Orlando is about to become “Trice-Kinnick Southeast” for tens of thousands of fans. And, Cyclones and Hawkeyes fans are ready to enjoy everything the Central Florida metro area has to offer.
With plenty of sunshine in the forecast and plenty to do in Orlando, fans from Iowa will have no shortage of ideas for their to-do lists. Highs for both bowl game days will be in the low 80s. It will be a little cooler for Iowa State’s evening kickoff Wednesday (5:45 p.m. in Orlando).Florida may have great weather, but the Iowa sports betting climate is better. Online bettors have 17 sportsbooks from which to choose. Many Iowa operators want to start the new year with sports betting offers for new customers.
Orlando Basics: Getting to Camping World Stadium
The Cheez-It and Citrus bowls will go down at Camping World Stadium, a few minutes away from downtown. The Spesser L. Holland East-West Expressway (“the 408”) is the closest freeway to the stadium, and N. Orange Blossom Trail is the nearest major surface street.
Keep in mind that the 408 is a toll road, so you’ll need to have a credit card and change on hand to make things easy. If you can’t pay your toll, the booth will take a photo of your car and license plate and send you a bill, which will have a fee tacked on to the toll.
Iowa State at Orange County Convention Center
Cyclones fans will gather for their pep rally from 4-5:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 at the Pointe Orlando. The rally at 9109 International Drive is free.
After the pep rally, ISU will host “Cyclones Unplugged Orlando” at the Orange County Convention Center’s South Concourse. The event is free. Food and drinks are available for purchase. Entertainment includes dueling pianos and special appearances by Iowa State Director of Broadcasting John Walters. Coach Matt Campbell, ISU mascot Cy, the marching band and the ISU cheer squad also will be on hand.
The event will take place from 5:30-9 p.m. at 9899 International Drive.
Iowa at Pointe Orlando
Iowa fans will gather at the Pointe Orlando from 3:30-4:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The event will be a joint pep rally with University of Kentucky fans. Among the special guests who will make an appearance are:
- Hawkeye Marching Band
- Iowa Spirit Squads
- Voice of the Hawkeyes Gary Dolphin
- Multiple universities and athletics officials
Things To Do in Orlando
Orlando Theme parks
Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) is the premier tourist attraction in Orlando. Pricing and availability are easily accessible on the WDW website. Keep in mind that WDW has implemented COVID-related safety measures. Among other things, WDW may require face coverings in indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status. Also, some restaurants and attractions may be closed for health and safety reasons.
Other popular theme parks include Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.
Orlando is home to several towns and neighborhoods that are worth a visit not only because of their charm but because they tend to be less crowded than the theme parks:
- Winter Park: About a 15-minute drive from downtown Orlando, Winter Park has a walkable business district with plenty of great places to eat and drink, an open green space aptly named “Central Park,” and a farmer’s market that opens at 8 a.m. on Saturdays.
- Celebration: A planned community built by Disney, Celebration’s Town Center is a walkable area with cafes, restaurants, bakeries, and a series of lakeside rocking chairs where you can rest and enjoy beautiful views. Celebration is about a 25-minute drive from downtown Orlando.
- Lake Eola: Just a few blocks from downtown Orlando, Lake Eola is a fantastic place for a picnic (subs from the Publix on the south side of the lake are highly recommended), as well as a ride on the swan-shaped paddle boats you can rent by the half-hour.
If you’ve got time to venture out beyond Orlando, you’ll find plenty to do. Keep in mind, however, that traffic in Orlando can be bad, so check travel times before you leave:
- Mount Dora (35-40 minutes when traffic is clear): A charming lakeside town with excellent dining. Goblin Market is a local favorite.
- Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (50-60 minutes): A mecca for the curious, Kennedy Space Center is a fascinating site with plenty to do. And, through Dec. 31, the complex is featuring its “Holidays in Space” event. It includes live street performances and DJs, photo ops, a nine-hole mini-golf course, and limited-edition souvenir cups.
- Daytona International Speedway: The speedway’s Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is worth visiting race fans and non-fans alike. Kids and adults can walk through the history of motorsports in America, see dozens of race cars, take photos inside a NASCAR car, watch a movie about the history of racing. The biggest draw this time of year, however, is the Magic of Lights display. The speedway puts up more than a million lights on the speedway grounds that visitors can drive through.
Sports Betting in Orlando
Sports betting is illegal in Florida, and there aren’t any casinos in Orlando. The majority of Florida’s casinos are in the Miami area.
Daily fantasy sports are allowed in Florida, however. That means you can enter money contests on DFS apps such as FanDuel and DraftKings. Hybrid apps, like Monkey Knife Fight, allow you to place two-player bets and over/under wagers are permitted, too. Monkey Knife Fight provides bets on college football games, but opportunities for Iowa and Iowa State’s matchups aren’t available in the app yet.