food and helpful, knowledgeable staff who called us by name.
This is also where the delicious buffet breakfast is served and it was lovely to be eating such quality fare.
We also enjoyed a lovely lunch around the pool, a server collects your order and delivers it back to you where you are sitting.
The Disney World Parks of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are just a 10-minute ride away.
Hotel guests can enter the parks 30 minutes early – a huge bonus to be able to start exploring and queuing for the most popular rides when it’s a bit quieter – and travel there and back by free shuttle bus.
*The staff: From the moment we pulled up in our hire car and multiple staff appeared to help with our luggage and park the vehicle, through to those on reception, the concierge service, the Disney desk, those around the pool and the restaurant staff, we have never experienced such diligence and care.
*The Explorer Island water park: you can swim or float on rings along a lovely lazy river which loops around the grounds, there is a small pool off it with a volleyball net and basketball hoops.
There is a big infinity pool, which from a distance, blends into a lake behind it. There are two water slides in a separate area plus a big splash zone.
The main pool
An adults-only pool in a separate area looked especially peaceful and inviting.
*Games and sports: There’s a games room called The Hideout with pool table, games consoles, a tv and more. There are also pool and table tennis tables dotted around in other places along with a basketball court.
*Seating: It is invitingly placed around the pools and is a mixture of sunbeds, cabanas and egg chairs. And there are towels available on tap.
Anything else to note?
We didn’t have time to use them but there’s also three tennis court, a golf course (Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club), a spa with 18 treatment rooms and a fitness centre.
*Be sure to check Disney park opening times and shuttle bus times the night before, the timetable comes out every evening. The buses usually run every hour. The Disney desk opposite reception can link your tickets to your resort booking so you can great straight into the theme park in the morning
*On set days, there are Disney character breakfasts at the hotel – The Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals or you could even pay for a private breakfast or private meet and greet character experience with Mickey.
*Ask at reception for the times of Disney fireworks to watch, especially if you have a park-view room.
*This hotel isn’t cheap, rooms can cost up to $2,000 per night. That doesn’t include breakfast ($40 per adult and $20 per child). It is clearly aimed at the top end of the market but you are paying for an exclusive experience. There are no hidden costs here unlike other resorts with no resort fee and no costs for the kids’ club.
Sun lotion and water are freely available
The cheapest meals available on site were from the poolside restaurant with the most expensive at the top floor Capa steakhouse, which has two terraces with views across Disney World.
As it’s so expensive, it’s best to plan your days here when you can use the facilities and enjoy the tranquillity away from the crowds of places like Disney World.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando, 10100 Dream Tree Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32836, USA.
A beyond magical experience for Harry Potter fans at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay in Florida
Universal Orlando Resort
What is it?
Universal Orlando Resort is one of the most famous and popular attractions in the world, welcoming millions of visitors a year.
It includes two theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – plus Volcano Bay water park.
Based mainly on the themes of film and tv, there are loads of amazing rides, attractions and shows.
A huge draw these days – and certainly for us – is the Harry Potter areas known as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The American resort also includes a shopping area called CityWalk and eight hotels.
Where is it?
It is in Orlando, Florida, US.
What did we think?
We absolutely loved our time here and were especially blown away by the Harry Potter parts as three out of the four of us are fans.
*We loved, loved, loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Diagon Alley (Universal Studios)
We explored Diagon Alley first, which is in the Universal Studios park. It can be found through a gap in the wall which would be easy to miss. There is so much to see and do there – a multitude of shops like Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and places to eat such as the Leaky Cauldron.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
What first catches your eye though is the tremendous dragon above which sits astride Gringotts Bank or more specifically, the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. Every 10 minutes or so it breathes fire which can be quite a shock if you’re not expecting it. He emits a loud roar to warn you and it’s a great moment to capture on your phone. The Gringotts ride itself is spectacular, part roller coaster and part 3D experience, it’s perhaps too scary for young ones.
The dragon breathes fire over Diagon Alley
At Ollivander’s Wand Shop, there is a small show where Ollivander selects someone from the group and everyone watches while the perfect wand is chosen for them. He tries three different wands, the first two with disastrous results while the third provides a satisfactory and magical reaction. Our son was the person taking part, which made our trip even more special.
