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
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.
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.
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!
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’.