A bevy of interesting professional events make their way to Orlando each year, and I love it! Why?
- I live here – so no traveling for me! 🙂
- It’s almost always warmer here than other event location options.
- As a tourist town, there’s plenty of other cool stuff for everyone to do.
- Did I mention the weather?
As the unofficial local host and concierge for Orlando professional events, I figured it would be beneficial to share a few ideas for OTHER things you can do while in town as a conference attendee. My L&D buddy David Glow already has the ins and outs of the local theme parks covered in his past blog entries. So, I’ll focus on a few other topics that I think are worth your extra Orlando time. I will continue to revise this post as more cool stuff (IMO) pops up.
Experience the Magic (Band)
Wearables. Wearables. Wearables. This topic was pre-ordained as a major conversation point in L&D alongside mobile, social, and big data. It’s no wonder – with the release of the Apple Watch, the “retirement” of Google Glass, and a pile of other wearable devices hitting the market.
So, while you’re in town, why not check out one of the most advanced proprietary applications of wearable technology that’s part of a grand redesign of a very familiar customer experience – Disney’s Magic Band.
Wired previously published an article detailing Disney’s use of the Magic Band and it’s MyMagic+ technology to “root out all the friction within the Disney World experience.” As a former Cast Member and frequent park visitor, I can speak to the long-term potential of the MagicBand to personalize the Guest experience while making technology fade into the background. And, of course, Disney benefits by collecting a ton of experience data for enhanced decision-making in the background. MyMagic+ redefines the standard for customer brand interaction and event experiences – well beyond the domain of theme parks.
See the REAL Space Shuttle
Not only is it super cool to see a shuttle up-close and in-person, but the Kennedy Space Center (about an hour drive from Orlando) also surrounded it with a great storytelling experience as part of the grand reveal for the iconic spacecraft. Yes, most of the complex looks like it’s straight out of 1986, but Atlantis is well-worth the price of admission.
Show Your Inner Wizard
Any Harry Potter fans out there? While I’m on my “cool experience design kick,” let’s talk about Universal Orlando Resort and it’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – specifically the newest addition: Diagon Alley. Universal has set the bar for guest immersion with this small but intricately designed land, which includes a new twist on the roller coaster-type attraction (Escape from Gringotts) as well as a full-scale recreation of the Hogwarts Express (be sure to take the trip in both directions for unique experiences). And if you are REALLY into the whole Harry Potter thing, you can purchase an RFID-enabled wand that interacts with show elements throughout both themed lands. It’s as close to a real wizard as you’ll ever get — without selling your soul to a dark lord or something.
Get a Bird’s Eye View
We have a REALLY big ferris wheel in the International Drive tourist district of Orlando. The Orlando Eye is a 23-minute experience that offers a great view of the region, including the nearby theme parks. It’s also surrounded by a bevy of other sight-seeing options, including a wax museum, restaurants and an aquarium. If you’re looking for touristy stuff to do but want to avoid a theme park, here’s the latest/greatest option in town. Check out local YouTube star Tim Tracker’s experience below.
Lock yourself in a room … for fun …
The room escape has quickly become a popular team building activities. Orlando has several variations on this immersive experience in which a group of adults are locked in a room and must solve a variety of puzzles to make their way out in a predetermined time. The Great Escape Room in downtown Orlando has a reputation as one of the better versions of this experience. If you’re bringing your team with you to the conference, this is your chance to lock them away while you go to a bar or something. 🙂
Anytime someone asks me for a dining recommendation in Orlando, I default to Cafe Tu Tu Tango. It’s just a really cool place! They’ve got a great selection of tapas, including your southern gator requirement. You are immersed in the arts as you dine with everything from painters to fortune tellers to magicians. But it’s not hokey or overly-touristy. Locals really enjoy this spot too. And if you need some post-dining action, pirates mini-golf is right next door!
What else would you suggest for Orlando conference attendees, especially L&D folks? Any other can’t miss activities?
If you’re looking for additional suggestions, feel free to contact me!