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How to Enjoy Orlando Without the Queues
by Craig Williams
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Florida’s theme parks are full of fun and magic - but they can also be full of people too, and no matter what time of year you visit you may get to a point where the last thing you want to see is another queue!
There are ways to minimise queuing of course, but that is the subject for a whole other post. If you do want to get away from the maddening crowds here are some suggestions of things to do that do not involve standing in line:
World Showcase at Epcot
The France Pavilion at Epcot World Showcase
Walt Disney World’s Epcot does have lots of attractions, which in turn means lots of people, but the World Showcase area gives guests a chance to spend a lovely relaxed time too.
The World Showcase lagoon is surrounded by 11 pavilions, each one representing a different country, culture, and its people. Some do include a ride or attraction but aside from that each pavilion has a selection of lovely shops, eateries and representatives of that country to chat to.
Each country has regular shows relevant to their culture, history and heritage, and alcohol from around the world may appeal to the adult visitor too. However I cannot encourage or condone those that wish to take part in the “around the world challenge” of taking a drink in each pavilion!
Mini golf at Swan & Dolphin
Fantasia Mini Golf
There are many Mini Golf opportunities in Florida, but it won’t surprise you to hear that Disney do it (in my opinion) best.
The Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf, close to the Swan and Dolphin resorts, offers two 18-hole miniature golf adventures based on Disney's classic animated film Fantasia. I’d suggest playing after dark to get the full benefit of some of the more clever effects, but at any time of day this is great fun, and appealing to those “competitive dads” out there!
Shopping at the Malls
Even for the shopping-phobics out there, American malls are an experience that everyone should sample at least once. Florida has many, and bargains can be had, especially when the dollar rate is favourable.
For those not too keen on shopping (like me), the reward will be endless brownie points from those in your party that do, and of course the inevitable visit to the food court, which is an oasis of variety and usually good quality too.
House of Blues Gospel Brunch
Technically this is eating out, but as often is the case in Florida, this comes with added entertainment. The Gospel Brunch experience, at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney includes local talent performing both traditional and contemporary Gospel songs plus an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet. Anything which includes the phrase “all-you-can-eat” is worthy of consideration in my opinion!
Watercraft hire at the Grand Floridian
The Grand Floridian Resort
This upmarket Disney resort overlooking the Magic Kingdom offers guests the chance to make use of water mice, sail boats, pontoon boats, pedal boats or water skiing. There is a large expanse of water to explore, and it is a lovely way to see the resorts and wildlife in and around Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
At the campgrounds of Fort Wilderness Lodge guests can take part in a variety of horsey activities. Horse riding trails of varying degrees of difficulty are on offer, and for those not born to riding, carriage and wagon rides may be more your style.
AMC Cinema Downtown Disney
OK, so you can go to the cinema any day of the week back home - but let’s be honest, you’ve seen the cinemas on American TV and films and wanted to give it a go too!
The AMC cinema at Downtown Disney is huge, and is worth going for the concession stands alone. You will have the chance to try all those US candies such as Milk Duds, Junior Mints and of course hot buttered popcorn! This cinema even offers a waitress service “watch-and-dine” experience. If you get a rainy day this is a great way to pass an afternoon or evening.
Craig Williams has been travelling to Florida for over thirty years. He has written two travel journals about his family's US holidays covering trips from 2003 to 2013, during which he has passed on his own Florida addiction to his wife and children. Craig can be found online on Twitter (@mkingdon) and at his blog, http://mkingdon.com.
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