There are mountains of wands to buy in the shop itself, but if you buy a more expensive interactive one, you can do spells in set places which you find on a map.
Wingardium Leviosa with an interactive wand
There is so much to see and do here that you might miss fun elements like talking to an interactive goblin in the little Gringotts Money Exchange or tasting butterbeer.
The interactive goblin in the Gringotts Money Exchange
We also caught a show from Molly Weasley’s favourite singer Celestina and the Banshees.
Celestina and the Banshees
The Hogwarts Express
To get to Hogsmeade in the other theme park – Islands of Adventure – you can board the Hogwarts Express. This is a memorable ride in itself.
You enter Kings Cross station, walk through a wall to platform nine and three quarters, thanks to mirror trickery. I don’t know how this works but make sure to send your children through while you video it for them to watch afterwards. Then you emerge on to the platform to see the train itself.
The Hogwarts Express
Once on board, the windows are screens which make you feel you are passing scenes and characters from Harry Potter while the corridor side of the carriage you are in, features shadows and voices of characters as if they walking past. There’s even a dementor on the way to Hogsmead. The return journey is different again.
Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure)
When you arrive at the other station, you are in the Islands of Adventure Theme Park. Here you will find a snow-covered Hogsmeade wizarding village with more shops like The Owl Post post office, Dervish and Banges and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.
There’s another Ollivander’s Wand Shop here as well along with the Three Broomsticks restaurant.
Hogsmeade is where the popular roller coaster ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is located, which takes riders into the Forbidden Forest. This has the longest queues of any ride at the park so if you are keen to do it, then get there early or wait until last thing in the evening.
Also here is the Flight of the Hippogriff Family Coaster which is a good first roller coaster for younger people for try – although can still feel very fast and dramatic!
And this park is where you get to see Hogwarts castle itself.
You only enter to do the ride there – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Other rides we enjoyed at Universal Resort were the classics like ET Adventure – it opened in 1990 and can seem quite dated to adults but it’s a relatively gentle ride and was one of our daughter’s favourites so we rode it twice.
Next to the ET ride is one of the two areas of the park for younger children. Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse rollercoaster is a nice gentle one to start with and there are opportunities there to have your picture taken with film characters.
In another part of the park is an area dedicated Dr Seuss with a series of smaller rides in a nice colourful area. We enjoyed the Trolley Train which gives a good view over the whole site. This is a good, slightly quieter spot to eat a picnic or rest for a few minutes.
One great way to rest your legs and escape from the heat is to go and watch a live show.
We loved Animal Actors on Location. Talented animal actors from films and tv including dogs, cats, parrots and more perform mischievous tricks.
There are other shows around both parks, including the Bourne Stuntacular which is very popular.
*How long do you need
We had two days at Universal and that felt plenty for us. But if you are a group who love the biggest and most popular rides including roller coasters and screen-based simulators, then you may need longer. The second day felt amazing. We got there early and walked in confidently, knowing what we were doing and where we wanted to go.
If you are a Harry Potter fan then you are going to want to visit both theme parks and have a Park-to-Park ticket. Universal has cleverly split the Wizarding World of Harry Potter into two, with Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Hogsmead at Islands of Adventure, connected by the Hogwarts Express (which you can only ride with a Park-to-Park ticket).
This is a way to skip the long queues and enter a much quicker line on around 14 listed rides in each park. There are two versions – regular which lets you miss the queue once per attraction and unlimited, which offers unlimited times you can use it per attraction. We had Express Passes and it made our visit so much more enjoyable, so I would really urge you to consider this if your budget allows and if the rides you are keen to try are included.
*How to get there
If you are not staying in a Universal hotel on site – and we weren’t – the best way to arrive and depart, if you are within a few miles is by using Uber or Lyft taxis.
There is a specific drop-off and collection point and it works very efficiently.
This works out cheaper and easier than a hire car if you are staying quite near.
You aren’t allowed bags on some rides but there are lockers near to them. There are also big lockers near the entrance that you pay to use.
