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Ultimate Orlando: 14 New and Unique Experiences for Your Next Florida Vacation

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday December 4, 2021

  (Source:Visit Orlando)

"Dreams really do come true!" isn't just a catchphrase when it comes to Orlando. The destination ranks as one of the top vacation spots for LGBTQ+ travelers looking for the hottest spots to rest and relax, get away from everyday life and explore something new.

Speaking of new Orlando's ever-changing landscape will be filled with unique hotels, attractions, restaurants and special events in 2022. So if there was ever a time to head South, this is it! EDGE has taken the work out of planning your next Orlando getaway, hand-picking some of our favorite new and unique experiences for your next Florida vacation.

[READ MORE: LGBTQ+ Orlando: 4 Days of Grown-Up Play]

Adventure Awaits

Jurassic World VelociCoaster
Jurassic World VelociCoaster  (Source: Universal's Islands of Adventure)

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure at Walt Disney World's EPCOT — LGBTQ+ families with a taste for adventure will love this brand new, all-ages attraction. The animated film comes to life on this 4-D ride, which pairs deliciously with the newly expanded France pavilion inside EPCOT, featuring , La Crêperie de Paris for authentic French fare.

Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando — Scheduled to open in February 2022, SeaWorld Orlando's first launch coaster will feature four airtime-filled launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond-vertical drop in Florida — a 93-foot-tall spike with a 100-degree angle!

ICON Park — Orlando's premier entertainment complex continues to expand with the addition of two towering new experiences: The ICON Park Slingshot and Drop Tower, scheduled to open in December 2021. The Slingshot launches riders 450 feet into the air at a heart-pounding speed of 100 miles per hour, while the equally thrilling Drop Tower entices riders to plunge 40 stories at speeds up to 75 mph.

Universal's Islands of Adventure — Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Florida's fastest and tallest launch coaster, opened at Universal's Islands of Adventure in June. The queue is almost as thrilling as the ride itself, with life-like animatronics and soaring park views. VelociCoaster features intense maneuvers sending riders catapulting up to 70 mph and over 150 feet in the air with the swiftest of prehistoric predators.

A Taste of Orlando

Chef Richard Blais
Chef Richard Blais  (Source: Four Flamingos)

From casual finds to gourmet cuisine, Orlando is emerging as one of the nation's top food cities. Expert diners from the internationally acclaimed MICHELIN Guide will be canvassing the state for their favorite finds in 2022. But we've already got our favorite picks!

Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen — The celebrated "Top Chef" alum's latest outpost opens at the lush Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress featuring fresh seafood and creative cocktails amid a tropical backdrop. Don't miss Florida favorites stone crab claws or the Brazilian "Moqueca" seafood stew.

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips — The celebrated chef, TV personality and cookbook author offers his take on English street food with this fast-casual outpost in ICON Park, offering up fish, shrimp and lobster along with crispy chips (French fries for us Americans!) and plenty of sauces and dips. He's even incorporated British desserts into slurpable shakes like Biscoff and Sticky Toffee.

Chef Henry Moso
Chef Henry Moso  (Source: Kabooki Sushi)

3 Local Chefs to Discover

Brandon McGlamery, Prato — The flavors of Naples come alive at chef McGlamery's Italian-inspired loft-like space where you can keep it casual with antipasto and pizza or savor housemade pasta and signature dishes like veal "Milanese." Pick up McGlamery's cookbook, "9 Courses," as a souvenir or gift.

Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi— With locations in East Colonial and Sand Lake, James Beard-nominated chef Moso reimagines sushi and sashimi with global flair, drawing on thoughtfully curated ingredients from around the world like serrano peppers, truffles, lemon confit, sambal salsa and more. Leave yourself in the chef's hands with a 10-course omakase menu.

Wendy Lopez, Reyes Mezcaleria — Agave fans may never leave chef Lopez's tribute to Mexican cuisine and cocktails. More than 140 mezcals and tequilas are used to reimagine bar classics like an Old Fashioned with Banhez mezcal, while the menu delivers impeccable takes on regional dishes such as crispy chicken with mole amarillo, crispy whole fish Veracruz and slow-roasted pork tamales with salsa roja.

Wind Down

(Source: Lake Nona Wave Hotel)

Lake Nona Wave Hotel — Opening December 2021, Lake Nona Wave Hotel promises to be one of the most technologically advanced hotels in the world, with lots of details to wow even the most discriminating techie. The latest addition to Lake Nona's open-air urban district, the hotel features voice-activated in-room controls, digital concierge, state-of-the-art fitness at Lake Nona Performance Club and the world's first Chopra Mind-Body Zone to zen out in style.

Walt Disney Swan Reserve — Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary, with spectacular events planned all year long. This just-opened sprawling property is ideally situated between Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, but you'll have to tear yourself away from its four restaurants, scenic pool and Mandara Spa, rooted in Balinese heritage.

Don't Miss

The original Broadway company of 'The Prom.'
The original Broadway company of 'The Prom.'  (Source: Deen van Meer)

Orlando's event calendar overflows all year long. If you're looking for an LGBTQ+ hook for your next Orlando vacation, consider planning your trip to coincide with one of these upcoming events.

"The Prom" — This six-time Tony-nominated musical arrives at Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts this December. A dazzling story of LGBTQ+ empowerment, "The Prom" offers lessons of tolerance and acceptance through laughter, as narcissism gives way to empathy with the help of the story's unassuming heroine. (December 7-12, 2021)

Ben Platt in Concert — Star of stage and screen Ben Platt ("The Politician," "Dear Evan Hansen") arrives in Orlando for one night only at Orlando's Amway Center, where he'll perform songs from his new album "Reverie" and hopefully, a musical theater number or two. (February 23, 2022)

GayDayS Orlando 2022 — Gay Days returns to Orlando this June for a full-day LGBTQ+ immersion at Walt Disney World and much more frolicking fun at the event's host hotel, the Avanti Palms Resort. (June 5, 2022)

Need more tips for fun and unique things to do in Orlando? Check out VisitOrlando.com.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.