Things to Do!

 

Disney Theme Parks

Walt Disney World Resort - Orlando

    Magic Kingdom    -

 

       

        - Don't miss Wishes the night time fireworks spectacular following the "SpectroMagic" nighttime parade!

           

       

    Epcot  - Newly opened at Epcot, Nemo ride in The Living Seas with Nemo! 

           

    Animal Kingdom 

 

 

    Disney - MGM Studios

        Don't miss Fantasmic - our favorite show in all of the Disney Parks, simply the coolest thing!  Note:  if you eat dinner in a MGM restaurant you will get special reserved seating for this show, we have always done so and it's great, you don't have to get there 1-1.5 hours in advance then to get a good seat.

       

 

Downtown Disney

    Includes Cirque du Soleil La Nouba (get tickets in advance)

    Disneyquest (lots of loud video games)

    Tons of Disney shopping

    Rental Boats

    Pleasure Island (every night is New Years Eve Disney style..for those over 21!) - You can get some sleep in July!

 

Disney's Boardwalk - some good restaurants, shopping, and other activities here

Other Disney Recreation / Attractions!  (Like there wasn't enough to do already?!

Disney Spas - Indulge yourself!

Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex

Water Parks

 

    Disney's Blizzard Beach  (the Travel Channel just rated this the #2 water park in the country on their top 10 list!)

    Disney's Typhoon Lagoon

 

Park Tips

One thing to be aware of when you visit the parks with kids are the height requirements.  Many rides are for small kids and have no height restrictions, many  are 40" in height , and others are 44" or 47" in height.  Many of the rides at Universal are 50-54" in height...all of these requirements are listed on the websites below for each ride...and there are categories by age for each Disney park that are very helpful.  We first took our kids when they were 5 & 2 and the little one couldn't get on to some rides, not to worry though, there was more than enough to keep them both happy! 

Another very cool feature Disney has introduced is the "fast pass" ticketing system and "baby swap", which essentially allows you to not wait in long lines for the most popular rides, and if you have a little one that can't get on a ride, the baby swap tickets allow the other parent to get right back on the ride with no waiting while the other waits.  It's great because they've figured out how to take the long waits out of some of the best rides.  This means though, you should plan out in advance which rides are most popular and you want to go on first, and head there right away and get your fast passes.  For instance, we really wanted to ride the new Expedition Everest roller coaster in Animal Kingdom, so we went there first and got our fast-passes, then you go do another ride or 2 while your fastpasses become valid at a later time, then when we came back both parents got to ride it with our older child while the younger one waited outside with the other parent.

Other Useful Disney Website Links

Here's a link to a great site...want to know which parks are crowded and which ones to go to on certain days?  This site tells you day by day based upon historical attendance numbers and a whole bunch of other factors...  http://www.touringplans.com/tp2/UG2_index.php?PageID=14

http://www.allearsnet.com/

http://www.mouseplanet.com/

http://www.mousesavers.com/

http://www.wdwinfo.com/ - The Internet's Largest Unofficial On-Line Guide to Walt Disney World

http://www.disboards.com - Lots of great planning information on the forums. 

http://www.passporter.com/default.asp - Excellent guide for planning a Disney trip we use ourselves.

Other Theme Parks

Universal Studios Orlando  - lots of fun, bigger rides for bigger kids in our opinion.  We bought the expensive "all park fastpasses" which you can buy at these parks, and cost a lot, but allowed us to go on every single ride in both parks in one day.

    Islands of Adventure

    Universal Studios Florida

    Wet 'n Wild

 

Sea World Orlando - We went our last trip, saw cool sharks and got to feed the stingrays, it was fun!

 

Gatorland

 

Kennedy Space Center - Orlando vacations aren't complete without a trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Just east of the most popular Orlando attractions and theme parks, NASA's launch headquarters is the only place on Earth where you can tour launch areas, meet a veteran astronaut, see giant rockets, train in spaceflight simulators, and even view a launch.

