What are the theme parks in Orlando? If you’ve never visited Orlando before or you’re eagerly awaiting your first trip, you’ll want to know which theme parks to visit.
How many theme parks are there in Orlando? How big are they? What is really worth seeing/doing at each? How long does it take to visit? How much does it cost?
Biggest Theme Parks in Orlando
Disney World Resort & Universal Studios Theme Parks in Orlando
Without doubt Universal Studios and Disney World are the two biggest and most popular theme parks in Orlando.
Disney World Orlando
Disney World is not just one theme park, but 4 theme parks, plus two exciting water parks! It’s simply huge and you could spend a whole week going around all of them and still not see everything! The whole resort is 47 sq miles – that’s equal to the size of San Francisco!
Below is an overview of the 4 main Disney theme parks. But first, if you’re looking for Disney ticket information, Disney park maps or Disney opening hours please use these links:-
Disney Theme Park Tickets Guide
Disney World Maps
The four main Disney theme parks in Orlando are:-
The Magic Kingdom is where the true magic of Disney is. With Cinderella’s castle in the background and Main Street USA filled with Disney characters, rides and parades, kids and big kids alike will love MK. There are lots of rides suitable for younger children as well as rides that adults can enjoy too, like Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise and the Haunted Mansion.
More about Magic Kingdom
Stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow – when Walt Disney created EPCOT he had a vision of it being like a World’s Fair, showcasing the latest advances in technology and scientific discovery.
EPCOT is spilt into two areas – Future World and World Showcase. Future World is where you’ll find all the interactive rides and games including Mission Space, Test Track and the Seas with Nemo and Friends.
World Showcase is a series of themed pavilions, each one representing a different country (there are 11 countries altogether). Within each pavilion you can sample the food and drink of each country.
More about EPCOT Center
Animal Kingdom is Disney’s largest theme park in Orlando at 500 acres. It’s host to hundreds of African and Asian animals and birds. AK is sensitively themed and maintained to preserve a natural habitat as possible for it’s animals.
There are miles of open ‘savannah’ in which you can take tours to see lions, wilderbeast, crocodiles, monkeys, bats, zebras, hippos and many more animals and birds.
The park itself is beautiful, with the pinnacle of the park being the 145ft tall Tree Of Life at the center. There is also a recreation of Mount Everest which is home one of the best new Disney World attractions, Expedition Everest!
More about Disney’s Animal Kingdom attractions
Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is themed like 1930s and 1940s Hollywood. It has a mix of thrill rides, live shows, kids rides and characters.
Thrill rides include Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, The Tower of Terror and the Star Tours simulator ride. Live shows that the whole family will enjoy include Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and Hollywood Studios Backlot Tour.
Little kids will love Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage and Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure featuring giant plants and insects for kids to climb on.
Blizzard Beach Water Park
Blizzard Beach is one of the best Orlando water parks for thrill slides. You can’t help but marvel at the wonderful theming of Blizzard Beach. This is the only water park themed on an Alpine ski resort.
Ski-Lifts taking guests to the top of Summit Plummet
There is certainly enough here to keep all ages happy. There is a large wave pool, lazy river, family raft rides and areas to relax and enjoy the Florida sunshine.
Thrill seekers will love Summit Plummet and Slush N Gusher drop slides. All ages can enjoy the racing slides like Double Dipper, Tobaggan Racer and Snow Stormers.
Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Typhoon Lagoon is the sister water park to Blizzard Beach. This Disney water park is geared more towards those who aren’t into thrill slides! Typhoon Lagoon’s appeal is its’ more relaxed atmosphere. There’s a loads of great water slides, a large wave pool and beach area, winding lazy river that passes through caves and gushing waterfalls.
Typhoon Lagoon Orlando, panorama of the surf pool and beach.
Photo courtesy of Lorraine Paulhus
Typhoon Lagoon also has a shark reef where you can try snorkelling in the shark tank. This is included in the admission price.
While Disney Quest is not strictly speaking a theme park, it’s good to mention it here because it’s part of Disney World. Disney Quest can provide a day’s worth of entertainment for teens and older children.
Disney Quest Orlando Building
This is 6 storey indoor interactive gaming heaven! For once admission price you can play as many arcade games, virtual reality games, simulator rides and activities as you can.
Theme Parks in Orlando: Universal Studios
Universal Studios hosts two of the best theme parks in Orlando.
Universal Studios Theme Park
Universal Studios is the second most visited theme parks in Orlando besides Disney. Universal Studios is based around famous movies and pop culture. They are always updating their rides and shows to keep up with the times, yet some old favorites, like the Jaws ride, still remain.
The theme park has five themed areas with rides and shows in each. Most of the rides are indoor simulator rides, indoor roller coasters and shows. The highlights of Universal Studios is the Shrek 4-D show (very funny!), Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster, Disaster show and simulator ride and the new Simpson’s roller coaster.
Universal Islands of Adventure
View of Islands of Adventure theme park. Left is the entrance tower, right is Dr Dooms Fear Fall. The green roller coaster is The Hulk.
Island of Adventure is one of the best theme parks in Orlando for world class roller coasters and thrill rides. This theme park has five worlds which are located around a central lake. In each world, you’ll find rides, rollercoasters, kids rides, live shows, shops, restaurants and character meet & greets.
For coaster fans there’s the Dualling Dragons twin roller coaster, Dr Doom’s Fear Fall, and The Hulk roller coaster.
Kid’s will love Dr Seuss Land which is beautifully themed with all the topsy turvy buildings and colorful characters from the children’s books. There are lots of rides and characters for kids here.
All visitors will enjoy the Jurassic Park world with the Jurassic Park River Adventure log-flume ride.
Now Open – Harry Potter theme park in Orlando
The Harry Potter theme park is the latest addition to Universal Studios Island of Adventure. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is visually stunning. The creators have gone to great lengths to re-create the details from the Harry Potter books and films.
Animal Theme Parks in Orlando
SeaWorld is a marine-life adventure park. The main focus is on sea life and marine mammals. There are many animal exhibitions throughout the park where you can see polar bears, walruses, sea lions, sharks, manatees, penguins, dolphins, sting rays, beluga whales and much more.
SeaWorld is a great theme parks in Orlando to visit on a rainy day. The summer downpours or winter chill won’t ruin your trip to SeaWorld!
More about SeaWorld Animals
There are shows at SeaWorld which run everyday. These shows are included in the admission price. The most popular one is the Shamu the killer whale show. There are other shows which feature sea lions, parrots, dolphins and pets.
More about SeaWorld Shows
There are three rides at SeaWorld – Manta – the new roller coaster, Journey to Atlantis log-flume ride and the Kraken roller coaster.
Manta Ride – The Flying Roller Coaster
More about SeaWorld Rides
Busch Gardens, Tampa
OK, so Busch gardens isn’t a theme park in Orlando. But many visitors to Orlando make the trip over to Busch Gardens in Tampa. It’s a 60-90 minute drive (depending on traffic) which is well worth the time when you consider how many great roller costers and animals exhibits there are at Busch Gardens.
Montu at Busch Gardens, Florida
Photo courtesy of Tps58