What Can You Do if You Only Have One Day in Orlando?
121 days. 17 weeks. 4 months. 2,900 hours. According to Visit Orlando’s, “The MORlando Challenge”, that’s the time you need to fully immerse yourself in Orlando and check every single one of its attractions out. And we believe that it’s true. Simply put, Orlando cannot be conquered in just one day. So what do you do when you do not have any other alternative? What would you do if you only have one day in Orlando?
The answer is, A LOT. There’s more to do in Orlando than you can possibly imagine, so be prepared. Your 24 hours in this city will not be easy. In short, they will be jam-packed with theme parks, magical rides, scenic skyline, horror stories, loads of shopping, and tons of memories.
For a more comprehensive answer to your question and detailed recommendations of must-see attractions, read on to learn about everything that you can do if you have only day in Orlando.
Immerse yourself in Orlando’s Entertainment Complexes
Orlando’s entertainment complexes are places where you are guaranteed to have fun. This is because they include everything that one can possibly ask for on a fun day out, be it food or gaming arenas or cool scientific attractions. You can even find museums here, such as the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum at ICON Park.
In short, entertainment complexes are one-stop shops for every type of fun that Orlando promises its visitors. So, if you only have one day in Orlando, spending some time at an entertainment complex of your choice will give you a good taste of what the city has to offer. We have compiled a list of top 4 entertainment complexes in Orlando. Be warned, you cannot possibly visit all of these in just one day but you should definitely aim to visit at least one of these on your one-day trip to Orlando.
Visit The Pointe Orlando
One of the two entertainment complexes at I-Drive (the other being ICON Park), The Pointe Orlando is famous for the unique amusement park experience it offers. The best thing about Pointe Orlando is that it conveniently fits into one-day itinerary plan, meaning you cans top by at Pointe Orlando, spend quality time, and then go ahead to visit other Orlando attractions. This is mainly because of Pointe Orlando’s convenient location as it’s not only walking distance away from ICON Park, it’s also only minutes away from SeaWorld Orlando (another must-see attraction on our list!).
In terms of what Pointe Orlando has to offer, there’s always so much going on that you will find yourself sufficiently entertained. Perhaps the most representative of this fact are famous Wonder Zones inside WonderWorks which are all themed differently and offer a uniquely invigorating experience. WonderWorks alone houses a 4D Motion Theatre, laser tag, and a ropes course so you can imagine what else Pointe Orlando has to offer. There are vibrant clubs such as Blue Martini Lounge and B.B. King’s Blues Club, excellent shopping opportunities consisting of well-known brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria’s Secret, excellent cuisine such as Memphis’s Lafayette’s which is capable of taking you to the south just via your taste buds, and a full-fledged bowling and billiards arena.
Whether you want to kick start your day in Orlando or want to let off some steam through the casual fun of Pointe Orlando, this place will definitely make your day worth remembering.
Visit ICON Park
ICON Park is the second most popular entertainment complex where you can go if you want to have as much fun as possible and also don’t want to travel from one place to another. Located at I-Drive, it’s within walking distance of Pointe Orlando which means you can experience the fun at both entertainment complexes the same day.
When visiting ICON Park, make sure to get on one of the glass capsules of The Wheel. From here, you can not only witness the most fascinating and free light shows at night but also view almost all of Orlando from nearly 430 feet above the ground. Apart from the Wheel, there’s a whole SEA LIFE Aquarium, 7D adventure ride, world’s tallest swing called Orlando Starflyer, and a complete Madame Tussauds Wax Museum populated by many statues of well-loved and well-recognized celebrities. And, of course, there’s food too.
In short, ICON Park is the full entertainment package and, no matter how much time you decide to spend here, you will get the typical Orlando experience.
