When people think of Orlando, Florida, the first thing that comes to mind is Walt Disney World and all the other theme parks dotting the horizon. After all, this is the “Theme Park Capital of the World” — home to so many amusement parks that there is a competitive Top 10 list just for the city. (Most states do not even have ten proper amusement parks.)
The majority of the big name establishments are owned by Disney or Universal Studios, and thanks to the deep pockets of their marketing departments the masses congregate here in flocks year-round. Meanwhile the cool, quirky and offbeat Orlando theme parks, the overlooked ones paying homage to religious history and non-cartoon characters, are ready and eagerly awaiting an opportunity to entertain new visitors. So come with me, let’s get off the beaten path in Orlando and see what we see!
The Holy Land Experience
Equally entertaining to both religious folks and those a little less theologically certain — perhaps even more so for the latter — the Holy Land Experience is exactly what it sounds like: a real-life Christian historical museum. 15 amazing acres filled with biblical reenactments, religious shows and presentations, live music, specialty shops, and nonsectarian research library. It’s so entertaining you’ll think that you’ve died and gone….somewhere 😉
Gatorland might not be the most obscure or unknown attraction in Orlando; however, it is definitely the most fun! This gigantic 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is also the self-proclaimed “Alligator Capital of the World” — but seriously, who out there is going to challenge that title? Open every day of the year, Gatorland has dozens of shows, sights, and experiences such as Gator Wrastlin’ and Gator Leapin’. It is the perfect daytime activity for the entire family.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Orlando
The Ripley’s name has long been synonymous with oddities and offbeat items. After all, they don’t they call their museums “odditoriums” for nothing! I’ve visited several Ripley’s in cities around the US, and they are nothing if not peculiar, even a tad disturbing at times. In addition to the usual tribal oddities, torture devices, shrunken heads, and other downright baffling objects, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Orlando is known for its fertility statues, which are purported to have helped over 2,500 women become pregnant. Oh, and the spinning vortex tunnel is pretty neat…but you’ll just have to see that one for yourself 😉
If such a thing as an educational amusement park could ever be said to exist, that would be WonderWorks. With over 100 interactive exhibits, visitors can get their knowledge on first, and then go upstairs to the basement (yes, I said that correctly — have you seen this building yet?) for all the exciting hands-on games and amusements, such as laser tag.
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
No other dinner show can compare to this one. Guests are transported back to medieval times to enjoy a feast inside a castle as the knights joust. Sound familiar? Yes, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament is the same restaurant from the old Jim Carrey movie, The Cable Guy. Two decades later, they are still going strong and the show is still as entertaining as ever! It’s a definite “must” for any quirky travelers to Orlando.