While the other American states are preparing for winter, Florida is still lazing on a pool chair. Chase the sun to Orlando in Autumn, the international theme park capital and most-visited travel destination in the country. Home to Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World and LEGOLAND, Orlando is hosting a bunch of festivities this October and November. Leave the woollies behind to check out what’s happening in one of the most family-focused cities in the world.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
On an average day, Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park serves up a spectacular multi-cultural journey around the globe. But during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, running until November 23rd, the theme park feels even more festive than usual. Sample worldwide wares from the International Marketplace and follow Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt. Roll your own sugary sushi at Disney Chef inside the Land Pavilion and bust a move at the Disney du Jour Dance Party. Challenge yourselves to Emile’s Fromage Montage by getting your Festival passport stamped for each cheesy dish you try. If you get all five stamps, you’ll get a free cheesecake from Simmering Sips. Grown-ups might enjoy wine and cheese pairing workshops instead.
Everything gets that much cobwebbier in Orlando in Autumn. Spook it up with Halloween festivities in Orlando’s top theme parks. Go Brick-or-Treating on select October nights at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, which has costumed character models, a scavenger hunt and pirate-themed fireworks displays. Universal Orlando Resort sure knows how to get their ghost on, hosting 80s-themed Halloween Horror Nights on select evenings until November 2nd. There are a whopping ten haunted houses and five scare zones, including the Stranger Things house. If that sounds far too freaky for your family, join Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World. The focus is on treats rather than tricks, with Disney villain parades, fireworks spectacular and lots of jack o’lanterns.
With Halloween haunting over, move into merry-making mode and keep your eyes peeled for Santa. You might be in shorts and t-shirts, but you can still get into the White Christmas spirit. From November 23rd to the end of December, Seaworld has live shows, meetings with Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and an underwater forest of Christmas trees. Follow the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Orlando Resort. Witness the Cinderella Castle transformed into an icy palace at Walt Disney World Resort. Afterwards, tag along on the Epcot Candlelight Procession and bop til you drop at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
What else to look out for
Holiday season aside, there is plenty more on the calendar in Orlando in Autumn. The Orlando Shakes theatrical company is putting on an awesome season including Macbeth and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita. The family favourite is sure to be Miss Nelson is Missing!, a brand new storybook-based spectacle bringing mystery and music into the classroom. Mid-October brings the Be Original Theater Festival and Orlando Film Festival, as well as the annual Biketoberfest, with rides, concerts, food and more than 125,000 motorbike riders on Daytona Beach.
While in Orlando, you should also check out Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium and Gatorland. Andretti Indoor Karting & Games is also a huge kid-friendly hit, as is the colourful Crayola Experience, WonderWorks and a trip to Florida Mall.