Most people that visit Florida go for the sunshine and of course the whole Orlando experience of theme parks, parades, Shamu the whale, fireworks…. But if you feel like doing something slightly different during your stay there are plenty of activities that don’t cost an arm and a leg and that are fun for all the family.
Whilst in Florida I have been staying on the Veranda Palms Resort in Kissimmee which is just off Highway 192 and about 15 minutes’ from International Drive, Seaworld and the Epcot Centre. I decided to try out a few different activities locally to see what the area had to offer. All of these are within 30 minutes’ drive of Veranda Palms…
Medieval Times takes you back to a bygone age of knights in shining armour, jousting, falconry and sword fighting (albeit with an American accent.) The concept is simple. You arrive at the huge medieval castle (situated on the 192 in Kissimmee, right next to the huge Walmart store) and you are given a ‘crown’ to wear that bares the colour of your knight that you must support in battle during this 1 hour 30 minute show. Before the show starts you have time to wander around the vast gift shop and purchase any ‘medieval gear’ and also get a drink from the ‘wenchs’ that serve behind the bar. You are referred to as ‘my lord’ or ‘my lady’ throughout the evening and all staff really throw themselves into the atmosphere. When you enter the dinner area you are seated according to the colour of your crown as all supporters must sit together!
There are 5 tiers of seating you can pay extra for front row but to be honest you can view the show perfectly well wherever you are sat. Time for the games to begin! Dinner is all part of the show with a 4 course meal of tomato soup, half a roasted chicken, a spare rib, half a baked potato, an apple pastry and coffee all served in metal crockery with no cutlery in site so that you can eat as if you are at a medieval banquet! Considering the number of diners that are being served the quality of the food and the service are very good. The show is much like a pantomime with a beautiful princess, noble king and gallant knights all fighting to win the princesses affections. The jousting and sword fights are thrilling and the horses are impressive. All in all the show is excellent fun and well worth a visit.
Away from the craziness of the parks Kissimmee is actually an area full of wildlife and what better way to explore the wetlands than on a high powered 425 horse power air boat? Aquatic Adventure Airboat Tours are located on the banks of Lake Toho in Kissimmee, about 25 minutes’ drive from Veranda Palms. There are several tours a day but I’d recommend calling at least 24 hours in advance to book on to a tour. The boat can seat 8 so you may share with other passengers o you can request a private tour if there are 4 or more in your party. Don’t expect to find a swanky office with a gift shop on the banks of Lake Toho, it’s a ‘back to basics’ set up with the driver ‘Captain Dave’ meeting you by the boat and getting you all aboard and on your way as soon as possible (which actually makes a nice change!) Captain Dave is a really likeable Florida native. He is very knowledgeable about the wildlife on the lake having lived around the 20,000 acre stretch of water all his life.
It’s a well-run operation with headphones to protect your ears fitted with an intercom system so that you can hear Captain Dave talking and also any questions other passengers may ask. Most people go on these tours to see big alligators and we weren’t disappointed! We spotted a 10 footer basking in the sunshine after only a few minutes and there were lots more where he came from! If you are in to bird watching you won’t be disappointed with ospreys, eagles, herons and stalks among the many birds we spotted in close range. On top of this is the thrill of the airboat whizzing over the waters and weaving in and out of the reeds. The tour lasts for an hour and it is well worth the $40. Highly recommended.
Located on the 192, right next to the huge ‘Super Target’ store is the brilliant Congo River crazy golf course. Based on the African Congo explorers Henry Stanley and David Livingstone you have to weave our way around cascading waterfalls, a plane wreck, and more whilst African music is piped through the speakers to make it more authentic! There are 2 courses depending on how hard you want it to be (we played the harder course which wasn’t too challenging although I still lost!).
There are forfeits and dares on some of the holes which make the game more interesting and you can also feed one of the live alligators that live there for $3.99 after your game! This is well worth the $10.99 and if you really like it you can pay an extra $5 to pay another round at any other time during your stay. A really good way to spend an hour or so and great fun for all the family!
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