If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, chances are you’re looking to head to Disneyland. Disneyland can definitely make for a fun trip for the whole family, but it’s definitely not the only thing to see if you’re in Orlando. When we say that, we aren’t just referring to the ability to visit places like Epcot or Universal Studios as well – there are many fun activities to partake in around Orlando, that don’t require you going anywhere near an amusement park.
One of our favorites, and our first recommendation, would have to be skydiving. There are many places in and around Orlando for you to take your first jump, and it makes an excellent addition to a great trip to Orlando. Even if you’ve never thought to go skydiving before and you know nothing about the sport, you can still make a great vacation even better by adding in skydiving to the agenda.
What if I’ve never been skydiving before?
That’s perfectly OK. You don’t need to have any pre-existing knowledge about skydiving to safely make your first jump in Orlando. Every drop zone you visit will be able to bring you quickly up to speed, and keep you safe throughout the whole experience. Some people feel that it must be entirely unsafe to let a complete beginner go skydiving for the first time, but the drop zones take great care to educate and protect their customers.
The first thing that needs to happen, is you’ll need to wake up fairly early in the morning. There will be a lot to learn and a lot of information to take in before you can go skydiving, so you want to arrive at the drop zone as early as possible. When you arrive at the drop zone, you’ll undergo a training session. Depending on the drop zone you visit, this might be in the form of a video, or it might be someone who walks you through everything.
This will go over the basics of skydiving, and also what you’ll need to do in the event of an emergency. The chances of an emergency taking place are extremely small, but they still want you to be prepared for absolutely anything, just in case. If there is an emergency, then you’ll be very glad you paid close attention during this part of the orientation.
Afterwards, the instructors will introduce you to your skydiving gear and how to put it on. Keep in mind, skydiving gear is not very comfortable, so if it feels uncomfortable at first, don’t think you’ve put it on wrong just yet. You can help the matter by wearing loose, comfortable clothing. Wearing something like tight, stiff jeans is only going to make the already uncomfortable skydiving gear even more uncomfortable.
Also, don’t attempt to loosen your gear in an effort to make it fit more comfortable. Your gear needs to fit correctly in order to keep you safe. If it makes you feel any better, you won’t have to wear this gear for very long at all, and while you’re in free fall, it won’t be nearly as uncomfortable. You’ll be practically weightless at that point, so you won’t even feel how uncomfortable the gear is.
As for the clothes you’re wearing, make sure to bring something warm. This might sound funny to people from cold areas who are taking a winter trip to Florida to escape the cold. The thing is, even though it can be quite warm on the ground, that changes when you’re 12,000 feet above the ground. You don’t need to bring a winter jacket or anything, but having long pants and long sleeves to protect you from the cold winds is definitely a good idea.
What about my kids, can they go skydiving?
Anyone under the age of 18 will need to have their parent’s or guardian’s permission before they will be allowed to go skydiving. After the age of 18, a person is considered old enough to make their own decision about skydiving, and no longer requires their parent’s permission.
Most drop zones will require anyone looking to go skydiving to be at least 12 years old, even with their parent’s permission. That said, you might find a drop zone that will allow a 10 or 11 year old jump, but you shouldn’t count on it. If you have kids who are younger than 12 years old, then we would definitely recommend calling ahead to the drop zone and asking about whether or not they can jump.
Most times, the problem is not so much their age, but that younger children won’t always be able to fill out the skydiving gear, and a bad fit can make it unsafe to jump with. Technically, a 3 year old can go skydiving safely, as long as the drop zone has the right sized gear, and most drop zones don’t have gear on hand for people younger than about 12 years old.
What will our first jump be like?
The most popular type of jump for a first timer is called a tandem jump. This is a jump that will be performed with a jumpmaster literally strapped to your back. A jumpmaster is a certified skydiving instructor who has at least 500 jumps under their belt. A jumpmaster with only 500 jumps or so is extremely rare though, and would mean they are a very new jumpmaster. Since most jumpmasters jump several times per day, most jumpmasters will have at least 1,000 jumps if not a few thousand.
After you’ve been through all the training sessions, it will be time for you to head up in the plane. This isn’t the average plane you’re used to getting on when you take a vacation, it will be a much smaller plane, probably much smaller than any plane you’ve ever been on.
