Category Archives: Under-rated Orlando
Among the many great rides and attractions in Orlando, E.T. Adventure is not well-regarded. Rumor has it that the only thing preventing E.T. from being replaced is the direct intervention of Steven Spielberg himself. The movie the ride is based on was very personal to him and he has been involved in the development and evolution of the E.T. Adventure. Putting that aside, Spielberg is right to protect this attraction because contrary to popular opinion it’s actually an important part of Universal’s line-up.
With Pandora in our rear view mirror, we spend a few more hours taking in some of the highlights of Animal Kingdom. While we do give Kilimanjaro Safaris a miss, top attractions like the Finding Nemo musical, Dinosaur!, and Expedition Everest wind up as priorities and we indulge in a wonderful meal at the still excellent signature dining restaurant Tiffins. Hmmm…I’ve just basically told you almost everything about this video. Watch it anyway, okay?
There may be no easier way to start a fight than to bring up Universal Orlando in a crowd of Disney World fans. Ever since Universal set up shop in Disney’s backyard, fans of the central Florida theme parks have been debating which is the better resort. I’m going to side-step that third rail by stating up front that both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando are terrific vacation destinations. I’m not here to argue that one is better than the other. But I will make a case that Universal is under-rated.
There aren’t many attractions in Orlando which I consider to be under-rated. If anything, I would argue that a lot of attractions at Disney World and its competitor are over-rated. But there are a few attractions that I feel do not get their due. Today, I am putting the spotlight on one such attraction. The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was once the park’s flagship attraction. These days, rumor has it that it is scheduled for replacement. Rumors aside, Disney fans are constantly complaining that the ride is dated. Are they right? Well, yes and no.
The Universal theme parks in Orlando are completely in thrall to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, right? Just throw something up and slap Hogwarts or Gringotts on it and people will practically throw their money at you, right? Well, not exactly. Ever hear the three most important things about real estate? Location, Location, Location.
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Now that the Disney Songs countdown has come to a close, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at an under-appreciated musically-mind Disney attraction: Mickey’s Philharmagic. The name of the attraction is a bit misleading. The show bears Mickey Mouse’s name. But Donald Duck is the real star. Typical! The mouse always gets all the glory.
I hesitate to say that any Disney World Resort is under-rated because frankly they are all over-priced. However, savvy Disney World guests know that discounts abound. Even discounted, I wouldn’t call Disney-owned hotel rooms a bargain. But the expense can be rationalized given the uniqueness of the on-property experience.
Disney breaks down their hotels into three broad classifications: Value, Moderate and Deluxe. Guests who are looking to stretch their dollar tend to stay in the Value resorts. Those who are looking for luxury at any price, stay at the Deluxe resorts. But the Moderates tend to be over-looked. They cost significantly more than the Value resorts. Many guests question whether or not the extra amenities are worth the expense.
As with any Disney World planning related question, the answer depends on your group’s priorities. For my family, the Moderate resorts are frequently worth the extra expense because we tend to spend time at the resort in between visiting the parks. To date, we have stayed at two of the three Moderate resorts. We have stayed at Port Orleans and Coronado Springs. We have yet to visit Caribbean Beach.
I could make an argument that all three resorts are somewhat under-rated. But of the three, I feel that Coronado Springs tends to be over-looked the most.
There are two kinds of people in the world; those who watch parades at Disney World and those who don’t. I can definitely understand the argument for skipping the parades. Lines for attractions are generally shorter while the parade is running. If you want a decent viewing spot for the parade, you need to scope it out in advance. Doing so eats up precious park time.
I don’t go too far out of my way to watch the parades. But I do consider them to be part of the Disney experience. Ideally, I like to take in at least one per trip. Of the day-time parades currently running, my favorite has to be Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “must see”, but I do think it is definitely an under-rated Disney experience.
A while back, I did a write-up on Disney World experiences I considered to be over-rated. I had intended to follow-up with a list of experiences I considered to be under-rated. But as I was preparing to write the follow-up, I was having trouble narrowing down my list. I got to thinking that I would like to spend a little more time talking about some of Disney’s under-appreciated offerings. So instead of a single article, I am going to write a series of follow-ups about under-rated Disney World experiences.