There’s More To Orlando Than Mouse Ears

New book reveals the myriad attractions of the other Orlando

ORLANDO, FL (March 2, 2012) — It’s hard to think of Orlando without thinking of Walt Disney World and Mickey Mouse. But just outside the gates of Disney World lies the dizzy world of what travel writer Kelly Monaghan calls “the Other Orlando.”

In a new book, After Disney: The Other Orlando, Monaghan and co-author Seth Kubersky set out to chronicle the scores of attractions and activities, some well known, others undiscovered, that exist in the shadow of the mighty mouse.

“Orlando is most definitely not a one-mouse town,” Monaghan says. “For starters there’s Universal Orlando Resort, with two-world class theme parks that are every bit as good as Disney. Then there is SeaWorld and its sister parks, Discovery Cove and Aquatica. Beyond that, there are other major attractions like Gatorland and the Holy Land Experience. A short drive away, you’ll find Kennedy Space Center, Legoland, and Busch Gardens in Tampa. Shall I go on?”

He could. After Disney offers extensive coverage, not just of the major parks, but of scores of lesser attractions ranging from offbeat roadside attractions, to magnificent gardens, to world-class art museums, to gaudy dinner shows, to serious theater, to the all-American spectacle of baseball Spring training.

For the more active visitor, the book offers information on bird-watching, fishing, hiking, waterskiing, canoeing, and even skydiving. You can even climb into a jet aircraft and take the controls once aloft.

“I believe this is the most comprehensive guide to non-Disney attractions in central Florida that has ever been compiled,” boasts Monaghan. “If Seth and I have missed anything, I’d like to hear about it.”

After Disney covers a number of experiences that Disney simply cannot match. One of those is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. “The Chosen One is the biggest thing to happen in Orlando since Mickey arrived,” says Monaghan, using one of Harry Potter’s nicknames. “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has set a new benchmark in theme park thrill rides. And now Universal is expanding the Potter franchise into Universal Studios Florida. After Disney has the first reports in any guidebook about what to expect.”

Another Orlando highlight is the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove. “This has to be the most magical experience in Orlando and I mean no disrespect to Mickey when I say that,” Monaghan notes.

The new book is also the first guidebook to be published with actual eyewitness reporting on central Florida’s newest attraction, Legoland. “Kids can see their LEGOs in real life, while their grandparents can reminisce about the days when Legoland was Cypress Gardens,” Monaghan says.

There is enough to do in the Orlando area to keep a visitor busy for weeks if not months. Monaghan has done it all and he has his own favorite attraction. It’s not Forbidden Journey, much has he enjoys that. “I love swimming in Wekiva Springs State Park in the northern suburbs of Orlando,” he says. “There’s a crystal clear spring there, which is a constant 72 degrees year ’round, set in a grassy amphitheater and ringed with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Let’s just say that if you go there, you’ll have a magical day.”

For more about After Disney, click here.

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Universal Orlando 2015

Move over, Mickey! Harry Potter's Diagon Alley and Escape From Gringotts, the Hogsmeade Express, and Cabana Bay Beach Resort are here.