20 Orlando area tourist attractions locals actually love

Being in the tourist capital of the known universe, there are a few tourist spots that we Orlandoans don't mind revisiting on occasion. Here are the best ways to let your out-of towner friends check out Orlando the right way.

Captions by Ken Storey

Photos by Adobe, except where noted.

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Fun Spot
Every local knows exactly what is “Huge” in the area. Between the catchy local ads and a lighting package that makes it hard to miss the two Fun Spots in town. With a small gator attraction, one of the best wooden coasters ever built, and the massive SkyCoasters, Fun Spot is a popular, cheaper alternative when locals want an adrenaline rush but don’t want to deal with the massive crowds that fill the theme parks. 
Photo via funspotamericathemeparks/Instagram
Fun Spot
Every local knows exactly what is “Huge” in the area. Between the catchy local ads and a lighting package that makes it hard to miss the two Fun Spots in town. With a small gator attraction, one of the best wooden coasters ever built, and the massive SkyCoasters, Fun Spot is a popular, cheaper alternative when locals want an adrenaline rush but don’t want to deal with the massive crowds that fill the theme parks.

Photo via funspotamericathemeparks/Instagram
Gatorland
Gator wrestling shows are as much a part of Florida as oranges and Mickey Mouse. Gatorland not only has gator wrestling, but also hand feeding adult gators, large snakes and an impressive Florida panther habitat. Gatorland has been a must-see local attraction since 1949. The iconic gator mouth has become a part of mid-century kitsch like no other. 
Photo via gatorland_orlando/Instagram
Gatorland
Gator wrestling shows are as much a part of Florida as oranges and Mickey Mouse. Gatorland not only has gator wrestling, but also hand feeding adult gators, large snakes and an impressive Florida panther habitat. Gatorland has been a must-see local attraction since 1949. The iconic gator mouth has become a part of mid-century kitsch like no other.

Photo via gatorland_orlando/Instagram
Orlando Science Center
If the massive crowds at the recent Science Night Live prove anything, it’s that us locals love our Science Center. The Science Center is mostly focused on families, but they’re adding more and more events for the rest of us too. Much of the science center has a great local focus. Locally focused exhibits include everything from live alligators to showing how sinkholes form. 
Photo via orlandosciencecenter/Instagram
Orlando Science Center
If the massive crowds at the recent Science Night Live prove anything, it’s that us locals love our Science Center. The Science Center is mostly focused on families, but they’re adding more and more events for the rest of us too. Much of the science center has a great local focus. Locally focused exhibits include everything from live alligators to showing how sinkholes form.

Photo via orlandosciencecenter/Instagram
Graceland in Pine Hills
Not really an attraction but still a sight that many locals seem to love. This life-sized recreation of Graceland sits at the end of a cul-de-sac in the back of an unassuming neighborhood off of Hiawassee Road. The first time you find it there’s a feeling of knowing something special about your city. It’s also a fun distraction through the otherwise tedious roads that crisscross Pine Hills. 
Photo by Adam McCabe
Graceland in Pine Hills
Not really an attraction but still a sight that many locals seem to love. This life-sized recreation of Graceland sits at the end of a cul-de-sac in the back of an unassuming neighborhood off of Hiawassee Road. The first time you find it there’s a feeling of knowing something special about your city. It’s also a fun distraction through the otherwise tedious roads that crisscross Pine Hills.

Photo by Adam McCabe
Haunted Mansion
With so many details and such a rich history, this Magic Kingdom attraction is so popular that Disney opened a nearby gift shop dedicated to merchandise themed to the Haunted Mansion. The merchandise is unassuming making it popular with locals who want a few Disney touches in their homes. 
The ride is a great spot for locals to prove their superior theme park knowledge. There’s plenty of details to point out to non-regular riders. 
Photo via thehauntedmansion/Instagram
Haunted Mansion
With so many details and such a rich history, this Magic Kingdom attraction is so popular that Disney opened a nearby gift shop dedicated to merchandise themed to the Haunted Mansion. The merchandise is unassuming making it popular with locals who want a few Disney touches in their homes.
The ride is a great spot for locals to prove their superior theme park knowledge. There’s plenty of details to point out to non-regular riders.