Having visited KSC, we can recommend it as one of our favorite excursions during our many visits to Orlando, this is something definitely not to miss, everyone had a great time, even our kids!  One tip, this is an all day excursion, the KSC is absolutely huge, and there is a lot more there to see and do than you can probably even imagine.  We arrived ourselves after lunch, and felt short-changed, we wanted to spend more time there.  It closes early too, around 5-6pm, so plan to get up early, make the hour drive to the coast, and spend all day touring the facilities and seeing all it has to offer!

 

Shows / Character Dinners

Polynesian Village - the Spirit of Aloha Luau - another very popular and fun dinner show...but you need reservations a month+ in advance to get in! 

Magic Kingdom - Crystal Palace 

The Contemporary Resort - Chef Mickey's - great chance to meet all the Disney characters, take pictures with them and get their autographs. 

 

Fort Wilderness - The Hoop-De-Do Musical Review  (highly recommended, loud and lots of fun, but, make reservations at least 4-8 weeks in advance!) 

Magic Kingdom - Inside the palace! - Dinner - Cinderella's Royal Table - Dream Dining!  (They give you a professional picture with Cinderella to keep too!)

 

Inside the Grand Floridian Hotel there is a great character dining restaurant called 1900 Park Faire, which has Cinderella, Prince Charming, and her stepsisters, this is great to do on a day when you're not in the parks since you don't need a park ticket to get into it.  The food was our favorite there yet, the prime rib was so delicious, one of the best I've ever had actually.

 

 

Restaurants

Pizza - Giordano's nearby can't be beat!  (Hey, we're from Chicago and it's one of our best local places, don't miss this one, they deliver to the townhouse too!)

 

There are literally dozens of other restaurants on the nearby Kissimmee - 192 street, from fast food to upscale.   This road goes on for 10+ miles, it's huge and full of every type of place you can imagine!   A few miles to the east is a place that looks like a huge orange, we like to stop there and pick up fresh squeezed orange juice since it's a local product and soooo good!

 

Here is a map of US192..the "main drag" our place is off of...with just tons of stores, restaurants, etc on it. 

We're on Map 2, you can take either Entry Point or Old Lake Wilson Road south to get to Windsor Hills if you're curious.

 
The various segments show you all of the stores, places, shops, restaurants, etc...

Red Lobster 7780 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 321-677-0191 1.5 Miles
Friday’s ** 7798 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-4300 1.5 Miles
Key W Kool’s Very Good a Bit Expensive 7725 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-1166 1.5 Miles
Outback Steak House ** 7804 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-0017 1.5 Miles
Giordano’s ** 7866 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-0044 1.5 Miles
Cracker Barrel Restaurant** 7878 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-1190 1.6 Miles
Dairy Queen 7868 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-8175 1.6 Miles
Subway Sandwiches 7856 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-7119 1.6 Miles
Taste of China 7832 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-9911 1.5 Miles
Magic Mining Co 7763 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-8986 1.5 Miles
Taco Bell 7784 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-0385 1.5 Miles
Burger King 7757 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-239-4363 1.5 Miles
Mc Donald’s 7627 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-1536 1.5 Miles
Passage to India 7618 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-6957 1.5 Miles
Waffle House 7696 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-9550 1.5 Miles
Sizzler 7602 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-0997 1.5 Miles
Golden Corral 7702 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-9615 1.5 Miles
Dunkin Donuts 7646 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-7060 1.5 Miles
Ponderosa Steak House 7598 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-7721 1.5 Miles
Denny’s 7631 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-0757 1.5 Miles
Fiorino New York Pizza 7531 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-9664 1.5 Miles
Ihop Restaurant 7529 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-2033 1.5 Miles
Black Angus 7516 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-4548 1.5 Miles
Take Japanese Restaurant 7818 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-0333 1.5 Miles
Perkins Family Restaurant 7451 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-0845 1.6 Miles
Chick-Fil-A 7891 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-787-4001 1.6 Miles
Bob Evans Restaurant 7411 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-396-8599 1.7 Miles
Angel’s Diner Lobster Feast  Good but go Early! 7300 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-397-1960 1.7 Miles
Pizza Hut 8557 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-239-4456 2.2 Miles
Beef O’ Brady’s ** One of our Favorites! 8687 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-239-7710 2.4 Miles
Ace Plus Chinese Buffet 8620 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-390-7588 2.2 Miles
Domino’s Pizza 8687 W Irlo Bronson Meml Hwy Kissimmee 407-239-7710 2.4 Miles
Moe’s Southwest Grill 19 Blake Blvd Kissimmee 321-939-2455 5.1 Miles
Smokey Bones BBQ Grill One of our Favorites! 2911 Vineland Road Kissimmee 407-397-7102 9.5 Miles
Cold Stone Creamery 15 Blake Blvd Kissimmee 321-939-2897 5.1 Miles
Carrabba’s ** 7890 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy., Kissimmee, (407) 390-9600 1.5 Miles
Celebration Tavern ** 721 Front St (407) 390-9600 7.5 Miles