Check Out the Disney Springs
Disney Springs is where you head to when you have just one day in Orlando and an entire world of Disney theme parks to explore. Naturally, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the Disney experience which has become almost synonymous to Orlando but you also do not have enough time to immerse fully into Walt Disney World. So, what you do is that you squeeze in a visit to Disney Springs in between all the theme parks and main attractions you’ll be visiting. Don’t worry, Disney Springs won’t be a compromised experience.
You can enjoy world-class food prepared by celebrity chefs or head towards themed restaurants from The World of Indiana Jones and T-Rex, you can buy as much Disney memorabilia as you want or shop from your favorite high-end brands, you can even spoil yourself at the Lego Store or take a ride in the world’s largest hand-painted helium balloon. The point is, Disney Springs will give you just the feel of the Walt Disney World and you wouldn’t feel like you are missing out on something bigger.
Definitely Go to the Universal CityWalk
Universal CityWalk is one of the most popular entertainment complexes in Orlando, and is also quite similar to our previous suggestion of Disney Springs. It’s entirely likely that you would want to spend your entire day exploring Universal Studios Florida or going around Universal Islands of Adventure. You might even get distracted and decide to stay for just one more day for the sake of all that Universal Orlando Resort has to offer. And that’s okay too, we know Orlando is irresistible like that. But that certainly does not mean that you cannot enjoy at Universal CityWalk even if you’re pressed for time. From live karaoke to extensive list of diverse restaurants, it’s true that there is a lot to do, see, and experience at Universal CityWalk but how you manage your time is entirely up to you.
The way we see it, spending two to three hours exploring Universal CityWalk is reasonable when you have just one day to consume as much of Orlando as possible. But then again, it would be perfectly okay to spend half a day here and head over to another location for the remaining half. After all, good food, golf, dance, music, and theatre – everything is at your disposal for free here.
Experience the Exciting Magic of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”
You might or might not get a chance to see all of Universal Orlando Resort. It’s highly likely that you will want to settle for just the Universal CityWalk and not delve deeper into any of the other theme parks. But The Wizarding World of Harry Potter requires neither introduction nor sales pitch, it’s a place we just couldn’t resist putting on the list. If you grew up with Harry, Hermione, and Ron, you would know exactly what we mean.
If you have just one day in Orlando, and you have never visited a Harry Potter themed park, we highly recommend that you manage your time and squeeze The Wizarding World of Harry Potter into your itinerary. This is where, for a brief period of time, all your magical dreams will come true. You’ll not only be able to stroll down the Diagon Alley and marvel at the Hogsmeade houses, but you will also actually get to ride a train from Kings Cross Station and feel like you are on your way to Hogwarts for at least once in your life.
The experience doesn’t stop at just props and a train ride. Apart from the larger-than-life streets and locations from the Harry Potter movies, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a fully immersive experience which means that you get to sip the butterbeer, jump onto Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, try your luck with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, and dress up in robes and a hat to get some memorable pictures. There’s also a large variety of souvenirs that you can buy and take back with you as a lasting relic of not only Harry Potter but also a day well spent in Orlando.
You’ve Got to Visit Gatorland!
Gatorland has been around for as long as we can remember, and it welcomes guests with just as much enthusiasm as it once did in 1949. A favorite amongst the kids, this is the kind of thrilling (yet safe!) theme park you would want to take your kids to when you are pressed not just for time, but also money.
Gatorland is both affordable and educational. This is where you will not only get to see alligators and crocodiles up close and personal, but also catch glimpses off famous Florida panthers. There is also an aviary and a petting zoo, even a splash park if you’re in a mood to get into a water fight with your little ones!
Stroll Through the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Orlando is not just big on the Universal Studios and the Disney Parks, it’s also quite impressive when it comes to nature conservatories. Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is enough evidence for this. Although not strictly within reach of all the other attractions in the list, this incredible Orlando zoo is not more than 30 minutes’ drive away from the city. This zoo the perfect place for individuals who are not particularly drawn towards the world of movies and fandoms and want to explore the flora and fauna of Orlando instead.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens spans over an area of 23 acres and offer many educational opportunities for young ones to learn about animals and plants. While strolling through this place, you expect to cross paths with some of the cutest animals and be ready to pet and feed them.
