Unique Things You Must Do If You Visit Florida!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I haven't travelled much in my lifetime. It is something I'd love to change once the lockdown has been lifted. One of the places I have been to in Florida, a holiday I loved dearly. I went a few years ago on a family holiday and have the opportunity to do some amazing things. Florida is a wonderful destination for families and adults alike. During our two-week stay, we got up to some magical experiences, so I wanted to share with you some things you MUST do if you were to visit Florida. 

Trade Pins at Disney

If you love pins, then Disney Pin Trading is something you must try on your holiday. It's an activity that can be done in most parks and is great for kids who don't like rides. It can also be fun for adults who like collectables but don't have space or money to store Disney merch. Pin trading is where you take a Disney pin trading specific pin and trade it around the parks. You can trade with cast members or go up to special pinboards and swap them there. You can trade to complete sets or find rare pins.

Before I left for the holiday, I went onto eBay and purchased a range of Disney trading pins. I picked ones I didn't like so that I would be happy to trade them. I would recommend buying them beforehand as from the parks, they are expensive. Packs inside the parks can range in price from $5 upwards depending on what it is. You can buy brand new pins from inside the parks or on Shop Disney. 

It was fun to trade pins with cast members and look for the boards around the park. It keeps you busy all day, especially when waiting in ride lines. There are lots of different characters and pin series to collect. There are also pin events, so look out for those! Make sure you check the backs of the pins for Disney trademarks. Some may have Mickey Mouse heads across them. If you don't check, you could risk picking up a fake pin.

Have a Character Dining Experience

Both Universal Studios and Disney allow you to book character meals. If you love buffet-style food and want to have exclusive time with characters, I'd recommend this experience. You can get awesome pictures and even autographs with the characters you are dining with. These experiences are also worth doing when you have young children who don't want to wait in line to see their favourite characters. These meals can be quite expensive per head, so make sure you look around for a good price before booking. 

Universal offers two character dining options, and we were lucky enough to book both. We had the Minion breakfast and the Marvel Character Dinner at Universal. At Christmas, you can also dine with the Grinch! These were both buffet meals and were very enjoyable but make sure you book these online in advance. I don't think you can have either of these meals without a reservation, so try to book early. 

The Disney meals can also be booked in advance. Make sure you book your meal 30 or 60 days in advance, depending on if you're staying at a Disney hotel. There are lots of locations you can dine with characters. Make sure you look around to eat with your favourite ones. Some places will have princesses, while others will have Winnie the Pooh and friends. Some locations will offer breakfast while others will only do dinner dining, so check before you book.

Watch the Shows at Sea World

SeaWorld offers a range of different shows, from aquatic animals to household pets. The shows are easily overlooked with the vast array of rides to experience. I would highly recommend picking up a shows time table and tuning in to ones that take your fancy. There is a range of times to pick from so you can still fit in lunch and rollercoasters. We visited the Dolphin show, which lasts about 30 minutes, and it was amazing to watch.

Pets Ahoy showcases ducks, dogs, doves and other household animals in a comedic show, while Dolphin Days celebrates playful dolphins. There is also a fantastic ride called Antarctica when ends in a cold room. You're then greeted by different species of penguins. It was a beautiful ride, and I'd recommend it if you like getting close to the animals. I'd recommend bringing a jacket for this ride as it can get quite cold for younger children!

Swim with A Dolphin at Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove is my favourite place on earth. There is so much to do that I would have happily gone back for a second day. When you visit, I recommend arriving early. Your ticket allows you to get breakfast and lunch, but not everyone wants to get up that early. It meant that breakfast was quite quiet. Both meals are buffet style and offer a range of different food to suit everyone. For breakfast, you can enjoy pastries, fruit, porridge and a mini fry up. For lunch, you can treat yourself to a range of different meals, wraps, desserts and more! I'd recommend the jerk chicken for lunch! Throughout the day, you get unlimited drinks as well!

When you visit the park, you're allowed time to swim with the fish and see the sharks before the dolphins. Make sure you grab a locker and bagsy a sun lounger before you explore. There is a lazy river, aviary, and so much more. I'd highly recommend taking the time to walk around the park. Plus, there are free snacks, cookies and warm pretzel stations dotted around the park! This park is a whole day's worth of fun. There's so much to do in this park, something for everyone to try out!

Eat Pancakes at IHOP

I have heard that many of the locals find this one a surprising bucket list item! However, if you have a sweet tooth like me, then IHOP is the place for you. It may seem like your everyday pancake house, but there is something about visiting an IHOP that completes a holiday! The pancakes are fluffy and topped with some tasty and unique combinations. I had the Dulche de Leche pancakes, and it was sickly, but oh so good! 

It is the place to go for both breakfast and dessert. I would recommend visiting IHOP, especially if you are celebrating something while you're out in Florida. IHOP offers a lot of different pancake options, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you don't fancy pancakes, they have some delicious fry-ups to try. My mum is gluten intolerant, and IHOP offered quite a range for her too. 

See Florida From the Skies

When I first went to Florida, we were treated to a helicopter flight. I wasn't too sure about the experience, but I am glad I took the flight. It was a unique experience to see Florida from the sky. It was beautiful and a great way to slow down for a bit and take in the surroundings. Florida is a swamp, but it was nice to spy out all of the fancy houses and theme parks. I was lucky enough to sit in the front with the pilot, so the view was amazing. It was nice to take a minute to breathe. The parks can be busy and chaotic, but this experience was slow and gentle. 

There are lots of helicopter tours around the Orlando area. I would recommend looking into them and finding the best-priced ones. It's also worth looking at the safest, most recommended ones in the area that you're staying in. The touring company we flew with was really friendly. They also gave us a photo pass experience, so we have high-quality pictures of our flight. They talked to us about the history of the parks and where we could find even more fun things to do. It is something to look into and most of them you don't have to book weeks in advance!

Learn About Space at The Kennedy Space Centre

Space is amazing, as is the history behind the rockets and explorations. The Kennedy Space Centre allows you to get close with space, learn some amazing things and, if you are lucky, even watch a launch happen! It just so happened that when we were in Florida, they were having a launch. We were up until the early hours of the morning to experience it, but it was worth it! There are launch countdowns on the Space Centre's website so you can keep up to date with the launches!

Eat At The Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Throughout the year, Disney does a range of different events. You can Trick or Treat at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party or explore some art at Epcot's Festival of the Arts. In 2021, the Food & Wine Festival will run from the end of July to November, so there is plenty of time to visit after restrictions ease. This festival allows you to try different foods from a range of different booths. It also offers special treats and shows that aren't usually at Epcot. Epcot can easily be missed off of your list when you visit Florida. It's a beautiful place to visit without all the festivals, so make sure you take the time to explore it! 

Have an Alligator Experience 

As Florida has lots of swamps, one of the things we decided to do was take an alligator tour. An alligator tour is an airboat ride through the swaps. You get to spot the alligators as they bob their heads out of the water! On our ride, we also spotted eagles and other animals. Our tour guide also told us about some of the histories of the area and taught us about alligators. It was thrilling to speed around on an airboat and look for alligators. We were lucky enough to spot an alligator nest on the trip, so it was an unforgettable experience for the whole family. 

We flew with Virgin airlines, so we were offered this experience once we had landed. In this experience, we also got a BBQ meal, a tour around their animal enclosures and the chance to hold a baby alligator. They also bought out other animals that we could touch. There are many swamp tours in the local area, so look around if you don't fly with Virgin. This was unforgettable and definitely something for animal lovers! I'd recommend closing your mouth and bringing sunglasses. The boat sprays a bit, so make sure you wear clothes you don't mind getting a bit damp. I also put my hair up as it's windy, so you'd miss a lot if your hair was down!

Splash Around in a Waterpark

On the last day of our holiday, we visited a water park to cool down and allow the parents to pack up the condo. We went to Volcano Bay as it was highly recommended to us. I can tell you, it didn't disappoint! There were lots of different slides and innovative things to make the experience better than other parks. I would recommend using a FastPass band for the rides as some of the queues were really long. Standing in the sun while dripping wet meant some of my family got very burn despite using suncream!

Take A Ride In A Vintage Boat Car! 

Disney never fails to surprise me with some of the things it offers. You can ride a hot air balloon, try different flavours of Coke Cola and get dressed up as a princess at the Bibbody Bobbedy Boutique. Did you know you can also ride in an amphibious car? You can rent these vintage-looking cars from The Boathouse in Disney Springs. You'll get a guided tour of the lake while driving around in a stylish car. I love the pedals, but I don't think you can beat driving a car on a lake without it dying!  The experience can be quite expensive, at around £100 for a 20-minute ride, but it's something different for those who don't want to meet Mickey. 

Meet & Autograph Your Favourite Characters

I am still a child at heart, so running around the Disney parks with the Disney app, trying to find the characters was one of my favourite things to do. Meeting the characters is an exciting experience for many reasons. While queuing, there are lots of decorations and themed props to look at to keep you occupied. Some characters give autographs, while others give you a sticker! I met my favourite character, Baymax, and got autographs for all the characters I could. There is something magical about meeting the characters, even the parents enjoyed this activity!

