Packed with an abundance of tourists, hour-long lines for popular rides and maps on the ground that stick to your shoes, theme parks in Orlando may be too crowded for UCF students and other Orlando residents to enjoy.

To avoid the crowded theme parks, students and residents might want to explore other means of entertainment around Central Florida.

If you have a love for nature, Wekiwa Springs State Park is a place worth checking out. Available activities include hiking, kayaking, canoeing and fishing.

"The park sits on 7,000 acres, with over 30 miles of federally designated scenic river, over 20 miles of nature trails and over 60 camp grounds," said park ranger Kevin Wilson.

To spend a day at Wekiwa Springs, it costs $6 per vehicle, with up to eight passengers per vehicle. If you are looking to spend the night, it costs $27 a night to use a campsite with electricity, bathrooms and water, or $5 per adult per night to use one of the primitive campsites.

If you've got a need for speed, let it out at K1 Speed, an indoor go-kart track.

"K1 Speed offers a fun environment to beat the Florida heat," said cashier supervisor Emily Martinez. "K1 Speed offers two tracks with prices starting at $20 for a single race, $35 for two races and $45 for three races, in addition to a one-time $6 membership fee that lasts for a year," Martinez said.

K1 offers a special every Monday through Thursday where customers can purchase three races for $39. It also offers the "K1 Speed Pass" special, which is a $49 package that covers the $6 membership fee and includes a T-shirt and two races.

While some people may call themselves "nature enthusiasts," others may prefer to beat the Florida heat and stay indoors.

Hard Knocks, an indoor laser-combat experience, offers an arsenal of weapons modeled after actual military-grade weaponry, with more than 70 different mission objectives and three arenas that encompass 30,000 square feet.

"It's like Call of Duty in real life," said lead combat regulator Crystal Rivera.

Pricing starts at $30 for a walk-in visit, which also covers a one-year $7 membership fee.

Hard Knocks hosts a University Night every Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., where the price is reduced to $22.99 with a valid student ID. It also hosts a Ladies Night every Monday from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

If you're a fan of challenges and puzzles, the Great Escape Room in Downtown Orlando and It's a Trap! in Winter Park offer a room-escape game experience.

Visitors are locked in a themed room and must solve a series of puzzles, riddles and codes in order to escape the room. At both places, monitors are present to act as guides and puzzle masters.

"The Great Escape Room has two rooms that customers can choose from that only 20 percent of customers have succeeded in escaping," said manager and UCF alumnus Greg Martin.

Tickets for The Great Escape Room cost $23 on Thursdays and $28 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Debra Beardsley, owner of It's a Trap!, said that they offer two rooms with two different games per room. Beardsley also said that It's a Trap! will be adding a new "heroes vs. villains" game later in the summer to offer customers a new competitive experience. Tickets costs $23, however, they offer discounted tickets for $20 to students, theme park employees, and military servicemen with a valid ID.

In addition, for the month of May, students pay $15 a ticket on Sundays for their Student Sundays promotion.

Wekiwa Springs State Park: 1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka

K1 Speed: 9550 Parksouth Court # 400, Orlando

Hard Knocks: 5707 Dot Com Court, Suite 1025, Oviedo

The Great Escape Room: 23 1/2 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando

It's a Trap!: 6744 Aloma Ave., Winter Park.


Eric Gutierrez is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @atticus_adrift or email him at

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