"From daytime activities to bars open until the early hours - There’s plenty to do at i-Drive 360."
Orlando… What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Well, like me you may automatically think about some of Orlando’s long-standing attractions, like the world’s most famous theme parks (i.e. Disney World and Universal Studios) and the white sandy beaches of nearby Clearwater. This is what had first attracted Jonathan and I to Florida, but when we arrived, we found out that there was also a lot more to do in Orlando than just theme parks.
Orlando has been increasing what it can offer visitors looking for non-theme-park alternatives. i-Drive 360 on International Drive is one of the newest ‘non-theme-park’ attractions to open in Orlando and it offers the chance of respite and relaxed entertainment between the exhausting days of queuing and rollercoasters!
To enjoy the sunshine, we wanted a place where we can be outside to walk around, browse stores, drink coffee and eat good food and maybe stumble across something to entertain us at the same time. In true Orlando style, i-Drive 360 is all of those things rolled up into a mini social village. From daytime activities to bars open until the early hours - There’s plenty to do at i-Drive 360.
There are four main areas to enjoy at i-Drive 360 and they are all totally different to one another; the entertainment centre, nightlife, food and, retail.
The food and retail areas have a wide selection of restaurants and stores to choose from but not so many stores that it feels like you’re in a mall. At night, a couple of bars are booming with both locals and tourists enjoying the warm evenings together, making i-Drive 360 an all-rounder when it comes to entertainment.
The ‘entertainment centre’ of i-Drive 360 is where three other attractions are found; Madame Tussauds Wax Museum; Sea Life Aquarium; and the Orlando Eye - art, nature and engineering all together!
At Madame Tussauds, there are dozens of waxworks to see featuring famous stars, personalities and important historical figures throughout history. There are no ‘no touching’ rules either, so you can have a sit-down with Barack Obama and a selfie with your favourite celebrities!
"As a place where you can eat, drink, browse and be entertained, i-Drive 360 is a micro-destination in itself"
Next, we took a walk around the Sealife Aquarium, a labyrinth cave system with glass-walled aquarium tanks as the walls and even some of the ceilings. There are over 500 different types of sea animals, including seahorses, jellyfish, sharks and sea turtles. There is even an underwater sea tunnel so you can be surrounded by sea life in 360 degrees!
Finally, we took a ride on the biggest and most eye-catching attraction of the i-Drive 360 experience, the Orlando Eye. Much like the London Eye, the Orlando Eye is a giant rotating observation wheel, with enclosed passenger pods that lift passengers from the ground up to a 400 foot-high panoramic view of the whole area.
We started by entering a viewing gallery for a cinematic experience explaining what we would see and how the Orlando Eye was built, before walking outside to wait for the next pod to arrive. One-by-one they glided down to the boarding area where the glass doors opened for us to step inside. Even while we were waiting to rise high enough to get a wider view of the area we had plenty to see, as the sculptural and engineering masterpiece seemed to unfold itself right in front of us, the gleaming white steel framework winding itself around like a giant mechanical watch.
When our pod reached its highest point of rotation we had a complete 360-degree view of everything around us. We could see the Disney parks, local nature reserves and parkland. The pods themselves include interactive information stations where we could click on areas of the map to bring up key facts about what we were looking at. Overall, the birds eye view the Orlando Eye provides is the best way to get an understanding where we were and where we would be going over the next few days.
We had an amazing time at the i-Drive 360 and it was a fun, informative and relaxing way to spend an afternoon enjoying ourselves at our own pace, free from the high-energy buzz of the parks and out of the sweltering heat of the sun. As a place where you can eat, drink, browse and be entertained, i-Drive 360 is a micro-destination in itself, which stands up alone and yet perfectly compliments all the other attractions that Orlando has to offer. i-Drive 360 should be on everyone’s list of places to visit in Orlando.
About the Author
Kach Howe is the publisher of Two Monkeys Travel Group and contributor to the Huffington Post. Having travelled to over 100 countries on all 7 continents (including Antarctica), Kach is now taking to the seas in a 1971, 37' Finnrose sloop, S/V Empress, to sail around the US, Caribbean and Pacific Islands.