The licensed skydive veterans of Skydive Tampa Bay have accompanied customers soaring from the bellies of airplanes since 1978. These plummetologists have earned national and international championship titles and multiple world records, and now start beginners on a path to their own air-bound accolades with introductory tandem jumps. Lessons begin with on-ground instruction before instructors securely attach students to their torsos like thrill-seeking mother kangaroos and freefall for two miles. After students learn the basics through tandem dives, instructors put them through the Accelerated Freefall Program, which includes classroom time, ground training, solo jumps, and post-dive critiques of freefall techniques and maneuvers.
The only way to get into Gatorland is to walk straight into an alligator's toothy maw. The giant mouth provides entrance to 110 acres of marshy wildlife preserve––home to a vast ecosystem populated by thousands of alligators, crocodiles, and birds, including rare wading birds and four rare white alligators. Among these, more than 130 gators splash and lounge in the park’s breeding marsh, which visitors can view safely from a three-story observation tower or while sitting on the shoulders of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Yet one of the biggest thrills of Gatorland is the reptile's raw power. Visitors can see this on full display during the Gator Jumparoo show, where alligators leap four to five feet out of the water to snag food directly from a trainer’s hands, or during the Gator Wrestlin' Show, where a handler demonstrates survival skills. True thrill-seekers can even dangle over the breeding marsh while riding the 65-foot-tall Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. And to experience the unsettling sensation of stumbling upon a swamp filled with alligators at night, the Night Shine takes participants deep into gator territory armed with only a flashlight and a few hot dogs.
From the outside, Professor Wonder?s WonderWorks laboratory appears to have flipped completely on its head. When visitors enter the upside-down edifice, they must first pass through the psychedelic, spinning lights of the Inversion Tunnel, which turns the building right-side up for families to embark on a full day of entertaining, educational activities. More than 100 interactive exhibits spark excitement around natural phenomenon, including replica mercury capsules that visitors can climb into, a gallery of mind-bending illusions.
Some of WonderWorks Orlando?s hands-on displays allow guests to experience the aftershocks of the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, throw a strike against Derek Jeter, and lie down on a bed of 3,500 sharp nails without so much as a scratch. Additional activities include the Indoor Ropes Challenge Course, which exercises bodies and minds as challengers navigate three stories of swinging beams and suspension bridges, and the XD Theater 4D.
Magical Midway’s neon-lit towers jut into the night sky as visitors scream with excitement from the amusement park’s go-kart tracks, thrill rides, and fully stocked arcade. The Space Blast Tower shoots passengers 180 feet in the air at a g-force greater than 3. Drivers cruise go-karts along two elevated tracks or whip around corkscrew turns on the Audubon-inspired fast track, as nearby bumper cars collide as harmlessly as two marshmallows doing a chest bump. Pucks float across the air-hockey table in the arcade, which also houses racing simulations and dancing games. Hungry thrill seekers refuel with sundry meals and snacks, such as hand-tossed New York–style pizza and ice cream.
Fun Spot America's family-friendly amusement park has the charm of a small-town carnival, but the colorful adventure never packs up and leaves. Although there are activities for kids, such as miniature tea cups, a fun slide, and an arcade, where Fun Spot really makes its name is with its thrilling ride for adults. White Lightning, Orlando's only wooden roller coaster, offers 10 moments of air time over it's 2,000-foot track, sending riders down 75-foot drops, around a track filled with twists and turns, and around 90-degree banking turn before pulling back into the loading station.
Speedsters can also head over to a series of Go-Kart tracks that keep riders pushing pedals through banked bowls and hairpin curves on a multilevel track. The park rounds out its attractions list with bumper cars, Enterprise, a Tilt-a-Whirl, and Rip Curl.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience allows aspiring need-for-speeders the chance to saddle into a 600-HP stock car. You'll ride shotgun in a two-seat NASCAR-style vehicle with an experienced instructor at the wheel, steering your steel steed around the 1-mile, 10-degree-banked Walt Disney World® Speedway for three laps at speeds easily exceeding 100 miles per hour. Start by zipping up in a fire suit and strapping on a helmet. Then climb through the car's window, as NASCAR drivers do, and check the car's oil pressure, deflector shields, and photon torpedoes. Once on the track, you'll accelerate through the straightaways, smoothly breeze through the tight turns, and roar to the conclusion of your third course tour. For answers to frequently asked questions, see here.