The Cokes in Florida 

Last weekend we returned from the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando. What an incredible adventure! You can read all about it here plus in my Di’s Disney World Highlights post.

The prize (won from Heart FM) included flights with British Airways and a week’s self catering accommodation at Caribe Cove resort. Our 2-bedroom ground floor apartment was spotless and huge, with new fluffy carpets and super comfy beds. Most importantly for me, the WiFi was free and fast! The resort was just a short distance from I-Drive and all the Disney Parks. There was a lovely, clean swimming pool and hot tub too – not that we spent much time at Caribe Cove with so much to do elsewhere…

CaribeCove

Ryland has the Caribe pool to himself!

Also included with the prize was a $500 prepaid Visa which we used for shopping at the local Publix supermarket, and meals out and about. I can recommend Millers Ale House (cheap, friendly and shows Premier League matches in request – plus kids eat free on Tuesdays!) and the fabulous Bonefish Grill.

We also received several tickets to local attractions as part of our prize:

Medieval Times, Kissimmee

The 2-hour Medieval Times jousting show and banquet was lots of fun – there’s a bit of horse dancing and fannying about before the main business of jousting and fighting at the end. Be warned, Ryland got super upset when our assigned knight lost his battle! The sword fights actually look pretty real – gasp!

The food here is very generous – don’t worry if your kids can’t eat the HUGE portions of chicken – the staff bring out polystyrene take out boxes at the end. Annoyingly, the staff walk along the rows trying to sell you flashy tat – if you have glowsticks or anything that flashes in the dark, take it with you so you don’t get tempted to buy anything new!

MedievalTimes

Celebration Bike Rentals

I’m not much of a cyclist (that might be because I don’t own a bike!) so I was a bit wary of our plans for a two hour bike ride with Celebration Bike Rentals in the Florida heat. I needn’t have worried, our guide Mary took it easy and I followed Rob and Ry (on a tandem) round the streets and lakes – and through the woods – of Celebration while Mary pointed out the wildlife and told us the local gossip!

Celebration Bike Rentals

The riding was a nice break from the theme park madness, and our lunches at The Celebration Town Tavern afterwards were delicious (HUGE salads!)

Lunch at the Celebration Town Tavern

Lobster salad at the Celebration Town Tavern

Wild Florida

Wild Florida (about an hour’s drive from Caribe) offers 30 minute and 60 minute airboat tours. I loved the airboat but didn’t see as many alligators as I’d hoped; I imagine down in the Everglades there’s lots more to see, but seeing a Bald Eagle and baby gators in a nest was nice!

A

Airboats… noisy but nice!

I’m glad we checked out the animals back at their wildlife park too; I was going to skip it and wait until visiting Gatorland to see Florida’s famous alligators, but Hermine and its accompanying storms meant we didn’t get chance to go to Gatorland at all.

Ever seen a Zdonk before?

Ever seen a Zdonk?

Wild Florida have a big gator pond, and also smaller (teenage!) gators separately. Don’t buy your gator food and throw it out with everybody else – walk up to the end of the pond for a quieter spot where you can have a few gators to yourself! There are loads more animals here too – we laughed at the sloths for ages – and if you have a kid as energetic as Ryland, the small shady playground is ideal.

Fun Spot America

Fun Spot America is free to get in – then you pay for the rides and attractions once in there. We won day wristbands for Fun Spot Kissimmee, valid on all rides, but spent most of our time on the brilliant Go Kart tracks – which were especially thrilling in the rain!

Go-karting at Fun Spot America

Go-karting at Fun Spot America

Kennedy Space Center

In addition to the prize days out, we also bought tickets for Kennedy Space Center, and booked lunch with an astronaut. It’s expensive, but was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. This is the part of the trip that Ryland keeps talking about, and many YouTube shuttle launch videos have been watched since our return!

Lunch with an astronaut actually involved about 100 of us, sat at round tables with a buffet lunch, while Bob Springer told us about his adventures in space. I thought Bob was a great character, and really enjoyed the experience (my tip for this is, don’t bother queuing early to get in – we arrived right on time at 12pm and were one of the first families seated!)

I could happily have wandered around the Rocket Garden for hours – what an amazing place.

RocketGarden

Massive rockets!

