Orlando is known for its theme parks, especially the ones at Disney World and Universal. They all sound like dream vacations, so how do you decide which one is best for your family?
Here’s a list of the 15 most popular theme parks in Orlando and why they’re worth checking out. The best one for you might not be the one you had your eye on.
Why Should You Visit Orlando?
Orlando is one of the biggest vacation destinations in the country, and the main reason is that it’s the best destination for theme parks. Since there are lots of well-known parks, there are plenty of other tourist attractions in the area too, especially on International Drive. So, there’s no shortage of things to do on days you’re not at the parks.
A lot of people also adore Orlando for its warm weather. It’s warm enough to spend time outside year-round, which is especially appealing to families who live up north. When you’re not exploring the best amusement parks, your kids are sure to love hanging out at the hotel pool. So, Orlando is already popular enough with its Florida theme parks, but it has a lot of other great things going for it too!
Best Orlando Theme Parks
Here are some of the best Orlando parks to choose from, including water parks and parks for young children. There’s something for all ages to enjoy in this sunny city.
#1 – Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom in Disney World is by far the most popular Orlando park. It was the only park at Disney World when it opened in 1971. Of the four main Disney parks, Magic Kingdom is still the most visited and the one that’s best for young kids. It also has the biggest variety of attractions, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Many of the classic rides, such as the Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Pirate’s of the Caribbean, are still just as popular today as they were many years ago. Yet, Disney is always planning new attractions. Whether you prefer dark rides or roller coasters, Magic Kingdom has it all. Not to mention the many shows for when you need to relax and get some air conditioning.
#2 – Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure is one of the three Universal theme parks. It’s the better option for those looking for fantasy and thrill rides. Part of the famous Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in this park. There’s also a Dr. Seuss area for the kids, a Jurassic Park themed section, and lots of superhero attractions.
This Universal park has a wide variety of rides, including roller coasters, 4D experiences, and kid-friendly options. Even just walking around the park is exciting enough for some kids because the decorations are breathtaking and there are lots of interactive experiences.
#3 – Disney World’s EPCOT
EPCOT has gone through many changes throughout the years, and it’s still going through remodels today. It’s designed to be an exciting learning experience for families, focusing on futuristic themes and countries around the world. EPCOT is more spread out than the other Disney World parks, so you’ll need to be prepared to do a lot of walking.
The most famous part of EPCOT is the World Showcase, which is a path that has areas themed like 11 different countries. Many people go to EPCOT just for the food, especially during the Food and Wine Festival. Yet, EPCOT has lots of unique rides too, including Test Track, Soarin’, and Frozen Ever After. There are also many interactive experiences for kids to enjoy, such as an aquarium.
#4 – Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is another Disney park that has gone through a lot of changes. It used to be called MGM, but it changed its branding in 2008. For many years, it focused on shows more than rides, but in recent years, it has opened many new rides in addition to the beloved shows. Some popular shows include the Indiana Jones stunt show and the Frozen Sing-along.
This park has always been known for its two big thrill rides: the Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Now, it’s also home to Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It has plenty of variety for all ages.
#5 – Disney World’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is the fourth main park at Disney World, and it’s unique because it’s also an accredited zoo. In between rides and shows, you can stop and see over 2,000 animals of about 300 different species. Since the park is known for its animal theme, the Kilimanjaro Safaris is an essential ride.
When exploring the park, you’ll go through different continents, including Africa and Asia. There’s also a dinosaur land and the beautiful world of Pandora from Avatar. Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the most popular rides in all the parks due to its immersive experience, but you also can’t miss the classic Expedition Everest roller coaster.
#6 – Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios is another Universal Orlando amusement park situated next to Islands of Adventure. It also has a breath-taking Harry Potter world, featuring Diagon Alley with lots of immersive experiences. If you have a ticket to both parks, you can ride the Hogwarts Express in between the two Harry Potter areas. Like Islands of Adventure, it has a wide variety of attractions.
They have attractions featuring the Minions, the Simpsons, and Transformers. If you’re looking for an action-packed ride, you can check out the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. When you’re looking for a chance to relax and enjoy air conditioning, there are plenty of shows around the park.
#7 – Discovery Cove
Discovery Cove is owned by SeaWorld parks, and it’s an immersive experience for visitors who love animals. There are lots of options for interacting with animals, such as swimming with dolphins, feeding exotic birds, and snorkeling with exotic fish. Almost all the attractions are included with admission, including the swimming gear you’ll need, such as wetsuits, snorkeling gear, and life jackets.
