In our new Southern Concierge series, our Travel staff is answering your questions. No question is too big or too small, but it has to be about travel in the South. First up, a question about Orlando theme parks:
Question: “I’m going to Orlando this summer and want to venture out beyond Disney. What are some of your favorite new attractions?”
Concierge Qualifications: I grew up and hour and a half from Orlando, and it was a regular weekend trip for my family to drive over to Disney. In recent years I’ve re-entered the parks as both a mom, and a travel editor. And yeah, it’s not supposed to be cool for a travel editor to dig theme parks, but this one does. My recommendations for not-to-miss-new attractions this year:
SeaWorld Gets Cool: Last month, Sea World’s “Antarctica: Empire of The Penguin” opened. We’ve ridden the four-minute ride that takes you on a journey to follow Puck the Lost Penguin. It’s a big deal because it’s the first trackless ride in a U.S. theme park (look, ma, no tracks!) Tip: You have one of two choices for the ride — “mild” or “wild.” Choose “wild,” which will spin you around, and is gentle enough for the most quesy-prone riders. The ride is cool, literally. They keep it 30 degrees for the real penguins you’ll see that the end so bring a jacket. And be prepared to wait for up to three hours; Puck’s a popular guy.
It’s A Brick House: This week LegoLand Florida opened its World of Chima. Based on the television show “Legends of Chima” (ask your five-year olds), the attraction includes an interactive water ride called “The Quest For Chi” that lets families spray water cannons as they soar through massive Lego creations. To be clear, LegoLand is actually in Winter Haven, about an hour South of Orlando, but it’s worth the drive. (Plus you know you want to stand next to the miniature version of Las Vegas in legos. This Southern Concierge did.)
Who You Calling Dumbo? Though it’s been open since late last year, if you haven’t been in a while you will be impressed by Disney’s Fantasyland renovations. One of the best parts: There are now two Dumbo rides, doubling the capacity (who doesn’t remember sweltering in the Florida sun for a 90-second spin on that popular pachyderm). Plus they’ve added interactive games and air conditioning to help ease your wait. Even better — grab a FastPass for Dumbo and avoid the wait entirely.
Looking for more to do in Orlando? Check out our guide to splurges and saves.
Have a question for our Travel Editors? Leave it in the comments. From our must-see spots in Southern cities to our favorite travel apps, we are here to help.