We had a chance to visit Kissimmee recently and although I’ve made many trips to the area, there are always new things to see, do and explore. Come along on my journey with our eight-year old granddaughter, Bella, in tow and see the fun through her eyes.
New NBA Experience – Hoop Dreams in Disney Springs
I only wish this venue was closer to my home because the NBA Experience was sensational. In this two-story basketball mecca, Bella had so much fun shooting baskets, while my husband was busy judging the referee calls on a video. With 13 challenging activities, your basketball skills will be put to the test as you dribble, shoot, dunk and score and work up a sweat! Cool down by checking out all of the exhibits and statistics of NBA superstars or play arcade-type hoop games. We arrived in the early evening and the crowds had diminished, making the lines that much shorter. Plus, with your magic band or sign in, Disney will store all of your action-packed fun photos in one place.
Chill Out at Margaritaville
Recently opened, Margaritaville is a beautiful, casual resort that transports you to a vacation state of mind. With its own village, Sunset Walk and waterpark, Island H20, it’s the kind of place you never want to leave. You’ll know where you are by the giant flip flop that greets you in the lobby. Choose from a variety of accommodations — guest rooms to suites to cottages. Enjoy four distinctive dining venues, lagoon-style pools, spa and more. Head to Sunset Walk for great dining and entertainment venues like Ford’s Garage (really fabulous) and the new Estefan Kitchen, yes Emilio and Gloria’s uber-cool restaurant.
New Coasters Debut at SeaWorld
Discover the wonders beneath the sea at SeaWorld, where the aquatic world comes alive with up-close animal experiences, exciting entertainment and roller coasters. Join SeaWorld’s mission to fund wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts and protect the habitats. All of this, while you’re having such fun! We sat in amazement as we watched the dolphins perform and laughed to the antics of the Sea Lion and Otter shows. The Shamu Show was stellar! Meet your favorite Sesame Street characters in Sesame Street Land as they prance around this imaginative place. The area features family-friendly rides, water play area, award-winning Party Parade and a real Sesame Street neighborhood. Bella’s favorite rides were the Slimy Slider and Abby’s Flower Tower. Recommended is the SeaWorld daily kids’ meal deal for $19.95, a great value. With the success of the popular Infinity Falls raft ride, Sea World will be launching “Ice Breakers” which features the steepest vertical drop with four launches, backwards and forwards. For additional excitement, SeaWorld’s water park, Aquatica, is adding a dueling slide called Riptide Race.
Wonder Works – Fun in an Upside-Down House
Explore more than 100 hands-on experiences from the Extreme Weather Zone (Just what does being in a hurricane or earthquake really feel like?) to the Ropes Course to laser tag and the 4D XD Motion Theatre experience. Bella liked it so much, we saw two different movies that shook with big screen action and adventure. Stay for the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show for lots of laughs.
An Epic Battle of Steed and Steel — Medieval Times
This was one of Bella’s favorite (K)nights! Medieval Times is a combination of history, paired with jousting entertainment and a great meal (without utensils!) Let the tournament begin as chivalrous knights on beautiful horses perform for the queen, then engage in battle to see which knight wins. Great entertainment for the whole family.
Walk on the Wild Side — Wild Florida and Drive-Thru Safari
Take a break from the attractions and head out to Wild Florida to explore three different experiences – an airboat ride, gator park and a drive-thru Safari Park. Hop on an airboat for a wild ride through Lake Cypress and scout out alligators, bald eagles and other wildlife. Bella laughed as Captain John sped up and we flew through the water. Don’t be surprised if you see cows grazing in the short grass. Captain John called them “Florida Sea Cows” … ha ha! (Reservations are required for the airboat tours.) Get up close and personal with gators and crocs in the Gator Park as well as exotic birds in the Walk-in Bird Aviary. Meet Crusher, a 1,000-pound alligator at the Crusher Show and watch alligators at the Gator Feeding Show. At Animal Encounters, Bella held a baby alligator and fed a two-toed sloth. Then head to the 85-acre Drive-Thru Safari Park where you slowly drive through the habitat and see exotic and native animals like zebras, bison, antelope and sheep, all from the comfort of your car. Bella even fed a giraffe from a high platform. (He likes romaine lettuce.)
When you’re hungry, chow down at the Chomp House Grill. Plan to spend the day at Wild Florida. You’re sure to enjoy all of the unique adventures! 866-532-7167.
The Magic Continues…
We spent one memorable day at DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom and I can honestly say, the fairy-tale lives on to enchant a new generation. From the opening ceremonies to the “Festival of Fantasy” parade to the spectacular “Happily Ever After” fireworks, Bella was under the its magical spell. Every ticket comes with three free Fast Passes, so we made appointments for “Small World,” “Buzz Lightyear” and “Under the Sea.” When were done, we were able to book additional Fast Passes via my phone. It made the day that much smoother. Bella wanted to brave the roller coasters and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad took us on one wild ride. We were hysterical at the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and were impressed by the People Mover, which actually took us through Space Mountain. We also wandered over to Hollywood Studios to see the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and to Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, which made us feel like we were really in a Star Wars movie. New in the Magic Kingdom is the Fireworks Dessert Party that included a sumptuous dessert buffet and a special terrace viewing area for the fireworks. After a long day, the experience provided a delightful respite to watch the magnificent display.