Top 10 Highlights of Orlando’s International Drive

Orlando , Expert View Column
A gold and white carousel with different pastel coloured horses and gold bars, in front of 6 palm trees diagonally lined behind and a huge ferris wheel which is white.
By’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
While it isn’t a theme park or attraction in its own right, I-Drive is a key component of any Orlando holiday.

Whether this is your first visit to the Theme Park Capital of the World or your 21st, you will probably already know about International Drive. It may not show up immediately among the host of attractions that are sprinkled throughout Central Florida, but in many respects it is the glue that holds everything together along what is effectively a vast and hugely popular tourist corridor.

The road itself runs for fully 11 miles, from the Orlando International Premium Outlets to the very doorstep of Kissimmee (where it becomes I-Drive South for a few rather misleading miles). And it is positively loaded with the stuff of holiday delights, from the greatest concentration of hotels in Orlando to just about every kind of restaurant you can imagine, and much more besides.

Each of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and the three SeaWorld parks have direct links to I-Drive to make sure they can lure in all those hotel guests, while all the big outlet shopping centres are equally adjacent to this key routeway.


Three huge milkshakes in glasses lined up, one with green balls lining the top of the glass, a pink drink and two large biscuits sticking out with a cocktail stick of sweets and two green straws. The second one has pink and orange sweets lining the glass, a pink liquid with whipped cream, a giant marshmallow on a stick, pink and blue cotton candy and a stick with sweets on. Finally the last one has brown chocolate balls on the top of the glass, a chocolate flavoured milkshake and biscuits.


Before the holiday villas of Kissimmee, Davenport and Clermont became so popular in recent years, I-Drive was virtually Brit Central for UK visitors, with the holiday companies like Airtours, Cosmos and Virgin all practically filling the hotels hereabouts for much of the year. For British guests, keen to sample all the big theme parks as well as many of the smaller attractions on two and three-week holidays, I-Drive simply made the most sense for being conveniently situated for all of the above.

And, even though the likes of the Mercado Mediterranean Village, King Henry’s Feast dinner show, Belz shopping mall and Skull Kingdom are no longer part of the scene, there are still plenty of reasons to either make this your hotel base or visit it multiple times. With that in mind, we thought it would be handy to know what we believe to be the best experiences when you hit the I-Drive Trail, so here are our Top 10:


10. iFLY Orlando


A large fan with windows all around inside a blue building and people peering in watching as a man in a full red jumpsuit, a helmet and goggles holds onto a girl wearing a blue jumpsuit, a helmet and goggles as the both float in starfish positions.

Whether you want to get the sense of free-fall sky-diving on their trademark column of air or just sit back and watch, this is an addictive prospect that is great fun for all concerned. With full instruction and safety gear, iFLY aims to get anyone from 40lbs to almost 300lbs flying comfortably and thrillingly in what is the most unusual “ride” in Orlando!


9. Escapology

Escape games are big business in Florida, and this is one of the best as visitors get to test their mental and physical skills in escaping from a variety of elaborate situations. From chemical warfare to a submarine adventure, Escapology is perfectly set up to provide an hour’s indoor excitement for teams of up to eight players.


8. Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf 

Mini-golf has long been one of the staples of tourist destinations worldwide, and it should be no surprise to learn Orlando has some of the most creative courses. Arguably the most fun of them all is located in the heart of I-Drive with an extensive and amusing pirate theme and the choice of two eye-catching 18-hole tests.


7. Ripley's Believe It Or Not


There is a glass case in front of a large grand black and gold curtain. In the glass case is an iconic dress worn by Marilyn Monroe which is nude coloured and full length with diamonds encrusted on it. Next to the dress is a woman dresses as Marilyn Monroe, with a white iconic halter neck dress, white gloves and blonde hair in tight curls.

While the name of this indoor attraction may not be familiar to UK visitors, it is actually a long-running American TV series, featuring the many travels of and curiosities discovered by explorer Robert L. Ripley. It has since become a kind of museum of the weird and wacky, with the Orlando version including things like a chance to touch a large meteorite, walk through the Vortex Tunnel and check out Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber.


6. WonderWorks 


A white mansion overturned upside down with cracked white pillars. There is a hole in the house which is cut out for the main entrance.

When you need a cross between a hands-on museum and an activity centre, head for this topsy-turvy amusement venue next to Pointe Orlando. Filled with fab interactive elements, physical challenges and extreme weather experiences, these six Wonder Zones are ideal for active children and adults just looking for that “something different” factor.


5. Sleuths

Dinner shows have been part of the Orlando scene almost since the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971, and Sleuths is a headline example, offering a nice dinner to go with their live version of Cluedo, serving up a mixture of theatre and comedy since 1991. For their part, guests are challenged to solve a rotating series of murder mysteries, including being able to quiz the cast for clues.


4. Pointe Orlando 

Tourist-orientated entertainment complexes are another local speciality, and I-Drive has been home to quite a few in the past. Pointe Orlando opened in 1997 and has gone through several rebuilds and re-imaginings since then, settling on a more restaurant-focused line-up, albeit with a sprinkling of shops plus the Main Event Entertainment venue, Funny Bone Comedy Club and a big cinema multiplex. JoJo’s ShakeBar is also worth seeking out on its own for a fun dining experience.


3. Orlando Premium Outlets


People walking through rows of shops on either side lined with palm trees. People are holding shopping bags and there are shops such as Timberland and Nike.

Looking for discount shopping centres? I-Drive has two of the very best in the shape of the International Premium Outlets (at the very northern end) and Vineland Premium Outlets (to the south), where there are major designer-label brand savings to be had year-round. Expect to get 50 per cent (or more) off the likes of Prada, Coach, Aeropostale, Fossil and many more, with seasonal sales (notably for Black Friday in November) adding to the great value here.


2. The I-Ride Trolley


A green bus driving on a road with a cartoon face on the front smirking and looking off to the side.

As much of a tourist attraction as a mode of transport, no visit to I-Drive is complete without a ride on its purpose-designed Trolley. This old-fashioned bus service runs almost the full length of the corridor from 8am-10.30pm daily, with multiple, well-signposted stops along the route for all the attractions. Excellent multi-day passes make it outstanding value, too.


1. ICON Park 

When it comes to the most iconic location on the Drive, nothing beats ICON Park and its cracking mix of entertainment, shopping and dining. Headlined by the 400ft Orlando Eye observation wheel, there is masses to see and do here, including the Orlando Madame Tussauds and SeaLife aquarium owned by Britain’s Merlin Entertainments. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better array of restaurants and this is also an excellent choice for those occasional rainy days.


What are YOUR highlights of International Drive? Tell us about them on the friendly Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.

Orlando , Expert View Column