By Jane Jones, aka Jane in FL
Do you need a day to do a little something other than ‘Disney’ themed events? Is the weather too yucky for a day outside in the parks? Well, there IS a lot to do beyond Walt Disney World!
One of the most popular areas, yet often overlooked by new Central Florida visitors, is the infamous International Drive, or ‘I-Drive.’ With a variety of attractions, entertainment, restaurants, and shopping you just might want to take a day and explore I-Drive!
Here are the Top 10 reasons to put I-Drive on your “must-do while in Central Florida” list:
1) Wonder Works– Let your imagination run wild in this upside down, yet completely intact building that houses over 100 interactive hands-on exhibits! This is truly an amusement park for your mind…fun for all ages! Ride the 360° virtual Wonder Coaster, make beautiful music tip toeing on a giant piano, lie on a bed of nails, put yourself in a bubble, or get swept away in the Hurricane Hole! 9067 International Drive (407) 351-8800 www.wonderworksonline.com
2) Ripley’s Believe It or Not!– This “odditorium” houses over 400 exhibits in 16 amazing galleries. You’ll find something for every age and interest! Explore the incredible collections, illusions, oddities and discover that truth is indeed stranger than fiction! With interactive exhibits you will be able to touch a piece of the Berlin Wall, experience pain and torture devices, and go through the spinning tunnel. 8201 International Drive (407) 345-0501 www.ripleysorlando.com
3) Titanic- The Exhibition– With over 200 artifacts and historical treasures, this is the only permanent Titanic exhibit in the country. Visitors relive the drama and personal stories through live interactive tours, storytellers in period costumes, recreations of actual rooms, a memorial wall, and memorabilia from the movies “Titanic” and “A Night to Remember.” Finally, visitors will enjoy numerous private collections of items from the ship that are on loan and seen here for the first time. 8445 International Drive (407) 248-1166 ext. 3110 www.titanicshipofdreams.com
4) Air Florida Helicopter Charters– Taking visitors up and over the Central Florida area since 1995, the pilots, in their state-of-the-art Robinson R44 helicopters, create personalized and interactive experience for all passengers. With exceptional visibility and panoramic views, this is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed! Reservations are NOT needed….just show up and ride! Each group of passengers is briefed by a Flight Director prior to flight to insure safety and what to expect. 8990 International Drive (407) 354-1400 www.airfloridahelicopters.com
5) The Pac-Man Café @ XS Orlando– This is a real blast from the past! Here you’ll find over 100 interactive video games from the 80’s (like Pac-Man!) through today (like Soul Calibur 2 and Tekken 4). With 3 levels to explore, there is something for everyone. Experience virtual thoroughbred horse racing, drive a race car 150 mph, or experience virtual world class boxing! Complete with projection screens and intelligent lighting, enjoy concept dining, a billiards bar, lounges, and an outdoor dance floor and terrace if you don’t want to play video games. Finally visit the Pac-Man museum for some amazing exhibits. 9101 International Drive (407) 226-8922 www.pacmancafe.com
6) Van’s Skatepark– Skateboarding is king here! The different courses cater to different skill levels. You will find an above ground bowl for the pool skater, an outdoor concrete course with street features and small bowls, an indoor wooden street course, competitive sized ramps, and a mini vert ramp. Didn’t pack your skateboard or protective gear? You can rent anything you need! Spectators can watch in a special viewing area, visit the retail store, vending area, arcade, or learn more by viewing the Van’s Sports Wall. No one under 6 years old may ride. 5220 International Drive (407) 351-3881http://www.vans.com/skateparks/vans_template_orlando.html
7) Putting Edge Glow-in-the Dark Mini Golf– This indoor golfing experience is like no other. Vibrant glowing colors, surreal themes and pulsating music- all with the lights turned off! Since no two courses are alike, you always have a new experience. Food and drink are offered. 5250 International Drive (407) 248-0700 www.puttingedge.com
8) FOOD!– There are lots of great restaurants on I-Drive. You can find just about anything you want from American to Kosher to Indian to Cuban. There are numerous local favorites to traditional chain restaurant standards. Sit down and relax or get take-out to go!
9) SHOPPING!– Belz has a couple of great outlets and retail shopping is available on I-Drive! Visit the 170 famous name brand outlets stores at Belz’s Factory Outlet World 5211 International Drive (407) 352-3632 or the 170 shops at Festival Bay at 5250 International Drive (407) 351-7718.
10) I·RIDE Trolley– This service allows you to sit back and ride up and down the miles of fun that make up the International Drive Resort Area. Running daily from 8:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. the Main line travels the majority of International Drive’s 85 convenient stops, arriving approximately every 20 minutes. The cost is $3 for adults, with children 12 and under riding for free. Senior Citizens ride for only .25! Drivers accept cash/exact change only. Multiday passes available. http://www.iridetrolley.com