It’s been 10 years since I last visited Florida, and this was the first trip I had organised myself with my boyfriend. But with so much to choose from, a week just isn’t long enough.

Water parks are a good way to break up a busy holiday and with Aquatica forming part of the Seaworld family you can get entry in conjunction with another park.

We visited between 2pm and 6pm, in order to miss the morning rush. Factor in queuing for entry and with queues for many of the water slides it can be worthwhile to purchase a fast pass to jump the lines.

There were plenty of attractions for all ages, whether that means lying on the beach and enjoying the wave pool, floating around the lazy river or the rapids or being more adventurous.

I was drawn to the more thrilling attractions. This included Breakaway falls. The falls are the tallest and steepest water slides in Orlando. The climb is 126 steps and eight storeys high, and involves the rider getting into a capsule and having the floor drop from beneath them into a fast-flowing slide. The speed and the force was incredible so it’s a must if you’re a fan of fast and exhilarating rides.

Another fast mover is Dolphin Plunge, where you shoot through the dolphin enclosure at the end of a high-speed ride. You can also watch the dolphins being fed if you want to experience them on top of the water. Other rides include Taumata Racer, where you race to the finish on head first on a mat, or Omaka Rocka and Whanau Wave for some fast fun on a dinghy.

Another attraction away from Disney is Kennedy Space Center. It is worth knowing American students go back before the Brits when travelling in the summer for quieter periods.

It’s best to visit the complex first thing to give you the best chance of doing as much as possible. We walked around the Rocket Garden and had a friendly welcome in the gift shop before heading on the bus tour.

Unaware of how long the tour would last, it ended up taking up a big part of our day, clashing with some shows. When you enter the complex, you are handed a map and a list of show times, so work out what you want to see and when, as the detailed bus tour will take a few hours.

The tour takes you to the shuttle landing facility, vehicle assembly building and around the giant site the complex covers. The Apollo and Saturn V Center is the final destination, with many interesting facts and presentations about the famous Apollo aircrafts and one of the rockets itself to enjoy.

An area not to be missed is the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The shuttle has completed 126million miles of space travel and the American icon is on display at the centre. From seeing how the astronauts lived to hearing their stories and experiencing a real shuttle launch there are more than 60 exhibits to see.

Upgrading your tickets can get you multiday admission if you find one day isn’t enough. You can also enhance your visit with a trip to Cape Canaveral or dine with an astronaut.

The reality was discussed more at Astronaut Encounter, where we enjoyed an interactive and informative presentation by Winston Scott, who flew to space twice in 1996 and 97, spending 24 days in space. He told a riveted audience his story, taking us on a journey through his exciting past.

If you are looking for more of a thrill, Busch Gardens is known for its big rides, in particular SheiKra. On the steep climb to the top and teetering over the edge, there was just enough time to take in the spectacular views before plummeting down a 90 degree drop. Other thrill rides included Kumba and Montu, which is one of the world’s longest inverted rollercoasters and Cheetah Hunt, where we were launched at 30mph and accelerated to speeds of 60mph above the safari area.

Each area of the park had a different theme so it was easy to find your way around, and with so much on offer families could easily spend two days there. The small things like recharging stations, cooling zones, Wi-Fi and offering free refills all helped visitors to enjoy their day.

We went on all the rollercoasters but were particularly interested in the new edition, Cobra’s Curse. I’ve never been on a rollercoaster that spins and takes you up to the drop on a lift, bringing you face to face with an 80ft snake. It’s a fun-filled ride suitable for all members of your party as each ride is different, dipping and spinning at random times to keep its riders guessing. It’s based on an archaeological dig in the Egyptian area of the park.

Speaking of snakes and animals, the park is known for having more than 12,000 animals in and around the Serengeti area. You can see how the exotic animals are cared for and get up close to them in the safari experience.

Although Busch Gardens is an hour from Disney, it’s worth including in your itinerary.

Another chance to use multiday tickets is by combining a visit to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. A day in each park would be ideal to fit everything in.

Both are home to the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter, which are always the busiest parts of the parks. The areas are mostly merchandise and shops and you could easily spend hours walking around Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley taking it all in. Or, you could head for the rides. If you suffer from motion sickness then maybe the simulators aren’t for you, but if you do decide to give them a go the special effects are fantastic. While queuing, you get to experience the talking portraits and the goblins hard at work in Gringotts and the extravagant craftsmanship. Alternatively, the Harry Potter rollercoasters might be more up your alley.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make The Incredible Hulk and Rockit rollercoasters due to bad weather, but there are more than enough indoor attractions to keep you entertained.

Taking spare clothes is also a must. In Islands of Adventure, Ripsaw Falls, Jurassic Park River Adventure and Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges are guaranteed to get you drenched.

Universal Studios is home to film rides like ET, the Mummy, Transformers 3D and Shrek 4D. The streets are like walking through a film set, and it is also connected to CityWalk with entertainment and restaurants open until late.

So whether it’s a thrill ride, show, parade, or you’re just there to get wet, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure will easily fill two days of fun.

And if you’re looking for something a bit different from the theme parks, an airboat ride could be for you. A ride through Florida’s famous everglades at speed, skimming the water whilst trying to keep an eye out for alligators, birds and other wildlife is a chance to leave the hustle and bustle of Disney behind and try something new.

SeaWorld Parks Ticket Information:

The best value ticket for visiting SeaWorld Parks in Florida is the Discovery Cove Ultimate Package.

The Discovery Cove Ultimate Package includes one-day reservation at Discovery Cove (with 30-minute dolphin swim experience, all meals, snacks and beverages) plus 14-day unlimited entry to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica Orlando – offering customers more savings and flexibility for their Florida holiday. Prices start from £171 per person.

Customers with a 3-Park SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens Ticket or a Discovery Cove Ultimate Package also get free parking at all parks for 14 consecutive days, meaning that they can come and go as they please. 

For further information about SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in Florida or to book tickets visit