Living in Florida makes it easy to enjoy a huge selection of family-friendly attractions, and for so many people Disney ranks at the top of the list. The number of Disney theme parks, water parks, resorts, and unique attractions near Orlando homes for sale provides endless entertainment for Florida residents. Our real estate agents have some tips to help you make the most of your Disney experience, including some advice on special deals available only to Florida residents.
2020 has been a year of adjustment and adaptation. The so-called "new normal" of life during Coronavirus-19 means still doing the things you love but with an extra abundance of caution. That includes going to theme parks, especially the ones in Central Florida's entertainment haven of Orlando. Luckily, the parks have taken great precautions to keep guests happy, healthy, and safe. We've rounded up each of the major Orlando theme parks COVID-19 safety updates into one spot to make it easier for you to plan your next trip.
The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios comprise Walt Disney World. These four have seen a number of enhanced safety measures and operational updates. For starters, park hopping is not currently allowed. If you want to hit Magic Kingdom and Epcot in one day, better wait until COVID-19 is under control. Additionally, park hours are reduced to encourage guests from leaving during the day and returning – once you leave the park, there is no re-entry.
Each of the four parks has updated entry requirements, as well. First, you'll need a park reservation via the new Disney Park Pass system and valid park admission for the same park on the same day. Guests age 2 and up are also required to wear face coverings at all times in public areas except while swimming or seated for dining. In addition to the traditional security screening, guests will be temperature screened before being allowed entry. Anyone with a temperature greater than 100.4 will not be allowed to enter, nor will anyone in their party.
Once inside, you'll notice the ways Walt Disney World has transformed its experience to safely create magical memories. Physical signage reminds guests to maintain at leas six feet of separation from other guests while also creating helpful paths. Barriers are utilized to block access to areas where physical distance would be harder to maintain. Cashless and contactless payment methods are also highly encouraged as often as possible.
Disney World has also increased cleaning in many high-traffic areas, including public elevators, escalators, benches, tables, restrooms, handrails, and more. You can also stop at various hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations set up throughout the parks.
While there's still lots to enjoy at Disney World's four parks, certain attractions and events remain closed during this time. Parades and nighttime spectaculars, two fan-favorite events, are temporarily paused. Character greetings and playgrounds also remain suspended for the time being.
Universal Orlando consists of two parks – Universal Studios Florida and Island of Adventure – and Universal CityWalk. Universal Orlando is moving a few steps closer to normal operating procedures. Temperature screenings before entry are no longer being performed, and social distance has been updated to three feet instead of six.
Enhanced and increased cleaning procedures ensure that high-traffic areas remain sanitized in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. This includes dining areas, restrooms, elevators, escalators, and more.
Guests age 3 and up are required to wear face coverings at all times while inside the park, except when eating or at designated U-Rest face covering removal areas. Face coverings must cover your nose and mouth and under your chin. They must fit snugly against the sides of your face and be secured behind your ears or around your head. Face coverings with exhalation valves or with mesh openings of any kind will not be allowed.
Universal Orlando has buffed its digital offerings to minimize the amount of physical contact you'll have with team members. With the official Universal Orlando Resort app, you can choose a virtual line return time to essentially book a spot on certain attractions, ensuring you spend less time waiting in line. You can also order meals for pick-up or delivery with your phone at many on-site restaurants.
Like other Orlando theme parks, SeaWorld's COVID-19 safety updates prioritize social distancing, facial coverings, contactless experiences, and more. Employees who feel sick are required to stay home until they have recovered.
All guests and employees are required to wear face coverings inside the park except when eating, drinking, or in a designated relaxation area. Just like in Universal Orlando, all coverings must cover the nose and mouth, fit tightly around the edges of the face, and be secured either behind the ears or around the head.
Animal exhibits, restaurants, gift shops, rides, and other attractions in the park have been reorganized to comply with social distancing guidelines. Physical signage and markings designate where guests should stand and walk in these areas.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort employs all the standard safety protocols you've read about for the other Orlando theme parks. Facial coverings over the mouth and nose are required at all times in the park except when eating or drinking.
While temperature checks are no longer performed, LEGOLAND is counting on guests to abide by the honor system. By entering the park, you confirm that you have not experienced any of the common COVID-19 symptoms, have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 systems in 14 days, and are not currently under any self-quarantine orders.
