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Florida offers more than just sun and heat; it also has an amazing number of amusement parks. Ideal for an exhilarating family holiday. Some parks are part of larger resorts, so it is easy to spend an entire week there. Others are smaller but well worth a trip through the Sunshine State.
Orlando is the absolute epicentre of the amusement park universe. If you are staying with your children in one of the many hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort or the Universal Orlando resort, it’s a great base camp for a road trip to Busch Gardens (Tampa), Jungle Island (Miami) or the Kennedy Space Center (Merritt Island). You will, however, have to lure your children off Thunder Mountain first!
Whether you are interested in the fairy-tale characters of the Magic Kingdom, the hi-tech gadgets and space travel at Epcot, the menagerie in the Animal Kingdom or the bright lights of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you will find them all at the Walt Disney World Resort. You could call it a complete city of fun, spread over 43 square kilometres and including more than 30 hotels. Make sure you don’t miss Mission: SPACE, an attraction generating sensations previously reserved only for astronauts.
In comparison to Disney World, the Universal Orlando Resort may seem intimate but according to general standards it is quite enormous. You will find a large number of hotels and 2 amusement parks here: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. The first shows continual films and television programmes, and the second park is primarily an expansion of the first, consisting of 7 adventure islands including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There is also a separate water park: Wet ’n Wild Orlando.
Busch Gardens Tampa, originally called the Anheuser-Busch Beer Brewery, evolved into one of the first amusement parks in Florida. The free beer tasting has gone, and nowadays the focus is on the somewhat quirky combination of roller coasters and a zoo. There are also continuous live shows, often with an African slant, which is not strange considering the miniature Serengeti just around the corner. There is also the inescapable Falcon’s Fury, the highest free fall in the US.
You will stumble on more fun to the east of Downtown Miami. Jungle Island boasts a rich history - even Sir Winston Churchill found enjoyment there among the parrots right after the Second World War - and just as rich a supply of all sorts of parading animals. There are many birds (the original name of the park was Parrot Island), but it is also home to a liger, an intriguing mix between a lion and a tiger. The animals, including kangaroos, can be stroked and fed in the petting zoo.
Even if you are not planning on being catapulted to the moon, there is plenty of quality enjoyment to be had at the Kennedy Space Center. You can join one of the tours to the launch platforms and see a Rocket Garden full of spacecraft. There is also the Astronaut Hall of Fame and two IMAX cinemas. Those who cannot bear the thought of not being launched into orbit around the earth can find solace at the Shuttle Launch Experience.