Spend Those Dollars at the Outlets

I love to shop, so visiting the Florida outlet malls was a no-brainer. I spent most of my dollars in the outlets as there were so many good deals. There are a few different malls across the Orlando area, but I visited Vineland Premium Outlets. The shops are similar across all of the outlets, but it's worth looking for the outlets which have the stores you love. I'd recommend taking a whole day for shopping and outlets as there is so much to do. There were lots of restaurants to dine in as well as amazing discounts on your favourite brands. I spent a lot in Levi's and Vans. I also visited shops such as Forever 21, J Crew and Nike. If you're going around Christmas, it would be a great place to get branded gifts for your loved ones. 

Enjoy the Disney Fireworks & Parades

Fireworks mean a lot to my family for personal reasons. It meant that we stayed for the fireworks at all the Disney Parks. This was beautiful, and each show was different. I would really recommend the show at Epcot. There are different parades all year round so no matter when you visit, there will be something fun to watch. Disney alternates the parades and firework shows yearly so make sure you stay up to date on what is going on! They also have special event parades, especially around Christmas time or Halloween!

I know that Florida can be an expensive trip, but it's worth going with your family. It's also not just a place for kids. There are so many things to do with your family, but also as an older couple. It's nice to relive childhood memories and experience something new. I am always fascinated by Disney and the intricacy behind its world. I have been so lucky to do all of these things and spend time with my family. What are your favourite ideas? I would love to know what you would like to get up to if you visited Florida! 

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  1. This is such a great post! It was lovely to see all the amazing things you can do in Florida. It is definitely on my bucket list of places I want to visit!!

    1. It is amazing plus I loved the heat! There were so many things to do and it is definitely the place to go if you like fun-filled, active holidays :)

  2. Oh wow! Definitely need to go back so that I can do the alligator experience. I never knew about this!
    Al x

    1. We only found out about it through our travel agency but it was so worth it! We got to meet all these amazing animals and got some food out of it too! It was worth the money that's for sure!

      Em x

  3. We are planning on taking our kids next year. Pinned this so I don't forget these great ideas. I took a helicopter ride and went to an alligator park when I was a teenager and had a blast.

    1. Aww thank you!! I'm sure your kids will have a blast, it is truley a holiday for the whole family and brings out the kid in everyone! I love finding those small experiences that not everyone does, it makes for the best memories!

      Em x

  4. I always find it so interesting to see what people enjoyed about Florida. Living here my whole life it’s nice to see how others experience it. I’m actually surprised about IHOP haha that is a place I rarely go to anymore. I prefer Cracker Barrel or some of our locally owned breakfast places. And Disney is still a fun one for me too. And I don’t know a lot about the alligator tours. I just know of Gatorland. Also I’ve haven’t been to Volcano Bay yet! I really need to experience it already. Awesome post though!!

    1. Wow, it is so cool that you live there! There were so many things I wanted to add to the list but then, I would be writing wayyy too much! I hadn't heard of Cracker Barrel. It will be something I try next time! We also really enjoyed Denny's but I suppose not a lot of places in the UK offer all day breakfast! What local places could you recommend? I'd love to add them to my list of places I need to visit! Thank you for reading :)

      Em x

  5. Loved this post, you got up to so much! I went to Florida 2 years ago and it was honestly the best holiday I've had. We went to almost all the parks and we all had a fab time. I agree with you on IHOP, the pancakes there are just incredible!!

    Charlotte | https://charlotteblogss.blogspot.com/

  6. My partner went to Florida when she was young, we would absolutely love to take our kids.

    The alligator experience sounds interesting.

  7. The dolphin looks so cute, also the aligators.
    Florida makes me dream..

  8. Florida is on my bucket list! I hope that I get to visit soon :)
    Konna @ The Reading Armchair

  9. Em you’ve given me the holiday blues and a sense of wanderlust all in one post!! This all needs booking and doing ASAP - loved the tips !
    Love, She x

  10. I agree with most of these. I could add another 50 things to the list

  11. I love this post! They're definitely all going to be on my bucket list for Florida, I've always wanted to go and this makes me want to go more. It looks and feels such a beautiful place.

    Gemma | www.anoceanglimmer.wordpress.com

  12. Ah this makes me want to go to Florida so bad! I've been to Panama City before and it was so beautiful. The sunsets there were unreal. I want to go back!

  13. I went to Disneyland Paris for the first time ever last year and it was incredible, I'd love to go to the Florida one someday! I absolutely cried my eyes out at the fireworks 😂 This looks like such an amazing experience, I especially love how you got to hold a baby aligator! xx

    Amy | sassycatlady.com

    1. It does make you want to cry! The fireworks we saw had special effects where the characters and scenes were projected onto the castle and it was such an amazing experience! Thank you, it was lovely. The alligator was cool, strange to feel though!

      Em x

  14. Damn, I hadn't thought about how much there is to do in Florida before! (I also didn't even know trading pins was a thing at Disney!?) I'm defo jealous of your Marvel dinner and swimming with dolphins! Thanks for sharing this post and now I defo need to visit Florida after this is over.