What’s New At Orlando’s Non-Theme Park Attractions
When it comes to attractions, there’s so much more to Orlando than the big theme parks. Areas like International Drive and Kissimmee offer lots of places to explore and get lost in the wonder of it all. Play tourist for a day, a weekend or even a week, and explore these other gems right in our own backyard.
Krush Brau Park
Currently under construction on the abandoned Jungleland Zoo spot in Kissimmee, Krush Brau Park will transform this defunct destination into a multicultural experience. What’s the final vision? “If EPCOT and Boxi Park had a baby, it would be Krush Brau Park,” explains Kerri Hofmann, the park’s Front of House Manager. Hofmann says the park will open in phases, with the earliest being in late 2023 for phase one. However, the German-inspired biergarten (brewery and restaurant) should be completed by late 2022—hopefully in time for Oktoberfest. When completed, Krush Brau will also feature an outdoor festival space and a five-acre around-the-world adventure featuring container bars and restaurants, entertainment, and animatronic animals from each region. “One of most important things to us and the owner [Waylon Krush, pictured above} is making this an affordable experience,” says Hoffman, noting a minimal entrance fee of “not more than $10-$15 per adult.” She says the park will offer plenty of family-friendly options, too, such as a jungle gym, play center, petting zoo, and trackless train. -L.B.
Calling all creatives! The colorful Crayola Experience recently debuted its first fully animated theater show attraction called “Chaos & Creativity.” Featuring its iconic crayon characters—and introducing new-to-the-world Crayola characters named Periwinkle and Cat—the show peels back the wrapper to showcase the colorful chaos of running this creative haven. The characters give guests a behind-the-scenes peek into the Crayola Experience Command Central. The performance features Periwinkle (the new intern) running the show infused with silly antics, blossoming friendships and confidence-building lessons at every turn. -L.B.
This long-time Orlando favorite—the upside-down house on I-Drive—offers the perfect spot on a hot or rainy day. Dubbed as “an amusement park for the mind,” this 35,000-square-foot edutainment center offers a day of indoor play to challenge the mind and spark the imagination. Well-known for its six “wonder zones” and more than 100 hands-on exhibits, WonderWorks recently launched two new interactives to their physical challenge zone. (If you’ve never laid on the Bed of Nails in this zone, it’s the perfect photo opp!) First, try Twister, a modern-digital version of the beloved 60s game that turns players into tangled human pretzels, as they put their hands and feet on the colorful game board. Next, take the Playbox challenge, which blends hand-eye coordination with a competitive edge. Also, look for the new “STEAM” room housing education-focused science and arts exhibits, including shark anatomy and digital art. -L.B.
Also known as “Art Squared,” this urban public pocket park is currently being developed on the southwest corner of Orange Ave. and Robinson St, with an expected opening in fall/winter 2022. Repurposing a two-story shipping container structure, Art² will incorporate a cafe, art gallery, stage, seating, gift shop and digital video wall. With an artificial turf courtyard, a concrete patio, picnic tables, hammocks and two food truck spaces, the space will host outdoor events such as movie night, yoga and live performances. -L.B.
Orlando Science Center
OK, you’ve taken the kids to the orange grove dozens of times, attended Otronicon, and stepped back into prehistoric time at DinoDigs. What’s left to do at the Orlando Science Center? Plenty! For starters, check out the always-changing schedule of special events. While you might have missed the 10th Annual Science of Wine fundraiser in April, check out Science Night Live—adults-only programming including special speakers, exhibits and workshops. Of course, stargazing in the Observatory never gets old (and makes for a romantic date night). And watching a bigger-than-life educational flick (like “Amazon Adventure or “Into America’s Wild”) in the humongous Dr. Phillips CineDome continues to mesmerize guests. Starting May 21, look for “Bionic Me”—a traveling exhibit that mixes physical activity and problem-solving tasks to test the boundaries of visitors’ personal capabilities. In the fall, check out the Hot Wheels-based exhibit rolling into OSC on October 8. On the horizon? The beloved NatureWorks will make way for “Life”, a new exhibit on nature and conservation set to premiere in Summer 2023. -L.B.