Shop Till You drop at The Florida Mall
Even though you might be too busy checking out numerous attractions that Orlando has to offer, if shopping is something which is always on your mind, be sure to check out The Florida Mall which is also the largest mall in all of Central Florida. To put things into perspective, this behemoth shopping center covers a total area of 1.8 million square feet which is roughly the same area as 32 football fields combined!
The Florida Mall is the perfect place to shop till you drop because it’s home to a wide variety of both national and international brands. From ZARA to Tesla to Carlo’s Bakery, you can find a shop for literally anything here. If you develop an appetite while looking through dozens of retail stores, we suggest you head over to the Dining Pavilion to satiate your hunger.
The Florida Mall is also conveniently situated near Orlando International Airport and famous attractions like the Walt Disney World. This means that shopping can easily blend into your one-day itinerary and you wouldn’t have to go out of your way just to get your hands on those beautiful Michael Kors products.
Other shopping places that you might be interested in include The Mall at Millenia located at Conroy Road and the Orlando Outlet Marketplace at International Drive.
Visit Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park offers a welcome and refreshing break from the artificial entertainments of the city. Once you have been to all your theme parks, entertainment complexes, fancy restaurants, and international shopping outlets, you would want to experience something quieter and more spiritually nourishing. This is why we have Lake Eola Park on our list.
Situated in Downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is the perfect place to go to if you want to experience a relatively less talked-about side of Orlando. You can jog along the sidewalk, go on a leisurely stroll around the lake, or choose to contemplatively stare at Orlando’s skyline from your place on the bench. This short break will help you regain the kind of energy and spirit you need to continue with your fun-filled day in Orlando.
It’s worth noting, though, that Lake Eola Park is not just about jogging or strolling or peacefully staring out into space. It’s also the venue for many fairs and festivals. Every Sunday, Lake Eola Park comes alive with a bustling farmer’s market and if you are lucky, you might even be able to catch a free concert here.
Visiting this park will not only give you a short break from your hurried one-day theme park spree across Orlando, but will also give you a sense of community that grows in the city – a quite underrated characteristic of any place.
Petrify Yourself at Spook Hill
While we are at the subject of nature, peaceful meditation, and parks, demystifying Spook Hill in Orlando is also something that you might want to try when in the city for a day. Despite all its liveliness and spirited entertainment, Orlando has its fair share of horror stories and unexplained phenomenon. Spook Hill is one of them.
Spook Hill is where both you and your car will defy gravity and move upwards despite being firmly parked at one position. This storied public road, which is also free to access, is so famous that it earned its place in the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. It’s the only magnetic or gravity hill in all of Florida and is also considered to be the oldest gravity hill is all of the USA. Visiting this unique place after sunset on your one-day trip to Orlando will serve as the perfect wrap-up to an equally unique and exhilarating experience.
Since Spook Hill is situated in Lake Wales, if you do get to visit this place, you might also want to explore the area a bit more. There’s a history museum called Lake Wales History Museum that you can check out and also a few hiking trails in Bok Towers Garden. If you get hungry, you can grab a bit of seafood at Crazy Fish Bar & Grill, as well.
The point is that even though Spook Hill is a spooky, mysterious place, it’s by no means secluded. And like in all of Orlando, you can find life and culture here at Lake Wales too.
In conclusion, getting to know Orlando in just one day is not easy. From theme parks to food to shopping centers to museums and zoos, there’s a lot to do here. It’s quite possible that you will find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of places that you will want to visit and the activities that your kids will want to participate in. But if you manage your time well enough and plan ahead of your trip, it’s also highly likely that you will be able to witness all the highlights of the city even if that means you will be planning to return as your one-day trip comes to an end.