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Florida Attractions, Central

Central Florida attractions are the main destinations for most visitors to Florida. In a relatively small patch of the state we have more attractions than you can shake a stick at!  Of course there are the big ones like Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens and theUniversal Studios theme park.  But what about the other Central Florida attractions...you know, the ones that sometimes get lost in the shuffle?

There are smaller attractions of all sorts in Central Florida, from the venerable Gatorland to whatever's the newest that joined the crowd!  Orlando, Florida attracts attractions tend to be good for a half day, or maybe a little more in some cases (like Discovery Cove). 

These smaller Central Florida attractions really can't compete with the "big boys", but they do have advantages nonetheless (like fewer crowds, for one). 

These attractions are mainly in the Orlando-Kissimmee area, but there are a few that have strayed away towards Tampa.  So, even though I have organized all of the other Florida attractions pages north to south or west to east...Central Florida attractions is alphabetical!

Central Florida Attractions

  • Arabian Nights: If you enjoy horses, this dinner show has plenty!  The theme of the show is a fairy-tale wedding between a Prince and Princess...performed on horseback.  Plenty of Ooo's and Ahhh's for this show.  Check out the website for online coupons and specials -- do it when you have some time because the site is very graphic intensive and takes quite awhile to load (even with DSL). Open daily but you'll need to call for times and/or reservations (if you didn't make them over the internet).  Kissimmee, FL (407) 239-9223

  • Adventure Island:  This is a waterpark, great for those hot and humid summer days!  Check out the "Riptide", a 4-lane race in separate tubes.  And naturally there are wave pools, all kinds of slides and other watery fun.  Open daily from March through October, but hours vary throughout the year so call ahead or check the website for times.  Tampa, FL  (888) 800-5447

  • Cypress Gardens Adventure Park: This was one of the oldest attractions in Central Florida, until it closed down.  But wait!  It's now back open again, and better than ever.  Shows, rides, concerts, gardens and a waterpark.  It seems that now they even have a zoo of sort in the gardens -- that could be interesting!  Check the website before you go, to see if they are running any special discounts.   Open daily at 10 AM, but closing times vary throughout the year from 5 PM to 11 PM.  Winter Haven, FL  (863) 324-2111

  • Dinosaur World:  Like dinos?  You'll love Dinosaur World!  There's a fossil dig area (with real fossils), a "Boneyard:, a museum, a "Skeleton Garden" and more.  One word of caution -- they don't have food service, so plan to bring your own (there are picnic areas, though).  Oh, and they do have pizza delivery available!  Open daily 9 AM to 6 PM, except in December and January (open 9-5 then).   Plant City, FL  (813) 717-9865  

  • Discovery Cove:  I would so love to visit this place...if I had the money that is.  It ain't cheap, between $159 to $279 for a one-day admission price.  So, what do you get?  You get to swim with dolphins, snorkel a reef in a huge (really really big) pool, breakfast, lunch, snacks, wetsuit, towels...you get the idea.  Just bring yourself to this watery adventure and Discovery Cove will do the rest.  Call or use the internet for reservations and do ask about special discounts (which can be a good chunk of change).  Open daily 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM.  Orlando, FL   ( 877) 4-DISCOVERY

  • Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede: This is a dinner show for Dolly fans, or for anyone who would just as soon pass on all the horse-themed dinner shows.  The admission includes the Carriage House opening act, a 4-course meal and the main show.  Open daily, show times vary from 6 PM to 6:30 PM (with an occasional lunch show) so call ahead or check the website for the date you want.  Orlando, FL.  (866) 443-4943

  • Gatorland:  Gatorland has been around for practically forever, at least for a Central Florida attraction.  I went there many, many times on school field trips, and then I went back as an adult, too.  And you know what?  I still enjoyed it!  Of course Gatorland has been revamped a few times since the stone age (i.e. when I was in elementary school), which is a good thing.  They've put together new shows and exhibits, too.  And starting in April 2007, check out the Gator Gully Splash Park if you have little ones (bring a bathing suit).  Open daily 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  Kissimmee, FL (800) 393-JAWS.

  • Holy Land Experience:  I have to say that I didn't know what to expect when I went to see this attraction.  What I had was a really neat time!  This will only appeal to those of you who are intrigued with history, as there aren't any rides like the other parks.  There are shows and tours throughout the day, as well as a "Kidventure" area for the youger set if they get too restless. Rounding it out is a cafe that serves Mediterranean foods...although plain old American fare is readily available too.   Open Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM.  Orlando, FL  (407) 872-2272

  • Medieval Times This is also a horse-y dinner show, but it's a medieval castle setting instead of a Middle Eastern palace.  I have to say, the horses are great here, and the show is fun.  Food is even decent at the 4-course dinner!  Dress casually, because the last time I went, we didn't get forks and knives with our dinner (not to worry, it was easily eaten with the fingers).  Open daily, but call or check the website for show times, as they vary throughout the year.  Orlando, FL  (888) 935-6878

  • Ripley's Believe it or Not:  This particular Ripley's isn't called a museum, but rather an "Odditorium".  You can tell they mean it, because when you first see the building, it looks to be in the process of being swallowed by a sinkhole. And that's before you've even walked in the door!  Standard Riley's fun, even if you have been to other Ripley's attractions before.  Open daily, 9 AM to 1 AM.  Orlando, FL  (407) 363-4418

  • Skull Kingdom If you like haunted houses and magic shows, you may want to check out Skull Kingdom. Guest participation is encouraged in the horrow shows, but the evening horror shows are too intense for the young ones.  The magic show is fun for all ages, though, and it includes all-you-can-eat pizza.  Open daily, with the day horror shows from 10 AM to 5 PM.  The evening horror show starts after 5 PM.  Call for the magic show times.  Orlando, FL  (407) 354-1564  

  • SkyVenture:  How can I describe SkyVenture?  I know...indoor sky-diving!  If you've always wanted to experience sky diving but never felt comfortable about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane 10,000 feet up, this might just be what you're looking for.  Now you won't be "in the air" (think vertical wind tunnel) very long, but then again you wouldn't be on a regular sky dive either.  And naturally, they have a "frequent flyer" program for those of you who would like return trips.  Open daily, 10 AM to 11 PM (midnight on weekends) and reservations are suggested.  Orlando, FL  (407) 903-1150

  • Titanic - The Exhibition: Calling all Titanic aficionados, this is for you!  This attraction is an hour-long guided tour of a re-creation of the world's most famous sunken ship.  While naturally the whole ship isn't re-created, its most famous rooms are, and the replication is life-size.  And if you really want to get fancy, rent out the Titanic for a party!   Hours and days can vary, so best call to check the availability of the date you'll be in the area.  Orlando, FL    (407) 248-1166  or  (407) 345-9337    

Something to Think About...

Most of these are outdoorsy type attractions, and summers get hot around these parts. If you have a choice, you might want to avoid June through September. If you do come during the summer, bring a small umbrella because you may need it - it's our rainy season.

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