17 Items to Check off Your 2017 Bucket List in Orlando

Run a marathon, swim with dolphins, wrestle an alligator and even climb Everest on an Orlando vacation.

From thrilling roller-coaster rides and hang glides to peaceful hot air balloon flights and excursions to the Florida Everglades, a vacation in Orlando creates lifelong memories and bucket-list-worthy experiences to brag about. Here are 17 items to check off your list in 2017 as you experience Orlando's adventurous side. It is, after all, the place where dreams come true.


Witness a Rocket Launch

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Launch

The famed Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral, located just 60 miles east of Orlando, hosts about two rocket launches a month from the same historic site that launched the Apollo and Atlantis missions. This awe-inspiring experience is one for the brag book. 


Run a Marathon

Reach an ultimate fitness goal: run a marathon. And what better setting to run 26.2 miles than through all four Walt Disney World theme parks. Several are held November to April including Star Wars and princess themes, which make your marathon truly magical. 


Swim With Dolphins

Discovery Cove by SeaWorld

SeaWorld's Discovery Cove invites you to jump in the water and play with a bottlenose dolphin. After getting to know one another, you'll be able to grab onto the dorsal fin for a ride back to shore. Good luck trying that in the wild. (©SeaWorld Parks)


Climb Mount Everest

Animal Kingdom Everest Roller Coaster

Yeah, yeah, we know this isn't the real Everest but, thanks to Disney's Imagineers, you'll feel transported to base camp at this Animal Kingdom attraction. After looking at cool Nepalese artifacts in line, you'll board a train and head straight up toward the peak ... it's all the thrill without the frostbite. 


Take a Trip Around the World

Epcot World Showcase

The World Showcase at Epcot makes it possible to visit 11 countries in a single day. Take in the culture, sample the cuisine and admire the architecture in exotic places like Morocco, China, Italy, France and Japan. 


Attend Hogwarts

Hogwarts at Universal in Orlando

The stunning detail of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios will leave you breathless, and for Harry Potter fans, visiting the attraction is like landing right inside the pages of the books. 


Wrestle an Alligator

Founded in 1949, Gatorland offers visitors a big bite of Old Florida. Visitors can see thousands of alligators and crocodiles on site, and the very brave can even enter the Gator Wrestlin' Arena and feel the strength of a 9-foot gator. 


Go Hang Gliding

Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding

Fly like a bird over citrus groves and palmetto forests at Wallaby Ranch, one of the world's most renowned aerotowing flight facilities. 


Become a Jedi

Jedi Training Academy Hollywood Studios Orlando, FL

This free experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios allows your Star Wars fan to fight the Seventh Sister Inquisitor or Darth Vader and receive a certificate from Jedi Training Academy.


Put Your Toe in the Ocean

Cocoa Beach, the closest beach to Orlando, Florida

With the Atlantic Ocean only 60 miles away, and the Gulf Coast just 80 minutes to the west, Orlando is the perfect home base for a day at the beach. 


Fly in a Helicopter

Helicopter ride Orlando

Helicopter rides are a must if you want a truly unique perspective of the landscape, but especially in Orlando with thousands (yes, thousands) of scenic lakes along with iconic aerial views of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. 


Go on Safari

Animal Kingdom Safari

Save yourself the airfare and hop aboard a safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom. On the 20-minute ride in an open-air, oversized jeep, you'll spot rhinos, elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes and more. No malaria vaccine required. 


Explore the Florida Everglades

Florida Everglades, Shingle Creek

Shingle Creek in Orlando is actually the source of the Florida Everglades. Explore Central Florida's natural side and spot alligators in the wild on an airboat ride or kayaking tour. 


Meet a Princess

Character dining at Walt Disney World

For your child's ultimate bucket list item, meet a Disney princess at all of Disney's theme parks plus at numerous Walt Disney World hotels and resorts, like the Grand Floridian. 


Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

To go wherever the wind takes you is literally what you're doing on a hot-air balloon ride. Drifting over the trees at dawn and seeing the world at first light is a sight you won't soon forget. 


Zipline Through the Trees (Or Over Gators)

Gatorland Zipline

Experience the thrill of ziplining through the trees at Tree Trek, Forever Florida and ZOOmair or for the real adventurous like this fearless 10-year-old, over crocodile pits at Gatorland.


Attend the Macy's Parade

Macy's Day Parade at Universal

This beloved holiday tradition actually leaves New York City after Thanksgiving and lands at Universal Studios through Christmas. It's a fabulous Florida way to see all the amazing balloons without the big-city crowds. 

Laura Lee
About the author

“A Southern hostess at heart, I love sharing all the best places, from restaurants, beaches and theme parks to ...