Blind spots plague us on the highways, but they also impact our travels. Hugely popular attractions – landmarks, museums, viewpoints, beaches or theme parks – hog the limelight, draining the oxygen of other great experiences waiting to be discovered. This is especially true in Orlando, which attracts about 74 million visitors a year, many arriving like combat soldiers geared up for a tour of duty in the Theme Park Capital of the World. I wondered what they could be missing and what activities add a different flavour to the largest tourist destination in the United States (Orlando now beats out Vegas, New York, and Miami). Intending to avoid all things Disney, I wondered if my kids would ever forgive me.
The airboat roared into the swamp, coasting over shallow waters under angry, cloudy skies. The fresh air, exotic birdlife and boisterous stories from our pilot came thick and fast on Lake Tohopekaliga, home to Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. Compared to slick theme park rides, this local attraction felt a little rough around the edges, but so are the alligators that prowl these headwaters of the Everglades. On our boat were a couple from St. John’s, N.L. we all agreed that the unseasonal cool weather was preferable to waist-high snow back home. Next, I took the kids to NONA Adventure Park, which offers a floating water park, a wakeboard cable track, and an 18-metre-tall climbing tower. Admission includes hard hats and wetsuits for obstacles on land and water, designed to thrill all ages.