The difference between driving a Lamborghini and, say, a Toyota Corolla is something like the difference between flying on a jumbo jet and taking the bus.
Chances are that, at one time or another, you’ve walked past a parked Ferrari or seen a Lamborghini zoom by and thought to yourself “I wonder what it would be like to drive that thing?” The Exotic Driving Experience is your chance to find out — without the hassle of following speed limits and fighting off grand theft auto charges in court. That’s because the Exotic Driving Experience is at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida. And the exotic car you are driving is a rental.
If you are planning a vacation to Central Florida with young Muggles, odds are high that they’ve tugged on your arm begging you to take them to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The attraction, a part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, has been Orlando’s hottest attraction since it opened in June of 2010.
Nearly any kid who’s a fan of the J.K. Rowling books will eat up everything about the Wizarding World like so many Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. But what about the parents?
The good news for adults is that, while the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is far from mind blowingly amazing, it does have cool elements to it. There’s also one piece of advice that in itself can make your visit there turn out somewhere between tolerable and fun. For that, Dear Reader, continue on . . .
One of Spot Cool Stuff’s biggest travel peeves: Hotels that charge for in-room wireless internet. We somewhat understand budget no-frills hotels adding an optional internet fee, but it is usually those very hotels that don’t. The hotels that typically charge the most for internet access are those that already charge the highest room rates. What sort of luxury experience is that? To Spot Cool Stuff it is the equivalent of a hotel putting an electricity meter outside every room and charging their guests extra for their power usage.
For whatever reason, hotels and resorts in Orlando are especially prone to charging for internet access. We’ve found hotels in Central Florida that charge up to $30 per day! Fortunately we’ve always found a few hotels that offer an upmarket experience, that are convenient to Orlando’s theme parks and attractions and that provide free wifi.
Here are the three best:
Update: Amen! The Walt Disney World Resort has recently announced that it will start offering free wifi. Hopefully this means that other Orlando-area resorts will follow their lead.
A vacation to Central Florida often leaves people feeling like they need another vacation. That’s especially true after traveling with children to Orlando’s crowded, mayhem-filled, nickle-and-dime squeezing theme parks.
Spot Cool Stuff’s suggested remedy: Spend a day chilling out at Discovery Cove.
At Discovery Cove won’t find yourself standing in line for rides. There are no rides.
You won’t find yourself amongst a mob of other vacationers. There is no mob — Discovery Cove requires reservations and the number of guests allowed in is strictly limited.
And you won’t pay again and again for extra fees, incidentals or even food. Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive park.
You may before have ordered a vodka on the rocks. Well, how about a vodka in the rocks? That’s on offer at what’s literally the coolest drinking establishment in Orlando: the ICEBAR.
Long time readers of the Spot Cool Stuff travel blog already know of the Orlando ICEBAR—we reviewed this bar with the overly-capitalized name in our article about ice bars located in warm places. Inside the ICEBAR 50 tons of ice are carved into counters, lounge chairs and, yes, even the glasses patrons drink out of.
Before and since our visit there we’ve heard mixed reports about it from readers. And so here’s some advice to those considering knocking back a cold one at the ICEBAR when in Orlando.
Common wisdom among most members of the Spot Cool Stuff audience is that Orlando is not a cool destination to travel to. While we love defying common wisdom, in this case we think our readers have it mostly right.
Yes, Orlando is full of theme parks and tacky souvenir shops. Yes, its themed hotels are not as elaborate as, say, Vegas. And, yes, Orlando seems to find ways to nickel-and-dime tourists from the moment they drive onto the toll road from the airport. But if you can bring along your inner child there’s fun to be had in Central Florida. And if you are taking along your actual children there are ways of optimizing your own Orlando enjoyment.
With that in mind, our posts for this week:
Anyone who grew up on The Cat In The Hat and Green Eggs and Ham remembers the illustrations of one Mr. Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Trees with elongated trucks or with improbable collections of limbs. Stark and scraggly landscapes with oddly balanced rocks and unlikely geometric shapes. Architecture with unusual protrusions and awkward angles where no two windows exactly the same. These were some of the hallmarks of the world Dr. Seuss illustrated in his 60 children’s books.
Here’s a look at some places on Planet Earth—places you can visit on your next vacation—that resemble scenes from a Dr. Seuss illustration. So, in the words of the doctor himself . . .
…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
There's a hand-carved (!) carousel, 18-hole mini golf course, Kool-Aid waterfall, gourmet fudge shop, vintage toy museum, huge children's book selection, llama petting zoo, puppet shows and, oh yeah, you can also buy toys.
It’s a tough job but someone has to take on the task of finding the world’s best toy stores. So Spot Cool Stuff assigned ourselves.
Here’s a look at our favorite shops for indulging your kids—and your inner child: