Orlando: Where The Fun Is by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Perhaps the place in the United States that most of the world’s tourists want to visit is Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and what a magical place it is. With various theme parks you can plan many days of enjoyment here for all ages. We chose Epcot for a trip around the world in one day. For our trip with our teenage grandson Epcot was the perfect choice. We were fortunate to be there on the first day of the October International Food and Wine Festival, and we found the Florida weather in October delightful.
Epcot is a park with two distinct parts. First you see the enormous silver dome and you are in Future World, with amazing attractions, innovations, and wonders. If you can imagine it, it can happen in the world’s future. Beyond this area is World Showcase built around a large Lagoon, where scenic boat rides help you when your feet get tired, or you can go from one section to another by water and save lots of walking. It was a beautiful autumn day so we made our way leisurely on foot all around the lake so we could enjoy each of the pavilions along the way. Epcot was celebrating in 2010 the 15th International food and Wine Festival. It is a great way to experience culinary delights from many of the world’s countries and to sample the wines specially chosen to complement each.


You can begin your around the world trip in Chile (to the left of the park entrance) or in New Zealand (to the right). We started with Chile and had a delicious beef and corn dish and then worked our way around the entire lake, tasting our way through 27 countries’ foods. The meal ticket you purchase at the entrance makes the process easy as the card is just swiped to prevent long waits when your palate is salivating with the delightful smells. Of course, you must be 21 to sample the wines.
At any time of year Epcot is a wonderful education of the arts, crafts, history, language, and peoples of the many countries who have permanent sections around the lake. Each section is designed with representative architecture of that place in the world. The buildings contain interactive shows, rides, dances, music, and displays to give a very interesting and authentic history of that country. There are native hosts in traditional costumes presenting the various special crafts and arts from their country and ready to answer your questions. It is a great place to do your gift shopping because the articles are beautifully crafted and very different from what you see in a Mall! During the Food Festival there are culinary demonstrations and beverage seminars.
The countries represented include Chile, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Mexico, Poland, China, South Korea, South Africa, Singapore, Germany, Italy , United States, Japan, Australia, Morocco, Belgium, Spain, France, Ireland, Canada, Greece, and New Zealand. What a wonderful way to travel around the world. And what an education. If everyone could experience Epcot and see how similar all people are with the same desire for peace and friendship perhaps wars would end.
A very nice touch and quite an astonishing discovery was the Coca Cola booth where anyone could sample free the different kinds of Cola beverages enjoyed around the world…and how different they are! One kind was made from vegetables, another was rather bitter, one seemed too sweet for my palate, and some were more refreshing than others. And we thought Coke was Coke! Whenever anyone was thirsty they could return here to sample other flavors and learn which are favorites in various countries. We wished to have access to buy some of these in the USA.
For anyone visiting Walt Disney World or coming into the Orlando area, an evening at Cirque du Soleil is a MUST! As with all Cirque du Soleil shows the audience is in for an unbelievable treat unlike anything else you could ever see. La Nouba is the show at Disney World. It is a delightful circus and celebration theme with bright costumes and amazing acts, wonderful music and dance, and incredible gymnastic feats and trapeze acts. The nearly two hour show is absolutely FABULOUS!! The theater is located on Disney Main Street, and you do not have to have a ticket to Disney World to go to the show. We also highly recommend other Cirque du Soleil shows we have seen in Las Vegas: “O”, “Mystere”, “Zumanity”, and “Viva Elvis.” We always look forward to more of Cirque du Soleil and more Disney experiences.


In Kissimmee, very near Walt Disney World, is a fun place not to miss. Just opened in fall of 2010 adjacent to and part of Fantasy World Resort is the new Indoor Waves, which houses the state-of-the-art and newest water sport craze: body surf sliding. This fabulous indoor, climate and humidity controlled fun house has a wonderful hill for body boarding, sliding, and surfing. This facility is designed for the safe thrill of “wipe-outs,” the fun which most participants seek. Family members and friends who don’t want to participate in the wet activity can watch through a wall of windows on comfortable indoor seating. This is sure to be the teen-agers favorite place at the resort, and it is a safe environment for almost any age. There is a very good snack restaurant in the building and a great Surf Shop. Be aware that no swimsuits are allowed: participants wear shorts and shirts. This is at 5151 Kyng’s Heath Road in Kissimmee, FL, 34746.


When you are in the Orlando area your best value for families to stay is in Kissimmee at Fantasy World Resort. The Villas sleep six with full kitchen and living room, screened porch, and WIFI. Each villa has a queen bedroom, a twin bedroom, a sleep sofa for two, two bathrooms, and two HD TV’s. When the new renovation is complete in fall of 2011 the Resort will be a place you’ll want to spend your time enjoying the many activities on the grounds, which are included with your villa. The prices and resort accommodations are the best value in the whole area.

Walt Disney World has many other theme park experiences for your family. All of these are magical:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park
Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park
Epcot theme park
Magic Kingdom theme park
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
Disney’s BoardWalk Area
Downtown Disney Area
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Disney Resort hotels