Orlando is famous for its theme parks and tourist attractions, but Central Florida offers many more affordable family destinations than most people realize. The cost of taking your family to summer vacation destinations increases every year, and a family of four can expect to spend at least 150 dollars on a one day admission to the Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios – and that does not include the high cost of food and souvenirs once inside the parks. Below is a list of eleven exciting and educational summer destinations in the Orlando area, all of which cost considerably less than Disney World.
DinoWorld: This destination is the perfect treat for young children or for those with a love of dinosaurs. More than 150 life-sized dinosaurs are displayed around the park in a subtropical forest setting. This park also offers a fossil dig, museum, boneyard, playground and skeleton garden, and is pet friendly. Picnic areas are available, but food is not sold at the park. Open between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and located in Plant City, approximately one hour from Orlando.
Admission: Adults – 12.75, Children 3-12 – 9.75
Fantasy of Flight: Home to more than 40 rare and vintage aircraft, this attraction offers a variety of guided tours, the chance to climb inside the cockpits of vintage planes, and a hang-gliding simulator. Located midway between Orlando and Tampa.
Admission: Adults – 26.95, Children 6-15 – 13.95
Gatorland: This family-oriented park offers a variety of alligators and crocodiles from all over the world, gator wrestling shows, a Snakes of Florida exhibit, a water park for children, bird sanctuary, petting zoo, and eco-tour. Open between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and located in Orlando.
Admission: Adults – 19.95, Children 3-12 – 12.95
Green Meadows Petting Farm: This petting farm is licensed and approved by the US Department of Agriculture, and features a guided tour of the petting farm with more than 300 animals, pony rides, and a tractor-pulled hay ride. Open between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and located in Kissimmee.
Admission: Adults and Children – 19.00
Jungle Adventures Nature Park and Zoo: This attraction is home to the world’s largest alligator and offers guided wildlife encounters with rare Florida panthers, black bears, gray wolves, deer, tropical birds, reptiles, and other mammals. Other activities include a jungle swamp cruise, a 16th century replica Spanish fort, and a Native American Indian village replica. Open between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and located in Christmas, 17 miles east of Orlando.
Admission: Adults – 18.50, Children 3-11 – 9.50
Orlando Science Center: This hand-on, interactive, modern science museum offers activities for the entire family as well as an IMAX theater and planetarium. Exhibits change frequently. Open between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Sun-Thurs, and 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Fri-Sat.
Admission: Adults – 14.95, Children – 9.95
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: A full museum of unique and bizarre oddities showcasing the unbelievable, the inexplicable, and the one-of-a-kind. Open between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. and located in Orlando.
Admission: Adults – 18.95, Children 4-12 – 11.95
Skull Kingdom: Full filled adventure through two floors of haunted maze, and featuring live performers, special effects, and robotics. Day shows are geared toward a younger audience and run from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.. Night shows might be too frightening for smaller children and begin after 5:00 p.m..
Admission: Day Shows – 8.99 for all ages, Night Shows – 14.04
Titanic – The Exhibition: The world’s first permanent Titanic attraction features a live interactive tour and more than 200 artifacts and historic treasures. Exhibits include a full-scale recreation of the Grand Staircase and recreated decor known to have been used aboard the Titanic. Open between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. and located in Orlando.
Admission: Adults – 19.95, Children 4-12 – 12.95
Weeki Wachee Springs: A wonderful attraction for the entire family that features mermaid shows, a wilderness river cruise, a mermaid museum, giant water slides, snorkel and scuba diving, and canoe trips. Open between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and located in Weeki Wachee, 45 minutes north of Tampa.
Admission: Adults – 22.95, Children 3-10 – 15.95 – admission prices include both Weeki Wachee and Buccaneer Bay
Wonderworks: Central Florida’s only upside-down attraction offers more than 100 interactive exhibits including VR hang-gliding, earthquake and hurricane simulators, and VR sports like laser tag. Open between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. and located in Orlando.
Admission: Adults – 19.95, Children 4-12 – 14.95