While most vacationers head to Orlando specifically for a visit to Walt Disney World, there are many additional opportunities for vacation fun and excitement near Disney. If you have the luxury of a few extra days in the Orlando area, it's always a good idea to spend some time away from the noise and hubbub of the Disney resort and check out the other cool things to do near Disney, escaping the crowds and assuming a slower pace for a day or two.
Of course, depending on what attractions you choose near Disney World, you may still come up against a few crowds. For example, nearby Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure have become nearly as popular as Walt Disney World. Two parks in one, the Universal complex offers fun for a variety of age groups. Older kids and adults will tend towards the serious thrill rides at the popular Islands of Adventure, featuring such favorites as The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and The Jurassic Park River Adventure, though little ones will certainly enjoy Seuss Landing and its many attractions. Universal Studios puts you close to your favorite movies, like Shrek, ET, Men in Black, and many more.
Near Disney, you'll also find SeaWorld Orlando. Long a fixture in this area, SeaWorld is bigger and better than ever. For decades, visitors have been descending upon this attraction to view the famous Shamu, the killer whale, and watch the amazing dolphin shows. In the last decade, however, SeaWorld has added more animal attractions and several rides, including Journey to Atlantis, a combination log flume/roller coaster, and Kraken, the tallest, fastest, and only floorless roller coaster in Orlando.
One of Orlando's newest attractions, located near Disney, is Discovery Cove. This unique visitor spot provides guests an opportunity to hobnob with the dolphins. Limited to an attendance of 1,000 people per day, this intimate attraction provides some solace from the crowds that inhabit many of Orlando's other attractions. Guests are given lots of personal attention and swimming with the dolphins is an experience that few get the chance to enjoy. There's also a beach onsite for those who just want to relax.
While Disney World has two excellent waterparks, you can enjoy two additional waterparks near Disney and close to many hotels. Wet 'n Wild and Water Mania offer water attractions suitable to all ages, from gentle rolling rivers for families to enjoy together to wild slides that aren't for the faint-of-heart.
If you're exploring the area near Disney World, don't discount the city of Orlando proper. There are a number of fun places to stop in the city, like the fascinating WonderWorks. This upside-down building (supposedly picked up by a tornado and deposited in that position) is located on International Drive and is easily accessible from the Disney complex. Families who visit WonderWorks can enjoy a pizza dinner and magic show, interactive games, hang-gliding and roller coaster simulators, laser tag, and a number of other fun hands-on activities that delight all ages.
If you want to combine fun with food, you'll find two great places to do that near Disney. Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede provides you with a night of foot-stompin' fun, including a down-home dinner, rodeo-style show and great country music. If you prefer something different, Arabian Nights is a medieval show featuring the Lippazaner Stallions, lots of knights, a prince and princess, a magic genie, and a prime rib dinner that will knock your socks off!