Windsor Hills Recreation Area

These are pictures from the grand opening party of the tennis, golf putting, sand volleyball, and basketball recreation area!   Free sports equipment is available for checkout / guest use in the Windsor Hills sundry shop (small refundable deposit required).  There are also picnic tables, and charcoal BBQ grills for guest use. 

Shopping (see the above link to US192)

        Nearby you have many types of stores to choose from:

            Groceries / etc:  Publix, Wal-Mart, Super Target,  Walgreen's (drugstore)

        Local Malls / Outlet Stores:

            http://www.primeoutlets.com/cntrdefault.asp?cntrid=1077  (used to be called Belz)

            http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=17  (closer to Disney, higher prices)

            http://www.lbvfs.com/mall/groups.htm   (closer to Disney, great prices, more limited selections)

 

Waterfall hole at Mystic Dunes golf course!

 

Golf

There are dozens of amazing golf courses in the Disney / Orlando area!

        Disney Golf Link - 5 Championship Courses!

   Other top area courses include:

        Mystic Dunes (right next door), rated the #2 course in Orlando!

TIP!  Mystic Dunes offers a HUGE discount to guests staying at Windsor Hills!  The normal "rack rate" of $165 for a round and cart goes down to roughly $108!!  Stop by the Windsor Hills            Clubhouse / guest welcome center to get your discount card before heading over to the golf course!

        Champion's Gate (~4 miles away),

        Falcon's Fire (also close), and of course, the venerable Bay Hill!!

        Click here for a list of other top courses in the area!

 

        Disney Miniature Golf (for the less serious or younger golfers!)

Boating

One of the funnest things we've done is go over to the Polynesian Resort Village Disney property (or Downtown Disney) and rent their miniature speedboats (they also rent larger ones or pontoon boats, and they are available from some other resorts as well).

Check it out here.

 

Other boating links in the area:

    Lake Buena Vista Watersports - http://www.bvwatersports.com/2005/index.shtml

    Airboats you drive! - http://www.airboatrentals.com/

    Boggy Creek airboats -  http://www.bcairboats.com/

    http://www.fundaytours.com/

 

Fishing

This is Iain from Oasis Vacation Homes (our MC!), he sent me this picture as he's an avid fisherman. This was taken in Nov 2006 off of Cocoa Beach (about an hour east of Orlando), and I asked him for the link to the guide service he used and recommends, here it is!   http://www.lagooner.com/

28 lb Black Drum Fish - caught and released!   "Just a tiddler!"

 

Other suggestions from a local!

 

Orlando Sentinel - Local lake river, and canal tours

Since that newspaper link will expire at some point, here's the list they published.

Bart's Boat Cruises, Tavares: Daily 90-minute tours of Lakes Eustis and Dora and the Dora Canal at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m.; $12; 352-343-7047

Blue Heron Cruises, Tavares: 90-minute tours of the Dora Canal; 10 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; $15; 352-343-0200; captaincharlie.home.vol.com.

