The best theme parks in Orlando

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The best theme parks in Orlando are dominated by the ‘big two’ of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
The reason is simple: these aren’t just two separate parks, but actually whole worlds of family-friendly fun, with around a dozen different parks between them, as well as numerous shows, performances, dining and nightlife hubs.

Away from the Mickey Mouse and co, Orlando does have some excellent other theme parks. With all the usual roller coasters and rides for a fun day out with the kids.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Disney World’s first ever theme park still remains one of its best. Magic Kingdom has 20 million visitors a year with its six different lands of fun and adventure. The iconic Cinderella Castle stands as the park’s centerpiece.  Lit up every night at 22.00 by the famous fireworks display. Entrance into the park, unravels a whole world. Disney-inspired shows, parades, roller coasters, rides and simulators. Most of these cater towards the younger kids. Six ‘lands’ are Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Main Street, and Liberty Square.

Universal Island of Adventure

Topping the bill of things to do in Orlando simply must be Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Islands of Adventure has got it all. Live action stunts shows entertain the kids, roller coasters and themed rides tower overhead, and immersive simulators place you in the middle of your favorite movie. Opened in 1999, Islands of Adventure is made up of seven different areas. The latest ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ pulling in the most visitors each day, alongside the likes of ‘The Lost Continent’, ‘Toon Lagoon’, Jurassic Park’ and ‘Marvel Super Hero Island’.
Universal Studios

One-half of Universal Orlando complex, Universal Studios draws in the bumper crowds with its long lineup of Hollywood-inspired rides and attractions. Get up close with those naughty yellow minions,walk across Springfield with The Simpsons. Ward-off alien attacks in the Men in black simulator. Get lost in a world of magic at Harry Potter’s Escape from Gringotts ride. Compared to Universal’s other ‘Islands of Adventure’, the action here is more focused on delivering an immersive movie experience.

Disney’s Hollywood Studio

This is where movie magic comes alive. The collection of family-friendly shows, rides, and attractions inspired by Disney’s 1930s and 1940s films.  Movie buffs shouldn’t forget to check out the excellent ‘Animation Courtyard’ either, home to a few particularly interesting exhibits detailing the life and work of Walt Disney himself.

SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld has long been a firm fixture on Orlando’s list of big-name attractions, with plenty of shows, aquatic themed-rides and hands-on animal experiences. Venture through the shark tunnel to uncover an underwater world, get up close to the dolphins and rays at ‘Sea of Shallows’ or check out the orca whales showcase their skills at the famous Shamu Stadium.


Legoland’s largest park ever built sits next to Lake Eloise around one hour drive from Downtown Orlando. As for the park itself, expect heaps of things to see and do, including rollercoasters, huge Lego-built models, shows and performances. Most of the rides here are geared towards kids in the 2-12-year-old age bracket, such as their popular DUPLO fairground-style rides, the indoor-outdoor ‘Dragon’ rollercoaster, wooden ‘coastersaurous’ and safari trek.
Discovery Cove

An alternative to the slightly more commercialized SeaWorld. Discovery Cove is a more intimate and altogether more unique experience. The top-rated activity here is ‘Dolphin Lagoon’, which lays on 30-minute small-group sessions with the dolphins in the water, allowing you to swim, hug and even kiss the dolphins. The ‘Freshwater Oasis’ zone offers much of the same thing, just with different animals like otters and marmosets. The Grand Reef’ is the place to check out some exotic fish with a snorkel set. ‘Wind-Away River’ is a slow flowing river that passes through landscaped jungles, caves and waterfalls. Almost all the attractions here involve getting in the water, so don’t forget your swimming costumes!

Epcot’s huge spherical design is one of the most instantly recognizable images of Disney World. The theme park houses some of the most interesting an innovative attractions in the whole of Orlando. Rather than focusing on rollercoasters and Mickey Mouse – firm fixtures at Disney’s other three parks, emphasis at Epcot is more on science and technology, with an overall vision to ‘celebrate the human spirit’. Head to ‘Future World’ for all the cool science stuff in the form of rides, simulators and exhibitions, or explore the ‘World Showcase’ to learn more about the culture and cuisine of various countries around the world.

Gatorland Orlando

For a theme park with a difference, Orlando’s highly-rated Gatorland provides a little extra ‘bite’, home to dozens of alligators and crocodiles. The timetable of live shows and demonstrations here provide a great way of learning more about Orlando’s famous reptiles. What will really leave a lasting memory is the park’s zip line ride over the gator-infested swamps .


Orlando has a few water parks to choose from and one of the best is Aquatica, located next to the larger SeaWorld complex. Alongside all the water park essentials like head-to-head slides, rapids, and high-speed flumes, Aquatica also delivers a few slightly more unique attractions. One such example is the ‘Dolphin Plunge’, where your transparent flume passes through a pool full of dolphins, as well as the oblivion-style drop at ‘Ihu’s breakaway Falls’.


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