Photo via thehauntedmansion/Instagram
The PeopleMover
Visiting a theme park as much as a local does can get tiring, but we all do it because gawking at tourists is oddly fun. Locals love to sneak onto the PeopleMover to “enjoy the views.” This ride (and its Universal sister attraction, Seuss Trolley) is a great spot to catch just enough of a glimpse at the dance party to reconfirm that it’s still a thing. 
Photo via dahkneedee/Instagram
The PeopleMover
Visiting a theme park as much as a local does can get tiring, but we all do it because gawking at tourists is oddly fun. Locals love to sneak onto the PeopleMover to “enjoy the views.” This ride (and its Universal sister attraction, Seuss Trolley) is a great spot to catch just enough of a glimpse at the dance party to reconfirm that it’s still a thing.

Photo via dahkneedee/Instagram
The Wheel at Icon Park
Deep discounts and plenty of local promotion has meant the former Orlando Eye has quickly become a bit of a right of passage before you can call yourself a true local. There’s nothing quite like (barely) seeing the landmarks you pass every day. 
The massive light package on the Ferris wheel has also made it a billboard; an always present reminder on the horizon, beckoning to all those workers and residents in the downtown towers. There’s no question where the tourist district is on the horizon now. 
Photo via theorlandoeye/Instagram
The Wheel at Icon Park
Deep discounts and plenty of local promotion has meant the former Orlando Eye has quickly become a bit of a right of passage before you can call yourself a true local. There’s nothing quite like (barely) seeing the landmarks you pass every day. The massive light package on the Ferris wheel has also made it a billboard; an always present reminder on the horizon, beckoning to all those workers and residents in the downtown towers. There’s no question where the tourist district is on the horizon now.

Photo via theorlandoeye/Instagram
Sky Tower at SeaWorld 
Just like the Orlando Eye the Sky Tower at SeaWorld Orlando is a hit with locals trying to see if they can see their house. The Sky Tower kicks it up a notch with some classic Sinatra, the same soundtrack for years now, an ever-present anchor to the past. The music serves double duty on the nostalgia for locals; it is almost identical the music that locally launched Olive Garden used to play.  
As of lately, the tower has also become a bit more of thrill due to ‘what if’ thoughts of it breaking down. Last time it broke the riders got free food at the end and just imagine the story you could tell on Facebook.
Photo via busch_studios/Instagram
Sky Tower at SeaWorld
Just like the Orlando Eye the Sky Tower at SeaWorld Orlando is a hit with locals trying to see if they can see their house. The Sky Tower kicks it up a notch with some classic Sinatra, the same soundtrack for years now, an ever-present anchor to the past. The music serves double duty on the nostalgia for locals; it is almost identical the music that locally launched Olive Garden used to play. As of lately, the tower has also become a bit more of thrill due to ‘what if’ thoughts of it breaking down. Last time it broke the riders got free food at the end and just imagine the story you could tell on Facebook.

Photo via busch_studios/Instagram
Weeki Wachee Springs
While not in the Orlando metro area proper, this classic attraction is fully embraced by the community. From references inside Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort, to the nods in local tourism marketing, this mermaid-filled natural spring is loved by Orlando. Weeki Wachee Springs was transformed into a state park in 2008 but many of the attractions remain, including the water park. This roadside attraction is no longer owned by ABC and it surely isn’t as popular as it was in the 1960s, but the local tourism history will live on with the mermaids. 
For a full day of awkward state parks, you can add a visit to Homosassa Springs State Park where you can meet Lu the Homosassa Hippo. Because nothing says “The Real Florida” like mermaids, a water park and a hippo.
Weeki Wachee Springs
While not in the Orlando metro area proper, this classic attraction is fully embraced by the community. From references inside Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort, to the nods in local tourism marketing, this mermaid-filled natural spring is loved by Orlando. Weeki Wachee Springs was transformed into a state park in 2008 but many of the attractions remain, including the water park. This roadside attraction is no longer owned by ABC and it surely isn’t as popular as it was in the 1960s, but the local tourism history will live on with the mermaids.
For a full day of awkward state parks, you can add a visit to Homosassa Springs State Park where you can meet Lu the Homosassa Hippo. Because nothing says “The Real Florida” like mermaids, a water park and a hippo.

Bok Tower 
Bok Tower is another one of those local attractions that the usual tourists overlook in their quest for thrills but this National Historic Landmark is a must-see for anyone who has the time to visit it. The tower has long been an icon of Central Florida. At 205 ft. tall it towers over the beautiful gardens surrounding it. Swans, Sandhill Cranes and numerous other birds call the gardens home.
Bok Tower
Bok Tower is another one of those local attractions that the usual tourists overlook in their quest for thrills but this National Historic Landmark is a must-see for anyone who has the time to visit it. The tower has long been an icon of Central Florida. At 205 ft. tall it towers over the beautiful gardens surrounding it. Swans, Sandhill Cranes and numerous other birds call the gardens home.