Once you reach the correct altitude, both you and your jumpmaster will get your gear on, and it will be almost time to jump. Once your jumpmaster checks that all your gear has been put on correctly, they’ll strap themselves to your back. Once that happens, the only thing left to do is jump out of the plane. Of course, jumping out of the plane is the easy part, it’s building up the nerve to jump out of the plane that’s hard.
Any jumpmaster is more than familiar with the thought process of a skydiver at this step. They are very good at gauging your reaction and judging whether or not you truly want to jump. Most people actually do want to jump, but are too scared to physically make the leap on their own. In this case, your jumpmaster can give you the push you need to get you out of the door of the plane.
Of course, if your jumpmaster can see that you’re truly scared, they won’t be cruel enough to force you to jump. Keep in mind though, that if you decide not to jump, you still have to pay the full price for skydiving. The majority of the cost comes form the airplane and the jumpmaster’s time, both of which you’ve already used at that point. Essentially, by the time you’re up there in the plane, the jump itself is free. Knowing this is actually enough to convince some people to just go ahead with the jump.
Once you leave the plane, and are in free fall, is the point where most people’s fears disappear entirely. It’s hard to be scared when you’re in free fall and it feels like the whole world is beneath you. The best part is, since you’re jumping with a jumpmaster, you don’t have to do anything at all. All you need to do is go along with the free fall, and enjoy the ride. Your jumpmaster will take care of everything for you.
When you reach the right altitude, your jumpmaster will pull the parachute, and you’ll begin your slowed descent. While the free fall is definitely exhilarating and a huge boost of adrenaline, many people enjoy the slower descent equally as much. This is because they are gliding towards the ground, and can relax and just enjoy the view. The jumpmaster will steer the both of you down to the ground safely. Most people enjoy the experience so much, they can’t wait to go straight back up and do it again. Depending on the drop zone and what time it is, you might even be able to go back for another jump.
The other type of jump that’s available to first timers, albeit the much more adventurous ones, is known as the static line jump. A static line jump means you won’t be jumping while strapped to a jumpmaster, and you’ll be responsible for pulling your own parachute and steering yourself down to the ground.
While this might seem completely unsafe to leave those responsibilities up to you on your first jump, there is a good system in place to keep you safe. Instead of having the jumpmaster strapped to your back, you’ll jump at the same time as a jumpmaster, who will be tethered to you with a very strong rope.
When it comes time to pull your parachute, you’ll be expected to do this all on your own. If for some reason though, you panic or don’t do that, the jumpmaster will pull theirs, and the rope tethering you to them will cause your descent to slow as well. You shouldn’t rely on your jumpmaster for this, and you should certainly plan on pulling your own parachute. Still, the jumpmaster is there to help you out just in case something happens.
Then a jumpmaster on the ground will help to guide you safely down to the ground through the use of a walkie talkie. They will give you some instruction on how this works while you’re still on the ground, but it won’t be until you actually try it, that you’’ll fully understand how it works to steer yourself down safely.
Because of the fact that a static line jump requires a lot more training, and you’ll be working with two jumpmasters, it is generally more expensive than a tandem jump. It is also much more suited to the types of people who are truly ready for an adventure. If you are seriously apprehensive about skydiving, then you’ll want to make sure you start off with a tandem jump, you can always work up to a static line jump later on.
Where to go skydiving in Orlando
By now we hope we’ve been able to convince you that going skydiving can be one of the most fun things you can do while you’re in Orlando. It can definitely add a great element of adventure to your Orlando vacation. If you’re convinced, then you’re probably wondering where the best places to go skydiving in Orlando are.
Before we give you a couple recommendations, we need to say one thing. Even though almost any skydiving facility in North America is likely to be completely safe, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework beforehand. It is highly recommended that before you choose a drop zone, you contact them and ask about their safety practices and records. You will be putting your life in their hands, so it pays to do a little research.
Now, a couple of our recommendations for skydiving operators in Orlando are:
Skydive Space Center
476 N. Williams Ave
Titusville, Florida 32796
4241 Sky Dive Lane
Zephyrhills, FL 33542
So, if you’re already planning a vacation to Orlando to visit Disney World, you can make the whole trip a lot more special by including a skydiving trip in your agenda as well. The kids will love it, and it is a great adventure and way to make your vacation more memorable. Just make sure to wear some comfortable clothes and call ahead to ensure the place you’re jumping with will allow your kids to jump.