Orange County Regional History Center showcases the area's past inside a building steeped in Orange County history: the 1927 Courthouse. Today, visitors can explore the grand courtroom where the murderous Ted Bundy was allegedly arraigned. Such recent events, however, barely scratch the surface of the 12,000 years worth of history encompassed within the center's permanent exhibitions. Spanning Native American and Spanish roots to the meteoric rise of Walt Disney World, the museum illustrates Orange County's vast lineage.
The building has five floors, four of which house permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibitions and materials for traveling exhibitions that highlight Florida history throughout the country. An Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum also plays host to programs for all ages, from lunchtime speaking engagements to educational programs designed to spark the imagination and satisfy curiosity. The Emporium offers one-of-a-kind gifts reflecting the cultural history of Central Florida including rare vintage photographs, quirky Florida souvenirs, and delicious Florida treats.
The seeds of the educational coalition known as the Art & History Museums - Maitland were planted more than seven decades ago when architect J. Andr? Smith founded the Research Studio, an artists' colony that cultivated such creators as Milton Avery, Ralston Crawford, and Doris Lee. The Research Studio eventually became the Maitland Art Center, a place where arts enthusiasts can check out a gallery exhibition, take a class, or practice tilting their berets just right. Next door is the Maitland Historical Museum, where locals can learn about the families who built the city?the Waterhouses, the Galloways, the Dommeriches, and the Hills. And that's not all, either. Next door to the history museum is the Telephone Museum, and further south is the Carpentry Shop Museum, a 19th century building filled with period woodworking tools and materials. Finally, next door to the Carpentry Shop sits the Waterhouse Residence Museum, set in the original building constructed by pioneer settler William H. Waterhouse.
iFLY Orlando's state-of-the-art indoor wind tunnel lets acrophobic and aerophobic adrenaline junkies experience the sensations of skydiving under safe conditions. iFLY Orlando will suit you up with a helmet, goggles, flight suit, earplugs, and a can of gravity repellent, before an instructor teaches you the basic maneuvers and hand signals. Once you've learned a lesson, you'll be unleashed into the vertical tunnel’s artificial wind current for two one-minute rotations of air time at terminal velocity (real skydives usually allow for about 40 seconds of air time). The entire process lasts about an hour, including waiver signing (flyers under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign), a 15-minute class, and a flight slot during which your group takes turns flying. In addition to the flight experience, the multimedia package includes a DVD with a recording of your flight.
Indoor skydiving is accessible to a wide, family-friendly age range, meaning that Grandma and Grandpa can celebrate their 60th anniversary with more than the traditional cake shaped like Andy Griffith. iFLY Orlando's free observation deck allows for maximum show-offiness, so invite along an audience of hard-to-impress friends, lovers, and butlers to marvel at your simulated plummet through the heavens.
During a round of golf in this region, it’s not uncommon for players to see the occasional alligator sunning itself on the banks of a fairway pond. The same, however, cannot be said for miniature-golf courses, unless you’re playing at Congo River Golf, where the civilized sinking of putts coexists with the visceral carnage of live-alligator feedings. More than 25 alligators wait for patrons to feed them morsels of gator food in an exhibit beside the course. Though the course offers no chance for an encounter with the ancient, scaly species, it enchants players with waterfalls, safari-themed artifacts, and towering rock faces. In addition, Congo River Golf encompasses an indoor arcade and a gemstone-mining station, where guests dig through dirt for fossils, arrowheads, and Neanderthal’s kindergarten time capsules.
Run by a staff of alligator gurus that has been featured on Animal Planet and The Learning Channel, Gator Golf combines the civilized sinking of putts with the visceral carnage of live alligator feedings. Glass walls line the 18-hole mini-golf course, which sees putt-putt posses walking over turbulent waters churned by the chomping jaws and thrashing tails of more than 200 live alligators. To foster interspecies harmony, players can purchase special gator food to toss into the gallery of scaly spectators, who express their gratitude by passing on ancestral tales about life on earth 20 million years ago.
A fearless coterie of gator wranglers enter the lagoon during shows and impart wisdom about how to handle the predacious reptiles in Alligator Academy classes, during which students can personally grapple with the gators. Guests of all ages can pose for pictures with smaller gators whose snouts have been taped shut to prevent biting and to preempt quips about players' putting form.
When they enter Titanic The Experience, visitors receive a replica boarding pass. From there, they relive the ship's history from a passenger's perspective, from life onboard during its 1912 maiden voyage through to the crash. The exhibit closes with updates on modern efforts to recover its wreckage, which the museum is thoroughly part of?it's myriad artifacts were found by a team that performed seven deep-sea expeditions.