The final thing we did was visit the Atlantis exhibit, which was fantastic – and don’t miss the Shuttle Launch Experience!

Don't miss the Atlantis exhibit!

Don’t miss the Atlantis exhibit!

The fascinating bus tour allowed us to see the Cape Canaveral launch pads (including the one where sadly there was a SpaceX malfunction and explosion a few days after our visit).

Orlando City Soccer Club

If you’re a regular SuperLucky reader, you’ll know that the Cokes LOVE football, so we knew that we needed to get to a game. After much pondering we opted for soccer rather than American football, and ordered tickets for Orlando City SC v NYCSC. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds and involved a huge amount if time wasted on the Ticketmaster website and automated phone line. In desperation, I tweeted @ticketmaster and they called back within the hour to get my tickets booked. Nice!

A Major League Soccer game is certainly much more of a party atmosphere than the English Premier League. The car parks (I mean, parking lots) are full of gazebos and barbecues, and around the stadium are bars, food trucks, games to play and all sorts of promotional stalls (they even had competitions and entry forms!). Due to distance, travelling away fans don’t really exist, so there’s no hostility between rival fans. Inside the stadium, you can even drink alcohol in your seats (although at $10 a pint, you might not fancy it!)

As for the game itself, the first 9 minutes was a washout. All but the few most dedicated supporters rushed for cover and beer while the storm passed, and then it was back to our soggy seats. Orlando went 1 up, then New York equalised and finally, Kaka sealed the win with a penalty kick. 2-1 to Orlando – whew!

Orlando SC

Ryland cheers on Orlando SC

Artegon Marketplace

We had a late flight home on our last day, and the dodgy weather meant we had to find somewhere indoors to hang out. We chose Artegon Marketplace, a shopping centre with an arty feel. There was a cinema, Skytrail indoor ropes course (this looked awesome!), plus a Skyzone trampoline park ($17 an hour to wear Ryland out). Even better, you could leave your ID at Customer Services and have free hire of the table tennis and table football rather than forking out for the pricey glow in the dark mini golf. At the other end of Artegon was giant chess, draughts and jenga to play. Also if you love comics, the huge Gods & Monsters store is a dream. A great destination on a wet Orlando day – and I even bumped into Guy from Loquax

Big draughts at Artegon

Big draughts at Artegon

Read about our adventures at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios in Di’s Disney World Highlights.

Have you been to any of these Florida attractions? What are your own recommendations for visitors? Leave a comment to let me know!

8 Responses

  1. emmasfabulous says:

    Looks fab Di, lovely to see you all enjoying some varied attractions. I have always wanted to go to Medieval Times! I haven’t been to any of these but similiar to Fun Spot I think is Old Town which I really loved.

  2. Florida is firmly on our wishlist for 2017 – Glad you enjoyed it! 😀

  3. Emily Clark says:

    Hi Di, I also won a similar holiday to yours last year with Visit Florida. One thing I’d say is don’t worry about not going to Gatorland. I found it a bit depressing and out of date – they have gator wrestling and things like that – Wild Florida was SO much nicer with a much better vibe! Oh and we did Medieval Times too and found it hilarious! Looks like you had an awesome time 🙂

    • Gator wrestling! Not sure I like the sound of that – I’m glad I didn’t miss much then! Medieval Times was really quite ridiculous, but I enjoyed it!!

  4. Guy Nash says:

    Looks like you crammed a lot in to your time there. We were at Universal but did spend a half-day at the Wild Florida to take an airboat ride and see the gators and zdonk’s. Tip – instead of going through our tour company I booked direct on the WF website and saved over £140 (I even found an online voucher) from the price the hotel/tour company were gong to charge. On a food tip I can’t recommend KeKe’s restaurants enough for their breakfasts (it’s a bit like an upmarket Denny’s) but not that much more expensive.

    • Great tips – thanks Guy! Definitely worth lots of research online, and signing up to various mailing lists for local restaurants for discounts too!

  5. It sounds like you had an amazing holiday, Florida is such a fantastic place to visit. I was lucky enough to see Atlantis in the sky whilst waiting for the children to finish on the ride called ‘Atlantis’ at Sea World how crazy is that, it was just a spec in the sky with fire blasting out but it’s something I probably won’t see ever again in my life.

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