*When to get there
Make sure you get there before ‘rope drop’ – the actual opening time – as you can’t believe the amount of people pouring into the parks and to enter when it’s a bit quieter is bliss. You can then head to the Harry Potter parts first – we got there really early on our second morning and Diagon Alley is a completely different experience – it starts to get more unbearable mid-morning.
A quiet Diagon Alley first thing in the morning
There’s a third park at Universal Orlando – a water park called Volcano Bay. It has a South Seas theme with a big volcano in the middle and feels like a tropical paradise.
Instead of queuing, you wear a TapuTapu on your wrist to book a ride time.
A Tapu Tapu
There are lots of amazing rides but our favourites were the wave pool and the lazy river.
There is a slide section dedicated to younger children under a certain height, but we couldn’t find any of the next level up to build confidence – just much bigger slides.
But it was brilliant for a change of pace and to cool down.
To get there you need to get a free bus from the City Walk transport hub at Universal.
Tip: Beware of extra costs. Take your own towels or pay $5 per towel. Locker rent is $20 so if one member of the party isn’t swimming, get them to watch the stuff from the sunbed.
For eating and drinking there are a couple of restaurants and a nice ice cream stall.
Food: There are loads and loads of places to eat, including the Leaky Cauldron (Universal Studios) and The Three Broomsticks (Islands of Adventure) from Harry Potter. Bring snacks with you if you want to try to save money.
Cost: Prices start from $70 for Volcano Bay and $109 for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. A Park-to-Park ticket covering two parks starts from $159 for children. Look out for offers such as four days for the price of two – Universal Orlando tickets, packages and prices
Best for: There’s something for everyone, even rides and activities for toddlers. Plus all the rides have a child swap (also known as kid swap or baby swap) option. This means even if a younger child can’t or doesn’t want to go on a ride, the rest of the family does not need to miss out. There are different ways this works depending on the ride so check first. We used it effectively on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Ride.
“Millions of familiesare not only learning how to school at home, but have also missed out on a fun vacation, so we hope this helpsease the pain on both fronts,” saidGeorge Aguel of Visit Orlando.
“As the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is home to some of the most creative minds and entertainers out there, and our tourism industry has teamed together, using their skills to helpkids and parents who are adapting to this current reality.“
*Learn how to design theme parks, engineer thrill rides and develop characters straight from Disney Imagineersin a free online program.
*Draw Mickey Mousewith Disney tutorials on the Disney Parks YouTube channel.Cast member Stephen Ketchum provides experttips on how to draw the famous mouse from vintage 1920’s Mickey to the more contemporary version.
Disney tutorials on the Disney Parks YouTube channel
*Characters from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic and Disney Parkshelp with lessons on the new Disney Magic Moments website, from story times with celebrities to cooking recipes to educational activities.
*Interact with droids in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, test your Disney trivia, download official Disney playlists and more with Play Disney Parks, a mobile app that offers unique experiences and activities that bring the theme park environments to life.
*Find live singalongs with celebrity musicians, techniques for sidewalk masterpieces, art tutorials, anda fun new craft each day onCrayola Experience‘s Facebook channel.
*Explore life’s oddities – such as how to make a shrunken head from an apple –onRipley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums at home. Visit the websitefor a schedule of live Facebook content, at-home activities tailored for all ages, and unusual facts about famous people throughout history.
*Practice building flowers, dinosaurs and flying cars with the new LEGO challenges, tips and activities on the LEGOLAND Florida Facebook page.
*Young squires and princesses can revert back to medieval times by creating their own coat of chivalry or coloring a princess crown via the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament – Orlando’s Facebook page.
*Storytime from Space is a series of audiobooks read by real astronauts. Children can also learn about living in space, Mars and rocketry or tour Space Shuttle Atlantis during an ongoing series of Facebook lives from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Parents can find additional downloadable activities here.
*Budding scientists can find videos on do-it-yourself projects like making rock and slime on the Orlando Science Center’s website. Other tutorials include making your own superhero training camp and creating dinosaur fossils.
