Sunday, June 15, 2003 CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS: Small-scale attractions have allure (Page 1 of 2)
Small-scale attractions have allure
by Charles Passy
Cox NEWS SERVICE
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. —Sometimes, you just have to get out of the house. The Mouse House, that is.
Sure, Disney offers more than enough - rides, attractions, food, games - to keep a fun-minded family busy for a week or two. But it also presents things in that uniquely Disney way, which is to say sanitized to the point of sterility. After a few days of bouncing from one theme park to another, you'll need a break.
Here then are four Disney alter-natives: smaller-scale attractions in the Orlando (and surrounding) area that are decidedly down-to-earth. In some cases, they do a better job than the Mouse; in others, they can't really compete but might be worth a drive nonetheless. If you're thinking of visiting Animal Kingdom, try ...
GREEN MEADOWS PETTING FARM Animal Kingdom does indeed feature plenty of animals, but Green Meadows, located on a remote stretch of Kissimmee, allows you to get up close and per-sonal with them. It's not really a working farm,
See ATTRACTIONS, Page D2
Sunday, June 15, 2003 CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS: Small-scale attractions have allure (Page 2 of 2) Attractions
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but it's set up like one, with an array of pigs, cows, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, turkeys and even the odd ostrich. (Not to mention a llama who goes by the name "Ricky Martin.")
Upon arrival, you're assigned to a tour group and make your way from one pen to the next. In most instances, your guide will let you pet the animal or even pick it up. As you meander through the spacious farm, the guide dispenses lots of information and makes sure every child gets an opportunity to interact with the various creatures.
The tour also includes a brief hayride and a chance to ride the rails aboard the Green Meadows Express train, all included in the price of admission. And near the end, you get to milk a cow. The tours run a little more than two hours, but if you're having an especially good time, there's no stopping you from doing it all over again for no extra charge.
Green Meadows Petting Farm, 1368 S. Poinciana Blvd., Kissimmee, (407) 846-0770. Tours begin from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Price: $17. Web site: www.greenmeadowsfarm.com
If you're thinking of visiting the Magic Kingdom's Hall of Presidents, try...
HOUSE OF PRESIDENTS
The Hall of Presidents serves up a parade of talking presidents, but the House of Presidents simply presents them in all their cheesy glory. This oddball museum, about 45 minutes outside Orlando in Clermont, recalls the glory days of the roadside attraction, when every town seemed to have something to lure travelers out of their cars.
This "something" has a little of everything: wax figures of the presidents, an impressive model of the White House during its construction, miniature replicas of White House rooms and countless pieces of political memorabilia, from the menus of presidential dinners to one of those infamous Palm Beach County voting machines from the 2000 election.
It's all the brainchild of John Zweifel, a man with a passion for the presidency and the skills of a master craftsman (he created the replicas on display). Zweifel's biggest claim to fame is a full-scale replica of the White House, but he takes that on tour to state and county fairs, so it's not always at the museum. Still, the House of Presidents can be worth a visit if you're a political enthusiast; otherwise, you might find it a little corny and cramped but amusing in its down-home appeal.
House of Presidents, 123 N. Highway 27, Clermont, (352) 394- 2836. Open from 10 am to 5 p.m. daily. Price: $9.95 ($4.95 for children, under 5 are free). www.thepresidentshalloffame.com
If you're thinking of visiting science exhibits at Epcot, try
You can get a crash course in the latest technological innovations or learn about everything from automotive design to human biology at Epcot's Future World. But sometimes you want your science in a goofier (and simpler-to-digest) format.
That's where Wonder Works comes into play.
This International Drive attraction is bound to catch your eye even if you don't step in; the building appears to have landed upside down from the middle of nowhere. Inside, you'll find some of the same hands-on exhibits that show up at most community science museums - brainteasers, physical challenges and the like. Step into an earth-quake or hurricane simulator. Play drums on a synthesizer-style device. Create huge over-sized soap bubbles.
You'll also find the Wonder-Coaster, a computer program that lets you design "the roller coaster of your dreams" and then ride it. (It's similar to the one at DisneyQuest.)
Wonder Works, 9067 International Drive (located in the Pointe shopping complex), Orlando, (407) 351-8800. Open from 9 a.m. to midnight daily. Price: $16.95 ($12.95 for children and seniors). Web site: wonderworksonline.com
If you're thinking of visiting any of the arcades at Disney resorts and parks, try ...
FUN SPOT ACTION PARK
There's no point in overstating what it is: Fun Spot is a mini-amusement park with arcade games and rides. You can play Skee-Ball to your heart's content. You can zip along four go-kart tracks. You can put your kid aboard a no-frills carousel. Does it beat Disney? No, except for the fact Disney doesn't have go-karts. But you'll have fun here, guaranteed. The best feature for arcade junkies is a pay-one-price area where you can play current and classic video games and pinball machines for $5.25 - and stay as long as you like.
Otherwise, you can save some bucks by buying packages for tokens or getting an armband for the rides. Located off International Drive.
Fun Spot Action Park, 5551 Del Verde Way, Orlando, (407) 363-3867. Open from 10 a.m. to mid-night daily in the summer (during other times of the year, week-day hours may be 2 to 11 p.m.) Price varies depending on what you do. Web site: www.fun-spot.com