Signage and markings indicate acceptable, socially distant pathways through the park. Sanitation stations have been installed throughout, and guests are encouraged to use them whenever possible. Increased cleaning ensures all high-traffic areas of the park are frequently sanitized.
It's fitting given LEGOLAND's plastic brick aesthetic that the park is only accepting plastic forms of payment at this time – keep your cash at home. Guests are also encouraged to leave space between their vehicle and others in the parking garage – a welcome change for many drivers!
Summer's only just begun but it's already heating up outside in Orlando. Is there a better way to combat the rising temps than with a refreshing scoop of ice cream? We don't think so, which is why we've compiled this list of eight of the finest ice cream shops in Orlando, FL. Read up, then go satisfy that sweet tooth!
Okay, so maybe nothing can beat Disney World as Orlando's top attraction. But Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom at least lets you enjoy both at the same time. Park-goers flock to Aloha Isle in droves to enjoy its famous Dole Whip®, a refreshing sweet treat available in pineapple, vanilla, or a swirl of the two flavors. Mix it up with an ice cream float or try it on top of a pineapple upside down cake – there's no wrong way to enjoy this frozen dessert.
Tucked away in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour lets visitors explore a world of interesting and unusual ice cream flavors plucked straight from the Harry Potter films and books. Chocolate Chili, Granny Smith, and Sticky Toffee Pudding make up the menu, but none compare to the shop's defining offering: Butterbeer™ soft-serve. Whether you're a Harry Potter fanatic or not, there's no denying the delectable delights on display at this ice cream shop.
Everyone knows Ghirardelli for its decadent chocolates, but this specialty shop proves the chocolatier knows a thing or two about creating heavenly sundaes. Go for the classic banana split complete with Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream and hot fudge draped over top or feed a family of four with the intimidatingly named Earthquake, a towering confection featuring eight scoops of ice cream, eight toppings, and a healthy helping of chocolate chips, cherries, and whipped cream.
[caption id="attachment_102" align="alignnone" width="648"] The Kitchen Sink | Photo Credit: Beaches & Cream[/caption]
Beaches & Cream stands apart from the crowd of ice cream shops in Orlando and in the Magic Kingdom area for two reasons. First, it successfully captures the atmosphere of a classic 1950s soda shop, making dining here like eating in a time capsule. If the charm of its unique aesthetic doesn't win you over, perhaps Beaches & Cream's impressive dessert menu will. It's all good, but the star of the show is undoubtedly the famous Kitchen Sink, a gargantuan dessert stuffed full of ice cream, entire candy bars, whole brownies, and a full can of whipped cream. Clearly designed for large parties, this frozen treat is as much a spectacle as it is a delicious dessert.
Most of the shops on this list so far stood out for their bombastic takes on ice cream, but sometimes you just want a classic waffle cone or milkshake. Enter Ginther's Swirls Ice Cream, a charming little walk-up shop offering traditional soft serve and scoop ice cream in mainstay flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and rocky road. Milkshakes, malts, twirls, sundaes, and slushies make up the rest of Ginther's classic menu.
Friendly's might be a chain along the United States' east coast, but its menu of signature sundaes, ice cream cones, and strangely named Friend-Z® and Fribble® milkshakes are anything but unoriginal. Mouth-watering sundaes like the Hunka Chunka PB Fudge and Ultimate Cookies 'N Cream have kept ice cream lovers coming back to Friendly's for years.
[caption id="attachment_103" align="alignnone" width="600"] Twistee Treat | Photo Credit: @twisteetreat[/caption]
Even if you're not immediately familiar with Twistee Treat, chances are you've seen its 25' tall ice cream cone-shaped buildings dotting various streets in Orlando. Make no mistake, though: Twistee Treat is more than just a roadside attraction. As the owners of the popular ice cream destination like to say, it's what's inside the cone that counts. And on that front, Twistee Treat delivers. Favorites like the Waffle Taco and Cookiewich stand alongside classics like ice cream cones and sundaes to create a menu that's both unique and traditional.
Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream prides itself on offering delicious ice cream that's handcrafted right there in the store. No matter which location you visit, you'll have access to Kelly's homemade signature flavors. These include Cookie Monster, blue velvet ice cream with Oreos, and Blondie, vanilla ice cream with Golden Oreos, Heath Bar, and white chocolate chips.