Orlando Science Center
Biology Class Gone Wild
At 3pm daily, their YouTube channel shares live-action encounters with animals including Burmese pythons, crocodiles, alligators and lizards.
*Explore animals all over the world, including their habitats, diets, behaviors and scientific classification, throughSeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s distance learning resources.The site includes hands-on classroom activities, teacher’s guides, videos and info books.
*Read with sea creatures during ‘Under the Sea Story Times’ every Sunday and watch interactive and educational animal encounters onSEA LIFE Aquarium‘s Facebook page.
*Pretend you’re exploring the jungle by listening to noises from nature, fromsunrise in the swamp togiraffes munching their dinner.Wild Wednesday Nature Sounds is a new listening experience on Wild Florida‘s social channels.
*Put your problem-solving skills to the test through The Escape Game’s TEG Field Trips,with free online games that take students on virtual field trips through museums and historic landmarks by uncovering clues and solving puzzles.
*PE goes online as students can practice their virtual swing at home with Topgolf‘s WGT Golf online or on mobile devices. Find additional resources like tips, drills and printable puzzles through their downloadable guide.
*Learn how to juggle, face paint or dance like a Cirque du Soleil performer via CirqueConnect, a new digital content hub featuring a section devoted to kids’ content.
*#MUSEUMFROMHOME is withOrlando Museum of Art’s free online archives and social media channels,with options ranging from livevideo streams to critically acclaimed children’s book readings, to art-inspired colouring books.
*Comedy and magic come together to teach lessons about bullying,during two full-length productions filmed live onstage of ‘Pip-Squeak, An Anti-Bullying Magic Show,’presented by The Orlando Repertory Theater, in partnership with Tony Brent.
*In times of crisis, it is important to be a helper.TheHolocaust Memorial & Resource Center of Floridais encouraging children to share their stories of how they have helped others through YouTubevideo submissions.
*Learn about native Americans, pioneers and famous people in history on the Orange County Regional History Center’s website, with activities ranging from historic coloring pages to lesson plans to virtual tours of recent exhibitions.
What is new for the Theme Park Capital of the World this year at attractions including Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld
Orlando in Florida is welcoming 30 new additions for 2020.
There will be a theme park expansion, the world’s tallest slingshot ride, an ‘acoustically perfect’ theatre, a new celebrity chef restaurant and one of the largest booms for hotel growth in decades.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World Resort)
*The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, ‘Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway,’ will open.
*Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’ has opened and is the second attraction for the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land.
Epcot (Walt Disney World Resort)
Epcot is undergoing one of the biggest transformations of any Disney park in history, bringing a host of new attractions and experiences in 2020, including:
*Three new films from January 17: Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 and Awesome Planet.
*Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens in summer 2020, shrinking guests to the size of Chef Remy and racing them through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.
*Epcot’s new nighttime spectacular HarmonioUS, the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.
*La Crêperie de Paris, a new restaurant located in the France pavilion at Epcot, debuting in summer 2020, offering both table and quick-service crepe options.
Universal Orlando Resort
*The Bourne Stuntacular, a cutting-edge live-action stunt show based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster Bourne films, will debut in spring 2020 at Universal Studios Florida.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
*Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando, opening spring 2020, takes riders on the steepest vertical drop in Florida.
*Riptide Race at Aquatica Orlando will be Florida’s first-ever dueling water slide, featuring side-by-side racing lanes through nearly 650 feet of slide.
New Entertainment Beyond the Parks
Outside the famous theme parks, Orlando is reaching new heights this year, from some of the world’s tallest thrills rides to one of the most acoustically perfect spaces on earth.
*Steinmetz Hall at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, opening September 2020, will achieve an N1 sound rating – the lowest level at which humans can detect sound.
Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
*ICON Park, located on International Drive and home to The Wheel and Starflyer attractions, will welcome more record-breaking attractions in 2020, including two major thrill rides:
The Orlando Slingshot will catapult guests 450 feet into the air and is set to the be the World’s Tallest Slingshot ride.
The Orlando Gyro Drop Tower will reach 400 feet, making it the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower. Riders freefall at up to 75 miles per hour.
