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Attractions

Enjoy the sights and smells of tropical plants at A World of Orchids in Kissimmee. The 22,500-square-foot (2,090-square-meter) conservatory has orchids as well as many other species of exotic flora. Walk along the path and admire natural exhibits with flowers from Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Australia, and Central and South America. Closed Sundays.

Walk through A World of Orchids, a huge conservatory filled with tropical plants from around the world.

Take a walk in Big Tree Park, and visit Florida's oldest resident, "the Senator." At 118 feet (38 meters) tall and approximately 3,500 years old, it is one of America's oldest bald cypress trees. Amble along the boardwalk or bring along lunch to eat at one of the park's many picnic tables.

Stroll along Disney's Boardwalk, a re-creation of a 1930s-style Atlantic coastal village. The 45-acre (18-hectare) waterfront district is known for its nightclubs and entertainment hot spots, but all visitors can enjoy the many street musicians, magicians, and performers for free.

Walk the streets of the picture-perfect town of Celebration. The town, conceived by Disney, is a blend of historic-themed architecture and modern technology. Admire the old-fashioned properties and let the kids play in the interactive fountain. Stop by the farmers market on Sunday mornings or check out the many free events (author readings and signings) offered by Reading Trout Books. Visitors can even see (fake) snow falling in the winter months.

You don't need a Disney World ticket to enjoy Disney shops and entertainment. Stroll the streets of Downtown Disney Marketplace for an array of boutiques and eateries for every budget. Check out their Festival of the Masters (November), an arts-and-crafts event where kids can create their own chalk masterpieces. Watch glassblowers at Arribas Brothers; visit the 4,400-square-foot (409-square-meter) Lego Imagination Center to compete in a "beat-the-clock" building contest, or see a 12-foot (3.6-meter) T. rex and 30-foot (9-meter) sea serpent, both made of thousands of pieces of one of America's favorite toys.

Even if you're not in the park, the Magic Kingdom fireworks can be seen from other areas. Leave your car in the main parking lot and take the free tram to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) for the best up-close views of the nightly fireworks. If you are staying in a Disney-operated resort, hop on the monorail for free and get off at the Magic Kingdom entrance to watch the show.

Just north of Orlando is the largest flea market in the U.S. Fleaworld andFunworld have more than 1,700 vendors selling bargain-priced items. The venues showcase acrobatic shows, circus and magic acts, and exotic animals. Fleaworld is open Friday-Sunday; Funworld is open on weekends only. Both have free admission.

Each year, thousands of tourists who visit Orlando go to Lake Wales, Florida, to see if the old Indian Legend of Spook Hill is true. A sign marks the spot where you should stop your car, put it in neutral, and watch as your car rolls uphill.

Just south of the Orlando International Airport is Old Town, a unique amusement park and shopping area. Over 700 motorcyclists rally through the streets on Thursday nights. On Saturday nights Old Town comes to life with a vintage-car parade with over 300 cars. While the park offers live entertainment every night at 7:30 p.m., its Saturday night show (7 p.m.) plays exclusively '50s and '60s rock 'n' roll. Visitors must buy tickets for the amusement rides, but admission to Old Town, and its concerts and car shows, is free.

All Orlando visitors can enjoy free nightly Italian music performances at the picturesque Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. The hotel has been recognized as one of the most elaborate themed hotel environments in the United States.

Families

On Lake Jesup Black Hammock Adventures has free live alligator and bird exhibits. Watch trainers feed the 12-foot (3.6-meter), 650-pound (295-kilogram) resident gator Hammy on Sunday afternoons. At the restaurant, listen to free live music every Friday and Saturday night.

Visit the Orlando Public Library's Children's Library for special readings, arts-and-crafts activities, Third Thursday family movie night, board games, and musical events.

If you're staying in or near any of the resorts on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake (including Disney's Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, or Contemporary Resort), you can see the nightly Electrical Water Pageant. Watch King Triton and other sea-themed floats glitter past in an array of sparkling lights. The show starts at 9 p.m. near the Polynesian Resort and ends near the Contemporary Resort about an hour later.

On the third Monday of every month, the Harry P. Leu Gardens has free storytelling for young children. Bring children under 18 months at 10 a.m., toddlers at 10:20 a.m., and 3-4 year olds at 10:40 a.m. for storytelling in the park. Admission to the 50-acre (20-hectare) park is free from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays, so take your child for a stroll along any of the park's three miles (five kilometers) of paved scenic walkways after story time. Attractions include a butterfly garden, a two-acre (one-hectare) tropical stream garden, bamboo and palm gardens, and a house museum dating to the 1880s.

Twice a day visitors can see the famous March of the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Orlando hotel. Watch as the ducks are escorted to the tunes of John Philip Sousa from the hotel (at 11 a.m.) along a red carpet to the Royal Duck Fountain. At 5 p.m., watch as the ducks are escorted back—with a gourmet meal of worms, lettuce, and carrots—to their $100,000 palace. Sometimes kids can be Honorary Duck Master for one of the shows. Parents should call Duck Master David Robinson at The Peabody to nominate their child. Being an Honorary Duck Master is popular, so call as soon as you've booked your tickets to Orlando.

 

Family, Florida, Free., Minivan, Orlando

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