1. Universal Studios
Visit the Wizarding World of
- before they open one in California next year. Board the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station for a ride to Hogsmeade, where you'll think you've stepped into the village itself. Buy a pint of Butterbeer or pumpkin juice, choose a wand, taste Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans and ride three roller coasters including the scary
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
after walking the corridors of Hogwarts.
Be warned: Disneyworld is massive. While California's Disneyland is on about 200 hectares, Orlando's offering sprawls over 10,000 hectares and includes the Magic Kingdom with many of the same rides as California, but it also has EPCOT, Animal Kingdom (a full zoo), Hollywood Studios and two water parks, so plan for a few days here.
3. Kennedy Space Centre
About an hour's drive from Orlando, a visit to Cape Canaveral is well worth it. Rent a car or take a cab. I had an Uber driver quote me $100 for a round trip. You really need to spend a whole day here to see it all. Be dwarfed by Nasa's returned space rockets, feel the G-forces in the Shuttle Launch Experience and even book lunch with a veteran astronaut and hear about their missions.
4. Airboat Tour
If it's alligators you want to see, then book a Spirit of the Swamp tour and take an airboat ride to spot "handbags" in the water. You'll see plenty of gators but keep your eyes open for bald eagles, snakes and other bird life on these small boats with great guides that ensure you can go further into the swamp than the bigger tour boats.
5. Outlet shopping
Who doesn't love to shop with huge discounts? Outlet malls are everywhere in America and I found Vineland Outlets with 160 stores satiated my retail therapy nicely. There is also the Premium Outlets on International Drive with 180 high street brands and designer labels offering huge discounts.