*The Orlando Science Center’s ‘Pompeii: The Immortal City,’ runs June 6 to September 7, 2020 and is one of only four US sites for the interactive exhibit.
Orlando Science Center
*’Drawn to Life,’ a new Cirque du Soleil show, transports guests into the world of Disney’s animation in Cirque’s signature style, opening at Disney Springs in March 2020.
*Wild Florida’s 75-acre drive-through safari park brings visitors nose-to-snout with giraffes, wild boars and other animals. The safari area will include a zipline over a grazing area.
*Two Orlando malls are set to undergo enhancements in 2020 – Pointe Orlando and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets.
New Resorts and Hotels
Orlando has the second highest number of hotel rooms of anywhere in the US and is undergoing a huge hotel expansion.
*JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opens February 2020 with 516 rooms, a Spa and a rooftop terrace with nightly views of theme park fireworks.
JW Marriott Orlando
*Universal Orlando Resort’s 2,050-room Dockside Inn and Suites opens March 2020. It is a coastal-themed budget hotel with rates starting at $76 per night.
There are a host of new eateries adding to Orlando’s diverse food scene.
*Knife & Spoon at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is a concept from chef John Tesar, opening spring 2020.
*Ole Red, a new restaurant by country superstar Blake Shelton, will open at ICON Park in 2020 and merge southern hospitality, good food and live country music. Also coming to ICON Park in 2020 is Ox Grill, offering contemporary fare with steaks, pasta and a selection of international dishes.
*Camelo Pizzaria opens on International Drive in early 2020. The Brazilian thin-crust pizza place is the first location outside Brazil.
*Sixty Vines, a restaurant with Napa Valley-inspired seasonal cuisine, will open in spring 2020 in Winter Park and offer guests 60 varieties of wine on tap.
*Norman’s will be moving to Restaurant Row. Created by celebrity chef Norman Van Aken, the concept will open in the Dellagio Plaza spring 2020.
*Kavas Tacos + Tequila at Pointe Orlando opens September 2020. The locally owned restaurant will feature Mexican comfort food, tequila flights and entertainment. Also opening at Pointe Orlando is The Hampton Social, themed after the New York coastal resort region.
*AG’s Market, a lakefront food hall opening late 2020, combines retail, beverage and food options with a second-floor seating area showcasing the theme park fireworks.
America’s Orlando is opening a host of new rides and areas for visitors to enjoy this summer.
Orlando in Florida is already one of the world’s most visited family destinations.
It is home to seven theme parks and 450 hotels and welcomed 75 million visitors last year.
And a host of new rides and areas are opening for children to enjoy this year, it has been revealed.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a ride which takes visitors into the Forbidden Forest made famous in JK Rowling’s books.
Harry Potter fans can board flying motorbikes and with Hagrid as guide, travel through the forest seeing fantastic beasts.
It opens on June 13 (2019) at Universal Orlando Resort, at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Disney World Resort has a new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area with two new rides and character meet-and-greets.
It is set on the planet Batuu and also has shops and a restaurant. It will be up and running on August 29 (2019).
A new live show based around the Cars film series is opening at Hollywood Studios, Disney World, called Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. It features characters including Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater.
Legoland Florida Resort has launched Lego Movie World.
The new addition features three new attractions based on worlds within the film.
Animal lovers can enjoy a new 75-acre safari park at Wild Florida with more than 100 Floridian animals to spot.
The new safari park makes the park six times bigger. Guests can drive their own vehicles or ride on a guided buggy tour. There will also be a zip-line/zip wire so visitors can fly over the park.
Other new additions to the city include a Sesame Street section at Sea World celebrating the TV programme’s 50th anniversary and popular characters taking part in the daily parade.
The NBA Experience opens at Disney Springs on August 12, with 13 hands-on games and activities for basketball fans
The theme park expansions mean that 2019 could be one of the busiest summers for Orlando tourist bosses.
Visit Orlando President George Aguel said: ”Orlando is always innovating, with immersive new experiences and unbeatable hospitality that keeps visitors returning year after year.”
“It’s this memorable combination that keeps Orlando the most-visited destination in the country, with a record 75 million visitors in 2018.”
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