Icon Park Orlando is a great way to kill a day during a holiday or vacation. For me, it was a way of spending a day after a cruise which ended at Port Canaveral, before an evening flight home. Icon Park is a great space which includes attractions, restaurants, shops and rides. Conveniently located on International Drive, close to hotels and other attractions (it is right between Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Pirate Cove Adventure Golf) it is suitable for everyone.
What is inside at Icon Park Orlando?
Icon Park centres around The Wheel (formerly Orlando Eye), a 360 degree observation wheel with views out across Orlando in all directions, including out to the coast where the cruise terminals and Kennedy Space Center are. In the same building as the entrance to the Eye, is Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Aquarium.
As I had lots of time to kill, I decided to do the three attractions ticket, which gave me entry to all three attractions for only $49.95 plus tax. This might sound a lot, but the price difference between one, two and all three attractions wasn’t much and as I had plenty of time it seemed like the best investment of my time and money.
From The Wheel you get stunning views across Orlando. There are electronic screens in the capsules where you can choose to find out more information about some of the sights and attractions that you can view from The Wheel as well, or you can just sit (or stand) back and enjoy the views.
The ride takes just over 20 minutes, and I shared my capsule with one other family, but obviously if you go when it is busier you might have to share with more people unless you want to pay for a private pod.
Madame Tussaud’s was much bigger than I expected from the outside, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. As a Brit, there were only a few figures who I was not aware of or particularly interested in, but there were plenty to make the visit worthwhile. As a solo traveller, one of the members of staff approached me and asked if I wanted any photos taken, and whilst I wasn’t that fussed, it was very nice of her and so I got a picture taken with Jimmy Fallon!
As would be expected at Madame Tussaud’s, you can mingle with celebrities, sports stars, statesmen and more. There are people from Einstein and Walt Disney right through to Miley Cyrs, Beyonce and Tiger Woods. There is a sign with the name of each star, as well as some additional information about them all, and I learnt lots of interesting facts on the day.
The Sea Life Orlando Aquarium
Brits will be more familiar with this brand name than our US counterparts, however The Sea Life Orlando Aquarium is a well known and reputable brand of aquariums and this one did not disappoint. Of the three attractions, I actually spent longest here than at the others and for anyone with even a remote interest in fish or sea life, they will have a great time.
For an additional $7 I opted to do the behind the scenes tour, which was a small private tour (there were a total of 6 guests including me when I did it) seeing areas of the aquarium that visitors do not normally get to see. One of my personal highlights was the kitchen area, which includes a large white board showing what every breed is eating, how much of it and when! I for one didn’t know that sharks had fasting days!
On the behind the scenes tour you also got to see a lot of the tanks from above, which gives you a totally different perspective on the space.
You absolutely do not need to do the behind the scenes tour to have a great time though. Some of my highlights of the day, were just from passing through the aquarium as a standard guest.
I’ve always been really interested in sharks, hence why I did the shark walk when I was in the Bahamas, and seeing them is always a joy to me, but there were plenty of other fish and sea life to keep me interested on my visit.
As well as all the tanks to view the sea life, there is a touch pool at the end, where you can touch creatures such as star fish. There are talks at this section throughout the day, and it was whilst I was here, that the speaker advised that there was a fish feeding session at an earlier tank, performed by divers. I hurried back to that tank and watched the session. There were two divers in the tank – one with a traditional mask and another with a full face mask complete with microphone so that she could talk to the speaker on the outside, as well as to the people watching. The speaker outside of the tank gave a talk, and she was able to engage with the diver. It was really interesting, and it was a particular high point when the diver in the tank taugh us some signs for some of the creatures in the tank, as well as when she was able to take questions from the people watching via this innovative use of technology.
Food, drink and shopping
Also within the main building are some restaurants and cafes. There seemed to be plenty of tables, although the attractions were not particularly busy, and although it was not hot outside it was at least not sunny. I’m not sure if there would be enough seating if the weather was particularly bad,
Outside at Icon Park Orlando
Outside of the main building which houses Madame Tussaud’s, Sea Life Aquarium and the entrance to The Wheel, there is a beautiful outside space situated around a stream and ponds. There is plenty of seating, and although it wasn’t particularly warm when I was there, there were a lot of people making the most of catching some rays.
Around this space there are restaurants and shops, including a pharmacy, souvenir shops, and plenty of places to eat. Once of my favourite US chains to eat at is Shake Shack, which I discovered in New York. There is a Shake Shack at Icon Park Orlando, and so it seemed like it would be rude not to take up the opportunity of eating there. It might not look much, but I assure you it was delicious!
My last stop at Icon Park Orlando was at the Star Flyer. This is the world’s tallest swing ride, rising to 450 feet, rotating through the full 360 degress, and reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour! It really isn’t for the faint hearted, but it really is a lot of fun. I’ve done the Star Flyer before (at night) and this time did it in the day, but it gives great views at any time of the day and is worth the additional fee. You can also ride a second time the same day at a reduced price, but as it was rather chilly when I was there, whizzing around in the air at 45 mph once was enough for me, but if I go back, I will definitely do it again!