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Kissimmee, Florida, United States

Kissimmee and Celebration

Family friendly attractions, discount shopping and a touch of Disney

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 9.0 miles / 14.5 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: This driving tour includes highlights from the western side of Kissimmee, just outside of Walt Disney World, as well as the Disney-inspired town of Celebration.

Kissimmee was originally founded in the late 1800s and for several decades it served as a major Florida railroad hub. It was also known for its citrus industry and huge cattle ranches.

However, in the late '60s, a man named Walt Disney decided to expand his California theme park empire to Florida and he chose a plot of land neighboring the west side of the city. Kissimmee then set its sights on the tourism industry. Today the western side of the city contains many midpriced hotels and motels, chain restaurants and fun family fare like mini-golf and carnival-like ride attractions.

From thrill rides to miniature golf to outlet shopping, the points of interest in this guide offer a good cross selection of what is available and fun for all ages.


Tips: Each point of interest can take as little or as long as you like, so it easily can be converted from a few hours to a full day.

With Old Town and Fun Spot USA right next to each other, park at one and walk over to the other.

Look for coupon book boxes along the route for discounts good at several of these attractions.

Points of Interest

Hotel
map

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

This luxury hotel boasts more than great rooms and service. The center atrium holds a series of themed environments that represents various Florida destinations from St. Augustine to the Everglades to Key West.

View baby alligators, turtles, stingrays and more as you wander through these exhibits as if you were actually touring the state. End your visit in Key West onboard a real sailboat. It's all free to enjoy, even for people who not guests at the hotel.

During the winter holidays, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, Gaylord Palms is also home to a special attraction called "Ice!" which features 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures. There are also several ice slides to play on throughout the attraction. Tickets range from $9.99-$25.99, depending on the type of ticket and day of the week.
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Gaylord Palms Hotel
6000 W. Osceola Pkwy.
Kissimmee
407-586-0000
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Directions
Take Interstate 4 to the West Osceola Parkway exit and head east. Gaylord Palms is on the right.
map

Celebration

Originally conceived as the ideal town of the future by Walt Disney himself, Celebration is a small community with a variety of well-kept condos and homes with manicured lawns. The central downtown business district is decorated in pastel colors and an Art Deco theme.

Celebration prides itself on being a family friendly community where neighbors bond together. But there are also a lot of rules and regulations covering everything from trash to parking. To get a better feel for the town, visit the Celebration Front Porch Community website listed below.

During spring and summer, enjoy monthly festivals such as the Great American Pie Festival (broadcast on the Food Network) and a retro 4th of July celebration. During fall, leaf-shaped confetti shoots out from the lamp posts. This changes to simulated snowflakes during the winter holidays.

Most of downtown's eateries and shops can be found along Front and Market streets in Celebration Town Center. Hours vary, but most shops are open until at least 9pm Monday-Saturday and 6pm Sunday. Restaurants, bars and the two-screen movie theater are open a bit longer.
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Directions
Leaving the Gaylord Palms parking lot, turn right onto International Drive and right again onto West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, also known at Highway 192. Turn left at the stoplight for Celebration Avenue. Follow this past the residential area until you reach Water Street. Turn right and that will take you through downtown to the lakefront and Town Center.
map

Celebration Town Center

Once you reach the lakefront of downtown Celebration, you are in the Celebration Town Center. This is a good time to park and stretch your legs as you stroll the brick-lined Front and Market streets with their shops and restaurants. On-street parking on either street will do, as Town Center is only a few blocks long.

At 671 Front St., you'll find a few boutique stores offering clothing and accessories and a Sanrio store (Hello Kitty!). For your furry four-legged family members, be sure to stop in at the Woof Gang Bakery to pick up a few treats.

Food offerings include everything from sushi and pizza to Thai, Spanish/Cuban and traditional Irish. If the family can't agree, try the classic American menu at Market Street Cafe, complete with freshly made pies for dessert. Be sure to stop in at Kilwins to get a free sample of the fresh fudge, too.
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Kilwins
671 Front St. Suite 140
407-566-8555
Hours
Sunday-Thursday 10:30am-10pm
Friday 10:30am-11pm
Saturday 10am-11pm
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Sanrio Surprises
671 Front St., Suite 100
321-939-1777
Hours
Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm
Sunday 11am-6pm
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Woof Gang Bakery
671 Front St., Suite 120
321-939-2253
Hours
Monday-Saturday 9am-9pm
Sunday 9:30am-6pm
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Market Street Cafe
701 Front St.
407-566-1144
Hours
Daily 8am-10pm
map

Old Town

This shopping and entertainment complex in Kissimmee offers a lot for visitors. The front end of the park has carnival rides, including a huge Ferris wheel, along with go-karts and more. At the back end of the shopping is another ride area aimed at children too small to ride the bigger rides up front. Rides require tickets, with most costing 1-3 tickets. Unlimited ride wristbands are also available.

New for summer 2011 is the Ampventure zipline, an adventure course and rock climbing wall. The zipline and adventure course take 8 tickets apiece. The rock wall takes 4 tickets. For safety, there is a height requirement for each of 48 inches.

In between the ride areas is the Old Town shopping strip that stretches four blocks long and features everything from souvenir shops to craft stores. Definitely check out Black Market Minerals for inexpensive jewelry and incense.

