"" Writer's Wanderings: The Other Side of Disney: Outside the Park

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Other Side of Disney: Outside the Park

The pace at Disney can be grueling. Rushing from attraction to attraction and standing in line. Then standing in line again for food. (We beat that by taking in sandwiches, chips, carrots, and fruit. You're allowed a small bag of snacks.) Taking a break to do something a little more leisure saves on frazzled nerves and sore, tired dogs.

There is lots of other stuff in and around Orlando. Some things are inexpensive, others are not. One one off day, we spent some time in the pool at our "Mickey" house (more on that later) and then went off to "the world's largest McDonald's." It's on Sand Lake Rd near International Blvd. Imagine a Chuck E. Cheese only with the Hamburglar. Most of the two story restaurant is full of video games for kids and adults. There's also a large indoor play area for the little ones. It's eclectic in decor and was a lot of fun to visit and walk around. There's some gourmet sandwiches available here too.
The video games played for fifty cents or more. A little more expensive than Chuck E.'s. Still, a fun place and if you can get out without buying tokens, a great lunchtime experience.

Downtown Disney is another area that is fun to peruse on a morning or afternoon. There is no entry fee. The nightclub area at Paradise Island is being rennovated. There wasn't any information available as to projected finish date. But there are tons of shops including the Lego Store where the kids can stand at a table and create to their heart's content. (It's supposed to be age 3 and up but Annalise insisted on diving in.) Several large Transformers, Dinosauers and one very large Sea Creature all made out of Legos are there to view.

We walked from one end to the other and took the free boat ride back to the Marketplace. The kids loved it.

Sea World is nearby but we passed because of the expense. If I was to spend that kind of money, I would rather go to the Kennedy Space Center which is about an hour to hour and half away. We've been there before for an afternoon (not long enough to see it all) and it was fantastic! It was also the place where my family got to go to watch the most recent shuttle launch. Unfortunately I was sick by then.

Our son, Rob, was able to contact his congressman from Florida and arrange for tickets to get into the VIP viewing area which is near the Saturn Museum area. It was about 3-4 miles away from the launch pad--as close as anyone is allowed. There was major security they had to go through but all was worth it. Even two-year-old TJ was impressed.

Finally, we also visited a large park in downtown Orlando. The city is quite beautiful and Lake Eola Park is in the central section. A huge round fountain is in the middle of the lake that hosts black swans and countless ibis. There was a huge playground with all sorts of equipment for the kids to play on. Parking was a little hairy but we found a garage that didn't charge much about half a block away. This was probably the best break we got and the cheapest!

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