Road-trip in Florida : 14 days

Our experience of Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Got up early to arrive at the opening of the park at 9:30 am. I recommend buying the tickets the day before on the internet, it’s much easier.

Even if you are the first to enter the park, there can already be some people at the attractions, because those who live in Universal hotels can have access to some attractions 1 hour before the opening of the park.

One day is more than enough to visit the park (½ day seems too short to me)

The best attractions are in our opinion :

  • VelociCoaster: the park’s newest “roller coaster”, which loops and accelerates like crazy in the middle of the Jurassic park setting.
  • Skull island, reign of Kong : a 4d ride (with 3d glasses on the nose) in the universe of Kong, very funny
  • Incredible Hulk Coaster : a ” roller coaster ” with a lot of looping. One of the most challenging. We came out a bit pale
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure : a lot of queue for a crazy ride, with a lot of surprises
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: an attraction within the replica of Harry Potter’s castle. You embark on a 4D journey to live Harry’s adventures, including a famous quidditch game.

Attractions I wouldn’t recommend :

  • Poseidon’s Fury: a very disappointing show, even if the monumental entrance is attractive
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges: you will literally come out soaked. Fun in the middle of summer if it’s a heat wave, a bit less otherwise.


Try to plan your sandwiches, lots of queues everywhere for the restaurants, and very poor quality

14-days family roadtrip in Florida

this article details one of our stages of a 14-day family roadtrip roadtrip in Florida

Road-trip in Florida : 14 days

How to choose your Theme park in Orlando

We leave for Ocala in the morning to go to Orlando. We made a stop in the morning at Shooter World ( : a huge gun store very well arranged, and a very modern shooting range. The gun store displays different guns that you can try freely (the guns are neutralized, no risk). This is of course a great pleasure for children and teenagers, especially for boys. If you want to try the shooting range, you can rent any type of weapon, buy the corresponding ammunition, and rent 1 hour or more at the shooting range. The shooting ranges are very well equipped (touch screen, air-conditioning…). You load your gun yourself and try shooting. a coach is available to help you if needed. We rented a gun for 3, and spent an hour at the shooting range for a very reasonable price.

We didn’t find much to do in Orlando except of course the amusement parks, which are the reason of this city: Walt Disney World, Universal Studio, Legoland, Sea World… The main difficulty for you will be to choose the park which corresponds to you, especially as each park has several sub-parks, you will not be able to do everything. The entrance fees are also exorbitant, so you have to think in advance about the park and the number of days you want to spend there.

In my experience, Walt Disney World will be more adapted to children under 10 years old, Universal Studio for children over 10 years old and adults. Legoland for children under 6 years old. and Sea World for those who like dolphin and orca shows.

Traveling with 2 boys ages 11 and 13, who love thrill rides, we opted for Universal Studio. We chose to spend a full day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure which is the newest park with the most thrill rides. We did not do Universal Studios Florida which has a few less rides and is older. We chose to spend the second day at Universal’s Volcano Bay, which is Universal Studio’s water park.

To spend the evening, we went to the Universal Studio Orlando City Walk, which is free to enter (with free parking after 6pm) and offers different restaurants and stores on the theme of the park.

We stayed at the Motel 6 Orlando, FL – International Dr which has the advantage of being located at 20 minutes walking distance from the entrance of the Universal Studio park, which allows us to avoid paying the $25 parking fee required by the park. On the other hand, the hotel is not very busy and noisy. I do not recommend it for a family.

14-days family roadtrip in Florida

this article details one of our stages of a 14-day family roadtrip roadtrip in Florida

Road-trip in Florida : 14 days

The incredibles Crystal River et Rainbow Springs State Park

Early departure from Tampa in the morning to go to Crystal River / Three sisters springs (1h25 drive from Tampa) and rent canoes. It is a rare opportunity to swim with manatees, which come in the crystal water of three sisters springs. We rented our canoes from the Crystal River Kayak Company and Dive Center (, one of the few rental agencies that allows direct access to the boating areas without motorized transport.

Normally, manatees are only visible during the months of February and March. But we were lucky enough to see 4 manatees on our route (we were at the end of April!)

After a quick lunch nearby, we drove back to Rainbow Springs State Park, in the direction of Ocala where we will spend the night. It’s a small, modest state park, with a popular swimming area for the locals and a clear river that originates in the park and flows quietly along the tree-lined banks. We rented paddles (it was the first time for my sons) and it was one of the best moments of the vacations to go up this magnificent river in paddle board, to enjoy the fresh and clear water, while contemplating the rich houses which bordered it. a real change of scenery compared to the rest of our activities in Florida.

We had the ambition to also visit the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, but we didn’t have the time and the forest road was partially closed during our visit (you can normally hike in a 120 feet chasm with a mini-tropical forest, and small waterfalls)

We finally arrived for dinner in Ocala, dining in the cute downtown area. and spent the night at the Super 8 by Wyndham Ocala I-75, a very passable motel that I do not recommend

14-days family roadtrip in Florida

this article details one of our stages of a 14-day family roadtrip roadtrip in Florida