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are must-visit days for car enthusiasts as there are classic auto shows that start around 4 p.m. each of these days. These weekly free shows also include live music. Even Elvis shows up on occasion. Really.
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Old Town Kissimmee
5770 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy.
Kissimmee
407-396-4888
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Hours
Sunday-Thursday Noon-11pm
Friday-Saturday Noon-Midnight
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Cost
Single-ride ticket $1.50 each or 30 tickets for $40
Unlimited ride wristbands
Kidzone only $14.95
SuperVenture (14 rides)$24.95
Unlimited rides $39.95 (includes one ride each on the Ampventure zipline, adventure course and rock climbing wall)
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Directions
From Celebration Town Center, follow Front Street a few blocks back to Celebration Avenue. Turn right and follow your entry route into Celebration back to Highway 192/West Irlo Bronson. Turn right and Old Town will be on your right about a mile down. Look for the Ferris wheel at the entrance.
map

Fun Spot USA Kissimmee

This thrill ride park, located right next to the back end of Old Town, features multilevel go-kart tracks, a roller coaster, kids rides, bumper cars, a sling shot ride and the world's tallest SkyCoaster. If you've ever been to an American county fair, many of these rides will be familiar.

The SkyCoaster is truly for the hard-core thrill seeker. The rider is placed in a special flight suit and fastened to steel cables that can hold up to 9,000 pounds each. Strapped in, riders are then pulled up and back during the one-minute ride to the tower. At a height of 300 feet, they pull their own ripcord, free falling into a huge swinging arc at speeds up to 85mph.

This swing continues for a minute or two until it slows down and the rider is then lowered back to the ground. This ride accommodates up to three fliers at once, allowing you to scream in terror with your best friends. If you need a visual, the SkyCoaster link below has a video.

Fans of monster trucks will enjoy the collection that the Fun Spot has on display at this park.
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Fun Spot USA Kissimmee
2850 Florida Plaza Blvd.
Kissimmee
407-397-2509
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Hours
Daily 10am-Midnight
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Cost
Single-ride ticket $3
Unlimited-ride wristbands $24.95 to $34.95 per person
SkyCoaster $40 for 1 person/$70 for 2 flying together/$90 for 3 flying together; repeat flights at a discount
map

Congo River Adventure Golf

Miniature golf is the main attraction here, with the courses themed like a jungle and featuring giant waterfalls, mysterious caves and water hazards. If that's not enough, there are paddleboat rides you can take around the course and live alligators that you can feed (for a small extra fee to cover the food).

There are two 18-hole courses, one more challenging and one more kid friendly. There are also "artifacts" to search for during your play; if you find them all, you get a little prize.

There are often discount coupons available in free books that can be found at most Kissimmee motels and in the brightly colored plastic roadside newspaper boxes along West Irlo Bronson Highway.

If you are playing after dark, it's usually wise to use bug repellant as the water hazards tend to attract mosquitoes and gnats to the courses.
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Congo River Adventure Golf
4777 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Kissimee
407-396-6900
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Hours
Sunday-Thursday 10am-11pm
Friday-Saturday 10am-Midnight
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Cost
Adults $10.99
Kids younger than 10 $8.99
Kids younger than 5 Free (one child per paid adult)
Discounts available in many area coupon books
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Directions
Leaving Old Town/Fun Spot, turn right on Highway 192/West Irlo Bronson and head east about three miles. Congo River Golf will be on the left side of the road, but to get to it you need to drive slightly past it to the left turn lane. The parking lot is behind the attraction.
Other Resources
Congo River Adventure Golf
map

Orlando Premium Outlets—Vineland Avenue

This large outdoor outlet mall is a great place to grab great bargains on clothes, shoes, home decor and even gifts for those back home. More than 150 brand-name stores can be found here, from designers like Coach, Gap, Kenneth Cole and Tommy Hilfiger to sportswear outlets like Nike and Puma. There's even an official Disney outlet store here.

Stop by the mall's information booth and ask about coupon booklets available for out-of-town visitors. Shoppers 50 and older can get an additional 10 percent off their purchases by showing their photo ID with proof of age at many of the stores on Tuesdays.

If you can brave the crowds, massive weekend sales occur almost monthly on holiday dates like Labor Day Weekend and Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). The shopping center website has a complete current list of upcoming sale weekends.

During the hotter months, be sure to park in the garage, not the open parking lot. This will help keep the car cooler.
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Orlando Premium Outlets--Vineland Avenue
8200 Vineland Ave.
Orlando
407-238-7787
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Hours
Monday-Saturday 10am-11pm
Sunday 10am-9pm
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Directions
Turn right on to Highway 192/West Irlo Bronson. Turn right at Highway 535/Vineland Road (there is signage before the intersection to alert you). Continue for about 3 miles and then turn right at Vineland Avenue (look for the Lone Star Steakhouse at this intersection). The mall will be about 1 mile ahead on the right.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Michelle Snow, MichelleSnow

Kissimmee and Celebration Map


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About the Author

MichelleSnow
MichelleSnow
5 guides
view MichelleSnow's profile
I am a freelance travel writer who also authors a city-centric website, CitySurfing Orlando.

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