Direct Flight: Orlando beckons spring breakers with dozens of new attractions, free vacation planning experts

Orlando might have had to press pause on welcoming guests due to temporary closures and public health restrictions during much of the last two years, but it is now back to near normal operations with dozens of new offerings for this year’s spring breakers. This is especially good news for Washingtonians, who rank among Orlando’s biggest fans.

According to Visit Orlando, the city’s tourism association, Washington, DC is one of the top 10 markets outside of Florida for visitation to Orlando, and it’s expected that thousands of area families will visiting during the upcoming spring break period.

So what’s new in Orlando for 2022? We got you covered . . .

Big Thrills

VelociCoaster is the newest rollercoaster at Univeral’s Islands of Adventure. It is billed as Florida’s fastest, tallest and most intense launch coaster ever created, catapulting riders 155 feet into the air at extreme speeds up to 70 mph while racing alongside a ferocious Velociraptor pack, inspired by the blockbuster “Jurassic World” films.

At SeaWorld Orlando, Ice Breaker is the park’s first launch coaster and features four airtime filled launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida – a 93 feet tall spike with 100-degree angle. The thrills continue as riders fly over a near-vertical tophat maneuver into a series of exciting twists, turns, and airtime hills.

An exhilarating new water body slide experience, Reef Plunge, is center stage at Aquatica Orlando. Guests twist and turn through over 330 feet of eye-catching translucent cutouts and rings while passing through a new underwater habitat that’s home to a vibrant array of marine life, including Commerson’s dolphins, leopard sharks, sardines, and other cold-water fish.

The ICON Park entertainment complex has added two new record-breaking rides. The Orlando Slingshot is the tallest slingshot ride in the world, standing at 300 feet tall and launching riders 450 feet into the air. The Orland Free Fall has the record for the tallest tower drop ride, plummeting riders 400 feet, 70 miles an hour.

World-Class Entertainment

Drawn to Life, a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering, is a spectacular live acrobatic show. It is the 50th production created by Cirque du Soleil and its premiere coincides with the 50th anniversary celebrations at Walt Disney World Resort. With an international cast of 64 artists, Drawn to Life performs Tuesday through Saturday at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.

Steinmetz Hall, an acoustically perfect concert hall, is now open at the downtown Orlando Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, a hub for the best international and local artists representing virtually every genre of the performing arts. With year-round programming, visitors are encouraged to check the performing arts center’s schedule.

Free Planning Help

Visit Orlando has launched a new complimentary Vacation Planning Services that gives travelers personalized one-on-one planning advice at no cost. The service is available via phone at (407) 363-5872, email and live chat, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“While planning a vacation should be fun, Orlando can be overwhelming to plan because we have so many options to choose from.” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “By adding customized planning to our existing services and tools, we aim to alleviate some of the stress of planning by providing helpful resources that result in unforgettable Orlando vacations.”

Direct flights from the Washington, DC to Orlando are available at all three area airports:

  • Baltimore Washington International: Frontier, Spirit, and Southwest
  • National Airport: JetBlue, American, and Southwest
  • Dulles International Airport: United

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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