Of course, the main reason to come to Orlando in August of 2016 will be the meeting of the World Blind Union, but most of us will want to do more than meet and work-we will want some time to play and relax. The purpose of this guide is to give you a small taste of what is available.
Because Florida is warm and ideal for water sports, there are several water parks in the area. Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon are both relatively close. The water parks are a separate ticket, no regular park admission required. Blizzard Beach has a ski resort theme and offers over seventeen slides, a wave pool, an area for pre-teens, and an area for young children. Typhoon Lagoon is a Disney version of a typical water park themed in a tropical island setting, containing the usual slides, pools, and slow river. They also have unique features such as a surf pool and a saltwater artificial coral reef pool full of tropical fish you can snorkel through. A one-day water park ticket is $61.77 for those ages ten and up, $53.25 for those ages three through nine.
If animals intrigue you, Aquatica SeaWorld's water park might be more your style. Attractions include a pair of giant side-by-side wave pools, water slides, a lazy river, and the opportunity to see and even swim with Commerson's dolphins. Offers, discounts, and tickets are available online at http://aquaticabyseaworld.com/orlando/book-online/buy-tickets-and-passes.
You may want to check out Wet 'n Wild Orlando, since the water park will be closing at the end of 2016. Wet 'n Wild is definitely the most intense and thrilling of the water parks, with slides including freefalls, enclosed tornado-style slides, and a mat-slide attraction called Aqua Drag Racer. It also includes lazy river, wave pool, and children's play area. Single day admission is $57 for those ages ten and up, $52 for children ages three through nine.
If the thought of fresh air after all those meetings appeals, but water parks aren't your cup of tea, there are a number of other outdoor attractions in the Orlando area. For the dinosaur lover, check out Dinosaur World. It's a little further away from the Rosen Center, but this twenty-acre outdoor museum has over two hundred life-size dinosaurs in a natural setting. There are interactive shows and activities for those of all ages to enjoy, but you should eat before you go there are no restaurants on site.
For the gardening enthusiast, Leu Gardens is a fifty-acre botanical garden minutes from downtown Orlando with the mission to inspire visitors to appreciate and understand plants. Also on the grounds is the Leu House Museum, which showcases turn-of-the-century living of the families who once owned the land. Mixing the outdoors with music, Bok Tower Gardens is a national historic landmark well worth the visit. Bok Tower Gardens is one of the greatest works of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The grounds are a designated site on the Great Florida Birding trail, and the gardens are home to 126 different species of birds, as well as the threatened gopher tortoise and the endangered eastern indigo snake. What truly makes the gardens unique, however, is the Singing Tower carillon. The tower was designed by architect Milton B. Medary, crafted by stone sculptor Lee Lawrie, and is home to one of the world's finest carillons. Concerts from the sixty-bell carillon ring out over the garden at 1 PM
and 3 PM daily, though short selections play on the hour and half-hour. For an extra $5, you can get a guided one-hour tour of the gardens. Please email email@example.com one week in advance to arrange for a guide.
Want something more educational, but still active? Orlando has plenty to offer there, too. Not only does the Orlando Science Center offer audio tours of certain exhibits that promise a "significant amount of additional information that visitors would not normally get while visiting the exhibition," but it also has a number of interactive exhibits that give visitors a chance to get hands-on understanding of principals of science and engineering. Alternatively, there is Wonderworks, billed as "an amusement park for the mind, with 35,000 square feet of edu-tainment. The attraction combines education and entertainment with more than 100 hands on exhibits that challenge the mind and spark the imagination."
If you're interested in history, the Orange County Regional History Center is housed within a restored 1927 courthouse. The museum features permanent exhibits tracing the area's history from a Native American settlement to its development as a tourist community. The center is a Smithsonian affiliate and hosts biannual traveling exhibitions. The center also has a Florida cracker-style pioneer cabin, a replica tepee from a 1950s motel, a recreated Seminole Indian village, interactive displays about Florida industries, and the adjacent Heritage Square Park.
The Orlando Eye is a newer attraction. It is the signature attraction in a dining, entertainment, and shopping complex. The 400-foot observation wheel contains thirty air-conditioned capsules that fit fifteen riders each. You can purchase tickets for just the Eye, or combination tickets for two other attractions in the complex: Madame Tussauds Orlando Wax Attraction and Sea Life Aquarium. If you have a sweet tooth, Chocolate Kingdom, the factory adventure tour may be for you. The tour is an interactive journey that shows the transformation from the bean into the chocolate bar. Your personal chocolate tour guide joins forces with a handsome prince and his dragon sidekick to take you through a cacao tree greenhouse, a one-of-a-kind chocolate museum, a mystical river of chocolate, and a micro batch bean-to-the-bar factory utilizing old world machinery. Tours are $16.95 per adult, children ages four through twelve are $12.95.
Of course, you can't mention Orlando without mentioning the theme parks. Some of those who have been to the National Federation of the Blind's national convention in the last few years have visited Gatorland, a park offering a petting zoo, a free-flight aviary, thousands of alligators and crocodiles (including four rare leucistic "white" alligators, and a Gator Zip Line experience. There's also LEGOLAND Florida, the newest of the theme parks in central florida. LEGOLAND is specifically designed for families with children from age two to twelve, with over fifty rides, life-size Lego displays, interactive activities, shows, and attractions. Universal Studios Orlando has two parks filled with roller coasters, rides, shows, and experiences including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Simpsons, Minions, Transformers, and more.
No description of the tourist activities in Florida would be complete without mentioning Walt Disney World. It consists of parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Assistive Technology Devices are available at guest services to provide audio information about attractions and wait times as you pass them, and Braille guides are also available.
Orlando is also home to any number of fine restaurants, shopping opportunities, and tour packages too numerous to mention here. Some are standards you can learn about from native Floridians, but new restaurants are always popping up in this bustling city, so check with the concierge desk for up-to-date information.
For concerts, Orlando is home to the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra with Music Director Eric Jacobsen. There are many clubs and venues such as Hard Rock Café in Universal Orlando's CityWalk and House of Blues in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Check with the concierge desk for suggestions or to arrange transportation to where you want to go.
If you'd rather stay close to meetings and events in the hotel, the Rosen Centre offers plenty to do. The Rosen Centre has a full-service spa, offering facials, massages, and body treatments. A variety of dining options are also available, ranging from a sushi bar, tapas, New York-style deli, and flavors unique to Florida. There are several bars, and a coffee bar featuring Starbucks® coffee.
For a bit more activity after sitting in meetings, the Rosen Centre has a twenty-four-hour fitness center, a tropical swimming pool, and a whirlpool.
While the meeting of the World Blind Union is the real reason to travel to Orlando, the options for spending a few hours in the evening or for taking an extra day (or perhaps two or three) are nearly limitless. We hope to see you there in 2016.
Thursday, August 18, 2016 - Thursday, August 25, 2016 8:00 AM - 5:00 PMEastern Time
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Rosen Centre Hotel9840 International DriveOrlando, Florida 32819USA800-491-9657
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