Sandwiched between Disney and Universal, tiny Fun Spot America has been busy carving itself out a niche in the Orlando theme park market.
Unlike the lavishly-themed rivals that are located nearby, Fun Spot is an unashamedly old-school amusement park located on International Drive. It hosts a selection of traditional flat rides, which can be paid for on a per-ride basis or by purchasing an "unlimited ride" wristband.
Many of those that drive past Fun Spot America or see it advertised must be thinking something along the lines of: "Are the owners of this place crazy? What chance do they have to compete with Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens?" And yet 2013 has been a huge year for Fun Spot, with the park having installed two major new roller coasters and undertaken a major refurbishment of the entire property.
Some $20 million has been invested in overhauling Fun Spot, and it shows. The perimeter of the park is now dominated by the the White Lightning wooden roller coaster, the first of its kind in Orlando. Inside, the Vekoma-built Freedom Flyer suspended coaster is designed to appeal to families, while the park's go-kart circuits have been expanded and improved.
Here are 3 reasons why you might want to check out Fun Spot during next your next visit to Orlando, despite the many other, larger parks that are on offer:
1. You want to experience a thrilling wooden coaster
Forget the painful, brain-bashing experience of riding Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa. White Lightning, custom-designed by Great Coasters International, is a masterpiece of attraction design, featuring a host of weightlessness-inducing "airtime" sections. It's also completely different to any thrill ride at Disney, Universal or SeaWorld - making it a very clever addition by Fun Spot. For coaster fans, it's worth making the trip for on its own.
2. You like the feel of an old-fashioned fairground
Fun Spot would not look out place on British seafront, or at Coney Island. Yes, it's a less sophisticated brand of entertainment than you'll find elsewhere in Orlando, but it'll take you back to your childhood days. And the rides, ranging from a classic carousel to an Enterprise attraction, are as fun as ever.
3. You're a night owl
Fun Spot is frequently open until late, and the place is transformed at night into a cacophony of noise and brightly-colored lights. If you can't face battling the crowds to watch Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, consider making the trip out to Fun Spot instead.
The grand plan for Fun Spot doesn't end with 2013's additions. The park is planning to open a water park next year, placing it in competition with the much larger, Universal-owned Wet 'n' Wild down the road. Will the gamble on such a major investment programme in the most competitive theme park market in the world pay off? We'll have to wait and see.