Fishing Charters Inc., Kissimmee: 75-minute tours of Lake Tohopekaliga and its creeks and islands at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 9 and 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. weekends; $25 adults, $15 ages 6-12, ages 5 and younger free; 1-800-244-9105;
fishingchartersinc.com

Heritage Nature Tours, Tavares: 90-minute tours and sunset trips of the Dora Canal, Dead River and Lake Eustis; 11 and 2 p.m. daily; $15; 352-343-0200.

Premier Boat Tours, Mount Dora: Two-hour tours and sunset cruises of Lake Dora and Dora Canal; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays, 11 and 2 p.m. weekends for tours; 5:30 p.m. daily for sunset cruises; cost $20 adults; $15 ages 10 and under. 1-866-269-6584

Premier Boat Tours, Mount Dora: Two-hour tours and sunset cruises of Lake Dora and Dora Canal; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays, 11 and 2 p.m. weekends for tours; 5:30 p.m. daily for sunset cruises; cost $20 adults; $15 ages 10 and under. 1-866-269-6584

Sunshine Express Boat Cruises, Clermont: 90-minute tours of the Crooked River as well as Lakes Susan, Minnehaha and Louisa. Noon lunch cruise ($19, or $11 without lunch), 4:30 p.m. sunset cruises ($11); 352-243-9227; sunshineexpressboat.com.

Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, Winter Park: One-hour narrated trips visit lakes Virginia, Osceola and Maitland; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; $10 adults; $5 ages 2-11; younger than 2 are free; 407-644-4056; scenicboattours.com

Daycare / Kid's Night Out Camp

While we all enjoy spending every minute with our little ones while in the area, there are times that a local sitter can be a help, here's a link to a licensed program / center.

Other Sports / Activities

    Right in Windsor Hills you have:

Tennis, Ping Pong (get paddles/balls at Sundry Shop), Indoor High Def Movie Theater with movies in the sundry shop, Billiards/Pool, Foosball, Gameroom, Basketball, Kids Playground, Giant size chessboard at playground area, Hot Tub, Fitness Center, Pool w/waterslide, Sand Volleyball, and a brand new golf practice putting / chipping green facility.   Recently the resort has added a DVD rental kiosk machine in the clubhouse, and there is a DVD player in the home. 

   Other area tours / suggestions:

        Check the link to US192 above, right on US192 near the "big orange" by I-4 they offer helicopter tours of the Disney area, if you're brave! 

                http://www.orlandohelitours.com/

        This link includes tours at Kennedy Space Center, helicopter rides / tours, and many more in the area:   http://www.orlando-tours.com/

The "big orange" is a big orange shaped building just east of I-4...the opposite way from Old Lake Wilson you take to get to WH, on the north side of the highway.  We stop there and pickup fresh squeezed Florida orange juice when we arrive!   Mmmmm....

Karen's links page of things to do (fellow villa owner & friend):

http://www.floridasparadisevilla.com/attractions.htm

Pick your own fruit!
http://www.showcaseofcitrus.com/

Rent a Harley!
http://www.harley-davidson.com/SV/Rent/en/rentalandtours.asp?locale=en_US&bmLocale=en_US&HDCWP

Old Town car and motorcycle shows
http://www.old-town.com/

Go Karts!
http://www.fun-spot.com/hours.htm

Lakeridge Winery in Clermont offers free tastings and tours. It's about a half hour drive from WDW. While you are in the area, you can also visit the Citrus Tower, and Lake Louisa State Park.
http://www.lakeridgewinery.com/

Want to see Christmas or other area activities?

www.floridakiss.com

www.orlandoinfo.com

    Other Disney Activities:

        Diving/snorkeling, fishing, horses, golf, miniature golf, parasailing / skydiving, water skiing, sailing, surfing & surfing lessons, fireworks cruises  

       The Richard Petty Driving Experience (I really want to do this ..looks fun!)