Dive into Family Fun, but Not High Prices, in Orlando

Posted February 6, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Dolphinplunge As an entertainment epicenter, Orlando brings out the kid in all of us, even when it comes to underwater adventures. Come discover the wetter side of the city by playing in a new water theme park, dining deep-sea style at a seafood restaurant, and staying in a Nickelodeon-themed hotel with SpongeBob and its own water activities. Plus, you can take the entire family without dipping too far into your savings.

Aquatica: Just across the street from the marine life at SeaWorld Orlando, you're invited to make your own splash at Aquatica. This massive water theme park offers a range of activities, including rafts, rapids, and thrill rides. Don't miss the popular and one-of-a-kind Dolphin Plunge, where you'll ride in an enclosed underwater tube through a lagoon filled with black-and-white Commerson's dolphins. Admission costs $44.95 per adult and $38.95 for kids between the ages of three and nine.

Salt Island Chophouse, Fish Market, & Wave Bar: Fusing Caribbean flavors with Southern and Pacific specialties, Salt Island takes seafood dining to new heights. The restaurant accommodates nearly all tastes and moods, with drinks at the Wave Bar, live music at the Sand Bar, and shellfish from the Ocean Bar, as well as a full dinner menu. Before dinner, your kids can watch underwater life swimming about on the big screen TVs in the Wave bar, while you enjoy one of its 40 specialty cocktails. Entrees start at $12.99. The children's menu features items like fried shrimp or mac-and-cheese.

Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn: With Nickelodeon-themed, two-bedroom suites equipped with bunk beds and playstations, your kids may never want to leave the room. That is until they hear about splashing in the two onsite water parks, playing in the arcade, meeting SpongeBob, and participating in a mass sliming. Parents can also find a place of their own at the Nick@Nite Lounge, where they can grab a relaxing cocktail or cup of coffee. Suites start at about $139 in the low season.

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(Photo: Aquatica Seaworld Waterpark)

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Reader Comments

I was totally a Nickelodeon kid -- checking out the site makes me want to stay there even though I don't have kids of my own!!!

Posted on February 06, 2009 at 02:20 PM by fuzzytrippinbunny

While I have never found anything to draw me into a Florida vacation, your photos and activity descriptions might just do the trick.

Posted on February 06, 2009 at 03:12 PM by snarky_schnoodle

Are you serious riding in an
underwater tube through a lagoon filled with dolphins?! That's insane!

Posted on February 09, 2009 at 05:11 PM by boston_tripster

What ever you do, do not go to this or any other theme park in Orlando during any holiday. The crowds are overwhelming!

Posted on February 09, 2009 at 05:26 PM by Disney Dave

I don't know. If I took my three kids to Orlando and they didn't see the frickin' mouse, there would be HELL to pay.

That said, maybe we can split our time up in Orlando and do Aquatica. And a suite @ $139 is pretty damn good.

Posted on February 09, 2009 at 05:29 PM by Sinestro

Nice to see you list an off-the-beaten-path theme park because the all-too-stomped parks are so not worth the aggravation and money.

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 09:13 AM by luluus

Luluus, I know what you mean. Last summer I worked at Walt Disney World so I got a chance to know all the major parks inside and out. While Disney is still great for kids, it's much too crowded and the prices are skyrocketing. For example, renting a double stroller for your kids is an incredible 31 dollars...for one day. Let me tell you, the guests were complaining about the prices all the time.

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 09:40 AM by George

Who would have thought there's more to Orlando than Disney World? These ideas are great for the family on a budget in the times were in. Disney's prices are becoming too high to spend a full vacation there and actually do anything else. I agree with the other commenter, I too was a Nick kid growing up and didn't even know about those suites offered. Makes me want to take time off for another vacation down to Orlando. The only thing I have to ask if there are anymore themed suites in the area that are of the same quality?

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 10:12 AM by Twitchy

Excellent ideas! We stay in a timeshare resort in Orlando, but are always looking for something new (and not so expensive) to do. That water park sounds like something way out of the ordinary. Thanks for the tips!