If you love swimming, there’s a beautiful lazy river and a beach to kick back and relax at. There’s no need to panic if you forget supplies because towels, drinks, food, and sunscreen are included. This experience is less chaotic than Disney and Universal, but if you love wildlife, it can be just as exciting.
#8 – LEGOLAND Florida
LEGOLAND Florida is in Winter Haven about an hour away from Orlando, but the longer trip is worth it if your kids love Legos. The park is designed for kids under 12, so you won’t find any thrill rides during your visit, but that doesn’t mean older kids can’t have a good time. The attractions include rides, games, and of course, plenty of lego building opportunities. Even just exploring the park is exciting because there are lots of incredible Lego displays set up.
#9 – Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon
Typhoon Lagoon is one of Disney World’s two water parks, so it’s perfect for a hot day. Of the two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon is the better option for adults and older kids. It’s recognized by the iconic shrimp boat on top of a mountain. There are several slides and water rides, along with a surf pool. Both Disney water parks are usually open March through October.
#10 – Universal’s Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay is the most iconic water park in Orlando thanks to the giant volcano water slide that can be seen from the interstate. It has a wide range of attractions, including water slides, aqua coasters, raft rides, a lazy river, and a wave pool. It’s a tropical themed water park that’s within walking distance of many of the Universal hotels. One special feature at this park is that guests get a “TapuTapu” device that virtually holds their place in line and notifies them when they can hop on.
#11 – SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando has a perfect mixture of animals experiences and thrill rides. The company rescues and rehabilitates many animals, some of which can be seen in areas of the park, such as manatees, penguins, and sea turtles. There are also plenty of shows featuring animals like dolphins, orcas, and sea lions. There are rides for all ages, including massive roller coasters for older kids and Sesame Street themed rides for younger kids.
#12 – Fun Spot America
Fun Spot has a classic carnival feel with several smaller rides and lots of games. Some attractions include a wooden roller coaster, go-karts, and a ferris wheel. It’s right off International Drive, and it’s next to Old Town, so while you’re visiting the theme park, you can explore retro shops and hop on a few more rides. Fun Spot is a smaller, more affordable option as opposed to the more well-known parks in Orlando.
#13 – Disney World’s Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach is Disney’s other water park, and it’s a better choice for families with younger kids. Lately, Blizzard Beach has been closed for refurbishment often, but it will fully reopen in the future. Despite being hot outside, the water park is themed like a winter wonderland. It features snowy mountains, a chairlift, and toboggan racer waterslides. If speedy water slides aren’t your thing, there’s also a large lazy river for guests to relax in.
#14 – Peppa Pig Theme Park
The Peppa Pig Theme Park is a brand new attraction that opened in February 2022 in Winter Haven, only a short walk from LEGOLAND. It’s a small park that’s designed for kids 7 and under, especially if they love Peppa Pig. Some attractions include playgrounds, small rides, live shows, and a splash pad. Of course, there are also chances for the kids to meet Peppa Pig and her brother George. Even if you’re an adult traveling with a kid, you can still enjoy the adorable environment of this park.
#15 – LEGOLAND Water Park
Right next to LEGOLAND and the Peppa Pig Theme Park is the LEGOLAND Water Park. If it’s a hot day and you have Lego-loving kids, this could be the destination for you. Like all water parks, you’ll find water slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river. Yet, the attractions are geared toward a younger audience like the main LEGOLAND park. Since it’s Lego-themed, there are plenty of building opportunities too, such as a raft building station.
Frequently Asked Questions
Planning a vacation is a lot of work, so here are some questions about Orlando theme parks you might have.
What Other Attractions Are in Orlando?
While you’re in Orlando, here are some non-theme park attractions to check out:
- ICON Park
- Disney Springs
- Universal CityWalk
- Lake Eola Park
- Orlando Science Center
- Disney’s Boardwalk
- WonderWorks Orlando
- The Florida Mall
When is the Best Time to Visit Disney World?
September, late January, and February are the best times to visit Disney World. These times are the least crowded because most people are returning to school and work after breaks. Plus, these months won’t be as sweltering as the summer months.
What is the Average Temperature in Orlando?
70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit are normal temperatures for Orlando, Florida. In summer months, you can expect the hottest temperatures in the 80s and 90s, sometimes reaching 100s. The winter months are the coldest, sometimes dipping to 50s and 60s, but 70s are more common.
Are You Ready to Plan an Orlando Theme Park Trip?
Does Orlando sound like the perfect place for your family? If so, it’s time to start planning. Think about which amusement parks in Florida appeal the most to you and your loved ones. Then, think about what other Orlando activities you might be interested in. If you’re not sure if amusement parks in Orlando are right for you, consider other fun things to do in Florida.