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Orlando Tourist Sights
There are plenty of Orlando tourist sights outside of the major theme parks, some of which also involve thrill rides and some of which offer more laid back experiences. For example, you can drive a NASCAR race car, zip line, marvel at oddities, or just stroll through gardens or animal exhibits.
Orlando is known for theme parks with thrill rides, like the Manta and Kraken roller coasters at SeaWorld Orlando, the Incredible Hulk and Dragon Challenge roller coasters at Islands of Adventure or the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster at Universal Studios Florida, but Forever Florida is an eco-attraction that offers thrills based on nature. It's one of the Orlando tourist sights that's way off the beaten path, in St. Cloud. Its most impressive thrill ride is its towering zip line course, which combines high speed zips with a gorgeous view of the tree canopy and the woods and wildlife below. If you're more timid, you can still get an above-ground view at a slower pace by pedaling along on a suspended canopy cycle, riding a horse, or taking a tour in a motorized vehicle.
Cypress Gardens and Legoland Florida
The Disney Empire did start its takeover of Orlando entertainment until the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, but Cypress Gardens was awing tourists way back in the 1930s. Its main draw was its lush garden, sitting on the banks of Lake Eloise in Winter Haven, Florida, and the lake also hosted ski shows. Cypress Gardens changed hands many times over the years, and its focus shifted in an effort to attract visitors who were increasingly lured away by the Disney parks and the Universal Studios parks. Eventually Cypress Gardens closed, but it was reborn in 2011 as Legoland Florida. This new attraction combines a theme park for younger kids with amazing Lego models and, of course, the historic botanical gardens, complete with the famous banyan tree that has grown there for decades and the scenic gazebo.
Richard Petty Driving Experience
The Richard Petty Driving Experience is a hands-on thrill ride for adults. The kids might like Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom or the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but parents can head over to the Walt Disney World speedway near Disney's Polynesian Resort and get behind the wheel of a speedy NASCAR vehicle. If racing isn't your thing, and you prefer the sleek beauty, speed, and superior handling of a super-expensive sports care, the Exotic Driving Experience lets you drive vehicles like a Porsche or Lamborghini on the special section of the track.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium
The International Drive area is packed with Orlando tourist sights, and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium is one of the most intriguing. There are Odditoriums in major cities throughout the United States and around the world, and the Orlando location showcases 10,000 square feet of bizarre and unusual objects. Even the building can be classified as "odd," since it looks like it's sinking into the ground into one of Florida's infamous sinkholes.
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a family friendly activity that offers a change of pace from the crowded theme parks with their long lines. There are plenty of animals on display to thrill kids, like cheetahs, leopards, lemurs, monkeys, sloths, porcupines, snakes, crocodiles, and hornbills. You can also take a scenic train ride for an additional fee, and the ZOOM Air aerial obstacle course and zip line is located just outside the zoo entrance. There's an easy course for younger kids and more challenging courses for older kids and adults.
Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park is a favorite hangout for Orlando locals, and you'll soon see why if you visit Downtown Orlando and venture over to the park. It's a very popular place for jogging, walking, and biking in Orlando, and you can rent small boats and take a spin out on the water. The park's famous swans are always looking for a handout. In the evening, admire the iconic fountain's light and water show. You might even luck into one of the many special Orlando events that take place in the park throughout the year. For example, on 4th of July, there's a dazzling fireworks display over the fountain that attracts huge resident and tourist crowds.