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 02:16 PM by jkopinion

This sounds great. People always seem to associate Orlando exclusively with Disney, but the city is so water based that a theme park like this has been needed for a while. How long is the tube ride?

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 03:33 PM by shani

Our family is hoping to make a trip to Orlando this Spring. I will be researching the Nickelodeon suites. We've always been very satisfied with our experiences with hotel stays with Holiday Inn. This place sounds like a truly memorable place to stay with our kids.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 12:53 AM by Lori

I spent a vacation in Orlando with my family. It was a memorable experience for us.The underwater adventures with dolphins were truly awesome.It was during spring and the weather was really great.We enjoyed fine food and comfortable stay in hotels.To my surprise all the prices were very much reasonable.It turned out to be an unforgettable pleasant experience for me and my family.We truly felt like being in Heaven during our stay in Orlando.I'm sure we would visit Orlando again soon.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 01:18 PM by sankar

This is a very interesting option compared to the all disney route and more affordable. Aquatica is the most unique water park we have seen. We will be returning as soon as possible it was an unforgettable experience.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 01:46 PM by Mindee

Orlando is a blast and there are so many options for families, and it can be done for cheap if you are willing to do some research. Aquatica is a blast and ways cheaper than some of the other parks. Make sure, if you really want to save money, pack water, suncreen, advil, and candy to bribe the children with. This will stop you from making expensive impulse buys.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 04:33 PM by Jordan

This is a great themed break. I agree with Jordan - alwasy bring your own water anywhere in Orlando Themepark Land to save money.

Everything is not about the mouse - Orlando has so much to offer - you just need to get out there and look around. Personally - as someone who was married at SeaWorld - this sounds great. I haven't been back to SeaWorld in quite sometime - now I have a real reason to check it out again.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 09:17 PM by Diane

This theme park is awesome! It has something for everyone. Our 4-year-old loved Walkabout Waters and Roa's Rapids. Our teenager found more excitement on Hooroo Run and Whanau Way. We really enjoyed our stay and during the summer Florida heat it is a much "cooler" option than Disney.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 10:07 PM by Christy

Love the different ideas for an Orlando vacation. We are going there this summer so nice to find some different options available. We went to Orlanda a few years ago and I'm looking forward to checking out these suggestions as an alternative to the more famous attractions. My daughter is a teenager so some of the Disney stuff doesn't interest her much any more. Keep up the good work!

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 10:51 PM by Linda

I live in Florida, have been to Orlando dozens of times. There are things you can do at Disney for little or no cost. Examples- At Fort Wilderness campground there is a nightly outdoor movie and campfire. You can watch a Disney movie for free- a little show by Chip n Dale, and roast wienies or marshmallows by the fire. They even sell smores kits and hotdogs there for you to roast. It is meant to be for guests of the campground but you can say you are dining at one of the restaurants- the HoopDee Doo review or there is a great family barbeque all u can eat place too- and then take the tram to the camp site while you are there or watch the fireworks from the beach area. You can also visit one of the resorts on the sky tram line- Polynesian, Grand Floridian, etc.. and get a 2-3 hour "restaurant" parking pass and take the sky tram around to tour the resorts for free. The kids usually love that. Downtown Disney and Disney Boardwalk are also very nice to walk around, and you can take the ferry's across the lake at Boardwalk. Finally, when we visit we now stay at the Blue Heron Resort as we have 2 familys, total of 4 kids. They are right near Disney, on Lake Bryan, have beautiful 2 bedroom units with full kitchen , 2 baths (one spa tub), 1 king, 2 twins, 2 bunk beds and pullout couch for around $130. a night IN SEASON. They have a nice pool and hot tub and a gym. You can rent boat or jetski pick you up at their dock and go tubing or skiing on the lake. Mini golf next door, really keeps your costs down. Oh, and can see fireworks from balconys at the resort.

Posted on February 23, 2009 at 05:55 PM by Kim

The "Sky Tram" referred to by the previous poster is the monorail (the actual sky tram was in the Magic Kingdom and was taken down years ago). Also, parking at a resort under the pretense of eating at one of Disney's restaurants when you're actually not is frowned upon.

Posted on March 07, 2010 at 02:19 PM by Donna

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