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Day Trippin’ — Wonderworks, Orlando, Florida

I’m sure you’ve seen it as you’ve driven along International Drive in Orlando—the cracked, upside-down building is hard to miss. Well, don’t. Wonderworks is worth a day trip! 

The Details

Wonderworks
9067 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 351-8800
Open 365 days a year – 9:00 am to midnight

Distance from SRQ
: 2 hours and 20 minutes (via I-75 and I-4)

Time spent at park: Plan for at least 3-4 hours of fun. We were there about 10 hours and could have stayed longer but after running around all day, we were rather exhausted.

Cost: $29.99 (12+); $23.99 (4-12) for ALL access pass (includes all of Wonderworks—Wonder Zones, 3D XD Motion Theater, Ropes Course, one game of Laser Tag)
The arcade games cost extra but there was so much to do that was included, the arcade games were almost completely ignored and we didn’t bother with them at all. The magic show was also an additional cost or you can fork up a little extra for a combo ticket. 

Level of satisfaction:
Preschooler: A+
Elementary age: A+
Middle schooler: A+
Parents: A+
Seriously all of us absolutely LOVED this place—which is a rarity.

The Main Attraction – Wonder Zones:

Natural Disasters: Experience nature at its most destructive. Sit in a cafe and brace yourself for an earthquake that measures 5.3 on the Richter scale, cower in a shack during a hurricane with winds reaching 74 miles per hour, touch lightning, watch water defy gravity, experience arctic waters, and explore the world through virtual maps. Most of these were a little worrying for my preschooler, but with some gentle encouragement and lots of observing, she eventually enjoyed all of the exhibits except the lightning—that was a hard no for her (but the others loved it).

Physical Challenge Zone: Various interactive experiences that push your physical limits. Lay on a bed of nails, attempt to pull your weight, challenge a player to a game of Mindball (I won!), play virtual sports (my kids like the zombie ball the best), have fun on the 3D Wonderwall (my preschooler especially found this entertaining), or create bubbles as big as you are in the Bubble Lab (this was everyone’s favorite, although the floors were a little slick—obviously—so caution is advised with littles).

Light & Sound Zones: This was a fun, interactive zone with various sound and light based activities that include playing piano with your feet, an exciting light game that reminded me of Whack-a-Mole (we must have played a couple of dozen rounds), and the younger two loved creating shadows on the image wall.

Space Discovery: Parts of this exhibit are NOT for the faint of heart. My middle schooler LOVED the Astronaut Training Experience, which is basically a 2-person gyroscope. But I got dizzy just watching it spin with her inside. The older two enjoyed the virtual Wonder Coaster, but my preschooler was too small to go, even with an adult. My preschooler loved the life-sized spacesuit experience and sitting in the Mercury Capsule, and my elementary-aged kid loved landing the shuttle, although we crashed a bunch.

Imagination Lab: This was my preschooler’s favorite area. We returned here several times. Our favorites: Alien Stomper, an interactive video game that has them stepping on virtual aliens; the mini-basketball game (just her size!); and the GIANT Lite Brite. There were also several video games, which made a good sitting break for a bit after all the physical activities (especially for me!). 

Far Out Gallery: Tons of virtual illusions and weird art and paintings that keep you guessing. This was actually stretched between most of the areas and in the stairwells. There was literally things to do in every inch of the building!

Other Activities

Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show: This interactive and hilarious dinner show is supposed to be amazing. From the laughter coming from the room, I would doubt they exaggerated the claim. The cost includes unlimited fresh hand-tossed pizza, salad, beer, wine, soda, and dessert. Although we weren’t able to fit this into our budget this trip, we’ll definitely go the next time we visit. I’m actually really sorry we had to miss it. (Adults $29.99; kids (4-12) and seniors (60+) $19.99)

4D XD Motion Theater: A short 3D film (roughly 5 minutes) with special effects and full motion seating. The older kids and husband loved it, but my preschooler was NOT impressed, and I wasn’t about to risk it as I get motion sick on a swing.

Indoor Ropes Course: This three-story high ropes course above the arcade was incredible to watch. People were literally climbing along a story (or more) above you while you watch in amazement. It also glows in the dark—how much cooler can you get? I gave it a shot but I only made it to the first story landing before my vertigo and fear of heights grounded me and my middle schooler swiftly followed. My elementary schooler made it to the top story solo, and my preschooler basically climbed the whole thing (with help from daddy for some parts). If you can handle heights, this is worth the wait—it had the longest wait of any of the exhibits.

Laser Tag: This was my first experience playing Laser Tag and we all had a blast! They give you a very quick rundown of the rules and how to play and then turn you loose. I would have preferred a bit more guidance—me and my youngest were completely clueless—but the older two and the husband were off, blasting like crazy in no time. It was a simple game so it is great for beginners, but experienced players might prefer a more advanced court. Only one game is included in the ticket price, but additional games can be purchased at the arcade for $2.00. 

Know Before You Go

  • Closed-toed shoes are REQUIRED for the ropes course. They are very serious about this. Also no skirts or dresses on the ropes course either. You are literally climbing above the arcade.
  • Several of the attractions have height or weight restrictions. Check the FAQs here.
  • Some of the attractions will have a line, which may be longer during peak times. They all moved pretty swiftly (except the ropes course) and there were a ton of things to do that had no wait.
  • It’s very chaotic. People everywhere, flashing lights, some of the rides have motion (4D theater, Astronaut Training Experiencer) so it might not be the best option for sensitive kids on a regular day. However, they do offer Sensory Nights where their exhibits are altered to provide limited stimulation for children with special needs. The music is lowered and loud exhibits aren’t on, creating a safe environment for kids to enjoy the attraction without feeling overwhelmed. Check here for the schedule.
  • Park behind Wonderworks for FREE. The website recommends the parking garage next door-Pointe Orlando—which runs about $4.00 for the first 2 hours, $2.00 each additional hour, with a maximum of $10.00 per day. Take an extra couple of seconds and park behind Wonderworks for free. The lot entrance is behind the Ale House (which is a terrific option for lunch!) and a very short walk will take you between iFly and Wonderworks. And trust me, you’ll want to sit and watch the people fly in the indoor skydiving adventure anyway. They have seating outside and all three kids were entranced for over half an hour. We had to practically drag them away.
  • Don’t pay full price! Check their website for a $2.00 off coupon, or find a discounted offer through Groupon.
  • Buy the upgraded guide (about $5.00) that includes a map, scavenger hunt (redeemable for a prize), and coupons for discounts in the gift shop and the cafe. The pizza is fresh and absolutely delicious. I would have preferred healthier drink options though.
  • Certain Sundays (called Sundae Fundae) have discounted admission for Florida residents ($12.00). There’s even a full “make your own” sundae bar and 20% of the proceeds from the sundaes and cafe items go towards a selected local organization. It’s a great chance to give back and have fun. For more information check here.

To sum it up, kids of all ages (and parents) will have a blast, wear themselves out, and learn a bit in the process. It’s more than worth the drive and if you are anything like us, plan to spend the day.

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