I’m excited to announce my first guest post by my fabulous friend Abby! She runs Living House, a blog full of upbeat encouragement and thoughtful reflection. And she recently returned from Orlando, Florida and has some great tips. Happy traveling!
Back in July, my family took a trip down to Florida to spend five full days in Orlando! First learning about this trip was so exciting for me because I hadn’t been to Orlando since I was about five years old, and even then I barely remember the experience. Now that I’m a bit older and know how to work a camera, I’ll be able to remember this trip for years to come. And now I’d like to share with you what I did during my five-day stay in Orlando!
Day 1: Visiting Old Town Kissimmee
Our flight got in on a Saturday evening, so our adventures began on Sunday morning with a visit to the beautiful town of Kissimmee, just a few minutes out from Orlando. The area had an old town vibe (matching the name quite nicely), with unique, vintage shops. If vintage isn’t your thing, there are plenty of newer shops along the shopping strip as well! Personally, my favorite shops were The Soap Company (a store with natural skincare products where I bought a skin-saving tea tree face mask) and Black Market Minerals (where you can buy beautiful wire-wrapped gemstone necklaces, among other gemstone related items).
On the outskirts of the town, there’s a carnival filled with games and rides! Even though we didn’t buy a day pass to ride any of the rides, we enjoyed walking around and looking at the gorgeous scenery. If you have the time, I highly recommend stopping by, whether you decide to hop on a few rides or just walk around for a bit, the bright colors and fun atmosphere are sure to put you in a good mood.
Day 2: Becoming Astronauts at Kennedy Space Center
Okay, so maybe we didn’t actually become astronauts, but it sure felt like we did! The minute we walked through the gates and saw actual rockets and space shuttles, it felt as if we were transported to a totally different world. The size of the rockets in the Rocket Garden were unreal!
The first thing we did was take a bus tour to visit the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where they assembled the Apollo 8 rocket, the space shuttle, and the Saturn V rocket! You’ll also drive by historic launch pads 39A and 39B before heading to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where you can see the Saturn V moon rocket.
The real highlight of my visit to the Visitor Complex was the Atlantis Shuttle Experience–a museum dedicated to the space shuttle Atlantis. There’s a spectacular video about the shuttle to watch before entering the museum and viewing the actual space shuttle! There’s plenty of kid and adult-friendly activities, as well as plenty of facts to read about NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.
As a little tip from me to you, I want to mention that it’s super important to get to the Space Center early! It opens at 9 AM and closes at 7 PM; it may seem like plenty time, but the bus tour takes around 2 hours by itself, and there are lots of other activities you’ll want to get to. (The center’s website mentions about eleven experiences.) The lines to get into different activities can get pretty long too, so make sure to dress for the weather and wear comfy shoes.
Day 3: Finding Magic at Disney World!
This, by far, was my favorite day. Like I mentioned before, I hadn’t been to Orlando since I was five, so being able to go back and experience the magic of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was such a treat for me. With the help of Kristin and her blog posts on her trip to Disney, we were able to make the day easier and a lot more enjoyable. I downloaded the Disney app and reserved some fast passes the night before, which made the lines so much more bearable.
Some of my favorite rides of the day were Space Mountain (where the Fast Pass really came in handy–we turned a 150-minute line into a 15-minute wait!), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Pirates of the Caribbean (I will say that this one isn’t for everyone, but I happen to be a big fan of the movies). Sadly, we weren’t able to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train due to a rain delay, making the line ridiculously long. Since it’s a pretty popular ride to begin with, I’d get a Fast Pass for it if you really want to ride it.
A small but meaningful gem I found while walking through Liberty Square was a little Tangled-themed bathroom area, complete with Rapunzel’s tower in the background. As a huge fan of the movie, finding this area was so fun for me, especially since music from the movie was playing and the area was decorated exactly like the movie.
If you’re heading to the park in the summer, a tip I have for you is to be prepared for rain. Florida is known to have afternoon showers, something my family and I didn’t think of beforehand. Around lunchtime, it started to downpour, and we didn’t have a poncho or an umbrella! We took this time to head for some lunch at the Pinocchio Village Haus (but not before getting slightly drenched), a cute little restaurant with a cozy feel that serves salads, flatbreads and pizza.
And don’t forget to stay for the fireworks! I know that you’ll probably be exhausted from a long day of walking and waiting in lines, but the show is definitely worth it.
Day 4: Relaxing at Discovery Cove
Wednesday was the big day for my sister because she’d finally be able to fulfill her life-long dream of swimming with dolphins! While the main reason we visited Discovery Cove was so my sister could do this, the rest of us easily found things to do after her thirty-minute experience. Surrounding the three Dolphin Lagoons, there’s a salt water lagoon where you can snorkel with fish and stingrays, a freshwater lagoon and a lazy river. If you’re not wanting to get wet, you can also just relax on the beach and soak up some sun.
I really felt like I was at a resort during my visit, due to the fact that they only let a certain amount of people in each day (which was a nice break from being surrounded by people at Disney the day before), and all of the food and drinks were complimentary. The area was well-kept and just beautiful to look at.
Again, get an early start if you choose to visit! The park opens at 8 AM and closes at 5 PM. And don’t worry about eating before you arrive because there’s complimentary breakfast and lunch bars available to you. Also, you get a free pass to Sea World with your purchase of a ticket to Discovery Cove!
Day 5: Shopping in Disney Springs
Deciding to hop on over to Disney Springs (also known as Downtown Disney) was a last minute decision for us. Originally, we were planning on taking advantage of our free ticket to Sea World but felt so exhausted that we decided to stay in and play cards for the day. When dinner rolled around, my dad suggested finding a restaurant along the strip of stores. I definitely wasn’t complaining because my love for Disney is never-ending and I’d be able to pick up a souvenir t-shirt from the World of Disney store, since I hadn’t gotten one at Disney World.
We dined at Paradiso 37, which serves a wide range of food from all over the Americas. I had a pretzel bun cheeseburger with steak fries that was delicious, but it was so big that I couldn’t even finish it all! For dessert, we took Kristin’s recommendation and stopped by Ghirardelli’s for some amazing ice cream and sat on the patio to enjoy some live music as the sun went down. It truly was a beautiful ending to an amazing week.
Thank you so much for reading about my trip to Orlando! I hope you enjoyed and found some useful tips about navigating the area. And thank you to the amazing Kristin of Round Trip for letting me guest post!
If you’ve been to Orlando, what were some of the highlights, tips or tricks from your trip that I may or may not have mentioned? I’d love to read them in case I ever plan a return trip!
Sending my love,